Time: 1hr, 1min, 09secs
Location: Chiltern Hills
To celebrate the first day of the year I had the privilege of being in my home town, and completing my first 10km with my good buddy Terry Craddock back where it all began; up and over my local hills and through a few local villages. It turned out terry is a machine, and his efforts to complete it in under an hour through the boggy waterlogged fields almost killed me, but it bought back some great childhood memoires that have stuck with me…
Back at the age of 14 I had stopped swimming competitively and had started to get into competitive football. I joined a local team, but as a late starter I found myself struggling on the sideline having to bust a gut to make the team. One summer we made our way to Kings Houghton for a tournament. Six weeks before, my manager Kevin Bunker had told me that we had limited players so I would be in every game. Kindly, as it later turned out, he also gave me some feedback…. I had potential but I was a bit slow and my pace often let me down. I was slow off the start.
For 6 weeks I woke early every morning before school and ran the local hills up to Dunstable Downs and back focussing on my pace, speed and time. When the tournament came I had found added confidence, and I did play every game. I also scored 3 goals including a memorable scorcher in the opening game, created several assists that helped us reach the final, and most proudly of all was voted players player. From that day on I made first team and never looked back. Football was my sport for the next 16 years.
I stumbled across an important lesson back then at the age of 14, which has stuck with me ever since. The typical ‘put your mind to it and you can achieve it’ was of course there, but more so was the practical effort and the ‘get up and go’ that’s required to make things happen. It highlighted to me breaking down a big scary goal and working on basics for incremental improvement. Just as importantly was that feedback that Coach Kevin gave me, as painful as it was at the time. Without that feedback, without the time taken to take me to one side and help me improve, I would probably just have plodded along struggling.
Over the next 15 years, I travelled with uni, backpacked the world, volunteered in The Gambia West Africa, lived and worked in China for 3.5 years, but would always find myself back at the local hills. I now find myself in Glasgow, so it seemed a fitting celebration to start my challenge back on the glorious Chiltern Hills.
After putting on 1/2 stone over Christmas (yes me!), equip with my new Garmin 220 GPS watch, I went out for a post Christmas run around the block and learnt another important lesson. Always have a proper pair of running shoes with you. I couldn’t walk properly for 4 days. So I was still lumbered with sole-less shoes, stretched muscles and wobbly legs, but excited for the challenge ahead.
New Year Day Run
Under the first skies of the year, our run route took us up the mud slopes along Kensworth Quarry, curving through the little woodland alongside Dunstable Golf Course, popping out and along Dunstable Downs. I think the fresh air got to Terry quickly, he had it in his mind to run under 1 hour, which was a challenge in the mud bath but it pushed us on and gave us a target. The route has changed a little over the years, and it felt more like an obstacle course at times….
Fom the Downs, we dashed across a few hazzardess fields/bogs through to Whipsnade, along some good clean traction-building roads to Kensworth, and down through the Kensworth side-lanes back into the woodlands. Down means up, so we hit the gradient at 7km in. Terry blasted through and the pain kicked in.
Despite our gallant efforts, and a slip or too in the mud, we didn’t quite make it in under an hour, completing 10km in 1hr:01mins. However, it gives us a reason to do the same route later in the year and measure our improvements.
Running is one of those things I sometimes find hard to ‘get up and do’, but instantly find rewarding. Breathing in the fresh clean air, running through the peaceful woodland and along the hills whilst catching up with a buddy cant be beaten!
And Finally the 10km Photo…..
The good news is my new GPS tracking watch is working fine, producing my No.1 GPS Running Stats .
I’m glad I have set myself this challenge. This was a fantastic way to start the year, running my home hills with a good friend. Start each day as you mean to go on. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can achieve today.
Home is where the heart is.
Happy New Year. 2016 is going to be a great one!