Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thanks, Year 2015

Hello readers (presumptuous, but maybe you exist).  I'm still running.  In all honesty, I have felt compelled numerous times to let this site silently fade into deletion as there are plenty of runners writing training and race reports out on the Internet.  There's no real need for me to contribute by presuming you (reader) should be compulsorily interested in my crowing about the intricate details of my training for and competing in running races.

That being said, I also feel compelled to at least use this site as a vehicle for showing some gratefulness for the joy I have gotten out of running this year.  The joy of life that comes from human relationships, the spiritual, and intellectual growth is far more important than running, but this is a running blog.  I will presume that you (reader) have arrived here because you are (for whatever reason) interested in my running and tales of self-afflicted physical struggle.

Last year's big volume training cycle in the fall ended with a stress reaction in my shin.  After many weeks and a failed attempt to get back to running while it still hadn't healed I finally started running again on October 20th.  I haven't missed a day since.  Hallelujah.

You (if any locals do read this infrequently updated running log) may have been driving over 45/46 at the 10th street stoplight and spotted me sparsely clothed and on the grass median heading north, waiting for a break in southbound traffic to finish my diagonal highway crossing toward the IU cross country course.

You may have seen me waiting on Heady road, balancing on one leg and stretching my Griffy-lake-asphalt-hill-pounded quads while I waited to dart through highway traffic and onto Fee Lane.

I might have been seen on the grass at Bryan Park, running loops around the open field for an hour or two while it likely wasn't actually warm enough to be without a shirt.

Your car might have whizzed by me in the rain on Hillside drive as I returned, with a pained look on my face from a hilly out and back on Lampkins Ridge road.

Many of you have told Katie: "I saw your husband running."

I've been out there a lot this year.  I've been blessed to spend plenty of time at my favorite places.  The year's training has given my body plenty of aches and pains, but no real injuries to speak of.  Above all else, my thoughts are of gratefulness.  I'm thankful to all my friends who have shared miles on the road and trails with me this year.  It's been a good one.

This spring, I wanted to run an under 18 minute 5K on the road.  At the only 5K I ran, the field was sparse up front and I ended up in first place with a 5k-cherry-picker envy inducing 18:06.  I didn't get my goal, but then again I've never won a race.  A talented junior high girl could have bested me . . but it was fun and I got to see my dad finish his first ever 5k while I waited to be awarded my ten dollar Starbucks gift card prize purse.

I ran the best race on trail I ever have, recklessly sprinting downhills and gradually dropping my friends and other runners at the halfway point to get a ten minute lead at a 50K in Brown County.  My friends ran smart and know my kamikaze trail pacing usually ends in disaster, so I was desperate to prove just once that foolish optimism occasionally pays off.  I carried no fuel or water while maintaining my stride through dehydration, dizziness, nausea and a pounding headache, all the while accelerating and pushing myself through a fast last 10k all the way to the finish line - only to discover in my stupor I had a cut almost a mile off the course on the last stretch descending to the finish.  I let the timing folks know I should be immediately disqualified and flopped down on the grass by the finish line, satisfied that the effort provided it's own intrinsic reward.

In June, I woke up at 5AM for an early morning time trial attempt at a sub 17 5K on the Brown County track.  The humidity was stifling, and I faded after a mile but still ended with a 17:59 track PR.  I kept on running and ended the day feeling effortless at near 6 minute pace to complete 40 miles on the track at the Brown County Relay for Life.  I got to run with friends and Katie while she finished her first ever marathon distance, all on the Brown County track as well.  I had lingering peroneal tendon pain (around the ankle for you non-doctors) for the next month from all the left turns.  That was the most memorable running day of the year.

I trained for a sub 5 minute mile all summer, but never actually raced one when my training got derailed by a busy fall at work.  Later this fall, I attempted to break 5 minutes at a low key out and back mile race with friends on the B-Line and negative split the uphill half mile return for a 5:12.  That was a personal best as well.  The numbness that took over my arms, head and face as I sprinted the last quarter of the incline ranks right up there with the most memorable feelings I've ever experienced physically while running.

I trained hard all fall and hoped for a fast course and cool weather to run a close to 2:50 marathon.  Instead I got another vomit inducing, warm and humid day (in December) and managed to run a 2:58 marathon during a 27.2 mile 3:06.  I'll forget about the wrong turn a third of a mile from the end that added an extra mile of disappointed emotion and sorrowful jogging to the finish.  I'll call it a 27.2 mile PR.

This year, I improved as a runner while managing to not do anything the way I planned or achieving any of my goals I had set.  Even in the low stakes world of amateur sub-sub-sub-elite recreational running, I don't have anything to be getting cocky about.  Every race experience was flawed in execution, but each brought me memories worth every mile I ran in preparation.  I just love to run and I got do it to the best of my ability all year long.  

2015 has been a good year.  Thanks be to God, family, friends, and the millions of unpredictable cells that held this past-it's-prime but slightly faster body together.

Happy New Year!