2020 Running and Triathlon Year in Review

What a year. Had it been a great year I would have stuck an exclamation point after that brief declaration. But it seems to me that a period is more fitting. Period – end of the story. 2020 is a year that we may want to forget but will be hardpressed to do so. It was a memorable year for everyone, and as I sit down to wrap up my year of running and triathlon accomplishments, the year of the pandemic certainly had an impact on my goals.    

I usually fill this space with great memories and stories of training experiences from the year, races I competed in, finish lines that I crossed, and medals I had earned. But this year is different. Although the pandemic year of 2020 allowed for a handful of events and races, there would be none for me. What wasn’t canceled on me were either postponed or I opted to sit them out.  

Covid-19 changed the running and racing landscape in 2020. Virtual races became a popular option, but they did not appeal to me for some reason. I “virtually” cheered for others who completed their virtual events, but it just wasn’t the same for me. It’s hard to get excited about a virtual race when it’s only me doing it. To me, there was no difference between a virtual run than an actual everyday run.  

But not all was lost. I set a goal of running a sub-6 mile, which I did achieve on my 57th birthday. I also pushed myself through a half-marathon in the fall to test my fitness and was very pleased with that run. And I was able to hop on my gravel bike and take advantage of some long-distance riding, thanks to having built up some endurance through training before my Ironman race was canceled.  

So I did accomplish a few things, and above all improved my health and fitness. I was allowed to run. That is a blessing. In all of this pandemic fear and worry about controlling the spread of this crummy virus, we were actually encouraged to get outside and exercise. People took up running. I saw many new faces out on the trails. People also took up cycling to the point where there were no new bikes to be purchased. Even tubes and tires were in short supply. I’ve seen a couple of big running booms in my thirty-plus years of running, but this year is by far the biggest.

This year reminded me that running is my life and that sometimes the journey will lack the things that make running fun for me. But when it comes down to why I run, it isn’t always about racing the local races or getting a personal best, or winning an age group award. 2020 reminded me that running is freedom. Running is living life when life is challenging. Running takes me places and lets me experience things that I don’t see in everyday life. Running makes me feel good about myself. All I need to do to have an amazing run is to simply go for a run.  

MONTHLY NOTES AND TOTALS

JANUARY – As January got underway, Covid-19 wasn’t really on my radar. I once again used this month to recover somewhat before starting to build for my last runner standing ultra event in April.

  • TOTAL RUNS: 14
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 22.4
  • TOTAL HOURS: 12.15
  • TOTAL MILES: 90

FEBRUARY – I more than doubled the mileage for February in 2020 over 2019. That extra leap day this year made a difference!  

  • TOTAL RUNS: 18
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 33.6
  • TOTAL HOURS: 19.26
  • TOTAL MILES: 134.5

MARCH – Covid-19 was now on everyone’s mind. The pandemic was declared and the stay-at-home order was issued. Running outside was approved, but you needed to stay at least 6 feet apart. People were crossing the street when walking towards us on the sidewalk. My friend Jodi and I went up to Big Hill Park in Beloit, Wisconsin to do a preview run of the Big Hill Bonk Last Runner Standing course, but everyone was starting to think that the race was on shaky ground.

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  • TOTAL RUNS: 20
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 32.5
  • TOTAL HOURS: 20.6
  • TOTAL MILES: 130.2

APRIL – The Big Hill Bonk Last Runner Standing ultra race got shut down, but I still held out hope for my fall Ironman race in Louisville. The Big Hill Bonk would be moved to the end of October, putting it two weeks after IM Lou. My first thought was that it was going to be tough to do an ultra so close to doing an Ironman, but then I figured that I would be in pretty good shape for it. I just wasn’t convinced that I would be recovered enough to get as far as I was hoping to in this open-ended race.  

  • TOTAL RUNS: 18
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 22.5
  • TOTAL HOURS: 13.3
  • TOTAL MILES: 90 

MAY – Well into Ironman training now, just waiting for the hammer to drop on the race, as many events had already been canceled. I got the pool opened and started putting in some laps. I also started riding with a local group of cyclists. We made several trips out to Abe Lincoln National Cemetery this summer.  

  • TOTAL RUNS: 17
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 25
  • TOTAL HOURS: 14.35
  • TOTAL MILES: 100

JUNE – In June I started making odds as to whether IM Lou would take place and came up with a plan that if I make it through Week 15 of training (which is half-way) that I would continue training and do it on my own if it got canceled. Still no word, but training was going pretty well. I ran the Torch Run with some coworkers this month, putting in a couple of miles. Afterward, I wondered how fast I could run a mile, so I hit the gas and ran a 6:35. It got me wondering how fast I could run a mile. A new challenge was born: a sub-6 minute mile!

