By most measures, 2015 wasn't a great year of running for me, but by at least one other key measure, it was a success. I started off the year with some big plans. 2014 was the year that I switched my focus almost entirely from road to trail running (I've always preferred running on trails, but I really wanted to run in the Boston Marathon before changing gears) and I had a couple of really good races. My first Ultra was a 50K, and I was second overall. My 2nd Ultra was the 65km UTHC, and I was 3rd in my AG, which I thought was a great result for a somewhat competitive race. Coming into 2015 I was planning on building on the year that I had in 2014, and move up in distance, with my 2 goal races being the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile and the UTHC 125km. My training through winter was going really well. I was hitting my mileage, and the paces that I was running for my speed sessions were about 15 seconds/ km faster than what I'd been running a year earlier in my build up for Boston. I had a couple of early season races- a snowshoe race and one of the 5 Peaks trails races, and both of them went pretty well. Then, in April, I started having a nagging pain in both legs, on the bump below my knees, which is where the patellar tendon inserts to the tibia.
I started seeing my Chiropractor right away and he got going on a pretty aggressive acupuncture treatment. That seemed to settle things down a bit, but for the the 4 weeks leading into the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile I had to cut my training way back, both in mileage and intensity. I got to race day feeling not too bad, and ran pretty well for about 43 miles, then the lack of training over the past month hit and I struggled for the final 7 miles. I took some time off after that race, expecting to get rested up and be able to start the build up for the UTHC, but it just didn't work out. Every time I'd try to build any kind of mileage or speed, the tendon issue would flare up again, and I'd have to take more time off. By the time UTHC came around in mid September I'd only managed to get 3 runs over 20km since May, so I knew I wasn't in great shape to run 125km. The longer version (with photos!) is in a blog post from earlier this year, but in summary, my plan was to take it nice and easy, and just try to enjoy a day out on the trails. I managed to do just that for about 6 hours, until I slipped while coming down the side of a mountain and aggravated the tendon on my right leg. I knew pretty quickly that my day was done, and I limped out to where I could get picked up by the medic's truck. Since that race I've been trying to get out for runs, but taking it nice and easy. I'm still not 100%, but I can at least get out 4-5 times per week, and I'm enjoying it.
That sums up the part of the running that didn't go well- I only finished one of my goal races, and at that it was a death march at the end. Now for the good- 2015 was a year where I got a lot better at stopping and smelling the roses with my running. My last blog post touched on this- previously all I cared about was hitting my paces and nailing workouts. This year, I learned to enjoy it a bit more. If I wanted to stop and enjoy I sunrise, I would. If the the dog wanted to jump in the lake and go for a swim, we'd stop. Sometimes I'd jump in with her. If we got to a spot with a good view we'd stop and admire it. This shift was what went well in 2015. I learned to enjoy the whole experience of running more. It became more than just being about the workouts and getting ready for races to being about the experience of being outside, getting exercise and fresh air, and enjoying the moment.
I'm not sure what 2016 is going to bring. I have a couple of big goals that I'm really looking forward to, but it's all going to depend on if my body agrees to cooperate. The patellar tendon issue is still a concern, and I'm still worried about it flaring up and putting me on the sidelines again. Either way I'm going to proceed with my new outlook. If I'm nailing workouts, or if I'm just managing to do slow 10km runs 4x per week, I'm still going to make it a priority to savour the experience, enjoy the sunrises, be as happy as my dog (might as aim high.............) . Stay tuned.................