Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review

Before I can look ahead to 2012, I have to take a moment and review what happened in 2011.  It really was a great year for distance PRs, "new" races, and getting two steps closer to the 2012 Ironman goal.  But I can also learn a lot on how to better next season.  Let's jump right in.

What did I do this year?!

1.  New Job!

After my exit from the Ph.D. program last December, I finally picked up my first fitness job in May.  I spend every day talking with people about fitness, workouts, weight loss, athletic goals, and all of my crazy races.  It makes my day when people come up to me at work and say "Hey, I heard about this crazy race.  You should try it."  Or when they ask me to help them design their own workouts.  I have a long way to go, but this has been a hugely successful first step!

2.  New England Relay

Let's kick off the season by packing into a van and running all over New England!  Sounds great, right?  The New England Relay - or NER as it came to be called - sure had a few downfalls, but this was probably the most fun I've had at an event so far.  I could not have asked for a better team and experience.  Reports start HERE

Twelve of us, most of us complete strangers to the majority of the group, signed up to run 220 miles through all 6 New England states.  We met up the night before, packed a van and SUV, got minimal sleep, drove to Rhode Island early and then spent the next 1.5 days running.  Talk about sleep deprivation, smelly shoes/clothes, friendly trash talking, uber-cramping, bloody nipples, and God knows what else!

I would run another relay in a heartbeat!  Though I may not do one this coming season, I'd like to make it a staple event every 1 or 2 years. 

3.  Ironman 70.3 Providence

My very first 70.3!  I certainly learned a few big lessons.  I had a BLAST while racing both given the fact that I was actually doing it and also because I felt connected to my fellow racers; I'd encourage them, they'd encourage me, and we all helped each other.  This race also let me seize an enormous opportunity to jump head first into water well over my head.  But don't worry, I'm a swimmer by trade, so I'm used to being "in over my head."  Overall, as my first 70.3, I was quite happy with myself.  And not to mention, my friends and family came out to root me on!

Then out of complete irony and chance, I got the chance to pay even more money!  haha  I got a roll down for the World Championships!  Not only that - I would be able to race the brand new course in Vegas.  Who can ever feel that I didn't make out like a bandit that day?!

4.  MS Bike Tour de Kurt

As you might remember, I was supposed to do the Cardio Express MS Bike Tour, but thanks to Hurricane Irene, the was pushed back to the same day as the Ironman 70.3 WC in Vegas.  I still went out and ran a good 6 miles in the hurricane - right down the middle of the road too!  But I had to do something to help out and participate.  So that was when the MS Bike Tour de Kurt was born, report HERE

On my day off, I rode to every Cardio Express location covering 112 miles.  I swear it was pre-planned to be 105 miles - fate and irony simply had me get lost to add an extra seven miles.  I was so glad I did it.  I not only got to see all the locations, but I got to meet a number of employees, I got the experience of 112 miles of riding, I helped raise money for an amazing cause, and I did my part!

And get this.  They are shooting for 4 new clubs in 2012!  They really are upping the ante for next year!  haha

5.  Ironman 70.3 WC Vegas

Let's talk about "in over my head."  haha  As I racked my bike, the bike reps commented "Oh-yeah!  Old school."  Certifiably the oldest (and cheapest) bike there!  But you know what?, I still made it to the finish line and I wasn't last.  The trip was amazing and I met a lot of really awesome people.  Ironman itself sure knows how to cater a pre-race dinner too.  I wasn't able to hit up the post-race dinner, but I'm sure it was even better since it was supposed to be out by the pool.

On race day, I may have gotten a flat tire, been nearly last to T2, blew up early on in the run, and a number of other things, but at the end of the day I raced with some of the best pros in the world!  Heck, I raced with Craig Alexander on his way to a double World Championship victory in 2011.  Plus I had my very first racecation!

I'd like to go back to Vegas, but as an official qualifier next time around.

6.  Coaching

I had the incredible opportunity to coach a 5k group via the Hartford Marathon Foundation.  We had 15 women who joined us for Saturday morning runs and they were absolutely incredible.  Some had run 5ks before and simply wanted to better their time.  Others had never run before and were complete newbies.  I'm attempting to adjust my schedule early in 2012 to allow myself to coach again, but either way I will definitely be doing it again soon.

7.  Hartford Marathon

Around mile 23, a friend of mine told me "The marathon is a completely different beast."  That about sums up Hartford.  As my first marathon ever, I went into this race well under prepared.  I had prepped for 70.3s this year.  My longest two runs were 13 and 20 miles and below that, maybe a few 8-10 milers.  So the logical thing would be to slow down and just chug along for the ride.  Once I passed the start line, that went out the window!  I ran 13.1 miles way too fast, battled GI issues most of the race, and blew up around mile 21.  Haha!  

I learned my lesson!  Train for the distance or slow the F down!  But that knocked off one more thing on the "to do" list before the full ironman.

8.  30-day Paleo Experiment

After many thoughts of attempting various diets in order to boost my energy and switch to a more efficient fat burning metabolism, I landed on Paleo.  Thirty days of eating nothing a caveman didn't have access to.  No processed foods, no dairy, no oils, no seasonings, no desserts...  We're talking strict!  And I did do a more strict version than is the popular "Paleo" diet. 

The first two weeks were tough!!  I had so many cravings you would have thought I was pregnant.  In week #3 though, my tastebuds changed, I got real creative, and Paleo became really easy.  It wasn't until I went back to "normal" food that I realized how much better I feel on Paleo.  No heavy food sitting around in my stomach, no desire to nap after a meal, constant energy, no peaks and troughs in the day...

I will certainly revisit the Paleo diet in 2012!

Here are the goals that I posted for 2011

2011 Goals
  1. Compete in at least one race every month
    • Didn't quite make that one.  With a decent length winter season, this one is tough to accomplish.
  2. Run a total of 2011 training miles (That's roughly 170 miles/month)
    • That was a little overly ambitious!
  3. Run my 2nd Half Marathon
    • Does the half in a 70.3 count?
  4. Run my 1st Marathon
    • DONE!  The ING Hartford Marathon
  5. Compete in two Ironman 70.3 races
    • DONE!  Providence & Vegas
  6. Break my 5k PR (19:30)
    • I didn't race ANY 5ks this year.
  7. Break my Marlborough Sprint Triathon PR (1:12:00)
    • My schedule didn't allow for any Sprints this year.
  8. Break my Oly Tri PR (2:40:51)
    • I wasn't able to fit in any Oly's this year
  9. Become a personal trainer
    • Still working on that.
  10. Attempt switching to a more efficient fat burning metabolism
    • DONE!  Paleo!!
 Three out of Ten ain't bad. 

I've certainly reigned in the idea that you can't charge right out of the gate.  At least not until you've trained for it.  So I'll take this past year into consideration for 2012's hopes, dreams, and goals (to be posted tomorrow!).


1.  What did you accomplish this year?  Did you check off all of your goals?
I got three of ten.  I've always felt that if you achieve all your goals, you didn't set them enough or high enough.  When you stop reaching for more, you stop being the best you can be. 

2.  What did you learn from your 2011 goals and accomplishments?
I learned that you can't simply will something into happening.  While will power is a strong force and certainly helpful, you've got to sit down and plan out a strategy; especially when it comes to endurance racing.  

3.  Do you have goals for 2012 ready for posting?!
Mine are in the works!

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 


Ransick said...

Looks like a solid year Kurt! Happy New Year!

Caroline said...

great year!
you became an Ironman...that can only be a great year!

happy 2012 to you Kurt!

Dr. said...

Happy New Year! Looks like 2011 was a really awesome year for you!