21 Jan 2014

Year in Review: Top 5 Worst/Toughest Races

With 2013 now nothing more than a distant memory I've decided to finally get off my arse and provide a bit of a wrap up of my personal record breaking year of running. My 1000km challenge took me all across the country and with running 53 races it was inevitable that whilst I would have some great experiences and races, there would also be some bad ones. In the first of a two part series I will reflect on some of the toughest races of my year, whether due to a challenge course, bad weather or my own physical condition going into the race.

Of course the easy (and lazy) option would be to go with 5 of the 6 marathons I ran last year, but instead to resist temptation I have limited my selection to one race from each distance plus a couple of wildcards.

So, without further ado, here is my top 5 (in no particular order) worst/toughest races of 2013.

*Plays Top of the Pops music*

Grimsthorpe Castle 10K

"There's a Grimsthorpe PB and then your normal PB."

Whilst most were taking advantage of the three day weekend, on the August Bank Holiday Monday I took to the Grimsthorpe Festival for their 10K race. Coming less than a week after Jenny suffered her suspected TIA, it's safe to say my mind was elsewhere going into the race. What I wanted was a nice simple race, where I could add on another 10km to my total and then be home in time for tea.

Instead what I found was an undulating course through fields with overgrown grass, where a twisted ankle was only a wrong step away. With two 10 mile races lined up on the Saturday, I took a cautious approach throughout the race, a decision helped by the course, as my usual reckless approach could easily have ended in disaster. The race was marred by the emotional events the previous week, in different circumstances I may have enjoyed it a little more, but as it stands it's one that I wouldn't be in any hurry to do again.

Honourable Mention: Sheffield Man of Steel
The race itself was one of the more enjoyable ones of the year, but it will always be remembered as the £300+ race where I lost a GoPro camera in a pond. If I can shake the frustration, I may end up doing it again.


It would be wrong to assume that because a race has made this list that I didn't enjoy it and would be reluctant to run it again. In fact the 12.12 race could quite easily have made my 'Best Races of 2013' list, but instead here it sits on the other side of the fence. More so than any other race, perhaps even including a some of the marathons, this one took it out of me the most. With a total elevation of over 2,000ft in just 12 miles, blistering heat, running without any nutrition and my fitness being well below a level I'd be happy with, it was one of the toughest races I ran all year.

Yet if given the choice I would run it again tomorrow. The views of the Peak District were spectacular and aside from getting lost a couple of times, despite initially feeling out of place amongst a strong looking field, I felt at home on the course. It's currently sitting at the top of my wishlist for this year and this time maybe I'll even be prepared for it.

Spires & Steeples Marathon

Running 6 marathons in a year was always going to be an ask, particularly when as of April I had yet to run a single marathon (ever). With the frequency of events tailing off during the hotter, summer months, there was always the potential for the events to bunch up a bit later on in the year. And that is exactly what happened, with 3 of my 6 marathons coming in just four weeks in September/October.

Whilst you would expect each race to get progressively tougher as fatigue set in, it was the second of these, the Spires & Steeples Challenge 26 that would prove to be the toughest of the lot. I had been suffering with insomnia for the week before the race and then on the Friday I went down with what would commonly be termed 'man flu'. Common sense would have seen me call the race off, but instead at 9am I found myself at the start line ready to run my 4th marathon of the year. Heavy rain for a few days before the race lead to sections of the course almost being impassable and attempting to run through the rain sodden fields only made you sink in deeper. When I crossed the finish line 4 and a half hours later I was then faced with the challenge of getting home and ended up having to walk 10+ miles home.

Sleaford Half Marathon

If you were to look at this from a purely objective perspective you would see that I smashed my PB at Sleaford by around 7 minutes and you would wonder what the hell it is doing on this list. However if you were to catch up with me five miles into the race you would see a very different story, mentally and physically I was in pieces.

Throughout the year, almost without exception, I ran every race as fast as I could, disregarding how I was feeling beforehand, the course or how this would impact on me later on. Before the race I had decided that it was the day to go for a PB attempt, a few miles in I was caught off guard by hills and off road sections and by mile five I was crippled by the most intense stitch I've ever experienced and everything that could, seemed to be going wrong.

It was the first time in the year that I began to question whether my plans were even possible, my fitness would have to go up a few levels and it felt like I would need a hell of a lot of luck to avoid injury. Somehow I managed to sort myself out and in the end I crossed the line with a new PB by a massive 7 minutes so my melodrama was all for nothing, aside from perhaps being great motivation.

Honourable Mention: Great North Run
For the cost of the entry and it being the (self-proclaimed) best half marathon in the world I expected a lot. Instead what I got was 13 miles along interchangeable dual carriageways and a longer wait to leave the car park than it took me to run the race. The miserable weather certainly didn't help either.

