Smile Politely

Running, 2011 ain’t no 2010

It’s been a few months since my last story on running. Okay, more than a few. Try seven months, but who is counting? There’s a reason for the lack of running stories this year. It’s because I’ve had a down year. We all have them. And according to some of my running friends, they’re more common than I thought.

Last year, 2010, was virtually perfect. From shattering a half marathon PR to great runs and age group awards, 2010 was a year to remember.

The 2010 season was great, but it didn’t end well for me when I sprained my ankle at the Allerton Park Trail Run. To my credit (or evidence of my stupidity), I finished the race, running the remaining three of five miles on a bum ankle.

Ah, the irony of suffering a sprained ankle while dressed in a surgeon’s costume at
the Allerton Trail Run.

I survived and lived to run the following week, and the week after that, and then another half marathon over Thanksgiving last year. I wasn’t going to let that injury get the best of me, I stubbornly said to myself (and to my wife). It was probably a pretty dumb thing to do, but that’s what I did because that’s the kind of season I was having.

Abe running down Green St., courtesy of the News GazetteThis year, though, things haven’t been as smooth. The year started off pretty well with a fun run in Granada, Spain. But even then, my ankle worried me, and it seemed that the drive that had pushed me through 2010 wasn’t really there. The Illinois Marathon rolled around, and I again ran the half as Abe Lincoln.

But, things just never seemed to click. The heat certainly had something to do with it. With temperatures in the upper 80s and 90s most of the summer, it was difficult to feel motivated to run outside. As a result, I didn’t do as much speed work at the track as I’d done in previous years. I guess killing myself on the track with a 110 heat index seemed less enjoyable this time around. Also, I didn’t ride the bike as much because of the heat or the wicked winds that plagued the area. Whereas in 2010, I rode with the fast group on Mondays with the Prairie Cycle Club, this year I could barely keep up with the level 2 riders. Everything seemed to be falling apart.

Then, in September, I sprained another ankle at the Wild Wild Wilderness trail run. A month later, after what I thought was a decent recovery, I sprained the ankle again, this time much worse, at Allerton. I made it a mile in before it went “pop.” Needless to say, I’ve sworn off trail runs. It would help if I trained for them, but I don’t, so it’s no surprise that I keep injuring myself when I run on trails.

There’s a Ben Stiller movie, Greenberg, which I’m embarrassed to say I watched through to the end. The movie is absolutely horrible, about an adult who can’t seem to get over the mistakes he’s made in his past. There is a character named Ivan, played by Rhys Ifans, who is an ex-rocker who had his chance to make it big with a record deal if only Ben Stiller’s character hadn’t screwed it up for everyone. He said, “It is huge to finally embrace the life you never planned on.” I kind of feel like that with running. I’m sure those older than me are rolling their eyes thinking, “Youth is wasted on the young.” But how do you think I feel when I hear a 20-something complain about a “slow” 5k time under 19-minutes?

In 2011, I was fallible. Hard as it is to admit it, I am. There, I’ve said it. Now, let’s hope the 2012 turnaround starts now.

Abe running down Green St., courtesy of the News-Gazette.


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