I mentioned previously that I was in the process of coming up with a revised plan for this year. Before all my injury issues, my plan was to focus on short distances, culminating in a May 10k as my A race for the spring. Unfortunately, most of my base phase for such an effort has been spent swimming, arc trainering, rowing, and basically anything else that is not running. Fortunately, after three and a half weeks of nothing, today I feel ready to get back to something that feels like actual training. Of course, the first few weeks returning to running are sometimes even more difficult than not running at all. The whole restraining oneself, both in terms of effort and in terms of volume, does not fit in well with my obsessive push-harder mentality.
At any rate, during my layoff I had time to revise my plans for the spring season, and the year in general slightly. I still want to focus on shorter distances early and the half marathon again in the fall. The big difference this year is the amount of races I’m planning on running. Last year I believe I ran nine races total. I PRed in a number of them and spent a lot of time in between just putting in some solid training. I still want to focus on a small number of key races but I want to enjoy myself more. So I’m planning on doing more than double the number of races I did last year. As it sits on my schedule right now there are nineteen races in the plan, eight before the end of May. I’m also planning to mix it up more on the trails. Last year, aside from a hilly birthday ~9 miler, I didn’t do any trail races (I don’t really count the NCR as a trail race given how flat and wide it is). Considering I feel one of my biggest strengths as a runner is… well my strength and my ability to navigate the ups, downs, rocks, roots, etc of a trail better than most, I want to race on them more. Most will be local races here in Baltimore or close by (Delaware, Philly, Annapolis) and all are between 5k and 10 miles. I’m not expecting a PR at every race, most will serve as fitness gauges and/or quality workouts for the week, especially early in the season. The Broad Street Run 10 miler in Philadelphia on May 1st will be one target race, and the Ridgewood Run 10k on Memorial Day in NJ will be another. Instead of talk about every single race I’m planning on here, I’ll create another page to list them and eventually link to race reports and whatnot.
The summer will be about beginning to focus on the fall half marathons. There’s a bunch of track meets that I’m excited to jump in and run some short distances (sub-5:00 mile finally?!). There’s also the Finger Lakes Fifties Trail Runs in July. I went last year and paced my awesome ultrarunner friend Ashley on the last lap of her 50 miler and fell in love with the area, the course, and the race. This year I’d love to race the 25k.
The fall will be similar to last year, focusing on the half marathon distance. This is where things become tentative. I’d LOVE to go back down to the Rock N Roll Virginia Beach half . I had such a blast working the Brooks Cavalcade of Curiosities at the expo there last year and would do that again in a heart beat. This year, though, I’d also like to race it. I know my good friend Johnny will be doing it and I have fond memories of racing in Va Beach (see: first marathon ever there). I’d also like to do the half marathon that’s run concurrently with the Philadelphia Marathon. It seems like an ideal course and time of year to finish off my fall season and shoot for that sub-1:19 I’m looking for.
Part of the reason I’m racing so much more is that I really enjoy the whole atmosphere around races. The early weekend morning, the bananas, the runners all doing their own warm-up thing, my routine, the adrenaline of standing on the starting line moments before the “GO” command, the suffering of the middle miles, the white hot burn of the final kick, the rush of relief of the finish line, testing myself against other runners, testing my ability to suffer and persevere, and so much more. Not to mention the fact that even if it’s not a “goal” race, and is serving as just a rust-buster or a workout, I find I can get more out of it then heading to the track to run some quick laps by myself, my stopwatch the only observer. And, of course, there’s the appeal of maybe winning something eventually (it’s been a goal since last year after all) and representing Brooks to the running community.
Another reason for the increased racing is that I decided to join a running club down here. I’ve been hesitant to join any sort of organized club for years for a number or reasons. Mostly shyness coupled with a somewhat irrational fear of being too slow. After running a couple races put on by the Baltimore Road Runners Club last year and really enjoying it, and the overall impression and feel I got from the members, I decided to get over my insecurities and sign up. They put quite a few races throughout the year, fairly low key and very well run. Some are part of a Grand Prix series which adds a fun element to the whole year. I’m hoping I also find a few new local running friends and possibly training partners from it. It’ll be nice to have a group of runners I fit in with; my first since tenth grade track.
Of course, these are the best laid plans. I know to write them in pencil. But for now it’s what I’m looking forward to and if you don’t dream ambitiously, why bother dreaming at all?