Monday, December 31, 2012

Are annual recaps required?

Based on all the blogs I follow, it would seem that a year-end review is, if not required, expected.  Why is that?  Is it because, as runners, we're all measured by numbers.......miles run.......placement in races.......PR's.....etc.?   Is it because we all keep track of our progress via written logs, spreadsheets, Daily Mile, Runkeeper, Running Ahead, Strava, Map My Run, etc....?  Is it because we all sit at our keyboards on December 31st and simultaneously look backwards AND forwards?

Maybe it's all of those combined.....or maybe it's just human nature to compare projections/resolutions/goals/delusional rantings against actual results and try to make sense of it all.

So now I sit here........looking both backwards and forwards.

Looking back, 2012 was an unqualified success for me.  Even though I only "raced" 7 times, each experience was a positive one.  I ran 2 5k's (including one in Portland, OR while there on "business"), 3 half-marathons, and 2 marathons.  The marathons were particularly important to me, as both were uniquely successful ventures.  In April, I toed the line in Hopkinton, MA to run the 116th Boston Marathon.  On that RIDICULOUSLY hot day, anyone who ran has a remarkable story to tell, but as a charity runner, I raised nearly $5000 for the Melanoma Foundation of New England, so even though I suffered, I had lots of motivation to continue.  I'll never forget the feeling of making the left turn off Hereford onto Boylston and seeing the finish line in the distance....the crowd cheering even after 5 hours......I may never run Boston again, but on that day, I was a ROCK STAR!!

In October, I ran the ING Hartford Marathon and got a 7-minute PR.  Even though I came out of that marathon a little dinged-up (as my decreased mileage the remainder of the year would indicate), it still felt great to drop my marathon time.  While a 4:51 might be pedestrian to most of you, it showed me that I can improve, and gave me a lot of hope for what I'm going to shoot for in 2013.

When I look back on my year-end post last year, there really weren't any "goals" there.....just a hope for another good sickness.......nothing too specific.   I think I'll continue that trend now.  While I had hoped to hit 1200 miles in 2012, I came up short......ending the year at 1088.  I still managed to learn more about myself, both in my ability to persevere (Boston), my ability to learn from a bad race (Jamestown Half-Marathon), and my ability to improve (Hartford).  As I now look ahead to 2013, I hope to continue all of those positive trends.

2013 "goals":

Races:  Only have registered for 3 races so far, but I'm sure there will be more....several 5K's and 10K's sprinkled in......maybe another half marathon or two........I'm pretty sure there's going to be a fall marathon (either Marine Corps or Philadelphia), but here's what definite as of today:

January 1st:   4th Annual First Run 10K - Lowell, MA

March 17th:  36th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon - New Bedford, MA

May 26th:     25th Annual Keybank Vermont City Marathon - Burlington, VT 

Tomorrow's race should be fun, as we're still cleaning up from the snow we got overnight Saturday.  We had no real snow at all last winter (which made training for Boston SO MUCH FUN!!), so this was the first time I'd had to shovel since 2011....with nearly a foot of snow on the ground, it was hard work, and my back is still a little stiff, but I should be good to go tomorrow morning.  I last ran New Bedford in 2009 (2:04), so I'm familiar with the course and will be interested to see how I'll do.  Finally, I'm really looking forward to running the VCM in May......Barb has already booked our hotel room and friends who've run it in the past tell me I'm going to love it.  I'm going to start training for it at the end of January and will be trying a new training program:

Hansons Marathon Method: A Renegade Path to Your Fastest Marathon

I saw the book a while ago, but after getting it for Hanukkah, I've hardly put it down.  The Hanson's lay out a pretty logical plan (works for me!), with more of an emphasis on quality of training, rather than sheer quantity of miles.  It incorporates things I've only read/heard about something called "speedwork"....."tempo runs"........."strength runs" (ok, I'd honestly never heard of "strength runs" before, but speedwork and tempo runs.....yeah, I've avoided those in the past!)......their plan calls for a long run topping out at 16 miles, instead of the "normal" 20......anyway, it's a great book, and a very interesting plan.  I'm going to be trying it out for the VCM and, if it works, I'll probably do it again for the fall marathon.  Stay tuned for results!!!!

