2014 in Review

I have always found great closure in a sort of review of what I’ve done over the last year. I try to avoid falling into nostalgia as long as I can, but some days when I think back to the sweaty trail runs and 100 mile bike rides, my eyes glaze, and I get a stupid look on my face. I love my fitness hobby and the places it takes me – the sights I get to see and the miles I cover on foot or on two skinny wheels.

The Year of the Beast(y)
Miles ran: 549.17
Miles biked: 683.72

It has been a heck of a year.

I started it off by running 4.5 miles to Oak Hill Cemetery, a beautiful, quiet location. My last run of the year mirrored that, only I looped around inside the cemetery to get a good hill workout. Ashley also joined me for what would become a 6-mile run.

Here are some highlights between my first run of the year on January 2 to my last run on December 31:

Bobs February 22: Competed in my first duathlon (run, bike, run), Bob’s Indoor Duathlon. I won first place in my age category! (pictured left)

photo[5] copyApril 12: Undertook the Kentucky Century Challenge, beginning with the Redbud Ride Century in London, Kentucky, for the second year in a row. Redbud is one of my absolute favorite rides. The course goes through Daniel Boone National Forest. The most-discussed portion of the century route is the 22% grade Tussey Hill at mile 50 (pictured right). Approaching a hill sloped at 22% is akin to approaching a wall. I would ride 2 more Kentucky centuries in 2014, cycling quite a bit less than in 2013, focusing instead on running. I plan to bring my cycling mileage back up in 2015.

April 19: Finished my second half marathon at the Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville. In 2013, this was my first half marathon. In 2014, I beat that time by 8 minutes and 32 seconds.

April 23: While running my regular 5k route from home, I found out that the water at the little park was turned on – signaling the beginning of spring! I noted it when I uploaded the run to Garmin. Thank goodness that seemingly endless winter was over.

IMG_2118May 10: I graduated with my master’s degree and immediately drove 26 straight hours to stay in a cabin in Maine for a week. (pictured left)

 

June 9: I began training for my second marathon.

July 3: I started this blog.

“This year, I’ve learned a lot about strength training, fueling, and strategy for these types of events, so I’m hitting the road with fresh legs and determination.”  – Welcome!

July 12: Arena Challenge: 1,000 stairs, dozens of obstacles, Ford Center in Downtown Evansville.

“They also, graciously, provided us with five exercise stations between sets of stairs…” – Running: A Full Body Workout.

 

IMG_2481On September 6, I ran the inaugural Rugged Red Trail Half Marathon in Red River Gorge, Kentucky. My first trail half, my first time in the gorge. It is one of the most grueling events I’ve done.

“…all the energy in my body was gone. I’ve never felt so depleted where the only option is to sit, which I did.” – Race Report: Rugged Red

IMG_20141004_170638October 4: I ran the Evansville Half Marathon, besting my (road) 13.1 PR by another 6 minutes, finishing in under two hours. This was followed a few hours later by the Dog ‘n’ Suds 5k, where Sadie, Ashley, and I won 3rd place trophies. (Sadie and I pictured left – click for a larger image where you can actually see Sadie.)

 

IMG_2510October 19: I ran my second marathon, setting a marathon PR by beating my first marathon by nearly 10 minutes. (pictured right)

“I raced down the road, my eye on the clock. I crossed the finish line strong and elated.” – #RNRStL


I’m a few days into training for Gnaw Bone, and I can see the challenges lining up. I also feel like this year is going to be a big one for reasons not connected to Gnaw Bone or even to running. There’s an entire year ahead, with all the clichés attached to give us pause and adrenaline.

I’m excited to share it with you all, as well as I am excited to hear about your adventures and plans.

Cemetery

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Runny bikey funny fun times.

IMG_20140920_121216
I didn’t know what kind of title to put. I was trying to do something about how it’s been two weeks since I last posted and, hey, week and weak sound the same but are different words! It just didn’t work. It’s not about the title though, is it? The content is what matters!

I noticed my countdown timer go from months to days! DAYS! Twenty-seven as I write this blog. Things are getting pretty serious now.

