Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My 2014 Running Year in Review

My running year starts and ends with this: I didn't get to see my Dad this year. I didn't see my 14-year-old nephew Benjamin either. Didn't get to see them, won't ever see them again. But I know Dad would have loved to read about my year. His friends all told me that at his funeral: How much he used to talk about me and my running; that I had qualified for Boston; that I was going to run up Pikes Peak; that I had run a sub-18-minute 5k. So I'm writing this for my Dad.

The Bar-S-Stampede. 1987, I think. How about those cotton shirts?

Every time I run, especially if I'm running in a wild or remote place, I think about Dad. I'm not going to mention him again in this review, but it's not because I'm not thinking about him. I'm always thinking about him, most of all when I'm thinking about running.

My plan for the start of the year was to run my first ultramarathon, and I didn't want to run some wimpy 50k. I signed up for the Leatherwood 50-miler in March. Then I'd follow that up with the Pikes Peak Marathon in August. After that, I was either going to continue running ultras, or pick some new goal, depending on how much I liked (or didn't like) running ultras. I felt like I had thoroughly prepared myself for Leatherwood, running in all sorts of conditions: Snow, ice, slush, mud, you name it. What I hadn't prepared for was rain for 12 hours, deep mud on the uphills and the downhills, mud that forced me to slow to a tentative walk even on the descents. I dropped after 50k, which meant I DNFed. That was one tough race!

For Pikes Peak, even though it's technically not an ultramarathon, I continued training as if I was running an ultra. That's because the best-case scenario finish at Pikes would be barely under 6 hours. I ran hills, bleachers, and more hills. Then I ran the race, and I did actually finish it -- in 6:21. I had done great on the ascent, matching my most optimistic projections, but struggled on the technical downhill. Still, I had run a freaking marathon up a freaking 14,000-foot mountain. That was pretty incredible.

My experiences at Pikes Peak and (mostly) at Leatherwood had convinced me that I'm not really an ultrarunner. I decided to spend the next year working on speed in shorter races. I had gained about 10 pounds in ultra training, and started to work shedding those pounds. I wanted to run some of the bigger road races in the country in 2015: The Ukrops Monument Avenue 10k in Richmond in March, and the Bloomsday 12k in Spokane in May. To get a good seeding at Bloomsday, I needed to run a sub-18:40 5k, and I didn't have a time that fast this year. Since my PR is 17:49, I didn't think an 18:40 would be too hard, but as it turned out, it took me four tries to get it, including missing by just two seconds at the USA Masters 5k! Finally I got an 18:19 at the Balloonfest 5k, so I'm all set for a good Bloomsday race next year. I topped things off with PRs at the 8k and 10k splits of the 12k .US National Championship road race, where I ran side-by-side with Joan Benoit Samuelson for a half-mile near the finish before she dusted me with her 57-year-old Olympic-sized kick.

I haven't quite lost all the weight I want to; I'm down about 5 pounds and I think losing even another 10 pounds would directly translate to more speed. I've also had a nagging hamstring injury that's probably related to my four 5ks in a row trying to hit that qualifying time for Bloomsday. Still, I think my final running stats for the year are pretty impressive:

Total miles run: 2,713 (PR)
Total elevation gain: 167,000 feet
Total hours run: 399 (PR)
Average pace: 8:15/mile
PRs: 8k (30:54), 10k (38:49)

From a running perspective, not a bad year! Here's a little slideshow I made with photos from most of the events described above. Hope you enjoy it!

Dave's Running in 2014 from Dave Munger on Vimeo.

For next year I don't have a cumulative mileage goal because I'm going to be spending the last four months of the year in India and I'm not sure I'll always be able to run. But I do want to run a marathon in India; I'm going to make that happen. I'd also like to break my 10k PR at Ukrops. My stretch goal there would be to go sub-37:00. To make that happen I will need to spend January making sure my hamstring injury gets healed.

I guess that's about it for 2014. See you on the other side!

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