2015: the good, the bad & the 'still can't believe it'
1. 5th at the Thames Ring 250
Six months later it still can’t quite believe that I did this. It’s joined my list of ‘things where I worked really hard to do OK and ended up doing far better than I thought I was capable of’ (the other entries are Grade 8 piano, finals and Ironman). I hoped if things went well, and I managed to keep eating and run-walking, I could finish in about 90 hours which should put me in the middle of the field. 82.5 hours and 5th was beyond my wildest dreams.
I struggled through the 2nd night, and wasted time wandering the isles of a 24 hour Tescos randomly and repeatedly sitting down to snooze. But otherwise it went pretty well and I finished feeling like I could have kept going for another couple of days (my swollen left ankle might not have been happy about that though).
2. Not finishing last at the Long Tour of Bradwell
I’d run this twice before, in the midst of training for CCC and UTMB, and finished last both times. So doing it again off the back of six months of running flat canal towpaths might not seem like the greatest idea. But I was hoping that I could turn my ‘plodding on the flat’ into ‘plodding up gentle slopes’. I was still painfully slow on the more technical ups and downs, but the plan worked. I was still close to the back of the pack, but slightly faster than before (on a longer course) and nowhere near last.
3. Purple bling at the Liverpool Leeds canal race
I entered this as something to keep me occupied during the late August bank holiday weekend, didn’t train properly and never felt great. But I kept plodding away, worked my way up from nearly last to mid-field and unexpectedly won a very purple trophy.
1. Dropping out of Run Until You Drop with the end in sight
I started this challenge for fun rather than as a serious goal. Fitting it in around work and commuting was a bigger challenge than the actual running, and by week 4 I wasn’t doing much other than working, running, sleeping and eating (and washing running gear). With the end in sight, a random injury stopped me short. It was fun, I discovered some new routes and learnt that it’s possible to fit lots of running into a working day (by pushing the boundaries of acceptable lycra wearing). However I ended up running really slowly, and I really don’t need to practice running slowly. It was probably OK as Thames Ring training, but I won’t be trying it again.
2. The wonky finger incident
My body and brain needed a break from ultra running, so I entered a series of mini mountain marathons in the Autumn. After mixed results in the first 2 events, I was having a great (for me) run in the 3rd one. I’d been more ambitious with my route choice, bagged the three highest value controls and was on my way back to the finish when I tripped, fell and dislocated my finger. Surprisingly it didn’t hurt and somehow I didn’t do any major ligament damage, but 6 weeks later it’s still a bit wonky looking and not quite working properly. From a running point of view, apart from losing all of my points, the worst consequence was the reemergence of my car-seat induced hip niggle.
1. Taby Extreme Challenge 100
The looped course was more technical than I expected, but I managed to keep running the runnable bits.
2. Wuthering Hike
I’ve done this race ever year since I started running ultras in 2008. It’s a bit short and hilly for me, and as usual I finished close to the back of the back. But, by plodding the gentle ups, I trimmed 7 minutes off my previous best time, and got to within 6 minutes of the (not very high, but elusive for me) 7 hour barrier.