At the end of 2013, I summed it up as – A bit of everything (running, yoga, crossfit, triathlon), a bit of focus lost and regained (running goals defined), a new love gained (triathlon and crossfit) and an old love reclaimed (running!). And so finishing up 2013 and going into 2014, I had just one race in April that I was training for. I was trying to juggle that with CrossFit.
Here’s me looking back at 2014 and a (not so short) recap of my year.
I started the year off with the Resolution Run 5k. I ran it 34:34, almost 2 minutes slower than what I had run in 2012. But it was a reference point for me as I was training for my not-so-secret race that I called my “Mystery Marathon” (not to be confused with the more popular Mystery Mountain Marathon Ultra race).
I ran my first big race of the year at Locomotive Half Marathon. Although I had been training to lead up to my big race in April, the half marathon wasn’t all that fun, so much so that I didn’t even write a race report! It wasn’t a bad performance, because I had good company. But certainly not where I’d expect to be just 2 months before a marathon. I remember getting to mile 11 saying I was ready to be done.
I had also fallen completely in love with CrossFit, made new friends and I was holding steady with 2-3 classes/week.
The month started all wrong when I was let go in a “Resource Action” move from a job that I loved very much. In order to cut costs, I gave up on my “Mystery Marathon” which absolutely broke my heart. I wanted to run to forget it all, but that very action of running would bring back memories of the race I had to give up and so I didn’t want to run either. So I did even more CrossFit. The 2-3 days/week increased to 5 days/week.
But I still did the Georgia Publix Half Marathon. We had a good race until 8 miles and then took it easy. (I was actually decently prepared with my marathon training, but choose to run it with friends instead. Part of me will always wonder if I was just afraid to try.)
With no other race on the near horizon and knowing that I could “bluff” my way through even a half marathon distance, and with the heartbreak of seeing my marathon day come and go without me at the start line, I floundered. Barry and Ajit convinced me to sign up for the Dopey Challenge, but that was 9 months away.
It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to run. It was that I wanted to run, I wanted to swim, I wanted to CrossFit, I wanted to do everything! (Nothing new, I’ve been in that mode since I finished up with Acworth Sprint Triathlon in August ’13; which is why I had my “Mystery” marathon picked out to help me focus.)
And just as the weather turns, so does life situations. In the beginning of the month, I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have any goals (other than the distant Dopey, which I knew I could finish if I continued with CF and put in some miles) and life was dominated by CrossFit.
End of the month, I started a new job and I got picked to run the Ragnar Napa Valley with the BadA$$ Mother Runners Team. I also got a last minute entry to the Allatoona Sprint Triathlon, just 8 days out.
Should I call myself crazy as I signed up for a triathlon (even though it was just a sprint) only 8 days before the event? Or should I be proud that I could pull off a triathlon with an 8 day training program, inspite of not riding the bike and no open water swims at all? With ONE hilly ride (where I learnt how to shift gears and had my first fall) and ONE open water swim, I finished the Allatoona Sprint Triathlon and had a blast.
And I realized – I LOVE doing this. The building up (even though that was lacking) and then the climax/anti-climax of race day. That nervousness, that excitement, that feeling of all emotions rolled into one – I could not get that from CrossFit as much as I loved CF! It was the adrenaline rush at the starting line that hooked me on to fitness 5 years ago.
The excitement of the Sprint Triathlon sparked off my desire to get back into endurance races, after all Ragnar and Dopey was getting closer with each passing month. I was still trying to juggle CrossFit and running and not really finding a balance. I wasn’t one of the ninjas who could CF 5 days/week and run 1-2 days (or more if they had the time!!) and come up with a great performance.
CrossFit 4-5 days/week reduced my running to 20-30 miles per MONTH and while all those squats might’ve helped me for 5Ks and 10Ks (I kicked the hills on Peachtree Road Race), it wasn’t helping me in anything beyond 8 miles. To be a runner, I knew I had to run. But I was torn between my desire to do it all. I still loved CrossFit and I rediscovered my love for running & tri (Not so much the bike. Yet.).
And then I met Mike.
Mike helped me bring back focus to running to concentrate on the Dopey Challenge. My training week read like Rest-Run-Run-Run-Rest-Run-Run instead of CF-CF-CF+Run-CF-CF-Run-Rest! I had NEVER run 5 days/week ever. In fact, I had thought 3 days/week was my limit.
But all that running wasn’t making me satisfied either. Because I was training by Heart Rate. For someone who already runs slow at 12:30-13:30 pace to run at 15:30 pace was agony. I tried to keep the whining to minimum, but it showed. I tried to have patience and faith, but it was truly hard.
And sadly my CF days were coming to an end. Neither the Ragnar plan from AMR, nor the Dopey plan had any place for CrossFit. Cross Training, yes. CrossFit, no. And I had to make a choice even though it wasn’t an easy one.
The month was dominated by my birthday race at the Divas Half Marathon, and an epic adventure through Northern California culminating with the Ragnar Relay Napa Valley. And Ironman Chattanooga where I went up to cheer for friends and strangers and was blown away by how amazing human spirit is!
What I call a transition month in training. The heart rate training was continuing, but with no more whining and longer runs and some midweek change ups. Nothing out of the ordinary except that I noticed runs getting more smooth and my monthly/weekly mileage was consistent week after week instead of yo-yoing. And I was learning to “tough out” long and boring runs.
When I had the hilly Thanksgiving Half on my schedule and saw the plan for it, to say I was worried is an understatement. But I cruised through it, even though I still don’t know how!! I hit both the goals of no walking and maintaining a steady 13:30 pace all throughout. It was my BEST race since Fall of 2012 (other than the sprint triathlons), and my best half marathon since Feb 2012. It was not my finish time that made it is so awesome, but the steady way I went through attacking all the hills and finishing strong and happy.
The road wasn’t all that easy though – I was beginning to run some long runs by pace and I had one particularly ugly run that turned into a sob-fest. But everytime I did those pace based runs, I could feel myself getting stronger.
With December being the peak mileage month for Dopey, I had the strongest weekend and the weakest weekend of my training cycle. One where I owned a 20 mile run (and for the first time felt confident), and another where I abandoned a 20 mile run (and realized how miserable it is to run while sick).
I also made one of the biggest commitments I’ve ever made! Augusta Half Ironman 70.3. If I was to describe all the emotions that rushes through me when I think about it, it would be a cliché. So I will not and instead say that I actually look forward to this new journey. Mike will be coaching me through to it and since so far he’s seen more in me than I’ve thought was possible myself, I know that it will be one heck of a journey! (Although I hope that he will not want to kill me midway!)
A rather long write up looking back at 2014, but I loved writing it all and seeing at how I’ve changed through the months. Almost all of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 was a do-all. The later half of 2014 was not workouts, it was training with one goal in mind.
What have I learnt through this year?
- For the goals I have in mind, specificity is a must. To be a runner, I need to run. To be a triathlete, I need to SBR.
- Consistency trumps everything.
- Goals should be realistic. Thanksgiving Half was easily the best race because the goal (even though it wasn’t my A race) was just enough to push myself but not set myself up for failure. The target time wasn’t picked out of the air like I used to earlier.
- Worrying about a run doesn’t help. Instead a plan to sort out logistics, nutrition, etc is a better way to manage time and distract my mind.
- I am capable of a lot more than I think I am (a lot of us know this feeling, but it never ceases to amaze me).
If you have a year’s recap, share your link! Would love to read it in whatever format you decide to write!
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