As each calendar year begins, I consider the activities I’d like to accomplish and how I want to go about them. I record my intended approach as a theme.
The emergence of a year’s theme is based partly on anticipation, a bit on what’s transpired in the past, and my mood at the time. I usually flesh it out in January, when Felkerino and I are plotting vacations, brevets, marathons, and things.
A theme can also be like a like a mantra, used to underly the year’s activities and any goals I’ve set.
The theme for 2014 was “Dig Deep. Flow Like Water.” Initially, the ideas of digging deep and flowing like water struck me as contrary, but as I reflect on the year I see how they played out together.
Felkerino and I rode a full Super Randonneur series of brevets and threw in an August pre-ride of our club’s inaugural 1000K. The increase in cycling events required more disciplined work, after a year where our longest rides were a flèche and a 300K. It was a bigger physical and mental adjustment to return to these long rides than I realized– digging deep.
In addition to the bike riding, I ran three marathons (which is actually the same number as last year, but I mixed it up with 65-mile bike rides on both sides of the Freedom’s Run Marathon out of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia).
I sustained a solid workout schedule, and went on a most awesome bike tour in Colorado with my randonneur- and real-life spouse, Felkerino.
In May, I threw away my cycling log and didn’t look back. By the time I determined it might be a good idea to return to tracking my miles, I was too far out of the habit to start scribbling again. Ultimately, I figure I ended up with about 7,000 bicycling miles for the year.
Felkerino and I accomplished a challenging pre-ride of the Appalachain Adventure 1000K (I’m still recovering. Ha ha! Sort of.). I’m glad we did it, although it made me respect the mountains and climbs right outside our doorstep. Good PBP training, right?
We returned to the Appalachian Adventure 1000K one week later to provide volunteer support at the overnight for the riders on the prime time event. It was like being in a low-frills movie about endurance bicycling. I even had a speaking role. And as for my sleep schedule, well, how can I miss sleep unless I don’t have it every once in a while?
I continued to track my running miles, as I had decided at the beginning of 2014 that I wanted to run 1,000 miles for the year. That averages out to 83.3 miles a month. Doesn’t sound like too much, does it?
I was on track to meet that goal, but after finishing the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October my achilles started screaming at me.
I’ve never experienced any real pain in my achilles, but I think my shoe choices and doing two marathons in one month (plus the out and back by bike to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, for the Freedom’s Run Marathon) prompted them to say “Enough!”
Flow like water. I had also aspired to completing four marathons in 2014, but with this achilles raging at me every morning, I concluded that was not the best idea. I realized that accomplishing a 2014 goal wasn’t worth it if I ended up injured.
I took it easy after the achilles pain manifested. Now it has almost healed. I switched running shoes, which seems to have been a good decision (though I loved my old shoes… except for the pain part!). True to the flow like water aspect of the year’s theme, don’t push through if nothing is gained over the longer term.
I continued to struggle with my identity as a runner this year. Because bicycling is the activity that consumes the majority of my fitness time, I tend toward thinking of myself as a cyclist, and I see my running as some other activity for which I’ve not yet learned the label.
It doesn’t help that I fell short of my 1,000-mile target for the year (unless I run an average of 10 miles per day until the end of the year… probably not happening!).
As of this writing, here’s what my 2014 has looked like in numbers:
- Overall cycling: ??? (I estimate 7,000 miles for the year, based on previous averages)
- Super-Randonneur Series (200K, 300K, 400K, and 600K brevet) completed
- Hilly Billy Roubaix: Tandem podium (as the only people silly enough to ride this on tandem)!
- 13-day bike tour in Colorado: 969 miles
- Appalachian Adventure 1000K
- Seagull Century!
- Overall running: 950 miles (1,000 mile goal)
- D.C. Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in March
- Freedom’s Run Marathon in October
- Marine Corps Marathon in October
There were no personal bests this year, although our Seagull Century was a zippy ride. Our Colorado bike tour was climby, fun, and more ambitious than any tour we’ve done since riding to Niagara Falls in 2005, and I was pretty proud of doing Freedom’s Run as a marathon-bike tour combo. However, numbers-wise, there is nothing new to report.
But it’s what lies behind the numbers that’s most important, right? Balancing the riding schedule while making the effort to get the running miles in. Job-searching and interviewing while the bicycling and running activities still happened.
The stories behind the numbers aren’t as easily told, but most of us have them. We’re all finding ways to make our active endeavors come true while we manage our everyday responsibilities, relationships, and vocational aspirations.
Dig deep. Flow like water. Perhaps this is the theme of balance. It certainly played out as such in 2014.