Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year in review 2014

 What a long strange trip it's been. Truly a year of big ups and downs both in my running and personally. However as always I will look at the successes as building blocks for the future. And as for the letdowns, I hope to take the lessons learned, put then behind me and look forward to bigger and brighter things.

I was a bit worried as the new year began after struggling with the upper hamstring issue for most of the last half of 2013 but despite that I was able to maintain a high level of fitness and once the injury was finally over I was quickly able to go right back into a high level of training.

 And train I did in January. No races with the focus on getting ready for Myrtle Beach and I was having a lot of fun with a lot of great workouts even though a lot of those were done in some really yucky cold and wet conditions.

 February brought me to Myrtle Beach in great shape and confident in a good attempt at the PR. I was running great and on pace for most of the race but steady winds in the upper teens and 20mph range with gust into the 30's made it tough and mostly a headwind the last 7 miles were too much for me. A good time of 3:49 under the conditions.

 March 1st , just 2 weeks after  MB and I returned to the Umstead Trail Marathon for the first time in many years mainly to use it as a training run for the upcoming 100. It was a near perfect day to run and I was surprised at how well I ran and even just using it as training I improved on my course pr by about 5 minutes boosting my confidence even more.

  Just two weeks later and I was in the Tobacco Road Half Marathon. With the way things were going I was hoping for a  1:40. Well, it was another perfect weather day and even after the two recent marathons I felt fantastic and ran 1:39:03, my fastest half in 8 years !
April and finally it was time to go for the 100 mile pr at Umstead. The weather was about as good as could be hoped for and the support of so many friends and volunteers made it a special weekend. Everything clicked and I got the pr by an hour and seventeen minutes and never had any problems for the entire distance.  Although I normally don't use pacers I make an exception here so I can share the experience with my closest friends and had some wonderful company with Laura MacLean, Lisa Howell and Karla Werner making the pr all the more special.

 May started off with a trip to the OBX and my first running of The Flying Pirate Half Marathon. With the great races leading up to it I was hoping to run about 1:40 on this course but a combination of warm weather and lingering fatigue from Umstead and I struggled the last 5 miles slowly falling apart. Oh well, every race can't go perfect !

 And then less than 2 weeks later was an amazing adventure as I made a venture into the unknown at 3 Days at the Fair, a 72 hour race in NJ. Having never attempted a multi day ultra before I had no idea what to expect especially after the first 24 hours and 100 miles and really no idea how many miles my body and mind could handle. I set a rather lofty goal for myself and kept focused on it the entire 3 days. Amazingly I was able to achieve my goal and added a mile for icing on top of it for a total of 211 miles.

 June and most years that means it's time to Boogie. I had a goal  of running it to set a course pr. I finally figured out that under the conditions and toughness of the course it is not a pr course so just the pr for a Boogie would make me very happy. My confidence was high that I could do it with the way the past year had gone but the only question was how much the beat down just three weeks before in the 72 hour race would be felt. Well, I did have a tough stretch in the middle miles but overall had a very good race and i was able to get that course pr by 32 minutes and finished 16th of 97 starters.

 In July I returned once again to Grandfather Mountain Marathon. I had hopes of running sub 4 but I could tell right away I just wasn't recovered enough from May and June's big ultra's so I slowed down and was able to have  fun and run my 2nd fastest time ever in 8 years of running it.

 Unfortunately a couple of weeks later I was being bothered with an upper hamstring and periformis issue and on  an easy run with a friend my left hamstring gave out on me. I joined a gym so that I could crosstrain but the leg was not healing. August was a wash and by September and still not being able to run I had to cancel my trip to the Erie Marathon.

 By mid September I was getting desperate  wanting to run and  I had a big trip to italy coming up the first week of October. I made an appointment with John Stiner Massage on a referral from my good friend Laura Frey. The guy is a miracle worker and after a 2.5 hour session  of testing and treatment I was able to run 3 miles the next day. Another visit and I was ready to go to Italy.

 The Verona trip and the marathon were wonderful experences but being way out of shape, the race was a tough challenge. A run walk from the start helped keep the suffering to a minimum but still one of the hardest for me. At least I got through it and didn't re-injure myself.

The rest of the month I gradually begin to build up my training mileage and things were progressing faster than I had expected. I was able to run OBX marathon, again with a run walk but improved my time over Verona by over 20 minutes and felt a lot better doing it.

 A couple of weeks later and I placed 5th in a hilly 5k in 23:06 which surprised me that I  could run that fast already on a tough course and not hurt !

 I finished up the month with my 11th annual trip to the Derby 50K. I had a very respectable time there as my training continued to go very well with huge improvements in my condtion.

 December is usually an off month as far as racing goes but I did go back to Flowers Plantation for one more hilly 5k. This one went even better with the overall win and an improvement to 22:26.

 Another thing that is excting for me  as I continue now with my training for another BQ attempt next Spring is I have a new training partner for some of my harder and fast workouts. Laura Frey has begin meeting me on Fridays when we don't have races  for tempo and or VO2Max runs. She is much faster than me as she is an elite masters competitor so it is great for me to have someone  like her that can  really push me.  I really appreciate her friendship  and the encouragement and inspiration that she gives.

 Thats it for the old year. Now look forward to what the future holds ! But that is another post Stay Tuned !

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