2011 Review

2011.

(sigh)

What a year…

It started off badly for me, truthfully. 2010 was, quite frankly, one of the worst years of my life since 1988, but not by much, and the “worst” part of it was toward the end for me. So, 2011 didn’t really start well. To be blunt, I was depressed. The one thing I held on to during times of depression – running – was really tough to do physically because the mental part of it was just not present. I missed runs and I truncated runs and I missed cross-training or I didn’t do them long enough. As a result, I found myself at the beginning of the year under-trained and out of condition from where I was a year before.

It pissed me off.

Nothing motivates me more than being pissed off – except maybe having a giant goal that I blab about to millions of people – so I basically had to start over to get back to where I was. So… I did.

I went in cycles with the depression, so most of the year was digging myself out of the pit, falling back in a little, and digging out again, making a little bit of forward progress each time, though, not as much as I wanted. I had a rough time in March, then again in July, but eventually, as they always do, things did start to turn around for me and I started to enjoy the runs again. It helped me tremendously to have a training partner that has been a great friend and a great motivator to me for many years outside of running. He is a much better runner than I am – and much faster – but he is also great at coaching me through rough spots, helping my form, keeping my entertained on runs I dreaded, motivating me to go when I didn’t want to, keeping me running when I really wanted to quit and helping me stay focused (and calm) before a race. I probably would have still made progress without him, but I doubt it would have been as significant as it was.

Thank you for all your support this year.

I hope I can do the same for him, especially as he runs his first big race in years in a couple of days.

I had some things to work on in 2011.

The first thing I did was work on endurance. In 2010, I only went to 13 miles twice: the two half marathons I did (Raleigh Rocks and Virginia Beach Rock and Roll). Outside of those races, I never even hit 12, and I only got to 11 twice: the two longest runs just before the races. And… it was my belief, anyway, that it took me too long to recover after those races. I was sore and I didn’t run for a couple of weeks after. I wanted to change that in 2011. I did 3 half marathons and, in training runs, I did several that exceeded 11, even hitting 13 exactly before the last 2. I’ll have a goals post I’ll put up shortly, but I think that helped me mentally. I can’t say it improved my performance in the races overall – it didn’t – these three half marathons were the toughest and slowest. But, I did recover from them much, much more quickly this year (missing a 5k PR by 5 seconds after my 2nd half marathon this year). While I still have work to do to make myself faster and more efficient, I believe I’m on the right track and that my work on endurance is starting to pay off.

The next thing I had to work on was nutrition. I’ll be very honest, I was not as good about what and how I ate this year as compared to 2010 and 2009. I got lazy the first half of the year, and then I discovered my son was Celiac and found out it is genetic, and, because I’ve always had digestive issues (I’ve talked about them a number of times on some of these race reports) I spent the second half of the year experimenting with taking gluten out and putting it back in. Although I still have no official medical diagnosis, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if I was to get, at the very least, a gluten sensitivity (if not full-blown Celiac) diagnosis when I do ask for a diagnosis. The problem with getting a diagnosis, though, is I have to eat gluten and I really don’t want to do that. Removing gluten from my diet has made me feel better. It has made me less tired and worn out (which may have contributed some to my depression earlier this year) and it has changed my overall attitude, partially because I don’t feel (pardon the TMI here) bloated all the time. I just feel happier when I don’t eat it. When I do eat it, even accidentally, I just feel tired, worn down and grumpy. Quite frankly, I’m tired of feeling that way. Had it not been for my poking around on websites, my poor son would never have been diagnosed and he and I would have been grumpy, tired and sick all the time together. Now, we’re both feeling a little bit better. So… all of this to say, gluten is out. Veggies are back in. Carbs have a new identity in potatoes and rice, and eating out has been… interesting. While I think I’m heading in the right direction, I need a little more discipline to make sure I’m well fueled and don’t hurt myself by omitting important nutrients. I think it might be a good idea for me to keep a food diary to, at the very least, measure how it makes me feel when I run so I can better fuel for races.

