It is tradition at this time of year to reflect on how the year has gone so I’m going to do a quick review but focus mainly on the running side of things because well…the rest was pretty horrific.
A new year, a new country
In January I moved to Jersey. No, not New Jersey as everyone outside the UK thinks. The original, “old” Jersey, a little island off the coast of Normandy with French street names and English customs.
From a city of over nine million to a Bailiwick with a population of one hundred thousand, the transition hasn’t always been easy. On the plus side, lunchtime runs along the beach were finished with a dip in the sea and weekend have been spent on cliff top trails and country lanes. On the other hand, fog has an annoying habit of getting in the way of the best laid travel plans, the weather changes its mind quicker than Boris Johnson and there is no Leon or Pret.
But with views like these, who cares! As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices! And what I’ve lost in chain stores, I’ve gained in brilliant, independent markets and shops.
Pain in Paris
My girlfriend has a tremendous habit of signing up to races only to have some comedic yet extremely painful accident occur which either means no training or this year, no movement. We were due to run the Paris Marathon in April only for her to stop abruptly at the end of a day’s snowboarding, greeting the icy floor with her shoulder. Let’s just say the ground came off better.
So rather than cancel the race, I decided to trot off to Paris which involved two boats, three trains and me being generally grumpy for the entire weekend on my own. My preparation was terrible, my morning pre-race ritual was decimated by nuclear-grade coffee and the race fell apart after a dubious pacing strategy.
As the announcer said “you will can see the magnificent Eiffel Tower on your left”, all I could think was “piss off with your stupid tower and this stupid race”. It was mile 18.
All in all, my highlight of Paris was getting on the train from Gare Montparnasse with a can of Heineken and a croissant.
Read my report here.
100 miles is not that far.
You’d imagine that if I had failed to enjoy 26 and a bit miles around the one of the most beautiful cities in the world, a 100 mile race finishing in Ashford would be lunacy. And you’d be spot on.
But I loved the North Downs Way 100. There were ups and downs obviously (it had nearly 10,000 feet of elevation gain) but my overwhelming memory is enjoying meeting new people, pushing through the tiredness and of course finishing!
Physically it was tough, especially the lack of sleep but mentally, I think it took me a couple of weeks to recover fully. I can only describe it as a fog that lay over me as I tried to process the event in my head.
It can’t have been two bad though as I’ve already signed up for the South Downs Way in June 2017!!
Read my report here.
Sausagefest in Frankfurt
If Paris was an epic fail, the Frankfurt Marathon was exactly the opposite. Impeccable planning courtesy of Finchy’s Athletic Running Tours and actually doing some running in the buildup helped. Once again I failed miserably to pace myself properly, knocking out a couple of seven minute miles around halfway before crashing to some ten minute walk/run efforts in the last few miles.
But it made me realise how important it is to have other people around you to enjoy it. Even though I screwed up my race tactics, I still managed to get round in under four hours and had a great time with it. That’s what running should be about!
Read my report here.
A weekly 5k wouldn’t normally sit next to marathons and ultras but parkrun is the closest you can get to the “spirit” of ultrarunning without actually doing the distance.
There is definitely more of a comradery in the longer distances as everyone pulls together to get through. Marathons and halfs tend to have a lot of people with headphones in, worried about their own races.
But at parkrun, there is a collective will to help everyone round or cheer on those that need a little encouragement.
My 5k personal best is 19.35 but I have yet to crack 20 minutes at parkrun, partially because it is Saturday morning and I like a Friday night pint, but also because I like helping others make their own PBs and see no point sprinting to beat a kid on the finish line. Their enjoyment about beating me or their own time is worth much more than beating my own record.
I’ve also (finally) started volunteering, mainly as lead bike. It’s amazing to see how quickly the leaders push round the course. Some mornings, I’m not sure whether I’m leading them or they’re chasing me!
And the rest…
In total, I am on course to run 1200 miles in 2016 which for me is incredible. I got to run in some beautiful places (Canada, Milan, Paris…Kent), I got to run with some great people and perhaps most importantly, I got to enjoy it all and push myself as a person.
Oh and I got to eat and drink lots without putting on too much weight! Roll on 2017.