Chase Adams - 2021 Recap

 

 

2021 was an absolutely epic year for me. I set personal bests in every distance from the mile to the marathon. So to commemorate 2021, I’ve decided to do a quick recap of every race and time trial from this past year. As I go, I’m also going to be filling in the spots on this display slate that my super-awesome wife got me for Christmas!

The first effort I put in this year was a half-marathon time trial. With a lot of races still not back to happening yet from the COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn’t able to find a convenient tune-up race before the Carmel Marathon in April, so I had to resort to doing a solo time trial. I mapped out a decent course that I could still put up a good result on and recruited a friend to meet me at a few different spots along the way for water (and a few photo ops) to simulate a race environment as much as possible. I was very pleased with my effort and ran 1:18:19, which was a personal best at that time (spoiler alert). Went out a little fast but was still able to sustain a good pace throughout. This was also my first real effort in the Nike Vaporfly Next %, the magic shoes that have taken the marathon world by storm the past couple of years. I would go on to wear these for the Carmel Marathon and a few other races this past year.

The Carmel Marathon was my first race since doing the Dopey Challenge in 2020 before the pandemic shut the world down. I had my registration deferred from 2020, but not from the original April date. I didn’t plan on doing Carmel in April of 2020, but when other races started getting cancelled, Carmel was originally postponed to a date in early June. Because I was itching to get a race in, I signed up for the June date, but that, too, would get postponed, then the 2020 race would ultimately get cancelled. Like I said, I was able to defer to 2021, but I didn’t realize at the time that it would become the first race I would be able to run for over a year. This would also be the first race I would run under my new coach, Paul Whitaker. I was feeling very confident coming in due to the shape that Paul had me in and the result from the time trial. I knew I was in good enough shape to qualify for Boston, but I would end up feeling so good that day that I would go on to blow all my expectations out of the water. I opened up the first 10k pacing in the 6:20’s. I closed the first half by getting down into the 6:05-6:10 range. Between miles 15-20, I picked up the pace to just under 6:00 (with the help of some good pacing from another runner). The last 10k of the race I started really feeling like I could get under 2:40:00, so I was running around 5:50 pace at that point. Even though I just missed 2:40:00 by 5 seconds, nothing could take away the feeling I had that day. An incredible feeling of accumulation of hard work that resulted in me shattering both my personal best marathon time and the Boston Qualifying for my age. The Vaporfly’s felt amazing to race in as well (even though they left me with 3 or 4 black toe nails). As far as the course goes, Carmel is not only flat and fast, but a really underrated course for its visual stimulation as well. A large chunk of the course is on the Monon trail, an urban walking/biking trail that runs through Indianapolis. The town of Carmel is probably the most beautiful suburb of Indy as well, so the whole thing makes for a very pleasant race. 2:40:05 official, and (spoiler alert) that is my personal best marathon time still at the end of the year.

My next race would be about a month and a half later on Memorial Day in Evansville. This was an out-and-back course that ran a 5k and 10k at the same time, so the 5k would go out and back once, the 10k twice. I signed up for the 10k, mainly because I hadn’t raced a 10k since college (I’m not really counting the Flying Pig or Disney because those were a part of a series or challenge), so I really wanted to see what I could do for that distance. I didn’t have any competition in the 10k and there were only a couple 5k runners that were ahead of me for the first half of the race. Nevertheless, I was able to keep pushing myself and finished with a time of 34:16, which I was pretty pleased with. I didn’t do any other 10k’s this year so that is my official PB. I will probably try to find a more competitive 10k somewhere in 2022 to try and improve on this time. But for now…34:16 it is!

I did run a 5k here in town, which was a 4th of July 5k but actually held the week before. I did this for fun but there wasn’t any competition and I ended up missing a turn and ran closer to 3.5 miles. The reason I even talk about this race is because I had ordered a pair of the Vaporfly 2’s for my fall races already, and I wanted to try them out. I really like the fly knit upper of the Vaporfly 2’s better than the vapor weave upper of the OG’s.

In early July, Coach Paul suggested a 1 mile time trial. This sounded pretty appealing to me because my speed sessions and workouts had been going really good and I was just curious how fast I could run a mile. The last time I had tried to run a mile all out was during tryouts for a relay event through work in which I ran 5:05. For this time trial, I elected to lace up the OG Vapes and run it on the local University track. My goal was really just to get under 5, but I must have been feeling pretty good that day too, because I crossed the 1600m mark in 4:41! A time I struggled to hit in high school! Of course, “1 mile” is not on the board, but this little time trial is fun boast about! LOL!

