Spending a Few Minutes Looking Back at 2019

My first full year back in Norwich, after making the move in May 2018. I am usually on here at the end of a year saying how epic a year was but at the end of 2018 looking back it ended well but certainly one of the most challenging ones. I was looking forward to a full year back in the city I absolutely love and with new hobbies to keep me occupied and goals to smash.

Was just running through my 2019 before I look back at what I intended to do when I looked ahead to the year at the tail end of the year 12 months ago.

Rather than go through all the races, I keep a log of my races here and can follow my ups and some serious downs of 2019 in my racing.

In January I kicked off the way the majority of my 2019 went, with a race, the Wymondham 10km NYD. January continued to completely absorbed by races, Thetford Trails 10km, Snetterton 10km and Freethorpe 10miler.

February was a crazy busy month and saw the first of my 2019 travels with a break to Sofia, Bulgaria. Had a wicked time there, was absolutely freezing and decided to go on a 10km running tour which was great but it was hardcore icy so was more like an ice skating tour to be honest. Still, was good to tick Bulgaria off the list after I had to miss Ludogorets (A) for The Arsenal a couple years back as I was in New York. A small social group of friends set-up within our running club went out for the first time for a Curry and drinks, it turned into a kind of regular thing and contains a small group of class people. The traveling continued in February with my ticking Czech Republic off on my visit to Prague. A couple of races in Valentines 10km (PB) and a glorious 6 Nations for Wales beating England and winning The Grand Slam (with 2 very very rough nights) preceded my trip to New York City at the end of Feb/beginning of March with Jon to see The Isles a few times and consume my bodyweight in Dunkin Donuts special mint choc-chip edition.

After coming back from an epic NYC trip there was more and more races with the Thetford 10KM Hoohah (PB), Mad March 10KM and the Stroke Association 10KM at Catton Park. At the end of March I met the folks for a great weekend in Ross on Wye, renting a little cottage for a break. Standard weekend when we are away, lots of drinking, eating and walking with a little Forest of Dean Parkrun squeezed in for me.

In April I did my first Half Marathon and was buzzing with my time of 1:32, and after a few more half marathons that still remains my PB. Napoli (H) for the Europa was one of the few games I headed to in 2019 but then it was route to the final with me booking Benidorm with the boys for Valencia (A) Semi Final. Bungay 10KM (PB) and Yarmouth 5 Miler completed the domestic racing for April but then I headed off for a great trip to Malta to meet up with an old friend Victor. During a great trip I squeezed in a very hot and challenging 10KM in Gozo coming 2nd Foreign Finisher.

May was pretty spectacular to be honest. It started off with an absolutely blinding away trip to watch The Arsenal Vs Valencia (A) with us staying in Benidorm. There was a massive group of us, it was very warm, very rough and we travelled to Valencia on a party bus! We beat them comfortably and that means we were off to Baku for the Final! There was time in May before the Europa League Final to squeeze in Henham 10k, Wroxham 5k, the extremely tough Snowdonia Half Marathon and Holt 10k. The end of the month and my 35th birthday were spent in Azerbaijan in Baku for the Europa final. It was a great trip but the game was a devastating loss after a great start. Still, a great trip as always and I probably didn’t realise it would be the start of my Arsenal sabbatical.

June, more racing with Coltishall 10km, Catton Endurance Parkrun with Luke, Aston and Shauna and a very rough Humpty Dumpty 10km (hungover after the rugby). There were two memorable events in June though, the first being an absolutely brilliant Wales (A) trip to Croatia. We lost 2-1 but it was a crackin’ little trip and I managed to disappear into Slovenia for a day trip too which included Lake Bled to tick off another country. At the end of the month, it was a messy but great day out to London with The Arsenal boys as a pre-season catch-up. It was roasting in London and was as expected a pretty messy day drinking with a great group down around The Arsenal.

April, May and June were pretty tough after stopping in so many races which I later found out was a rather bad case of hypothyroidism so many months would be ahead where I would need to level out my level of thyroxine and find the right dose. Even though I would be on the medication for life, before I could run any sort of distance without stopping, and stop being so exhausted in general, I need to get my TSH level from 60 around to 3.5 and that was a long long slog. Due to finally getting the diagnoses I toned back the racing because if I cannot give 100% I just did not see the point but thankfully at least I now know why I was stopping at all races so many times and feeling so lethargic just in everyday life. I did do Wroxham 5km though in preparation for Lord Mayors 5km, a race I had qualified for and have been looking forward to for a long time. I knew I was not in a good way and I was terrified about the 3km cut-off if I was beyond 12 mins. It was the hardest, a teeth grinding run but my mate from NRR Aston was an incredible support and got me over the 5k and ran with me the whole way. Looking back now, I am proper proud of the races and times I have put in this year with the deficiency and it makes me very excited about what I can achieve in 2020. Another race I had signed up for I really struggled with, Ekiden relay but I put in a reasonable performance for the team but I could not describe in words how hard it was at the peak of this thing and you look at any race photos and you will see teeth grinding, gurning, giving everything I had with a giant handbrake on! With those two struggles I decided to trot Run Norwich and really enjoy it, and I absolutely did, it was a beautiful race and really enjoyed it, I am very excited about gunning it next year!

August kicked off with Grace’s 1st birthday party and was quickly followed by a 5km race @ RAF Coltishall. Dublin 1/2 marathon Rock n Roll was a tough one but was great to get away and stay outside Dublin in Bray. I somehow managed to get my first bit of training at KCOM doing my ITIL Service Strategy certification for a few days in London and then had a great time at Dave and Kim’s wedding. At the tail end of the month, it was time for my folks to head to Norwich for 10 days or so and last year was great but this year was even better. The weather was great again, lots of trips, beaches, eating and drinking and I look forward to them coming every year.

