This is about the time of year when a lot of runners I know online will share their medal haul for the year, along with their progress. I’d love to say I could match them but as it happens, I can’t. For I received only one medal. And its the medal which represented my biggest letdown of the year, within a race (and not as a weekend!)

My personal memento haul includes the following: a small rucksack (which tore after 4 uses); a Fastrax leisure t-shirt (which has a small hole beside one of the armpits); a camping glowstick (which turned out to be useful); and a child’s cardboard crown (which fell into, and recovered from, canal water). But it would be silly to read into that as definition of my year, because there’s great performances underneath those trinkets.

I ran the Liversedge Half Marathon for the first time in three years. My only focus at the time was to see what shape I was in leading up to the London Marathon. To my surprise, without a watch (left at home), I ran sub 1:21 for the first time, finishing in 1:20:50, obliterating my personal best in the same vein as my performances from three years prior. That gave me great belief I could break the magic sub-3 hour marathon at London, but it wasn’t to be. Like many in this country, how do you prepare for a marathon in relentless snow and ice, only to receive a heatwave on the week of the race? London became such a chastening experience (as a race) that I simply had to write it off as simply that. In shape at halfway, I took the option of abandoning my goal at mile 15 and by mile 17 I flagged for the remainder. I finished 20 minutes down on my PB, and wound up delirious and most likely beginning to suffer from heatstroke or heat exhaustion on the London Underground. It will likely be my last hurrah at London, with Good For Age out of reach and not willing to try and qualify by raising the high levels of funding expected in order to run London for charity (I speak as a previous charity runner of 2 years). I’d rather chase my sub-3 elsewhere and give someone else the chance to experience London, for despite my experience this year, it remains a fantastically organised and supportive event.

My primary focus, which came to exceed London, was a corporate half marathon in Germany. I never dreamt for one moment that my defining moment of the year would be in the rain at the Olympiapark in Munich, Germany, which came about after an opportunity from my employers.

At the time of running Liversedge, my first half marathon in over 13 months, I was oblivious to what I would discover less than 24 hours after the race. I qualified for consideration by having run a half marathon in the last 12 months (albeit by a matter of 24 hours). To then get selected was out of this world. I was getting a corporate, all-expenses paid trip to Munich for Allianz Sports 2018.

To then go over to Munich to compete with and against colleagues from all over the world, and pull out the performance I did, I can’t ask for any more. I’ll be honest. I simply couldn’t keep up with the pace on the day. In previous years a 1:20:43 would have got me a silver medal. Here it was enough for 15th place overall. It was awesome to go through the first lap in the lead, but after my medal prospects fell apart, I simply had to focus on running my best race possible. And that’s what I did, breaking my half marathon PB by a further 7 seconds on my Liversedge time, and again without a watch (which wouldn’t load on the day). I can’t ask for any more than that. I wasn’t gutted at missing out on a medal in the end. It was still an awesome run. It was such a rewarding experience, wearing GB colours, experiencing being in a foreign country for the first time since 1997 (when I was still only 12),being in that bubble for a few days, meeting, competing and eventually partying with and against some awesome people. It’s the closest thing I will ever experience to being in the real Olympics.

Briefly leading at Allianz Sports 2018 Half Marathon!

Taking the remainder of my year into account, I can look with positivity at the strides I’ve made, particularly at shorter distance. The second half of my year brought yields in the shape of not one, but two 5K PBs, at parkrun, weeks apart from one another. I’m now at 17:32 for 5km. I also took part in track racing for the first time, and was paced around to a 9:57.2 for 3,000m. At that pace, that would put me on schedule to run 5km in under 16:40. I won two local races, the highlight being the Meltham Murder Maniac, a race with an illustrious history, which I surprised myself with and took first place in the mile up, mile down race, a second place in my club’s track and field championships, where that 3km time was set, and again at my club’s recent Christmas Handicap race. And I can always take pride in my kids, both of whom collected their half marathon wristbands at junior parkrun this year (11 junior parkruns x 2km), and are on their way to getting the marathon wristband (for 21 x 2km). They’re making great progress, and on their own terms.

I’m already in training for my next marathon, Blackpool in late April. Being a coastal marathon, I’ve got lots of things to consider. It shouldn’t be the hot sufferfest of London but it’s difficult to predict what the weather may bring, although there will almost certainly be a sea breeze of some nature to contend with. I still have strong memories of the time I turned around at the Blackpool Beach 10K over 4.5 years ago to get slapped by an almighty headwind, making me splutter my drink and ultimately losing a place. It means I will be hoping for some quite horrid windy weather to befall us when it comes to training, as I know where I can train locally to maximise my exposure to that. Hopefully we’re not due a monster snow storm to drop this time and the winter weather can be a little less extreme.

And later in the year, I will turn 35, meaning I will qualify for what is known as ‘M35’ category races – in other words, I’ll become a veteran!

But make no mistake. Turning 35 means nothing as far as I’m concerned, because I’m as confident as ever, right now, that I can continue to improve and achieve my goals of improving my times, and in particular, breaking the sub-3 hour marathon. 2018 has been a great year in many ways, but I aim to make 2019 even better.

Statistics of 2018:

  • Total miles run in 2018: 1014.7
  • Fastest 3km: 9:57.2 (PB)
  • 5km: 17:32 (PB)
  • 10km: 38:13
  • Half Marathon: 1:20:43 (PB)
  • Marathon: 3:22:59

Races/events entered: 10

  • Race victories: 2 (Meltham Murder Maniac, King of the Hill Half Marathon)
  • 2nd places: 2 (Halifax Harriers Club Championships 2018, Halifax Harriers Christmas Handicap)
  • Personal bests broken: 4

Special thanks to:

  • My wife, Laura, who gave me her blessing to miss her birthday for the Allianz Sports trip! And my wonderful kids for their enthusiasm and love. All my family and friends for their unwavering support and understanding.
  • My employers, for that once in a lifetime opportunity, and to my colleagues who supported my efforts.
  • My club, the Halifax Harriers, and all those connected with it, particularly those who’ve selected me for club competition and especially those who’ve given me lifts to and from both training and events.
  • My body, for another relatively injury free year!
  • Everyone from the wider running community, be it in person at races, parkruns, and from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Anyone and everyone who reads my blog, follows me on WordPress and the aforementioned social media platforms. I’m happy you visit my blog and continue to read and enjoy my posts.
  • And anyone I might have forgotten.

Hope to see you all again in 2019!