A new year and a new start. It always feels psychologically good setting new goals and targets can be really therapeutic. They don’t have to be massive or an extensive list but nearly every runner I come across sets new goals and targets on a continuous cycle. So why the big fuss in a New Year? I suppose it’s a time for reflection, writing off the failed targets and moving onto the blank page of the next year.
10 in 10 for me has been massively important, why? Because I got to choose my targets and having OCD, one a month with a few breaks is an ample overall challenge. No medal, no real kudos but my 10 in 10. The year started with an 8 minute quicker run in the Garstang 10k. Not my 10k PB but a big drop in time from 1:06 in 2015 to 57.30 in 2016. A lover of the road (not) saw a half marathon attempt in Lancaster drop by 18 minutes. A decision was made on the day that that really was good enough! 2.01 on an uninspiring course was not going to be a return fixture!
Onto muckier stuff and one of my favourite XC events in the Ribble Valley saw a time of 39.37 drop to 36.47 just before the snow came. What an awesome day that was. The big target in the 10 in 10 this year was also to bring my VLM time down. Again, the dirty ‘road’ word is being used…after plodding it out on the roads of South Ribble I managed a time of 4.44.49 – and yes the 9 is very annoying! A little disappointed as a 4.30 had been on the cards in training and a good 20 mile race at Trimpell in 3.23 showed signs of that 4.30 goal. Alas, it wasn’t to be, the body can dictate so much on the day and unexpected toilet visits saw the dream time fade although that comfortable sub 5 was mine at last 🙂 There is no desire to return to a road marathon again – period!
Aggie’s staircase has to be one of my favourite fell races and for that reason it has featured in my 10 in 10 repeatedly over the years. This year with great conditions I managed a massive 7 something minutes off my 2015 time. 58.52 down to 51.36 is not to be sniffed at. Being off the roads after London lifted my spirits and my training, finally, and hill work became a priority. (The story continues further on…).
Vernon’s 4 miler, one of my favourite short fast road races was the next target. This race seems to feature every year in my 10 in 10 too. 36.47 down to 35.55 which on the back of a Rivington 13 mile trail and hill run the day before surprised me and Ray a lot! Chorley Inter Club was next on the list, the weather was pants but the atmosphere was simply brilliant. Seeing the red army take over Astley Park made me swell with pride. A 45.28 minute finish meant a faster run of 3 minutes from 2015, winner winner!
Liverpool cross country is always an exciting event on the Mid Lancs calender and this year didn’t disappoint. An aim always is to not be lapped by the elites and the men. This year I managed both and as a result managed to complete the race in 45.11, almost an exact 3 minutes faster run of 48.12 in 2015. No Gemma Steel in sight or Andy Vernon! Whoop!
Nearing the end of the 10 in 10 list I saw the demon timed mile left on the list. How can something so small be so scary? I suppose all year the ambition has been to keep chipping away at it. It’s been incredibly difficult for many reasons and training wise running for endurance and not speed has led to heavy legs a lot of the time. But, who likes a cry baby? So, onwards and the good old A59 saw a last ditch attempt to get that sub 8 minute mile in the bag before the year end. A respectable 7.40 finally allowed me to tick it off in November. That pesky mile!
The last challenge on the cards was to complete a 1,000 miles for the year. The intention was to incorporate the 12 Days of Christmas challenge but I sort of realised by September having reached 1,000 at this point that I didn’t want to cheat my own system of 10 in 10 so I changed the 10th target to being the first to finish the TDoC challenge. Last year I was the first lady to finish so this was going to be a step up. Job done by 12.12am on the 12th December. And, satisfying the OCD the timings and date were simply perfect! Finishing my mileage total for the year on 1323.
It’s never all singing and dancing in sport though as we all know. Niggles, injuries and disappointments come with the territory (along with lots of shoes, spikes, and other fab running gear essential purchases). The three peaks were to be my fundraising challenges for 2015. My intention to run Snowdon fell race, Ben Nevis fell race and Scafell Pike fell race and raise much needed funds for Ben’s Bowel Movements were thwarted by repeated calf strains and continuing niggles for some months after completing Snowdon fell race. This race was magical, terrifying and amazingly tough all in one event. Completing it left me weak and literally ‘legless’ as Ray held me up at the finish.
The beginning of the problems…although would I change any of it? No way. The outstanding matter lies now with the much needed funds for my dear friend Ben Ashworth and Ben’s Bowel Movement charity and my commitment to Ben and his beautiful girls. 2017 will kick off with accepting the baton from Steve Willett to run a mile every day in 2017. All with support from my lovely running family, at Red Rose, CV parkrun, my coached athletes and all those not linked to me through running and my family. I hope that if everyone on my Facebook friends list donates £1 each that in itself would generate £809. That would be an amazing amount to raise. My fundraising page will be available soon!
Amazing moments have come in many forms this year. None more so than becoming an ID Coach for Brooks. Thanks to our Queen Ruth and her nomination, being part of the scheme and winning as a coach for Red Rose means a lot. Thanks to Ruth and thanks to my athletes who have been part of the ID Coaching programme, it’s been awesome. Finally, my year in summary would not be complete without acknowledging my fine athletes who have worked hard this year. Followed plans, completed training sessions with passion, raced hard, shown real determination and a real desire to be the best that they can be. If you have attended a session with me, had 1:1, been to track or run at CV parkrun, I am honoured to be part of your running journey. I won’t ever get fed up of saying I only want you all to be the best you can be.
See you all in 2017, Happy New Year, Run Happy.
Sithee’ Pita x
P.S. Did I mention we won back the ladies inter club fell trophy this year from Wesham? No? Well we smashed it – thanks girls!