2015 started, as so many of my years do, with me carrying an injury. Plantar fasciitis had already claimed three months of running at the end of 2014 and was threatening to continue into the new year. To knock the grumpiness on the head and find some motivation, I signed up for a four week boot camp. Three sessions a week for four weeks being beasted by Ramsay (www.ramsaypt.co.uk). This provided the springboard I needed and the sporting year was back on track.
Work on the other hand wasn’t. My job had become demoralising, stressful and was affecting me badly in and out of the office. A common complaint with many people and one we often soldier on with despite the impact it’s having. When you’ve invested a decent amount of time and effort into something though, it’s difficult to just turn your back on it. More on the solution to that later.
Obstacle Course Racing (OCR)
I’ve taken part in a couple of OCRs before but 2015 had Spartan Beast on my radar which meant some serious training and getting some other races under my belt. First up, a new local race, the Devil Mud Run in February. A great race on a very cold day and my first run in five months. In April, I led a team from work on the Wolf Run (watch video) taking a number of people on their first OCR adventure and in some cases well outside their comfort zones. The following day, down to the Forest of Dean for a crack at Forest Warrior. Entering late meant running in the last wave and a lot of queuing at obstacles. A shame as it’s a great race. Organised by the same guys at Trimax Events is the Cotswold Warrior in June. Positioned in an earlier wave for this one meant being able to make a decent fist of it resulting in a 10th place finish (2nd in old boys category). This provided a great boost with Spartan looming a few months away.
Spartan Beast is the longer of the trifecta of races on offer, on this occasion around 22km check here. The races are specifically designed to test you to your limits with endless climbing, lifting, carrying, swimming, running and the punishment of 30 burpees for any obstacle you fail or don’t fancy. For a sample, watch the race video. Full blog post soon.
Ironman 70.3 Dublin
As with most Ironman events, you have to commit to entering anything up to a year in advance as they sell out so quickly. So this one had been a while in the planning and was tied in with a family holiday to the emerald isle. I’ll admit to being a brand tart, but I do love Ironman events. The atmosphere is great. Considering some less than perfect training in the build up (for example no open water swimming), the race went almost exactly to my pre-race targets. The almost perfect relates to the swim. Normally a 1.9km swim, according to my Garmin I managed to extend this by a full 500 metres! If only it hadn’t been freezing and by far my least favourite discipline. Swim aside, the bike and run were almost dead on what I aimed for. And I had my support crew cheering me on which put a spring in my step, if only very briefly as I passed.
Video of swim start.
With a slow start to the year due to injury, I wasn’t sure what to expect on the running front. Certainly personal bests were going to be unlikely. However, some races went much better than I hoped and in a couple, I ran personal bests for those races. Races completed:
Cheltenham Challenge Half Marathon
Winchcombe Hill Climb 10k (course PB)
Thunder Run 24 hour relay
Race4Men (2nd place)
Guy Fawkes 5 (course PB)
Danny’s Dash (5th vet)
A late addition to my race calendar was the excellent Cyprus International 4 Day Challenge in November (see review). This was my first multi-day event and something ticked off the bucket list.
Two Wheel Action
One of my goals back in the days of carting round too much timber was that I wanted to get a level of fitness that meant I didn’t have to ask myself if I was capable of doing a race or challenge, only was I available and could I afford it. That’s not to say I have super human fitness just that I know I could do it with the necessary training.
Bristol Oktoberfest (sadly an 8 hour mountain bike relay event rather than a marathon beer drinking session) provided a perfect chance to test this out. Having not sat my behind on a mountain bike all year, an eleventh hour invite to make up the numbers in a team the next day proved too tempting to resist. The downside was the team being entered in the single gear bikes category. No suspension and no gears on rough terrain for those that haven’t experienced it, is fairly brutal on the body particularly when the rider is very rusty to say the least. However, after 8 hours of racing, our team found itself on the podium.
Away from sport
One of my biggest motivators is trying to set a good example to my son Billy. He motivates me with his achievements and I hope seeing me pushing hard does the same for him.
Back in April, we had a boys weekend in the Brecon Beacons. Billy has climbed the highest peak of Pen y Fan before, but this time we had three peaks in our sights. Pen y Fan, Cribyn and the amusingly named Fan y Big. Unlike previous visits, the weather was much more agreeable – very windy, but bright and no driving rain. Not being a lover of heights, Billy had a big mental battle to deal with but smashed it – even when I had him edge out onto the diving board at the top of Fan y Big! A brilliant effort (15km and 1150 metres of ascent).
In September, at the ripe old age of 11, he made the transition to senior school which was a bit of shock to the system for him, but one he’s taken in his stride. And not long after, was rewarded for years of training by earning his black belt at tae kwon do.
And finally for Billy, maybe slightly less enthusiastically, was his introduction to parkrun. He may not have found it easy, but I know a lot of people who can’t run 5km. 2016 will hopefully see some great improvements for him.
Back to the work situation. Having stuck it out all year and become truly miserable, November was the time to take control and move on. So, a resignation was tendered and December was used to relax and recharge ready to face 2016 head on.
So on reflection, for all the pressure work added, 2015 was a brilliant year. And with a new job to look forward to, 2016 should be a cracker…..although yet again, I’m starting it nursing a crop of aches and pains!!