Last year I wrote a Reflection on What Worked for 2011. I’ve realized lately that my blog is a really great way of celebrating how I’ve changed and what I can truly celebrate as I’ve become a more competitive runner. If I didn’t write this stuff down, I’m not sure I would feel quite as accomplished. (So there is an advantage to furiously typing these thoughts!)
2011 was the year of “firsts”:
- First marathon (and first BQ).
- First year of 1,000+ miles.
- First time running to both ends of the Lakeshore trail.
- First time truly committing myself to racing regularly.
It was a big year. 2012 (thank goodness) has been much more manageable in terms of work-life balance and the frequency of races.
So, in my opinion, I think this is “What Worked” for me in 2012:
I raced half as much in 2012 as I did in 2011.
In 2011, I raced 12 times. That’s a LOT in 12 months. Granted, I was ambitious and very excited about training for my first marathon. Every race I ran was to prepare me for the start and finish line of the Chicago Marathon in October. This year, I wanted to put an emphasis on training as opposed to racing. And, in doing so, I challenged myself more during my long runs and ran with high intensity each week of Twin Cities training. After the 2011 Chicago Marathon, I let myself rest, recover, and reset before jumping into training for the Rock ‘n Roll DC Half in March. I was rewarded with a 5-minute half marathon PR, despite a business trip to Madrid the same week. Then, my focus was on Carmel. I wanted another PR. If it wasn’t in the cards, I’d have another shot at Bayshore.
I think I gave myself a schedule that was pretty ambitious but not impossible. It was ‘smart’. I raced less and focused on finding some sort of rhythm after having started a *new job* in March. In 2011, I wanted to race all the time. I couldn’t get enough of it. In 2012, I decided training could be just as fulfilling but I stepped up to a start line whenever I felt the urge/need to.
I celebrated those “little wins”, but didn’t get caught up in #s.
I ran 4 half marathons, 1 5k, and 1 marathon in 2012. And I ran PRs in each of those distances. I didn’t go into each training cycle with a specific goal in mind. I followed Coach’s orders, kept my head on straight (some of the time), and realized those small changes in paces on tempo or speed workouts as I progressed (I’m not data-driven, but I would revisit my Garmin data from time to time and realize how much faster my mile repeats or 800 m Yassos were, compared to months’ past.)
2012 was also a fun year especially because of how competitive I was in my age group. Out of 6 races, I came away with 4 age group awards (one of which was a badass beer glass!). This, of course, was a complete surprise to me. I’m completely oblivious during races. I have no sense of where I am within the entire field and the only focus I have is running my own race. I couldn’t care less about collecting ‘awards’. [The surprise of having won an award was fun, though!] The time on the clock was always the ultimate reward and the age group award was the icing on the cake. [I’d like to say that 2013 will be a year of even more age group awards but now that I’m slotted in 25-29, it will only continue to get more competitive. There are some seriously speedy women in my new age group!]
I ran solo no more than 4 x per week.
I’ve always been a solo runner. It’s not that I don’t like to run with other people; I’d just rather run by myself. (“It’s not you. It’s me??”). I like to run on my own time and stay in my own head during tough (or easy) runs. I ran every single one of my long runs during Twin Cities training by myself on the lakefront. It was really tough, but I figure that I’m only racing against myself during a marathon and I might as well train the same way. [Note: I’m not ruling out a few group runs in 2013. A fun run to ‘cool my jets’ with other runners sounds nice every once in awhile!]
On the same note, running more than 4 times a week makes me feel sluggish and unmotivated. I’d rather allow myself enough recovery and dominate each workout than recovery less and run more ‘junk miles’. Every single workout has a purpose and I like committing to that goal week-in and week-out. Everyone is different and I’m happy to have found a good run/recovery balance that works for me. This might change at some point, but 2013 will likely be the same way!
2012 wasn’t the year of firsts. It was more like the year of “Ok, I did all that last year. What can I possibly tackle in 2012?”.
I improved my 5k time by 2:22 min,
my half marathon time by 7:40 min,
and my marathon time by 15:06 min this year.
I raced in Chicago, Indy, Batavia, Traverse City, Twin Cities, and DC.
It’s really easy to forget about your accomplishments, I think. I’m determined to keep perspective on these kinds of things and realize that the tiny ‘baby steps’ you take usually turn into giant steps that you didn’t realize you were capable of.
Outside of running, 2012 was challenging both in my personal and professional life. I started a new job that took me to Madrid, D.C., Dallas, and San Francisco (totally over 30,000 miles in 9 short months) and I think I managed to stay focused while working at home 50% of the time. I went to Montana on vacation with my mom and sisters. My Grandma Eleanor passed away (love you!). My twin sister married her high school sweetheart. I had my wisdom teeth removed and endured my first root canal (gross). Manny (the boyfriend) started a new job (and we celebrated 5 years together). Annnnd I drank a lot of beer (DUH) 🙂 It was a crazy, fun, exhilarating, busy, interesting, hectic, and a completely silly year.
Now, I’m setting my sights on what I want to accomplish in 2013.
I’ve hovered around a 1:36 half for far too long. I know I can run a faster pace for 13.1 miles.
Before that happens, though, I’m looking forward to having fun in Boston in April. I don’t know what I’m capable of accomplishing just yet but if it’s a PR, it will be more than enough.
I will stay healthy and rest when my body tells me to.
I’m going to become a stronger runner in 2013.
Beyond that…who knows?!