I spend a lot of time wondering about things out there on my swims, rides, and runs. Here are some wonderings about Week 12.
I wonder… why Week 12 is a dial-back week in training? It seems like we just started the new build phase, and two weeks into it I get an easier week. I guess I shouldn’t complain.
I wonder… what it’s like to be a farmer? As I ride through the rural farmland just south of Chicago it appears that the farmers have gotten really busy in the past week. The dirt has been turned, some small green sprouts are emerging from the fields, and there has been plenty of tractor traffic on the roads that I ride. But as I watch them go about doing farmer things, I wonder if it is fun or difficult work.
I wonder… why casual cyclists don’t bother with helmets or even eye protection when they ride? The bugs are starting to come out and I have had several hit me in the face with enough force to sting. I certainly wouldn’t want to have one hit me in the eye. And to the guy wearing a helmet without it buckled – it’s not going to help you out if it falls off your head as you crash. Seems like common sense.
I wonder… why I don’t pre-hydrate more? It’s getting warm and I need to hydrate more through the day instead of after working out. Playing catch-up with hydration is more work than just being more hydrated before and during the workout.
I wonder… where this speed on the bike is coming from all of a sudden? Two longer rides this week had averages of 18.2 mph when I normally sit around 17 mph. Plus I felt pretty good through those rides as well. Hopefully, it wasn’t just the tailwinds on the second half of the rides making me speedy.
I wonder… how many more of these Ironman races I will do? I didn’t do the first one in Wisconsin with a goal of getting to Kona, and unless I can somehow fit a total of twelve races in my remaining time as an aging triathlete, I’m not sure if I can accomplish that. I’m not sure if I even want to do Kona. There are some other things I would still like to experience before I’m well into my sixties.
I wonder… what it’s like to run a 100-mile ultra? Doing that seems as hard as completing an Ironman. I do still have my backyard ultra on the calendar for August, but since I’m doing Chattanooga I kind of figured that I would just use it as a run training day and probably won’t go more than 30-40 miles.
I wonder… if the training for Ironman would be enough to train me for a 100-mile ultra-running race?
I wonder… if I should fess up and tell the wife that I am signed up for the Tunnel Hill 100 Mile Ultra in November?
I wonder… if I should stop wondering before it gets me into more trouble?
I opened the pool this week as it was predicted to be near 90 degrees for several days. It was a good move I think, and it only took 2-3 days to get it swimmable. Now I have no more excuses for not swimming. Yay.
I also saw this coyote on my Saturday bike ride. I think we each surprised each other.
Ten weeks into the 30-week Ironman training plan and feeling great! It goes by quickly! It’s kind of scary actually, knowing that the base phase is over and I am now heading into the build phase. But the next ten weeks is nothing new for me, I know what to expect and I look forward to training well into the summer and enjoying some good weather for a change.
Speaking of the weather, it’s been a typical up and down spring so far. There’s been a lack of rain, but if it’s not rain forcing me indoors it’s a cold day doing it. This week had a couple of good days and I took advantage of them. I had a good run on Friday, swapping out the planned hour long run with Sunday’s 1.5-hour long effort. I’m traveling on Sunday to Nashville, so I made sure I got my long run in.
I joined the local group for a ride out to the Monee Reservoir and surrounding areas on Saturday. It was a little chilly but I warmed up well. I tend to push myself harder in the group rides basically trying to keep up with my idol Charlie, but I will allow getting out of my comfort zone and not follow the plan every once in a while. Charlie is out of the comfort zone every ride and kicks my ass. Maybe I should do that more often.
Off to Nashville to pick up my Vanderbilt kid, Rebecca. She’s 1/4 done with college! It goes by quickly.
I am fortunate to have supportive family and friends who take an interest in my pursuit of my Ironman goals, but I have one friend in particular that I call my Number 1 Fan – Carl. Carl is the one friend that takes the passing interest to a much higher level. He not only wants to know what workout I did but needs to know the details as well. I’m glad to accommodate him as it allows me to brag about myself for a few minutes, except most of the time I can’t remember.
Carl: What did you do yesterday, Ironman?
Me: umm… a bike ride? Yeah, a bike ride.
Carl: How far did you go?
Me: umm… I rode for an hour.
Carl: How far is that?
Me: umm… let me look it up.
I don’t mind providing the details, but it’s interesting to me that once I get the workout done I kind of move on from it. It’s not that I don’t want to remember what I did as I train, but during a 30-week build to a race, it just all blends together somewhat. I certainly make an effort to document it. The workouts all get recorded by my Garmin watch and phone app. And I write a summary each week so that I can look back and spark my memory of the journey I am on. But sometimes it’s just a workout, nothing more and nothing less.
