Absolutely not. There were a couple major factors that limited my training time, the first being that I spent 6 months working two jobs that knocked me down to about a 3 or 4 day running week. That is a bit off my optimal running schedule, which would have me on the roads six days a week. I also got married shortly after I stopped working at the second job, which means there were more than a few skipped and shortened workouts that would have negatively affected my potential.
Potential. That is the key word here, A lot of running is mental. What a runner believes they can achieve, with enough work and determination, they will. I believe I have a bit more left in me. More speed, more endurance, more grunt. How do I figure this? In the last year, between diet change and adding cross training to my regimen, I have gained 10 pounds. I feel smoother and stronger in my long runs, just look at the mile splits from my last casual LSD below. I have gotten back into running regular 5Ks, not at my desired low 16 minute time, but in the 16:30 range. At that pace, I don’t feel strained, or completely overwrought, but just as if I am doing a tempo run. Regular speed work on the track and more competition will help pull me back into the low 5 minute pace. I ran a 17:36 as a high schooler, and would love to finally achieve my dream of breaking 16 minutes.
Obviously, being back to one job ( I like working 4 10 hour shifts, but the 4:45 wake up can be brutal) will mean more time to focus on training and better race results. It also means more races. I like to enter basically every race within 20 miles, regardless of distance. That means a lot of local 5Ks. The plan is to actually focus on that distance until I break 16. The only exception would be if that was not an option at a particular event, or on a double race weekend. In that case, I like to enter a long race on the second day, as I have a habit of running strong longer races the day after a 5K race. I actually set my 15K pr at the Shamrock Run (55:39) a day after the Luckython 5K (16:51).
I had a couple really proud moments in 2014. The biggest was completing my second marathon, not as a personal accomplishment, but that I ran the Oregon Marathon with my wife. It was her first ever and I joined her during some of her training runs and offered input as I could, to get her ready. It was an amazing feeling to traverse that distance next to the woman who meant so much to me. The second biggest was completing the Hagg Lake 25K, as a speedster trying his hand at a long trail run. It was a learning experience, and so much fun, as I managed to even hang on to 8th place after fading in the last couple miles. As always, returning to the Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon for the Chasing Champions benefit run was a blast. The views and hills on the new course were amazing and a long downhill stretch of gravel through the trees allowed me to really open it up and I managed to finish just 14 seconds behind the winner, after factoring in the 10 minute handicap I had set upon myself. Rock n’ Roll Portland was fun, and a bit of a trial as I tried so hard to push and ended up just two seconds off my personal best, set last year at that event. I did manage to break the top 10 (9th), which was kind of cool for an event of that caliber. I still see myself as a small town, independent runner trying to break into the elite ranks.
So what’s the plan for next year? Break 16 minutes in the 5K of course, and banish that demon finally, take a few ticks off my half marathon time, and use regular speed work to best all of my HS track records. Except for the 3K, I can’t stand running that far on the track. But there is one more benchmark, and it is a doozy. It makes my legs weak and my head fuzzy. I question my own sanity when I recite the number.
Honestly, that is a high benchmark. But it is the goal. I will be determined to keep it under 2:45. After some talking to friends it has been decided that the Eugene Marathon will be the place to make it happen. It’s something I want to do, am certain I can pull off, but to even directly think of the pace involved I immediately question myself. That I know is the first step to failing. I need to let that go, and just train for it. With a more experienced friend at my side for the first 20 miles, and a veteran offering to take pacing duties for the last section, I have the necessary road support. The key now is to get myself mentally and physically ready to run 26.2 miles in the 6:07 to 6;10 range. I don’t even want to read that sentence again, for the way it makes me feel.
2014 was a fun year, with over 1300 miles in the books. I went through several pairs of shoes, and met some awesome new people. Did a couple great new races, and might be pulling one or two off my regular calendar due to prices that don’t match what they offer. My main focus, of course, is to continue having fun. Running is not a job, though it requires a certain amount of dedication. It is a hobby, and something I love to do, and to lose the fun aspect of it would eradicate what it means to me. This is something I would like my children to take up, in the interests of their health and happiness, and the best way to show them why is to make it obvious that it is a positive feature in my life, regardless of the time and toil that are a part of the process. I will be writing my new goals soon, to set my sights, and if you have never done it before, I suggest you try it. Start with one or two, give yourself a good-sized window of opportunity, long enough to make it feasible, not so long that you will lose sight of it. It can totally change the way you look at why you run, and maybe give you the momentum to discover a part of you that might not have been exposed before.
Good luck in 2015, and I hope to see you on the road or trail.