My last race of 2013 and my first race of 2014 were very different in nature, but there were also some similarities.
I was in 2 minds as to whether to run the Ribble 10k on December 29th, as I was feeling rather tired and jaded, but realised that I would regret it if I didn't go, as there was no pressure on me to do anything except enjoy it.
A friend from Cheshire came up to meet me before the race, and I also caught up with various running friends from Scotland, England and Wales so if was definitely worth the trip. I bumped into a former mountain marathon partner and so we warmed up together swopping news from the last couple of years. As I was not in the elite start, I started rather a long way back......which was not my best decision of the day. When we started walking forwards, I thought we were being led to the start, but the race was actually already underway, and it took me the best part of 20seconds to cross the timing mat.
I then had to weave my way round people as we descended the first hill, knowing I would find it difficult to get past others as we climbed up again on the other side of the river.
About halfway round the course we had a switchback, and so I saw my friend Nicola leading the ladies' race, which inspired me to keep pushing on, though I was well down the field. Heading down a steep slope and then up again into the finish straight zapped any sprint out of my legs, so I couldn't close down the ladies in front of me. Still, I was pleased to finish a good minute and a half quicker than in the 10k the previous weekend (and it turned out that on chip time, I was faster than the two ladies who crossed the line ahead of me).
On New Year's Day, I headed down to the North York Moors for a very hilly (3050feet of elevation gained and lost) muddy trail run of 30+miles. The sun of the Ribble Valley was a distant memory and instead I had the rain and wind of the North East, but again I enjoyed a great day out and caught up with many friends from other parts of the country, brought together by the love of outdoor exercise!