I’m more of a looking forward type of person than someone who dwells on the past. That’s probably why I posted my 2018 schedule before I got around to how I think this year went. But if you’re going to grow and improve, then you need to review and critique your performances. I came into the year with a couple fairly lofty goals and met every one of them. I have no idea if this is as good as it gets, however at this point I couldn’t be happier with how the year progressed.
My primary goal for the year was to finish the three 100-milers that I entered. If I have any hope of finishing my quest to run a hundred of these races, then I can’t afford to drop from any. Especially, since I’m only doing three per year. Not only did I finish Umstead, Old Dominion, and Eastern States, but I actually enjoyed running the races. This was not the case for three of my first four (Oil Creek being the exception). Sure, I was happy to finish and the sense of accomplishment I took with me after the races was awesome, but the time spent on the courses was filled with enough physical and mental suffering that literal hours would go by with me questioning why I do this. The first 20-30 miles would typically be fine, but eventually things would deteriorate to the point where I just wanted to be done with it. It’s not like my three hundreds were all rainbows and unicorns this year, but the lows were short lived and the finishes were all fun. I’m chalking this up to experience. The more experience you get, the better you are at something. The better you are, the more fun it becomes. After seven hundreds, I’m by no means an expert, yet I’m starting to develop some expertise. In three or four more years, I might actually be good at them. Ha.
On one level, I just wanted to finish my hundreds. But deep down, I really wanted to finish one inside 24 hours. This has been a goal since my first attempt at the distance and I was Oh for my first four. I crafted my winter training plan (Project 14Forty) to hopefully achieve this at Umstead and was overjoyed to finally go sub-24. This was easily my best 100 up until that point as I was still running (uphill even!) late in the race. It was gratifying to see that all my hard work pay off. And my time was fast enough that it let me start dreaming of going sub-24 at Old Dominion a couple months later. I knew I’d need to up my level of performance and I did. This was the pinnacle of not only my year, but my ultra career as well. It really had everything you could ask for: fast start, low points (multiple) in the middle, and then a resurrection for the ages toward the end letting me snag my buckle. The whole second half of 2017 was a bit anti-climatic after that.
This was the first year that I finished all four of the classic ultra distances (50K, 50M, 100K, 100M). I had never done a 100K before and was glad to finish one though I don’t think this is my distance. It’s too far to be just a training run and takes a lot of effort to complete, but you don’t get the same sense of satisfaction from finishing as you do from a 100-miler. I also ran a 50-miler for the first time in a couple years. I wasn’t trained to have any kind of good performance, but I do like this distance. I’ll have to look to add more of these to my schedule in the years ahead.
And while I’m happy for all these accomplishments, I’m equally happy that I was able to run healthy and injury free all year long. Despite a couple aches and niggles here and there, I was able to lace up my shoes and run each and every day. This has taken my running streak to 1,967 days and counting. I don’t blog about this much partially because it’s background noise in my day-to-day training, but mostly because it would be boring as heck to read post after post about how many days I’m up to. I enjoy the habit of getting out and running at least a mile every day. On those days where I don’t get my run done in the morning, I always feel a little off like I have an itch I can’t scratch. Luckily, there aren’t too many days like that.
Overall, an amazing year and I would be happy of 2018 goes half as well.