Looking Back – A Year In Review

 

With the new year approaching and my last race complete its time to reflect and assess. Its vital we stop every once in a while to consider the progress made, especially before setting new goals. On that note, I will write about my goals and races for 2018 in the coming weeks.

But, in the meantime here is an outline of 2017.

Building My Base

I started the year an inconsistent, injury prone runner. My 10K PB was 49 minutes and I struggled to run beyond half marathon distance without injury. I met Jayson Cavill back in October 2016 and began training more often and with purpose. Jayson’s remit was to get me through the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon unscathed and running onto the next goal. That goal alone scared me so I dare not dream bigger at the time.

I spent months training slow and steady, making consistent progress. That word – consistent – is all that has separated me from other, more talented runners. This, ‘cautious’ training served to build a base and foundation. The results below were achieved throughout this phase, before things would reach the next level.

February – Dalby Forest Park Run (5K) – 20 minutes 44 secs – 10th place

April – Hardmoors White Horse Half (16.7 miles, 1600ft elev gain) – 2 hours 30 mins – 16th place

June – Hardmoors Wainstones Marathon (26.9 miles, 4300ft elev gain) – 4 hours 50 mins – 24th place

The park run was a surprise, I finished faster than expected and this continued with the White Horse half. I was delighted to finish my first marathon and a tough one at that, but craved more. I felt strangely unsatisfied despite ticking off all I had set out to achieve.

Finding Some Speed

After completing the marathon, my intentions moved from merely finishing races to actually competing and seeing them from near the front. I had no idea what was possible but asked Jayson to help me find out. The next phase of my development involved speed work, shorter races acted as a gauge. All this before the years grand finale and an attempt to compete.

July – Dalby Forest Park Run (5K) – 19 minutes 36 secs – 6th place

August – Jane Tomlinson York 10K – 41 minutes 47 secs

August – Dalby Forest Park Run (5K) – 18 minutes 57 secs – 5th

My times were falling and I was so close to been ready for the main two events. The Endurance Life Ravenscar 8 mile trail race and Hardmoors Osmotherley half. The target for both, a podium, something so far outside of my expectations at the start of the year.

The ‘A’ Races – An Attempt To Compete

My training was focused on speed work and it showed, my final prep race was one last crack at the Dalby Forest Park Run. This race – a simple short distance park run – proved vital for my confidence and race approach going forward, it was my first taste of victory.

September – Dalby Forest Park Run (5K) – 18 minutes 34 secs – 1st place

September – Endurance Life Ravenscar 10K (8 miles, 800ft elev gain) – 59 minutes 35 secs – 1st place and new course record

October – Hardmoors Osmotherley half (16.3 miles) – 2 hours 13 mins – 3rd place

The course record at Ravenscar was a shock and to finish 3rd in Osmotherley the cherry. Simon Jones beat me by a few minutes during the latter, he beat me at the same distance during the White Horse by 30 minutes back in April. This was a clear sign of progress and the next goal was to compete in even more competitive fields.

The Final Race Of 2017 – My First Fell Race

The Esk Valley Fell races feature fast competition, no glitz, no glamour, just hard racing on tough courses. Club runners from all over travel to participate, there was no better race to test myself and end the year. I was hoping for a top ten finish in the Eskdale Eureka.

December – Eskdale Eureka (9.4 miles, 1680ft elev gain) – 1 hour 20 mins – 6th place

With runners from as far as the Lake District travelling to race I was chuffed with 6th place. Micheal Joyeux, finished 30 seconds ahead of me in fifth. Micheal has set some seriously impressive times in the Hardoors races, so this was a good sign in a tough race.

Conclusion

I am now capable of competing locally and running any race of any distance. I could go after an Ultra if I really wanted. Its been a long, hard year but completely worth it but I can’t rest if I’m to find out my true potential.

Next year will be about another step up in field and some seriously tough competition. I’ll be adding another type of race in the mountains and trying to compete in the longer distances locally. But lets not give too much away, I’ll explain each race and there purpose in my ‘Plans For 2018’.

Darren Smith

Training with purpose since October 2016 Darren has gone from trailing the pack to winning local races and the times keep on falling. A true believer in hard work over natural talent he writes to help others realise their true potential. Darren's race schedule for 2018 includes the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon (1st place), Keswick Mountain Festival (10th place), Scafell Skyrace and Salomon Ring Of Steall (World Championship race.)

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