Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Victories and Struggles in 2013: A Year in Races

Running is a metaphor for life.  Some runs come effortlessly while sometimes it is a fight just to breathe.

Personally, 2013 held many blessings as well as many challenges.  I went back to work as a teacher (part-time) after being primarily a stay-at-home-mom for 11 years.  My father had open-heart surgery and was in and out of the hospital for eight weeks.  My son also had a major surgery.  In the middle of all this, I had the opportunity to be coached by an elite marathoner, and I took it.  I trained harder than ever before.  Over the course of the year, I really struggled to balance maintaining my home, family, lesson plans, grading, coaching, friendships, and running.  Lots of plates were spinning and at any moment, I felt like some, if not all, of them might come crashing down.  

In 2013, I ran exactly 13 races.  Some were more struggle than victory and some were more victory than struggle.  More than anything, though, it was a year of LEARNING.  I learned a lot about myself as a runner, probably more than any other year in my 6.5 years of running.  I learned quite a bit about myself as a human as well.  :-)

I started January of 2013 with an injury---a sprained ankle from the Flying Monkey Marathon in November of 2012.  I cross trained and ran lightly for about 10 weeks before I could resume normal training and run without pain.  I planned my “comeback” race as the Race Judicata 10K—in the same park, on the same hills that had broken me.    
  •  Race Judicata 10K.  February.  Goals:  to run all the hills without walking (These hills are extreme!).  To run a 10:00 minute pace or better.   To not fall down.  Verdict??  Victory!  I met all my goals.  The course was actually short, but Michelle and I kept going until 6.2 on our Garmins.  Final pace was about 9:55.  I was happy.  It was a nice day with friends.  Andrea, Gena, Michelle, and I enjoyed the run.  

Victory-X------------------------------------------------Struggle  

  • Re-Love Haiti 5K.  I helped set up this course this year.  It was mostly flat.  Race morning greeted the runners with snowfall—my favorite!   I just wanted a 5K baseline to see how much speed I’d lost with my 10-week injury.  Verdict??  Victory!   I ran well.  I enjoyed the falling snow. I got 3rd in my age group and won a gift card to the Runner’s Hub!  It was a good day.

Victory-X------------------------------------------------Struggle

  • LBL Trail 23K.  I was originally registered for the full trail marathon.  It was going to be my first trail full.  However, all that time off didn’t lend itself to being marathon ready by early March! I thought if I felt good, I might do the 2nd loop and complete the full (hiking if nothing else).  However, on race morning, I decided I’d rather PR the 23K than just finish the full.  So, I went out hard.   I must have temporarily forgotten that my longest trail run had been about 6 miles.  My legs wrote a check that my fitness level couldn’t cash!  Then, around mile 6, I rolled that left ankle that HAD. JUST. HEALED.  It had only felt good for a few weeks.  I lost the mental battle right there.   I had already begun to feel fatigued, so the physical battle was going downhill fast.  I hiked.  A lot.  Finally, I completed the trail and just had the 1.5 miles on the road left to finish. Then I saw ye olde racewalker, whom I’d passed in mile one, up ahead.  And I couldn’t catch him.  He looked to be around 80, but had a smokin’ walking pace.  Humble pie.  Verdict?  More struggle than victory. 

  Victory----------------------------------------------X---Struggle 

  •  Murray Half Marathon.  I was excited to run a new race in a new place!  I’d heard good things about the Murray Half, and it did not disappoint.  My goal:  2:10.  I even tried to run with the 2:10 pace group.   I was behind them, with them, and in front of them at various times.   I really enjoyed the course with its mix of country and city, hills and flats.   I ran every step of this race and finished just a few seconds over 2:10.   I’d have to call that a victory! 

