2014 started with a Bang, went a bit meh in the middle and then fizzled out.
The Spine Race. This time last year I was bricking it. I’d spent a lot of time and energy preparing and fine-tuning my kit. I was confident that (barring apocalyptic weather) I could do the route, but I wasn’t sure I could do it inside the 7 day time limit.
My goals were:
1) stay safe,
2) have fun
3) jog into Kirk Yetholm in the early hours of Saturday morning in the style of Mick Cooper (the 2013 2nd place finisher).
1) I definitely managed. 2) I managed, with the exception of Stage 3, from Hawes to Middleton, which was a bit of a struggle. 3) I failed. I didn’t jog, I walked. And also it wasn’t Saturday morning, it was Friday evening! Strolling into Kirk Yetholm, to what felt like a huge waiting crowd, in time for last orders was one of the best things I’ve ever done. With the 2015 race approaching I’m spending lots of time reminiscing about it. I’ll leave an overemotional ode to the Spine to another day...
The meh in the middle
Post Spine the question was ‘what next?’. In the longer term I’m thinking about one of the Arctic ultras, and maybe Tor de Geants. But for this year the focus was to ‘get less slow’, with a, somewhat optimistic, vague idea of getting fast enough to have a hope of finishing Spartathlon. Initially with weekly speed work and hill repeats I was making progress, and was going to aim at 110 miles in the Gloucester 24 hour track race in June. An incident involving a suitcase on wheels put pay to that. Instead I ground out a 50 mile PB of 9.29 (1 minute inside the Spartathlon 50 mile cut-off...) and stopped. The suitcase induced niggles finally cleared up when I upped my training in preparation for T184. Objectively T184 was a success. I finished comfortably inside the time limit. But I’d set off with bolder goals and ended up feeling a bit underwhelmed.
Post T184 I didn’t do much. Earlier in the year I’d thought about having another go at a 24 hour track race (Barcelona in December). But in the end I decided my body and head both needed a rest. I still ran most days, but for my sanity rather than training. Event wise I jogged Round Rotherham (just dipping under 11 hours again thanks to a last minute ‘sprint’) and did a couple of mini Mountain Marathons with very mixed results. The Dark & White Edale one went well; on ‘home territory’ with the clag down I finished 3rd LV40 thanks to cunning route choice and some luck in finding tricky checkpoints. The Peak Raid 3 from Crowden was a different story; last LV40 thanks to crap route choice, crap navigation and crap running.