Looking Back at 2021

We have made it through to the end of 2021, and now it’s time to look back and reflect a bit on things.
The end of 2021

No, I am not going into long philosophical spiels or rants about how things are, versus how I believe they should be in my infinite wisdom. I can’t control any of that. Most of this reflection will be looking at my running. 
The other stuff…well, no one really cares about my opinions, so sharing them is a waste of time and effort. Not that most people are too interested in my running, either. 😩

2021 Goals

How did I do?
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine (one of them). I got both the Moderna shots and then got boosted in October. My body, my choice. I haven’t become a zombie, all the nanobots and my 5G phone haven’t connected yet. The best part is that I haven’t ended up in either the hospital or morgue, so all that is a win in my view.
  • Run 1,200 miles (ca. 1,931 km). Made it on December 24 and ended up with 1220.93 miles (ca. 1,965 km) for the year.
  • Complete a 1.0-mile time trial each month. Nope, didn’t make it — too many injuries and lack of interest in running faster this year.
  • Run a sub-22:00 minute 5K. No races and my fastest time 5K time trial was 24:54.
  • Train for a Fall marathon. The body wasn’t ready for the training in time.
  • Get under 155 pounds (ca. 70 kg) and stay there. I got as close as 157, but stayed close to 160 most of the summer and beyond.
  • Have Harold being Harold as my only personal blog all year. I changed things up a couple of times on my blogging, but here I am back to being — Harold being Harold.
  • Write more. I don’t know if I wrote more or not, but I wrote enough to make me happy.
  • Read 50 books. I read over 60 books this year. However, keeping track of the books I read, makes it less likely for me to re-read ones that I want or need to read again to either pick out or better understand certain points or ideas. This is something I am going to think more about before making changes.
  • Travel to visit family and friends. I had bought plane tickets to go see my daughter and the grand kiddos, but due to the uptick in COVID-19 in July three days before I was supposed to fly out, I decided to cancel my trip. Otherwise, I didn’t participate in any races, Central Maine Strider events or go visit friends I haven’t seen in a while due to COVID-19.

Running

The biggest thing that I re-learned in 2021 is that **I don’t have to run; I chose to run**. Despite knowing this fact, I go off on tangents and forget every so often, which tends to bite me square in the arse.

Injuries/Niggles

They are part of the deal as I continue to add numbers to my 1957 birth year and believe me, I know how fortunate I am to be running as well as I am. 
Most of 2021 was dominated by my left leg’s bout with Achilles tendonosis. It was one of those things that afflicted me in March, didn’t want to go away, and still isn’t 100%. However, in June, it got to the point where I could run on it. Then there were the normal right hip, ankles, right foot niggles, and crap that I seem to deal with almost every year, in addition to my Achilles problems. Although I did something to my left arm while chipping brush in the Fall, that still is pretty grumpy.

Training

The niggles and getting older led me to see if I could find a training regimen to help me get over the injuries and stay healthy. 
First up was using the Stryd ecosystem and training plans to help me get back to running. However, running by Power and all the groovy stats that you get bombarded with the Stryd pod, didn’t really help me all that much. It was information overload from the stats, and I didn’t really know how to use them to help me run any better. The Power numbers were more a game for me to try to improve them than being all that useful to run by. The data from the Stryd pod became more data noise than anything helpful.
However, as a result of Stryd and getting a Garmin 245 watch, I did learn how to integrate training plans. I can listen/feel the buzzes and beeps when I need to change paces or go too fast/slow for what I have planned. This feature is something that I hadn’t used in the past and is something that I do like to use for more challenging workouts or runs with multiple changes of pace during them. I don’t have to think about what I am doing — I can focus on just doing it. Otherwise, I skip those planned/canned workouts in my watch on easy runs.
June to November were pretty good months for running. I was able to stay over 100 miles (ca. 161 km) each month. A few of those months, I got back up into the mileage that I would love to get back to regularly doing. Thankfully, beyond a few niggles and dealing with the Achilles crap, I felt pretty good for the most part. December ended up being a recovery month, even though I had initially thought it would be the start of a half-marathon training plan. 
During the Fall, after doing a lot of research, I tried the McMillan and Humphrey free trial of their RunClubs. They were okay, but for the cost per month, compared to what I felt I was receiving, neither was quite what I was looking for. I tried Runner’s Connect in late Nov/Dec, but it wasn’t a free trial. I stopped the RC subscription due to philosophical differences. Their training philosophy was too focused on speedwork; in the winter, in Maine, without a treadmill, which didn’t work for me.
I guess, my preference to use this time more for base building isn’t the “in” thing in run training at this time. However, due to the weather conditions and my age, speedwork during Winter outside just isn’t something I want to do on a regular basis. I know me and my injury history.
After that experience, I decided to relax for the rest of December and think about where I wanted to go from here. Going into 2022, I will work on establishing a good mileage base and focus on the fact that I don’t have to run; I chose to run. 
One of the biggest lessons I have learned this year is to do my prehab and strength work 3-5 times a week to stay more injury resistant. 

