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Building on my 2012 Successes

December 31, 2012

I just got home from my last run of the year. There’s something very satisfying about closing out the year with a run, even if it is cold and windy — I passed at least a couple dozen people, so clearly I’m not the only one who thinks that. As I close out my 2012 training calendar, it’s time to reflect on the year gone by and set goals for the year to come.

Reflections on 2012

This is a year I’m very proud of. I’ve pushed myself in all sorts of new ways. First, some statistics for the year. I cycled 2246.83 miles, ran 483.8 miles, swam about 45 miles (I can’t measure my open water swim distance quite as precise!), did 78 crossfit WODs (workouts), 25 hours on the rowing machine, 1.5 hours of yoga, and half an hour of ice skating!

This year was the first time I ever started training for a race that I didn’t know if I could finish. I’ve set time goals before that I wasn’t sure I could meet, but I’ve always known that I could finish the race at least. If I had to, I could have finished a marathon on the first day I started training for my first marathon. It would have been painful and I would have walked a lot. But I could have finished it. When I started training for the Ironman, I could not have finished it. It wouldn’t be until late in the year that I would reach the point where I could. Looking back on that journey is really exciting for me.

The biggest obstacle for me, of course, was the swim. It’s hard to believe that back in January, I couldn’t do more than a length of the pool without stopping to catch my breath. It was a long, slow progression of taking swim classes, then working on swim technique and endurance in the pool, and then finally in open water. It really wasn’t until a couple months before the race that I was at the point that I knew I should be able to finish the race distance in the time required. But even then, I always knew my swim time would be close enough to the time cutoff that I was going to have to push myself. I had a solid base in the bike and the run, so those were more about building my endurance further and developing nutrition strategies that would keep my energy levels up for the race. Easier than the swim, but still no walk in the park.

I will definitely look back on the summer and fall of 2012 fondly, remembering all the time spent training with my teammates. All the times we met early on Sunday morning for a long bike ride. All the times we cursed together about how hot it was in the summer, or how cold it was in the late fall. All the long open water swims together at Ohio Street Beach. All the track work, and the squat holds that we often did there. All the times we did crossfit WODs together.

Besides the Ironman, some other athletic highlights stand out from the year. I was happy to get in a few long bike rides with my dad in California. The century bike ride we did together in the mountains near Palo Alto was amazing. It made me miss living somewhere that I could regularly cycle up mountains like that. My dad says at his annual physical, his doctor said he needs to keep up the cycling, it’s good for him. So maybe we’ll do another century ride together in 2013.

It’s hard to keep track of all the crossfit workouts. But some of the more epic ones do stand out. On Memorial Day, crossfit gyms everywhere do “Murph:” 1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1 mile run. I was at my parent’s house in San Francisco at the time, so I found a park with a pullup bar that was just over a mile from their house. I ran to the park, did the core of the workout, and ran back to their house. It took me 51 minutes. There’s something exhilarating about doing a workout like that alone in a park. My birthday WOD also stands out: 500 meter row, 29 reps (95 pound bar) ground to overhead, kettle bell swings, shoulder to overhead, situps, squat cleans, lateral bar jumps, bar facing burpees, then 500 meter row. And the first of the crossfit games WOD’s really stands out: 7 minutes, as many burpees as possible. Such a simple movement, but so difficult to keep doing it!

My longest swim of the year was the Big Shoulders 5k swim on September 8th. It took me 2 hours 48 minutes. I was one of the very last to finish it, but I finished. The distance alone would have been impressive, but there were two foot waves in Lake Michigan that day, making it even tougher!

My longest bike was 120 miles, around the island of Oahu. Every corner brought another stunning view. Incredible. Even though I had been out on my bike in the sun all day and climbed around 5000 feet, I felt great at the end of that ride. I wish every ride could include such breath taking views of oceans, beaches, mountains, and valleys. And what a great way to wrap in training and vacation!

My longest run was 29.5 miles to the south end of the lake front path (in Chicago) and back home. I was originally hoping to do the whole lake front path (would have been 36 miles total), but my body wasn’t having it. At least I’ve run to the far north of the path before, so I’ve now done the whole path. I had a lot of fun on that run, even if the cold was taking a lot more out of my body than expected. But I also realized ultra distance running like that is probably not for me. I’ll stick to my marathons.

2013 Goals

My primary goal for 2013 is a PR (personal record) at the Chicago Marathon in October. I want to finish in 3:30 or faster! My present marathon PR is 4:25, set in San Francisco in 2010. But after this past year of training, I know I would be a lot faster.

My second goal is a PR at the Half Ironman distance. I’ll try to do that at either Racine or Steelhead, mid-summer races that are both a couple hours drive from Chicago.

Besides those goals, I want to have fun! I want to keep improving my swimming technique. I might try to do another century bike ride with my dad. I want to keep working on my crossfit skills. And I’m sure other challenges will come along.

Here’s to another great year!

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