Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 targets

2009 is only an hour away, and as my middle son is in Germany (GMT +1) new year has just arrived. Happy new year to him.

I don't have long to put down my 2009 running target, so here goes:

1. To finish the WHW race;
2. To finish the 'Big 3' WHW races (the Highland Fling, the WHW race, the Devil O' The Highlands);
3. To complete 5 ultras (including a 24 hour race);
4. To run at least 25 races;
5. To run 5 new races;
6. To run a race on a Scottish island I haven't visited before;
7. To beat 40 minutes for a 10k;
8. To beat 1 hour 30 minutes for a half marathon;
9. To finish in the top half of the field in the National XC;
10. To run 2,000 miles.

After my run at Kilbarchan today, where I was more than 2 minutes slower than last year, the 10k, half marathon and national XC targets all look quite challenging. The biggest target of all, however, is to enjoy my running.

Hope you all have a great 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 targets - how did I get on?

As there are only a couple of days left in 2008 I thought it would be interesting (at least for me) to look back on the targets I set this time last year and see if I actually achieved any. I've shown the original targets in italics below, with my comments in normal text. So let's see how it all went:

1. West Highland Way race - to set a new PB, which means beating my 2007 time of 21 hours 11 minutes.
NOT ACHIEVED. In fact I didn't even finish the bloody thing, dropping out at Rowardennan. Definitely one of the year's low points. I've said enough on the subject already and don't plan to say much more, other than to thank everyone for all their kind comments afterwards - even though hearing all the nice things being said was a bit like attending my own funeral. Keith Hughes kept things in perspective when, in his inimitable Aussie style, he reminded me it was only a bl**dy race. He was right, although I'm not sure it felt like that at the time.

2. Marathon - to beat 3 hours 10 minutes. Last year's 2.59 was great, but it was probably a bit of a "one-off" (he says hoping that it wasn't a 'one-off'). I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself by setting a sub 3 hour target, so anything under 3.10 would be a good result.
NOT ACHIEVED. I did 4 marathons, with a slightly disappointing best for the year of 3.19 at Dumfries in March. On the positive side, I did something new by doing back to back marathons in May, at Stornoway (3.39) then the following day at Edinburgh (3.34).

3. Half marathon - to beat 1 hour 26 minutes. That will be tough, but should give me a focus in the early part of the year leading up to Inverness.
ACHIEVED! I did 1.24 at Inverness in March. It was undoubtedly my best running performance of the year. Looking at the rest of the year, I'm not entirely sure where that bit of form came from.

4. 10k - to beat 38 minutes. I didn't achieve this one in 2007, so it needs to be carried forward to 2008.
NOT ACHIEVED. And not even close. I started the year with a 38.57 at the Nigel Barge, but that was as good as it got. Finished it with a couple of 40 mins+ efforts - maybe old age has finally caught up with me?

5. National XC - to finish in the top half - same reason as 4 above.
NOT ACHIEVED. I didn't have a great run at this year's National XC and missed the top half by 10 places or so.

6. To run 2,000 miles. I accept that this target doesn't mean very much, but it helps me get my running shoes on when it's a cold and dark November evening. For that reason, it stays as a target.
ACHIEVED! So far I've done 2,050, with 2 days still to go.

10 other running related things I'd like to do in 2008 but which aren't formal targets:

1. To beat John K in every race we do.
FAILED DISMALLY. After beating John in the first 2 races he moved up a gear or three, and I never got close to him again. He ran an absolutely phenomenal 19.59 in the WHW race, and his burst through the Fort William Leisure Centre door wins the award for the 'Most Dramatic Entrance of 2008'. By the middle of May I was deeply regretting ever mentioning this as a target. I won't make the same mistake again.

2. To beat Kim T in every race we do.
SORT OF ACHIEVED... I think we only raced twice, at the Inverness and Glasgow half marathons. I won at Inverness, and Glasgow doesn't really count as it was the week before the 24 hour race...

3. To finish in the top 20 in the WHW race - haven't been outside it so far, but it's getting harder and harder as the field gets bigger.
NOT ACHIEVED. See comments above.

4. To win the Strathearn Harriers club championship.
NOT ACHIEVED. My faint hopes disappeared completely when I was held up at work and missed the Comrie Fun Run, an absolute 'must do' event because of the way the points system works. Congratulations to Phil T who won by virtue of his performance at the very last event, the Aviemore half marathon.

5. To run at least 5 marathons and ultras.
ACHIEVED! I actually finished 6: the Highland Fling, the Perth 24 hour race, and the Dumfries, Stornoway, Edinburgh and Nice to Cannes Marathons. On reflection, fair to say it was a year of quantity rather than quality.

6. To run at least 25 races in total.
ACHIEVED (but only just). I've done 25 races so far, but hope to add the Kilbarchan Hogmanay Handicap on the 31 December to bring it up to 26.

