New year, new you? Nah, more of the same please :)

New year always seems to be about change. Whether is be changing yourself or changing things in your life, people always seem to use the new year to kick start these new habits. My New Year isn’t going to be so much about change, but more about focus. I had an amazing year last year; I got to go on adventures to places I’d never even heard of, I got to run some amazing races and go on plenty of wonderful training days out with awesome like minded people and I got to spend time with my loved ones, but I also wasted a lot of time. Be it through watching rubbish TV, looking at my phone at nothing in particular for too long (where does time actually go when you do that?!), or going to bed too late and feeling rubbish in the morning so not getting up early enough to do all the amazing thing I had planned…THAT is my weakness, and that’s why I need more focus. I am working on becoming qualified as a personal trainer and I have a lot of work to do in the build up to it, especially since it has been quite a while since I sat down with my books and highlighters. Social media, smart phones and wifi didn’t exist when I was at University, so switching my focus brain back on will be hard!!

It’s been a while since I last posted and I think I’m about 3 race reports behind, but I can recap that in the annual year round up below… 🙂

JANUARY

The year started as always with some horrific winter training. As much as I always try to convince myself it’s not that big a deal, it really is for me. I HATE training in the dark, being restricted to road running during the week before and after work and the cold weather that comes with it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t do it and I actually surprised myself with my attitude to get out and do hill or stair reps at stupid o’clock before work. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t moan about it though. Oh I did.
There were many great weekends up the beautiful snowy hills, some not so beautiful snowy hills and also the day it was so cold Jo’s hair froze and I swore off winter Munros forever (well, for the rest of that winter anyway!). The season had well and truly started.

One of the nicer snowy hills
Jo’s frozen hair!
Before it got too cold and photos were not a priority!

FEBRUARY

The race season began with the worst race of my year, if not ever. The Glentress marathon was the week after Scotland had a horrific week of storms, snow and wind. I couldn’t have felt any less up for racing, but decided to give it a go anyway. I won’t go into detail as it’s all in the link above, but I definitely won’t be doing that one again for a while! February also saw my 4th attempt at the Devilla forest 15k. It was muddy, it was cold and I was blowing out my ass as I always do at this race, but I was chuffed with a 3 minute PB and got to put my self pity from the previous race behind me.

200m from the start line at Glentress…I should probably have turned around right about now…
Feeling the love at Devilla. I know, I’m a classy bird!

MARCH

With my second biggest race to date (The Great Glen 71 mile Ultra) fast approaching, I decided I needed to move my training up a gear and decided to take on a coach in the form of Neil MacNicol. Neil has got quite a few ultra wins under his belt and knows a thing or 2 about coaching, so with a monthly plan written out for me and a beady eye tracking me on Strava, my training and strength started to improve, as did my race times and overall results. The first of which being the Alloa half marathon where I took over a minute off my time finishing in 1 hour 35 minutes and 55 seconds and finished first local female! That sub 1 hour 30 will come eventually….

APRIL

April was a full on heavy training month with my last few big runs before the Cateran 55. I had great days out on the West Highland Way with Sharon, Jemma and Jeni, an amazing run with Jo who was training her ass off for the West Highland Way race, running a section of the Cateran route in reverse. I was putting so much into my training and was really feeling and starting to see the benefits. So what if things go a bit pear shaped over the winter months. Things always come together (for me anyway!) as soon as there is more daylight and if you’ve got like minded friends putting their heart and soul into their training as well and I’ve got to say, I’ve got a pretty brilliant bunch of running friends!

Sunny days on the Cateran trail with Jo
Training is fun…. honestly…!
Spring on the WHW with some awesome ladies

MAY

It was time for my first big race of the year, the Cateran 55 mile ultra. I’d worked hard in the lead up to this and had a pretty good race with things only going mildly off plan in the middle. I finished 4th lady overall and was delighted to take nearly an hour of my time from my previous attempt in 2015.

