Sunday, 31 December 2017

My review of 2017

       After reading my review of 2016, I realised that I had a very different year in mind. The first thing I decided was that I wasn't going to run any marathons in 2017. I just wanted to get quicker on the shorter distances. After 25 or so marathons, I just got bored of running 3.30+ somethings. It didn't feel like racing anymore and I wasn't pushing myself. I had become too comfortable in my running shoes so to speak. So my goals were to run faster and lose weight....

                                   (On my way to my first PB of 2017 at the Romsey 5)

January 2017

    I always seem to pile on the weight over xmas and struggle in the New year. 2017 was no exception. It started with a couple of slow parkruns at Southampton and then the Stubbington 10k. I was hoping to run a sub 42 minute 10k but ran a disappointing 42.04. Not far off and my fitness was definitely improving. Stubbington had more hills than I had remembered!
Not long after a 20.12 parkrun was achieved although I pushed hard hoping for a sub 20. It seemed impossible or a long way off. I was still 16 stone and struggling to lose weight but to my surprise I got my first PB of the year at the Romsey 5 miler. 32.38 was a big PB for me knocking nearly 30 seconds off my time at Romsey beer race a few years back.

                                                          (What number am I thinking of?)

February 2017

     Not much was going on in Feb for me. I ran the Valentine's 5k in Lover with the 2 Ali's who found it funny to parade me around Lover with my race number much to my embarrassment. It was a really fun day though and very low budget. I even sent my Captain Jim a card from the Lover post office! I can't even remember my time but it was a stunning muddy trail course around the New Forest.
The other thing that happened was that I ran my first sub 20 in a long time at Southampton. A time of 19.55. Yes, it nearly killed me but I was so happy about it.

                                             (Bargain of the year. £8 for Tavy 13)

March 2017

    My running for March seemed to take a dive for some reason. A few slow parkruns were done and me, Mikey and Larry ran the Tavy 13. A half marathon with hills and strong winds on Dartmoor. A stunning course though and a nice change from Eastleigh 10k. It was the farthest I had run in a while as I was doing speedwork and 5 and 10ks. I really struggled but Mikey kept me going to the finish. I got a really bad 1hr 49 mins and 36 secs. Obviously Larry was nowhere to be seen with his lightning speed!
I ran Basingstoke parkrun for the 1st time and failed the sub 20 test once again. Running a 20.40. It was a nice parkrun though and really enjoyed it. The very same day I walked to Amport for the Amport 10k race. It was a small village Saturday afternoon race organised by Muddy runners. It was really great fun. Made me laugh that some people took it so seriously though. Was a hot day and there was a nice pavilion to chill out on and watch all the runners coming in.

                        (Thanks to Lois for this photo of me at Salisbury 10 on a very hot day)

April 2017

Salisbury 10 was a race I was hoping to see some progress and start to run the longer distances. I saw this as great training for my planned PB attempt at Swansea half later in the year. I wanted to run sub 7's and achieve a sub 70. I ran a 70.35 but it was a very hot day. I was kind of ambivalent about this result. My fitness was getting better but not running a sub 70 for 10 miles seemed like a failure.
I ran Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun for the first time and ran well with a 20.11 but again didn't get that sub 20.
I was hoping for a PB at Southampton 10k. Sadly this was disappointing again. The race started while I was still in the warm up area. No gun had gone off and I was stuck at the back walking. It took me nearly a mile to catch some of the veterans from my club. I ran hard but all the efforts were never going to be enough. I even had to do a quick turn as I was heading for the marathon route. This race was a shambles with the 10k, half and full marathon all going on. I vowed never to run this event ever again. 43.34 on a course that should have seen me PB!

                                              (That sting in the tail at Bratton hilly)

May 2017

    Alton 10 I remember nothing about. I ran a crappy 82.08 though. Southwick parkrun was done before my favourite race of the year. The Bratton hilly 11.4k. This year we took Di for her first time and she loved it. I always go on about this race. Low budget trail race with lots of hills and great views. First time I ran the whole course without walking up any hills and I was a minute slower than my course PB the year before! This day never disappoints though and i'll be back there again next year.
Netley 10k was next and I felt I had to do it some justice after the Soton 10k. I achieved what I had set out to do... A sub 42. 41.55 was my time. I was happy with this.
Not long after I got a SB at Soton parkrun with an impressive time of 19.55. I think this was the first time I Sub 20'd twice in one year. Little did I know that more were to follow!

