Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Review of 2019

           2019 started by waking up at Carl’s farmhouse in the darkest depths of Cornwall. We decided to skip the parkrun but we did do the Brown Willy run from the Infamous Jamaica Inn in Bolventor. Brown willy is the highest point in Cornwall. A very boggy and rutted 7.5 mile loop but I was told that these were the best conditions in years! Anyway, I think I wrote a blog article about it on here. It was a great day with pints of Rattler at the finish line.
At the time I was living with my friend Nick on the Barbican in Plymouth. Very nice indeed with the water on your doorstep. I was still struggling a bit with the weight, fitness and I was drinking most days. So many pubs and so many people willing to buy you a pint! Anyway, even though Mt. Edgcumbe was my local parkrun, I often did Plymvalley instead as there were only two massive hills instead of a 3k climb at the start. I also enjoyed the monthly Tavy 5k which only cost £1 and you just bought your race number back every month. The 3k series were good too. My 3k times never look good as again there were plenty of hills around the parks of Plymouth football stadium. I also did some nice friendly runs with Storm running club in Plymouth.
In February, my friend Adam came over for the weekend and along with Carl we went to Totnes to “Beat the train”. Only Carl beat the train. I could blame the slippery mud with road shoes but Carl was fast becoming a better runner than I. I think the train took an hour and I did 61.12. Not even sure how long the course was. We all ran longer anyway due to no marshal or clear turnaround point at the other end! 

23rd of February was my last race in the West country before I moved completely back to Southampton. Mike Mat and Carl were the others. The Looe 10 which is a Cornish grand prix race is so hilly that I found myself laughing as I tried to walk the hills. It took me nearly 98 mins to run this 10 miler and I was running pretty well I thought! 1600ft of elevation. That’s 160ft of ascent per mile. Carl obviously beat me in a sprint finish with our only sub 7 min mile. Oh yeah and we did Eden project parkrun a few hours before the Looe 10 race…lol.  

That was it. I was living back in Southampton. That would keep me out of the pub everyday for sure! I was now weighing in at 15 and a half stone. I wanted to get back in shape from 2017 but was really struggling and was never good at disciplining myself. I did a few parkruns including the new Mountbatten school one in Romsey and also a lovely one at Dinton pastures.
I was working within a couple of weeks of being back and I’m still there now, despite leaving there and returning. I work late shifts so it’s very unsocial hours but it means I get to run in the mornings and also go Bouldering which I took up sometime over the summer. I just booked a course and went along alone. Glad I did as I absolutely love it now and it’s the best core workout you will ever get.
I’m only keeping the job until March though as I want better hours and I’ve saved some money too being back at my Dads. So, I’m thinking about moving to Wales in Spring but we’ll see. I’ll make that decision nearer the time.

In April, I got a Devizes half place thanks to my old club running buddy Adam Wills. He was smashing out some really quick times but sadly an injury came. I went with Rob Benham, another club legend. I met both these guys in 2011 when I first joined Lordshill Road runners over 8 years ago now! It wasn’t flat and I didn’t do great but it was a good race. I think Rob had to leave me at 5 miles. He was only jogging around as well..lol. 1hr 41 mins. It was a start at least. I hadn’t raced a half in a long time and it showed.
What seemed like the hottest day of the year was Good Friday. I did the Wiltshire Good Friday 10 race. My Dad and I were on our way to Wales anyway to see the family. I only saw one other runner I knew and that was Paul Johnson stood there in that noticable Red and White stripped vest. An old rival but a super nice guy. He always makes me laugh. Anyway, he nearly beat me by 10 minutes on that stupidly hot day and my easter egg melted on the way back to the car. 73.04 was my shameful time.
The next day in Wales I caught the train to Neath and did the most beautiful parkrun I have ever done in all of my 48 locations at the time. It’s called Gnoll parkrun. A stunning country park with a lake, a river, old ruins and some hills. 

         May came along and it was time to do my favourite race of all time. First Di, Mike and I did Melksham parkrun where they had a “Bonnie Bollard”. It was a cardboard cut out of Bonnie Tyler’s face that they stuck to the bollard as it was the “Turnaround” point. Genuis! The Bratton hilly was so beautiful as always. The tough first mile uphill. The views of Westbury and Wiltshire from high above. The ups and downs in the lovely sunshine looking out at the colourful fields of flowers. Don’t forget “The sting in the tail” and the end of this race. It catches so may people out. Sadly, I found out that that will be the last time it will ever be run. It had been going for 18 years I think. Sad to think I’ll never run that route again due to private land that we were allowed to run on in the event. Goodbye Bratton, you will be dearly missed.x
Anyway, also in May saw me, Carl and Mike do the Ciderthon in Taunton. A half marathon we did in fancy dress and drank about 40 ciders. They were small cups but we had about 3 at each station. There were 13 stops. When we got to 10k I felt hammered and decided to run a bit faster to sober me up. It might have worked, I can’t remember. Never again! 1hr 55 isn’t bad though. 

