I’m not really the type of person to spend a lot of time reflecting on the past. I devote most of my attention to the present and looking ahead to the future. Thinking back on the year though, I’m filled with a deep sense of satisfaction.
3 for 3
Coming into 2016, my focus was squarely on the three hundred milers that were on the schedule. First up was the revenge running of C&O Canal in April. I had dropped from this race at mile 69 during 2015 and came back this year to finish what I had started. I had a good block of training heading into the race, was healthy and confident that I could finally finish a 100 inside 24 hours. I mean, it was pancake flat after all. That means it must be easy. Right? Um, no. I went out too fast and ended up walking almost the entire last 30 miles. Eventually I’ll learn how to stop going out too fast. It wasn’t this year. Maybe it’ll be 2017. While the race that did not go according to plan, I came out of it extremely happy regardless. It helped teach me that success in a 100 miler is defined more by just finishing the race than the time on the clock. I will need to keep this firmly in mind as I move through 2017 where I plan on reintroducing time goals into my racing strategy.
Eastern States was everything I hoped and feared it would be. People run long distances for a variety of reasons and sometimes it’s difficult to know why you would want to put yourself through this type of experience. This race pulled out of my sub-consciousness and brought to the forefront of my mind why I run 100 milers. That while portions of a run may be fun, the true value to me is in the sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something hard. And it’s difficult for me to adequately explain how hard this race really is. Let’s just say I had sworn off the distance before I reached the finish line and it wasn’t until several days later that I ended up changing my mind. ES100 also demonstrated that elevation charts can lie as the 20k vertical felt like twice that.
I went into Cloudsplitter with virtually no expectations. There weren’t a lot of information/race reports out there so I was pleasantly surprised by how absolutely beautiful the course was. This was the first race where I used trekking poles and I can’t stress enough how much they can improve your endurance. You won’t find a better performance enhancer out there including anything found in a bottle or syringe.
Overall, the three races reinforced to me that this is how I want to spend my free time. Training my body to be able to run all day . . . and night. . . and portions of the following day if necessary.
My other major accomplishment for the year is that I remained healthy. I didn’t have any injuries outside of small niggles or the general soreness that comes from running long distances. I have some large, long term goals and in order for me to accomplish them, I need stay healthy – mentally as well as physically. I was able to do that this year by taking periodic breaks from training after each of my 100 milers. This allowed me to increase my running streak to a little over 1,600 days now or 4.5 years. I have no idea how much longer I’ll be able to continue this beyond tomorrow. Hopefully, for many years to come though. I always feel out of sorts if I delay my morning run till later in the day and wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have my running
obsession hobby. Thankfully I do and consider myself truly blessed to have discovered this interest even though it wasn’t until after my 40th birthday.
Not everything went exactly according to plan this year, however it was close enough to make no difference. If 2017 turns out to be half as good, I’ll be a lucky man.
How was your 2016?