Review of the year

This year it is difficult to write a review of the year and just concentrate on my running which is the main aim of this blog. 2009 has been a year of highs and lows away from running so I’ll deal with those first before reviewing how my running has gone.

The highlight in 2009 for Team Kynaston was Laura’s marriage to Josh in February. We had a great day and we all enjoyed celebrating together. In April I started a full time job with Glasgow council as an active schools coordinator. It’s an interesting role working with several schools with the aim of making ‘More children more active more often.’

The lows of the year have been the three funerals I’ve been to this year. The first was in January when my Dad died while on holiday. We had a special service of thanksgiving for his life in Liverpool. Mum and Dad were married for over 55years and we all have lots of great memories. We all felt Dad went at the right time and had lived his life to the full.

Sadly that can’t be said of the next two funerals I went to. The first was whw race director Dario. I’ve only known Dario for 3 years since I got involved with the whw race but I count him as a good friend and one that I always enjoying chatting with. He was so supportive of me when I first enquired about running the whw race and that support continued until his untimely death in July. That story could be repeated by hundreds of people. He was a special man and is greatly missed.

The third funeral was in November when our good friend Graham died after a four year battle with cancer. Katrina and I worked with Graham and Sue, who are a similar age to us, in India for a number of years. At his funeral service I was struck with how he faced death with dignity, faith and a positive attitude.

The other highlight of the year was being challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in November and managing to complete it. Predictably it’s all about running and I surprised myself by enjoying it far more than I thought I would.

So on to the running …. I turned 50 in March 2009 and had decided to run 5 ultras throughout the year to celebrate. In 2007 and 2008 I’d run 2 ultras (Highland Fling & West Highland Way Race) so for me to run 5 in one year was going to be a challenge. I was really keen to try and peak for each one and run it as hard and as fast as I could.

I set out a training plan with the aim of getting to the start of each race as fit and as ready as I could. I also set myself a gold, silver and bronze medal goal for each race. Here is a summary of how I got on ….

I had written at the beginning of the year that I’d like to get 3 golds and 2 silvers. I didn’t quite manage that with 1 gold, 3 silvers and a bronze but I did manage 4 pb’s. The fact that 3 of the races were new to me helped!!

So a quick review of each race …

1. The Highland Fling – Saturday 25th April
This was my third running of this race but my first as a Super vet (over 50). It was good solid race but I struggled from Beinglas farm to Auchtertyre as I got my food badly wrong. I ate too little early on and what I did eat, ie grapes, really upset my stomach. It was an important lesson I learnt for the rest of the year.

2. West Highland Way Race – Saturday 20th June
Last year when I broke 20hrs I really didn’t think I’d be able to do it again or would even try but my training had gone well and so I set off with the aim of trying to break 20hrs again. It was so satisfying to have a clear goal and be able to pull it off. I went through a tough section after Kingshouse but was able to get going again and was very happy with my third pb on the run.

3. Devil o’ the Highlands race – Saturday 8th August
I’ve never run this race before though I have run the route at least 3 times. As a shorter ultra at 42miles I decided to try and run as much as I could and not to stop at any checkpoints. I felt sub 7hrs was a challenging yet realistic target and again it was satisfying to achieve that with a few minutes to spare.

4. Hardmoors 110 – Friday – Sunday 25-27th September
This was always going to be the hardest of the five and that proved to be true. I’d never run on the route before and it involved running for 12hrs through the first night in the dark and then half way through a second night. I set off aiming for a sub 28hr run but in the end was very happy to finish in just over 31hrs.

5. Saintelyon – Sunday 6th December
Initially I was going to run the Rotherham 50 as the fifth ultra but it was moved from December to October. I was happy they did as it meant I had a weekend in France instead to run this excellent race through the night. We had great weather and I really enjoyed running with 5,000 other ultra runners.

As I look back over the year I’m really pleased I was able to complete my 2009 challenge. I learnt a lot about my training and preparation. I found it fun to always have a race to train and prepare for.

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4 Responses to Review of the year

  1. Stu says:

    Hi John,

    I have been following your blog since I found it on the WHW website, since the Hardmoors race and thought I’d say hi. Also to say congratulations on a magnificent year and what you did was a mammoth achievement especially through some tough times. It is inspiring reading about all your adventures and I look forward to reading more next year.


  2. phil says:

    Well done John.You continue to excell.
    You can really see the value of a blog in assessing how you have done. I'm sure it will help you set some good targets for 2010.

  3. Andy Cole says:

    Hi John, you finished all your ultras in good order and in good times, don't be so tough on yourself, looks like five golden days to me! Now what are you up to next year? Cheers, Andy.

  4. John,

    You have had a fantastic year and a superb achievement running 5 ultras. You go from strength to strength every year. I wonder what you will be capable of in 2010.


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