When I started planning 2019 my primary goal was to complete the 3rd round of the states, but then considering I was planning to go to Antarctica, South Africa for Comrades, Asia for the Tokyo Marathon, South America for Buenos Aires, it seemed only logical that if I slipped in a trip to Europe and another to Oceania I could round out all 7 continents within a single calendar year. Then I decided to try to cram in as many races as I possibly could.
This is part and parcel of my planning and race strategies. Rather than setting forth one goal. I will set a goal, and if that goal seems achievable, add another, or push it up until I fail. For example, if my finish time goal is 4:30 and it seems like I might have that in the bag, then why not push for 4:20, or 4:15, etc. Having failed I will then proceed to beat myself up about having failed. As a result I think it’s important to review the year, its successes it’s failures, and set forth goals for 2020 that should not be changed.
In 2019 I ran through swampy lowlands of Louisiana at the Azalea Trail 27 miler (4/5 stars), a boring-ass bike trail in Florida at Spring Hill Marathon Mania (2/5 stars), made some new friends at the White Continent 50k in Antarctica (4.5/5 stars), Another boring bike path in Chile at the Punta Arenas 50k (2/5 stars), jumped out of a plane and ran an exceptionally long boring 50k at Skydive Ultra in Florida (2/5 stars), repeated my first marathon in Miami (3/5 stars), missed a sub-4 attempt in Utah at the Sun Marathon (3/5 stars), ran a double with Gary at Mississippi River Marathon (2.5/5 stars) and the Mercedes Benz Marathon (3/5 stars) in Birmingham. From there back to my hometown throwdown in Fort Lauderdale (3.5/5 stars), got to hang with Karen at the Red Rock Canyon Marathon in Nevada (2/5 stars), ran the Tokyo marathon (5/5 stars) dressed as Godzilla, few to Hawai’i to run and witness Karen’s 50th state at Revel Kulia (4/5 stars), another double in Tennessee at the Raccoon Mountain Marathon (4.5/5 stars) and the Atlanta Marathon (4/5 stars), followed by a return to Georgia to see my old wine bar friends Tim and Caleb after the Skidaway Marathon (2/5 stars) near Savannah. Then off to 2 Rivers marathon in Pennsylvania (1/5 stars), the Hogeye Marathon in Arkansas (3/5 stars), and my 200th BLT at the GO! St. Louis Marathon (3.5/5 stars). Then to race wife Amy’s 50th state at the Coastal Deleware Running Festival Marathon (3/5 stars), and a visit to my aunt’s place in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon (3/5 stars). Then I shocked myself by running my first new sub-4 marathon state in 3 years at a rainy Providence Marathon (3.5/5 stars), on to a hilly Starved Rock Marathon (3.5/5) in Illinois, and Dan and Paula’s 50th state at Martha’s Vineyard Marathon (3/5 stars) in Massachusetts, my last repeat of the Vermont City Marathon (.5/5 stars), and a beautiful race and Keenan’s 50th state x2 in South Dakota at the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon (4/5 stars). Afterwards off to South Africa for the worlds oldest ultra, Comrades Marathon (5/5 stars) followed by the Manitoba Marathon (3/5 stars), the lakeside Charlevoix Marathon (4/5 stars), over to Wellington, New Zealand for their Marathon (2/5 stars), before heading off to the endless hot and bug-filled uphill slog that was the Hatcher Pass Marathon (4/5 stars) in Willow, Alaska followed by another up a mountain race in North Carolina at Grandfather Mountain Marathon (3/5 stars), and the Madison Marathon (2.5/5 stars) in Montana, and a ass-kicking hot sunny trail race through the Badlands of North Dakota at the Maah Daah Hey Trail Marathon (4/5 stars). To Washington for the Beat The Blearch Marathon (2/5 stars), California for the Humboldt Bay Marathon (3/5 stars), a sandstorm of an event in Anchorage at the Runfest 49k (2.5/5 stars), a rainy muddy mess at the State Fair Marathon (3.5/5 stars) in Grand Isle, Nebraska. My third running of the Pocatello Marathon (4/5 stars) in Idaho, and probably one of the most beautiful and most difficult races I’ve ever been to in Oregon for the North Umpqua Trail (NUT) 50k (5/5 stars). Then off to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the Marathon Globetrotters Annual Meeting at the Maraton Buenos Aires (3.5/5 stars) followed by Berlin for a repeat of the Berlin Marathon (3/5 stars), and upstate New York for Gary’s 50th state at the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, New York. Then to a double Hartford (4/5 stars) and Steamtown (4.5/5 stars) where I got to visit with my uncle and Fort Lauderdale buddies John and Sal. Another double trip with Amy to Baltimore and Atlantic City. My first 100k at Javelina Jundred (5/5 stars) in Arizona followed by a repeat of the Marshall University Memorial Marathon (3/5 stars), part of the Seattle Quad at Wattle Waddle (1.5/5 stars) on Thanksgiving day and the comically poorly designed Seattle Marathon (.5/5 stars) course on Sunday. Finally a freezing race at the Millinocket Marathon (2/5 stars) in Maine and a repeat of the Kiawah Island Marathon (2.5/5 stars) to round out the year and the 3rd round of 50 states.
