Posted by: stokiecat | February 5, 2014

Alsager 5 – NSRRA 2014 Race 1

New year, new running goal. I have discovered I am easily influenced by others at the running club, except where marathons are concerned, and so I have joined the North Staffs Road Runners Association. My racing was patchy last year so I was placed in group X, the lowest ladies division but I’m quite happy with that.

The Alsager 5 ( ) is the first race of the season, a flat and fast course (if a teensy bit dull). In 2013 this was my very first actual race when I started running. Having been bullied by my group leader at the time, Dan, into joining a race I signed up for the Alsager 5 thinking it was 5k. It’s not, it’s 5 miles. My training last year included a breakdown on a hill in Stoke, panicking that I would not be able to finish. In the end I enjoyed the race in 2013, even though I did walk a bit. I finished 711th with a gun time of 49:52 and a chip time of 49:02.

So to 2014…

I was fully expecting nightmare weather conditions (stormageddon 2014!) and heavy legs due to my Janathon exertions. A week earlier I had posted on Facebook I was going out all out at Alsager but my all out is likely 45 minutes. I would be ecstatic with anywhere between 42 and 45 minutes. My Saturday evening preparations included intermittent sleep (I get pre-race nerves) and a fair amount of my adrenaline had been spent that afternoon watching the mighty Potters beat Manchester United (yay!). By the time I actually got up on Sunday morning I would have been happy with a finish, let alone anything better than last year.

My friend and supporter Jackie had offered to drive and lucky for her it didn’t rain. We picked up fellow club runners Dave and Emily en route and got to Alsager about an hour before kick off. It never feels like an hour, the time before a race always flies by. We collected timing chips and t-shirts, and Emily picked up her NSRRA group letter. It was in the group above me, W, which made me laugh, a lot. She got her own back by making me take off my lovely thermal compression top to run in just my vest. (She was brave in short shorts but that’s a bit too much for me in February and the rest of the world don’t need to see my pasty, unshaven winter legs0. Jackie got lumbered with our coats, bags, t-shirts and assorted shit whilst we found a queue-less toilet (I’m not telling you where, I don’t want queues there next year) and then spoke to loads of other runners about running things. Fair play Jackie never once gave the impression she was bored to death.

Alsager is very well organised but there is a throng of people before the race in the sports hall so although we did see quite a few of our team mates we missed the group meet and therefore the team warm up. Unwisely I decided to do a warm up with Kirsten (winner of most improved runner at TRC in 2013) and super-fast, super-smiley Scott (seriously this man does not miss a chance to grin at a camera – every photo!). Kirsten had planned a 2 mile warm up, I’d planned a 1/2 mile with some dynamic stretching. Kirsten led off in the complete opposite direction to the rest of the team and we pretty much guessed which way to travel. Luckily it was a fairly light pace (well for me, Scott was miles in front) but we still did one and a half miles with me complaining long and hard and often. We returned back to the leisure centre and picked up some of the other Trentham ladies of the team on our way to the start.

We reached the start and there was quite a group of Trentham runners and we were chatting amongst ourselves and with other runners. All of which really steadied my nerves and meant I didn’t realise until the whistle went that race had actually started. I had set my watch to 9 minute mile zones and set off. There was a brief shuffle at the start of the race as one of the runners at the front went down (found out later that everyone pretty much ran over him ūüė¶ but he was OK). And that was it, I was off like a rocket, well relatively speaking for me. This was my first race where nearly everything had gone to plan. Training and nutrition beforehand even the warm up helped – yes you were right Kirsten, pacing, mental determination. I could feel my legs going in the last mile but some positive thoughts, particularly “if Stoke can beat Man U then I can run this poxy race”. I didn’t walk at the church on the final lap, like I did last year, although I did misjudge quite how far the finish line was from the first set of flags. A great enthusiastic (and appreciated) “Go on Trentham” from Jacquie Macphail almost made up for being pipped at the finish line by George, the barefoot runner, pushing a bleeding buggy! It’s bad enough when he passes me at parkrun but in a proper race? Well I suppose it’s another spur to help me get faster…

The best news however was my 604th place out of¬† 911 runners with a time of 43:20 gun time, 43:00 chip time. A whole six minutes quicker than last year. I was BUZZING! Just for Kirsten, I’m going to post my splits as well 8:20, 8:20, 8:43, 8:32, 8:59 (she likes¬† bit of running stat porn). Not the holy grail of a negative split but fairly consistent (went off too fast really) and room for improvement but definitely on my way to an 8 minute mile. That meant after one race I’m third in my league group, I’d be happy with that come the end of the season but we’ve got another 19 races to go yet.

At the finish line there were loads of Trentham runners and generally most were pretty happy with their results. We departed to the pub for a well earned pint of Guiness (the best recovery drink there is, trust me), to bore Jackie a bit more with running stuff and then it was home to have a nap before watching the Superbowl.

I would have posted this sooner but I was waiting for a suitable picture to illustrate but there were literally none of me, I always seemed to be behind a tall bloke. There was a youtube video which clearly highlighted my terrible running posture, I’m beginning to think I am actually a stooped old lady! I will be working on this in training… But Brian has uploaded the only photo where I can remember seeing the photographer, about 500 metres from the finish I think and I do actually look like I’m running the race here. You can also¬† see George and the buggy in the background getting ready to overtake me!

IMG_2316 (c) Bryan Dale

All in all a pretty good weekend.



  1. Well done on a six minute improvement – no wonder you’re smiling in this photo!


  2. well done!!


  3. […] noticed that the title of this blog is NSRRA Race 3 and not Race 2 (Alsager 5 being my first NSRRA blog post). Well race 2 was the Stafford 20, held four weeks ago, and previously I would have said 20 miles […]


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