My Goals for 2018

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Good morning/afternoon/evening etc and Happy New Year. Yes, I am a little (a lot?) belated on this, in fact, I’m not even sure that it’s still ‘okay’ to say “Happy New Year”. I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder when the cut off point is. Is it still ok in mid January? What about February? I assume March onwards is off the table…but who decides?

Similarly, I know lots of people who don’t conform to the “New Year, New Me” ideology that usually floats around at this time of year. I do agree that you shouldn’t need to wait for a new year/new week/new day to start making changes to your life, or to set new goals for yourself. I find that I am always trying to change, to better myself and my mindset. In my running, I am always looking ahead to set new targets, run another race, or just see how far I can run by a certain date.

However, there is something nice about a new year. Something fresh and clean about turning that calendar page, starting a fresh diary, putting your life and times of the year gone by behind you and looking ahead. I guess because January to December is a nice even 12 months, it’s easy to track, easy to say “I’ll make this one mine!”. Easier, I suppose than starting mid July and then wondering 11 and a half months later when it was you started and what you actually started to begin with!

With that in mind, I’m going to set myself some goals for the coming year. Some I’m hoping I’ll achieve sooner than others and can then update or improve upon. Others may take longer and might be a struggle or a challenge. Either way, I’m looking forward to what I can goals I can reach this year.

1. Run a 5k race

I’ve been running for a while now. On and off for around 7 years and have only really taken it seriously in the last 4 or so. But in all that time, I have never actually taken part in a 5k race. I’ve ran plenty of 5ks as training, so I know roughly in my head what I can do, but I’ve never actually competed. So I’d like to do that and then chip away at the PB.

2. Run at least 5 park runs

While we are on the subject of 5ks and my never having ran one, I’d like to take the chance to admit that I have never ran a park run either (I’m not sure I’m even a real runner). The nearest one to me is 20/25 minutes away and although that’s not that far, on Saturdays I can be quite lazy! So another target for me is to run at least 5 park runs and build from there.

3. Beat my 10k and half marathon PBs

Last year I took part in my first 10k race and I finished it in 43:47 which was a massive PB and I totally surprised myself with it. This year I’d love to smash that again, and get it under 42/43 minutes. Also last year, I took part in a couple of trail half marathons, where my times were well over two hours. This year I’d simply like to compete in more of those types of races. But! I would like to take part in a road half marathon this year and try to beat my PB of 1:48:34.

4. To run another marathon

I’ve only ever finished the one marathon – Edinburgh in 2015 – and I would love to do another one.  I have my eye on Stirling at the moment at the end of April, or Loch Ness in September.

5. To run an unltra marathon

This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time and something has always gotten in the way – life, work, an excuse etc.  But, this year I would really like to put my mind to it and run an ultra.

6. To compete in at least 10 races

Like I mentioned, I have been running for a while, however I never really took racing seriously until about a year and a half ago.  Last year I ran in more races than I have in any year before and this year I would like to up that again.

7. To use my running to see more of Scotland

Last year, I really started to see and use my running as something different.  Before, it was a method of keeping fit, burning calories and keeping myself thin.  Now, while it still keeps me fit and is a good way to counteract all the stuff I like to eat, I see it as something more.  Last year I got to see some amazing places while running in races or just out and about and this year I would like to build on that.  I’d like to run up a couple of Munros and maybe take in some of the West Highland Way, just as some ideas.

8. To become a JogScotland leader and start my own running group

Quite often I have people telling me they wish they could run, or motivate themselves to run like I do.  I quite often find it difficult to get up and go, but I have found so much joy through running that I am able to keep going and want to achieve more.  I’d like to pass this on to others, because I know how much there is to be gained. So, this year I would like to become a jog leader with JogScotland and start up a running club to spread the running love!

And there you go, my goals, aims, ambitions, dreams etc etc for this coming year.  I hope that I can look back on these and say that I really did it and more, or I see that some of them have changed for the better.  Either way, I am excited about this year of running coming up as I am ready for it to be awesome.

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Glentress Half Marathon – Race Report

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So I have finally got around to writing my review of the Glentress Trail Half Marathon which I ran almost a month ago! Not a good blogger!

The Glentress race was on Saturday 25th February and it was my first trail half marathon as I have recently started to transition from running continuously on roads to more and more on trails and hills.  It’s an interesting transition as I am seeing my longed for 7 odd minute miles disappear and become 10 and 11 minute miles at times as I traipse through mud, dirt, hills and try to keep my balance, but it is a transition I am loving none the less.  My step dad Johnnie has also recently taken up trail running and as he decided to enter this race, I decided to go along with him. We put in some good miles on the trails in the lead up to the race, and I had managed two 13 mile long runs in the month prior to the race.  I was aiming for around 2 hours-2:15, which is a little slower than my usual half marathon time of around 1:50 at the moment, but I was trying to factor in hills, mud and nerves!