Victory-X------------------------------------------------Struggle 

  •  Backside Trail Marathon.  This was a rather spontaneous decision.  I saw this online one day and talked another runner into traveling with me.  I hadn’t put in anywhere near the trail miles I should have, but I did get in a few long road runs.   My first trail full will be forever memorable!  It rained and rained.   I skated through mud for about 20 of the 27 miles.   I crawled on my hands and knees up a muddy embankment.  I lost a shoe in the mud.  I pulled myself up an incline with a tree branch.  I tried not to slip down the embankment and fall in the river.  I ran probably 15-18 miles alone on an unfamiliar trail.  I kept thinking I was lost and backtracking to the last trail marker.  Then I actually got lost.  27 and change.   Almost, but not, the last finisher.  It was quite an adventure.  Many of those registered for the full dropped to the half due to the muddy conditions.  However, I was both determined and completely in over my head.  It took me over 7 hours, but I survived.   Victory!  

  Victory-X------------------------------------------------Struggle 

  • Run Under the Stars 9.5 Hour Endurance Event.  I ran a personal long of 38.5 miles.  I never sat to rest.  I just ran and walked all night long.   Relentless forward progress.  My secret goal was to place in the top 10 women.  I was #8!   Victory!   Favorite event of 2013.  

Victory-X------------------------------------------------Struggle

  •  Backass Jackal Trail Marathon.  I wanted another shot at a trail marathon.  This one was a loop course of around 3 miles.  It was a hot and humid June day.  The eventual winner lapped me.  TWICE!  But, overall, I enjoyed the adventure of it all and spent most of the day running alone in the woods.  I started my last loop really happy and having fun.  It didn’t exactly end that way, but it was a trail marathon PR nonetheless.   Hmmm….  Victory?  Struggle?   Somewhere in between.   This race qualified me for Marathon Maniac status (3 in 3 months), but I haven’t applied yet.  

Victory-------------------------X------------------------Struggle

  •  Loonies Midnight Marathon.   After two tough trail marathons, I figured this one would be a piece of cake.   It wasn’t exactly cake, but it was a fun night, and I made a new friend.  Tim from Houston and I supported and encouraged one another, told stories, and laughed often for the last 20 miles, all while trying to finish under 5 hours.  4:57.  Victory!

Victory-X------------------------------------------------Struggle

  •  Wild Thang 9-mile Trail Race.   Ran a long run of 16 on Thursday before this race.  That was a mistake.  Legs were good the first 4-5 miles.  Then…. Notsomuch.   Struggle.

Victory-------------------------------------------X------Struggle

  •  The Murfreesboro Middle Half.   Goal race I had trained so hard for.   I just wasn’t feeling it that day.   Angry with myself and my body for failing me.  Struggled both mentally and physically.  Self-doubt.  Disappointment.  It was a new half marathon PR, but I didn’t break two hours, and that was my #1 goal.   Should be a victory, but sure didn’t feel like one.  Struggle.

 Victory-----------------------------------------------X--Struggle

  •  Go Commando Half Marathon.  Just a week later.   Cold, pouring rain, big hills, but my soul was content.  Night and day in terms of attitude.   No self-doubt.  No negative self-talk.  8 minute PR over last year.   Ran every step of every hill.  Made a new friend to pass the miles with.  Finished strong.  Victory!

Victory-X------------------------------------------------Struggle

  •  Bowling Green 26.2.  Another goal race for which I had trained hard.   Went out way too fast,  then fell apart mile by mile in the second half.   Just.... tired.   Achilles hurt from mile 11 on.  Didn’t even make my C. goal.   Hated nearly every minute of miles 11-26. There were tears and a complete loss of perspective.  Utter disappointment.   Struggle for sure.

Victory------------------------------------------------X-Struggle

  • Walter White Memorial Marathon.   Ok race.   I would have liked to have run it faster.   My Achilles hurt again, and my legs just didn’t have much that day.  However, I wasn’t trying to PR, and I didn’t really care about my finish time.   Many miles of solitude.  Gained some perspective.   Victory or struggle?   Hmmm....  

Victory----------------------???-------------------------Struggle



More than anything, I end the year knowing this:  




1 comment:

spaceneedl said...

awesome year. particularly impressed with the backside trail marathon. sounds more like "epic odyssey" than the whimsical diversion you maybe were expecting...

but afterward, you must've thought you could conquer anything.

well done.