Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Running across the last decade

With only hours left in '09, we are going to move into a new decade shortly. And before I start to look forward, I thought I would take a second and look back over the last 10 years of my racing.

I am not sure how many people do this but I have kept every race number and tracked detailed information about every race that I have run. My records go all the way back to '83 and the Farmers Day 10k which was my first race. I was 17 years old and knew nothing about racing or even how far 10k was to run. My number that day was 88 and I finished 22nd overall in 44:25. Not bad considering I was wearing Converse Leather high top basket ball shoes. Hey, the running shoe craze hadn't hit the southern part of WV at that time.

But let's flash forward a few years and take a peek at my last 10 years of running.

Actually, I started the 2000s with a whimper. For some reason after running and winning a Santa Scramble in 17 minutes in '99, I didn't race again until another Santa Scramble in 2001.

Then, I didn't race again until June Bug in June of '02.

So for nearly two years, I didn't do much racing. I have often been asked why and the simple answer is downtime. I have always enjoyed running more than racing and racing was and still is not a necessity for me to run.

I ran about a ½ dozen times in '02.

In '03 there were 10 races on my calendar. The best of these races was Kiawah Island ½ in 1:14.

'04 marked a turning point year for me and mostly year of struggles racing. I had turned 40 and was expecting an awesome year, but for some reason it never really materialized. Maybe my best effort was Spencer Mt. 10 miler where I ran 59:13. Spencer Mt. is a tough course and breaking an hour is a fantastic accomplishment.

'05 saw me running most of the Grand Prix races for RFYL. I was not training all that well and my times showed it. I ran 38:30 at Hit the Brixx and 57 minutes at the 15k.

'06 started out decently well. I finished the Disney ½ marathon in 1:17 which placed me 16th overall and 1st 40-44. But things started getting into the groove by June when my 5k times dipped down into the mid 16s for the first time in several years. And possibly my all time best time in a 5k at the Concord Santa Scramble where I ran 15:49. Hey, that is what the clocked read when I finished it. By the way, this was before the onset of the Garmin.

'07 saw me join forces with the Guys at TrySports and was out racing a lot that year – to the tune of 38 races. If I counted correctly, I won something like 14 races that year. Which goes back to that old adage, if you keep trying often enough, you are bound to succeed.

'08 was really a turning point year for me. I started hanging out more with Ben, Megan, and Mike. One their hot topics were running a marathon. Megan has recently qualified at Thunder Road for the trials so everyone was a buzz with what marathon are you doing.

I had completely sworn off running marathons years earlier. But something about running with the group got me thinking about doing another one.

So after some decent runs, I put together a quick schedule. Spent my time putting in my long runs and slipped off to run the Snickers Marathon. Thinking if I bombed out, then I just wouldn't tell anyone.

But by not knowing any better, I went out ran 2:38. Then, later that year I ran 3:28 for 50k and followed it up a few weeks later with a 2:42 at OBX.

After running OBX, I was hot to do another marathon and soon.

'09 I started training for Shamrock Marathon in January when ITB derailed my training. It was a good 2 months before I could get back to full training and no possible way that I could do Shamrock.

But I did jump into a few races in March and a couple more in April. Training was going really well, so I looked around for a May marathon. "Run the Red" was perfectly suited as a late May marathon. After a few long runs, I tested the marathon waters again and ran a 2:39.

From there I ran the remainder of the Grand Prix races, picked up a nice set of titles at OBX, ran turkey trot (missing out on the turkey award), and finished the year off at the USAT&F Club Championship. Which I do want to add, was a great experience. Racing again your peers is great. Racing against your peers that are the same age as you is off the chart.

Interestingly as I look back over the last 10 years certain things start to jump out. When family or work took over my life, my times rose. When I struggled to put my life in order, running helped me do it and usually coincided with a drop in my times. It certainly explains why the last 3 years, I have been running faster.


Putting a wrap on the last 10 years by the Cool Down Runner