Another year has passed under the bridge. In so many ways, it wasn't what I expected. At times, it was disappointing. At times, it was fun. At times, I worked harder than I've ever worked before, and at times, I was lazy and blew off training regularly.
Let's start with the numbers.
Running: 1559.46km (+305.46)
Swimming: 192.35km (+48.75)
Cycling: 1207.3km (+340.95)
All my distances are up from 2005. This comes as a small surprise to me. Let's break it down.
In the early part of the year, I was running five times a week, and being fairly consistent with my schedule. Two things effectively derailed my marathon training - tapering and recovering from supposed B races, and an unrelated medical problem which sidelined me for a few weeks. As a result, my training over the first 5 months of the year was inconsistent, and inadequate.
After the marathon, I worked on getting my biking up to speed to do a few triathlons. I ran infrequently and sporadically, with little thought or plan. It showed; while my running wasn't really bad this summer, it wasn't the strength that I usually rely on in triathlons.
I had been planning on not starting to train seriously until November, but as the September race season drifted by (with me not running anything), it occurred to me that I was already more well rested than I had rights to be. So, in October, I got back to running 5 times a week, and slowly building mileage. I've been sick twice since then, but excluding that, my weekly running chart looks pretty consistent.
I had hoped to hit 1600km this year, and fell just short of that. I really should have run more this summer than I did. However, this didn't really happen out of laziness. I set out to enjoy my training this summer. I wanted it to be laid back, without a strict regime, but with lots of swimming, and riding for fun. It was all that. Running suffered, but I didn't. Not really.
I chose to swim all summer this year, mostly to stay sharp for triathlons. Other than the cold-water nightmare at the North Bay Triathlon, my swimming exceeded my expectations all year. It started with my unexpectedly strong results at my first ever swim meet, and just got better from there. I continued to improve in the pool all year. Even switching coaches in September seemed to help. By December, I was already on the doorstep of meeting my end-of-season (April/May) goals..
What can I say? I loved my bike this year. LOVED it.
The season started with the best ride of my life (hill notwithstanding), and went from there. This summer, Saturday meant 50+km bike rides, usually with a camera and an eye for sightseeing. I looked forward to those rides, and I loved being able to wander far from home.
Sometimes, a year after you make a big purchase, reality starts to set in, and you fall out of love with your expensive new toy. This wasn't the case for me and the still-unnamed road bike.
Hmmm, what to say? Race-wise, this was a very weak year for me. I essentially had one good race, maybe two. Ok, two - the half marathon in January, and my first ever olympic triathlon in August. Ok, and the swim meet was good, I said that already. Still, I didn't run many races, and most of those weren't run particularly well.
It comes down to training. This year, I showed that I could train very well (leading up to the half marathon in January), and that I could train very poorly (spring and summer). The choice was mine - was I going to be forever a laid-back athlete who ran casually but never really pushed himself, or was I going to be all that I could be?
My last three months has been the beginning of my crafted answer to that question. I have five months to go to the marathon. Along the way, without damaging my marathon training, I plan on shattering a few PBs. I plan on being very serious and attentive to my training. I owe it to myself to build on the lessons I've learned in 2006.
Best training run:
Nothing hugely stands out this year, so maybe I'll nominate this one. I was in the right frame of mind. It was a nostalgic, if cold, run.
Best training swim:
On a couple of occasions this year, I've really been able to notice the difference that being coached in swimming makes. Obviously, it helps improve from and technique. Sometimes, though, being coached can coax me to push myself harder than I might have pushed myself on my own.
This swim featured an excellent mix of being pushed, being instructed, and being educated. Maybe this is why I'm liking swimming far more than I ever thought I would.
If I was counting races, the half hour open water swim in Mooney's Bay would be it. Rhythm, solitude - I was in a zone I'd never been in before.
I think I said this already. New England. I seriously can't thank Jank enough.
Wondering if I was in danger of drowning in North Bay Triathlon. I managed to get my emotions under control, and got the swim done, but at some point out there in the cold, cold waters, I forgot everything I knew about myself and about swimming and panicked.
I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I can't thank Jank, flipperhead or runninmomma enough. Jank and his family were simply awesome hosts, flipperhead was very patient and gracious as my lifeline, and runningmomma and family guided me around a strange city in a strange country. Hopefully, someday, I'll be able to repay my new friends for their generosity and hospitality.
All of which enabled the highlight of my year - watching my favorite super hero - the Amazing Hip - run the Boston marathon. It meant a lot to me to be there, supporting jeff, and taking in one of the most amazing races on the planet. I mean, I even got to see the Hoyts!!
Boston was a hugely motivational and enjoyable experience for me. I'd love to go back as a runner - someday. I'm at least 2 years away from being able to try, though. And it's entirely possible that I don't have enough natural speed to make ever qualify. If this year was as close as I'll ever come to the Boston Marathon, well, all I can say is that it was still pretty darned awesome.
Having experienced the highs and lows of 2006, I can't wait to see what 2007 has in store for me.