Pauline asked me if I’d mind doing a review of my running year for 2018 and a write up of some hopes and fears for 2019 with a view to boring a’body with my plans for some adventures into untried territory in the form of Ultra Running next year. I wasn’t too enthusiastic at first as racing wise I’ve not achieved all the goals I set out to in 2018. Maybe I set the bar too high? I don’t know.
I am very aware not to moan about race times as there could be people who would be delighted to run the times I am running! But running is relevant to your own goals, times and ambitions. I always say I’ve put my pre-kids running life to bed but it’s still lurking in the crevasses of my cranium.
So, despite feeling mostly like I raced like a pantomime coo in distress during 2018. I have enjoyed running probably more this year than I have ever done as I don’t put pressure on myself and have now made a point of avoiding negativity particularly at the start of races. I’m continually amazed at the amount of people who moan – “I’ve not trained”, “I don’t feel great”, blah blah blah: If you don’t want to be there bugger off. I do so don’t twist my happiness as I’m a miserable bugger when I’m not running – this is my happy time. Mini rant over!
I have done my highest mileage this year, completing 2149 miles in total averaging 5.8 miles per day. Maybe this is the reason I’m not as fast as I’d like. I should be putting more quality sessions over quantity, and moving into 2019 I’d like to mix both with some more structure. However, I like running just for the sake of running. A large part of my enjoyment of running in 2018 has been running with my new pals at Brechin Road Runners. I’ve had great enjoyment watching new runners – particularly Pauline and Barry’s marathon achievements. Pauline got a fantastic result through methodical planning and hard structured training, Barry hopefully will not mind me saying his training was maybe less structured, but he still puts in the work and some epic long runs: going out for 5 miles and doing something like 24 miles is not unusual for Barry. Also Ann-Marie romping the Forfar Guide Dogs 5k to take a podium spot was great to see, and there was also Michael at the Forfar 10k starting to show some of his natural ability again. Charlotte had an amazing run at the icy Livingston Half Marathon to skate round to take first lady, and an epic run at the Devil of the Highlands. Hopefully as a group Brechin Road Runners can make inroads in 2019 to attract some new runners. It’s exciting times. Stuart has big plans for an Angus Cup which hopefully can bring all the local clubs together as while we are separate clubs we all have one common goal. There are others running locally whom I’d really like to see come into our wee group. If people have not run in a club or a group it can be intimidating: however I’ve yet to meet any runner regardless of ability who is not willing to give up some time to help people along.
Enough about them – this is all about me! In 2018 my A race was the Stirling Marathon and I had ambitious plans to run sub 3:15 and get a good for age place for London. Although London Marathon has since moved the goal posts and it’s no longer a great ambition for me to run London. I’m not going to go into details of the marathon other than to say sub 3:15 did not happen. However, as I always say to the newbie’s it’s only running: the only person that really cares what time you ran is yourself. While the race didn’t go to plan I loved the journey and the process of getting to the start line, and learned so much on the way.
Some of my races through the year were ticked off while some were more eagerly anticipated or enjoyed. The Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon is probably my favourite half just because it’s my home town race. It was brilliant seeing some old club mates and getting a catch up and seeing others who were marshalling doing a double take as I cheerily waved on my trot past. The Tay Ten – organised by the brilliant Perth Road Runners, was a brilliant day out: the weather was stunning and the race is run on a brilliant route with the best marshals you could find. The Baker Hughes 10k was yet another highlight. I offered to pace Pauline to a 10k PB which she properly smashed. Pauline told me how she wanted to run. However as pre-discussed with Charlotte I knew I wanted Pauline to run more aggressively than her strategy – none of the negative splits, she had go out hard and hold on. Which is what she did brilliantly. The Forfar 10k was another great day with so many Brechin Road Runners vests on show for the first time. It gave us all a huge lift as a group.
Onto 2019 and some leaps into the unknown for me. My friend Katy Smith from Bellahouston Road Runners has been at me for many a year to get myself onto the Ultra scene. This is something I’ve looked at for a few years. Ultra-runners are all so enthusiastically passionate it’s really infectious. I love how they can look at a race as not an event but a day out.
Fellow Brechin Road Runner Charlotte will be my go-to guy this year as she has a great knowledge of all running but particularly for marathon and upwards where I have limited knowledge. It’s good to have someone that experienced that you can trust for good sensible advice.
So, all going well my Ultra Marathon Cherry will be popped on 5th May at Glen Lyon. I looked for some advice on the excellent Facebook page Running Friends Scotland and was advised to look at the BAM Ultra running series as a good source of some “beginner” friendly events. I picked Glen Lyon partly as, at 31.5 miles, it’s not overly long in Ultra terms. My main focus will have to be on pace judgement as I have detonated in every marathon I have ever done with the exception of the Cape Wrath Marathon with its off-road route and 2500 feet of climbing. This could be a sign that off-road terrain might be my thing?
I have also bitten the bullet and signed up for the August 2019 Devil of the Highlands 42 miler from Tyndrum to Fort William – which is half the West Highland Way. it’s always been an ambition to do the West Highland Way but I don’t have the time to walk it so I may as well just run the thing all be it in two separate races. In 2020 I plan to do the Highland Fling, which covers Milngavie to Tyndrum – but that’s a blog for another day! So that’s my trip into the unknown: there’s not much to say as I have no idea how these will unfold.
Training wise I’ll not be changing much other than to try to add some more structure with consistent speed work and not the sporadic sessions of 2018, and to try to put in back-to-back long weekend runs. I will also be tackling the Chester Marathon in October for no other reason than I’ll be in the area for a wedding on the weekend of the marathon. Being someone who does not partake of alcohol, the only problem may be recovering from the Devil in time. The miles will be in the legs – the main aim will be trying to get my legs turning over quicker again. However times don’t mean as much to me as they used to: as long as I’m happy with my performance then all is well. It’s only running!!