Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - The year that tested my resolve

Summary
Over the past month and a half I have thought a lot about this post and what to title the post. The title has changed a number of times.  Each year I write a post summarizing how the year went.  This is mainly from an endurance sport perspective, but also from the point of what is going on in life.  As an amateur athlete, these are so often intertwined.

My goal of this post is to not make it negative.  2016 was not a great year for many people and the world in general, but we must push forward and remain optimistic for what the future brings.  While for me, 2016 was a tough year both racing and life, it did provide some great highs that I will cherish and build off of in the future.  

I started 2016 with high hopes and high mileage.  This would be the year that I tackled the famed Boston Marathon and I had high hopes of crushing the course.  I also would be upping my race distance in October as I tackled my first 100k (62 miles -- where my previous longest race was 50).  

After 34 miles over the first three days of the year, I came down with the worst cough that I have suffered in the last 30 years.   After 3 days of the minimum mileage (1 mile) and another 6 more at an easy pace, I finally started getting back up to speed.  I was able to complete the month feeling strong with 236 miles under my belt.  

While February went great from an endurance running perspective, life threw us a couple of hard curve balls (For more info click).  The highlight of the month was a trip out to Martha's Vineyard for the annual 20 mile race (which was shortened to just over 15 miles due to cold / heavy winds).  February ended with a total of 301 miles over 29 days, my most ever in a month  

As I entered March, I knew it was time to get down to business. With roughly 7 weeks to go to race day, it was time to up my volume and follow it up with race specific intensity.  March provided a little bit of everything: Hills, track, tempo, etc. I even formed a group that would run the Arlington hills on Thursday nights that we dubbed SHOP (Scot's Hills of Pain).  The highlights of March included a 101 mile week (longest ever), a 326 mile month (longest ever), and running the first 21 miles of the Boston Marathon Course at 3 hour marathon pace.  As March ended, I felt more then ready for whatever life would throw at me.  

April began smoothly as I began to drop my mileage going into the big day.  I raced, won, and PR'd the 5K at the Becca Pizzi Fun Run.  Unfortunately, the Boston Marathon did not go as planned due to the high temps and my inability to adapt.  The day can be summed up with a quote from one of my friends.  "I have never felt that bad at mile 8 in a half marathon, let alone a marathon." 

After Boston, I was determined to bounce back quick.  I had less then 10 weeks to get into 52 mountain mile trail shape and I wasn't about to miss a beat.  I knocked out another 28 miles the week of Boston and was back up to 60 miles the following week. The highlight of May was knocking out a 30 mile training run on a Saturday and then following it up with a sub 19 minute 5K while pushing Nat in the stroller the next day (Stroller PR).  

Yellowstone National Park, June 2016
Our big family trip for the year was 10 days split between visiting friends in Montana and Yellowstone National Park.  As most people know, I like to overload everything in life, so why not tackle a mountainous 52 mile race while there.  Our trip to Yellowstone was awesome and something that I will never forget, the Big Horn Trail Race, is something that I don't need to relive.  After a 2:45am wake up, 34 miles of technical running with over 5000' of climbing, and 95 degree temperatures, I called it a day and recorded my first ever DNF.  While I was crushed at the time, I quickly came to the realization, that I had grossly underestimated this race.

The rest of the week was a blast as we camped at three different locations within the park and saw the famous Old Faithful geyser erupt (Special thanks to Tanya and Matt for putting us up and hooking us up with all the camping gear for the trip). 

The next 100 days, I took a break from racing and just simply logged miles again.  It was nice to not stress about racing.  At the end of June, I was over 1500 miles which gave me a new goal of trying to break 3000 for the year (For comparison, I ran 2652 last year).  

My next planned event was on August 11th, where I was attempting to run my age (36 this time around) for the 2nd consecutive year.  I was able to get my buddy Greg to join me out on the Wapack trail for the initial miles before I turned back and headed over to Walden Pond to finish the day out on some easier terrain.  

