Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2008: The Year in Review

Marathons and ultras completed in 2008: 41

This is quite a bit fewer than the 64 I completed in 2007 (65 if measured from 1/7/07-1/6/08). 41 was certainly better for my bank account. Over the past two years, I ran 105.

That's a lot, but let me change your frame of reference. My friend Larry Macon also ran 105. Except that he did that in one year. WOW. In fact, in the same two years that I ran 105, he ran something like 200. A few others have also run somewhere around 105 in two years. Maniac Van Phan is one. And her races included more than a few 50 milers and some 100 milers. I can't even comprehend a 100 miler. So WAHOO to Van and Larry. And my friend Little Leslie. Hello, Yolanda Holder. And my friends Coconutboy and Coconutgirl who run tons and tons of races as a couple. Except for when she smokes him. Heh. And some others who I could mention, but the more that I mention, the more it will seem like I'm intentionally stiffing someone I accidentally leave out.

And big props to those of you who ran two. Or one. Or took that first set of steps out the door to prepare for your very first 5k ever. Running is hard work, and hard work can be fun. It is for me. Even if some days don't feel like that, it is.

Real life barely allowed this year's 41. 2008 also included one biopsy (me), two cancer scares/tests (someone else), one broken elbow (same someone else), the death of someone I admire greatly, and two dog surgeries.

Also, I lost all the skin off of my right heel at a 50 miler in July. This made the next month of racing somewhat painful. And slow. Finally, I had a bunch of races packed into the end of December, but the two feet of snow that shut down Seattle for two weeks and trapped me at home took care of those. And helped make January 2008 "the month of being out of shape."

I PRed at the marathon distance once and at the half marathon distance twice. I ran three 50 milers (well, one was actually 51.3)even though I said "never again" after 2007. Never say never. Although, well, even after three more of them, I *still* didn't really like 50 much. So maybe I can say never again. Or not.

A "double" is what I call a weekend where I run two races of marathon distance or longer. In 2007, I ran 14 doubles (plus a triple and the elusive quadzilla). In 2008, I only ran one double. I was actually planning on none, but a fellow Maniac set up a Saturday ultra in support of breast cancer research. I couldn't pass that up even though I had a full scheduled for the next day.

Of the 41, 7 were ultras. Of the remaining 34 marathons...
  • I beat 3:30 1 time - a new PR of 3:28:17.
  • I beat 3:40 (inclusive) 4 times.
  • I beat 3:45 (inclusive) 13 times.
  • I beat 3:50 (inclusive) 19 times.
  • I beat 4:00 (inclusive) 29 times.
29 out of 34 marathons on the low side of four: I am pleased with that. Each of the remaining five has its own reason for being on the high side. I ran a 4:11 at Cowtown while trying to help a friend beat 4. Ooops. I ran 4:12 a month later at Yakima while trying to beat a bronchial infection. Bad idea. My 4:12 at Rattlesnake Lake was the second day of my double on a course with 13 miles of continuous, relentless uphill. My 4:30 at Haulin Aspen is a huge frustration, but I'll come back to that. Finally, my 4:02 at Park City was simply a weird race. It has 10ish miles of continuous, relentless uphill AND the race is up very high... but really, the reason I didn't beat 4 was because I didn't think I had a chance of beating 4. Until I finished at 4:02 and realized that I just should have tried harder.

That 3:45 section is interesting. 9 of 2007's races were specifically between 3:40:00 and 3:44:59. Of these, 4 of them were just on the edge of going into the next fastest category. I ran a 3:40:31, 3:40:26, 3:40:36, and a 3:40:53. I'd like to have the first three back because I am sure I could have pushed each one 30-45 seconds faster. Sure of it. The last one is my flame out at Seattle. I was trying to run somewhere between 3:25-3:30, I was on pace for the first half, and then my body had different ideas.

I PRed in the full at Eugene in May. This was a bit of an accident, really. I just showed up to do a long run. The day before I had sushi and "the large Sapporo" for lunch. I ate Wendys for dinner. But the day went perfectly, and I felt great. It wasn't like I finished that race merely on blood and guts with nothing left. I finished tired, but really pumped. A great day. Which didn't translate directly to future races. Heh. Maybe I really did finish with nothing left.

