My 2016 Running Year in review – Part Two – July to December

If you didnt read part one, well, I dont blame you. But if you want to its at this link.

Part two is below!

July

Runs – 17
Distance – 144.1 km

We ran our second half of the year in July – The Birmingham Black Country Half Marathon. It was a different type to all of the other Halfs I’ve ever done in that we started in Wolverhampton and then ran all the way to Birmingham rather than do any kind of loop.

We were looking forward to it as we figured it would be completely flat as the route ran alongside canals tyhe whole way. Unfortunately we hadnt thought that canals have loads of little bridges that are short impact hills as you run.

We got to about halfway and Rach started to have a mini meltdown. I was worried as there was basically no place we could turn and go back home. Luckily some motivational words and she was back on it like a car bonnet. Then for some reason at 11 miles I decided to have a mini meltdown of my own, and we managed to struggle through to the end! We came in at 2:08:47 which was a PB for 2017 so far

We thought we were tired, but Rachs dad got even more tired with supporting us!

A week later and it was another race – the We Love MCR 10k. Now this was a race that we have done a couple of times as we’d done it before we took up running “properly” a few years back, so its become a fixture on the calendar.

I woke up and felt absolutely rubbish, decided I’d aim for under the hour hoping for something around 58 minutes and came in at 57:57 so considered it a win!

Somehow Rach managed to avoid being featured in every pic from the race.

At the end I was knackered and had to have a lie down

Later that month I had to have a special photoshoot

And at a later run (where we were going to see the Tyre Swing we’d found in part one) Rach became my conscience

Just at the end of July I got a reminder of why we love parkrun UK at Worsley Woods parkrun. We started a little slower than usual on the run, but as we got to 3k Rach started to pick up the pace and we started overtaking people. As we got under the bridge I noticed a young girl keeping pace with us – she overtook me and got a little in front but then slowed and started walking.

I tapped her on the shoulder as I went past and said “Youre doing really well, only 1km to go” and she said “I was trying to keep pace with you but Im struggling”. But with a little encouragement she kept going, as we went down the final long straight she stayed with us and even pushed past us at the sprint finish to beat us. As me and the wife crossed the finish line she turned to give us a hug to say thanks for the encouragement. Turned out she got a PB – I was happier about that than any PB of my own!

August

Runs – 13
Distance – 144.4 km

August pretty much started like this

Mileage was going up and we were getting tired. I squeezed in a trip to London to see the Charity Shield at Wembley which was a nice day out.

On our long runs we also discovered a spirit animal. We named him Harry

He became an icon for us, as long as we saw him on a run we knew it was going to be a good one. When we felt low we’d spot him and suddenly every pain was forgotten. I bloody love Harry.

We also somehow decided it was a good idea to think about buying a new house. As anyone who knows Rach can testify, she works in 100mph speeds so as soon as we mentioned it in passing the house was on the market and we had bids at asking price.

We started looking for a place for us, and a chance discovery saw us happen on a new house, so we decided to go run past it, and see what was near, discovering a nice little park!

Had a week off training as I went over on my ankle, and as a result felt like I’d lost all my mojo as well. I was just about to hit a period where I have 3 races, Seven Bridge half in 2 weeks, Great North Half in 4 weeks, and Warrington half the week after that.

The end of August saw our third half marathon of the year – Severn Bridge. But of course there was time for a cheeky Parkrun with the family

So the first of three halfs in 4 weeks was about to begin, I was a bit nervous but thought if I can start well and sustain it then maybe I could get on target for a decent time or maybe at least get under 2 hours.

I got about 2k in then hit the wall

Not sure why, it seemed to go tits up. Luckily at that point Rach caught me, and we ran the rest of it together.

There was a cool moment where someone from Something Awful forums recognised me purely based on my shirt, and shouted “GOON” as he ran the other way to me.

At the 11.5 mile mark we hit a hill that seemed to go on forever, but was actually for about a mile. It was horrible, and I had to walk the whole thing.

We finished in 2 hours 14 mins and 48 seconds!

