My running year – 2017 edition

I’m sure I’ve said it here before sometime previously but I’m not ashamed to say that 2017 has been my best year of running so far. Every record and personal best of mine other than that for the marathon was broken. Some real proper milestones set too.

This year I’ve run further than I’ve ran in any year before, had a month when I ran at least a mile every day and ran in five different countries / islands, and numerous different interesting places.

In this post I’m going to make a half arsed attempt at summing all that up and hopefully recall a few interesting stories from my running year, and probably re-tell several ones I’ve already posted here.

January and February – Reading Half training

OK if you’ve got this far you were probably quite disappointed at the thought I’m just going to run through the calendar month-by-month and highlight individual runs. I won’t, however what was significant about January and February was the build up of distance particularly culminating in a horrid 8-miler in the wind and rain then a week later a nice steady 11 mile run. That longer run could have been uneventful however it saw me do three things. It was my first (and to date only) run in snow – some snow, not lots of it. It saw me incorporate Parkrun into a longer run, and as part of that I managed to time my arrival at the start line to within about ten seconds of the actual start. You can just about see me and my training partner wife lurking right at the back of this video of the start.

The trouble with this period is when I didn’t run. After going over to Reading for a long run during which I felt reasonably unwell and for a little while after and then progressively feeling worse during the remainder of a trip which took us to Fareham, including buying a bottle of wine at near 1am from a 24-hour supermarket (this is a big event for someone from Jersey, people!). Anyway..

After feeling worse I didn’t run again for about three weeks which took me right up to one week before the Reading Half. I got some more runs in before Reading but I felt concerned enough to get my own medical clearance before racing.

March 19 – Reading Half Marathon 2:06:57 (PB 15km 1:23:48)

I loved almost everything about the Reading event. The town is great, the company I had for the event was great. I loved the pre-event build up. I loved posting on Facebook from the start line of people having a wee by the roadside – why do people do that…

What I didn’t enjoy about Reading was my result. I was pounding along well with the two hour pacer group, opening a little gap on them on the downhill section around the university, but in the final quarter of the race I struggled with stomach issues – similar ones that I felt the previous run I had in Reading – and I just faded. I was 53 seconds up on pace at 11k but ended up three minutes down in the high 2:06s. I was initially disappointed but very shortly afterwards was determined to be back. We return in eleven weeks time and can’t wait.

April 29 – Jersey Parkrun #82 23:55 (PB 5k 23:37, 12 mins 2.598km, 3km 13:55, 3 miles 22:49)

April was about variety first and foremost. Different places (running in Greenwich and Southend), different conditions and the usual variety of distances. Probably the highlights were around Parkrun. #82 saw me break my official best with a 23:55 and a few weeks later I strolled around to a 23:57 at #85 despite jogging up to the finish to not overtake someone who seemed to be suffering a bit. If only I’d paid more attention to the time!

May 2 – 1 mile PB attempt (PB 400m 1:31, 1/2 mile 3:14, 1km 4:03, 1.5km 6:28, 1 mile 6:55)

May 9 – 400m PB attempt (PB 400m 1:26)

The novelty of this particular run, other than being a PB in itself was that I did it not long after helping pace my wife to her own 5k personal best under 32 minutes. This was a good day.

May 14 – Durrell Challenge 1:13:16

There’s probably not a lot more I can say about the second Durrell Challenge that I haven’t said before but rest assured I loved it. Knocking five and a half minutes off of last year’s time was a real achievement for me. Running up all of the hills felt great and once again sprinting into the finish felt amazing. It was also great to see my wife take part and finish for the first time too.

May 28 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Half Marathon 1:56:35 (PB Half 1:56:35, 20km 1:50:45, 10 miles 1:29:11, 15km 1:23:00)

The second race of our Liverpool weekend saw what stands as my half marathon best – a wonderful 1 hour 56 minutes of running in an amazing atmosphere. I will never forget the finishing sprint. I will never forget high fiving kids by the road in the streets of the city. I will never forget my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon. It was an amazing experience.

