Sunday, February 24, 2013

2012 - my best running year to date

A whistle-stop tour of 2012

I regularly update my training on (a social network site for athletes) in early January 2013, they updated my profile with my 2012 statistics. This got me thinking that it would be a nice idea to write a post on how my 2012 went, the highs and the lows.
Looking back, it's fair to say that 2012 was a very good year for me, firstly because I managed to stay injury-free and secondly I achieved all of my race goals and got a couple of PB's too.
The year started with an 18 week training programme leading up to the Belfast Marathon in May. I decided early on that I would restrict myself to no more than 4-5 days of running and at the first sign of any strains, pulls or aches, I would rest. My first race of the year was the Larne Half Marathon in March which came at the right stage of my marathon training and gave me an opportunity to see how I performed in a race setting; and although, I didn't attain a sub 1-45 time, my finishing time of 1-46-23 was a course PB. The next 7-8 weeks of marathon training flew in and each of the three 20 mile runs were completed in just under 3 hours, which put me on target for a 4 hour marathon.
May Bank Holiday arrived and the weather was atrocious, with rain, wind and more rain. The race went to plan and I was hitting each mile at 9 minute mile pace. I reached half-way in just over 2 hours as I had done the previous year but the downhill section at Cave Hill is where my knee went in 2011, so I was very cautious between miles 14 and 15. I survived in one-piece and headed onto the tow-path with 10 miles in front of me. Yes, I was beginning to ache and was soaked through but I was still at my goal pace. Turning down the Ravenhill Road, with a mile or so to go, I knew that unless something strange happened, I was going to achieve my 4 hour marathon. Bizarrely enough, as I crossed the line, the clock was showing 4 hours exactly. My official chip time though was 3-56-23, which I was over the moon about.
After a few days of recovery, it was time to knuckle down to train for the 3 half marathons that I had entered between the end of May and end of July. I was keen to get a sub 1-45 half marathon under my belt, so I mixed up my training a little with a few a hill sessions to complement the longer runs.
Newry Half Marathon is a favourite of mine as it was the first half I ever ran and the course is relatively flat. My official time was 1-44-17, which was my best ever half marathon time and a course PB by a couple of minutes. I had no time to rest as Lisburn Half Marathon was just around the corner. This I find to be my toughest half marathon, so I wasn't overly confident of a quick time. Well, I underestimated myself as I attained a finishing time of 1-45-56, which was a course PB by 4 minutes. I had a bit more time to rest and recover before the Cookstown Half Marathon at the end of July. The course is actually quite hilly but I have always managed my best times here. 2012 was going to be no different as my finish time was 1-42-51. What a great way to end my half marathon season; a PB (knocking 5 minutes off last years best time) and 4 course PB's. Looking ahead to 2013, is a sub 1-40 half marathon possible? We'll just have to wait and see...
The next few months were all about the number 10 as I lined up for two 10k race and a 10 mile road race. In September, Belfast was the venue for the Laganside 10k which is always a popular event that is run alongside the River Lagan. I had run this on a couple of previous occassions, getting my time down from 55 to 47 minutes; this year although I didn't quite manage a sub-45 time, I finished in 45-41 which was a course PB.
September made way for October and the Armagh 10 mile road race was next on my schedule. I like this race as you don't get many chances to run competitively over 10 miles. I had a goal in mind of sub-1hr 20, so when I crossed the line in 1-16-16, I was very pleased indeed. Another course PB and maybe, I may get under 1-15 in 2013?
The final big race of the year was the Seeley Cup which is a 10k race around Ormeau Park in South Belfast. The course is quick and this is where last year I achieved my first sub-45 10k time. I went out hoping to hit each km in 4.5 minutes and to reach half-way around the 23 minute mark. The race went to plan and I achieved another sub-45 time but missed out on equalling my 10k PB by 1 second. My finish time was 44-45.
I have been running competitively since 2009, when I completed my first half marathon in 2-20 and over the last 4-5 years I have seen a huge improvement in my times, my abilities and my overall enjoyment of running. It's safe to say that 2012 was my best year ever. Was it the new Brooks I bought at the start of the year? Probably not but I'm sure wearing the correct type of runnning shoe helped. I stayed injury free, I blogged regularly, shared stories on Daily Mile and had the support of all my running friends at Dromore AC. Ultimately, though I think it was the sheer enjoyment I get from running that made 2012 such a great year.
Goals for 2013? I'd like to mix up my races a bit and try a few that I have never entered. Maybe, even get across the water and run in England? First up though, will be Larne Half Marathon in March and then Belfast Marathon in May. As ever, I'll be looking for a few PB's too. I'll keep the blog going too as it's been great over the last couple of years to connect with people from as far and wide as Canada and Australia.

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