A Slew of Races – XC 2012 and Year-End Reflections

Friday, October 12, 2012

                It’s been a while and a lot has happened since I last wrote. I won Santa Rosa, finished 2nd at the Rebels race and Garin and won the SF State Invite. However, after that, I started feeling pretty tired. My legs didn’t really want to respond in workouts or in the Golden Gate Park race and the wheels completely fell off at Stanford, where I went through 2 miles in 9:53, was maybe 10m off the lead, and ended up running 25:38 and finishing in the 50-60th range. The last 3 miles were a death march. A similar thing happened in Golden Gate, where I went out hard with the leaders for the first lap and just couldn’t hang on the 2nd time around. It was tough to see them pull away and feel like I had nothing in the tank. So I decided to take last week off from workouts. I ran easy and by feel and felt pretty good by the week’s end. I ran the WVTC workout on Tuesday which was repeats up and over Strawberry Hill and felt decent. But I finally felt like my old self again yesterday afternoon up on Hoo Koo E Koo. I’ve got this weekend and the next one off from racing, so I’m really going to concentrate on getting back to feeling good on a regular basis and hope to ramp it up again come November/December. I want to run well at nationals.

                The only issue bugging me right now is my left foot. It started a couple of weeks ago in the middle of a run in SF when the ball of it just got really sore all of a sudden. Since then, it’s been runnable, but any rock underfoot hurts a ton, although that has gotten better this week. Yesterday I felt a little tearing sensation, similar to what I felt in Berkeley a couple of years ago, and this morning the ligaments along the bottom of my foot were sore/tight, but they loosen up with walking. We’ll see what happens today and tomorrow. I’m slated to run out to Stinson with some Branson kids which I’m really looking forward to and hopefully the day off on Sunday will allow this thing to continue to heal. Fingers crossed.


Friday, December 28, 2012

The time gaps are growing. I need to get better. Cross country season has finished up. I was able to regain some pep in my legs and finish the season pretty well, all things considered. When I look back on this fall, I’m pretty pleased. It was a really long season, starting in late July with the SF Marathon and culminating in club nationals in Lexington on December 8. Between Stanford and club nationals, I raced Ancil Hoffman at the end of October (3rd, felt flat), PA Championships (9th, felt strong), Silicon Valley Turkey Trot (14:32, felt ok) and club nationals (95th, felt really tired). I wasn’t terribly pleased with my race at Ancil. I went out with the leaders but just couldn’t keep pace and faded in the 2nd half. PA Championships went really well, though. I started out conservatively and was able to reel folks in during the 2nd half of the race. I was really pleased to finish 9th and help WVTC to a season title for cross country.

                The Silicon Valley Turkey Trot was 4 days later, and I ran pretty well there too. I knew I wouldn’t run as fast as I did last year due to PA’s being 4 days before, but I was very pleased with the 14:32 I put up. I faded a bit more in the 2nd mile than I had hoped, but was able to hold it together well in the 3rd mile and finish strong. Club Nationals in Lexington were really disappointing though. We came through the 1st mile in 4:45 and I knew I was in trouble, as it was mostly downhill and had felt rather challenging. I struggled during the next 5.1 miles and finished really tired and unhappy. It was far from a good race, but life goes on. At least I got to see the Bull City folks after the race and hang out with them that night, which made everything better.


                As a final insult/compliment, I got roped into Christmas Relays the morning after the Pelican Inn holiday party. Woof. I ran pretty well all things considered and our team finished 2nd overall, securing the short road series win for 2012. So to be part of a team that won both the cross country and short road series was a great feeling. I’m really happy where I am right now. The foot issue I had in September/October cleared up and I’ve been running easy mileage since Nationals (save Christmas Relays). I’ve got a 30k on Sunday 12/30 which I’m really excited about. It’s going to be a glorified long run and it’s in the Headlands, so I know the scenery will be nice, if it’s not foggy/rainy (fingers crossed). I think I’m in a good position heading into the winter/spring racing season. If I can stay healthy and not get burned out, I am taking aim at the 14 minute barrier on the track in the 5k and sub-2:25 at Boston in April. I don’t think either of those issues will pose much of a problem if I train smart and listen to my body.

And finally, since it’s been about a year since I started keeping these notes and 2012 is coming to a close, I’d like to reflect a bit on what sticks out to me from the past year.

1. The 14:41 I ran indoors in early February. I was so pumped and training was going really well. If only I’d listened to my body and not run the Redding 10 Miler and eased off even a bit before that, I might have been able to avoid the 5 weeks of pain in my foot. However, I was really lucky that it wasn’t a stress fracture and was able to get back to it pretty quickly. Next time, I won’t attempt 120 miles in 6 days with 4 workouts in 7 days. But, I maintain that if you don’t push the envelope every once in a while and truly test your limits to the point of breaking, you really don’t know what’s possible and of what you are capable.

2. 14 miles of the Boston Marathon. My first longer run since the injury. The experience was incredible and I can’t wait to get back there in 2013 and finish.

3. April Beer Mile in Chapel Hill. Reed and Duncan are absurd. I’m coming for you Patrick. The night after was what really made it, though. Hard to beat Carolina Brewery for dinner, followed by Players’ and wherever else the night took us.

4. The 102nd Annual Dipsea. I ran the fastest time for the 4th year in a row, becoming the only person to do so. That will go down as one of my biggest/proudest accomplishments.

5. The 2012 Double Dipsea. Duncan and Sarah flew out from NC to join me and they had a good time, even if the course was unrelenting to them. As for the race, I won it from scratch (first time since the 80s I think) and broke the course record. I couldn’t have had a better day and if I never run that fast again for that race, I’m fine with it. The night after wasn’t bad either, as Duncan, Sarah, Gus, Tess and Rachelle were all at my parents’ house and we had a fantastic time.

6. SF Marathon in July. Ran 2:27:15 for a 7+ minute PR. Was the bridesmaid again, but one of these years I’ll figure it out. This was another race where things just clicked and was followed by an amazing day with good friends afterwards.

7. The night after club nationals. This night has always been fun as everyone is celebrating, but this year stands out in particular. All of my friends from several teams, including Bull City, were in the same bar for a couple of hours. Seeing everyone in the same place was awesome and I hope I can recreate that at some point in the future.

Upon listing these events out, it strikes me that I recall far more fondly the parts of the day that involved being with people I care about rather than the running event itself. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but I think it says a lot to the people I am privileged enough to call my friends. Thank you all for being there this year and I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings. 

About afvarner

Runner. Donuts. Sneakerhead. Not necessarily in that order. Nike Trail Elite. Picky Bars. Gu. Vicory Sportdesign.
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