2011. What a year.
The Angels sport their new singlets in 2011! Thanks to the Angel crew for helping me through the year! :)
2011 was a very strange year, as I experienced some of the happiest and saddest times of my life. I am not sure whether to write it off as the worst or best year, so I will instead describe it as one of those rare ‘life altering’ years. I learned more about life – and myself – last year than in all my years combined (won’t mention how many those are). In terms of running, my experience was similar – I had one of the best races of my life and ran the most mileage I ever have, but also went through the most difficult injury I’ve faced to date.
In my first blog of 2011 I wrote a list of goals for the upcoming year. One of them included ‘running my first 100-mile week’. As my buildup for a spring marathon began in January, so did my mileage. I ran my first 100-mile week almost exactly a year ago. What I didn’t acknowledge was that I did it completely outdoors, through snow, slush and cold, in pitch black, either waking up at 5-6am or running late at night. I also did it through a time where I lacked a futon (let alone a bed!) so I was sleeping on a hardwood floor...when I was sleeping at all. I eventually got a futon, I think when I started to get hamstring issues and thought that a soft spot to sleep on might help my recovery. Ya think?! In the moment I did not acknowledge any of these peculiarities, but looking back it was all pretty ridiculous. Perhaps I have just gotten soft after so many months off running?
Wintertime racing and my three Angel rocks.
Another one of my goals was to run a sub-1:18:00 half-marathon after my 1:19:00 half in the fall of 2010. I was dubious as to whether I’d be able to take so much time off my PB since I had already bettered it by 2 ½ minutes in that race. In May I ran the same race as I ran in the fall off yet another 100-mile week, hoping to squeak under 1:19:00. I stopped looking at my watch after a slow 2k and 3k split and still, to this day, have no idea how I ran 1:16:43. To be so far under my goal without realizing it was incomprehensible to me. However, it made me realize what consistent hard work can do in a matter of months. Crossing that line in disbelief was a huge turning point for me in running. I really started to believe that anything was possible.
The Goodlife Half-Marathon
Unfortunately, I was sick, stressed and a general mess in Ottawa a few weeks later, and my goal of running sub-2:48 would not be. And even though I got fitter throughout the summer, hitting up to 140 miles a week and running faster than ever, my shin injury forced me to the sidelines for the entire fall racing season. It was extremely disappointing, but I know that I will come back stronger and more motivated in 2012.
What were my other goals? One strange one was to rekindle my love for ballet and take one class per week. I realized that goal...for about 3 months. I actually really enjoyed the classes but they were pretty expensive and most of the time I wanted to sit on my...futon?... after a hard Saturday morning workout instead of go to a 90min ballet class. It probably didn’t help that I went to the National Ballet School in Toronto and jumped into level III, making the classes *slightly* more challenging than anticipated for someone who hadn’t danced in eight years. I think this year I’ll try and do more running-specific yoga instead, just to keep up my flexibility.
I also wanted to run 3k and 5k PBs somewhere in the midst of my marathon training. I’m not sure how realistic that was but perhaps I didn’t yet know I’d be aiming for both a Spring and Fall marathon. I still intend on bringing my 5k time down and think it will happen naturally as I get stronger and faster in the upcoming years. At one point I’d like to take a season off and focus on short distances again as I did in the summer of 2010. As much as I find it extraordinarily painful, the track is a fun, challenging place to be and a good way to shake things up and get stronger.
Unfortunately, my number one goal of staying healthy was an epic fail. Too bad. I thought I was pretty good about listening to my body but after stringing together resilient week after resilient week all year it was easy to get overconfident. I was probably at the brink of something for a while and it only took one bad decision to push me over the edge. Of course, a ‘bad decision’ being running an entire marathon at faster than planned pace on a sore shin. Yep, maybe just *slightly* over the edge!
I am on the comeback now and it’s never felt so good to work out! I feel like a real athlete again. Even just doing legit elliptical workouts feels amazing. I still get frustrated that I can only run 45-50min at a time at a snail’s pace, but when I think back to a few weeks ago when I would get sore after 30min every other day I realize that things are coming along. I have no race plans as of yet I just want to focus on being completely healthy and enjoy running again.
Thank you coach N for everything! You are my mentor and inspiration.
I must also thank countless vodka martinis for getting me through the year! Glad I didn't keep count, it was a big year for the vodka martini.
So my goals for 2012? There may be some race-specific times depending on what I run, but really, I just want to maintain my health and happiness. No matter what, those will be my top priorities. Fitness and good races will follow.
Happy New Year everyone!
And now...for my Top 11 memories of 2011
11. Becoming a CENTURION runner!
10. Edging Nic at the line of the Grimsby Half-marathon (cost me a hamstring, but still a proud moment ;)
9. Breaking 7:00 on the MPC 2k loop, finally!
8. Breaking my shin in the middle of an epic workout at MPC. Not a great memory, but still, pretty engrained in my head!
7. Running crazy (130-140) mileage at a conference in the shanty village of Lewiston, Maine. My blisters were so bad I burst into tears in the middle of a run. Insane or motivated? Not sure.
6. Sporting a wetsuit on the pool deck of the YMCA...and my condo pool. Glad there is no photo evidence, it was slightly embarrassing.
5. Running a ‘Sporting Life PB’ of 35:43 when I thought I had nothing in me.
4. Running a mournful 3km in memory of Danny Kassap, who will never be forgotten. RIP.
3. Running a 2 ½ minute PB in the Toronto Goodlife Half-marathon in May. WTF?
2. My first run back from 2 ½ month layoff on December 1st, 2011. A blissful 20min jog through the dark downtown streets, so reminiscent of morning runs from the winter previous, and so happy they were mine again.
1. Meeting le blog du Rob in person. He made the most depressing layoff of my career somehow one of the most joyous times of my life. He was there not only for one of my physical turning points but also played a huge role in an emotional change that has made me happier than I’ve been in a long time. Rob, you are an awesome dude and we’ll always be friends. Thank you for legitimately helping turn my life around.
Shoeless Coolis and le Blog du Rob