This year, three Shabbas were taking part, and this gave them the opportunity to induct a fourth!
Yes! This race report also introduces our newest Shabba - Nikki Reeves!
So lets start with our regulars, Ian, Daz and Jonnie, before we introduce Nikki.
(Brace yourselves, they obviously enjoyed the run as they have plenty to say! Kettle on, cup of tea and a Jaffa cake, relax and enjoy!)
Training prior to this event had been going well, the onset of a head cold in the days preceding the run didn’t help though. I was fully dosed up on the morning of the run, and was excited about the race ahead due to the talk on Twitter in the days preceding the event. There were other races with a Shabba presence happening on the day too, not only Ashby20, but also the Fradley 10k and the MK half. So I was suitably wired and ready to run.
It was my first visit to Ashby and I was very impressed, what a nice place (although a bit in the middle of nowhere). After arriving and parking within sight of the baggage drop off, I soon met up with fellow Shabbas Darren Redmond, Jonnie Shaw and the latest Shabba recruit Nikki Reeves, along with a couple of other Twitter friends. Upon meeting Nikki you can tell right away that she will fit in with the Shabba philosophy, she runs the right way - with a smile on her face.
The start was a rolling type affair, which was ok as all the timing was chipped, we passed the time making gorilla related puns (a gorilla runs the race every year, in a time of about 3hrs). It was the intention for me and Darren to run together at an even 8min per mile pace. The first few miles flew by and we were well up on our intended pace. As the run was slower than our usual pace we chatted amongst ourselves and with the other runners over the course of the first lap, the sun was also shining and it made for very enjoyable running, opposed to the usual flat out racing.
The mile splits were looking better and better despite the undulating course and we both remarked that the intended finish time of 2h40ish would be achieved easily. Around mile 11 I asked Daz to slow it down a little, but then proceeded to pick the pace up myself, we were flying really and the running seemed quite easy until around mile 18. At this point the course turns back into town and goes uphill; this was particularly cruel at this late stage of the race. The encouragement received from Daz as we ran up really spurred me on and made me dig deep to not let the pace drop too much. The finish line was a welcome sight.
I was over the moon with the time and as we collected our goodies we spotted a cake stall and filled our boots, we sat in the sun eating chocolate brownies basking in a job well done, all that was missing was a cold beer. We walked down to the last corner of the course to cheer home the other Shabbas running, Nikki first, then Jonnie. We all had a good chat and posed for photographs and most importantly further replenished our depleted carb levels with a nice cheese bread cake that was in the goodie bag.
The memories that will stick with me from this race are the friendly runners, the great local support, running with a good mate and the race hoody, which will require surgically removing at some point in the future.
The next race for me is the Stafford half next weekend, which builds up to the bigger goal of the spring the Manchester marathon. The Ashby20 race has given me the confidence to realise that maybe my goal time of 3h30 is actually achievable.
Training has been going well. My knee was still in one piece after the previous weeks Silverstone half marathon although the legs have been pretty tired for most of the week. Managed to squeeze in a pretty decent 4miles on Tuesday, 6 on Wednesday but was totally knackered on Thursday so took the night off, slow 3 Friday before the usual Saturday Park Run blitz. Felt good going into Sundays run despite waking up with aching kidneys (damn you skirting board painting!)
There was a lot of buzz about the town when I rocked up, which was about an hour before kick-off, and I think the sun had put people in a cheerful mood which served to take their minds off the fact that they were about to run 20 miles! The course was both marshalled and supported really well and there were always pockets of people dotted around the course clapping and cheering you on which made the distance a tad more bearable. Spoke to a lot of runners on the way around as well and it was good to be recognised as well as one comment from a fellow runner was “Hey it’s the Shabbas!”. Also, it was good to get a shout out as well from the tannoy/loud speaker guy as well as I crossed the finish line!
This run offered plenty of highlights, which is surprising for a 20 mile run. Before the run started it was great to finally meet up with new Shabba team recruit Nikki (aka Tigger!) and then I managed to motivated the guys with a series of terrible gorilla puns!! (Jon, Nik & Ian’s groans were taken as a compliment!). For the run itself, it was great to chat to new people (well.. new people to me!) on the way around, it felt like a very social run and there runner camaraderie and support going on (for the 1st lap anyway!).
Other than a bit of banter with the marshals, the 2 guys running in Jesus sandals (they weren’t the messiah etc etc) the cheese cob & hoody and cheering the Nik and Jon in at the finish, the main highlight for me was running the distance with Ian. This was the first long run that I’d completed whilst running with someone else and it was pretty awesome to do. We went off a tad quicker than we’d planned but stuck with it and managed to chat, waffle and talk gibberish for most of the course (although I’m sure Ian will have a different perspective on that!). It was a hard slog but it was great to finish the run as we started it some 2hrs 32mins earlier, not just as a team…. but as Team Shabba!
We crossed the line in just over 2hrs 32mins which was waaay under the 2hrs 40mins that we’d initially planned. I was glad to get the 20 miles under my belt as this was big climb from my previous furthest distance of 13.28 which was set the week earlier. Nothing popped, nothing pulled, nothing strained so all in all it was a good run!
The madness of March continues as next weekend sees me take on the joys the Stafford half marathon. This is my last organised run until I take to the streets of Manchester on the 5th April for the marathon…. although in saying that, I will still no doubt be trying to get a new PB at the Saturday Park Runs!
