Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - the year in review

This is the first time as a runner that I'm writing an annual recap for my blog.  After the NYC Marathon, I almost wanted to give up blogging entirely, but Amy C convinced me to stick with it, if for nothing else than a personal record of my training, and a tool to chart my progress over time.  Thanks Amy...

When I kicked off 2011, I called it the Year of Rebuilding.  I had some heart drama in 2010, which resulted in an abrupt halt to training, three trips to the cath lab and a less than stellar NYC Marathon (personal worst by > 1 hour, a feat I hope never to repeat).  Following that, I dedicated 2011 to getting myself back to the levels of fitness that I had achieved prior to the heart problems.  Here's what I did:

  1. Ran 1,012.7 miles for the year.  Believe it or not, this is my highest mileage year since I've started running.  I have come to realize that if you want the results, you have to bank the miles.  I think 1,200 is a reasonable goal for next year - will see how it goes.
  2. Signed up with Coach PRSAri G used him, and has had a pretty remarkable progression as an athlete - so I decided to do it as well.  Coach PRS is a good coach, committed to his athletes, and really leverages technology and social media to create a sense of cameraderie among his clients.  I definitely see where having a coach makes you accountable to someone (makes you less likely to miss workouts), but at the same time, it created a greater sense of isolation, as I was frequently doing my workouts alone. I'll admit, I missed the cameraderie (and positive peer pressure) that I had built up with my NYC crew.  I'm going to stick with it in 2012 - my new job offers me less flexibility in my schedule, so I suspect that my group training would have fallen off organically anyway.
  3. Got my weight under control:  I had gained around 25 lbs during the heart drama of 2010, and developed some pretty awful eating habits.  Coach PRS suggested the Paleo for Athletes diet, which I followed pretty religiously.  Sure enough, the weight came off, quickly.  I am now at my lowest weight of adulthood, feeling great, and running well. I have slipped a bit since the marathons are over, but in 2012 I plan to recommit myself to the diet and get things back on track.
  4. Moved up a level with the Half Fanatics.  I joined in 2010 by running two half marathons in 15 days.  This year I ran 6 half marathons in 6 months.  I've learned that I really love the half distance - it is so much easier to recover from than a marathon, and doesn't require the intensive committment that marathon training requires.  Like Ari G, I think I'm a 1 marathon a year runner.
  5. Qualified for the Marathon Maniacs.  I did this by running the Brooklyn Marathon 2 weeks after the NYC Marathon.  I'm not sure that I'll do that again...but I had fun running both (in hindsight).  I also enjoyed running the Christmas Half in my new MM singlet.  People on the course definitely notice you when you are wearing it
  6. Set a half marathon PR (twice):  I set my first PR at the Yonkers Half (surprising, given how tough the course was supposed to be) and again at the Staten Island Half.  This was my key indicator that the Year of Recovery was actually paying off
  7. Set a marathon PR: Even though I didn't have the performance I would have liked in the NYC Marathon (blew my goal time by about 20 minutes due to cramping in mile 19), I still managed to eke out a 2 minute PR.  It was disappointing, but I'll take the PR.
What's coming in 2012?  I don't really know yet.  I ended the year with a bit of burnout on running and training.  I think that the stresses of my new job, family, change of seasons, lack of recovery from marathons, and a savage cold that has plagued my family for weeks have finally took their toll.  I'm hanging up my running shoes for the remaining days of 2011, and plan to revisit things when I re-start in 2012.  Here's what I know so far:

  1. Spring Half Marathon: TBD, but I'd like to focus my training for a spring half - I think a goal of 1:50:00 is tough, but achievable.  My current PR (set this fall) of 1:55:xx was set with 6 miles already on my legs.  With the right conditions, this one is ready to fall.
  2. Fall Marathon: TBD (likely Marine Corps):  I'm going to take a second attempt at a sub 4 marathon.  This early in the year, it's impossible to predict - but that's my goal, and I'll work to it.
  3. PR in a shorter distance:  I think a sub 25 min 5k or a sub 32 min 4 miler is within the realm of possibility, and should be achievable during training for my spring half.  I feel like my performance in the longer distances has consistently improved (as evidence by my half marathon PR) - I think it's time I focused more on top end speed, and the shorter distances.
  4. Run more local races.  I really enjoyed the races that I ran this year, and I no longer feel beholden to NYRR and the NYC Marathon.  I'd like to continue to branch out, check out other races, and enjoy the lower key, more intimate atmosphere that they offer.

In writing this, I feel like I had a better year than I currently recall (this was good therapy for the burnout I have been experiencing lately), and look forward to recommitting myself for an even better 2012.


Neil Harris said...

Always impressed and inspired, Joe.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on a great year! Was great to see your progress over time...