Reviewing 2010. What’s next ?
This past year was like a roller coaster. It was a year of exciting firsts and strong PRs. Unfortunately, it was also a year of disappointing firsts and abysmal personal worsts.
I vouched to start off 2010 with a strong focus on running and I did just that. I was, perhaps, too focused. In January, Geoffrey and I ran the ING Miami Half Marathon. I didn’t want to fall behind on my Marathon training so I decided to run 5 miles before the start of the race. The result was not being able to run a proper Half Marathon. I felt like I failed Geoffrey. I was supposed to be his pacer and in a way, he ended up being mine. The disappointment was only brief as I was ecstatic to cross the finish line with him. There will be plenty of other races to run together !
February brought on my first Marathon. My 4:12 finish was disappointingly slower than the time I was secretly hoping for but in many ways, it was a triumphant yell of sweet redemption. If you recall, my first attempt at the infamous 26.2 was a disaster as injuries kept me from actually starting the race. This time, though an injury managed to slow me down, it didn’t sideline me completely. Win !
The injury, however, lingered. Looking back, I should have taken March off from running, but, well, I’m Liz. I was already signed up for the Miami 13.1 and I don’t like to waste money. Plus, my doctor said it was OK. It wasn’t the worst race I’ve run, but it certainly wasn’t great and I wished I hadn’t run it the moment I crossed the finish line. Unfortunately, this would be my last Half Marathon of the year and I wouldn’t get another chance to redeem myself. Bummer.
Later on that month, I ran a 5K with one of my co-workers who was just getting back into running. I was quite impressed with his performance and got an itch to run more 5Ks.
Although I was registered for the 2010 MS Ride in April, I opted not to do it for a few reasons. I had been totally focused on running and hadn’t been on my bike since my abominable Half Ironman in November of ’09. There’s no way I could have been ready for a 150 mile bike ride in one month, especially with last year’s amazing performance to live up to. Also, given the economy’s downturn, it felt incredibly inconsiderate to ask people for money and I certainly couldn’t afford to cover the whole thing on my own as my salary had been reduced and my job was pretty uncertain at the time.
With my mind made up about the MS Ride and a foot injury keeping me from doing any lengthy runs, I started working solidly on speed. Geoffrey and I did track workouts, intervals and tempo runs once a week. We kept the runs short, but could feel them working. So, in May, I got back into the racing scene with a 5K the day after my birthday. It was a 5K PR for me which made me incredibly happy. It was a great way to start my 33rd year.
June brought on the first Triathlon of the season. It was a rocky start. My notoriously slow swimming still was, but the big let down was that my cycling had taken a huge hit after being off the bike for more than 6 months. My running, however, had really taken off. It had once again become my strongest discipline. I ran another 5K later that month which brought on another PR. Incredible ! This made me totally embrace the F.I.R.S.T program. It really does work if you want to get faster.
In July, Geoffrey and I ran a 5K while on vacation in Toronto. It was just for fun, but my time wasn’t too far off my current PR. Then I did another Triathlon which was slightly bizarre. My swim and bike times seemed to get slower but my run time was much faster. Of course, I hadn’t been back in the pool so that explained the swim time. I had also just had my bike fitted. The changes were quite drastic, and coupled with a new set of aerobars, it felt like riding a TT bike for the first time. I was determined to change all this. I got back in the pool and started training consistently on the bike.
The first good results came two weeks later when I totally rocked the Huntington’s Disease Sprint Triathlon. I felt strong again. Two weeks later, I ran a 5K which wasn’t officially timed, but according to my Garmin, it was a new PR. The following day I did another Sprint Triathlon and PR’d that as well with a time I had coveted for quite a while. It was one of the sweetest accomplishments of the year.
Everything seemed to be on the up and up. Just one more race until I tried to PR last year’s Half Ironman. I didn’t just want to PR it though. I wanted to crush it and with the year I was having, I had no doubt I would. Then everything fell apart.