Great South Run

On paper this was an easy race. A flat 10 mile race through Portsmouth after the three marathons I'd ran in the previous month should have seemed like a simple warm up. The extreme weather that was forecast for the weekend threatened to put the race in doubt, but despite the promise of heavy rain and very strong winds, the worst of the storm was due to miss the race and so it went ahead.

As a rare 'holiday' I left any sensible decision making at home and instead went on a path of destructive eating 12 hours before the race. Starting firstly with a large mixed grill the night before, followed up in the morning with a large fried breakfast. Hardly an ideal athletes diet, but then I never did do things easily. As the race started it was soon clear that my body was very much running on empty after the three marathons and my own personal attempts to sabotage my race preparation. The worst part of the race was still to come however, with the final mile and a half being straight into the wrath of St. Jude. I'm still waking up in cold sweats due to the wind.

What is the worst race you've ever ran?

9 Jan 2014

1043.2 - 1093.48KM: The Big Finale (Lincoln & District Runners' Charity Christmas Cross Country & Liverbird New Years Eve Marathon)

Just over a week ago I brought my year of running to an end with my 6th marathon of the year and 15 months of planning had finally been brought into fruition as I bookended the year as I had planned with the Liverbird New Year's Eve Marathon. Before that I had the small matter of reaching my secondary target of 2013, running 52 races in a calendar year.

1043.2 - 1051.28KM: Lincoln & District Runners' Charity Christmas Cross Country

Like with many of the 20+ races I ran in Lincolnshire in 2013, the 'Lincoln & District Runners' Charity Christmas Cross Country' was yet another race that had been on my doorstep for years but I had been ignorant of. It also won the record of having the longest race name of the year, one it will hold for quite a while, as well as being quite unique with it's race entry being the donation of toys or selection boxes to a local children's charity.

Soo close...
After a brisk 2 mile walk from my front door to the start of the race I was greeted by the sight of several bin bags full of chocolate. Avoiding the temptation to grab one and run off, I handed over my donation and then received my 52nd race number of the year in return. A few minutes later and it was time to line up at the start of the race, for the first of 5, mile long laps around Lincoln's South Common.

With each lap the race course got tougher as the terrain began to be chewed up underfoot. The two short, but steep climbs started of as slightly challenging, by the end of the race as the mud turned very slippery under foot and forced me to walking pace in an attempt to keep my balance. Once at the top the course would turn to trail as we ran along the top of common before two stile crossings in quick succession and then back down towards the start and another lap. On the first lap I watched on in envy as other competitors feeling particularly more energetic than me leaped both stiles. I followed suit for the remainder of the laps for the first stile, but wasn't willing to push my luck too much and so always climbed over the second. Before too long I found myself crossing the finish line to my 52nd race of the year to little fan fare, then continued on running back home for a nice warm shower and a cup of tea.

Distance: 7.08 km | 5.02 miles
Time: 00:45:33
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 05:38 min/km | 09:04 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: N/A


View my run:

1051.28 - 1093.48KM: Liverbird New Year's Eve Marathon

At the beginning of the year when I began to think about how I could end my 1000km Challenge there were few options available. The one that stood out was the Liverbird New Years Eve Marathon, as not only would it allow me to run the required 6th marathon of the year, but it would also bookend the year perfectly and the Cleethorpes New Years Day 10k. Roll on 12 months and there I was on the River Mersey about to run my last 26.2 miles of the year.

It's safe to say I wasn't particularly feeling up for the marathon. As the rain was lashing down on the car windscreen on the way to the race I jovially, but also semi seriously, questioned why I was still doing it. I had completed the 1000KM Challenge over a month ago and just the other week I ran my 52nd race of the year, so there was little riding on my attendance. My main reason for signing up, even when I knew I would already reach my target before hand, was the matter of the '6th' marathon. Throughout the year I had always maintained that I would be running 6, even now that I wouldn't need to and even if I was probably the only person that would care if I didn't.

Definitely not ready for this...
It wasn't the best frame of mind to be in only minutes before running a marathon, but with my number pinned on and less than 10 minutes to go until the start I did what I could to focus on the upcoming race. With a few minutes to go the rain stopped and as the clouds dispersed, my ability to blame the weather went with them.

