End of Year Review
Well goodbye 2012, it’s been a blast. Actually, it’s been rather wet and muddy and we’ve had our differences on numerous occasions but overall we’ve had a good year.
2012 was the year when I moved to the MV40 category and at the start of the year I had set myself the challenge of running 5 big events including the Thames Path 100, a run across the Offa’s Dyke Trail, Run 24, Ridgeway and Caesars Camp.
Somewhere along the line the Winter 100 was entered making six big events.
In addition, I had also planned to try and run 3,000 miles in the year which worked out at 250 miles per month, nearly 58 miles per week or a shade over 8 miles a day.
Finally, the first part of the year was going to be charity focused as Stouty and I attempted to raise some funds for Cruse Bereavement.
Stouty and I kicked of 2012 with a 10 mile run around Reading Town Centre (including a stop off at Starbucks for a coffee) dressed as Batman & Robin, which was going to be the theme of our charity runs. The fact that the classic ‘Only Fools and Horses’ episode had been played the night before meant we had several acknowledgements from cars and random people stopping to take pictures.
I didn’t plan any events in January but clocked up 278 miles in the first month and so had solid start to the year.
The first event of the year was the Thames Trot a 50 mile (closer to 48 miles) run from Oxford to Henley and my usual first event of the year being a local to Reading. We had a really cold day (-8 at the start) although Stouty and I were dressed as Batman & Robin so we were well insulated. The race went well, really well and I smashed my previous time of 9.16 to finish in 8.07! The major reason for the improvement is down to the lack of “walking time” which was kept to a minimum and probably some good running over the Xmas period.
The week after I took part in the Bramley 20 miler and finished in a decent time of 2.33 after pacing a friend around who was aiming for a 2.35. I’m not sure I would have been that much quicker anyway! It was definitely a little test after running 48 miles the week before but I felt good at the time.
I eased of a little towards the end of the month with the Thames Path 100 scheduled for the first week of March and had covered 243 miles for that month so still ahead of target.
This month kicked off with the Thames Path 100 which Stouty and I again ran in fancy dress. Yes, that’s right a 100 miles in fancy dress. We were also persuaded by James Adams to run the Parkrun about 1 hr before the start of the event aswell which in hindsight may have been a little over ambitious!
Fairly early on in the race I could tell I wasn’t 100% recovered from the Thames Trot/Bramley run and I knew I hadn’t tapered as I should have done. This resulted in me struggling from the half way point and it didn’t help the weather got wet (the costume was soaked and heavy), windy and cold resulting in it being called off a few hours before the end.
At 97 miles I was cursing running the Parkrun as I could have been finished by them but I eventually made it to the end in 23hrs 30mins so just about earned the 100 mile in 1 day buckle. It wasn’t a great run but I made it to the end.
The week after was the Silverstone Half Marathon (again in fancy dress) where I set my Fancy Dress Half Marathon PB of 1hr 48mins on a warm day including some real life Superhero type stuff where we escorted a struggling runner to the finish.
Following that was the Reading Half Marathon my local half marathon. Running in fancy dress wasn’t good enough here and Stouty and I decided to construct and carry and 8 foot long cardboard Batmobile around the route, resulting in my slowest half marathon time of 2hrs 17mins. However, entering the Madjeski Football Stadium to the cheers and applause of a few thousand people was definitely one of my highlights of the year.
286 miles completed for the month so again ahead of target.
It was around this time that I picked up a slight knee injury. Nothing too serious but one of those ones niggles that could do with a rest but you ignore and run in a little bit of discomfort. It’s not big and it’s not clever but come on, we all do it.
The only planned event of the month was the Compton Challenge a 40 mile off road run over undulating terrain. Again Batman & Robin were out in force and I finished in a new PB time of 6hrs 58mins so a good run overall.
The knee had been giving me a bit of trouble all month so the mileage was down to 208 miles for this month. However I was still on track for the overall target.
It also rained a lot in this month.
April did see the launch of Ultra Tales e-magazine which took a bit of time and effort but it’s good to hear people enjoyed the first issue and motivated me to put together future issues.
May was the Birthday month and a planned weekend run following the 177 miles of the Offa’s Dyke Trail from Prestatyn in the North to Chepstow in the South in fancy dress over 3 ½ days. What else could I want for my Birthday?
I had a few doubts about this due to the condition of my knee but as this was the final charity run and we had hotel booking and travel commitments there was simply no choice but to go for it.
