I have been somewhat reluctant to do a summary of the year as it just feels a bit cliche. I do however, have a pretty serious compulsive disorder which requires me to box things off in order to feel like I can properly move on.
I started the year as I meant to go on, running 3 ultras and a marathon in the first 6 weeks. Stansted Stagger was a cold sunny day with loads of snow still on the ground. Two weeks later I lined up at Country to Capital with Pete for his first ultra and my fears that we would be out for 10+hours in the icy cold were soon put to bed as Pete went from strength to strength running pretty much every step of the 8 hours and 45 miles. I felt great at Winter Tanners the weekend after that and went into the London 50k with confidence. I annihilated the first half and then got lost so many times that I literally threw the map away.
My first major goal of the year was to break 7 hours for 50 miles at the Thames Trot. Well I got sick and missed out which sucked a fat one.
Awesome time at Steyning Stinger, 'running' with Bucket who had flown over from Singapore. We spent all day in the sunshine, albeit freezing cold sunshine, and had an epic day of almost 6 hours on our feet but truly the Stinger is such a great event.
My second major goal of the year was to break 3 hours in a marathon. The training for it sucked beyond belief. I spent a few hours each week down the track and in the altitude room at the gym churning out 'intervals' which with no coach and no idea meant really just running pretty fast for 40 minutes to 80 minutes and seeing if I could stick the pace. Well I could so I lined up at the Washington Suntrust National Marathon with Frank and ran for my life. I stuck to the watch all the way, hated most of it but felt like I'd really earned it when I crossed the line in 2:58:07.
For some stupid reason I thought that flying to Washington Friday night after work, running a marathon as soon as I got there and then flying back Sunday night on the red eye in to work Monday morning wouldn't be too much of an issue. I dragged Pete into entering the votwo JCC the weekend after and I had the worst weekend of the year by a country mile. It pissed it down for 3 days, I had no energy, the event involves map reading and to top if off we had to stay in a caravan. I can't bring myself to talk about it any more than that. The scenery was great and we both finished. Moving on.
Didn't get into London, again, so ran the Shakespeare marathon around Stratford instead. I was having a shit when the gun went off so I was late starting but still managed 3:12 pretty easily. This was a good sign as I started to build up training mileage for Badwater.
I can't really work out what happened to my running on the first weekend of May. I lined up at Three Forts Marathon for the second year running knowing the course and having run most of it over and over again in training over the years. I guess it felt a bit like a home course. I had through a mixture of reluctance to ruin the trip and family issues dropped out of Lands End to John O'G bike ride and I seriously seriously regretted that. Three Forts was my way of making it a little easier to bear. It was raining hard and I was acutely aware I had road shoes on and the whole thing is off road. Anyway the gun went and I led out of the school playing field. I started up the first long climb and kept looking behind me to let whoever was on my tail, past me. There was nobody right there pressing and I started to pull away without really trying that hard. When I hit the first downhill I opened up and I was 100 metres ahead by mile 2. I just went with it, taking the encouragement of people at the aid stations and enjoying how strong i felt on the climbs and descents. I mean I didn't put myself over the edge, I walked up one section the really steep climb just over the road up to the Youth Hostel but I guess I knew I was in good shape at Devils Dyke turnaround mile 7, as you go back past the rest of the field and I had 90 seconds on 2nd/ 3rd. The run down to the road again was like free flow I couldn't have run any faster, 5 minute mile pace. The rest of the race I was never able to see anyone behind but that didn't stop me pushing as hard as I could. In the end I finished the race in 3:13. For a 27 mile off road race in road shoes in torrential rain and with 5500ft of climbing, that run made Washington pale into insignificance. I don't know what I would say an equivalent flat road marathon time would have been but way way under 3 hours. It was almost like someone else took over my body for the day. Anyway I was grateful. This was the best run I had ever strung together. I won a the race of 160 people by 22 minutes, leading from wire to wire. I'm not sure how that's possible. I ran the Orpington Marafun the following weekend. Great event for charity but I was sick of running down dual carriageways in south london by the end of the day.