Racing

After, either being injured or dealing with the pandemic surges most of the Spring and Summer, I had intended to run the CMS 10K, Turkey Trot at Cony, and the Millinocket Half Marathon this Fall. Due to COVID-19, I didn’t race in person in 2021, and my participation with the Central Maine Striders was limited to paying my dues. 
The most recent pandemic surge canceled me out of all of them. While I did run a couple of time trials, I haven’t run with anyone besides TheWife for a couple of years. 

Running Shoes

I already went through my running shoe post and have gravitated into the world of Brooks it seems. Although I do love my Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 enough that they were my 2021 trainers of the year. I have put them away to save them for Spring-time training. My go-faster shoes of the year were the 361* Flames.
Saucony Endorphin Speed 2
I ran in too many shoes again this year, but am starting the new year off with quite a few pairs stocked up, just in case there is a supply chain problem. Although, I don’t think that I will run out of running shoes anytime soon. 

My books of the year 

I read quite a few books, primarily in Sword & Sorcery, Self Improvement, and of course — Running. My books of the year in each genre are:
Fantasy
A Wanderer’s Song — P.E. Padilla
                Self Improvement
The Practice of Groundedness — Brad Stulberg
                Running
Running the Dream — Matt Fitzgerald
Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from above the clouds in Ethiopia 
                        — Michael Crawley

Crap Stuff

I’ll be brief.
Jeff and Eric died too young.
I could go into long spiels or rants on COVID-19, the pandemic, vaccinations, politics, social media, and a myriad of other topics, but quite honestly, I do not write about these subjects all that often. They take too much energy out of me and are not worth the stress that doing so would add to my life. There are enough other writers out there who will convey countless thoughts on all those topics and many more so that I don’t have to add my two cents into the void.
Let’s just say that life on our little hill is much better than it is in many places throughout the Country or the World and that I appreciate the things we do have in our lives. 

Looking forward

Looking back at 2021, it wasn’t the greatest year, and while some days were pretty good. It was more a year that we focused more on simply getting through. While attempting to sort through the misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda that seemed to grow exponentially throughout the year.
Frustrating at times, but the way it was.
My running got better as the year went on, and I have a feeling it will be even better going forward. I am learning to accept some of the limitations that getting older places on the body and work with them versus attempting to keep doing what I have always done. Change is something I am not great at, at times, but it is time to make more than a few and let go of things holding me back.
I am not convinced that any of the online coach’s RunClubs will be the answer for me going into 2022 after my experiences this year. However, if I start to struggle with my training, one of them might be a partial solution. 
Instead of going on and on about all the negativity that 2021 brought to the world, it is time to change our perspective and look forward to what could be in 2022. Will it be more of the same from 2020 and 2021, or do we break the cycles of negativity and memes that drive the wedges between us?
It’s really is up to all of us.
I will leave you with this photo of Bennie and me relaxing this afternoon and hoping for better days ahead.
 

Come with me now — the best is yet to be.

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