2014 Running Year at an End

I realize that I could technically still run today, but I decided that I was going to take it as a rest day.

When I sat down in October 2013 to analyze what was going on with my running and how to fix it, I realized a lot.

The most important thing I realized is that I WANTED it. After three years of bad running I was done. I wanted my running back.

I used 2010 as my bench mark. Despite it being my first “official” Year of running, I did a lot right that year… only I didn’t know it at the time.

My mileage in 2011, 2012 and 2013 was dismal in comparison. Hell, 2011 and 2012 combined barely hit my mileage from 2010. I knew how I needed to get back on track and I knew that going about it slow and steady would be the best way to go about it.

So that is what I did… Slow and steady. My ultimate goal for the year was to be consistent again and my other goal was to revert back to my 5 days a week of running.

Two very simple and basic goals. But I also, quietly, set another goal… Yearly Mileage.

It had been three years since I had hit 500 miles and I desperately wanted to get back there. But at the same time, my mileage for 2010 had been 646.80 so I made 650 a secondary (and really main) goal. I wanted to beat my “golden” year… because that is what 2010 was… a golden year… but I didn’t want it to be anymore. Instead, I wanted 2014 to be my new golden year. So I set another goal for myself… 700 Miles.

Honestly, it was a rather arbitrary number when I choose it and there really was no rhyme reason other than it being nice and round. But it became my lofty goal.

But then, all of sudden, it wasn’t lofty anymore, it was very much attainable. So I went for it. I knew what I needed to do in the remaining days of December to reach my goal. And I WANTED it.

Yesterday was officially the end of my running for the year. I finished it off with a 2.04 mile run even though I had originally planned for 3 miles. But since it was so cold I decided to cut it back a little bit since going to my gym wasn’t an option for the night. But I only needed 1.56 miles to reach my 700 mile goal.

And with that run, I not only ended the year with the highest mileage ever but I also managed to hit a goal that seemed very lofty to me at the start of the year.

I can honestly say that this year was a HUGE success for my running. I hit goals that I had never intended to even try for this year…. In fact, they were going to be 2015 goals. But I found my magic running recipe. I also found the courage (and the support I had helped) to deal with my running demons. Because of the faith some people had in me, I was finally able to start trusting myself with my running again.

That is my biggest take away from this year, I can trust myself again. I know that I have what it takes to truly get where I want to be. I know that I am stronger runner than I ever have been.

With all of this knowledge, I am prepared to embark on 2015 and a whole new set of goals.

My sincerest wishes for a wonderful and prosperous New Year to you all! I can’t wait to share another year of running with everyone!

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Weekly Training Report: December 22nd – 28th

Dec 22 - 28

Monday – Rest

It was chilly and raining out. So mom ordered a pizza and we stayed in for the night. But I have started to do stairs with a small group of co-workers. We go to the bottom and then take the stairs up to our floor… We are on the 25th floor and there are 22 stairs between floors (yes, I counted). It’s a fun break in the day and I am really enjoying it.

Tuesday – 3.12 Miles

Christmas Miracle! Weather in the upper 40s… In Chicago… In December!!!! I asked mom if I would be in a lot of trouble if I ran after work… I had to promise only 3ish miles but it was totally worth it! However, I was significantly overdressed for this run. I could have easily have worn Capri’s and just a long sleeve and had been more than warm enough… Oh well. Also did stairs with my crew again… though significantly quicker than the day before.

Wednesday – Rest   

Christmas Eve! I had to work in the morning and then was working from home in the afternoon but luckily there were essentially no emails or phone calls. It was rainy and chilly so I didn’t really have much of a desire to run outside anyway. Since Chris is a sports writer (a single sports writer at that) he usu7ally has to work holidays. But he had Christmas Eve off so I invited him to join my parents and I for Christmas Eve dinner at my favorite restaurant, Calo’s. There was a lot of laughing :-p

Thursday – 5.01 Miles

A Christmas Miracle – Part Two! The sun was shining and it was relatively warm. After opening presents, breakfast and forcing my parents to watch A Christmas Story, I headed out for a run. I had fully expected my Garmin to take a while to locate satellites but was pleasantly surprised when it only took a couple of minutes. I decided to do two loops so I could get in 5 miles. I felt like I was running slow and wasn’t feeling the greatest, which wasn’t too big of a surprise given the amount of junk food I have been eating lately so I expected the run to be over a 10:00 pace. However, when I got home, I discovered, not only that my run was below a 9:30 pace but I also ran the first mile at sub 8:00 pace. I have NEVER run a sub 8:00 Mile… and sure this one was a 7:59 but it sure as hell counts!!!!!

