2014 Year In Review

My 2014 season swag!

My 2014 season swag!

Sorry for lack of updates the past two weeks or so. There were citizenship parties, Christmas parties, a long drive home to Ohio, a week of playing with the nephews and hanging out with my family and friends, and a bout of the flu.

As we come to a close on 2014, I felt it would be a good idea to look back and see what I accomplished over the past 12 months. So let’s dive right into it!

Running

  • Total Runs: 142
  • Total Distance: 809.73 miles
  • Total Time: 134:32:58
  • Favorite running place: along the Mississippi

    Favorite running place: along the Mississippi

    Overall I’m pretty happy with my progress here. In 2013 I ran 150 times, for 725 miles, so both my pace and my distance increased year over year. I felt I did a better job of maintaining my running throughout the year, though I still had the all-too-familiar May and June dip in mileage (festival season in May, plus traveling for vacations). I missed my 1000 mile goal (again), so I know where I need to improve to achieve that.

    In terms or racing, I completed a 5k, 5 miler, 10k, two half marathons, a full marathon, a sprint triathlon and a 4 mile turkey trot. That is by far the most I have raced in a year. I also set a PR in the half marathon (2:01:55) at the Germantown half marathon, which was awesome.

    Biking

  • Total Rides: 38
  • Total Distance: 458.28 miles
  • Total Time: 26:09:14
  • First bike ride downtown!

    First bike ride downtown!

    Considering I started 2014 without owning a bike, and having not ridden a bike outside in years, I consider this an accomplishment. I got my bike in April, and once I hit marathon training in July I basically stopped riding, so this was pretty good. I plan to spend a lot of time on the trainer this winter, and to ride more outside once the weather warms up. I really need to get comfortable in traffic. There’s just no comparison to riding outside.

    I’ve gotten the Garmin Edge 510 and cycling shoes for Christmas, so I’m all set with goodies to help. Really looking forward to increasing my bike mileage in 2015!

    Swimming

  • Total Rides: 36
  • Total Distance: 18.87 miles
  • Total Time: 19:00:11
  • This may seem like a low total, but I am thrilled. Why? Because I finally learned to truly swim freestyle! I went from not being able to put my head underwater, to being able to swim 1000 yards without stopping. I still need to learn flip-turns, but baby steps. I am very proud of my progress with swimming. Not so much with my open-water experience, however. That’s another area I really need to work on next year. We have planned a few trips to the nearest swimming holes for when spring and summer hits, so hopefully my winter in the pool will pay off.

    Favorites

  • New Race: – awesome 5 mile race that goes over a variety of terrain, low key but fun
  • Result: Germantown Half Marathon – Set a PR by over 11 minutes, with a 2:01:55. Sure, I came up 1:55 short of my goal, but considering this was the day after the downtown St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and it was raining, I’m amazed at how well I did.
  • Old Race: Bardog 5k – I’ve done it four times now, and will always do it so long as I’m in Memphis. It benefits a great cause (St. Jude), it has great support, all my friends run it, and it has the best post-race party ever.
  • Accomplishment: Memphis in May Sprint Triathlon – I had always wanted to do one, and I did it! I almost drowned, I came in way too close to dead last, but I did it!

    So there you have it, my 2014 year in review. It was a great year, with a lot of accomplishments. I’m proud of my progress, and I know I can do better. Onto 2015!

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  • Tuesday Tidbits

    Woohoo!

    Woohoo!

    Ah Tuesday. After a weekend of rest, and Monday errands, Tuesday is the day I get back to running. But first, a quick recap of last week…

    Tuesday – 3 miles in 26:00 on the treadmill at the gym. I think all treadmills should have strong fans attached to them to simulate airflow when running outside. Good grief.

    Friday – Christmas exchange with Ro! I got her two tickets to The Lion King when it comes to town in February. She’s been wanting to go for awhile, so this should be fun. I got a Garmin Edge 510 GPS Bike Computer*, which I had wanted for quite a while. I was so stoked to get it, I set it up that night before going to meet some friends for holiday cheer.

