Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 Year End Report and Review

The year 2012 has nearly ended and it's time to once again review how my racing compared to my hopes and expectations at this time a year ago.  The time goals I set in January for 2012 were pretty ambitious, but were based on improving on what I accomplished (or nearly accomplished) in 2011 and were designed to motivate me to train and race very hard.  Overall, I was able to find races to run in most of these distances on the track and roads, which was an important first step.  Unfortunately, I was unable to meet any of these time goals, in spite of feeling I had a successful year of running.  I guess I was thinking a little too big and while I continue to improve (in spite of getting older), I might need to be a little more conservative in 2013.  Here’s what I had hoped to run this year, in comparison to what I did run:

Track                Goal                 Actual
1500m:              4:19                  4:29
Mile:                  4:38                  4:50
3000m:              9:20                  9:42
5000m:              16:15                17:03

Roads              Goal                 Actual
Mile:                 4:40                  no races
5k:                   16:20                16:38
10k:                 34:00                35:21

Even though I didn’t hit a single one of those times, I am actually very happy with my racing this year.  I did get a new PR in the 5k on the roads with a 17 second improvement on my old PR, as well as for 10 miles in 58:31. Moreover, I did something I had never done before as a masters runner or even as a high schooler.  I actually won a few races this year, crossing the finish line first overall, in the Rogue Half Marathon in February and Red River Run 10k in July. 

I also won two masters 5000m races on the track, which were frustrating wins, since I arrived at the races really ready to compete and run a fast time, but sadly had no one to run with/against at the same general pace, and instead lapped the entire field in both races (Prefontaine Masters Classic in April and the Portland Masters Classic in June). 

Heading for home and my first ever win in the Rogue River Half Marathon in February.

I also managed to maintain my streak of always finishing in the top 3 in my age group in road races that were not USATF championships ( I was less successful on the track and in XC).  I have been able to pull this off road racing feat every year of being in the 40 plus age group.  Let's see how long that holds with more plans to find some fast and competitive road races in the Seattle area in 2013. 

With my move to Everett in May, I tried something new, making a once a month attack on the local Forest Park Hill Challenge.  With the record standing at 12 completed laps in the 30 minute race window, I managed to equal that 4 out of 5 times and finish 1st, 4 out of 5 times.  The one time I did not make 12 laps it was raining and I made a blood sacrifice with a hard fall on the 2nd lap and instead covered 11 laps and came up about 20 meters short of a full 12 that day. My only loss of the season on the hill climb was to a speedy high school stud who went on to represent his team at the state Cross Country meet. As the reigning overall season champ, I've got my work cut out for me next year and already know that a few local runners will be gunning for me in the hill climb.

Cranking out the laps on a solo 5000m effort in the Prefontaine Masters Classic in Coos Bay in May.

In in some ways, the first half of the year, I was racing with a handicap, since in June I learned that my ferritin levels were extremely low for a competitive distance runner and in all likelihood my low iron levels were affecting my training and performances.  With the introduction of supplemental iron and dietary improvement, I was able to race and train harder in the second half of the year. It showed, with a win at the Red River Run, a strong running at the Hood to Coast relay, as well as a couple of good cross country performances with Club Northwest, and a new PR in the 5k in November.

Plugging away up a hill in the Yankee Doodle Dash 5k in Everett.

The other thing that left me satisfied with my running in 2012 was holding true to a resolution I made to never let up at the end of a race, which I never did.  Not counting my hobbled finish at the end of the Club Cross Country Nationals meet, I only recall being passed once by someone in the final half mile of any of my races, and that was in a collegiate cross country meet where a group of 5 of us were sprinting to the finish and I caught a few guys and one of the guys caught me.  I ran to compete and to win this year.  In year’s past, I showed up some days and competed on others, but this year it seemed to be a little more important and real.  Of course winning a few races really helped to keep one’s focus on racing smart and running very hard through the finish line.

There were two other goals I set that were not personal performances per se, but instead were team oriented, with the assumption that I would be contributing to those teams in 2012.  One was to see my Oregon running club, Bowerman Athletic Club (BAC) mens 40’s team, make the podium at Cross Country Club Nationals.  The other was for my Hood to Coast Relay team, Leapin’ Lizards, defeat the Slug Hunters team in the mixed-submasters category.

Slogging through the mud with my fellow masters runners in the
Club Northwest orange and blue at Club Cross Country Nationals in Kentucky

With my move to Everett, in May, I changed my USATF club affiliation from BAC to Club Northwest (CNW), which meant I would be running with CNW and not BAC at cross country club nationals.  Transferring that goal to CNW, I was very happy to have been selected to run for CNW at the National Championship meet in Lexington, Kentucky on December 8th; however, it was not a good day for me, as I ended up limping to the finish with a seriously damaged Achilles tendon strain.  The team ran hard but only managed a 6th place finish in our division.  Even if I had run to my potential and had not sustained an injury in the race, the team probably would have only finished as well as 5th place, which is still a respectable finish, but far from the podium and a paycheck for the team.

Gritting my teeth through the pain of a strained achilles to cross the finish line
at Club Cross Country Nationals in Kentucky in early December.

As for the goal of the Leapin’ Lizards Hood to Coast team taking the win from the Slug Hunters, we missed again.  We had a strong team and I think ran as fast as we ever have, but yet again the Slug Hunters pulled away from us and won the division with the Leapin’ Lizards in 2nd.  Those of us on that team that are gluttons for punishment and plan to come back for one more go in 2013 are really hoping that this will be the year.

As for a new set of time goals for 2013, I’m a little unsure of where to put my emphases, since I haven’t decided yet if I want to focus on the shorter stuff on the track (after my achilles gets back in order) or if this is going to be a marathon year, for which I would have to adjust my training one direction or the other.  So, with that in mind here’s a set of racing time goals that look at all possible scenarios:

800m                    2:06
1500m                  4:20
Mile                       4:40
3000m                  9:15
5000m                  16:15
10000m                34:10

5k                          16:20
10k                        34:30
Half Marathon      1:15:45
Marathon              2:40:00

Other personal goals are to be selected to race on the CNW men's 40s A team for Club Nationals in Bend in December, to maintain my top three age group finish on the roads, and complete 13 laps the Forest Park Hill Climb.

Crossing the finish line after not letting down at the finish
and running down fellow masters runner Neil Olsen in the Pear Blossom 10 miler in Medford.