Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Running Goals

I make New Year's goals. I don't care for resolutions. Once you break them or slip up it can be hard to find motivation and to keep going. Goals on the other hand give you something to shoot for. I like the quote, "He who fails to plan, plans to fail." 2013 was a down year for me. Maybe not so coincidentally I also didn't have any goals for the year. This year I won't make the same mistake. Here are my  2014 running goals:

4. Run a sub 4 hour marathon
Not a major goal and possibly not realistic. The only sub 4 hour marathon I ever ran was my first one in 2001. I may not even shoot for it, meaning I may not even run a road marathon. We'll see how the year is going when I get closer to the price increase deadline.

3. Get back to my normal speed in a 5K
I only ran one 5K this year. My time was not surprisingly a disappointing 23:19. To meet this goal and be satisfied I need to get back down to around the mid 21 minute range so a 21:20 - 21:40 would be good.

2. Beat my PB Oil Creek 100K time
This year I had a horrendous race and therefore a not very good time for me in the OC 100K, 18:59:11. That had nothing to do with Tom Jennings as RD or all the great volunteers. The heat really crushed me. I was not ready for 80 degrees in northwestern PA in October. To meet this goal I have to beat my 2010 time of 17:44:24.

1. Have fun!!!
In 2014 I am running my favorite races that are within 3.5 hours driving time. Last year I forgot that one of the three major reasons I run is for the enjoyment of it. I didn't have any new distances to challenge myself, my fitness was not great due to injuries and too much time off, and I forgot to just have fun. This year I plan to make sure I have fun running my favorite races. Hopefully I'll see some of you at these races.

Thanks for reading. What are you goals for the year? Feel free to add them in the comments.

Run Like a Horse,

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Not Your Average Horse

Not your average horse or runner for that matter.

Race horses tend be strong, lean, and built for speed like Thoroughbreds or Arabians. The majority of runners tend be lean or at least pretty light weight. I on the other hand tend to weigh a bit more. Using the horse analogy I would say I am built more like a work horse also known as Coldbloods. Most people think Clydesdales, Belgians, or Percherons, but I prefer Jutlands.

Every so often I get reminders that I am not built like your average ultra runner or regular runner for that matter. The most recent reminder being that my Christmas present, the Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest, just isn't big enough for me. It comes in two sizes, S/M or M/L, and after reading reviews that said the larger size ran large I figured I would be alright. Then again I think the biggest chest size listed by reviewers was 39''. I have a 45'' chest and the vest is listed up to 41'' so I took a chance.

It just didn't work out for me. I may try to exchange it for the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest, which gives me 2 more inches in the chest, but not sure about it. I really do want to get a hydration vest with the bottles up front though. I really like Saloman S-Lab Advanced Skin Hydro 12 Set Pack, which goes up to 46" chest, but not willing to pay $185. I had been eying UD vests for awhile waiting for them to go on sale so when they did I seized the opportunity. I will be following the Saloman vest waiting for it to go on sale as well. My biggest hesitation with it is the black color as black really attracts the sun and the heat kills me. I will still probably take a chance on the Saloman vest though.

I hope you run happy no matter what type of horse you are and that all your tack fits and works well for you.

Run Like a Horse,

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Running Year in Review

We'll start with the numbers: 13 races(one 100K, one 60K, two 50Ks, one 6 hour, one 27 miler, one marathon, two half marathons, one 12 miler, one 5 miler, one 5K, one DNF) and 302.7 race miles for career totals of  244 races, 55 ultras, 22 marathons, 30 half marathons, 12 DNFs, and 3883.6 race miles. 13 races in a year is the least amount of races I have run since 2007, where I also ran 13 races. 302.7 race miles is the least I have run since 2006, when my total for the year was a mere 177.2 race miles.

To sum up 2013 in one word: Perseverance. I am not superstitious, but 2013 was an unlucky year for me. I have never had a problem with injuries and bad luck in running until 2013. Another factor may have been the "what now" feeling after completing the "big one" by completing the Oil Creek 100 Miler the in 2012.

Three weeks after the 100 miler at Oil creek I ran a 50 miler and two weeks after that I ran another 50 miler. That caused me to finish 2012 with the start of what could become an achilles injury so I took off some time. Too much time and it led into the start of 2013. When I did start running I managed to slip a couple of times on the ice on the bike trail at Belmar. I didn't initially notice a problem and whether it was that or my Hokas were past their mileage, I later developed a problem with a ligament or muscle on the inside of my knee that would plague me from March until May when Dr. Dan pinpointed the problem at Katie's race.