Friday – Rest

Had to work a full day and after work I took full advantage of access to a car and my parents CostCo membership. It was sunny and warm and I really wanted to run in the middle of the day but that whole job thing makes it a little difficult :-p

Saturday – Rest

After breakfast and a couple of quick errands (gotta love access to a car). Mom and I left dad at my place while we headed downtown to do some shopping. There were lots of amazing after Christmas sales and I took full advantage! Sadly the nice warm weather had to come to an end as a cold front moved in.

Sunday – 5.02 Miles

Winter was back in full force but the sun was shining! I headed out for two loops. It was one of those days where no matter the direction you were running it was always into the wind… which made it a tad more chilly. But I felt good throughout the run and loved being in the sunshine.

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I knew this week I wouldn’t get in 5 running days with my parents in town but I made the best of the running I was able to do. Beyond thrilled that I got a sub 8:00 mile for the first time ever. Really very please with the running week.

A Holiday Letter… Blog Style

What a year it has been. That statement relates to my running as much as my personal life. But since this a (mostly) running blog… lets keep it to topic.

After figuring out what was causing my issues with being nausea at the end of 2013, I jumped into the new year with a plan of attack. I was beyond determined to bring my running back to the levels of 2010. I set out with a modest plan to start off the new year. And after the insane winter we had, my plan ended up being pretty smart. I cut back on mileage and ran at my gym on the indoor track. I would then add in some basic weight-lifting after the run.

By the end of February I was done with indoor running and was desperate to head back outside. It was still bitterly cold but I layered up a ton to deal with it. Despite knowing that I found out was caused me to be nausea, I noticed that I was still scared to do a longer run.

But I forced myself to do the running anyway. Then in the beginning of April, fear came back full force. Added to that was the possibility of an injury… which turned out to be needing new running shoes.

My trip to Boston was definitely one of my running highlights of the year. Obviously, I did not run the marathon but the trip was centered around the Marathon… and all things related. I got to run a 5K while there and it was an incredible race where I got to run across the same finish line of the Boston Marathon. It was truly an amazing experience.

When I got back, life got in the way and I struggled to get back on track. Then it was only a couple of weeks out before my first goal race of the year. I decided to just say hell with it for the rest of the training cycle. I had a simple goal and I was still pretty confident I would nail it. At least, that was until I had major GI Issues on race day which caused me to walk most of the 9th mile and thus missing my goal but a little bit.

Started off the summer with two plans that sort of lined up. Since I am not a fan of running in the heat, I had decided that this summer I would try cutting back on mileage and just focus on running at least 5 days a week. I also decided to give the summer run streak a try. I succeeded and started to notice that I was getting faster as well… at least until I got a cold. Clearly my body likes rest days.

At the end of July I was laid off from my job and I was devastated. I threw myself into running because I felt like that was all I had left. Not only did I change my nutrition and it seemed to be working well for me, but I had the free time to deal with my running demons.

Three years of running issues and being terrified of running long all came down to one run… an 8 miler. I was beyond freaking out but a call from someone calmed me down as did knowing that this person had more faith in me than I did myself. The endless support while I fought the demons throughout the training cycle was a huge help.

Over the course of 8 miles, I fought hard. I knew I was physically capable but I had failed so many times before. But this time, I didn’t fail. When I looked down at my watch and saw that I was at 8 miles, I stopped and cried. I had finally done it… three years of issues and most of this year battling and I finally did it!

