Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016: Racing Year In Review

It was a fun, different year.

Racing got better throughout the year, which is a good thing I guess.

66 races, including nine of the $1 entry or free variety.

I didn't count the Labor Day 5K with the Seven Hills Running Club since it was a $2 entry for non-members, which may change for 2017.  The non-member part, that is.

38 new cities or towns to run in.  13 of them came in the Lone Star State and a whopping 25 throughout the rest of the United States.  (Waverly actually ran in 9 of them with me.)

That pushes my totals to 125 Texas cities and towns to have run a race in and another 159 North American cities or towns.  Maybe I'll get to 300 in 2017.  We'll see.

I also ran my first marathon in nearly two years.  Again, not sure how many more of those you might see.  And that was only because I didn't really want to run a half for $90.

So, $5 more for an extra 13.1?  Sure.

I enjoy it all.  My natural inclination towards numbers and stats have opened up over the last 14 years the opportunity to write about and race announce the sport(s).

I finished a race this year in 19 states and pushed - through finishes in Ohio, Maryland, Nevada, Kentucky, Michigan and Vermont - my half marathon state total to 45.

This leaves only Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii and California.  I actually registered for a race in California, in conjunction with acquiring a cheap fare, but getting to announce the UIL Region III Preview meet with the Sam Houston State University team took precedence.

Best Race (Performance):  59:51 10K at Lake Jackson Turkey Trot 10K on Thanksgiving morning.  Beautiful, sunny, clear, crisp and cold day to race and I did well - for me.  It was my first 10K under an hour in approximately four years.  And I beat Waverly to the finish line after a bunch of races this year of her kicking my butt!

Runner-up Best Race (Performance):  Actually, not the 2:15:26 Revel Mount Charleston Half Marathon in Las Vegas in early May, but rather the 2:16:17 Harlingen Half Marathon on Sunday, November 13, 2016.  It came a day after a solid, 10-mile race from San Diego to Alice.  Both courses were flat, and it was cold or downhill like Revel Mount Charleston was.

Most Fun Race:  Definitely had to be the 32nd annual Moonlight Chase 4-Miler in Eldridge, Iowa on Saturday evening, July 9.  Less than 24 hours before the start of the race, Waverly and I were still at George Bush Interncontinental Airport waiting on a delayed flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP, for you airline mavens).  We made it to our hotel just across the border in Wisconsin at about 3-something on Saturday morning.

Guess what?  We had a 5K in New Richmond at 8 a.m.  Waverly typically hits her stride at the start of mile two and I was about 10 seconds behind her when she motored to a minute and 19 second victory.

We still had the drive to southeastern Iowa to make after venturing to find a tiny dot on the map that was Waverly, Wisconsin.

Pretty big crowd (913 finishers) for a race where you're running in streets that are fairly dark, but such a festive, spirited Fourth of July-like atmosphere.  Waverly got out ahead of me, but she could hear me lurking as I loudly engaged with the crowds that we were racing through.  Less than 400 meters from the finish, I almost caught her, but made the mistake of letting her know that I was coming for her.  She's got a pretty good kick - for folks with our type of (non) speed - and I almost caught her, finishing two seconds behind her.  So close, but great fun.

Coldest Race:  Union Hospital Run For Home Half Marathon in New Philadelphia, Ohio on Saturday, April 10.  The temperature was 30-33 degrees, the wind chill from 23-25 and some flurries late in the race.

Best Finish:  Same race as above.  Finishing on the track in Woody Hayes Stadium (named for the legendary Ohio State football coach) in a Penn State jersey, ranked up there (in earlier years) with finishing on the fields at Notre Dame and Illinois in Penn State gear and double high fiving Franco Harris crossing the 50-yard line inside of Beaver Stadium.

DNS:  Two.  Mississippi Blues Half Marathon in January and Ventura Half Marathon in California in September.

DNF:  One.  The North Face Race to the Top of Vermont in Stowe.  While a tough, tough race (turned hike, like the Leadville Heavy Half), I simply ran out of time before I had to leave Stowe to get back to Boston's Logan Airport and catch a flight.  It is a 4.3-mile, 2,564 vertical feet hill climb.

Toughest Course (and knowing it before hand):  Blue Ridge Mountain Half Marathon in Roanoke, Virginia - a race that bills itself as America's Toughest Road Half Marathon.  Held in late April, it has 1,897 of elevation gain.

Toughest Course (and not):  Bourbon Derby Half Marathon in Paris, Kentucky on the second Saturday in June.  The heat factor this year made the 1,147 feet of elevation gain while running through and near a number of different horse farms feel even more difficult.

Interesting Course, Part 1:  Through the Universal Studios lot during the Run To Remember Los Angeles 10K in late January.  (No, I didn't stop and take pictures.)

Interesting Courses, Part 2:  Starting off the Mardi Gras Parade on Sunday afternoon, February 7, in Lake Charles, Louisiana - all the way down to the entrance to McNeese State University and doing the same up and down the middle of FM 1960 during the Shamrock 'N Run 5k here in Houston.

Airport Runways, On and Off:  We got to run basically the entire race on the runways of Angelina County Airport in Diboll, Texas during the Run The Runway 5K in early October, while we ran on maybe a small part of a taxiway at the Airport in Longview during the Longview Running Club's Up and Away 5K in mid-to-late July.

Lots of Fun, Part 1:  Waverly and I did five races in eight days during summer vacation.  Two 5K's in Wisconsin, a four-miler in Iowa and a pair of 5K's in Minnesota.

Lots of Fun, Part 2:  Four races during the Thanksgiving weekend.  A 5K on Wednesday evening in Lafayette, Louisiana, a 10K in Lake Jackson on Thanksgiving morning, a half marathon on Friday morning in Dallas and a 5K in Round Rock late Sunday afternoon.

Lots of Fun, Part 3:  Three races over Memorial Day Weekend, all in Pennsylvania.  The Tri-Burg Special:  5K in Fryburg, 10K in Philipsburg and 3.8-Miler on Memorial Day in Boalsburg.

And with the exception of the first two weekends of 2016, I was either running a race, announcing it or was in attendance of one for the remaining 50.

Got any new hobbies I should try instead?

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