2016 in review

2016 got off to a decent start. I did parkrun on the 1st Jan and then ran every day in January, including two more parkruns. I signed up for a marathon in May.

In February I ran in Istanbul, did the Cambridge Half Marathon, both with a cold, resulting in a disappointing time in Cambridge.

March was full of races! Parkruns, Frank Harmer 10k, Wimbledon Common Half Marathon and Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon.

By April, marathon training was well underway. I ran the Lidl Breakfast Run and did long runs at the weekend, including one where I got so cold I had to heat up in the bath and was sick for 24 hours afterwards. On 21st April I tripped while running home from work and sprained my ankle. Limited running after this.

I started May with a sprained ankle. It hurt to run but I tried to do the Halstead Marathon anyway and had to quit at 18km. I did parkrun a week later, which was no better. My ankle got a bit better but then I sprained it again.

In June I inched my way back into running.

In July I did the Richmond Park Half Marathon and the Ashridge Trail Half Marathon, both very very slowly. I also went to Scotland and ran on some islands.

I started August with a mini runstreak, and Matt did his first parkrun. I did my second middle distance triathlon.

September saw a return to parkrun and a 10k in Battersea Park. I spent a lot of time working.

My work-life balance continued to be dreadful in October, limiting my running. And then I went to India for two weeks.

November saw a bad stomach, a trip to the Kendal Mountain Festival for a trail race there and a few half hearted commutes.

December had a few commutes and a 10k in Regent’s Park. I was so tired the whole time, and then I got sick with the worst flu I’ve had in years, so I couldn’t even run over Christmas at my parents’ house.

Total for the year: 1,203 km (2015 – 1,036, 2014 – 1,099)

Regent’s Park 10k, 2016 edition

I ran the Regent’s Park 10k two years ago and have fond memories of going to Yumchaa with my brother afterwards. I remember the race as being uneventful, I plodded around in 58 minutes and was quite pleased with myself.

Two years on, I felt nervous. Running is not going well. My legs are perpetually tired and my brain is an insurmountable obstacle in the way of me even getting out for a run a lot of the time. Still, I woke up, got dressed and headed to Regent’s Park on a chilly morning.

I couldn’t hear much of what the race organiser was saying at the start, other than that we should all smile for photos at the finish line. There was a man near me wearing a suit in xmas print. He looked like he might be fast, and it’s always humiliating being beaten by someone in fancy dress (see: London Marathon 2014).

Then we were off! I set off too fast, not chronically so but I kept having to pull it back. It’s hard at the start when there are so many people. I’d started a tiny bit too far forward so lots of people overtook me.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and bright. I’d gone for the footballer look (tshirt with gloves) and was wearing leggings – I normally wear long sleeves and shorts, rather than short sleeves and leggings, so it felt weird. The leggings were new and a bit too big so they slipped down a little but looked jazzy.orig_26560_755635753584d84291b495

At the end of the first lap I was feeling more tired than I’d hoped. I trudged around the second lap feeling a bit worn out and my joints felt tired, like I’d been standing up for 10 hours. Halfway round the second lap, I started to get lapped. At the start of the third lap I got some water and sipped it, hoping that would perk me up. I was a bit defeated by this point and when I got to the 8km marker I walked for a minute, rubbing my right hip, which was sore. Again at 9km I walked for a moment, struggling with motivation.

I ran past the zoo and only on the final lap did I think to look at the animals. Didn’t see any. I turned onto the final straight and thought about sprinting but it felt embarrassing when I was so slow overall.

I crossed the line in 1:00:57. And I didn’t smile for the camera.

There was a long queue snaking across the grass and I joined it, waiting for a medal and a can of drink. Behind me was a Hooray Henry, his voice booming out across the park. At least by running my speed I hadn’t had to run near him. And I beat the man in the xmas suit!

I didn’t go to Yumchaa afterwards (I felt I didn’t deserve it…) but went to Pret instead and had a mint hot chocolate, so my self-flagellation clearly knows some bounds.

Autumn running

So, my aims for October were as follows:

  • Speed work
  • Runs that aren’t commutes
  • Get a handle on these stomach issues

I didn’t do any speed work, I didn’t do much running that wasn’t a commute and I didn’t get a great handle on my bad stomach. But I did go to India!

My first run of November was in India, but I didn’t run for another week after that as I was jetlagged and my stomach was wreaking havoc for a while. Since then I’ve been running 3 times a week, which isn’t great.

Matt and I went to up north for the Kendal Mountain Festival. One of the events taking place was a 10k trail race, which we decided to enter. The course started in the town centre, then headed up onto Scout Scar, along the escarpment and then down through the golf course and back into town, down cobbled steps.

