Well… they always say things don’t turn out as you planned, and 2013 definitely reminded me of that. Not just a moment in the year, but the entire year. This year has definitely been an emotional roller coaster for me. I’ve had more laughter than I could have hoped for, treasured friendships that started or grew stronger, found a physical strength and mental determination I never knew I had, dealt with chronic medical issues, and experienced the most painful loss of my life. (sorry this blog post is a long one…)
In December 2012 I announced I would be running 13 half marathons in 2013. It was 2013, 13.1 miles, I was turning 39 (3×13)… a whole cute concept. I worked out my race schedule. I spent more money than I would like to admit. I know now, I don’t ever need to set that goal again, but I am grateful I was able to accomplish this goal. It was a true life changer for me. For many reasons outside of running, it was an exhausting year. At times I had no interest in going for a run, of training. I just wanted to run to run… I was starting to miss that, and some moments, it felt more like work. Overall, a good, solid running year. Here’s how the races went…
January’s race I woke with an occurrence of the chronic eye issue I have. I was in pain, my vision was blurry and I was frustrated. It was 20 degrees that morning. All of that, showed on the course. From the moment I crossed the start line I just wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t shake that feeling. I couldn’t get warm or find my groove.
February was actually a great race for me, my time was back on point, I felt great, the race was at the beach in CA, truly, a great race. I was able to hang out with a great friend and make some new ones. I wish every race could be like that event.
March… my husband had been sick for 2 weeks before this race. I woke up race morning with a sore throat. By the time I hit the start line, I was nauseous, achy, it hurt to breathe. I told myself it was a little cold, to get over it and run. I ran, and ran slow. It hurt to breathe when I was running, the body aches were brutal. My stomach was so queasy taking fueling was a challenge. But, I knew this course, and when to take it easy and when to push. I finished, albeit slower than normal. Turns out, I had bronchitis and severe respiratory infection. I was out of commission for a couple weeks.
Then, April came. I was excited for April, even though I hadn’t trained it was a shot at redemption, great race, great people, in Hollywood… my running BFF and I had great plans. Then, the start of that week, my world as I knew it forever changed. My grandfather passed away. I lost a part of my heart and soul that day. I made it back to town and felt in my heart I needed to run to try to heal. Maybe for the distraction, I don’t know. I went to the race. Until that race started I wasn’t sure if I would actually run it. Right before the starting gun I decided to start and to finish. Nothing more. To just let the race happen. I did just that. Overall, it was a good race, my pace was solid, and I noticed around mile 9-10 that if I stuck with it, I could PR on a half. When I realized that, I felt nothing, no sudden surge of energy, no intense motivation. I took that as a sign. I decided to just enjoy the last 3 miles, encourage others and enjoy the run. At that moment I felt such a strong presence with me it took me back, I literally stopped on the course to catch my breath. In my heart, I knew it was pappy guiding me. He led me to exactly the race I was meant to have. At mile 11 I came across a limping runner. It was her first half, she had hurt her quad but wanted to finish. She had that frustrated, annoyed, heartbroken yet determined look on her face. I asked if I could walk with her a bit, asked if she was okay. We started talking and I ended up walking with her to the finish, encouraged her as she jogged across the finish line, made sure she got to medical and that was that. That race gave me a brief sense of peace.
May brought along the second race in the Beach Cities Challenge… OC! I knew from the get-go this would not be an amazing race. I am the Race Chair for the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and our event was the day before. So, on a handful of hours of sleep, a long drive from Las Vegas to CA, and an exhausted body… I dealt with the poor race organization and finished this race. Actually, better than anticipated, but honestly I don’t remember much of the course. I was in a daze I think for most of that race and later, when I saw video, thought, I ran there?! Five down…
In June not only was I running a half, I was conquering one of my biggest fears: bridges. I have always been terrified of bridges, the Wipro San Francisco Half Marathon I was running ran over and back on the Golden Gate Bridge. Hey, if you are going to conquer a fear, do it big! So… I flew out to SF and stayed with my younger brother. We celebrated his now fiance’s birthday and had an enjoyable weekend. On race morning he chose to run the race with me. This meant SO much to me, and having him by my side for 13.1 miles, including that bridge, a priceless moment in time. He was great at keeping me distracted while on the bridge and keeping me moving on those San Fran hills!!