I finished August on somewhat of a low, after the race at Severn Bridge I felt totally spent and had to abandon a planned 10k run at just 2k

September

Runs – 15
Distance – 164.5 km

September saw a dream come true. But first I had to get some Mojo back. And what better way to do that was to meet a special friend on a run….

So fully motivated by meeting Sandy the Hoss on our run, I was now fully motivated for the Great North Run

I wrote a little about it here as I was really nervous beforehand.

My first cousin once removed (we checked the family tree) Katie had got a place in the GNR too so we lined up at the start together

 

We got to the three mile mark and I was desperate for a wee, and had what was possibly the longest wee ever. I’d overhydrated just a little.

We managed to get to the Tyne Bridge just as the Red Arrows went over. It was an amazing feeling knowing I was living a dream as we were in such an iconic moment

You can spot me dead centre there.

I’d always wanted to do GNR and it didnt disappoint. The streets were lined nearly constantly, always plenty of people around who would give you little treats – from lollys to apple and orange to vaseline.

It was also much harder than I expected – we’d run once before in Newcastle and made a comment that there didnt seem to be any downhills in Newcastle and it felt that way here too.

We hit into the second half and it started to become a bit of a struggle. At this point I got a tap on the shoulder and an unfamiliar voice asked how I was doing, and after a brief chat he said “you know who it is right”, and at that point I realised it was my twitter pall Psflaps, who got me into parkrunning. You never know who you’ll bump into at a run!

As we hit the second half I started to struggle, and felt I was slowing Katie a bit, so as we hit the final mile straight next to the seafront I encouraged her to run off in front and aim for her PB. This left me alone and as I approached the finish I got a bit emotional

I crossed the finish line and started crying a little bit.

I’d done it tho!

2 hours, 10 minutes and 29 seconds. A bit off what I’d wanted to do, but I didnt care.

After the race I got this cool video which shows me at various points

Tho after I got home I did realise I forgot the suncream

Oops.

The English Half Marathon was next. This was the first half we had ever done and so we decided to enter it again, not realising it would fall in the middle of all these other races.

The plan was totally to take it easy. We decided that it was going to be a chilled out run, we would aim for something around 2 hours 30 and be happy with anything around that.

The only thing with this run was that we knew the route from last year. When we had run it last year I’d done an extensive plan in order to get the pb I got, to the point of studying where each hill was, and where to push and where to relax. That info was all still in my head as we started running, not even bothering to look at my Garmin as I didnt care about the time. We chilled out and really enjoyed the run.

After finishing the GNR in 2hours 10mins and 29 seconds when I was really pushing it and trying my best, I was shocked to see that by completely chilling out I finished the English Half in 2 hours 10 mins and 2 seconds. How the hell did I better my time by 27 seconds when I wasnt even pushing it!

We finished the busy month off with a 20 mile run, our first of two in our training programme. I think my face shows my feeling about this

October

Runs – 16
Distance – 201.1 km

October started with us having some fun on some long runs

We also kept up our running along the canals whenever possible, in an attempt to see Harry the Heron. And also to take cool canal selfies.

I also tried out running with a proper running group for the first time ever – I also chose a weird night to start – no one knows what distance they are doing till you turn up. The distance will be on a board and you have to guess what time you’ll finish in. No watches or phones allowed on the run. When everyone is finished then whoever is closest to their predicted time wins a prize. The route turned out to be 3.12 miles, I guessed 30.24 and came in at 28.23. Oops

And now it was time for our second ever marathon – Snowdownia Marathon – Marathon Eyri.

But just three days before it we suddenly moved house. So you can imagine we werent in the best sense of mind!

Heres how the elevation profile looked.

We got to the start determined!

And I even bumped into someone who I did triathlons back when I was 18 at the start line!

It wouldn’t be a run with the wife without us taking a few selfies, probably my fave being us seeing a horse and getting a pic, and the horse starting licking my hand as we were doing it.


First hill we managed to run all the way up. After the run I also found out someone we only knew from UKRunChat on twitter had been behind us on the run up the hill and snapped this awesome pic of us.

