Jan. 05, 2017
2016 | Year in Review
2016 is drawing to a close. Even though in the context of running this is a completely arbitrary time of year, it's still an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the year that was and to formulate resolutions for the year ahead.
There were just nine official races this year -- down from 18 in 2015 and 17 the year before that. With the bold blue times indicating PRs, conspicuously absent are PRs for the half marathon and the 10K. The plan is for 2017 to deliver those.
The Tel Aviv Marathon in February was a disappointment as I basically bonked at 34-35K and suffered the rest of the way to the finish line. I did knock 11 minutes off the previous PR, but it was a badly executed run. I'd like to think I have a 3:30 marathon in me, and that might be a goal for 2017-18.
The Rishpon 5K and Binyamina 15K in April were mild disappointments. They were B-races but still left a sour taste in my mouth. Going into Rishpon I knew there were three stronger runners in my age category, but I still ran hard because you never know who'll have a bad day or won't show up or is there to pace his wife. It was a hot morning, and in the second kilometer a runner I was shoulder-to-shoulder with asked for a sip of water from my bottle. We introduced each other and in between breaths discussed our chances of placing. Turns out he was sure his chances were zero, even though on my list he was #3. I explained our situation to him, and it looked like he was struggling so I continued on my merry way. A hundred meters from the finish line he bolted past me from out of nowhere, leaving me in 4th place and flabbergasted. At Binyamina no one passed me and I placed 3rd in my age cat, but a couple of small hills -- mounds, really -- combined with some solid heat completely took the wind out my sails: I stopped at the last water station to chill my head with a cup of cold water and ended up 5 seconds off a PR.
Two events in May aren't on the list above: the Gan Yoshiya 5K and the Iron Beast obstacle race, both of which were on the second Saturday of the month. Gan Yoshiya was an untimed community run where I placed 3rd in my age cat. The Iron Beast, though not really a run in the strict sense, was an amazing experience that every runner should try at least once. The first obstacle entailed swimming through a pool of mud, and from that point on you just see dozens of people running around covered in mud from head to toe and laughing hysterically, slipping and sliding from one obstacle to the next. I expect I'll do it again in 2017 if they have it. The next Saturday I ran the Ramat Aviv Gimmel 10K as a C-race, placing 2nd in my age cat.
June served up a much-anticipated A-race in the form of the TLV River Run 5K. That was an event I trained hard for, ran shirtless, poured in everything I had, collapsed on the grass a sticky mess after, placed 3rd in my age cat, and most importantly PRed nicely at 19:38. Truth is, sub-19:30 would have felt more satisfying, but there was traffic at the outset and the turnaround was a sharp 360° U-turn, so 19:30 could be something to shoot for in 2017. A sub-19:30 5K is also said to be a prerequisite for the sub-40 10K.
What's on the agenda for 2017? Over the last few months I've read seven books on running. Only two were good (Born to Run and Running Man), but they've had the cumulative effect of getting me thinking seriously about shifting my goals from 10Ks and half marathons to ultra marathons. The sub-40 10K and sub-1:30 half are still very much alive as goals to strive for, and to Boston-qualify at a marathon would be extraordinary, but it's feeling more and more like the world of ultra running is where the real excitement's at. I'd like to get my speed training back on track to PR at the 10K in January, then use the TLV Half Marathon in February as a tune-up for an overseas half probably in Czech. After that, though, the focus will shift to training towards my first cracks at ultra running in July and August while I'm in the U.S.
The other noteworthy running-related development is that I'm publishing articles in The Jerusalem Post on a monthly basis. The first one, "The Marathon of Pleasure and Pain," appeared last month, and the second one, "Running With a Minyan," should be appearing later this week.
2017 Race Calendar
Fri, Jan. 6
Fri, Jan. 20
A (Goal: sub-41:00)
Fri, Feb. 24
Fri, Mar. 17
Sat, Apr. 15
A (Goal: sub-1:30:00)
Sun, Apr. 16
Sat, Apr. 29
Sat, Jul 15
Fri-Sat, Aug 18-19
A (Goal: 60K)