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Good year or not - looking back, looking ahead

Posted Jan 04 2010 8:05am
In some ways, last year was my most disappointing athletic year in a long time.

I only ran 846 miles for the year, and only 211 in the last six months of the year. December was my second lowest running month (when reasonably healthy) in the past 25 or so years. My annual running mileage was less than half of my average for the past decade.

I failed to even start a snowshoe marathon last winter when I came down with bronchitis on race week.

I tore a hamstring tendon in April while sprinting in a game of kickball - a meaningless game that made me feel even more stupid about the injury.

I only made it 13 miles in a 50 miler on Memorial Day weekend. I only made it 26 miles at Western States before missing a time cutoff. It's quite likely that this was my last attempt at Western States. The fires of 2008 really stole my best shot at that race; I was fit and ready to go that year.

After Western States, I only raced twice the rest of the year. I ran a very slow 5K and I did a PR on a mountain hill climb. I credit that more to my lifting than any other training.

I had a Platelet Rich Plasma treatment done in September for my hamstring. It helped, but the doctor now thinks a second $900 out-of-pocket treatment is in order. Worse than the money is the pain of the injection itself.

Over the last few months of the year, my diet went to crap, along with some motivation and I weigh 20 pounds more than a year ago. So, overall, I'd say my health and fitness went in the wrong direction last year.

However, there were some very good things that happened last year.

I skied 40 days last year and I can't remember a skiing day that wasn't fun.

While I only ran 112 different days, I lifted 116 times. I greatly increased my strength and ended the year with new PRs in all three of the powerlifts.

I bought a used racing bike and rode that all summer as an alternative to running. My longest ride was just under 50 miles, but I had a number of great shorter rides, including some rides with friends. I'm looking forward to continuing to cycle over the coming summers.

Early in the season, I ran my fastest time ever on the Trail Animal Don't Run Boston 50K course. This was an encouraging start to a running season that got cut short just a week later.

I made a job change, becoming the director of IT for a small startup software company in the area of disease management and chronic care. While we are still young and struggling a bit financially, the work is interesting and meaningful, and I'm glad I made the change.

My family is healthy and doing fine. I've been married to a great woman for more than 23 years now. My son started driving this year and he's doing well in the car, plus he has really improved his grades in school recently. My daughter is an outgoing and popular girl who lives life at 100mph. I get to ski with her on weekends and I really enjoy our time together.

I turned 48 two days ago, so I'm thinking ahead to my 49th year in 2010. Unlike many previous years, I think this year will have very different goals than recent seasons. My goal for the past two years was Western States. This coming year, I want to improve my health. I want to have fun with my training. I want to have my hamstring progress further than it has so far. I need to lose the weight I gained the second half of the year.

For now, I'm going to spend my mid-week days lifting and running. After I'm done skiing for the year, I'll increase the running and add cycling. If I'm having fun as I increase the distances - either running or cycling - that's where I'll focus. But, I simply want to enjoy my workouts rather than being driven by race goals. If I run any ultras at all this year, it will be something short and late in the year.

When I look back at this coming year, I'd like to say that I'm more fit than a year ago. I'd like to see a leaner guy in the mirror. And, I hope I had fun getting there. If that includes racing, I'm fine with that. Or, if I simply spend this season preparing to race in 2011, I'm fine with that as well.
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