As 2016 draws to an end I thought I would look back at my running year. There have been highs and there have been lows. I’ve got personal bests for 3000m, 5000m, parkrun, 5 miles, 10k, 9 miles, 10 miles and half marathon, but then I completely lost my confidence, followed shortly after by my fitness.
I started writing a running book, and was granted some arts funding to help. My blog was ranked in the top 200 running blogs and then nominated in the Running Awards. Despite wanting to run the Florence Marathon to raise money for cancer research, I failed before I’d even got started on the training.
Here’s my 2016 running year with links to a few blog posts.
2016 got off to a great start. Chris and I had been celebrating our engagement with a few bottles of champagne, so I was amazed to get a parkrun PB on New Year’s Day. I clocked 20.36.
This was followed by personal bests on the track for 3,000m and 5,000m, with UK number one rankings to boot (it was January and no other track races had taken place). I ran 11.49 for 3,000m and 20.24 for 5,000m.
I had the race of my life at the Dewsbury 10k in early February. Despite falling behind my friend Sarah in the early stages, I fought like mad to catch her. By the finish I was feeling strong. We both got PBs. I beat Sarah on position and she beat me on time, the perfect result. It was a fantastic day and one that I will always remember.
Two weeks later I was racing at the Wombwell five miles. I worked so hard during the race that I was hanging on at the end. I managed to hold on to finish third lady in a PB of 33.18.
My next race was the Barnsley Harriers 25th anniversary race. I joined Sarah, who ran two of the three legs. I ran one. Despite being a woman down, we finished in second place.
By March I was running well and feeling confident. I ran a PB at Barnsley parkrun clocking 21 minutes dead, and celebrating National Purple Day to raise money for Epilepsy Action.
I followed this with second vet 35 and a PB at the Norton 9, followed by a Yorkshire Veterans’ Championship bronze and a PB at the Thirsk 10 mile race, which knackered me completely. Thankfully Chris was waiting at the finish with a Crème Egg.
After the flat course at Thirsk, it was time for some hills. We headed to Lodge Moor in Sheffield for the first race in the South Yorkshire Road League.
I wrote about this race in a blog post called, Mountains and Man Flu, and decided to tell the local running community that I had a blog. Before this, I’d been quietly blogging away, not really doing much in terms of promotion. I took a deep breath and started shouting about what I do (more a whisper really). In March I also qualified as an England Athletics Coach in Running Fitness and went to watch the British Indoor Championships with Chris.
The road leagues continued into April with runs at Brodsworth and Worsborough, where I felt so strong and happy to be racing. I was excited to watch some spring marathons, but even more excited when my friend Fiona won the Boston UK Marathon.
In the final road league race I was battling for first vet 35 place. I gave this race everything I had, and I mean everything, only to cross the line and realise I’d been chasing the wrong woman! I was exhausted but so happy to win my age group.
I followed this with the Wombwell 10k trail race, finishing third in 40.49. I remember feeling a little disappointed at this. What on earth was I thinking! Sarah finished second, breaking 40 minutes too!
Things fell apart for me during a rainy 10k at Askern. I was first vet 35, but ran 41.41, my slowest time for two years. I was gutted. I was especially gutted to realise that my post-race Snickers chocolate bar had shrunk. Snickers to all this was a popular blog post.
I took part in the annual Barnsley Boundary relay race, finishing first lady in my race and winning the mixed team prize, but by ‘eck the nettles didn’t half sting! Before that there had also been the recce with Chris, the one where I forgot the car keys and ended up running for miles and miles and miles.
June was a good training month with friends.
But then came the fitness test. This was supposed to help me get better, but it didn’t. It made everything so much worse. My confidence was shattered.
Who knew I was getting it so wrong? I was told I was running like a duck and was at serious risk of getting injured.
At the Asda Foundation Leeds 10k I wanted sub-40, but could only manage 42.10 for second vet 35. I was so disappointed with my time. It was a great day with running friends, but when I got home, I cried. I didn’t know why my performance had deteriorated. I’d lost my confidence. I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Here’s the moment I realised there was chocolate in the goody bag.
Chris and I enjoyed a holiday in Mallorca where I learned that it’s important to spread sun cream evenly. I didn’t and ended up with burn patches. When we returned home I was offered a place in the Great North Run, thanks to Action for Children.
The Physios in Sheffield contacted me to ask if I’d like to come along to their Run Lab session. This made me feel so much better. Jon filmed me running, analysed my technique and gave me exercises to help. He was really positive and made me realise that all was not lost.
I also attended a course from a local running coach. We looked at nutrition, drills, strength and the importance of goal setting. He made me realise that it’s not possible to perform well all the time. It’s important to have a main race to target. I decided to put my marathon hopes on hold and focus firstly on the Great North Run and then the 10k. The coach designed a programme specific to my goals and fitness. I also started doing a strength and conditioning class once a week.
We celebrated Chris’ 40th in Vienna and then headed to the Great North Run.
I was a bit race-rusty, but determined to have a good time. I ran a PB of 94.22 for 11th in my age group. I was really pleased to be back racing, but still felt that I was a long way off my best.
In September I also started a new job and was delighted when one of my short stories was published in an anthology called, How do you Sleep? It’s a story I wrote after the death of my grandparents, and although it’s fiction, it is based on memories of baking with my Nan when I was young. It’s the first piece of fiction I’ve had published so I was rather chuffed.
Work and study meant training wasn’t as consistent as it perhaps should have been, and then I got ill. I had to miss my planned 10k race. I stood on the sidelines and watched Chris run instead, feeling thoroughly naffed off. Then there was the horror of being mistaken for a man and also a horse while I was out training.
We had a lovely time in Florence for Chris’ marathon.
I was so proud of Chris and my friends for running, but disappointed that I didn’t make the start line. Given my current fitness, work and study commitments, a marathon was unrealistic. One day though.
My own training continued, albeit for a shorter distance. I took part in my first parkrun in eight months, finishing fourth lady in 21.07. It was a start. I was also featured in the local paper for my writing efforts, which was lovely and gave my confidence a bit of a boost.
I took part in the Percy Pud 10k, my first 10k since July. I just managed to get into the prizes, with third vet 35. Not a great time, but I was so happy to be back racing. We were joined by Olympians Michael Rimmer and Eilish McColgan, so it was great to meet them too.
Later in December, I returned to parkrun, running 20.58 and a slower 21.22 on Christmas Day. I entered two 10k races for next year – the first in Dewsbury, the second in Bradford. I’m overweight but optimistic that the pounds will come off once I get stuck into some hard training. I’m hoping that with a few races, my confidence will soon return.
2016 has been a mixed year, but when I look back on what I’ve achieved, I’m actually rather pleased. It’s been a good year, and there’s also been a fair bit of cake.
I’m really excited about 2017. Chris and I are getting married in June. I can’t wait. When it comes to running and writing, I have lots of ambitions, and will be working hard to achieve them, hopefully, having a lot of fun on the way.
I hope you’ve all had a great year. Thank you so much for reading my blog.
Happy New Year!