Friday, January 10, 2014

Running Year in Review: 2013

February Sunset

New Blossoms

Shimmery Water

 Tall Trees

{Winter * Spring * Summer* Fall}

What an incredible year of running it has been!  It’s been a wild, wonderful year in many ways, but tied for first place in “Best Experience of 2013” for me is running the Detroit Marathon.  (My other “Best Experience” is meeting Paul.  I think he’s okay with sharing the honor with the marathon…)

My two racing highlights of the year were the marathon and the Armadillo Dash half-marathon.  During both races, I was able to set new PRs, which is always gratifying.  Since the marathon was my first, of course I set a new PR but more significantly, I set a new Personal Distance Record.  What an amazing feeling when that happens!

I ran a third race in June with my friend JD, but we didn’t race it.  Running with JD every time I was in Michigan this year was a real treat.  I love that I can look forward to a good catch-up and solid run with him whenever I’m in the Mitten.

By far the biggest challenge and biggest reward of my running year was the marathon.  Training for a marathon in the midst of other life changes is both good and bad.  As JD pointed out, running regularly is a positive, uplifting experience.  It reinforces your self-confidence and reminds you that you can get stuff done.  It moves you forward, toward a tangible goal.  However, it can be hard to find a running rhythm during life changes, and I think that’s where I really struggled.  My focus was elsewhere: packing, traveling, [ahem] Pinterest….During the first half of marathon training, my goal was travel (SO MUCH TRAVEL!).  During the second half, I was focused on settling into my new job, which took a lot of my personal resources (time, energy, attention).  Marathon training often felt like a puzzle piece that just would not fit into the rest of my life.  It was frustrating and demoralizing.  But amazingly, I was able to run a great marathon.  I think we should always judge our race performances against our own criteria, not someone else’s.  A tiny part of me wondered if I could finish in under five hours.  I didn’t even want to listen to that voice because I feared being disappointed at the end of 26.2 miles.  When my watch told me, late in the race, that an under-five-hour finish was possible, I went for it.  How could I not?  Here was my chance to put everything I had into this race, and I’m so glad I did.  The feeling of triumph from that finish has lingered with me—it was a very sweet end to a long and bumpy road to the marathon.

Finally, it was such a pleasure to interview my friend Josh on his running journey from basement treadmill to Detroit Marathon.  We had a great time chatting about running, health, community, and the life-changing experience that is racing.  I’m tickled to see that this post is among the most viewed for the blog.

I think that I am very lucky to have an enduring relationship with running.  Even when my dedication is waning, I find I am still able to return to the sport and get something positive out of it.  My ability to run is deep within my body and my mind.  I’m happy that I had such a wonderful experience with my first marathon; it makes me eager to sign up for another one (but not until 2015!).  Much of 2013 seemed to center around testing my limits, both personal and professional.  I like to think that I ended the year in a more positive place in all ways.  I may have stumbled a lot over life’s potholes, but I found my footing and feel more confident that I am on the right trail now toward a path of health and happiness.

Onward and upward, friends!

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