The annual review of the year past from the ‘26.2 & Beyond’ perspective.
A tough year in many ways as I struggled in January and February with injury that led to me pulling out of Country to Capital (DNF) and TransGranCanaria (DNS). This led on to some questions and searching – do I want race ultras, do I still have the drive to train for anything, what shall I do, should I go back to road races?
The searching led to answers and I decided I’d take a break from ultras after one last redemptive shot to get over the ultra DNFs and DNS that plagued me from August 2016 to February 2017 – I ran North Downs Way 50 in May, and finished, and from there I trained up to and successfully through the Lakeland 50.
After Lakeland I began to look into diversifying into triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and some short(er) distance road racing and committed to bettering my marathon and short distance road PRs between August 2017 and May 2018. I also committed to actually achieving my 2016 resolution racing a triathlon, duathlon and aquathlon in 2017!
The second half of the year, although exciting in terms of treading a new path was personally very difficult with anxiety, stress, depression and some family issues combining leading to some inconsistent training, struggles at work and a desire to hide away from the world for a while. Thankfully this has all subsided now as I’ve done a lot of positive work to redress the balance – work is good again, I don’t feel depressed and thanks to some counselling and the fellowship of AlAnon I don’t feel overly anxious and sometimes so alone anymore!
North Downs Way 50 and St. Albans Half Marathon
The NDW50 was great return to actually finishing an ultra! I ran almost exactly the same time as I did for SDW50 back in 2015 – I initially thought I was on for a personal best by quite a margin but it wasn’t to be as my watch recorded a greater distance as I was moving around Aid Stations! Alas, I ran a solid effort and hiked hard on the uphills and managed to a get a good rhythm and tempo on the runnable sections. It was great to have Sarah out on the course too and it was a beautiful spring day for running.
The St. Albans Half Marathon was amazing as I went into it with no real expectation – I was running it as I ran it as my first half marathon five years ago and I figured I’d see if I’d made much improvement since then! Apparently I’ve made quite a lot – I ran 1:38 in 2012 and in 2017 I happily ran a 1:28 in scorching heat. Sarah and her nieces were there to see me at the finish line and the little people had spent the hour prior to my finish making banners to wave when they saw me heading down the last 100m to the finish line!
Country to Capital
My first race of 2017 and a DNF – not the best start at all and all because I was stupid and went off way too fast! I have no idea what I was thinking but I felt great for the first 30km and then, all of a sudden, BOOM – nothing in the tank and shortly after excruciating pain in my glutes and my quads to boot. I struggled on to 43km and dropped out about a kilometre out of the aid station. It was awful turning around and walking back with my head hanging and my spirit dropping with each step. It really impacted on my running for the next couple of months and added to the mental stress of my DNF at TDS the previous August.
St. Neots Sprint Triathlon and Ashridge Boundary Run
St. Neots – I did my first triathlon with very little training in September and was surprised to put in a strong open water swim before a relatively smooth transition to the bike where I held my own against people on fancier bikes and with a more seasoned pedigree in the sport! After the bike I went on a fantastic run! I ran my way up the field and in a slightly short course (4.7km) I ran 17:40, finishing 2nd in Age Group! I couldn’t have asked for a much better debut really and it cemented my love for a new found endurance pursuit.
Ashridge – This was my return to trail racing after January’s Country to Capital DNF. It’s a 16 mile run taking in some beautiful Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire scenery. 5k from the finish the course runs to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon – the highest point in Buckinghamshire. The weather wasn’t great for spectating as it was foggy and cold but to my surprised this hadn’t bothered Sarah who’d hiked to the top to cheer me on! That little cheer and wave sped me along to the finish where, lo and behold, I found Sarah again waiting to cheer me in.
It was difficult travelling to Gran Canaria in February. I had hoped to be racing the 82km race at TGC but my fitness was not up to it and, honestly, neither was my mental strength. We went down to the race expo nonetheless and I picked up my race pack just in case I had some mad cap idea to actually start the thing the next day! On the drive back to our finca it became apparent, in my head at least, that I wouldn’t be racing and this was confirmed that evening when I opted not to set a pre-race alarm and we slept in before heading out onto the course to provide some moral support to a friend racing the 125k race.
In June I headed to Devon and Cornwall to race the North Devon Trail Marathon – the race went well – hard work, difficult conditions but a good race.
After the race we headed with our camping gear down into Cornwall and there began the rain! A lot of rain for almost the entire week we were there. However, it didn’t dampen our spirits and we had a great time in the beauty of the south west.
My best run was, funnily enough, out in the driving rain at Grogley Wood, near Bodmin in Cornwall – extremely runnable dirt tracks, deep silent woods and steep descents made for awesome trail running, allied with the rain it also meant I had the trails to myself! To top it off there was a 1 mile road section to get there and back from our camp site and this made for both fast and dirty running!
Adidas Adizero Boost Boston 6
Taking on ‘Project Road Runner’ I realised I was going to need some new road shoes. My Adidas Adizero Adios Boost from 2014 just wouldn’t cut the high mileage! I had a close look at some New Balance and some Asics but in the end I went for another pair of Adidas as I knew exactly what size I’d need and I knew I loved my Adios Boost.
When they arrived I could run in them straight from the box and they were responsive, fast, comfortable and had just the right amount of cushioning meaning I could race and train in them. I wasn’t expecting to take to road running with ease after years of predominantly running trail but I very much think these shoes helped with the transition. I’ve also found them to be quite sturdy and usable on groomed and packed trails – I’d be tempted to try them at a 50k and possibly even a 50 miler if it was in summery conditions! I can’t recommend them enough.