Last December I set myself 6 running targets for 2007. The idea was that by telling people what my targets were, I would then be more likely to go out and do the training needed to achieve them. So was it a successful strategy? Read on and find out - my original comments from December 2006 are in italics.
Target No 1. West Highland Way: anything under 21 hours 39 mins. While I would love to beat 21 hours, I think that is probably a bit too aspirational to be my target. So I'll settle for beating my pb. Having said that anything under 22 hours would be great and under 23 hours would be pretty good as well.
My time in this year's WHW race was 21 hours 11 minutes, so my most important target for the year was achieved!!!!! Perhaps sub 21 is possible after all? It might have happened this year without the diversion just after Drymen, so who knows...
Target No 2. National XC championship: to make the top half of the field. Although it may not sound it, this will be quite a hard one to do.
Prophetic words indeed. On 10th February I ran as hard as I could round the 3 lap Falkirk course, then was gutted to see the results the following day and find out I had finished 210th from the 413 finishers. If I had been 4 places further up the field I would have made it - 5 seconds was the margin between success and failure. So near and yet so far.
Target No 3. Marathon: under 3 hours 10 mins. Call me a dreamer, but I actually believe that I still have another sub 3 hour marathon in me, although only if I give up all the ultra running and make a sub 3 hour marathon my main goal for the year. Realistically, that isn't going to happen, so I would be delighted with anything under 3.10.
My dream came true, at Zurich on 1 April, and it came true without giving up all the ultra running. I ran a near perfect marathon to finish in 2 hours 59 minutes and 41 seconds. My pacing was perfect, the weather was perfect, the organisation was perfect, the course was perfect - in fact everything about the day was perfect. I thought a sub 3 hour time was slipping away from me at 39k, but I managed to rally over the last 3k and finished with 19 seconds to spare. In my other marathon I also beat my 3.10 target, finishing Loch Ness at the beginning of October in 3 hours 5 minutes. All in all, an excellent year for my marathon performances, and it looks as though I will finish 104th in the Scottish rankings for 2007.
Target No 4. Half marathon: 1.26 or better. My best chance is probably at Inverness in March, as the WHW training tends to take over after that. I achieved this target on 11th March when I ran 1.24.45 at Inverness. I was pleased with all my half marathon perfomances this year - comfortably under the hour and a half in all of them, with 1.28 at Islay in August (and a prize for being 2nd MV40), 1.28 at Glasgow in September (when I was just coming back from an injury), and then 1.27 at Aviemore in October (a week after the Loch Ness marathon).
Target No 5. 10k: sub 38 minutes. A secondary target here is to beat 40 minutes in all races.
Failed this one. I didn't manage to get under 38 minutes, and I finished Irvine in a disappointing 41.40 after picking up a hamstring injury at the 8k mark. Best perfomances were 38.40 at the Nigel Barge in early January, then 38.37 (2nd overall and first vet) on a hilly Auchterarder course in May. I was a bit unfortunate to miss the Troon 10k with an injury and then miss the Strathaven 10k with a heavy cold - both of these courses presented opportunities for fast times.
Target No 6. Overall - to run 2,000 miles in the year.
This is a pretty meaningless target, to be honest, but I'm glad to say I have achieved it - I have already run 2,038 miles with a few days still to go.
So in summary I achieved 4 of my 6 running targets. As the main 3 targets were the WHW, the marathon and the half marathon, I think it is fair to say that it was a very satisfactory year. In total I have run 27 races: 2 ultras (the West Highland Way and the Highland Fling), 2 marathons (Zurich and Loch Ness), 4 half marathons (Inverness, Islay, Glasgow and Aviemore), 3 10ks (Nigel Barge, Auchterarder, Irvine), 1 5k (Broadwood), 4 other road races (the Brig Bash, the Round Arran Relay first leg north, the Sheriffmuir Challenge, and the Allan Scally) and 11 other 'off road' races (7 cross countries, the Comrie Hills relay, the Comrie fun run, the Knock hill race and the Lairig Mor race). 11 of the 27 have been 'new' races, i.e. races I haven't done before, which is a much higher percentage than normal - definitely one of the advantages of moving house and joining a new running club!
I hope to bring the year's racing to an end with the Kilbarchan Hogmanay handicap on 31 December. Before then, I'll try and set my targets for 2008.