2018 in Review

Overview

It’s safe to say that this has to be one of the best years of my running life so far! Last year was tough but it set the foundation for success in 2018.

I have set personal bests at 5k, 5 Mile, 10 Mile, Half Marathon, Marathon and 50k. I have also qualified for the British Triathlon Age Group Team for Aquathlon and will be going to the European Championship in Romania next year!

I have finished 4th at a trail half and a trail full marathon. I finished 2nd at a trail 5k and I won a trail 20 miler. In addition I finished 12th at a trail 50k, 14th at a mixed terrain 10k and 15th at a road 10 mile.

The secret? I took the pressure off. Most of my running, be that training or racing, has been without hard and set goals attached – in races I’ve lined up at the start with a view to giving what I could on the day and nothing more, and in training if I felt the need for a break or a slower session I gave myself room for it.

Best Race

Tring 50k – paced really well, surpassed my expectations, set a 37 minute PB and finished 12th overall. Here’s my race report:

I focused on pacing, not racing and it worked out well! The first 12 or 13km are pretty flat so I aimed to average 4:40pkm there and once we headed onto the trails around Wendover I adjusted to between 5:00 and 5:15pkm. I had a loose plan to hike all the ups after 15km and I stuck to that, as well as running all the downs and all the flat. Overall I was aiming for 5 hours so to run 4:35 was amazing!

Around the 30km mark and looking strong!

I listened to music again for the whole race which I really find helpful at the moment. I ate 8 Shot Bloks and drank a lot of water and I knew about it by 35km – from there to the end I felt a bit sick and wasn’t able to eat anything else for the rest of the journey!

I thought I’d finished 7th overall, initially the timing system said 4th! Final result turned out to be 4th Age Group and 12th overall.

I felt really happy all the way through, even when I felt sick! I smiled a lot, hummed to myself a fair bit and spent portions of the race thinking about different things I’m grateful for in my life. Worked wonders!

Worst Race

Chiltern 50k – repeated same mistakes as the first time I ran it!

Around the 30km point. Shortly after this section I started to fade.

Although I finished 9 minutes quicker than in 2016 and 8 places higher up the field I failed to drink enough water given the high temperature and abandoned my plan to eat little and often along the way. Annoyingly I was on pace for what would have been a PB up to around the 32km mark and then BOOM – my energy levels sank, I began to dehydrate quite drastically and basically walked it in with 5km to go. I won’t be returning to this one in 2019 as it won’t fit with the ETU Aquathlon Championship. I will be tempted to come back and do better in 2020 though!

Best Moment(s)

Running in the foothills of the Himalaya in May.

Getting engaged in the jungle above Rishikesh.

Detaching myself from weekly mileage targets and finding that a more relaxed approach to training really works for me.

Worst Moment

Although I was still pleased at the end of the race, I was extremely disappointed to be dropped from 2nd into 4th with 2km to go at the Kings Forest Half Marathon in October – I had been in 2nd from about the 500m mark and was giving all I had. I could feel myself fading with about 3km to go but I hadn’t realised how close (and how fast) the guys in 3rd and 4th were running.

Favourite Run(s)

My first run in Mcleod Ganj, India was amazing! I ran through the streets of the town, and then up a winding mountain road to the village of Dharmkot before turning onto a mountain track leading up into the foothills of the Himalaya. The views were breathtaking and the run itself was challenging on the way up, and fast on the way down!

2018 also saw some UK based firsts – I ran from my Dad’s house to my house (20 miles), I ran from my Nan’s house to my Mum’s house (10 miles) and I went for a run with my brother a few times as he randomly decided to give running a go in the summer. I also ran a lot with Sarah through spring, summer and autumn which was great – it was amazing to see her race her first 5k and 10k too!

Running in deep snow, on local country roads in February was also a highlight – snow deep enough that I could comfortably run in trail shoes without ever breaking through to tarmac.

At the other end of the spectrum I ran on the treadmill in India a couple of times. The first time was in Bodhgaya where the outside temperature was 44°c and inside the air conditioning was appalling so the temperature was 37°c, I have no idea how but I managed to push on and run a 25:30 6km without throwing up or passing out!

The second time was the day before we were due to fly back. This time we were in Delhi and it was even hotter outside – 46°c! Thankfully we were in a 5 Star hotel so the air conditioning was much better and I ran a 33:00 8km in 30°c before heading out to the outdoor pool for a cool down.

In 2018 I also trained with friends more than I have ever done before, as well as committing to Gade Valley Harriers running and triathlon club. It has been a year full of enjoyable and varied running both solo and with friends and I am really looking forward to 2019!

Favourite Kit
I tried and tested a lot of low volume race vests and waist belts in 2018 for use in 50k and trail marathons, as well as long training runs. I can safely say that the Mountain Hardwear Singletrack vest is not only the cheapest out there but also the most comfortable and easily adjustable in a crowded market. Pair it with UltrAspire soft bottles and you’re good to go long!

2018 also saw the purchase of my second pair of Adidas Adizero Boston for road running and my 4th and 5th pairs of La Sportiva Helios SR for trail running.

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