Friday, January 4, 2013

2013! I guess the Mayans were wrong.

Guess the end of the calendar wasn't really "THE END".  It was just like every other calendar, just time to get a new one and start a new year or baktun if you're Mayan.  I wrapped up 2012 with an extended vacation that I like to call my winter hibernation vacation the last two weeks in December.  I'd love to say I was wicked busy and traveled to some exotic island or ran a bunch of crazy races, but I didn't.  I rested and relaxed.  It was awesome. 

2012 was not as epic as 2011, but I DID do a lot.  Nine triathlons including my second half ironman, six half marathons, three marathons, and two stair climbs.  I worked on experiencing more than just running and trying new things.  I started off the year with a polar plunge and jumped in the ocean on New Year's day.  A few weeks later, I learned to snowboard, granted it was just one time, but I did get down the hill once without falling so I think it was a success.  I got a passport AND traveled outside the country for the first time in my life (Canada doesn't count, it's Maine's neighbor).  It was for work and I didn't really get to see much but I went to Iceland and Denmark, I need to go back to Iceland for fun, it looks so cool from the airport. 

As much as I wish it was, 2012 was not all fun and games.  I hit a few speed bumps and road blocks along my journey.  First, I ended up in the medical tent at the finish of the Disney Marathon.  I ALMOST made it without gettting dehydrated and overheated, but in the last mile my body failed me.  Training for my next marathon (#10) went really well and by May I was totally ready.  I should have known that a race in the Green MOUNTAIN state would be a hilly course, but I told myself it wouldn't be that bad.  It was really hilly and it was really HOT.  I survived it, slowed my pace and kept cool with the ice provided by the awesome volunteers, but it was not the race experience I was hoping for.

I had bought myself a new bike for my birthday, but thanks to the jerk that hit me in 2011 I was hesitant to ride it.  I did get out a few times, but not nearly as much as the year before.  After the Vermont Marathon, I struggled.  I felt off and my pace on training runs was not where it should be.  I did a bunch of triathlons, but since I wasn't biking much my race performances were less than ideal.  I started training for Chicago anyway, but with 6 weeks to go til marathon #11 I got injured.  Plantar fasciitis!  I took a break and got acupuncture, but I had my half ironman to do before Chicago.  I knew it wouldn't be as awesome as the year before, but I hoped I could just get through it.  Well, I got through it, but just barely.  I felt like I was drowning for the entire 1.2 miles of the swim, I couldn't breathe on the bike, and by the time I started running I felt like someone was sitting on top of my chest.  I finished and it took me an hour longer than the year before, but I collapsed as I crossed the finish line.  Something definitely not right.

For about a year, I switched to a plant based diet, vegetarian and almost vegan (I occasionally ate eggs and cheese).  I'm not sure, but I think over time I totally depleted my body's iron stores and as much as I want to avoid meat and animal products for my health, my training volume requires more iron and B12 than I can get from plants.  On my way home from the half ironman I got myself a grass fed organic rib eye steak and ate it for dinner.  I have slowly started to add a little meat back into my diet, but it's not making a big difference yet.  I started taking supplements too.  Hopefully that helps.

Anyway, Chicago was a fun trip but the marathon was not great.  The weather, my foot, and my body in general did not work well together.  Since then I have sort of backed off and slowly brought my miles back up to train for Goofy.  My pace is still a lot slower than it was a year ago.  I've also gained about 15lbs. this year, maybe from running less, maybe from not biking much, maybe from my body's weird reaction to a plant based diet.  Who knows.  I just know something has to change in 2013.

In December, I did a few back to back training runs for Goofy 12 and 18 miles.  Felt pretty good.  Slow, but overall, not bad at all.  I think I'm ready.  I know I won't be as fast as I was last year, but I'm not going for speed, I just want to have fun.  I had a few long runs inbetween the 12/18s that did not go well so I'm hoping that I just finish and feel good.  My heart rate has been weird lately-really low despite feeling like I was doing an all out effort and my resting heart rate was high for a few weeks.  If Disney doesn't go well and my heart rate is still wonky I'm going to a doctor when I get back.

Anyway, it's a new year and I've got a lot planned.  More running of course, but I'd also like to do more exploring and more non-running fun.  It'll be good for me to expand my horizons and try more new things.  I am looking forward to challenging myself in new ways and continuing this journey.  For now, I'm tapering for Goofy, watching the extended forecast, and recruiting people for the stair climb for after Goofy.  I've got a long to-do list and I hope to check off some more items on it this year.  I'm thinking skydiving on my birthday, learning to ride my unicycle, and perhaps accepting a dare.

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