We set out 7.30am in the morning on the first day in fancy dress and ran one of the hardest 25 miles in my life up and down hills. My knee started to trouble me slowing the pace, we ran out of water early on and were helped by a kindly walker who fetched us some supplies. We stayed out on our feet for over 12 hours but fell short of our planned target before we were collected and transported to our hotel before eating and then trying to wash the costumes at 11pm at night.
On the second day, the costumes were still wet meaning a run in our normal gear and then it was clear that me knee was not up to running solidly for the day. I could shuffle along for a few hundred yards before experiencing a sharp pain in the knee. There was little I could do other than power walk which we did for the day before again finishing slightly short of our planned stopping point.
On the third day, strangely my knee felt a little better and I thought I could run on it after strapping it. However, Stouty then succumbed to an injury and couldn’t even walk down the stairs in the morning and so I set out for a solo jog for the day across some really wet, muddy and boggy conditions. I was determined to get to the end point whether I ran, walked or crawled!
The final day was a planned 20-25 miler to the finish at Sedbury Cliffs. Stouty still couldn’t walk properly let alone run and so I was left to finish the route. It absolutely hammered down with rain and I completed the run in a very low key fashion eventually covering around 140 miles of the planned 177 miles.
After a few days rest and no running I started some gentle plodding and took part in the inaugural Cheiveley Chase a week later finishing the 5.5 mile run in just under 40mins which was a decent workout.
I didn’t do a lot for the rest of the month as I picked up a chest cold and only covered 252 miles for the month which included 140 miles in 4 days.
To make things even worse, I picked up a calf injury at the end of the month aswell.
However, Stouty and I did raise £3,310 for Cruse Bereavement after all our charity runs so thank you to everyone who kindly donated.
This month started with the Kent Roadrunner Marathon put on by Ian Berry which was a really good small sized marathon event covering loops (which didn’t bother me) of a cycling track. I pretty much rested the entire week before the event to allow the calf injury to settle and ran a near PB of 3hrs 22mins something which was only around 10 seconds outside my PB.
Thinking things were on the up after niggling injuries in April and May, I injured my Achilles a week later which impacted the running for the next couple of weeks.
I had the Run 24 event at the end of the month and pretty much rested the Achilles before gradually building up to some power walking and then plodding. I went into this event a little nervous about how the injury would hold up but on the positive side I was well rested.
The Run 24 went well, went really well as I managed to come 1st in the solo event in slightly fortuitous circumstances when a number of other runners stopped before the end of the 24 hour period but I plodded around for the win and a prize of nice new Garmin 310. My local running club was also taking part with several teams and another highlight of the year for me was when they organized “guard of honour” as I finished my last lap.
I only covered 226 miles in June including 110 miles on the Run 24 but overall mileage was a shade under 1500 at the halfway point.
A few days rest followed by some light running for the month and a few recce’s along the Ridgeway in preparation for the Ridgeway Challenge in August.
After a lighter month of 206 miles I was starting to feel better and injury free, at last!
The lighter training month gave me the chance to finish off Issue 2 of Ultra Tales which reached a wider audience of people with over 1,000 downloads. I was really pleased with that.
The first two weeks were spent on a family vacation in Egypt and running was limited to a few miles every other day in the morning in pretty hot conditions. I managed to pick up the “Egyptian tummy” towards the end of the holiday which meant no running.
After getting home, recovering and getting back into running regularly it was time for the Ridgeway Challenge an 85 mile non-stop run from Ivinghoe Beacon to Avebury Social Centre along one of Britain’s oldest national trails. I was well rested after a couple of lighter months mileage wise and looking forward to the event.
I forgot my Garmin and ran the race on feel with a deliberate attempt to go off slowly and keep the pace steady. The first half of the race saw thunder, lightning, rain, showers and mud although my pacing was working as I was progressing from around halfway in the field upwards at every checkpoint and not being overtaken. After a change of clothes at the halfway point, the rain had stopped and I set out for the second half again overtaking people. I managed to get a bit of night running completed and eventually finished in 14th overall and 1st M40 in a new PB of 18hrs 59mins, about 1hr 20 mins quicker than last year which I was pleased with.
The overall mileage for the month was 220, which meant I was now about 80 miles down from target and would have to make this up.
