Monday, July 2, 2012

Half Year Down, Time for Goal Check

I am amazed that 1/2 the year is over with. Where it the time go? Being half over, I thought it best to take a moment an review how I am doing on my running goal and how the year has gone so far. Back in December of 2011, I decided that my goals for this year are 1) run more, stay healthy, and 2) run the Goofy Challenge in January 2013. 

The first goal is my main goal for the year. The reason is that for the past 4 years of running, I have been fighting various injuries (ok, last year was blood clots in my lungs). These has taken me out of running (mostly because I tend to use an injury as an excuse to not exercise). I started running because I wanted to have an activity I could do the rest of my life and stay healthy. However, with getting an injury every year, I know I would give up running (and I did not want to do that). Then one day I read an article about a guy that runs multiple marathon a year (like one a week). He was older than I was and I wondered how he could do that when after I run my 1 marathon, I was wiped out and hurting. Then I read that his fasted time for a marathon as only 4:30. That's when it hit me: the key to running more and staying healthy is to not push yourself all the time. To just run because you love it, not to better your time. So that became my strategy for the year. I was going to run more and stay healthy by not pushing myself hard to always get a PR. (This sounds really simple but it becomes very hard in practice when, at the start of a race, you are dead last.) I needed to figure out how I could run more and stay healthy or I would end up dropping running. 

My original plan was to run some race (like a 1/2 marathon) a month for the year and the do the Goofy Challenge. How did I do? Well, in January, I ran my first trail race. 

Wilson Creek 10 miler

Wilson Creek Frozen 10 Miler

It was the Wilson Creek Frozen 10 Miler. I had been reading friends posts about trail running on Dailymile and it sounded kind of fun. On January 1 I did my first trail run (6 miles) and decided to sign up for the race. It was one of the toughest races I have ever done. Instead of being "Frozen", the temperature was in the low 40s and it had rained the night before. It was a total mud fest. Had it not been for my friends who routinely run trail races telling me this was a very had race because of the mud, I probably would have given up trail running right there. 

Oddly enough, in February, there are no races in the Boise area (at least none that I could find). In March I did the Les Bois 10K trail race.

Les Bois 10K trail run

Les Bois 10K

This race is really more of a dirt road race than a trail race, but it is a 3 mile climb with a 3 mile return down. It was a lot of fun running this. At this point I had signed up for a marathon in May and in laying out my running schedule, I was supposed to run a 20 miler on March 31. As it turns out, the Pickled Feet 24/12 hour run as that day. So I decided to sign up for the 12 hour run.

Pickled Feet 12 hour run

Pickled Feet 12 hour run

Now this race interested me as I had never done a race where the time was set and you raced for distance. Since the course was a 2.5 mile loop, it meant that I would not have to carry any water/food since an aide station was at the end of every 2.5 mile run. I totally surprised myself here and managed to complete 32.5 miles in 9.5 miles. Yes, I did a 50K! I can tell you right now, doing a 50K was not on my list of goals for the year. 

However, after this run, I found that my left ankle was hurting if I tried to run on it. I knew that it was not a major injury but because my goal was to run more/stay healthy, I decided to not run the two 1/2 marathons I was signed up for in April. Plus I really wanted to do the marathon in May. After doing a little research, I found out that 1) the Idaho Potato Marathon was two weeks after the Lake Lowell marathon (which I was already signed up for) and not 1. And 2) if you do 2 marathon in 16 days, you can join Marathon Maniacs. I was feeling pretty good so I signed up to do both. 

Lake Lowell Marathon

Lake Lowell Marathon

The first marathon in May was the Lake Lowell Marathon. This was the second year for the race (I was supposed to do the full marathon last year here but due to the blood clots in my lungs, I only did the 1/2). This marathon was an epiphany run for me. When you run a lot of marathons, people ask you if they get any easier. The answer to that is Yes and No. No in that they still take a lot of physical effort. But Yes in the mental aspect of it. To any runner a marathon is a very long distance. Even after doing my 50K in March, I still had a mental barrier about doing a marathon. My first marathon had been in 2010 and I bonked hard at mile 18 (I now know it was because of fueling). As such, this marathon was a scary task for me. However, upon completing the race, something clicked and, although it is still a very long and hard race, it became a distance I can complete instead of a huge scary task. 

Idaho Potato run

Famous Idaho Potato Marathon

In a very short two weeks, I had my next marathon, the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon. This was my first marathon 2 years before. As I was riding the bus out to the start, a lady sitting across from me on the bus started talking with me. Turns out she ran Lake Lowell marathon two weeks before and was doing this one to qualify for Marathon Maniacs too. Small world. It turned out to be a blessing meeting her as my wife was out of time and I had no one to cheer me on. The course had two out and back sections and I was able to see her both times. Plus, other friends (husband and wife) were on the green belt and I got to see them and they encouraged me. My time on this marathon was my worse so far (6:05) but since my goal was only to finish so I could become a member of Marathon Maniacs, I didn't care about my time. 

In June I was scheduled to run the Silver City Endurance 50K, but three weeks before, while trail running, I came down this very steep and technical section (read lots of loose rocks) and my right knees started really hurting. I continued to hurt every time I had to go down a steep section (walking or running didn't matter, it just hurt). Since my goal was to run more/stay healthy, I pulled myself from the 50K. As it turns out, this was smart as that course was very technical with lots of hills. However, I didn't want to just sit around and do nothing so I volunteers with some friends to help at an aide station.

Silver City Endurance Run

Silver City Endurance Run Aide Station/ with Christie

I joined the Ebenroth family running the aide station. They went all out for the aide station (I think they were trying for the best aide station). We had decorations, lots of food (including pancakes and quesadilla). They even had little zip lock bags so runners could pack whatever the wanted. But best of all, they had beer and Popsicles. I had a great time helping the 100K runnings as they came through the aide station. Of course, I am totally ruined for running these endurance races now as I will be expecting every aide station to be as cool and well stocked as this one.

So that brings me to the end of June. So far this year I have run 2 marathons, a 50K, become a member of Marathon Maniacs (#5445), and volunteered at a 100K trail race. I am still on track for my Run More/Stay Healthy goal and I am signed up for the Goofy Challenge in January. 


  1. You've had a great year so far Mike! Keep it up and I'll see you in January for the Goofy Challenge :)

  2. This is very fabulous and I love your perspective as you have to consistently challenge and re-assess yourself with staying on track for goal #1. I think your goal is a very appropriate and long term goal that will get you a long way! GREAT JOB MIKE!!!