Monday, December 22, 2014

Looking Back and Moving Forward: 2014 in Review

Ok, I originally did a recap on Monday (12/22) in this space that was super brief and, in hindsight, not very good. I will chalk it up to embracing being home from the office and wanting to play Akrham Origins (a video game).

To do myself right, I'm blowing up the ship and re-writing this entry. Lets see how it goes this time.

Between my last entry where I ran the Bucks County Marathon, I added three other races: Philadelphia Marathon, Lansdowne YMCA Reindeer Run 5K and Wissahickon Wanderers Inaugural Winter Solstice 10K Trail Run.

To do a whirlwind recap, they went like this:

Philadelphia Marathon - Was a last minute decision. I told myself leading in I would relax enjoy it and take whatever comes. Well for 10 miles I was on a great pace but my legs had too many race miles on them so I dropped down to the Half Marathon with a port-a-john pit stop. In the end it was a solid tempo run. Nothing memorable.

Lansdowne YMCA Reindeer Run - I had run it twice in the past normally as my closing 5K race of the season. Considering 2014 was light on fast 5K courses, I opted to hit up this race. I pounded out a 15:32 on the course for my second fastest ever 5K time. And I was home by 9:30 am! Oh yeah.

Winter Solstice 10K - Last up was a free 10K trail race put on the Wissahickon Wanderers. If you wanted a shirt that was 15 bucks. Luckily, I squeezed into the closed out field. Official time was 39:57. Of course, it was not a true 10K. I mean we are talking existing trails in the Wissahickon. That location alone throws GPS's batty. It was a great course that had a little bit of everything the Wissahickon has to offer. And I closed out racing as a 34 year old.

Now on to the meat and potatoes:

Year in Review....

Initially, in the old version, it was weak. Just a few bullet points. Yawn. There still be some but I want to include some stats too that did not fit in a good/bad post.

Miles run (as of 12/24) - 3813
Miles raced - 719.6
Number of races completed - 38 (Had 1 DNF this year)
Avg race - 18.93 miles

Total Time racing: 103:01:54
Pace per mile: 8:35

Common race distances: (does not add to total races due to other distances)
50M - 4
50K - 5
100K - 1
100M - 1
HM - 2
Marathon - 3
5K - 14

Trail - 19
Road - 19

As you might be able to tell, I did quite a bit of running this year. It was by far the most I have ever run in a given year in terms of both race mileage and total mileage. Going into the year, I was aiming for 2500 to 3000 since I felt last year of being over 3400 might have been too much. Well, I went in the other direction in a big way. Never would have imagined running almost an ultra a month. However, as I gravitate more and more toward ultras, it does make sense. In planning some of 2015, I already have 4 lined up before the end of March.

One of the best by-products performance-wise of my transition as a runner has been the incredible impact on my marathon times. After failing to make the starting line for 3 marathons since 2011, I finally was able to toe the line for not one, not two but three marathons. All three ended up being my fastest three marathons in my running career. I even went under the magical 2:30 mark once. (Missed a second instance by 4 seconds.)

Some of my races standout including the 3 marathons with the 2:24:55 PR being the biggest highlight. Having two sub 3:25 50K races was awesome. In the first instance, I ran for the state 34 year old 50K PA State record that I missed by a few minutes. The second instance I got closer when I did not try for it. Thankfully, the 35 year old record is around the same time, so I can go into the year hoping to get a state record there. My OSS/CIA 50M was memorable for having to race through the woods in the dark. Falling quite a bit does help with the memory but it was also fun in a creepy way. Especially, when I think it was the latest I stayed up in several years. Also, I finally set the FKT at Batona I had originally planned for 2013. I'm looking forward to knocking more time off that in 2015 since it is a race now.

My biggest disappointment on the year was not getting the 100K qualifier I told myself I was going after. It was the reason I went to a road ultra in CT. However, the road just mentally did not agree with me on a day I should have had someone yelling at me to keep going so I dropped to a 50K. Second would be my DNF at Cayuga Trails. I was locked in to run my tail off but I ended up with a groin injury too early that I should not shake. Third would be having my worst performance in an ultra at Stone Cat. I was primed for a fast time on a course that suited me but external factors impacted the amount of sleep I got the night before that destroyed my mental focus.

The mixed bag of the year was the Viaduct 100. For 90+ miles of the race, I led at a pace around 15 hours, but my body decided it had enough. However, I did manage to finish after nearly a 12 hour break thanks to wonderful support from friends freshly made. Emotionally it is a high and low in my year. One of the goals of 2015 is to run a straight through 100M. It is going to happen!

Best part of 2014? Expanding my network of running friends. Specifically getting to know the Trail Whippass folks. (If it was not for Trail Whippass people, I would not have finished Viaduct. )I've gotten to see/read/hear many of them accomplish great things, including my friend Maggie Guterl who is going to be a Team USA member for the 24 hour World Championships! 

So, that is the recap. Better than bullet points I think, even if it only covers some of the past year. For the complete picture, read all of the posts in 2014. (I dare you!)

With an eye towards the future, 2015 is taking shape. I start the year with:

  • Phunt 50K
  • Batona Trail (55 mile edition)
  • Black Canyon 100K (traveling to AZ for this bad boy)
  • Umstead 100M (this time I will have an awesome crew to keep me rocking)

Some carryovers would included chasing that 100K qualifier and a sub 6 hour - 50 Mile. Not sure where they may fit into the year's racing schedule. It might not be possible but I'd like to hope so. Timing is always the toughest part, especially since the fast 50 milers are in the fall when I aim to tackle the Steamtown Marathon again.

Mainly, I just hope to grow as a runner. Maybe put in a few less miles. (But I did say the same thing last year.)

Thanks for reading and being part of the journey!

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