What a year that was. I ran one of my worst marathons, and one of my best. I ran more miles than ever, but fewer actual races than usual. Say it quietly, but I even won a little race too. I also had the pleasure of watching Mrs. G complete her first ever half marathon, which was about as good as the rest of it combined.

So here it is, in no particular order, my highlights, lowlights and the numbers behind my year of running in 2015.

Let’s start with a positive. My best run of 2015 was without a doubt the Marine Corps Marathon in October. You can read my review of that race here, suffice to say that I trained harder than ever before, ran well, and had a fantastic long weekend in DC with family and friends to boot.

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Happy times in DC

It was also the first time, given the amount of effort I’d put into my training, I’d felt a measure of (self inflicted) pressure to deliver on my time goal, which I thought was interesting (and actually useful when it came down to it). Hopefully this race was a springboard to better and faster races to come.

My worst run? Easy, the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon. This was all on me. Thinking back on the number of daft things I did in that race, I’m amazed I even finished. From simple over-confidence, to poor nutrition and hydration during the run, to poor pacing and course management, it was an entirely humbling experience, especially with all my family looking on. You can read the lament that I wrote at the time here, but let’s just say this was a wake-up call, and that I can attribute the significant improvement I made in DC to the lessons learned and the decisions I made after this run.

My most surreal moment of 2015 had to be actually winning a race. The event in question was a 5k fundraising run organized on Fathers Day in Seabrook, WA. We were down for a long weekend and only became aware that there was even a run happening once we’d arrived and checked into our rental home. I think calling it a race is slightly stretching a point – there wasn’t any official timing, and the entrants were a motley crew of folks like me who arbitrarily happened to be there for the weekend and some locals out supporting the cause. In any case, I didn’t set out to ‘win’, I was just in a phenomenally bad mood about running, this being exactly one week after the debacle of the Rock and Roll Marathon (see above), and I just wanted to stretch my legs and get things out of my system.

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

 So I really ran. The funny thing is that to this point in my entire life, I don’t think I’ve ever even led a race, never mind actually won one, so it was very interesting to be in a position, with about a mile to go, where I’m thinking that I could actually come first. The mind is a strange thing and the thought process when you’re out in front, compared to when you are back in the pack (my usual spot), is entirely different. I think there is something to explore there in a future post, but anyway, I’m sure the 15 people and the dog who were waiting at the finish were suitably impressed. Hooray for me.

Proudest moment of 2015 – Mrs G finishing her first half marathon.

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Well done Mrs. G

I remember my first half marathon like it was yesterday, and that feeling of accomplishment from doing something you never thought you could do is just amazing, so to see Jo do this, and set such a great example to the kids was really wonderful. Time for a repeat performance in 2016?

Best song added to my running playlist – Has to be ‘C’est la vie’ by The Stereophonics. I defy anyone not to pick up the pace when this one is playing. Here is the awesome video for your viewing pleasure. You are welcome:

Best book on running (and by this I mean the best running book I read in 2015, and not the best one published last year) is a tough one, because there has been a ton of great stuff written on the topic. I’m going to have to go for:

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A brilliant read

 The Perfect Mile, by Neal Bascomb – the story of the quest to run the first sub four minute mile. What I loved about this book was that even though the end result is a well known matter of historical record, the author was able to create real excitement in the build up to the record being broken, and really brought some insight into the characters of the three main protagonists and the pressures, influences and challenges they faced as they pursued their dreams. It is well worth a read – pick up a copy here – you won’t regret it.

Honorable mentions go to – The Way of the Runner by Adharanand Finn  and I can’t not mention my training bible, The Hanson’s Marathon Method, an updated version of which has just been published.

Favorite public figures in running for 2015 have to be firstly Mo Farah, the UK’s greatest ever distance runner, who crowned 2015 by successfully defending his World 5,000 and 10,000m titles, to add to his Olympic and European titles at the same distances.

I’m hoping he kills it at this year’s Rio Olympics before trading up to the marathon distance in future years. Top bloke.

Secondly, hats off to James Lawrence, ultra-athlete extraordinaire who completed 50 Ironmans, across 50 states in 50 days. Just incredible, mind-blowing stuff. Read about it here, then get off the couch and go work out. 

James Lawrence

Last but by no means least, Paula Radcliffe, the holder of the women’s marathon world record, and a ferocious competitor who retired in 2015. A true inspiration.

Looking ahead, and if you ever read this you’ll know I’m really not one for New Year Resolutions, the communal thing I’d most like to change about running in 2016 – has to be the all too frequent lack of courtesy and civility shown by other road and pavement users (drivers, cyclists and runners alike). Running sometimes feels far more dangerous an activity than it needs to be, and I truly would like to see a little more care, community and frankly some good old fashioned politeness and manners on the streets and trails this year. A topic for future posts for sure.

On a personal level, I need to tackle both diet, and core strength as well as maintaining my training volume and quality – more on this in the weeks to come.

Here is my tale of the tape for 2015.

2015 Tale of the Tape

2015 by the numbers.

That will do for my look back in the rear view mirror. What about you? What were your plusses and minuses when you review how the past 12 months have gone for you? What lessons did you learn, what are you keeping and what are you changing up in 2016?

However last year went for you, I hope you’re able to keep moving forward in 2016. Happy New Year and happy trails to each and every one of you.