Friday, 1 January 2010
Review of 2009
A slightly self-indulgent post here. I've already summarised mileage, progress, etc, in another post. I'd started this post previously, but never completed. Figured I'd post it anyway, might help to explain somewhat my move away from road running and its competitive grasp which ruined enjoyment. I'm not talented enough to be competitive so it seems constructive to focus on challenging myself in other ways, with a healthy dose of enjoyment in there too.
After a "solid" 2007 PBing every distance, 2008 was somewhat disappointing. My targets beforehand were probably a 40min 10k (which I didn't come close to) and a 1500 mile year, which, thinking about it now, is a bit of a useless, throwaway target which doesn't tell anybody much. Mid-summer, at the end of a near 30 mile hilly bike ride on the edge of the dales, my running year came crashing down. I was already biking more due to a knee injury. Then, and I still don't quite know why I came crashing over my handlebars under breaking, so fast I couldn't stop my face hitting the floor with my hands. Long story short, it could have been worse had I not been wearing a helmet but I still broke my jaw on impact, and the broken bone had penetrated through into my ear canal. It's pretty scary when you start bleeding out of your ear after a head blow, so the cause was somewhat relieving. Anyway the healing of the jaw and even more painful chest and rib bruising meant very little running the next month or so. When I returned I was slower and comparitively unfit. I was also an almost "skeletal" 9 stone - friends were a bit concerned - due to the fact I'd fallen at the end of a long ride, not been able to eat for many hours after due to the possilbility of an operation to steel plate my jaw :¬( That didn't happen but my jaw was banded nearly shut so I was on a liquid diet for weeks and there aren't many calories in soup! So 2008 was nearly a write off though in late November in my local and quite hilly/undulating (for a 10k race) I managed a PB by seconds - 41:49. I was also fit enough to have a go at my local LDWA event - Rudolph's Romp - and enjoyed it despite suffering through a lack of fitness and endurance. I like to think this was a catalyst for 2009 - I'd done a few LDWA challenges before, but it was now that I started entering more.
So 2009 - during preperation for a London Marathon where I hoped to run under 3:30 I fit in several LDWA challenges of over 20 miles - Scarborough Rock (25.5m), Rombalds Stride (22m), Trollers Trot (24.5m). I also did some more conventional prep too, doing longer road runs including the famous prep race, the East Hull 20. I also ran a big PB of near 1:32 in the suprisingly scenic Wilmslow half marathon in March. My other 20m+ runs were in a group along the Leeds Liverpool canal towpath, as easy an off-road course as possible. Come the day, I found London hot and claustrophobic, after 20m I suffered a variety of worsening cramps in both legs. I persisted to a 3:39, but was gutted I didn't do better. I didn't run well again for weeks, maybe months. I think the cramp and hard street combination had really battered my calves. I had been hoping for a run of fast 10k's after this, the HM time in March had suggested I was progressing. In reality the best I managed was a 44:33 two weeks later, a 42:39 on a really flat course a week and a half after this. After another disappointing, hot weather 43:39 I decided to take a break from the road and concentrate on preparing for the Osmotherly Phoenix 33.
I enjoyed a steady saunter around the Wharfedale Off-Road marathon with Claire (Clairster) and forumite Nurse Gladys and a couple of shorter road/trail summer league races. I also ran an ultra of 29m in training, along the canal from Skipton to Leeds, helped along in the last few hard miles by Mark Dalton who has been a great person to run events with this last year. I think sharing my outlook on not taking it too seriously and having a good feed along the way. Come Osmotherley it was a scorching day. As at London I cramped in the closing miles, but I got around and 6:54 was a big improvement on my first attempt at this two years earlier. I stayed around for the village show, fish and chips and a few beers. A whole day event, so much more fun than the cut-and-thrust, 40-45mins of pain in a 10k. From this point onwards I didn't enter another road race for a few months.
On a flat course I did PB at a 10k I'd already entered a week and a half later. That was about it though. A few days later after a boozy night out I did the Moors the Merrier the next day in Calderdale. Despite curtailing my drinking I wasn't 100% that day, I dropped down to the 20 from the 26 mile route. It was hard going in places, lots of tussocks and mud. I also ripped my trail shoe open and did about 13m with my foot nearly slipping out the hole. Despite this I loved it, took pictures, talked about it for weeks. I remember afterwards talking to a few different runners about the event, the hard going, getting lost, etc.. If I recall I think this included Chris Brown, who finished the 20m streets ahead of me and Nick Ham who scorched up the 26m route (though I never got his name and haven't met since, so can't be sure).
About this time I entered the Atlantic Coast Challenge of 3 off-road marathons in three days, on the cornish coast. So I wholeheartedly threw myeself into long off-road runs and races to prepare. This was a real joy, no real need to run off-road and most weekends I'd be in my car off to the peaks, moors, dales, pennnes to run a nice variety of events. Including amongst others my first AS class fell race, 1.5m total, 900ft up and then down, all I can say is "exhillerating". I also did my first few AL fell races, including the 14.5m Sedbergh Hills race, which made me realise that I'd really only dipped my toe in with previous fell races, this was epic, scary, beautiful and wild on a level above what I' previously done. I even doubled up with an LDWA challenge and 16.5m fell race one weekend, another big highlight. Not just for the running but for the beers on Saturday afternoon watching England in the pub in Bradwell, big curry on the night and somehow running a corker on Sunday after feeling as stiff as a board at the start.
I completed the ACC, truly only really suffering until the last day. So glad to have done it and it has only made my targets more lofty. I also broke my road racing ban, loving the beautiful Snowdonia marathon course, but feeling the pain in my legs from all that tarmac. I have since let myself recover a bit, having steady runs in LDWA challenges around Yorkshire, but still smashed my previous year's time at Rudolph's Romp (24.5m). Taking off nearly 40mins, but still feeling good most of the way and enjoying myself overall. As I write I'm just recovering from New Year and the traditional Auld Lang Syne Race. Due to ice the route was moved to the "Auld" Auld lang Syne course. Really hard going, but no dangerous ice at least. I haven't seen the full results yet but I think I was well inside the top 200 and top half, which is progress.