2015 Year in Review

Hello and Happy New Year to everyone. Unless you're reading this well after I post it of course. If that is the case, sorry to waste your time with unnecessary salutations.

Right, enough of that, and onto the meat and potatoes.

The new year, through social norms and not through any actual evolutionary purpose, always brings us to both moments of reflection on the year that has been, and speculation on the year ahead - this post is the former, lamenting what was in the year that has been. As this blog is quite new, the year in review will be a fairly healthy catch up, so for the TL;DR version, just read the next sentence.

Overall, 2015 was a year that I can say I was quite happy with.

I'd not been long in my new job when the year switched, and throughout the year I found myself very settled there, enjoying it more and more, and it enabled me to learn and enhance myself professionally more than any previous role. Throughout the year, new hires bought amazing new talent alongside myself, and I am very grateful for the team I have working with me into 2016.

My family life didn't have the same bumps along the road that it had in 2014, no major health scares for anyone close to me thankfully. My wife and two daughters continue to be the shining beacons of inspiration and motivation that I often need, and I'm so thankful for each moment I've spent with them this year. I'm stoked that last year the girls wanted to get into some extra curricular junior cross country, and not only did they get involved, they loved it. I know that through running/sport they will earn a sense of purpose and self esteem that will help them immensely as they grow into teenagers.

As for running, which is the reason for this blog after all, I had a year that I'll give a grade of B+.

The negatives were mainly injury related. I started off the year with an annoying twinge in the hip that, thanks to a WHAC 10k race, became a full blown hip flexor injury 1 week before the Jumbo-Holdsworth Trail race I so dearly wanted to run. That was not ideal and I was quite disappointed. Ultimately, it turned out okay, because I got to help out on the course, marshaling for the Hooper Loop and taking photos of all the competitors on a very enjoyable day.

After overcoming the hip flexor problem, I slowly built back up my training and was able to compete in the Rollercoaster Run over in Melbourne, during a trip my wife and I had taken there to watch the Cricket World Cup final. That race went pretty well, but I went in under cooked. I ended up a respectable 21st on a course that was both fast and hilly, but my body felt the effects of a lack of training in the last quarter.

I then took part in one of the Wellington Xterra events at Makara Mountain bike park in April. This was a moment when I realised I wasn't nearly as fit as I thought I was. I struggled early on in the hills, and then again in the last quarter like the Rollercoaster run. I recall feeling a bit bummed about how my body felt during this race and for the next week I was both unmotivated and also, substantially buggered to even undertake a small training run. It was at this point that I'd decided I needed to look a bit more closely about how I was training and started to think more seriously about joining a running club.

Which was exactly what I did in May, when I noticed on twitter mention of the Vosseler Shield, a pretty gnarly 10k cross country that was held in very high esteem within the NZ Athletics scene. I bit the bullet and joined a club a lot of friends had been members of in the past, Wellington Scottish, and I'm now incredibly proud to be part of such a great club. Suddenly my focus switched from trail runs, to cross country, and I cannot think of one thing that has given me more of a kick up the arse to my training. I was schooled fairly hard at Vosseler, and then again at the Dorne Cup XC, but thanks to the atmosphere of being in a club, I didn't just internalise the problems I was having, I reached out and spoke to other members, and got advice and encouragement.

I ended up getting a coaching plan from a fellow club member, and started out on that. Within a few weeks I was doing more speed work than I'd done in my life....unfortunately however, that lead me to injure myself in a not insignificant way - shin splints and/or stress fracture in the shin.

I spent over a month doing no running, concentrating on cycling and aqua jogging to keep my body from atrophying. I went and got orthotics from a podiatrist, and also found a brilliant physio at Habit in Petone, who sorted out a muscle imbalance which combined with the extra load on training had caused the injury.

So that was a bugger, because coming up not far from that were two races I was quite excited about - the Aorangi Undulator and the Tongariro Goat. However, I played with the cards I was dealt, took it easy getting back into training, and focused on what I could get done in the time I had left.

The Aorangi was a bit of a disappointment in terms of performance, but I was quite upbeat about it all, because I knew I didn't have the kilometers behind me that would have allowed me to compete as hard as I wanted to anyway. There were a lot of positives from that race, and thankfully with the Goat only a month away, I knew if I could utilise those and eliminate the negatives, then I'd have a good day on Ruapehu.

And as it turns out I did. I had probably one of the strongest races of my life, and cripes did that feel good. I was just behind my goal time of 2:30 at 2:31 (Full race report to come). I jumped 14 places from the year before in a field that was a LOT stronger, and I ran hard and smart throughout the whole distance.

Since that race, I've felt imbued with a new sense of confidence that I haven't had since I was a young buck with all the energy of a working flux capacitor. My training is going incredibly well, I'm able to crush hills and distance at will and enjoy the hell out of my time doing so.

I'll finish this post by saying thanks to people that have made 2015 what it was. Everyone I've run with, race directors and volunteers, work mates, friends, family and of course my wife and girls.

I'm very excited for what 2016 will bring me, both personally, professionally and through my running exploits.

Stay tuned for a post on my goals for 2016.

Andrew Thompson

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