The year of 2012 has past and gone, leaving an indelible mark on my life as it went. As a runner, this past year was perhaps the most important of my life. In many ways I was forced to decide how important a role I would give running in my life. Personally I was approached by my brother who asked me to be his coach for his first attempt at the marathon. At that point I needed to decide if I thought I knew enough and had the necessary experience to coach someone, especially someone as close as my brother. On a different personal note at the start of the year I was deciding whether or not to continue my pursuit of a sub-3hour marathon. I knew given enough time spent training it should be well within my capabilities, but did I want to spend that amount of time training? How fully could I commit myself to this one challenge? In my professional life, I was offered a position as a full-time assistant coach at a University. Accepting that position has forced me to see running not only as one hobby in my life, but part of my life's work itself. As an assistant coach I now find myself taking a much more academic approach to running, which has it's benefits and detractors as any job does.
By the numbers 2012 was a very good year for me. I ran in twelve races, everything from the 3k to the marathon. I had three all-time best performances, the first of which was a distance I've never run before, so it was a PR by default, but since it was a race attempt by me I'll count it. Of all the races I ran this year, only two stand out as being horrible and those were the Human race 8k in March and the Red White and Boom 5 mile in July. Both were run on extremely unseasonably hot days but I also recall feeling mentally out of it on both occasions. Here are my race results from the past year:
1/8/2012 – Challenge series indoor 5k – 17:44
3/18/2012 – Human Race 8k – 30:26
4/21/2012 – Morris Open 5k – 17:12
5/27/2012 – Med-City Marathon – 3:04:17
6/7/2012 – Pea Soup Days 5k – 17:16
7/4/2012 – Red White and Boom 5 mile – 32:05
8/11/2012 – Gopher to Badger ½ Marathon – 1:24:43
9/8/12 – Get Ready to Rock 20 mile – 2:17:28* (new distance)
9/22/12 – Homecoming 5k – 18:12
10/07/12 – Bank of America Chicago Marathon – 2:57:46* (3:01:11)
11/25/12 – Dash and Dine 5mile – 29:00* (29:28)
12/16/12 – Charities Challenge Indoor Series 3k – 10:02
*denotes Personal Record, ( ) indicates previous record
According to the website dailymile.com, where I faithfully enter my workouts, I ran 2,501 miles in 2012, and spent 294 hours and 28 minutes doing so. According to that my average pace during 2012 was 7:03/mile, which I think seems a little low. While I am pleased with my running numbers for the past year, I think what I am most proud of, and what I learned the most from was strictly adhering to my training plan for the Med City Marathon. For that I followed the Hanson's marathon training which I modified slightly. I started this training in January and followed it through until the end of May. For that time period I did not miss one workout, or significantly decrease my mileage for injury or fatigue. The training resulted in (at the time) my second best marathon performance on a day with 70-80% humidity and temperatures in the mid-80's. I was initially disappointed in my result, but I now consider it to be one of my finest races. I did all the little things perfectly and paced as well as I could. Eventually the heat did get the best of me, but not until the very end which enabled me to finish 7th place overall on a day when everyone was advised to 'throw their thoughts of fast times and good finishes out the window'. I believe I was still benefiting from the residual strength from my spring training when I surprised myself with a good time in the Get Ready to Rock 20 mile race, and a major PR and goal achievement during the Chicago Marathon. The big lesson I took away from training through the spring is that it is definitely beneficial to follow a set program, and that doing so can set you up for an entire year of great racing. If the progression of the training is gradual and consistent, it is possible to reach heights of training you previously thought impossible. This knowledge excites me for the future because I know now that 'big mileage' won't necessarily break me down if I do it right, and that the strength benefits from that will be far-reaching and long-lasting. As always it is still intimidating to think of running 80-100 miles per week, but when I look at the ground I've covered since high school, when four miles was a fairly long run, and 25 miles was a good week, it seems more achievable.
My summary of 2012 would not be complete without paying tribute to the accomplishments of my wife and my brother. 2012 began inauspiciously for my brother +Adam Krueger who struggled with an injury while training for his first half marathon. As I mentioned earlier he decided to run his first marathon at the Chicago Marathon and asked me if I would assist him in setting up a training plan and help him along the way. I viewed it as a good opportunity to synthesize some of the knowledge I had gained in training for and running my three marathons, and we both viewed it as a good way to keep in better touch with one another. In all aspects his training was a great success. He was able to follow the plan I set up to a 'T' and successfully ran the Chicago Marathon. I was extremely impressed by the fact that he trained largely solo and was able to motivate himself through some tough workouts and through an incredibly hot, humid summer. My wife, who has always been a source of inspiration to me, also had her highest year of mileage ever and ran several of the best races of her life. Most notably was her race at the Chicago Marathon where she improved her best time of 4hours and 2 minutes by a whopping 35 minutes, lowering her lifetime best to 3:37! I am incredibly proud of my wife and my brother, they inspire me to not sit back and bask in the glow of my accomplishments but constantly be out striving to set the bar higher and higher.
For 2013 my goals are as yet, largely undefined except for one. I know that I will race, though I will probably focus much more on the shorter distances such as 3k-10k. My longest surviving running goal has yet to be achieved and I think this is just the year to set my sights on it. Dating back to before college, my 5k goal has always been to run under 17 minutes. I've come as close as 3 seconds, but always either the weather or the course seemed to conspire against me. This year my goal is not only to make a sub-17 5k a reality, but get far enough under 17 so that even in adverse weather or a challenging course I am able to break the 17 minute barrier. With the strength and aerobic endurance from my marathon training I am positive that speed development will enable me to hit this goal in the spring.
Goodluck and Godspeed to all of you fellow runners in 2013!