I am working on writing a post about all the races I have participated in since I started running in the 1980s. It’s taking me a while to go through my handwritten running log and find the entries. I am finding with that trip through the past that I can recall details about some of the long-ago races pretty clearly. It must be something about racing that makes you remember, something that creates a stored memory. I can also remember certain runs when something out of the ordinary happens, like a fall, or getting chased by a dog, getting caught in a storm, etc. But when the workout is spinning on a stationary bike for 60 minutes and thumbing through Facebook while doing it for the 200th time, it just simply becomes part of the day without creating anything special about it. Maybe that will have a cumulative effect in that I will remember doing those workouts as a whole rather than the details that went into them.
I can remember many of the details of running on the Green Bay Trail in the 1990s: where I began and ended my runs, the street crossings, the portion through Ravinia. But if I looked at my log and saw that I ran 8 miles in 60 minutes that day, I will have to take my word for it. I don’t remember it.
I have logged many miles on the Old Plank Trail, so many in fact that I sometimes say that I know every little dip, bump, and distinctive trait of the trail. I know which houses have a dog that barks at me. I know when to move to the left to avoid the divot in the trail as I head north up the path and over the bridge. Those memories are solid, and I rely on them quite a bit. But I guess our brains can’t store every single detail about each workout. I mean, how much of the mundane can you remember? Do you remember what you had for lunch yesterday? Probably not. Do you remember your 21st birthday? More than likely, because turning 21 is a memorable milestone. But do you remember your 22nd birthday? I don’t.
Am I supposed to make each run, bike or swim a memorable one? I’m not sure if that is even possible. Frankly, I think trying to concentrate and remember every detail would most likely wear me out mentally. But I am glad to have pretty clear memories of those workouts that do have something memorable happen.
I guess that I am lucky to have my Number 1 Fan pry those little details from me. Maybe I will remember more of them thanks to Carl. But I can promise you this – although I may not remember every little detail a day, a week or a years later, I will always remember my Number 1 Fan asking me about my workouts. Thanks, Carl.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
56 years, 2 months, and 16 days into my life I found out that I actually like cross country skiing!
Now this isn’t my first attempt at XC skiing. Kari and I bought some skis for ourselves Christmas 1992. We took them out to the local park and fell down numerous times and had some fun. We got busy with our young lives together, having kids and moving that most of the time the skis were tossed up into the attic and forgotten about. We tried again shortly after moving into our current home, probably around 2001, but after trying them out on a very difficult place to ski, we brought them home and put them back into the attic again.
Flash ahead to February 2019 we decided to haul them up to our lake home in upper Wisconsin and give them a try up there, a place where winter is serious about being winter. We drove to a place called Minocqua Winter Park where they have numerous groomed trails. However that day the park was hosting a XC ski race, a marathon actually, and after deciding we’d be too embarrassed in front of this group of people we opted to head home and try them out on our frozen lake. That went well until I fell and my 25 year old ski boots ripped apart in the most comical way. The boot literally ripped itself from the sole and left the sole on the ski that was quickly skiing far away from me!
We came up north on January 1st, 2020 to spend some time before the holidays were over and tried to give XC skiing another go. I think we were all a little nervous when we got there, but we checked in and strapped on the skis and found the easiest trail we could find. We all struggled a little at first and there were a few falls, but we quickly got the hang of it and off we went.
Ashley seemed to struggle a little more than the rest of us, falling on her tush enough times that she was having some pain with that. So Kari and her headed back to the chalet and Rebecca and I attempted to complete the loop.
I forgot to start my watch’s XC ski app right when we started, but I did hit the start button after about 15 minutes of skiing. When Rebecca and I got back we had gone a little over 3.5 miles in an hour and twenty-one minutes. After reuniting with Kari and Ashley and finding out that Ashley was feeling pretty sore after falling so much, we packed it in and headed home for some much deserved hot chocolate. I can’t wait to go back!
I had another great year of running and creating memorable moments in 2019. So very thankful that I can still do what I enjoy doing and reflecting back on the memories I made. I have kept track of my running miles since 1989, so I only tally up the number of runs, miles, and time spent running in my stats. Here’s how 2019 went for me with running and triathlon.
JANUARY – Not much to reflect upon here. Most were treadmill runs and nothing out of the ordinary.
Total Runs: 14
Average Weekly Miles: 22.4
Total Hours: 11.8
Total Miles: 89.5
FEBRUARY– Another winter month to get through and focus on recovery.