7. To run at least 5 'new' races, i.e. races I haven't done before.
ACHIEVED. I think this has been my main achievement of the year, and has meant that I can view 2008 as a successful running year. Of the 25 races completed, 12 have been new ones. I had never done a 24 hour race, so that was new; I did marathons for the first time in Stornoway, Edinburgh and Nice to Cannes; and I did the Heaven and Hell, Stonehaven and Coll half marathons, all for the first time.

8. To persuade enough Strathearn Harriers to enter a team for the Round Arran Relay in July (come on guys, great event, we could make a weekend of it - only needs me plus another 5 - can even be a mixed team).
NOT ACHIEVED. Even if we had been able to get a team together, we wouldn't have been able to get a place in the event due to new restrictions on the numbers.

9. To learn how to navigate properly, so I can do some of the fantastic hill races that are on the fixture list.
NOT ACHIEVED yet, although I did find my way up and down Ben Chonzie with the dog, without getting lost.

10. To try a few new malt whiskies (possibly not running related, but I was struggling for a 10th...)
ACHIEVED! And, even better, I got a couple of great bottles for Christmas - an Ardbeg Uigeadail and a Rosebank 12 yo.

So, that was 2008. The positives were definitely getting over 100 miles in the 24 hour race and taking part in so many new events; another major positive was having the opportunity to chair sportscotand for a 4 month period from February to June, which was a fantastic experience. The big negative was of course the WHW, but I plan to put that right in 2009.

Next post - targets for 2009!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2,000 miles

8 miles into today's run, just at the isolated house a few miles before Inversnaid, I reached my 2,000 mile target for the year. I was running with Brian, John, Stan, Sue and Mandy, on the WHW from Sallochy car park to the Inversnaid hotel and back. We covered 20 miles all in and had a great run, with a lot of good chat, finished off with a lovely bowl of soup in the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha. It was a first class day out. I feel I've earned my glass or two of red wine tonight.

I was also on the WHW on Saturday, running from Milngavie to Drymen and back with a group of 20. John K has written a full report and produced a video for his blog , so I won't say much more other than it was another great day's running. On Sunday I travelled south to Strathaven for the Striders' 5k Christmas handicap race, following a very kind invite from El Presidente, Mrs Mack. The first mile was all uphill and I struggled badly, but I picked up a bit of pace after that and finished reasonably well. I was 3rd overall and had the 2nd fastest time of the day, despite going slightly off route on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately I was driving and had to miss the post race piss up in the Bucks Head - from the looks of the video clip on Dave's blog a great time seems to have been had by all who stayed on. I definitely missed out on quite a session - maybe next time, if I am invited back :)

In case I don't get the chance to post again before the 25th, a very Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A quick round up

I am very aware that I haven't blogged for ages, so thought I would give a quick round up of what had been happening over the last few weeks. Well, it has been cold. Very cold. When we started last week's West Highland Way run from Inverarnan, the temperature was minus 7, and it didn't get much warmer as the day went on. The path to and from Inversnaid was quite icy in places. I took it very cautiously, didn't fall (although had a few near misses), and really enjoyed the day. I've decided that is going to be my only objective for the 2009 WHW race - to enjoy the whole experience: training runs, the build up, the race itself, and the post race celebrations. So far I feel that I'm very much on course.

I've had a busy week with a dinner almost every night, so I thought I did quite well managing to run on 5 of the last 7 days, including a good 13 miler on the roads round here earlier today. Most of these runs were in freezing, dark conditions - there really isn't much light in Scotland at all at this time of year, which can be quite depressing. The Subversive Runner was up in Scotland this week and I was hoping to meet up with him on Tuesday for a beer, but unfortunately he had to call off - probably a good thing for my liver, I suspect, which is liable to take a bit of a hammering as we get nearer Christmas. Allybea and I had the pleasure of attending the Sunday Mail / sportscotland annual awards dinner in Glasgow on Thursday night. It was a great night, with loads of big names attending, and I was delighted to see Chris Hoy win the main award, the 2008 Sports Personality. I was even more pleased that he couldn't collect it because he was training - I was starting to get a bit concerned that all these award dinners could not be doing his training programme any good at all. Sir Alex Ferguson was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Alex Salmond, the First Minister, with his acceptance speech being described as 'inspirational' in today's Sunday Mail. I would have described it as 'ok', but Sir Alex is probably now operating at a level where anything he says is now considered 'inspirational' - I guess you are entitled to that kind of status when you have won the Champions League twice and the Premier League 10 times or whatever.

Talking of inspiration, mine at the moment is trying to reach my target of running 2,000 miles in the year. I have decided that 2,000 miles is a good target to have - it helps motivate me to get out running on these horrible cold nights, when it would be a lot easier not to bother. I think that my run today means I have now run 1,926 miles, so I have 74 more to do.