September started with the worst race ever, Wissey Half Marathon was horrific, no medal either… never again! September was dominated by a recruitment process for some volunteering work that I have always wanted to do since having University. In addition to this process, I entered a 7 week interview process for a new job with a company which should see me doing more international travel working for a more global company, something I was a bit starved of in my current role. September was pretty dominated by these two processes (and into October) but I did have time to run Coltishall 10km and a little trip to Romania for the first time, heading to Bucharest.

The folks were in tow for the Bangor Half Marathon and spent a great weekend there for the tough half marathon. At this point my TSH level was down to 18 so I had come a long way but still very far from the 3.5 level it needed to be. After that tough race it was great to do a 5k Colour run with my eldest Godson Bradley and spend the day in Norwich with him afterwards. The month’s running ended with Thetford Night Trail with Lucy and Shane which wasn’t a speedy one but was definitely something different… Lucy nearly killed us en-route and I decked it over roots in the last mile.

November kicked off with a great night at PrimEVIL with the NRR wronguns. My training started for my volunteer role in November so every other weekend for the next 10 weeks is absorbed by that. I went on a break to Reykjavík to tick off Iceland, was a great one but I think I went a day too long. The Golden Circle was great, the Blue Lagoon was amazing but Reykjavík itself is not really up to much. Due to the training I mentioned I had to miss the Conwy Half Marathon which was the last in the Three Castles Series. Sneaked in a 10km though at Wymondham for the EAMA. To end November, had a great night with me ol’ mukka Lee at an evening with Frank Bruno.

To end the year it started with absolute carnage with the little NRR social group going out for a meal and a piss up. It was very very messy but a great night which resulted in a 3 day hangover. I missed my nephew’s fifth birthday but went back home to Wales early to make my niece’s second birthday. I had a brilliant Christmas back home, spent some time with my niece, nephew, sister and brother and law, managed to catch up with the boys for a night out and spent some great time with my folks including a day out in the bars of Cardiff (and Popworld).

So overall 2019 has been pretty great. Health wise it has not been the best after a good 4/5 months of feeling grim and disaster races/runs. I had no idea at the time that my lethargy had a reason behind it, I just thought I was fed up with my job and when I was stopping so often at races, I just thought I had enough of running after a year. Thankfully, a couple of coaches at the club convinced me to go the docs and I found out about the Hypothyroidism. At the end of 2019 though, after several increases of doses I am feeling good and looking forward to a blood test in early 2020 where I hope my deficiency days are over. On the flip-side, despite all that, I have put some great times in and an incredible amount of races in one year, so that has to be a positive sign for 2020.

My first full year at KCOM and unfortunately after 18 months I had decided to leave for a new organisation and role. I have enjoyed working with my customers immensely but unfortunately there has just been so much upheaval I didn’t see myself being there long term so I wanted to make a move somewhere where I could see myself in the long-term and a global organisation where I may finally be able to realise one of my goals of living and working overseas (US specifically). As I mentioned though, 2020 will be full on with my new gig but also on the volunteering side I will be dedicating a lot of time to that.

2019 has been better on the social side, the running club has been great but I am still on a sabbatical from The Arsenal. I miss it but I just cannot cope with the hangovers, the tiredness and the travel at the moment… so unfortunately the sabbatical remains.

What I wanted to achieve in 2019 – January 2019

Surpass 50 countries – I managed to get to 53 this year after ticking off Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Malta, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Iceland.

Running to be big part of 2019  – It certainly was, despite my health issues I entered way too many races and racked up some PBs at all distances.

Hit my target for fundraising (Save The Rhino) – I have not done this yet but I intend to by the time I run Manchester Marathon

Goal to run 10 mile in a race and enter some more 10k races – Well I did do Freethorpe 10 Mile (and I am entered again for 2020) and I entered way too many 10km races! I had clocked up 33/34 races in my first 12 months of running so certainly did that

20 Goodgym deeds – I failed miserably on this, I am stuck on 17 and have hardly got to Goodgym at all this year.

20 parkruns – I am currently on 41 and despite having training every other weekend so I cannot do Parkrun, I intend to get to 50 very early in 2020.

15 volunteer for PR – I have failed miserably on this too, I haven’t racked up many more volunteers at all

Smashed my weight loss goals after rocking up to Norwich in 2018 16st, it all made a little more sense after hypothyroidism diagnosis

Sub 20 mins – 5k – DONE, current PB 19:11

Sub 42 – 10k – DONE, current PB 41:20

Build Social Base in Norwich – Getting there, had some good days/nights out and the Running Club are a great bunch, need to work The Arsenal back in though

NYC back to the Barn – Absolutely loved my trip to NYC in 2019, Rocked the New Barn and saw some epic Isles matches

Finish RDR2 and Re-Do Shenmue 1 and 2 – Failed miserably on both of these, I didn’t progress RDR2 much at all and I have not even installed Shenmue 1 and 2

Read a book a month – This failure really annoys me, I am so a big fan of reading, but the last 2 years it has gone to appalling levels

Book a marathon for 2020 – DONE – Manchester 2020 booked!

Book an epic trip for 2020 – Cannot really do this at the moment with the new job and the multiple weekends taken by training up to the end of March

So now it’s time for me to think about what I want 2020 to hold and see if I can right some of these failures from 2019.