Year of Running, 2016

I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for weeks! This is the year I managed to do 12 half-marathons, a full marathon, a 15K, two 10Ks with the same people on opposite sides of the country (SoCal and NYC) within three weeks, three 5-milers of very varied temperatures (one in the 20s and snowing, one nice, and one in the 90s), as well as a few 5Ks! Read on for more of my Year of Running, 2016! (You can also read my Year of Running, 2015!)
2016

Best Race Experience

I think I’m going to have to break this down into smaller categories because I got to do SO MANY great races this year!

Prettiest Course: This one’s easy: the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Half-Marathon in Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii. It just doesn’t get any prettier than Hawaii. There was gorgeous tropical flora and fauna, volcanic mountains in the distance, and the ocean. Let’s just not talk about how the last three miles (and a lot of miles before that) were uphill.
Runner-up: Tomoka Half-Marathon, Ormond Beach, FL

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Taken at about mile 10 of the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Half-Marathon, Koloa, Kauai


Most Fun:
I’m going to have to go with the whole Disneyland Half-Marathon Weekend experience (September) because I ran the whole Dumbo Double Dare (10K + half) with my friend Emily, whom I met in the fires of Mt. Doom Pit of Despair Wide World of Sports during the ill-fated marathon. This was my first time at Disneyland, my first 10K race, and my first Disney race challenge. Also, my costumes (Genie for the 10K and Mickey for the half) made me really happy.
Runner-up: Dark Side Half-Marathon, Disney World, FL


Hardest:
 Area 13.1 Half-Marathon in Roswell, GA (August). I like the night race idea in general, but it was very hot and humid, the “flat course” had some steep and very long inclines, and when it’s dark and everyone’s spread out it’s kind of lonely. Plus, I was more than 30 minutes under the cutoff time but when I finished all the sponsor/vendor tents had already packed up. I stayed and cheered the last person in to attempt to make up for that lameness. Also, it was an alien-themed half and I dressed as a Men in Black and no one got it. WTH, Atlanta.

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Best Atmosphere:
This one’s no contest: Her Madison Half, Wisconsin (June). This was the most encouraging atmosphere of any race I’ve ever done. They just want women to succeed. They don’t care how fast you go. They give awards for the fastest and for the one on her feet longest (a.k.a. last). When the last people finished they got to run through a tunnel of cheering support staff and finished runners. It was awesome. I also made a new friend: Lauren. It was her first half, and she did great!
Runner-up: The Donna Breast Cancer Half-Marathon, Jacksonville Beach, FL (February)

Favorite Overall: Either Race 13.1 Detroit (July) or the Tomoka Half-Marathon in Ormond Beach, FL (March). Detroit is in my blood – my parents are both from there – so I love it. Belle Isle is beautiful and historic. The course was lovely and fast. (If I hadn’t run a half a week before and upset my knee, I’m pretty sure this would’ve been a PR.) The weather was great. Race 13.1 puts on a great race and their shirts and medals are always very well done.

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Detroit on the left, Belle Isle on the right, and IIRC that’s Canada straight ahead.

Tomoka starts at The Casements, the former winter home of John D. Rockefeller, on the Halifax River. Other than the stupidly steep bridge at the beginning and end, the course is flat and beautiful, is mostly on a Florida scenic road, the Tomoka State Park, and a ritzy riverfront neighborhood. It was quite warm despite most of the course being well-shaded. I loved it, and so far this is the only half from this year that I’ve already signed up to do in 2017. (But apparently I didn’t take any pictures on the course!)
Runner-up: Memphis in May Great American River Run

Best Run

I’m going to go with my last half of the year, the Ameris Bank Jacksonville Half-Marathon (December). This was the first half in a while where I paced myself really well and felt really strong throughout. At mile 10 I realized I could totally make my 2:40 goal time and… took off too fast, forgetting that I’d just gone ten freaking miles, and hurt my hip. I had to limp most of the remaining 3 miles. Blahhhh. It was a nice course, though, and I still had a decent finish time.

Best New Piece of Gear

1. BLUETOOTH EARBUDS. Oh my word. Best running purchase ever.
2. All of my INKnBURN clothing. I’d been lusting after InB for a while but finally used Christmas money to buy the Rose tech tee and “denim” capris in January. I am in love! All of their stuff is gorgeous or fun, feels like a dream, and all their bottoms have pockets!

Best Piece of Running Advice You Received

“Success in running isn’t always measured in speed.” Indeed, as I did 12 half-marathons this year and none of them were a new PR, I take heart in the fact that I am stronger than I was before. After my first half-marathon I could hardly move. After the second, third, fourth, it was also very painful. But slowly my recovery time has shortened. Now, barring my knee or hip acting up, I can do whatever I want after running a half and I will be just fine. (But I still want a new PR!)

Most Inspirational Runner

Well, she’s not a runner, she’s a walker, but it has to be my friend Suzanne. Through a series of unfortunate events, a year ago she had to use a walker to get around. One day last winter she got fed up with it and started actively seeking a way to regain her mobility. She put in lots of sweat and tears at physical therapy and following the PT plan at home. When she hit two miles walking, somehow I managed to convince her to join me and do a Christmas 5K December 10th. She continued to work hard. Her goal was to finish in an hour and a half. People. She finished in 1:01! She not only did it, she did it FAST, and with a smile on her face! As she put it, she went “from walker to walking a 5K”. ROCK ON, Suzanne!
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Biggest Achievement:

A half-marathon every month! I can’t believe I did it!
Top: Donna, Tomoka, Dark Side, Memphis in May
Middle: Her Madison, Race 13.1 Detroit, Area 13.1, Disneyland
Bottom: Marine Corps, Old Koloa Sugar Mill, Thanksgiving Distance Classic, Ameris Bank
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Favorite Picture From a Run or Race This Year

Have I been able to choose just one of anything on this entire post? Nope. So after much whittling, here are three:
Left: A Very Memphis Finisher Pic with one of my BFFs, Brenda, at MIMGARR. This was her first half and she rocked it!
Middle: Me as Rey with Chewbacca at Dark Side. I waited 20 precious race minutes for this photo op, making this my slowest half ever. I regret nothing.
Right: My finisher pic from the Disneyland Half, which makes me smile.

Race Experience You Would Repeat in A Heartbeat

Again, there are several! Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare, Disney World Star Wars Dark Side, Tomoka, and Race 13.1 Detroit.

I’ve run half-marathons in:

2015: Tennessee, Florida, Connecticut
2016: Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, California, Hawaii (also Florida and Tennessee again)
Only 42 states to go!

If you could sum up your running year in one word, what would it be?

AMAZING.

Running Goals for 2017

  • Run at least 500 miles over the course of the year.
  • Sub-2:40 half
  • Sub-2:00 15K – March 11, Gate River Run 15K, 1:57:19! SO HAPPY!!!
  • Sub-55 5-miler
  • Sub-32 5K
  • Do at least nine half-marathons
  • Check off half-marathons in at least three more states
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