Friday, 31 December 2010

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011.

Merry Christmas - I hope yours was a good one, and Happy New Year - here's to a good 2011.

2010 has proven that running continues to soar in popularity worldwide, with events getting more entrants, filling quicker and going to lottery.
2010 taught me how drastically the best-made plans can change and to set new targets. It taught me to make the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in and be satisfied with our best efforts, even if the outcome is rubbish compared to what we may have achieved previously. All the rubbish outcomes make the occasional personal triumph so much sweeter (Bullock Smithy). Heck, even someone else's personal triumph can feel like your own sometimes if you get to live it with them (Round Rotherham).
Most of all, 2010 was yet another year for meeting a great bunch of likeminded people. The running community is the same everywhere. The cameraderie cannot be beaten.

Everything changed for me back in February with the fractured metatarsal, quickly followed by a knee that came out on strike in sympathy. A doom-laden prognosis spelled the end of my running 'career', the end of life as I knew it and the most unsavoury self-pity. The foot's long repaired and the knee still niggles, but I now know it's not terminal. The early prognosis of broken-down cartilage improved a few months later to a much less terminal 'joint in fine condition but a spot of tendonitis' after a second knee surgeon and MRI scan. More by luck than judgement, it turned out that I had been doing the right thing by pushing through the pain barrier with my impetuous return to the events after the period of volunteering (which I have to say I really enjoyed). An injured tendon needs continued light loading and gentle exercise to aid the repair process. Being able to sit, cycle and negotiate stairs relatively comfortably these days are all good signs, though one-leg squats shall probably remain a 'party piece' of the past.

The Heart of Scotland 100 in May was my biggest gamble of the year long before I knew what was really wrong with the knee. It was my surprise do-or-die comeback event. The 'surprise' bit was actually finishing it. When the photograph was taken by Steve Clarke, I thought I'd be out for a few hours' Saturday bimble and enjoying the services of the sag waggon before the first nightfall. I was untrained and unfit and had no right to finish. My slow time and crippled state afterwards were testament to that, but the knee seemed to love it because the return train journey was a lot more bearable. I was beginning to see a way back from the wilderness!

A Runfurther Grand Slam attempt may have been derailed before the first event, I may have done fewer miles compared to last year (1,326 vs. 1,797), I may have got fewer PBs (6 vs. 18) and run fewer Ultras (11 vs. 17), but under the circumstances, 2010 turned out pretty well. There are so many positives to look back on.

Now, what for 2011? The Runfurther series plus LDWA fillers in between are a given (Grand Slam anyone?), but I don't know what to do about the UTMB. Failing to get through the 2010 lottery means that I have a 2011 place waiting for me and I only have until 12 Jan to register my interest. Until a week ago I have said that a return to that event is beyond me, but I'm beginning to feel the calling. Shall I succumb? Help me out here, people.


  1. Hi Nick. It does seem strange to me now that you were almost out of running earlier this year, your comeback has been most impressive and sums up your obvious persistance - already shown of course in completing so many ultras. Best of luck for 2011!

    p.s. Mark and I are planning on UTMB entry so may see you there. This will be as well as UTLD and LDWA 100 as well of course.

  2. Thanks Danny. Your 2nd paragraph has swung me a little towards the insane choice. I'm also registered for the Housman and Lakeland 100s. I have Sealskins socks now so I'm expecting it to be an altogether more comfortable experience. What foot contingencies will you be adopting?

  3. Anyone who didn't get a place in the UTMB lottery last year was actually really lucky given all the problems with the weather.

    The unlucky ones got the place last year and don't get a guaranteed place this year! If you've one of the lucky ones - go for it.

    Numbers are going up every year. It'll be impossible to get into soon.

    Great blog by the way. You've really got me considering the UTLD!

  4. Thank you Owen. I'm closer to the brink. 2 days left but no time just yet.