Monday, December 31, 2012

What's Ahead For 2013

With 2012 having flown by (didn't it just start?), I'm eagerly looking forward to what 2013 will bring, especially with regards to running and endurance activities.

But before outlining my plans and expectations, here are the raw numbers from 2012:

Miles Run: 621
Runs: 163
Average Miles/Run: 3.8
Biggest Week: 30.6 miles (Nov.)
Biggest Month: 113.1 miles (Nov.)
Longest run: 10 miles
Races: 10 (all 5k's except for a 2-mile fun run with my daughter. See my previous entry.)
Best Race: Christmas Rush 5k - 21:19 (Dec.)

Bike Rides (outdoor): 2
Bike Miles (outdoor): 40.2
Bike Rides (trainer): 8
Bike Miles (trainer): 66.9

Walks: 66
Miles walked: 190

I also put in about 50 hours of weight training, including bodyweight exercises:

pushups: 8050 (max of 50, 1005 in 1 week)
pullups: 3056 (max of 13, 305 in 1 week)
situps: 6404 (max of 85, 735 in 1 week)
dips: 4085 (max of 33, 432 in 1 week)
squats: 4446 (max of 74, 340 in 1 week)

It certainly wasn't an impressive year when it comes to mileage. Still recovering from injury, I didn't start running regularly until May, and even then it wasn't much. I began slowly increasing the mileage in September, when I kicked off a 77-day running streak. In fact, about 61% of my year's running mileage was recorded in the last 1/3 of the year. Consequently, I did manage to knock nearly two minutes off my 5k time from January to December. Higher volume...if the body can handle

I won't lie. I'm still "injured." My heel and Achilles still ache somewhat regularly. I push it too hard sometimes, being eager to rebuild both my mileage and speed. Then there's my left hip, which is tight and sore more often than not. And, lest I forget, I fight a bit of plantar fasciitis in my right foot from time to time.

But…none of these ailments has been enough to sideline me again. I'm learning to back off on the mileage and intensity and attend to them (ice, stretching, massage) when needed.

So, since 2011 was pretty much a wash, I declare 2012 as my official Comeback Year. And, for the most part, I'm happy with how it went.

As for 2013, it'll be more of the same, to a certain extent, with a couple of exceptions. I've committed to doing the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride in July. It's a one or two day (rider's choice), 204-mile bike ride. I'll be training for that the first half of the year, which means, unfortunately, that I won't be able to focus entirely on running. I know, I know…the cross-training will do me good.

I do, however, have some running plans. Having raced several 5k's in 2012, and having finished with a time only 4 seconds shy of my PR, I'd like to continue working on shorter races and honing my speed. I will step up and run some 10k's as well, but I'd like to get that (soft) 5k PR taken care of. I'd also like to see if I can work on getting my mile time down. I don't know whether or not I'll actually enter a mile race, but I will start incorporating some speedwork on the track and run some mile time trials. All this, of course, with the approval of my right heel (and the rest of my fickle body.) If all goes well, I may even consider a half marathon toward the end of the year.

I don't have any concrete mileage goals, since I'm basing my volume on what my heel will allow. I would like to hit the modest goal of 1000 miles each of running and cycling in 2013, if not more. And, barring setbacks, I should hit 10,000 lifetime running miles sometime next summer.

In other running news, I was accepted, for the 4th consecutive year, back into the Brooks ID program. It's a privilege I really appreciate. I swear by their shoes and gear and will proudly wear them again throughout 2013.

I did write a few articles for a couple of local running magazines (Northwest Runner and Outdoors NW), which was enjoyable. I was able to incorporate some illustrations…which is how I make my living…into the articles. Perhaps I'll continue to do some freelance writing in 2013.

I also released my third collection of running-related parody songs in 2012. If you're interested, see the column just to the right of the top blog entry. For the many of you who have purchased them, thank you VERY much! I hope they make you pee your shorts at least once during a run.

When I started this blog back in 2009, I titled it Resurrected Runner for the simple fact that I've quit…and re-started...running many times over the past 30 years due to a variety of injuries. I had no idea that I had yet to suffer my worst injury yet (the only one for which I went through two physical therapists.) Fortuitously named, yes, but I honestly don't plan on my running resurrections being an ongoing thing. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the word "resurrect" as "to restore to life; revive the practice, use or memory of something; bring new vigor." It does NOT imply that I'm anything special. I know I'm not. Stubborn and obsessed…okay, I'll vouch for that. Even motivated and determined, to be nicer. Truth is, I'm just a middle-aged, not very talented runner who refuses to give up. Who knows, maybe I should. I have no idea what the long-term effects of my running-related injuries will be. But for now, I'll continue to be stubborn…although hopefully increasingly wiser…and forge ahead. Maybe even a doofus like me can show others in similar circumstances that, yes, giving up is an option, but it doesn't HAVE to be the only choice. Nearly any setback can be overcome. Personally, I think giving up sucks.

