From the first part of 2008, I was struggling to train for Boston while dealing with injuries. The weather was terrible, and every mile was an effort. Anyone reading my blog then was treated to a stream of complaints about the pain in my knee and the crap weather. The pain got so bad that I started to doubt that I would be able to run Boston at all. You may remember this helpful illustration.
Just in time for Boston, the SERC singlets arrived. Very cool. I wore this in Boston and got a few 'Go Cleveland' shouts. I managed a PR time of 3:16:55.
I thought I was hurting before Boston, but I was really hurting after. The next day, I went for a slow five mile run. I could not loosen-up my tight legs, and I said that I probably looked like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons trying to run.
Under the circumstances, I could not train for Cleveland, which was less than a month later. My longest run in that time was 15 miles, so I went into the race with low expectations. I surprised myself with a PR of 3:15:01, but the last six miles of that race were as bad a time as I've ever had running. Thanks to Marc A. for running with me from about mile 21 to the end.
The weekend after the Cleveland Marathon, I won my age group in the Blossom Time 5.25 mile race in Chagrin Falls. That felt very good because I've run this race for the last three years, and each time I just missed winning an award. Also in May, I bought myself a bike, a Specialized Sequia. I made it a habit to ride to work a couple of times a week. I've been holding to that, although it is now in storage for the winter.
In June, while running along the Ohio canal tow path with my friend Andy R. in May, a couple of senior citizens got very flirty with us. Thanks ladies. Andy and I really picked up the pace after that.
Also in June, while trying to prepare for the Buckeye Trail 50k, we had some very wet weather. The trails were muddy, which was the point of this map.
On a very warm day in July, I ran my first ultra-marathon, the Buckeye Trail 50k. I learned that serious muscle cramps with more than 10 miles to go will really ruin your day. That race did not go as well as I had hoped, and I resolved to try another 50k as soon as possible.
I resumed training and for the month of August, I tried to put in as many miles on the trails as possible. Fortunately, the weather was cooperative, and in fact, I really loved my time in the woods. This is a photo of a brick road that was being reclaimed by the forest.
In September, I erased the disappointment of the BT50k by running well at the Punxsutawney 50k, finishing in 4:59. We (SERC) took the team prize as well, and we each were awarded a free pair of Montrail shoes. This is a photo of me at the top of a hill called 'Yellow Bus'.
After Punxsy, I was surprised by the reaction of some non-runners who could not understand why I was so happy with a 4 hour and 59 minute time in a 31 mile race. After all, they said, I ran a marathon (26.2 miles) in 3 hours and 15 minutes. So, I created the following graphical comparison of the Boston Marathon and the Punxsutawney 50k to help them understand.
I did dare take my foot off the pedal after Punxsy, with the Chicago Marathon coming righ up. I finished my training, and when that last week before the race finally arrived, I had a well-deserved taper. You'll remember my taper mascot, Tippy Tapir.
I went into Chicago feeling better than I had in Boston or Cleveland. I was thinking seriously about a 3:10 marathon. I started to have my doubts when the terperatures rose steadily to over 80 degrees. Thankfully, I felt great and ran a strong 3:07:58 race.
After Chicago, the marathon season was over for me, but I continued to keep my training miles up. I did make a last minute decision to run the Cleveland Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. It was a great day. My friend John and my sis-in-law Lisa both decided to make it their first races ever, and they did very well. I had my best 5 mile time ever, 30:37, which is a 6:07 pace, and won my age group.
Early in December, I decided to try to follow Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning plan, December became the highest mileage month I have ever recorded. The weather was typically bad at times, but that's the fun of training through the winter in Cleveland. The morning of the annual SERC New Years Eve run, a nasty storm blew in. We're hardcore runners and the run went off as scheduled. Here's a photo from right after I finished. That's not the normal amount of white in my beard, it's encased in ice.
I have many people to thanks for all the help I received in 2008. It was a breakthrough running year for me. I PR'd in three consecutive marathons, and ran my first two ultras as well. With all of the distance work, I still managed to win my age group in some shorter races, and have my best ever 5 mile time. Sue, thanks for your understanding and support, although I know that you think I am insane. Huge thanks to all of my equally insane SERC friends. It is a simple statement of fact to say that I would not have accomplished any of this without their help, support, advice, and encouragement. And a special thanks to each of you who read and comment on my blog. You give me the motivation I need to keep writing and working to make this fun to read. Thanks, everyone.