2017 in Review: Assessing Goals and Achievements

Being on a ferry is exciting, especially in those moments as you’re leaving the harbor. It’s really interesting to gain perspective on the shores you’re departing, and to appreciate the beautiful coast line as one embarks to open waters and the eventual destination.

With just a bit more than 48 hours left in 2017, the ship has sailed.

Perhaps I’m procrastinating. I’m already doing work for 2018 and I haven’t taken time to assess my achievements in the past year, nor yet write about my goals for the new year. Anna and I just spent 28 days on the road travelling in New Zealand and Australia and I was personally focused on enjoying every day of that trip as much as possible in the remaining days of 2017. As we’re now home, at last I feel like it’s a good time as ever to look back and reflect.

So logically we can start with an important and simple question, how did 2017 go?

Honestly, it was incredible!

I traveled nearly every month this year either for work or for personal endeavors, and often those were running trips. Our New Zealand/Australia journey capped the year and finally allowed Anna to get home after too long of an absence. I made new friends and reconnected with lots of family, many of whom I haven’t seen in decades or I’ve never met.

Professionally, I was able to push new boundaries in a job that suited my desire for greater challenges and allowed an opportunity to improve our community. I gained confidence in my ability to facilitate meetings, often virtually, and build momentum in multiple daunting projects.

2017 was also the first year I’ve completed a full running season, and thankfully without injury. I raced thirteen times including two ultras and two road marathons, finished my first international race, and I either won or podiumed a number of smaller races. I accomplished my first gig as a pacer helping my friend Juan finish fourth overall at the Leadville 100. And I also volunteered at an ultra which was a different kind of experience and enlightening in its own right.

Photo by Anna Blanch Rabe

This past year I had no significant life changes, like getting married or moving to a new community, but we did move to a new house in March, and I think that was probably our toughest month of the year. On paper the move should have been easy peasy since it was local, but due to various issues it proved much more difficult than it should have been. After decades of moving nearly every 2-3 years, the process still feels like a rollercoaster.

Otherwise, 2017 was a year of significant growth, and I was really happy with how it progressed. My current job allowed Anna and I a better quality of life than we’ve had in previous years. I had the chance to work and interact with really wonderful people. And running proved to be an outlet that was exciting and pushed me to perform at a higher level in all my endeavors.

Looking back a year ago, the goals I laid out were all running related, and I’m happy to share that I achieved many of them.

  1. Stay healthy. Achieved! Well, I had niggles and I had some unplanned down weeks. After the Kepler 60K earlier this month, I’m still not 100%. But fortunately I had no serious problems that were show stoppers.
  2. Train consistently (at least 2000 miles for the year, average 50 miles/week, no unplanned rest days). Not quite. I’m 10 miles away from 1900 which puts my weekly average at 36 miles/week. Working full time and running 95% of the time on my own, maybe this is reasonable volume. And I’m still able to pull off race results. Consistent strength training wasn’t an area I really succeeded in. Nevertheless, I’m interested to see how I can perform with continued consistency and a reasonable increase of volume, intensity, and strength training.
  3. Finish a road marathon in negative splits. I did it! At the Marine Corps Marathon in October, I ran the first 13.1 in 1:31:07 and the second 13.1 in 1:28:13 for a total time of 2:59:20. I’ve written previously this was a totally unexpected performance. I was dealing with some lingering pain which caused me to be negative before the race, so I decided to just finish and enjoy the day. Invariably, I felt good as we moved along and then got excited after the halfway point when I was still feeling good. Overall, I had a fun day and I think that translated to the result.
  4. Begin working with a running coach. Yes. As soon as I secured a spot in the Kepler Challenge back in June, I started working with Alex Ho who’s the founder of a business in San Francisco called Revision Athletics. I think I responded well to his training approach. A few times I wasn’t able to meet 100% of his training program, but I did buy into the racing strategy of taking it easy from the outset and then dialing down my pace thereby hunting the competition, and this worked well more than once. I also responded well to how he kept the training program realistically tailored to my work constraints on a near weekly basis, and this worked. Overall, the coaching dynamic has worked well for me, and I look forward to what we do in 2018.
  5. Posture for longer ultras in 2018. Perhaps. I think if I wanted to, I could go longer. But there is an issue of “will.” My subsequent post about 2018 goals will provide more perspective on where I want to go with this. Stay tuned for that post.

Statistics Recap & Race Results for the Year

-Number of countries traveled: 3

-Number of US states: 10

-National Parks/Monuments: 8

-Number of relatives visited: 50+

-Number of commercial plane trips: 25+

-Number of road trips: 2

-Nights of camping: 5

 

Jan – Zak Trak 10K, Alamogordo. 1/55, 36:11 (PR).

Feb – Austin Marathon, Texas. 26/2672, 3:01:56.

Mar – Sierra Vista 30K, Las Cruces. 2/83, 2:35: 22.

May – Cactus to Cloud 10 Mile, Cloudcroft. 1/38, 2:07:53.

May – Jemez 15 Mile, Los Alamos. 1/262, 1:55:38.

Jun – Bryce Canyon 50K, Utah. 38/204, 7:49:26.

Jul – Grindstone Lake 8.5 Mile, Ruidoso. 2nd overall, 1:01:40.

Aug – La Luz 9 Mile, Albuquerque. 14/354, 1:43:00.

Aug – Trails and Rails 8 Mile, Cloudcroft. 2nd overall, 59:52.

Sep – Air Force Half Marathon, Dayton, Ohio. 9/4176, 1:20:09.

Oct – Marine Corps Marathon, Arlington, Virginia. 127/27,281, 2:59:20.

Nov – Franklin Mountain 27K, El Paso, Texas. 1/69, 3:34:07.

Dec – Kepler Challenge 60K, Te Anau, New Zealand. 88/447, 7:15:35.

Photo by Matt Preslar