A couple of weeks later, I suffered my next set back, which in hind sight was a re-occurring injury that I have been battling for a while now; some pain in the lower abdominal area.  After some research, a couple trips to the doctor's office, nothing major was concluded.  I may or may not have whats called a sport's hernia (which most doctors do not even agree is a real thing).  After a couple of easier, less technical weeks, I worked my way back up to a 90 mile week with hopes of being able to still race my 100K in October.  

Neil and Amy at the
Scharfman 2K, October 2016
This ramp up is probably the best I felt running this entire year.  Labor day weekend I was able to knock out back to back to back 20+ mile runs and then two weeks later I ran my longest ever training run at 40 miles.  

October started great as I took 4th overall and 1st in my age group at the Dan Scharfman Memorial Run.  Even better though, was Neil tackled the 2K distance (his longest previous race as .5K).  He came flying around the track catching and passing each person he knew from his pre-school class (He later attributed his late surge to the gummy bears he ate at the mid-way point).

The second weekend in October, I tackled, completed, and took 2nd overall in the TARC 100K.  This was my first 100k and longest race / run to date and I was thrilled that it went so smoothly.  I spent the next two weeks trying to find purpose and select my next race.  I searched everything from multi-day races in Croatia to 100 mile runs in Zion national park.  In the back of my mind I still remembered how poorly the Big Horn race went and I was not eager to over commit again.  

As November rolled around, I had three goals left to hit for the year.  1) Qualify for Boston 2018 at the Myles Standish Marathon, 2) Break 3000 miles for the year (just 400 to go) and 3) Complete my 3rd consecutive year of running every day.  

Unfortunately, #1 was not in the cards as I finished the race in 3:15 after a 6 mile death march.  Following Myles Standish, I called it for the year racing wise and decided to just put in easy miles to finish out goals 2 and 3.  Meanwhile Amy was traveling back and forth to China multiple times for work and I didn't have any additional free time anyways.  

As luck (or lack of luck) would have it, I suffered an Achilles injury the week before Christmas.  The final 50 miles were tough and included a fair amount of icing and ibuprofen, but I made it.  

In the end, 2016 was a tough year, but we survived it.  I didn't get all the results I was looking for, but I still had some pretty big wins.  I completed my third straight year of running every day and my fourth straight year of donating a dollar per mile run.  

2016 by the Numbers
- 9 races
- 1st place overall in 3 races
- 5k PR
- New longest distance (100k)
- 3 bombed races (Boston, Big Horn, and Myles Standish)
- Another 366 consecutive days of running (Leap Year)
- 3000 total miles run
- Greater then $6000 donated or raised for over 22 charities

Where did I get
I didn't quite make it to the Pacific this year (a future goal maybe?), but I did make it to California.  Funny enough, I made it to Forest Hill, CA, the starting point of my next ultramarathon.

Belmont to Forest Hill, CA (and it only took 400 hours)
Now if I could run on water, I would have made it to Dublin, Ireland.  That has to count for something.

2017
After taking some brief time off (light 1-2 miles a day), I will ramp up and race the Ruck a Chuck 50k just outside of San Francisco.  It also gives us the chance to go visit relatives and friends on the west coast that we haven't seen in a while.  

After that I am going to back off from run races for a little while and switch it up. I am looking to cross a bucket list item off at Tuckerman's Inferno in April and then Amy and I are looking to take a multi-day bike trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary over the summer.

My peak event in 2017 is going to be the Hennepin 100 in October (This will be my first foray into 100 milers).  It is a flat race just outside of Chicago and the same weekend as the marathon.  We already have a bunch of friends going out for the marathon so it sounds like the perfect setup.

I also plan on continuing my mission to give more and more back each year.  With Nat's NF diagnosis this year we have become more involved with a local non-profit named NF Northeast which has brought a new sense of purpose to my running (Checkout my post from September where I recap running the Coast 2 Cure NF bike ride).

Additionally, I plan on releasing (self publishing) my long talked about book this year.  Over the past few weeks I got motivated enough to write the last few chapters and I am now into the edit phase.  

My primary goal for the year is to raise $10,000 for NF research this year.  You can track (and contribute to) my progress at: https://www.crowdrise.com/miles-to-defeat-nf.

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to purse them." -- Walt Disney

- Scot


The kids and I, December 2016

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