Sunday, January 4, 2015

Running down 2014

December capped off a great running year. The highlight of the month was the Across the Years Race but a close second was tying a 13-year-old 5k PR.

Motley crew who did the Across the Years 24-Hour Run. Photo credit: Aravaipa Running

First 24-Hour Race

My first 24-hour race was a shadow run of the Across the Years endurance runs in Phoenix, Arizona. The real deal features a 6-day, 72-hour, 48-hour and 24 hour run. Our race organizer mercifully did a 24-hour run. The race was largely an internal affair of the unit, but the officer organizing the run graciously let me crash the party. The race would start on our camp at 5 pm on New Year’s Eve and finish at 5 pm on New Year’s Day.

Gear is ready.
I decided that my main goals were the half-marathon in late January and a potential marathon in early March. I have been running near my college shape and I feel that I have a chance at breaking some old PRs in the marathon, half-marathon and 5k. I did not want to go all out in this race and risk having a recovery that prevented proper training for these events. My main train-up had been doing 9 to 10 mile runs the day before or after long runs (14-20 miles).

My initial goal was to run at least 34 miles since I will soon be 34. I decided to break it up into roughly even chunks. I modified this initially when I learned that the course was 0.9 miles and that we would sign in every 5 laps (4.5 miles).I decided instead to run 18 miles on the 31st and 18 on the 1st to make the sign-in sheet clean. As an alternate goal I told myself that if I felt good I would come back before the end and put in a few more laps.

Now where does this thing go again? I'll get the hang of it after 20 laps I guess. Photo credit: 49th Transportation BN
While I initially feared the 0.9-mile would be boring, it immediately became clear why this was a good idea for these types of runs. Given that participants would soon be spread out over many miles,having everyone within a half mile of help made logistics and safety much easier. The course was also right next to one of the dining facilities which meant you could sign out from the course and address your calorie deficit. You could sign in and sign out of the course as you wanted. People who train for these races obviously do not sign out that much, but few of us were at that level so it was a nice feature.

Pre-race brief
After a quick race brief various runners and walkers (some with rucks) took off. The first 18 miles went easy as there was always someone to talk to. I spent most of my time with the race organizer who was going for 100 miles. At 20 laps (18 miles) I felt good but stuck to my plan. I ate a hearty dinner with the Kuwait Running Mafia (which happened to be ending their weekly run at the start / finish area) and went to bed.

Fireworks interrupted my night. Turns out Kuwaitis like shooting off fireworks as much as 'mericans
The legs were a bit sore the next day but the bike ride to the start loosened them up well. There were three other folks walking on the course and so I was largely alone. It was soon mid-day which even in the winter is warm in Kuwait. I took a break after 15 laps and ate lunch before continuing. Then I biked home and took a nap.

My legs felt surprisingly good after the nap so I went back and rounded out the run with another 6 laps to put me at 41.4 miles (roughly). The training plan seemed to have worked well and I stayed within my limits. I generally ran 30-60 seconds slower per mile than my normal training runs. While I could feel the effect the next day, two days later I ran what felt like a pretty normal 8.5 miles at my normal training pace.

Wolverines! Photo credit: Aravaipa Running
What worked for this race:
-Long run and medium distance runs on back-to-back days
-Drinking a sip every mile
-Eating full meals and getting good rest

I also cannot say enough good about Alex who organized this race and the organizations that gave him supplies and prizes. He got his unit and me to do something different, tough and fun. He made this a memorable New Year's celebration.

5k PR

'Twas the Night Before Christmas 5k (Photo Credit: Camp Arifjan MWR)

I managed to tie a 5k PR of 16:37 that I set back in November 2001 at the Brewer High Turkey Trot. I am not sure what is to credit for things, but whatever came together I am grateful that it did. Eventually time will catch me, but it’s nice to know I can still surge ahead for a little while longer before I have to start doing age bracket PRs.

I'll take it (Photo Credit: Camp Arifjan MWR)

Other numbers and musing

I ran 2,510 miles in 2014 and 16 races. Most of these races were while deployed in Kuwait. With the possible exception of having a child, 2014 beat 2013. I have high hopes for running in 2015.

Miles Run
Hours Running
Cases of pneumonia
Children born

Here's to starting off a New Year. Photo Credit: Camp Arifjan MWR