2013: My running year in review

31 December 2013, 14:20

Since I only started this site partway through the year, and didn’t get the opportunity to talk about all the races I’ve done, or reflect on the year at large, this seems like a natural point to do so.

I log all my runs on Dailymile, so it’s easy for me to tell you my yearly total mileage, which was a whopping 1778km (1104 miles), even including the run I did this morning! I’m pretty certain this is the first year ever that I’ve broken 1000 miles, so I’m super proud of that.

Looking back over the year, 2013 did not get off to a good start for me. On the day of the big snowstorm in mid-January, I came down with a very severe case of shingles which interrupted my daily life (not to mention training) with severe pain and up to 6 different painkillers at one point. I eventually found a combination that touched the pain and nerve itching (an itch you can’t ever satisfy), but one of those came along with added risk of heart strain, so even when I could return to running, it was only short, slow, and easy runs.

My first race of the year was meant to be the Paris half in early March, but this was out of the question with my pain medication, so I went along and cheered instead. To keep myself from dying of boredom while I ran the same short, easy runs over and over, I started concentrating on my cadence, which was my first step towards the switch to forefoot running.

East London half

I was only barely back into normal training by the time the East London half rolled around in April, and a combination of factors resulted in this being one of my least pleasant racing experiences to date. In my head, I was a much faster runner than my battered body was able to accomplish, so I set off way too fast and made the second half much, much harder than it should’ve been. That the course was so dull, under supported, poorly organised, and that ran over a sewage treatment plant (I kid you not!) really didn’t help either. The only plus to this race for me was that I ran it with my good friend Murdo, and there were a lot of other Run dem Crew friends running it as well, making for high-five opportunities at the out & back portions.

Copenhagen marathon official photo

By this point I was starting to have some tough conversations with myself about Copenhagen Marathon, which was looming in mid-May. I had just received the blow that my GFA qualification for London marathon was no longer fast enough, and with only 6 weeks of good health to train for Copenhagen, I really needed to decide whether to gamble for a 3:45 finish or set more realistic goals. In the end, I did both – cruising towards target time until midway, when my legs just didn’t have enough training in them to maintain the pace, and I reassessed down, ultimately finishing in 3:52. At the time I was sorely disappointed, but with time I’m actually really pleased with how fast I got around with so little training and even several short walking breaks. It was my only marathon of 2013, but I learned an awful lot from it, and overall it was a great experience.

Through an unfortunate coincidence, I had to fly directly from Copenhagen to the other side of the world and back for a work trip, returning back in London just in time to run the Bupa London 10,000. I wouldn’t recommend running a 10k the week after a marathon to anyone, but I love the Bupa 10k and I’ve run it nearly every year since the first one in 2008, and I pretty much sign up for the next year immediately after the race, so this was booked long before Copenhagen was a twinkle in my eye. My feet were in ribbons after Copenhagen and I knew after a week of travel that I should take it easy, so when a friend asked if I’d pace her to 55min, I jumped at the chance. It was a great way to help someone else achieve their goal while keeping my internal pacing in check – conveniently the desired 10k pace was almost identical to my marathon target pace so it was easy to lock into!

The Color Run

Over the summer I continued to improve on my form little by little, and I entered two short races just for the sheer fun of it – The Color Run (5k) in July, and then the National Lottery Olympic Stadium Run (5 miles) the week after. Both were run with friends and at an easy pace, and both were completely lacking in scenery apart from one crucial piece. On The Color Run, I helped a friend run her first race after a year of battling chronic fatigue syndrome, and the colored powder stops really were genuinely fun, even if we ran through an industrial estate outside those areas. It was a fun run, but super expensive and I feel I’ve “done it” and won’t bother again.

Olympic Stadium Run

On the Olympic Stadium run, the course was just through the as then yet-to-be-opened Olympic park, so the paths were narrow, no spectators were allowed, and we mostly just saw diggers and construction fences until the route finally wound its way through the tunnels underneath the stadium, where we heard the recorded sound of Mo Farah’s epic, Olympic 10,000m win. I had goosebumps by the time we emerged into the stadium itself, finishing on the track for a truly spectacular stadium finish. Of course it’s all wish-fulfillment fantasy stuff, but it was utterly brilliant to be there.

Ruth & I on the podium

My big target races for the end of the year were the 3km and 1500m at the British Transplant Games in August, where I won double gold medals after a hard summer’s training on the track and with some serious calorific deficit to lose any excess baggage pre-race. Again, standing on a podium in a team tracksuit with a gold medal round my neck is another of those big dreams that I never thought would happen to me, and seems almost unreal that it did.

Bacchus - long climb

My final race (and final goal!) for the year was to podium place at the Bacchus half, one of my favourite ever races, and one where the field of only a few hundred runners rather than a few thousand meant I had a chance at placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the ladies. After a full summer of track training and improving my form, I worked super hard and managed to stay on my forefeet for the entire race, eventually finishing in 3rd place, for my coveted podium spot, prize(!), and a brand new half marathon PB, and on a super hilly course, too.

I promised my husband “no more fall races”, and I kept to that plan, taking a six week break after Bacchus while we traveled through Mexico, working on my leg strength in hotel rooms and climbing lots of Mayan pyramids. Back in London I continued to work on my form with my trainer, and we started training for London marathon in November, just as I found out that I got a ballot place for Berlin marathon (September 2014), as well!

There was still one last major achievement for me in December, however – back in July I said to myself “I want to run with Elites by the end of the year” (Elites being the fastest group at Run dem Crew, and almost entirely comprised of really skinny, tall guys). Elites usually run at about a 6min/mile pace and maintain that for the entire hour run, so this was a big leap in speed for me! On 10 December, I stepped up and ran an entire session with the Elites, and managed to (mostly) keep up with them as well.

Overall, I feel like this year was a big transition year for me. I may not have racked up as many race medals as a lot of my friends, but I feel like I put a lot of quality training time into both improving my form, improving my speeds, and strengthening my body for the future. For the first time since I injured my knee skiing when I was 15, I’ve been able to run without a knee brace, which is almost astonishing to me. I feel like the time and training that I’ve invested into myself in 2013 must surely reap rewards in 2014. Most specifically, I’m hoping the rewards come on 13 April, 2014!

Races:


Paris half – DNS
East London half – 1:50:40
Copenhagen marathon – 3:52:37
Bupa London 10,000 – 54:29
The Color Run – ? (not chip timed)
National Lottery Olympic Run – 47:05
British Transplant Games 3km – sub-12:00 (not chip timed)
British Transplant Games 1500m – 5:45
Bacchus half – 1:43

Training Mileage (km)


2013 monthly mileage

Jan – 115
Feb – 28
Mar – 159
April – 141
May – 132
June – 61
July – 230
Aug – 194
Sept – 108
Oct – 77
Nov – 221
Dec – 261

What will 2014 hold? Well, I’m booked up to run the Bath Half in March, London marathon in April, Bupa London 10,000 in May, and Berlin marathon in September, but there are surely going to be a few others added as well, including the British Transplant Games again once registration is open!

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Comments:

  1. Excellent year, enjoyed reading your blogs. Well done. 2014 will be even better! Bacchus Half 2 weeks before Berlin! Berlin is lovely we did it in 2012.


    — Alan Burrows    31 December 2013, 14:25    #
  2. Well done, well done. Looking forward to hearing good news on the running front in 2014!


    — Brian Garthwaite    31 December 2013, 20:23    #

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