Sunday, December 30, 2018

My Year in Racing

No more races in 2018, so it's time for a recap to see how this year in racing went. I have a feeling it did not go well. Maybe I'll learn something to help my racing in 2019. It's possible.

January 27: Riddle Run 28 Miler (blog post here)
My first "race" of the year is normally the "Riddle Run" 28-miler. It's an informal ultra fun run on local trails. People run as many 4-mile trail loops as they want (7 x 4 is the full run and official finish). Most people come out for around 8-12 miles, but every year there are several 28 mile finishers. I was not one this year. I did 12 miles and called it quits. Officially a DNF. Still, no shame in sticking to my training plan--I was getting ready for a half-marathon in April and just starting to ramp up my miles. A full 28 miles was not in the cards. A steady, and fairly easy, 12 miles was just right. This was my 19th consecutive Riddle Run. Proud of that accomplishment. Race performance: A-

April 28: Illinois Half-Marathon (blog report here)
With 3 months to train after Riddle Run, I had plenty of time to focus and sharpen for the half-marathon. This was one of my goal races for the year. The race is right in town and has a fairly flat and fast course. Things were lined up for a fast finish...except I didn't train well and the race exposed my weaknesses. I finished with a 1:40:57. Pretty sad. Not super slow, but below my expectations. Even with lackluster training I should have broken 1:40. Nope. Oh well. My niece ran her first half-marathon and finished in 1:33. Excellent race for her...almost beat her uncle's PR (1:32). Race performance: C

June 9: Lake Mingo 7.1 Mile (race report here)
I love trail running and trail races. The Lake Mingo course is hilly, but short. An ultrarunner like myself should eat this kind of race for breakfast. Not this year! It kicked my ass. On good years I finish in under 60 minutes. I was feeling an OK race finish in my bones...maybe a 62-63 minute finish? No, I crossed the line in 1:06:52. Sad. Very sad. Had a bad fall and ripped up my knee too. Lots of good mud and blood. This was an embarrassing race. Race performance: D

July 14: Last Man Standing (summary here)
Keep running until only one person is left standing. One 4.1-mile loop per hour. Repeat. Simple principle. Last year I ran 33 miles at this local trail event. This year, 4.1 miles. One loop. Sad. I was recovering from illness and injury, but only one loop? That is very sad. I didn't even stay long to socialize with buffalo friends. Race performance: F

August 11: Howl at the Moon 8-Hour Ultra
Did Not Start (DNS). I was not ready for this race.

September 29: Aruna 5K (blog post here)
This was my first time doing this race, but I was familiar with the terrain. It's run on the cross country course at the University of Illinois arboretum. Gentle rolling hills across nice grass. One big hill per loop (2 loops). Finished in 22:13. Not the fastest 5km race effort, but it was "trails" with hills. I was satisfied. Not super happy, but it did place me 6th overall and 1st in age group. With almost no race-paced training, I'll take it. Race performance: A- 

October 6: Half at Fort Ben (race report)
This was my tune-up race for the Monumental half in one month. I did it last year. It's a nice trip to Indianapolis and my hotel was actually in the state park where the race is mostly run. All good. Except the weather was warm, humid, and sunny. And I was not trained well. Everything added up to a poor race-day experience. My worst half-marathon race ever (1:53:10). I will not be back. No more self-punishment. Race performance: D

October 20: Illini Mentor Program 5K (no report)
A friend coordinates this event with University of Illinois students. It raises funds for a mentoring program in the community. The course is three loops around the University quad. It starts/ends just across from my office on campus. Easy logistics. Nice opportunity to get in speedwork before the Indy half-marathon in two weeks. I ran a 20:19. I was 5th overall, 1st in age group. I think the course was slightly short, but I'll take it. You can only run what is put before you! Looking at my heart rate data, this was more of a tempo effort than a true race. I should have pushed harder. Race performance: A-

November 3: Indy Monumental Half (race report)
This was my goal race for the year! OK, I also thought the spring Illinois Half-Marathon was going to be my goal race (did not happen). After the Fort Ben debacle, I had more realistic goals for this race. No personal bests. Just a solid run from start to finish. Wanted to break 1:40. I ran a 1:39:02. (I wish I pushed three seconds faster and got the sub-1:39.) That time was 14 minutes faster than a month earlier at Fort Ben. Weather was perfect and I _should_ have run even faster. This was only a minute quicker than my Illinois half from back in April. Oh well, I will accept this as a good run. Not great. Race performance: A-

Overall, this was a mixed year of racing for me. Some good, some terrible. Generally not very good. No personal records. Not even close. With reduced expectations for several of these races, it was an OK year. Still, I'm not happy and I hope that 2019 is better. Goals for 2019 coming soon.

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