The 12 races, 12 months project

So it is done. What started as a slightly off-hand comment became something very big and important to us, developing us in various ways. As runners certainly, as travellers and travel organisers too.  We took in historic places and races and some new fashions too (that’s Colour Runs – not running in a Santa Hat although my 5k PB was achieved in that attire).

All in the name of running and competition with ourselves and others. This then is the story, briefly you’ll be pleased to hear, of our races.

6 September 2015 – Spitfire 10km, Colindale / Edgware

A few of the runs we took on were quite unusual I think but this was probably the oddest. It was a first time event for the organisers, and they seemed to have measured it wrong, having to add a funny loop of a courtyard just by the finish, but we enjoyed running it together. I’ll probably never run both under and over the M1 and alongside the A1 during a race again. Interesting.

10 October 2015 – Color Run, Brighton

I like the idea of the Color Run but I think it needs a suitably massive entry to make it work. There were thousands and thousands of people in Brighton, including the whole family, and this event certainly worked. The colour bit itself was OK, but the highlight for me was the post-race festival. Still have to finish making a video from the GoPro footage I took. You can look forward to that.

7 November 2015 – Poppy Half Marathon, Bexhill-on-Sea

I think this was one of the two most enjoyable events for me. Not for the weather though. This was the first of a run of foul weather during races, but it didn’t stop me taking 5 minutes off my PB for the half. It could have been better but it was still great. I loved the course although it was only a seafront out-and-back route. Sometime after I saw most of the course in the video for Keane’s Sovereign Light Café which as a result is now just a little bit special.

6 & 10 December 2015 – Santa 5k & Santa Dash, St Helier

These weren’t really meant to be in the 12 but they were events that meant something to us so they’re included here, and they shouldn’t really be overshadowed by the more far flung events. The 5k was a really good one and the Dash was a wee bit surreal. Possibly the strangest lunch hour I’ve had in a while. Good fun though.

13 December 2015 – Regent’s Park Winter Series 10k, London

This was undoubtedly my finest race of all – well, to date anyway. It was right in the middle of an 11 day spell where I broke every PB from 1km up to this event, my 10k best. Weather was miserable but the park was still gorgeous and I think I’ll always remember this one well. Especially being closely watched by camels at the back of London Zoo!

31 January 2016 – Cancer Research Winter Run 10k, London

Again the weather wasn’t kind to us for this one. The first race of two back-to-back events we did, but this one being special for being on Jean’s birthday – what a treat eh! Looking back we enjoyed ourselves and there was a brilliant atmosphere but somehow we just didn’t love this event quite as much as some others. Running from Trafalgar Square to St Paul’s and the City and back just didn’t have the appeal when looking back at it.

6 February 2016 – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 10k, Stratford

An iconic venue saw us getting rained on a little but this was a well organised race with a brilliantly eccentric announcer, who we’ve been lucky enough to encounter once more since. The course was a simple one involving three laps around the canal side paths but in the shadow of the Aquatic Centre and just across from the Olympic Stadium you couldn’t help but be inspired.

13 March 2016 – Silverstone Half Marathon, Northampton

Ah, Silverstone. You draw me back every year since 2014 but not since that first year have I run you properly. A heavy cold in the lead up to the event hampered training but injury during the race finished me off. Plus a silly mishap with my mp3 player. I’m missing next year but 2018 should see us try and complete this unfinished business.

3 April 2016 – Bournemouth Bay Run 10k, Bournemouth & Boscombe

This one lap out-and-back course looked like it would suit us but there were definitely problems in this race. A too busy start area meant a lot of walking in the first kilometre and at the far end of the course there was this horrible climb up a winding path. Painful and hard but we’ve been back since to conquer the climb once and for all.

15 May 2016 – Durrell Challenge 13k, Jersey

If we had horrible weather in the winter, we did also have horrible weather in the summer but this time it was some very unwanted heat and sun for a largely uphill drag from town to the zoo. This was my only solo race of the project (due to being male and therefore the Race For Life not really being an option). I finished strong and started well but the bit in between was tough.

12 June 2016 – Dame Kelly Holmes 10k, Stratford

Back to the Olympic Park for our June event and yet again the weather was not kind. I started out strong once again, not helped by believing I was one of the faster members of the group I was allocated to. I wasn’t but I think that provided too much of a distraction early on. The course took in more of the park so on a couple of occasions we were running directly towards the Olympic Stadium. A good event.

10 July 2016 – Two Tunnels 10k, Bath

Definitely the most interesting course running through these two tunnels that have been created through the hilly parts of the outskirts of Bath as part of some cycle network. The course had its issues though to be fair including a needlessly steep grass slope by the start and narrow paths preventing overtaking. My slowest 10k race to date too but it was certainly memorable.

7 August 2016 – Regent’s Park Summer Series 10k, London

The last race was one we tackled together heading back to Regent’s Park on what was, for once, a sunny day but again it was too hot and humid for the very best performances. The camels weren’t taking quite as much interest this time but it was a great place to celebrate our final run in 12 months. There will be other challenges in the future but this sequence has challenged us in ways we didn’t imagine. The unrelenting race-after-race-after-race really does take it out of you, so a little rest will be in order.

A little rest after the marathon anyway….

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Towards the year’s end

I thought I would post tonight before the end of our 12 races because I’m reserving a far better post for afterwards – what a year to look back on…

But that’s for another time. For today let’s focus on the last bit of training and racing. Mid last week I had an excellent interval session around the marina. I’ve enjoyed a few runs around there lately. It’s a good location.

Then last weekend saw two good runs. A sub 25 minute parkrun on the Saturday (my first sub 25 in about six months) followed by my longest ever run – a very steady heart-rate controlled 14mile effort. It wasn’t quick but it was strong and effective. I think I enjoyed it. Bits of it certainly. I really never imagined I’d be doing half-marathons and beyond just for fun but I guess that’s the joy of marathon training for you.

After another mid week interval session in which I set a couple of strong Strava segment times, that brought me to London.

This morning i took part in Southwark Parkrun getting my first taste of Parkrun tourism. The event was pretty slick and I enjoyed the course although I have a sneaky suspicion that it was mainly uphill with one short decent. It was tough but somehow I finished in a fraction under 26 minutes. It was fine and despite claiming immediately after the event that “it was horrible” I actually really enjoyed it.

So tomorrow brings us to the end. Of this part of our running adventure anyway. 12 races, 12 months. Nearly.

Very nearly ..