Ultra ladies ready to run!
The last slog. It’s worth it! Photo – Kirsten Koh

Later in May Jo, Derek and I traveled down to Keswick for one of my favourite training days of the year. We followed the route of the Mountain Festival 50k ultra and oh my days, what a route!! We had some of the best weather for the majority of the route (we were on the go for close to 8 hours, so that’s pretty good going!) and 3 miles from the finish got soaked to the bone by the heaviest yet most refreshing down pour ever. We’ll tick that one off for now, I don’t think I’ll be racing that route any time soon!!

Keswick. All the weather in one day.
Got to make time for some hillside yoga!

JUNE

While my main focus for this year was the Great Glen in July, I was still really excited about this years West Highland Way race. This year I took up my role of support crew for Derek, alongside Rona, Kat and his daughter Lucy. What a weekend! The weather was pretty great until the Saturday afternoon, just as I took up my role of support runner. I attempted to turn myself into a windbreak on the way over Rannoch Moor, provide witty chat on the way up the Devils staircase and plot a safe and speedy route back down the other side all while running along paths that resembled rivers and whilst having hats on and hoods up and not being able to hear a word that was being said. All part of a great day out! After having a bit a dodgy start Derek managed to pull it back towards the end and while others around us were starting to suffer, he still had the energy to run and we picked off runner after runner on the way across Lairig Mor. What a finish and what a weekend! All in I managed to cover 36 miles with him… I think that’ll pass as my long run for the weekend?

All ready for the off!
Just before the rain
Coming into KLL, soaked to the bone
1 mile to go and it’s a full on sprint (or as sprint like as it can be after 94 miles!).

JULY

It was the month of the Great Glen Ultra. What a fantastic race! There were lows, there were highs and I bagged my first podium coming second lady overall. I couldn’t have been any more delighted, the training was definitely all worth it!

Don’t think Gordon was appreciating my terrible chat at this point… 🙂

10 miles to and it’s all downhill. Delighted!
Best birthday ever!

AUGUST

The rest of July was spent recovering and travelling with Craig, and once home from holiday is was straight back to it. Except it wasn’t. My recovery once again took longer than expected and I started to feel annoyed at my lack of speed or enthusiasm. I should know by now that I just take longer to recover than others and not to give up. My next focus was to be The River Ayr Way race in September, so August was all about strength work, finding my running mojo again and being dragged up some bad ass Munros by my bonkers friends. It’s all worth it for the views!

Ben Lui, Beinn a Chleibh, Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchrai. All in a days work!
Ben Chonzie (or is it Chorizo?!)

A rapid descent off Ben Chonzie with Kristin

SEPTEMBER

I hadn’t been feeling 100% fit in the lead up to the River Ayr Way Race, but come race day I was ready to get going and just have a good day out with friends. That was until I was toeing the line and I actually felt I had a chance of doing quite well. Better late than never I suppose! It was probably my strongest race to date in that I didn’t have too many low points and my mental focus was good throughout which definitely helped in my overall result; my first ultra win!! Delighted doesn’t even come close.

Proper cheesing!!
Focus face. Photo – Sandra Hunter

OCTOBER

I’d decided earlier in the year I’d like to race another road marathon and see how I was getting on, seeing as the last time I had completed one was at the London marathon in 2016! The Loch Rannoch marathon was probably not the right race to pick seeing as it’s really undulating and I still hadn’t recovered from my ultra. I also failed to remember how to fuel properly for a marathon having breakfast way too early and not carrying enough with me on the run. However I only missed my personal best by a minute so I wasn’t too disappointed. Next time I have ‘great idea’ I’ll make sure I’ve got time to train specifically for that event!

NOVEMBER

And finally it was time for Glen Ogle round 5. I never got round to writing a race report for it, however I was delighted to finish with a 3 minute PB, which means a PB every year I’ve ran the race. I think I have ran my fair share of Glen Ogles for now so I will definitely be back this year, but this time helping out!

And with that another racing year is over! Downtime is over and it’s time to hit training hard again and become the best running version of myself yet. I have a lot to fit in with work, training and fitness courses over the next months, but time will be found as I want this and I’m ready to work for it.

2018…. Here I come!!

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