The best thing about that run was that I was no longer afraid. I did a 10.47 mile run the following week without fear and without even the hint of a freak out.

Throughout dealing with my running demons, I was PRing all the 5Ks I was running. I was nailing goals that I had been missing for years without even really trying. But I still set a time goal for myself for my favorite 5K. I was running with a friend and I wanted it…. I also nailed that one!

I was offered and accepted a new job but still had a trip to NYC and another goal race.

Finally got to cross something off my “to run” list… running through NYC and Central Park. The entire trip was a blast even if I did get little to no sleep.

I lined up for my goal 10 mile race knowing I had made foolish choices the week prior in NYC. I had also set a massive goal for myself. I knew it was within reach but I also knew I was going to have to work for it. The race did not go the way I wanted it to but I still got a nearly 14 minute PR so even though I missed my goal, I still had a successful race.

The rest of the year has been just maintenance running… And attempting to help Chris change his diet and his running with the hopeful end goal of a BQ

There were lots of highs and lows to the year. But despite the lows, I look back on my year of running and it was incredible. Not only did I have incredible support but I also got to run with some pretty incredible people this year. In training and in races, I have been surrounded by people that I am honored to have in my life.

Running is known as a solitude sport but being able to share the highs and lows of training and races with other people is part of the reason why I love running so much. Well… that and runner’s high…

I am not sure what to expect from 2015 but I have rough idea in my head. But I do know one thing for sure, it will be another incredible year with incredible people in my life. With another year of running coming to a close, I am excited for the next year of running.

HUGE Thank you to everyone (and there was more than one person) that was there for me while I fought my running demons, your support and faith in myself was what I truly needed. Not only did I face the demons and win, but I also gained something that I have not had in years – Trust & Faith in myself and my running abilities. It is with this faith that I am enter into the new year with goals that I wouldn’t have considered a year ago.

November in Review

November 2014

Yea… I have been stellar at this balancing a new job and this running thing and blogging thing. But the holidays are crazy… I will find a routine eventually….

November wasn’t quite the month I had originally planned. Especially since poor choices in NYC led to no running pretty much the entire first week of November. I decided to ease back into the running while working thing by cutting back mileage a little bit just to get a feel for the schedule.

Conclusion – I HATE running in the dark!!!! Like really really hate it!!!

I quickly discovered that running on weekends might be the best option for me since I would be able to run without being in the dark. Despite my extreme dislike for running in the dark, there really is little option at this time of year. So I took a grin and bear it kind of approach.

Noticed that I started to slow a bit but also figured out that I really need better running tights. The few times I have run in slightly warmer temps my old pace has returned so I know I still have it in me I just don’t do well in the extreme cold.

I managed to get in three races and PR’d two of them… though neither was the time I wanted. Slightly bummed about that but I really shouldn’t be too upset about a nearly 14 minute PR in a 10 mile race. And the 8K was just NOT my running day.

Nov Short 2014

Despite a not so stellar start to the month, I still had quite a bit of success. I will admit to being annoyed that my pace was slowing but since I did have a few runs where the old pace returned, I think I can safely assume the cold is messing with my body a bit. Apparently I don’t run as well in either extreme… hot or cold

Managed to stick with some of the longer runs though I wasn’t really running with much of a plan and just kind of going with whatever I felt like doing. Not the best idea but also what I could manage while re-entering the working world. I learned quickly that I needed to not worry about my mileage so much and just kind of go with it.

Also did most of my longer runs with Chris… We started a new project to try to get him to a BQ. This began with nutrition… which is a HUGE work in progress and has often lead to stupid arguments (on his part) that make me want to smack him. Essentially he starts everything off as an argument, which he argues (ha… yes… word choice) is due to his Italian roots. I just think he hates being wrong :-p

And for the record, he has mentioned these arguments on his blog and is fully aware of my desire to smack him after these arguments.

Nov YtY 2014

Despite the lackluster start to the month, I still managed to have the highest ever November mileage… by a LOT. But it was a significant drop from October.

Nov Average 2014

I am, however, pleased that my average stayed above 4 miles for the month and my pace stayed below 10:00. So definitely a small victory there.

