Monday, 2 January 2012

2011: A Year in Review

Preparations for 2012 are in full swing, but this December has been comparatively quiet to the previous few months.I have not been getting out there and putting myself through the paces like the previous few months. Gone are the 30 to 40 hour training months, 8 to 10 hour training weeks. I am now on the marathon prep train. ALL ABOARD! The train leaves Tuesday and Thursday at 5:40 am sharp into the darkness. A return to running, almost exclusively, takes up virtually all of my training efforts as the winter settles in.

Yet, taking time off of the bike this December (--the intensity of Cyclocross happens only in the form of Saturday group rides, and only occupies my thoughts through, Cyclingdirt, and CX Magazine, as competitions are now memories), I still have managed to burn the candles at all ends in the first half of December. Early mornings and staying up late attending parties and theatre productions, I have worn thin. Mid-December and finally the fatigue has sacked me. I long for a mid-afternoon nap over the holidays.

So what better way to look back on a very fulfilling year of running and biking through this blog, rather than have that even more fulfilling afternoon nap? Here goes.

I started the year with a titanium plate in my shoulder, and limited mobility and range of motion as a result of a bike crash in August 2010. In that crash I managed to fly into a ditch and break 8 ribs, separate my shoulder 10cms (they call that a grade III separation), and collapse my lung. This recovery period sucked, yet gave me motivation to set some goals for 2011.

January--Fraser Valley Trail Series

On a whim, Sean and I signed up for the Resolution Run in Crescent Park on New Year's Day. A 10 am start--(very NYD friendly), the race was an 8km course that was deceptively hard--with a good couple of on the gas climbs, and some technical trails that make a sprint out of the course. Still battling into shape after being laid up from August to November, I managed a 34:15 or something like that. A beautiful day with a speedy run made for a hard effort. Sean had to pull me along to the finish. I think I was top 30 in a competitive field. Sean and I crossed hand in hand. A fun finish to a chilly 1st day.

The next race was the Campbell valley Stomp on the 23rd. This race was a 10k, and it was a killer. Two laps of the course--the valley was flooded out and water was up to our mid calf. This was a really hard course as the climbing was straight up. A very hard run that day in what seemed to be Sleepy Hollow on the fogged out horse trails. 18th place and 46:53.

February FVT Series continued and First Half Half Marathon

February was a great month for running races--the weather was perfect if not a bit chilly, lending to differing conditions for all events. The 6th of the month saw the third race of the series, the Houston Trail Race 10km at Derby Reach. Wow! the trails out in Langley are amazing, a place that I want to run again. In this race, I got out to a super fast start, and then suffered for the effort after the first 2kms. This, too, was another amazing run--45:12 and 15th place. I seemed to be gaining fitness as the races wore on, and my placings improved.

Next up was the First Half half Marathon--a perennial favorite in my family, one we attend every year. I am always looking to better myself on this course, and this year I attempted a sub 1:30 half under beautifully sunny conditions. I came close in 2010, with a 1:30:08 on the Historic course in ft. Langley, but this year would prove to be just a bit slower. 1:31:29-- just off of my goal. 2012 will be different as I am ahead of the game for training, already doing long runs over 24 kms in December, and short runs of 15kms. 

The last race of the Fraser Valley trail series was the Aldergrove Mud run, which was without mud this year, but had lots of SNOW on race day! A challenging course with a bunch of climbing--I moved up into the top ten with an 8th place finish and 35:15 over 8 kms. The snow made the run treacherous, and one of the most fun. 

March--Dirty Feet Trail Half Marathon

I was the bridesmaid for the second year in a row at the Delta Ground Pounder's Tread the Shed 8.2 km run at the beginning of the month. I let the winner run away in the first km, thinking that he would blow up and I would catch him. I was dead wrong, and he stomped the course. Disappointing to let the leader take off like that.

The Dirty Feet Half Marathon Trail race in Kamloops was a highlight of the month of racing, as I had a chance to run with accomplished runner Aaron Heidt from Vernon. He is blazing fast, and he stormed to the win at this one. I was 4th with a time of 1h 46. A very tough but very well organized race on the part of  Phil and Grace Hiom Bachelor Heights. They rock and know how to put on an awesome event. This series of events is one that I will come back for. BTW--best race shirt I have ever received.

