Brrriiiing! Who the hell is texting me at work? Oh it’s Mr Lamb. What the blooming hell is he after?
"Do you fancy racing tonight?"
"Bugger off you know I'm resting my foot"
"It's a Club Championship race"
"I dunno. I'll speak to the better half and think about it."
I know Louise won't mind but figure I can always use it as a get out clause as I really can't be bothered. I was still trying to give my foot a chance to recuperate after the previous Saturday’s lollop round Burnley parkrun seeing how it's still not recovered properly from Manchester. I finally twigged that if it's supposed to stand any chance of recovering I should have a bit of time off from running. However it is a Club Championship race and I might need this to qualify for this year’s London ballot. So all of 30 seconds later...
"Oh go on then."
After work I duly get changed and make my way over to Mr Lamb’s who has volunteered to drive. In truth I think this is the least he can do seeing he's dragging me out midweek. It's Corrie night I'll have you know! I jump in the car and away we go.
Assuming it’s somewhere local I‘m surprised when he tells me we’re off to Whitworth for the 'Phil Roberts Cowm Reservoir 5K'. Anyway on a balmy spring evening we make our way over the tops through Royston Vasey, sorry I meant Bacup, to the Cock and Magpie pub. Why do the majority of local races always seem to involve a pub of some description? (Just asking)
Here we are greeted by the usual hordes of the TAC Army. Being a Club Champs race it’s like a ‘go faster stripes’ day out. Still with a mental state of ‘I can’t be arsed’ I duly follow everyone up the side street from the pub where David Howard is explaining the route.
“Off up a bit of a slope, twice round the lake and then a fast finish back down the slope,” or something along those lines.
‘Doesn’t look too bad’ I think to myself. ‘It is pretty flat’ I muse trying to get myself into some sort of ‘zone’ but failing miserably. More runners start appearing, warming up, stretching, etc, so I make some half-hearted attempt at loosening up as my calves are as tight as the proverbial gnats…
I know I should always stretch, etc, but it’s something I’ve never really got into the habit of doing but as usual I pay lip service and at least go through the motions, but it becomes patently clear my head is elsewhere. Damn that Mr Lamb for dragging me out like this!
Start time comes round and I join the throng on the rather confined start ‘line’. I dutifully try to stay out of the way of the fast cats but whilst I’m still day-dreaming someone suddenly shouts “Go!”
Once I wake up I plod forward up the incline and try to get into some form of rhythm. Half way up the slope to the reservoir I very nearly stop as despite all my worrying about my calves and foot, my left hamstring suddenly goes really tight. Do I stop? The lazy sod inside me definitely wants to do this but I try to ignore the voice in my head. Instead I adjust my pace and back off a bit.
Gradually it eases but by now Lamby has steamed past me and pulled out some 20 yards of a gap. I know given how I feel I should really just let him go but, and you won't know this, Mr Lamb and myself go back quite some years, 43 to be exact.
During our school years he was rather an excellent runner, particularly middle distance and cross country. However my forte was sprinting! Go on laugh, I know you're thinking 'how can anyone with legs that short be a sprinter?' But I'll have you know our house 4x100 team was undefeated during my tenure on leg three! Strangely I was also part of a rather successful school basketball team (how did that happen?).
Obviously, over the ensuing years this has developed into a bit of a rivalry, partially as he now can't keep up with 'old little legs Larter'. Consequently, whilst not actually thinking about it, I no doubt speed up. People are still streaming past me but I now have only one thought. I will not let him beat me, sore foot or no sore foot!
In truth the evening is a good one for running. Clear but not too hot. The course is a cracking combination of road and trails and as David said it’s pretty flat. So I relax into a decent pace and try to ensure that gap between us decreases.
After the first time round the lake Lamby is still holding his own but I know from the past he has a habit of going off too quick and suffering for it in the later stages. I’m hoping that this is the case here as I simply don’t seem to be gaining on him, and by the time we are on the second return leg of the lake I’m getting nowhere.
However just before we reach the left turn which takes us across the head of the reservoir my watch buzzes three miles. This just leaves me a short section left to try to catch him with the majority of it being downhill. I duly try to stretch my legs and thankfully everything seems to be working okay so I push on. On the plus side Andy now appears to be finally slowing down and half way across the dam I manage to finally catch and pass him.
“Come on! Try to stay with me!” I shout, attempting to encourage him not to drop his pace and urge one last effort out of both of us. I actually dredge up a bit of a sprint down the hill during which I manage to catch another couple of runners who had overtaken me on the backside of the lake, but sadly Andy does come with me.
Once over the finish line I wait to see how far behind me Andy is and in truth it’s not far at all. A measly 11 seconds going off the official times. I come in at a respectable 23:21 which, whilst a month of Sundays off a 5K PB, is quite pleasing considering my poor attitude on the night. Andy is actually pleased as punch as he’s put in a PB, knocking a fair reasonable amount off his previous 5K best!
I tease him by reminding him of what he could have done if he’d stayed with me on the last section but to myself I’m thinking that was a bit too close to him beating me for my liking. In his defence he has been upping his game a bit lately and putting a huge amount of effort in. He’s been doing regular sections of the Hendon Brook circuit in preparation for the actual event in July which we are both aiming to have a first stab at. Clearly all this extra training is standing him in good stead and I know at this rate it won’t be long before he catches and then overtakes me! Think I need to up my game as well.
Anyway, race over we slowly make our way back up the hill towards the car to get changed, on the way cheering all the runners still finishing but giving the TAC ones an extra loud shout out!
Time for a quick beer and see what the presentations bring. Neither of us are under any illusion of us actually winning anything but Jamie McIllveny leads the way for Trawden coming a fantastic fifth and David Howard scoops the first V60 category. Dawn Tibbs won her section and the fabulous Mo as usual topped the FV70.
A top night’s running by everyone on what turned out to be an unexpectedly pleasing evening. Maybe I won’t moan at Mr Lamb the next time he drags me out on a Wednesday night…