It's been a while since I really sat down to write anything for this blog. I've even been pretty much silent on social media over the last few months. There's no real reason other than feeling like I didn't have enough spare time, and wanting to spend what little time I do have doing more productive things - like running around the park with my daughter, playing board games with my wife, and sitting in front of my Xbox every now and then (yes - I do consider this productive use of my time). I have written a few things for Ultra Magazine, including an article on women in ultra running (including an in-depth interview with the legend that is Ann Trason) which I am incredibly proud of. But yeah, the blog has kind of gone a little stagnant.
Well, here we go, I plan on rectifying that and getting back to jotting things down more regularly. I enjoy writing and find it helps me get things straight in my head, as well as being a great way of recalling the adventures I've had as my faculties fail me with old age. Sadly it feels like this is happening sooner than I may have hoped. I have a whole bunch of posts already in the works, some gear reviews, as well as a couple more magazine articles to watch out for. So I figured I should probably get this one out of the way first. So here is my run down of 2015 and look ahead to 2016. Two months into the year. Ahem.
In all honesty, last year was a bit crap as far as running is concerned. It kind of went to pot from the beginning, with a DNF at Thames Path 100 that ruined my shot at the Grand Slam (all four Centurion Running 100 mile races in one year) before I even got going. After my adventures in Greece the year before, I had decided to stay a little closer to home so the Grand Slam was my only real goal. To have it all crumble so early in the year was a bit demoralising.
By the time I reached the South Downs Way 100, I had resigned myself to a second goal - a fast 100 miler. I figured 16 hours on a 100 miler was a pretty tough ask, but was something that I'm pretty sure I could do. The only thing was that I had been pretty inconsistent with my training, with DIY in a new house and training a new dog playing havoc with my training plan. Don't get me wrong, I was still getting plenty of running in, but the structured training was gone. When I went out at SDW100 it was far too fast, and it quickly became clear that my goal wasn't going to happen. When my head torch battery died leaving me using my backup torch to try and negotiate the downs at night, I realised I wasn't having fun and quit rather unceremoniously with only about 8 miles to go. Stupid in hindsight, and a bit melodramatic (wah, wah, woe is me, etc.), but at the time I honestly couldn't face seeing anyone at the end knowing I had failed my goal again. Ridiculous to think that I would consider a 20 hour 100 mile finish a failure, but there you go. Of course I still had to see everyone to pick up my bags, which was much worse…
I don't necessarily regret bailing, as in all honesty being that whiny I'm glad to have not got a buckle. With so many people out there giving it their all, and fighting tooth and nail for their buckles I would have felt a bit of a fraud half-arsing my way to a finish.
I was feeling a little demoralised, but a great experience out on the Downs again a few weeks later at the Oxfam Trailwalker 100K brought back the love of running. I had been trying too hard and had forgotten my usual mantra; running stupid.
So when the North Downs Way 100 came along, I was back to my usual plan of, well, having no plans. Even more than that, I was not racing. I was just out to have some fun. In fact, I was so laissez-faire about the race that I missed the start while chatting with some friends. But the day went brilliantly, and I finished with a huge smile on my face. The Autumn 100 was similarly relaxed, and actually went a lot better than expected with a pretty good finishing time despite the lack of urgency.
I ended up slightly falling off the face of the earth as far as Facebook and Twitter are concerned. I really want to avoid wasting time when I could be doing other things, but there are definitely pros and cons to stepping away from social media (there's a blog post right there). One of the cons is that I have been well and truly out of the loop on things, and have become kind of isolated from the community. I'm hoping to strike a balance now between staying connected with my friends, while not spending all of my limited free time scrolling through timelines and dodging Candy Crush requests (or whatever everybody is playing these days). Let's see how that goes.
On the running front, my year is looking pretty similar to last year, with the only difference being that I managed to miss signing up to my favourite (and most convenient) Centurion race - the SDW100 - because of my media blackout. So currently I am running 3/4 of the Grand Slam (the "Grand Sl"?) and... Well, that's it. I had hoped to be running in UTMB or Western States, but unfortunately I wasn't selected in the lotteries. Arse. So I don't really have any big plans for this year, other than making sure I enjoy myself. I'm not feeling particularly race ready so don't expect to see me at the pointy end, but who knows. Hopefully I will be able to add a few more races in there, maybe some more local shorter races. I just need to get my act together and book them in.
Roll on April for the first race; Thames Path 100. I've failed miserably twice at this one, so I'm out to finally scratch this one off the list. I think this time I'll take my time a little more though.