Total Runs: 10
Average Weekly Miles: 15
Total Hours: 9
Total Miles: 60
MARCH– Ironman Chattanooga training begins! I chose to be a little loose with the training this time around starting out by following the “Just Finish” plan but then decided to commit to the competitive plan like usual. I did drop the swimming down considerably, mostly just doing two 45-minute swims per week. The monthly totals for March reflect what miles the beginning stages of the plan prescribes, plus some time off for a trip to Nashville to see some colleges with Rebecca.
Total Runs: 12
Average Weekly Miles: 12.1
Total Hours: 7
Total Miles: 48.3
APRIL– Weekly training going well, as long as I don’t ruin things for myself. For example – I’m My Own Worst Enemy
Total Runs: 16
Average Weekly Miles: 23.8
Total Hours: 14
Total Miles: 95
MAY– Still swim/bike/run training and getting into the swing of things.
Total Runs: 18
Average Weekly Miles: 24.8
Total Hours: 13.3
Total Miles: 99
JUNE– I officially kicked off the racing season this month with a 5K and a sprint triathlon in June. (See below for the race reports.)
Total Runs: 20
Average Weekly Miles: 30
Total Hours: 17.5
Total Miles: 119
JULY– Time for a vacation and some more racing!
Total Runs: 20
Average Weekly Miles: 33
Total Hours: 19.5
Total Miles: 130
AUGUST– It got hot just as the training ramped up big time.
Total Runs: 19
Average Weekly Miles: 38.4
Total Hours: 23.4
Total Miles: 154
SEPTEMBER– September came with the wrapping up of 30-weeks of Ironman training and racing a very hot 2019 Ironman Chattanooga. Even with the heat and all the suffering, it was an epic day.
Total Runs: 19
Average Weekly Miles: 36.7
Total Hours: 22.5
Total Miles: 146.6
OCTOBER– I debated with myself as to whether I should defer the Chicago Marathon to 2020 seeing that it was two weeks after Ironman Chattanooga, but I committed to it and decided to see if I could parlay all that Ironman training into another Boston Marathon qualifier. I did! But not by much.
Total Runs: 15
Average Weekly Miles: 24
Total Hours: 13.5
Total Miles: 95.7
NOVEMBER– Looking back at 2018, November 2019 was almost a mirror image in terms of the stats below. I ran a couple of races, which probably did more damage to me than good.
Total Runs: 13
Average Weekly Miles: 21
Total Hours: 12
Total Miles: 84
DECEMBER– I paid for the four races I did, which ended up causing me some weird leg left leg/knee pain. I never had pain in the rear portion of the leg/knee area before. It wouldn’t hurt during the run really, but afterward, I would have some dull pain that would linger. I would rest it a few days and then feel fine only to go back out and get the same result. I decided to shut down running on December 26th for the rest of the year.
Total Runs: 12
Average Weekly Miles: 17.9
Total Hours: 11
Total Miles: 71.5
2019 RUNNING TOTALS
Total Runs: 188
Average Weekly Miles: 25
Total Hours: 174.5
Total Miles: 1193.2
LIFETIME RUNNING TOTALS (31st Year of Running)
Total Lifetime Runs: 4777 – 154 runs per year average
Total Lifetime Hours: 3509.5 – 113 hours per year average
Total Lifetime Miles: 26188 – 844 miles per year average
2019 RACE REPORTS
I had a pretty successful year racing again, getting some more age group and finisher medals to add to my collection. Here are the summaries with a link to the race recaps.
2019 Minocqua Turkey Trot 5K: 21:16 Official time / 13th Overall / 12th Place Male Overall / 1st Place M50-59 Age Group – 2019 Minocqua Turkey Trot 5K
I think I had a pretty good year with triathlon. Ironman training went well and ended with a very good effort on an extremely hot day in Chattanooga. And I medaled in the other two sprint tri’s that I did, which is always the goal. I’m really looking forward to another year of racing.
SWIM TOTALS: Total Swims: 34 / Total Distance: 69,461 yards (39.5 miles)
BIKE TOTALS: Total Rides: 132 / Total Miles: 3694
GOALS FOR 2020
In May I registered for a race that had piqued my interest. The race is called the “Big Hill Bonk” (read about it here: My First Ultramarathon?) and is in Beloit, Wisconsin in early April 2020. It’s an elimination/last runner standing type race format in which you run a 4.16-mile loop in an hour and keep doing that until only one runner is left. So this run could be my first ultramarathon if I decide to keep going past eight loops. I was training pretty well for it and starting to build some decent weekend long run miles, but the leg/knee injury thing has screwed up my training. I think I will still be able to get to the starting line and get in enough loops to push me over 50K.
