It's the end of another year. Or better yet, the beginning of a new one.
In retrospect, 2010 was a decent year. It started a little rough since I was still in need of a job because I turned down the Connecticut offer. But I found a new job before my old one ended so that worked out really well. And, believe it or not, I think I prefer not working in the bike industry. It can be a fun industry to work in, but it has its flaws. Mainly, I like having cycling being nothing but a hobby. I find that helps keep it fun.
I also had a good tri season. I improved again, met some goals, got my Kona slot and, most importantly, I learned a lot and figured out a few key things late in the season that I'm anxious to apply to my 2011 training.
Lately, I've been busy putting together my 2011 training plan. It's coming together nicely, and I'm putting a lot more thought into it this year than I have in previous years. I've also been doing a lot of reading about training methods to make sure I'm on the right track and that I'm focusing on the right things. I'm hoping to put together a few good blog posts (hopefully they're good) about some of the things I've learned.
I still have two weeks before my plan officially begins so I have some work to do to wrap up my planning and get everything in place (yes, I have a spreadsheet). I'm finishing up my fall run focus (which was based on Lydiard's methods). I made some good improvements focusing on running, but most importantly I learned a lot and those things will carry over into my new training plan.
I'm really looking forward to starting my new training plan. I love the process of developing and tracking fitness and creating training plans. It may be odd, but I love the patience and discipline it takes to develop good aerobic fitness. So a new year brings the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again.
...nothing gained. You've probably heard the saying plenty of times. Growing up, my parents had a sign saying "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" hanging above the toilet, their version of toilet humor.
By now the saying is old and a little cheesy, but it still holds true.
Last night my new headlamp showed up....so did a few inches of snow.
I had a Princeton Tec headlamp, and the batteries corroded over the summer and destroyed my lamp. So I bought the same lamp, except this one has a much smaller battery pack and takes lithium batteries. Check out how small the battery pack is...
This lamp is really nice. It's really light, and I barely noticed it on my run. And it puts off plenty of light so visibility isn't an issue. I wish I had ordered it a few weeks ago because I had a few runs where I had a tough time seeing the road.
Headlamp and reflective vest...ready to run at night.
With my new headlamp, I ventured out into the snowstorm for a 5 mile run. I'm not a big fan of winter, and I hate cold weather, but I love running when it's snowing. Some of my favorite runs were on the bike path at lunch in a heavy snowstorm at my last job. Here's a picture I took on one of my bike path runs....
I didn't take my camera with me last night, but I did snap a picture before I ventured out....
Last night's run wasn't as peaceful as running on a bike path covered in snow, but it was still a great run. I had a lot more traffic to deal with, but that just adds to the adventure. I'm sure people think I'm crazy running in the snow, but I think it's fun. It's always the best in December when the snow is clean and white and the streets are lined with x-mas lights. And when there are no cars coming, all you can hear is the snow crunching under your feet.
It seems weird to run in a snowstorm, but some of my most memorable runs have been in snowstorms. Tonight's storm was pretty mild, but there's talk of a big storm this weekend. I'm already looking forward to my weekend run, and I can't decide where I want to run. Maybe I'll venture out into the middle of nowhere with my snowshoes.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I've been called crazy for running in sub-zero weather and blizzards. I've been called crazy for doing the ironman, but mostly for signing up for a second....and third....and fourth....
I was also called crazy quite a bit when I raced motocross, but that was only from people who didn't race.
It never occurred to me until last night that I might actually be crazy. As in, actually insane. Certifiably insane. And not for running in cold weather or doing ironmans or anything like that. I have a habit of doing something over and over and expecting a different result. I don't want to keep doing it, but I can't seem to stop. I keep expecting a different result, but the result is always the same.
I get my haircut at Cost Cutters. I don't like going there, and almost always put it off for at least a week. I hate the place, and they always do a terrible job. Yet for some reason, I expect things will mysteriously change. I keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
The problem is that Cost Cutters is across the street so it's quick and convenient. I can assure you I don't go there because I think they're good. I'm not that crazy.
So last night I stopped by on my way home from work hoping for a good haircut. Maybe today was the day, I thought.
The woman cutting my hair asked how I wanted it cut. After I explained, she then made the typical small talk I wish they wouldn't do. These people need to concentrate. She mentioned the weather and how it seems colder than usual, to which I told her it is in fact colder than usual. Today's high was more than 10 degrees below the norm. Then she said, "...and I don't remember it getting dark this early during daylight savings time."
She then proceeded to give me a bad haircut, which I saw coming.
At least she gave me a fair warning.
