Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 - Year in Review

2014 has been a wild ride!  The year didn't go as planned which at first left me with a lot of frustrations, but as I look back, it has been an amazing year!  Often you'll hear me refer to what I call "Operation See the World on Foot".  We LOVE to travel and more importantly we love running destination races.  There is no better way to explore a new place than on foot.  This year I was blessed with the opportunity to run in the Bahamas, the wine country of Oregon, and of course Chicago.  How in the world could I be frustrated with this year, it was amazing!

Running Highlights of 2014:
  • I ran 4 half marathons.
  • 3 of those half marathons were destination races.
  • Ran my 3rd full marathon.
  • Set a new PR in the full marathon AND in the 5K.
  • Logged a total of 918 miles.

Lets take a look back at 2014 shall we...

January started off by completing part two of the New Year's Double!  Two half marathons in 24 hours left me more sore than a full marathon.  True story.

At the end of January Brandon and I took off to the Bahamas to start celebrating my 30th birthday!  We ran the Bahamas Half Marathon and I would recommend this race to anyone.  So much fun and the perfect way to see the island.  
The best backdrop for a finish line ever!

February I finally turned the big 3-0 and enjoyed celebrating with all of my family and friends!  At the end of February we celebrated another huge milestone, Brandon ran his first FULL marathon at Cowtown in Fort Worth.  I logged 9 miles myself that day running around the course to cheer him on and get some pictures.  He learned that day what an amazing experience the full marathon is and just not how much it challenges you as a runner but how it humbles you as well.  I love this picture!  Not too many times in life can you be in agonizing pain and still manage to kinda smile for the camera and give a shout out.

March consisted of a lot of resting for me and deciding what races I wanted to run.  On a whim, I entered the Chicago Marathon Lottery thinking "Eh, I won't get in but I'll enter for fun".....

April started off with Brandon and I celebrating 4 years of marriage!  Then a couple of weeks after that, I got the email that would change the course of the rest of the year for my running:

The rest of April was spent researching training methods, making travel arrangements, and mentally preparing myself to this whole marathon thing again...for a third time.

May was the month that I hired a coach for the first time from the Hanson's group and it was the best decision I ever made for my running.  The information and knowledge I gained was worth the cost 10x over.

June and July can just be summed by saying I ran.  A lot.   I really don't even remember anything else from the summer.  264 very sweaty and disgusting miles were logged during these months.  So there was a lot of this:
I learned to love the ice bath.
August was made up of a ton more sweaty miles and was a really hard month for me mentally.  I was tired of just training and was ready to race!  Luckily we already had a trip to Oregon planned to a half marathon out in the wine country.  Coach and I made this race a training run and it worked out perfectly!  The course was absolutely breathtaking and the break from regular training was much needed.

September we celebrated Brandon's birthday and it was another month full of sweaty miles, a lot of ice baths, and a lot of cursing mixed with me asking "Why the hell am I doing this again".  We also ran the Plano Balloon Festival half marathon as part of the training for Chicago.  That race was miserably hot!  Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of the event itself and will likely never run it again. 
I looked like I was having way more fun than I actually was ;)

October was RACE MONTH!  The month that I had been working towards for almost 6 months.  I was ready, soooooo ready to run the race.  You can read all about the race here if you want to know the full scoop as well as how excited I was to meet my coach from the Hanson's group.  Chicago was....incredible.  Just incredible.   Training harder than I had ever trained taught me so much about myself.  I grew stronger both mentally and physically and for the first time knew the limits of my body.  From marathon #1 to marathon #3 I took 46 minutes OFF of my time.  That's crazy and I know I will continue to chip away at that!  Each marathon is a learning experience and makes you that much more prepared for the next go-round.

A little over a week after Chiacgo we had been registered for a fun little 5K in town featuring my favorite band, The Old 97's afterwards.  I approached that race with a "just run for the hell of running" attitude and voila, I got a PR in the 5K!  I was so stoked.  It was so nice after months of grueling distance training to just get to run as hard as I wanted to knowing that it was for only 3 miles.  Even more exciting than a PR?  Seeing Rhett.  Swoon.

