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bideford-parkrun-1My annual running review of the year, in a spirit of celebration and thankfulness. I really enjoy looking back at where I’ve run and who I’ve run with. I love looking at the stats, but also savouring the experiences and memories.

In 2016, I ran 1306 miles. I did four half marathons – Wokingham six weeks after finishing radiotherapy, Palestine, West Walk and Bath Two Tunnels half with my sister Mandy. I did a few other races – Thames Towpath Ten, Osterley 10k, Perivale 5, a couple of summer league races and some cross country. I did the Ealing Mile four times, and seemed to get progressively slower! I ran the first and last legs of the Greenbelt Relay in May on an Ealing Eagles team which was great. I ran in Palestine, Iceland, Japan and Korea – how privileged. I marshalled at Ealing Half and Osterley 10k and I volunteered at parkrun.

I did 32 parkruns in 2016 and was delighted to do my 50th while I was still 50 back in February. I added 12 locations to my parkrun tourism starting with Richmond last New Year’s Day and ending with Fulham Palace this morning. The others were: Cambridge, Southwark Park, Long Eaton, Old Deer Park, Bedfont Lakes, Winchester, Harrow Lodge, Greenwich, Pomphrey Hill and Bideford. The photo above is of the Baker/Wroe flashmob at Bideford parkrun on Christmas Eve where I ran my fastest parkrun of the year. #loveparkrun

At the end of last year I didn’t really set myself any running goals. I said I wanted to run in beautiful places and savour every moment – which I have done! But I did make an attempt at the 50k that still eludes me. I signed up for the North York Moors 50k in October which seemed a great way to mark a year since surgery. My training was going well until I came off my bike in Japan, and then tripped and fell while out running a few weeks later. So no 50k this year either – maybe next year!

Some runs that stand out:

  • Fell-running with Gav in Snowdonia and while on retreat a couple of days later – stunningly beautiful countryside and great company. I ran up a hill at sunrise and shouted ‘I’m alive’ to the startled sheep.
  • West Walk half marathon which is a bonkers unofficial race by the Ealing Eagles – 29 reps of West Walk which is where we do our hill training and one of the few inclines in Ealing. I did this the day after a 19-mile run as part of my ultra training and I was so desperate to stop running that I think I did one rep too few – whoops!
  • My run around Arthur’s Seat on a trip to Edinburgh to see Harry in the festival. I met a woman called Angela on the way and we ran together and had a great conversation.
  • Running in Reykjavik in the ice and snow, enjoying finding my way around the city on my feet.
  • Running along the Ridgeway from Princes Risborough to Tring, as part of my training for the doomed ultra. I went by train to the start, and then from Tring to home again so it’s an expensive way to do a run, but very satisfying.
  • The Palestine half, of course. My fourth trip to the race and the first time doing the half. I loved meeting Philippa Whitford in Manger Square just before the race, a Scottish MP who is also a breast cancer surgeon. She went on to Gaza and performed life-saving surgery on several women. It was great to run with Team Amos, but also with Su and Helen who had treatment for breast cancer around the same time as me.
  • My Boxing Day run with Sa’ad and Ali, running over Saunton Down and back through Croyde. I love discovering other people’s regular routes and my London legs just about kept up.

For next year I have several running aspirations that I am holding very lightly because who knows what will happen. I have a little running escapade planned for next week to make the most of my free time before my new job starts in February. I have places in the Palestine, London and Chicago marathons and I will be happy if I finish one of them, and ecstatic if I manage all three. I want to run with my sister Mandy to celebrate her 50th birthday. I want to do my 100th parkrun before the end of the year, and clock up quite a few more volunteering sessions too. But mostly I want to keep running for the sheer joy of it, to celebrate being alive, to keep myself healthy and to enjoy this scarred and battered body. Here’s to another year of running in 2017.

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