On the square.

Stablemate Warren “Gangsta” Goodlake fought his demons to come away with third place M50 in a time of 1:23:11 at the Farnborough Winter Half-Marathon.

Goodlake just missed out on a PB, but considering the list of excuses he came with, we knew we would hear all about it. One thing he didn’t moan about was the weather—“Bit fresh, but perfect,” he said.

The Stable News cider-swilling scribe, Ally “the Chin” Smith, volunteered, no, begged, to nip down to Surrey to meet Goodlake and sample the local nightlife:

Ally: How’s it going, Warren? Shall I order a couple of pints, and then you can chew my ear off? 

Warren: Sounds good, Ally. I’ve plenty to tell you. 

Ally: Here we are! Right, get to it, mate; I’m going out out after this. 

Warren: Ha-ha, sounds like a plan. After having a week of tapering in the buildup, I felt tired (I hate to taper ☹). So I thought I would drive the hour and a half to the race the day before and stay the night. I’d hoped a good night’s sleep might help, buuut a good night’s sleep wasn’t to be (yes, more excuses for no PB). 

Got to the start in plenty of time for a warm-up, but the car was parked a 15-minute walk away. I had to carry my bag during the warm-up because I didn’t want to take my top off. I didn’t have enough time to do any strides or put belongings into the baggage area. 

Ally: Jeezo, that’s a bit of a palaver. Next time, just go taps aff and actually warm-up, ha-ha. Strides aside, did you manage a PB? 

Warren: No. 1 minute and 12 seconds shy, but I had all good intentions of setting one. After my previous half PB in December, I decided today I was going to try and knock a minute off of that time. 

I set-up my watch accordingly: with the pace for five seconds per mile slower for the first three miles, then race pace for the next seven, and then empty the tank in the last three. 

Ally: Sounds great. Did it work out? 

Warren: I was positioned well at the start of the race and set off slightly quicker—but calmed down soon afterwards. I hadn’t even got to mile one when the head started telling me, This is tough, but as I hit the pace for that mile, I continued. 

Again and again, the brain was sending me all the wrong signals, and by mile three I knew that there was no PB coming today. When we hit mile four, I could have easily stopped and walked in—especially with the mind games my brain was sending me. 

Ally: I know how that feels, buddy, psychological torture, ha. But you managed to keep going, right? 

Warren: Only just. If on mile four we weren’t going out into the countryside (which would have meant I had the walk of shame back past all the rest of the runners), I could quite easily have given up. 

I battled on and was just trying to hold it together. I didn’t have any company to talk to; I was finding it a tough race. 

My watch showed my average pace at about mile six, and it was around 6:25, which made me think I could still make sub-85 if I continued at that pace, and that was my main focus from there on in. 

Ally: That’s the spirit! You weren’t training specifically for this race though, were you? 

Warren: No, I hadn’t been training for a half-marathon, and today was arranged two weeks ago to give me a benchmark for the Manchester Marathon. In Stazza’s infinite wisdom, he said I had to cancel the Cambridge half on March 6, as it is too close to Manchester, and I have big miles to do that weekend. 

Ally: He knows what he’s talking about. I can see you’re highly competitive; even in a benchmark race you’re trying for PBs and pushing it. Great going. 

Ally: Thanks, Ally. John gave me a window to book a race, and this was the best and flattest one I could find.

Last two miles went well, and my pace quickened up. I caught a guy up who was quite a way in front of me at one point and pulled him through with me for a bit with the encouragement you need at that stage of the race. 

Also had a guy come past me with 800 to go, and I kept with him to the line with a nice sprint finish from us both crossing the line together. 

A good benchmark was achieved for Manchester on the day, so I would say that although I didn’t PB, by not giving up I won the mind games today. 😊

Ally: Excellent effort, Warren. Most races hopefully go as we planned, but we also need a reminder now and then that they don’t.

Sub-85 and a third-place age cat is amazing when you are feeling the pressure. A very gusty run, and you’ll be even more prepared now for Manchester. 

Warren: Yes! April can’t come quick enough. 

The Stable News gave Coach Stazza a bell just as he was applying aftersun to his sunburnt head: “Sss, ow, ow, ow, I forgot my bleedin’ hat and I’ll need to suffer. It stings, but it’ll be fine—just like you, Warren, lad. A few stings in the tail at Farnborough will make you stronger. 

Remember Manchester: a sub-3 is the main goal here, and with that tough run I know you’ll be raring to give Manchester the beating of its life. A solid run before some solid marathon training. Let’s go!”

Chewing the cud with 1983 London Marathon winner, Mike Gratton.