2019 Goals Revisited

2019 was a tough year for me. There’s not really any other way to look at it. I barely raced, and the best race I had all year was completed in the first week of the year. I didn’t meet many of the seasonal goals that I set for myself, and I found running to be a chore at times, or anxiety-inducing. I had some external stressors in my life – nothing major, just career-related stuff – that seeped into my training and drained me of the energy and the drive to train and improve.

  1. 2019 mileage > 2018 mileage
    On December 30th, I surpassed my 2018 mileage. It was a weight off my shoulders and a gratifying way to finish a tough year. As late as September 8th, I was 92 miles behind my 2018 pace, and as late as November 12th, I was 78 miles down. I rallied, thanks to a strong push in the last two months of the year (as well some relatively low mileage in December 2018 thanks to illness), and managed to run 1695 miles last year, which was just over 5 miles farther than I ran in 2018. In 2018, thanks to my various illnesses in December, I missed out on my goal of beating 2017 mileage, so it was a relief to avoid a repeat of that disappointment.
    I will admit the stress of trying to run 6 miles a day, 6 days a week, without any extra rest days or short run days, wore on me at times (especially when it was extremely cold out). Once I knew the goal was not only in reach, but could be attained a day early, the stress started to melt away.
  2. Do 100 pushups/day
    I gave up on this goal for no reason. I started off okay the first week or so, and then I quit doing it for weeks. In April-July, I did a pretty decent job of trying to get back on track, but the last quarter of the year, I didn’t do any push-ups. It says a lot about my mental state that I couldn’t be bothered to do push-ups for three whole months.
  3. Run more new races/courses than old ones.
    I only raced five times! It’s surprising to see that. I had two races canceled (Zumbro, which I wasn’t going to run anyway, and the Cosmic 5K in July at the Bell Museum, which was canceled due to a thunderstorm), I DNF the Twin Cities Marathon, and I DNS 3 races (Hot Dash, 811 Run, and Mustache Run). Of the 6 races I ran, they were all new courses! My only repeat race, FANS, was run on a different course. I forgot I’d even set this goal for myself, but hooray for me!
  4. My highest category of training mileage will not be treadmill mileage.
    I track my workouts by category in two different ways: number of workouts, and number of miles. In 2018, 42% of the days I spent working out were spent on the treadmill. (Only 34% of my miles were spent on the treadmill.) I needed to spend more time running outside in 2019.
    This started out poorly, as cold weather, icy conditions, and a lack of motivation meant that I had a lot of treadmill runs in the first 3 months of the year. I dug myself a big hole that took me almost to the end of the year to get out of. The end of the year got a bit stressful because it was cold, and I faced the possibility of two goals conflicting. Should I run on the treadmill, and make it harder to reach one goal? Or should I take a rest day, and make it harder to reach another? It all worked out in the end, thanks to some perseverance on my part (running in 10F weather sometimes) and some warm weather in December. At year end, 31% of my workouts were on paved trails, with treadmill runs coming in second at 28%.
  5. Start taking a multivitamin.
    I totally rocked this! I have only forgotten to take my vitamins a couple days. I even take the bottle on vacation! I just take a regular old generic Target gummy vitamin, nothing special or woo-woo. I don’t know if it has helped much or not, but it hasn’t hurt any. I plan to continue.
  6. Volunteer at a race that isn’t put on by Rocksteady Running.
    I volunteered at The Willow and In Yan Teopa, both put on by St. Croix Running Company. The races are much more low-key than the Rocksteady Events (and I still volunteered at all the ESTRS runs, Afton, and Superior Fall), which makes volunteering a breeze. In Yan Teopa was cupless and that made post-race clean-up SO easy. I had a great time, met some new fun people, and found some new cool places to run.
  7. Go for a run in every county in MN.
    I ran a mile or more in 10 new counties! I found some really cool new parks and trails, and I even checked off Kittson County, one of the most remote counties in the state.

While 2019 was disappointing from a performance perspective, that’s the whole reason that I set goals that aren’t based on time or distance. I achieved 5 of my 6 year-long goals and made significant progress on my multi-year goal. That’s exciting and helps me reframe 2019 as something other than a complete disaster.

Apart from these goals, my race performances, and my seasonal goals, I had an amazing year from a social perspective. I made some new running friendships this year that are incredibly meaningful, I strengthened existing friendships, and my husband came along to volunteer with me for three days at Superior, which allowed him to spend quality time with my running friends and also to experience for the first time the seminal ultrarunning event in my life, the one that five years earlier lit that endurance running fire in my soul. I had the best running year of my life when looked at from a relationship-building experience, and that’s what is sustaining me as I look to 2020.

