I made some pretty basic and simple resolutions for the year. I knew where I wanted to be with my running and I knew how to get there. As far as my running goals go, I had two. I wanted to build a solid base and focus on running 5 days a week. These two goals go hand in hand and I choose to take a very slow start to the base building. So let’s review…
In January, I spent most of my time at the gym. In case you lived under a rock… or decided to completely block it from memory, it was BRUTALLY cold in January… Well all of winter really but January was by far the worse. I focused mainly on running at least two miles a day five days a week and for the most part nailed it. I am also strength training on a regular basis. Only ran one race because I took a DNS on the first. Not bother by that as much as I had been because the weather was just horrendous. I would say January was a HUGE Success.
For February, I had originally wanted to focus on running three miles a day five days a week. But that didn’t entirely happen. We were busy at work and I was working longer hours plus going to gym straight from work. My days were roughly 15 hours long and I was starting to feel the fatigue. To top it all off, I was finding it more and more difficult to get in the mileage indoors. Mentally, it is a lot more difficult to run indoors for me and it was becoming a losing battle. So I started to add in some extra rest days. But despite taking more rest days, I still had my highest Feburary mileage ever so there was that.
By the beginning of March, I was DONE with indoor running. I found a good spot to run that was clear of ice and always well maintained… the zoo parking lot. Started running laps there to avoid the LFT which was beyond bitterly cold… being just a couple blocks off the lake was a HUGE help. Despite thinking I was over my fear, I later learned (though never wanted to admit) that the fear was very much still real. I was adding in a longer run once a week but I was still anxious every time I needed to do the run. The month was successful but the fear and anxiety was starting to get ugly toward the end of the month.
I went into April with a lot of hope and then everything went to hell in a handbasket. My first week was a success and then everything after that was failure after failure. And thus, fear and anxiety won again. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the main reason I started to bail so easily on running was fearing my longer run. I HAD found the cause of the nausea issues and it was gone but the fear was still there and I failed to notice that. Further, I failed to analyze what was really going on with me. Easily the highlight of the month was my trip to Boston to spectate the Marathon. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.
To say that May was a bad running month would be an understatement. I threw in the towel on training and decided that ignorance was bliss when it came to running SF10. If I didn’t run and discover how much I had lost then I could be completely unaware of how horrible a race I was going to have. But despite that theory, I also prepared myself mentally for a REALLY bad race. But the race was not as bad as I had anticipated and if not for some GI Issues, I likely would have nailed my goal. After the race, It was time to get back on track and I used the Summer Run Streak to get me there. At least one mile a day from Memorial Day to 4th of July.
June was the month of the Run Streak. When I started the streak, I wasn’t sure how it would go. I had never run every single day and I suspected that my body would fight me for it. But, as the month went on, I discovered that I was surviving. If I felt tired I would only run my mile to keep the streak going. The other thing that I started to notice was that my pace was starting to get faster. It was also a really busy month in general. I had a couple of races, took some really awesome workout classes and volunteered at Ragnar where I met some really awesome people that lead to me joining a new team which continued the meeting of really cool people.
I decided as the streak was coming to end and July was starting that I wanted to extend the streak. But my body had other plans and apparently really does need a rest day. I got a cold and was sidelined for a week, thus ending my run streak, and forced me to take a DNS on a race I was really looking forward to and thought I would PR. But despite that, I still had a very successful month. I also noticed that my average pace dropped even more. I was getting faster and wasn’t entirely sure how or why since I wasn’t doing speed work. The last day of the month, I received a HUGE curve ball when I was laid off from my job. All of my original plans went out the window.
August was… well… interesting. The first week of the month I was an emotional roller coaster. There was a constant battle of wanting to be alone and also not wanting to be alone. Which doesn’t make that much sense but there was a constant back and forth. But in the end a trip to MI to visit my Aunt and Uncle… and do lots of Jell-O Shots, helped me deal. There were also a handful of people that really helped me through it all. Despite having all the free time in the world, mentally, I just couldn’t a lot and I lost a lot of the motivation I had to start strength training again. Instead, I threw myself into running. In fact, I clung to it. For the third month in a row, my average pace got faster. No longer did I think that was a fluke and instead it became fact… I WAS getting faster. I also used the lack of a job and more free time to start trying out a new nutrition strategy. I ended the month with a 5K Race and finally nailed a goal that I had been chasing for three years. The month started off rocky but at least ended well.
