Friday, 4 January 2013

The year 2012

RIP Charlie
Sat bored at home with food poisoning is a good time to reflect on the year gone by and the year ahead. So here goes.
Running became my main focus in 2012. From being just a way of staying fit this now has flooded me with possibilities, endless goals and exciting challenges. My pursuit of climbing, skiing, touring, diving becomes increasing distant due to  a lack of many things, buddies, friends, weather systems and money. But running really comes down to you. The sport of trail running has allowed me to connect to the outdoors whenever I feel like connecting, never having to wait for a free weekend, funds in the bank, available friends. I get out and run. I can attempt whatever challenge near or far I choose.
I started the year with a fine wild camp on Hurst spit enjoying a warm meal and good company, then curing my hangover with a slow run (17m) home from the New Forest. The week after 18miles on the Jurassic Coast, stunning scenery to keep those legs going up those hills to see what splendid views await. Then I ran from the source of the River Itchen home (24m) and on tired legs completed the Stonehenge Stomp a well organised marathon by the LDWA. Insisting afterwards that I would be doing more of these, a year has passed and I have failed. It just shows how you can miss out due to putting things off. So, hopefully I will get around to participating in more LDWA events this year.

February brought a strange illness/virus that lasted most of the month and knocked me for six resulting in little running and a first DNS. I did get to North Wales for a few days up in the wet and windy mountains which did cheer me up.
Feeling fresher in March I met up with Dave in the Alps and we had a memorable mix bag of skiing, via ferrating, mountaineering and touring. Days fondly remembered especially ripping it up, down the steep powdered treeline slopes. Depresses me now thinking that we won't be repeating this this year and hope budgets allow it for 2014 as these winter trips are my life blood in my adventure. Back home the running is again held off by a stinking cold resulting in me doing nothing till I do my first solo Adventure race held in The Forest. Clearing the running section but doing quite lame on the bike.
April and May brought mixed emotions. Another DNS due to my car blowing up on the motorway to the event and costing me a bomb. But, I was in good condition and so the running miles started to flow. Good training culminating in a fantastic weekend running the Jurassic coast again, a beautifully exhausting day. Stopping at winspit for an overnight wild camp after 26miles, warmly met by Jake and Melisa for a bbq and beers. Shattered the next day I shortened the route and so this year I'll have to return and repeat with a fully version.

June, we must of had good weather as I went climbing a few times, even went out on the bike. Took on a 12hr Adventure race solo in Mid Wales and took on the weather and my first fell race in North Wales in the 1000m peak race. The weather so foul that the course was altered completely apart from the end up to snowdon. The weather being that fickle we managed to climb milestone buttress in the dry the next day with kayakers paddling their hearts out down the flooded rivers!

Training and running for running sake is all good but to get the most out of what you are capable of and to give a little motivation then setting yourself a challenge or signing up for something gives you something tangible to look ahead, to get you out the front door, to inspire. And so, this month I decided to set a challenge I thought I may or might not be able to attempt. I signed up for the Longmynd Hike 50miler in october. If I could finish this it gave me the added incentive of UTMB points. I love Chamonix and all around it has all I want. I have, skied and climbed here for many years and so to visit and run here would be special.
July was all about enjoying the summer. Perfectly reflected at the end of the month by climbing at swanage on the friday, wild camping with buffulo steaks and vintage wine on the saturday and running (my first ultra of the year) the 29miles home on the sunday to get into the spirit of the olympics.
My second Ultra came around quick in August in the Salisbury 54321. The miles racked up for a monthly best of 190. This showed me that if runs were difficult during the week due to work then taking on back to back runs and/or double daily runs, the miles and the intensity was not lacking. From completing my first ultra the year before and struggling to walk the week after, I was now feeling tired but capable of doing recovery runs, which means I was building a solid endurance base now. My new headtorch arrived this month and I treated myself to a solo wild camp in the New Forest, testing out the torch with a night run, then ran (23m) home the next day.
More high mileage in September but, nicely overlapped with a great weekends climbing in the Wye Valley, wild camping on the shores of the river and entertained that night by fireworks, then stars lighting up the night sky. The week later brought us back up to Wales for another 12hr Adventure race, this time in a team with Jake and Melissa. A long day in a spectacular location. Ended the month by going on holiday and relaxed plenty as the 50 mile race was just around the corner. But if the mountain environment inspires me to challenge myself, the underworld reflects on the beauty of this planet, from the noble nudibranches to the majestic manta rays.

The big month, October. It starts in the worse way with a cold, no doubt thanks to the flight home. Having huge doubts about whether to bother and racking up another DNS I head up thinking I can just take it one CP at a time and boy am I glad I made the trip. A great race, intensely satisfying and now definitely hooked on Ultras.
Still buzzing in November I signed up for the Ultra Brecons 42 miler in december. Why not. I kept running this month but what was best is that I decided to help out with a race. It was a new concept by James Adams of setting out a group of runners in a unknown route on a unknown distance called The Piece of String Race. The weather again was foul but the runners sure did give it their all. It was mightily impressive and for me it was good to be around extraordinary people and get caught up in the infectious world of ultra running.
Back in Wales for December and took part in the Might Contain Nuts 42 miler around the brecons. We were blessed with a fine day for running and a glorious sunrise. A well organised race and again it was all the competitors, organisers and volunteers that made it enjoyable. Talking of fun I also took part in the Turbo X 10 miler, a mud infested swamp run which I ran hard and came 22nd. Although and I cannot pin point it to here, I picked up my first real injury for the year, tendon damage to my foot arch. But my running for the year done, it was time to rest with just a few long runs here and there mainly to ensure that I reached my target of 1500miles for the year.

After Christmas I spent some days in the Yorkshire Dales with friends and rekindled my love of mountain biking which has been sorely neglected this year but, hopefully not for next. I also headed over to the Lake District and caught up with a climbing friend and somehow through all this weather we managed a half decent days' climbing in the Langdales on wet, cold rock. A 22mile run on NYE took me over my target for the year and so ended 2012 extremely content.

2012 Stats.......
With 186 days of training, over 200 exercise sessions accumulating 430 odd hours. I am happy. I set out to do 1500 running miles and achieved it, especially after half the year gone it looked like an uphill struggle. I wanted a challenge that would see me out my comfort zone and completing the 50 miler certainly tried me out. But far from it being the finish line, I want to keep persevering and looking into what I can attain.

So lets take a look at 2013 for me. I am hoping that by writing it down, desires now will not get neglected like I feel they did after my first LDWA event, although what I want is more than I can deliver due to finances at the mo. So if I cannot do a big race I would like to do then all I shall do is pack my overnight bag and go running and wild camping somewhere new instead.

March - Paris Ultra Trail 80km. I wanted to combine this with a ski trip. Time is running out and I still dont have the money. So it may have to be delayed a year.
April - London Marathon. I got in after 5 years of waiting so I should do it. I might look to work on my speed to get a time i'll be happy with as it will probably be my first and only road marathon.
June - Lavardo Ultra 122km, Italy. this is my target race of the year now. Can I do 75 mountain miles?
July - Andulus Ultra 250km, Spain. This is a multi staged race and will enter if I do not get into Lavardo.
August - UTMB CCC 100km. Have entered the CCC ballot so fingers crossed, a bonus target race.

Here's to 2013. Good fortunes to all.

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