Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Year in review

The year-end best movie/song/album lists are coming out, so it's probably safe for me to roll out the recap of my 4th year as a runner.

I'll finish the year with about 1565 miles, assuming I hit 183 this month, my high for the year. I had a lull in September after hurting my ankle running 50 miles for the first time, but I'm feeling strong as the year draws to a close.

Here are a few things I'll remember:

SCORECARD: 2 5Ks, 1 10K, 2 15Ks, 6 half marathons, 6 marathons (counting one to come 12/31), 1 50K, 1 12-hour, 1 24-hour -- 405.44 race miles
PRs: 5K (19:23), 10K (42:20), 15K (1:02:57), half marathon (1:29:51), marathon (3:12:55), 50K (4:40:02), 12-hour (50.4 miles), 24-hour (57.04 miles). Yes, I set a PR at every distance I ran this year. Some still have major room for improvement (50K and 24-hour, obviously).
RUN OF THE YEAR: Dash Down Greenville. Two weeks earlier, I'd gone into Cowtown with a big checklist: first ultra, qualify for Maniacs, and hit the marathon split in 3:15 to (presumably) qualify for Boston. But the weather turned against me and wretched tendinitis made for 23 miles of pain. I took a week off and managed just 3 2-mile runs the next week before it was race day again. With the pain gone and my legs clearly much stronger from the long run and recovery, I ripped off a 32-second PR.
DUD OF THE YEAR: Tyler Rose Marathon. My first race back from the aforementioned injury was a mighty struggle and a reminder that while I should never have to worry about just finishing a marathon (barring catastrophic injury), I can't just roll out of bed and go nail one. Over an hour slower than my PR -- tougher course, yes, but that doesn't account for it all.
EVENT OF THE YEAR: Grandma's Marathon. Nothing ever happens in Duluth, except for this race. And they've been doing it for 35 years, so they've got the kinks worked out -- the organization was terrific. Spectator support was the best you'll see outside of New York, Boston or Chicago. I don't repeat events as a general rule, but there's a decent chance I will go run this one again.
NON-EVENT OF THE YEAR: Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Marathon. My view might be a little skewed based on what just happened in Las Vegas, but in hindsight, the biggest problem there was also the biggest problem for my race: too many people. We all know that Competitor is a for-profit operation and they're as likely to cap race entries as I am to turn down a piece of pumpkin pie. But at some point they need to understand the laws of diminishing returns. The expo was too crowded. The start was too crowded. The finish was too crowded. And as a bonus, the course was terrible -- there was very little to look at, including, outside of about 2 areas, spectators.
I registered for Boston as somewhat of a charade. I figured the race would fill up during the registration window for folks who beat the standard by 5 minutes. When that didn't happen, the message board prognosticators still didn't give me and my BQ-2:05 much cause for hope. So on the day of the announcement, I just plodded away at work as usual and, frankly, completely forgot about obsessively checking the BAA website for updates. Then I got the notification of a mention on Twitter and suddenly it was time to party.
HOTEL OF THE YEAR: Candlewood Suites, downtown Mobile, AL. Just a few blocks from the expo and start/finish of the First Light Marathon. Very friendly staff, and quite affordable (it's not a huge race so they don't gouge you).
DUMP OF THE YEAR: America's Best Value Inn, Texarkana, AR. I tried to go cheap for the Run the Line Half Marathon. Big mistake.
BIG GOALS FOR NEXT YEAR: Run the New Year's Day marathon to complete the New Year's Double. Finish Rouge-Orleans alive. Break 19:00 at Dash Down Greenville. PR at Boston. Run 6 marathons in 16 days in the fall to hit level 6 of Maniacs (my schedule has to be reworked as one of the races I penciled in will be a week later next year). Go sub-24 at Old Dominion 100 or Cajun Coyote 100.

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