AT this time of year it’s good to look back on the last twelve months, celebrating the highs and reflecting on the lows.
2017 has been a fantastic and very busy year for me and Chris. We got married, went on honeymoon, both started new jobs, and have now started renovating the house.
I graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, and continued working towards my Master’s degree in Writing, completing the postgraduate diploma in May. I edited a writing anthology which included an extract from my novel, continued working on my creative non-fiction book and set up a writing group in Sheffield. And, did I mention our wedding, because organising that has to be one of the greatest achievements of my year, if not, my life. Who knew organising a wedding would be quite so challenging?
With so much going on, it was impossible to keep running as a priority, but I still managed to train and race, although not quite as much as in previous years. The highlights included a Parkrun PB of 20.09, a 40 minute 10k, and with my team (Barnsley AC) a fourth place finish at the British Masters Road Relay Championships.
The year started with a change of running clubs. I said goodbye to my club Kingstone Runners and joined Barnsley Athletic Club. My first race of the year was a very windy 5,000m on the track for Barnsley AC’s winter track series. With such hurricane force winds, I spent most of the day hoping it would be cancelled, but I should have known better, because it wasn’t. I was pleased to finish first woman in 21.21.
The track must have been good training because a week later I ran a 20.09 personal best at Pontefract Parkrun. It came at a good time. I was on the verge of retirement and just about to take up darts. It was a year and three weeks since my last Parkrun PB, so I was delighted. Spurred on by my PB I thought I’d be in with a chance of a track 3,000m PB in the next race of the winter track series. I did my best, but couldn’t quite manage it, finishing third fastest woman in 11.55, six seconds off my best, but I was lone running, whereas with my PB I’d been battling with a friend.
The first weekend in February is always the Dewsbury 10km, but this year’s race was very different. It was longer! On an out and back course, someone had put the turnaround cone in the wrong place. We weren’t happy.
A few days later I was on the start line for the Barnsley AC winter track 10,000m. It was a great night with a great atmosphere. I finished second lady in 42.10, battling my internal thoughts and not quite having the confidence to push on.
In February I was busy with assignment deadlines for my English Literature degree, but managed to drag myself away from an essay on Virginia Woolf to run the Wombwell 5 miles. I think the pressure of juggling work, study, horses, wedding planning and training was starting to take its toll, but I’m pleased I raced, because I finished first vet 35 and picked up a silver in the team prize. My moment of glory and the podium was too small!
In March and April, I raced five weekends in a row, taking part in the Epilepsy Action Bradford 10k, Northern Road Relays, Lincoln 10k, National Road Relays, and Salford 10k. For the Bradford 10k, the weather was terrible. Wind, rain, sleet, we had it all. I also found it a really tough course. It felt uphill all the way. I was, however, pleased to finish ninth woman in 42.05.
This put me in good shape for the Northern Six Stage Road Relays, in Blackpool, where I agreed to run a long leg, before asking how long that would actually be (9.5k). It was tough running two laps, mostly on my own, but worth it because as a team we did so well, finishing twelfth and qualifying for the nationals.
After this it was the Lincoln 10k, where I was delighted to dip under 41 minutes in 40.56, finishing just out of the prizes. At the National Six Stage Road Relays in Sutton Coldfield, we were up against some very young, very fast and very athletic-looking young people, but we held our own to finish 31st team out of 46. I had a really good run of 36.38. I seem to perform much better in the team events than I do individually.
After so much racing, I headed to the Salford 10k, hoping for a personal best, but probably just a little fatigued. The weather was terrible. Rain, rain and more rain, which dampened my spirits as well as everything else. I completely lost concentration during this race, thinking about weddings rather than running, so I finished fifth vet 35 in 41.34. I knew I had to stop racing so much and focus on the wedding and studying, but before I did, there was one race that I had to do.
The British Masters Road Relay Championship at Sutton Coldfield in May. It was a three-mile hilly course, and I ran 19.36, the best run I’ve had all year. It was such a fantastic day and we were over the moon to finish fourth! This is definitely my best running moment of 2017! Without a doubt.
May was a good month. I handed in 40,000 words of my novel as part of my MA Writing at Sheffield Hallam and launched an anthology I edited at Waterstones Sheffield. Unfortunately, I had to miss the Askern 10k because I had a wedding dress fitting. And, I also had to limit the amount of cake I was eating so that I could fit into the dress. I’d been measured for it while I was training for the Great North Run last year when I was at my leanest. The pressure of having to be thin!
In June I handed in my final assignment for my English Literature degree. After six years of studying this was definitely worth celebrating. This included a parkrun and a scone.
On 24 June we got married then went on honeymoon.
The party continued when we returned with two trips to London to the World Athletics Championships where we watched Usain Bolt and Mo Farah. We’d already bought tickets, and then we won tickets with Muller yoghurt. Giving up chocolate and replacing it with yoghurt in order to fit into my wedding dress paid off!
With the wedding, honeymoon and trips to London, I decided to take some time off training, even though I had a half marathon coming up. I still trained, but not particularly hard or consistently. Then in August I started a new job, so had to get used to a long commute and new routine, and I also stepped up the work on my writing. I’ve now written 50,000 words of my running book, 30,000 words on my novel and 20,000 words on another project! And I’m so pleased with the progress I’ve made.
When I signed up for the Great Eastern Run, I’d hoped to break 1 hour 30 but with so little training there was no chance. I still ran anyway and had a fantastic run. The 1:44 plan became 1:39 so I was pleased with that.
During the final few months of the year I did a few parkruns, the Leeds Abbey Dash and the British Masters Cross Country where Barnsley AC finished fifth. I was disappointed with my run, but did the best I could with my current fitness. I finished the year with a second place overall and first woman at my work Santa Dash!
Looking back at the year, it was very much a year of two halves. The first six months were hectic and I have no idea how I managed to fit in all that racing, studying, wedding planning and work. In the weeks and months leading up to our wedding, I went into superwoman mode. Afterwards, I was exhausted. So, it’s understandable that I didn’t want to train hard. The second half of the year was about my writing career, with a bit of running along the way.
It’s been a great year!
What are your highlights of 2017?