The Scribbler

28 December 2011

The Scribbler’s 2011 running round up

WARNING: You my need a cuppa and some Christmas chocs to get through this blog post. It’s time to sum up an amazing year.

My focus at the start of the year was to get triathlon fit. And shaking off the festive torpor, I ran a succession of parkruns, enjoying the social side as much of the running. I also got to grips with my swimming, starting to feel more confident about doing the 400m I’d need for my sprint tri.

February marked the official start of my tri training, going from no cycling to building it into my exercise plan week by week. My ancient old mountain bike isn’t the fastest of beasts, but gradually we started to have fun together and braved a wet and muddy track one weekend. The weather was not kind this month as a small, band of fools gathered to run a Fetch Mile on Newcastle’s quayside one wet, dark evening.

I returned to the track where I’d run as a youngster, swapping the 100, 200 and relay for a 10k around the familiar childhood grounds of Stanley Park. I was pushing for a PB, which I didn’t get, but I ran well on the twisty turny course and my family turned out to see me.
Later the same month I ran a new distance and had a great day out at the Hartlepool 5 miler, thanks to two of the loveliest Fetchies you’ll ever meet, Lesley Anne and Jeff. Catching up with Jason and Lisa was a real bonus at this lovely race.

On my bike at the Ashington triathlon 2011

At my first triathlon


I couldn’t have had a better start to my triathlon experience. I was massively nervous as I stood poolside, but I conquered the swim and jumped on my bike beaming as I knew I could do the next bit. As I sailed down the final stretch back to transition, I got my own ticker tape parade as cherry blossom blew down from the nearby trees. And suddenly I was running for the line. Pounding out a sprint finish to encouraging shouts and feeling the biggest sense of elation and achievement. One of the highlights of my year.

What a busy month I had in May! I met up with a huggle of Fetchies for a Rendezvous Run on a lovely sunshiney day. And just two weeks after my first tri, I completed my second at Darlington. A much tougher, longer bike course and wet conditions meant this was a tough call. But I still finished smiling. And just a few days later, on a warm sunny evening I went and ran a 10k PB. Not the accepted training route for a 10k race – but it worked for me.

And just to round off the month there was a blustery Pier to Pier race and another 10k at Druridge Bay.

A gathering of Fetch runners at the start of Blaydon Race

A gathering of Fetch runners at the start of the Blaydon Race

In June I said hello to my beautiful road bike. Shiny, sleek and gorgeous, she stole my heart and promised lots of good times together, but not before I suffered a few scrapes trying to get used to the clipped in pedals. After I dislocated my finger in a freak non-bike-related accident, I lost a bit of confidence and returned to standard pedals.

Thankfully nothing got in the way of me completing my third run of the Blaydon Race and only my own competitive stubbornness upset me when I failed to beat last year’s time. It was vastly silly to get upset at my favourite race, so that taught me a valuable lesson about tempering my competitive spirit. A 5k PB at parkrun the same week soon proved I did have it in me to run fast and not pile the pressure on too much.

I took a break in Scotland, ate well, explored some beautiful coastlines and generally had a relaxing holiday. But by now I was also building up the run miles and for the first time ever enjoyed the magnificent Northumberland Coastal Run, which marked my 50th race. That was a wonderful day. The rain lifted long enough for me and Penny to enjoy the coastlines and castles and then shift along the last sandy straight as the clouds gathered and the thunder and lightning stormed at the finish.

My new baby brother, Lewis James brought a whole heap of joy to our family. August also marked my third and probably favourite triathlon of the year at Hebburn and the first on my road bike. With another crowd of supporters, including Ian who stood alongside me at the poolside and Peter who cheered me through the finish, this was a great race and a tri PB.

Me, Al, Paul and Mark at the finish of Great North Run 2011

Me, Al, Paul and Mark at the finish of Great North Run 2011

September’s always been about one race. Even in the years before I ran I was aware of the Great North Run. And this year I really knew I could finally chase down that elusive sub 2 hour time.

Confident in my pacing with a race pace run at the 10 mile Jelly Tea; relaxed and smiling thanks to meeting up with Al and his pal before the race; and then just running, relaxed, focused and as well as I could. Picking up a bottle of water from Tanni-Grey Thompson again, starting to feel the strain at 9 miles and getting a boost from seeing Jeff and his dad.

Getting to the bottom of the John Reid Road and knowing I was on target as the heavens opened and a refreshing rainfall sped me on. Totally blanking out that long slow uphill slog and suddenly realising I was on Prince Edward Road and then turning onto the last stretch out along the coast, sure and certain I could do it. Scanning the crowd for Gary through the rain. Reminding myself I still needed to get a move on as my focus drifted and then powering on through the line in 1:57:32. Brilliant!

Meeting so many fabulous Fetchies at the finish, including my annual catch up with Mark, spotting Dawn in her fab sailor costume and hearing myself described as a triathlete, congratulating many many on PBS and everyone, but everyone asked if I’d got my sub 2. Well I did, and it was a definite highlight of my year.

Lee, Ian and me at the end of the Stampede

A muddy team Inspire

Time for some fun and some mud. There was plenty of both at two very enjoyable races this month. At the Hellhole 10k I enjoyed a lovely trail run with reminders of last year’s exploration of the woods with Lisa. This was also a memorable run in that I managed to score my first ever race place and a prize for 5th lady veteran. I enjoyed choosing some high viz gear with my vouchers ready for winter running.

Then there was the Newcastle Stampede which saw me diving over hay bales, balancing on tyres and plunging waist deep into cold muddy water. Too much fun!

But the real highlight of October wasn’t a race I ran, but a race I supported – the Town Moor marathon. Another bevy of Scottish Fetchies visiting for the day and plenty of local support at the bandstand. And it was a brilliant day. I think this is another race that will stay firmly in my portfolio, although I still don’t feel the compulsion to run it.

This month saw a significant birthday for me, which I celebrated in style with parkrun and cake and more cake and Fetchies. It wasn’t quite the day I had planned at the beginning of the year, but it was the one that suited me best.
And it was swiftly followed by another fabulous day tri training in Scotland with lovely Lesley and friends and more cake. I feel so fortunate to have such wonderful friends.

Traditionally a month of slowing down, low mileage and an ease off in training. So it has proved this year. A touch of plantar fasciitis has had me running cautiously and festive holidays have meant classes and training sessions cancelled. But I’ve still enjoyed a lovely Quayside training run that got my 10k confidence back. And a memorable parkrun relay where the coldest of cold days didn’t diminish the warm support.

I was sad to miss the Saltwell 10k, but happy that Jeff took my place and I got to cheer on some incredible performances from among others, Claire and Sue who ran amazingly well to PB on that course. And I enjoyed trying my hand as race photographer too.

A Christmas Eve parkrun and a Boxing Day 5k dash have fulfilled my need for speed and burned off some of the festive excess. And there are still a few more days to go before I wish a fond farewell to 2011.

For this has been a grand old year for me. At the beginning, my aims were to complete a triathlon, and go sub 25 at Newcastle parkrun. I did that and more, picking up a 10k PB and finding some new and enjoyable races. And although it only became a goal later in the year, when I felt it was possible, I did run that sub 2 hour half.

There have been ups and downs, good moments and bad. But it’s been my best running year to date. So I look forward to 2012, Olympic year full of hope and excitement for the possibilities ahead. 2011 will take some beating, but I think 2012 may just do it.


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