I turned 50 in March 2019. For many this half century milestone is a trigger to slow down and take it a bit easier. For me 2019 would be different. I wanted to drop a few pounds and improve my fitness, so I signed up for the Great North Run. I would run my first GNR for Cystic Fibrosis. A training plan was drafted based on 2-3 short runs and a longer weekend run of about 8 miles. Training went well but it took about 3 months for my body to adapt to serious training.
I did my first Durham parkrun in April in a time of 00:36:08. Then a friend and member of Elvet Striders suggested I came down to a track session at Maiden Castle which I did, and boy did I enjoy it. This was when I met Michael Littlewood and Allan Rennick. Both guys were so welcoming and encouraged me to stick at it for age was not a barrier but a challenge to be overcome. My first event for the Striders was the 3 Peaks trail race. The team spirit and forthcoming encouragement from fellow striders was overwhelming. I was hooked and signed up to the Durham 10K which I completed in 01:06:38. I remember that night was so hot, and the atmosphere was electric. Meeting Paula Radcliffe was special. Then it was onto the Darlington 10K which I completed in 00:54:24 minutes. Then came the Gateshead 5K which I ran in 00:25:18.
A two week holiday in Kefalonia was followed by the GNR. My family and I took the Striders bus that morning to Newcastle and everybody was buzzing. It was tough. I had set a target time of 2:15:00 and eventually struggled over the line in 02:16:47 which I was happy with considering it was my first attempt. I did the Tynedale Jelly Tea 10 mile in 01:36 and then it was onto the Coxhoe 10K which I finished in a time of 00:53:36. I was feeling good and was getting quicker. I ran the Hamsterly Forest 10K in 00:56:20 and then got my parkrun PB of 00:54:07 in October a whole 12 minutes faster than I had achieved in April. The Autumn saw me compete in the NEHL Wrekenton 6K XC race 00:54:56, the Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile 01:26:05, then the 12K NECC Championships in Alnwick where I got a time of 01:16:04. This was my hardest race in 2019 and took its toll on me. My final race of the season was the Saltwell 10K where I achieved another PB of 00:52:50 compared to my Durham 10K time of 01:06:38.
My targets for 2020:
Sub 22 minute 5K
Sub 50 minute 10k
Sub 2 hour Half Marathon
I have met some wonderfully supportive people during my time as a Strider. I would especially like to thank Alison for making such a great club run leader, Wendy for her positive encouragement on race day, Allan for making me feel so welcome every time I turn out and to Stephen and Michael for being great team captains and for setting an example of how to train and race to success.