The final events of 2015 are behind me, and the running season is now complete. This a good time to reflect on the season that was, and to plan for the future.
2014 was an incredible success. I completed an Ironman and I had crushing new PR’s at almost every race distance. I was engaged and excited by my training (but I did get a little burnt out on cycling). Overall, it was an incredible season.
2015 could not live up to that year. In the end, the season was a mixed bag. I had scheduled a season that was almost as bold as my 2014 campaign. I decided to go easy on the bike, and to focus on the run, and likely attempted a little bit to much.
On the bike, I cut way back to just over 300 miles (compared to 3000 miles last year). The result was that I started to look forward to cycling again! I competed in 4 triathlons…all of them sprints. It was a lot of fun and I was able to be more competative then I had been in longer events.
Running was another matter. I registered for too many big races, including 5 marathons and one ultra-marathon. I recall being in my start coral at the Pittsburgh Marathon (second marathon of the year) and thinking “I don’t want to be here”. That made for a long season. I was committed to it, but I was dreading it as well. Many days, I wondered if I would even be able to just get through it. Somehow, I completed it all. There were no DNS or DNF this season (and I have never had one). Along the way, I finished my first 50k, my first back to back marathon, and my 15th marathon in different 10 states. I have qualified for membership in the Marathon Maniacs (jumping from level 1 to level 4), Half Fanatics, Double Agents, and 50 Marathons States clubs.
However, my enjoyment of the long run had faded, and they have become a chore. I was going through the motions when training, and it showed in my speed. I was slowing down at all distances…especially in the marathon. I finished the season with three consecutive marathon “personal worsts”. During this process, I came to realize that my days of running marathons would soon be over.
My priorities are changing. My days of “ultra”-anything are behind me. Huge events that take months to train for, and packed schedules with a race every weekend have taken their toll. I still love to run/bike/swim, but I need balence. I am moving away from being a “competative” runner. I will never qualify for Boston or get up on a podium…and that’s OK. What I want is health and fitness. I want this to be fun. I want to participate in a few events that excite me, but doesn’t require endless hours of training. I want some balence, and not have one (or more) events eating up every single weekend.
I want to be a recreational athlete.
With that in mind, I have put together my 2016 race schedule. It still ended up being a lot busier then I wanted, but a big drop off from this year. There are no marathons. There are four half-marathons and two 10 milers. It has a big running event in the Winter, Spring, and Fall, as well as a few triathlons in summer to keep me engaged. I signed up for a local series at the last minute (Summit Challenge) which has made the year busier then planned.
2016 Race Schedule:
January-Disneyland/Star Wars Half Marathon, 10k, 5k (Rebel Challenge). 3 events in one weekend. I can’t imagine a better event for me. A few days at Disney in the middle of winter, lots of Star Wars geekiness, and a bit of running. Can’t wait for this one!
February-Valentine 5K (Summit Challenge)
March-Hot Dash 10 Mile (Summit Challenge)
April-Walt Disney World/Star Wars Half Marathon, 10k, 5k (Dark Side Challenge/Kessel Run Challenge). The sister event to the January Star Wars series. This may be my last big destination race for the foreseeable future.
May-Fargo Half Marathon and 5k. The Fargo Marathon has a great reputation and has been on my short list of “must do” marathons. It is also “almost local” (just a three hour drive up I-94). Since I am no longer running marathons, this “must-do” is unlikely to ever get done. But I can still race the “Go Far” challenge by combining the Half Marathon and 5k. The bling last year was amazing and it sounds like they will revisit the same design this year. I get the big marathon expo and event feel without having to run 26.2 miles. It also fairly cheap trip needing just one night motel stay and gas.
-Red, White, and Boom Half Marathon (Summit Challenge)
-Lifetime Minneapolis Sprint Triathlon. I really like the Lifetime Triathlon series, and Minneapolis is my favorite course. I look forward to this event every year.
-Lifetime Maple Grove Sprint Triathlon. This is the other local Lifetime Triathlon. Not nearly as good as the Minneapolis race, but it is nearby and a lot of fun.
-HITS Wacconia Sprint Triathlon
-Minneapolis Duathlon (postponed from 2015)
October-Twin Cities Marathon Weekend/Loony Challenge. The TC Marathon is one of the biggest races in the country and the biggest running event in the Twin Cities. This allows me to participate in multiple races, get to the expo, race with the corporate team, and finish the year with a bang. It gives me guaranteed entry into the 10 miler (bypass the lottery) as well as getting an armload of bling.
Looking way ahead to 2017, Disney, Fargo, and Summit Challenges all fall off the schedule. So I will likely add one or more MN running series races to the calendar, continue doing the local Lifetime Triathlons, and run the Hot Chocolate 15k that I deferred this season. If I am itching to run a marathon, I might toss my name in the hat for New York or Chicago lotteries (both are world marathon majors), and a part of me wants to run a major before I give up marathons for good. But, I suspect that my marathon days are truly behind me. As far as travel goes, I suspect the Disney runs may be my last “destination” races (unless I get around to Chicago or New York), although I may do one overnight “semi-local” (Fargo, Winonna, Duluth, etc) race a year just to keep things interesting…