The forecast was rainy but we woke up to a clear and cold morning. It was chilly on the start line, and we had to be there an hour in advance. I was interviewed by some people from Blacks, but didn’t do a great job of keeping warm as when we eventually set off I could barely feel my toes. I’d bought new trail shoes and as my last ones were a tiny bit too small, I’d played it safe and gone large. A little too large really.

We set off up Beast Banks, which I’d been apprehensive about. I got separated from Matt but we all made our way up the hill, on the road. After about 2km we turned right onto a muddy trail, which is when I started to enjoy it less. I am nervous about running on slippery mud so was extremely tentative, especially on anything resembling a down hill and with totally numb toes. The first half of the race was predominantly uphill but there were enough downhill bits for me to feel cautious and I got overtaken on every descent.

The top of Scout Scar was absolutely stunning, mist in the valley and snow on the peaks in the distance. Lots of people were out walking with their dogs. As we headed back towards the town, we went through the golf course, which was insanely muddy and I stupidly tried to hold a thorn to stop myself sliding in the mud. 

Finally back on tarmac, I tried to make up for all the lost time but was thwarted by the cobbled steps, which I walked down rather than risking running down them. I chatted to a girl who I’d passed earlier as she’d stopped to take her shoes off and run most of the race in her socks. Then we were back at the level of the town and there was a sharp right turn onto the high street and a sprint to the finish line.

Afterwards we goofed around taking pictures before getting a lift back to the house. I was really hungry at the end but didn’t fancy eating my kendal mint cake (given in lieu of a medal), so by the time we finally ate at around 3pm I was really peckish, having had no breakfast!

I intended to do parkrun the following weekends but didn’t make either of them.

And now on to December…

Running in India

I love running when I’m on holiday, it’s a great way to get to know somewhere new. In the last couple of years, I’ve run in all sorts of places – this year I’ve run all over England, as well as on Scottish islands and along the Bosphorus in Istanbul. So I definitely intended to run in India!

I didn’t want to take two pairs of shoes so bought a pair of cheap running shoes that I could wear every day on the holiday (£12.99 from Primark). They were very similar to Matt’s trainers, so we spent the holiday with matchy-matchy shoes, like the big losers we are.

I planned to run in Lodi Gardens in Delhi, after seeing people jogging there. When I jumped out of bed, raring to go, I saw that Matt was a broken man, having been struck down the night before with an awful upset stomach, and I couldn’t really leave him. Instead I fetched him some water and tried to convince him to take immodium/go to the pharmacy (I failed).

A few days later, I finally made it for a run in Jaipur. I’d looked on Strava and saw that people ran in Central Park, on a running path around the perimeter of the park. I enticed Matt out to the park by telling him we could go to a teahouse nearby afterwards. There were a few other people running in the park including a woman in a sari. The path went past the polo stables, where a gang of peacocks were terrorising the horses. I ran a lap and a half to make 5k and then headed back to Matt – then discovered we couldn’t have tea as the teahouse had closed early for Diwali.

When we got back to the hotel I realised I’d had my shorts on back-to-front.

I wanted to go back to Central Park the next day but the air was so bad after Diwali and I decided against it.

Our next stop was Udaipur and again I had looked at Strava. There was a lake to the north that people ran around, so one morning I headed out there. I walked to the lake as the road was quite busy and I wanted to be totally aware of my surroundings! Once there, I set off, initially on a main road but soon turning left onto the road around the lake.

There were a few people out walking along a promenade but it was relatively quiet, especially given the number of tourists in Udaipur at the time (it was a state holiday in the neighbouring state of Gujurat). I got friendly nods from people as I passed.

I ran in the road, rather than on the pavement, which was made of uneven bricks, so it was with great excitement that I saw a bike lane, the first I’d seen in India. I was marvelling at the cycling infrastructure when I nearly got run over by a scooter heading the opposite way. Later the bike lane disappeared, but when it reappeared a man gave me a cheery wave and a “good morning!” as he cycled past.

There were some interesting sculptures by the lake.

There were also incredibly cute puppies.

Back at the main road to Udaipur I decided to walk again as the traffic was heavy and typically erratic. I wished I’d brought some money for a drink, as it felt like a long way back to town, where I had to meet Matt at a cafe to get the hotel key off him before I could FINALLY head back and have a shower.

On our return to Delhi, plans for running were thwarted by toxic smog. Our hotel gym was closed for refurbishment, and although they said they could take me to a nearby gym, it seemed like a lot of hassle (the hotel had already done a great job of letting us down on almost every front).

I wish I’d managed to run more in India but the two runs I did squeeze in were lots of fun! Running holidays are the best kind of holidays!