Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: a year in quick review

With 3,250 miles and 425 hours added to my running log this year, there is of course a lot to say, it has been another great year. Now, if you follow my blog, there shouldn't be much of a surprise. For the interest if time, both yours and mine, I'll be succinct, focusing on a few statistics and highlighting a multi-dimensional analysis of my 2012 races.

Races - This has been a great year from a racing standpoint, both from a variety and performance standpoint. Here are the new races I enjoyed in 2012: Chuckanut 50K, Leona Divide 50-mile, JFK 50-mile, 3 major, very competitive and popular events. In addition to meeting new ultra running crowds, especially on the East Coast or Washington State, these three events were celebrating special milestones, respectively their 20th, 20th and 50th anniversaries.

Here is a graph summarizing in one picture the 15 races. 2 criteria are objective: the distance (sphere size) and the performance relative to the top finisher (per The other 2 parameters are totally subjective: the color represents what I recall to be my perceived effort and the abscissa (horizontal axis) represents how much relative fun I had.

An additional legend is for the acronyms of the races, from left to right: AR: American River, WTC: Way Too Cool, SK: Skyline, MW: Miwok, JFK, TB: Trailblazer, RA: Ruth Anderson, TT: Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, CN: Chuckanut, JS: Jed Smith, LD: Leona Divide, RdA: Run d'Amore, SC: Stevens Creek, QS: Quiksilver, OW: Ohlone Wilderness.

Mileage - This is the easiest number to track, either by wearing my Garmin GPS or running courses which I already measured before. And the more meaningful in terms of training when it comes to ultra running. As I commented in my previous post, I got caught again in the symbolic goal of 100 kilometers a week average. I was ahead of this goal by mid year before I fell and broke my shoulder. Not counting the 6-week break to heal and the inter-seasonal 3-week break in December, the average is actually close to 121 km / week. With the broken shoulder, I ended up doing most of my 2nd part of the year mileage on flat courses, instead of hill training. That explains some of the decrease in average pace (red line in the chart below with the scale on the right, the blue bars representing the "mileage" in kilometers with the scale on the left).

Consistency and Improvement - These are 2 categories I used in my 2011 review, so let's reuse them here. I'm quite happy with the consistency of my races these year. No DNF and the lowest performances were relative to elite guys (e.g. Max King at JFK). I'm also very happy with some of the performances, notably my new PR at the 50K distance (3:19:09, thanks Victor for the "pull!") and my new personal best at the 100-mile distance, breaking 15 hours albeit on a flatter course than my other 100-miles (14:54:58). And, despite a focus on ultra distances, I didn't lose too much on the 10K (35:06 at the Turkey Trot and 35:21 at Trailblazer), which is a good sign.

Locations - In addition to the new races above, I kept visiting new places abroad for work: Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Mexico, Hong Kong, Brazil, and also a few new places in California and on the East Coast. A great source for blogging and sharing running tips for travelers, but a lot of time spent in the air (157,180 miles!)...

Grand Prix - My first participation to the USA Track&Field Mountain Ultra Trail Running Grand Prix was in 2006 when I debuted at the ultra distances with Way Too Cool 50K and Helen Klein 50-mile. 2 races weren't enough to win the Grand Prix but participating to 12 events the next year did it. I won my age group division again in 2012, making it 6 wins in a row. Although it is becoming more and more challenging in a very competitive Masters (M40-49) division, I have one more year in this age group so will give a last try. Needless to say, it all depends on other top Masters such as Dave Mackey, Leigh Schmidt, Gary Gellin, Victor Ballesteros, Rich Hanna, Mark Lantz, Eric Skaden, if they will focus on this series of local races or other national ones.

Club achievements - Our Quicksilver Ultra Running Team did amazing again in 2012. First, we had quite a few additions, now counting close to 40 members. In the Grand Prix, we took 4 out of the 6 age group wins in the men and the same in the women division! Collectively we took home the Women Team award, placed 2nd in the Men division, 3rd in Mixed, and 2nd Overall. And our club has a renewed board and revamped website too!

Injuries - This is a new category for me in a yearly review. For the high mileage and intensity I put in my training throughout the year, not to mention a lot of racing, I was proud to have avoided injuries for almost 30,000 miles. I attribute that to some luck but more importantly to the quality and variety of the Brooks shoes I'm running in (using at least 4 different models every week). Now, I did a bad fall in June on a 39-mile training run on the Tahoe Rim Trail after sleeping only 3 hours 2 nights before. Didn't hurt my feet or legs, ironically, but broke my shoulder in multiple areas which kept me 6 weeks totally off running. The good news is that I recovered most of my range of motion after 5 months. It also served as a good lesson and a great test or training for pain endurance... I'm now looking for the next 30,000 miles without injury... ;-)

Blog - This is blog post #52 this year, right on a weekly pace, phew! Or let's say average pace as there has been a few weeks in July where I had nothing to share about my running, or lack thereof.

That's it, a few more hours to savor 2012 before turning the page and jumping into another year and running season! I'm very grateful for the ability to run so much especially when I hear about issues, injuries or sickness, others have encountered this year. Here is to 2013, to all your running wishes, dreams and... resolutions!

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