2017 began with big hopes and expectations after finally getting the injuries that had been an issue for several years solved. Or I thought,. Well actually I have but a freak yard work stupid move of all things almost ruined my year as you will see.
I had planned to begin the year by sneaking back into Ultras for a
little bit the first week of January but the race was cancelled due to
snow and ice storm, It was just as well because I had not really
prepared well for it with no long runs other than the Kiawah Marathon a
few weeks earlier and my heart wasn't really into it.
Cancelling the 50k allowed me to focus on what I was in great shape for
and that was the Run For The Roses 5k. The race went well despite the
unseasonably hot 80F and the hilly course and I was able to get my 3rd
RRCA State Championship for Senior Grandmasters. Then about 9 days later
it all fell apart when I had to bail on a workout with what turned out
to be a stress fracture of my right heel. Ironically it was not running
that initiated the injury but continuing to run and hope the pain would
go away did it and me in. So frustrating after going for a year with no injuries at all to have this freakish injury occur.
March and April were total washouts with no running and lots of pain.
Finally on May 20th I felt like a test run. I tried one mile and it was
pain free so I was able to begin to ease back into running again.
On the 3rd of June, just 2 weeks after I started back I decided to go
ahead and run the Rocky Mount Mills 5k that I had entered well before
the injury. I just wanted to be careful and not hurt myself and get an
idea at just how much conditioning I had lost. It was much cooler and
drier than last year and I ran a lot better than I could have expected
in 25:04,almost exactly 2 minutes slower than 2016 but I was very happy to run that well.
3 weeks later I went to Chapel Hill to run the Vegfest 5k for fun. The
only reason I entered was because Laura and Susan's new yoga studio was
sponsoring the awards and I thought it would be fun to race and spend
some time hanging around at the booth at the festival. Wow ! I knew it
would be hilly but it turned out to be the toughest 5k I have ever raced
in my 40 years at this sport with nearly 300 ft of elevation gain ! And
it was hot and 100% humid.
I ran 26:12 which included an extra 10th of a mile thanks to the lead
bike leading us front runners off course in the first 1/4 mile and then
we had to weave our way through the entire field to get back up front.
Grrrr. with the extra distance and hills and humidity I think my effort
was definitely better than three weeks earlier. It wasn't a very
competitive field and I finished 6th overall out of about 100 finishers.
The best thing was Laura's daughter Isabella won the race overall for
men and women and Sophia was running well in the top 4th of the pack but
was led off course near the 2 mile mark. Julian was there to cheer for
us and take pictures and its always the best to have Laura cheering me
at the finish.
I knew I was in no shape to even attempt the Grandfather Mountain Marathon ,one of my big goals for the year but a week later I decided to go ahead and race The Scream Half Marathon. Even though I hadn't run that far this year at least it was mostly downhill. Turned out to be harder than I expected but I fe;t great for 12 miles and hung on for a decent time of 1:46 and placed 2nd in my age group.
After the Scream I focused on recovery and training for the beginning of what would be the main focus for the next 9 months, competing in the 40th Running Journal Grad Prix Series. The first event was the last weekend of August, the Midnight Flight 10k in Anderson SC with a 10pm start. Although I wasn;t 100% back from the injury I was finally starting to be confident in my racing again. Despite a fall in the dark which luckily I escaped with no damage other than a very small scratch on my knee, I was able to run a decent 48:53 on the rolling hills. I took first in my age group but only because the two guys in front of me which ran much faster placed in the Grandmasters division !
Originally I had nothing planned for Sept but I wanted to test my speed on a flat 5k and found just the right course and timing in my hometown of Goldsboro on the 9th. I was happy to feel strong and continue to improve with a 22:59 and 1st Senior Grandmaster placing.
At the beginning of the year I had tentatively planned on a marathon in Detroit but that was before the Grand Prix schedule was released and the Hero Half Marathon in Fayetteville Arkansas was scheduled for the same day. No worries because I wasn't prepared for a full anyway
The half was a really great event and on a near perfect morning for racing I ran a strong 1:47:21 on a tough course and took 1st place in the senior grandmasters again moving me into first place in the GP.
Decided to start off Nov with a 10, the Old Reliable Run in Raleigh. It wnet much better than I expected and I ran my fastest 10k in about 17 years ! 46:54 and once again a senior grandmasters win !
2 weeks later it was off to Birmingham Alabama and my first race in that state. With nearly 1,000 finishers it was the largest so far in the Grand Prix Series. IT was a cold but beautiful morning and I ran strong once again on a moderately hilly course. Finished in 1:44:47 and beat out 25 others for the Senior Grandmasters win and to top it off the Alabama RRCA State Championship ! Woohooo !
And then it was time for the reality check. If you want to race a marathon you need to train for a marathon ! No way around it ! Well I didn't train for it and suffered ! Oh well, a good experience and hopefully the next time I decided to race 26.2 I will be prepared.
So there it is. In spite of missing 12.5 weeks with the stress fracture I was able to make another strong comeback and other than the marathon I had an outstanding Fall of racing. I'm still not racing as fast as I was this time last year but I think by Spring that will change. As long as no more freak stupid injuries pop up ! Stay tuned for a look ahead to 2018 !