Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Year That Was/Wasn't

The year that wasn't...
... focused on running.
... the year I'd hoped in terms of my fitness.

The year that was...
... focused on finding my happy place.
... the happiest personal year in awhile.
... a little more chaotic than I had planned!

I vowed that 2013 would be the year I became a SMART runner -- focused, a little  more aware of what I was doing and how I was doing it (training, resting, fueling, you name it), and that I wouldn't just run as I did before, but do it a little more intentionally. And you know, for the part of the year that I was focused, determined, and motivated, I think I did just that. That wasn't the majority of the year, but for the part that was ... it was good. Let's take a look at the year that wasn't... and was. 

After kicking off the new year sickly in Southern California, I headed back to Georgia to begrudgingly get back work and the new year grind. Shortly thereafter, though, my sister came to visit and run the Hot Chocolate 5/15K with us in Atlanta!
Even thought I had just seen her for Christmas, I loved having her come visit, spend the weekend with me, and realize the stark comparison between her and Heather (which is eerily similar, for the record). 

The next weekend, we were sorority-business bound for Austin to welcome in the newest Omega Phi Alpha chapter to Texas State University (my former employer, to boot!). That trip wrapped up the last week of marathon tapering and before I knew it... it was marathon weekend in sunny Southern California! 

Surf City Marathon (Huntington Beach) was my first full - intentionally in my home state so I'd have a support crew along the way but also a weekend that turned into a pretty epic girls' running weekend (and kicking off a pretty awesome year of girls' trips). Heather, Katy Beth, Kasey and I bombarded my parents' house for the weekend ... and then ended up with an additional guest! 

The expo was unbelievable - I was a nervous wreck, as that's when it really kicked in, and I couldn't believe what I was getting myself into. How was I supposed to run 26.2 miles the next day? Oi vey. Little did I know that behind the very first window was my bestest friend, Tina, there to surprise me for the weekend!  I was beyond floored, and even more so when I found out everybody had been in on the surprise for a few months. I love her so much and am so glad she was willing and able to make the journey to support me (and get herself a half marathon PR in the process!). 

And then I ran 26.2 miles. I had two goals (finish standing upright, and finish sub-5), both of which I made, even if only by seconds (4:58:42). Unreal. I am a marathoner! Even almost a year later, it still sounds odd. 

Easter Bunny Half - Clemson, SC
I spent  most of February recovering from Surf City. Hardly any mileage, a nasty chest cold (and a 10K during that), but really chilled. And struggled at times. I was ready for March to jump back in, get back on my groove and continuing working on the year goals. At the end of February, I had joined the Athens Road Runners and started working with a coach for Wednesday morning track speed sessions. They were rough, but just a few weeks in, I knew they were making a difference; I loved the challenge, the camaraderie with other 5:30-am crazies, and knowing that it was making me so much stronger and I knew it. 

March brought on quite a few races -- 2 half marathons, a 10K and a colorrific 5K. The second half marathon was a very last minute decision, but I got to cross off another state in my half-marathoning adventures! The Publix Half was rough, but a solid performance from a very long week of driving to Florida, interviewing for 13 hours for jobs, driving back, and volunteering at the expo for 5+ hours the night before. The Clemson half was my last minute decision, but one I am so glad I made; despite the course being short, I had the most solid performance to date, both with pacing and fueling, and knew that I'd come a long way since the last half. 

At the end of March I declared my dream (and major 2013 goal!) of running sub-2 at the Nike Women's race in DC in April. Based on how my March had gone, I knew I'd have it. I felt good, strong, confidence, and ready. 

Between Clemson (March 30) and NWMDC, I was on a no-race regimen. It was the last few weeks to focus on training, resting, and gearing up for my goal race. Nike was the new ultimate girls' running weekend: Kasey, Carly, and Brandi, my sister, Heather, Trista, and Amanda (almost all sorority sisters) all came together for an amazing weekend! Gallivanting around DC, showing  my sister around, and throwing in a race all makes for a good time, regardless of the outcome. 

I didn't sub-2. You can read all about it here, as I don't want to rehash it all again (once or twice is enough), but I'm so close. SO CLOSE. 2:01:33 is nothing to scoff at, given the fact especially that it was over a 7 minute PR. I'll make it there - when I'm focused and ready and my time is meant to be.

I burned. I crashed hard. And at least I recognized it? I put myself on a tech diet, vowing to run for at least a month Garmin-free, iPhone-free, and that it would just be me, my shoes, and on the random, Molly would come along too. I ran one race that month, the Marigold 10K, nearing the end of the self-challenge, and finally met my 10K goal for the year of a sub-1-hour time. You know -- running solely by feel is more telling than you'd have thought!

May was mellow. Compared to the early, crazy (and yes, awesome) months throughout the spring, I was looking forward to summer, having some to mellow out as there's not a whole lot going on in the South over the summer months, and some potential adventures.

Doug, Chris (his roommate), and Nancy (Chris' girlfriend) came out for a college friend's wedding too. It was so great playing tour guide around Atlanta, attending probably the most gorgeous wedding I'd been to before, despite the rain. I'd seen Doug a lot this spring semester, but it was wonderful having him come out for an all-fun, random weekend of adventures!

June was absolute insanity. The first weekend of the month, I was out to California on Thursday night through Sunday. On Friday, at Disneyland, I got a phone call for a Skype interview on Monday night (mind you, I had a red-eye out on Sunday). And then I had another offer for a Skype interview also on Monday night - two back to back. By Thursday, I was booked on a flight back to California Saturday through the following Thursday for two interviews out in LA at both campuses I had interviewed with on that Monday night. Follow all that?
Needless to say, I was exhausted that month. And just kinda flew through it, dealt with it, and crashed hard every night.

