Usually I enjoy writing my race recap, to review the year gone by. After an absolutely amazing 2019 I had planned an even better 2020.
These plans escalated, with plans to be an official pacer at 14 marathons worldwide; aim for a sub 3 at Tokyo; Ironman Santa Rosa in California and much more in between. I would have completed over 30 events, with about 25 as an official pacer, and my passport would have taken a beating. But things were not meant to be this year, and there is something comforting in the fact the whole world has gone through this together. It has not been the best year, but we have stood together “virtually”. I am hopeful for a better 2021, but this blog isn’t about what was missed in 2020, but the positives of what was achieved.
The National Running Show
The year started with a bang. I love the National Running Show. I love coming and spending time with the running community, spending time with you all, and talking to you about running. The National Running Show is a great way to start the year.
I don’t just love going to the show, I love being able to talk to everyone about pacing and running in general. When I get feedback months later about how my advice has helped someone in their Journey, it makes everything worthwhile, as after all, that’s what this little blog of mine was intended for.
This year I had a huge turnout on stage on Saturday and the talk went really well. So well in fact I was tracked down in the Sunday, and with little notice was asked if I could go on stage again… of course my answer was yes, and it was great to talk again.
The year started exactly as planned with the Watford Half. I always enjoy pacing for xempo and this was a great start to the year. I delivered on time, and enjoyed the local, club organised race…
That is when things got great. I had the opportunity to pace the sub 4 #funbus at Miami Marathon. Well when you get a message saying, I hear you are the sub 4 guy, who am I to say no right. Miami was amazing and I genuinely thought this was the start of an amazing year. I had dramas getting to Miami, but once there the marathon was awesome, and I certainly had intended on returning in 2021.
It was later in February that plans changed. I was training and gearing up for Tokyo Marathon. Training was going well, running and blogging was going well, and I was in Marathon mode… my best blog of 2020 was released “My Top 10 tips for running a Marathon”.
But then there was talk about Covid. I remember in the early days it felt so distant, and I remember my frustration with Tokyo Marathon being cancelled. This was one of the first events to be cancelled, and what was frustrating was the lack of coordination with WHO. The Marathon was cancelled, but flights were still operating, so there were no refunds for flights, unlike other event cancellations. I was very disappointed about losing my place for Tokyo, and the expense attached, and to be honest still am, but over the coming months covid become much more real to the whole world.
To overcome the disappointment of Tokyo Marathon, I managed to get a place at Big half, which I was disappointed to be missing. I was offered my own place, and then the opportunity to pace, but instead of my usual 1:45 group, double the time in 3:30. Of course when faced with this choice I opted to pace. I have been an official pacer for every Big Half, and was pleased not to miss it.
Right before our first National Lockdown it had felt like the cancellation of Tokyo was an overreaction. Nobody could have known what was to come, and with great plans for 2020, this was just the first blip, with many adventures still to come. I am so pleased that I was able to have a great big hug from all my Brooks Run Happy Team at the 2020 launch. Such fun, and I cannot wait until these days return.
Getting used to Isolation
Very quickly we had to adapt to running in isolation, and I found that it helped to try and stay positive. I wrote about Running in Isolation as we all thought of lots of different ways to be active during lockdown. We had at home marathons and lots of crazy adventures. There is something really comforting that we were / are in this together. I never actually had any time off work, in fact I worked many more hours, so had less time to run and less time to take part in adventures.
After a really strong start of the year I had less structure to my training and started to overdo it trying to fit in challenges like daily running. I found this period of time tough as it felt like everyone was at home, taking part in challenges, whilst I was at work. I would usually take part in my challenges at the weekend, but with family at home and nowhere to go, this became difficult. The positives were the family time we spent together. I picked up some injuries, and was feeling down during this time, and event after event was cancelled. As always I tried to look at the positives and with many event postponements it looked like many people would be facing back to back events in the Autumn. I already had this planned, and it meant events clashing, but I wrote a blog to help people to think about planning for Back to Back Marathons.
All about Virtual events
The world turned virtual and it was great to see more people becoming active. Virtual events have been around for some time, but there was certainly a boom. With more people starting running during lockdown I wrote a blog about Tips for New Runners, you can read it HERE.
London Marathon on my treadmill
The first of my Virtual events was on the day of the original London Marathon. I decided I would run it anyway, and as we were in Lockdown I ran it on my treadmill. It was my first marathon on a treadmill, it was hot and sweaty, but I got it done, and it felt good. It doesn’t count towards my official 100 marathon club goal, but it felt good nonetheless. Read about it HERE.
I took part in the Run Happy Relay, which frankly is where I overdid it and my shin did not thank me, and it led to me taking a couple of months resting a lot of the time.
I also had the opportunity in taking part in the National Running Show Indoor Relay, which was a lot of fun.
My niggle in my shin made me think of all the new runners, and all those that increased mileage that they were not used to. As a more experienced runner I knew better, but still overdid it. Physically and mentally I was capable of more, but my body not so much. So I wrote a blog about Overtraining, hoping to help people avoid common mistakes and spot the signs.
I am a reflective person by nature. After being positive to look forward to the Autumn race season it became apparent that this was not going to happen. All the races that had been postponed were starting to get cancelled, and at this time I had over 25 cancelled races. It was hard to stay positive, but then I reflected on running for running sake, running for the love of running.
Over the next few months I managed to take part in a number of actual events with Phoenix Running Events. Although all the larger events I had booked were cancelled, some becoming virtual, I took part in a number of smaller marathons.
Phoenix Running Events
In fact I took part in 5 events with Phoenix and this helped me to get my running fix. One such event doubled up as my London Marathon on the Autumn date. I love running with others, so it was great to take part in an actual event to do the virtual London Marathon.
I also managed an in person mass organised event with Richmond Running. Taking part in Kew 10k. It would have been lovely to pace, but it was great to take part in an event with lots of other people. PS I am pleased to have taken a picture of the medal, as I can’t find it now. It arrived later and I’m sure my wife or children will have tidied it away somewhere.
I also entered the Beachy Head Marathon late as I wanted to give it a go. I usually am unable to take part in this event as my calendar is usually full of events. So the silver lining in cancellations meant I could take part in this event for the first time.
The final highlight of the year was working with Intersport to aim to #pickupthepace for the New York Marathon. This was a great boost which brings me on to my 2021 goals (in a blog coming soon). But with the support of Coach Kev I feel great ending 2020 with some motivation.
I had actually planned an in person event for New York Marathon, but with plans to run fast, my route was not going to work… so I did both. I ran my own virtual New York Marathon on day one. Then on day two I did another Phoenix Marathon just for fun.
So that brings me to the end of the year. I have taken part in 10 in person events, including 7 Marathons, 2 half’s and 1 10k. I have lost one medal in the house somewhere, and lots of virtual adventures. 2020 has not been the year I planned, but I’m still here, my family are healthy, and I’m looking forward to the future.