I decided to take a year off from running the Chicago Marathon. I have legacy status, so I should be able to sign up again in 2020 for the 2021 race if I want to. My Gunner teammates and I were discussing doing another Ironman in 2020, but I’m not sure how serious everyone is. We’re at the point that we have done the races nearest to us and may to commit to traveling farther to do a different race, or just sign up for one we have already done. A lot of the fun in doing them is experiencing a new race locale. I hear that Ironman is returning to Idaho in 2021, so I definitely have it on my must-do list. If the Gunners shoot for another go-around I will definitely be in. I just have to fit it around getting my youngest off to college. I’m not missing that.
If the Ironman thing doesn’t pan out and I survive the Big Hill Bonk run, I may look to sign up for a 100-mile ultramarathon. I have a local friend who is fond of the Tunnel Hill 100 Miler in southern Illinois, but I have also eyed the Hennepin 100 race out by Sterling, Illinois. We’ll see. Got to get some experience first.
Last night I was enjoying a really deep sleep. Honestly, most nights I enjoy a really deep sleep. Now, you might ask how does one actually “enjoy” a deep sleep? Well, I’m not sure really, but when the bedquake hit, it jolted me from the deep sleep I was enjoying and I was now no longer enjoying it! A bedquake? What’s a bedquake?
A bedquake is something my wife Kari has invented in order to prevent me from having a really deep sleep. It’s a tactic she resorts to when the foot rub on my calf doesn’t work. The foot rub on the calf is only good to disrupt my sleep if I’m not that deep into it. One night I was just dozing off and could feel this strange calf massage thing going on. I thought, “huh, that’s strange,” and just rolled over and went back to sleep. But…
I was listening to Classic Vinyl on SiriusXM radio in the car the other day when they played the original studio version of Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s Turn the Page, and it didn’t seem right. It sounded different in my ear, as I was used to the live version of the song. That got me thinking about live versions of rock songs that are much better than the original studio version. Songs that if the radio DJ was going to play that one specific song, he or she would grab the live version over the studio version every time.
Not sure what propelled the popularity of live albums during the 1970’s. You don’t see them being as popular in later decades. Live music and concerts were growing to huge proportions in the 70’s. It may have been a money grab from the record label, but I’m just…
I can wrap up 2018 in a couple words: overtrained and rainy. In 2018 I turned 55 years old and it certainly feels like it. The work I did in the three prior years while maintaining a three plus year run everyday running streak turned me into a pretty good runner and triathlete until it became too much. By the beginning of 2018 I was starting to feel beat up and it only got worse. By the time I made it to the starting line of my first Boston Marathon in April I wasn’t sure I could even finish it, but I did, in the rain, the first of many 2018 events run in rainy conditions. The day after running Boston, I ended my running streak and spent the rest of 2018 trying to recover and rebuild. There was a little bit of success there, but I am still searching to recapture the ability to get the personal bests that were happening consistently in 2016.
2018 just wasn’t my year for running. I was in a groove the past five years or so, claiming at each year end that I had just had the best running year ever. But not this year. It seems like I have plateaued, hit a wall, or just plain have gotten old. I’m not sure about the excuse of being old, as I have set plenty of personal bests the last few years in both marathons and Ironman and qualifying for and running my first Boston Marathon. I think I may have just pushed a little too hard toward the end of 2017 and into 2018 that I need to reset myself. It’s hard for me because although my body reminds me daily that I’m in my mid-fifties, my brain still acts like a twenty-something. The brain is writing checks that my body cannot cash any more. I think I need to put my training on some sort of budget, but my brain has already declared that I’m doing two more marathons next year. Dumb brain. Anyway, I did try to dial it back into a rebuild this year, dropping my 3 year running streak and taking more rest days, as well as not trying to set a personal best on every damn training run (thanks a lot, Strava).
30 YEARS – WOW! One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about as I run is that I have been doing it for 30 years now. I started experimenting with running in my teens and college days, but I didn’t start keeping track of my miles until 1989, when I started to see myself going farther and getting faster and wanted to see how I improved over time. I just kept writing it down. Now I log it with an app, which has taken some of the fun out of it because I used to write down comments and notes about my run when I logged it by hand, but I do not do so as much now. I used to hand write this yearly wrap up as well, but I think I enjoy sharing it on this blog page more. I can add photos and leave and share memories that I can look back on easily. Some day I will get around to writing about the years and miles of running I have accumulated, but for now I will just keep on running and enjoying the miles.
