Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Last Decade of Running

I still don't know what you call this past decade- the oughts? The 2000s? I dunno. But I do know my running has changed a lot.

2000- Did my first triathlon at Latta. I rode a 1988 Nishiki road bike I spray painted olive green. That race felt like such an accomplishment- around 600m swim, 18 mile bike & 5K run. Did a couple of other sprint & international distance triathlons that year, building up to Ironman in 2001.

2001- Another year of firsts, but all had pretty bad experiences associated with them. Ran my first marathon at Myrtle Beach. Screwed up my IT Band during the race and hobbled the last 5 miles. Probably should've dropped out. Funny remembering how hard it was to walk that night from general soreness. Walked like Frankenstein for days. First Half-Ironman at White Lake. 95 degrees. Realized once I started running that I wasn't sweating. Reduced to jogging 100 meters, and walking 100 meters throughout the "run." Really should've dropped out. Needed an IV. Did my first Ironman at Great Floridian. Hyponatremia. Fishbowl stomach until I... expelled the contents. Someone I knew went to the hospital with seizures with the same condition in that race. 13:40. Such a miserably long time on the bike. Perked up in the run.

2002- Very good year for me. Ran another bad Myrtle Beach Marathon and then dropped my marathon PR by 45 minutes at Kiawah Island. Dropped my Ironman PR by over an hour- 12:18 at Duke Blue Devil. Had fun running. Loved doing hard workouts with the team I coached.

2003- Overall, a good year, with one really bad race that I let define- not only the year- not only my athletic ability, but ME. I dropped my 5K time by a lot that year and raced probably 6 of them. Went from just under 21 to 18:58. Dropped my marathon PR by 10 minutes- 3:24 (would've been 3:22 had I not gotten lost!) at the Louisville Marathon. But I got the bright idea that, "Hey these Ironman races aren't that hard. I need a bigger challenge. How about Ironman Austria, in the Alps?" Dumb. Didn't finish the bike. Really hot that day and I couldn't make myself drink the warm water & drink that had been sitting out in the sun all day. The 3 loop bike course over the mountains did me in & I called it quits after 2 laps. I got in a bad funk for a year & didn't ride my bike a single time.

2004- This year & the next would be sort of ho-hum. I would've had a good Chicago Marathon, but I started throwing up at mile 16. Still managed 3:31. Turned out to be a stomach virus, as I was sick for days- not just from the running.

2005- Nothing very eventful. Bad marathon in San Diego. I trained pretty hard for marathons back then and put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. Sort of raced my long runs and looked at my watch at landmarks every quarter mile. Lost a lot of sleep worrying about splits, PRs, etc. I think it was 2005 that someone told me to chill out and enjoy the running. It didn't make any sense at the time. "But no, why run a race if you're not going to PR?" My brother lived in San Diego when I ran that marathon & said, "Everyone else was waving and having a good time, but you looked mad." My response was something like, "It's hard work out there. I'm not out there to have fun." Amusing that my outlook's changed so much since then. I still have goals, but they're not measured in seconds, or really even minutes. "Finish feeling good and having fun," is sort of the goal now. It was around this time I started enjoying running on singletrack trails, but I was horrible at it. There was a 16 month period where I fell and cracked ribs on 3 different occasions and tripped and pulled the muscle off my ribs in a 4th incident! Jennifer made me swear I wouldn't run on trails anymore. I didn't for a year or so. Before that hiatus from the trails, though, I ran part of a 3 person relay in the Triple Lakes Trail 40 Miler and saw my friends Watts & Konrad finish the whole 40 solo. I felt like crying for them. How could you run for 7 hours straight?! And on trails?! Crazy.

