I promise you this blog isn’t turning into all-running-all-the-time, but since I do spend a lot of time running, you have to deal with hearing about it periodically. I came across this survey on a few blogs that I read and really liked the idea of sitting down to figure out how I would answer, so here you go: my year in running.
- Best race experience? Falmouth, hands down. Falmouth was totally unexpected – I didn’t even attempt to get a number in the lottery, but a got a bib through a friend of a friend who works for the race organizer. I was super nervous about this race because, at seven miles, it was the longest distance I’ve ever raced. The course is known to have a number of challenging hills. It’s also in August, on Cape Cod when humidity and heat are an incredibly real threat, and those are my least ideal running conditions (they guarantee a post-race migraine). Oh, and at 13,000 runners, it’s the largest race I’ve ever run, which means all kinds of crazy logistics….but it’s Falmouth! Falmouth is a “bucket list” race for runners from around the world, and I was lucky enough to have a bib fall into my lap, so there was no backing out. I planned to run with the friend who had finagled me a bib, and as she was coming off a back injury our plan was to just take it easy. We dubbed it a “seven mile party on the run”, and that’s exactly what we did (with heaps of goofy race photos to prove it!). We zigged and zagged across the street and PRed in running under hoses and sprinklers. We high-fived every little kid we saw with an outstretched hand. We sang along to the music being played by both live bands and folks with huge speaker set-ups on the sidelines (the crowd support for this race is, with no hyperbole, legendary). We laughed a lot, and we ran my slowest race ever, and it was AWESOME. Before Pete and I had even driven out of Falmouth to head home after the race, I was plotting to buy a house there in order to guarantee me a race bib every year (donations towards this goal are accepted and earn you visiting rights). Runners up: Firefighters 10k and Edaville Rain Run – Pete’s first race!
- Best run? Running in the Hamptons in March. Pete and Mark went on ahead of me and I had a tough, exhausting run that ended up including a lot of walking. Despite that, it was also a beautiful run through a state park and with a stretch along the beach, and maybe I spent part of that run worried that I was lost and never going to find Pete and Mark again and so would die in the woods….but it’s definitely the first run that comes to mind when I think of great runs this year. Runners up: my Philly run in October, running the Tan in Melbourne with Ros, and (surprisingly) my super hilly training runs for Falmouth.
- Best new piece of gear? I’m not a huge gear person (at least I don’t think I am?), but I finally bought a pair of insulated running tights in an effort to do more running this winter than I did last winter, and I la-la-love them. I’m waiting to find another pair on super-sale to snatch up, because I would like to own a pair for every day of the week.
- Best piece of running advice you received? I’m really not sure how to answer this one, because there isn’t one specific thing that I heard or read that clicked and changed things. I guess the best advice (that I didn’t get from anyone in particular but had the biggest impact on my running this year) was to really embrace strength training – and to do it consistently. The impact on my running was huge! I set PRs in every distance I race in numerous times this year (10k in April and again October, 5 miler in May and again in November, 5k in August). I’ve also been more comfortable running for longer distances than I have been since I was running three seasons of track in high school. The impact on my life wasn’t exactly small, either! My goal this year was simply to get strong, but I was hoping that “get strong” would lead to “get back to my pre-desk job weight”…I’m not there (yet?), but I did lose six stubborn pounds and I am back at my pre-desk job clothing size despite the extra few pounds. I dropped ~3% body fat, too. The mental perks have been great, and I picked up a bunch of bootcamp buddies along the way.
- Most inspirational runner? This is hard! I am ridiculously lucky to have a lot of inspiring running friends. One of them survived three months in a coma, came out of it barely able to walk, and is now running half marathons on the regular…and has taught me to appreciate every. freaking. day. (even a bad day is a good day) and every. freaking. run (even a bad run is a good run). One of them survived cancer as a child and is winning age-group medals at races. One of them has dropped heaps of weight and came out of it with a truly inspiring attitude. One of them set amazing goals and wasn’t afraid to talk honestly about the struggles of training and the disappointment of not reaching a goal, yet never gave up. Sorry! I can’t pick just one.
- If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? PR city! Strong. SO MUCH FUN.
And last, but not least, here’s the recap from my race tracker spreadsheet for 2013…two races left before I’m done for the year (fun ones! Girls Night Out this weekend and the Ugly Sweater Run the following).