This year has been fantastic. Over the past twelve months I have lived in 2 countries, travelled to 5 more, visited 18 different places and taken more flights than I want to admit (okay, 18). I’ve raced six times, covered around 3,726.7 kms (2315.6 miles) in training, clocked up 377 hours (an average of almost 7 and a half per week and 9 more hours than last year). I swam 68 times (17 times more than last year), my longest run was 26.2 miles and my longest cycle was 58 miles. Only 7 weeks had training hours of 10 or more, compared to 13 last year!
I attempted races over two new distances, smashed one (the marathon), crashed and burned at the other (the half ironman). I read 62 books (see previous post). My best friend got engaged, I became a (semi) auntie, and James and I went to weddings in Northumberland, Greece, Italy and Wales. It has been a whirlwind of a year but a pretty incredible one.
January – I began the year in a pub in Anglesey, where everybody other than my small group of Londoners seemed to be related. The rest of the month was spent back in London ramping up marathon training.
February, as always, dragged, despite being the shortest month. I hit some setbacks in my marathon training with a knee injury and moaned about it a lot, whilst continuing swimming and getting ready to move to Madrid. Oh, and my best friend got engaged. It was a pretty good month really.
March was an important month, especially as I moved to Madrid to live for six months! I set about exploring my new home, worked really long hours, and headed to Barcelona for my first marathon. The marathon was incredible – one of the best experiences of my life, made especially good by having my mum, sister and her boyfriend, Miles, there to cheer me on and run with me for part of the way. I finished 2 minutes faster than my goal time (4 hours 28 min) and immediately wanted to do another one. And then I spent one week not being able to move and another week struck down with a horrendous cold. Still wanted to do another one!
April flew by in a flash as it began with a two week holiday in Andalucia. James and I stayed in the centre of Frigiliana, then in a cosy flat perched high up above the El Chorro gorge, and finally in a boutique hotel in the middle of the olive groves of the Sierra Subbetica. We alternated long cycles with four hour hikes, wine drinking and gorging on manchego and jamón. I clocked up my highest training hours for the year – over 14 – due to spending the whole week outdoors exercising.
Back in Madrid and I continued to spend long hours at work and started training for the Madrid Olympic distance triathlon.
May involved lots of trips back to the UK including a romantic family weekend at James’ parents’ wedding. I also went to Toledo for a weekend, a beautiful old city perched up high above a river, and spent a day at a lake near Madrid for some open water swimming (and sunbathing). I had some fantastic weeks of training, nailing all my workouts and putting in well over 10 hours per week … and then one “rest” week with just three hours!
June came round before I knew it and the heat hit Madrid – days of 40 degrees C making training outside pretty difficult. I also had several weekends of showing various visitors around Madrid and received a job offer! The two weeks between the interview and the job were the most anxious of my life without exaggeration.
Oh and the Madrid Triathlon – perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done as I slogged it up a hill in the searing sunlight for the fifth time …. I was a bit disappointed after some fantastic training that the heat and nutrition really did it for me – but it is all a learning experience and I really enjoyed the training.
On to July, and half Ironman training began, combined with a short weekend away in Valencia and a week in Greece. James and I had a few glorious days by the beach in Spetses, including attending a beach-side wedding, and then a day to explore Athens. I had more visitors to Madrid and took James hiking, despite the heat. At least I didn’t make him go cycling….
August came all too soon as it was my last month in Madrid. I began with one of the best weekends of my year, in Santiago de Compostela, where I cycled part of the Camino towards Finisterre, ate some fantastic octopus, and then ran the last section of the Camino de Frances. Something about that weekend sparked off a twinge in my hip though, which slightly derailed my running training over the next few weeks! I was trying as hard as possible to do all my favourite things in my last few weeks in Madrid but got struck down by a sudden unexplained stomach bug. I was sick for over ten days with really painful cramps, fever, and a need to stay very close to a toilet!!! I am not really an ill person and this was one of the illest I’d ever been – it was horrible! I was still not quite fully recovered when I met James in Italy for a wedding in Siena, the reception held in a castle in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. We finished up the weekend with an afternoon in Rome.
September began with a move home to London, and a long cycle in which I got hit by a car. I could barely walk for a few days and whether or not I could compete in my planned half Ironman was up in the air. I went to my cousin’s wedding, went up to Newcastle to visit the newest member of James’ family, baby April, and began physio to get me running again. At the end of the month I attempted the half Ironman, limping in just under 8 hours after a horrendous run/walk/death shuffle. I was glad to see the back of September!
In November, I spent a long weekend in New York with my dad and sister, started running again and spent long hours at work. Still no long cycles though.
And finally – December!! In which I got a 5km PB, started marathon training, had my first Christmas away from my mum with James’ family and then flew to Tulum, Mexico, to spend the last few days of the year soaking in the sun and struggling to run in the humidity!
And just a quick thank you to all of you who have followed, liked and commented on the blog over the year. To all of you that comment – thank you especially! I have received some fantastic advice and encouragement in the comments section of this blog since I began writing and I just wanted to let you know that it is very much appreciated. And to all those of you that have not yet commented, please say hi!