2 trophies, 2 milestone t-shirts and 1 operation
January saw me run my 50th parkrun. I had really ramped up my attendance at Cuerden Valley as at the 2nd birthday the previous August I had decided to go on an all out,
take no prisoners, don’t get in my way attempt to try and win the female points competition. Not something to attempt half heartedly as to make a real fist of it, you have to attend virtually every week. It was going to be an exercise in discipline and determination if nothing else. Could I keep going nearly every week, would the trophy be mine come August (spoiler alert – yes I did and yes it was)
February saw me running a tough 26.2 miles round Grizedale Forest as I did the trail marathon there as preparation for an ultra I was doing in April. With a two lap race, this meant you passed the finish line at the end of the first lap, before going out on a second much tougher and technical lap. It was mentally a bit of struggle to not stop at the halfway point ,but 3 hours later I was back at the finish in a total time of 5:51. All good miles in the bank.
March and earlier April brought one new race (Darwen Half) and two races I had done before, Caldervale 10 mile and Trafford 10k. Trafford 10k saw me run just 14 seconds slower than when I had previously run it in 2009, as it is one of the fastest 10ks in the North West. Thankfully I didn’t get a PB as this race was one of several in the Greater Manchester area that suffered from a course measuring malfunction, which meant it had been measured short (it was bang on 6.21 miles on my watch) and wouldn’t count for a PB on Power of 10. March also brought my first trophy of the year, as I got the V40 Championship trophy for 2015. When I joined the club in June 2015, there were just 4 races left to run in the competition, so to do the minimum amount of running and win was nice (plus a lack of V40 women in the club does help as well). Would I be able to defend the trophy in 2016 ? ( spoiler alert – yes I did, again by only running 4 of the 8 races, why run more than you have to?)
The Hoka Highland Fling, a 53 mile ultra along the West Highland Way in Scotland was my main event of the year and one I wrote a blog about at the time. Although I didn’t get the time I wanted due to eating too much and not drinking enough, it was a lovely experience and one of the things I am most proud of achieving in all my years of running. There is nothing that could be added to the race, the atmosphere or the organisation that could make it any better. I really hope to have another crack at this race sometime in the next 3 or 4 years.
May and June saw me really struggle at parkrun, my times were a lot slower and I had nothing in my legs, though energy wise I felt OK. Not surprisingly The Fling had taken a lot more out of me than I had expected it to. I tried the May edition of the Harrock Hill race and hated every single minute of it, did the Fishwick 5 and loved it . I struggled at Bendrigg 10k (even before that uphill finish) but needed to run it as it would be my fourth and final counting race in the Championship. Me and Debbie Porter went Yomping round Kirby Lonsdale for 23 miles and had a lovely time ,despite the Rotary Club’s failure to provide cake at the finish.
July saw me run my first road marathon since I “retired” from doing them in 2013. Again I blogged about my experience of the inaugural St Magnus marathon on Orkney at the time. it took until the end of the month and Bernard and Evelyn Elkington’s 80th birthday 5 mile race in Lancaster for me to feel back to “normal”. It was a lovely event and a fitting tribute to two of our own who continue to defy their age. I’ll be grateful to be able to still walk when I’m 80, let alone still be running. I was pleased with own my performance as it was one of the rare times I paced a shorter distance just right. It also continues my record of never having had a bad race in Lancaster.
August brought 2 half marathons in 6 days back in Orkney again. It also saw me crowned “Queen of the Valley” as I did finally achieve what I had set out to, only just though as Yvonne Johnson was just 26 points behind me at the end. Sharing the throne as my King was our very own Karl Hodgson who had led the men’s competition from the start and he had a much larger winning margin. Neither of us are defending our crowns again, so it will be nice to see someone brand new take the titles. Or it would have been had parkrun HQ decided that the points competition goes against the ‘ethos’ of what parkrun is about. And it took them 11 years to decided this ? I suspect it’s only a matter of time before milestone t-shirts get discontinued as well, because oh I don’t know, perhaps not everyone suits red and the people who don’t do enough runs won’t qualify for one and might feel left out?
September saw me take a good old soaking in the RIver Yarrow at the Yarrow Valley 10k in one of my final races of the year. I spent half of September and all of October having a much needed operation and then recovering from it. I used the enforced rest to ramp up my volunteering at parkrun, something I had neglected due to being so focussed with winning the points competition. Volunteering 7 weeks in a row saw me hit my 25 Volunteer milestone, and allow me to wear the sacred purple shirt. Well it would if they had my size in stock. Two months on I’m still waiting to get one. I also marshalled at Cuerden Valley cross country, which seems to have been a big hit with the competitors. Well done to Team Plowman for doing the bulk of the organising.
November and December has seen me working hard to try and get back to some basic semblance of fitness. I have only done 2 parkruns post op and my only race was a 5.25 mile women’s only race at Swinton, a race I ran faster with full blown pleurisy in 2012 than I did last month, so still a long way to go, but muscle memory is a wonderful thing. 2017 will see me doing a lot less running. I fully intend to go for a hat-trick of V40 Championship titles – for the last time as this year will see me move into the dark and possibly shark infested waters of V45. My main goal for next year is a sprint triathlon, a long held ambition that has been percolating since 2013 and has only been hampered by my inability to swim the required distance (400m). But i need to be challenged and scared and for once to not know what I am capable of.