2018 – RUNNING REVIEW
Here’s a monthly wrap up of my running miles and milestones.
Total Runs: 31
Average Weekly Miles: 35.5
Total Hours: 20.4
Total Miles: 142
Nothing much of note in this month. Training for the Boston Marathon had begun. I do remember it being super cold and occasional runs in the snow.
Total Runs: 28
Average Weekly Miles: 29
Total Hours: 17
Total Miles: 116
Still training for Boston in the cold.
Total Runs: 31
Average Weekly Miles: 40
Total Hours: 23.4
Total Miles: 159
The plan upped the mileage this month preparing for my date with Boston. I did my one long run on 3/23, an 18 miler. I had no intention on doing any longer runs. I was pretty sore and had no energy.
Total Runs: 23
Average Weekly Miles: 27.5
Total Hours: 16.3
Total Miles: 110
Yay! I ran my first Boston Marathon! It was quite an experience that I will never forget. I beat Galen Rupp! Okay, he dropped out and I didn’t, but technically I think that still qualifies as a win. (The link to my race reports will be at the bottom of this post.)
Immediately after finishing the Boston Marathon I kept the promise to myself that I would drop my running streak. I needed to recover from 3 plus years of running at least a mile every day. It was a good challenge, but it had worn out it’s welcome. Here’s the wrap up of the running streak: RIP Running Streak
Total Runs: 17
Average Weekly Miles: 25
Total Hours: 14.75
Total Miles: 100
Recovery from Boston was pretty quick and I started enjoying some milder running weather. I was kind of surprised that I hit 100 miles this month.
Total Runs: 18
Average Weekly Miles: 23
Total Hours: 13.3
Total Miles: 93
I jumped back into the 5K race season with a decent but slower than usual finish time, but still nabbed a first place age group award in the getting old division at the Frankfort Short Run on a Long Day 5K. As nice of a finish that is, I had my first ever Did Not Start to a race I had signed up for. The weather on race day morning of the Batavia Triathlon was threatening enough for me not to waste my time driving up there, thinking it would be canceled. I took a gamble and lost, as the race was delayed and shortened, but it’s a punch to the gut when you drop out when others committed to it and got it done.
Total Runs: 17
Average Weekly Miles: 33
Total Hours: 19.7
Total Miles: 135
The corral seeding came out for the Chicago Marathon and they put me in the E corral, which is weird because the time I used to qualify for the race should have put me in the D corral from the start. So, I applied to move up to the D corral based on that previous qualifying time and hatched a plan to move up to the C corral by trying to run a qualifier in a half marathon. So on 7/21 I toed the line in Hoffman Estates and attempted to run a sub-1:35 half marathon. I was kind of shooting for the stars, and missed it by about 4 minutes, but it was a pretty good time for a rainy half marathon in July. I was happy to be in the D corral.
I also did the Manteno Tri at the end of this month, with Kari doing the duathlon. We both did well, placing 2nd in our age groups. Fun race.
Total Runs: 20
Average Weekly Miles: 39.5
Total Hours: 23.4
Total Miles: 158
Marathon training was ramping up again. I did the Chicago Triathlon with my Gunner mates and our side kicks. That was a hot race. First time that I HAD to walk a portion of a running race as the temp was into the 90’s.
Total Runs: 19
Average Weekly Miles: 42
Total Hours: 24.2
Total Miles: 167
Highlight of this month was running the Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club’s 20 mile training run. I did surprisingly well and built a lot of confidence on a mid-September Saturday. Since it’s not a race, here’s the link to that report: The Dreaded 20 Mile Training Run
Total Runs: 17
Average Weekly Miles: 25
Total Hours: 15
Total Miles: 102
I gave my best to the 2018 Chicago Marathon but it just wasn’t my year. I held on and was on pace for the first half and slowly lost it from there. The highlight of the race was running with my son Ben, who was running his first. And boy did he, finishing in 2:47. Impressive! I dialed it way back after the marathon.
Total Runs: 13
Average Weekly Miles: 21
Total Hours: 12
Total Miles: 83
I really went into recovery mode in November and I think it paid off. I find that my feet and calves were no longer killing me like they were in 2017. I did start adding some bike spinning on non-running days.
