Wednesday 1 January 2014

A (vegetarian) year in review : 2013

I started 2013 with a number of challenges ahead of me, most of them fitness related, some professional and others diet related. My non-work related goals were:
  1. Complete my first marathon
  2. Complete a 50 ultra marathon
  3. Become a vegetarian (for a year?)
With 20/20 hindsight, I thought I'd take a look at how things had panned out and what goals I've set myself for 2014.

My first marathon

First of all, this is more than double a half marathon when measured by effort.
It's much more like this: 13.1 x 2.5 = 26.2
Of course I'd heard this before I ran the Madrid marathon back in May but I had tunnel vision on the start line and ran the first half far too quickly, forgetting my pacing and completely without a food/water strategy. I slowed with stomach problems and because I'd got my pacing all wrong I crossed the line in about 4hrs 20mins but I had been aiming for 3hrs 45mins or thereabouts.....
Looking back it makes me cringe to think how unprepared I was for this race; I wasn't blasé about it, I was just naive to the distance and the pacing required. I'm still naive and of course I'm still learning, in fact I think I'll be learning about it for many, many years to come. Armed with slightly more information, I wince at the stupidity shown earlier this year.
One of my goals of 2014 is to return to the marathon distance with a pacing strategy so that I don't get caught up in the mass start and kill myself too early. I know I can run this distance in 3 hours 45 minutes and perhaps on a good day maybe a little faster. My goal isn't really to hit this time, more to get my race strategy right, the faster time will be a byproduct of getting everything else correct on the day.

My first ultra

Running the North Downs Way 50 was the major goal of 2013 and I'm pleased to say I finished. Did I hit my goal? YES! 100% I did. I had prepared myself so that I was physically and mentally fit enough to make the 50 mile journey within the 13.5 hour cut off.
Would I be even more prepared now? YES! I was prepared in the sense that I'd done everything I thought I needed to before this but I was ignorant to my pacing and fuelling requirements. I followed a 50 mile fitness training programme from the book, Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell which got me from start to finish and provided me with an insight in to the world of Ultra Running, but running the NDW50 taught me more than any book could.
Not only did I manage to complete my first 50 mile race, I also managed to finish two other ultras in 2013, the 10 Peaks Brecon Beacons and the Frostbite 30. These were both additional stretch goals and I'm pleased I finished them. The 10 Peaks was a very tough day out in my back garden and has provided me with an insight into how tough the UTMB CCC will be (all be it without the altitude).
I've managed to maintain a level of fitness throughout the year and now that I have James Elson from Centurion Running helping me, this should provide a good base for my 2014 race calendar.

Being a veggie for a year

It's the 1st January 2014 and this is another goal I can tick off! 3 from 3 for 2013 and I'm a happy boy.
What has it been like? Actually I'm amazed at how little I missed meat, it was pretty easy, even with the US travel and living in hotels for 75+ nights this year. I found that I was less bloated than when eating meat, which I guess is a direct result of having less meals with huge chunks of protein. To be fair I haven't been a true veggie, I've also been eating fish/seafood which has helped with protein intake as well as provide an alternative main meal.
Now that the year is over, does this mean I'm reaching for the bacon and sausages? Absolutely not! I've enjoyed not eating meat and I believe my diet has improved my overall health. I will eat meat again this year undoubtedly but I'm going to be fussy about the quality of the meat and I want to know the animals history. So it's likely I'll remain a pescatarian until I've reared my own pigs later this year.

What's next?

I've got a fairly busy schedule for 2014, starting with the Dopey Challenge in Orlando, FL next week. My first A race is the South Downs Way 50, where I'm hoping to run sub 10 hours. Later in the year I have an entry in for the Lakeland 50, as well as the Ironman UK 70.3 and I'm waiting on the ballot in January for the UTMB CCC.