Looking back at another year of training and racing, 2017 was an interesting one. Things didn’t go as planned right off the bat, so it was another year of adapting and going with the flow. I spent the last couple months of 2016 getting back to running after recovering from that summer’s metatarsal stress fracture. I thought things were going well, so I started 2017 with hopes of running a spring marathon. When my foot went bad again two weeks into January, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I probably got too ambitious too soon and aggravated my foot enough to take three months off of running. That’s not how I wanted to start the year. I ran less than 1,000 miles this year. I haven’t seen yearly running mileage that low since 2012.
However, I swam 168 miles! I haven’t done anything remotely close to that as an adult. Since I couldn’t run and biking was iffy for my foot at times too, I had to do something to keep active. Swimming was a substitute for what I really wanted to do…until it became something that I really wanted to do too.
It’s hard for me to remember if I truly enjoyed swimming when I was younger or if it was just something that I had to do. I was a solid swimmer since I grew up doing it, but I was never fast. I didn’t win races and was average at best when it came to competitive swimming. By my early teenage years I decided that I wasn’t going to bother with it anymore. I finally returned to swimming in 2012 when I decided that I should try doing triathlons. My swim training was a bit spotty at times until this year. As soon as I realized I couldn’t run, I became determined to swim at least three times a week and work toward a good triathlon season this year. Even as I got back to running, I stuck with my swim routine and recognized that my overall fitness level improved because of it.
I eased back into running very slowly in April, and in May I did my first race of the year. Although the first part of the year hadn’t gone as I hoped, I made up for it the rest of the year. I did 15 races – the most I’ve ever done in a year. That was quite an improvement after only racing five times in 2016.
Because I was so worried about reinjuring my foot, I kept my run training pretty unstructured. I worked on building a base and didn’t do any speed workouts. Most of the year I had no idea what kind of pace I was capable of running. I went into races hoping to have fun rather than aiming to beat past times. I didn’t plan very far ahead and often signed up for races just a couple weeks in advance. By racing so frequently in the second half of the year, races became a form of speed workouts for me and I saw improvement as the year went on.
I concentrated solely on multi-sport events May-August. I started my year of racing with my very first duathlon. My second duathlon was in July. It was supposed to be a triathlon, but the swim was cancelled due to rough water.
Although I enjoy swimming during triathlons, I discovered that I really like duathlons as well. Since running is my strongest discipline, I found that run-bike-run events play to my strengths. I may have to try more duathlons in the future. I also did three Olympic-distance triathlons and one sprint tri. My running pace improved with each race and I had a lot of fun. My bike segments weren’t noticeably better or worse than past years, but all of my work in the pool helped improve my swim times. I ended my tri season with a race in Ludington, MI. It was probably one of my favorite races of the year. I had never been there before and absolutely loved riding past sand dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan.
A week after the Ludington triathlon, I returned to running-only races. I started with the Crim 10-mile race, where I ran a negative split and was only 15 seconds slower than the last time I had run it. It was a big boost to my confidence and I felt like I’d regained my running fitness. Racing so frequently seemed to work in my favor!
I kept things interesting for the last few months of racing. Although I did some races that were familiar to me, I also made a point of getting out to do some that had been on my radar that I’d never done before.
I had run a 5K at the Detroit Zoo once, so to change things up, I did the “Too Wild” challenge by running the 5K and 10K back-to-back. I ran new PRs for each distance! I felt ready to get back to the half marathon distance, and raced one in September, one in October, and one in November. The first one was the Brooksie Way, which was hot, hilly, and a bit rough for me. The second one (Grand Rapids) went a lot better, but it poured rain the entire time. The third one (the LeftOvers Trail Half) was a spur of the moment decision and went surprisingly well until I wiped out running down a hill. Prior to the trail half, I had completed the “Run-Eat-Run” challenge of running one trail 10K on Thanksgiving and another 10K the following day. It was the first time I had done a two-day challenge, so adding the third day was really something new. It was a fun way to wrap up my year of racing, and also gave my confidence another boost.
After pulling that off successfully, I decided I could consider a marathon this coming spring. I’m targeting the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH in April. That was my goal race when 2017 began, so hopefully it actually happens in 2018.
Here are some stats for the year:
- I swam 168 miles
- I biked 1,960 miles
- I ran 901 miles
- I spent a good amount of time on strength/weights as well – usually one or two sessions per week of 45+ minutes
- I did 15 races: two duathlons, three Olympic triathlons, one sprint triathlon, one 10-mile race, two 5Ks, four 10Ks, and three half marathons
- Out of those races, a couple were unique challenges – a 5K/10K combo in one day, and a 10K/10K/half marathon in three days
Although the year didn’t begin how I had hoped, it ended up being a pretty solid year. Here’s hoping that 2018 is another solid year, and hopefully an injury-free one!