July brought me to Bryce Canyon, Utah! We planned a lovely girls weekend, rented a house near the finish line and took off for a getaway. The scenery was beautiful! The race was fun. This course was mostly downhill, so that was an interesting challenge. After, we relaxed, ate, relaxed. We went for a hot but amazingly beautiful hike the following day.
August… I did my first ever midnight race: the infamous ET Race in Rachel, NV. This was so much fun… it was dark except for runner head lamps, quiet and serene, which made the 7 mile incline at the start of the race less annoying. You could see the beautiful full moon and hear the cattle. If you ever are in the Las Vegas area in August, I suggest running this event. It is totally worth the lack of sleep.
September was my double-up month! I did my first ever trail half marathon at the Henderson Trail Classic, and that was truly a challenge, but so glad I did this. It renewed my love of running in a lot of ways… new challenges, new outlook, new workout. I got to spend some great time with my running BFF before and after, a truly great experience. I also ran a satellite Running Troops half marathon with my running BFF Charlene. This was bittersweet… getting to run side by side with her was wonderful, but this was her last run pre-injury and she was out of commission until right before Christmas. 12 long weeks. This brought me to 10 completed races!!!
October I brought on a new challenge to myself as well as my 11th half marathon. I ran the final race for the Beach Cities Challenge in Long Beach, CA, where I PR’d for the year and got to hang out with some amazing running friends!! I loved this race, everything about it. I was just a little sad that my running BFF couldn’t run it with me as planned. Next up for my crazy October… a sprint triathlon, the Iron Girl. I was looking for a way to change up my training and reignite my desire to complete this goal. This was such an amazing challenge. The training, the event, the challenge of swimming and cycling… just amazing. I loved it so much, I am planning on 2 for next year.
November brought me to Philadelphia, which has become a running family tradition. I met up with a couple cousins again this year for this event. I returned to PA for 1 ½ weeks prior to the race to spend time with friends, and ended up catching a cold. My goal to hit a sub 2:20 faded on race day with that cold, but, I was proudly able to finish at my regular pace, keeping me on track. At this point, some personal stuff was going strong, and I was struggling with that, so the running and training kept me distracted.
December… this is it, the final month, the final race. Due to changes with race schedules, I ended up selecting a satellite location for the Operation Jack Half Marathon on Dec. 28th. Unfortunately, I hurt my hip 2 weeks before, so trained less and had to run slower than normal… but I did accomplish something pretty amazing that day. For the first time in a half, I ran the first 10 miles non-stop. At that point took a 30 sec walk/stretching break and carried on. I took about 2 more over the last 3 miles, for a total of 1 ½ minutes of walk breaks. That to me was amazing compared to the 4/1 or 3/:30 intervals I have been using. I finished this race with a smile on my face, and a few tears. I dedicated a mile to those that over the past year have really made an impact on my life. My running BFF, very fittingly, was at the finish with a huge sign, a huge hug, some tears… and a cupcake. Is there any better way to finish a race? I don’t think so. I was also lucky enough to have a great friend pace me for this, to make sure I didn’t go too fast!
So, all in all, a fun racing year. Exhausting, at times overwhelming, but fun racing year. I am grateful I was able to accomplish this and thank everyone for their support. But an extra special, personal thank you to those who truly made a difference in my life the past 12 months; they offered support, love, encouragement and strength. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So thank you to: RG, JH, MK, CR, CW, FA, WV, KZ, JD, KB, Pappy, and my family. Love you all more than I can put into words.
Here is to an AMAZING 2014!! Stay tuned for the goals I have in store for next year!!