Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Running Year in Review

As I was thinking about the year gone by, as far as running, I thought it would be a good idea to put down my reflections in my blog. It was definitely a big year for me, so here is a basic summary of what made it so big, the highs and the lows, the daily grind and the new adventures.

First of all, the numbers. In 2011 I ran 3,197 miles (plus whatever I run Dec. 31), which might sounds like a lot but I'm sure a lot of people will be surprised it's so low. I ran 18 races, which break down as follows: 9 ultras (1 48-hour, 2 24-hour, 3 6-hour, 1 100-mile 3-day race, 1 50-mile and 1 50-km), 3 marathons, 4 half marathons, and 2 5-mile races. I got four ultra wins, which will at least get me onto UltraRunning Magazine's year-end list (BUS 6-Hour, 3 Days At The Fair 48-Hour, Pioneer Memorial 3-Day 100-Mile Trek, North Coast 24-Hour), and 1 tie marathon win (The July 4th Marathon, with Dennis Ball). All of the half marathons and two of the marathons were on the calendar of the incredibly suucessful and popular Holiday Marathons. I set two PR's (marathon and 48 hours), and three that were pretty darn close to PR's (6 hours, 5 miles and 24 hours). I won the New York Ultrarunning Grand Prix for the third time. Oh, and one American record and one national championship.

Not bad, considering that the year started on a low point in Phoenix, with me having pulled out of the Across The Years 48-hour race on the last day of 2010, a day earlier than planned, with a strained achilles. Fortunately it wasn't serious, and with a little icing and resting I was able to get back to normal training before long.

But I think it's fair to say the highlight of the year was 3 Days at the Fair 48-hour race, May 13-15, where I set a new American record (just ratified by USATF!) by almost nine miles, a total of 257.34 miles, which is also a world-best for 2011! No need to rehash the story when I've already written about it, but it was just a race when everything went perfectly according to plan. But I'll repeat my big thanks to RD Rick McNulty, Lydia Redding for crewing, my PT Jack Mantione, additional help from Sabrina Moran's family, and to Mike Arnstein and Mike Oliva for throwing me the awesomest bash ever!!!

Besides that, of course winning a second 24-hour national championship in three years at North Coast in Cleveland was another big highlight, with 153 miles. I'll get that PR yet!!! But it officially puts me back on the U.S. team for the 2012 world championships in Poland in September. Very much looking forward to that! My Boston Marathon PR was also very exciting. People who know me well know i'm not too concerned about my marathon times, but it really would be nice to get under 2:50! Maybe in 2012.

The one other race that I am very proud of, that many might have overlooked, was the Pioneer Memorial Trek, 3-day 100-mile race. It took place just two weeks after my 48 hour, and I wasn't sure if I'd be recovered enough to run it at all, but I knew I wanted to if at all possible because of the historical significance to the race, the fact that it honors Ted Corbitt and the other members of the Pioneer Club. The race has been held every two years since 1981, but this could be the last one, unless Rich Innamorato changes his mind, which I hope he does. But aside from some foot pain, I was feeling ok, so I gave it a shot, and I not only finished, but I won, winning each day's leg. And that was my third straight victory for that race.

I only ran two NYRR races in 2011, both 5-milers. But I was very happy with the Team Championships in August, where I came close to a PR - not bad for an old man! Shows I still have some speed left.

So for the lowlights, aside from the forementioned Across The Years just before New Year's, the big crash was without doubt the Back On My Feet Lone Ranger 24 hour race in Philadelphia in July. There I lacked the mental focus needed to deal with the heat and the somewhat unfamiliar situation of a long 8-mile loop. But not a total loss, as I did learn a few things from my mistakes, not to mention that it was a fundraiser for a very worthy cause.

The other lowlight was the cancellation of the 2011 world championship 24-hour race. After the 2010 race in Brive, it was announced that the 2011 race was confirmed for Brugg, Switzerland. In late 2010 the organizers in Brugg pulled out when they apparently had trouble getting the funding for the race, and the IAU couldn't find a replacement. It was a real shame, and a black mark not only on the Brugg organizers, but on the IAU.

Besides the races, I enjoyed some very fun group long runs, a loop around Manhattan, or a tour of the bridges of Manhattan, or the A Train from end to end. I hope to do a lot more of these in 2012.

But the thing that really stands out for the year is all the new friendships I made, or the recent friendships that got stronger. There are a lot of young, enthusiastic runners out there in New York, whether it's the Dashing Whippets or Dennis Ball's Tri Team, not to mention the Mikes and The Holiday Marathons, or the many other runners I got to know over the past year. The running future in New York looks very, very bright! Of course that is not at all meant to diminish my old friends, and "old" friends (they'd be the first to admit! lol). There's such a great community of runners here, I'm really looking forward to sharing the next year with them all!

So what exactly will I be sharing with them? The only race that's set in stone is the 24-hour world championships in Poland in September (hopefully it won't be cancelled). I will probably run the 3 Days at the Fair 48-hour race again in May, will possibly go down to Oklahoma in October to run 24 The Hard Way. I would love to run Badwater again if I can scrape together the dough. Locally I'm not entirely sure what's on the schedule, except for Caumsett, which I will probably run again. I'll probably do some marathons of halfs with The Holiday Marathons, and I would like to find a fast road marathon to try for a sub-2:50. Probably a couple of NYRR races, probably not the NY Marathon. I'm going to look for other races put on by smaller organizations. A lot of "probably's" there, but that's the scoop. I will also be putting on the RD cap with a 100-mile run in June, small and low-key, but promises to be a lot of fun (because I promise it).

And finally, a big thank you to all of you who are reading this now! It always amazes me that anyone cares what I have to say. Best wishes to you all for the new year - stay happy and healthy!

Pics: 1. Breaking the 48-hour record at Three Days at the Fair in Augusta, NJ; 2. Connie Gardner and me, 24-hour national champions at North Coast in Cleveland; 3. Hopkinton in April; 4. Dennis Ball and me after The July 4th Marathon; 5. The 10 runners who started the A Train run in the summer - 6 of us ran the whole 34 miles.


  1. You are always an inspiration! Good luck to you on your new goals and races! You will do well I am sure! Be blessed and Godspeed!
    Sandy Powell

  2. Incredible!! Phil may you have many more miles w the wind at your back in 2012! Happy New Year!

  3. when can we get more info on this 100m race you will be RD for?

  4. Martin "Flyer"December 31, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    An amazing year of achievements Phil! You are inspirational in your efforts and a great friend to many. Looking forward to seeing what you can roll out in 2012.

  5. Phillip, you are always an amazement and inspiration. Both Ed and I wish you Happy Trails in 2012.

  6. Thanks all of you! Congratulations on your achievements too, Martin and Sandy! Peter, send me an email at and I'll send you more info.

  7. Congrats on another banner year, Phil! It was an honor to run alongside you at NorthCoast 24 this year. Bummer that IAU canceled World's in 2011, but I have no doubt that you'll make Team USA proud in Poland in 2012, =).