The course was a fairly simple affair, with four 3 and a bit miles out and back laps along the river. After touching the wall at the end of the first half of a lap, we turned back in the direction of the start, ran around the red cowboy hat and then back again another three times. Early on I felt deceptively fresh and I began to be concerned as to whether I could simply roll out of bed with little preparation and run a marathon. It would be a good skill to have but one I would no doubt exploit down the line. Fortunately this would soon prove to not be the case and my pace would slowly, but surely begin to drop off. The multi lapped out and back course would prove to be a challenge mentally as much as it was physically. Whilst it could be used to your advantage by knowing exactly how far was left to run, the same reasons could be used in a negative light. Add to that the sight of the faster runners 'lapping' you and seeing them at the finish line whilst I still had another 7 miles to go, psychologically it would be my toughest race yet.

My pace dropped significantly for the last lap and a bit and I found myself running the toughest end to a marathon of my year. The last 8 miles would take me well over 90 minutes, around 15 minutes slower than the opening 8 miles. There's hitting the wall and then there is the battle I found myself in for the last part of the race, at times it felt like I was barely moving and it became a case of ticking each mile off, one by one, until the finish line came into sight. For once I had nothing left in reserve to muster any thing resembling a sprint finish, even seeing Jenny waiting for me on the finish line barely raised a smile. Eventually I stumbled over the line, grabbed a bottle of water and slumped onto the nearest bench. After one long year, the 1000KM Challenge was now finally over.

One year, 53 races and 1093.475km later and it's all over
At the time I blamed it on lack of training, general tiredness and a little bit of indulging over Christmas. It wasn't until a few days afterwards that it dawned on me that I gave blood on Sunday, less than 36 hours before running the Marathon. As it turns out I'm not superhuman and I lack Wolverine's healing abilities. In hindsight it was a bit of a reckless thing to do, as it could take at least 6 weeks to fully recover and something I will certainly learn from. Yet, as tough as the race was, the weather was kind to us, certainly in comparison to the following day's marathon. So I guess in hindsight, it could always have been worse...

(The Day Before) The Day After Tomorrow

This post has been one of the toughest of the past year to write, for the past week I have spent every evening sat in front of my laptop waiting for these words to write themselves. As the challenge was drawing to a close, each post felt more difficult to get down and it felt like I was loosing enthusiasm for running. At the beginning of the year I never felt like I needed motivation to get out on the road, but as the year wore on I found the 'Challenge' as a great kick up the arse on weekends when I'd rather stay in bed. Now it's over, along with general fatigue I've found myself stuck in a rut.

If you haven't already done so then I ask you to take a look at my '2013 in Review: The Facts & Figures' infographic, for a look at numbers behind my past year of running.

If you're feeling generous and have made a New Years Resolution to be a better person, my JustGiving page is still open, so please visit http://justgiving.com/shanes1000km


Distance: 42.17 km | 26.2 miles
Time: 04:16:34
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 06:05 min/km | 09:50 min/mi
Playlist: Iced Earth
Goody Bag: Medal


View my run:

2 Jan 2014

My goal is to run to the Moon

So 2013 is over and yesterday I saw the year out with a bang, or rather a shuffle and a bit of a limp, with the Liverbird New Year's Eve Marathon. Three hundred and sixty-five days, 53 races and 1093.48kms after starting the year at the Cleethorpes New Year's Day 10K my running adventure had come to an end. The question is, and one I have been asked constantly for the past month, what happens next?

I've looked better...

Well first things first, I'll be taking a bit of a rest. At least until the weekend, when my knee will hopefully have sorted itself out and finally get back down to my second Park Run. In truth I should probably give it a few more days than that, but I'll just end up playing it by ear.

Next stop...The Moon
My 1000km challenge is over, so Shane's 1000KM challenge is now kind of redundant. So later this month (January) I will be re-launching my blog/site as Run To The Moon.

"That's a stupid name, what's it all about?"

On a cold,  Autumnal evening when I was bored and couldn't find anything to do I worked out that if I ran 10km everyday it would take 105 years to run to the moon and to run 384,400KM by the time I turned 80 I'd need to run 18.8km a day, everyday. And so the crazy idea was born. Soon enough I was brought crashing back down to Earth when I began to realise just how improbable it was.My body is old before it's time, I'm scared to think what state my knees will be in by the time I reach 40. But it's not impossible, you only have to look at the likes of Jamie McDonald to see that the human body is capable of far more than you can possible dream of. 

I'll confirm now that I have no misconceptions about being able to run a quarter of a million miles, rather I thought it was a good 'brand' for the yearly running challenges I plan to embark on from here on out. I felt that the name represented one man daring to dream big, to set themselves an almost impossible task, to push themselves well out of their comfort zone and to do everything they can to help others.

