Well, I was supposed to write this post before the end of 2016, but life, eh? It gets in the way. I also knew I would find writing this difficult as it’s going to be reflective and congratulatory, and I always have trouble when it comes to saying ‘Well done!’ to myself. But I’m going to force it out in the name of self improvement. Heck.
So here’s a recap of the running bits and bobs I’ve done this year. I feel like I’ve completed a nice mix of things, achieved a bunch of goals and PBs, and most importantly been left with the desire to do MORE. A great first year, though I still feel I’m a long way away from becoming the accomplished runner I wish to be. Things like sitting at a computer all day and eating mountainous piles of crisps keep getting in the way. Let’s rewind to the start of 2016, when this Grumpy Jogger adventure began…
Nike+ and the Blog:
I started running again, (if we’re going to be super honest, in the winter of 2015, shh) to get me out of the house when I was working from home. I got into a routine: wake up, and instead of commuting, run before work. I started this blog at the start of January 2016 as a way of documenting my progress and the first posts were often written after each run I completed. They were mostly about whatever weather or running hazards I had encountered on that outing (ice, sickness, poor fitness levels.) I signed up to Nike+ and started to name my runs with funny names, and found some buddies on there. Nike+ was cool as it tracked my pace and I could see evidence that although each run felt the same I was progressing, however slowly. The running habit was forming.
Then one evening, I drew this:
The first Grumpy Jogger.
A little doodle of me in my ancient running top and leggings, looking suitably mad, and for some reason running past an AT-ST. I thought it would be cool to draw other runners I knew. I drew them looking mad as hell. People seemed to dig my doodlings, so I drew more.
Although I’ve been drawing for much of my life, the last few years it has become less and less of a habit. Suddenly I had an urge to draw again, and people sending in their run photos was a great source of inspiration, for keeping me both running and drawing. I’m now up to number 41, with a cap at 50 (which turned into 55 because I can’t say no to people.) Now I have a little running army, or as I call it, my living room Park Run. I hope everyone has enjoyed my drawings. I’ll do a bigger drawing-specific blog post when I bring the art project to a close (I can’t draw people running forever!) with a gallery of highlights.
I entered a bunch of races in 2016. I found them stressful at first… loud, noisy events, nerve-wracking waits at the start, impossibly long queues for the toilets for that one last nervous wee… but overall I think events are pretty fun and motivational, especially for the long races which mean you have to keep up your weekly mileage or risk certain death. Here’s my top three races of 2016.
#3- Cardiff 10k:
This year I completed a few 10k races, but this was the first time I got a sub 1 hour 10k: my current PB of 58:30. I was so pleased as I had been training and tried on a few occasions to get this sub hour goal, and it felt great to finally do it. The PB feeling really is a sweet one.
#2- Cardiff Bay 5k Run In The Dark:
This one is notable because I was the third lady finisher! Yeah, it was a small 5k race, my time was no great record, but shuttup. I never came third at any sporting thing in my whole life ever. I’ll take that victory.
#1- The Cardiff Half Marathon:
The best, and also worst, race of my year was the half marathon. I had to train for it as 13 miles was a distance I had never even thought about before. Going for two hour runs after work was a bit intense during the week when I had a busy weekend and couldn’t fit in a long run. Eating energy gels was an… experience. I got an amazing blister on my big toe after my first 8 mile run. It felt badass to say I’d finished my first ever continuous 10 mile run. 10 miles is a stupidly long way. 13 is even stupider.
The actual half marathon was a splendid mess of joy and misery. You can read the full blog post here. I paced myself badly and it was too hot and as I mentioned before 13 miles is a stupid distance. I was slightly disappointed with my time as I had had a much smoother training 12 mile run, but in the end getting it done was what counted. I also got to experience what being really dehydrated felt like, and there’s nothing like feeling wobbly and getting spotty vision after a race to make you feel like a ‘proper’ runner.
I feel ultimately it was a good experience to run a ‘bad’ race. It makes me want to run it again to finish stronger, and it feels good to know that even when everything hurts and you’re having a real bad time, it will eventually pass. Something about grit, you know? I wonder if this is one of the reasons why exercise is so good for depression, as well as the endorphins thing. It proves to you that bad times are transitory. If you can feel that awful and make it out the other side then it make life’s challenges feel that bit easier. (This blog post is going to get into the gooey, philosophical side of running, I can feel it. I’m not sorry.)
So basically despite my first half marathon experience not being the best, it taught me a lot, and I won’t forget the day.
Here’s a shout out to CDF Runners, the Cardiff Nike Store Run Club. They are super friendly, welcome all abilities, are obsessed with cake, have good twitter game… they are all the things a run club should be. They are the single reason I do any speed work. (Shudder.) They’ve helped me improve a lot and are a great bunch or people. GOOD JOB GUYS. Thank you.
What’s happening in 2017?
So what now? I posted my 2017 run goals in this handy tweet.
— Grumpyjogger (@grumpyjogger) 2 January 2017
I’m a little afraid of the 5k and 10k times. But when I started running I thought I would never be able to get under 30 minutes for a 5k and now I did that at last week’s Park Run on icy paths with a hangover. So who knows. Maybe it’s doable.
I’m going to continue running, in a year it’s given me lots of new experiences and taught me a lot about both my body and mind. As I mentioned with the half marathon, in a weird way I like that running is something that is quite horrible and uncomfortable a lot of the time. There’s a great comic from The Oatmeal that explains why being ‘happy’ all the time isn’t really something that’s worth striving for, and how running can often fit into that: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/unhappy
It’s this quote I like the best:
“I run. When I do these things, I’m not smiling or beaming with joy. I’m not happy. In truth, when I do these things, I’m often suffering. But I do them because I find them meaningful. I find them compelling.” -The Oatmeal
Meaningful and compelling- aw yeah. Running for me is not a skill that comes naturally, but I embrace my average-ness and celebrate every hard-won victory. And it means I can eat all the cake.
Here’s to 2017! Thanks for reading.
Grumpy Kate x