It’s 2019, and another year over

Boy I’m glad I didn’t make blogging more often a resolution in last year’s new year’s post. That would have been embarrassing, given I only posted here seven times!

oh. Welp.

2018, on a whole, was actually a solid running year. More solid than it’s been in… years.

  • 1,518.92 miles. Which is strange, because Strava thinks I ran exactly 1,500. As far as I can tell, there was some bug in the database tally that mistook my first week of 2018 as some random week in December 2017. Technical wibbly-wobbly aside, the bottom line is that I had my second-best annual mileage, ever.
  • 236,891 calories burned. How many donuts is that? Not nearly enough, I say.
  • 248+ hours. That’s literally over 10 straight days of running/walking/hiking. Not too shabby.
  • 10 out of 12 months with 100+ miles. That’s one better than last year, though interestingly the mileage differential from 100 those two months was almost exactly the same as the total mileage differential over last year’s *three* sub-100 months. So, though I missed fewer times this year, when I did miss, I missed by more.

Weird. But still really, really solid.

What’s especially fantastic is that, by any objective measure, I crushed two of my three goals from last year’s review post:

I’m still reeling from that half marathon. Yeah, it’s still a good four minutes off my PR, but that is literally the closest I’ve gotten since moving to Athens. I couldn’t be happier about it. I had so much fun at that race!

Other accomplishments of note in 2018:

  • I entered 13 races in 2018. That may not seem like an eye-catcher, but if you check out the Races page (where I keep track of all my race results), you’ll notice the number of races I participated in dropped considerably in 2016-2017 (8 in both years, compared to 14 in 2015 and 16 in 2014). It’s great to be an active racer again (especially since I’m now on the Athens Fleet Feet Racing Team!).
  • Ran four half-marathons, all under 1:50. I haven’t run four half marathons in one year since 2015, and haven’t delivered a sub-1:50 shutout since… ever!
  • Set an 8K PR of 35:53. Athens seems to like 8Ks more than Pittsburgh, so we’ve been running them more often, and I went ahead and made them an official category of PRs I’m tracking. And, well–I nailed a PR at the Give Thanks 8K on Thanksgiving morning!
  • Ran our first trail race ever, and then ran two more for good measure! Technically the first trail race was the 15K in March at Lake Chapman. After that, we ran the Rabun Trail half over the summer, which was brutal but so awesome. We caught the bug, and ran the Helen Holiday trail half in December. We’ll definitely be doing more trail races in the future!
  • Participated in the annual holiday Beer Mile again! I vastly improved my time, from last year’s 8:55 to this year’s 8:28. Like last year, however, I still came in second place, though I did demolish last year’s winner. This year’s winner was not even in the same category–he beat me by a good 20 seconds or so, and was clearly sandbagging. Dunno if I’ll ever win the event if he keeps coming back, but it was still quite a lot of fun 🙂

All that makes it sound like 2018 was sunshine and rainbows. It was definitely the best year I’ve had since moving to Athens, hands down. I also–KNOCK ON WOOD–didn’t really suffer a major injury; there was a week in February I took off due to a pull in my knee, and it cleared up immediately. The writing goal–my third goal for 2018–was a fantastic anchor in my work/life balance the first half of the year.

But it kind of came crashing down over the summer. Part of it was absolutely the brutal online summer course I was teaching. Even though it was the third year in a row, it was far and away the most difficult iteration, and the one that convinced me that this wasn’t something I could keep doing.

But the other part, the part that really shook us both for months, was that we had to say goodbye to our dear 18-year old tabby, Lily.

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The Lady had adopted Lily as a tiny kitten and known her all her life. I was only introduced when she was 6, but after an initial period of inspection, Lily accepted me. Even though I grew up with cats, Lily was my first cat. All of July went by in a haze, and our running fell off quite a bit.

We started going for a lot of evening walks, a habit which we still pick up here and there. Our trail running picked up a lot (as every road run just felt awful and tedious), and we met a new Athens runner, Laura, who started graduate school at UGA and was game for pretty much any run or workout we could come up with. We kept the racing schedule fun, varying the distances and locations, pushing during training when we wanted to, and pulling back when weren’t feeling it.

I visited the Oiselle shop in Seattle during a December conference 🙂

The variety has helped. It continues to help. It’s something I want to carry into 2019:

  • 1,600 miles. This is no small feat for me: the mighty 2014 running year was just a touch over 1,600 as well. But it speaks of expectations regarding my next goal…
  • Return of the marathon! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is my fervent hope to participate in some kind of fall marathon! I’ve no idea which one, though I am looking at a couple of regional fulls (Richmond and Chickamauga are at the top of the list), so stay tuned! I don’t really have any goals other than to actually finish… but of course, it’d be great to finally come in under 4 hours.
  • Daily core/yoga. In doing some experimenting it’s become clear that daily yoga is a bit out of my reach. And core work is that frustrating thing that gets dropped at the first sign of trouble. But so far in 2019 I’ve managed to get 10-15 minutes of core work in each day (except for long runs, because oy), and 2x/week of yoga seems to be working as well.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019!

