Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Running Reflection

It's the time of year when everyone reflects back on what they've done for the past 12 months. Radio stations replay the top-10 requested songs, sports analysts look at the best plays, and the Mersiowsky family gathers around the breakfast table to discuss their favorite running moments shared in my blog. To help get their discussion started, I'll review the year 2014 as well.

2014 started out very slowly. On New Year's Eve, 2013, I was fitted for a boot to help heal my very first stress fracture. I spent the first 6-7 weeks riding my bike inside while watching Parks & Recreation on Netflix and all eight Harry Potter movies. I went to the pool on occasion, and I got to run on an Alter-G treadmill on my birthday. With a 5-month old baby at home, there couldn't have been better opportunity to stick around the house. I ran on solid ground for the first time on February 20, starting out with a prescribed walk-jog routine that I followed to the T. My doctor was apprehensive about the fact that I promised my wife that I would run the Shamrock Half-Marathon with her, but I agreed to take it easy and only start & finish the race with her.

As the intensity of the semester picked up, my recuperation slowed down. I took several days off in a row each week and never built the base fitness that I needed to run well in any spring races. Despite that, I started lacing up. I ran a 5k in April and a 4 mile race in May while very sick and out of shape, and the results showed that. It wasn't until the semester ended that I finally started to run consistently. I started running 8-10 miles a day most days a week, slowly. I lined up for my 4th of July race thinking that things might fall together. I was wrong-- they didn't.

Then I decided I needed something to train for. I looked at the calendar and decided on the USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in December, and the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon at the Hampton Coliseum in October. Once I got back from the beach, I started doing workouts. I even ran a mile race. I was running every day for the first time since Henry was born. My mileage was climbing, running between 70-86 miles a week for eight of the next ten weeks after vacation.

I signed up for some more races in the fall to test my fitness, three of which were on the grass to get used to wearing spikes. The Pepsi 10K went well, but the two UVA Club Cross Country races I ran were embarrassing. I went to Hampton and won the Crawlin' Crab race, running alone from the gun, in a 2 second PR. That was a pleasant surprise, especially coming off such a serious injury and inconsistent training for so many months.

With the half-marathon being my real peak race, I continued to train with the cross country races in mind, working out on the grass on the weekend and trying to stay sharp. I thought that I was in decent shape heading into my Turkey Trot, but ran slower than I hoped (and the same time that I'd run the past two years). That race was also run largely alone.

At Lehigh, I enjoyed running in a large group of people and losing to over 300 of them. At no point was I running alone-- I always had someone close enough to work towards, always had someone coming up near me to move up with. It was a lot of fun. Without many expectations, I ran hard and had a lot of fun racing as a team with the other guys on Ragged Mountain Racing. Then I took two weeks completely* off from running.

2014 saw me running over twice as many races as in 2013. Last year I ran 5.

April 12 - Run for Autism 5K - 2nd place, 17:11 (5:32 pace)
May 24 - Charlottesville Men's 4 Miler - 6th place, 21:56 (5:29 pace)
July 4 - Heritage Festival 5 Miler - 3rd place, 27:10 (5:26 pace)
July 24 - Michie Tavern Downtown Mile - 9th place, 4:51 (4:51 pace)
September 13 - Pepsi 10K - 3rd place, 33:04 (5:19 pace)
September 20 - Cavalier Invitational 8K XC - 12th place, 28:51 (5:48 pace)
October 5 - Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon - 1st place, 1:10:49 (5:24 pace)
November 1 - NIRCA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships 8K XC - 29th place, 28:16 (5:41 pace)
November 22 - Kelly Watt Memorial Race 2 Mile XC - 2nd place, 10:26 (5:13 pace)
November 27 - YMCA Turkey Trot - 7th place, 15:51 (5:06 pace)
December 13 - USATF Club Cross Country Championships 10K - 314th place, 33:37 (5:24 pace)

I had a really nice progression going from April to October, getting faster at each race despite the distance increasing, except for those terrible cross country races I ran for the UVA club team. I enjoy racing, even if I'm not going to run a personal best. I'll give it all I've got every time I line up though.

Last year, I wrote about 2013 and called it "the decline." My mileage dropped by over 1000 miles from 2012. Despite the six week break at the beginning of the year, I somehow managed to run more mileage in 2014 (2174) than in 2013 (2117), barely. I am hoping to continue that trend in 2015. I'm running the Boston Marathon in April, so I'll have to put in work for that. Depending on where my professional life takes me this fall, I will consider running a fall marathon as well. Graduate school and the birth of my son have rightfully shifted the focus in my life away from running, which is why running in Charlottesville may seem to be more challenging for me. It's all a part of getting older and growing up. But I still feel like 2015 is going to be a good year.

Interestingly, I started to wear a pedometer this year. I didn't get it until September, but in that time I walked 508 miles. I've test the accuracy of it by counting my own steps while walking for a while and it is pretty accurate. I don't wear it while I'm running, so I know that I'm not overlapping, but I'll be curious to see how many miles I walk in 2015 as well. I spend a lot of time sitting at a desk these days, but hopefully I'll have a job that makes me more mobile in the fall.

*Not completely off as I ran a beer mile during that time. It was the worst beer mile of my career.

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