Saturday, December 31, 2016

Running Report for 2016

Running in 2016 was very eventful. Not in terms of medals but in terms of experience.

I ran 770 miles and 9 races. I must credit my increased mileage this year to the 2 Training cycles I went through.

First morning of January , I ran the Commitment Day Race. I signed up for it coz I needed some race but not Polar Dash. Spent rest of Jan, in usual frustration about not being able to run outside. New place, icy roads, and being available only at dark hours were the reason. I spent more time on Google, reading winter running stuff, than getting actual runs. It was less dark than previous month. But it did get dark every evening by the time I reached home. I remember racing with the Sun on my left - being bright throughout my commute, and then for it to go off blink, right when I turned into my area. Bamm ! It did not snow so bad this Jan, but whenever it did, the roads took more than a week to clear the frozen black ice. I was not going to risk those. I had already taken a tumble in my driveway when I went to leave the thrash-can for pickup. That one incident was enough.

And then in the last week, a serendipitous thing happened. I spent a few hours in unsuccessful search of Run Club in my area. Later when I checked my email, I found a mail from Lifetime about their Training for Grandmas. It was a followup promotion after Commitment Day Race. I have never been more happy to share my email. I enthusiastically squeezed into their group runs, even before the training officially started. Securian Half happened around this time and the way it finished, did not make me happy. But this was expected with the below par base miles I had.

Weather conditions stayed same in February. And I could see that I lagging much much behind the training plan. But thanks to run group, I got in some very beautiful snow runs on weekend mornings, through trails I did not know existed. Of course I was the last slow runner and got lost a few times; that did not change my mind.  My weeknight runs were nowhere, coz I was still scared to go out on the dark icy roads, regularly. So I crunched up and got gym membership to use treadmill. Boom my total miles for Feb & March climbed up. It helped me in the Hot Dash 10 miler.

I kept going on the weeknights treadmill and weekend morning outdoor runs in April. So the Get in Gear Half experience was beautiful again. I felt nervous because my training plan was a few weeks off from the group training for Grandmas. I was training for Minneapolis Marathon - the one in my comfort zone, coz I did not have the confidence to drive back from a destination race. Yet I did feel I would run this well.

In mid-May, 2 weeks before the race, the news came up that Team Ortho did not get permission for their route. This was a spanner in the wheels. I was disappointed but was eyeing them for my refund. I did not want to be tricked like last time, into signing up for their next race. And this mood-spoiler derailed my training. Finally, it did get cancelled and they gave a full refund. Once the pressure of the actual race was gone, my runs dipped again in June. This and the official start of summer vacation, meant my miles were low for June.

In the meantime, peer pressure worked and I signed up for TCM Marathon on Oct - something I never thought I would run - given that it needs summer training. But I did show up for the group runs and carried on with my own runs. So that brought up my mileage in July and peaking in AugustMinnesota Half Marathon - StPaul made me really question myself. I doubted my treadmill runs and  how the absence of any formal speed workout was affecting my results. That reminds me, Speed workouts are still a black hole for me. I guess I should get some real coaching for this.

September has the 3 peak weeks of training. But I, in my nervousness, quit even the runs I could manage. That brought the mileage down. I did showup for the 20 miler for experience sake and did cover it all. Women Run The Cities cheered me up a bit. The taper weeks were again something I am sure I did wrong.

Oct first weekend was the big TCM Marathon day. The way I finished this race threw me off completely. I tried to enjoy my vacation away from training, but was constantly thinking about what went wrong. Since a long race has too many factors to consider, I can't make out which variable changes the equation. So in Nov & Dec, I decided to switch to workouts for weight-loss and strength-training. Cold & snow helped me stick to this plan. Workouts involved short runs.

I thought I would curtail Races this year. But in review, I see I ran more races this year. Good part - most of them were without medals. Yes, I have gotten over my past obsession of Medals. Now I want good finish times; PR from my this year's results.

Races were spread through the year. So I got to run in different weather conditions. The Training runs covered my craving for running in new unexplored routes.

Conditions Name Date Distance Time
20F Cloudy Commitment Day 1-Jan-16 5K 40 min
35F-40F Securian Winter Run 30-Jan-16 Half-Mara 3:03:37  hours
25F wet icy Hot Dash 10 mile 19-Mar-16 10Mile 2:12  hours
53F Get in the Gear 30-Apr-16 HalfMara 2:55:53  hours
78F Minnesota Half Marathon - StPaul 6-Aug-16 HalfMara 3:05:54  hours
64F Capitol Run 17-Sep-16 20 mile 5:25 hours
64F Women Run The Cities 25-Sep-16 10Mile 2:07 hours
38F-55F TCM Marathon 9-Oct-16 Marathon 6:45 hours
35F No wind Hindu Mandir Thanksgiving 5k 24-Nov-16 5K 38 min

Here is what happened when I was training per plan with a group:
Almost all training plans are 16 weeks long and need atleast 4-5 weekday runs plus 1 weekend run. Miles progress up through the week, which means run-time increases each time. On whole, in a 3 month plan, the first 2 months were easier to stick to the plan. In the last month, everything collapses. Everyone, including me, has meltdowns considering the neglect of home & family time. And then it's back to the previous routine.

I switched to new shoes for each training cycle. But they are in good shape, so I did not exactly throw them away. I used them for the casual biking and the workouts in Nov-Dec. I have an interesting story about my running capris. I had a two Under Armour capris - my favorite, skin tight, kept my loose tummy in place, lovely colors of blue & green & neon. I think I used them throughout the first half for runs on treadmill and outside in summer. And one fine October morning, while I was 1 mile on a trail, I felt a burn in my inner-thighs. I look down and see that seam stitch had opened and my skin had chaffed. It was painful, but no embarrassment, as my group had gone ahead. I turned back and ran back 1 mile to my car. This was the day, I did not have a backup pant in my car, so I drove back home for 10 miles, changed and drove back to the trail for a 8 mile long run. Somehow I am not embarrassed about the tear or the 40 miles drive, coz it was a perfect weather for the long run and I would regret badly if I had to miss it. Every run is indeed an adventure.

About weight-loss, there was nil. I started the year with Orange Theory workouts, once every week and minimal running. When running picked up in Mar, I gave up the Orange Theory, cause the soreness came in the way of running. Then it was all running till TCM Marathon in Oct. In Nov, being goalless and introspection about my race performance, made me switch to a workout class again. On an average my running/workouts have been 4-5 times a week. About diet changes, they are as healthy choices as they can be. Portion control may need work but it is a constant work-in-progress. Hence my weight through the year has been on a roller-coaster of +-3 pounds, with the final weight in Dec being exact same as Jan. My strength & stamina may have changed; though I have no way to measure it; except the subjective compliments that I receive.

As I end this year, I don't have any specific goals for 2017. I am sure my learning will help me create new goals.

Wish you all a very Happy & Prosperous New Year !

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