2018 was a wild year.

This was the first full year I would again consider myself a “runner.” After an extended hiatus (3 years? Shoot wait, closer to 5) without much regular running, it’s been great being back in a routine and genuinely feeling GOOD about myself.

At the beginning of the year, I set some goals for what I wanted to accomplish.

  1. Get a BQ, run two marathons.
  2. Run 2018 miles in 2018
  3. Get my weekly mileage averaging at 50/week.
  4. Drop a 5k below 17:30 again.

I didn’t actually reach any of them, to be honest. They were pretty lofty considering I had JUST started running regularly again in November.

But I ended up doing much more than I anticipated, especially following the month off over the summer, and for that I’m thankful.

Even though I didn’t achieve all of my goals this year, I truly believe that reflection is important. It can help guide your future goals, find where you might have “went wrong,” and when you’re feeling a little defeated, show you JUST HOW FAR YOU’VE COME.

Progress can be hard to see day-to-day, so zooming out offers some wonderful perspective.

So here we are with a little recap of how far I’ve come in the past year.

My First 26.2

The Eau Claire Marathon. Eau Claire, WI. May 6th, 2018. 3:29:54

This was my first “real” race back. I started running again with regularity after leaving my band, Conveyer in November. In December, I decided I should set my sights on a race, and what better race than the city’s premiere (and only) marathon.Eau Claire Marathon 2018

I learned a whole lot about during this training cycle and discovered that I really like running stupidly long distances. I plan on doing a post soon about things I wish I knew going into it (thanks for the idea, Emily) partially as a refresher for myself, but mostly to try to offer some insight for people looking to run their first 26.2.

Things didn’t go as planned, as I decided to take a risk and push the pace around mile eight. I was feeling pretty good through about sixteen, and then the wheels fell off. I ended up finishing just shy of 3:30, which I’m still incredibly proud of. I’m very excited to start training for next year!

Short and Speedy

Remembering Jesse 5k. Tomah, WI. June 16th, 2018. 18:36

I had run this race in it’s first ever iteration back in 2010. Jesse Parker was a cross country runner from Tomah, WI, close to where I grew up, who tragically passed in a car accident on the fourth of July, 2009. Every year following, they have hosted a memorial 5k in his name, donating all proceeds to charity.

Jake and Mal post race!It was nice to be back near my old stomping grounds and seeing a whole bunch of familiar faces. My little sister ran this as one of her first 5k races EVER and I’m super proud of her.

This was my first attempt at goal four on the list. I hadn’t been super competitive going into a 5k in a long time, and I wanted to see if I could, at the very least, drop down below eighteen minutes on this day.

Conditions were pretty good, and I was feeling pretty confident… I think a little OVER confident in the end.

This was right around the time that I started increasing my mileage–I was up around 30 miles and 5-6 runs per week. I did a pretty long warmup in comparison to my “usual” leading into this, and I think that tuckered me out after the first mile of the actual race.

I rolled through the finish line in 18:36. Definitely not my best performance at this distance, but it made me hungrier.

You live and you learn.


Mid-July through August 2018

You’ve heard this story at this point, if you’ve followed this blog in any way shape or form.

Knocked my hips out of alignment, had to take a month off. It sucked. I learned a lot though (here’s a post about it) and it’s made me thankful to be able to consistently put in miles again.

Back in Business

Rockin’ Chocolate Marathon Relay. Madison, WI. September 1st, 2018. 5 mile leg, 32:40

I covered the next three races here, but let’s look back anyway!

Before the injury, I had committed to running a marathon relay with my mom and four of her friends. When I agreed, I figured it would be a nice little low-key workout to start off my taper for the Twin Cities Marathon. Jake and my racin' pals at the finish line of the Rockin' Chocolate marathon, Madison, WI

Thankfully, I was able to actually run again at this point. I had been running for about a week prior to the race, so I wasn’t expecting to be able to do much.

It was nice to have a no-pressure situation to get me back on the race grind, and I ended up doing a lot better than I anticipated: I went out super hot (mile one in 6:00 flat) and ended up grinding it in averaging 6:32/mile for the five mile leg.

I was super stoked on this. My body was sore the next day, but it was SO WORTH IT.

Feelin’ Myself.

Haunted Hustle 5k. Eau Claire, WI. October 20th, 2018. 18:12


Every fall, my employer puts on a 5k race benefiting local charities. Initially a whole bunch of my coworkers had committed to participating in said race, and I think we ended up with three or four of us total.

About a week before this race, I was promoted to my current position where I’ll actually be IN CHARGE of this race going forward, so this is likely the only time I’ll have been able to run it going forward.

