It’s been nearly two weeks since we flipped the calendar to 2018 and I’ve finally had a chance to look back and reflect on my fitness journey in 2017. It was year of ups and downs, new experiences and trying to continually work to be the best that I can be.
I finished the 2016 calendar year with my biggest running mileage year ever as I logged 3,023 miles and managed to stay healthy the entire year…which has been a rarity for me. As 2017 began, I knew that I needed to not worry about trying to repeat that mileage total because it would catch up to me at some point with my propensity for overuse injuries that I’ve experienced over my seven-plus years of running (two tibial stress fractures, a broken left foot and plantar fasciatis just to name a few).
January started as it typically has for me with a New Year’s Day race as I did the First on the First 5K. (I love the post-race Yabo’s tacos!) It kicked off what would go on to be a 245-mile first month of the year, which was my second biggest January ever trailing just the 275 miles I logged in 2015.
February got under way much the same way as I competed in the 5th Line 5K on the first weekend of the month and set a new 5K personal best with an 18:13 to win my age group and finish 15th overall out of 2,782 runners. The month continued to go well as at the Warm up Columbus half marathon I set a new PR with a 1:27:49 as I dropped nearly two minutes off my previous best time. I finished February with 232 miles which was once again my second largest February total trailing just the 248 miles I did in 2016.
I was really feeling good as March got under way and had my sights set on some other races to try to PR at. I had logged 256 miles heading into the last week of the month and felt very confident about the speed I was building. And then it happened. My left foot, which I had broken 18 months earlier started to hurt. I had developed a stress fracture. It was the second metatarsal this time and not the fifth which I had broken before, but it put an end to my running for eight weeks nonetheless.
Thankfully, I was not signed up for the Boston Marathon in April after running it the previous two years. I managed just 10 total miles during the month and all were walking with half of them coming at the end of the month spectating at the Cap City Half Marathon. I did, however, find other ways to work out as I started an upper body weight routine at my gym for the first time ever and also managed my highest single-month swimming mileage ever with 7.75 miles including my first two-mile swim.
As May rolled around, I gradually began walking for exercise again but took it pretty easy. The foot was starting to feel better and I heard about an open track meet with a 3000 meter race walk on May 21, so I decided to enter it. It didn’t matter that there were only two other contestants – one who got disqualified from the meet for wearing an inflatable unicorn costume and the other was a 90-year-old senior Olympian (left). It was a race and I was going to give it my best. I ended up winning, but the best part was just being able to do something competitive again…even if it was mainly against myself.
I ended up getting my first run in on May 27 by accident when I was riding my bike and got a flat tire and had to run it back to my car. It went well and I gradually started to get back into running from there. I finished May with 62 miles with most of them being of the walking variety.
June for me was about gradually getting back into running. Lots of easy miles early on and trying not to do too much. However, that all changed on June 17. After doing a 13-mile run in the morning followed by taking a Body Pump class, I saw on Facebook that a guy I didn’t even know needed a pacer at the Mohican 100-mile race. I was probably the closest person who could get there, so I quickly ate a bagel, grabbed a gel and a Gatorade and headed out for what I thought would be an 8-10 mile gig as a pacer.
What I didn’t know when I got there was that once I started the loop with my new friend, Steve, that I would have to stay with him for 20 miles. Yes, 20 miles! That meant that I would be setting a new single-day distance record with 33 miles after barely logging twice that the month before with injuries. (I guess technically I didn’t get all those miles on the same day since what I thought was going to be a two-hour jog turned into a seven-hour excursion in the woods in the middle of the night with only one headlamp between us.) I have to say….this was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had as Steve battled back from nearly being pulled out of the race at the 75-mile mark to go on to complete the 100-miler and earn the coveted belt buckle. It was truly a privilege to get to watch his determination first-hand and to make a new friend in the process. Thanks in large part to that one day, I ended up with 230 miles in June and began to start feeling like I was on my way back to being 100 percent.
July started off with miles in multiple states in the first week alone with runs in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina as I was traveling. I got to experience the largest 10K in the US and finished 995th out of 55,234 people on a very hot day on the fourth of July on a hilly course. I also spent a day hiking two portions of the Appalachian Trail. I finished the month with 259 miles on foot.
One other highlight in July was logging 120 miles on my bike. This started with a 30-mile ride, continued with a 40-mile ride, and then on July 30 I posted my first-ever 50-mile ride in just under three hours as I journeyed through Licking, Franklin and Delaware counties.
August brought with it heat and more races. I finished second overall at the Feet for Hope 5K and also managed to break 1:30 at the Emerald City Half Marathon with a 1:29:47. However, my biggest accomplishment of the month was attempting and completing my first triathlon – a sprint one – in Delaware on August 13. After a panic attack in the pool on a very short swim, I bounced back to pass people on the ride and run to finish eighth overall out of 65 competitors in 1:05:24. I logged 253 running miles in the month.
September saw me dial back the mileage just a little bit as I began the taper for what awaited in October. I still managed to log 221 miles and participated in the Run for the Health of It 4-Miler.
As the calendar turned to October, it represented a month of challenges for me. On the first day of the month, I paced the Wineglass Marathon as a training run and finished in just over 3:47 on a nice, cool fall morning. Two weeks later, it was time for my goal race on a warm, humid morning at the Columbus Marathon. I ran the first half at near PR pace (1:35:20), but the weather took its toll on me and I slowed the second half by eight and a half minutes (1:43:50). However, I was extremely proud of the way that I pushed through and finished in 3:19:10 (right) for a BQ time of more than five minutes to earn the right to register the first week for the 2019 Boston Marathon. A week later, I ran the Ohio State 4-Miler and won my age group to cap off a busy month that ironically saw me run 192 miles for my lowest monthly total besides my injury-sidelined April and May.
November saw me log 210 miles and participate in the Buckeye Classic 10K and the Thanks for Giving 4-Miler. I closed out the year with 250 miles in December to finish with 2,420 miles overall in 2017.
In addition to the running miles, I finished the year with 266 miles on my bike and nearly 27 miles in the pool including meeting my goal of at least one 1-mile swim per month for the entire year. I also stayed consistent with my upper body weight workouts and know that this is an important aspect of my fitness moving forward.
One other funny side note is that I decided at the beginning of the year to save all the change I found on my runs. I ended up with $5.23 in change (left) in my first year of ‘getting paid’ to run. Ha ha! I almost made 1.5 cents per day.
I’m extremely thankful for the people I was able to log miles with in 2017. You made me a better runner but more importantly your friendship means so much to me. I’m also thankful for the entire Rogue Racers team that I was privileged to join. I may not have gotten to train with you much due to where I live and work, but I have learned so much from each of your experiences and knowledge and have been inspired by your performances. Teamwork does make the dream work.
I can’t wait to see where my fitness journey will take me in 2018. I’ve set a few big goals and look forward to sharing my adventures as they happen.