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2017 in run-morium

Is it already 2018 already? Where did the last year even go?!

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…oh.

Yeah, even aside from the obvious, 2017 was brutal on a professional level: submitted close to 20 grant proposals (one funded, still waiting to hear on a couple more, so currently floating at a 5% hit rate… lower if we go by % of requested funds), several papers (though three were just accepted to ISBI!), taught two brand-new courses in the fall and spring, and mentored ~18 students from high school up to doctoral.

And, some. freaking. how. ran my second-highest annual mileage. It felt a bit like the year that both was, and wasn’t.

Ok–let me hit you with some numbers!

  • 2017 mileage: 1,423.57 (beat both 2015 and 2016 an average of 400 miles, each; second only to the beast that was 2014’s ~1,600)
  • Calories burned: 221,906 (someone convert that to units of “donuts”, please)
  • 9 out of 12 months over 100 miles. Three months–April, May, and June–came in under 100 each by a combined total of 29.27mi.

Some other 2017 running highlights (to borrow a page from Carly’s running year-in-review):

  • Set a course PR at the Albany Half in March, coming in at 1:48:24. This beat my previous (and first) performance at that half by nearly 5 full minutes.
  • Ran November’s Chickamauga Half Marathon in 1:46:55, which was not only a course PR (by about 3 minutes), but was also my fastest half marathon time since I ran about a 1:45-flat at the Georgia Publix half in March of 2015 (aside: it’s been a long, long, looong grind back to fighting form).
  • Ran the Chagrin Falls 5K over Thanksgiving break in 22:30, which was likewise my best 5K effort since mid-2015.
  • I participated in my first-ever Beer Mile! It’s something I’ve been saying I would do  since a few months before my dissertation defense, so this has been a long time coming. I even did pretty well: 2nd overall, behind last year’s beer mile winner. My running was pretty so-so, but the actual beer-drinking part is where I pretty much wipe the floor. Yes, I do indeed have that ability to “open my throat”, so unless you can make your drink flow faster than standard Earth gravity, it’s unlikely you’d beat me in that part 😉
  • I ran over 1,400 miles! Holy $*@#!

Annnnd, in what may be the biggest news of all from 2017: my beautiful, fabulous, enormously-talented wife got me a Garmin Fenix 5 for Christmas!

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Yes, that is indeed a Super Mario watchface. Also have ones from Star Trek and Star Wars.

Because it’s a Fenix watch, I named it Phawkes.

*pause for knowing smiles*

2017 wasn’t without some down-beats:

  • April and July were just plain rough across the board. April was spent in an exhausted stupor after back-to-back funerals in a three-week span in the previous month, to the point where I had to sacrifice running just to stay afloat. July was brutal for the oppressive heat and humidity, in addition to the never-ending teaching responsibilities and the huge CAREER grant deadline in the middle of the month. Basically, two months of way, way too much going on.
  • That metatarsalgia from a few years ago? Yeah, it’s back, but in the other foot this time. As soon as I felt it, I put the custom orthotics back into my everyday shoes, and have also purchased double-wide long run Kayanos. These seem to have mitigated the worst–I’ve had one single long run in the last six months that sidelined me afterwards, unlike every long would the last time–but like last time, it’s just kinda always there. It hasn’t gotten worse since it appeared, which is also a marked improvement, but it probably won’t completely disappear for at least another few months.
  • Even though I’ve made strides getting back into fighting form–after moving to Athens, starting a new job, and battling multiple injuries–I lost patience with myself again after the Santa Stroll 8K race in the middle of December. I melted down at about the halfway point, and even though I finished with an 8K that was 6 seconds slower than my best, I still lost it when I crossed the finish line. Most of the time I can logically convince myself that I’m making good progress, that I’m getting stronger all the time, that the day is getting closer when I set a PR again, but on this particular day it broke the surface and I just lost it.

 

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Post beer-mile shenanigans.

So here we are, in 2018. Definitely looking to improve my game:

  • 1,500 miles. Should be totally doable; push those three consecutive sub-100 months up over 100 and that’s pretty much all there is to it.
  • Sub-1:45 half. I’m tentatively targeting the Eugene Half in April for this. We’ve just officially started training (The Lady is training for the full for her next BQ attempt, nat), and with the roaring Fall of 2017 at our backs I should be in pretty good shape to make a run for it in a few months.
  • Better work-life balance, primarily through regular writing practice. This is solidly in the camp of “professional resolutions,” but I think this is the one that is by far most likely to reverberate throughout all aspects of my life. I took a writing workshop in December that focused on establishing regular (i.e., daily) writing habits for early career faculty such as myself, and it’s a habit I’m trying now to develop in earnest. Already I can tell I’ve been a little more at ease and patient with myself. It’s a pretty nice feeling to be able to say, after a morning writing session, that I can check that off the rest of the day and worry about other things!

Happy 2018 miles to everyone!

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The face of single digits (aka northern Michigan on Christmas Day)!