My last two long runs have been exchanged for long bike rides, which has been nice enough. I’m glad my cycling commitments are out of the way now, though. I never feel like I have enough time or desire to actually get my bike out. It’s a lot of rigamarole before the tires hit the pavement.

bike-rev

  • Put on special clothes
  • Put on special shoes
  • Air up the tires
  • Get out of town
  • Go for a long ride
  • Come back home
  • Eat everything in the house

While running does involved special clothes and shoes, I don’t have to air anything up or get out of town. And during the week, I don’t even need to get water ready. All I have to do is go out my front door and run like the wind.

Slow, steady wind.

Speaking of wind: Both of my rides have presented me with relentless headwinds. I don’t like wind. Hills I can do. Distance I can do. I can even manage decent speed. But I cannot abide the wind. With hills and distance, you just need to work harder to get past it, and eventually it’ll be over. Pedal harder. But with wind, if you pedal harder and work harder, the wind will just blow in your face harder. There is an adverse effort-to-result ratio. I could give it all I got, and my speed won’t go above 15 mph. And if I take a break from pedaling, I slow down considerably.

Stupid wind.

I’d rather run like it than pedal into it.

Highlights from the last two weeks include
Full Moon Fever a running series that takes place in the woods after dark! It’s a ton of fun because we get to run with headlamps on. There are five in the series, and Ashley placed third in her age category on the first one we ran! She blazed out of the woods on her first night run, and won a medal.

Pedaling for Pups in New Harmony. This was a decently relaxing ride through some of the small country towns around where we live. It’s always interesting to see these towns that were growing, had town halls and community centers, and then for whatever reason have fallen away into a virtual ghost town. The corn and soybean fields are being harvested, too, which makes me long for fall, which is just around the corner. The picture at the top of this page is me eating an apple after the ride was over. My helmet hair was stunning, and I couldn’t resist the photo op.

Hub City Tour
This year’s fourth and final century for the Kentucky Century Challenge took us to Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The ride started at 8:00 in the cloudy, cold, and wet morning. We took off from the parking lot, and stopped almost immediately for a train. This was really the only unscheduled stop I would experience for the rest of the day. The course took us out into the Kentucky countryside along horse farms and tobacco fields, both of which are really quite beautiful. Tobacco fields were in several states: Some fields were filled with the large, yellowish tobacco leaves; some were harvested with the plants stacked in little teepees ready to be taken away; and other fields were empty, the leaves hanging in barns to dry out.

The corn fields featured prominently on this ride as well. My favorite part had us riding through the fields on a narrow road. The corn was tall and brown, and it felt like we were going through a tunnel.

Pretty soon into the ride I started counting the miles and estimating my finish time. I always hope that I never even look at my distance until I’m more than 30 miles into a century. 100 miles is a long way, and if you’re counting each mile, it seems even longer. I started counting at around 10 miles. I was not having a good time. The weather was unpleasant, and the aforementioned wind was pushing at me relentlessly. Looking back, it probably wasn’t that strong of a wind, but it was there anyway, and I didn’t like it.

I had a few cookies at the first rest stop, lots of water, a couple bananas, and I was back on the road. I bike-trudged my way to the second rest stop where I met up with Ashley. She was doing a different distance, but our two paths crossed here – thankfully. I decided not to continue with the century. It would have taken far too long, and I would not have been pleased. I finished the rest of the ride with Ashley, and it was arduous still. The roads were rough, the wind was stupid, but at least I had a companion to complain about everything with.

Thus endeth my second year of the Kentucky Century Challenge. The KCC is four century rides (100+ miles) in Kentucky. Ride all four centuries and you get a free jersey. Ride three of the four, you get at discounted jersey. I rode the first three centuries and finished by riding a half century. So I get a discounted jersey, which is pretty sweet. But I’m done now, and probably will not do the challenge next year. I have something else in mind, and the travel and commitment would probably prove to be too much.

Running has been a supreme delight lately. The heat seems to be leaving in favor of fall. I wouldn’t say this too loudly, though, because the weather often proves fickle. My weekday runs are longer, faster, and more refreshing every day. This may be tested a bit this weekend when I head out into the country to run 20 miles, my longest long run before the marathon. I plan to bring a banana along. That’s a long way to run without a spare banana.

This marathon is coming up quick, and I’m getting excited. In 27 days I’ll be touring the streets of St. Louis in a way that not so many people get to do. (Course map is here. You might have to select the Full Marathon course from the drop-down).

I intend on spending the next 27 days committed to covering some solid miles and working hard to ensure I am injury free when I cross that finish line. Core, glutes, legs, heart, mind, and soul. Not too bad of a to-do list!