Mileage:   That's simple.......I'm going to shoot for 1200 in 2013 and go from mileage spreadsheet has a variety of columns representing various benchmarks......1000 miles for the year, 20 miles per week (1040), 3 miles a day (1095)......assuming I can hit 1200, it then moves on to 25 miles per week (1300), and ends at 6K per day (1358).  I find it very motivating to turn the red numbers black, indicating I've gone from being behind plan to being ahead.......I'll let you know how I do!

PR's:   Well, for shorter distances, I'm just not sure I've got the "speed" anymore.  When I look at my 5K/5 Mile/10K PR's, they all date back to 2008/2009.......maybe I'm a little "gun shy" about risking injury to see how fast I can go, potentially risking my marathons? I hurt my achilles tendon back in 2009 and have NEVER really run as fast since, which actually worked out pretty well as I shifted my focus to longer distances.  Still, I wonder what I could do if I really tried.........

I'd like to continue to drop my marathon time....4:45 would be another 6 minutes, and I still believe I could go 4:30 and under.  My hope is that with my new training plan (and hopefully losing about 15 pounds!), those goals will come into view. 

More importantly, I want to be able to continue to enjoy running.....injury-free.  Each of the last two years have seen me go over 1000 miles and that's mostly due to consistency....the kind that can only come from not being hurt!

I'm also going to get back to blogging again (hey, these are "goals", right?) on a regular basis.....I think being back on a training schedule will give me plenty to write about!

So I'll end here.....looking back on a great year, but also looking ahead to what should be an even better year!

To all of you, my friends and loyal readers (that is, at least, when I bother to write!), I'd like to wish you all the very best for the coming year.   A year full of accomplishment, laughter, joy, happiness, love, and peace.  And may all of your 2013 runs find the sun shining down on you, a clear road ahead, and tailwinds at your back!

See you all out there on the road, my friends......

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Back again????

Well, kinda.......sorta......but am I really "back"?

Until today, I haven't run since 12/16..........and I haven't blogged since I don't know when, but as the year is coming to a close, I figured I'd have to jump back in and get back to doing these things I love....runnin' and bloggin'!

I'll save my 2012 recap for later, but it's been a great running year for me.  Unfortunately, it's ending on a less-than-positive note, as I've been battling with some plantar fasciitis in my right heel for the past few weeks.  I have a feeling it was brought on by my compensating for some strain I've been feeling in my left quad since starting back after the Hartford Marathon back in October.  I think I was just coming down way too hard on the right side and BANG, the PF monster reared its ugly head again.  When I weighed well over 300 pounds, PF was a nearly constant companion, but since losing the weight, I've been fortunate to not have to deal with that in over 6 years!

So after my run on 12/16, I decided to take some time off.  School was getting crazy busy, like it usually does right before the Christmas break, so it became pretty easy to just stop for a few days.....the idea being to just rest and let the PF subside.  Over the last few days, the pain has been receding rapidly, to the point I figured I could start running again.

And so I went out into the chilly air this morning for an easy 4-miler (ok, it was 3.86, but that rounds up to 4!)....never pushing.....just enjoying the quiet....and the foggy exhalations.  It felt good to get out again and I'm hoping to be able to get a few more runs in before New Years.  I'm running a 10K on New Year's Day (the 4th Annual First Run - Lowell, MA), so I know I'm getting 2013 off to a great'll also provide me with a preliminary look at my fitness level leading into my next marathon training cycle.

Hope you're all doing well.....and that you've had a great time celebrating Christmas with family and friends.  I plan to share more of my ongoing adventures and I'm looking forward to sharing in all of your successes in the coming year!

See you all out there on the road........