Monday, April 1, 2024

2024 First Quarter Review

The book, “Meb for Mortals” has a chapter on goal setting.  Shortly after reading that, I met Meb and told him how much I liked it.  He told me the most important thing is periodically review your progress.

I post a set of goals at the beginning of each year.  At the end of the year, I review how I did.  With Meb’s advice in mind, this year I’m also going to review my progress every three months.  Now that the first three months of 2024 are over, here’s how I’m doing on each of my goals.

Run 3,000 Miles in 2024

To reach my goal of running 3,000 miles, I need to average 250 miles per month.  After three months, I should have 750 miles to be on schedule.  I ran 270 miles in January, 273 miles in February, and 300 miles in March.  All three of those are personal bests.  It helped a lot that we’ve had a mild winter.  For most of February there wasn’t any snow or ice on the streets.

I’m already 93 miles ahead of schedule, and the winter months are behind me.  My mileage typically peaks during the summer months, so only an injury would prevent me from reaching this goal.

Run at Least 100 Miles in the FANS 24-Hour Run

This race doesn’t take place until June, but I’ve been training for it since September.  At this point in my training, the most important thing I can do is build a good mileage base.  I started building my mileage last summer.  I ran more miles in the first three months of the year than ever before.

In the race, I won’t just be running.  I’ll also be walking.  In fact, I expect to walk about a third of the race, so it’s important to be able to walk at a brisk pace.  With that in mind, I’ve started to add race-walking to my training.  It’s not enough to just have good fitness.  Walking efficiently takes practice.  In January, I started getting on the treadmill as many as three times a week to work on my race-walking technique.  So far, I’ve only been doing short fast workouts.  In the next two months, I’ll start doing longer walks.

Twenty-six years ago, when I was training for my first 24-hour race, a more experienced runner gave me some good advice.  He told me to do a few 6-hour training runs and use them to rehearse everything I’m going to do on race day.  Over the years, runs like this have helped me learn what I can eat and drink during a race without having GI distress.  I still find these run useful to practice pacing strategies, so I can go into a race with a realistic plan.  If your pace doesn’t feel easy after six hours, it’s not going to be sustainable for 24 hours.

Already this year, I’ve done a 6-hour run/walk workout to experiment with pacing.  I’ll probably do two or three more of these before the race.

Run My 100th Minnesota Marathon

To reach this goal, I need to run at least five Minnesota marathons (or ultras) in 2024.  There aren’t a lot of Minnesota races during the winter months, so I haven’t made any progress on this goal.  That’s to be expected.  I’ve registered for seven Minnesota races, and I may do as many as nine.  The earliest of these races is in June.  This goal is deferred until then.

Run Marathons in 50 Countries

To reach this goal, I need to run marathons in four new countries this year.  That’s an average of one every three months.  In March, I ran a marathon in South Korea, so I’m one fourth of the way to my goal.  I’m right on schedule.

When I posted this goal, I had three other international races scheduled, but only two of them were in new countries.  I was hoping to find one more, but I didn’t have much room in my schedule.  I needed to find a race in a new country that I could do in December.  Since then, I’ve picked out a race, and I’ve booked my travel.  I now have a plan for getting to 50 countries this year.

Run Outdoors Whenever Possible

I’ve made it through the first three months of the year without doing any running on a treadmill or on an indoor track.

January was challenging because of a week of subzero windchills.  There were a couple days that week that the temperature never got about zero.  I still got outdoors to run almost every day.  The only days I missed were days I was traveling.  To cope with the cold temperatures I dressed in layers, and on the coldest days I didn’t have any exposed skin.

When it was below zero, I couldn’t be outside long enough to run my usual training distance.  Instead, I split my mileage between two shorter runs.  For seven straight days in January, I ran in the morning and again in the afternoon.

February was surprisingly mild.  We had a couple of snow days, but I had dry roads for most of the month.

March started out mild, but we had a major snowstorm late in the month.  A couple of days were challenging, but I was determined to continue doing all my running outdoors.  The first day of that storm, I got out early, before there was too much snow in the streets.  The next day, I waited until after the streets were plowed.

Now that I’ve made it through the winter, it should be much easier.

Qualify for the National Senior Games

To qualify for the National Senior Games, I need to compete at the state level.  I could travel to any state to qualify, but it’s most convenient for me to compete in the Minnesota Senior games. 

The Minnesota Senior Games won’t be held until August, but I’ve started training for them.  Qualifying in the road race events is easy.  I just need to compete.  I don’t need to place.  To qualify in the race-walk events, I need to place in the top four in my age group in at least one of the race-walk events.  I’ve started race-walking on a treadmill a few times a week.

Walking at a fast pace takes constant practice.  If you neglect your training, you quickly get rusty.  Since January, I’ve been getting on the treadmill regularly to walk three miles at a brisk pace.

At first, I was out of practice, so I couldn’t go very fast.  The first of those three-mile workouts took me 40:38 minutes.  That’s an average pace of 13:3e, which isn’t particularly fast for such a short distance.  Since then, I’ve been getting a little faster with each workout.  By the end of March, I was albe to do the same 3-mile walk in 32:54.  That’s an average pace of 10:58.

I’d like to shave another minute off my pace, but I have until August to train.  I pleased with the progress I’ve made so far.

Stay on Schedule to Finish a 5th Circuit of 50 States in 2025

Goals are supposed to be well-defined.  Admittedly, this one is kind of vague.  Ideally, I’d like to finish my fifth circuit this year, but I don’t know if I can schedule races in all the states I need.  If I can’t do it this year, I want to finish by the middle of next year.  That’s my minimum goal.

Reaching my minimum goal requires running marathons in seven new states this year.  Reaching my stretch goal requires running marathons in two additional states.  I’ve scheduled my races for the first seven states, and I’ve already finished four of them.  In the first three months of 2024, I ran marathons in Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, and West Virginia.

So far, I’m crushing it.  Whether I can reach the stretch goal will come down to whether I can fit a Vermont race into my schedule.  Every Vermont marathon I’m aware of has some type of schedule conflict with my other races.  My best bet would be to do a Vermont race on June 13, but that’s only 11 days after the FANS 24-hour race.  Can I run a marathon that soon after a 100+ mile effort?  I won’t know until June.

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