End of Year Recap (2012)

2012 was a huge year.  A complete game changer, no question.  If I were to never run again after this year, I would say I went out with a bang.  If I continue this “hobby” for decades to come, I will point to 2012 as the year in which I realized I was capable of more than I thought possible.  Not only did I get faster, I became more confident, at times almost recklessly so.  I broke through some significant barriers, pushed myself farther and reevaluated the idea of improvement.

It is for these reasons and several others that I will have to abandon any humility I may have as I write this post.  Seriously, if self-congratulatory fist-pumping gives you an allergic reaction, stop reading now or go find an EpiPen because your throat is about to close up.  In the words of a fellow blogger, I’m sorry I’m not sorry, but I am damn proud of what I have achieved this year.  I put in a ton of time and sweat into training every single week without fail, dealing with everything from heavy snow to blistering heat.  I cut back on beers (which is more than I can say for a close friend), kept the partying down at several birthdays, woke up too early over the summer and eliminated key staples of my diet like milk and peanut butter.  In other words, I’d better have something to show for these meaningful lifestyle changes.

While not every accomplishment can be represented with numbers or drawings, that’s where I will start.

Recap_2012

On geography alone, this was a crazy year.  Thanks to miles hoarding, road tripping, doubling-up and a few perfectly timed airline deals, I was able to complete twelve states, nine of which I had never visited in my life: Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Minnesota, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Nevada.

Race Stats

Half Marathons Run: 11
Fastest: 1:30:47 (Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon, PR)
Slowest: 2:08:32 (Madison Montana Half Marathon)*
Average: 1:39:55*

*1:37:04 is the average if we remove the lung-killing Montana race at 9,000+ feet.

Marathons Run: 6
Fastest: 3:25:12 (IMT Des Moines Marathon, PR)
Slowest: 3:54:38 (Run Crazy Horse Marathon)
Average: 3:37:54

Top 3 Half Marathon Medals:

Oak Barrel Half Marathon (#1)

Oak Barrel Half Marathon (#1)

Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon (#2)

Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon (#2)

Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon (#3)

Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon (#3)

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Top 3 Marathon Medals:

Williams Route 66 Marathon (#1)

Williams Route 66 Marathon (#1)

Run Crazy Horse Marathon (#2)

Run Crazy Horse Marathon (#2)

Little Rock Marathon (#3)

Little Rock Marathon (#3)

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Worst Medal of 2012: It was actually a great year for medals.  I can’t really find one that I truly dislike all that much.  However, if I had to pick one, it would be Idaho Falls, whose generic and rusty design I forgave because of its tiny field, excellent organization and post-race food spread.

Number of fellow runners: 142,971
Biggest race: 34,301 (Shamrock Shuffle 8K)
Smallest race: 69 (Madison Montana Half Marathon)

Mileage Stats:

Miles Run: 1,366.6 (new record, previously held by 2011: 1,195 miles)
Average Pace: 7:53 (new record, previously held by 2010: 7:55)
Race Miles Run: 329.4 (new record, previously held by 2011: 266.8 miles)
Average Pace: 7:50 (new record, previously held by 2010: 7:52 miles)

0129_miamihalf 01So there you have it.  I ran the most miles of any previous year, the most race miles, kept the fastest yearly pace and secured a PR at every single major race distance.  I broke 20 minutes at the 5K three times, broke 41 minutes at the 10K, ran under 1:33 three times at the half marathon and broke 3:30 twice at the full distance.  My average marathon finishing time of 3:37:54 was over three minutes faster than last year’s PR.  I ran a record number of races (24) and finished a record number of states (12).  I even managed two half marathons on consecutive days without serious consequences.

0407_1_oakbarrelhalf 25I also stopped being afraid of certain numbers.  I no longer doubt myself when I see a sub-7 pace in a half marathon split.  A sub-8 marathon split used to be a red flag, a sign that race myopia had taken over and that I’d soon regret it.  Not so much anymore.  Thanks to the lessons I learned in 2012, I have realized that it’s good to be aggressive sometimes, especially if the weather is perfect.  I feel I owe it to myself to go as hard as possible, even if I think I’m exhausting my limits.  Because of this attitude, I won my first age group award at the Oak Barrel Half Marathon.  And then I won three more.  I placed in the top 1% of finishers three times and earned a top 500 finisher in Indy.

0427_louisville 08But all these stats are meaningful only to one person: me.  I honestly don’t expect anyone to analyze and digest them or derive any sort of real conclusion from them.  Besides, everyone is different.  A sub-elite marathoner would see my results and pat my head with a mix of encouragement and pity, like a Bengal tiger staring down at a fat, Manx cat.  Similarly, there are those who consider me fast.  To them I say, you can definitely catch up to me.  It’s just a matter of gradual progress with a few spikes of reckless speed here and there.  But regardless of whether these “other” people are faster or slower, they really are what make the sport fun for me.