Overall, I am pleased with the month even if there were a few hiccups.

Weekly Training Report: December 15th – 21st

Dec 15-21

Monday – 2.00 Miles

It was raining when I left work. Though I am ok with running in the rain, I didn’t think doing so in 40ish degree weather the week after getting a cold would be smart. So I headed to my gym to run there instead. It has been several months since I have been back to my gym and it has definitely been some time since I have run indoors. I knew that the run would be more challenging mentally but I also knew it was the best I was going to get. I decided to run only 2 miles instead of the 5 I had been doing (or trying to do) daily. I was pleasantly surprised in that the run wasn’t as mentally brutal as I had expected. I was even more shocked when I finished the run and discovered that I had the entire thing at a sub 9:00 pace. That was a definite first

Tuesday – Rest

Went into the week knowing that I would be taking Tuesday as a rest day. We had a team dinner to chat outside the office and just have a good time. The food was incredible and I felt incredibly content being surrounded by my new co-workers. It was an awesome evening!

Wednesday – Rest

One of the positives about all of my meal prep (I will eventually do a post on that) is that I eat healthy 95% of the time. I rarely out so I always know what is in my food. The flip side of this is that I since I rarely eat out, my body isn’t used to it. Despite the food being yummy and not feeling I had too much eat, my body apparently did not appreciate the decadent meal. My stomach felt off the entire day and I slept horrendously the night before. Essentially, I was miserable the entire day. I went home and did not run and was out cold by about 8:30 that night.

Thursday – 3.36 Miles

After a good night of sleep my body was back to normal. I opted to run without a worrying about mileage. I also am really over running in the dark. After 3ish miles I was good and decided to head home. I felt decent but also felt a bit dehydrated so didn’t want to push it. But overall it was a decent run and I was surprised at my pace.

Friday – Rest

Made plans for the night to go to Zoo Lights. And since it had been an insane day at work I was much in need of alcohol. Luckily, I was not the only one who felt that way. After Zoo Lights, we grabbed a couple drinks and some food and chatted.

Saturday – 3.32 Miles

In my mind I was running 5 miles but my body didn’t want to get out of bed or off my couch. Eventually I managed to run my errands but still wasn’t feeling up to running. I also forgot to grab a water bottle before heading out for the errands and didn’t remember to purchase a bottle of water at the store. Feeling incredibly thirsty, I resigned myself to not running. But by the time I got home, I was feeling guilty. So I downed some water and headed out. I was definitely dehydrate because I was feeling it way too much after one of my loops. I managed to tack on a little bit of hill work but was just done.

Sunday – Rest

The parents were scheduled to arrive at 1 so I figured I would be able to get 5 miles in before they got here. While drinking my coffee, I got a text that they would get here at 12:30… Which meant the run was likely out of the question. By the time I was done with coffee and eating breakfast (if I start drinking coffee I have to eat before working out) I had barely an hour to get in a run… and that is not including time to change into running gear, wait for satellites to locate and then shower post run. This was also assuming they wouldn’t get here early…. so I made the decision to bail, which ended up being a good thing because they were knocking on my door at 12:25.

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Yea… Not a good training week at all. At this point, I am not too worried about training. Since I am not running Disney for time, I don’t need to worry too much. Instead, I just need to be prepared for being a little more sore than I want to be. With the parents in town this week, I don’t plan on running much. I might try to get in one run during the week and then I will run after they leave but it won’t be high mileage this week either. Still need to think ahead to the new year and how I want to train… all in good time…

Goals

I went into the 2014 running season with one very basic goal… to get and maintain a solid running base. The main idea behind this was to be consistent with running again and this would then set me up to be in a good position to work on my race times for 2015.

But then I magically got faster and so did my race times. I PR’d a LOT this year. It was all quite unexpected.

Don’t get me wrong, I am THRILLED. But at the same time it now leaves me wondering what to do for 2015.

I have always believed that sometimes to reach an end goal; you need to put in a lot of basic work to get there. Slow and steady progress has been the name of my game. It is why I put together a plan that covered a year for a running base. It is also why I generally put together a longer training plan when I focus on a single goal race.