Training this week has been getting my legs to move freely again after the arctic conditions and PB at Silverstone. Thursday night went to Tipton Harriers to do a steady 6 miles which turned into an 8 miler around Oldbury with some nice hills in preparation – felt good. I skipped running at the Park Run anniversary but took my Shabba pit crew down to eat cake.
The place was buzzing at 9ish on arrival and nerves were kicking in now as soon met up with the fellow Shabbas, must say Daz looked shattered but looked better than me at the end! Jaffas were shared and Nikki was unveiled as a new member of the Shabba team!
Bizarre start as we walked up to the start and it was err ok time to start running, not before Daz’s poor gorilla jokes.
Nikki was aiming at cracking 3hrs so I thought I’d tag along as that ‘was’ my plan. She bounced along as I somehow kept up nervously looking at my watch every 20 seconds thinking I’m going too fast but felt comfortable. Even knocking out an 8min mile at one point. My words became less and the choice of base layer a poor idea, stripping off at about 8 miles with help of my Shabba pacemaker!
I was amazed by the support pretty much all the way round and couldn’t fault the constant supply of water and gels but I won’t try another jelly baby, nearly closed my mouth up.
It was great to see the 17 mile point which we discussed on lap 1 and then finally 800m, 400m, 200m and The Black Parade there to cheer me home (wondering where I was!).
I was expecting the Gorilla to unleashing a drum solo as I crossed the finish line!
Then it was time to collect the legendary hoody, cheese cob and grab team photos and Tigger’s Shabba pic.
Will I return? Time will tell.
Finishing my longest run in 19 years is one of the highlights on the toughest course I’ve ever run. Once again the Shabba camaraderie was there but the sunny weather was appealing for them to wait for me this time! The hills were tough and thanks to Nikki I blasted a great 10 miles (before she bounced off up through Packington) and then I tailed off once the Gorilla took me at the 13 mile point. I lost a bit of mental strength and struggled to pull it back a bit but kept moving albeit slowly. I became worried when I was shadowed by the Paramedic from miles 16-18 with it lurking in a lay-by hiding at one point. My Tipton shirt turned from green and white into Shabba Red, white and green with severe nipple rub! Then I get home and I’m wearing a white vest with red arms!
All things considered on and up and down training plan this year I’ve got to be happy with the 3:13. I’ve got through 49 miles in 3 runs in 8 days with just one black toe nail, no injuries and one medal, one t-shirt and one hoody! Not forgetting my £90 trainers that I reckon have made a major difference – Brooks Adrenaline if you’re interested (must get the latest GTS14 model)
What’s next? Well it’s recovery, training with Harriers, Park Runs and possibly my first official outing for Harriers in a relay at Sutton Park on Sunday….but the goal is London – Sunday 13th April…
AND INTRODUCING… Nikki Reeves!
Training. Urm… Yeah…. This is now where I show how little I tend to do! The week before Ashby 20, I did the Belvoir Challenge which tracked in at 16.17 miles off road!
There…. That was a nice training run, and it involved cake!!! Total result lol but otherwise I just pottered doing my trail runs and pacing at conkers parkrun as with still just over 4 months after injury I’m still trying not to over work my foot…
I never sleep well before a race, and this was no exception as it was an unknown having only ever run 16.17 as my longest previous run! Also, this was to be the first time I met any of the Shabbas and obviously I was totally scared!!!! Lol no I wasn’t… They are such a friendly bunch, and we had a good bit of time joking about before the race… Daz entertained with a selection of ape/gorilla jokes… Apparently the Asbhy gorilla is quite famous… Unfortunately I never saw him until after I’d finished (yay I beat a gorilla!)
The start was a bit…. Oh look we’ve started but hey, once there’s running, I’m off!!! I’d said I’d pace johnnie, although I think after a mile or so of my talking he was probably regretting my offer!! To be honest, I felt the whole race easy, it was just perfect for me, I love sun, it just makes me more bouncy, and blue sky and running, how anyone could fail to be happy!! Saw a few people running I knew, so had to say hi, and with it being my local race, lots of Marshall’s recognised me from parkrun and the support was amazing….
Johnnie forced me to leave him just before the end of the first lap, so I just tried to keep up the pace I’d started, and soon found another willing victim, I mean companion and we ran together until 18 mile when my caffeine gel kicked in and I dropped him oops…. Think I had talked him into the ground…. It is something that always surprises people – that I can run and talk… Yes, I’m a multi tasking master!! The last mile was ironically my quickest, and was great to be cheered home not only by some of my own running club, but also #speedyshabbas Daz & Ian.
Cheese cob and hoody collected, I went and met up with the guys and waited for Johnnie to come in! Then it was group shots, #shabbasinthehood and then my reluctant individual shot… I don’t do standing still very well…
Having never run that far, I had no idea how it would be or anything, but, I’m at my happiest when the suns out and I can run, so it was like my perfect day!
I had no clue what to predict for my race time, so settled on sub 3hrs and ended up with a 2:53 so yeah… I’m happy, although now would have liked sub 2:50 lol!
Well, all this is my preparation for my 1st ever marathon – Manchester 6th April…. I’m looking for an easy sub 4, but will be pushing for 3:45… Only time will tell, conditions and fitness and me on the day… But everyone seems confident on my behalf…