2018 Running: Further, Stronger, Happier

2018 pledge!

2018 started with a pledge try and run 1000 miles. I never really thought I’d get all the way there. I did say in my first post of the year that I really wanted to have a crack at it but in my head my A Goal was 750 miles, B goal was to run more than in 2017 and C to get out and run and enjoy it. Well I have well and truly smashed 2018! My Year end total is 810.34 miles

January was cold and icy and I struggled to get myself out the door on loads of occasions. I found running hard but I still had some fantastic adventures running at the Bolton Abbey Estate and in London’s Hyde Park with Kath, running to work meetings in Saltaire and surviving a work team building couple of days in the Lake District. I was pushed out of my comfort zone which basically set the tone for the rest of the year – but in a good way.

February saw a fair bit of canal towpath running and it also saw me not finish the Harwood House Half Marathon. It was the first time that I really didn’t mind a DNF and enjoyed the part of the race that I managed. My hip was sore though and took a while to recover. February gave way to March and my running mojo and mileage didn’t pick up – in fact they plummeted further. There was snow and I was restless and grumpy about running. My chart shows a scattering of short runs with long gaps in-between.

April was better. I got my shit together and I got my backside round the Hawkshead 10km run and enjoyed it. In spite of the very slow pace and the terrifying downhill I loved it. I look back at it often and it somehow seems like one of the defining moments of 2018 in running terms. I found it impossible, the uphill, the mud, the slippery slate downhill but I loved it. And the adventures didn’t stop there. We ran in Bronte country, we ran almost to Burnsall, we ran our canal loops that were beginning to look alive in the spring sunshine and I meandered happily into May.

May brought more epic adventures. We conquered the Toronto Half marathon and I suddenly believed that I might have a 2.45 half marathon in me. I missed it this time but I hadn’t really believed I could go under 2.50 so a 2.48 was awesome. We ran on the Moors here and I ran in London and it was all quite lovely. In June the mileage dropped a little and I don’t really remember much about June running. It was fairly consistent but I didn’t blog much so maybe it was just uneventful. It ended with Day 1 of Endure 24 and July began withDay 2 and saw me go beyond marathon distance for the first time ( 6 x 5 mile laps) even if mostly walking.

July was all about low mileage but epic locations. We were in Australia. I ran on the beach, in the rainforest and the Brisbane Parkrun as well as tourist-running epic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House. Australia running was mind-blowing. We also registered for the Dopey Challenge while we were there so our running adventures were set to continue!

August saw the mileage increase again and I broke through the 500 mile mark. While that was fantastic I mentally struggled in August and my black pup was hanging around. September started well with the Great North Run (which I never did fully blog about but it was a solid half marathon which could have been epic if I’d been able to keep my head together. I learned a lot!). Then after that I got a horrible cold/flue thingy that I just could not shake off. When I eventually did I came back strong. The last three months of running have been solid. Mostly they have been enjoyable and while there have been tantrums and meltdowns – particularly on the long distances – I have not, other than in the heat of the moment, fallen out of love with running. I want to run!

December has been my highest mileage month ever. I haven’t pushed for that, it just happened. And I have enjoyed December and still feel physically strong. It’s almost like I might actually feel ready for Dopey! So what has 2018 taught me? Well, it’s taught my to enjoy running and to focus on enjoying it, to make that the key motivation not a side effect or nice to have. I’ve used my hashtag of #MyRunMyRules less but embraced the spirit of it more. I am getting much better at ignoring what I think is a respectable pace and doing my thing. I am growing in confidence and I am embracing a spirit of adventure. Looking back at the year I know I had low points, I know I had a fair bit of ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘it’s all f-ing pointless’ but I don’t really remember that. I have run better, further, stronger and most importantly happier than ever before. The pictures dotted through this post show some of the running moments and memories that encapsulate that (although many of my favourite moments weren’t captured because they were not that sort of moment). I am excited to see what 2019 brings.

Happy New Year!

4 at 40

It’s my birthday today. When I woke up this morning I had slept myself happily into my next decade. It was still early. Kath was even still in bed next to me and the cats had only just started pestering. Kath got up and I enjoyed a cup of tea in bed and a lazy start reading and cuddling cats – until they had enough. I think Shackleton’s face says it all!

After another cuppa and a West Wing re-run I had birthday pancakes and opened my presents. All very exciting and lovely. After a while spent looking at today’s and yesterday’s goodies I wanted to go and get some air and move a bit. I was looking forward to a run. We toddled off nice and gently starting with the first part of what we call our sheep loop. It’s called that because it goes past the fields where we used to have our sheep. The name has stuck even though we no longer have the flock.

We plodded through the wood and down the golf course and just as we turned onto the canal towpath Kath saw the kingfisher cut across the canal. I missed it. Never mind, there were plenty of ducks, geese, pheasants, sheep and dogs with their humans to see. We headed towards Silsden a bit and then turned round. Running felt normal, just something I do. Not hard or laboured, not really easy either, it just was. It felt good.

At 4 miles I wanted to stop – somehow it seemed right to do 4 miles today. 1 for each of my decades. I felt like I could have kept running for a long time but I didn’t want to. I wanted to have a leisurely walk along the canal and up home for the rest of the loop and I wanted to maintain the symmetry of 4 at 40 – so that’s what we did.

