Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Year in Review

2019 distance run:   1,538 miles
Total distance run since 2004:   21,538 miles

The year was an interesting one, with some real highs and some forgettable moments. 

First, the numbers.   My miles for each month in 2019. 

Yikes!   Look at those ups and downs.    This captures the year.   The first three months were in final preparation for the Boston Marathon...March's 200+ miles was an all-time monthly record for me.  And I ran Boston on April 15. 

And then looked what happened.  A total falloff. 

In retrospect, it's not surprising.   I had shot for Boston for eight years.   Finally making it, I fell into a strange sense of goal-lessness.  I didn't even grasp it at the time but I really had a hard time dragging myself out of bed to train on way too many mornings through the summer and early fall.   October really wiped things out as I ended up with a nasty flu bug for three weeks. 

Remarkably, I re-calibrated in late November via a curious observation.   I shifted a habit I've held since beginning this era of running in May, 2004, specifically getting up at 5:15am to train.   This just got harder and harder.   I started trying running in the afternoon, instead...taking running gear to work, changing around 5pm in our small locker room, heading out on our city's running trails which go right by our plant and getting in my miles.   Remarkably, it seems to work.   I got the miles in, ran a 50K trail race comfortably on December 28 and I may well continue with this through the spring.   Summertime??  I'll need to get up early. 

Amazingly, 2019 was an improvement in total miles over 2018.

2018 had a time of injury from Plantar Fasciitis.  I'm pleasantly surprised 2019 improved over that.   And I'm hoping for more consistency in 2020, for sure.

Without a doubt, though, the highlight of the year, perhaps the highlight of my running hobby all-time was running in and finishing the Boston Marathon.  Two pix to wrap up the year of that special day. 

Have a great 2020, folks.



Sunday, December 29, 2019

Race Report: HUFF 50K Trail Race, 2019

Race Summary:
50K, 6:25:42 (12:25/mile pace)
    Lap 1:   3:02:47
    Lap 2:   3:22:54
Overall:   85th of 153
M 60-69:   6th of 11
Lifetime ultra/marathon finish #90

I ran The HUFF 50K trail race on December 28, 2019.   This is the ninth year in a row I’ve run this race and have 8 finishes and one DNF (in 2017, in scary cold temps, when I dropped after lap 1).  It’s two laps of a 15.5 mile course in Chain O Lakes State Park, not far from Fort Wayne, Indiana. The park is a giant glacial deposit and has an amazing amount of up and down...one of the few places in northern Indiana on which to run Real Hills.  (if you are interested, use the search function and you can find my other HUFF race reports)

I drove up on Friday afternoon, had a fitful night’s sleep in a mediocre motel but got to the race site by 6:15am and secured a primo parking spot well ahead of the 8:15am gun, with time to slowly eat some oatmeal, nap a bit and get set for a long day in the woods..  

I watched the day slowly enlighten and walked to the start grid.   

The gun went and the day proved wonderful.   The temp was just above freezing at the start, heading for the low 40s on the day, so I wore shorts and three layers on top with gloves...it worked fine, I was quite comfortable all day long.   The trails were in near-perfect condition; firm but not muddy, not slick at all, very runnable. Even in some of the lower points where water drained across the trail, there was little mud, only some short spots that were moist.   

Lap One was, as usual, quite social with the 50K runners chatting and enjoying the day.   The aid stations are nicely spaced and well-stocked. I tried to not spend much time at the aid stations, I intended to simply reload and get going.    This worked mostly, except for the time I saw the RD, whom I’ve known for a long time, and he’s the type of guy you can’t have a short chat with. But it was good to catch up with Mitch.  

Lap Two always stands in stark contrast to Lap One at the HUFF...once again, it was a solitary adventure.   I think I only saw three or four other runners for the entire 3+ hours, so spread was the field by then. I enjoy this, of course, and just kept going.   The winter woods were just beautiful, the scenes overlooking the lakes in the park were striking, the weather most pleasant.   

I only fell once Saturday...went down pretty hard around mile 6.   Fortunately, I landed on soft dirt and while my glasses got dirty, I avoided a full face plant.   Only damage was ripping up my bib on my shorts, which was easily re-pinned. I had a second near-miss around mile 19, one of those times where I caught my toe and then rumbled, bumbled, stumbled into the brush, struggling to stay on my feet.   I did stay up but that near-miss took more out of me than the actual fall at mile 6. I gave myself a couple of minutes to collect my wits and carry on both times and neither had a lasting effect. 

The Aid Station at Mile 24 is legendary around here for some terrific trail food.   It’s a point in the race where mental and physical reserves are often depleted and they restore both.   In prior years, hamburgers are the main attraction but this year, they upped their game and served bacon cheeseburgers with a pickle on a stick.  Marvelous!! I downed one and it was a treat.   Sorry for the fog on my lens but you get the idea.

The final miles went reasonably well.  Other than a low spot around mile 28 (when, on an uphill slog, I just wanted it to be over), I felt fine and enjoyed the chance to run.   One runner I did see engaged in an interesting conversation, as he had just BQed a few weeks ago, was running his first-ever ultra and we talked about that process and anticipation at length.     

I finally popped out of the woods, ran the final half mile around a lake and finished.   Nicely, my new friend finished about two minutes behind me and we got our photo together.   

Won another belt buckle, honoring a local cross country coach who passed away earlier this fall.  

One observation I made, having run this race so often, was how it is dropping in size.   Only about half of the finishers we've had before.   I could tell there were not nearly as many cars in the park or runners in the grid.   Similarly about half the number of volunteers as in the past.   I wonder if the organizers are tiring of this (it gets little publicity, perhaps relying on reputation?) or if runners are less interested?   Just interesting to observe over time.

So, a good day.   I ran well and that was the goal.   Encouraged. Thanks for listening.   

And, as always, persevere.