Fall 2019 Running Goals Revisited

I haven’t had much of a desire to revisit my fall running goals, because I totally sucked at running this fall. I also remember now that I did try to log in to write a post once and I had trouble accessing WordPress and forgot about it. Then I had trouble accessing it again today and freaked out because I thought my account had been corrupted or something.

  1. Marathon PR
    I DNF the Twin Cities Marathon. I’m pretty much over it but it was a big disappointment!
  2. Half marathon PR (official or unofficial)
    This is reaching so so so so so much, but I ran 14 miles at Icebox 480 in 3:46:13, which is faster than I ran the Harder ‘n’ Hell Half Marathon in 2015. So I guess that’s sort of a half marathon PR, even though I don’t know exactly what my half marathon time was. I DNS the Mustache Run due to bad weather – it turned out it rained, snowed, sleeted, and hailed during the race, and I felt pretty confident in my race-morning decision not to run.
  3. 50K PR
    I only ran 14 miles at Icebox 480, which was a serious disappointment in a season chock full of disappointments. I didn’t even write a race report (which was a serious disservice to the race – it’s great fun!) It wasn’t my day, and I gave up on myself, although I also went home and slept for several hours after I got home from the race, which was probably a sign that I wasn’t ready to run that day.
  4. Visit a state park with my friend Laura.
    I didn’t even do that! I am a terrible friend.
  5. Catch up to last year’s mileage.
    I didn’t, but stay tuned for the end of year recap.

I don’t want to dwell too much on how disappointing my fall “racing” season was, because I have moved on and moved forward since then. I’m looking forward to a quiet winter season, setting some new goals for 2020, and then starting fresh in the spring with some big and small successes.

Twin Cities Marathon 2019 Goals

It’s chilly and damp here in the capitol city and I’m tired in mind and body. This isn’t a great way to end marathon training, but I have two days of rest and relaxation before the race. I’m off work tomorrow and will head to the dreaded expo, since the weather on Saturday looks like more garbage.

I’m staying pretty active this week since it’s the final week of this crazy steps challenge I’m participating in at work. I feel oddly competitive and my team is in the lead, so I don’t want to let them down! I’ve been on the treadmill the past couple of days since it’s been damp and chilly.

I don’t know what is realistic to expect for this marathon. I think my training went all right. It wasn’t great, once again I didn’t get in much training at actual marathon pace, but I really feel like I was committed to this training cycle. I did almost every speed workout required, with a couple exceptions (I think twice I was traveling, once my stomach was upset, and once I realized I didn’t have enough time to do all the repeats I needed to and finished one short). I didn’t do many long runs; I think I topped out at 15 miles. I don’t know how much that matters – I know how to run for a long time. Well, I know how to be on my feet for a long time, intermittently running.

I’m going to set myself up for success based on some lessons I learned last year. Of course I won’t be driving up to Duluth, going to a hockey game, and then driving home (not that it mattered, I didn’t sleep more than an hour the night before the race anyway). I certainly won’t be eating a rich chocolate cake that upsets my bowels the night before the race either. I’ll bring more stuff to put in my drop bag, now that I know how efficient it is. I’m going to bring a soft flask to put in my hydration vest (I wore the vest last year just to store my phone and keys) so that I can take a sip of water when I feel like it, rather than gulping down water at aid stations and getting a side stitch as a result. I’ll also carry some mints to avoid dry mouth. I know I’m going to be carrying a lot of stuff and real marathoners don’t carry anything with them and blah blah blah but also I am a real marathoner and this is my strategy and it’s valid. Suck it, Letsrun.

A Standard: 4:59:59
B Standard: 5:05
C Standard: 5:20

I have stated already that I want to run a sub-5 marathon, and I’m going to stick to it, and I’m going to do my best to do it. I’m going to remind myself of that at mile 5, at mile 13, at mile 21, at mile 24, as many times as it takes to keep going when I mentally want to check out. I got a lot of practice with that at Ice Age 50K, when a huge blister on my foot popped with a few miles to go and every step caused my shoe and the painful raw skin under that blister to collide. Even though I quit FANS early, I still willed myself through several loops on sore feet before throwing in the towel. So I’ve gotten some practice honing my mental game this year.

I think 5:05 is a reasonable backup goal, especially if I commit the cardinal sin of positive splitting (this is almost certainly going to happen because I don’t have a solid idea of my training, I don’t have a detailed race plan, and I’m not very good at holding a steady pace). I would be immensely proud to run that time if I gave all that I could and just didn’t quite have the fitness to go sub-5. A lot can go wrong over 26.2 miles and 5-ish hours.