Saturday was the Furry Friends 5K. Unfortunately, Friday night was our first snowfall of the winter. We got about 4-6 inches overnight and it was still snowing in the morning. I don't own Yaktracks or have a pair of shoes with screws in the soles. I run in racing flats all the time so I could either go with my racing flats or my other racing flats or my Zoots, which are also racing flats or I could take my cross country spikes. Hmmmm....
In the end, I opted not to take my spikes. I've run in the snow a lot and never had problems so I figured spikes would be overkill. It was only a couple of inches of snow.
The race began at the Baraboo Civic Center, and Courtney and I nearly fell several times trying to walk across the parking lot. It was a lot slipperier than I expected. I was regretting not bringing my spikes. We picked up our packets and then we headed out for a short warm up, mainly to see how slippery it was.
It wasn't as bad as the parking lot, but still very slippery. No PRs today. My only real goal for the race was to not slip and tear a tendon. Courtney has been working on forefoot running (and doing quite well) so I reminded her that this would be a good opportunity to focus on that because heel striking on slippery roads could be disastrous.
There was a pretty small group, and everyone seemed to be looking forward to a potentially adventurous race. We went out at a 6:45 pace, which was probably a little too fast for the conditions. As we came to the first turn, a girl next to me lost her footing and went down. The corner was very slick and we basically had to walk it. Then we came to the first intersection and, unfortunately, a puddle. So much for dry feet.
I was in 4th place, and could see the leader still so I wasn't too far back. I did my best to close the gap on 2nd and 3rd, who were running side by side and about halfway between me and the leader, but I just couldn't get moving. I was holding a 6:40 pace and my feet slipped everytime I tried to go faster. I was having fun, but it was a little frustrating not getting the footing I needed. The conditions were constantly changing. Some roads were plowed, some not. There was snow, ice, slush but no dry pavement.
In the end, I finished in 4th with a time of 20:53. The winner ran a 19:40. How often is the winning time at a 5K barely under 20 minutes? The conditions were tricky, but it was really fun. I felt like a kid on a snow day. The town was dead so we ran wherever we wanted, which meant right down the middle of Main Street. It felt like we had the whole town to ourselves.
I actually really enjoy running in the winter as long as the temps aren't too cold. It's so quiet and sometimes all you can hear is the snow crunching under your feet. This was one of those days.
Courtney had a good race. She didn't slip as much as me (she's smart enough to buy shoes with tread), but struggled more with course markings as a lot of people around her were taking wrong turns (the winner took two wrong turns as well). I don't remember her time, but it was good enough for 3rd in her division.
Post race was homemade cookies and hot chocolate while we waited for the age group awards.
I found a new and better way to embarrass myself. This fall has been all about running. I've run a lot of miles and tried to learn as much as possible about running so I can take my new fitness and knowledge into next season. Part of my run focus this fall was to push myself outside of my comfort zone and run some cross country races. I never ran cross country or track in school, so I figured it would be fun. It was, and I think it helped make me a better runner. It also taught me to love off-road running, and all of my long weekend runs are on trails now. My new route is a lot hillier than my previous long run route, and it has tons of variety. I run a little bit on the road and bike path, and the rest is on trails with tree roots and rocks and leaves and then I run through the golf course and do a few laps on the UW-Badger's cross country course....
It's a great course. Not super hilly, but still challenging.
...then it's back on the trails. I used to hate trail running, but I'm loving it now. The variety is fun, and the challenging terrain makes you a stronger runner. My route has 22 trees I have to hurdle. ..dead, fallen trees that is. I'm not hurdling living trees, although that would be awesome.
But that's not my new and better way to embarrass myself.
I've been having a lot of fun with my run focus and wanted to keep it going a little longer. So I signed up for the Purple and White Indoor Meet at UW-Whitewater. I'm on the purple team (alumni). It's a practice meet for the Whitewater track team so they're racing alumni. I signed up for the 1500 and the 800. For those unfamiliar with track distances, the 1500 is a little more than 100 meters short of a mile so it's practically a mile. The 800 is half a mile.
A week after that race I'm racing the Ted Haydon Holiday Classic where I'm running the mile and the 800.
Being an average runner at best competing against better than average runners the outcome is inevitable. I will lose, and lose in a spectacular way. But I don't care. This is all about pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and getting more use out of my cheap $25 spikes. None of my cross country races were muddy so my shoes still look new. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
The alumni race is a week from Saturday - December 11. This weekend I'm running the Furry Friends 5K. I will do nearly any race that benefits a Humane Society. I'm all about helping the pups.