I thought I was back on track and my training started to pick up until I severely rolled my ankle in my Hokas at Mohican the second weekend in June, where I suffered my first DNF in 2 years. That put me on the shelf for 6 weeks and it wasn't until late October that I started to feel somewhat strong again.

Perseverance is the key word. 2013 was a rough year. My times were poor and I had some bad races, but finished all but one of them. I only felt good and like I ran a good race at two races this year. They were the Gristmill Grinder Half in April and Dances with Dirt 50K in September on my birthday. Oh yeah I actually did somehow manage to win the 6 hour endurance race I ran at the end of October too.

I also accomplished 2 fairly significant milestones in my running career this year. On March 9th I ran my 50th ultra marathon. On May 5th I completed my 100th half marathon or longer race distance. I ran my first marathon back in October of 2001, but most of those(91) were from 2006 to May 5, 2013.

I kept moving forward though and I actually feel like I am finishing this year stronger and more healthy than I did the year before. My strength training and running are both back on track and I am looking forward to next year, where I will be running my favorite races throughout the year. 2014 should be a great year and lots of fun. Hope to share the trails with some of you. Thanks for reading.

Run Like a Horse,

Long overdue 2012 Running Year in Review

I know it is almost an entire year late, but here is my 2012 Running Year in Review. First by the numbers: 24 races(one 100 miler, one 70 miler, three 50 milers, one 34 miler, three 50Ks,  one 28.4 miler, one 26.5 miler, two 30Ks, one half marathon, one 10 miler, one 16K, one 10K, one 4.6 miler, five 5Ks, and one 1 miler) and 599.4 race miles for career totals of 231 races, 49 ultras, 21 marathons, 27 half marathons, 11 DNFs, and 3580.9 race miles. The 599.4 race miles are the most I have ever run in a year and chances are good will probably be the most I will ever run in a year in my lifetime.

2012 was my most triumphant year. I overcame all obstacles while accomplishing all but one of my running goals for the year and it pretty much went according to plan. Here's a look at my goals and how I fared with them.

7. Be about 10 lbs lighter than I was at most points of the past year
This is the only goal I didn't complete. My 2012 weight was lighter than my 2011 weight for that same date all year, but once my weight got lower it was not 10 pounds lighter than the previous year. My lowest weight of the year came on 25MAY at 209 pounds.

6. Officially finish the central section of the Baker Trail 50 Mile
Mission accomplished. It was a hot day and therefore a rough day. At some of the points where I wasn't doing well I took time to run with friends. I finished it though and knew I was better for it. 

5. Get into and finish the 50th anniversary of the JFK 50 Mile
I did get into and finish the 2012 JFK 50 Mile. It was my second fastest 50 miler I have run and faster than my other 2 JFK finishes by almost 30 minutes. For being a 50th anniversary of the race they really didn't have much that was special about it or separated it from previous years. I am happy to have done my last flat marathon running stretch along the C&O and I do not plan to return again unless I get bored or nostalgic.

4. Finish the Laurel Highlands 70 Mile and redeem a previous DNF
Thanks in large part to running at a great conservative pace with my friend, Scott McCray, for the first 46 miles and the pacing/chasing of my friend, Eric Ripper, in my last 24 miles the Laurel Highlands 70 Mile felt like a breeze. Those factors and God's favor led to a PR by 1 hour 42 minutes.

3. Finish the year with Zero DNFs
God blessed my training and racing in ways I never could have imagined in 2012. Glory be to God that I finished every race I started this year. Not just that I finished every race, but I finished the races that meant the most to me strong.

2. Finish the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile and redeem a previous DNF
I completed this goal, but I will admit it took a little help. Hurricane Sandy dumped some snow that remained on the second half of the course where the elevation is higher. This prompted the RDs to give us a compassionate extra 30 minutes. I am very grateful as I needed 11 of those minutes to make this finish happen.

1. Finally finish a 100 miler at the Oil Creek 100s and redeem a previous DNF
This was "The Big One." As goal #3 suggests this came to fruition. The weather was perfect minus some rain at night. I didn't push. I went out slow and let the race come to me. It worked to perfection at Laurel and was equally effective at Oil Creek. My race strategy was Loop 1: Warm Up Loop - 8-9 hours. Loop 2: Stroll through the Park - 9-10(17-19) hours. Loop 3: Victory Lap - 10-11(27-30) hours. Going Home Loop: The Celebration 2-3(29-33) hours. It was amazing how God blessed me. My times stayed right inside these ranges the entire race and made for a great race and a triumphant finish. It was especially meaningful to accomplish this on my home course with so many of my friends running or volunteering. My wife was volunteering and she know's how much it meant for me to finish and how special it was for her to be there.

Thanks for reading this way overdue review.

Run Like a Horse,