I was there at about 6:00 AM to help set up, which meant my shakeout was at about 5:30. I took the warm-up routine down about 3 notches and ran probably 2-2.5 miles total, which ended up making quite a bit of difference.

I felt strong throughout the entire race. The first mile was running directly into a strong headwind, which forced me to work a lot harder than I wanted to at the beginning. It’s a pretty low-key fun run–no chip timing or anything of the like. After the first mile I was running solo by a pretty sizable margin, so I dropped it into cruise control and coasted in at 18:12.

It was a super fun day, and I’m really excited to have a go at race directing next year. It did turn out to be a pretty long day, because following the race I had to drive to the middle of scenic nowhere (Brainerd), Minnesota to play a show with my then-band, Yearless. Super fun day, though!

Let’s See What Happens

The Carson 10 mile. Eau Claire, WI. October 27, 2018. 1:03:25

After the pretty chill Haunted Hustle, I was HUNGRY and decided I felt good enough to race the next weekend.

img_3523The Carson 5k and 10 mile advertises itself as the oldest race in the state of Wisconsin. It’s run around Half Moon Lake here in Eau Claire, WI, hosted by Indianhead Track Club.

Things went REALLY well.

It was my first time racing ten miles, and although I took it out way too hot, I came through averaging 6:21/mile. I was super happy with this and I finally felt like I was “back.”

The recovery didn’t go as well, however. After this race I had some nagging aches and pains, but I felt like I couldn’t take any “significant” time off because I had a half marathon coming up a few weeks later. That ended up biting me in the ass.

Well… It Could Have Been Worse

The Moustache Run. Minneapolis, MN. November 24th, 2018. 1:29:33


I wrote a post about this one, so I’ll keep it pretty short.

I had signed up for this half marathon as my “goal race” after my hopes of running the Twin Cities Marathon were dashed. I was hoping for a huge PR and to run about 1:25:00.

Race day came, we got a bit of a late start leaving Eau Claire, packet pickup took a longer than anticipated, and the bathroom-to-person ratio was less than ideal.

I missed the gun, and spent a lot of time weaving through people from the back of the pack, wasting a lot of energy.

I came through in 1:29:33 after bonking at about the halfway point. It was still a PR but not quite where I wanted to be.

Just wasn’t in the cards, I guess.

The Holiday Spirit

Run Santa Run 5k. Eau Claire, WI. December 2nd, 2018. 19:42

This was a 100% for-fun race, and it ended up being a blast.

My mom and little brother were supposed to come up to participate, but we got hit with a snow storm the night before and they bailed. I still showed up, rocking a Santa hat, beard ornaments and some festive Star Wars socks, and had a whole lot of fun.Run Santa Run Finish Line

The course was slippery, and I planned on just jogging it and having fun, which ended up leading me to a win.

I went out pretty conservative with the guy who had planned on leading, when he started slipping, I took over the lead and held it through the finish, laughing and joking with volunteers the rest of the way.

Overall, it was a really fun race and it was great going into it with the sole purpose of having fun.

Which brings us to right now. I took about a week off from running to let my legs recover a little bit from the Moustache Run/Run Santa Run, which seemed to be the perfect reset I needed. Around the holidays in the interest of avoiding extra stress and nursing a whispering pain, I took a little more time off.

December will again, be a pretty down month for me as far as mileage goes, but that’s A-okay in my book.

2018 was a pretty solid year filled with some ups and downs, but every year has ups and downs.

In my mind, success isn’t defined by the absence of failure, but by your ability to adapt and change to the unknowns life throws at you.

I’m sure there’s a quote similar to that on Pinterest. If it’s not… PUT THAT SHIT ON PINTEREST. Preferably overlay it on a dope sunset.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the challenges 2019 throws at me and all of the changes it will bring.

I’m honestly SO EXCITED to be a dad and to be married and to keep running through life like I have been this past year. I’ve got some lofty goals for the next year, and I’m going to attack them with as much enthusiasm as possible. I can’t wait to write about them and share with you.

BUT this post is already super long and I don’t think anyone will really make it this far, so we’ll save that for next time!

If you have made it this far, THANK YOU. I’ve been receiving pretty positive feedback from my last post which makes me feel like I’m being mildly helpful.

What are your goals for 2019? Anything you’re super proud of from 2018? Tell me about it. Comments are open below, or you can shoot me an email using my contact page. I’d love to hear from you!

Any suggestions for future posts are also appreciated!

As always, follow me on Twitter or Instagram–@jakesmithruns–and/or follow me on Strava for more frequent updates on my running adventures!

Keep ‘er Movin’.


Follow me on Strava


One thought on “Looking Back At A Year Of Running

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s