2014 Year In Review

So, 2014 is almost over and it has been a hell of a year for me: we have spent a month in Italy with my wife, my first daughter was born and, of course, I have started running. In this short post I’d like to collect my random thoughts and impressions about the past year and really hope to be doing these posts for many years to come :-)

Running Stats of 2014

  • First (Real) Run: June 18, 2014
  • Total Runs: 55
  • Total Races: 5
  • Time Running: 75 hours
  • Total Distance: 524.3 km
  • Total Elevation Gain: 5419 m

Favourite Races of 2014

  1. The North Face Endurance Challenge Half-Marathon 2014 in California – definitely the A race for me this year, my first really hard trail race and my the first real exposure to the ultra scene. Race report is here.
  2. Chase The Coyoye 14.4K – beautiful and pretty challenging course here in Ontario, pretty low-key and a lots of fun.
  3. Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon 2014 – my first ever half-marathon, what else is there to say :-)

Favorite Gear of 2014

  • Trail Shoes: Salomon Sense Pro – I have tried 5 different shoes this year (yeah, I know, it is an addiction!) and yet my favourite shoe of the year is the first trail shoe I have ever tried on and loved since the minute I did. I will keep looking for better options of course, but I’m pretty sure this small beast will stay in my rotation for a long time.
  • Running Socks: One word: Injinji! – I have never thought socks could play such an enormous role in running and when I first heard about those weird toe socks, I was very skeptical. After running in them for 4 months and hundreds of kilometres, I haven’t had a single blister and I absolutely love the comfort and freedom they give to my toes. Favourite models so far:
  • Running/GPS Watch: Suunto Ambit 2S – after running for some time with my phone (with and without a HR monitor) I’ve decided to get a proper watch and this was definitely one of the best things I did for my training and racing, mostly because I tend to push too hard at the beginning of a run and if not for a feedback loop created by the watch I’d just kill myself long before the finish line. This watch gave me everything I wanted and for a reasonable price. If you need more help choosing a perfect watch for you, I’d recommend the Product Comparison Calculator by the awesome DC Rainmaker.
  • Running Backpack: Salomon ADV Skin Lab Hydro 5 Set – I have tried a bunch of backpacks, but this one ended up being the most comfortable for me. After running with it for a few months (a long race and many training runs) I’m loving it: lots of pockets to put all the stuff I need to take with me (gels, drinks, phone, etc) and I don’t even feel it when I’m running.

Favorite Sports/Running Books of 2014

  • Born To Run by Christopher McDougall – this was the book that inspired me to try running. Really interesting story explaining how all of us could run, running is not an innate talent and giving us a glance into the ultra-community (friendliest bunch of people I’ve ever seen).
  • Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes – building on the momentum created by the previous book, I have devoured this one, could not stop listening to the story of a really fun guy that could run for days non-stop, once again, giving a glimpse of the trail and ultra running community, showing many interesting and very different people sharing the passion of running.
  • Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek – hearing about Scott from the other books I really wanted to hear more about his story. And this book was the way to go! Really interesting and very inspiring story of a guy who won the Western States 100 seven (7!) times in a row and did a lot of other crazy and inspiring things in the world of running.
  • The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by the author of the awesome Oatmeal online comic, Matthew Inman – I’ve been following The Oatmeal comic for many years now and was very surprised when I heard, that its author is an ultra-runner. The book is crazy funny and is highly recommended for anybody related to running (especially runners or members and their families).

And now, some plans for 2015

  • Run my first marathon – seems like a natural progression from the half-marathon distance I’ve conquered this year
  • Train for and try to run my first ultra (50k) – this is a stretch goal, though I do think it should be possible and will definitely try to get there
  • Lose at least 20 lb – pretty sure this will just happen with the amounts of running required to train for the previous two goals. ;-)
  • Involve my family more in my racing – as nice as it is to finish a race, it would be so much better to have people waiting for you at the finish line. We weren’t able to do it this year with the newborn baby and all, but will definitely try to do better next year!

Happy new year!