It Can Only Get Better

by Paul Thompson

Around this time last year, just as I turned 47, I reflected on what I’d done in 2012 and set out my goals for 2013. One year on I can safely say I comfortably achieved none of my 2013 goals – except collecting an award for 2012! It was a year plagued by injury and accident in which I scraped together 2,175 miles, more than 1,000 less than I chalked up in 2012.

On the big screen at the Hard Rock Cafe, New York

The year started out promising enough. I ran my all time highest mileage 0f 91 miles in the first week of January. Closing out progressive tempos in 5:10-15 suggested a PR/PB in April’s London Marathon was on the cards. In late January I said to a team mate that I “felt invincible”. I would eat those words.

A week later I was struck by what proved to be a persistent sciatic nerve problem. And in mid-May, while on a recovery run, I was ‘run’ down by a bike. That pretty much buried the season.

Incredibly I had to wait until September to cross the finish line of a race – that of the Fifth Avenue Mile. A few weeks later, in early October, I ran 1:12:10 at Grete’s Great Gallop (13.1M). That secured me 4th in the UK rankings for M45-49. But it was more important for what it taught me. That I could claw my way back from a fitness level I had not plumbed in decades. And at 47!

Mid-care in Grete's Great Gallop
Mid-race in Grete’s Great Gallop

I ran a total of three races in 2013, the third being the Philly Half in 1:13:20 in mid-November. I started that race pacemaking a friend entered for the full marathon and ended with my charging the second 10k in 35 minutes, only to find the first masters runner finished one second in front of me.

So what will 2014 have in store? Well after deferring my 2013 entry I have the option of running the semi-elite, UK Marathon Championships in April’s London Marathon. To stand any hope of running a PR at this would mean making a New Year’s pledge to pack in the miles starting tomorrow.

If I do decide to run London as part of the build-up I could do the USATF Masters Half Marathon Champs in Melbourne, Florida in early February and aim for something close to 1:12 and a top 3 AG placing. The Chicago Marathon on October 12 offers better odds of a PR and the Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon, the fastest in the US would be the ideal build-up race.

In between these ‘big’ races I aim to run as many New York Road Runner team scored races as possible. In 2013 my Warren Street masters team was 5th, the lowest placing since I turned 40. In the individual M45-49 I only managed 2 of the 6 NYRR races required to get a nomination. So for the first time in 8 years I will not be picking up an individual award at the Hard Rock Cafe in March. I hope to put this right in 2014, starting today at Rockefeller State Park Reserve.


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