Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Ahead to 2013

New Years Eve.  That happened quickly!  As most people have been doing, I've also been thinking about the journeys I've taken this year as well as what I'd like to accomplish in 2013.

I only really started "seriously" running in April when I decided I really wanted to a) be able to run nonstop and b) be able to run a 5K in less than 30 minutes.  With these 2 seemingly simple goals in hand I set out on a trip that included many written and rewritten training plans, lots of internet research, the realization that my "walking shoes" were not meant for running (!), and the acquisition of more knowledge and more FUN than I'd ever imagined.  I finally found the race I wanted to compete in: The Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race.  It's a big deal here in town and I thought that it would give me ample time to train hard (it was in September) and I could get lost somewhere in the sea of thousands of people and now stick out like a sore thumb if I looked ridiculous.  And so, it went.  I originally started with a Jeff Galloway-type plan, but since I was looking more toward really wanting to just run, not take walk breaks, but scrapped it for a plan generated by Runner's World SmartCoach.  It seemed to do the trick.  I liked the fact that it incorporated speedwork and tempo runs, which I do swear helped my performance immensely.  However, I did still utilize run/walk intervals for the weekly "long run" (which topped out at 7 miles).  I specifically used the 4/1 ratio, in case anyone is truly wondering.  Aside from a few days missed out due to shin splints, I was able to run all summer long with no issues.

I'll write up an official race recap of the Great Race, but I went sailing across the finish line in 26:05, no walking necessary, feeling great, still able to smile, and honestly feeling like I could have went out a little harder!  Goals attained!

Since the Great Race, I've been in kind of a holding pattern.  I really wanted to focus more on staying injury free (I'd started to experience little niggles here and there that would put me off for a few days), while building up my speed and overal endurance.  I knew right after I crossed that finish line I wanted more.  On opening registration day, I signed up for the Pittsburgh Half in May.  I've also got other races on the horizon, as you can see on my Race Schedule page.  I scrapped the Runner's World SmartCoach because I didn't like the fact that it only had me running 3-4 days per week in 1 long run, then 1 or 2 2 mile jaunts (I can barely warm up by the 2 mile point sometimes, these runs just did nothing for me), then 1 speedwork or tempo run day.  I just felt like I needed something more spread out through the week and more focused on building up my overall weekly mileage, not just the 1 long run per week.  So, I searched some more and I found a plan by Shelly Glover on Running Coach that looked appealing.  It shared my thought that it was more important to run more days per week. Since I was already around the 15-16 mile per week point, I started the plan around that.  I made some changes, of course, but I can say this plan was successful for me.  I did use one of the runs each week as a tempo run, since I didn't want to lose any speed, but I laid off of strides or sprints during this point.  I will be (happily) picking that back up again this week.

In comparison to other people, my 2012 running report may seem quite boring, but I consider it a fantastic start.  I spent most of my time focused on completing 2 goals in that 1 awesome race and then since then I've been running to build up my mileage and speed so that I can take it to the next level in 2013.  I've also been running to run, you know?  This is supposed to be fun and all.  It does kinda dishearten me when people take it so seriously to a point it seems to me like it lacks enjoyment for them.  Fun, people, fun.  Many people would kill to be able to put one foot in front of the other.

Speaking of 2013, yes I do have some goals!

1. I want to do either 4 half marathons or 2 halfs in the Spring and 1 marathon in the Fall.  The final decision on which route to take will obviously be determined by how I feel after Pittsburgh in May.

2. I want to finish at least one of my half marathons in less than 2 hours.  I've heard horror stories about the first 5K and the massive hill at the beginning of my first one, so I don't know that it will be there.  I will be ok with any finish in less than 2:15.

3. I'd like to get up to the 30 mile per week point sometime after the Pittsburgh Half.  Of course I will NEED to do this if I'm going to go for a full marathon in the fall, but even if I don't I'd like to get to that point for, if nothing more, personal challenge.

4. I want to do several local races (5 and 10Ks, etc) that benefit good causes.  The race I'm planning on doing around Valentine's Day is an example of this.  Sure, local races might not be as well organized as the big name ones, the routes might not be the best and you might not get a fat bag of swag, but you get the knowledge that you helped someone out there who CAN'T run that race with you.

5. I want to be able to do at least one trail race.  One of my favorite parts of doing my long runs on the Riverfront trail is being able to watch the seasons change, see the wildlife if you really look, watch the sun sparkle on the river, and just be kind of among nature, even though I'm still in the city.  I also like the challenge of watching for rocks and holes and bad spots.  Maybe I'd enjoy trail racing more than road?  Won't know until I try!

I hope you all have a fantastic New Years, and I wish you all the best as you begin your journey in 2013.

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