Thanks for playing along at home. I appreciate your comments and encouragement, as always. Here's hoping you have an injury-free, success-filled running year in 2013. Run happy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Race Report/Race Year In Review

I'm a week late in getting a race report up for the Christmas Rush 5k I ran last Saturday (12/8/12) so I'll combine that with a brief review of all of my races this year, since I'm done racing in 2012.

As mentioned, I ran in the 30th Annual Christmas Rush race last weekend. What makes this race special for me is that I ran it the very year the race was established (1983...yes, it's the 30th year, since you count the year it began.) It was my first road race, and it was only a 10k at the time (starting about the 3rd year, they added a 5k.) I still have the shirt from that first race. Even though it's very thin (cotton was all you could get at races back in the day), I just had to wear it to this race. The race director knew I was going to wear it. After the race, he announced it and made a big to-do about it. Hopefully I can break it out again for the 40th running!

Pre-race, wearing the threadbare original race shirt.
The weather was perfect: overcast and low 40's. I talked my friend (and running club-mate) Dan into running the race, knowing I would be bumped down in the standings because of that. I prefer his company over finishing one spot higher in our age group (45-49). Indeed, that's exactly what happened, as he's currently quite a bit faster than me.

I had a goal of breaking 21:30 in this race. I ran a 21:53 four weeks earlier, so I wasn't completely sure I could chop off 24 seconds. But training had gone well, and I ended my running streak at 77 days, allowing for plenty of recovery time (both from running and from an upper respiratory infection) so I was relatively confident.

I managed to go out fairly strong and run progressive splits, which surprised me. After opening with a 6:59 mile, I thought I'd have to slow down a bit the second mile, before kicking it in toward the end. Here's how it played out:

Mile 1 - 6:59
Mile 2 - 6:56
Mile 3 - 6:45
last .1 - :38

Official Finish Time - 21:19
Overall - 45 of 1894 (2%)
Division - 5 of 61* (8%)
Men - 38 of 749 (5%)

Pushing hard during mile 3.

Finishing sprint. Nothing left in the tank.

*I was rewarded 4th at the post-race ceremony, but later was bumped down to fifth. They gave out ribbons for the top 5 positions in each division. I got the 4th place ribbon at the race, and was mailed the 5th place ribbon. This is the only time I've received ribbons for two different places in one race!

Yes, that happened.
The one slightly disappointing aspect to the race was the lack of any real post-race food. There were bottles of water and some pretty nasty tasting (in my opinion) protein bars. But that was pretty much it. The race director did give me gift cards for 3 free pizzas at a local pizza restaurant because of my old race shirt. I hate to say it, but I'm glad I didn't have to pay for the pizza. Not particularly tasty, to be kind.
But...that aside, it's a fun race on a great course. I'll be back yet again.


I'll briefly go over my race results this year. As I said toward the end of last year, 2012 was going to be the 'Year of the 5k' for me. Coming off a serious injury, I still wanted to participate in races, but didn't want to take a chance at prolonging...or injury. This proved to be a wise decision. I also went into the year with the goal of getting a 5k PR, since my existing 5k PR is what I would consider 'soft' (I never raced a road 5k during my quicker high school days.) After my first (frustrating) race of the year, I quickly abandoned that goal. I had a bad experience due to a lack of fitness, horrible weather and a cranky heel on a hilly course. I took (too much) time off—two months—before resuming training in March.
Here's a quick synopsis of each race:

Jan. 14 - Nookachamps 5k, 23:13, 1/6 AG, 22/219 overall. Cold, rain, sleet, snow. Bad attitude, angry heel.

May 19 - Walk & Roll 5k, 23:26, 2/7 AG, 8/90 overall. No base, no speed, no fitness.

Jun. 9 - Flight for Sight 5k, 22:54, 1/8 AG, 7/93 overall. Still out of shape, but a bit quicker. Hilly course. Surprising AG win.

Jun. 16 - Berry Dairy Days 2 Mile, 15:42. Paced oldest daughter. Rainy, 60°.