5:20 is a nice PR (about 13 minutes) and I wouldn’t feel awful about it, but I’d definitely be hungry for another race so I could redeem myself with a successful result. Of course last year I didn’t even make my C goal, so I could end up in a troubleshooting situation where eking out even a 5:20 is a big achievement. I’m fairly certain I could have run somewhere around 5:20-5:25 if I hadn’t had the side stitch issue. I’m sure I’d have faded but I don’t know by how much.

Non-time related goals: avoid a massive negative split like last year, stay out of the med tent, finish the race, walk as little as possible, and don’t become a meme.

Fall 2019 Running Goals

We’re already a couple weeks into the fall season! I can’t believe how time is flying by. I’m not quite ready for it to be cold yet, I’ve got a lot to do.

  1. Marathon PR
    This is the big one, the one I’ve been working for all year. I would like to get under 5 hours at the Twin Cities Marathon, but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible or not. I don’t want to count myself out just yet, but I also know that even a 5:15 or 5:10 would be a huge gain for me.
  2. Half marathon PR (official or unofficial)
    It would probably be bad for me to PR in the half marathon during the full marathon, but of course that’s a possibility. I also plan on running the Moustache Run again and could go for it there. Just typing this out makes me waffle on whether or not I want to focus on this but why the heck not put it out there?
  3. 50K PR
    I know, I know, slow down there with the PRs lady! But I added the Icebox 480 to my race calendar in early November, and I want to get to 50K in the 8 hours of allotted time. It seems possible. I hope. I guess I don’t know the trail so I don’t know how hard it might be.
  4. Visit a state park with my friend Laura.
    One of my long time friends also has a goal of working her way through the entire list of Minnesota State Parks. She has a much better record-keeping system: she has a parks passport from her childhood that has evidence of where she’s visited. We’ve been planning to visit one together for a few months now, and I’m going to make it happen!
  5. Catch up to last year’s mileage.
    I’m still behind where I was year to date last year, but I’m slowly catching up, and my mileage was WAY down in Q4 of last year, so I think I can get caught up by Nov 30th, provided I stay healthy and motivated.

These are some pretty ambitious goals for me, especially that 50K PR. The most important one is the marathon, since I’ve been training for it for months and have put off other fun racing opportunities to stay fresh for the marathon. I’m pretty excited, but also nervous since the marathon’s only a few weeks away!

Summer 2019 Running Goals Revisited

The windy, cooler weather this past week has made it clear that summer is over, so it’s time to take stock of what I’ve accomplished this summer.

  1. Distance PR. I ran 45.4 miles at FANS, which was 3.1 miles farther than I’ve run before. It wasn’t what I hoped for, but it’s still an accomplishment!
  2. Unofficial 50K PR. I didn’t get this – I ran 50K in about 8:44, which isn’t my worst time but is well off my best.
  3. Run a 10K. I ran the Run Baby Run 10K on August 3rd. It wasn’t pretty, but it meets the requirements. I can’t wait to get after that PR!
  4. Run 5 new counties. I took advantage of two work trips to accomplish this goal. In late July, I ran Douglas, Clay, Kittson, and Morrison Counties. In mid-August, I ran Winona County. I also visited six new state parks as a result of this trip!
  5. Volunteer for trail work. I reached out to someone coordinating volunteer work at Fort Snelling State Park, but I haven’t heard back yet. I don’t think that’s a good sign for the condition of the park.

So, 60% is a barely passing grade, and I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get any trail work in (partially because I miss running at Fort Snelling!), but I had a lot of fun getting in new counties and doing lots of exploring around the state.

I also have updates for my annual goals 2/3 of the way through 2019:

  1. 2019 mileage > 2018 mileage
    I’m still behind on this goal, but my mileage significantly declined in the last few months of 2018, so there’s still a lot of opportunity for me to make up ground.
  2. Do 100 pushups/day
    I’m off track on this. I was really doing well, up to 150 pushups/day at one point, but during my trip to North Dakota, I got off track, and it turns out new habits die easily.
  3. Run more new races/courses than old ones.
    I’ve barely raced at all this year, and I haven’t done any repeat race courses!
  4. My highest category of training mileage will not be treadmill mileage.
    I started off with a lot of treadmill running this winter, so it wasn’t until a week or so ago that I pushed treadmill mileage out of the top category for both mileage and quantity of workouts. I’ve now run more workouts and more total miles on paved trails than any other terrain. I haven’t been on a treadmill in a long time!
  5. Start taking a multivitamin.
    Still going strong.
  6. Volunteer at a race that isn’t put on by Rocksteady Running.
    Already completed in the spring.
  7. Go for a run in every county in MN.
    This is of course a multi-season goal, but I am plugging along! I’m trying to make sure I get quality, interesting runs in each county and I’m also trying to do this in a way that is less wasteful by planning ahead and getting a few counties in one trip, and piggybacking on already planned trips.