Johnnie and I got up early on the Saturday morning and I fuelled up with porridge before we left.  I was feeling excited and ready for the race and to be honest, the day out!  I always get nervous when I packing for something incase I have left anything behind, so after packing and re-packing my bag, we set off for Peebles.

On arrival at the race, the grounds were fairly busy with people getting ready to go sign in or people warming up.  I’ve not competed in too many races and when I arrived, I started to remember why.  I get really anxious with all the people around and the build up of the pressure to well.  I started telling myself that I didn’t need to worry about time and that I was just there to experience the run, but my brain didn’t listen.

Johnnie and I queued up to sign in, and I would say this was the only bit of the race I didn’t like.  There were three distancs that day – 10k, 21k and 42k, but all competitors had to sign in at the same set of tables, which meant a gigantic queue – not ideal.  However, after waiting for aroun 20-30 minutes, we got signed in, got our t-shirts and headed back to the car to get ready.

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JJ and I ready to go

We arrived back at the sign in area ready for the pre race talk and then headed up to the starting line.  I was really nervous – worried about pacing, setting off to fast and to be honest, I hadn’t researched the course enough so I was really heading out into the unknown!

We set off at a pretty slow pace as there were lots of runners which meant there was a bit of a back log, but once the race got going (although this was around 1.5 miles in), everyone spread out a bit and I was able to get up to a pretty good rhythm.  So much so that my third mile was completed in 7:43.  But there ended the fast miles and the course got very tricky, steep and technical from there.

Around mile three I met a man running from Glasgow, we talked for a while about some different races we had entered and he chatted about his son and how he can’t wait to get out running with him.  I passed him quite a few times through the race and got talking to him again at the end, along with a few other people throughout the race and it was so nice to actually meet and talk to runners.  Everyone was very friendly, courteous if you wanted to speed ahead a little and was really just there to have a good laugh and a good time.

As the race continued the path got steeper and at points running was simply impossible.  But with these steep inclines came rewards – the views.  There was a moment just around mile 5, where the view was so spectacular that I had to stop and take it in.  I didn’t take a photo of it as I felt like I just wanted to be there in that moment – proud of what I was achieving and happy to be there.

There were more amazing views as the race continued and this one was my absolute favourite around mile 10(ish).

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Simply stunning – what it’s all about!

As the run climbed up and up, the weather became less favourable.  What started as a relatively mild, cloudy Scottish day cooled quickly and began to get wetter and windier.  At points you were running uphill through burns of ice water and melting snow (Storm Doris having played a part in this just a couple of days previously).  My dreams of finishing in around 2 hours or even around 2:15 slowly were slipping away from me.  But, I was surprised at how ‘not bothered’ about this I was at all.  I was having so much fun and really felt like I was pushing myself to achieve something difficult.  That was what was really keeping me going.  That and the thought of peanut butter snadwiches waiting for me at the end (I had taken a nakd bar with me as fuel, but didn’t delve in!).

As the run started to slowly descend (and by slowly I mean, tiny bits of descent followed by more steep uphills – how we ended up back at the bottom I’ll never fathom…) the trail started to become more technical and was very soggy from the rain and snow.  I fell right on my bum more than once but got back up and kept going, the only thing bruised being my pride.

Just as I thought it couldn’t get any longer, steeper or (by this point) sorer on my legs, I approached the finish line, which being true to the rest of the race was at the top of a small hill.  I ran through it glad to be finished and stopped my Garmin – final time of 2:28:21, which given the type of run it was, I was pretty pleased with.  I got a drink (dying of thirst as during my falls I dropped my water bottle into lots of mud meaning I couldn’t take a drink from it) and chatted to some of the people I had been running with at points and who had finished around 5-10 minutes before me.  They were so nice and it made me feel even better about my time as I realised that these people were proper runners, more seasoned than me to races like this and even they found it particularly difficult.  After around 10 minutes chatting I went back to the finish line to wait on Johnnie coming through.  He finished around 20 minutes behind me and I couldn’t have been prouder of him!

We headed back to the car, got changed, laughed about how sore we were and I went to get us both a hot cup of tea and coffee, which I enjoyed along with my peanut butter sandwiches.

Overall, I would say that this was an excellent event.  It was fairly well organised, well sign posted throughout the race and full of wonderful runners.  The course itself was hard, technical and stunning and it alone would make me go back and do it again.