If two years ago you were to ask me what I was focusing on, the marathon would’ve been my one and only answer. In 2011, I decided to step away from the marathon to focus on shorter distances and stair climbing, I wanted to crush the sears tower this year, I needed redemption for 2010.
the 2011 running season started off with some amazing races, I ran a PR at the march madness half marathon in cary. the incredible thing about this PR was that the weather wasn’t all that great (cool, windy, possibly some rain), the course has some massive hills and I had just done the ultimate climb (i.e., climb the tower as many times as you can in an hour) at the us bank building in milwaukee the day before (which I won outright, beating all the guys and girls!) plus I had been focusing on stairs over the winter so my running mileage wasn’t all that great maybe 25 miles per week. so to run a 1:30:00 in those conditions, on a course like that the day after climbing over 200 floors, and on low running mileage was pretty shocking. In April, I missed my 5k PR by 5 seconds (also the day after climbing a bunch of stairs so ill take it) and I also ran a decent PR at the lake front 10 miler.
In may, I began to pick up my mileage since stair season was over, it was time to start focusing a bit more on running. I also bought a road bike and start cycling as well since its great for stairs and figured it’d be good cross training for running. cycling became one of my new obsessions, I was pedaling around on that thing for like 6 hours a week plus 40 miles of running and I was hitting the stairwell once a week as well. I wanted to get faster on the bike and I wanted it to happen instantaneously. I did a few duathlons, they were successful, i would usually have the fastest run times then get my butt kicked on the bike but still place in the top.
My running season seemed to take a dive when I started to actually focus on it, starting in May I had one disappointing race after another. I was running times that were slower than last year, which made no sense to me. I thought cycling was supposed to be good cross training for running. maybe I was doing too much of the wrong thing? so I boosted my mileage to 50-60 mpw, dropped the bike a little and still the bad races continued. I couldn’t make sense of it or figure it out.
Since I wasn’t running a marathon, I had two other target races, the Chicago half marathon in September and the park ridge 5k a couple of weeks later. this was my chance to break 1:30 in the half and I figured the 5k would go well since I had all the intensity from the stairs. I took off at mile 2 during the half and never looked back. up until mile 11, I was on pace to go sub 1:29, not sure what happened in those last 2 miles, ha but I finished with a 1:29:30 which I was pretty stoked about. After that race, I had high hopes for park ridge but it was just another disappointing race and I finished with a time slower than last year, again…
This year ive been feeling quite conflicted, confused and a little bit disappointed. Right now, I cant make sense of my running season, I cant figure out what my focus is and I just don’t know what to think about all of it. am I a stair climber, am I a runner? can I excel at both without sacrificing one or the other? At least they have different racing seasons but you cant give up one completely during its off-season because the result when the season starts up again wont be pretty. Did my running season go downhill because I was doing too many other things, stairs, cycling, etc? Was I not putting in enough mileage, is it because I didn’t hit any tempo runs or maybe its because I weigh more than last year (although I don’t think I really have much to lose). Did I do too many easy paced runs in the shady region of busse?
I wish there was a simple answer, I wish someone could snap their figures and erase my running season, give me faster times. I was putting in the work but wasn’t seeing the results. This is not the way I thought things would go. its frustrating. But I constantly find myself, wondering what im doing and where im going. its much easier to focus on one thing but im obsessive when I start something new and I crave the challenge.
the sears tower better be the answer to all of this, it has to be my redemption...