The start of the month saw my company launch a cycle/run/walk/swim mileage challenge as a team building exercise. The aim was for the company (of around 700 employees across various sites in the UK) to clock up miles by cycling, running, walking or swimming over a 12 day period and we would track how far we could travel from one office site to our Head Office in Paris and back again (1,600 miles there and back).
This was exactly the incentive I needed to catch up with the miles and I knocked out my first 100 mile training week before unsurprisingly picking up a soft tissue injury to the shin (the increase your mileage by 10% rule is there for a reason) which required an X-ray as I initially thought it might be a stress fracture. This impacted my last few days (i.e. no running) meaning I only covered 120 miles where I was aiming for closer to 150 miles and then required me to have a weeks rest.
I believe the company covered about 7,000 miles in total which was a great result and even more pleasing quite few people took part which was great to promote health and fitness.
I didn’t have any planned events in September but did spend the weekends recce’ing parts of the Winter 100 route.
I completed 254 miles in September so was still about 75 miles down with 3 months to go.
Caesars Camp Endurance run was planned for mid-October and I reduced the weekend miles in the two weeks before the event to make sure I didn’t overdo it or pick up another injury. Caesars Camp was another wet, muddy and miserable affair which only saw 9 people finish the 100 mile run out of a starting list of 41.
I placed 5th here finishing in 25hrs 30mins but the placing somewhat disguised a miserable slog through the second half of the race where you basically had to endure the conditions.
I didn’t do too much else that month but kept on with the running clocking up 289 miles and making some inroads to the deficit.
Issue 3 of Ultra Tales was released. I made the mistake of saving the articles I had towards the release date and then having to burn the midnight oil on more than one occasion to get this issue out. I might need to get some assistance going forward!
The Winter 100 was only 5 weeks after Caesars Camp and this would be a test to see if I could manage two 100 mile runs within close proximity. I put in a couple of long runs towards the start of the month and then eased off a week or so before the event which was scheduled for the end of the month.
The Winter 100 event itself was interesting to say the least with route diversions due to flooding, 17 hours of rain, gale force winds and lots and lots of mud. The first half went ok but the second half was a struggle and after throwing up a couple of times mid-race was left to trek the second half of the race in miserable conditions, feeling rather miserable. Somehow I managed to finish under 24 hours in 23hrs 48mins. I finished 16th out of 31 finishers from approx. 75 starters so another example of the tough conditions on the day.
Mileage was up this month with 296 miles completed (not sure why I couldn’t have rounded it up to 300) and so I was literally bang on target for the year.
No events were planned for December and I racked up about 150 miles in the first couple of weeks motivated by the 3,000 goal.
A week later I managed to get a late place in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon when a friend pulled out injured and finished this in a steady 3.37 which wasn’t bad with no taper and the conditions were.. yes you’ve guessed it a little wet, windy and muddy but thankfully nothing like the previous 3 Ultra’s.
And this finally brings me to today. Well I’m pleased to say that after a nice comfortable run this morning I have finally achieved my 3,000 mile goal. I didn’t really have any doubts I could do this but had a few challenges along the way but for the last week its always been comfortably within reach and it feels like a bit of an anti-climax actually completing it probably because there’s no finish line, medal, crowd or applause despite a few gentle plugs to my running circle of friends twitter/facebook. I would like to add a little plug for the Fetcheveryone website which has provided me with every training tool I want and also has a really friendly running community, great work Ian.
So, thanks 2012. We’ve had our ups and downs but it’s been a pretty good year overall. A final big thanks to my wife Sally-anne and daughter Annabelle for their support throughout the year (i.e. letting me go away running for weekends).
A few final thoughts and learnings. On a positive side I think the mileage volume has improved my ability to recover from events.
On the negative side, there is probably a direct relationship between the lack of rest days taken to achieve the mileage goal and number of injuries I’ve suffered which is something I will take on board for 2013.
In addition, I am still guilty of plodding out miles (the “junk miles”) and again in 2013 will aim to run less but train smarter… with no mileage goals!
It’s been a good year event wise with all targeted races finished despite some tough miserable conditions so I think I have displayed a good level of perseverance and durability. There are a few nagging “could do better” on a few events but its nice to have challenging targets and goals and good to think you can still improve despite entering the veteran class this year.
Finally, I haven’t really commented on the social side of running but I have enjoyed meeting more and more people through running and it’s great to catch up with people I don’t see very often at various events.
Thanks for reading this blog, have a Happy New Year folks.