Let's talk halves. Originally, I was going to focus on halves in 2008. I wanted to run a 1:30. Well, that didn't happen. I managed five halves, and the trend was not towards 1:30. I ran a 1:36 (PR) at Disney in January, a slightly faster 1:36 (PR) on a hilly course in March, a 1:37 in August, a 1:41 in September, and a 1:55 on the last day of the year. That 1:37 was at the race I fondly call 'Taco Man', seven days after White River beat me up and took all the skin off my right heel. This might have been my 1:30 chance, but I got a wee bit aggressive with my schedule. The 1:42 was at the Super Jock-N-Jill half, four days after a muscle biopsy in my back; I ran the race with a stitched up hole. I call it 'my gunshot race'. I think I can cut myself some slack on that one. And, for the record, one of those exactly-3:40 marathons was the following weekend when I still had stitches. Wahoo. But really, I didn't train to focus on halves, so that 1:30 goal went back on the shelf. As for that 1:55? It was New Year's Eve and I wasn't really racing. Plus, probably seven miles of this race contained very icy sections of trail that freaked me out. I didn't fall, but I slid around a lot. I did see lots of falls!

Now, let's talk about the goals I had set for 2008. I promised that I wouldn't travel as much, and I didn't. I spent about half as much on race-related travel.

I had several prioritized goals.

  • Run a 1:30 half. Hmmm. At the beginning of the year, this was my top priority. I decided to focus on other things. DELAYED.
  • Run a 3:30 full. DONE with my 3:28:17 at Eugene in May. But I didn't get close to that afterwards. My 3:36 at San Antonio was more like a 3:32 factoring out the portapotty stops (bad day!). Had I really been closer to 3:32, I bet I could have beaten 3:30 again. I tried one last time at Seattle, and as I wrote above, I bombed miserably.
  • Run 3:45 or better in the Kona Marathon. Not my 3:30 target this year... but my best previous time here is 3:52. NOT DONE. I ran a 3:51, which is still my fastest Kona Marathon to date.
  • Run a sub-20 5k. NOT DONE. I only ran two 5ks and didn't come that close (20:50).
  • Finish the states. NOT DONE, but I'm close. By adding Mississippi, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, I'm at 49. The one remaining state is Illinois.

My goal races for 2008 were:
  • I wanted to try for 3:30 at The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer on 2/17. Second chance was Eugene on 5/4. The first race was simply too hot. It is interesting to me that I had written 'Eugene' when I set these goals, because when I was IN Eugene, I had no plans of treating it as a goal race. But I beat 3:30 anyway. Go figure.
  • Kona and 3:45 on 6/29. Close, but nope.
  • Skagit Flats is a full and a half in mid-September. I wrote, "I don't know yet whether I will try for the 3:30 full or the 1:30 half there." I ran a 3:40 full with a stitched up hole... so it didn't remain a goal race. I added November's San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon as a replacement attempt for 3:30. Then, when that didn't work out, I added Seattle. Strike three.
  • I also wrote, "I need to find another couple halves in the fall." I added one on labor day weekend... ok, officially summer. This would have been my best chance at 1:30. The biopsy changed things.
Like Kona, there are a couple other races where I attached a goal time. I wrote, "Unlike Kona, these aren't quite as important to me... but they'd still be nice to achieve." These were Lake Youngs Ultra in June ("beat 5") and Haulin Aspen in August (4:15). I *did* beat 5 at Lake Youngs. Twice! But that 4:15 at Haulin Aspen didn't work out. I ran it with the skinless right heel and although I ran it as hard as I possibly could, I barely managed 4:30. On a goofy side note, this was only one minute faster than my HA time in 2007. And in 2007, I ran it the day after Crater Lake, which is what I consider to be the hardest road marathon in the US. In 2008, I did not run this race the day before. One whole minute faster.

Great fun. I did indeed have great fun in 2008.

How about 2009? I'll write up some goals in my next post.

Look! I'm an old man.

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