The only downside was that Jean was seriously suffering after the event, despite having achieved her own PB so we couldn’t stay for the post event gig by Republica, but chilling out and resting became much more important.

I hope I can do the event again one day. There’s easier half marathon courses, but possibly none with the atmosphere of Liverpool.

June 13 – #mymile PB attempt (PB 1.5km 6:22, 1 mile 6:49, 2km 8:57)

The Strava app ran a #mymile feature during June for athletes to get out there and run their fastest single mile ever. I did this during a planned attempt after work one weekend and pushed my record well below the 7-minute mark.

June 18 – Guernsey Dairy Milk Run Half Marathon 2:56:23

I was playing the support act to Jean’s main event for this run, but I enjoyed it enormously despite the really hot conditions. Definitely hope to be back for this one.

July 2 – Great Newham London Run 74:06

Another event where I’d agreed in advance to join my wife for the fun, although the real joy here wasn’t the run itself but the amazing novelty of running into the Olympic Stadium to the finish line. An incredible experience.

July 8 – Jersey Parkrun #92 25:19 (PB 12 mins 2.605km)

August 6 – 16 miles training inc Durrell Challenge route (PB 15 miles 2:36:46, 25km 2:42:27)

August 20 – Jayson Lee Memorial 10k 49:33 (unofficial) (PB 5 miles 39:45, 6 miles 47:38, 10km 49:18)

We decided to enter this event relatively late on. The organisers amused us by putting some words of encouragement on my wife’s bib encouraging her to beat me. A nice touch of humour you don’t get normally.

I probably shouldn’t have done as well as I did. It was a 10k race just thrown into the middle of a marathon training programme. I was itching to race though so was entirely up for it. The story of the race was covered before in my original post but it’s a race that left me at the time with a fear that I’d never run this well again, and given that I didn’t officially have a finishing time that really was a bit of a problem for me. Happily I was wrong.

August 27 – 30km training run (PB 30km 3:26:48)

My last training run before I chose to withdraw from the 2017 Jersey Marathon was actually a really good one.

October 1-30 – Mile Every Day in October

This was a monthly challenge I’d been encouraged to take on by virtue of it being a challenge raised in a Facebook group I’ve come to enjoy during the year. This probably wasn’t the ideal month for me but in the end I ended up running in Jersey, Gatwick, Reading and Grenada during the course of the month. In training terms, they probably weren’t the most effective miles ever but it was an achievement all the same.

Places run this year

  • Jersey (164 times)
  • Magazine Beach, Grenada (8)
  • Reading (7)
  • Nea Moudania, Greece (3)
  • Liverpool (2)
  • Bexhill-on-Sea (1)
  • Gatwick (1)
  • Guernsey (1)
  • Reigate (1)
  • Newham (1)
  • Greenwich (1)
  • Southend (1)
  • Blackheath (1)
  • Washington, South Downs (1)
  • Shoreham (1)
  • Richmond (1)

November 11 – Poppy 10k 49:06.85 (PB 5 miles 39:34, 6 miles 47:29, 10km 49:07)

This to date is what I consider my best run ever. It wasn’t an easy run by any stretch but I will never forget the feeling I had when I got my results print out and it showed me I finished right up towards the quality end of the field in 26th place out of over 200 runners. It was an unforgettable day. Bexhill-on-Sea will always have a special place in my heart.

November & December – starting to explore trails

We began a new adventure trail running in the back end of the year, re-visiting walks we had done in Jersey in the past, plus running around Old Deer Park and the South Downs Way in near freezing conditions.

It’s not massively compatible with half marathon training but it’s something different and is enjoyable enough for that.

