I always like to end a year with some reflections on my year of running. According to Strava I have logged 860 miles this year with 116,000ft elevation gain. That’s over 100 miles further than last year and a lot more elevation gain. I feel stronger, sometimes I feel faster, but most importantly I feel more confident.
There have been many low points. Runs that haven’t gone well, runs that haven’t happened at all, and moments of giving up. But I won’t dwell on those. Here are the good bits from the last 12 months of running.
Mytholmroyd Fell Race
My first fell race. For some reason I thought I’d throw myself right into the world of fell racing but turning up to my first ever race in a blizzard. I was slow, and it was hard, but I survived. January was about learning to survive on the hills in scary snowy conditions.
Whernside in winter conditions
February brought snow, snow and more snow. There was lots of attempts at running which ended up more like attempts at ice skating. The highlight from February was probably Whernside. The first of my Yorkshire 3 Peaks (only Pen-y-ghent left to do now) and a challenging run in snowy conditions.
March featured even more snow. There were lots of local hilly snow runs, and a few adventure runs further afield as well. I ticked off another Yorkshire peak with Ingleborough, and ran a section of the Pennine Way between Horton in Ribblesdale and Hawes. The highlight for March has to be a new 10k PB at Chester. I finished in 51:29 which was shocking and I’m still not sure how I managed to run that pace.
Marsden Racers Club Runs
I didn’t do any races in April but it was a good month of regular, fairly consistent running, totalling 116.1 miles overall. My highest monthly total of the year so far. I still don’t think I am good at consistent running so that will be something to improve on for 2019. April was a month of good club runs and we were able to start enjoying better weather and lighter evenings. I also discovered the beauty of the West Highland Way and Glencoe on a running trip to Scotland.
The start of a hot summer of running and my 2nd fell race. The Cake Race organised by Saddleworth Runners is a fantastic local race. This 10 mile race is very popular. It starts and finishes over the hill in Diggle but the route takes in my favourite local routes across Marsden Moor. It was a blisteringly hot day so I was pleased with my sub 2 hour time considering there was 1,557ft of elevation gain. This race features a cake baking competition, so there is an incentive to run faster to get back in time for the best selection of lovely home-baked cakes.
Heat and low iron levels marred my June running. I should have been putting the miles in as part of my Snowdon half marathon training but it was a hot and humid month. A trip to Bristol included Ashton Court parkrun which was excellent. An out and back route which literally goes up a hill for 1.5 miles and then back down again.
Snowdonia Trail Half Marathon
July saw the first big challenge of the year. I didn’t feel prepared and had no idea if I would survive it. But I think I thrived on the challenge. Reaching the top of Snowdon and then crossing the finish line of this race will be two of favourite running moments of the year. July was the month I learnt I can run up a mountain, fall over and drag myself to the finish line with a smile on my face.
The hot summer continued into August. It brought many glorious summer evening runs. Evening runs on the moors around Marsden is one the reasons why I wanted to move here and August delivered on that front. Marsden Racers got out for some stunning Tuesday night runs on the hills and trails. At the very end of August I finally ticked off a long held ambition to hike up Ben Nevis. I didn’t think it would happen this year, after being put off by potential snow in April. Whilst in Fort William in August however, there was a surprise clear day so plans were changed and Ben Nevis was ticked off.
Marsden Racers Challenge – Haworth to Marsden
September has far too many running highlights to sum up here. A trip to Eigg. Marsden Racers Malham to Marsden Challenge. Wineathlon. Utterley Butterley Fell Race. New parkrun PB. The favourite on reflection has to be the Marsden Racers Malham to Marsden Challenge. It was my longest, toughest off road run of the year and much more challenging than the White Rose Ultra in November. The weather was grim but the company was fantastic. It was a gruelling day but car park cups of tea helped me through it. This run will always hold a special place in my memories particularly because there was nothing official about it. No medal, no official time to boast about, no support crews or organisers to rescue us. Just a bunch of runners, helped by lovely people who make great cups of tea, doing something for charity and to test ourselves.
October was spent trying to get as many miles in my legs as possible in preparation for my first ultra. I struggled with running and was probably suffering fatigue from a very busy September. So October was a month of getting my head down and just getting on with it. I did some walking in preparation for the Ultra, as an alternative way to get more miles in my legs. I went to the Lake District and hiked up Helvellyn, a great day out, if you discount the crying and whingeing about perilous route choices. Not any of the classic Helvellyn ridge routes, just a very steep slippery grass slope up the side of Dollywaggon Pike.
White Rose Ultra 30
My first ultra. This is what most of my year running was building up to although I wouldn’t say I specifically trained for it. It was painful and I learnt a valuable lesson about the importance of training but also determination and persiverance. I loved this run because of the companionship of other runners. I set out on it alone, but found company around the route, thanks to many friendly runners taking time to make conversation and keep my spirits up. The biggest thanks will always go to Sheldon, a complete stranger who ran with me and kept me going.
Illness, rest and recovery
December was about learning to rest and listen to my body. I pushed myself during 2018, both with running and at work, and definitely paid the price in December. A lingering cold is still with me now, nearly 4 weeks later, wiped me out. Running has been a struggle, yet somehow I’ve still managed to log over 60 miles for December. Some may call that foolish but I love the opportunity for daylight running offered by a long Christmas break from work. After a couple of months of running in darkness, who could ignore the chance to get out there and see the world in daylight. I certainly can’t! Also Christmas lights make December running a little bit more fun. My running highlight isn’t actually running but running related, a night in the pub with runners and cyclists from Marsden Racers to celebrate our achievements this year.