All about running maximum mileage and getting myself as ready as I could be for Badwater, sitting in the sauna at every available moment to get used to the heat. Ran the South Downs Marathon again and had a great time, then did back to back 35 mile days on the South Downs with Votwo. Now this one I would definitely do again. Webbo and I took it pretty easy but I knew i was in good shape when at the finish in beachy head after 70 miles I felt like I could have turned around and run back. Tapered massively after this because of slight twinges in my achilles and shin splints which I needed to shake off before Badwater.
Badwater. It's all in the report. The greatest race I have run. The most epic. I learnt what true suffering was. Lost so much weight, got my nutrition beyond badly wrong. An unbelievable experience and so good to share it with 5 of my closest friends. I will go back one day because I didn't do myself justice. In the end obviously finishing was the whole point but being a competitive bastard I knew i was capable of 30 hours and running 39 and change was a small disappointment. Would love to go back and see this race as crew and help someone else get to the finish line. I had no idea what being tired was until I got home from this one. It wiped me out for 2 months.
DNS at Ironman UK. No energy, managed 2 bikes and 1 run between Badwater and IMUK start date. Waste of money and a let down for Webbo who raced alone but finished well.
Back to Chamonix for UTMB. Massive disappointment with the race being abandoned because of landslides in the 5 hours we were running. I was ill for days in the lead up and I was still fucked from Badwater. I felt absolutely horrendous just a mile into it, which, with 102 miles and 30000ft of climbing wasn't a good sign. Probably a huge blessing that it was cancelled although part of me was intrigued just how far I would go on zero energy with the shits. Strike 2 at UTMB after my DNS in 2009.
Pulled out of Furnace Creek. How I was going to ride 508 miles non-stop through the desert when my longest ride in 2010 to date was 103 miles I really don't know. Idiot.
Ran the Caesars Camp 100 miler after my DNF at the 50 mile in 2007 due to injury. Again this one is all in the report. If you'd told me I'd run 27 hours 11 at the start I would have been annoyed. By the end I was delighted. Chaffing so horrific I fell asleep with the air con pointed at my balls in the car for almost 2 hours at mile 80. One of my proudest moments of the year was having the stones to get out of the car 22 hours in to the race and get through the last 20 miles. A few years ago I'd have just turned the engine on and driven away. I think....
Started ramping the training back out towards the middle of the month. Launched the website which has gone down well with most people so I'm proud of that. Ran Gatliff 50km in perfect conditions. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Luton cancelled. Again. What a shame, oh wait no that race fucking SUCKS.
1. Winning at Three Forts I put this above the others because I'm not sure I will ever run as well as that again in my lifetime.
2. Finishing Badwater. Fulfilment of a 5 year dream
3. Breaking 3 hours at Washington. Just nice when someone asks me my best marathon time (the most common question from runners and non-runners alike) that I can say something that starts with a 2.
4. Finishing Caesars Camp. Any other year this would have been top. Still not sure I could get out of the car and start up again if put back in that position.
5. Running the south downs way 5 different times in races. I love that track.
1. The road to Lone Pine mile 100 to 122 at Badwater. Absolute physical and mental agony for hour after hour after hour.
2. Having to pull out of Lejog. Blowing out a once in a lifetime trip for fear that I was causing them to rush the cycling. Massive error. They finished in the 8 days without me anyway.
3. Having to pull out of Furnace Creek and thus the Death valley Cup which I would have been the first Brit to complete.
4. Not being able to bust my 50 mile PR at Thames Trot
5. Having to pull out of Ironman UK. Who likes triathlon anyway.
All in all the highs far outweight the lows so I'm happy and I'm lucky, I've had such a great time this year.
Goals for 2011?
Break 20 hours for 100 miles.
Run under 7:30 at Comrades
Break 24 hours at Western States
Break 25 hours at Leadville
Finish the Grand Slam
Do less pointless racing and enjoy longer training runs in places I don't usually get too.
Put on the best possible event that I can on the NDW on August 13th.