Here I am at a local watering hole having an IPA and reminiscing on the year that was. My running went on to new heights and the beers along the way have been delicious. As for running, I logged 1,750.08 miles for the year. As for beers, I had around 250 beers with 75% of them being unique. (According to my Untappd app. There were many I did not log in.) Let’s go over the highlights:

January to early-April

Running at the top of the plateau.

Running in the Mile Run Half-Marathon – March

Early on in January I decided to embark on training for my first marathon. The winter was almost totally snowless and I was lucky that there wasn’t a lot of bad weather that hindered my training. Some of my training runs was with the Fox Trot Running Group which was great to do some of my longer training runs with a group and to have company. At times they often pushed me harder and farther than I would normally would go. I also made a lot of great new friends from this group. The first beer I had for the year was an IPA called Cold Hop from Boulder Beer Company. Being winter, I mostly drank heartier ales, bocks, stouts and winter warmers like Christmas Ale from Sly Fox, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast, Santa’s Private Reserve from Rouge and Old Jubilation Ale from Avery. The brewery that I had the most was Great Lakes Brewing out of Cleveland. The three highest-rated beers in which I gave 5-stars was XS Imperial I2PA from Rogue, a Belgium stong ale from 21st Amendment called Monk’s Blood, and lastly Le Freak from Green Flash. The worst beer I had in this period was a can of Natty Light that I had against my will during the award-making ceremony for the Dirty Kiln Race. Talking about the Dirty Kiln, Allegheny Trailrunners had its first trail race at Canoe Creek on April 7th. Over 200 runners had a great time running either the 5-mile or 12-mile course around the lake.

Mid-April through early-June

Pittsburgh Marathon - Mile 25.

Pittsburgh Marathon – Mile 25.

All my running focused around two races; the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5th and the Laurel Highlands Ultra 50k on June 6th. Both races marked first time running at those distances. Pittsburgh Marathon went well with a sub-4 hour race under less than ideal (hot) conditions. Then I ran my first 50k, the brutal Laurel Highlands Ultra. I achieved an impressive 24th place out of 96 finishers at 6 hours and 40 minutes time even though I ran out of gas in the last 4 miles and had severe leg cramping post-race.
This period also marked the fewest number of beers with only 5 recorded in April and 4 in June. However it doesn’t tell the whole story. During Pints for Pets (which I am on the committee) I sampled a few dozen beers and had many during Memorial Day camp but no internet access to check-in with Untapped. Toward June, I was starting to get into a “hop-kick” with a lot of IPAs on my list. Most notably, I had take a trip to Allentown and Harrisburg on the weekend before the Laurel Highlands Ultra and had a chance to drink a few beers in which I gave 5-stars including Hop’solutely from Allentown Brew Works as well as Danny’s IPA (Black IPA) and Flying Mouflan (Belgium ale) both when I visited Troegs.

Summer of 2012

Todd Lewis, Donnie Rhodes and I before the start of the Dam Scramble.

Todd Lewis, Donnie Rhodes and I before the start of the Dam Scramble.

After the 50k, I was able to take it easy and enjoy the summer. June was spent recovering from the big race with training picking up again in July when I decided to run a race every month from June to November and picking up distances toward an ultramarathon in the Fall. I had some frustration in realizing that my pace was much slower than in the spring. My slower pace would dog me for the rest of the year. The first race of the summer/fall season was the shorter 12-mile course in the Allegheny Front Trail Race which I finished 5th because most of the rest of the field got lost.
Then in August I experienced my first injury sustained during a race. While running in the Dam Scramble in late-August I had my achillies tendon in my left foot seize up about three-quarters into the race. I did finish but I did not do as well as I hoped, finishing 23 among 61 finishers at 3 hours and 27 minutes.
Summer times usually means summer beers and lagers but not for Benjamin here. I was all over the place with my beer selections. The only two five-star rated beers which I had all summer were both drank during the first week of September. These include Trois Pistoles, a Belgium Strong Ale from Unibroue and Perpetual IPA from Troegs.

Fall of 2012

At the finish of the Stone Mill 50.

At the finish of the Stone Mill 50.

I spent early September in limp mode as my foot healed. Nevertheless I ran in the R.B. Winter Dam Full Trail Marathon at a gingerly pace and finished about middle of the field with no ill effects. That performance meant I could spend the remainder of September and October gaining the miles I needed to run my ultimate goal — a 50 miler. In doing so, I ran some awesome long runs on great trails at Rothrock State Forest, Moshannon State Forest, around Raystown and more during this time. October 27th was the second trail race for the Allegheny Trailrunners at Blue Knob in the first Rock ‘N The Knob. Through it was more difficult to put together and there was dozen little annoyances, the race was still a success in the eyes of those who ran.
On November 17th, came the very big show — the Stone Mill 50 miler — my first 50 mile race. Even with a tweaked ankle that forced me to finish at a snails pace in toward the last 8 miles of so, I did finish my first 50 miler in 13 hours and 43 minutes. I will be back.
For the remainder of the year, I recovered and relaxed and started to plan for 2013. In the first week of December I started to build my base for 2013. We also had our third Bierlauf Rallyee on December 22. The premise of the bieflauf is simple: 10k course, 6 bars, then dinner at the last stop as we all pass around and each drink from the ceremonial glass boot. It is truly a great time with some great running friends.

2013

Here is the race plan for 2013 thus far:
April 20th – Hyner Challenge – 16 miles
May 6th – Pittsburgh Marathon
June 8th – Laurel Highlands Ultra – 70 mile version

Below is a rough outline of my training over the next 6 months. I am trying to gain a lot of miles and run when I am tired to build endurance and running cajonnes. Unlike summer and fall of ths past year when I just build up mileage, I thrown in some interval training to hopefully gain the speed that I have lost. Not only that but my biggest challenge is running both the Hyner Challenge and Pittsburgh with just two weeks apart. Finally I am left with little time to get some long runs in and enough recovery time in May to get myself ready for Laurel Highlands. We will see how it goes.

Ben’s Training Plan – Jan. – June 2013