By the end of 2016 I had been running for a few months and somehow getting caught up in all the excitement led to me booking my place in 2 marathons!! I had never really run with people other than Parkrun’s of which I’d completed 29 and after forging ahead managed to complete the winter half (my first half and longest run) in a respectable 1.49 before the close of that year but I knew 2017 would present some challenges….
The year started with a huge high, after some Strava banter I met up with a fan of mine Nicky. She made quite the impression during our first parkrun together, swearing most of the way round! I then took up the New Year’s Day opportunity to run to Willen and complete my second parkrun of the day. I think this was the main difference (there’s been a few) with my running this year, having the confidence to run to runs or put in additional miles before or after planned outings.
At this time Nicky was running with Sweatshop running club and I joined her for a couple of their evening runs…… after a couple of conversations with Martin I took the plunge and joined Redway Runners. I picked RR due to the huge amount of different runs starting all through the week, it just worked with me and my shifts at work – Martin had also mentioned they would be doing marathon training, just what I needed. I attended my first run on the 8th Jan, a Sunday club run hour…. plus a bit extra! This was my introduction to the colossal size of the club and Martins time keeping!! January also saw me on the track for the first time since …. School probably, another dimension to the club runs and one I utterly enjoyed.
February and March saw the introduction of Beat the Street in Milton Keynes and it’s fair to say no-one embraced this more than Martin, with runs being centred around collecting as many points from the blasted things!! After a little bit of moaning I managed to steal Nicky away from Sweatshop to her new home with the Redway runners and set a PB of 45mins for my 10km during the chicks & chaps series.
In the run up to my marathons I tried my hand at a mixture of the runs being offered by the club including Friday mornings, Sunday social, weekday intervals and tried to go to parkrun as often as I could. Me and Nicky would often hashtag runs and ensure selfies were taken while getting as much enjoyment from every run. In the first few months of 2017 I got at least 5 of my non running friends to lace up and join me, which I am very proud of!
March saw my first real run with a target for the year, Silverstone Half! I don’t normally set targets, and I certainly don’t advertise them ( fear of failing I think) but I set a target of 1.45 which after my winter half time I thought was realistic, I was very happy with my 1.41 but also with the way I still felt strong in the closing stages. It was also great seeing a few friendly RR faces there.
April was about one thing….. BRIGHTON marathon and after completing all my training during the chilly months you can imagine my excitement at the announcement that it would be run during a heat wave yay!! And WOW was it hot! I adjusted my game plan slightly walking through the water stops towards the end and made it,…. Just! 26.1 miles is a LONG way and do not let anyone tell you different! Completing under 4 hours was a huge buzz (3.51) as was the support from the crowds and Nicky who made the trip. The beer afterwards nearly knocked me off my feet! I was surprised how uncomfortable running was for the next few days but with the support of Nicky and the club runs I did get moving and eventually back to something that resembled a run, about time to because May brought with it the MK marathon! Although I may have felt ready for this, looking back I don’t think my body had long enough to recover from Brighton however I completed it and that really was the target for this one, I surprised myself a bit with the time, in that it was exactly the same as the previous one.… Mr consistent! Annette’s beginners group had a surprising amount of ‘helpers’ the following day.
In July and August I tried to do a bit of speed work, on one occasion I got Nicky on her bike to pace me which was certainly an interesting experience and I was on the track again which I hope to see more of in the new year.
I managed to find to time to set a fastest mile of 6.21 during the RR green mile but also have lots of fun during every run I got to including both mine and Nicky’s 50th Parkrun, which was made extra special with an appearance from Greg Rutherford.
September saw my next challenge in the Bedford half. It’s fair to say I was not feeling this, very much under the weather in the run up to it, struggled massively after 8 miles but found some strength towards the end and completed in 1.39! mixed up things towards the end of sept by attending a few of Katie’s killer classes. October brought along the fun of a treasure hunt, dressing up and winning costume award at Halloween parkrun.
November I dragged myself to the 6.40 club…. Thanks Paul, man those guys are fast, pushed myself and very happy I did, getting quicker is certainly a target for 2018. Sadly in December the winter half was cancelled due to snow….. and yes it did actually snow, very disappointed I went out and completed 15 miles anyway and it was beautiful. That’s about my year, December has seen more dressing up, (and down). I have wound down my running miles but still completed over 1,300 miles this year.
2017 has been a fantastic first year for me and running, aside from a couple of small injuries I have smiled, laughed, and giggled more times than I could even try to count. I’ve met some lovely people and made some amazing new friends for which there are so many memories from Janet stripping in the woods to Nicky running down Bow Brickhill hill quicker than I ever seen anyone move. I’ve been introduced to the social fun side of what I still believe ‘outsiders’ think we are crazy for doing. (sometimes I even get close to agreeing with them!)