Running Season in Review

Well with Thanksgiving over my running season for 2011 officially ends. I like to finish off with a Turkey Trot of some kind, but due to changed travel plans, a sick spouse and cooking to do, no Trot for me. Instead I got out for a 4 mile and change jaunt on the path closest to my home. It was really nice to reflect as I was running along the canal and think how far I’d come in this year of running, of the adventures and misadventures I had along this little stretch of asphalt and beyond. It was really nice being out on Thanksgiving as well. I ran by two soccer games, a football game and countless fellow runners and bikers. There is something nice about seeing people getting active pre and post holiday bacchanal. Everyone seemed a little nicer, a little friendlier and just happy to out of the house. Below are some of the highlights and lowlights of my 2011 running year.

Highlights

Running with my wife. Can I just say that running with my better half was awesome? We did not get to do it nearly enough, mostly only during the races we did but it was a real treat for me. I tend to be a bit of a loner when I run, by design truthfully, but getting to share something I love with my wife was a lot of fun for me. Better still, I now have a new time to keep when we race together, PR Couple Time. We haven’t broken forty minutes yet (very close!) but it’s more about the company than the watch.

Post the Race Against Hate

Running the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. Overall, the course isn’t as breathtaking as the Chicago half, but it is still a great run. Unlike the Chicago half, Indy starts and ends right downtown and it has a much bigger feel to it than Chicago. The Mini is the event that kicks of the race activities for the month of May in Indianapolis so there are lots of balloons, tons of local media and even a grandstand at the end. Easily the biggest race I’ve been a part of, perhaps not participant-wise, but as an “event” nothing I did was on the same scale. Oh, and did I mention that I got to run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Freaking Awesome! Adding to the fun of it all was the fact that it was a family trip as well. I got to run the race then hang with the family the rest of the weekend. Indy is a great town to visit, especially with the family and I look forward to doing the mini again some time.

Mini Indy Start
At the Start of the Mini-Marathon

Joining the RW Challenge for the Chicago Half-Marathon. I must admit, I like the free plans from Runner’s World better than the one I used as part of the challenge, but everything else was just perfect; separate packet pick up, hospitality tent at the event; post-race massage. On top of that I got to meet Mark Remy, a very fun author for Runner’s World and after the race a person from the Challenge staff greeted me at the finish line which was a great touch.

Running the Chicago for the second time. I really like this route and knowing exactly what was going on and what to expect was great. The whole day was just fantastic. I had a chance meeting on the shuttle with a friend and her boyfriend on the way to the race. It was kind of surreal to see someone I knew in that location, especially at that time, but it also got me out of head a little bit, not focusing on the race ahead and all of the pre-race anxiety that I get. During the race, at mile 11 specifically, I had a n emotional moment, something that has never happened when running. At the 11 mile mark I just had this great sense of accomplishment, not only for finishing my second half marathon of the year, but realizing I finished my Ph. D., had my twenty-year sober anniversary and bought a house. It was a big year and it was great to just feel some pride over all of it.

Running the Shamrock Shuffle. It was a fun race, the unofficial start to the year of running for a lot of people and it was crowded, too crowded really. I’m glad I did it and it was fun running through downtown Chicago, but over the course of an 8K there were just too many people. There was no separation in the field and it was too packed for the entire time. It was a good experience, with one of the better t-shirts of the year, but I won’t be going back any time soon. Which is a perfect lead in to…

Lowlights

Another little injury. Granted this one didn’t sideline me for as long as my ITBS did last year, but it’s just another place that tightens up, another set of stretching that I need to do. Nothing like going through a separate routine for my Achilles, ITBS and hips to make me feel just a little bit older.

The Tenth Mile of the Indy Mini. I was cruising, feeling pretty good from the race track and saw the bridge over the White River. I checked my watch and felt breaking 2:15 was within my grasp. By the time I got across the bridge, I was spent with about two miles to go. I was just dead, completely bonked. The rest of the way was such a struggle, I’m glad I finished and stuck it out, but the finish line didn’t come soon enough.

Not getting a 2:15. I really wanted to break 2:15 this year, trained for it and fell short in both attempts at the half marathon. Not much else to say except crap.

A few of bad, bad, BAD training experiences. I won’t get into all of the gory details, but on two occasions I had to make emergency stops and a tree would not suffice. On another occasion I was completely overwhelmed by the heat to the point where I had to stop and walk home. I thought for sure I was going to throw up. Luckily I didn’t, but I felt like crap the rest of the day and into the next. Just a yucky set of experiences.

That about sums up the year and I’m looking forward to next year. I plan on doing some of the same events and the biggie, the Chicago Marathon in October 2012. But now, my break from Thanksgiving to New Year is in full swing and I miss running already.

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