It is easy right now to look at 2019 as kind of a shitshow in terms of running. My knee problems from 2017 reared their ugly head, I strained a hip flexor, and my left hamstring hasn’t really been right since the last month of marathon training.
My aches and pains are on the mend thanks to a lot of physical therapy, a lot of rest, a lot of trying to do things the right away.
That being said, I’m only running for 5 minutes at a time right now (5 minute jog, 2 minute walk, repeat). I’m feeling better every day, but it is hard not to be frustrated that I am not training for the Mid Winter Classic the way I want to be.
It would be easy to look at that, to focus on my body falling apart when I pushed toward my big audacious goals, and think of 2019 as a failure. After all, the biggest race of my year broke me.
2019 was far from a failure.
2019 was a year of huge wins.
Yeah, it wasn’t perfect and I’m dealing with the fallout, but I met all but one of the goals I set for myself this year. I proved to myself that I can train harder enough to run another marathon. I figured out what my body is capable of and what goals I really want to chase in the future.
How can that be considered anything but a huge success?
That list of goals I set for myself in 2019 was geared toward one big goal, the one goal I didn’t meet this year. Running high-for-me mileage (a 50-mile week and a 200-mile month), running a sort-of-fast-for-me half marathon (sub 1:45), running a decent effort in the 5K (sub 23 minutes), losing 20 pounds, were all part of the process of preparing to run a 3:47 at the Chicago Marathon.
I met each of the goals I set leading up to the Chicago Marathon.
• I ran 1:44:59 at the Lake Auburn Half.
• I just missed my 5K PR, running 21:36 at the Mother’s Day 5K.
• By giving up beer and cleaning up my diet a bit, I lost 20 pounds (I’ve gained some of that back since the marathon).
• I ran 50 miles in a week and 200 miles in a month.
If you have followed along at all, you know the only goal I didn’t meet in 2019 was finally running that 3:47 marathon. I was on pace for a long time at the Chicago Marathon, but the second half of the race was a painfest thanks to those hamstring and knee injuries, and I wasn’t quite tough enough in the last 5 miles (oh, and I had two bathroom breaks before that and that cost me some time) to finally run 3:47.
But I did fight my ass off to set a PR at Chicago, finishing in 3:49:45. I wish I had been a little tougher and hadn’t quit on myself a few times in that race, but I’m extremely proud that I handled the pain in those last 5 miles much better than I did at the end of the Sugarloaf Marathon in 2017. I stuck my nose in it, I didn’t allow myself to completely quit, and I proved to myself I could do hard things.
If that’s not a win, my standards are way too fucking high.
As I reflect on 2019 I will think about all of those successes. I will also think about the things that went wrong. The wins show me that if I put in the work I can accomplish the things I want to. The losses show me that I have to work that much harder to continue to be able to accomplish the things I want to.
Moving forward, I have no big audacious goals for 2020. All I want to do is get myself to a spot both physically and mentally where I can enjoy running again. The goal is to do the work to make my body better, to get stronger and fitter to try to prevent these injuries that keep putting me on the shelf from putting me on the shelf. I have started doing that work, but I have also cut myself some slack. I worked hard for a lot of 2019, it’s OK to step back and refresh a little bit.
At some point in the future, I will set some goals to chase after. I will probably never run another marathon, but I will set some lofty goals. I will try to run some fast races. If I learned anything in 2019 it is that I am capable of reaching those high standards I set for myself and I enjoy doing the work I have to do to get there.