2014 Running--The Year in Review

It's time for my annual running year in review.  I'm keeping a record of my running life in this blog for when I'm old and can't remember.  It's like my journal.

2014 Running Goals WERE--
1.  To run in new races and places.  (Done and Done!  Chuckanut Mountain in Washington State was the most awesome one.)
2.  To run happy and healthy. (Mostly.)
3.  To tackle some long distances. (Yep.  26.2 X 4 plus two ultras--a 41-miler and a trail 50K.) 
4.  To use running for stress relief and renewal.  (For the most part.)
5.  To enjoy each and every race, even when it's hard, even when I'm slow and to have gratitude for running.  (Not at the Southern TN Power Classic marathon.  Misery after mile 11. Personal worst!)

Overall, I'd say this was a more successful year than 2013, at least as far as my attitude toward running as I come to the close of the year.  I'm definitely running slower, but I've run happier.

The races:

January--No races!  

February-- Dry Creek Marathon.  This was a really fun race with my friend Andrea in a hunting preserve.  It was the most beautiful February day--blue skies and 65 degrees.  The course was a little hillier than expected, but I enjoyed running the first half with Andrea and battling it out on my own in the second half.  One of two trail/unpaved marathons this year.

March--  LBL 23K Trail Race.  This was definitely an adventure.  Grand Rivers, KY had received a 7-inch snowfall earlier that week that just wouldn't budge.   I ran on hard packed snow, waded through slush, and skated on icy pavement.  I was lucky to only fall over once.  The whole time, I focused on being careful and the novelty of running on snow for the first time.  My feet were numb by mile 10 or 11!   I finished this race much stronger than the year before.

Two weeks later--- Greenway Marathon.  This was another hilly race.  I ran a little faster than planned in the first half and paid the price in the second half.  It was in this race that I realized the truth of marathons---once you get to mile 20, you know you are going to be ok.  I struggled in 14-20, but passing that mile 20 marker let me know I'd survive.  My IT Band was not my friend that day.  After this race, I took some time off to rest/recover the IT Band.  One of two road/pavement marathons this year.

April--  Oak Barrel Half Marathon.  I ran this with my husband.  I tried to pace him conservatively, but really 2:16 was about all I had that day.  He had a great race and  could have run faster.  My legs were tired from the above races, as all of these were spaced about two weeks apart.

May-- Viola Valley Half Marathon.  This was another hilly (I see a theme here!) race in the countryside near Manchester, TN.   I ran a total of 3 races within an hour of Manchester (where my inlaws live) this year.   I had an ok race.  I walked on some of the hills.  I can't say I ran strong, but I didn't run terribly, either.

Then my SUMMER OF RUNNING, the best part of my year! 

June-- Run Under the Stars.  Despite some blister issues, I got a personal long of 41 miles!   I had the BEST miles between 30 and 40.   I truly felt like an ultramarathoner. 

Backass Jackal Trail Marathon.  My 2nd of two trail marathons.  I PR'd by 26 minutes over my time the year before.  I paced smart and finished strong.  It was HOT, and I got dizzy/woozy the last 2 or 3 miles.  The 2.5 hour drive home was LONG after that.

July-- Chuckanut Mountain Half Marathon.  My destination race of the year!!!   It was a gorgeous course spent with my close friend Rebecca and high school classmate Stacey.   Our time was slow, but we stopped for pictures often and took our time.  This was my first time to climb a mountain!  It made me realize I want to climb more mountains in my lifetime.  

August-- Wild Thang 9-mile trail run.  The heat got to me.  I felt dizzy and nauseous and my legs didn't work too well.  The one blight on an otherwise great summer!   It fell in the middle of a high mileage month.  I could tell.  August 2014 was my highest mileage month ever.

September-- Stanky Creek Trail 50K.  Another highlight of my year.  I LOVED this race.  I tapered well the first part of September.  This race fell the day after my 44th birthday.  I think I enjoyed every single step, every creek crossing, climbing every muddy embankment!   My first 50K trail race with a strong finish.  Good company on my trip to Memphis and perfect weather, too!

And things started going downhill......

October--  Southern TN Power Classic.  Worst. Race. Ever.  Just three weeks after Stanky Creek, my body was NOT ready for 26.2.  I was ok up until about mile 11 or 12.  Then my race went downhill.... and by that, I mean it continued to go UP and UP and UP more hills.  Every step was painful.  My muscles were tight and sore.  Running simply hurt.  Stomach upset, too. Ugh. Personal worst.  A nice gentleman I met at mile 21 really helped get me to the finish.   I felt like my body was breaking down. It was after this HORRIBLE race, I decided to let the Tunnel Hill 50 miler go.  It was the right decision.  I was very burned out at this point.  

Go Commando Half Marathon.  Two weeks after Power Classic.  I actually had a slow but steady race.  I ran every hill.  I was happy about that.  All of my trainees finished this tough course.  My finish time was 8 minutes slower than last year. Fatigue had compounded in my legs over the last few months-that much was evident.  I knew my body was telling me to back off a bit.  I was relieved to be done with long races for the year.

Halloween Hunt 5- Miler.  I ran this on the week after Go Commando with my husband.  We dressed as "early morning trail runners" (covered in spider webs).  My legs had NADA that day.  I struggled.  I had a few weeks of rest after this one.  I ran just a few miles per week.

November--Farm Bureau Holiday 10K.  I ran a strong five-mile race!  :-)  I enjoyed it until the last mile and the hills at the end.  My time was slower than I expected, but I hadn't run 10K pace pretty much all year!

Turkey Trot 5K.  I had a GREAT race.  27:16.  How I ran just 17 seconds off my PR, I don't know.  Lucas pacing me the first two miles might have helped.  I maintained pace alone that last mile though!   

December-- No races!

Those are my 15 official races for 2014.  I left out two "unofficial" races I did with friends---both were half-marathons on trails.  One was at Rotary Park with Andrea and the other was at Beaman Park with Middle TN Trail Runners.  We almost got arrested for our unofficial "not a real race but with bibs and medals" and lacking park permission, but it was still a fun day.  

What a GREAT YEAR overall.  BLESSED!!!

One of the greatest blessings just kind of fell together in June.  Middle TN Trail Runners formed and quickly became my local trail running family.  My trail brothers and sisters have given me so much support and encouragement as we have run, tripped, laughed, and face planted together (and nearly got arrested....).  With this group, I went on my first night trail run, another highlight of the year.

I'm happy to have had my running community grow much larger this year with new friends from far and near!   I think when it comes down to it, running is really more about the people you meet and spend time with than anything.