It's no secret that I have gained a massive sense of satisfaction from my fundraising last year, at times it felt like it gave my running a purpose. To the outsider the amount I ran last year may not seem anything special, but if you compare it to what a normal running year for me looked like then it gives it a little more context. Typically I would run 4 or 5 races a year, a couple of 10Ks and the rest Half Marathons. The rest of the year would be spent either getting injured, or recovering from injury, so the fact that I survived last year surprised even me.Truth is I blagged this past year heavily, I never trained properly and I ate terribly and I'm left asking myself what more I'm capable of.

So what exactly is next?
So how do I go one better than running 1000KM? I don't, I go 3.241 times better. My next challenge is quite simple, to 'Run the Year', to run a total of 2014 miles between January 1st and December 31st. The reason for picking this is that it was simple and after making my Bank Manager very angry last year with travelling all across the country every weekend and spending the best part of £1,500 doing so, it's also relatively low key.

All I need are my trainers, an open road and some way of measuring where I'm running. There a still a handful of races that I have my eye on this year, some, ones I missed out on last year and others like the Equinox24, as I look to improve my fitness and challenge myself further.

I will be keeping my JustGiving page open as long as I can, for the benefit of those who still wish to sponsor me for last or this year's antics, or for those who have just stumbled across me. Originally I set myself a fundraising target of £6,000 and whilst I have raised an incredible £4,500 I still intend to do what I can to come as close to that target as I can.

I will be announcing more about Run To The Moon in the coming weeks, including my plans for 2014 and beyond. This weekend I will also be posting my write up of the final two races of 2013 as well as giving a recap on the highs and lows of the past year.

22 Dec 2013

1010.37 - 1043.2KM: With a Trot, Gallop and a Run (Turkey Trot, Gaddesby Gallop and Lincoln Santa Run)

With the dust now having finally settled on my 1000km, the past few weeks have been all about the continuation of my own personal quest of running 52 races in a calendar year. 

1010.37 - 1031.40KM: Turkey Trot

The first race of December was the Keyworth Turkey Trot, a race that had been pencilled in to my calendar much earlier in the year. When the race registration opened at the end of September there was a lot of buzz on Twitter about the race and whether people would be lucky enough to get in. For what I deemed a low key race, albeit a relatively popular one, this seemed like hyperbole, but I made sure to set my alarm early that morning. Sure enough within 12 hours of registration opening the race had sold out. Roll on a couple of months and I would get to see what all the fuss was about.

On the way to the race I began to worry about whether eating a curry the night before would prove to be a big mistake. If there is one vital piece of 'kit' that I bring with me to every race it is a pack of Immodium instants, whilst I have never had to rely on them, there has been a few occasions where it has been reassuring to have them on stand by. I can't think of anything worse than having to squat behind a hedge mid race. Some ominous noises from down below on the drive to the race aside I needn't have been overly concerned. 

It's hard to say whether or not the race lived up to the hype, as much of it was spent anxiously waiting for my knee to inevitably fall apart and then dealing with it when it happened. The pain from the past few weeks was pretty much constant from the start of the race, but it wasn't until the 10th mile that it became an issue. The majority of the course was undulating, in particular a big climb around the 2 1/2 mile point, but it would be the final big push with 3 miles to go that proved too much. For those last few miles my pace would drop over a minute slower than the rest of the race, but still crossed the line in a decent enough time. 

Next year when I have use of both my knees, my jaw doesn't hurt when I run and I'm nowhere near the fatigue levels I've reached this year I imagine I'll give the race another go. From the little I can remember the race seemed to have a great atmosphere, a nice challenging course and Jelly Babies on route, meaning it has all the makings of a great race. 

Distance: 21.03km | 13.07 miles
Time: 01:43:25
Official Time: 01:43:24
Average Pace: 04:55 min/km | 07:55 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: Mug, Bottle of Water


View my run:

1031.40 - 1039.64KM: Gaddesby Gallop

On the 24th November I reached the 1000KM at the Norwich Half Marathon, a few weeks on and I'm still entering every race I can find every weekend as my own personal quest to run 52 races in a year continues. On the 8th December my tally for the year would reach 50 with the Gaddesby Gallop, a 5 and a bit mile cross country run in a village in Leicestershire. 

Having had nightmares about running across soaked, freshly ploughed fields after the Spires & Steeples earlier in the year, I was relieved when the week before the race was relatively dry. A smallish crowd of around 100 competitors gathered in the field for the start, many appearing to be veterans of the race, fully aware of what was to come. After a few hundred metres we came to the first of many stiles, and the tailback was pretty bad but thankfully a broken fence allowed runners to cross five at a time. This was soon put into perspective as after crossing the next field it took at least a minute to get from the back of the horrific queue, over the stile and into the next field. The reward for doing so would be the first of three water crossings, the 'Dew Pond' a relatively simple 2ft deep crossing, and just a taste of what was to come.

