So as the evenings draw in and even I of freakishly warm disposition begin to feel the increasingly wintery chill in the air, and with nothing more in the calendar apart from looking forward to the Christmas excesses, I thought I might take a few minutes to reflect on how 2013 went ahead of tentatively drawing up my schedule for next year. This time a year ago this little blog was becoming somewhat moribund; stale and rarely updated, even directly after an event. It took me over four months to get round to writing up the Standalone 10k for crying out loud. The year in general had been one largely of excuses and failure, as illness and poor preparation meant that I failed at everything I had aimed for and subsequently found it pretty difficult to write anything without sounding like the miserable bastard I am. Even one of the best holidays of my life, visiting Iceland in October and seeing Sigur Rós live for the first time, and in their home country to boot, failed to inspire me to get something published, with scatterbrained incoherent ramblings of the week sat in my drafts probably destined never to see the light of day. The blog was slowly dying.
To say a lot has happened since though is something of an understatement. In just under 12 months, I have got engaged, got a new job, hit both my targets at half marathon and 10k and completed a half century on a pushbike. Never one to set myself new year’s resolutions, even aiming for and achieving just one of those would have pleased me immensely, so to be able to say that they all came in has left me chuffed to bits with my year so far. And without exception I can say that I did not see a single one of them coming 12 months ago.
It’s not all been rosy though unfortunately. It’s also been a year of loss as varying degrees of absolute mindnumbing stupidity and of terrible luck meant that I managed to lose both an entire holiday to Optimus Primavera Sound festival in Porto and of course my beloved racing bike. It really knocked me for six the bike in particular, and I have yet to feel comfortable investing in a replacement until I can find somewhere much safer to keep it, away from the twin threat of absent minded landlords and opportunistic shithouses.
On a lighter note, there have been new arrivals in the household as my running shoe family grew bigger, swelled by pairs six and seven. I am sure all of you were on the edge of your seat waiting for news about that. However dull it is though, I’m chuffed to bits with the lightweight Mizuno pair I got back in February to use as my race shoes. I definitely feel like these gave me an edge over the clumpy (but necessary) GTS shoes I use for training in. The fear about whether my legs would last without the extra support I’m told I need, especially at 13.1 miles, was tempered by the reality of actually running in them and the practical difference that 50 grammes less per shoe makes over thousands of steps and subsequently smashing my half marathon PB by nearly a minute and a half in the very first race wearing them. Maybe lighter shoes are the way forward for me from now on, which is obviously great news considering I have just spent £80 on another pair of GTS support shoes.
So what is next year likely to bring? After being knocked back by the London Marathon for a fifth year running, and then somewhat more surprisingly getting rejected by Berlin as well, at this stage there’s nothing confirmed in the diary. Nevertheless, I have a few ideas and I am beginning to feel like I want something bigger to aim for, rather than plodding through the year hitting the same old races again, good as most of them are. Since proving to myself that with some hard work and a bit of luck I can still run under 40 minutes for a 10k and 90 for a half marathon, I feel now is the time to aim a bit higher. I really want to do London one day, and I’ll keep entering the bloody ballot until they let me in the bastards. If only they still did the guaranteed entry after four rejections, eh. I’d probably be totally shitting myself now with around five months to go thinking about it.
Another route in could be to have a bash at another marathon in attempt to get a “good for age” (GFA) time which automatically grants you entry. Back in 2009 when I first started looking at London, I thought this might be doable. I needed to be able to hit a 3:10 to get in, and fresh from running a half marathon in under 1:30 at the first attempt I thought it might be a possibility. Since then though I have actually done a full marathon and – albeit on a hilly course and a wet and windy day – recorded a time almost ten minutes outside what I need as the extra mileage sapped my limbs. To make matters worse, they’ve since reduced the time further to 3:05 and that seems an awfully long way off right now. I’d need to run over half a minute quicker per mile on the day and that really does not seem at all realistic, not to mention the fact that all my friends and family would probably disown me for the months leading up to it.
I have yet to make my mind up yet to be honest, and a lot of the uncertainty surrounds the fact that I have lobbed an entry into the RideLondon-Surrey 100 ballot again, perhaps rather foolishly with not actually owning any form of wheeled transport anymore. If I do want to do a marathon to get a GFA time for London 2015, I have three options around the North West between April and October. Trouble is, with the bike century landing in August that may throw a spanner in the works should I get in, and I won’t know if that’s the case until February. I also have one or two slightly more extreme ideas but more on that another day I think, should I somehow summon the balls from somewhere to actually go for it.
For now though, I’m content just to sit back and relax with the knowledge that I’ve achieved everything I want to this year, and then some. The last few weeks in particular have been absolutely amazing once the Standalone result was in the bag, with one of the best beer festivals I have ever been to, followed by a brilliant little music festival, then a fantastic engagement holiday in Barcelona, then a boozy birthday weekend and finally a lovely, relaxing family holiday down in Dorset all on respective weekends. For the rest of the year I’m thinking I’ll just keeping things ticking over by jogging home from work most evenings, maybe the odd Sunday LSR and that’ll do for now. After all, I’ve got nothing to train for have I?