2018 – what a year!
No sooner had I won the county cross country championships than I achieved my best ever placing at a Birmingham League race, finishing in the top 5 for the first time ever. Who’d have thought I could be such a good cross country runner?
The spring road racing season wasn’t packed with races but was fruitful nevertheless. Winning the Midland 12 Stage was expected but the medal from the National wasn’t. And I took a whole minute off my best ever time! Just imagine what I could have done if I hadn’t taken a wrong turning near the end…
This, however, was just the start. I was determined to improve all my track PBs over the summer and to build on a good 2017 season. I warmed up with a couple of 1500s to shock my body into summer action. Although the first one was a slight disappointment, I was pleased to finally get under 4 minutes in the second. A greater focus on hurdle technique over the winter is what I put my string of good steeplechase results down to. Although I didn’t finish the year undefeated in the event like Manchester City did in the Premier League, I did break my PB four times including, memorably, my final race of the season where I ran 9:07, clearing the water jump Kenyan-style on each of the 7 attempts without touching the barrier at all. Sub 9 must be on the cards for next season, surely. Oh, and I finally got under 15 minutes for 5000m. After years of knocking on the door I kicked it down with a 14:41 clocking at the BMC Grand Prix. I now feel I can show my face in public, which is a relief to be honest as wearing a balaklava in public spaces is bad enough in winter let alone summer.
I was delighted to stay injury-free all year. This is such an important part of achieving long term success as an athlete. Aside from the wounded pride I suffered when falling in the canal whilst celebrating the end of the US-North Korea war as well as the enforced rest days after having my stomach pumped of water-borne diseases, I barely missed a day’s training due to injury all year. Who knows what damage I might have done to myself if England hadn’t lost the World Cup final on penalties!
The end of the year was quieter on the racing front, though I did finally get under 31 minutes for 10k in September, but I was still pleased with everything I managed to achieve as a runner in 2018. I’m definitely a better athlete than I was a year ago and am looking forward to seeing what 2019 will bring!