Crawling through your pipes
While a lot was made of the race's three water crossings, it would be the 'dry' parts that would prove to be the most challenging. More often than not diving in to the water would feel like a welcome respite, if for no reason other than to clean all the mud off my trainers. Thankfully the dry weather made these uneven surfaces as passable as they could be, but the fields soon churned up.

Next up would be the 'Drainage Pipe', as I approached this section you could see runners disappearing underground only to re-emerge some moments later. Fortunately this section was much drier than I was anticipating and the challenge became whether or not I could get down and then back up the bank without slipping on my arse. With the 'Brook Crossing' the best would definitely be saved until last. After some bitterly cold mornings the previous month I was relieved for a reasonably mild morning as it could have made this section rather unpleasant. Instead I rather enjoyed wading though the waist high water, I imagine I looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon when I emerged at the other end.

Once out of the water there would be a couple more fields to cross before reaching the finish. It's a shame this race wasn't closer to home as it could soon turn into a yearly race for me. As it stands it's definitely on my 'Probably' list for races I'd do again, I just need to remember to bring a spare pair of socks.

Distance: 8.24km | 5.12 miles
Time: 00:45:46
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 05:33 min/km | 08:57 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: N/A


View my run:

1039.64 - 1043.20KM: Lincoln Santa Run

I had always intended to run at least one race this year in fancy dress in an attempt to raise more money for charity, but ultimately any plans I tried to make fell through. Instead the opportunity was eventually forced upon me with the Lincoln Santa Run. Walking to the start of the race from the bottom of Lincoln already in 'costume' caused a few strange looks, but thankfully there were one or two others doing the same thing.

Heading to the race all Incognito...kinda
I headed to the start of the race, outside the Castle wilfully ignorant of how big the event was. When I arrived and I was shocked to be greeted by a crowd of a couple thousand Santas. I slowly tried to wriggle my way to as close as I could get to the front, past the crowds of walkers.

It would be a common theme throughout the race as the majority opted to walk the course, meaning I would have to be alert to gaps as they opened up. As the course bent round past the castle on the second lap hordes of competitors were still crossing the start line, which led to big hold up later on as the two laps merged. The majority of the second lap would be spent squeezing past walkers where possible until finishing back in the castle to collect my Santa themed medal. There were only handful of competitors in the castle grounds as I finished and if I'm feeling generous I could boast a top 20 finish. With, to my knowledge, no official results and no one to claim otherwise, I think that's what I'll do.

Running with a cheap, fake beard soon proved to be more difficult than I could have imagined. Being a mouth breather I had to split open the mouth slip wide enough to allow me to breathe, but instead this just allowed me to breathe in clumps of the beard, which then found a way up my nose after I tried to spit them out. Rather unpleasant. 

Where's Wally?
At the time of writing this in a few moments I will be off to the Lincoln & District Runners' Charity Christmas Cross Country (Longest Race name ever?). It also wins the prize of having the best race entry of the year, asking instead for a donation of toys or selection boxes for a local children's charity. With my total currently standing at 51 and with today's race and the Liverbird New Year's Eve Marathon little over a week away it looks like somehow I'll reach the unprecedented total of running 52(53) races in 52 weeks. 

If you're feeling generous in this season of giving my JustGiving page is still open, so please visit http://justgiving.com/shanes1000km


Distance: 3.56km | 2.21 miles
Time: 00:15:51
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 04:27 min/km | 07:10 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: Medal, Bottle of Water


View my run:

12 Dec 2013

November Review (900.92 - 1010.37KM)

In November, for the second time this year (August), I ran a total of 7 races in just one month. After 47 long weeks it would also see me finally reach my target 1000KM a whole month and a bit ahead of schedule. Not that I would let myself hang my trainers up and simply enjoy the rest of the year off though.

3 River Challenge
The first race of November was about as impromptu as they come, 16 hours before the race started I was planning a race free weekend, then after doing tidying up I happened across a flyer for the 3 River Challenge and all my plans changed. Taking place only 20 minutes away from my house it seemed like a missed opportunity if I didn't go, but I would still have to wait until 90 minutes or so before the race started before I knew whether or not I would be able to make it. In hindsight I probably wished I hadn't, my body was feeling the effects of running 3 marathons in quick succession and both the weather and the course's conditions made for a tricky morning. I was soon won round by the sight of cake at the finish line mind.

Robin Hood Trail 10K
The following week I would continue a common trend this year of running multiple races in a weekend and first up on the Saturday was the Robin Hood Trail 10K. As the first of two races I opted to run at a reasonably relaxed pace, but as with most races this month I would feel like I was running with very heavy legs after a year of running was slowly coming to an end. 