Summer 2019 Running Goals

Okay, it’s the summer solstice, so I should finally reveal my summer running goals, even though I’ve been “governed” by them for 21 days already.

  1. Distance PR. (Trust me on this one, it was always on my list.)
  2. Unofficial 50K PR. (Again, I know FANS has come and gone, but it’s been on my list.  wrote a draft of these in my private running journal on May 16th.)
  3. Run a 10K. I’ve still not managed to sign up for a 10K in, what, four years of consistent running? I’m sure there will be plenty to choose from this summer.
  4. Run 5 new counties. This goes along with my multi-year goal to run at least a mile in every county in MN. I have a trip to North Dakota in July that could pound all those out at once.
  5. Volunteer for trail work. I do a lot of volunteering at races, but I don’t have a lot of experience doing trail work. There are some opportunities coming up I’m hoping to take advantage of.

That is sort of boring, but I also don’t do that much during the summer because I am such a delicate flower, wilting in the heat. And my big big big goal, Twin Cities Marathon, isn’t until fall, but I will be working toward it this whole season. Playing the long game, as it were.

FANS and ESTRS

I had a dream last night that it was snowing for FANS, and I had absolutely nothing except a winter coat (I guess that was fortunate). I tried to go home and pick stuff up (specifically like 25 pairs of socks) and realized I didn’t have my car keys. I think this is a sign that I need to get my butt in gear and start doing actual planning for the race. It is in six days, so that’s good advice.

Wednesday, I volunteered for the first installment of the Endless Summer Trail Run Series. It was a bit on the chilly side, so the “summer” part seemed more like “beginningless” than endless, but I was covered for many contingencies – I had long pants, a sweatshirt, and even a poncho. The poncho is so great that I almost want it to rain during an event so that I can bust it out. I spent the evening checking in runners, wrangling (and eating) pizza, and cheering people on. It is SUCH a great event: the prize this year is a race-specific sticker (collect all 5!), the people who volunteer and/or run are top-notch, and the locations are awesome, too. If not for this race, I wouldn’t have known about Lebanon Hills! I signed up to volunteer at all 5 events this year, just so I wouldn’t miss out on the party.

Before I headed to the ESTRS shindig, I went to the new FANS course over lunch for some course recon. I went with my much faster colleague (who is competing in the 6 hour event) and ended up busting my butt to try not to bog him down, but I feel like I got the lay of the land anyway. The FANS race committee had to scramble to find a new place since Fort Snelling is still experiencing flooding. What a nice surprise for the new race directors! This year it will be at Normandale Lake, which has some positives: no gravel, no fee to get in (great for spectators), and the course is much closer to the lake, so I think that will help keep things cool. It has some challenges, too: it’s all asphalt, which could be tough when it gets hot, and it has some hillier hills. They aren’t that bad, but I’m sure by the 10th time around, they’ll be annoying. They are strategically placed to facilitate walking breaks, so that will be good!

I still have a lot to do this week to get ready, including a trial run at setting up my tent on my own, purchasing gels (I went to REI during their sale and the selection was not great!), restocking my tackle box of supplies, and figuring out how to deal with my feet. I did finally rid myself of this annoying callus I’ve had forever that was causing some serious issues, but my right foot is still sort of healing from the blister I got at Ice Age. I think it should be ok, but I’m still missing a layer of skin from where the blister was, and there’s a ridge where the old skin meets the new that I’m a bit wary of. What an appetizing though, I know.

I’m hoping my newfound talent for getting a decent night’s sleep before wasn’t a fluke, but I’m taking the day before the race off of work, and I plan to avoid sugar and caffeine in the afternoon and evening. I’m hoping to avoid a lot of my past FANS mistakes this year (eat more, walk more, deal with ANY problem, no matter how small, ASAP, apply more sunscreen) while also avoiding new mistakes, I want to get a BIG distance PR, and I really, really, really want to get at least one short lap in (meaning, I’m still in this thing in the final hour). Other than that, no expectations. No A, B, or C standard distances planned. Just see what I’m capable of, and try not to permanently damage myself.