Wrap Up of the Fitness Year.
Well, my racing season is over for 2016. How did I do? I think I did really well. I’m proud of myself. Though there was a stretch of really difficult races in the spring and summer, I generally performed well this year, and difficult races where I don’t achieve what I expect are great learning opportunities. It builds character to lose and come back for more.
I did two half-marathons and a 10 miler in the early winter/early spring, the Virginia Beach half, the Love Run, and the Cherry Blossom 10 mile. While VB was marred by horrible weather, we still turned in a strong race. The Cherry Blossom I ran alone, and ran well on a cold day in DC. My fastest race ever, at any distance. And only one week later, BB and I ran the Love Run half marathon and broke two hours for the first (and still only) time.
Then came the astonishingly hard Charlie Horse trail half. I learned a few important things. One: 85 degrees and humid are not a good racing environment for me. Two: I don’t like trails. Three: pain is surmountable. We finished very close to dead last after I turned my ankle and had to walk the last seven miles. It was very hard. Even though I felt well trained, heat and humidity really defeat me. Every time.
From there, it was time to focus on my first triathlon, an Olympic distance tri in New Jersey. I did the 1500 meter swim, 20 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run in just more than three hours. I wasn’t fully trained for it, because I ran too little and biked too much. I learned that biking doesn’t maintain my fitness like running does. And I wore out my knee, which is still not right. I’ll be getting a pro bike fitting before putting more miles on two wheels.
Up next were two disappointing races: the Philly 10K, and the Rock and Roll Philadelphia half marathon. In both, the heat and humidity exposed my lack of training. I didn’t run enough, by far. And I had to pause and walk in both races. The first time I’d had to do that uninjured. It felt like failure. I overheated, dehydrated, and had my heart rate spike to unsustainable levels. It set me up with a lot of fear for the full marathon.
But fear is best assuaged with action, and so I ran and ran and ran. As the weather cooled, I extended my training runs. I began doing 10 mile tempo runs after work, and really putting in the time and effort to gain fitness. It worked. And on race day, I had what it took to finish strong, go the whole distance, and break my prior time by almost 9 minutes.
I’m still quite slow. Almost 75% of the field, including 80% of men, and men my age, finished in front of me. I doubt I’ll ever finish in the top half of a well-attended marathon. And that’s fine. I’ve only barely ever finished in the top half of a half marathon. And I’m ok with that. I’ve never been a gifted athlete. What I lack in talent, I make up for in being stupidly dogged about getting to the end, even when it hurts.
And it often hurts. And that’s alright. I’m an ordinary person. There’s no reason I shouldn’t hurt. Today, 48 hours after the full marathon, I’m feeling better. And I’m looking forward to my massage at 5pm. It’ll be really nice. And then a trip far overseas. And resting for about a month before it’s time to train for the spring racing season. And this summer, I need to keep my miles up. No matter the heat.
I’m proud of this year. I raced 122.1 miles. Trained hundreds and hundreds more. And I feel like I did a lot of good for myself. Now it’s time for a month of rest. Starting with a massage.