With September came my good friend fear and anxiety. I never sat down and made the conscious effort to deal with my running demons, but that is exactly what I did. The entire month was a mental battle. A failed attempt at a longer run (which I ended up completing successfully) didn’t help matters either. I was forcing it and not having a job made it a little easier to force it because I could completely freak out if I needed. And oh boy did I do a lot of freaking out. I was lucky in that I had someone fully supporting me throughout all of this. This person had far more faith in me than I did in myself. They knew I was completely capable and supported me even when I had zero faith in myself. For me, it all came down to one run… an 8 miler… an 8 mile run with demons. The run scared me to no end and I was beyond freaking out. But a phone call of support helped me out big time. It calmed me and it gave me the mental strength to do battle. The run was a huge success and I finally felt like I had trust in myself to train the way I wanted to. For the 4th month in a row my pace was faster. I also managed to pull a random 5K PR out of thin air… A race that I never set as a goal race and had zero intentions of running for time. Kind of amazing what happens when training goes well.
October was an incredible month. My 8 mile run was what I needed to get rid of my running demons. I had a LOT of solid training. I did CrossFit twice which I really enjoyed but lack of car and schedule has made it difficult to get back out there. I also managed to do my longest training run ever! I wasn’t alone on that run and the support was awesome… It was also the first long run without a freak out in years. I got in my first ever trail run and LOVED it! I also want to go on more trail runs… but that requires schedules aligning with the person who will take me there. I focused on my race at the end of the month. A goal race for me. I already had a new shiny PR but I wanted a new goal… and it would also be a PR if I nailed it. I also had someone running it with me. The day before the race, I was offered and accepted a new job. And in less than a week I would be in NYC to have a lot of fun with friends. Not only did I nail my goal… but I smashed it… by a LOT. And thus came another shiny new PR. The last week of the month, I realized that I was within reach of a 100 mile month… which I missed because my left calf was overly tight which caused a weird in the back of my knee. With another goal race a week away, I didn’t want to take any chances. Missing the 100 mile month still irks me…
Ahhhh November… Not the month I planned for but such is life. I started off the month by crossing a huge must off my running “to do” list… run through NYC and Central Park with the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line. I figured if I ran a race in Boston that crosses that finish line (and continues on for another half mile) and I have run a race in Chicago with the same finish line (Shamrock months before the Marathon…) then why not cross the same finish line of the NYC Marathon? The weather was less than stellar but I still enjoyed the race. I also got see an awesome play while in NYC with Chris… awesome and also quite the tear jerker. Spectating the marathon was fun and it caps off a year of World Marathon Spectating. I then discovered that apparently I cannot read a calendar correctly and ended up road tripping it back to Chicago with Chris. It was a fun trip… even if his singing involves hitting notes that only dogs can hear. Then I had a goal race to prep for… except everything I did in NYC and back in Chicago leading up to the race was counter-productive. I still managed a nearly 14 minute PR at the Navy Pier race but I missed my goal time by close to three minutes… and it still bothers me. I started my new job and the entire month was spent adjusting. The running took a bit of a back seat and I discovered I hate running in the dark.
I’d like to say that I ended the year on a high note but for the most part I slacked off. Despite that, I managed to get in some decent miles to give myself my highest ever December Mileage. To top it all off, I also hit my lofty goal for the year and ran just over 700 miles in total for 2014. Started cross-training to a degree with doing stairs as often as possible with my co-workers. It was my first month with no races since February… which is an odd feeling. There were some races during the month that I considered signing up for but ended up deciding against it. Oddly enough, this December was far better weather wise than last December so racing wouldn’t have been a bad idea but oh well.
2014 can easily be summed up as my return to running. It was a terrific year! There were a few bumps in the road and I didn’t COMPLETELY stick to my goals but looking at the broader picture, I would say that overall I accomplished all the goals I set for myself. 2015 is a new year and I have new goals for myself. For the first time in a long time, I have confidence in my running. I know what I am capable of and I plan to use this new found confidence to tackle 2015.