Monday, December 31, 2018

End of the 2018 Racing Season / Year in Review

Races Run (Strava times, not official):

1. 1/1 NYRR Resolution Run (Virtual) 27:43

2. 3/25 the Eastern States 20 miler (North Hampton, NH) 2:46:42

3. 4/14 Newport Marathon (Newport, RI) 4:02:42

4. 5/6 Angry Unicorn (South Kingstown, RI) 1:38:54

5. 6/9 Gaspee Days 5k (Cranston, RI)  24:06

6. 7/14 Run with the Beavers 10 miler (Chepachet, RI) 1:45:49

7. 7/27 Blessing of the Fleet 10 miler (Narragansett, RI) 1:28:15

8. 10/28 Cape Cod Marathon (Falmouth, MA) 3:56:16

I ran 10 more races last year than this year, but many of them were 5ks. I don't think I'm really missing much by having cut the 5k out, I prefer running longer, anyway. I was also able to really focus and stick to my training schedule this year for the marathons, which let me break four hours again for the first time in a few years (in spite of an injury.)

I was also hesitant to list the Resolution run on there, as it was a virtual Strava race. I did treat it like a race, though, so I'm counting it. I did not count the NYRR Virtual Mile, because I was amidst injury and I couldn't get in a mindset for it. Additionally, I had two races that I registered for and did not run: Funky Monkey HM was in late June, and the Black Goose in November. Black Goose actually conflicted with a family event I had, and I wasn't feeling well morning of the Monkey. I plan to be running for a long time, so there will be a time for everything.

Had a good showing at Eastern States, my fastest time, by about 3 minutes. I love that race and I was happy to be able to go back to it. Some things have changed logistically there, but I'd like to return again in 2019. It still will never be a super easy thing to do all by myself, but there's also something nice to the feeling of completing that race self supported.

Newport Marathon was a really tough course. The day itself was beautiful, but I think the number of hills on the course just beat me down mentally. I also don't know how seriously I really took that training, because it's unpleasant to train through the winter. It's tough to do speedwork amidst snow. I have some thoughts on how I'll train for a spring race next time around, but I'm saving those for my goal setting post.

Angry Unicorn is such a treat. Another race where I supported myself, but the course is that sweet spot of rolling hills and easy climbs that feels very familiar to my legs. Additionally the pack isn't huge, so it's easy to break up from the group and run your own race. Kind of a bleh day weather wise, but just such a great race. I'm not sure I believe the course measures entirely accurate, and so I was hesitant to claim that PR fully. But it would be my first HM in the 1:30s, so that is pretty exciting.

The summer races I really run for fun -- not trying to go for a particular time. These three are all in the midst of my summer run streak, so I see them as gems in a larger collection.

Cape Cod Marathon was the other big event for me for the year -- despite feeling overuse coming on late in the training plan, I still managed to go sub-4 which was a big personal victory. It has inspired me to take on some crazy challenges in 2019, but there will be more of that later.

Parenting-wise, it has been a very big year. My wife and I welcomed our second daughter, and she has been a delightful spirit who has brought a lot of joy and love into our family. Her big sister absolutely adores her, and watching the two of them together is very sweet. Parenting two kids is a balancing act -- trying to give the toddler the attention and interaction she needs while also giving the baby the time and experiences her sister had when she was this age. I've been feeling like I'm not doing as much singing and hands on play with child #2, so I'm trying to re prioritize that.  The baby loves when we sing and play games (like "Itsy Bitsy Spider") so that's good.

Christmas was a great success. We stay home, and do the holiday as a nuclear family. I made a full dinner by myself, mulled some wine (and cider for the toddler.) The baby is eating real food now, too -- mostly rolls and anything mashed, but it's a start. It was a fun day complete with presents in the morning, dinner in the middle of the day followed by a long nap. The toddler didn't end up falling asleep until quite late, but we have the week to get things back on track.

We also just returned from a family vacation up north -- quite a bit of stress associated with these trips, and a lot of work. But, also plenty of enjoyable moments. In any event it is good to be back home again, and ready to dive back into life.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Resolutions "In Review" for 2018 (part 1)

Every year I set goals, so this will be a two part post reviewing the goals I set, and then in part two setting some new goals for 2019.

So, here were my resolutions for 2018:

  1. Teach my daughter something each week.
  2. Enter no store before March, all stores off limits except the grocery store.
  3. Clear out unnecessary junk.
  4. Consistent social club meetings.
  5. Cook more.
  6. Get down to my "fighting" weight
  7. Run two marathons in one calendar year.
  8. Barefoot a 5k race.
  9. Learn to fuel appropriately again.
  10. Journal more consistently.