    Saturday – Too much holiday cheer. I woke up not feeling 100% and decided I wanted to stay on the couch all day. I did manage to get a short, 15 minute spin on my bike. I also set up Bluetooth pairing on the Edge 510 (as well as my Forerunner 220). I really love the auto-upload feature, it makes things so much easier. I was asleep by 9PM.

    Sunday – The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I went outside for a 40-minute run. It felt a bit rough, like I was out of breath after only a few minutes. I managed 4.65 miles before my time was up. And again, my watch was paired with my iPhone so it uploaded the data to Garmin Connect right away. Sweep feature!

    This morning, I hit up the treadmill again for some intervals. I did 5×400, starting at 8.0 and increasing by 0.3 for each successive repeat. It felt pretty easy, but I always feel like that when I run on the treadmill; there’s really just no comparison to outside. With a warm-up and cool-down, I managed to knock out 3.65 miles. I also did some core work before heading back home to get ready for the workday.

    Diet-wise, I continue to struggle there. Cereal for breakfast, I had teriyaki ginger chicken from Bangkok Alley for my work birthday lunch (they forgot mine….plus two other coworkers, so we went as a group). Leftover pizza from the bar was my dinner, as it was about to go bad so I felt I had to eat it. And I’ve had two cookies. I gotta stop this sweets addiction I’ve got going on. It’s killing me.

    I’m working on two posts to close out the year: my 2014 year in review and my preliminary 2015 plan and goals.

    Thanks for reading!

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    Thinking of Next Year

    Ask any runner, and they’ll tell you with some certainty what their first and second thoughts are after finishing a race:

    1. I am NOT running another race anytime soon!
    2. What race should I sign up for next?

    The only real variable is the time between these two thoughts. I’ve known people who signed up for their next race a few months after finishing. I’ve known a person who signed up that same evening. Don’t think you’re immune to this…everyone goes through the same process.

    Signing up for a race can be a strong motivator and way to keep yourself accountable. If you don’t have a race, you may not be compelled to put on your shoes and hit the road when it’s cold out, or you can’t be bothered to hop on the treadmill and endure that boredom otherwise. Racing keeps you into the swing of things. It gives you a plan to follow.

    For myself, I usually sign up for a few things after picking my A races. NYC was an A race, so I signed up for some stuff before and after. This way it’s hard to slack off in between (though, based on how little I ran after NYC, who knows how well that worked). Right now, I’m already starting to think about next year and what my goals are.

    I know for certain I will not be running a full marathon. I’ve done two in back-to-back years and I’m ready for a break from that grind. It’s not the race or the aftermath, it’s how all-consuming the training can get. So I’m focusing instead on shorter distances, from 5k to half marathons, and possibly some triathlons. I’ve already got my early season stuff on the calendar. I’m not ready to commit to some of them, but once I identify my A races, I’ll be ready to sign up for the rest.

    Stay tuned for my future race plans! And leave a comment with what you’re planning to do in 2015!

    Race Recap: 2014 St. Jude Memphis Half-Marathon

    The short version: I finished (2:27:05)

    IMG_1491

    The long version:

    As I wrote the other day, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon weekend is great. It raises money for an extraordinarily awesome cause, and it’s right in my backyard. Seriously, the start and finish are two blocks from my apartment. Compared to the logistical nightmare that was NYC, this was a cakewalk.

    However, I hadn’t trained for this. I ran only a few times, for limited mileage, since I got back from NYC. My mind wasn’t ready to run again, and I’m not sure my body recovered. But I signed up for it and didn’t want to punk out. I adjusted my expectations and made it my goal just to finish.

    I picked up my packet on Thursday after work. The convention center is right down the street, so it was a short walk. There was no security line wrapping around the block, no massive crowds of people to fight through, no annoyances. Easy peasy, in and out in five minutes.

    Saturday morning I woke up and had my typical oatmeal and Gatorade. I was still feeling a bit sick from dinner Thursday night. Instead of carb-loading, I protein-loaded at a Brazilian steakhouse for a friend’s birthday. I didn’t know meat sweats could last for two days…I was still feeling it a bit that morning. With the start right outside, I left my apartment at 7:25 for an 8AM start. It was awesome. Compare that to New York, where I left my hotel at 6:30AM for a 10:25AM start.