A total of 53 BLTs, 8 ultras, 45 marathons, and one half marathon (see below) in nine “countries” (counting Antarctica) on all 7 continents, 35 US states, 2 sub4 marathons
It seems this year was the year of the DNS/DNF.
I did not start (DNS) the Bend Marathon due to flight issues; it turns out this race was apparently short. I DNS’d the second day of the 2 Rivers Marathon in Pennsylvania because I was so turned off by the first day. I got parked in at my AirBnB so I DNS’d the Gate City Marathon in New Hampshire. I DNS’d the second day of the the Madison/Big Sky Double in Montana because I was so dispirited after the first day. I quit the Oh Boy Marathon after a few miles because I found it boring and new I would be doing Hartford. I flew back to Alaska after Beat the Blerch to attempt to do the inaugural Archangel Marathon, but let my mind get the better of me and did not finish (DNF) after 13 miles of beating myself up for being the slowest person on the course. I DNF’d the Jones Gap Trail Marathon in South Carolina because I knew I wasn’t going to make my flight. After Pocatello I was supposed to do Tupelo, which I DNF’d after 5k because I started to feel awful about myself. After that I decided to DNS Heart of America in Missouri. The next DNF was in Indianapolis when I tripped on a steel plate covering a construction area on the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon course and landed on my ribs. This took me out of commission for several weeks. I dropped down to the half at Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas, DNS’d the Madison Wisconsin Marathon, and finally PF pain after Kiawah Island made me decide to DNS the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon and I opted to DNS the HUFF 50k in Indiana to spend more time with mom.
That’s 9 DNS’s and 4 DNF’s. So what pray tell have I been saving for the ugly?
I’ve been plagued by maladies all year. I started the year with glute and groin strains. Once that started to fade my problems became more psychiatric in nature, after that I fell twice in road marathons and strained my chest. Now I’m just down to the worst case of plantar fasciitis of my life and being too damn fat. I always walked a bit like a duck, but now I seem to walk like a duck with a limp. 50+ BLTs in a year isn’t smart, and looking back on this year I know that I was hell-bent on finishing the 3rd round of the states and doing a bajillion races for the wrong reason: spite. It’s a long story, but I have always believed when you’re motivated intrinsically (by a desire to accomplish something for yourself) you are most likely to succeed. You can also be motivated extrinsically (by a desire to accomplish something for someone else). Extrinsic motivations can be for the desire for praise or, as it was to a certain degree in my case, a desire to prove something to someone. I’ll spare you the details, but I while I have known so many great and positive people through this weird little hobby, I have met a couple of people who are, frankly, kind of dicks. At some point I set a few of my goals to “show them.” This is wrong. I know it’s wrong. I know the people I wanted to prove wrong couldn’t possibly care less, will never know, and will never ring me up to say “You know what, Seth? I was wrong.” And I have beaten up my body to prove to myself that they are wrong. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I know that I can be a petty, spiteful person, and I’m going to try to be a better person and learn to just not listen to such people in the future. So enough of the ugliness.
The basics of my 2020 racing goals are to rein in my propensity to travel to a race all the time which I think will help break my cycle of DNSs and DNFs. I want to finish about 20 of the remaining 33 states for my 4th round of the states with an eye to finishing the 4th round before my 40th birthday next July. I’d like to do 3 new countries to bring me to 22 countries, and complete the back-to-back challenge at Comrades for having completed successive years. I would like to target a race for a sub4 finish I’m currently thinking the Casper Marathon. This means I’ll need to get my weight in check, and hopefully this last year hasn’t done any permanent damage to my ability to run. Here’s to a fruitful 2020.