Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Review of Running in 2014

              (The Flanders field Marathon in Ieper, Belguim. My 40th birthday weekend).

         So we come to the end of another year. I always like to reflect on my achievements for the year and what I had set out to achieve. You can see this posts on this blog from last December. A great year of running with no serious injuries or injuries that took me out for ages. This is a first for me!
I ran 22 races this year, that excludes club races like the CC6's and the RR10's and parkruns.

     I ran 4 ultra marathons, but only 2 marathons. 6 half marathons and various other weird races and distances. I achieved my 50th parkrun (although, i'm still waiting for the t-shirt). I got PB's in distances of 5k, 10k, 10 miles and marathon, although the 10 mile one is debateable.
19.06 5k at Southampton parkrun, 41.28 10k at Eastleigh, 66.48 at the Great south run (stopped my watch at mile 10 but when I crossed the line the course was quarter of a mile longer which gave me a time of 67.27) 3.29.30 at Brighton marathon.

             (Hills on the Camborne stormforce 10 mile race in Cornwall!)

         I decided to give Stubbington a miss this January and run a 10 miler in Cornwall called the Stormforce 10. This is part of the Cornish grand prix (league). Sadly, I hit my head the day before skateboarding and had to drink 6 pints of Tribute to calm me down. Not a great time but a great race with some nice big hills around country lanes.

        Then came the craziness! The Thames trot 50 mile race. I was going to pull out but I had talked Mike Mattingly into it and didn't want him to run it alone so I said i'd support him for the first 20 miles as I hadn't really trained for it. There was pressure from my running buddies on facebook of course. "You can do it Dean", "Good luck Dean" etc.. Well, we ran/walked it, got lost lots and had to wade through the icy cold Thames in February! The route was being changed a lot due to flooding and then my headtorch died in the woods. Great experience indeed but it took us 10 hours and 26 minutes.

       I then had a couple of bad half marathons in March. The Llanelli half. Very windy, bit of a hangover and then the John Austin half. Blew up after 5k and struggled to hold a decent pace after that.

I then rolled my ankle when I was drunk when I fell off a curb after my mate's 40th birthday with the Eastleigh 10k only a few days away. The ankle hurt like hell even on the day but I thought i'd try and run it anyway and got a PB :) See pic below for swankle:

             Getting that 10k PB gave me confidence for the Brighton marathon I had coming up in April. I was running for my little 10 year old buddy Thomas who has Type 1 Diabetes. I was raising money for the JDRF charity. Think I raised about £600-£700? The JDRF charity people were great. Out of all the charities I had run for, these were the best in the way they supported and treated me. Personal phone calls and emails, sandwiches and massages etc.. I felt like a celebrity ;)
Anyway, I had left my gels in the boot of Di Mattingly's car. Not a great start. I was running so well and hoping to get sub 3.30 time. I was hoping to run 8 minute miles but was running 7.30's quite comfortably. No effort at all! I was starting to feel it at mile 16 though as I still had no food/gels etc.. Just water and maybe a sports drink. By mile 18 at the lovely powerstation (worst part of the marathon) I was feeling drained but managed to get a gel from someone but I knew it was too late by then. It was a case of holding on. I was slowing down and was grateful for the earlier pace. I saw the 3.30 pacer but couldn't catch him up. He was turning round and beckoning me forward but I couldn't go any faster even with the support of the crowd. My hearing was going as well. I thought I might actually be dying here! I never did catch that pacer and he must have crossed the finish line about 20 metres in front of me. I was disappointed at first but later found out that I had achieved 3.29.30 on chip time so was really happy with it in the end.