There is another reason for this, of course. I like having a little bit of leeway in my plans. Occasionally stuff happens and you aren’t able to train as much as you want. If you have a plan with no wiggle room, and you skip several workouts (though perfectly normal) it can sometimes be difficult to get back on track.

Essentially I build myself a safety net.

This may or may not work for other people. But it does work for me so I am sticking with it.

But there is now this sticky point about goals for 2015…

I do still have time goals in mind but not as many as I originally envisioned having. So I am starting to explore other goal options to set for myself. I think I have a plan of attack but I am not entirely sure yet.

Last year by this time I had my entire 2014 plan roughly mapped out. I knew what I wanted to do and when. I had my goals races picked out and I knew what I race time goals I wanted to set for myself.

But as the old adage goes, life is what happens when you are making plans. It was an unexpected year (in more ways than one) and I accomplished a lot. The best surprise I got was facing my running demons and killing them.

I have a new outlook on running and perhaps I should use my new running confidence to set my goals for 2015. Hopefully I figure this all out before January 1st 😛

In case I don’t, I will more than likely stick with my original January plan. Go to Disney and just have fun!

Weekly Training Report: December 8th – 14th

Dec 8 - 14

Monday & Tuesday – Rest

I spent both days feeling incredibly run down and was worried that I was starting to come down with a cold so I opted to take my rest days at the beginning of the week. It was also cold and raining so I had very little motivation to push through and run anyway. But I still managed to be mildly productive and made a decent dent in my holiday cards

Wednesday & Thursday – Rest

Despite resting Monday and Tuesday to try to avoid getting sick, I ended up getting sick anyway. I had a nice little head cold and was beyond tired. Both nights were spent with hot steam and getting acquainted with my couch. I was also in bed and out cold early (even for me) both nights… Stupid body

Friday – Rest

I was feeling much better and more like myself but still had a bit of a sore throat. I knew running outside would not be smart so I was thinking about a short run at the gym. But when I got home my couch was calling my name and I felt like another rest day would mean I was all better the next day. So in the end, reading on my couch won and I went to bed early.

Saturday – 3.35 Miles

My last extra day of rest was what I needed… I no longer had a sore throat. I jumped into my morning activities of Haircut, Errands and the grocery store. Then I managed to some Christmas present wrapping… before Christmas Eve so I am way ahead of the game here. Then my friend Michael stopped by for a run, Zoo Lights and Hockey watching. The plan was to run 4 miles but since I was setting a bit too quick of a pace and thus killing Michael, we cut the run a little short. We did run into Eric at one of the water fountains though so he joined us on the last little leg of the run. Zoo lights was a lot of fun as was hockey watching… even though the Blackhawks lost. As much as I wanted to stay up later I was crashing fast at the bar and knew I was done for the night. I was in bed and out cold by about 9:30

Sunday – 3.15 Miles

Despite a good night of sleep, I woke up feeling like all I wanted to do was continue to sleep. I attempted to fall back asleep for about 45 minutes before I gave up and got out of bed. But the feeling of needing more sleep wasn’t going away. My original plan was to run 7 miles but it was quickly becoming evident that my body wasn’t up for that. After I ate breakfast, I ended up falling back asleep on my couch for about an hour. When I woke up, I was actually pretty content with a decision to not run but I still needed to do my meal prep for the week. Once that was done, I felt like I could manage a run of some sort. I didn’t think 7 miles was going to happen but knew I could manage at least 2. I still wanted the 7 miles and REALLY wanted 5 miles but I was struggling through the entire run and barely managed to get to 3 miles. Since I felt horrible for the entire run I was shocked that the run ended up being at a sub 10:00 pace because I had fully expected to be closer to a 10:30 pace. Minor victories.

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The week was definitely a wash as far as training goes. Even though it wasn’t a terrible cold, I could tell it was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and take it easy since I had been running around like a crazy person with little to no down time lately. But it is a new week and I have a mini plan of attack