“If one could run without getting tired I don’t think one would often want to do anything else.”
— C. S. Lewis
2016 - what a year. This quote is of particular meaning to me when I think about the past year and my running through it. 2016 was also a great year for many other reasons, but for all intents and purposes we'll stick to the running here. It was by far my most successful as an athlete.
I think it is fair to say that I owe all of my recent successes to my fantastic coach Amy Rusiecki who has run me harder, further, and more consistently than I've ever run before. I ran over 3500 miles in 2016 which was more than 1100 over my 2015 total (when I was training for my first 100 miler). I spent 540 hours working out (500 running and an extra 40 swimming/biking). My average distance for the entire year was almost 13 miles per run! This is well above the 10.5 miles I averaged for 2015.
I also recently started working with a personal trainer at Kyle Long Fitness who is helping me to add in 2x/week strength workouts that are efficient and effective and don't take a ton of extra time. Together with Kyle and Amy I know that I'm poised to ramp up training and hit 2017 running (pun intended).
If you put in the work, the results will follow. I am unarguably a better runner and athlete because I've taken the steps to make training a priority.
My first official race of the year wasn't until a local 5k on April 30th, but I had a few adventures prior to that. Here is a quick summary of my year:
March 12th - I ran the entire 92.6 mile Mid State Trail from end to end beginning on the New Hampshire southern border and running straight through to the Rhode Island northern border. This was a LOT of fun running with my coach for the first 50 or so and running with Chad and Jake for the remaining 40+. We set the FKT (fastest known time) for the fastest (likely only) people to run the entire trail, finishing up in a little under 24 hours. Total elevation about 8800 feet.
April 2nd - Ran the ~48 mile Rim2Rim2Rim from the south to north rim and back to the south rim of the Grand (MF-ING) Canyon! This was one of the most enjoyable experiences running has ever brought me. The previous September Woo and I visited M&M (my sister/brother in laws) who live in Flagstaff and visited the Canyon for the first time in my life. Sadly we didn't have enough time to explore or go down the canyon at all. I only knew that I needed to come back and run through it. This day, along with good friend Billy Hafferty (check out his epic recount of the adventure here), old friend Tommy Rivs, and new friend Drew M. we ran our way down, along, up, down, along, and back up the Grandest of all the Canyons. I will never forget this day.
April 30th - Woo and I ran a little neighborhood 5k which I won in a mediocre time of 18:42. I don't think anyone finished within at least a minute of me. I think I had to go run another 15 or so miles afterward for the day.
May 14th - My first real race/test of the year. This was my first attempt at the 24 hour distance. Much more can be read here on my original post if you're interested, but bottom line it was not the race I had hoped for. Though, looking back, for my first 24 hour race, 123 miles and winning can't be too bad.
May 29th - Ran my 2nd ever Pemi Loop with my coach and overall bad ass Amy Rusiecki. It was great to stretch my legs out after running the race 2 weeks earlier. I didn't think I was ready for such an adventure, but she told me I was, so I listened. We finished in about 9 hours and 50 minutes, which is a pretty impressive time for the approximately 30 mile route with 9200 feet of elevation gain.
June 26th - I figured I should do one triathlon for the year since that's where my endurance roots came through, so I raced the Ironman Mont Tremblant 70.3 with Woo (as she geared up for IMMT in the fall). This was a blast, and I had a PR on the run course, but I kinda didn't really want to be swimming or biking out there much. Everyone does 15 mile runs before a 70.3, right? More info here.
July 16th - I spent the weekend up in Vermont volunteering, crewing, and spectating, for the Vermont 100. This was a great experience and I had a great time crewing for and running the final 30 miles with the race winner Brian Rusiecki.
August 6th - I ran the Sweltering Summer 8 hour ultra for the second straight year. This is a very well put on race in western MA and is always a lot of fun. I successfully defended my title and extended my course record.
August 28th - Woo and I went up to Quebec City to run the QC Marathon. This was the first time either of us had been to the area and we were planning to go up with some friends, but their plans changed last minute which left the (beautiful, waterfront, spacious) condo to just us and another couple coming up from NH to do the half. This is the first marathon I've actually went in to "race" in well over a year. I wanted to get my Boston Qualifier back to run the 2017 race and this was one of the last races to attempt it at. I was successful and placed 15th overall in a time of 2:56:35. We both really enjoyed this race and would definitely come back. It was a great atmosphere and fun course.
September 17th - (the morning of our wedding) I ran the 10k run leg of the Lobsterman Triathlon with Woo holding down the swim and bike portions of the race with many of our closest friends competing and spectating with us. Also, quite the memorable experience. One of the best.
September 24th - I made the trip down to Nashville (Lebanon) TN to race my second 24 hour race of the year (and ever). I went in pretty confident having one under my belt and making some adjustments to nutrition and training. Though, with temps in the high 90s that certainly went out the window. Again, it wasn't the race I hoped for, but winning the race and running 130 miles was a great learning experience.
October 23rd - Thanks to a random drawing at the Lobsterman Triathlon Woo and I got to travel (all expense paid) to Aruba to compete in the Challenge Aruba triathlon there where I ended up winning my age group on a borrowed bike. I signed up for the sprint and Woo was planning to do the 1/2 distance, but a fall the week before changed those plans. :(
December 10th - I was accepted (with about 3 weeks to go before race day) to the Desert Solstice Invitational 24 hour Track Meet. This would be my 3rd attempt at the 24 hour distance and one of the most memorable races of my life. I ended up finishing 3rd overall M and running 143.39 miles while qualifying for the US National Distance Team.
Putting it all down like that in one place really makes me realize everything I've done in the past 12 months.
*9 races competed in (6 running and 3 triathlon)
*4 overall race wins
*3 other podiums
*1 Pemi Loop
*1 Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim
PHEW! I mean, am I right? What an amazing F-ing year! Made even more so with the support of Woo, family, friends, and many of my favorite brands behind me!
If you haven't done so, definitely check these guys out, they've all had a part in helping me to achieve what I've achieved in the past year:
Garden of Life bars, vitamins, and proteins. All organic, non GMO, raw, plant based and delicious. The protein bars are perfect for an afternoon snack and their different flavors of organic protein powders always have just what I'm craving.
Tranzend Body Cortizen has helped me to stress less, sleep better, and recover better to push my both further then I thought possible. I was highly skeptical, but after taking this for a year I have no doubts as to the noticeable benefit of this supplement.
Drink Maple water has quickly become one of my favorite go to drinks for hydration (be that after a long run or after a long night of "celebrating"). It's light crisp flavor is perfect for almost any occasion. (P.s. use code "FRIENDOFSOUTIEA" for 15% off purchases from the Drink Maple website!)
Of course, the Simple Hydration water bottle has been one of my best finds since I came across the product on Twitter years ago. This bottle is perfect for loop courses and small, light weight, and easy to carry.
2016 was such a great year and I know that I'm just getting a feel for my "ultra legs" and know that I've got a lot more left to accomplish in this sport. Thank you all for following along on my journey. Stay tuned for more adventures and race fun!