April and May--Training for the Vancouver Marathon

April consisted of a bunch of long runs between 35 and 45 kms on the Sundays leading up to the Marathon on May 2nd. The Marathon in Vancouver is really well done--the Expo is awesome, the food after the race is amazing, and the course, although it has been said to be a dogs breakfast in such a beautiful city, was really fun and challenging for me. I enjoyed every moment of the marathon, and it seems to be on my yearly list of races to do, like the PRR First Half, Test of Metal, and Chuckanut Footrace. Sean and I ran it together until the Burrard Bridge, when I started to pull away from him. He was on wicked back medication to simply run the thing. I came in for a 3:28:00. I think that I can peel 20 minutes off of this time for the 2012 edition of the marathon, on a new point to point course.

June and July--Test of Metal and Shoulder Surgery II

At the beginning of June I posted a PB for my 10km run with a 39:24. I had hoped to run sub 38:30, but that was not the case at the Sandcastle 10km in White Rock. This race is another local event that I look forward too each year. The race was good, I had good start but faded a bit towards the end....That seems to be my M.O with shorter distance races. 

June also had me racing in the Test of Metal, a race that I love and do every year, family permitting. For this edition of the test, it was wet out there from the weeks worth of rain leading up to the event, and I was timid to say the least, afraid to crash on my shoulder and wreck it again right before my surgery in July. I did not crash, and had my slowest time since my breakthrough year in 2008. That year I was a 3:20 finisher, down from the 4 hours and change from 2000-2005. I rode the race at my own pace, not killing myself and walking much of the plunge. A fun day of riding, a poor race for me. That is what happens when the head gets into the mix. One week later, I did the Cardiac Classic XC race at SFU. 3 laps of hill climbing, no crashes, beautiful summer day. 

July was the big month for my surgery. I could not wait to get the plate out of my shoulder. Just a few days before the surgery, I managed to run the Chuckanut Footrace and make a PB time on that course, smashing my previous time by almost 3 minutes. A 45 and change Chuckanut had me feeling really good about the day. It is an 11 mile race out of Fairhaven, and one that I will always plan to do because of how beautiful the race is, and how awesome the weather is on the weekend after the 4th of July.

Dr. Kwee at Peace Arch Hospital was saddled with removing my hardware. I don't think I have been as nervous at any point in my life as I was right before the surgery. It did not help that I was hungry from fasting and also on medication that made me irritable. The surgery was quick and easy, and I had to take 2 weeks off of all activity, doctors orders, which I obeyed. The bandage was massive on my shoulder, and became even more massive 2 days after, when my wound began to bleed under all the bandages. My first ride after getting the all clear happened just a few hours after my follow up appointment with Dr. Kwee. He told me to take it easy getting back into things. I ventured out for a 20km ride, which turned into 90. I felt better than I had in the last 11 months that afternoon.

August--Gran Fondo and CX training

One of my best days on the bike was riding out of my front door and trying to race my wife, our three kids, and our station wagon to Whistler. I really should have gotten up earlier and left in a timely manner, but I did manage to make it past Alice Lake on my approach to Whistler, marking a 143 km ride. This ride was rivaled by the Gran Fondo Event, but was way less stressful. The Fondo was scary with all the sketchy Fred's and road furniture. I will be riding to Whistler a couple of time in the summer of 2012, trying to hammer out the 170kms. Unless I want to be like Ted Matson, and ride up and back in the same day. That guy is a tank. A dip in Lost Lake after both rides to Whistler made the day.

Some time at Otter Lake, no events in August, and reading Born to Run lead me into the CX season, which I have already recapped in more ways than one in my previous posts. The season started with the School of Cross and was up and down, fun and frustrating.

For 2012, I look to up my moves and training time from 2011, run my first ultra, race CX in the Masters 1/2 category, and continue to stay as fit as I can.

My 2011 Highlights include:

1. Winning Aldor Acres CX
2. Completing the Vancouver Marathon
3. Placing 3rd in a field of 60 at Vanier CX
4. Running the Chuckanut Footrace to a PB
5. Riding the Gran Fondo
6. Running the Fraser Valley Trail Series

My 2011 totals from Movescount.