Friday, 25 January 2013

My name is Colin and I have a running Problem (AKA 2012 Review)

In November 2011 I looked at my race Calendar for 2012 and the result was a bit ambitious. In the early stages I planned on 10 Ultramarathons, a few Half Marathons and some of my favourite 10K events. I also wanted to run a Marathon, a 'proper' marathon, which would be my first Marathon. But like all good plans, nothing really goes to plan!
The first half of 2012 was geared towards the mighty West Highland Way Race, an epic 95 miles across some of the toughest running in the known Universe. I, like many of my running friends, had also entered other races such as the D33, Fling and Cateran. These races would be used as training runs for our main event of the year. And the prospect of standing at Milngavie station at 1am on a June morning had me shitting in my lycra pants. However, each of the preceeding events wouldn't be given any less attention to detail, preparation or less respect. I wanted to achieve PB's in as many of my Ultra events in 2012 as I could. As a result I upped my training miles. I had dropped many of my favourite 10K and Half Marathon events in favour of longer training runs to get my mileage each month substantially higher than in previous years. 2012 was the year that Ultra Marathons became my main event distance. By the end of the year I had run 127 races since June 2007, 20 being Ultras. Thank you for the SUM Series.

The Year started with a great 30 mile WHW training run from Balmaha to Inversnaid and back, which was an opportunity to catch up with all the other Ultra Loons. They came from far and wide, from distant lands and far flung corners of the globe, including the exotic and mysterious Isles of Skye and Bute. My lasting memory of this was being squeezed into the porch at Inversnaid with a bunch of runners including George, Karen, Mike and Alan because we were so wet and muddy that we were scorned on by the hotel staff for trailing mud into the bar.
March came and the Deeside Way Ultra was the first race of 2012. This was my third outing at this event and I wanted to improve on 2010 and 2011 as I had finished both years limping from injuries during the race. The field had grown as a reflection of the increase in popularity in Ultra distance running and there were lots of new faces here. I ran around 20 miles of this years event with Jonathan and we crossed the line together. First PB, knocking 20 minutes off the previous best time.
The Highland Fling (My 4th time) was next. But inbetween the D33 and the Fling I ran my first ever hill race, the Kaim Hill Race, in Largs. It came as a suggestion from Mark Caldwell and was only a week before the Fling which was a bit risky. 3.5 miles of insanity! But I loved every second of it. The grim satisfaction of careering out of control, downhill through heather and bog, sliding on arse cheeks down near vertical slopes, having mud forced into places I'd rather it wasn't was a hoot. I survived and had a fantastic intoduction to Scottish hill racing.
So the Fling in 2012 was about putting the horrible memories to rest from 2011, where I had to 'DNF' from exhaustion a mere 4 chuffing miles from the end. To date, my only ever DNF. Another PB by 40 minutes. Result!
Then came my second hill race at Dumyat, above Stirling University. At 5 miles I knew it would be tough, and boy it was. But again I enjoyed having my lungs strangled and throwing myself down off a hill with the ever present fear of landing on my face.
In May came the 55 mile Cateran Trail race. This was my 2nd year up in Glenshee for what is more than just a race, it's a whole weekend of fun and laughter. Another PB by 20 minutes. So far the year had been better than I had expected.
But now came the 'Big One', the West Highland Way Race. I had spent around 9 months preparing mentally and physically for this 95 mile leviathan of a race. The weather was 'horrific' and many of those who set off fell by the wayside (over 50 didn't finish). More than once I myself considered chucking it. But I plodded on and in 30 hours 51 minutes I was battering on the doors of the Sports Centre in Fort William. The very proud owner of my first Goblet. I've been milking it ever since, and why not?!
It was a bit strange when it was all over as I had no idea what to do now. I hadn't made any plans for the second half of 2012 as I didn't know what shape I would be in after the WHWR. As it happens I came away unscathed compared to many others. So as a 'recovery' run I entered the Crieff 10k again, a tough wee off road race, which confirmed that I wasn't broken and my legs appeared to still work. Another PB.
At the start of 2012 I had decided to miss the Clyde Stride as I thought it would be too much to run 40 miles just 4 weeks after the WHWR. However, I hummed and hawed the week before and then 9 hours before the race started, I asked the RD, Lee, if I could turn up in the morning and run!!
And so I ran the CS for my second time with a PB of 14 minutes which came as a pleasant surprise.

Another 2012 target had been to achieve the 'Triple Crown' of WHW races. The final piece was the 42 mile Devil of the Highlands Race. I felt sluggish all day, with the accumulated mileage catching up with me, but still managed a 4 minute PB.
 And more importantly, I had achieved the 'Triple Crown'.
I then had a couple of shorter events, the Isle of Bute and the Killin 10K's. I really suffered in Bute, finishing 4 minutes slower than the previous year and in Killin I never really got going, but looked at them both afterwards as training runs to keep me ticking over.
The Glenmore 24 hour Trail Race was an amazing weekend of running up near Aviemore. Although as many will remember, I had a 'little' mid-race sleep (9 hours!!). I had arrived not feeling great from a cold and I probably should have switched to the 12 hour option. But I didn't and suffered for it. I had set myself a target of 100 miles and all was going well until around the 40 mile distance when I suddenly hit the wall and all my energy was sucked out of me. I only intended having about 2 hours rest to eat and have a quick kip, but ended up sleeping for 9 hours. When I woke I felt great but only had a few hours left, so ran my arse off for these remaining few hours. I ended up with only 63 miles but i am determined to make up for it in 2013.
My 6th Stirling 10K came next and I had a rotten run, finishing 4 minutes slower than in previous years.
Then came my first ever 'proper' Marathon at Loch Ness. A great event and very well organised. I had previously run the 10K event here the last 5 years so I knew it would be a great day. But running 26 miles on hard Tarmac isn't for me. If it had been on Trails and off road I'm sure I'd be back, but I'll give it a miss for now. But a big chuffin' medal for my efforts.
The last race of the year was the Glen Ogle Ultra, near Killin. I knew I wouldn't get a PB as they had added an extra 1.5 miles onto this years route. It was a great way to end 2012. No sooner had I finished here and I was entering races for 2013.
So 15 races in 2012 equated to 8 Ultras, I marathon, 2 Hill Races and 4 10K's. Not what I had planned, but Magnificent all the same. I learned how hard I could push myself this year that I CAN do anything if I put my mind to it and ignore the pain!!

Here's some photo's of other stuff from 2012:
I learned alot more about nutrition, by way of advice and hefty headslaps!! It'll be tough to top 2012 in 2013, but i'll be pushing hard to try. I'll be doing less races, more training miles and concentrate on achieving some more PB's in those events I run in.

My thanks to my parents support again this year at all those events where they stood out in the cold, wind, rain, icy weather and the dark to cheer me on and kick my arse when required. And a massive well done and thanks to all the Events RD's, volunteers and marshalls for all their hard work in keeping these events going. See you all in 2013.

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