Sunday, January 4, 2009

Point of Reflection - Part One: 2008

Okay, so I am going to split this one up into two separate entries. I know how I am capable of rambling, and though I am trying to edit more of my writing in this forum and format, I don't see the necessity when I look at the blog as more of a place for discussion and sharing raw revelations.

So 2008 was a pretty good year for me. It certainly had peaks and valleys, and I started off the year thinking about road running, and ended up wandering into the woods and getting hooked on the trails. Road races remained a key focus for me over the course of the year, but meeting new friends on the trail running circuit has encouraged me to stay true to rocks and roots.

Looking at the training log from this past year linearly...

January - 58.2 miles

Started off the month with the best intentions. Quickly became frustrated with little progress. Ran my first unofficial half marathon after a long night of insomnia. 1:58:39 was the time, I saw the sun rise, and I felt pain that crippled me for the rest of the day, seriously. Thoughts following this run were pessimistic, and I was convinced marathons or ultras were definitely impossible.

February - 32.6 miles

Winter dictated my training, or lack thereof. Was still suffering from deep depression due to my unemployment. Took nearly two weeks off, felt my fitness dwindle. A definite low.

March - 78.2 miles

Regained hope and focus. Got out on some trail runs to mix things up, best move of the year! At 213 pounds I decided to go back to the basics. Learn how to run 3 miles without walking breaks, have a diet, and generally start being proactive about my well-being and fitness.

April - 94.5 miles

Started to build my long run back into my training. Started doing this with a 6 mile run, built up to almost 9 miles by the end of the month. Toward the end of the month started regularly running 4 miles under 8:00 pace, which was a great accomplishment. End of April I was down to 202 pounds.

May - 102..3 miles

Really started pushing the pace with daily 4-5 mile runs, and ran my first long run of 10+ miles, started considering the marathon as a goal for the year, and started thinking about racing options. Really a sweet spot in my training progression.

June - 91.6 miles

Moved from Central Mass. back to Eastern Mass. and had to explore new routes and trail options I readily had available at our old place in Central MA. Started moving up the ladder to increase daily runs to 5-6 miles, and long run still averaged close to 10 miles. Decided to start training for a marathon, a very basic low mileage program, also signed up for the Blue Hills Skyline Trail Run in July. Raced for the first time in 2008 with the Corporate Challenge 5k in Boston toward the end of the month. No accurate time, and kind of a crappy, gimmick of an event. True to Boston, the entire race was run in pedestrian traffic.

July - 114.6 miles

The trail runner seed was sown! The Blue Hills Trail race was a freaking experience! I was not prepared and the course ate my lunch, but it was the most satisfying finish of my life. This a race where I finished 59th of 65 runners! Slightly less adventureous, but totally worthwhile was the Essex Greenbelt 10k trail race where I haphazardly met Dan, custodian of the Breakheart Trail Running blog, as well as a bunch of folks from GAC - Gil's Athletic Club. Early stages of marathon training going off without a hitch!

August - 137 miles

Basically a month of deeper training. No racing, but an unofficial PR set for a 5 mile road run - 36:10 - which was 3 minutes faster than my official time at a Thanksgiving five miler in 2007. Long run topped out at 16 miles.

September - 144.9 miles

September provided a month of initial payoffs for the focused training. Ran two races early in the month - Run Around Cape Ann 25k and the Run to the Rock Half Marathon. Both were my first races at each distance, and were tailored to my marathon training. The Cape Ann race was sort of spare of the moment, as some GACers convinced me to jump in, so I ran it as a marathon training run. The Run to the Rock in my hometown of Plymouth, MA was more of a mission, as I had signed up for the race in 2007 and backed out when I realized the weather conditions (Muggy and upper 80's) combined with my lack of training were good reasons to take a mulligan. This year was muggy, but not dry. Through the downpours I surprised myself and ran 1:46:32 (8:06 pace). It was tough, but not impossible, and was sort of a bit of sweet resolve when taken in context to my half marathon experiment in January!

Went a little overboard with my training. Ran a 25 mile training run on the roads in about 3 hours and 50 minutes, and then did a trail training run of over 22 miles in 3:40... in the same week! Ironically I set another unofficial 5 mile road PR the following week - 35:58.

October - 41.7 miles

This is where my training and year came undone. Out for a 4 hour trail training run with a couple friends, excellent Ultra pace for me at about 11 mins. a mile, cardio and legs felt fresh the whole way, and then my IT Band tightened and started rubbing up against to outside of my knee at 2 1/2 hours, pushed through the discomfort. Poof! Good-bye Cape Cod Marathon, good-bye Stone Cat Marathon. That was the first week of October. The remainder of the month was basically a futile attempt to rest and preserve the fitness and possibility of toeing the line for either race.

November - 36.8 miles

Finally made it to the Orthopaedic and got the battery of tests. No damage. Definitely IT related. Basically no focus except being deeply depressed that I couldn't run on a consistent basis. Feeling like everything I worked for was for nothing as I start gaining weight and losing fitness.

December - 58.7 miles (991.1)

Starting to feel a little better and trying to add more running. Snow and ice show up and I get depressed because this is how last year ended, and I saw my training goals flushed back then. Two really good runs with Dan on snowy and sloppy trails at Breakheart lift my spirits, maybe this winter is different?

All things considered, this was a VERY successful year for me. This marks the second year of running since taking too many years off after college. I am starting to get a handle on the weight issues. I weighed 150-160 as a college runner, ballooned to 180 at commencement and packed on another 20 in the year that followed commencement. I hate what I did to myself, but the last two years have been pennance, and I'd wager to say I won't see 160 by this time next year. It is my goal, but my body has to go through some changes beyond weight loss for that to happen.

2007 was a year where I found it difficult to finish a 5k - true humbling for someone who was once a speed demon, and provides ample perspective for those at the back of the pack. I ran 2 5k's, 3 Five-Mile trail races, and one road 5-miler. Running 7:50 pace in that road race in road flats seemed like the hardest thing I had ever done. It was the same kind of pain I felt when I ran my best mile (4:45) on the track.

2008 was a year where I pushed a little further. Some things started making sense in my personal life, I finally was able to get out of the mire of unemployment and find a job, and some of the ghosts of the past year were being learned from, lost, and forgotten. I rebuilt my training from the basics. Learning how to run three miles without walking breaks, building mileage and long runs. 10 miles seemed impossible, and then not such a hard task. I basically made it through three months of marathon training without incident, ran my first 25k and half-marathon, times improved, I fell back in love with trail races, found new challenges, and, especially impressive for someone like me who lives in a sort of isolation because of my eyesight and lack of easy transportation, I met some really good friends on the trails. Of course, the PRs of my college running days are places I want to revisit while I still have the ability to do so, and another year of training, and not necessarily too much closer, I still am satisfied. Just being a runner again is enough to be happy about, for sure!

The focus shifts to 2009, but before I go, I think it is only appropriate to post a pic from last spring where my early shorter training runs on some local trails inspired me to pursue trail running:


(I apologize for the formatting, blogger app keeps adding and deleting spaces between paragraphs, ugh)

1 comment:

RunMommyRun said...

Sounds like an excellent year to me. You ran, you learned, you PR'd, you probably worked out some things in your head as you ran...and despite the downs, you can look back at the year and focus on the positives. Hard work always pays off. :)