Year End Review...

The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
-Thomas Paine

If I had to give a one word summary of the year, it would be "risk." More than once, I put myself out on a limb, so to speak. I forced myself to be uncomfortable. I accepted challenges and made myself vulnerable. So maybe a better word would be "growth." Here's how 2012 went:

January: I ran my 3rd full marathon, the ING Miami. I nearly cried several times, but almost broke out into full sobs at mile 23 when I did the math and realized that I would be cutting nearly 30 minutes off my marathon PR. I also drove myself to the race and back home (for this stress case, that was a BIG deal). Lesson learned: the marathon really is about mind over matter. I believe the mind is the mvp of any successful marathon. I also applied for a reality, obstacle race based t.v. show called "Unbreakable." The application process required me bragging about myself on video, which was WAY outside of my comfort zone.
Photo courtesy of Nuvision Action Image
February: I completed my second Super Spartan Race. My goal was to place in the top 10 females; I didn't but did place 3rd in my age group and 15th woman. I felt that I raced my best, but struggled again with bad calf cramps in the last 2 miles. Calf cramps have plagued me twice before in marathons. I believe they are a result of sodium imbalance. Lesson learned: Never under-estimate the power of proper fueling and electrolytes. AND as hard as I had trained for this race, it was not nearly enough.

March: A week after the Spartan, I ran the Miami Beach 13.1. Not the smartest planning on my part, but I was going after the "Big Three" medal-- running the Ft. Lauderdale 13.1, the ING, and this race in one race season. This was my most frustrating race to date. I had underestimated the number of participants (I had run the same race 2 years prior), and therefore arrived way too late for parking. I finally found a spot about a mile from the start. Running to the starting line and making a quick detour into a restroom, left me arriving at the starting line just as the "gun" went off. I dodged walkers for about two miles before finally catching up to similarly paced runners. Things were looking better until my iPod battery died at mile 6. *Sigh* My legs were really feeling the Spartan of the week before, so I walked through water stops for the last 3 miles or so. It wasn't my fastest 13.1, but actually wasn't my slowest, either. And I got some major bling. Lesson learned: before scheduling races, flip the calendar page and check not just the race month, but the week before and/or after.
 April: By this month, my racing season had taken its toll on me. My legs felt battered, tired and sore. My left knee had been especially bothering me. I had injured it walking (?!) the streets of Chicago back in November and had managed to train through. Since the pain was not going away, I finally had to rest. I ended up taking 3 weeks completely off-- the most I had taken off since I started running back in 2007. Lesson learned: Rest is just as important as scheduled training.

May: Another big step outside of my comfort zone-- I set a goal and entered the Under Armour "What's Beautiful" competition. This one also required multiple video and photo submissions of challenges. (Although I haven't submitted anything recently, my page is here.
After not nearly running enough miles in training, I joined a Coast Guard team for their 2nd annual "Run to Remember." Several teams formed and ran the Keys 100 mile relay race. Each runner ran in memory of a Coastie who had died in the line of duty. This introvert was more terrified at the thought of riding in a van with strangers for the duration of the race, than the actual running. Overall, it was a totally unforgettable experience. It might just be my favorite event of the year because we turned it into a mini family vacation. Lesson learned: Running 2 miles every hour and a half (or so) over the course of 15 hours might just be more difficult than running a full marathon, but it's also really fun!


June: I took advantage of a Living Social deal and ran a local 5k with obstacles race. It was a fun event, and a handful of friends from work ran as well. 

After much begging and pleading, my husband agreed to begin training me. My eyes were once again focused on the Super Spartan 2013-- that top 10. But first I needed to get stronger and faster. So as soon as school ended, I began 2-a-days. I eased into them (taking naps when necessary-- I LOVE being a teacher!) I also began doing yoga and swimming twice a week. Well, "swimming" may not be the best description of my work in the pool, but for me it was work. Lesson learned: doing hard things builds not only physical strength, but mental strength as well.
 
July: I was feeling completely recovered at this point and had finally added some REAL speedwork. Despite it being blazing hot, I ran a PR in the Weston Hometown 5k. Lesson learned: speedwork really does pay off. (duh!)
A sample of my running shoe collection. I always have at least 2 "rain" pairs, 2 currently in training pairs, and 1 new pair.
August: YEAH! Finally my speedwork paid off, big time. At the Coast Guard Day 5k, not only did I run a PR, but I also took 2nd place female. I was continuing my swimming and my 2-a-days, and most importantly, eating clean. I also was asked and agreed to take a leadership role in the local FCA Endurance team. FCA Endurance is a team of runners, triathletes, cyclists, and (I always add) obstacle course racers committed to using their training and racing to reach out to other athletes with the love of Christ. I also reached way beyond my comfort zone and applied for acceptance into the Epic Racing Arena as an elite athlete. I have no idea if I am what they consider to be elite, but I'm committed to training even more this year and transforming myself into a real athlete. Lesson learned: all good things really do come to an end, but if you're a teacher it comes back in 9 months (summer, that is). 

September: For the second year in a row, I ran the Firefighter's 5k. It has become one of my favorite races because it is held near the weekend of September 11th and because the course, run along Hollywood beach, is beautiful. I'm always reminded why I love living in South Florida anytime a race takes me along the beach. Due to continued clean eating and 2-a-days, I was again able to PR. I also ran the Mud Dogs first 5k obstacle race. After some serious "official" timing issues, I was correctly placed as 2nd female. Lesson learned: entering a first time event comes with some risk-- it's a gamble, really.
October: My birthday month. I always try to do a race on my birthday weekend to celebrate. This year, I won a free entry to a Monster Dash near Orlando, Florida on the Saturday after my birthday. To make it extra special, I also signed up my 12-year old to run with me, and I ran a 10k trail race that same morning. A 2-a-day race. I earned my real stand on a podium, taking 1st place among women and 2nd place among all runners. Lesson learned: having GPS on my phone is priceless (I got lost... well, let's just say a few several times over this fun birthday weekend).
November: November was about training. The only event I completed was volunteering with the FCA team at the Ft. Lauderdale 13.1 water stop. It was a great experience that provided me with an enormous appreciation for race volunteers! The month also marked the virtual marathon that I tried to organize. Let's just say no one will ever hire me to be a publicist. I successfully completed 14 miles (so it wasn't a half marathon or marathon, but the idea was to choose your own distance), but was not successful in encouraging anyone to join along. This was another example of my reaching past my comfort zone. Lesson learned: passion for something makes all the difference in the world.
December: This month marked the start of my racing season. I happily reached my goal and set a PR by 7 minutes in the inaugural Hollywood Half Marathon. I am finally beginning to learn just the amount of pain that must be endured in a race in order for a runner to be successful. I am far from an elite runner and have yet to even come close to the level of suffering that the truly good runners do. But my PR was overshadowed by the joy I felt in watching my friend complete her first half marathon. Lesson learned: Over the course of this year I spent far more hours training than ever before. Eating clean became not a matter of looking good, but a matter of staying WELL and feeling well. 

Comments

  1. It looks like eating right and training well has worked out well for you. Congrats on accomplishing so much in 2012!

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    1. Thank you! I feel better than ever.

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  2. Your list is AMAZING! Good Job on all of the training, eating clean, & going out of the comfort zone. I know that is hard to do, been trying it a lot myself lately. I can't wait to hear all about your 2013 races. Being a newbie it's nice to see how the more seasoned runners get it done. Happy new Year!

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    Replies
    1. I admit, I'm more than a little addicted to racing! I don't shop, go to clubs or bars (or even movies)... I race. :-)

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