A Runner's Year in Cycling
While my running accomplishments from 2013 were limited, amidst a few disappointing setbacks I did manage to complete both my first century (100 mile) bike ride, as well as a 30 hour adventure race; checking off two (non-running) events from my bucket list.
I began the year working with a running coach to help me work through a pretty severe case of plantar fasciitis. It was rough going; every step hurt, but very slowly over time I felt like I could get moving again. In the middle of this recovery I thought I'd test the foot during the Columbia Cycling Club's 15k trail race, and despite the foot pain I finished 5th overall coming in at 1:10:20. Not my best, but not bad.
With my foot feeling stronger in the spring, I was able to join my friends in Chattanooga for our annual 100 mile fun-run through the Cumberland mountains (this year on the upcoming Thunder Rock race course). About 32 miles in, I injured my shin pretty badly slipping down a cliff-side stream embankment and had to cut the run short because of the injury. Which was a bummer since it was such a beautiful course, but I think I'll be giving the inaugural race a go when they hold it in May this coming year.
Given these frustrations with running I decided to take up road biking as a way to maintain my endurance and daily dose of adventure. Learning a whole other sport from the ground up has had its challenges, and costed me a few deraileurs and frames. But commuting 11 miles each way to work and exploring the beautiful countryside of middle Tennessee has been an overall wonderful experience.
Now, since I suppose I'm a biker too after a few months of riding, I decided to ride a century at the Harpeth River Ride for my birthday in June. It was a wonderful event and another check off of my activity bucket list. I finished in about 5hrs 35min and my arms and shoulders gave out long before my legs.
A few days after that race I ended up braking my left pinky toe while running up a mountain in Napa, CA. Another setback to any running OR now biking ambitions I may have had for the rest of the summer. Doctors told me it would be mid-September until the toe would become healed.
I took it pretty easy for the next few months, but admittedly strapped on the biking shoes as soon as the swelling subsided enough, just to keep in some miles on my legs.
Knowing any chance I had at a fall ultrarunning race was now blown, I looked to other means to satisfy the urge. Somehow I was able to convince a co-worker to participate with me, I signed up for the Checkpoint Tracker Champion Series Adventure Race held in Knoxville (check out a local TV interview video with yours truly included HERE).
The event included 80+ miles of biking, 28 miles of paddling, a dozen or so miles of trail running, rappelling, and even a bout of rifle shooting amidst 30 hours of continuous orienteering. Endurance wise, I was in fine shape for the event; but a dog attack two weeks prior left me quite scraped up and with bruised ribs from having been thrown off the bike onto a concrete bridge embankment. This ended up only really being an issue for me during the paddling section.
I actually quite enjoyed the multi-sport facet of the event, and the fact that it takes more than pure athleticism to participate. I do envision myself doing more adventure races in the not-too-distant future. There were many parts of the race we got wrong and I would love to give it another go.
After that race, I didn't have much else going on the rest of the year. My main focus was on easing my foot back into a running routine very slowly as to not aggravate anything unnecessarily. I can't say if the tiny twinges of pain I feel are lingering unresolved issues, or my brain playing memory games with me. I like to, cautiously, think it's the latter.
I'm still in the process of fully outlining my activity calendar for this next year, but at the moment my primary goals I am weighing out now include:
- 100 mile ultrarunning trail race this summer (Thunder Rock 100)
- 200+ kilometer randonneur bike ride in the fall (considering a local permanent brevet)
- Add rock climbing back into the mix (and introduce the sport to my sons)
- Gather any qualifications that would be required for the 2015 Alaska adventure race
Over the next few weeks, I hope to have a better handle on my exact goals for the year, and begin to assemble a more formalized training plan. There will be a number of smaller events sprinkled throughout the year; some formalized, others I look to create myself and invite others to participate. Regardless it will be a fun and challenging year for sure!