                                (Running the Cotswolds with Chloe was a fun adventure)

June 2017

   I decided to quit work for 2 months. I was going to cycle and run around Wales but then other stuff happened and I didn't. I also decided that all the cycling around Wales would slow down my running pace. I was also going to concentrate on losing some weight which was slowly coming off me.
I did Whiteley parkrun for the first time and the beer race in 33.17. Not too bad but no course record. Think it is 33.04 still. I did some more parkrun tourism with Mount Edgcumbe which has to be the hilliest parkrun ever? 3k uphill, some fast downhill and then an uphill finish again. I was 5th with 22 minutes. People who win it don't always sub 20 but then they only get 40 runners and most of them are tourists.

Not long after I run a 20.21 at Llanelli coast with a heavy rucksack full of clothes. I wasn't going to race it but I was in the top 5 from the start and got carried away. I finished 4th. May be a good excuse for running a crap half the next day.
Swansea half was supposed to be my PB target race. Training hadn't gone great though. I wanted to run another sub 1hr 30. 1hr 33 is what I got. I just didn't have the endurance yet. I could no longer run sub 7's after 7 miles.

In June I also got to run some of the Cotwolds way with Chloe from Cheltenham. We ran parts of it twice in different directions. We got a bit lost at times at thumbed down a bus after 18 miles but it was a wonderful mix of terrain. I plan on going back again at some point.
Something else that happened is that I became a pescetarian and ran my fastest mile in a time of 5.29

                                    (Running down the Big Dipper in Merthyr Mawr)

July 2017

Since becoming a Pescetarian the weight was falling off me. I was only running 20-30 miles a week too. No junk miles for me. Every training session was pretty intense. This is when I was starting to feel pretty good and quite fit.
I ran a 19.21 at Moors valley parkie, a 19.54 on my first visit to Guildford parkie and a 19.23 back at Soton parkie. I was also loving the parkrun tourism. I ran a comfortable 21.23 at Porthcawl parkie where I met up with fellow V40 club runner Neil Catchlove who came in first place. I was saving my efforts for 2pm though. The Merthyr Mawr rabbit run. A 7.3 mile trail race. I was staying at my cousin Phil's in Ogmore-by-sea and was grateful for him looking after me, It rained a lot though and was pretty windy too.
This race had it all. Lots of mud, hills, big sand dunes, river crossings and a secret tunnel. It was a wonderful experience and I have already entered for 2018. It's a must do race along with Bratton.
Obviously I got a 7.3 mile PB of 1hr 3 mins. A time to beat next year.
That day I caught the train from Bridgend to Frome. The Frome half marathon was the next day. I met Di and Ian Bower there. I ran pretty well and didn't finish too far behind Ian. Despite being very hilly it was my best half marathon in a while.

                                                 (Another sub 20, this time at Upton House)

August 2017

    I was now down to 14 stone. I had lost 2 stone and people were starting to notice. 91.36 at Sturminster half which isn't flat. A 19.43 at Upton house parkrun where I met up David Rees. One of the nicest courses with a hill on the second mile. I was very happy to finally run a sub 20 at Netley parkie. Scraping just under with a 19.53 and a 19.41 at Brockenhurst with great support from the Letherens.
Another PB came too at the Trowbridge 10k. I shocked myself with a time of 40.28. Sadly though, it's not UKA race so won't appear as my PB on Runbritain or Power of 10. I spoke to the winner of the race and he said he was surprised I got a PB on such a technical course. It sure wasn't flat as advertised but a great course.