0505_mini 12Because I never run, I train.  I prepare.  Every single time I lace up and go outside or hit the treadmill, it’s in preparation for a race, which is like a training run except I die sooner, usually surrounded by others doing the same thing.  On occasion, I see familiar faces because I’ve coerced them into running with me.

mono-locoHere are 2012’s repeat offenders:

Otter (10 races, running hetero-lifemate status maintained)
Danielle / T-Rex (4)
Marla (4)
Greg (4)
Steve (3)
Nolan (2)
Regan (2)
Jeff (2)
Jim (2)

And therein lies the core of how awesome 2012 was.  While it’s true that I enjoy running and traveling by themselves, no race trip is ever made worse with company.  Not only did I get to run a ton of races with close friends, but I made new ones whose racing adventures will surely continue to overlap with mine.  finish-lineMuch like last year, I got the chance to hang out with friends from bygone times (college, high school and even middle school) both on and off the course.  I visited three enormous monuments (Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore and the Hoover Dam), played spectator at the best race in the world, ran two races under 20°F, one above 9,000 feet and wolfed down amazing post-run burgers at Flip (AL), Bluegrass Brewing Company (KY), Blue Door (MN), Zombie (IA), Holsteins (NV) and more.

Did I also mention that I got married this year, a huge spike in my yearlong endorphin high?

0826_halfmadness 03But though 2012 was a year to remember fondly, it ended with a foot injury that I’m currently nursing.  Yes, I ran far too aggressively over the last three months without enough downtime or cross-training.  At least I think that explains it.  In fact, it shouldn’t surprise me at all that something happened, given how much additional work my feet and legs did this year, especially in the latter half.  But the optimist in me says that this is just another lesson that has to be learned.  Nobody’s invincible and even the meanest streak comes to an end.

In the words of a mighty wizard, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”  As I continue to move forward in life, keeping close ties with old friends and meeting new people, I’m thrilled that I can do it all by doing what the human body does best: run.  With every additional mile, I am reminded not only that I am fulfilling an evolutionary goal, but that happiness is a choice and not a consequence.  Some people run because they feel they have to – to maniac-dinnerlose weight or to mitigate the effects of a greasy meal.  I run because I want to, because I enjoy every step.

So can 2013 live up to these impossibly high standards?  I hope so.  I’m shifting focus away from speed and towards endurance, made most apparent by two races looming on the horizon: the Ice Age Trail 50k and the North Country Run 50-miler.  Though I certainly want to recover quickly and get back into a regular pattern of training, my left foot isn’t letting me just yet.  The Disney Marathon starts off 2013 in just under 3 weeks, which means I’m furiously rewriting my training regimen to keep 1215_1_hooverdammarathon 03fitness levels up without hurting myself further.  Tune in on January 14 to see if that happened.

And on that note, I bid ye all a Happy New Year.  May you achieve your goals, learn from your mistakes and keep pressing onwards with an insatiable desire to live.  Because we must always remember that whatever we do in this sport, we do ourselves.  Sometimes we receive encouragement from others and in certain instances we might get swept up in someone else’s training plan.  But at the end of the day, what you do and the choices you make are yours.  You plan, you prepare, you follow through and lastly, you learn.

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About Dan
Running a marathon in all 50 states because there's no better way to explore the world around you than on your own two feet, for as long as you can, until you hate yourself and everything around you. Then you stop, get a medal, and start over.

29 Responses to End of Year Recap (2012)

  1. Pingback: Race Schedule & Results « Dan's Marathon

  2. Congrats on a great year! I’m wishing you a great, swift recovery. Hope to see you at Disney in a few weeks!

  3. Love the stats. What a great year. Cheers to you for another great year!

  4. MedalSlut says:

    You do seem fast to me, so while you’re sub-elite gazelles may throw a smug smile in your direction, I still read your average pace in awe. And while I can ‘maybe’ start to catch up, I’m not sure my hormones would be too happy about cutting out certain foods that feature heavily in my diet. Congrats on an awesome year – and if you fancy another Texas race in late December, let me know! (Because I’ll probably be around – in case that wasn’t clearly implied)

    • Dan says:

      I do need to do a Texas marathon. It won’t be happening this year, but there’s always next December … only time will tell. Thanks for reading and happy new year!

  5. glenn says:

    Nice recap, Dan. And the accolades are both well-earned and well-deserved. I’m one of those people who thinks you’re fast, and following along with your exploits has helped me believe I can get stronger and faster. So thanks for that. And thanks again for not killing me when we met at the Derby mini.

    Happy New Year, friend!

    • Dan says:

      Sir Glenn, I feel like your date with destiny will involve the undead and not a few random bloggers the night before a half marathon. I trust that along with your training, you are slowly stockpiling the necessary wares to survive the forthcoming zombie takeover. Even if 2013 isn’t the year it happens, at least you’ll be ready and a little faster.

