Here we are again. Another year over, and yet another blog post summarising how many circles I’ve managed to run/cycle/swim around in this year. Well, swimming is more up and down as opposed to circles; but you still end up in the same place.
Let’s dive straight into the numbers shall we?
Running – 2,286 miles (2016 – 2,768)
Cycling – 5,702 miles (2015 – 3,569)
Swimming – 160 miles (2015 – 120)
I actually said at this time last year that I needed to ‘run less, bike significantly more’, and rather pleasingly I seemed to have followed through on that. The most surprising result of this is that my running hasn’t suffered at all. If anything, quite the opposite has happened, and I’ve run faster than ever before.
What about this year’s racing;
I’ve completed 31 5km parkruns, as well as 2 other 5km races, one 10km, 5 cross-country events, 8 half-marathons, 4 team relay events, and 3 marathons. And that’s just running. Add triathlon into the mix and there’s also a Sprint and an Olympic distance triathlon, a half-ironman and a 2 full iron-distance events. I don’t really enjoy sitting on the sofa at the weekends.
Racing started on day 1 of 2017 with the annual New Year’s Day triathlon; because going to bed on NYE at 12:07 is what all the cool kids do anyway. I couldn’t think of a better time of year to put on a triathlon, especially when you’re pretty much guaranteed glorious weather. Still, if they put it on, the mugs like me will always appear out of the woodwork. A surprise 3rd place was a nice start to the year.
After that, it was time to get my head down and pretend to be a proper triathlete, with plenty of bike sessions replacing my normal high run mileage build up to the London Marathon. I really enjoyed the variety of training over the spring, and signs were still looking promising for London, with a half-marathon personal best at Hampton Court at the end of March.
As most of you are probably not aware, I ran the London Marathon dressed as a swimmer in April, in an attempt to swag the highly coveted and imaginatively titled ‘Fastest marathon dressed as a swimmer’ crown. The idea here was to create a situation which would force me to slow down and enjoy the occasion, rather than trash my legs and be faced with two weeks of recovery.
As usual, best laid plans went straight out the window as I found myself leading the London Marathon off the green start, and throwing all pacing strategies out of the window. I ended up having one of the runs of my life and loving every minute of the experience at the same time, as I smashed my PB by 7 minutes to run 2 hours and 42 minutes and qualify for the Championship start at next years London Marathon.
One of the highlights of the year is always the Green Belt Relay with a cracking group from the Clapham Chasers. For some reason they let me loose on attempting to organise getting 33 people around the green belt of London over the space of 2 days, but quite staggeringly we all ended back in Kingston on the Sunday evening with only minor hiccups. I can’t wait to have another stab at this one later in the year.
Buoyed by my great run in London, Katie and I headed to the Edinburgh half-marathon with PB aspirations in mind. Great conditions on the day helped me along to a 1:16 clocking, improving by a further 3 minutes in the space of 2 months. However, the headlines of the weekend were grabbed by Katie, as she ran 1:38 to beat her personal best by over 10 minutes.
Shifting straight into the triathlon season, I made a return to the Chester middle-distance triathlon, hoping to improve on my 18th place from last year. I put together a solid day, ending up 5th overall and 2nd in my age-category; promising signs for the season ahead, even if my swimming still left a lot to be desired.
I finished off June with something quite different to anything I’d done before. I decided to test the waters and see how much training my body could handle in the space of a week. 36 hours of exercise later, and Spragg Camp 2017 was in the books.
Still with me? We’re into the second half of the year now, an my 2nd appearance at the Norwich olympic distance triathlon. 9th last year, I found myself clear in 2nd on the run, much to my surprise. Despite the fact that the winner was miles up the road, this was a nice confidence boost heading into my first iron-distance race of the season, the Outlaw triathlon.
The Outlaw served up a cold, hard slice of reality, as I was rightly reminded you can’t always have it your own way. 5 punctures made for a nightmare bike ride, which saw all my pre-race goals go down the toilet. I was determined to take something away from the day and not throw in the towel, and ended up having a decent marathon run after a brief pity party was stopped in it’s tracks by some awesome support from family and friends.
Luckily, my season plan gave me a chance for some sort of redemption at Ironman Wales. After a severe case of pre-race nerves, as usual Katie managed to talk some sense into me and I found myself on the start line really looking forward to the day. We had some ‘challenging’ conditions, but I was finally able to produce a performance over the iron-distance that I could be proud of. Despite missing out on qualifying for Hawaii by just over 2 minutes, I couldn’t have given any more. I shared the weekend with a fantastic group of family and friends, and can’t wait to do it all again in the future.
Triathlon season over; time to put my feet up? Definitely not. I wanted to give the marathon another crack in 2017, so after a few weeks R&R, I embarked on a hashed together marathon training schedule, incorporating a full marathon in the build up to Valencia in November.
By far my racing highlight of 2017 had nothing to do with my results, with Katie’s 3:10 marathon in Amsterdam meaning more to me than anything I could achieve as an individual. The improvements she’s made in 2017 have been nothing short of staggering, and in my opinion her journey is one of the most inspiring amongst all the endurance athletes I know. If people are looking for proof that good old hard work pays off, just follow Katie’s journey.
I arrived in Valencia short of confidence, but felt like the pressure really was off after having a good season. Maybe this really helped, as I just ran to feel instead of worrying about what pace I needed to maintain, and I found myself having another dream day. Coming into the last 5km with a sub 2:40 clocking on the cards, I would’ve been a fool to let that slip away, giving it everything I had to come home in 2:39:48, with a good 12 seconds to spare.
We’re nearly there now, I promise. December saw a bit of down-time, mixed with one more race; the Endurance Life Dorset Coastal Trail Series. This one was a birthday present from Katie; probably one of the most brutal but fun birthday presents I’ve received (if you can use those two words in the same sentence). A 3rd place finish was again a surprise, but a nice way to cap off the year.
I owe awful lot to coach Dan Holmes at Profile PT, who has helped me immensely this year. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him in 2017, and if anyone is looking for a triathlon or running coach, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending him.
Just writing all that has made me realise it’s actually been an awesome year. Believe it or not, I’m usually pretty hard on myself, always wanting more and telling myself I should be doing better. Seeing all of those results on one page gives me real hope for the future; I’m going to keep putting in the hard yards and see how much further this endurance lark can take me. Happy New Year!