I ran into an old running buddy a few weeks ago. The first thing he said to me was, “Where are your blog posts?” I was like, “Oh, crud, somebody noticed that I’ve been in silent mode with the blog!” I gave him about 99 reasons why I hadn’t been writing, and even tossed in a few health problems to throw him off my scent, like my hip impingement, and the tinnitus and hearing problems I’ve developed.
He shut me down with a recounting of his life at the moment: working 10-hour days driving a truck; commuting 2 hours one way, so he’s gone 14 hours most workdays; an adult child boomeranging back into the family home, this time with her spouse and a Siberian Husky whose shedding is so prolific that the cloud of fur trailing it looks like Pigpen from “Peanuts”; knee and back problems that ended his running days; and, in case I thought I was special, tinnitus and hearing loss. Oh, and he’s a living kidney donor who was literally on death’s door from complications after the surgery. (He’s a regular Mother Teresa, this guy. Jeez, and I feel like a saint when I let my lovely wife Jen eat the last piece of mushroom pizza.) “So tell me again,” he said, “what’s so important in your life that you haven’t been writing?”
In my head, I was quoting the late, great Carrie Fisher from her role as Marie in “When Harry Met Sally…” when her friends would tell her that her affair partner was never going to leave his wife: “You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.”
Time to dust the cobwebs off the blog and start anew in 2020. Let’s look back at my 2019 running, shall we? Every year since 2013, I’ve kept a running journal, a little notebook in which I scribble my daily mileage and time, notes on how I felt or what I wore for future reference (you would not believe how easy it is to forget how to dress for spring weather, say, the first 50-degree day of the year: “Do I wear pants or shorts?”), and I map out my training schedule so I know when my races are and when I should be doing long runs, speed workouts, etc.
And yes, Mr. and Mrs. Smartypants, I am familiar with a little thing called the internet and Strava and all the web-based training sites; I just prefer the little journals so that if I take trips, I can pack them along and not worry about web access.
I use a Garmin GPS watch to track mileage. Specifically, a purple Forerunner 220 that I won at a local 5K. It’s a little clunky on my dainty bird-boned wrist, which is why I used to wear the women’s version in lime green, but when I won this one, I decided to upgrade. (Also, I saw a picture of Meb Keflezighi wearing one, and he’s my size, so why not?) For each run, I write down distance, time, average mile pace, and mile split for every mile. I then add up weekly, monthly, and yearly mileages to see how much I’ve run. (I keep a running tally of how many miles I’ve put on my shoes so I know when to retire them as well.)
The yearly goal is always a minimum of 1,000 miles. That works out to just over 19 miles a week, which should be easy peasy lemon squeezy, considering that I run about 30-35 miles a week when training for marathons. Faithful blog readers (looking at you, Dave) might recall that I run very few miles for a marathoner; most marathon experts will suggest 50-70 miles if you are serious, and elites will put in over 100 miles a week. But they are also a little “insane in the the brain,” as the guys in Cypress Hill sang back in 1993 (“Insane in the membrane; crazy insane, got no brain!”).
Before I added up my 2019 mileage, I looked back at the previous years:
2013: 879 miles (approximate; I didn’t wear a GPS watch yet)
2014: 1,144.19 miles
2015: 814.59 miles (missed the first 2 months of the year with anterior tibialis tendonitis on both feet; ouch!)
2016: 1,593.45 miles
2017: 1,546.77 miles
2018: 1,214.28 miles (and this was with missing all of December with hip pain)
Knowing that I had not run at all in January and February of 2019 with my hip issues, I was still hopeful that the rest of my year made up for it and that I broke 1,000. My lowest weekly total, obviously, was zero miles. My highest was 41.06 miles, which is a little misleading: it was the third week of September, and I ran the Fox Valley Marathon that week, so if you remove the 26.2 from that, I only did runs of between 2 and 4 miles on the other days.
Anyhoo, the total. I knew it was going to be close, and as I calculated the sum on my phone, I realized it was going to be really close. Really, really close. Keep in mind that, on almost every run, I start from my house and finish on the corner of our street. Some days, I tell myself that I have to make it all the way to the street corner and finish the run as preparation for finishing races strong. Some days, I think, “Screw it! I’m tired and I will stop half a block short and walk home!” Well, those days came back to haunt me.
2019 total: 999.59 miles.
ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!? 0.41 mile short of 1,000?!? That’s about three blocks in my neighborhood. If I jogged to my daughter’s school just once, I would have surpassed that! If I ran to the fast-food joints down the street from us, I’d be good. When we went on a 2-week vacation last summer, I said to Jen, “Remind me to bring my running shoes so I can run.” And did I run? Of course not! We were on vacation! Aargh!
Lesson learned. Finish the run. I know 1,000 miles is an arbitrary number, but it sounds a lot cooler than 999.59.
Literature nerd’s side note: I titled this “The Best Laid Plans,” which is of course the beginning of the saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Which is itself an English-translation paraphrase of the original Scots-language quote, from the poem “To a Mouse,” by the Scottish poet Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley.” I find that things frequently gang aft agley for me. Especially when I don’t finish the run!