Total Runs: 15
Average Weekly Miles: 20
Total Hours: 12
Total Miles: 82
2018 RUNNING TOTALS
Total Runs: 249
Average Weekly Miles: 27.8
Total Hours: 211.5
Total Miles: 1447
LIFETIME RUNNING TOTALS
Total Lifetime Runs: 4589 – 153 runs per year average
Total Lifetime Hours: 3335 – 111 hours per year average
Total Lifetime Miles: 24995 (Really?! Missed it by 5 miles!) – 833 miles per year average
This was a dial back year of sorts for triathlon. I signed up for three and only started two as I chickened out for the Batavia Tri. But the year was pretty much dedicated to doing the Boston and Chicago marathons. I was thinking that 2019 would be a bigger year for tri’s but I’ve already signed up for two more marathons! I am definitely planning on another Ironman in the next year or two. Swim and bike totals were way down from 2017.
SWIM TOTALS: Total Swims: 11 / Total Distance: 14,475 yards
I was really planning to take it easy in 2019, seeing that I didn’t re-qualify for Boston, but that just made me mad. Ben and Emily qualified for Boston 2020 and now I wasn’t content to be a spectator, which I was just fine with in October. But I thought it over and decided to give it one more shot at qualifying. I looked around and found the Spring BQ 26.2 in Batavia, IL in early April 2019. Fortunately, I met the qualifying standard to get into this race and I look forward to running it. It’s an 8 lapper on a bike path, and they treat you like an elite with a table for your own sports drink and nutrition – cool! I hope to dial it in, lock it down and run sub-3:35 for another BQ and join Ben and Emily in Boston. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll once again be glad to be a spectator in Boston.
Speaking of dialing it in, I’m going to utilize Don Fink’s Mastering the Marathon plan for us older athletes. It’s geared to the over 40 runners, which I certainly qualify. There’s more recovery and I can swap some runs in the plan for running related activities, in my case cycling. This will hopefully still prepare me to do well at the marathon as well as allow me to gear up for the triathlon season.
Regardless of how I do in the spring marathon, I plan on taking it easy for Chicago. The only way I push hard is if my buddy Jeff wants to run it together, but I don’t think I can keep up with him. I’m thinking I might put that race away for a while even though I have legacy status to maintain. Running it every other year would maintain my legacy status. I might focus on 70.3’s and Ironman for a while instead.
Of course I still plan on running my favorite local 5K’s and the triathlons I like to do. I’m already signed up for the Batavia Tri and will definitely sign up for Manteno again. It’s a fun race.
For my 19th time, I hereby do declare I WILL NEVER RUN ANOTHER MARATHON AGAIN! This time I MEAN IT!
This Chicago Marathon will definitely go down as one of my most memorable. The race was my third long distance race this year that was run in the rain. It brought back memories of Boston last April, cool temps, wind and rain. This was a light version of Boston though. The temperature was near 60 degrees instead of 40, and the rain wasn’t pouring. The wind was only noticeable when running certain directions, and only briefly. Thankfully, Boston taught me how to manage crappy running weather, but you can never be fully prepared. And it turns out I’m not sure I was fully prepared for this one.
I was looking forward to running Chicago, as my son was going to be running it as his first marathon. Notice I didn’t say that we would be running it together. He’s fast, I’m not. Well, not as fast as he is anyway. But I looked forward to sharing that experience together.
Here’s the lowdown on how the Chicago Marathon went for me.
After finishing the Boston Marathon I needed to give my body a break. I was beat. I showed up at Boston way overtrained and worn out. The day after Boston I ended my three year running streak of running at least a mile everyday, and told myself I had to get myself right again.
After a trip to the doctor, I learned what I was kind of assuming, that I had thyroid issues. Blood tests confirmed it, and now I’m taking a synthetic thyroid medication for the rest of my life. I had thought that it might change things for me metabolically, but my doctor buddy said not to expect miracles. He was right. I really struggled to lose the ten pounds I had gained over the winter and spring. Eventually, I did drop a few pounds, but nothing like what I had expected. One positive was that I wasn’t as tired as I had been before, so that is a plus.
In mid-June I began following the same 16-week advanced training plan that I usually use. I also had been doing some triathlon related training, hoping to throw in a couple of races before the longer mileage weeks started to kick in. I ended up doing a sprint triathlon in June and the Chicago Triathlon in August.
I was a little nervous about the training after struggling with the Boston training and the race itself, but it actually went pretty well. The highlight for me was the 20 mile training run I did three weeks out from the race. I was able to hold my 8 min/mile pace fairly easily through that run and it really gave me a confidence boost. You can read about it here: The Dreaded 20 Mile Training Run
I took Friday off and headed to Chicago to attend the expo with Ben and his girl friend Emily. Every year that I had gone to the expo I would see proud Boston finishers parading around in their Boston Marathon jackets and be somewhat envious. This year, even though I didn’t really need a jacket, I decided I was going to peacock the hell out my one Boston Marathon finish and sport that damn jacket at the expo. I wasn’t alone. I saw numerous Boston 2018 celebration jackets.
