2017 Review of My Running

This has been an interesting year for me in my running world. There have been some great highs with amazing experiences to go with them, but there also have been some lows that did take away from how great this year could have been for me. I look back at everything with a slight frown because deep down I know what could have been instead of what it was and that is frustrating to say the least. What follows here will be a brief synapsis of the running adventures I had in 2017.

The first race I participated in was my annual Samson Stomp and Romp Run/Walk 5K at the Milwaukee County Zoo. I love this race and it’s how I’ve started my year off for the last 5 years. The one major reason I sign up for this race (other than getting to run through the zoo because that is awesome!) is that the cost benefits programs the zoo provides for their visitors and kids. 2017 marked one of my best ever 5K times as well in this race (I believe I run faster because typically it is so damn cold at this run) with a time of 23:05. My goal is to get a top 5 age finish so I can take home a cool trophy. (It’s a mini gorilla!)

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Jumping forward to March will also jump us to when my 2017 plans changed ever so slightly. Plans for run streaks or monthly challenges kind of went away during the Lucky Leprechaun 7K race. During this race, I pushed myself (nothing crazy) but more that my legs on that day were ready. The end result was a hamstring that I guess you would have to call strained. It wasn’t a muscle pull in the way it would hurt but it also didn’t go away. It changed my daily workouts for a chunk of the year as I avoided “leg day” all the way until November when I slowly got back into some light weight lifting. But my runs suffered throughout the year. Any short runs or races I was unable to really push to hard because the hamstring would never loosen up. And on the other side, it usually took the first two to three miles in any long run for the pain to subside or at least fade into the nether regions of my mind so I could continue to push the rest of the long distance. This was the lowest point of the year, even though I didn’t really fully know it until each week turned into months into the remainder of the year.

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The middle of April, and by extension due to some email tag, early May, brought me into the world of BibRave and becoming a BibRavePro. I had applied before but hadn’t heard back right way and still continued to engage in the great running conversations that take place 8pm CST on Twitter every Tuesday! I was so happy to become a Pro and be able to offer advice and represent the group at races. The first race I was able to wear my BibRave gear proudly at was the RAM Racing Bigfoot 10K/5K Trail run in Wisconsin and I had a blast. Another part of the program is being able to test out various running related products and then blog about, chat about and compare notes about via all the social media outlets available to you. It’s been such an experience to learn new techniques and ideas about running as well as new products, like the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones which now allow me to listen to music while still hearing my surroundings. This was one of the products I was able to test and it truly was life altering when it came to running outside.

 

After that there were other various runs throughout the spring and summer as well as some new additions to my wardrobe. I had made a giant mistake with my running career concerning sneakers, as in the first real pair of running shoes I had I managed to run…906 total miles in. Yeah, so I wasn’t aware for some idiot reason that that was not a good thing. So the early spring brought me new sneakers as well as late summer. I don’t think I’ve ever bought four pairs of sneakers in the same year, ever. First up were some new Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17’s and a pair of Hoka Bondi’s. In the photo on the left below, the shoe with its tread showing is the 900 miler…I don’t know what I was thinking! The late summer/early fall pickups were a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18’s and a pair of Brooks PureCadence 6’s. So far, I’d say my impression of the two new fall shoes is a good one but more testing is needed.

 

 

Most of my late summer and early fall, other than the race here or there, was for training for the biggest running event of my life: the Chicago Marathon! I was amazed I as selected and quite intimidated by the training I had to do. There were a lot of long, hard runs in some not-so-pleasant weather but who knew that I would end up helping myself. Race day came and I was prepared as best I could be, especially for the unseasonably warm/humid weather that Chicago experienced that day. My 20 mile training run consisted of 90+ degree temps and some nasty humidity that I trudged through that day. Who knew it would come back to benefit me during the race. My body was ready for it and for that I was proud of myself. I wrote a previous blog about my experience so check that out for more on the run, but I will say that running the Chicago Marathon was an amazing life experience that I’m not sure I can ever repeat. All of it was incredible.

