The moment I crossed the finish line of the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon on November 16 was the official beginning of my "offseason." Though due to injury and resulting mediocre performances much of 2013 seemed like offseason, the end of my 2013 marathon season marked both a true and symbolic new beginning.
By the end of the Philadelphia Marathon I had determined my training regimen going forward. Though my arthritic knee prevents me from logging the miles I have in past years, I finally saw less running as a true blessing in disguise.
Several friends of mine have actually gotten faster by running less and cross-training more. The training regimen I have followed the last several years has gotten "stale" and what better way to invigorate training than to follow a new plan. Perhaps most importantly, after several weeks of increased swimming I am actually beginning to like the water, my prior triathlon nemesis.
Offseason, which lasts but a mere month and one-half, also provides an opportunity for me to run races for the joy of it. The end of the year, with its colder temperatures, shorter days and wintry weather, would seem a poor time to run for fun.
Yet to the contrary, the period beginning with Thanksgiving and ending January 1 provides some of the more enjoyable races of the year. As I have for the past decade, I began Thanksgiving by racing the Race with Grace 10k. My racing schedule over the next month looks equally enjoyable:
*December 14 — "It's a Wonderful Run" 5k in Seneca Falls (itsawonderfulrun5k.com): You will enjoy this race whether you've never seen the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" or make it a yearly tradition (though I would suggest watching the movie at least once before the race). A nighttime run through the lit up village of Seneca/Bedford Falls is enveloped by a weekend long festival which celebrates Seneca Falls as "The Real Bedford Falls."
*December 21 — "Reindeer Run 5k" (www.yellowjacketracing.com/reindeer-run-5k): In only its second year, Reindeer has become Rochester's must-do Christmas race. Starting and ending at The Strong Museum, much of the course is on the inner loop, which is closed for the occasion. A great way to celebrate the holiday season with the Rochester running community.
*January 1 — "New Year's Resolution Run" (grtconline.org/content/view/54/66/#schedule): Instead of starting your new year hungover on your couch, usher in 2014 with a 7.5-mile run through Mendon Ponds Park. As a runner, there is no other way I would start the year!
I look forward to welcoming 2014 with a column of my hopes and dreams for the upcoming racing year. I would love to hear (and perhaps share) some your goals also. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Steve Levitsky is a lawyer by day, runner by night, and most importantly, husband to Kim and father of Naomi and Ben. He has run hundreds of races, ranging from 5k to 50 miles, and ranks his greatest running accomplishment as qualifying for and running the 2012 Boston Marathon. Steve welcomes feedback and story ideas at Stevenblevitsky@aol.com.