2014 was the year where I began to get over my fear of running in races. It was also the year I had my first real running injury. Perhaps the two taken together are a sign that I’ve become a serious runner. But it also meant that after two races where I ran better than I expected to in the first half of the year, the second half of the year has been one of low mileage and recovery.
The first two months of 2014 were especially challenging for running given the frigid conditions caused by the polar vortex, icy roads and constant snow. After almost ten years in the US winter running still takes some getting used to. But then I don’t much like running on treadmills unless conditions are really atrocious so I most of the time I bundled up and managed to stay upright most of the time in spite of the icy conditions.
Spring brought with it better conditions for my training for Bay to Breakers which took Paul and I to San Francisco in May. I surprised myself by enjoying the race. Perhaps the costumes and doing it with old friends, Lilian and Arch’na helped take my mind off things and helped avoid my usual pre-race nerves. And it reignited my love affair with San Francisco.
In early June I impulsively signed up for the Running Goddess 5K inspired as usual by my running buddy, Kelly. I’d done the multi-terrain hilly course the year before in a heat wave and registered my worst 5K time. It’s unusual for me to repeat a race but I was feeling confident post-Bay to Breakers. It wasn’t a PR but I ran it slightly more than 2 minutes faster than I had the year before. Cooler conditions and familiarity with the course probably helped.
Paul and I spent some time traveling in Europe in June to celebrate our 10th anniversary and my 50th birthday. We found that running was a great way to see some of the sights in Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Budapest and Bratislava. On my 50th birthday I decided that we would run down a mountain. Mainly because I figured it would be easier than run up one. Turns out I was wrong. My IT band issues were exacerbated by descending a vertical km from Seegrube to Hungerburg in the Tyrolean Alps.
As a result for the first time in my years of running I had to get treatment for an injury. It felt like a rite of passage. Paul and I both had to have several sessions with Dr Stu Weitzman, a chiropracter who is also a triathlete and fellow runner. He used both the Graston Technique and Active Release Technique to try and sort out my problem. The treatment has helped but I know that my injury-free days are over. If I want to keep running over the years, stretching and foam rolling are going to have to be a part of my everyday routine from now on.
I was hoping to increase my mileage by training with Kelly as she built up to her first marathon in October. Strangely, although I don’t have any real desire to do a marathon myself I quite liked the idea of doing the training for one. I was keen to see how my body coped with longer runs and higher weekly mileage. But my IT band had other plans and I struggled to keep up with Kelly’s training programme as she racked up the miles and pace. Instead I ended up jumping in halfway through her runs to give her a boost as she finished up the last 8-10 miles of her 15-20 mile runs.
The last few months of the year my running suffered from a deluge of unforeseen work travel and ongoing IT band niggles. I’ve managed to keep running while traveling to Malaysia and Angola but there have been some very low mileage weeks and even fewer long runs.
So what am I hoping for in 2015? I started off the year running through some of the strongest winds I’ve experienced on very muddy trails.
I’m hoping that this augurs well for 2015 and that I will be able to brave whatever comes my way! Or perhaps it is a sign that this is the year I start becoming a serious trail runner! Whatever 2015 brings I hope it allows me to keep enjoying running in interesting places with maybe a race or two to spice things up.