Continuing this section of summer races that that were more about having fun than anything else, I did an event in Indy called the Beaver Chase Urban Trail run. This race is run on a 10k(ish) college cross-country course in the middle of Indy and they offer 1/4, 1/2 and full marathon races depending on how many times you want to do the loop. You can also do the marathon as a part of a relay team, which I did with my friend Michael. We each ran two legs alternating. Michael did 1 and 3 and I did 2 and 4. It was a fun event on a fun, yet challenging course. I really had to work to keep us under 3 hours, but we did it and won the relay! I could see us doing this again in 2022.

On Labor Day, I entered a 5k in a neighboring town that was part of a benefit for a friend of mine that had recently and tragically lost her 17 year old daughter. This was another out-and-back course and there wasn’t anyone there near my target time range. I was all alone on this one, but still pushed to a 16:45 finish, the fastest time I’ve ran since high school, so it’s going on the board. I wore the OG Vapes again for this one and that will probably be the last time I wear them for a race. 5k is another distance that I plan on trying to improve on this year by finding a race with some better competition at some point.

t the beginning of 2021, I was looking at the idea of finding a race I could travel to for my fall race, like Chicago or possibly CIM. The wife and I already had plans to travel for our 1 year anniversary in October, so after some thought and discussion, we decided that we really didn’t want to travel again. Therefore, I signed up for the Indython series, which combines the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon with the Indy Half at Fort Ben in Lawrence, a suburb of Indy. The Fort Ben half is run around and through Fort Harrison state park (I’m not sure why the race is called Fort Ben but the park is Fort Harrison…never researched the history). I’ve run this race a few times because I really like the scenery and the size of it. Because I was so familiar, I knew that there was a long downhill portion around mile 8, so my plan was to maintain my goal marathon pace up until that point (6:10ish) and then use the long downhill to catapult into 5:45-5:50 for the last few miles. I was a little ahead of pace at that point, but that was good because I forgot how hilly the final 5k was. I was still able to run faster than the time trial in March and finish with a time of 1:17:57, so that one is going the board. This was my first real race in the Vaporfly 2’s, which felt just as fans at as the OG’s and still more comfortable with the fly knit upper. After this race, I was feeling pretty good about my fitness for the Monumental the following month.

Before I talk about my last race of the year, I want to talk about my history with the Monumental. I’ve been participating in this event on a nearly yearly basis for the better part of the last decade. Mostly in the half marathon rather than the full. However, in 2019, I was prepared to return to the full marathon distance after a few years off. I was going into this race in the best shape for a full marathon in years and I was feeling like it was going to be a BQ or bust. Without going into too many other details, I made it 10 miles in and had to bow out with a calf cramp that left me hardly able to walk. Like I said, my mentality was “BQ or bust”, so I was devastated with DNF’ing this race. I spent a few days contemplating giving up on running all together. Again, without making this a longer story…I didn’t give up.

Fast forward to this year…after Fort Ben, my wife and I went on our anniversary trip to Arizona where I (regrettably) didn’t run. When I returned home after 5 days off, I woke up one day, 2 weeks before the Monumental, with a nasty calf cramp…again. I’m pretty sure this was the first time since 2019 that I had even felt a calf strain, so I started feeling that dread all over again. Thankfully, with the help of my incredible coach and being smart about training in the 2 weeks leading up to the Monumental, I was able to overcome this setback and arrived at the starting line, ready to go, and about 85% confident.

knew I wasn’t in as good of shape as I was for Carmel in April, but I wasn’t going to let that keep me from going after a personal best. I spent the first half of the race putting myself in position to beat my time by implementing the plan that I had in my head for months. But, I couldn’t keep it up in the second half and fell off a bit. That didn’t matter in the end though because I crossed the finish line in 2:43:39, still my second best marathon time (by a lot) and definitely a time worthy of redemption from 2019. A truly great way finish off 2021.

The year culminated in my official acceptance to the 126th Boston Marathon in 2022. I haven’t given a whole of thought to what other goals I’ll chase this next year, but I expect more personal records and more incredible experiences. 2021 was easily the best year of running I’ve had…ever. You’re move 2022!

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