There was a race after that weekend, a 10K, that I competed in and did well considering it was a week post first ever marathon. But that would be the end of the race circuit for me. I had a few more options I had been hemming and hawing on, but ended up not committing to them. I continued running but without purpose and that was difficult. Even when on a short vacation in a warmer climate, I ran but there was nothing there emotionally. I was running for the cardio, for the contrast to eating and drinking not so healthy foods. But with no upcoming race I wasn’t finding a competitive spirit inside…and the hamstring was still bothering me. It took a some time but on December 11, I called it. I ended my running for 2017. Pulled the plug to give the leg and hamstring a break. The pic below shows where I finished for the year in mileage. It’s an improvement over 2016 but well short of the 1,000 mile goal I had set for 2017. I am hopeful that taking these last 3+ weeks off will have helped and maybe did some healing work for my hamstring. 2018 so far has me doing my second marathon in April. I have to be ready. I have to start training in the near future. But I can only hope the leg cooperates with my plans.

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So there is 2017 in a small nutshell. I hope I made the right decisions with shutting down at the end of the year. I hope I didn’t make the wrong choices to continue training and running in preparation for Chicago. The long term might be very very bad. I hope for a better 2018 and I hope to reach my goal, once again 1000 miles, this year. And if I can exceed it, well all the better. 2017 wasn’t a failure by any means. In totality, it was an amazing success with future potential all over it. I’m just harder on myself sometimes, but, hey, that’s what makes us stronger runners, right?

Happy New Year to you all!!

And happy running!!

Please comment or offer up any thoughts if you like!

My First Marathon: Chicago

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I’m not sure where to begin so I guess I’ll start with the lead up to my first ever marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  A lot of training and overtraining went into this race for me. I started way way way to early with some of my long runs which in turn led to a strained right hamstring which has been bothering me for the last 6 months, even after taking a three plus week break from running in April. But there were other races to prep for and I plugged away anyway. Fast forward to Saturday night, the eve of the race and my nerves were all over the place. I had trouble falling asleep and then didn’t get to sleep until after 11:30pm. From then on I was waking up each hour and checking the clock. 1:15am. 2:38am. 3:40am. Finally the next time I awoke was when the alarm went off at 5:15am. Then began the process of getting dressed and geared up plus taking in some nourishment before leaving the hotel.

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The packet guide said to be there by 6:00 to start the process of getting through security and into your respective corral, so I took that to heart. If I only knew that I probably could have slept another 25-30 minutes and been fine…Sigh, oh well. I got there with plenty of time and that’s including the fact that I didn’t leave my hotel until 5:50. The security line went quicker than the line I chose to use for the bathroom. Then I got to my corral and stood around wondering where everyone was. Plenty of room to stretch out and then some.

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And then the race began, after a rather long wait in that corral. Wow. Wow again. I have never felt that bit of energy and emotion and feeling before in a race. The crowd was amazing. I don’t know how else to put it. I had on headphones but never even turned my music on until the 15th mile. The cheering was so loud and motivational and then there was all the various pieces of music all over the course and at the aid stations. I was so juiced up I felt great. Every neighborhood seemed to try and outdo the other with cheering, overall support or by offering water/spraying water/different treats and snack (like Twizzlers or orange slices) and then there were pockets of music coming from people’s windows being pumped out by stereos. Just amazing. Great. Awesome. Inspirational. It made running this race a little easier for me. Now, don’t get me wrong. As the race went on and mile 3 turned into mile 15 and then to mile 22, my knees began hurting, my left heel was sore, my shins were pulsating some, but surprisingly my hamstring didn’t effect me as much as I thought it would. I received a moral boost at mile 16.5 when I got some high fives and cheers from family that had come to watch and root me on. That was a powerful feeling when I saw them and that moment of seeing them gave me a little extra fuel in the tank when it was starting to dry up. And then finally that finish line came into sight. Up the incline and around the corner and there she was. I took out my phone and looked like a dork as I filmed myself get closer and closer to the crossing point. I just wanted to capture that big marker being passed over my head. I had done it. I didn’t quit. I finished the Chicago Marathon, my first ever.

It will be a medal that I will cherish for ever. Something that if I had been told about doing it even two years ago, I would have said you were crazy and insane and that I would just stick to half marathons and shorter distances. And never has a post race beer been tastier too, lol. If you were to say you wanted to run a marathon, my suggestion would be to run Chicago. It’s a nice flat course. And it is an amazing experience that you won’t forget.

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If  you have any feedback or thoughts or questions, I would love to hear from you!

Happy running!