The wife had a bit of a wobble at about 12k for some reason but I managed to talk her round. I had my own wobble at 20k as we were about to do the 2nd hill, but we managed to do a run walk strategy up that – using telephone polls as markers for where to run or walk between. On Rachs advice I popped a codine around this point and it took the edge off the pain. Getting it relatively flat again was a relief, and also this was probably the part where we saw most people on the streets handing out stuff like jelly babies which at that point was a godsend. The last hill tho did us in tho, we managed to do the run/walk for the first three telephone poles then it was fuck it and walked till it flattened out.

I’d worked out we needed to be on 7:49 per km to finish on 5:30, set up the pacer on my watch to work on 7:40 per km which would have brought us in at under and we were well ahead till the last hill and that just took everything off. We got to the final downhill and we were well behind and at this point we were determined to give it a go, we sped right up but there was no path, just loose stones and mud and I managed to lose footing but stay on my feet three times. As soon as we got to tarmac we just hammered it, and crossed the line in 5:29:45.

With how far away we were from home it took till about 6pm for us to get home, had a shower went to bed. People who think you eat all the food after a marathon are crazy. That happened the day after!

November

Runs – 2
Distance – 9.7 km

Rach did an Ultra. She wrote about it here. She also took a selfie every mile. I managed to get in one of them.

What about me?

I ran twice. Two parkruns. Not a good month for running

December

Runs – 7
Distance – 36.7 km

With November a right off due to just being lazy, I had one thing I wanted to do in December – hit the 100 parkrun mark. Now Rach had hit this a while back but I had fallen behind so was determined to get it on the board before the end of the year.

At the start of December I saw that I was on 98 Parkruns, with 48 of them coming at Worsley Woods. So I decided it was time for me to try and hit 50 at Worsley on the same day I hit 100.

Luckily my mummy was also visiting the weekend of my 100th, and Rach surprised me with balloons, a sash and a cookie to celebrate my 100th.

After that I had another break from running before getting back out on Christmas Eve for a parkrun, then what is a tradition now – the Christmas day parkrun and this time we had a friend join us – Rach’s mum and dads dog Mills

Look at that tongue!

We got one more cheeky run in before the year ended – finishing it off with a run at Worsley.

Totals – 133 runs. Down from 143 runs last year.
Distance  1,140.3 km – down from 1282.9 km last year
Parkruns done – 35 – same as last year
Most parkruns – Worsley Woods (18). Our most last year was Warrington but we fell out of love a little with it last year. Worsleys always been our fave.

PBs for the year
5k – 28:32- overall PB 25:21
10k – 57:57 – overall PB 55:21
Half Marathon – – overall PB 1hr 56mins 59 seconds
Marathon –  – NEW OVERALL PB!

Goals for 2016 and how I did

  • Finish another marathon – in less than 4 and a half hours if possible! (I wrote this between 9-12 midnight on the 31st of December. At 00:30 of Jan 1st I was signing us up for Marathon Eyri. I think for that one under 5 hours would be the aim) – SUCCEEDED in doing another marathon, but Marathon Eyri was not the place for a sub 4.5!
  • Get the 5k pb under 25 minutes. – FAILED – I didnt even get under 28 at a parkrun this year.
  • Get the 10k pb under 52 minutes. – FAILED – we only ran one 10k this year
  • Do at least 2 half marathons. (already signed up for one in Feb, want to get into Great North Run in Newcastle) – SUCCEEDED! Did loads
  • More than 150 runs – FAILED
  • Bigger distance than 2015 – FAILED

Goals for 2017 (may have been copied a bit from 2016)

  • Finish another marathon – in less than 5 hours. Im about to sign up for Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon which I hear is reasonably flat!
  • Get the 5k pb under 25 minutes-  I think this is doable if I concentrate more on speed work.
  • Get the 10k pb under 55 minutes – as above!
  • Do at least 4 half marathons. – We have signed up for English half again and are planning on another two (Birmingham Black Country and Conwy) so need to find one more!
  • More than 150 runs – will involve not abandoning running in November and December!
  • More than 1500km in the year

GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY RUNNING EVERYONE