This article looks back over a year of running in 2013. It was an eventful year with some good finishes and just a few disappointments. The highlights were taking part in my first big ultra (the Q50 80k) and lifting my first trophy in Mexico. Unfortunately I didn’t get anywhere near to my Boston qualifier time this year, but ran a grand distance and climbed a lot of hills. I was also out for a couple of months with a nasty calf injury and suffered my first DNF in what looked like being a spectacular race. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights of the year.
Despite some intense sun and heat I managed to pick up a third place finish at the Time-Check 10k run in Oaxaca de Juarez. This was my first placing in a Mexican race and an excellent start to the year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of my position at the end of the race and headed back to the hotel before I could pick up my prize, a Buff headscarf. Luckily I was able to meet the organizer and pick this up later.
Right at the end of January I broke my hand playing football with an ill-advised attempt at an overhead kick on astro-turf. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to have this checked out at the doctors before my trip to San Francisco in February so I was running with a swollen hand and a bit of pain for my next two races.
In February I had a trip to San Francisco with a little spare time to run a couple of local races. First I managed a 1 hour 26 finish at the Kaiser Permanente half marathon. Later that week I finished in tenth place finish at the 50k Golden Gate Coastal Trail run. This wasn’t as fast as my previous 50k ultra in Seattle but the course was a lot hillier and I had a bit of a dodgy tummy on the day. The last 10k turned into a bit of a dogfight with the guy behind and I was happy to hold onto my position.
For March, it was back in Mexico to run two different night races on consecutive weeks in Mexico city and Oaxaca. First I took a third place in my category at the 8k Mexico city Energizer Night Run then a fourth place finish at the 10k Carrera Nocturna in Oaxaca. Sixteen thousand people ran the night race in Mexico and it looked fantastic, like a river of light. I feel I really aced this race but wasn’t expecting to pick up a prize with such a strong field. I think the cool temperature and the fact that I used to run at night in Edinburgh might have helped a bit. I also tend to place better in shorter distance races on the flat which is maybe a hang-over from running a lot of 5k parkruns. In any case the trophy and the presentation were quite impressive and it’s not every day you get ride home in the subway with an 8 inch tall Energiser bunny.
April, May and June
The middle part of 2014 was all about building endurance for the Q50 80k ultra in Oaxaca. From here on in I would run almost exclusively in the hills building up to runs of 41km with a climb of 900 meters. This was the first time I would run with food and try to eat during a run.
July saw the Q50 race which I managed to finish in the 72k in just under 14 hours. The course climbed over 5,000m. Exhausting but great fun. I followed this a week later with a local Huajuapan cross-country race, the Carrera del Indio Nuyoó. In between the two races I slept a lot.
July was also the month I started writing my blog.
August was all about the Mexico City International Marathon. I prepared myself for this with a half marathon in Puebla on the 18th. On the day I had a bit of a dodgy stomach but managed to finish within one and a half hours. The Mexico international Marathon was the next week on the 25th. I paced myself badly for this and came in on 3 hours 32, but I still had a great time.
September started with some heavy training then on September 18th, just after registering for the Verona marathon, I hurt myself badly playing football. I think it must’ve been a pulled muscle in my calf but it was pretty debilitating. After this, it was rest and rehabilitation for the remainder of the month before my trip to Italy.
I still wasn’t able to run any-time before the Verona marathon but the day of the race leg felt fine. And after a ridiculous amount of planning to make the race and the prospect of a grandstand coliseum finish there was no way I was going to pull out.
I managed to run the marathon up until the 7k mark. I actually felt great up until this point. I’m used to running on hills at altitude and running at sea level on the flat for once felt refreshing. It was also really cool and the scenery was fantastic. But warming up I had already started to notice a slight bruising on the front of the calf. In the end, a slight downhill brought all the pain back to my calf again. I was out of the race with a DNF on 7.71k. I could have cried if I didn’t have to sort myself out and limp to catch a train to Slovenia the same afternoon.
Before the end of the month the best I could manage was a few trips out on the bike and a 16k jog/walk to take some photos with my new camera.
At the start of November I was out on the bike a lot more and easing myself back into the running. By the 10th I could finally push myself on the hills again. I could still feel some tightness in my calf but it was definitely past the worst.
On the 24th I took on the Puebla Marathon finishing in 3 hours 27. I was really happy with my time and happy just to finish the race since my calf still wasn’t at 100%. The new course for Puebla was more scenic this year but included a quite harsh climb of over 200m. It felt great to be back running properly again.
In December I got stuck back into the training with only one race, the cross country Carrera Ecologica de San Felipe del Agua. I even slowed down on this a bit to save my calf since the climb was 230m over 9k. This race had a fantastic downhill stretch over about 4k at the end. A real pleasure to run.
Over Christmas and New Year I built up my body-fat with some delicious chicken, pork and stuffing.
Over the year as a whole I ran just over 1,800k and climbed just under 40,000 metres. I ran just 1.5k more than 2012 but climbed about eight thousand metres more by training almost exclusively in the hills and spending very little time on the track. I’ve also been doing longer runs and running less consecutive days with more days off between runs. In 2013 I was trying to build strength and endurance for the ultras and marathons rather than speed for the shorter races. I guess I’ll never lose my sprint finish but the endurance is something I really need to work at.
Highs and Lows
the high points of 2013 were winning a trophy in DF and finishing the Q50 80k in Oaxaca. The first was really out of the blue and it felt great to win something in a race with so many people running. The Q50 was good because it just took so much preparation and effort on the day. At the half way point I almost gave up and didn’t expect to finish the race but I was happy to push on until the end and the other runners did a lot to lift my spirits.
I also met some great people running and started training with some local runners. This year, the Oaxaca running community has become a lot more organised with better posting of races online and seemingly a lot more events. The races also seem a lot better attended with a lot of new faces. I’ve even started to see a few other runners in the hills around Huajuapan. Hopefully this continues into the new year.
On the home front, my mum ran her first marathon in Valencia (actually at the end of 2012), my sister her first 10k in England and my cousin Mark ran his first half marathon in Belfast. I’d like to wish them all the best for their running in 2014 and I hope they can keep up the good work.
My low point of 2013 has to be my calf injury. After limping out of the Verona marathon I really felt that I might have injured myself so I couldn’t run again, or at least take a long time to recover. It also made me miss the chance to run with my mum in Slovenia which would have been great fun. I’m really thankful that I’m better now and can get back into the running again. I hope I have the opportunity to run with my family next year.
After my Q50 80k target of 2013, I’m sad to say I don’t have any real running targets set for 2014. Work makes it hard to make it to any ultra distance races or any marathons that give me a realistic shot at a Boston marathon qualifying time. I would have liked to have run the Caballo Blanco 80k in Chihuahua this year or made it to the states or Europe for a flat marathon but at this stage it doesn’t look possible. Even the Guadalajara ultra here in the south of Mexico is going to be too difficult to get to. So, my goal for 2014 is to maybe try to get to somewhere with better access to some bigger races.
I also move into a new age category in 2014. 30M is going to be tough but I’m sure I can give some of these old boys a run for their money. 😉
Happy New Year!