2021 Running Goals

I have no idea what 2021 will look like in terms of racing, training, or pretty much anything else running or not running related. I’ve decided to keep my year-long running goals limited to what’s entirely in my control, and if things change, if racing becomes more of a feasible option for me, then I’ll set some season-specific goals.

I created the skeleton first draft of this post on January 1st, and here I am over a month later finally getting around to finishing it. I guess that shows how seriously I’m taking my plans for this year. I have been keeping them in mind, though!

  1. Finish St. Paul (54.12% completed as of 12/31/20), Mendota Heights (23.47% completed), South St. Paul (5.6% completed), and Lilydale (42.86% completed); Get to 30% completion in my hometown of St. Louis Park (4.15% completed).
    Since June of 2020, I’ve been working on running every street in St. Paul. It was a great motivator, having something challenging and interesting to work toward, as well as a way to explore all kinds of interesting places in my city. Along the way, I started adding in other cities (I completed all of West St. Paul last year!), and I’m also working on Minneapolis now, although I’m holding off on setting a specific completion goal for Minneapolis until I’ve completed the cities I’m working on now.
  2. Complete a Myrtl routine at least 50% of the time.
    I have dealt off and on with some minor hip issues this year; they go away with rest, but one of my goals for this year is to prevent hip/pelvic pain with a flexibility regimen. I don’t actually do all of the exercises in the routine linked above; I skip 3-4 and 6-9. I don’t have any professional advice that told me what’s necessary and what’s not, so perhaps I’m missing some key benefit by skipping those exercises. I just find it uncomfortable to be in “table position” for so many exercises, and I don’t have a place where I can do the hurdle leg exercises without kicking something. So far I have done a Myrtl routine every day in 2021, and I have found it very effective against the pain I had been experiencing last year.
  3. Do 110 pushups a day.
    In 2019 and 2020, one of my goals was to do 100 pushups a day. I didn’t come close in 2019, but in 2020 I did a much better job and pushups became part of my daily routine. I decided to add 10% to my goal from last year. I’m trying to complete the exercises earlier in the day this year, too; in 2020 I was often doing them before bedtime because I’d forgotten or pushed them off. I’m not bothering to track whether I do my pushups before midnight, so it’s not a formal goal, just a consideration. I think making pushups a habit in 2020 is making it very simple for me to meet my Myrtl goals so far in 2021.
  4. Increase my mileage 10% over last year.
    Since I’m increasing my pushups goal by 10%, I thought increasing my mileage 10% over last year was fitting. In the past I’ve set my sights on just beating the previous year, and that ends up being a very small increase in mileage. Does it matter if I run 1700 miles one year and 1701 the next year? It’s essentially the same thing. I think a 10% increase in yearly mileage is significant enough to challenge me, but won’t be such a great increase that it leads to injury or burnout. This year’s goal will be 1912 miles.
  5. Buy a bike.
    I have money saved (actually, I have money saved for two bikes, one for me and one for my husband). I know where I want to purchase one. I just need to do it.
  6. Run 5 more long runs than last year.
    I found that I did just the bare minimum to reach my goal of “more long runs than last year” in 2020, although I didn’t have any races, so I think that things turned out pretty good. Adding 5 long runs on to last year’s goal will be more of a challenge, especially since so many of my long runs came from my solo FANS effort in August, but I’ll need more long runs if I plan to increase my mileage. Long runs in this case are considered double-digit mileage, and will include days where I do split mileage. Long skis are included, should I actually do a 10 mile ski.

I’ll keep my eyes out for good options for interesting run locations, virtual race options, and maybe an in-person option for a really worthwhile race, and take things as they come this year.

2020 Goals Revisited

It’s incredible to think about my outlook on life when I wrote these goals. It was the absolute height of American privilege for me to think that the COVID-19 pandemic was something that would happen in other countries, not in the US, and something that would be over quickly. The past 4-5 years have shown me how many things I have been taking for granted and it’s a shamefully long list.

I was still able to accomplish some of the goals that I set – that’s one advantage of setting very high-level, general goals. Some of my multi-year goals will have to be put off until 2022, since there’s still so much uncertainty regarding this pandemic and so many people who are committed to prolonging it. There’s also growing violence from insurrectionists and traitors around the country that could make running or traveling unsafe.