At the end of August I went to NZ for a few days to celebrate Geoffrey’s birthday and got sick. Just when I thought I was starting to feel better, the flu hit me with full force. I was sick for a total of 3 weeks. I missed so many important workouts that I started wondering if I should postpone my Half Ironman. I didn’t want to go into another race under-prepared. As soon as I started feeling better, I began to slowly build up my training again.
Two weeks later, not feeling 100% better yet, I set out to do another first – the Escape to Miami Olympic Triathlon. This race is probably the toughest in South Florida. It’s almost prestigious to have it in your resume. For years, I’ve wanted to try it, but it always conflicted with some other event. This year, I was in the clear so I signed up. Though it is a challenging race, the most challenging part of it for me was before the race even started. The Escape, as it is informally called, starts on a small island off the coast of Biscayne Bay in Miami. There are ferries that take athletes to the island, starting at 5:40am. The ferries stop about 100 yards from the island. Once the ferries stop, you have to jump off, about 20 feet, into the dark waters of Biscayne Bay with minimal light (often from someone’s flashlight) to guide you. You then have to swim in the dark to shore and wait around for the sun to come up before you can start the menacing swim back to the mainland.
The unfortunate thing about the swim course is that it happens in Biscayne Bay, notorious for strong currents. The race website warns novice swimmers about the currents as a large number of athletes end up missing the swim cutoff because of them. This race is certainly not for the swim challenged. Sadly, I found this out the hard way. I missed the swim cutoff after swimming against the current for over an hour without really going anywhere. I had to be taken to shore in a jet ski and was asked to turn in my timing chip. It was the most disappointing moment of my entire racing history. To add insult to injury, I had to wait until the last cyclist returned before I could go back to transition to get my belongings. The whole thing was a horrible experience I hope to never relive again, unless I miraculously transform into Michael Phelps.
Not being able to Escape put me in a funk, but not for long. I quickly searched for other Olympic races before my upcoming Half Ironman. I found one in October and suddenly I started having horrible flashbacks from the previous year. This is when it all started to fall apart for me. However, my body had healed and my ego was well on its way. I was feeling stronger. I signed up and I am glad I did. I had a fantastic race. It wasn’t fast, but it was strong and it gave me the confidence I needed to move forward with my Half Ironman training.
I felt like I did everything right leading up to this year’s Half Ironman. I took advantage of my strengths to push myself as far as I could and held back when necessary. It was the most consistent training I’ve ever been able to do. The results were outstanding. I crushed last year’s time, setting a PR I am happy with. No race had ever left me with such an amazing feeling of accomplishment.
A couple of weeks later, Geoffrey and I ran the Miami Turkey Trot 10K. It was Geoffrey’s first and a massive PR for me. What a wonderful way to start Thanksgiving and put an end to a turbulent year of racing !
So what’s in store for 2011 ? Uncertainly rules ! Geoffrey is injured with a tibial stress fracture and will have to skip the 2011 ING Half Marathon which we’re both signed up for. I might give it a miss too since I’m having trouble with my current Marathon training which has forced me to take a week off from running. Depending on how things go after my brief hiatus, I may switch the Marathon to a Half and focus on a PR or skip the Half Marathon and focus strictly on the Marathon in February.
I would like to do another Half Ironman in 2011. I’ve also entered the NYC Marathon lottery. I will find out in March if I get in. If I do, I will probably go through with the Florida 70.3. Otherwise, it might be the Miami Man again. That covers the big races since I’m not rushing off to sign up for an Ironman yet. As far as summer events, I would like to focus on International and Olympic distance triathlons. Don’t get me wrong, I love sprints and I will continue to do them, but I feel like I need to start focusing on the next level.
What I want most in 2011, apart from a Half Marathon PR, is to change things up. It seems like I’ve been doing the same races for the last couple of years. Some of the new potential races include the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the Boston 13.1 but a date hasn’t even been announced for that one yet. I also want to try to PR my first ever Sprint Triathlon. What better way to see just how much I’ve really improved ?
Are there any fun races you’ve done and would recommend ? Traveling is not an issue !