Last year saw some ups and downs with my running, racing, and all things fitness related.
In 2014, I started training more seriously. I switched to a gym with equipment better suited to my non-running goals. I ran more than I ever have in my life. I found no luck with personal trainers at my gym. I got a running coach. I found a trainer outside of my gym who understands and is as committed to my goals as I am. I PR’d my favorite distance. I got directed off course in a goal race. I really got into stair racing. I experienced some physical setbacks that hindered my training and affected some of my race results.
Prior to August 2013, I’d never tracked my mileage ran before. However, I never ran as often or for as long as I have since I started tracking it. At the start of 2014, a Facebook friend of mine posted a status saying she planned to run 500 miles by the end of the year and planned to post her progress for accountability. Annoyed by this public declaration of hers, I decided I wanted to run 500 miles, too. So I did. It wasn’t easy, though. But after trailing her for most of the year, I ultimately ended up beating her. She hit 500 on the second-to-last day of the year. I hit that mark with more than a week to spare. Not including warmups, which sometimes lasted up to a half mile, my final total for 2014 was 515.70.
I realize 500 miles in a year might not be a lot for many runners, but my goals aren’t all running-centered. If I’m not running, I’m usually still training by doing something else — either climbing stairs or doing strength work in the gym. (Unfortunately, I didn’t track my stairs climbed in 2014.)
Here’s my mileage breakdown for the year:
BLUE RACE SHIRTS:
In 2014, I ran or climbed in 15 races. Of those, the race shirts I received seemed to follow a pattern. One shirt was maroon, three were gray or black, five were white, and the remaining six were all some sort of baby blue/powder blue color. Considering that all my non-white/black/gray race shirts in 2013 were green, I really think race directors must get together each year to decide what the hot color will be for the year… I wonder what 2015’s will be???
– Not understanding where the laps started/ended at the Icebreaker Indoor 5K in January. I lost probably 20 seconds off my finish time because on my last lap, I stopped at the apparent start line marker on the track, not the line that was the finish line. Because it wasn’t clearly marked as the finish line. I must’ve missed an announcement or something, though, because everyone else seemed to have it figured out.
– An unrelated neck issue in April and May that got in the way of my training and caused me to fall behind in my preparation for one of my favorite 5Ks in June.
– Foot issues caused by probably some combination of new running shoes and a gym workout I’d done that caused me to fall behind in my training in September.
– My two favorite 5Ks changed their routes. The Rock N Sole 5K in Milwaukee ditched the Hoan Bridge, which was my favorite part of the race, due to construction or something, and Run With Wolfes in Menomonee Falls changed venues altogether to accommodate the addition of an 8K to the event. In its first four years, it was a road race; the venue change made it a trail run.
– Getting misdirected off course by volunteers at the Run With Wolfes 5K. The venue switch seemed to cause a lot of race-day confusion for everyone involved, including when to start and where people should be running. I was in second place in the race at the time the first place runner and myself were pointed down the wrong trail.
– Finishing SkyRise Chicago ten seconds slower than in 2013. I got sick leading into that race, and I felt I had recuperated enough to finish sub-20 (I finished in 20:01 in 2013), but the 103-story Willis Tower climb makes it a beast of a race, which I really needed to be in better physical and mental shape for. It became the second building I’ve climbed more than once… the other building I’ve climbed more than once I’ve climbed four times and have improved every time. I didn’t anticipate finishing slower. It was a majorly frustrating feeling.
– A week into my neck issues, somehow pulling off a 20:23 finish at the inaugural Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K in April. It was my second-fastest 5K to date, and I didn’t expect to get anywhere close to that due to my neck pain/soreness, as well as a really cold, windy race day weather. Sub-highlight of that race: there was awesome music playing, including a crazy electro-soul song I wish I’d asked the DJ about. (Maybe that’s a lowlight then, because I’ll never know what that song is…)
– Mustering a 5:57 finish at the Schlitz Park Miler in June. I pushed myself HARD in that race. After just getting back into training following my neck issues, I was legitimately concerned I wouldn’t be able to finish sub-6.
– Ten days after the Schlitz Park Miler, PR-ing a one-mile race in Michigan with a time of 5:27. I ended up starting much faster than I wanted to, and burned out in the final quarter mile, but I was more than pleased with the result… my previous one-mile race best was my 5:52 at the 2013 Schlitz Park Miler.
– Running with my new running coach’s team at Al’s Run in September. The 8K was my longest race to date, and I finished in the EXACT time I aimed to finish in. Then getting to hang out with “real” runners and hear what they had to talk before and after the race was probably a better part of the experience than how I finished.
– Continuing to improve on my race times up the 47-story US Bank Building in Milwaukee. In March 2013, I debuted with an 8:01 and improved to a 7:39 that November. In March 2014, I finished in 7:21, which I bested this past November with a 7:02. Sub-7 is next!
– The overall stair racing experience and increased success in those races. I traveled to Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chicago (multiple times), and Los Angeles for stair races. I became acquainted with a few of the top stair climbers in the US, and I notched a handful of top-ten overall finishes. For those keeping score at home, I even advanced up to 131st among all men in the national stair climbing rankings.
– Watching Stephanie become a beast. The first half of the year saw her dominate the female competition in stair racing, while the latter half saw her dominate other women in CrossFit competitions. Not only did she finish 2014 ranked 12th among all women in the US at stair climbing, but she finished the year ranked 34th in the world! And of the six CrossFit competitions she competed in, she took the podium at five of them… one third place finish, one second place finish, and three first place finishes! She even won her own barbell at one of them!
Although I’m currently battling a developing toe blister that could affect my running in the short term, I’ve otherwise learned (and am still learning, really) things I need to do for my overall body maintenance while training, and I’m making it a point to follow through with them. I want to progress, and injuries won’t help. As for the training itself — the things that will make me better — I’ve gotten settled into a good routine with both my running and gym training schedules. I feel like I’m on a program that will help me succeed in getting closer to my goals for both running and stair climbing.
I’m pretty excited for the upcoming year with my fitness pursuits. Through the end of April, I’m currently registered for two foot races and four stair races. I have another two possible stair races potentially on the docket, and then after that I’m looking forward to one-mile season opening up in the summer. I also wouldn’t mind finding a two-mile race somewhere to try my hand (or feet) at.
Right now, my only concerns about 2015 are whether Rock N Sole and Run With Wolfes will go back to their old, or more suitable, courses, and whether I’ll be able to participate in any portion of the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival, as it’s being held the same weekend as SkyRise Chicago at Willis (Sears) Tower. I have some unfinished business there. At the least, I’d really love to run in the one-mile race. Beyond that, I’m just trying to focus on what I can control and do the best I can on those things.