We ended up getting there around midday, and man was it crazy! I had never seen it so crowded before.
Ben and I got our bibs and started the trek through the expo. We ended up spending money on mostly disappointing official Nike marathon gear and other odds and ends. We caught a glimpse of Deena Kastor and then decided to get out of there. The expo can be overwhelming after awhile.
Saturday, we all met downtown in the late afternoon and met at our hotel, the Chicago Palmer House Hilton. The hotel lobby was impressive, the rooms not so much. It’s location to the race start area was ideal, but a little bit of a hike from the finish. The Chicago Hilton is a better option for being closer to the finish, but I didn’t book it fast enough and had to settle for the Palmer House. I will say there were better dining options nearby, and I opted for the Corner Bakery and got some loaded baked potato soup and bread for an evening carb load. I had already eaten some pasta at home around 1 pm, so I think I had enough carb loading for the day.
Ben and I talked some race day strategy and I laid out my options for what to wear in the race. I had already kind of chosen the outfit, but I had brought some options in case I changed my mind.
Sleep went well except for a weird moment in the middle of the night where I found myself sweating like crazy. I got up, used the bathroom, and went back to sleep. The alarm finally went off, and I got myself ready for the day.
Ben met me at the room and after some last minute assurances, we decided it was time to head to the corrals.
We were advised to go into the corrals by entering into a specific gate based on our corral assignments, but I wasn’t having any of that. The first and closest gate was at Jackson and we got in line. Just as we were getting near the inspection point this Chinese guy cuts in front of us. Then he couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let him carry in his sling bag because only the clear plastic gear bag was allowed. Fortunately, they let him put it into his gear bag, which he should have done in the first place. Off to a great start, but we weren’t done with him yet. As you pass security, there are event photographers ready to take your pre-race photo, so Ben and I decided to do so. Just after the guy takes our picture, we realize the guy photobombed us.
I’m smiling in the photo, but I was laughing right after it when I realized he was in the photo too! Here’s one without Mr. E10796:
Ben and I got to the split where Corrals A and B went one way and C through E went another. I told him that I loved him and that I was proud of him and that I don’t tell him that enough. We hugged and I headed straight to the toilets.
Once in the corral I found it pretty empty as I was there pretty early. So I headed to the front of it to the rope that separates the C corral from D and just hung out. I used my portable urinal (my nearly empty Gatorade bottle) under my plastic bag three times before the race started which surprised me, as I had used the port-o-lets twice before getting into my corral. Nerves I guess. After the anthem the start horn blew and I pulled the plastic garbage bag off and tossed the bag and bottle over the fence, and we started the 7 minute shuffle to the start line. Ben said he crossed the line within 10 seconds. It took me 7:18 to cross it. I gave him a head start.
Start to 5K: Overall Time: 0:25:12 / Ave. Pace 8:07 min/mile
I started off well and felt pretty strong, although my first split was about 8:15 min/mile which surprised me a little. It is hard to concentrate on pace right at the start because we are still packed tight a little, and you spend more time getting through the field than thinking about pace. It was in that first half mile that my Garmin lost track of me as we were under Randolph Street and Wacker Drive and put my split a couple of tenths off at each subsequent mile marker. Ben was going to hit his lap button every mile, but I’m done with that business. I had decided I was warm enough without my homemade tube sock arm warmers and stuck them in my shorts in case I needed them again.
Our Cheer Crew was amazing. Kari and Rebecca, along with our friends Jeff and Jill were there, plus Emily and a couple of Ben’s running buddies from Loras College braved the wet day to cheer us on. Although I had told Kari to stick with Ben, I saw Jeff and Jill up through the half way point, and then Jeff at a few other spots. Seeing everyone was always a big pick-me-up.
5K to 10K: Overall time: 0:49:03 / 5K Split: 0:24:31 / Ave. Pace 7:54 min/mile
It was raining pretty steady now but I wasn’t cold really. I managed to get my pace under 8 minute miles and was feeling good. Nothing out of the ordinary through here, just still going north.
10K to 15K: Overall time: 1:14:29 / 5K Split: 0:24:27 / Ave. Pace 7:59 min/mile
Miles 6 through 9 really had nothing remarkable about them. Right about the 10K mark the 3:25 pace group went by me and I took note of that. I usually see an Elvis impersonator through this stretch, but I’m guessing that he wasn’t into the rain this year. I did start to sense I was getting a blister on my left pinky toe from my shoes being soaked. That was a little surprising because I had lubed up my toes very well. Kept my average pace near 8 min/miles.
