Seen a few of these “2017 Running Recaps” posted this week, so figured it would be a good idea to review my own 2017.
January – 332 miles
Kicked off the New Year with a 16 miler immediately followed by the Resolution Run 5K at Mount Trashmore – not exactly my speediest 5K, but still a good way to start the year. The rest of January was pretty much logging miles as preparation for February’s Rocky Raccoon 100, with the highlight being a challenging 35 mile run at the Noland Trail in Newport News with Howie, JP and Mike.
February – 303 miles
Highlight of the month – easily the Rocky Raccoon 100 and being a part of good friend, Howie Hodapp’s first 100 miler. We trained together. We raced together. We finished together. Definitely an experience I won’t forget in a hurry. After a well-earned recovery week I was back at it – logging miles and attempting to get a bit of speed in the legs for the rapidly approaching Shamrock 8K and Marathon. I surprised myself with a couple of decent long runs towards the end of the month – the Tidewater Striders Distance Series 20 in 2:11 and a 19 miler in 2:19.
March – 303 miles
March started off with a decent 20 mile training run (2:21) followed a week later by a confidence-boosting solo 50K training run in 3:49. The highly competitive Shamrock 8K on March 18th turned out to be one of my fastest 8Ks (28:37), and somehow I was able to follow up the next day with a 2:56 finish at the Shamrock Marathon in pretty rough conditions. Nice to keep the sub-3 marathon streak going for another year! After a couple of much-needed rest days I struggled somewhat through a weekend 20 miler which served as a good reminder to take things easy for a while as there were plenty of miles to be raced in the coming months.
April – 344 miles
April turned out to be a busy month, starting with a surprising win at the challenging, yet enjoyable Singletrack Maniac 50K in 4:34. The following weekend I raced the Dismal Swamp Stomp 1/2 Marathon and again surprised myself with a rare sub-1:20 and some bonus age-graded prize money. I felt somewhat jaded for the next few days, but managed to salvage a sub-par training week with a solid MAF-effort 30 mile training run. The remainder of the month was mainly easy training miles, capped off with a hard-earned 100 miles at the Virginia 24-Hour Run/Walk for Cancer on a brutally hot/humid day. Of course, the plan was to log as many miles as possible in the 24 hours, but when things started going south in the early evening it was an easy decision to “save my legs” for the upcoming South Downs Way 100 in June.
May – 398 miles
May was also a pretty solid month with 3 consecutive weeks over 100 miles, several individual 20+ milers and countless hill repeats at the Jordan Bridge. I also raced the Elizabeth River Run 10K in 36:39 which kickstarted the 2 weeks taper to the South Downs Way 100.
June – 242 miles
Ah, my first 100 miler in the United Kingdom and a much needed vacation with lots of rest and recovery. The South Downs Way 100 was an epic event, and looking back, I’m naturally stoked to have finished 2nd overall in 16:37. My race recap is a good reminder to how tough 100 milers can be, but the great memories far outshadow the pain and suffering I endured in the latter stages of the race. I didn’t run a ton of miles this month, but did manage to log another 20 miler on the return to Virginia Beach.
July – 383 miles
Thankfully, no races in July, just 4 solid weeks of work in preparation for my next “A” race – the NorthCoast 24-Hour Endurance Run on September 16th. Looking back, it was quite reassuring to average 80+ miles per week with no apparent issues after June’s 100 miler.
August – 431 miles
Biggest month of 2017, thanks in part to a personal best 76.5 miles at the One Mile With a Smile 12-Hour race, and a couple more 100+ mile training weeks. The 12-hour race took place on another brutally hot and humid day, so the PR (personal record) was even more rewarding. Coupled with several challenging Jordan Bridge runs, I closed out the month full of confidence and feeling positive about my chances at the upcoming 24-Hour race.
