Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year in Review - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2014

It seems almost silly for me to pen a "year in review," because, for the most part, my running successes in 2014 were just short of dismal. However, I believe it's important to take the time, reflect, and record something so that I can look back and recollect when I am an old gray fox. 

So, with that, I'll get right to it - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead...


In the waning days of 2013, I wasn't even running at all. "Runner's Knee," which had been bothering me since September of that year, had finally won the day and I decided it was best to shut it down for a few weeks. On January 1, of this year, I began my long comeback, but my comeback was thwarted with additional set-backs and by February I was once again on the injured list. Finally, by March, I was crawling my way back to shape. Time was of the essence; Cherry Blossom was only about a month away. It wasn't until early March that I was actually running 7 days a week. I knew, then, that I was ready for workouts and soon engaged in a condensed month-long training program all in an effort to get to the line at Cherry Blossom in some respectable shape. Thankfully, my knee wasn't harassing me anymore and I was able to get in a couple of races - 21:00 for 4 miles then 26:15 for (a long?) 5 miles - before I toed the line below the Washington Monument in early April. All things considered, my result was much better than I expected -- 52:32, which was essentially the same pace (5:15) I had raced for the aforementioned lead-up races, only this time the race distance was double. Going into the race, I was looking to run around 53:00 (52:30 was a real best case scenario), so to beat that time by a half minute was a "victory" and why I listed it under "The Good".


After my "success" at Cherry Blossom, and the fact I hadn't trained that hard for the race, I figured I would knock the Broad Street Run, another 10 mile race one month later, out of the park. Sandwiched between these two races, I intended to race the Pike's Peek 10k, but my grandmother passed away, so I wasn't around during that weekend. Regardless, I went into Broad Street a lot faster and with a lot more confident than I went into Cherry Blossom. My goal was to run 5:10 pace, or 51:40, and then shut it down for the season. I was right on pace for 5 miles (25:50), but the wheels came off --- bigtime -- shortly after that. I limped home a few ticks above 53:00, my worst 10 mile race since 2006, but I was still glad I "went for it" and honestly wouldn't have done things much differently. It was just one of those days, which I would later file under "Bad Day". 


I stopped blogging in June, because, as I noted in an earlier blog post, I really had nothing worthwhile to write about. I was going through the motions, but not really getting in a lot of hard work. I also wasn't racing or working out. In fact, I had no "plan". I mean, I could continue to post fox pictures, but I really needed something more substantial to write about. By the time summer turned to autumn, my favorite time of the year, I began to get motivated again. With motivation came a surge of mileage and I returned to working out (on the grass), but this push was, unfortunately, short-lived. During Labor Day weekend, while hiking in Montana, I tweaked my Achilles pretty good and the injury, and the subsequent failed attempts to bounce back from that injury, left me sitting on the sidelines for almost two months. So much for running in autumn. 


1. I'm getting older and it appears as if my body needs more time to recover. It's worth taking the extra time off, even if you think you're healed up, in order to successfully bounce back from an injury.

2. Use running as a vehicle and continue to explore new places.

3. Hills. Run them. As much as possible. Since I'm continuing to shy away from the track, it's important to run hills -- road and trail -- as often as I can. And, run them bloody hard.

4. Run fast. Again, since I'm not getting weekly workouts around the oval, I need to continue to run fast during normal, morning, runs.

5. Challenge myself by upping my long run distance. Assuming I'm fit and healthy enough to do so, I want to run more 20 milers on the weekend in an effort to get use to the abuse. In fact, I'd like to even run distances further than 20 on the weekends. My mindset now suggests these are epic distances, but it can be done. 

6. Have fun and don't let running consume you. I've done a good job with this as of late. On numerous occasions, I found myself sleeping in on a Saturday and indulging in a warm mug of coffee alongside bacon, eggs and pancakes. A day off won't kill you and might even re-energize you.

7. Say "hi" and "good morning" to people on your run. I am trying to do this more and more, simply because I think it is a good thing to do. 


Although I consider my best running days behind me, I'm an eternal optimist and I still believe I can set personal bests in a few race distances if I can stay injury free, string together a few months of successful training and, naturally, set my mind to succeeding a previously determined goal. As 2014 draws to a close, I'm without a doubt on the up and up and I'll use that momentum to surge right into 2015. I've been running strong, and injury free, for the past 10 weeks. During that time, I've averaged nearly 60 miles a week. Most importantly, I seem to have that fire again -- the fire to succeed and do the best I can. This sounds a bit cheesy, I admit, but, for me, having this mindset is more important than getting in the miles, though they sorta go hand in hand.

To 2015 (raising my glass of Gatorade)!

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