Year end recap, 2010 look ahead

It’s that time of year, the time for recaps.  Maybe in December 2019 I’ll have a decade-end recap too.

I restarted running on September 6, 2009, and since then I’ve made a lot of progress.  As you’ll see if you read through the first couple of posts, I didn’t set out with any particular goal in mind, other than to stop being disgusted with myself.  I’m setting some specific goals for 2010.

The thing that I am most proud of is the simple fact that I stuck to it.  That fact alone has a big, positive psychological impact on me.  Here are some of the stats.

Month Mileage
September 2009 11
October 2009 29
November 2009 54
December 2009 101

100 miles in December!  At the beginning, it took every bit of determination I had to simply run for 60 seconds straight, now I can look back on it and laugh.

I also managed to lose some weight too.  When I started in September, I was 214lbs (on a 6’0″ frame), which is obese by Body Mass Index (BMI) standards.  As of today, I am down to 185lbs which is back in the normal range for BMI.  More important than just the weight is the fact that I am a ton healthier as well.  I have much more energy, I sleep better, I eat better and I honestly just have a brighter outlook on things.  I have entire page dedicated to the more holistic view of why I run.

I started using the Couch to 5K program in September to get myself going and it really helped me a ton.  I managed to “graduate” from C25K by running my very first race, the Mason Mini 5K on November 8th, exactly 9 weeks after I started, and the day before my 41st birthday.  While I didn’t set any speed records (30:22), that race really got me hooked on running and motivated me to continue to improve.  One week later, I ran another 5K, the Race for the Lions at St. Ursaline.  I did improve my time a bit (29:34), but more importantly, I had a great time running and continued to keep motivated.

As Thanksgiving approached, I started to consider running the Thanksgiving Day 10K in downtown Cincinnati.  I have to admit, I was afraid to do it for fear of failing and demotivating myself, but I went ahead anyway.  I ended up with more training time than I had anticipated, because my older son got H1N1 so we had to postpone a vacation.  I completed the race in 1:04:24 and felt great, so mission accomplished.

The 10K really got me excited about training for a longer race, so  I’ve decided to run the Flying Pig Half Marathon in May.  I’m currently considering whether to train with a group, or just continue on my own.  Assuming the Half Pig goes well, I plan to run the full Chicago Marathon in October.  At the beginning of this post, I stated that I restarted running in September. The restart was because my initial forray into distance running was started and inspired by watching a friend run the Chicago Marathon many moons ago.  I didn’t have the discipline to stick with it, so starting again this year is partly to prove to myself that I can.

I look forward to running even more in 2010.

A PR at 10K

It’s one day from the end of December and I am determined to end it having run 100 miles in the month. As of this morning, I was 8 miles from hitting that milestone, so I wanted to get a good run in.  Today while my son was at a baseball camp, I ran on the track at the high school holding the camp. I can report that I get bored to tears running on a track, but I did manage to beat my previous best time at 10K.  In November I ran a 1:04:24 at the Thanksgiving Day Race 10K.  Today on a high school track, I ran a 57:56.  Not official, but it was nice to get it done under an hour.  I’ve watched a slow but steady increase in my pace this month.  I feel like I’m making a bit of progress.

For the curious, this is what boredom looks like.

The full report is here.

Now I only need to get a short two miler in tomorrow and I’ll hit the 100 mile mark for December.  A great way to end the year.

My wife is tough as nails

So my wife made a commitment to herself to re-start the Couch to 5K program after Christmas.   I say restart because she got a little more than half way through the program this fall when she started to have very painful shin splints.  After trying to fight through the pain for about two weeks, she decided to rest it for a bit, let the pain subside, then start again.  Today was supposed to be the day that she started again.

Apparently, Mother Nature decided my wife needed a little more challenge than simply starting again.  Today in Cincinnati, it was in the mid-20s, blustery winds at about 15-20 mph, and it was snowing.  Not fluffy, gentle white snowflakes.  Icy, small, biting snow.

But, she went out there and did it.  Day one, week one complete.  Tough as nails.

I’m not obsessed

What I last called obsession, I know call a healthy habit.

I know now that the reality is that I really like to run and I genuinely miss it on the days I rest.  I wonder if, after a while, your body gets accustomed to burning a lot of energy on runs and actually expects it to happen.  That would explain why I tend to feel antsy and impatient on rest days.  My body is gearing up and I’m giving it no outlet.  I’m certain I’m driving my wife crazy on those rest days.

I’m now at a point where I can run 5 miles without really feeling like I’m extending very much.  Since I’ve decided to run the Flying Pig Half Marathon on May, I need to begin to build up mileage to get prepared for that pounding.  I running a little over 20 miles a week now, which looks to be smack dab in the middle of most of the half-marathon training schedules I’ve seen.  So in a sense, I’m ahead of the game since I wouldn’t be expected to be at that level until roughly 5 weeks before the race (which is in May).

Over the past month, I’ve spent a good deal of time on DailyMile, a social networking site for runners and other endurance athletes.  I find it incredibly inspiring to see others running far longer, far faster than I am.  I also get a great deal of satisfaction slowly creeping up on some of them as I make progress in my own running.  It’s also been a great place to ask rookie questions of people who have been there many times before.  One of the reasons I love running is that it’s a pretty solitary endeavor, however, being part of a community working toward common, yet individual goals is also very gratifying.

I may be obsessed

Had a quick run last night at a quicker pace than usual.  But today it just feels so odd to not look forward to a run.  I know my run Saturday will go better because of this rest day, but in the meantime it just doesn’t feel right.  I may have unwittingly developed an obsession.

Taking the long way home

After getting dressed for my cold run this evening, my older son asked me if I was going for a short run or a long one.  I said, “I hope it’s going to be a long run.  Maybe even my longest ever.”

Sure enough, I beat my previous long run (the Thanksgiving Day 10K) by about a half mile.  6.9 miles tonight, and I felt great.

Actually, I felt great except for my hands.  I grabbed the wrong pair of gloves and the ones I put on weren’t up for the 30 degree test.  By the end of the run, my legs and lungs felt fine, but I couldn’t feel my fingers at all.

Funny story.  As I said, it was very cold this evening, so I wore running tights to keep my legs warm.  When I came downstairs to head out for the run, my younger boy said, “You look funny.”

Someday he’ll be “The Edge”

In my long explanation of why I run, I talk a bit about how the really valuable things in life take time.  My younger son reminded me of this in a couple of ways this evening.  He’s 7 years old.

About a year ago, he started asking us to let him take guitar lessons, so this year we thought he might be ready.  He started about a month ago on lessons and he immediately hated it.  I’m pretty sure he expected to come out of his first lesson nailing the intro to Where the Streets Have No Name with the ease of The Edge.  Ummm, yeah.  Didn’t quite happen that way.  He spent the first three weeks complaining that it was too hard, his fingers hurt and he didn’t like it.  I, being the SuperDad that I am, responded with, “Tough shit.  You started this, you’re going to finish it.”  I’m nothing if not subtle.

My wife, on the other hand, realized he needed encouragement, and proceeded to sit down with him to help him practice.  He got the attention he wanted, and, amazingly enough, he started to improve.

So last night he came up to me and said, “Dad, can I show you the song that I learned?”  And he proceeded to play through a simple four note song, with nice, even tempo, and never once had to look at his own hands to know they were on the right fret.  The performance was one thing, but the pride that he now had that he can do it was amazing!  Now he’s beginning to show excitement about continuing to play, rather than dread.

I know this post has nothing to do with running.  But being reminded that we both had to show some patience in order to see results was great.  He needed to take some time to start being able to play without frustration, and I needed to give him the time to work through it in his own way.