September – 348 miles
September started well with a gutsy age-group-winning 1:20:55 at the Rock’n’Roll 1/2 Marathon. Conditions were decent for a change, but I probably raced too hard as I spent the next week or so feeling really sluggish and battling a niggly right glute. Confidence wasn’t high as NorthCoast 24-Hour race day approached, but a visit with Rebekah at Balance Therapeutic Massage turned things around, and it was soon back to “game on” and plan to run as many miles as possible. Unfortunately the weather gods didn’t get the memo, as race day brought more crazy hot conditions to contend with – seems to be a theme this year with timed races and hot/humid weather! Frustratingly, I didn’t run the smartest race, but did manage to run just over 140 miles for a new personal best which was good enough for 2nd place overall. The rest of September was fairly quiet, with almost a week of rest followed by a decent get-back-to-it training week and a shake-out at the Neptune Festival 8K (29:30).
October – 271 miles
The plan for the next couple of months was to keep the miles ticking over, but to introduce some speed efforts as preparation for December’s Cayman Islands Marathon. The plan must have worked well as I last-minute-entered the Marine Corps Marathon and shocked myself by finishing in 2:49:19 and winning the 50-54 age group. On the flip side, it was nice to close out the month with a fun showing at the Wicked 10K – no pressure to run fast, just a fun outing with friends and a few beers!
November – 216 miles
Looking back at the training log for November, I’m a bit guilty of slacking off to some degree. Sure, I logged a few decent workouts and sort of kept up with some speed efforts, but overall I’m a bit disappointed with November’s weekly mileage totals of 75, 69, 55 and 36 – hardly the best preparation for a tough, tropical marathon in early December. I tried to reassure myself the low mileage for the month (216 miles) was probably a good thing after a busy year, but deep down I think I knew the Cayman Marathon would be a struggle.
December – ??
Onto December, and the Cayman Marathon did indeed turn out to be a struggle. Somewhat stupidly, I tweaked my thigh muscle a week before the race, which (a) led to another low mileage week and (b) really knocked my confidence for six. Amazingly I managed to come away with my 4th Cayman Marathon victory, but it was a hard fought win as just 10 miles into the race I suffered pretty badly with a hamstring cramp.
At this point in the year, most [sensible] runners would call it a day, celebrate a great year and take time to rest, recover and recharge for 2018. Not this runner, however. This runner had a Seashore Nature Trail 50K streak to maintain, which just happened to be 13 days after the Cayman Marathon. I scrambled a lot in the days following Cayman – 2 x 90 minute massages, more rest days than running days and plenty of ice, heat, compression and whatever else I thought might help. Once again I battled through the race, and despite hitting the wall hard at mile 25, managed to hold on, snag 2nd place overall but more importantly keep the Seashore 50K streak alive.
I’ll definitely end 2017 with a new personal record for miles run in a year (currently at 3,736), but somehow I don’t think I’ll be able to top that next year. Anyway, it’s probably time to think about running smarter (less miles) and start introducing more strength and flexibility into the routine. This month has been quite a battle with 2 tough races and hardly any training miles, and unless I start mixing things up, 2018 could turn out to be a disaster. More to the point, I’m definitely not ready to hang up the running shoes anytime soon, as I still have plenty of goals to hit and milestones to reach. Hope you can follow the journey next year by subscribing to the blog – see sidebar for details.
- NorthCoast 24-Hour Endurance Run – 140.47 miles
- South Downs Way 100 – 16:37:32
- Rocky Raccoon 100 – 18:46:43
- One Mile With a Smile 12-Hour Run – 76.5 miles
- Seashore Nature Trail 50K – 3:56:48
- Singletrack Maniac 50K – 4:33:55
- Marine Corps Marathon – 2:49:19
- Shamrock Marathon – 2:56:12
- Cayman Islands Marathon – 2:59:55
- Dismal Swamp 1/2 Marathon – 1:19:55
- Elizabeth River Run 10K – 36:39
- Shamrock 8K – 28:37
Strava 2017 Highlights
Looking back, it’s been a great year, made easier by the support of wife Ally and daughter Shannon, fantastic friends and training partners, local businesses, national companies, and the ever-growing circle of social media followers. Here’s a quick shoutout to some of those companies, who I look forward to working with again in 2018.
- Balance Therapeutic Massage
- Running Etc.
- Tailwind Nutrition
- Injinji Performance Toesocks
- Topo Athletic – save 10% with code TOPOSPEIRS10
- Squirrel’s Nut Butter – save 20% with code SNB20OFF
- Christopher Bean Coffee – save 25% with code Steve25