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.

2018 Running & Triathlon Year in Review

2018 RUNNING AND TRIATHLON YEAR IN REVIEW

 

 

30th Running Year

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.

JANUARY

  • 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.

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I tossed some older running shirts that I never wear.  That is a big move by me.

FEBRUARY

  • Total Runs:  28
  • Average Weekly Miles:  29
  • Total Hours:  17
  • Total Miles:  116

Still training for Boston in the cold.

MARCH

  • 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.

APRIL

  • Total Runs:  23
  • Average Weekly Miles:  27.5
  • Total Hours:  16.3
  • Total Miles:  110

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My first Boston Marathon!  I think that might be Des Linden behind me.  Maybe not.

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

MAY

  • 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.

JUNE

  • Total Runs:  18
  • Average Weekly Miles:  23
  • Total Hours:  13.3
  • Total Miles:  93

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Had fun running the 5K with the youngin’s, Ben and his girlfriend Emily.  Ben was the overall winner and Emily grabbed 1st in her age group and 13th overall.

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.

JULY

  • 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.

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‘Murica!  The people behind me were finishing the 10K as I wrapped up the half marathon.  I love when that happens.

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.

AUGUST

  • 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.

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SEPTEMBER

  • 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

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Last few feet of the F’NRC 20 mile training run.

OCTOBER

  • 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.

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Running the marathon with my son was the highlight of the year.

NOVEMBER

  • 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.

DECEMBER

  • Total Runs: 15
  • Average Weekly Miles: 20
  • Total Hours: 12
  • Total Miles: 82

 

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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

 

TRIATHLON REVIEW

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

BIKE TOTALS:  Total Rides:  75  /  Total Miles:  1484

 

RACE REPORTS

 

GOALS FOR 2019

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.

That’s it for 2018.  See you on the trail in 2019!