Cross training is the next thing… if you’ve read any of my training recaps for any week, you know I’ve talked (ok, stressed) about this. A lot. The biggest reason is that I know how important cross-training can be after nursing an inflamed IT band issue in 2009. It was painful to run, so I picked up spin and, not only did I end up loving it, I healed much faster than I was told I would and spinning made my running better. win-win. What would make it even better? Lower impact swimming. So, I added it. I stink at it, but I added it and I worked hard at it. I couldn’t even keep my legs afloat when I attempted this at the beginning of the year, but I kept at it and now I can actually make it (almost) 50 meters without stopping. That’s actually pretty huge for me. Unfortunately, though, there just isn’t enough time in a day to do everything, so I usually opt for what I can do or what works when I’m alone with kids and most of the time, cross-training has a lower priority. Then, of course, I get myself into a tizzy about it because I usually think about how much cross-training I *didn’t* do as I’m pounding my joints and tearing my muscles at the end of a tough half marathon – and I get annoyed about the fact that I didn’t do well and that I really do need to work on overall conditioning of my body. Running is really hard on the body and, while I’ve been pretty lucky with avoiding major injuries up to this point, you just never know, and I can’t chance it I’m going to do 45 more half marathons. That is 589.5 miles of just the half marathons, not to mention all the miles I’ll have to put in to prepare for them. I don’t want to set myself up for a major overuse injury by neglecting other things I can do to make it through the 13 miles efficiently. That means stretching. That means Yoga. That means (sigh) weight training. That means swimming. That means spin. That means chiropractors and sports massages. That also means disciplined scheduling and priorities.

So… how did I do overall in 2011? Let’s take a look:

  • Running: I have an overall (recorded) mileage of 737 miles for a total of 113:54:49 hours – that amounts to a 9:16 average pace for each activity. I did 135 recorded runs (there were a few that did not get recorded because of issues with my Garmin or phone), which netted me a little over 11 runs a month. The average distance for each run was 5.46 miles for an average duration of 50:37. These stats include 14 races overall: three half marathons (Mardi Gras Rock and Roll in February, Disney Wine and Dine in October and Las Vegas Rock and Roll in December), a 10-miler (Tarheel 10-miler in April), two 10k races (Capital City Classic in May and the City of Oaks Old Reliable in November), an 8K (Inside-Out Turkey Trot), and six 5k Races (NHL All-Star 5k in January, Run for the Oaks in March, Angels Among Us in April, Susan Komen Race for the Cure in June, Friesen’s Run with the ‘Canes in September, and Triangle Run/Walk for Autism in October). This year, I did my first 10-mile race and I obtained one PR in the 10k distance with the City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10k (actually got 2nd in age group, which made me happy).
  • Spinning: strictly a cross-training activity in 2011, and only indoors, spinning and I have not been very close this year. I attribute a lot of that to getting distracted with swimming because, let’s face it, I had much more room for improvement with swimming. Now, due to the neglect, my spinning is starting to suffer a little. All of the mileage is estimated based on pedal counts for 15-seconds every 3 minutes and using a formula I developed based on the Spinner company’s estimate of distance in a 40-minute class. I use the benchmark of an 80 RPM/15-mile road cadence for 40-minutes and use a factor based on my actual counts. I usually try to shoot for 100 RPMs and 60-minutes per ride. I think I’d get less on the road, but I have no way of measuring that at the moment, so this is the best I can do and it, if nothing else, gives me a benchmark for measuring improvement or areas of concern. So… with that disclaimer, I estimated 523 miles on the Spinner in 2011, for a total of 22:48:29, and 21 activities overall. That puts me at an average of 24.9 miles per ride for an average pace of 2:36 and average duration of 1:05:09.
  • Swimming: I’m new to swimming this year, and, truthfully, I’ve made a lot of progress, but I have a very long way to go. A lot of the time I spent in the water, especially the first half of the year, went unrecorded because I was learning how to kick and I was figuring out what to do. Once some of it started to click, I started to record it and put it into RunKeeper. What I did record was this: 11.7 miles at 13:37:15 and 17 activities recorded in total. That amounts to an average distance of .688 mi (or a little over 1250 meters) per swim, at a pace of 1:09:51 minute miles and average duration per activity of 48:04.

So, overall, I’d say I’m proud of the accomplishments I’ve made in 2011. It isn’t where I thought I’d be by now at the end of 2009, but it is much farther along than I thought I’d be at the end of 2010, so I’m happy. I look forward to 2012 and making myself better and praying I avoid injury and can continue to do what I love.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

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