Boston Poppy Run
The next day I would run the Boston Poppy Run, held every year in support of the Royal British Legion on Remembrance Sunday. After trying to run at a reasonably relaxed pace the day before, I intended to try and set a fast time, on the nice, flat course. A strong head wind and general fatigue would put paid to this however but it was another race down, another step closer to 1000km and more importantly another medal.

Lincoln Park Run
After moving to Lincoln in 2008, running went from something I would occasionally do if I needed the toilet or I was being chased to a full time hobby. I soon then became aware of the 'Parkrun', a 5km free timed run every Saturday held at various spots around the country (and world). A long, long 5 years later and the Parkrun would finally come to Lincoln. Despite waiting half a decade I wasn't prepared for it and after some issues with trying to print out my barcode I nearly ended up missing it. After a frantic 5km dash to the start I arrived with a few minutes to spare, but barely enough to catch my breath back.

Stilton Stumble 24K
I was originally scheduled to run the Rother Valley Half Marathon on the 17th November, but earlier that week I learnt that the race had been cancelled for unforeseen (and undisclosed) reasons. Fortunately I already had a good replacement race in mind, the Stilton Stumble, as it was the race that I was originally planning to run that weekend instead. The race felt like a throwback to some of the races earlier in the year as it had more than a one challenging hill but even with my legs feeling empty it would still make for an enjoyable race.

Nottingham Mo Run
Last year when I was trying to work out just exactly 'what' my big fundraising challenge would be this year one of the ideas that I had was to run 52 races in a year. Eventually this was dismissed as financially and practically it seemed impossible and I opted for the 1000KM challenge instead. As the year went on I began to find more and more races and it began to seem a little more possible, one of these races was the Nottingham Mo Run. The bright orange headband and moustache shaped medal drew my attention and when I realised that running it would mean finishing the challenge back 'home' in Norfolk it was a no-brainer.

Norwich Half Marathon
After 47 long weeks the 1000KM challenge was finally brought to an end at the City of Norwich Half Marathon. More often than not every year this race came round I would be running it injured, or running it having just recovered from injury. This year was no different, having banged my knee badly at work, whilst initially appearing to be fine, it would rear its ugly head and turn the race into one of the toughest of the year. You only have to look at the best/worst photo of me running this year to see just how much pain I was in when I crossed the finish line.

Silkstone Shuffle
So I had reached the 1000KM target the weekend before and I was suffering with a niggling knee injury, so what was I doing running another race? Surely I should have been resting up, enjoying the weekend off and allowing myself to recover? Well I should, but instead I ran the Silkstone Shuffle on one knee as my 48th race of the year as my attention now turned to running an unprecedented 52 races in 52 weeks.

As always, please visit my JustGiving page and donate what you can. If you can't donate then please share my JustGiving page and news of what I'm doing with others, in case they can. The only way we can end the suffering that Jenny and millions of others go through on a daily basis is with your help.

November Stats:

1000KM Challenge Distance: 109.45KM

Time Running Total: 08:14:57
Total Running Distance: 188.17KM
Bananas Eaten: 43
Races: 7
T-Shirts: 1
Medals: 3

1000km Challenge Stats:

1000KM Challenge Distance: 1010.37KM
Time Running Total: 86:22:46
Total Running Distance: 2046.47KM
Bananas Eaten: 466
Races: 48
T-Shirts: 23
Medals: 23


A look ahead to November

Confirmed Races

08/12 - Turkey Trot
14/12 - Gaddesby Gallop

15/12 - Lincoln Santa Run
22/12 - Lincoln South Common Cross Country
31/12 - Liverbird New Year's Eve Marathon

7 Dec 2013

1003.35 - 1010.37KM: Ascension (Silkstone Shuffle)

On Sunday 24th November I completed the 1000KM Challenge at the City of Norwich Half Marathon. So what was I doing in the middle of a field outside Barnsley last Saturday morning in my shorts and a vest? Well there is still the small matter of my personal quest to run 52 races this year, starting with the Silkstone Shuffle.

The race was the fourth and final event in a series hosted by the Barnsley Harriers running club. After a little bit of confusion with finding the place and then where to park, I eventually made my way across to the registration to grab my number. The field seemed to be made up almost entirely from local running clubs, with myself being one of a few mad enough to spend their morning on a cold, November day in a field without being invited.

Geography has never been a strong point of mine, so whilst I was fully aware of where the race was, the course took me a little bit by surprise. With it being in Pennine country I really should have expected a hill or two as I knew enough to being my trail trainers with me, but any hope of an easy race was just wishful thinking. The race started with an immediate big 400ft climb for the first couple of miles, though thankfully it was only a short race so the remainder would be spent slowly making our way back down.

