Leeds Abbey Dash 10K

After Cardiff back in early October this was the next target for the winter.

I have been very happy with how training has gone since getting back off holiday in mid-August. Other than a slight calf issue immediately following Cardiff I have trained to plan & hardly missed a single session, averaging ~85mpw & always including a couple of quality sessions & a good solid long run.

Unfortunately while training was going well in the last couple of weeks before the race a busy period at work meant three weeks of continuous 4am starts, which coupled with fighting off a cold meant I felt drained in the few days before the race.After a coffee in town with Jo I got the train to Leeds, watched the awful rugby match then headed to the hotel to check in. An hour chilling in the room then TGI’s for a meal with the rest of the inter-area runners (strange choice of restaurant, but it was close by!). We were back at the hotel well before 10. I felt calm & relaxed, but as though I was a little too calm – I don’t get nervous before a race but I do generally get very excited. This felt different.

Up at 6am, the usual race morning business & then straight down for breakfast. A few coffees while I read the paper & then back for a shower to warm up before a short jog up the last 1K & along the 1st 1K. Back to the room & despite the strong coffees I still wasn’t feeling ‘up for it’. In fact I just felt like rolling over & going to sleep!

We didn’t have to check out until 12 so with the race starting at 9.30am I decided to warm up from the room. Around 8:45 I started my normal warm up routine & although I felt as though I was well rested training wise I just couldn’t get going. Still, a few strides & a catch up with some of the guys I should be racing with & it was time to line up & get racing!

Although on the elite start, as the race only starts from one side of the road & due to the quality of the field it was like a cross country race for the first 1K. I settled nicely towards the back of the huge lead pack of around 50 runners & we ticked off the first couple of K in around 6 minutes. Spot on & feeling good. There was what feels like an unnecessary loop through a retail park which was tough to negotiate in such a tight pack. 3K in 9:06 (I think) & still feeling ok.

Then the wheels came off, or I nodded off for 10 minutes! Although I lost touch with the main group in front I continued with a reasonable group through to the 5K turnaround point & we were still only ~10 seconds off the next big pack. I hadn’t clocked the 5K split but having spoken to others towards the front of the next group they went through in around 15:15 so we’d dropped well off the pace there. There was a slight incline in the third mile & it felt as though there was a slight headwind as well so no doubt where the 15 seconds went for our group.

Unfortunately from this point the group had splintered & I was pretty much side by side with Alan Buckley of Leeds for the next 3K as we inadvertently became the pacers for those looking to dip under 31 (so much for hanging on to the 30 minute group!). We seemed to be working well & as another runner made a move around 8K I went with that & we started to catch the group in front.

I knew the hill was coming with 1K to come so looked to sit in a bit through the 9th K but just didn’t have it in my legs to bridge the gap & was just 2-3 seconds short of those in front finishing strong for 30:48 & 47th place!

This is a high quality race (52 under 31, said to be the strongest 10K field in England for 20+ years) on a fairly fast course. They have changed it from a few years ago where it was apparently faster. It was a PB for me by just short of 30 seconds but I left the race disappointed & frustrated. I did everything I could to be in the best shape possible, had a good block of consistent training & placed myself well in the right group early in the race. Looking back I’m happy with the time given that I have been battling a cold for over a week & have been working from 4am every weekday for three weeks before the race.

I wanted to be under 30:30, & on a good day to be close to 30. However given my lack of sleep & therefore quality recovery over recent weeks I wasn’t surprised, rather I just found it frustrating that things beyond my control had cost me a few seconds. I am happy to be feeling good the day after & ready to push on with training again after an easy day today (Monday). I’ll put in a bit of a tempo effort on Tuesday night in the second half of my hour to see how I’m feeling & get back into the quality work.

PB’s don’t come so easy nowadays, so we headed off to Friends of Ham in Leeds for some fine meat & cheese washed down with a few pints of good quality local ale. The day ended better than it started, & I concluded that it at least meant I should be looking at another 10K PB the next time I race! Next up is the Midland 7 on Saturday, but with it being cross country I have limited expectations – although I will be hitting it 100% & going for the win nonetheless.

If anybody is serious about running a fast 10K time & they’re looking at running under 40 minutes then this is THE race to do in the winter! Finally, I got beat by two notable veterans  – Alan Buckley as mentioned above, who did me by 1 second, & Ian Hudspith who ran 30:03 at 44! Looks like Tim’s got some competition moving into the V45 category next year!


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