Wednesday, December 31, 2014

'14 Another trip around the Sun


Having lived to complete another trip around the sun, the time has come to recap my year that was. Thinking back to my recap of ’13, I had no idea of what ’14 might offer. I never set any big goals for myself. Mainly during the year, I just ran the races that interested me the most.

Reminiscing about those races now, I am pretty happy with how things worked out.

In the shorter races, I ran 5 x 5ks during the year with the fastest being a 16:54 at the Big South 5k. I ran one 8k – the Winter Flight race that Dave Freeze directs. And wrapping up the year of shorter races, I ran one 10k. The Turkey Trot 10k in Cornelius.  A long the way, I had some great battles with Steve and Cory. They beat me in a few races and got them back in a few races. This is the kind of stuff that I love about running and competing.

Next, I hit the trail races more this year than any other. An 8 miler, a 6 miler, and ½ marathon all of these races were at the Whitewater Center. The job that Adam and Lindsey do with those races is awesome. Definitely, it is worth the short drive out 485.

Late spring and early summer saw me hitting the track. I hit an early one in April, and another one May. I scored some decent efforts at the Powerade Games, the Jim Law Invitational, the RFYL Summer Track Series, and Winston-Salem Track night. But the one race that I most wanted was the Ultimate Runner race organized by the Winton-Salem Track Club. Running the mile, 400, 800, 100, and 5k all in one evening was a true test one’s ability. Throw in that it was bucket list item for me. I couldn’t have been happier to do it, score the coveted Ultimate Runner Shirt, and get the all coveted mug for finishing in the top 15.

Perhaps my most rewarding moments was in the longer distance races. After looking back through my many years of running, there has never been a year where I ran 3 marathons, a 50k, and 2 half marathons. I did more races over 10 miles than I did under it.

 The year started with my running the Charleston Marathon in Charleston, SC. The day was going great for me right up to the point where I missed a turn and ran 2 extra miles. During the race and right afterward, I was really bummed about it. There is such a feeling of disappointment. At one point, I even considered dropping out. However, there was just something inside of me that made it just felt wrong. Instead, I got myself back on course at the right spot and finished the race with a 3:01.    

A month later, the cold, wind, and the rain made the Myrtle Beach one tough race. I was so happy getting the 1:19 that you wouldn’t believe. Another month passed, and I dropped a 1:18 at the Wrightsville Beach ½ marathon.

Skip ahead to September, and I was running the Leigh Marathon in Allentown, PA. I wanted so badly to run well to make up for Charleston. It just never materialized. I felt tired right from the start. When I hit the finish line in 2:51, I felt like I got better than I deserved. Flash forward 6 weeks, and I was standing at the starting line of the Spinx Marathon in Greenville, SC. Really, I was doing this race because it was bucket list item. I didn’t feel very good through out the race, but my legs kept digging. Approaching the stadium, I was totally surprised to see a 2:45 was possible. This was perhaps my best race in two and half years.

Most runners would have wrapped up their season after such a great performance. However, I felt like I still had something more in the tank. Off I went to the Derby 50k in Derby, NC. The Magnum Track Club put on this race every year, and they give a Derby Hat to the winner. Just so you know, I will sometimes chase certain races just for the awards. For years, I have chased the awards at the South Park Turkey Trot 8k in hopes of winning one of their elusive Turkey shaped awards. It has never happened, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. Winning a Derby hat falls right in line with the Turkey award or the Pelican from Kiawah Island half marathon. Race day was cold and sunny. For 6 miles, Mike and I shared the lead. When he stopped for water, I pushed on. I would run solo for the next 26 miles. I ended up winning by 30 minutes but truly, I never felt safe until I crossed the finish line. My new Derby hat now sets on my desk, and I put it on whenever I think about that day.

This covers all of the road, track, and trail races that I did. Though, I did step way outside the box this year by doing a Spartan Race. Quite possibly, this was the toughest event that I have ever completed. I was tired, sore, and covered from head to toe with mud when I crossed the finish line. I spent the next two week recovering from the upper body soreness. The more that I think about it, this may well have been my one and only Spartan race. I am definitely glad that I tried it, but I truly believe that I am a one and down type of guy when it comes to Spartan races.

This year also saw me finish out my second year as the Charlotte Running Club’s President, and then step away from the role. Being President was something that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I found that I enjoyed organizing events for CRC even more. With each event that I did, I learned and improved. From the All-Around Miler, to the CRC Summer Track night, to our Guinness World Record Tether Team, the events got bigger and hopefully better. ’15 starts tomorrow, and I am already working on some ideas for later in the year.

As I put ’14 to bed, I cannot help but appreciate all of the good things that I have accomplished. What ’15 offers, I cannot say, but I can only hope that ’15 brings me as many new adventures and opportunities as I can hope to handle.

Happy New Year,

The Cool Down Runner   

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