Desperately trying to not look saggy

Although I have completed the 1000KM challenge I still have a few more races left in the year to get through, including the Marathon on New Year's Eve, so I took a slower pace and hoped to reduce the impact on my knee. After running the City of Norwich Half Marathon on one knee, the Shuffle was a good test to see just how much it had recovered in the 5 days I had taken off from running. Not just because of the hills, but also the uneven, off road terrain would be sure to seek out any weakness it still had and for the most part it held firm. Whilst the other week I took the reckless approach of trying to finish the race as fast as my body would allow to bring the quickest possible end to the pain, I was a bit more careful this time round.

Coming back with the finish in sight
The good news is that my knee survived, there were a few twinges around the course, but that was to be expected and it was certainly much better than the weekend before. Just because my body likes to troll me, for the past couple of weeks I've been suffering from a persistent pain on the left side of the jaw. Numerous trips back and forth between the dentist and hospital, complete with a full facial X-Ray has left me none the wiser as to what the issue is. All I know is that it hurts to eat, which naturally is a biggie, and the other morning it was a touch painful on the run into work. Not bad enough to stop me running, but with Christmas looming round the corner being in pain for the season of eating is far from ideal.

If you're feeling generous in this season of giving my JustGiving page is still open, so please visit http://justgiving.com/shanes1000km

Distance: 7.02km | 4.36 miles
Time: 00:34:57
Official Time: 00:34:59
Average Pace: 04:59 min/km | 08:01 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: N/A


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27 Nov 2013

972.08 - 1003.35KM: The Final Chapter (Nottingham Mo Run 10K & Norwich Half Marathon)

Well it's over, done, finished and it hasn't quite sunk in yet. After 47 weeks and 47 races, travelling all over the country from Newcastle to Portsmouth and Norwich to Liverpool the 1000km was finally reached on Sunday at the City of Norwich Half Marathon. My body would however threaten to spoil the party as it waited until the final weekend to throw an injury shaped spanner in the works, or rather slam a table edge into my knee.

972.08 - 982.08KM: Nottingham Mo Run 10K

When I set out at the beginning of the year I had no idea how the year would pan out and especially how it would end. Week on week I would search for different races to run, trying to enter as many as I could, sometimes two or three a week. In the end it was my own personal hunt to run 52 races in a year that saw me end up running multiple races in a day and bring an end to my 1000KM around a month ahead of schedule.

Earlier in the week what should have been an innocuous knocking of my knee on my desk at work was 'Shanified' and instead I caught the very top of my knee cap on the corner of the desk, that felt like I nearly popped the whole thing off. A day or so later once the intense pain had warn off I had little reason to worry that I had done any permanent damage. After running to and from work a couple of days and not experiencing any pain I felt like I could put the injury behind me, for now.

A return to Wayne Manor
First up was the Nottingham Mo Run and a return to Wollaton Park for the first time since Easter weekend. Earlier in the month it became clear that it was no longer a case of if I reach the 1000KM target, but when. This then afforded me the luxury of being slightly more picky about the races I would enter, so when I stumbled across the MoRun and in particular the moustache shaped medal it made its way to the top of the list. I didn't realise it at the time when I signed up, but by doing so it would enable me to reach the 1000KM back 'home' at Norfolk with the City of Norwich Half Marathon.

I arrived at the start of the race unnaturally early, for me, over 30 minutes before go time, allowing me enough time to grab my race number, orange 'MoRunning' headband and go for my all too traditional pre race pee. Being primarily a fundraiser for Prostate Cancer the race felt like a Race for Life event, missing the air of competitiveness of most races I've entered this year. After posing for a quick photo, looking like a Swedish 70's tennis player, and watching the start of the 5K I joined the crowd of runners at the start line for the race. 

Björn Borg circa 2013
Like most of the races I'll run for the remainder of the year, Saturday wasn't about any time, rather just getting round in one piece. Although when I found myself stuck towards the back of the crowd at the start, I tried my best to squeeze through, what would be for most of the race, a very narrow path. After spending the first half a mile getting round the slower 10K runners, I then reached the back of the 5K group and then found myself having to do it all over again.

Despite having previously run a 10K around the grounds of Wollaton Park earlier in the year I was surprised by how undulating the course was. The MoRun took a slightly different route to the Notts Easter 10K, but I imagine most of it was down to me simply forgetting rather than the earlier race being considerably flatter. Once again though the course would be two, almost identical, laps but whilst the first lap went by without much concern a
s I came round for the second lap the knee injury from earlier week would come back.