(Me with Thomas a week or so before the Brighton marathon)

         There were other various races like the Southbourne 10k (Windy as hell!) Netley 10k (Very boring) I then did the Ox Ultra race in Tollard royal. It was a very hilly 35 mile race (36.5 in the end)with a love station (Vodka and locally produced cider). This was to be Rob Kelly's first ultra and I was more than happy to tag along for a fun 7 and a half hours of running, walking, eating, photo taking and piss taking. The views were absolutely stunning. It was a very tough course but it was worth it cos Rob gave me his cheeseburger voucher which meant I could eat two :)

          June: The Braishfield Romsey beer race is a 5 mile race. It was my first ever race and I did it in a time of 42 mins and 12 secs getting beaten by 60+ Derek Goodchild from our club. I was hoping for a course PB on this day at least! It was so hot though and like all races, even when I ran it, nothing at all was familiar to me. I got a PB though and was really happy. It was a lovely sunny summer's day sat on the grass with the others from my club. Andy Griggs wanted his money back though as the competition was weak and he nearly won the race by 2 minutes. Ben Pitman was 2nd though.

 (Me and Rob Kelly somewhere in Wiltshire on the Ox Ultra)

                 Next up was the craziest race I have ever done and probably ever will be. Man V horse which is sometime in July I think. Set in Britain's smallest town of Llanwrytd Wells, Powys, mid Wales. You run just under 24 miles of massive hills whilst racing next to horses. It sounds completely mad and it is! I thought I was going to get trampled a couple of times but managed to dive out the way. You also get to run through streams to cool your legs down which is very refreshing. I was up over 1000 ft at one point and I was looking down on the Red Kytes flying over the tree tops.
I took no gels and no food or drink. There were water stations but I thought as it was only 24 miles i'd be fine. Those hills will destroy you no matter how fit you think you are! I beat around 10 of the 60 horses anyway and finished around the 4 and a half hour mark. I am still trying to decide whether or not to do it again in 2015. You can also have relay teams of 3 but this will sell out on New Year's day when entries open probably.

         I did the Summer plod with my friend Adam Sizer who had never run further than 13 miles at the time. This was a hilly 21 miler with Butser hill at the end on the South downs way. Great views but more brutal hills. I ran it slowly with him and watched him go through all the emotions that a runner does when they're pushed to their limits. He finished it and i'm super proud of him :)

 (Nearing the end of Man V horse)

                 I did the Indian Queens half marathon in the first weekend of August. Not a great result but another great race with things like inflatable crocodiles hidden in the woodland course and inflatable parrots in the trees. One of the flatter courses in the Cornish Grand prix.
Salisbury 54321 came along again. Thought i'd try the 50k distance again and wanted a sub 5 this time around. This was the first time that I actually raced an ultra and found it horrific. I hated it so much, it just went on forever as I ran it on my own. I was in a bad place mentaly on this one. Think I got 5.03 and ended up in the back of an Ambulance because I was really dizzy and close to passing out and I couldn't slow my heart rate down, which was really scary for me. St. John's were brilliant though and gave me a lovely blanket to keep.

            I did the Vale of Pewsey half the day after trying to run the Avon valley path from Salisbury to Christchurch. The route is 36 miles but I had got lost so much that I was already at 36 miles when I reached Ringwood. So, a 36 mile slow run on the Saturday and a sub 2 hour half marathon the next day! Surprising what the body can be put through.

In Septemeber I got a parkrun PB of 19.06. Not sure where that came from as my previous PB was around 19.46. The day after, I did the Overton 5 miler. It didn't go well due to the PB the day before. I was hoping to do a double PB weekend. It happened to me a couple of years ago!

(The start of the Flanders field marathon in Ieper, Belgium with Roger, Patrick and the Mattinglys)

         I wanted to pick a good race in Europe for my 40th birthday. One I would remember forever. There was a race in Austria that I was interested in but we decided on this one in the end. Wasn't easy to sort out with the payments etc but we have Di Mattingly for that... Thanks Di :) x  
I drank way too much on the Friday night (my birthday) and was really sick and too ill to even collect my race number on the Saturday. I spent the day sleeping in bed and feeling rough. On race day I decided to not race it but just enjoy it. This is the only marathon on the grounds of the first world war. It was good to remember them as it was the 100 year anniversary. We passed many fields where soldiers would have fought and lots of graves.
It was a pancake flat course with lots of canal river and cycle paths. The route was fairly boring outside of the built up areas etc.. It was great to run through the Menin gate though and see supporters including Laure from our running club. I ran most of the marathon with a guy called Keith from Kent or Surrey or somewhere. We chatted for half the course and kept a fairly good pace. It was his 113 marathon, it was only my 7th! Although I have done 7 ultras too.
 We finished together in a time of 3.37 which made it my 2nd quickest marathon so I was very pleased.