  1. Run a distance personal best.
    I could have done this, I guess, by doing FANS on my own or just setting a personal goal to run 50 miles in a day. It seemed like a poor idea to weaken my immune system with such a strenuous effort, and with facilities like restrooms closed at state parks, doing a long FANS day would have been a bad idea.
  2. Complete more long runs than I did in 2019.
    I made it! I did 29 long runs vs. 28 in 2019! That’s pretty good considering I ran no organized races and thus didn’t have any training runs. I also did fewer “split” runs; more of my double digit mileage days in 2020 were from single runs rather than 2 or 3 runs that added up to more than 10 miles.
  3. Do 100 push-ups a day.
    I averaged 107.9 pushups during the year, and the last day that I skipped was August 5th when I wasn’t feeling well. There were only 16 days during the year that I did not complete at least 100 pushups — even though sometimes I was doing them at bedtime. I wish I’d taken a “before” shot to see how buff my arms have gotten over the year.
  4. Start cross-country skiing again.
    It took until Christmas Day to make this happen, but I went skiing 4 times! I need to get better at waxing now. There are so many places to go that aren’t that far away.
  5. Run a new marathon.
    Obviously this was not an option for me this year, but I did run a solo Twin Cities marathon, so that’s kind of a new marathon?
  6. Buy a bike.
    I don’t have a new bike. This is because of my own stupidity. My company “wellness dollars” onto a rewards debit card and I have been hoarding those dollars for years. On the day my husband and I went to purchase new bikes (for his birthday), I discovered that the “special spot” that I had kept my rewards card was not so special, and while I tore my office apart looking to the card, it appeared that the card got swept into the trash at some point. I ordered a replacement but it was a huge rigmarole that took a long time and cost me like $10 and we never got around to ordering the bikes. This year is our year!

I also ran in two new counties and three new state parks. That’s much lower than I’d like in a normal year, but I chose to stay in the metro area, especially during the time when outstate Minnesota was not yet experiencing many cases of COVID-19. Once I start traveling for work again (or for fun!), I’ll be able to catch some new parks and counties and make more progress on those goals. And maybe combine those goals with my new marathon per year goals!

The only goal I feel truly disappointed about missing is the last one, because there was no reason beyond my own disorganization that kept me from making that goal. As a matter of fact, I just went downstairs and verified that the new card is exactly where I placed it for safekeeping, and it was. I’m learning from my mistakes!

Fall 2020 Running Goals Revisited

I COMPLETED EVERY GOAL!!!!!! FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!!!!!!

  1. Complete 45% of St. Paul streets.
    As of last night, I’m at 50.04% completion, which is exciting!

    I’ve still got large chunks of the East Side, Payne-Phalen, Frogtown, and Midway to do – including the street where my first home was! There are some bits and pieces of downtown left, as well as some roads near the airport and in the Battle Creek area, and one tiny little street in Highland Park that I keep forgetting about.
  2. Complete 25% of West St. Paul streets.
    This ended up being easier than I thought. I had the CityStrides site owner do a manual refresh at one point and I think that pushed me almost to 25% on its own. I have complete 58.39% of West St. Paul as of 11/30. My husband is at about 78% of it right now and will probably complete it entirely in the next couple weeks! I’m a bit curious if I can finish it before the end of the year, but I’m also trying to focus diversifying my running a bit more.
  3. Run a solo Twin Cities Marathon.
    I did it on October 11th! It really sucked, but I am also really pleased that I completed it.
  4. Get caught up and ahead on YTD mileage over last year.
    Done! I’m 48.57 mi ahead of where I was 11/30/19. If I’m healthy and motivated, I should be on track to have my highest mileage year ever! I just knocked on wood.
  5. Run 3 new trails/parks in the Twin Cities metro area.
    I’m glad that I checked back on my goals for the fall, because I almost forgot about this one. I ran at Keller Lake Park in early November. The trails there aren’t very long, but they do connect to Lake Phalen so it’s easy to add in extra trail mileage.

On a gorgeous, 70F day a few weeks later, I ran at Elm Creek, which I know is a favorite of many trail running friends. It was lovely, and there are still plenty of miles left there for me to explore. And I can ski there too! If there’s ever snow.

I did a 10 miler on the Rice Creek Regional Trail (with some street running since I didn’t quite figure out where the trail went once in Circle Pines) – due to some poor planning I had to do the final mile or so by moonlight, but it worked out okay.