My knee was hurting a little bit
It didn't force me to slow down that much, but it was having an noticeable affect on my running. Fortunately I would only have a couple of miles left to run so I focussed on doing these as quickly as I could and bringing the niggling pain to an end as quick as possible. Any kind of elation from crossing the line of my 46th race of the year and moving one step closer to the 1000KM soon made way for worry as I began to think about running Sunday's race with an 

Distance: 10.00km | 6.2 miles
Time: 00:47:07
Official Time: 00:47:03
Average Pace: 04:42 min/km | 07:35 min/mi

Playlist: Hell
Goody Bag: Medal


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982.08 - 1003.35KM: City of Norwich Half Marathon

If I made a list of the races that I would want to complete this challenge at, somewhere near the top would have been the City of Norwich Half Marathon. Not just because it was the biggest home county race, but also because it was one I had a little bit of history with. I had run the race three times before, but only finished twice as injury forced me to pull out half way years ago when I first started running. The same hip injury ravaged one of the other years too, but this time I was able to push on and armed with painkillers I managed to slowly get round to the finish line. So after banishing some demons earlier in the year at the North Norfolk Marathon, it was finally time to do the same again.

One of the main causes for concern going into this year was whether or not I would get through to the end without any illness or injury. For any normal person it would be a tough ask to get through the year, running as much as I would without getting injured. But I'm far from normal and for the past 10+ years if it hasn't been my knees, it was my hips and they've both at some stage stopped me from entering or completing a race. I guess I should be relieved that I saved my first proper, race affecting injury until the last day of the challenge. That didn't stop it being very frustrating as it occurred in such a trivial manner, similarly to when I ran hip first into a bollard earlier in the year.

About to finish the first lap
The morning of the race though I had to put it to the back of my mind, I knew it would come into play at some point during the race, it was just a matter of when. There was nothing I could do to prevent it, so the best thing I could do was ignore it for the time being. Sure enough with almost the first step of the race the injury would flare up, but I wasn't in the mood to have this party spoiled. The Norwich Half Marathon is almost  with bad weather, so I was relieved that it would atleast stay dry and the winds kept to a minimum as I would need all the help I could get.

One of the things that has always annoyed me about the Norwich Half Marathon is that it takes place outside of the city centre around mostly farms. So rather than running past any iconic landmarks the best you can hope for is sighting some slightly bemused sheep. More so than any other race this year Sunday was about finishing, I didn't need to set a good time I just needed to run the remaining 18km of my challenge and then the last 3km of the race in one piece.

Thinking back most of the race is a bit of a blur, the lack of distinguishable landmarks throughout the course didn't help. Neither did the fact that my knee was hurting from the get go, so most has been blocked out. Each mile ended with me in more pain than when I started it, but grit and determination allowed me to tick each mile off as they came.

My knee was hurting a lot
As the finish line came into view it was time to finish this. I could barely bend my leg, but I knew it was a matter of crossing the line and if it needed to be that would be that. So I simply put my head down and Quasimodo'd it across the line, my knee was in pieces, I was in a lot of pain, pain which was etched across my face but after 47 long weeks it was over.

When I crossed the line I just stopped, stuck between knowing how or whether to celebrate I ended up just slumping over a barrier for about 5 minutes trying to catch my breath and summoning up the energy and courage to try walking on my knee. 
It says a lot for how much faster I have been able to run this year that I managed to set what last year would have been on PB on one knee. Eventually I hobbled round to meet up with Jenny and after waiting for my Dad to finish we headed home on the promise of cake. 

It's over....or is it?
So what happens next? Well I've still got another three races left in the year that I've already signed up for; the Turkey Trot Half Marathon, Lincoln Santa Fun Run and Liverbird New Year's Eve Marathon to bring my total to 50. On my quest to reach 52 races this year I also have my eye on the Silkstone Shuffle this Sunday and Gaddesby Gallop on the 14th, as well as a local traditional Christmas Cross Country race, meaning that weather permitting I should be on track to achieve it.

I haven't decided yet whether I will be posting a write up later this week upon completing the 1000KM challenge or wait until the end of the year to include the 3 (or 5) other races I have still to run. I imagine I will have a lot to say as I look back through the 12 months of this challenge and the many, many races. Next year I intend to cherish my Sunday mornings a little more and have another proper crack at a couple of illusive PBs.

Finally, I just want to take the opportunity to thank those that have supported me and sponsored me this year, it is very much appreciated. If you haven't sponsored me but want to, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I have done with others.

Distance: 21.27km | 13.22 miles
Time: 01:44:16
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 04:53 min/km | 07:53 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: Medal


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