2017 has been quite the year! Clearly it’s been a shocker for the world but personally it’s been a challenging one as we moved back to the UK. As I’ve said numerous times, moving is hard. We’re doing well in our new home but there’s still a long way to go. So writing this recap of 2017 on the run was bittersweet!
For the record, I ran 1,137 miles – I wish I’d hit 1,200 but that’s still pretty decent.
Despite the fact that I ran literally all over the world this year and in some amazing places, there is no competition here – it was that amazing run Lisa and I had on Mt Tam a few weeks before we left the Bay Area. The weather was perfect, the trails magnificent, the company top-notch and it had that extra poignancy of being one of the last times she and I would run together and the last time I got to run on Mt Tam. I’ll never forget us standing there in the sunshine gazing at San Francisco in the distance over the Bay and just being so incredibly grateful for the chance to have lived and run in this wonderful place.
My racing wasn’t particularly amazing this year – I didn’t race much and I wasn’t very impressive. But the 10k at the Reykjavik Marathon was the MOST fun. We landed at 5am, we were on the start-line at 9am. I was probably delirious from lack of sleep but the weather was perfect, the route beautiful, the crowd-support was fantastic and my boys all ran like rock-stars as well. It was such a good day.
Best New Place to Run
This was a tough one because we had a GOOD summer of travelling and I got to run in loads of different places. A morning run past the Sydney Opera House. Sunrise in Kona. Down the Vegas Strip. Unbearable humidity in Houston. Small-town Alabama. Having Abraham Lincoln to myself on The National Mall. A lush Vermont trail. Central Park Reservoir. Montreal’s beautify city park. Reykjavik’s waterfront. It was incredible.
But the most memorable runs were in Crested Butte, Colorado where I squeezed in three runs. One day, I headed out alone on a mountain lane which turned into a trail lined with lupins and with snow-capped mountains in the distance. The next day, my boys and I got the cable-car up the mountain and ran down. I was literally full of joy the entire run. The views, the company, the sunshine, the aspen groves, the burgers and margaritas at the end. On the final morning, I ran the bike trail on a cool alpine morning and the views were amazing. Crested Butte, despite the lack of oxygen, was incredible and was definitely the best place I ran all year!
We really got into hiking this year. We had a wonderful hike on Mt Tam early in the year but I think the best hike was in the gorgeous Acadia National Park where we hiked the Beehive trail. It was short, steep and a little terrifying as we clung to metal spikes set in the rocks. At the top was a perfect alpine pool (with leeches) and a hike down through the forest. It was a great morning. (Also my hair looked good that day).
Best Podcast for Runs
This is a hard one. I’m still very fond of Marathon Talk and I’m currently obsessed with the British History Podcast but the Ali on the Run Show is my favourite podcast to listen to on the run. She has great guests, she interviews well, she makes me laugh, she’s definitely the first podcast I line up as I head out the door.
Best New Gear
I didn’t get much new gear this year. I stuck with the same faithful Saucony ISO triumph shoes and didn’t really buy much new stuff. So I’m going to go for my Patagonia jacket. I had literally coveted this jacket for about a year for all the wrong reasons. I’ve NEVER been one who gets excited about clothing brands but I totally fell for Patagonia. All the cool Bay Area runners wore this jacket, and I simply wanted it too. I was secretly convinced that just by wearing it, I’d turn into a Bay Area trail-running legend. It’s not cheap (!) but I saved up all my Amazon gift cards and bought it this summer. I love it, and I literally wear it every single day in this cold, damp, dark island where I live now. And every time I put it on, I’m magically transformed into a Bay Area trail-running legend.
Most Inspiring Runner
I honestly think it was my step-son, Big Brother. He joined us in Australia, unfit and indoorsy. And over the four months when we travelled together, he turned into a hiker, then a cyclist, then a runner. He lost 50 lbs, gained a new love of the outdoors and trained hard enough that he took his 5k time down from 45 minutes to 34 minutes, and he completed his first 10k in Reykjavik, showing great strength of character. Watching his transformation was an honour and a joy, and I am so genuinely inspired by what he achieved. He’s kept the weight off and he’s finding new sports to love and I think he’s a rock-star.
Book of the Year
This was the year I became the final British person to read Harry Potter. Excellent, fun books that I rattled through. Two more to go.
Movie of the Year
Wonder Woman. Without a doubt. Cried all the way through it.
Song of the Year
Weirdly, it’s John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’ that will sum up 2017 for me. We played it loads on our summer road trip, even ducking briefly into West Virginia to sing it out-loud, and there was also something very fitting about a song about moving back to your childhood home.
‘The radio reminds me of my home far away; driving home I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday’.
In summary, it was an odd year on the run. I didn’t ‘train’ for anything. I barely raced.
But it was the year when I discovered that I don’t need a race in the diary in order to keep running. It turns out I love running enough that I will run anyway, and that was a great discovery.
I have some big plans for running in 2018 but for now, thank you 2017 for the fantastic miles!