November was spent with a TON of resting and allowing myself to recover.  I was able to finally focus my attention on other areas of my life that needed a little extra TLC.  For example, I can finally see properly.  I think I'm finally used to glasses...
December it finally hit me that I needed more than just recovery time, I just needed a break.  I don't think I can call it burn out because every day I want to run, but I think it was more of just taking a step back and taking time to just be.  December is a time for friends, family and celebrating the little things so it all came at a great time.  

Dear 2014,

Thank you for being a year of adventure.  A year that taught me so much about myself and allowing me to learn to know when to say "enough" and just enjoy the moment.  You took these feet (and wonky hip) all over the place and allowed me to explore the world.  For that, I am so grateful.  Every run is a gift.  Fast, slow, far, short....they are all a gift.

Cheers to an even brighter 2015!  Who knows what adventures are next?  Stay tuned....


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hi, remember me?

My last post was about two months ago and honestly in that time I've sat down probably 20 times to start this post....to no avail.  I just couldn't compile my thoughts.  After Chicago I went into a weird place, a place of zero motivation and feeling completely lost.  Without my training schedule where everyday it told me how I would start my day (ie what workout I needed to do) I felt completely lost. Kinda sad, right?  I worked all year towards a huge goal in Chicago, and I did it!  Then I was left with, what's next running through my head over and over.   Normally I can easily snap myself out of that but not this time.  Over the last almost two months I've realized something, I needed a break. A serious, genuine break...

No blogging
No training schedules
No mandatory 4:30 am wake ups
No washing 4 loads of running clothes each week (on top of all the other laundry)
No carb counting
No foam rolling

So that is exactly what I've been up to these last several weeks and why I haven't blogged.  Chicago training was a grueling 6 months of a demanding running schedule combined with the demands of work and also trying to keep a happy home.  When taking a look at the training I've put in this year and the amount of racing done last year, I realized that I've  basically been in a continuous training cycle for almost two years solid.  That is nuts!

I've also continued to nurse my hip injury that I left Chicago with.  It's easily the most persistent and annoying thing I've ever dealt with.  The only race(s) I had left on the agenda this year was the New Year's Double which is a half marathon on NYE and then another half marathon on NYD.  While I LOVE this race, it is really taxing on the body.  I was only running this race for fun, so after a lot of thought I decided that it wasn't worth the risk of re-injuring this hip and sending myself back to square one.  I have some big goals for Spring, and that just wasn't worth it.  Silver lining though?  This race was sold out months ago so my backing out opened up a spot to someone who is going to be stoked to get to run!  That makes me happy :)

During the month of November I was starting to run a little bit here and there because I knew I had to have somewhat of a base for the double races.  Once I made the decision to back out, the pressure was off and total "no running" mode was back on.  Honestly?  I was relieved.  I knew deep down I needed this rest after Chicago, but being a stubborn runner (aren't we all?) I thought I had to press through for the races.  The month of December I've enjoyed getting to embrace the holiday season and spending extra time with friends and family.  It's easy to let running take over your life and sometimes we forget that while it is a huge piece of our lives, it is not our entire life.  I plan on spending the remainder of the year letting myself live with no schedules or obligations to training.

Spring time brings about a new opportunity to tackle new goals!  I've had plenty of time to think about what I want to do for Spring and honestly I'm still not sure.  When taking a look back at this year, one of the things I really enjoyed for the first time in my running life was speed work.  My track workouts became the things I looked forward to each week!  Speed workouts were new to me and I started to love the complete ass kicking that they were.  Just about each one left me feeling like I wanted to puke and that's an oddly good feeling.  This Spring, I really want to focus on speed workouts and trying to improve my foot turnover.  In Texas there is a 5K pretty much every weekend on every corner in Spring so I might make those my new goals.  Faster and more efficient with each race!  Will I run another half?  Likely...but that won't be my focus.  My next distance goal is to run a half marathon in under two hours.  I feel like putting the focus on speed the first half of the year, will set me up to really go after that sub-2 hour goal in fall.

So there you have it, that's what I've been up to.  Here's to hoping for a strong and successful Spring racing season!