My Best Race Experience:
The Christmas in July 12-Hour (overnight) Ultra. Oh my gosh, this was a tough challenge and such a surreal experience. Having done the Christmas in July 6-Hour Ultra in 2015, I had an idea of what was in store for me, but then again...not so much. The race began at 11:00PM, and concluded at 11:00AM the next morning. It's crazy to look back and comprehend how I was able to stay awake, alert, and in (almost) constant motion for 12 continuous hours. This was (yet) another race where I had an unexpected (dormant) injury flare up a few days prior to the race, so I had to take things somewhat slow and cautious. The course was a 1-mile loop, and we had to see how many laps we could run over the course of the 12-hour time limit. My goal was to do a 50K (31 miles) with my wonky glute/hamstring and recovering plantar fasciitis-ridden foot, but I was actually able to finish almost 37 total miles! And I was on such major dose of runner's high, that I remained awake and giddy for a good 12 hours post-finish line.
My Best Run:
Hands down, my best race "performance" was a total surprise. It happened at my first half marathon of the year, the Red Shoe Half Marathon on May 1st. This race had all the makings of a tough experience...cold and damp temps, projected storms, early in the season, and a few drinks the evening prior (at a party honoring all the graduating seniors at the daughter's sorority). Did I mention the course was hilly? Some how, all the stars, moons, and planets aligned in perfect order and the weather not only held out (and remained dry, though windy), but I pulled off my first sub-2:00 half marathon after a two-year plateau.
My Best New Piece of Running Gear:
Arm warmers. Time and again, I have worn arm warmers and they are fabulous! They add just enough extra cover at the start line on a cold morning without adding any extra bulk. They are easy to pull off (but I usually just keep them on), and they look stylish and make me feel like a badazz runner chick.
Trust the plan. I ran the IMT Des Moines (half) Marathon as a training run. And, my couch wanted me to do an extra five miles that morning as well. After a 2-mile warm-up, I crossed the start line eager to see what would happen. My "plan" was to run the first eight miles of the race at a very easy pace (for me, that's anywhere between 10-10:30), and then run the remaining five miles progressively faster (and then run three more "bonus" miles after the finish line). Not only was it a struggle to hold back and not run those early miles like I usually do...but I also was worried I would have ZERO energy remaining to push through those final five miles to the finish line. Long story short....it all worked out! I didn't finish with a PR (and I was not supposed to even think of a PR that day), but I was able to run each of those final race miles faster than the previous ones (and still had some energy on reserve to run those three extra miles afterwards).
My Favorite Picture from a Run or Race this Year:
I was part of a relay team (for the Quad Cities Marathon in September) with three of my cousins. Running that final stretch to the finish line, as a team, was euphoric!
|Approaching the finish line with Jessica, Kelly, and Rhonda|
The Race Experience I Would Repeat in a Heartbeat:
The Christmas in July 12-Hour Ultra, not necessarily because of what I accomplished, but because of what all of us TOGETHER experienced. I met up with some of my running friends (most of whom also ran the 6-hour Ultra in 2015 with me). This was the longest distance run for all of us, and we persevered through the night (and most of the next morning). Although I ran a lot of this event by myself, I never felt alone. There was always someone just up ahead. We shared numerous high-5's, hugs, and genuine laughs for the 12+ hours we were in motion.
|Jamie, Penny, Maggie, myself, and Michelle...ready for the start line|
Not a racer. Nope. I may be serious runner, but I am not a racer. I have had several failed attempts at PR's this year, and I regret spending the better part of some of those races being a slave to my watch. Some runners thrive on constantly running faster and faster. I like a PR as much as the next person, but I have realized I don't need a faster-than-usual finish time to deem a race successful.
My recent experience at the Route 66 Marathon left me in a fog. I trained hard, but it just wasn't my day. I knew it was going to be a hilly course, and I anticipated some wind....but the unexpected hip/groin pain that plagued me that day left me in a frustrated state. Although I finished a good 30 minutes slower than I was hoping, it wasn't until several days after the finish line that I was able to appreciate what I had accomplished. Twenty six miles (and some change) is a major distance to conquer... doing it over the course of constant hills (and wind) in a compromised "injured" state was actually pretty heroic. Looking back, I am thankful for the battle I fought that day, and I'm especially glad I had the endurance and grit to make it to the finish line.
|With my friend, Barb, shortly after the finish line|
How was your 2016? Any big accomplishments? Tough races? Lessons learned?
I'm linking up with Courtney, who is hosting her annual Year of Running link-up. I invite you to head over, check out her blog, and take a look at what everyone else has been up to this past year!