Jul. 7 - Run of the Mill 5k, 23:15, 19/111 AG, 175/1321 overall. Back over 23 minutes...but on a tough course. Had some bronchial issues.

Sept. 15 - Run For Hope 5k, 23:47, 2/5 AG, 8/62 overall. Took a bad fall on the course, then slowed down. Low mileage due to summer vacations, so wouldn't have been much faster.

Sept. 30 - Summer's End 5k, 22:56, 1/4 AG, 5/109 overall. Race started & ended at my old high school. Another hilly course, but got back under 23 min.

Oct. 13 - Fire Prevention 5k, 22:18, 4/10 AG, 9/70 overall. Finally starting to cut some time off. Recorded a sub-7 min. 3rd mile. Fitness is improving.

Nov. 10 - Fowl Fun Run 5k, 21:53, 2/6 AG, 13/139 overall. Sunny, 36°. Finally back under 22 min (1st time since July 2010.) Closed w/6:48 final mile.

Dec. 8 - Christmas Rush 5k, 21:19, 5/61 AG, 45/1894 overall. Only 4 seconds from current PR. All three miles under 7 min (6:45 for 3rd mi.) Felt good, but left it all out on the course.

Having come so close to a PR in my final 5k, I hesitate to start moving back up in race distances. I'll be running a 10k in January, with another in February, but I do intend to include a few 5k's next year, with the intent of not only setting a new PR, but demolishing the old one. I plan on adding some "official" speed work early in the year as well. Please, body, don't fail me now!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Good Night, Good Night. Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow."

I'll begin with a disclaimer. I have no intention of disparaging running streaks—neither my own nor anyone else's—with what I'm about to say in this post. It just became obvious, for reasons I'll go into, that it was time to end mine.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a definitive reason to start running more frequently. While an ongoing running streak (which I'll now refer to as 'Romeo,' as a reference to the post title) wasn't the objective, that's what happened. After an undetermined amount of days of consecutive running, Romeo began to take on a life of his own. He became an 'entity' as much as a number. That's something I wanted to avoid, before my running-related decisions became influenced by Romeo. That, however, was beginning to happen. One would think that a 1-3 mile easy run would still allow for complete recovery between harder efforts, and one would be…mostly…correct. What seemed to happen was that there was an accumulative effect. The fatigue gradually built up. It became most noticeable after two consecutive weeks of 30 miles of running. Not high mileage compared to what I used to run, but I hadn't totaled 60 miles for two weeks in over TWO YEARS. What started as 1-mile easy runs with the dog on my recovery days gradually grew to 2.5 mile, slightly faster, runs with the dog (the dog needed it, believe me.) Add to that some speed work and a couple of long runs in the second of those two weeks, and the graffiti appeared on the wall. I ended up not only becoming fatigued and slightly re-injured, but I came down with an upper respiratory illness (that's still with me, as I write this.) Whether or not Romeo contributed to the illness, I'm not sure. It has probably prolonged it, though.

With that said, though, Romeo was enjoyable and helped to keep me motivated to run.

[Okay, 'Romeo' has run his course. From here forward, the streak will be called 'Amos Otis'—center fielder for the Kansas City Royals during the '70s and early '80s.]

Amos Otis did teach me that I could do far more than I realized. When Amos Otis began, I had no idea I'd be able to run every day for even a week, let alone 11 weeks. Aside from the latter stages of Amos Otis, I felt like I was in a groove and getting stronger.

However, as much as I enjoyed most of Amos Otis, I remembered that my main objectives as a runner are to:

1. Stay healthy & injury-free
2. Recover fully
3. Race well
4. Have fun!

I feel like I can achieve these objectives a little more effectively without Amos Otis. Hey, chin up, Amos.

Now what? Since I'm planning on riding in the Seattle to Portland bike ride next summer, I'm going to dust off the bike (and the trainer, and the bun-hugging cycling shorts. Sorry, ladies, I'm spoken for) and start putting in some time on the saddle. At least a couple of runs per week will be replaced by bike time. I also plan on taking AT LEAST one complete rest day per week. That means no cardio, no strength training. Just letting my body rest & recover. I'm an old guy, after all.

I'll wrap up by giving you the final Amos Otis numbers:

Consecutive days run: 77
Miles: 266.1
Avg. Miles Per Day: 3.5
Long Run: 9 miles
Minutes: 2317.78 (38.63 hours)
Average pace: 8:42
Races: 4

[FYI—any future references to Amos Otis will be changed to Count Dracula]