I got in a couple bonus locations – an additional section of Spring Lake Park, and a little trail in Marydale Park in the North End.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever met all my goals! That’s exciting! Yes, some of them were easy, but I did also run a solo marathon. I’ve also failed to meet easy goals before, so there’s no guarantee that I’d be able to do everything on this list – I had to do all 3 of the new metro area trails in the month of November in order to squeeze in that goal, thanks to poor planning and a poor memory.

I do like setting goals I might not achieve; I think there’s value in the struggle. I don’t necessarily consider it a bad thing to miss some of the goals I lay out at the beginning of the year/season/race. It’s only a bad thing if I fall short because I didn’t even try. It also makes it that much sweeter when I do accomplish everything I set out to.

As usual, I don’t plan to set any specific winter (Dec-Feb) goals. I’ve got plenty to keep me motivated with my long-term goals, plus I’ll set year-long goals at the beginning of next month. I do have a couple other things in mind to end the year (like a big run on the Solstice) and a few 2020 goals that haven’t been ticked off the list yet, so that should keep December interesting.

Twin Cities Marathon (Solo) 2020 Goals

Tomorrow, provided I don’t wake up and chicken out, I’m running a solo Twin Cities Marathon. I was planning on doing it last week, the official weekend of the race, but I was feeling kinda crappy due to the colder weather and decided to wait.

I haven’t really done any marathon training and I’ll be running this effort unsupported, so I’m not expecting any miracles here. But I’m fully recovered from my FANS effort and I needed something new to focus on.

I didn’t sign up for the official virtual race, because it was $125, but I am running the race course (provided I don’t take a wrong turn). I’m going to drive myself to the start, park somewhere nearby, and then get my spouse to pick me up at the Capitol when I’ve finished. I’ll probably start around 10:00, which is great for me but also means it’ll consume my entire day. The key here is not farting around at starting at 11:30 or something.

I have to carry a bunch of stuff with me since this is an unsupported run and I’m super slow. I’ll be wearing my hydration pack, carrying gels, my cell phone, sunscreen, probably some money, and a mask, just in case I have to duck in somewhere to use a bathroom. (Are public bathrooms open? I guess I’ll find out.) I’ve done a self-supported long run before (my BTTT 50K back in May), but never a point-to-point one, so I’ll be like a pack mule comparatively speaking.

I don’t really have goals that I’ve been working toward, but I also don’t want to be out there forever, so I’d ideally like to finish in 6 hours. I ran TCM in 2018 in ~5:33, so I guess that would mean I’d be finishing at a pace about a minute slower than I did when I trained and ran the race supported (~13:43 vs 12:43). That’s probably a bit ambitious, but I did a heck of a lot of walking during that race thanks to a side stitch, and I also ran several of my FANS efforts at a faster pace than that. If I finish in less than 6:30 that will be acceptable.

The nice thing is if I fail for some reason, I can go out and try again next weekend, or I can just… not. And if I wake up a bit later than planned, I can just start slightly later. And if I go off course, it’ll just be a Twin Cities Ultramarathon. And if I totally bonk and end up walking it in, there won’t be any SAG wagon chasing me down. I like these low stakes endeavors!

Fall 2020 Running Goals

I have a lot more certainty about my fall running goals than I did about my spring and summer goals. When I started setting my spring goals, I had no idea how long this pandemic would last (and it shouldn’t still be this bad! Ugh!) In the summer, it was clear that there would be long-term impacts to racing and training, but I didn’t re-imagine my approach to running. Now that I’ve made a decision that I’m not going to sign up for any in-person races this fall, and I’m not going to travel too far for any adventures.

