It has been another interesting year in my training. I say training, because this year I added more cross-training. Don’t worry, running is my first love and will remain my focus.
To put 2013 in context, it helps to remember where I have come from. In late 2009, I started to run consistently for the first time since 1985. I ran a half marathon that fall and a marathon the spring of 2010. I was not competitive. I was just happy to finish my races at that point.
I gradually learned the basics of how to train for running, gradually became more disciplined, and gradually moved towards being competitive. By the fall of 2011, I just missed the qualifying time for Boston (for my age) by 2 minutes and 27 seconds.
I had glorious goals set for 2012 that made sense based on my recent progress, but I began to feel weakly just weeks before the Knoxville Marathon. I started reasonably well, but could not finish that race. That was April. I remained sickly while the doctors guessed at what might be wrong. I completed races and some training, but I did not find the answer until September. After half of a year of guesswork, I changed to a gluten-free diet. Problem solved. I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:22:44 just 6 weeks after eliminating gluten from my diet. I had expected be sub-3 in 2012, but after the illness I was just happy to finish a tiny bit faster and get the BQ. (Boston Qualifier)
At the beginning of 2013, I decided not to write down a long set of specific goals. 2012 had taught me that I should be satisfied doing the best that I can in any given circumstance. Here is what I said:
“I will continue my quest to run a sub-6:00 mile pace at every distance up to and including the marathon. I cannot possibly achieve that pace in the marathon in 2013, but I would like to run under 2:50:00 in a marathon by the end of this year.
I believe that I can achieve the sub-6 pace in the 10K for sure and possibly for the half marathon. I also think I have an excellent shot at running a sub-5:00 mile this year, but I need to find a few more 1 mile races.”
Progress in 2013
I started 2013 with a bang. On New Year’s Day I ran a 5K in 18:35, just slightly faster than a 6 minute pace.
In February, I managed to whittle my half-marathon time down to 1:27:42. [6:41 pace]
In March, I ran the Shamrock Marathon in 3:13:22. I would have liked to have gone under 3:10, but I have no regrets. I gave it all and enjoyed the run.
There were several races that I did not consider to be goal races. I ran them to score points for our racing team. I aimed for age group awards and did fairly well despite not training specifically for them. This was the first year I had been on a running team beyond high school. I enjoyed being a part of the Tennessee Spine Racing Team. Good people. Running with teammates during races helped my motivation greatly.
Although nowhere near my goal of a sub-6 pace, I did well in my age group in the Expo 10K. I had been doing a lot of speed work and it showed up in the last mile. Zoom!
My next goal race was the Fireball 5K on July 3rd. Although my time of 18:48 was 13 seconds slower than my race on New Year’s Day, I still considered it to be great progress. It was 70 degrees and rainy, so it was probably the equivalent of 18:20 in perfect weather. Context matters. Weather affects your running ability. I did well.
I had a lot of fun at the three summer track meets. I ran 800m, 1 mile and 2 miles, as well as doing some relays with my friends. In the heat of the summer, I ran 800 meters in 2:22.9, 1 mile in 5:20.7, and 2 miles in 11:56. I loved it.
I continued to play with speed throughout the summer and into early fall. I added just enough distance to be ready to run the Indianapolis Marathon. I did not plan my training schedule around this marathon, but I still managed a slight improvement at 3:12:45.
A few weeks later, I ran the Savannah Marathon with my new wife, Muna. We eloped on the way to the race. I paced her and she earned a huge PR at 3:52:25. Win-Win!
My last goal race of the year was the Secret City Half Marathon. Unfortunately, I injured my knees slightly in a weightlifting session a week or so before the race. I held back a little, but still managed to defend my Masters title, finishing in 1:28:18.
I have spent the month of December crosstraining and building my leg muscles while my knees recuperate. I have run less than 10 miles in December of 2013. I have kept up my fitness by swimming several miles each week and began to bike some as well.
In addition to training and racing, I also managed to publish my second book, Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life. As with my first book, I don’t make much money on each copy; the goal is to help people.
As a running coach, I developed training plans for several people and continue to see good results. I love to be a part of it as runners move towards their goals!
On to 2014
In 2014, I will continue my quest towards running a sub-6 minute pace at distances up to a marathon. Whatever progress I make will make me happy. 2013 saw me run sub-6 pace at 1 mile, 2 miles, and 5K. I hope to add 10K to that and will once again try to get closer to 6:00 pace in the half-marathon.
2014 will also be the beginning of my triathlon career. I have found a love for swimming and I need to bike to strengthen my knees. Hence, training for a few triathlons this year will help my running.
Finally, all of my training will go to support my newest goal. I want to run 800 meters in 1:58:00 or better. I do not believe that I can get there this year. 2:10 or better would be a reasonable goal, but I will take what I can get.
Above all, my main goals are what I wish for you this year:
“Train Smart, Eat Well, & Enjoy the Run!”
Thanks for your support this year. Let me know if you have questions about running!
P. Mark Taylor