2006- My first 50K at Salem Lake was in January 2006. I entered on a whim and knew I would hear it from the kids I coached if I didn't finish. Wasn't sure I could though. It was 20 at the start and didn't warm up much. I thought the pain in my hamstring was just being tight from the cold. Turned out to be a problem I still have, which no one's ever been able to pinpoint. I've heard everything from herniated disc to piriformis syndrome. I call it sciatica. I dunno. Taking the leap to 50K seemed nuts. I only did it because I found out in 2005 that this crazy race even existed. I tried to run the Tybee Marathon the next month and was only able to get through 4 miles of it due to this sciatic--- or whatever problem. It got bad & I couldn't run much at all for a couple of months. Once I was a little better, I ran the Blue Ridge Relay in 2006 with some friends and others who became friends. It sort of got me thinking about expanding what running was. I also completed the White Lake 1/2 Ironman again while injured and just doing what I could on the run. I wanted some sort of redemption for not finishing Ironman Austria. It was my first triathlon in 3 years & I haven't done one since.

2007- Big, big changes. I was able to complete a February marathon after being injured for most of 2006. Time wasn't great, but it felt like an accomplishment. I realized I'd quickly become a trail rat. All of my long runs leading up the marathon were on trails. I continued to run more & more trails and had a great time doing it. There was a new purpose in running. FUN!!! By the spring, I developed this rule that I wouldn't bother running if it wasn't at least an hour. I still don't like to, but I break the rule now. I also sought out new trails & fun places to run. Since then, I've run less than 150 miles on roads & about 5,500 on dirt. I ran 25 miles at the Relay for Africa and came across these insane people who were doing it solo. 24 hours. Who were these people? In the back of my mind, though, I was thinking, "I wonder if I could run for 24 hours next year." Soon afterwards, I signed up for the 12 Hour Adventure Trail Race in VA. I officially got something like 53.xx miles in, but went out for another loop, bringing it right to 60 miles in 12:35. I felt good doing it too. Better than any marathon I'd run. After swearing off road running, for some reason, I ran the Outer Banks Marathon and it killed my legs. I thought about dropping out in the last 2 miles! Went on the first of my Appalachian Trail runs at the end of 2007.

2008- Ran several ultras, but more than that, I ran probably 20 training runs over 26.2 miles. Got in 3 consecutive months of 300+ mile months. Ran 50K races on 2 consecutive days. Had some achilles problems early in the year, but half ignored it. Ran Salem Lake 50K on it against my better judgement. Also ran Gator Trail 50K, New River 50K, FATS 50K, 55 straight miles at Relay for Africa, Holiday Lake 50K++. It was a good year & I put in a lot of good training for my first 100 in 2009. My highest yearly total, right at 2,500. For a few weeks in December 2008 & January 2009, I think I suffered some effects of overtraining. So many long runs. Had long runs of 40, 60 & 31 miles & 3 out of 4 weeks and ended up dragging, having trouble breathing, etc. Ended up OK.

2009- Ran my first three runs over 60 miles, including my first 100 miler at Rocky Raccoon. Man, that was a rough day. I'm still saying no more 100s, but I'm enjoying 24 hour races. Ran 90 at Hinson Lake and 70 at Freedom Park. Those were big runs for me, but the year as a whole... I dunno. I really enjoy training. Not sure why. My training wasn't all it could be- sometimes for legitimate reasons and sometimes because I got a little lazy. I got in 2,000 miles, and ran some races I'm proud of, but didn't enjoy as many of those Sunday long runs as usual. I think I ran more races in 2009 than I have since I was in high school. I got through 70 miles with a cracked rib on the Appalachian Trail over 3 days. I gained a lot of confidence during 2009- that I could get through whatever... not that I think I'm fast or anything- just that I can finish if I have to. Funny I should say that after going home early in the 24 hour race I just ran, but if somebody said, "You have to run 20 more miles," I wouldn't have had a problem. I got sponsored through the Brooks ID program for 2009-10, which I'm happy about.

2001, 2002 & 2007 were my favorite years of the decade. 2009 would be 4th.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good job this year and here's to a great 2010!