    IMG_1490

    It was a bit chilly out. I had been debating which long-sleeve shirt to wear, opting for my NYC one. That morning, however, turned out to be pretty windy, so I switched to a short-sleeve shirt with my NYC quarter-zip on top. Plus, as always, my Chicago Cubs hat. I got a bit warm, but it worked well. I placed myself in a coral with Ro and some of our friends, aiming for around 10:30-11:00 pace. The race started right on time, and we crossed the start at 8:16. Game on!

    Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 2.11.10 PM

    The first five miles take place downtown, with mile 4 being on the campus of St. Jude itself. This is where most of the crowd support is. Bands, people cheering, it’s all pretty nice. Going through St. Jude is always emotional, as patients and their families are out cheering for you. If you look up, you can see young patients waving and cheering from their windows. It’s awesome. I kept things pretty well in check throughout this point, knowing that miles 5-12 are, shall we say, boring.

    When you hit mile 8, you enter Overton Park and begin the climb. The path is narrow, there is no support in the woods, and you are the furthest point from the finish. It’s a bit depressing, to be honest. You are in the park until 9.5, when you get to Poplar Ave. And then you climb some more. I don’t get when people say this is a flat race. It’s not. Sure, it’s not a high amount of gain, but you feel it. Along Poplar, this is when people start walking. I made it to mile 10.5 before I started with a walk break for about 5 minutes. I picked it back up before taking another walk break during mile 11.5-12.5 or so. Once you go down Union Ave., the half splits from the full marathon and we head for home. The finish is at the ballpark, which is great. I smiled and raised my hands in triumph.

    Post race, this year there were some issues. Two years ago, I basically walked out of the park after being handed a bag of food/drinks, much like MCM and NYC did it. This year, you had to wait in a series of lines to get out. First, a clear plastic bag to hold your stuff. Then PowerAde. Then water. Then fruit cups. Then real fruit. Then cookies. Then pizza. Then Soup. Then donuts. THEN you got to fight through crowds to actually get out of the park. It took me an hour to get out, which is nuts. And there is NOTHING worse than having to stand in line when you are tired and cold. My legs were hurting bad.

    Anyway, I grabbed some pizza with Ro and we walked home. After some stretching and showers, we took a nap. All in all, it was a good race, just different compared to MCM and NYC. It feels tiny by comparison, and not as well supported. But I know that’s just in my head, because this city gets behind it in a big way.

    And with that, my 2014 season is officially done. Thanks!

    Running a race with no training? Why not!

    IMG_1489

    Well, this should be fun. Tomorrow morning I will toe the line for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon half marathon. It’s an excellent race, one that I did in 2012. It benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is a very worthy cause. St. Jude caters to families that have a child battling cancer. Families are never asked to pay anything, and the hospital survives on donations and grants. You are hard pressed to find anyone in this community that doesn’t support St. Jude in some way.

    As for running, this will be rough. Since New York, I have run four times, for a grand total of 16 miles (longest run: 6.1). I haven’t kept a good diet, I haven’t been hydrating, and I haven’t been training. I’ll still see what I can do, but I expect to be closer to 2:30 than 2 hours. And to be in some pain around the nine mile mark. But it’s for charity, so it’s worth it.

    I’ve had a long history with this race. Back in 2011, I registered for the full and it was going to be my first at that distance. Instead, at the beginning of November my knee started hurting, so I backed out. I ran the half in 2012. I was scheduled to run the half again in 2013, but bad weather forced it to be cancelled. Tomorrow the weather looks perfect: mid to low 50s, overcast and no precipitation.

    I don’t have a time goal here. I’ll start around the 10:30 pace group and stick there for awhile. If I feel good, maybe I’ll try to move up. Otherwise, I’ll just keep it nice and easy, take in the signs and cheers, and relax. No pressure on this one.

    Feel free to track along if you’d like!