Saturday, January 14, 2012

2011: an exceptional millesime!

With my last 2011 race on December 31, I had to delay a bit this special time to reflect on the past year, before I even tell you about what's up for the new year ahead, next week... The 2011 "grand cru" is bottled and the magnums carefully placed in the cellar. Just kidding... But, since I started running seriously after my move to California in 1998, this has certainly been the best year both in quantity and quality, at least in my own local league. And, like a vigneron or winemaker, I still hope to have another of such an exceptional year in the future. And I will keep working hard for that!

Quantitative look

One chart summarizes the year quite well from a quantitative standpoint: not only did I run many miles, the most of my running career in one single year, but I also ran them at a faster average pace. A total of 3,271 miles (5,264 kilometers), that is slightly above a 100 km/week average even with a few weeks off here and there to recover and taper and a healthy 3-week break in December. 438 hours of running overall at an average pace of 8:03 min/mile or 5:00 min/km. Cool stats, so much in line with the Farther Faster theme of my blog, all that despite getting a bit older, I cannot deny that! ;-) Not to mention a healthy busy schedule and workload on my primary job...
It is going to be challenging to do better than that. Even if there are other runners who average more miles per week, I would have to rearrange my priorities significantly to find more time to run. Maybe when I get closer to retirement...

A few other statistics for 2011:
  1. Number of entries in my running log: 233 (4.5 run / week)
  2. Number of races: 18
  3. Number of ultra races: 13 (not counting the Fat Asses)
  4. Number of ultra runs: 35 (yes, I also do ultras as training runs now... ;-)
  5. Vertical/elevation: 270,000 feet or 82,300 meters (quite approximate as this isn't Garmin's specialty to track cumulative elevation)
  6. Number of blog entries: 52
  7. Number of overall wins: 4 (Skyline 50K, Stevens Creek 50K, Last Chance 50-mile, New Year's Eve One Day 12-hour)
  8. Number of DNF (Did Not Finish): 1 (Rio Del Lago, mile 71)
  9. Number of Brooks pairs of shoes I ran in: 14 (including 866 miles in Launch and 814 miles in Racer ST)
Qualitative look

Consistency - Apart from the DNF at Rio Del Lago, I did very well in most of the races. Except maybe Miwok where I took it easy, taking more than 300 pictures wile running. Thanks to Singulair, I have not been bothered by exercise-induced asthma during races, just getting my lungs slightly irritated after Way Too Cool and American River.

Improvement - I did PR on a few distances and also managed to set some Personal Bests at 2 races. Setting the bar higher but looking forward to matching that again in 2012!
  1. 50-mile PR: 5:43:39, Last Chance, November, certainly my top performance of the season;
  2. 100K PR: 8:05:36, Ruth Anderson, April (unofficial because I missed the start by more than 2 hours because of a missed flight connection);
  3. 12-hr PR: 79.6 miles, New Year's Eve One Day, December;
  4. American River 50-mile PB: 6:47, Sacramento-Auburn, April;
  5. Quicksilver 50K PB: 3:56, San Jose, April (new age-group course record).

Originality - Not so much in my racing as the only new place I raced this year was the Los Gatos High School track for an all-comer meet. I finally ran Steve Patt's estival Stevens Creek 50K for the first time, but that's on the trails I'm used to train on. The other new race was the one-time World Masters held in Sacramento this year so all my 18 races happened in California. Not much of an original program overall but at least good from a sustainability standpoint! Now, with all my business travel, I did run/train in many new places this year: Stockholm, Madrid, Anchorage, Riyad, Dubai, Manama (Bahrain), Fort Lauderdale, Des Moines, Toronto and several places in Croatia.

Intensity and fun - This has been a very full year with racing ranging from 5K to 80 miles, a focus on the PA USATF Mountain and Ultra Trail Grand Prix in which I won my age group for the 5th year in a row but a tiny 1% margin over superstar Dave Mackey this year (Dave has just been voted the ultra runner of the year by a panel of race directors assembled by Ultra Running Magazine) and our team won all the 4 team awards (men, women, mixed, overall)! It was fun and rewarding to participate in the World Master of Athletics this summer and get a gold and bronze medal, run as a team with the Quicksilver Ultra Running Team led my our energizing captain, Greg Lanctot, fun to train solo or as a group on weekends with the Stevens Creek Striders or our Saturday morning group. I also enjoyed a few runs with colleagues at the office or while traveling (Alaska, Spain) and, last but not least, with Agn├Ęs for her come back to running and Max when he visits.

It is the perfect occasion to thank again the race directors who put up all these races in 2011. We are in particular so blessed in our North California area, this is too good to pass on and not run one or two (or more...) ultra race every month! And I'm also grateful to the hundreds of volunteers, first of course the ones that we see at the aid stations, even if it is for a short time, but also all the ones helping out behind the scene to make these events not only successful and fun, but safe too.

Great run this Saturday, more than 29 miles, starting from Rancho, up to Black Mountain then through Palo Alto's Foothills Park and back to Rancho with Rhus Ridge's steep climb without walking. My 3rd ultra run in 3 weeks, I'm quickly getting into this new season rhythm!

In next week's post I plan on sharing with you what the first half of 2012 will look like from a running standpoint, although quite of that is already public courtesy of UltraSignup's near-monopoly on race registrations nowadays. Some rain is finally announced for this Wednesday in the Bay Area, looking forward to it to alleviate the drought. Have a great week in the meantime!

1 comment:

Scott Dunlap said...

It's been great to watch you have such a great year - inspiration for us all! That 50-mile PR is a serious high water mark. Nice work.

Looking forward to more in 2012!