15K to 20K: Overall time: 1:39:55 / 5K Split: 0:25:26 / Ave. Pace 8:11 min/mile
As I neared the halfway point, I started to tell I was slowing a little. The effort was getting harder even though I was on top of my nutrition plan. I felt okay, but that would change as I passed the halfway point.
Halfway: Overall Time: 1:45:42 / Ave. Pace 8:29 min/mile
I hit the halfway and felt not so great. I was only 45 seconds over my intended split of 1:45:00 for the half, but I knew that I was losing it. My average pace dropped from 8 to 8:30 min/mile and I really didn’t see how I was going to maintain it.
Halfway to 25K: Overall Time: 2:06:32 / Split: 0:20:51 / Ave. Pace 8:36 min/mile
At the 14 mile area I saw Jeff and Jill and said I wasn’t feeling good any longer. It seemed like I was being drained of my energy. We had just passed a couple little inclines downtown, but I don’t think that was a factor. I was starting to realize that this was going to be a get to the finish line in one piece marathon for me. My time goal of 3:30 was slipping away.
25K to 30K: Overall Time: 2:34:01 / 5K Split: 0:27:30 / Ave. Pace 8:51 min/mile
I generally call this section the Dead Zone and it was no different this year. It’s mainly just runners along this portion as it is the farthest west part of the course. I will say though, that I expected the rain to drive away the crowds this year and in reality, the course was pretty populated with cheering fans. My time is creeping closer to the 9 min/mile average.
30K to 35K: Overall Time: 3:03:47 / 5K Split: 0:29:46 / Ave. Pace 9:35 min/mile
Running through Pilsen and Chinatown are highlights of the race usually, but not this time. I just wanted to get past the 20 mile mark and know I had 10K to go. It was in this section that the 3:30 pace group passed me by like I was standing still. I was resigned that my goal of finishing 3:30 was gone, and I also knew that being sub-3:35 for a Boston Marathon qualifier was pretty much out the door. I was a just finisher now.
35K to 40K: Overall Time: 3:37:22 / 5K Split: 0:33:35 / Ave. Pace 10:49 min/mile
Hello 3:35 pace group. Goodbye 3:35 pace group. I was walking the aid stations now and willing myself to keep moving forward. In 2016 I was passing these zombies, this year I was one of the un-dead. Along this section I did get a pick-me-up though – I saw the guy that is always at Ironman Wisconsin on Old Sauk Pass wearing the orange afro-wig. He was cheering us on here as well. I stopped and said hello to him because we spent some time with him on that course cheering for Jeff and his sister Jan.
40K to the Finish: Overall time: 3:52:07 / Split 0:14:46 / Ave. Pace 10:50 min/mile
I saw Kari and Rebecca waiting for me after the 25 mile mark and I stopped to say hello. Not much longer and I would be done.
I started to press forward and make it up Roosevelt Road and head to the finish. As I was climbing Mount Roosevelt as we marathoners call it, a volunteer said to “Fight up the hill!” I told her I was a lover not a fighter. She laughed and then I heard her yell, “then Love up that hill!”
As I headed toward the finish I heard my name get called out from the stands. I turned to look and saw Calvin Jordan, a fellow runner from New Lenox that I had met this fall. I made a beeline over to him and said hello. I think he thought I was nuts not sprinting for the finish, but I was glad to end the run with a friendly face and hello.
The goal for me was to take advantage of a 10 minute Boston qualifying cushion that I would receive just by turning 55 years old. But in September, the BAA decided to reduce the qualifying times by 5 minutes. So I went from needing a 3:40 marathon to 3:35, which didn’t seem to be out of the possibility for me seeing that I had ran a 3:25 in 2016. But this just wasn’t my year. I wanted to join Ben and Emily in Boston in 2020, but instead of being in the field, I will happily go to be a spectator.
I think my main issue this year was volume, and essentially too much of it for a guy in his mid-fifties. When I finished Boston in April, my body was beat. Everything hurt. So I dropped the 3+ year running streak I had and worked on rebuilding myself. I was really feeling pretty good again come summer, and when I did my 20 mile training run in late September, I held that 8 min/mile pace well. Just wasn’t my year this year.
But I must say I’m very proud of my 3:52:07 finish. Being sub-4 hours is always pretty cool.
Ben made me very proud. He crushed his first marathon in 2:47:11! After the race he seemed like it was just another day of running to him! Not tired at all. The next day I went out and got my Chicago Tribune and saw that he was in the banner photo at the top!
We wrapped up race day back at the Corner Bakery with some hot soup and then headed for home.