Saturday, January 06, 2018

2017: A year to remember

I've been meaning to write some sort of recap post on 2017 for ages and I'm only just now finding the time. And 2017...what can I say? After a really, really hard 2016 that left me wondering if I would ever see improvements in the sport again, 2017 absolutely delivered. I worked really hard and while I wasn't always rewarded immediately, it all eventually paid. Let's look at the numbers, shall we?

Miles run: 2193 (this may be an all time high?)

Highest weekly mileage: 73 miles (DEFINITELY an all time high)

Races run: 17 (ranging from 1 mile to marathon, including indoor track, road, mountain/road, and 1 race run with Andrew so not obviously racing in any capacity)

New races run: 8

AG/overall awards: 2nd woman x 3 (3 races in a row, lol), 3rd woman x 1, 1 additional AG award (lots of big races/Grand Prix this year = not as many awards!)

PRs run: 6 (4M, 5M, 10K, 10M, 20M, MARATHON!) All of these except the marathon and 5M I still consider to be a little soft, but after a year where I don't think I PR'd in ANYTHING in 2016, I'll take it! I also ran my 2nd and 3rd fastest road 5Ks as well as a post collegiate best in the mile.

Proudest accomplishment: SUB 3:15 (by a large margin), FINALLY!!

Hardest race experience: Boston was rough again this year, but I might have to give this award to the 5K in September where I was hoping to gun for a PR and instead got 70 degree heat, sun, extreme humidity, and literally getting tunnel vision and feeling like I was going to pass out during mile 3. There was also the 5K that some genius decided to put on at 11 am in mid August that included 85 degree temps and sun, but I literally gave up at mile 1.5 so I don't know if I can count that as "hardest". Dumbest, maybe?

Best race experience: a tie, for completely different reasons, between Mount Washington and BAYSTATE

Most ridiculous weather: Black Cat 20 Mile: 20 MILES in 12 degrees, feels like -7, with 30 mph wind gusts! Honorable mentions go to the gale force winds at New Bedford which literally flung me into a fellow runner, and the back to back weeks of 70s and extreme humidity at Providence and Lone Gull.

Best swag: I don't think any of the races I did this year had any extremely notable swag. I really like the shirts from Mount Washington (obvi) and RibFest though

Biggest surprise race performance: Tie between Black Cat, which I was running as a "training run" and wound up with a PR and 3rd overall in super absurd conditions, or Gobble Gobble Gobble when I was hungover and not really training and ran a fairly large PR

Number of falls taken while running: 2, and they both happened within 3 weeks of my goal marathon!

Not noted in the numbers is the fact that I did not have to take ANY extended time off this year due to injury. I had a couple of days here and there that were unscheduled days off to handle a niggle or two (mostly centered around my left hamstring, which has always been a weakness of mine) but for the most part, a very healthy year!

Things I learned this year:

  • Always assume Boston is going to be hot. It just is. Adjust your expectations accordingly and it will probably still suck, but will maybe suck a little less and will actually get you into next year's race instead of having a total meltdown at mile 8.
  • Better to take a day off at a twinge than a month off down the road.
  • Consistency actually works. High mileage actually works. But you have to completely give up on the paces you "think" you should be running to make it work.
  • Running/racing by feel works.
  • Bad races don't mean you're a bad runner.
  • Mountain races are ridiculous, amazing, and I want to do more of them!
Somewhat naturally I think, after the great success of the past year I'm feeling a little bit unmotivated at the moment (the combination of blizzards and frigid temps we've been having the past few weeks does NOT help!) I am signed up for Boston again this year but am trying to stay true to my word to let myself be a little more lax with training this year. Over the years I've been a distance runner I've noticed a pattern with marathons in particular, and that is that it seems to take about 2 years after a PR to reload to the point (both mentally and physically) where the stars align for another shot at a big drop in time. Based on this formula, I know Boston 2018 won't be a PR attempt, and I'm not running a fall marathon due to promises made to my fiancee that I would not spend our first months as a married couple marathon training. (I know, I know...the things we do for love). I already have a qualifier for Boston 2019 and hope to train for that race with a little more vigor, which ideally will jettison into a great summer of training and a sub 3:10 marathon in fall of 2019. I know - check out my two year plan! I guess I'm finally old enough to realize how much more of a long game running is. I've never been able to think beyond the next training cycle but finally noticing this pattern has definitely helped me to plan. I'm not going to lie, it also feels AMAZING to have the pressure off for Boston this year! I of course plan to do a reasonable amount of training and knowing my luck we'll have reasonable weather this year and a less intense training cycle will still probably yield a decent time, but I'm not going to kill myself the way I have in winters past. My goals for 2018 are of a different focus than 2017 and I love that - this is what keeps running fun and interesting!

2018 goals:
- Run at least 3 mountain races
- Run at least 1 trail race (could be as part of one of the mountain races and/or separate)
- Race at least once outside of New England
- SUB 20 5K (this attempt will most likely in the fall but by god, I'm not getting any younger, and this has been the monkey on my back for AGES. I know I'm capable of this and just need to put in some specific training to make it happen)
- Race at least 5 half marathons (at least 1 PR attempt, ideally - I have some races potentially on the schedule in March but we'll see if I'm able to drum up enough motivation to get in PR shape by then.)
- Run a smart race at Boston and ENJOY it!
- Do core/strength/yoga at least 2x/week (I think this has been on the goal list since like 2010 and has never been achieved hahaha)

So that sums up a fantastic year in running! Looking forward to what the year will bring and what sorts of new adventures I will have through running in 2018!