In June I did my 5oth different parkrun location at Bushy parkrun. The home of parkrun. It had to be done. I went with Helen and Andy. It was also Mr.Herman’s 50th parkrun. It was a great course and over 1100 runners. The week after was lordshill 10k. I wasn’t fit still. I decided to try and pace another Andy for a PB but it didn’t happen.
I was trying to get quicker on the 10k’s now. Josh talked me into 4 Marks 10k along with Di and Danni but sadly Mike came but only as an injured spectator. I remmeber taking the piss out of Josh’s 10k time here and then we ran it. I didn’t even beat his time from the previous year. There were hills and mud and stiles to climb but a wonderful low key trail race. Di and Danni also won trophies for their efforts! Not bad considering the day before, with the excetion of Josh, we all ran the Serpent trail half marathon in Petersfield.
A week later I ran an SB for 10k at Wyvern 10k. 43 mins but a long way off a PB but things were starting to improve.
The following week I went back to Cornwall to run 36 miles of the Saints way and then the Magnifient 7 on the Saturday. It was a steady plod around for the pair of us. 

August arrived and so did the Sturminster Half. A great race but a much slower time than previous years. Another 1 hr 41 for me.
Salisbury 54321 was my first marathon in a long time despite plodding out some slow ultras including a 34 miler from Southampton to Salisbury with Carl. I waited an hour for Di and Mike but they had run the wrong way and Di fell and fractured her arm. I went to the pub on my own instead.
The last day of August saw myself and Carl meeting up in Castle Cary for the 30 miler Conquest of Avalon. A fantasic race organised by Albion runners. Dave Irwin has also written a couple of good books. Carl beat me by over an hour this time. He does run on Bodmin moor most days though. That’s my excuse this time anyway.
Josh talked me into doing Salisbury Half and I’m glad he did. It was a great race and a fast course despite the wind and rain. My mate Barry was marshaling and saw Chris Maple from Sailsbury too. 1hr 36 was my quickest half this year. Havant and Littlehampton made up my 52nd parkrun locations. Josh got P1 at Havant too! I remember pacing my friend Greg for his first sub 25 parkrun at Fareham too. That was a good day with Josh and Disgo Dan too.

            October and the Great South run soon came around. I was nervous at the start but pleased to run mostly a sub 7 pace and run a 68.44 10 miler. My fastest in a long time. I was very pleased with myself and I was now starting to lose some weight. Josh and Disgo also got great times and we got the train back with Gary Painting. It was a great day out. Loved it so much.
Think I missed out the Tadley 10 which was a lovely undulating 10 miler. Think I did 72 mins there. I was happy again. I was losing weight, running more and getting quicker.
For some reason or other, In October I decided to give Veganism a try. I had watched a few documentaries like “Game Changers”, “What the Health” and “Forks over knives”. Something clicked and there I was.. A Vegan. Anyway, more on than in a bit.

In November I did the Gilly Hilly 7.5 with Mike and Danni. It was a fantastic race with lots of hills but all road, my favourite. I feel that I ran very well in that race, yet barely made the top 30. Then I went back to Poole parkrun with Josh and Disgo Dan. They both got PBs and I got a sub 20 and SB of 19.39. I was over the moon and Josh owed me a Vegan breakfast for the sub 20. Happy days!
Wimborne 10 was still my 10 mile PB course from 2013. 66.59. My only sub 67 mins. I went with Mikey and met Kev Willsher there. It had some hills and a very big one at the end but it was a faster course than I remembered. We both got PB’s 66.44 for me. Exactly 2 minutes faster than the great south run. Was it the Vegan diet or just the weight loss from the vegan diet? I was wondering what my recovery would be like too. There were even free Vegan cakes there. No medal though but I got my time. 

End of November I did my 200th parkrun at Southsea. It was great to see the Kelly family and Dave Keates. Greg was also there with his wife Charlie. It was windy but I got a time of 19.38. I think Greg got a PB too? We then went for a really nice vegan brekkie after a bit of walking around Albert road.
I did a very hungover Weymouth parkrun in 20.05 and then a Salisbury one in 20.21. I really struggled that day and Chris Maple beat me in a sprint finish. Haha. He then apologised.
Last race of the year was the Portsmouth Coastal ultra. Neither Carl or I had really trained but we did it anyway. We pretty much ran the marathon together. It was brutal underfoot and said it was the worst conditions in the 10 years of the event. The shingle and headwind on the ultra part in Hayling Island was ridiculously tough. It was great to see kiernan at the aid station though and a few familiar faces on the way back. I pushed on with some run/walking after leaving Carl at 26ish miles. It was so windy and I really had to dig deep to finish but finish I did with a time of 4hr 48 mins. I beat Carl for the first time in ages! My first ultra as a Vegan too. He was less than 5 mins behind. Sadly, he is still feeling injured. Over all it’s been a great year for me. Sure took me a long time to get that 10 mile PB. Kev has always been a great inspiration and a great influence though as well as the Mattingleys keeping me straying off the good paths in life, plus all the car sharing of course. 

I have lost 2 and a half stone. Currently weighing in at 12st 12. I am eating more healthier and feeling the benefits of a vegan lifstyle. It’s not a diet so it makes it easy to do. I have rubbish discipline but feel that it’s not really required for this. I think I am happy to stay Vegan. I have a lot more energy and my concentration is sharper. I had to buy some more jeans and t-shirts the other day though as my friend Carl said I looked like a homeless crackhead with all my clothes hanging off me. The pic at the bottom of this write is me now. The weight isn't really coming off me now but it's the first time my body fat percentage is under 20% but only just. That'll be the beer then! 
10 year ago I was almost 6 stone heavier! Running sure saved my life. Now, if only I could stop that binge drinking! See you next year for some fast times hopefully. Fewer junk miles and more speed sessions. Hoping for some better parkrun and 10k times. First race… Goodwood 10k on the 2nd of Feb. Better get training.