Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

Despite all the other goals I had set for myself in 2016, the one with the utmost importance that trumped any other goal was to reconnect with my joy of running.  The previous two years, I had gotten so caught up in a time goal that I lost a little bit of my love for running along the way and I, unfortunately, lost a part of myself in the process.  But an injury in late 2015 brought me back to reality.  It humbled me and taught me that there are certainly more important things in running, and in life, than just one measly goal.  Granted, that goal was incredibly important to me and something I worked insanely hard in hopes to attain. But at what cost?  So this past year, although that particular goal (which I will get to in a minute) continues to be a top priority, it is not worth totally losing sight on the things that matter most and should not overshadow all the awesome things I achieve along the way.

So first I would like to review 2016, then I'll take a look forward to 2017 and what I hope to do in the coming year...

Starting the year off juuuuust about injury free, my focus was first and foremost on getting healthy.  But with a marathon planned for February 14th, I was still working hard in hopes finally secure my almost 3 year long journey to BQ.  Though I was in virtually no pain by race stay, I had lost a bit of my stamina and mojo and was uncertain what to expect.  I surprised myself with a huge PR, but came up about 3 minutes shy of a BQ (and by time standards, I was about 6 minutes shy of actually securing a spot in the 2017 Boston Marathon).  I was excited for a PR nonetheless and actually went out and PR'ed my half marathon less than a week later!

As the Spring went on, I ran several half marathons as a pacer, which was a HUGE goal of mine for this past year.  I pulled off a PR in my 8k and 15k distances and place in several races.  I attempted to beat my half marathon time in April, but had a rough race day and ended up running one of my slowest times in years!

Early in the summer, I switched gears and focused on completing my first Triathlon since before having kids!  I had a rough time with the swim, but made up for it on the bike and especially the run, I even placed fourth in my division!  All in all it was a great experience, one I was proud of and I look forward to doing more triathlons this year.

I paced another half marathon in June, which was one of the most difficult pacing experiences I have ever had.  It was the fastest I had ever paced and it was one of the hottest and most humid events I have ever been a part of.  But pacing is such an incredible experience and it was certainly an event I will not forget!  Later that month I began my training for the Chicago Marathon.

After a tumultuous summer of training in the heat and humidity, battling nagging aches and pains then suffering from a staff infection the month before the race, I was very apprehensive as to what to expect come race day.  Then the week of the race, a Category 4 Hurricane threatened me even getting up there and I had to leave several days early and travel quite a bit more than expected.  Despite all my pre race "setbacks" and a crazy hamstring cramp after mile 20 or so, I had a great race in Chicago, with my second fastest marathon time.

I had anticipated pacing the Space Coast Marathon about 7 weeks after Chicago, so when I returned home, I jumped right back into high mileage.  When I learned I was no longer needed as a pacer, I decided to go ahead and do the race in hopes to maybe take another shot at a BQ before the end of the year.  But before my last long run of training, I knew it wasn't in my cards.  I had checked out and needed a break both physically and mentally and decided to just let go of any goal for race day.  Best decision ever!  I had a blast out on that course, making new friends, running with old friends and it was just a fun and rewarding experience.

It was a big year of PR's, pacing, new runner friends and incredible experiences, but I am really looking forward to making 2017 even more amazing.  Here is my plan thus far...
  • BQ- I will never stop trying to get my BQ, but I will not revert back to my 2014-2015 self when it was my obsession.  I feel I am much more equipped now physically than I have ever been, I just need to get my mind right.  I'm going to give it another shot at Celebration at the end of this month.  Recognizing that three fulls in four months is a lot on my body, I am realistic about the fact that race day can go either way.  I am considering another full early summer or wait until the Fall (which would mean no BQ until 2019, but it is what it is).
  • Pace a Full- I absolutely love pacing.  I got to be an official race pacer this year as well as pace a few friends through races.  I am excited that I will get to pace my first full marathon this year at the Albany Snickers Marathon in March, then hopefully again at another one later this year.
  • Take My Marathon Total to 10+- If I run three fulls this year, I will hit double digits!!!  I am not sure how I feel about racing 3 or more fulls, so most of those will be as a pacer and/or for run.
  • Focus on Shorter Distances- My current 5k and 10k PR's are from 2015, so those would be fun to try and beat this year.
  • More Tri's- I really really enjoyed my tri last May and would like to do 1-2 this year, maybe even attempt a longer distance one.
  • Help More Runners- This past year I launched my Strength2Run app designed specifically for the strength and conditioning needs of distance runners.  I continue to work out the kinks and get more accustomed to the programming, but plan to spread the word big time this year in hopes to help more runners get stronger, faster and stay healthy/injury free!  I also plan to step up my blog game with weekly posts on useful content for runners.

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