  1. Complete 45% of St. Paul streets.
    I got up to 31.74% completion during the summer (I’m currently at 35.38%), so this might seem a bit unambitious. I’m scaling back a bit on this for a couple reasons. It’s getting dark earlier these days, and I don’t want to waste a bunch of waning daylight driving to Como Park to complete some streets. I’m also obsessing a bit over the completion project. I’m barely running any trails (paved or otherwise) because I’m planning out how I can run some boring industrial road instead. Setting a less ambitious goal will give me an opportunity to run more trails, or just run routes I like and haven’t run in awhile.
  2. Complete 25% of West St. Paul streets.
    I’m currently at 16.67% of West St. Paul, which is a little bit harder to complete because so many of the streets are long. St. Paul has a lot of tiny streets that are only a block or two long; West. St. Paul is laid out more like a suburb so the streets are harder to complete. WSP is closer to my home (and easier to drive to) than most of St. Paul, so it’ll be more convenient and will help me maximize daylight. There are a lot of streets without sidewalks, so I’m not thrilled about that.
  3. Run a solo Twin Cities Marathon.
    This might actually turn into a Twin Cities ultramarathon, because part of the course is currently under construction and has a short detour. My current plan is to run it on the proposed marathon day, but that’s weather permitting. I might enlist my mom to meet me at Lake Nokomis to refuel (and maybe one other point along the way?), and I’ll have to figure out how to get to the start (light rail? drive?), but those are logistics for another day. I considered signing up for the official virtual race, but it costs as much as just doing the race, so no thank you. My cousin just ran a virtual Boston Marathon and I was re-inspired by his awesome effort. (Plus he raised like $13K for the Michael J Fox Foundation in memory of his father! Now that’s inspiring.)
  4. Get caught up and ahead on YTD mileage over last year.
    I want to be able to cruise in December, rather than pound out 12 miles on 12/30 in order to barely eke ahead of my previous year’s mileage (as happened in 2019). I don’t need to match 2019’s totals by November (that’s way too ambitious), but I’d like to be like a week (say 40 miles) ahead by 11/30.
  5. Run 3 new trails/parks in the Twin Cities metro area.
    I haven’t done enough exploring around here! I’ve been too focused on new counties and new state parks to check out some of the local options. Since I’m not focusing on traveling outside the Twin Cities right now, this is a great time to find some new urban/suburban trails. Now that summer is over and kids are back in school, perhaps places like Elm Creek won’t be so crowded.

Summer 2020 Running Goals Revisited

Somehow August has ended? There hasn’t been much to say. Without racing, my training has been haphazard and purposeless, so there’s not much to discuss. I did finish FANS over the course of the month, and spent a lot of time circling Snelling Lake pondering my life and my running and why I was doing anything.

My last post was outlining these goals, so reproducing them here seems silly, but I like following this format.

  1. Run a mile in three new counties.
    I ran in Chisago County, so I get 1/3 here. I got wrapped up in FANS during August, and I also didn’t really feel like traveling too far outside of the metro area while facilities are closed. With more people outside these days, it’s so hard to find a place to pee in peace!
  2. Visit three new state parks.
    I ran at Wild River State Park (which was okay, but there was a long section of sandy trail, some overgrown grassy areas, and bugs, so I was miserable – it might be better in spring or fall?) while hitting up Chisago County, and I ran at Minnesota River State Recreation Area, which was also buggy, also overgrown in areas, and also very frustrating. Why don’t I ever remember that I hate trail running in summer? I hate flies so much. Score: 2/3.
  3. Reach 25% completion of the streets of St. Paul
    As of 8/31, I’m at 31.74% completion! I started at 10% and really cruised! I also got my husband hooked on CityStrides and we compare notes when we’re both finished with our workouts (we work out separately).
  4. Fundraise at least $500 for FANS.
    My friends and family helped me raise $1660! And as of this post, the entire event raised over $20k! This is truly exciting. I’m looking forward to fundraising next year for an in-person race! Maybe that’ll be the accountability that I need to get through the night.

Overall, not a bad performance. If grading on a strict completed or not scale, I’m at 50%. If partial credit is allowed, then 62.5%! Either way, not impressive but these are strange times.

Summer 2020 Running Goals

I’m not sure what to put here. There aren’t likely to be any real races this summer, and even if there are, I don’t think I’ll be comfortable participating. So, what to do?

  1. Run a mile in three new counties.
  2. Visit three new state parks.
  3. Reach 25% completion of the streets of St. Paul
    I discovered CityStrides a few weeks ago and since then, I’ve been obsessed with trying to run every street in St. Paul. I was at 10% at the start of June, so I’ll have to complete another 15% during June-August.
  4. Fundraise at least $500 for FANS.
    FANS has been canceled, but the students who depend on the program’s scholarships still need our help. I’m waiting on the options that the race director sends out (a virtual race? some other type of fundraising event?) and then I’ll figure it out. I’m at $175 because I paid my entry fee before the race was canceled; I wanted them to be sure they got my money no matter what.

These might not be super exciting goals, but they are enough to keep me busy without races to run or support.