Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Review

I'm not even sure how to begin this entry. 2012 has been a year of tremendous growth, a year wherein I proved to myself over and over that I can truly call myself a runner. I think if I were to sum up the year in a single thought, that would be it. I have officially abandoned the phrase "I run" and adopted the title of "runner", and this part of my identity has become a bigger part of my life than I could have imagined.

This is the year I found myself thinking about my next run while in the middle of a run, the year I would replay runs and races in my head during the day, the year I lusted after quality gear instead of settling for what was inexpensive and convenient. This was the year that running changed from a hobby to a lifestyle.

To start this entry right, let's talk about my 2012 New Year's resolutions.

My computer background for all of 2012.
 1. Run a race monthly? I met that goal head-on. During the summer, when races were scarce, this meant running the FMTC 2-mile fun runs; they're bib-free, but there's a timer at the end, so they had to count. The only month I didn't race was December, and given the holiday season and dearth of races, I'm not counting that as a loss, either.

2. Run a 10k. I ran two this year! One in October and one in November. The Race for F.I.S.H was the best racing experience I've had. Not only did it challenge me because it was my first long-distance race (besides the first Half, which doesn't count), but also because I destroyed my time goal and the race was beautiful and painless. I seriously love this distance, and even though the Turkey Trot in November was painful and slow - being only four days post-Half and all - I'm glad I had a chance to try this distance out a couple times.

3. Keep blogging...well, obviously that worked. And the blog served its purpose: it kept me motivated to run. The blog actually did more than I thought; besides keeping me accountable for my resolutions, it helped to spread my love of running to others.

4. This goal was a bit skewed. Because the Rock 'n Roll Half was non-existent in November (it was a February race) it was impossible to meet this one. That said, I did run a Half in November, just one of a different name, and I think that definitely counts. I ran the entire thing without stopping, had a great time, experienced very little pain, met my pace goal down to the second, and set a new PR by 40 minutes. Talk about success!

With that all summed up, let's look at some other high points of 2012. Here are my stats from the beginning of this blog up to now:

January 2012
December 2012
Total mileage on Nike+
676 (448.19 in 2012)
Total mileage on DailyMile
651 (469 in 2012)

While the two websites have some discrepancies (mostly because I can input runs manually on DM and often shaved off some distance if I thought my Nike+ wasn't accurate), I've put in well over 400 miles this year. That's unheard of for me! Those starting miles in the January 2012 column include all my running since I began...2009 through the end of 2011. What an insane difference!
Finishing the Fast & the Furriest in 9:31
This year, I ran my first solo race and came in under 30 minutes for the first time in what felt like...forever. The Fast and the Furriest proved to me that I could be motivated to run races independently, set my own pace, and run faster than I thought I could. In fact, this whole year saw my pace improving for the most part, but I think this was the first real example of it in a race.

This was also the year M began running races with me. K was on maternity leave, and M saw me run the Fast and the Furriest and told me, "I should've run that with you." Next thing you know, he's running 5, 8, and 10ks with me!

African Aid 5k...first race with M!
I ran a total of 11 races this year: seven 5ks, one 8k, two 10ks, and one Half. It was so cool to have a totally full race schedule some months, to be constantly training and meeting goals, to collect bib after bib. I loved that about this year!

This year I made two huge changes to my running schedule. The first was that finally, after trying and failing all summer, I became a morning runner. While I can still enjoy an evening run once in awhile, my schedule consists almost entirely of running well before the sun comes up. This change was another thing that made me feel like a real runner - if you're willing to wake up at 4:10am to fit in a real workout before heading to work, that gives you hardcore points! I actually have to admit that I enjoy morning runs more than evening runs. They make my nights way less stressful and give me energy for the day. My students can tell the mornings I've skipped a run because I'm moody and sluggish. Morning runs have had a surprisingly positive impact on my life.

Sanibel Race for first 10k
 The second change was that I finally began fitting long runs into my training. Whereas before I'd hardly run more than 3.5 miles at a time, this year my daily runs were 4-milers and my weekend runs ranged from 6 to 13 miles. Breaking through that barrier did something for me mentally. I'd forgotten how daunting 4-milers could be, and now I can run a 5-miler without any extra preparation, and can run 6+ miles if I keep my pace at a more comfortable level.

Over all, I'd say this was a very successful year. I'm struggling with some burnout and ITBS pain right now, but I know it will pass. I stuck to my resolutions and made great strides. I set a few new PRs, ran more than 4 miles on a solo run, and tried out all different distances. I'm by no means where I want to be for the rest of my running career, but I consider this my first official year as a runner. I have a long way to go; this year has created a strong foundation for next year...and the next...and so forth.
Biggest goal of the year - met!

Finally, onto my 2013 resolutions. I'm still tweaking them to be where I want them exactly, but I'm playing with the idea of a new time-goal for my 5ks, monthly distance goals, and a long-run goal above and beyond what I've run yet...I may be interested in doing a full marathon in 2014, and I want to see what I'm capable of.

The official resolutions for 2013 will have to wait for another entry. For now, I'm basking in this little space of time where 2012 resolutions are finalized and 2013 has yet to begin.

Have a happy and safe New Year!


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