Yearly Wrap Up: 2016

2016 was my toughest year of running. Compared to 2015, my total mileage decreased and my average pace was slower. I missed one of my goals. I’m pretty sure I was in better shape at the beginning of the year than I was at the end of the year.

I know that the popular opinion is that 2016 is the worst year ever, and at a glance, my year of running fits that narrative pretty well. And yet, I see moments, several moments, that were actually pretty good.

First, let’s review my 3 running goals for the year.

Goal 1: 1500 miles

I finished the year with 1400.03 miles. (Running Ahead shows it as 1400.0, so I had to export my data to Excel and add up the miles there to make sure I really made it over 1400. Whew.)

I’m disappointed that I fell short of my goal by 100 miles, and that was after setting a goal that was lower than my 2015 mileage (1550.8). Of course, when I set my goal, I didn’t know if I was going to get in to the New York City Marathon, and if I didn’t get in, I wasn’t sure if I would have run a full marathon in the fall. (Given how the year played out, I really don’t think I would have run a full if I hadn’t gotten in to NYC.)

I missed a lot of running with my ankle injury, though. I missed a few more miles because of my toe, and then I missed a run right before Christmas with a shoulder (!) injury. So, yeah, I missed my goal, but it’s a minor miracle that I only missed it by 100 miles.

Goal 2: 5 races, including 3 races that are 13.1 or greater

Nailed it. Here’s the full list.

That’s 7 races, with 3 (Charleston, Tobacco Road, and NYC) that were 13.1 or greater.

Goal 3: Run in a state that I haven’t run in before*

Entering 2016, I had run in 5 states. In chronological order: North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Oregon, and New Jersey. The asterisk in the goal is to indicate that I’m only counting runs as an adult. Growing up in New York, “running” in P.E. class sucked, and wasn’t my choice, so I don’t count it, and that’s why I didn’t include New York in the list.

I actually waited until after I entered the lottery for the New York City Marathon to come up with this goal. I had a few ideas for backup plans to add a state if I didn’t get in (The most likely states would have been either Virginia or, uh, Washington state. Really.), but since I did, I was able to add New York to my list as soon as I crossed the starting line for the New York City Marathon. I’ve now run in 6 states, and I don’t need that pesky asterisk any more.

I ended up running in North Carolina (duh), South Carolina, Oregon, and New York this year. I was in New Jersey to visit my cousins right after the New York City Marathon, but I was in no condition to run while I was there. I haven’t been to Ohio since…well, you know.

So, that’s 2 out of 3 goals. Again, considering everything, that’s not bad.

Also, hey, I started this blog in 2016, on July 2, my 5 year anniversary of running, with a post appropriately titled 5 Years of Running.

My first run of 2016 was on January 1, 5.16 miles. (Yes, the .16 was on purpose.) My last run of 2016 was on December 30, 6.16 miles. (Ditto.)

I suppose I should do a weight check. Until I looked at my notes from the beginning of the year, I forgot that 2016 was when I got a new scale, back in early March. The old scale didn’t do tenths of a pound, so at the start of the year, I was at 166. On the morning of December 31, I was 165.0. I’m down 1 pound for the year, which I suppose beats the alternative, but I know I gained a few pounds right at the end of the year, primarily due to Christmas. So it’s a little disappointing, and it also means that I’m overweight again, but I should be able to get back down below 164 pretty soon. Over the course of the year, I struggled at times. I got all the way up to 175.3 in late May after my ankle injury, because I decreased my running without decreasing my eating. I worked my way down, and even got under 160 during marathon training, but my weight crept back up a bit with the holidays.

There were a few highlights.

On January 23, the day after we had gotten snow, ice, and sleet, I drove over to the Y (half of their locations hadn’t re-opened yet), and due to the number of people, they had a strict 30 minute limit on the treadmills. I decided to make the most of my time and run as fast as I could for those 30 minutes. I ended up running at a 9:06/mile average pace, and the only time I’ve had a faster average pace was in the 2015 Yiassou Greek Festival 5K.

In the Charlotte 10 Miler, I ran the last 6.2 miles (which included a killer hill) in 58:54, the first time I ever ran 10K in under 60 minutes, and I ran the last mile in 8:25.3, my fastest mile ever. From a performance perspective, that was my best race ever.

In the Charleston Half Marathon, I beat my previous PR by over 7 minutes.

There were some lowlights, too.

The summer was absolutely brutal weather-wise. At one point we had 30 days in a row where the temperature never dropped below 70 degrees. It was also really humid pretty much every day.

I had my inflamed toe, a shoulder injury which luckily only caused me to miss one run, and I fell down during a run thanks to a little black dog named Emma. (Eventually, that story is going to turn into me getting knocked down by a huge Doberman named Killer.)

The Tobacco Road Half Marathon is memorable for the wrong reasons, since my ankle gave out around the 9.5 mile mark. Still, I finished the race, even running at the end, and at no point did I consider quitting.

I was lucky, though. The podiatrist was able to figure out what was wrong with my ankle, and had a solution – orthotics – that would allow me to continue to run. I still remember how relieved I was when he said I could keep running.

And then there was the New York City Marathon.

Hands down, it was the highlight of my 5+ years of running. My performance wasn’t great, but I managed to rally at the end. And the experience was absolutely amazing, running through the city where I was born. I’ll never forget turning on to 1st Avenue and hearing the wall of sound from people cheering, or, when I got to the borough where I was born, seeing the sign that said “Welcome to The Bronx.” My parents got to see me run for the first time, and I got to hug them during the race.

I guess that race pretty much sums up my 2016. The numbers don’t look great, there was a lot of difficulty (I almost forgot to mention the 59th Street Bleeping Bridge), but there were still some great moments.

The thing I keep coming back to when thinking about this past year (besides New York City, which was great) is my improvement mentally. Throughout the year, I was resilient, and I never gave up. Whether it was the last 3+ miles of Tobacco Road on a bad ankle, or the run where I fell down, ran home, slapped on a couple of Band-Aids, and went back out and ran 4 miles, or the tail end of the New York City Marathon, where I kept running as fast as I could even after I realized I wouldn’t be getting a PR, I always found a way to keep going.

Overall, I might not be satisfied with the numbers, but I know I gave it everything I had in 2016. That’s really all I can do.

I’m ready for 2017.