  • TOTAL RUNS: 20
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 26.6
  • TOTAL HOURS: 15.35
  • TOTAL MILES: 106.3

JULY – Ironman Louisville gets canceled. Not only a cancellation for 2020, but Louisville gets the boot from the Ironman circuit. I’m given the option to defer to three other races that had yet to get canceled or to defer to Ironman Chattanooga 2021. I opt to race in 2021, even though that means returning to Choo, a race that was super hot in 2019, and we all swore we wouldn’t race it again. Looks like just me, Jeff, and Jan will return in 2021. I also opt to stop training for the race and not do the Ironman training or the virtual do-it-myself version in October. Just didn’t feel like doing it anymore. I kept up the running and biking, pretty much just alternating days.

  • TOTAL RUNS: 16
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 27.6
  • TOTAL HOURS: 16.5
  • TOTAL MILES: 110.5

AUGUST – I got interested in the Eco-Challenge, an orienteering type adventure race that seemed to make an impression on my coworkers and me. I even got Kari to tag along to a local orienteering course at Waterfall Glen and had a great time. I started doing some 400m repeats at the local track and a few attempts at getting under 6 minutes for a mile. I got the time down to 6:25, and it was looking like sub-6 would be quite a challenge.

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  • TOTAL RUNS: 15
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 28
  • TOTAL HOURS: 16.4
  • TOTAL MILES: 112

SEPTEMBER – Nothing much going on in September – no races, nothing to train for, and not much enthusiasm for getting out there. But I shaved off one more second of the sub-6 mile attempt and was sure that I wasn’t going to get there.

  • TOTAL RUNS: 14
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 24
  • TOTAL HOURS: 13.5
  • TOTAL MILES: 95.6

OCTOBER – On my 57th birthday I gave the sub-6 mile attempt one final try. The day was favorable – cool, with a strong wind at my back, and a well-chosen downhill route. With Ben riding along helping me keep on pace I went for it and turned a 5:44 mile. Mission accomplished.

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  • TOTAL RUNS: 18
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 30.5
  • TOTAL HOURS: 17
  • TOTAL MILES: 122.1

NOVEMBER – I kept hitting the trail in November, racking up some pretty good mileage. On 11/28 I decided to push hard through a half-marathon and although it was tough trying to maintain a hard pace in a non-race type situation, I was able to post a 1:43:17. I always shoot for sub-1:40 in half-marathons, so being just a few minutes off of that pace was a pretty solid time for me.

  • TOTAL RUNS: 15
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 30
  • TOTAL HOURS: 17.5
  • TOTAL MILES: 120.2

DECEMBER – As the last month hit I realized that I could probably go over 1300 miles for the year, so I made that my goal. And the weather was really nice. It hadn’t snowed and I was putting in some really good long runs. I realized that I was enjoying running in the late fall, almost winter, without any usual aches and pains that come with a season of abusing my legs.  

  • TOTAL RUNS: 19
  • AVERAGE WEEKLY MILES: 39
  • TOTAL HOURS: 23.4
  • TOTAL MILES: 159

2020 RUNNING TOTALS

TOTAL RUNS: 204

TOTAL HOURS: 200

TOTAL MILES: 1370

LIFETIME RUNNING TOTALS (32ND YEAR OF RUNNING)

TOTAL LIFETIME RUNS: 4981 – (155 RUNS PER YEAR AVERAGE)

TOTAL LIFETIME HOURS: 3709.5 – (116 HOURS PER YEAR AVERAGE)

TOTAL LIFETIME MILES:  27558 – (861 MILES PER YEAR AVERAGE)

2020 INTERESTING BLOGS

Normally I would share my race recaps here but there were no races for me this year. But I did have a couple of interesting blogs about training. Here are a few:

Today I Learned… Cross Country Skiing Is Fun!

Big Hill Bonk Course Preview Run

Ironman Louisville 2020 Is Canceled

Chasing a Sub-6 Mile – Final Chapter – I DID IT!

Orienteering Fun

 

CYCLING AND SWIMMING TOTALS

SWIMS:  

TOTAL SWIMS: 8

TOTAL DISTANCE: 14152 YARDS

CYCLING:

TOTAL RIDES: 96

TOTAL DISTANCE: 2517 MILES

GOALS FOR 2021

None! I’m not making any plans for 2021! Well, if the pandemic gets under control I will give the Big Hill Bonk another try in early April. I am signed up for it and lately have been reading a lot of race reports and watching a lot of last runner standing videos. And if the vaccine gets the herd immunized I’m thinking that Ironman Chattanooga will be a go in late September. So for right now, I’m going to play it by ear and sign up for things when they are available and I feel safe racing. If 2021 turns out to be a rerun of 2020, well, I will keep shuffling along, putting in some long-distance rides and runs, and keep putting that smile on my face.

Author: Ironman Chris

Family, running, triathlon and drumming are my things.

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