I'd say it's nearly impossible to meet all of these goals all the time, but I do try my best. I like some of them as guidelines, where others are certainly more concrete. The parenting goals, for example, I like to think of as things to bring me closer to my ideal parenting style. The running goals, on the other hand, have more to do with concrete outcomes.

My first goal was to teach my daughter something new every week. I had in mind when I set that, that I would work on an exact skill or idea with her each week. Which is a fun goal, but the truth is little kids are just experiencing so much all the time, and the attention span doesn't lend itself much to that. And I know better, too, because I've studied child psychology. Either way we did a lot of fun stuff this year, from learning how to use pens and crayons, to sensory play with shaving cream tables, playing music (she made her first sounds on a brass instrument!) and cooking fundamentals (how to use a measuring cup, for one.) It was a blast and while I couldn't pick out 52 concepts we went over, we probably did way more.

I did manage #2, and kept out of the stores other than to buy groceries basically until May. It became harder in the summer because we did so much -- the zoo, museum, what have you at least once a day. So when we needed supplies, sometimes we had to go to stores I don't love. I did manage to buy less junk for the first half of the year, at least. And I'll work on that again next year -- because I really hate stores and going to shops after work really cuts into any time for running or playing with the kids.

Clear out unnecessary junk. Sure, I mean, a little. I have lots of crap around my house that I should get rid of. We don't have enough storage for any of it, either. I did manage to donate lots of clothes that I don't wear anymore, and so I think that will be an ongoing goal for 2019. I've been better about managing my clothes and materials, as well, so hopefully that will get even better as time goes on.

Cooked a lot this year. I mean, a lot. We still ate out a bunch in the very busy times of year, but we managed to plan and execute meals more consistently, for sure. One thing we need to get better about is the family dinner around the table. We do that a few times a week but often we're so beat at the end of the day that we just want to relax on the couch or whatever. That said, I've learned some crazy good recipes.

I did not get back down to the weight I wanted to be at -- but I was in a pretty good shape for my fall marathon. I had to fight to get under 170 lbs at all this year, and I think a lot of that is just that it's hard to have the mental discipline to cut calories while running as many miles a week as I was. We'll see what next year holds in this regard -- but I tracked my weight almost everyday this year, as well, and I think that actually helped me see it more as a trend line than a number. Which is pretty important for me. Because the number used to get in my head a whole lot.

I did run two marathons this calendar year! Newport in April, and Cape Cod in October. I even broke 4 hours in Cape Cod, which means that all is not lost in terms of reaching my goals. It's going to take some hard work, but achieving this resolution (which I've had for awhile now) gave me so much energy and desire to work harder coming up. And I've got some stuff to do, too -- because I got injured training for Cape Cod, so for sure stretching and cross training are on the docket come January.

I did a lot of bare-footing this year, including a barefoot run that covered the 5k distance. I did not race that distance without shoes, as the goal was set, but I also did quite a bit of running this summer on a broken toe, so there's that. It had me not in the mood to race much of the summer. That said I loved my barefoot time and I'm hoping to continue that in 2019, possibly even on some varied terrain.

I tried some new fueling strategies in training for Cape Cod and I think they were really successful. A new carb beverage for pre-long runs, gels, and an energy shot for different places in the run and water every two miles. It worked really well for me and gave me something to focus on during long runs so I could just work to get to that next fuel point. It took a lot of focus and practice, but I think that fuel wise this last training cycle was better than any I've ever had. It even let me put up some pretty impressive numbers in training (for me) before I got injured and had to dial-back the mileage. There's always another cycle, so this gives me confidence that I have some skill here to tap into next time.

I have tried really hard to write something here every month, at least. Of the 137 days I ran from Spring into Fall, I tried to write a little something everyday. This crowded out some of the bigger posts I usually do focused on a concept, but it also let me focus my mind on a routine -- run, sync the watch, write the post, review the data. That was pretty crucial to me doing as much as I did in the streak. So that's a thing I've learned, and obviously, I want to continue writing here. Hopefully I'll be able to write more on my parenting life here in the coming year. But I can get to all that in the next half of this post setting goals for 2019.


Holiday Run Streak has been going well. 24 days in, I've covered sixty-four miles. Aiming for twenty miles a week while I try to sort out the various pains and twinges in my legs from marathon training. It has been uneventful, and enjoyable running, though, as it often is in New England in December. I've been running in neoprene boots, in case of rain and snow, and they're a bit cold, but overall comfortable.

And the house is all decked out with garlands, fake candles, stockings. The usual holiday decor. The toddler absolutely loves the season, and I'm finding a new joy in watching her enjoy it. This week is a busy week, with meetings and engagements, but finally ending with her birthday party and our solstice party on Friday. I'm very much looking forward to it.