      May 2013 not be twenty-hurt-teen for you.

  6. Laszlo says:

    Congratulations on your great year and the excellent accomplishments. This is one motivating post. Makes me want to grab my running shoes and start running right now. Just like others here, I am still long way from getting closer even to your average time.
    Either way it is always interesting to add up the miles. Also the number of people you run with. Very interesting statistics. Might be interesting to see how many calories you have burnt through the year. I am sure it would add up to a couple of burgers… 🙂
    I hope you will have a quick recovery from your injury and wish you an even more successful year in 2013! 🙂

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for the well-wishes Laszlo — based on your recaps it seems like 2012 was an excellent year for you as well. Keep the momentum and training strong and you’ll be primed to smoke your old times next year. I appreciate the comment and hope you are well.

  7. Congratulations on an incredible year! As someone trying to step up their marathon game in 2013 this post was a great inspiration to me 🙂 Oddly enough, I LIKE reading people’s “stats” for the year. It’s neat seeing it all lined up like that and getting an idea of how far people have come. It gives me hope for my own running trajectory!

    And of course, it’s always nice to see fellow runners with such a deep love for the sport. So many of my friends are baffled by my run adoration! But to know other people get it is really nice.

  8. Megan Wilson says:

    You are amazing! Great job on your yearly total of 12 states! That is amazing!! I love the stats– thinking of compiling all my data now too! Keep it up!

  9. Amy says:

    Fantastic year both in speed and in travel! You have much to be proud of. I know I’ve learned a lot from you logistically (always carry your race day outfit in your carry-on) and I’ve discovered some lesser known races (like the Oak Barrel Half) that have piqued my interest. Hoping your 2013 is just as exciting (and injury free!).

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for the comment Amy. Looking at your bucket list for 2013 though, I can’t help but feel like I haven’t set ENOUGH goals for the new year. Your ambitions are impressive and I wish you the best. Onwards!

  10. Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday. I’m excited for you to run R-n-R New Orleans! Congrats on a stellar 2012, it looks like you conquered quite a bit and you have some awesome bling and stellar race times to boot. Good luck with your 2013 goals!

  11. Nice job dude! I’m jealous!!!! I only knocked off 7 states this year! Which I thought was a lot! I’m hoping to get a handful more this year, but my funds and time off are limited.

  12. Mike says:

    Can I return an unused EpiPen to Walgreens? Great year and great documentation… another impressive stat I’d like to see is “number of words blogged.” Your last sentence sums it up nicely, them’s some quality words to live by as a runner. I’d also add “Get everything you can from everything you’ve got.”

    It’s amazing, isn’t it, that feeling of training and training and getting incrementally faster, until one day you look up and the legs you once thought incapable of running double-digit miles are running a 3:25:12 (or in my case 3:28:45) marathon… and feeling great doing it.

    Hope your foot setback is little more than another lesson learned, and that January 13 sees you running at top form once again. Your blog is consistently one of the best I read, and I look forward to following along in 2013. I’ll be especially interested in your dispatches from the dirt, as you hit the trails and stretch your (dis)comfort zone… I plan to be doing the same.

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Mike. Fortunately, the foot injury looks to be a minor setback and nothing serious, so I should be back in prime form soon (but I’m not expecting a stellar time in Disney). I look forward to hitting the dirt and following in your footsteps soon. All the best for the new year!

  13. G-Tang says:

    Why did you give up peanut butter and milk? Whereas my peers and I have seen our fitness levels drop with age, you are a finely tuned machine. I commend you.

  14. Big ups to you, Dan! Reading this made me smile ear-to-ear — a reminder that I’m not particularly insane, but part of an insanely awesome community of like-minded runners. I wish you the very best in 2013 and look forward to following your adventures!

    • Dan says:

      It looks like we might be sharing a prehistoric adventure this year (and that’s NOT in reference to the Ice Age race). Thanks for reading, good luck in Houston, and happy new year Mr. Lung!

  15. trexrunner says:

    I loved this and found it absolutely fascinating, primarily because I cannot believe that you kept track of your pace for every mile you ran this year. That is simultaneously obscene and totally impressive. Congratulations on a great year and your billions of PRs! Hopefully we’ll get to hang again in 2013!

  16. You left a message on my blog but do not have your blogger set up for return email! Re: Ralston Creek half marathon. Yes, it is a pretty good race, I don’t know that I would travel for it, it is 10 minutes from my house. Last year was inaugural and they did a pretty great job. You do get a nice view of the mountains, most of the course is on bike path, some of it street. It sold out last year, so if you are going to register, do it soon! Becka

  17. Pingback: End of Year Recap (2013) | Dan's Marathon

  18. Pingback: End of Year Recap (2014) | Dan's Marathon

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