                                                   (Very determined at Maidenhead half)

September 2017

   August was great, September was going to be my best month!
I ran a PB at Maidenhead half marathon. I was aiming for my second sub 1.30. I got 88.12. I smashed my half PB by over a minute. I couldn't believe it. I was even chatting to other runners on the way round and ran a 34 miler to Sailsbury from my house the weekend before. So much for no junk miles. I am still over the moon about this PB. I paced well and held on for the last 5k.
Not long after I got a 5k PB at Soton parkrun. A time of 19.02. This was painful though and I thought I might die at the finish
I also ran the hilly Winchester half marathon with nearly 1000ft of elevation gain. I ran a time of 1hr 32. I had put everything in and was happy with this result. At last, my results were worthy and no longer a disappoint to me.

                                                          (The finish of Winchester half)

October 2017

Not much going on in October. I was starting feel a bit burnt out and worn down, yet I would race another very hilly half at the Eden Project. It was so hilly in fact that I walked up 5 hills and finished in 1hr 36 and was still 35th overall. It was a stunning race with free entry to the Eden project but I was too tired after drinking my free beer in the hot tropical forest. I also did Parke parkrun the day before. Another hilly Devon one near Bovey Tracey. 3 hills and 1 pretty much unrunnable but again very stunning scenery on the National trust site.

                                                    (I seem to be attracted to hilly halves)

November 2017

   The AVR Wiltshire half was my idea. I had been wanting to do it for a while. I wanted another PB or a another sub 1hr 30 at least. It didn't look hilly but Mikey reckoned it looked it. It was hilly but somehow I just snuck under the sub 1.30. 1hr 29 something. I was over the moon again. It was a tough race on country lanes with not too much to see to be honest. Very friendly and well organised though. Again, not a UKA race so no results to show...
I also went back for that sub 20 at Basingstoke parkie with Rob Agar and Emily Smith. I didn't get it though as it was pretty muddy and water-logged in places. 20.34.
I did a very muddy Reading parkrun where the website says "Road shoes are suitable all year round". I could barely stand up and ended up chatting to people on the way round with a 21.13
More tourism followed with a shock at Isle of Wight Medina. I was expecting a very boring course and it turned out to be one of the best I have run despite getting lost 3 times and being redirected. A time of 20.22 on a pretty quick course.
Brockenhurst parkie moves from the college to Wilverley plain in the winter. I had never done it so decided to cycle there one freezing cold morning. I'm glad I did. The start is super fast and then you meet this massive but runnable hill at 2.5 miles or so. Stunning woodland with the sun shining through the trees and it's on gravel track so you don't even get muddy! It was great to see Alice Rudd too who always beats

                                           (My last PB of the year at Victory 5)

December 2017

   I told myself and everyone else that I was running a 22 minute parkrun at Soton. I started off faster than anticipated though and there was a 19 minute pacer ahead of me who I would later befriend by the name of James Clarke. I tried to stick with him but failed. I finished in a time of 19.04. 2 secs away from my previous PB and not far from Sub 19 really.
Victory 5 was a weird one for me really. I got a place last minute from poor injured Chris Lamb. I knew I was going to get a PB before I even turned up. All I had to do was pace 6.30's for 5 miles right? I was confident but it's also easy to get caught in the race especially when it's a HRRL race. The first mile was something like 6.02 or 6.04. This was not my plan was it? Anyways, I settled in a bit better later on and made sure I ran the sub 6.30's. I finished in a time of 31.34. A massive PB by nearly 90 seconds.
That was my decided last race of the year all though I still had Bovington half to do which I dressed as a rainbow fairy and jogged round with Simon Ashdown. It turned out to be a 16.5 half mara course. I didn't care as I wasn't racing. A big thanks to Helen and all the Itchen Spitfires who made me fell welcome on their coach. It was a great day out.
I also did Weymouth parkie where I was quite hungover and ran a 20.53. It's a fast course when not muddy!

                                                   (It seemed like a good idea at the time!)

A fantastic year of running for me with 5 PB's despite having a nasal infection for 11 months where I had trouble breathing. I had asthma tests, camera up my nose, chest x-rays, allergy tests and nasal sprays. I currently haven't used a nasal spray for 4 weeks.
I ran 1,356 miles and cycled 3,426 miles in 2017.
Thanks for reading some of it. I hope you do some of these great races next year :)