Even though I’m not blogging anymore, I still wanted to take a few moments to reflect on a fantastic year and look ahead to what I might want to accomplish in 2013. It’s been a year of ups and downs – after putting together my best training cycle ever in the first part of 2012 and then following up with a 10k PR and two ultra-distance runs, the second half of the year has been marked by inconsistency, injury and my very first DNS.
First, the highlights:
Marathon training: I’m so happy I wrote this post in February. It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced that kind of running, but reading that entry always brings back very fond memories. Even though the actual marathon didn’t turn out quite like I had hoped, I absolutely loved every minute of the training leading up to March 17. Looking back, I don’t know if I realized how lucky I was to be running so well while completely avoiding injury. When I think about my running goals for the future, at the top of the list is simply to get back to that level of training.
Long distance: Two of my proudest athletic moments were finishing the two ultra-distance runs I undertook this year. I see this as the direction my running is heading now, away from the pursuit of faster times and paces in structured events and toward the free-form and utterly liberating experience of long-distance running. Finishing those 41 miles of the Appalachian Trail – across the entire state of Maryland – with my brother in less than 16 hours was a landmark achievement for me and left me hungry for further adventures.
Annual mileage: It’s never been a goal of mine to hit a certain number of miles during a calendar year. But there’s no question that running is a bigger part of my life now than it has ever been. The 1,301 miles I ran in 2012 are almost 530 more miles than I’ve ever run in a calendar year. And to think that mileage includes an 8-week injury layoff (and several subsequent low-mileage comeback weeks) and the fact that we had a baby in June makes me more happy with this total. In fact, December is tied as my third-biggest month of the year – a reassuring way to finish strong after a bumpy second half.
10K PR: This was actually a bit bittersweet for me – although I set a solid PR of 40:23, I know my potential was faster. I came into the race just two weeks after the marathon, and although I felt great I held back because I was worried about pushing too hard too soon. I ended up relaxing perhaps a bit too much and missing what may have been my best chance this year at running sub-40. But it was also one of the most fun races I’ve ever run because I had such a relaxed attitude.
And then, the lowlights:
Injury: The second half of this year has been defined by a steady stream of injuries. From the merely annoying to the cripplingly painful, I’ve had some kind of issue with almost every joint and major muscle from the hips down. And they’ve never been concurrent – as soon as I think I’ve beaten one thing, the next one pops up. Hip, ankle, achilles, calf – you name it, it’s been hurt. The worst was a knee injury that sent me to the bench for almost two months and forced me to pull out of my fall half-marathon. (The bright side is that I had a fantastic time volunteering at that race.) After my two-month layoff I’ve really focused on a smart approach to my comeback, building mileage slowly and gradually adding speed along the way. It’s been a hard road and I’m not running nearly as strong as I was earlier this year, but I’m happy that I’m running.
And now, what’s next:
I am definitely one of those people that gets caught up in the changing of the year. I don’t know why, but I love the idea of a clean slate and the opportunity that awaits in the coming year. I don’t make resolutions because I’m generally satisfied with my overall approach to things (I eat well, I’m nice to people, etc.), but I like to set big goals and work toward them. I try to do something “big” each year – at least one grand adventure or accomplishment. 2010 was backpacking the Grand Canyon. 2011 was my Year of the Triathlon. 2012 was the Year of Distance (which included my return to the marathon and my first two ultra-distance runs).
I don’t have a moniker in mind for 2013, but I do have a few ideas that make me very excited. The main hindrance will be getting past all of these injuries that keep popping up, because all of my goals involve going longer or faster. While I don’t have too many specifics right now, here are some of the things I’m mulling for 2013:
Ultra: As I mentioned above, this is the direction in which I feel drawn currently. I’d love to get beyond 50 miles eventually, but if that doesn’t get done this year I’d at least like to do two runs of 30 miles or more. In fact, just yesterday I registered for the ICY-8 trail race on Feb. 2, 2013 – an 8-hour adventure race in which you cover as much ground as you can within the allotted time. My main goal that day will be to run at least 50k and, if things go well, to go farther than my current distance PR of 41 miles.
PR?: I’m really torn about this. I’d love to chase a PR – in any distance – this year. But I did myself a bit of a disservice when I was running so well in 2011 and early 2012 – I set the mark pretty high in just about every distance. It’s going to be tough for me to approach those times, particularly in my current shape. This is a lower-tier goal that I’ll move to the back burner until I see how my running progresses in the early months of the year.
Race: Even though I’m not necessarily chasing PRs, I would like to get in several races this year. I’m already signed up for a February half-marathon and the Monument Ave. 10k in March. Some other potential early-season races include a 15k in January (an automatic PR, because I’ve never raced that distance) and a 5k in March.
Mileage: Although I said above that I don’t set mileage goals, it’s going to be pretty hard for me to accept running less than 1,000 miles in 2013 after running 1,300 this year. But this is not an end goal – it will happen naturally as I pursue my other running goals.
Run with my daughter: One of my biggest goals for the year doesn’t even center on me – it’s to accompany my 4-year-old daughter in her first race. We’ve already picked out a 1k kids run in March and she’s very excited about racing and getting her own medal at the end.
Happy New Year, and here’s to a great 2013!