Fun Challenging Year | 2021 Year In Running

One of my favorite things about running is that there is really just about endless variety and options available if you are open to it. I love to do new things. There are just so many aspects of running that one can tweak or change to shake things up differently. Add in more joy when things are getting a little stale by doing something different.  

Ran first 12 hour timed event

As I became more involved in the ultra running scene I became aware of running events that are not base don distance but on time. Runners have a set amount of time to run as far as they can. Rather than running a set distance as fast as they can.

Hills Creek Challenge

I had run a timed event a couple times in the past, but never for a frame of time that would be likely to put me in the ultra marathon distance once I had completed it. Previously I had run an event a couple of times where the time limit was three hours and runners ran as many laps around a 1 mile loop as they could. The event I discovered upped the ante significantly. The course was a 3 mile loop through a state park. And the time frame I would be running was 12 hours.

To be fair the event offered 3, 6, and 12 hour options and I could have stepped it up to the 6 hour event from my previous experience at the 3 hour event. But I am always up for a challenge. And on top of that I was planning to attempt more ultras this year and the event would fit into my training well.

Completed first 50 miles race

In 2019 I attempted my first 50 mile race as part of my training for a longer race. In 2019 I did not finish the 50 mile distance.

With more big goals on my mind for 2021 I figured why not kill two birds with one stone. I wanted a long distance race on my calendar to help me prepare for another big goal. And I wanted redemption at the race I didn’t finish in 2019. Why not go for both at once?

Finger Lakes 50’s

In July 2021 I laced up my shoes and toed the line for another attempt at the 50 mile distance. This was one of the most challenging races I have attempted. But I did get the finish at the 50 miler. I was DFL but I crossed that finish line and that is all that matters.

Attempted my 2nd 100 mile race

My number one goal for 2021 was to finish my second 100 mile race. In 2019 I completed my first 100 mile race. The course was a flat rail trail out and back layout. It wasn’t easy and I feel like I learned a lot.

So, when I decided I wanted to take on another 100 mile race I wanted to take on something a little different. I figured I had learned from my past experience and would apply those to the next attempt. The format would be a series of 6 mile loops on trails through the woods.

Mighty Mosquito 99

The formant of trails fit more to what I enjoy but the question was would it be something I could endure for 100 miles. The answer on that day turned out to be no. I made it to 70+ miles before I could not go on. DNF for the 100 miler.

I ran a road half marathon that I have never done before

I don’t run a ton of official half marathons but it is my favorite road distance. I tend to run one half marathon a year since I started running that distance. This is the one distance where I have a favorite event. But in 2021 that event didn’t happen due to the ongoing global pandemic. So, after all my bigger events were behind me I decided to take on half marathon that I had heard about but not run so I could run my yearly half marathon. The race went pretty well. Especially since I wasn’t prepared for or training for a road half marathon.

Sheshequin Half Marathon

I raced a road 5k

I have not run a 5k to get done as fast as I can since I first started running and was finally able to complete the 5k distance. But I have really been wanting to work on my speed. Speed work is something I enjoy when training. So, I decided to commit to running one of our local 5k’s and seeing how fast I could go. Officially Anything I ran at this race would be an official 5k PR, but my goal was to run the fastest time I have ever run at the 5k distance. This added challenge because I run a lot of hard effort 5k’s during my regular running. I set my self a stretch goal of completing the 5k in the time the app for my running watch suggested would be my fastest achievable time at that distance. I did not finish in the time my watch projected for me, but I did manage to reach  my goal PR faster than any time I had ever run in training.

Started cycling more

After my first 100 mile race I bought a bike to ride while I recovered. I did not manage to ride it as much as I thought I would. So a goal I had for 2021 was to ride my bike more regularly. I call this a huge success. Especially since I previously almost never road my bike. I think I rode around 800 miles in 2021. Most of those miles were sitting in my basement on my bike trainer, but something is better than nothing.

Trying to be more consistent with cross training: Yoga and strength training

I have really been trying to be more consistent with my cross training. Building in other ways to exercise other than running. My cycling has helped with that. I want to build more overall strength and fitness. Part of this is to help be a better runner. Another big reason for this is to help prevent injury. As well as give me something to do if and when I get injured. And maybe far off in the distance build the skills needed for a run at a triathlon.

Strength training is always hit and miss with me. I can get into t a groove with it for a while. Then it just completely falls off the map for me. Of all the things I currently try to do for fitness the thing I enjoy the least is any form of strength training. And it strikes me as odd because before I started running it was the only thing I did. Hopefully I will continue to slowly build it back in and get more consistent with it.

One physical activity I have found I enjoy more than I ever expected has been yoga. I would not have become so interested in yoga if it was not for YouTube. I have really come to enjoy the Yoga With Adriene channel on YouTube. She has so much to offer. I even did a full month of yoga every day following the Yoga with Adriene monthly calendar.

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