2013: Year of Running

When I saw Jen post about a fun running year in review link-up hosted by Amanda [Miss Zippy], I knew I had to participate. While this year wasn’t exactly what I hoped it would be in terms of running (stupid ankle), it was still pretty great. I managed to set a bunch of PRs, meet a lot of awesome Internet running turned real life friends, and most importantly, have fun! Without further ado, here is my 2013 year of running.

Best race experience?: I think my best race experience was the first RVRR Summer Series XC 5k I completed this past June. It wasn’t my best experience simply because I won my age group and was the second female to finish, but because it made me realize that I am a strong runner, and with consistent training and believing in myself, I can be competitive and the type of runner that I want to be. I realize I’m never going to win prize money, I’ll be lucky if I ever make it to Boston, and on most days I’ll be lucky to get in the top 5 of my age group (let alone overall) at small races (forget about big ones!), and I’m okay with that. Every once in awhile it’s nice to get those little confidence boosters, and this race definitely provided that for me.

Best run?: This is hard to pick, but I think I’d have to pick just a casual weekday evening run with elite Oiselle teammate Kate Grace. This run happened a few days after her great performances in Des Moines at the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and before she jet to Europe for more racing. It was just a casual 5-ish miles in a local park and on the tow path, but it was so much fun. It’s great to run with friends, and getting to run with an elite runner, who treated it just like any other run on her schedule (albeit a super easy run for her!) was awesome.

Best new piece of gear?: Another one where I want to list multiple things, but I think I’ll have to go with my Oiselle lux layer. This long sleeve running shirt is the cat’s meow, seriously. They refer to the fabric as “cashmere for runners” and they aren’t joking; it’s so incredibly soft, yet manages to provide warmth without having you overheat. I wore two shirts for my freezing 5k on Sunday, didn’t feel bulky, and was nice and toasty without getting too warm. I want to wear all lux, all the time.

Best piece of running advice you received?: It isn’t always about your pace. I try very hard not to fixate on paces, but I seem to do it anyway. I worry that I’m running too slow, or running too fast… and I become consumed by the paces, worried I’m either not working hard enough, or I’m working too hard and will wind up hurting myself. After expressing my frustrations to Jason over at Strength Running and asking for advice, he told me not to worry so much. It’s a lot more important to run based on how you’re feeling, rather than what pace you’re running. One day a 7:50 run feels “easy” for me, yet another day 8:20 may feel like a struggle. It’s all relative, and I need to remember that!

Most inspirational runner?: I’m picking two here, sorry. My first and foremost inspirational runner is my dad. He actually doesn’t run anymore, but I think it still counts. My dad grew up playing basketball and running, and loved to run. My mom likes to tell stories about how he’d go out and run “for hours” in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and come home sopping wet during the summer, or with frozen eyelashes and eyebrows in the winter. Neighbors used to say things like, “That can’t be good for you” when they’d see him pass by. He also had no problem putting away a buttercream layer cake after said runs (hello inspiration). Unfortunately he got sick in his early thirties and due to neurological and nerve damage hasn’t been able to run since, but he’s still a runner in my eyes! Second is my very good friend Kir, who like me, started out as a swimmer. We both swam throughout middle school, high school, and college, and somehow became runners after we graduated. Running also runs in her family (she has a super speedy mom), and she is so incredibly fast. She puts her mind to something, and she does it. She doesn’t brag about it and she doesn’t obsess over it; she just goes out and runs (fast). While I know I’ll never be at the same level as her, it’s amazing to see her race so fast. It’s truly incredible.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?: Roller-coaster. I started the year with some arch pain that prevented me from completing the Goofy Challenge, but had smooth sailing and quite a few PR’s between February and June. Then I developed some nagging ankle pain and foot issues that plagued me from the end of June through September, causing inconsistent training and a lot of frustration. I’m finally back on the up-and-up (I do have a little ankle soreness here and there, but nothing like what it was), and am happy to be ending the year on a high note. I just hope 2014 stays high!

Tell me…
Do you have a favorite running (or other) moment of 2013? What was it?

2011: A Year of Milestones

And just like that, another year has ended. I always find that once we get to the Holidays, time seems to fly by. For me, though, this entire year flew by. So much happened – I got married, ran a marathon, and quit my job. It really was a growing and turning point year for me, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for me. But before we get to the new year, let’s take a look back, shall we?

The year started off with a bang (literally – our New Year’s Eve party always involves fireworks), and the momentum really carried us through the entire year. Our first order of business was to run the Disney Half Marathon and enjoy a little vacation time, which was awesome. Even though I had been battling some different leg injuries (hi shin splits that I still have), I was able to complete the race and have an enjoyable vacation. The winter was full of snow and work, while also taking classes and getting into the nitty-gritty of wedding planning.

Spring was a breath of fresh air – I had finished up my online courses and knew I was free until the following winter, and was able to devote most of my time to wedding planning. Looking back, I can’t believe how efficient my husband and I were at planning, saving money, and getting exactly what we wanted. Aside from a minor meltdown over the color of our bridesmaid dresses (which turned out to be amazing), and stress related to picking a honeymoon destination, the rest of planning went rather smooth.

By the time summer hit, my husband and I were picking up our training for the Philadelphia Marathon. We had both taken significant time off during the winter in an attempt to heal our injuries, but unfortunately that didn’t seem to help much. Most of my running was done at 5a, as the entire month of July was almost 100 degrees or over. It was at this point I realized that the second half of the year was going to be a whirl-wind, and I wasn’t really sure if I was prepared for all of the changes heading my way. By the time August rolled around, though, I was ready to tackle the months ahead.

And we had to get serious with our running. While I never got to the coveted 20 mile run, I settled for 18 and crossed my fingers. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t petrified of the race. I didn’t feel prepared at all, and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Somehow, I finished in an upright position and with a respectable (for me) time of 4:37. My goal is to run another one closer to 4, and then eventually get under the 4 hour mark. I think I’ll need to have a successful training cycle before that happens, though. So I’m planning to not sign up for any big races yet for 2012 and instead focus on building my mileage. That way I can get to a point where I can really follow a training plan and be successful.

The last big event of 2011 was quitting my job. Being this was the first job I had right out of college, and every previous job was seasonal, I had no idea how to go about the quitting process. I knew the day was coming for almost a year, so I had plenty of time to muster up the courage. It was a lot easier than I had anticipated, and I was even able to work it out so I’ll still contribute part-time, remotely. That will be extremely helpful since I’ll be student teaching from January to May, with no real income. It’s a good thing my husband and I were so serious about saving for the wedding, and we have enough left over! While making changes and doing the unknown is scary, I’m excited to start a new chapter of my life. I’ve always known deep down inside I wanted to be a teacher, and I’m excited to be on the path to make that a reality.

2011 was a big year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in-store for me in 2012!