18 Jul UK 10,000m Champion & Scottish Commonwealth Games qualifying time chasing

I have to apologize for slacking on this blog. With the arrival of Isla 5 weeks ago, I’m still adjusting to my new schedule with her and it doesn’t leave much spare time to do things apart from the essentials. That and I just can’t tear myself away from her!

Running wise, things have been going decently well. Actually, it’s been pretty up and down over the last 3 weeks. Training was really starting to pick up and I jumped into a race in Phoenix that was billed as the ‘hottest race on earth!’ It was pretty darn hot (104F/40C) and run at 3pm in the afternoon but I was prepared for it with doing a minimal warm up and wearing my ice vest right up until the start of the race. It was a seven mile trail race that was in its inaugural year and things seem to go well for them. They certainly had a good field of athletes ensured by offering good prize money so I knew it was going to be a tough run. As soon as the race started I took the lead and pulled two other runner away with me. We stuck together until four miles when one of the runner’s dropped back so it was down to me and two time Olympic steeplechase finalist, Nahom Mesfin from Ethiopia. He started to push hard at five miles and I had already decided before the race that I wasn’t prepared to dig myself in a hole and push too hard that day so I just maintained the same pace and ran into the finish without chasing him hard. It was something that I found very hard to do as I always like to push hard in races but I didn’t want to potentially set myself back by draining myself today and not being able to recover and get back into hard training before the UK trials. I think it was the right decision as I found out afterwards that the guy who came in third (who is from Phoenix and used to the heat) was sent to hospital with extreme dehydration.

For the next two weeks I felt a little ‘off’ in all of my workouts. I knew I was fit but I was running the workouts feeling as if I had just woken up. I don’t know what the problem was but I still got some decent workouts in so I didn’t worry too much about it.

My next race was going to be the UK trials 10,000m where I was hoping to run the Scottish Commonwealth qualifying time of 29 minutes. I was fully prepared for it and had been emailing with Scot Overall about sharing the pace so we could all run fast there (he had been in contact with the other runners wanting to run fast and were up for working together). We started the race and I guess that plan had been scrapped without me knowing and I ran the first couple of miles in the front. I didn’t mind because it’s my responsibility if I want to run fast but I wasn’t feeling great and it was a little windy on the back straight. I was off pace by then so I decided to just compete then and go for the time next year. The race turned out to be really fun as it became tactical with surges and slowing by everyone. With 600m to go, Keith Gerrard really started to push hard and I was lucky to be alert and got right on his back with 400m to go. At the 150m to go mark, I felt like I was all out and was tiring but I kept telling myself that I was ready for the finish and I managed to sneak by and get the win. It was a great feeling to win another UK championship even if we did run slow. The race was run at 9.35pm and of course I got called in for drug testing. I didn’t finish up until 11.45pm at which point I had no idea how I was going to get back to the city centre as there was no transport at that hour. I was very lucky that the drug tester was heading that way anyway and he was able to drop me off at my hotel.

The key for me now was to recover as much as possible as I would be heading up to Edinburgh to run the Great Edinburgh Run 36 hours later. I had decided not to wear spikes on the track so that helped save my calves a bit and I actually felt okay the next day when I went for a run along the canal path. My sleep for the whole trip had been all over the place with me only getting around 5 hours each night and this next night was no different.

I woke up feeling like I could actually race well and after some oatmeal and coffee, we headed down to the course which was heating up nicely. Everyone was complaining about how hot it was but it’s been a lot warmer in Flagstaff recently so it felt pretty nice to me. I knew the course from last year and I was hoping that would work to my advantage. It’s an incredibly hilly course and not one for fast times. I think it runs about a minute slower than what you can run on a flat course.

I ran the first 5km of the race as easy as possible as I wanted to see how my legs were feeling and I was glad to find that they were feeling pretty good. At the 5km mark, I made a big move as it was a nice long downhill where I knew I could really open up my stride. Only Yared Hagos came with me and he stuck on my shoulder right until the 7km mark where we hit the next long hill. He took off and I couldn’t respond but knew if I could keep the gap as minimal as possible then I would I could try catch him on the downhill. I worked really hard to catch him right after cresting the hill and instantly starting to run as hard as I could to run the sprint out of his legs. This is when having long legs is very advantageous as I was able to open up the gap before the finish. It felt really good to win in front of my home crowd after coming up short over the past two years.

Now it’s time to go back to training. I will race in a couple of weeks but I really want to build a big base over the next couple of months so I can set my body up to be as strong as possible for next year. This’ll mean not racing for a little while which will be nice as it means I can spend plenty of time with Julie and Isla while Julie is still taking time off of work.