(A stolen photo from the Ely Ultra)

     The Ely ultra was my next race at the end of September. It was a 45 mile race from Ely to Cambridge and back when I first entered. There was a Triathlon on the same day or something so they had to shorten the course slightly. I had heard it was 38 miles, someone else said 40, others said longer. So we really didn't really know the exact distance. I got a train up and booked a hotel on my own. I was a little scared of running this ultra on my own after the darkness of the Salisbury 54321 but here I was. The route pretty much followed a cycle path once you got out of Ely. It could get a little confusing sometimes on route and we had heard people had run the wrong way in the previous year. I ended up running it with two others. A guy who had previous got lost and was wearing the number 13 (Bad omen) and a dude from Essex who had just completed his 4th Ironman in Sweden. We lost the bad omen as he had slowed after 10 miles and the rest I ran all the way with the other guy.
We exchanged funny racing stories and encouraged one another to keep going when things got tough for us. It was a fairly flat course but pretty well organised with good support and food stations. It was just over 41 miles in the end and we did it in under 7 and a half hours which I am most proudest of, of all my ultra times.
I went back to my room. Showered, had a pub lunch and then went for a walk and the race was still going. I think there was a 12 hour cut off time. I got to cheer in the last man as I stood there with his wife and she was telling me how he had DNF'ed last year and he didn't finish in the cut off time. This year he was going to do it and I was so happy for him.

              (The Ely Ultra details)

I had a bit of a break from the races after that but was still running. I did the Denmead 10k a while after and was hoping for another 10k PB but this course was hilly. I actually walked up part of one of the hills, not only that but we had missed out on winning the club team prize by 20 seconds because of me not beating Southampton AC's Paul Johnson. I was a bit gutted but the others (Rob Kelly and Jeff Scarle) took it well and humoured me with the

End of October:
The great south run I really enjoyed this year. Think I may do it again next year too. A nice local 10 mile race with lots of our club runners. A nice fast, flat course but a bit of wind on the last mile or two. No official pb but really pleased with my 6.40 average pace throughout the race. Felt really good for the first 10k. Awesome goody bag but a very expensive 10 miler.

Gosport half was another dark race for me. I was going for a PB and wanted 1.27 even though my PB is 129.26. I thought I could do it. 1.30.48 was what I managed. It was the best half I had run for a couple of years but at the same time I was slightly disappointed and really didn't enjoy the race at all.

(Not sure where this was or who took it but it's from this year)

    Downton half was to be my last race of the year. This is my favourite half marathon course out of the 20+ halfs I've done. Cardiff probably comes second. A great race with some nice hills. I got a 1.32.29 a few years back and wanted to try and beat that. Not really a PB course but it's possible! Anyway I ran a 1.33.33. 1 minute and 4 secs off of my previous time but was proud of my efforts as I was at least a stone lighter then and I was struggling to run a 1.36 half in the spring of 2014.

My only other noteworthy achievement I think is coming 3rd at Chichester parkrun and it was only a 20 minute 5k! I also enjoyed parkruns at Llyn Lech Owain, Colby, Brockenhurst, Winchester, Southwick, Eastleigh, Andover, Southampton and my 50th at Netley.

Hopefully next year will be just as good for me. Thanks for reading and a big thanks to all those who take the photos and give me lifts to and from races. You know who you are, too many to mention. Thanks :)

Below are my running stats for the year:

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