The first SHAEF wedding!
Best moments of 2019 for me have to be lining up at the start of, and finishing the Comrades Marathon. I've not experienced anything close to the emotion of this event before, there's something pretty special about this one. Check out my run report for the full debrief.
2019 was a bit of a recovery year for me, trying to get over the miles from previous few years and give my body a bit of a break, so I'm happy to have stuck to that plan and managed my lowest annual mileage since 2014. Feeling suitably rested now, but I've reached peak laziness and struggled recently with motivation to get out and run consistently... So the plan for 2020 is to get some structure back in to my training with the help of TrainAsONE, and get some interim races and goals booked in between now and October, so I can stand a chance of finishing my A-race - the Autumn 100. And speaking of which, I might be on the lookout for a crew & pacers if anyone's interested??
So many SHAEF highlights including Bruges, Aaron & Louise Wedding, Wimbledon 5k track races, Prudential 100 with a few Shifters riding, massive turnout at Vitality 10K and Staines 10K and hanging with Celebrities from Jake Wightman to the then Prime Minister Theresa May.
After an injury hit 2018 I was not sure what to expect in 2019 but it exceeded all expectations. Simply being able to run relatively pain free was my main highlight of the year and the opportunity to catch up with mates over a few miles or warm down runs and even just to de-stress after work felt so good again.
Probably the personal highlight was getting back to sub 20 at parkrun – it was something I doubted I’d ever do again and tough as it was being dragged round by pacer Fullen hurt a lot but but was worth it at the end. The times the improved though the year with quicker parkrun, getting close to PB shape in mile and 10K.
It always difficult to pick a favourite race or event but my personal highlights were – running the ‘glory’ leg at the Green Belt with the SHAEF flag in triathlon style over the line, the annual Beer mile is always a highlight with so many laughs before, during and after.
Bruges half was a great weekend away with a brilliant race and everyone hitting target times also the SHAEF trip to European indoors in Glasgow – great athletics with some running done ourselves as well. Last but not least running in the one of the wettest races ever in Oxford half.
Main hope is to stay fit in 2020 – if I can do that then more sub 20 at all time age grade high would be great. Aiming to get some decent miles in again and really looking forward to away trips for Barcelona and Antwerp half marathons. Finally as well as running myself always great to cheer on SHAEF runners in other events and especially Hels and other Shifters in the VMLM.
Highlights for me have to include taking on the beast for the first time. I followed what some Shifters consider an unusual plan with some lung busting sessions on Riverside Drive. This lead to three pbs over the half marathon shedding five minutes off my PB. Then came the practice run 20 miles in Mo's trainers for the Kingston 16 (+ extra4) where I stuck to the plan 100%. If only I did it in the actual marathon. Still a nice debut to dip under 3 hours and hold off Gary on his way to his age group win.
As always The Green Belt Relays brings that real bit of team spirit and needs to be the first race in any Shifters diary. I had been planning on London again this year but injuries and weight gain mean I will be targeting pbs over shorter distances this year and London can wait for one year. First aim. Get back to London race weight. Second aim. Get back into the Shifters fold. Third aim. Pbs. Not fussy. Just want some pbs. Oh and get some guest speakers for Hollywood.
1. A beating injury year for me - overcoming Acute Myopericarditis, with the official diagnosis that my heart was clear in December. Being back out running and bit by bit getting my system used to exercise again has been a privilege that not everyone gets after heart illnesses, but I'm convinced my running background with SHAEF beforehand has been a large factor in what I've been told will be a total recovery - don't ever let anyone tell you running is bad for you!
2. Quite simple for me in my ways - I have a prescribed plan with a sports cardiologist to build my endurance base and then introduce speed gradually across January - April ahead of our next review, so plenty of miles at around my former marathon pace should do the trick. I plan to do a 20 miler (possibly the Thames towpath in March) and parkruns where I gradually each month lift the pace, from 21 to 20 to 19 and then see what the doc says beyond that. Looking forward to getting back out in the parks and on the roads with the SHAEF crew in Jan!
My 2019 has been by the far the best year for me running wise. Endure 24 back in June was one of the highlights of my year closely followed by Green Belt Relay. Running with amazing people and meeting lots of SHAEF Shifter members which has brought me here to write this now.
Next year my goal is to again take part in Endure 24, but this time run as part of a mixed pair and cover 75 miles in 12 hours.
And of course, survive the Boston Marathon so I can come back and run London in one piece!
Why I run
I thought I would write about why I run as I’m sure my perspective is different from most. I’m not necessarily looking to inspire others nor am I looking to be understood. We all run and are motivated for our own reasons and we don’t need to be understood by others to enjoy the benefits of what we do.
I ran in my teens but not seriously. I left school and participated in a variety of sports to differing levels. At the age of 52 I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis - an autoimmune form of arthritis - which meant I had to reevaluate how I exercised in order to stay active and not seize up for good. I gave up martial arts and took to running by signing up for parkrun. I’ve now completed over 80 and I have gone from times in excess of 35 minutes to a (Strava) PB of just under 28. I’ve also done a number of 10Ks and a ½ marathon this year. I could push myself harder to achieve faster times but to do so would risk inflaming my arthritis. So I have to try to strike a balance: set myself realistic goals but to not risk my overall health in achieving them.
I think my highlight of the year was doing my 50th parkrun with a friend and making the parkrun blog in the process:
So when you see me I may be running slowly and I probably won’t be asking for tips on how to get my next PB - I am just enjoying being active and maintaining my health through this simple and most uplifting form of exercise we all enjoy.
Top 5 races
I had my best year of running form with 3 PBs thanks to some consistent training:
Maidenhead Half – Earned the qualifying time for New York City Marathon by 14 seconds!
Royal Parks Half – I took nearly a minute off my Half PB with 1:21:35 in October.
Battersea Park 10k – Backed up my half marathon form with my first sub 36 10k in November (35:42).
5k’s of Christmas – A great way to finish the year with a sub 17 5k (just!) on the track at Battersea in December (16:59.14)
Vitality London 10,000 – biggest race turnout of the year for SHAEF and a solid comeback performance for me to build on through the summer and autumn.
Club run highlight
My favourite club run of 2019 was the SHAEF Memorial run on 5th March as we marked the 75th anniversary of SHAEF offices moving to Bushy Park from Grosvenor Square, with our own run from London to Bushy Park.
Race weekend highlight
My favourite race weekend with SHAEF was the Green Belt Relay. It’s a highlight every year and just the right mix of competitiveness and social fun with over 50 other running clubs as we navigate around the scenic Green Belt countryside and avoid getting lost!
It was another great performance this year for SHAEF with a top 10 placing, and on a personal note I was delighted to run both days of Green Belt for the first time in 3 years to break the curse… although choosing two category 10 stages for myself wasn’t the smartest move!
Half Marathon and Marathon PBs
Run a parkrun in the Netherlands
To beat my Mile PB of 5:19!
Tick off another two stages of Green Belt Relay