The rest of the day will be taken up with setting up my new camera (thank you Dad!), having a bath (there is something so luxurious and indulgent about having a bath in the middle of the afternoon) and then tucking into lots of yummy picnic food when the mothers arrive later. It’s been a lovely birthday already!

If you’d like to help me celebrate, seeing the fundraising total for mine and Kath’s London Marathon for Mind creep up a bit more today would really make me smile so if you can, please do send a couple of quid their way.

Happy Boxing Day everyone!

Christmas 800

I hope you’re all having a lovely Christmas day. Mine’s been quiet and nice. Most of it spent preparing Christmas dinner and eating it and then we watched the first Fantastic Beasts film which I like. I’d like a niffler – they’re a good mix of cuddly and mischievous.

Anyway we started our Christmas with a short run at Bolton Abbey when Kath finished work yesterday. Just a mile out and a mile back weaving round people on the out and choosing the top path to avoid them on the way back. I could definitely feel the weekend’s 11 + 17 miles in my legs but nothing was hurting or even achey – just a bit tired and heavy. It was the perfect stretch of legs on a perfect, lovely day.

Christmas Day began with a short run. It was still pretty much dark when we set off. Just at the end of our road we bumped into a lovely little dog called Rosie and her human and stopped to say Merry Christmas. Then we plodded on towards the canal towpath and along the silvery magic of the early morning canal. No people, just moonlight, a few ducks and some geese.

We walked up the former golf course and stopped for a Christmas morning kiss half way up the first slope. As we were about to carry on we heard deer off to one side – we saw a hint of movement but nothing more. We walked on up and then through the wood and stopped briefly when our favourite tree came into view.

Then we jogged down the other side until we got to about 2.25 miles and a formerly icy puddle which marked my 800 year to date miles spot.

800 miles. I feel a bit overwhelmed by that. I’ve done it without chasing the miles or pushing and I still have a few days left even! So maybe 1000 miles in on for 2019 and I am very much looking forward to having fun trying and taking the pledge again.

Anyway, Christmas morning started with a really lovely run and I went because I wanted to not because it justified my Christmas dinner or something silly like that. I went because being out on a foggy, dark morning like today makes you believe that there is just a touch of magic in the world. And who doesn’t need that!

Dopey Logistics

In the busy-ness of the end of term and pre-Christmas and then the excitement of becoming a Run1000Miles Ambassador and then finding out that both Kath and I can run the London Marathon for Mind, the excitement of finding out the Dopey bib numbers and all that goes with that sort of got lost.

5km Course Map

The Dopey information was released last week. It seems people fixate on this. People spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about which starting corral they will be in. I remember being very worried about this too when we did Dopey 2016. I was less concerned this time and actually would have been ok starting at the back. I’m more confident that I can do the marathon in the allowed time and I’m no longer concerned about coming last. The proof of time rules were not entirely clear – for anticipated finish times of 5 1/2 hours or less you had to submit a proof of time and it seemed that if your proof of time didn’t match that sort of time you’d be placed at the back.

Marathon Course Map

That’s a longwinded way of saying I was expecting to be at the back because our proof of time was just a few minutes outside what they asked for. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I was then pleasantly surprised to find out that we were in corral F with G and H still behind us. Corrals are massive with mini waves in each so there are likely still be thousands of people behind us and we’ll have a good time buffer. I’m hope I don’t need it, if things go to plan I won’t need it but it’s still nice to know it’s there.

I enjoyed scrolling through the information for the race days and looking at the course maps. I’m getting more excited about it and the expected emotions of anxiety, being scared, self-doubt aren’t… really there. Every now and again they pop up to say hi but they don’t linger – my favourite sort of Christmas guests. And here’s a reminder of my favourite dwarf expressing one of my favourite sentiments.

Bolton Abbey Christmas Ducks

Before the last Dopey Simulation which we finished yesterday, we had a lovely little trot out at Bolton Abbey last Sunday. We gently plodded our way round the Barden Bridge loop with just a couple of walks up the hills. We were planning on going round the Abbey but neither of us really wanted to so we agreed to call it a day after that loop and bank a really lovely positive run.

We had our usual coffee and bacon sarnie and then got a second coffee to take away and walked towards the strid to look at the lights lining the way to Santa’s Grotto from the Elf Hut and to be near the river and see if Goddess Verbia had anything to say. She seemed a bit shouty and busy – not in an unsettling or stressful sort of way though. It was quite nice watching the Wharfe go about her business.

We walked the bottom path past the sulphur well and as we walked back up to the main path we saw an unexpected duck off to the side (sorry the photo’s a bit crap). He seemed quite jolly, if a little lonely. There was a female duck on the main path who seemed happily going about her business. Eventually she toddled off in the other duck’s direction so maybe his loneliness was short lived.

It was a lovely calm morning and not even hordes of children with obnoxious parentals and grandparents who get in the way could spoil that. As we walked back towards the car we met a group being led towards Santa’s Grotto by an Elf trying his best to keep the little creatures from running ahead by telling them that if they stayed behind him he’d tell Santa how good they’d been. Both Kath and I admired his efforts but couldn’t help laughing because his facial expression rather suggested he had the naughty list all planned out.