However, June also brought on Year 2 of the #RWRunStreak for me. Tina, Erica and I made it a challenge amongst the three of us, tracking our weekly progress and making a true competition out of it. It was so great, and a way to keep up the motivation and enthusiasm over running again after no-tech May. I finished in second, by just .11 miles to Tina - what a turn out!

July is where my year turned on its own side, in all kinds of ways. As we all know now, those job interviews in June turned into where I am now! My last day of work at UGA was July 5, officially. Doug flew out to Atlanta on July 4 to spend his summer vacation driving me back across the country (can you say best guy ever?). But first, as it does for most every runner in the Atlanta area, my July 4 started with the ever epic Peaachtree Road Race. A fitting race for my last one as a Georgia resident, and grateful HP let me take in her bib to run it myself.

We knocked off one more baseball park for Doug, after avoiding rain as long as possible, and went to the Braves' game from the sixth inning on. I worked a partial day on the 5th to pack up and say some good byes to the few folks around, and we spent Friday night packing, organizing and cleaning. Saturday morning the POD guy came to pick up the giant box, helped us with our last load, and we were off!

Driving across the country in the middle of July is a little daunting. Despite having done the drive a number of times in a number of segments and all kinds of highways, we headed off across the south, up to Memphis, and across I-40 all the way to Flagstaff, dipped into Phoenix to see Tina and Jon (they're my one consistent road trip stop) and were home on July 10. You can read allllll about the adventure, if you'd like, here: Day 1, Day 2 & 3, and Home Again!

I was in California for a week, then headed out to Pittsburgh for our annual sorority convention, and got in a run with Ragnar teammates Shannon and Cathryn. Needless to say those two weeks were beyond exhausting... but never mind that, because the new job started on July 23!

Nothing to write home about, thus the serious lull in blogging since then. August was adjusting to the job, a hefty commute, and enjoying having a personal life again with my parents, Doug, and rekindling some friendships here. But you know what - it was great. Quiet, busy, hectic, and enjoyable all at the same time.

In September, I got to coordinate a group of Marymount students to run a 5K up near LAX as part of kicking off our campus Suicide Awareness week. It's not often you get to combine work and hobbies and I felt so grateful I got to do so. A number of our students were running their first 5K, a few were even walking their first 5K ever! What a great day to be a part of something so encouraging.

I also flew up to San Francisco to spend sometime with Heather (who moved to the Bay just a week before
Bay Area Birthday 2013. 
I moved too) for my birthday! Food, wine tasting in Napa, and despite having a nasty cold, having an all-out awesome birthday weekend with one of my favorites.

Birthday month! And truthfully, quiet, mellow and nothing spectacular. I spent most of the fall going to Doug's football games. It was truthfully a wonderful way to spend my Friday evenings - I haven't been around, really, since he stopped playing, and it's exciting to cheer on the team he's coaching for and seeing what he loves doing with these kids.

October also brought about my 10-year high school reunion, which I decided to attend at the semi-last minute. I'm really glad I went - you can catch up via Facebook so much, but for some, it was great seeing folks in person, hearing what's really going on in their lives, especially now that I'm back in the area.

November's key excitement was the Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas half marathon, and yes, another girls' adventure weekend. Tina had been working on this since March, ever since our epic weekend at Surf City, and wanted to get some ladies together to run Vegas and Phoenix to earn that awesome Desert Double Down medal. Count me in, please.

So despite a complete lack of training and knowing I wasn't ready to rock a half, and fighting yet another chest cold, we were off to run Vegas. It was rough. And hard. And a friendly reminder that training kinda helps if you're planning on running a half marathon (note to self?). Personal solo-performance half marathon worst, a new PW. Despite that, I loved seeing my besties again and was reunited with the idea of our ladies' running weekends (Phoenix coming soon!). Hooray!

November also brought along a fairly major personal revelation. Cheesy as it were, I think it was important to note and I think also explains a lot of my revolution through running. I wasn't doing much, felt like I wasn't achieving much, and needed something work for. Here? I'm doing okay. Missing the feeling of fitness and

I found myself on a crazy series of 5Ks this month -- starting the Chino Triple Crown race series with Doug at the Reindeer Romp with an age group award and a PR, followed by the Reindeer Run the next weekend with my mom and Doug again!

Christmas was a wonderful week - my sister was only home for five and a half days, but got some good time in with her as we tackled the Placerita Canyon 5K and lots of car time inbetween! I saw my sister a lot this year, and feel lucky that I got to, but I miss her immensely!

This year didn't turn out like I thought. But I'm looking forward to making 2014 everything I hope it can, and could, be.

18 races on the year, 573 miles, and a whole lot of learning, adventures, and memories. A reflection on the goals from this year later this week, in addition to some hopes for 2014.

Happy New Year!


  1. Aw, this was another well-written post! 573 miles is a lot girl! I'm glad that things are working out for you and you are slowly finding a good place with running. Soon we will plan a race together :)

    1. Thanks dearest! 573 is a lot, but nearly 100 less than 2012, which stung and shocked me. It's been a challenging year. :) I'll get there -- and YES PLEASE! Would love to finally get to race with you! xoxo

  2. What a busy year for you! So glad I met you and I am so glad that you are finally back in California!

    1. Such a crazy busy year. No wonder I'm tired. And no wonder I didn't get as far as I wanted. LOL. I'm SO glad to have finally gotten to meet you - more fun in 2014 please!

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this year recap. Makes me motivated to get back into running....after the Phoenix half which I've all but given up hope on. Erica and I have already discussed walking the whole thing and discussing her wedding plans. So AFTER that I'll focus again and we will HAVE to meet up for another PR weekend for BOTH of us!

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