21 Races in 27 weeks: 2014 Season in Review

My first real season of running, and what a season it’s been! 21 races in 27 weeks. One road marathon, two road half marathons, one mountain half marathon, one trail half marathon, seven mountain races, two track races, one cross-country race, and a handful of other short road and trail races.

Eight personal records in nine standard-distance road races.

PR’s set this year:

  • Marathon: 3:14:59  (3:38 in October ’13 and 4:02 in July ’13)
  • Half Marathon: 1:23:16  (1:36:30 in September ’13)
  • 10k: 36:35  (40:42 in September ’13)
  • 5k: 17:38  (18:36 in January ’14)
  • Mile: 4:59

But really, the PR’s weren’t the memorable parts! In addition to those official races, I did three 16-20 mile mountain traverses and two 25-33 mile mountain traverses in the midst of my season, both solo and accompanied.

I started my real season on May 4th, and my last race was November 9th. I did have some fun races in the winter, and plan on some this winter as well.

There were also a lot of firsts this year. First mountain race (and 2nd-7th). First mountain traverse (and 2nd-5th). First top-10 finish in a large field at the CHAD Hero Half Marathon. First race with international competitors at the Mt. Washington Road Race. First New England championship race at the Cross-Country Championship. First USA Championship race and first win of anything at a USA Championship, with the 3rd place team medal at the USA Mountain Running Championship at Loon Mountain. First completed USATF-NE Race Series’, with 10th place in the Mountain Series and 7th place in the All-Terrain Runner Series.

I learned a lot this year about myself, both physically and mentally, and I am ready to tackle the next year of training and running.

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The Numbers:

These are statistics for all of 2014 to date:

• 1,515 miles. Longest distance run in one outing was the Pemi Loop at 30.8mi, which I finished with a friend in just under 10 hours.
• 48 hours, 9 minutes of running.
• 187,594 total feet of elevation gain. Most in a weekend was 16,656 feet from doing a Presidential Traverse on one day and the Wildcat/Carter/Moriah traverse the next day. A total of 14 peaks over 4,000 feet, with a maximum elevation of 6,288 feet elevation on Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. The most gain in a day was 10,633 feet. This was on the Pemi Loop, which is rated at the second hardest day hike by Backpaker Magazine.
• 26 races total for the year.

Compare to last year, after I started running in March 2013: 720 miles run, with only 49,000 feet of elevation gain.

 

What I learned: 

If I race every weekend, I don’t train well. This year seemed to be a pendulum of racing, recovering, then one workout and tapering for the next race. I’m vowing not to do that (as badly) next year. I plan to have a few goal races, and a few other A and B races, such as the Series races, but the rest will be C races, and receive no taper privileges.

I really love mountains!

I also enjoy running fast on the roads, provided there’s some sort of scenery or other incentive.

While I love racing, I also love supporting and inspiring other runners.  One of my best memories was from the reactions of the 1500+ people behind me at the New England Half Marathon when I came running back along the course for 1.5 hours to cheer, support and hand out water. Story here. 

I can run for 10 hours with only a minute or two break here and there. Then I can run for another 8 hours with only a day’s rest in between.

But of all the things I learned, the biggest takeaway was: Don’t schedule a goal marathon in the middle of four consecutive weeks of mountain races. It will not make your quads happy.

 

To the future!

First and foremost, I have a coach! I chose the one who most closely matched my training philosophy and attitude, since I think that is the most important thing for me when training. As a USA Trail 10K champion, USA Mountain Running Team member, and husband/coach to a USA Trail 10K champion, USA Trail 50k champion and USA Mountain Running Team member, I’m excited to work with him! Despite his credentials, he has a down-to-earth coaching style that doesn’t emphasize numbers and track splits, which I really like. Already, my mileage and consistency has skyrocketed, and I have gotten faster. I only had two races, 2-3 weeks after beginning training with him and I PR’d by 40 seconds on a much harder half marathon course, and PR’d by a minute on a harder 10K course.

Second, I am planning my races much more carefully. In 2014I raced willy-nilly, nearly every weekend, and sometimes back-to-back Saturday and Sunday. Running a mountain 10k, mountain 10 mile, hilly marathon and mountain 10k on four consecutive weekends was not my brightest moment. But I came out injury free, and raced fairly well, except for the marathon.

Finally, I am fully embracing training as a lifestyle. Though I “ran a lot” this year, I only had about 8 weeks of actual training, and they weren’t consecutive. I have done more real training in the past month than I did in the previous 6!

I am 26, have run off 60+lbs of weight in a year and a half, and am becoming much faster. I am dedicating myself to proving to myself how far I can go, and proving to others that there’s nothing preventing them from doing it themselves!

 

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