What a year it’s been – unlike any other in many ways – a few of which are why I haven’t posted in so long. Thanks for standing by as I’m now ready to roll into 2013 feeling rejuvenated and rested. But first, a quick look at some of my fondest (and most painful) memories in 2012. Coming off of a fun and exciting 2011 (5k, 10k, 10mi, marathon PRs) I was eager to see where 2012 would put me in the 10km, 1/2 marathon, and a crack at a quick road marathon.
- Sub-31:00 10km
- Half Marathon PR
- Marathon PR
- Fun Ultra Debut
I distinctly remember the panic and pain I went through the last lap of my track 10,000m debut … despite not feeling the best in the middle of the race I was still running a strong pace to break 31min until the last few laps. Being the mental-math snob I am with WAY too much data being thrown at me every quarter mile of a 6+ mile race, I knew I was in a bit of trouble when my splits slowed to ~78-ish and I needed a 73.x to sneak under 31:00. I don’t know the last time I’ve truly shut my eyes to sprint and bring the fire out of my legs and lungs, but stopwatch be damned, 68.x was the final lap for a gratifying and new 30:55.66 10,000m PR … my #1 goal of the year. I found myself hands on knees hunched over not being able to catch my own breath for a long while (30 seconds? 5 minutes? I don’t really know – it just felt like a “long while”) with my legs saying “so long” to my body … what I felt on the track that night was as gut-wrenching as I can remember any pain I’ve ever felt in my running career. I loved it … it’s the feeling thousands of miles of training were seeking out. And like most of those miles, I felt free and …. totally alone. Gone are the days of dozens of high school or college teammates cheering you around the final turn or homestretch lap after lap. This race was run at 11pm and nobody knew who I was … I did my best to listen to others’ splits given by their respective coaches … nobody on the stadium grounds knew who I was or why I was there but I didn’t care. I actually enjoyed it feeling free of distraction or any kind of need for personal glory. I feel the most vulnerable and alive when I’m enduring pain alone … that perfectly cool and clear night in April was one of the best releases of pain I’ve ever had – nobody to talk to afterwards but Jesus and marvel at His suffering for us. Goal #1 – check!
Following a successful March / April, I figured I was primed and ready for a bright and shiny half marathon PR in May and/or June. May provided a decent half marathon – 1:10:14 solo effort over a hilly course with temperatures reaching 80’s and humid – but June led way to a disappointing half marathon at the USA Half Marathon Championships … nothing like performing your worst on the biggest stage to keep you humble. Still searching for a good half marathon effort (and picking up some sponsorship dollars), I found myself logging a 1:09:45 half marathon in what I thought would be a tune-up marathon pace tempo run in September … 2 second PR … goal #2 – barely check! That race was in the middle of marathon preparations for an October marathon – my main build up since spring. With some nagging foot pain, I toed the line healthy and had an absolute blast racing through the Wisconsin back roads and into downtown Milwaukee for a day filled with joy, cramping hamstrings, and world of mixed emotions (full race report here) – 2:30:52 for 4th. Goal #3 – fail.
Trail Ultra Pain
After the marathon, I was excited to try something new while staying fit before our second child was born – a trail ultramarathon! Of course wanting to do well and run a quick time, there was only so much I could do on limited training and inexperience on the hilly terrain. That day – my longest run ever – gave me a new feeling of depletion (and dizziness) … I’ve never felt so terrible in my whole life running 8:00+/mile. Another learning experience, but the social interactions and ESPECIALLY the spicy chili was great after finishing 1st in 4:08:00 – full race report here. Goal #4 – check!
Rest and Family Time
Even with all the joy I find in my self-inflicted pain, it was time for a break … rest … recharging of the batteries as we welcomed another boy into our family. December 7th – sharing a birthday with his highly esteemed Uncle Joel (my brother-in-law, best man, and all around fancy pants funniest guy the universe has ever seen) – Leo J (Joel backwards) came in the calm of night and is still teaching me what is important in this life – patience, love, humility, dependence, and that the most important things in this life are worth suffering for – thank you Jesus for your example.
On the running front, I did NOTHING for 5 weeks. I haven’t had that kind of down time for ~8 years and boy did I need it … mix in some nagging running injuries with complete lack of rest after my spring season and roughly 3-6 hours of terrible sleep for a month and the best thing I could do for my running career is … not run. Getting back into it now with my first solid week under my belt I’m enjoying the newness of running once again – falling in love with the simplicity of running and I can truly say I do love it even through the -10 wind chills and terribly icy footing found in the winter months in Iowa. Only 13 weeks and counting towards my first milestone of 2013 – a solo rim-rim-rim run across the Grand Canyon and back for charity. Just yesterday while running my first decent long run in a while on the drab icy sidewalks of Cedar Rapids, I was already longing for and imagining the climb back towards the south rim … hungry and depleted … again in pain … again alone.