2016 in Review, Part 1 of 6

Running headfirst into a wall of pneumonia.

December 27, 2016Filed under Blog#2016-in-review#family#fitness#podcasting#productivity#software development#writingMarkdown source

I originally drafted a single, mammoth post reflecting on this whole year—but at more than 6,000 words, that seemed like a bit much. As such, I’ve broken it into a series of posts, to be published daily through the start of the new year. Hopefully they’re a bit more digestible that way!

Wait, hold on, you say. Go back. How did you get walking pneumonia? This is a fun story, and it’s a huge part of what made the other parts of the latter half of 2016 go the way they did.

I went for what I expected to be a 15–16 mile long run as part of training for the half-marathon I signed up for this year. The previous week I’d done a 14-mile run, so 15–16 would have been no problem. I was feeling awesome on the run, so decided to extend it to 17. This was right at the edge of what makes good sense for a week-over-week increase in mileage; you generally want to stick with ~10% increases and max out at 20%; but 17 is right at that limit relative to 14. So I turned right to cut through another nearby town instead of left to head directly home when I was at roughly the 11-mile mark.

Then, where I did cut back toward home, I took a wrong turn out of a five-way intersection. (You can see on the north end of the map, in Youngsville, here). I realized this half a mile on, but figured there would be a spot to cut over. There is not. So I got back to where I had taken the wrong turn, filled up my water bottle and hit the bathroom, and made my way home. But at this point, I was already at ~15 miles, and ~4 miles from home. As I got back into our town, I decided: why not just go ahead and extend out to 20 miles?

And the truth is, that extra three quarters of a mile probably didn’t matter a bit. 19.25 vs. 20 miles? Same difference in its effect on my immune system, which is to say: it completely crashed it. A 42% week over week increase in mileage is no joke. The little cold I picked up from my 2-year-old daughter turned into borderline bronchitis. Yay.

What with a busy spring preceding—I had no idea how much busier I would be taking 2 classes and working 30 hours a week than I had been taking 3 classes and working 20 hours a week—I didn’t manage a triathlon. I had contented myself with the thought that I’d likely set another PR in my half marathon, but after weeks of recovery from walking pneumonia, that thought fell apart as well. I lost about a minute per mile in my pace, and my mileage was shot as well. I never got it back—not least because of a writing project which went south on me. I ended up being sick off and on all fall, and I’m only now getting my feet back under me. Sad to say, one of those times I got sick was the week of the half marathon I signed up for, and I’d been getting loud, clear signals from my body on previous runs that I was pushing too hard. So no race at all this year. But better that than pushing and injuring myself.

The year also saw a so-far unreversed weight gain that I find incredibly frustrating. In the first six months of 2016, I gained about ten pounds—despite keeping up the same basic activity level. I attribute this to a combination of factors: metabolic shifts in my late 20s, shifting back to doing almost purely running rather than a mix of running, swimming, and cycling, and the impact of acclimation to a workout load. I’m far from overweight, but I’m also slower and generally a bit flabbier as a result.

Here’s hoping 2017 is much better in all these regards! I plan to do a sprint-length triathlon and a full marathon. And I hope to lose those ten pounds again and get back to that healthier overall weight. That combo seems like the thing to do the year I turn thirty and graduate seminary.