A reflection on 2019

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Well, what a year! It certainly didn’t end the way that I would ever have imagined, but I am very happy in my life right now.

It turns out that my one and only blog post of 2019 was a preview for the year ahead, posted 3 weeks into the year and having already completed two races at that time – the Kent Cross Country Championships at Brands Hatch and the Speedway 10k near Chepstow, the latter of which I knew would be a great opportunity to run a fast 10k time.

I had promised to write a separate blog post regarding that race, but like the prospect of Brexit happening in 2019, it never came! So, here is my analysis of the race, written especially for those who have been waiting over a year.

Speedway 10k, Beachley nr Chepstow – Sunday 20th January:
I was made aware of this race when my coach shared it on Twitter in 2018. Intrigued, I immediately booked myself a B&B, train ticket and a provisional entry to the race. The thing that enticed me to enter was that the organiser was looking to put together a very high quality field of runners with free entry to sub-32 men and sub 33.5 women. Any other entrants would need to provide evidence of their best 10k time from the last year, with a general requirement of a sub-45 minute posting.

Entry for the race was just £10 and of the proceeds, 90% of the profit from the race was to be distributed amongst the top finishers and age-graded winners. In addition, the course was fast and flat. This, along with the high quality field led me to believe that this would be a very good opportunity to post a new personal best over the 10k distance and I wasn’t to be disappointed…

My previous best 10k time was 38:05 which came at the Staplehurst 10k in June 2018. My preparation for the race at Chepstow had been very good. Training had gone well, I was having the best cross country season of my short running career and my nutrition was excellent.

The conditions on the morning of the race were perfect, not too cold and no wind. I judged the pacing well and my mile splits were as follows:

Mile 1: 6:01, mile 2: 5:58, mile 3; 6:01, mile 4: 5:59, mile 5: 6:05, mile 6: 6:11 with the final 0.2 of a mile at an average of 5:53 per mile.

I finished in a time of 37:12, taking almost a minute off of my previous best! To give you an idea of the quality of the field, I finished in 88th position, with the top 4 all finishing in under 30 minutes!!

Other racing highlights of 2019
Boston Marathon (Lincolnshire) – Sunday 14th April: This was my second attempt at the marathon distance – my first came at London in 2018, where I finished in a respectable time of 3:31.13s in what were the hottest conditions in the history of that event.

The conditions in Boston were very different – cold and windy. Despite this, I settled myself in, running amongst a group of 8 or so runners, shielding myself from the windy conditions on this entirely exposed and dead flat course. I was delighted with my pacing and even more so with my finishing time of 3:08.05s.

Plymouth Half Marathon – Sunday 19th May: This was my third outing at this event in the City where I spend my University & DJ’ing days. I knew the course well and had not long been home from a week’s holiday in Cornwall. My legs had recovered from the marathon 5 weeks before and my level of training led me on to achieve a new PB of 85:27 – almost 2 and a half minutes faster than my previous best at the same race in 2018.

Disneyland Paris 36.1k challenge – Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd September: This challenge involved running a 5km on the Friday evening, a 10km on the Saturday morning and then a half marathon (21.1km) on the Sunday morning! Both the 5km and 10km were untimed and I almost didn’t make it to the start line of the 5km race as I had a terrible migraine. Despite this, I was pleased to finish all three races and equally pleased to finish in 48th position in the half marathon with a time of 87:00 (during which I wore a spider-man compression top).

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun

In April, I stood down as volunteer Event Director of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun, having been involved with the setting up of the event in April 2014. I had been thinking of stepping away from the role for some time, but before doing so I wanted to be sure that the event would be left in safe hands. Fortunately, the existing, core volunteer team were very well rehearsed on the different roles and I was able to hand all of the duties over to them. It was an emotional event for me and I was very pleasantly surprised to be handed a gift bag and leaving cards from the team and from regular runners.

Here is a link to the news article from the Times Local Newspaper“Emotions running high as parkrun organiser reaches finish line” https://www.timeslocalnews.co.uk/tunbridge-wells-news/emotions-running-high-as-parkrun-organiser-reaches-finish-line

Goals for 2019 – achieved or failed?:
Nutrition – in 2018 I significantly reduced the amount of added sugars and processed foods in my diet, restricted meat – choosing to eat just salmon and tuna 99% of the time and cooked the majority of food myself. This year (2019) I have decided to cut out all meat, but will continue to eat fish which provide me with a good source of protein and omega fatty acids which are essential to a healthy diet and bodily function. I will also cut out any and all added sugar from my diet, by choosing to consume naturally occurring sugars. I will also avoid any processed foods. I failed on this goal as I ate some lamb in December and also ate some chocolate too.

Running goals – I would like to improve my 10k time (with the aim of doing so at the Speedway 10k in January); my 5k time (at a parkrun over the summer) and my half marathon time. I would like to train for and complete a well-paced and comfortable marathon at Boston in April. I have no focus on finishing time, but would like to conquer the distance successfully with a steady pace throughout. I achieved a 10km and half marathon PB, but failed at the 5km time. Interestingly enough, my fastest 5km came the day before my marathon! I was pleased to achieve my marathon goal of a well-paced race.

Coaching – Continue with my professional development by attending workshops during the year and introducing new drills for the all abilities group over the Spring and Summer months. I shall continue to encourage and promote good running form and doing most running in an aerobic capacity which is the best way to improve running performance. Achieved – I attended a running workshop in Gateshead in February and one in Ashford in May.

Strength and conditioning – I understand and appreciate the many benefits to using strength and conditioning in a running program and will be using myself as a guinea pig to identify the best exercises for runners so that I can start to offer sessions to clients from 2020. Failed – although I did build a consistent strength routine during my Boston marathon build up, I let work and other life issues impact my attempts to work on a strength routine aimed specifically for runners. However, since going full time with my Personal Training and running coaching business (Plega Fit) from January 2020, I have picked this up and have designed a plan for my Cork City marathon training which has started today (10th February 2020).

Please check back shortly for my next blog post which will focus on my preview of 2020!

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