When I wrapped up my first full year of being a runner in 2012, I set some pretty aggressive goals for 2013. And while I didn’t accomplish all of them, I managed to get quite a few miles under my belt this year, earn some PRs and have some fun in the process.
The year began with the kickoff of training for the Flying Pig Marathon. My goal was to finish faster than the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon, so I set out on the icy and cold streets of the Derby City to pick up some speed.
In February, I decided to run the Scenic City Half Marathon in Chattanooga, and I felt awesome for the whole race. The little city far exceeded any (unwarranted) perceptions I had of south central Tennessee, and the race was fun and well organized. I finished the half in 1:55:56 – a 20-minute PR.
In April, we were reminded, in the most horrible manner possible, of the resiliency and camaraderie of the running community.
The remainder of spring was spent training for the Pig, so I spent a lot of time with my training buddies, Lindsay and Scott, who were also running the Pig. Together, we covered nearly every neighborhood in Louisville and southern Indiana. When race day came the day after Derby, we headed to the Queen City to finish what would be my second, Lindsay’s seventh and Scott’s first marathon. My family participated in their first 5k together as part of the race weekend festivities. And the next day, I felt great through 21 miles before the wall slowed me down. I ended up finishing in 4:25:50 – a PR by 27 minutes.
Summer was hot. And humid. This should be no surprise given that summers in Kentucky are like walking into a sauna. There were nights when the temperature would hover in the mid-90s with 85% humidity. Great running weather. Not! Is Not! back? Feels like it should be. These things are cyclical.
The Fourth of July was supposed to be spent in retribution for a 5k at the Buffalo Chase Distillery from the previous year that had gone wrong but instead was spent admiring Kentucky’s only functioning volcano in an absolute downpour.
I’d been one of those fortunate to register for Chicago before the whole registration debacle happened (even though it took me several attempts and three hours to finalize the process). I thought I would be training/running it alone, but Scott, on somewhat of a whim, decided to register for it at the last minute. He registered with no troubles. Go figure. I’d been exploring new training techniques to pick up speed, and after reading Run Less, Run Faster, we adopted it as our training plan. Big mistake. Not every training plan is right for every runner. And I think we learned this the hard way. Who runs a 20 miler four weeks into training? After eight weeks of frustration and misery, we dropped the plan in favor of a modified version of Hal Higdon’s tried-and-true plans. Maybe the damage had been done, but we completed training in time for the trip up north to the Windy City.
Once again, my sisters (with nieces in tow) came to watch me run. Race day came with absolute perfect running weather. Seriously, you couldn’t have scripted a more perfect day for a race. Scott and I had decided to split up because he was running faster than me. So after the start, we loped along the streets of Chicago independently with 2 million of our friends cheering us on. I ran the first half in my second fastest half split and felt fantastic soaking in the city and the throngs of supporters. It was so loud in places that it was deafening. Everything was going great, and I was on pace to finish around 4:00 when mile 17 hit like a sledgehammer to the face. It was so early in the race that I panicked. My legs just wouldn’t work and my mental state deteriorated with every crushing mile. I tried to enjoy the neighborhoods, but mostly, I just wanted to be done. While I didn’t hit my goal, I did manage to get through it and finish.
There was no time for wallowing in self-pity, though. Five days after Chicago, I laced up my shoes once again to help the Wild Jive Turkeys run the 2013 Bourbon Chase. What was probably my worst race both mentally and physically was followed up by the funnest (I know that’s not a word. I do what I want.). Seriously, for all the organization it took to get our team together and officially registered (big ups to our sponsor, Power Creative), it was worth it. Thirty-five hours in a van with your coworkers doesn’t really sound all that fun for most people, but not only did we manage to finish, but we also had an absolute blast in the process.
After the relay, I decided to run a bunch of races for fun. I started with the Nashville Half Marathon with my friend, Amanda, who finished her first half with big strides and wide smile. I followed that with a magical 5k that took me underground into a manmade cave decorated with Christmas lights. And I finished the racing calendar with my first run in my hometown (and the first race my parents were able to spectate).
All in all, it was a fantastic year for running.
While I don’t have concrete plans for 2014, I am planning on taking a break from fulls for the year. That is, unless I’m somehow selected to run the New York Marathon. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll focus on speeding up, running a few halfs here and there and just getting back into running for fun and exercise. I might even try trail running.
Until then, happy new year and keep running, friends.