Personal bests set in 2017

  • 400m – 1:26 (training run Lib Day 2017)
  • 1/2 mile – 3:14 (training run May 2017)
  • 12 minute – 2.605km (Jersey Parkrun #92)
  • 5km (GPS) – 23:37 (Jersey Parkrun #82)
  • 5km (official) – 23:55 (Jersey Parkrun #82)
  • 5 miles – 39:34 (Poppy 10k)
  • 10km (GPS) – 49:07 (Poppy 10k)
  • 10km (official) – 49:06.85 (Poppy 10k)
  • 15km – 1:23:00 (Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Half 2017)
  • 20km – 1:50:45 (Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Half 2017)
  • Half-marathon (GPS) – 1:56:37.5 (Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Half 2017)
  • Half-marathon (official) – 1:56:35 (Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Half 2017)
  • 25km – 2:42:27 (training run mid Aug 2017)
  • 30km – 3:26:48 (training run late Aug 2017)

So that then was 2017, we have some interesting plans for 2018 just starting to take shape but I’ll bore you with those another time. In the meantime I’ll just look back on the year just gone and be happy. Very very happy.

Mud, mud……

Well not exactly glorious mud. In fact, arguably some of the muddy trails we ventured out into on Saturday were no longer mud, but whatever mud turns into when it’s been frozen.

I thought in this post, I’d list a few runs I did and try and say something interesting about them.

Last time I posted Jean and I had been out for a trail run. The following day we were back on solid ground again running for an hour along the seafront. A good 10k achieved.

The next week was the last one before our training programme for the 2018 Reading Half Marathon began. I had a quick run home on Tuesday and then a good interval session around by the marina on the Wednesday.

The next run saw us back on the trails again with a run starting around Grosnez and finishing around Les Landes.

This was a really good run. The terrain was a bit more runner-friendly than our previous trail runs although we did manage to lose our way once running along the path designed for horses, rather than the human one nearby….
The following day I did another long-ish run aiming for a steady 10k, which I did in a very steady 62 minutes. I didn’t feel as good as when I did the hour-long run the week before but it was ok.

Monday the 4th saw the official start of Reading Half training, and it also saw the start of needing to be flexible around the program. I should have had a rest day Monday but needed to move it to Wednesday when I spent a couple of days in London. So Monday saw my first training run, a fast finishing effort with the final half mile at a really good pace.

Tuesday’s session was similar but without the fast finish.

As I was in London with work on Thursday, I thought I’d try and take advantage of my hotel’s location near Greenwich Park for a run there.  Except my map reading skills had clearly let me down and whilst in the grand scheme of things my hotel was quite near the park, it also was the length of Blackheath Common away. And I also ran in sightly the wrong direction for Greenwich Park so that didn’t go to plan but was a good run anyway.

Here’s a link to a picture of where I ran. I didn’t take any pictures though because:-

  • it was dark when I set out
  • it was flat fairly featureless grassland and
  • I forgot to take either of my phones with me. Some may consider this reason to be more important than the others.

Friday was a day off so for a change I did some running! An interval session taking me along the coast to a nasty hill and then the direct route back into town again for a coffee and cheese and mushroom toastie. The nasty hill went well actually as I’ve only been up there once faster.

We were off on our travels again this past weekend to Steyning and Bramber in the South Downs. We stayed at an amazing hotel and will most definitely go back.

On Saturday we went for a lengthy and hilly trail run but here’s where the frozen mud came in. There was actually a fair bit of the wet, squidgy kind as well so we made sure our trainers had a good clean afterwards.

The first couple of miles was essentially uphill and not just a bit uphill but proper 40% gradients all the way, but what it did mean was that there were some amazing views waiting for us at the top.

Which brings us right up to yesterday and we were still in the South Downs. This time we went south and I got as far as the outskirts of Shoreham.

I’d planned to run to this footbridge to the north of Shoreham but discovered when I was there that my trail shoes really don’t work very well on smooth wet surfaces like a wooden footbridge in the rain. At least I didn’t fall over.

Next week (weather and travel permitting) we’ll be heading to Richmond for some more running tourism but hopefully we’ll get in some good training miles too. Hopefully it will be dry too…..