Looking back at 2016 (while planning for 2017)
If the goal was to have a lot of run, run as many races as possible while visiting interesting places then 2016 was a success.
I started the year with the always quick (downhill) Millennium mile and the best warm-down of the year. Soon after I was off to Mexico with Albee for 11 days of hiking (and a little running) as we had fun climbing some volcanoes and got as high as 16,000-plus feet. The most dangerous thing we did on the trip was to eat burgers cooked at a roadside stand. Soon after returning from Mexico I had to follow-up with my doctor (complications from prostate surgery last year) and found out I’d need further “procedures”. My 12 mile run on the Ghost Train trail (Amesbury) was fast which would be a trend for any of my post-doctor-runs.
The highlight in February was a Mt Washington run with Kevin Tilton in 7 degrees with snow and freezing fog. We ran up in 1:55 and down in 1:20. This was one of the very few times I’ve been up Mt Washington that wasn’t during the annual race. Later in the month I had a procedure done which caused me to miss 3 days of running.
In March I had another fast rail trail run, this time 10 miles on the Newfield rail trail (69:43) right after my doctor’s appointment. Later in the month I convinced a good sized group to come run 20 miles on the Manchester, Derry, Salem, and Methuen rail trail. The fast guys were gone right from the start but we saw them again later when they strayed from the trail. Jim P, Dan V, and Mike Q joined me in the “slow” group. This was by far my longest training run of the year. Unfortunately 2 days later I took a bad spill on a muddy trail and strained a quad muscle which put me out for 10 days.
April was a rebuilding Month, slowly coming back from the strain. I made the best of it, walking the River 10 mile (while marking the course) in 3:01:55
In early May I was back to the doctor and another procedure (which meant another 3 days off – catheter). I raced twice over Memorial Day weekend taking 2nd place in the 50+ at Wachusett Mountain in a very close race on an 84 degree day. The top 7 seniors all finished within 33 seconds. The following day I picked up my first win of the year! I was the overall champion at the “Spinners 3k” in Manchester. This was a really cool race that started and finished inside the ballpark, it was also the best post-race of the year.
In June I went on a very intense 3 day high point trip with Eric Morse. We did a boatload of driving for the mostly short runs to the summits of six states (SC, GA, TN, VA, NC, KY).
During July I got to hang out with Richard Bolt for 4 days while he visited for the USA mountain champs. Bolt has been gone for 10 years but certainly not forgotten. The Mountain championship was my goal race of the year and I could not have been happier with the outcome (I took 1st in the 50+ and CMS also took the team title). I also started the “Hike 125 challenge”, which celebrated the 125th year of the Trustees of the Reservations. The challenge was to hike 125 miles within the Reservations between May 1st and December 31st. I didn’t find out about it until July but when I read that I could earn a PATCH, I was in! I had another procedure done and missed 2 days of running. After that I was able to head up to the Maine Wilderness. Kevin Tilton and I visited the abandoned trained, which was unlike any sight I’d ever seen before. After that we ran to a very remote fire tower and the following day we ran up/down Katahdin (the highest point in Maine) via the newly relocated Abol Slide trail.
August featured a long stretch of 90 degree days, miserable but it made getting up at 3:30am for an “early” run a lot easier. The only thing worse than the heat was the people telling me “you must love this weather”. During the month Eric (and Murdoch) and I headed south for a three day High Point trip (NJ & DE). In addition to the state high points we also visited a bonus “tri-state”.
In September Al & Dan joined me for a rare long run. We did a nice easy 15 on the Newfields rail trail (actually 15 miles is not easy no matter how slow it is done) but I needed some long runs before the Manchester Marathon. I also passed 200 miles in the “125 challenge”, and re-set my goal to a “double challenge” of 250 miles.
During October I did a couple of long runs scouting the Marathon course and also checked out the newly paved section of the Windham rail trail. The marathon was approaching quickly so I got in 16 miles alone on the new part of the trail. I also got in an nice run with Ken Tripp. I rarely get to run with Ken and it is always fun (he is a stats guy). We did 8 miles on the Amesbury rail trail with his well-behaved dog. The run just flew by. I closed out the month with a short trip to the Grand Canyon. Great fun trail running outside of Flagstaff followed by a solo run to Plateau Point and back in the Canyon.
In November I closed out the racing year with the Manchester marathon. My goal was a negative split and a sub-3 hour race. I met both goals despite a tough course and windy day. Two days later I had (hopefully) my last surgery followed by 3 weeks off. I was not allowed to bike, row, or Go, but the doctor told me I could “walk as much as you want to”. I took that to heart and walked 3 hours per day as fast as I could. During this time I reached my 300th mile in the 125 challenge and re-set my goal to triple the challenge (375 miles). I finished the month with my first run back. It felt great to get back out there, especially without a catheter!
December was all about getting mileage back up to normal. With weeks of 35, 62, 74, and 80. I met my goal. I also passed 400 miles in the 125 challenge and re-set my final goal to 500 miles (with 2 days to go in the year I hit 500). Along the way I ran every foot of every trail in both Weir Hill and Ward Reservation which were my primary places to run off-road.