I joined in with the “Year of Running” summary last year and it is quite fun to look back on – how strange that 2014 was my first year in running, beginning with freezing cold, rainy, slow, short solo runs in Dublin, and ending with freezing cold, rainy, slow, long runs in London as I trained for Barcelona marathon. I reached a 5km PB of 25 minutes 40 seconds and said I would aim for 25 minutes this year… Well, I didn’t quite manage that but did get a PB! I suppose I am really a runner now, with one marathon under my belt and a second in a few months, but looking back on last year’s review, my main feeling is jealousy. Last year was just so fantastic in terms of some of my runs, the people I ran with, oh .. and the fact I didn’t have any injuries!
I began 2015 with the peak of marathon training yet to come, and slogged away through the winter months, with some really good memories of long, solo runs past frozen-over lakes, with inspiring podcasts in my ears. Then I moved to Madrid and immediately my runs went from freezing cold to spring-like! Taper weeks allowed me to slowly explore Madrid in my trainers, and then it was off to Barcelona for the marathon. Afterwards, runs were shorter and faster, all through the summer, with lots on a treadmill to avoid the ridiculous heat outside. Then I came back to the UK, only to get hit by a car on my first cycle out in London. Cue two months of no / very little running – there was a half marathon in there at the end of my first half Ironman but a large part of that was walked! Finally, towards the end of the year I have started marathon training again and am so enjoying being able to run without pain!
So without further ado, here is my year in running….
Best race experience: well that one is easy – no doubt at all, it was Barcelona marathon. I raced less times this year due to being in Spain over the summer and doing a lot of travelling, so it was just one Olympic distance triathlon, one half ironman triathlon, the marathon and a few 5kms. But none come to close to Barcelona marathon, which, from start to finish was not only my best race experience, but also my best ever experience. Recap at the link but basically I ran slowly, loved the crowds and the people running around me, was buoyed up by the support of my family, never hit the wall, and thought the whole thing was incredible.
Best run: I left this question to last as I just really don’t know…. The vast majority of runs were by myself so there is no one that really stands out, unlike last year’s glorious run in Andalucia with my mum. I really enjoyed some of my marathon training runs, and my first 18 miler stands out as a wonderful run, not only because I enjoyed at least the first 2 miles, but also the sense of achievement at the end. And it was a clear, freezing cold, quiet day, absolutely beautiful for running along the Thames.
And then there was my first run in Madrid, where I ran from my flat, through the Retiro Park, right through the centre of the old town and then down to the river, exploring Madrid in one long run only a few hours after I arrived in the city. Or my last run in Madrid, where I did much the same thing, but slowly, savouring every last moment of my last full day in the city.
Or one of my first post-marathon runs, in the beautiful setting of Daimiel National Park – mainly one of my best because of just how ridiculously beautiful it was.
Or my first run after being hit by a car in September, a slow run/walk before my first half ironman. It was slow and painful and difficult and the heavens opened at one point with torrential rain, but the main thing I remember is just grinning and grinning with the fact I was running again.
Actually – that reminds me of another favourite run, also involving torrential rain – my first “fast” post-marathon run where I was extremely happily surprised to see the time at the end of the run. It turns out I like running in the rain!
Best new piece of running gear: I don’t tend to buy too much running gear (cycling take precedence where spending money on sporting activities is concerned!) but I did buy something at the Barcelona marathon expo to wear whilst running the marathon. I was slightly nervous as I would be wearing it for the first time during the marathon which is never recommended but it was absolutely fantastic and may even be the best bit of kit I own – my Flipbelt! I loved it so much I even reviewed it, here. It is by far the best way of carrying around your phone, keys, gels, you name it! I also plan to use it as a safe way of carrying around money etc while back-packing 🙂
Best running advice you’ve received this year: if you’re a regular reader you may have noticed that I love the Marathon Talk podcasts, which have provided lots of inspiration and advice during my runs. So it’s probably no surprise that my best running advice of 2015 came from Marathon Talk (although I should probably apologise to my physio for not including something he said here!) It was just one sentence: “the mind gives up 100 times before the body does“. Whenever I am struggling, I just keep repeating this to remind myself that it is just my mind that is struggling and my body is perfectly capable!
Most inspirational runner: this year I am going to go for my mum. She was always fit & active as I was growing up but never ran until she started training for triathlon a few years ago. She hated running when she first started, it was her least favourite part of triathlon. But gradually she’s started to enjoy it more and more, taken over 10 minutes of her 10km time, run a trail half marathon and a half ironman and is now training for Brighton marathon with me! A few years ago she would go out and run 10km every weekend, and I would think that was incredible. Now she runs 10 miles (at least) every weekend, and I still think she’s incredible.
Favourite picture from a race or run: It has to be this one, from just before the half way point of my marathon. Look how happy I am!
Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: Surely this question is just the same as the first one? Barcelona Marathon – hands down.
If you could sum up a year in a couple of words, what would they be? Fun, exhausting, exciting, wonderful.