Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcoming 2012 and reflecting on 2011

As I stand on the doorstep of a new year, I'm both excited about the possibilities, and terrified by the prospects. Excited about everything that can go right, terrified by the things that can go wrong (like being "downsized" or injured), and yet ready to start on the 2012 journey.

When I started 2011, I was scheduled for a second surgery to remove a very large squamous cell carcinoma from my right side about half-way between my armpit and my waist. In early December of 2010, they had attempted to excise it by cutting about a 5 inch wide patch of the skin cancer out with a somewhat elliptical incision. Just before Christmas, I was told that they failed to get clean margins, and were going to have to try again. In late January, they made the same type of cut, literally "cutting out the scar" along with some extra tissue around it, about 7 inches wide. This time they were successful, but I've proven that I'm now at risk for that type of thing, so will need to see them once a year....and I have a nifty scar that looks like I was in a sword fight (a conversation piece).

In late April it seems that I really noticed the shape I was in, and determined to do something about it, so I started walking and eating right to get back in shape...the rest you can find in my initial post if you're interested.

I feel like I accomplished quite a bit in 2011, by losing over 30 pounds and 7 inches off my waist, running two half-marathons (a distance I had never accomplished before) in under 2 hours each, and even completing a 26.3 mile training run (a non-race marathon) in 4:12:46.  My numbers for 2011 from a workout perspective look like this...

So what about 2012..? Well first, I'm really excited even more now about running my first "official" marathon race at the end of February. Now that I have slayed the mental dragon of "can you really run that far without walking", I'm more pumped than ever to complete a marathon race distance. In many ways I feel like that successful training run has freed me from placing quite so much focus on increasing long runs, and will allow me to focus more on trying to just get in some good solid runs much more frequently.

Previously, I was trying to run at least 6 miles at a time, and that seemed to prevent me from running every day (I would have to put a cross-training day between run days). I could sometimes do two in a row, but not often, and have been battling issues with my right IT band for over a month (and before that, an issue with my TFL on my left side). However, I think if I can dial back that distance to 4 miles for most days, that will allow me to string together many more days, get more running in (which I love), and increase my mileage as well probably.

It's not that I intend to avoid long runs between now and the marathon in late February (or even after that...I really like the longer runs even if the really long ones are a bit intimidating), but I feel like they don't need to be my primary focus. At my current age and fitness level, it takes a day or two (sometimes more) to recover from the longer runs, and rushing that recovery just sets me up for injury.

My plan this year is to really focus a lot more on proper stretching, core work (abdominal, and glute work especially), and finding a balance that allows me to run more frequently without injury. The last time I "got into shape" about six years ago (please me to STAY in shape going forward...getting back into shape is just too freaking hard), I pushed too hard, got injured, worked through injury for a while, and then just got tired of always being in pain so I eventually quit working out. I want to be certain that this time, I find a better balance..especially since I'm not getting any younger and I don't bounce back like I used to.

Beyond the marathon in February, I believe I would like to run some other race distances for some variety, and perhaps try a triathlon (or maybe even an ultra like a 50K...but that even sounds a bit crazy to write, much less plan for at this point). Mainly though my sights are on the marathon at this point. That distance has always held a certain mystique with me for some reason, and I want to "own" it...or at least occupy it for a while.

Happy Running Everyone, and bring on 2012.....


  1. Good luck to you in 2012!

    I also love longer runs, I can't wait to start training for a half marathon again (and eventually our marathon).

    I LOVE the last picture, it's great!

  2. Happy New Year, Michael!

    SO glad to hear that your surgery was successful, and what you've done since then is nothing short of miraculous!

    That said, are you following a training schedule for your marathon? You've already shown you have the ability to go the distance, so your focus on shorter runs (but more frequent) will probably maintain your fitness for the big day.

    Having only run 1 marathon (thus far!), all I can tell you is enjoy the day. Once you've put in all that training, the actual day is YOUR's your celebration, so enjoy yourself!

    Can't wait to read all about let's get out there and RUN! (ok, that's going to be difficult for me now, as it's getting late, but I'll be out again tomorrow morning!).

    All the best, Bill

  3. @Bill: I'm not really following a published training plan per se. I more or less started mapping out my long run progressions so that I could build up to the distance by the end of January (with a month to taper) in October, but most of the plans call for more miles a week in between the long runs than my body was capable of sustaining, so I started modifying the plans to do what I could between the long runs, then perform the long runs.

    An injury to my right IT band in the knee area in the middle of November really made training tough. Once I got that solved (or at least dialed in), the thought of possibly running long again one more time in 2011 was just too good to pass up.

    My plan going forward is to just try to keep a balance between frequency and intensity / duration to prevent injury and be able to show up at the starting line healthy.

    I really appreciate the encouragement, and really want to enjoy that day. If I'm healthy (and the weather cooperates), that should contribute to a positive experience hopefully.

    Hope your running continues to go well, and your remain injury free in 2012 !

  4. What an awesome year! Can't wait to hear how your 2012 marathon goes. You are ready and will rock!
    I ran 5 halfs last year and felt a marathon was something I didn't want to do yet. Now that I am injured, I wish I had run one. You never know what the future will bring. Things can change in an instant. Now PRs and distances don't seem so important. Just going out there and running & competing will bring me joy.