And so another year has come to pass…

It’s the 31st of December 2015. Where has my year gone?! I’m sure I’m not the only one asking this question, but this year has seriously flown by. And like many others, with what seems to have become a bit of a tradition, I like to look back on my year of running and see how much I have learned and achieved in my on going quest and battle with running. Here are some highlights from my year;

JANUARY

Lots of sleeping and relaxing with my pup Skye.
Lots of sleeping and relaxing with my pup Skye.

It was a slow start to the year for me, but after plenty of rest being looked after by Skye the wonder pup (and of course my amazing husband, but Skye was pretty much glued to my side from the minute I got home!), I was given the nod to get back to running so started the year (cautiously) helping my team mates out at theDevil’s Burden relay races in Fife. We had amazing day out! Somehow I ended up on the guys team (again! Are you trying to tell me something here guys?!) and we had a hilarious morning dashing all the place, trying to be in the right place at the right time… and failing miserably! Just what I needed to get my running back on track.

A slightly warmer team.
A slightly warmer team.

FEBRUARY
Feeling slightly stronger, I decided to give the Devilla 15k run another go. I wasn’t expecting much but as it’s our neighbouring clubs event, we always go through en masse to show our support. We had tons of muddy fun and I managed to take a few minutes off last years time, even though the course was a mile and a bit longer!

Biggest club turn out we've ever had at an event I think!
Biggest club turn out we’ve ever had at an event I think!

Last few kilometres and the focus face is on...
Last few kilometres and the focus face is on…

The rest of the month was spent finding my feet on the trails again. Mainly the wonderful West Highland Way. Such a beautiful place, but especially in winter.

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MARCH
I had been looking forward to March for a long time as I was especially looking forward to running the D33 for the first time. I had entered on New Years eve and I know a few of my friends were a bit sceptical that I’d be ready to push my body to such a distance so early on in the year, but I was desperate to get back to racing properly and I knew I felt good come race day. Jemma and I stayed with Rhona and her husband in Stonehaven the night before and we were raring to go and kick start the Ultra season. I had a fantastic race and finished in just over 5 hours. I loved this race and I am definitely going back this year for another go and to try and break the 5 hours barrier.

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APRIL
April was a quiet month for me racing wise. I decided to give a 10k race another go seeing as I hadn’t raced once since September the previous year and entered the Round the Houses 10k in Grangemouth. The route is very flat and very fast and I had a great race taking over a minute off my 10k personal best and setting a new time of 44:51! I worked hard and felt horrific when I crossed the line, mainly through lack of speed work prior to the race! But I was happy to be chipping away at my time again.

I spent many hours training on the Cateran trail for my race in May and had great fun in the process. I met the lovely Claire for the first time and had an amazing day out running over to the Spittal of Glenshee and falling in a river in the process!

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I deferred my London Marathon place until 2016 and ended up going up to marshal and support my friends running the Hoka Highland Fling on the West Highland Way. I had a fantastic day, meeting loads of new people and giving my friends the cheers and support they deserved. Everyone ran so well and made me even more excited about running this race in 2016!

I finished the month with an amazing trip to Paris with Craig. Just what was needed to recharge the batteries before the last term of the year at work.

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MAY
This was it. My biggest race so far and the one that every mile I had run up until now was going towards. The Cateran 55 mile Ultra Marathon and I won’t deny it, I was petrified! I was really excited and the whole weekend was wonderful. The new race H.Q at Gulabin lodge was perfect – right on the finish line, lovely warm showers, comfortable beds and amazing food courtesy of Sandra and Helen. The race was amazing and even though I’m sure I went through many a dark patch, I can only see the positives of the race when I think back. I completed the race in 11 hours and 30 minutes and I was absolutely elated and also amazed that my body is actually capable of doing these things!

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JUNE
In June I ran the amazing Strathearn marathon for the second time along with Jemma and was delighted for her when she got a new marathon PB, along with having an amazing day out in beautiful sunny Perthshire. I love this race, even though it’s definitely not an easy race, and it was lovely to run with Jemma and catch up on all the wedding preparation chat. I also adore these finishing pictures.

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The following week, I had a weekend off running and had an enjoyable booze filled weekend at Fyne Fest with Jemma, Rhona and Graeme. Pub quizes, beer tokens, skanking and flower crowns. Amazing.

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At the end of June I helped marshal at the West Highland Way race and got a real insight into the running of it. Standing at a road crossing through the night guiding runners across, then up to Bridge of Orchy the following day to help runners check in when they got there. I was absolutely shattered on the drive home, just from standing about all weekend. Next year it’s my turn to run it. What on earth have I got myself into!

Next year it's our turn!
Next year it’s our turn!

AUGUST
At the beginning of August I ran my hardest race to date. 12 miles shorter in distance than the Cateran, but so much harder. The 43 mile Devil O’The Highlands has been re branded and taken over by John Duncan of Highland Fling fame, and it lived up to it’s expectations! I had the most amazing day and finished the race in just over 8 and a half hours. Brilliant race, I can’t big it up enough!

Photo - Fiona Rennie
Photo – Fiona Rennie
My little brother surprising me on the finish line. So delighted to see him!
My little brother surprising me on the finish line. So delighted to see him!

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SEPTEMBER
After my legs had recovered from the Devil, I decided it was time to get back to road racing and try and get some time off my marathon time. Last year I had finally got a sub 4 marathon time at the Highland Perthshire Marathon, so I decided to go back and try again. Another amazing race, feeling so strong the whole way round and a new marathon time of 3:41:54. I also got my first podium placing! I came 3rd lady overall and 1st senior lady. I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again any time soon, but I’m still on cloud 9 from it!

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At the end of the month my friend Kirsty asked me if I fancied running the Strathcarron 10k. Again I hadn’t been training for speed, but I had been bashing out the hill reps and feeling strong after the marathon so I gave it a go. It was a scorching day but I gave it my everything and took another 30 seconds off my 10k time finishing in 44:17. I never thought I’d get so close to 44 minutes and I’m hoping late next year I can finally get under the 44 minute mark.

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OCTOBER
I hadn’t raced a half marathon since the Loch Leven Half marathon in May 2014. When the Neil McCover half came round again, I was looking forward to really pushing myself and seeing if I could get a PB in the only distance left to better in the year. I have no idea what happened, but I had another fantastic race and managed to take 9 minutes off my time, finishing in 1:37:26. Whose legs are these?! I was elated!

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NOVEMBER
And finally it was time for the last race of the year. Glen Ogle round 3, and I was looking forward to finishing the season with a bang. I had another great race and amazing day out with 20+ of my team mates. I love the race and will definitely be back for round 4 next year and hopefully finally get under 5 hours. 1 minute over is just annoying!!

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And so the year draws to a close. I’ve had a phenomenal year and I owe thanks to so many people for their support, for getting me back on my feet, for inspiring me and for not letting me quit. Next year is the big year and I have so many hours to put in before I’m even close to being ready, but I know they’ve all got my back.

Here’s to your health. Happy New Year!!!

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