Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 Year In Review Mega-Post

2009, what a year. Running-wise, I’m not sure how 2010 is going to be able to top it. I had some amazing races, some huge training breakthroughs, tried some new things and loved them, and overall had a pretty incredible year. If I had to pick a theme for my athletic endeavors this past year, I’d have to use the line from the Gavin Degraw song “Meaning” – ‘sometimes the only way is jumping, I hope you’re not afraid of heights’.

2009 Race Stats
Miles: 4 [all track]
Best – 5:58, Carthage College Tadd Metzger Invite
Worst – 6:10?**, UWSP Invite [ugh, what a disaster...never try to race a mile less than an hour after the 3K...death]

3Ks: 3 [all track]
Best – 11:50, Wisconsin Open
Worst – 12:34, Carthage College Tadd Metzger Invite [first attempt at the distance, almost missed the start, got tripped...and still wanted to do it again]

3K steeplechase: 1
Wisconsin Twilight – 12:54

5Ks: 7 [5 track, 2 road]
Best – 19:54, Phil Esten Challenge @ SMU
Worst – 22:11, UW Running Club Valentine’s Day 5K [worst time, but by no means the worst race, that honor goes to my 20:47 at the Loras Open]

10Ks: 0 [eh, I really don’t like the 10K anyway. Maybe I’ll try to get one of those on the schedule in 2010]

Half Marathons: 2
Best – 1:42:25, Madison Half Marathon
Worst – 1:48:28, Madison Mini Marathon [exhibit A as to why you should not run a half marathon with a bad cold]

Marathons: 1
Baystate Marathon – 3:39:15, BQ

Triathlons: 1 [sprint]
Elkhart Lake Triathlon – 1:18:44

Total Races: 18
PRs set: 6 [PR in every event run except the mile]
Top 3 Best Races [no particular order]: Baystate Marathon, Elkhart Lake Triathlon, SMU 5K
Bottom 3 Worst Races [no particular order]: Madison Mini Marathon, Loras 5K, UWSP mile
Most Ridiculous Weather Award: Baystate Marathon [38 degrees, 20+ mph winds, rain...and over 3.5 hours to enjoy it!]
Runner Up: WLC 5K [35 degrees and windy up to 40 mph a track meet!]
AG Awards: 2 [1st place AG/overall female, Black Tie 5K, 1st place AG Elkhart Lake Tri]

This year has been the year that I really found out what it means to be a true long distance runner. My mid-distance running in track was limited to a few outings in the mile, all but one of which were pretty unsuccessful and one which was downright dreadful. I sucked it up and decided to give the 3000 meters a try, and ended up really liking it [despite almost missing the start and then getting tripped and going down hard 800 meters in in my first outing at the distance]. My best race at the distance came in January and was probably one of my better executed races of the year. And then...outdoor track.

My journey into the 5K began ridiculously enough on a 35 degree, windstorm day in March, at possibly the smallest track meet I’ve ever been to in my life...and that includes some JV duals in high school. Running the 5K on the track was a terrifying thing, I really had no clue what I was doing or why the hell I thought running a race that was almost 13 laps around the damn track was a good idea...but one way or another, I LIKED it. As soon as I finished that first race, steeplechase was no longer going to be my primary event of the season...I had to see what I could do in this crazy LD world.

Track season was nothing short of awesome – breaking my 4 year curse at Oshkosh, PRing at almost every meet, and just generally surpassing my wildest expectations of what I thought I could do in a distance event. As my race times kept getting better and my training was going perfectly, I started thinking that my goal of breaking 20 minutes, a goal which I had pretty much randomly pulled out of the air as a good thing to shoot for but really didn’t think I stood a chance of actually accomplishing, was actually becoming a possibility. And one magical night at St Mary’s University, it did. That race, that 19:54, running alone and in the back the entire race, I think was one of the top 5 best races of my running career. I ran like a total idiot [going out in 6:07? Not really that great of an idea] but somehow, everything came together right, and crossing that line to the number 19 on the clock was absolutely one of my top 5 running moments of 2009. The leap of faith into the 5K paid off...I had one of the best track seasons of my life, proved to myself that I could do it and that training hard paid off.

With track season over, my attention turned from track long distances into LONG long distances. First up, a half marathon, which was pretty much just an afterthought to the track season. The result? A 6:30 PR, though it was the result of one of the hardest races I’ve run in my life. Then, the BF talked me into doing a triathlon. I really had no clue what I was doing, but I rocked the swim, survived the bike, and kicked some serious ass on the run...and finally achieved my coveted 1st place AG award...hilariously, NOT in a strictly running race. Triathlon is slightly on the back burner in 2010 due to my lack of a bike and money to buy one, but don’t worry...this isn’t the last you’ll hear of that crazy sport here, because I smiled through the entire race and loved every second. I can’t wait to do another one, perhaps I’ll do more training than 5 trips to the pool and 2 bike rides this time...

And finally, I made the biggest jump of all...into the big kahuna of distance running, the marathon. I tossed the idea around for awhile, chickened out and started contemplating a half marathon instead, but when the HM closed and the pieces started coming together for a marathon, I took the plunge and signed up. Clicking “submit” on my marathon payment? TERRIFYING. And so began 4 months of figuring out how to train to run 26.2 miles. There were good days and bad days, and I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea what I was doing, and I’m sure I made some mistakes. But in the end, on a freezing, raining, wind blowing October day, the result was a beautiful thing. For once in my life, I had a race plan, I knew what I wanted to do, and I executed. And that right there is why the marathon was the absolute proudest running moment of 2009 for me. I have a long history of choking in big races or races where I set my expectations high and am like “THIS is the day I’m going to do this” [see: NIRCA Nationals 08, high school track sectionals, Loras Open 5K, and plenty of other races throughout my career]. But here for once, magically and perfectly, everything came together and I stuck to my plan, and knew I could do it. I didn’t get freaked out by the competition, or get caught up in things and go out too fast, or pick a goal time too lofty for my training. I did exactly what I needed to do, when I needed to do it...and wow, was it incredible.

After the marathon, 2009 kind of whimpered out, as I’ve been struggling with IT band issues ever since the race. Things are starting to look up though since I’ve joined a gym and am incorporated cross training and a whole lot of foam rolling into my routine, and little by little things seem to be healing. I’m confident that even with a few setbacks at the beginning of this training cycle, running the Boston Marathon in 2010 is going to be an experience that I will never, ever forget.

So now that I’ve rambled on for awhile about the highlights of my running life in ’09, here are some things that I’ve learned as a runner:
~I’ve learned that marathons are AWESOME, and the journey there is like 95% of the reward...but a great performance on race day is the icing on the cake.
~I’ve learned that a 22 mile solo run will really show you what you’re made of.
~I’ve learned that it’s OK to have a bad race and that it’s pointless to dwell on a poor performance. I still beat myself up over bad races, but I’m trying to be more positive and focus more on things that I can do to make the next race a success.
~I’ve learned that I really like racing and I get antsy when I don’t do it for awhile.
~I’ve learned that it’s actually possible to smile during a race
~I’ve learned that you don’t get bored while running marathons
~~I think, in general, I’ve become a much smarter runner. I am slowly but surely learning how to run EASY on easy days and why it’s not necessary to hammer every single day. I feel like I’m much more in tune with my training and figuring out what things are working for me and what things aren’t, and I think in general I’ve just become more serious about the sport and am working to improve all aspects of my training to make me a better runner.
~I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to take a risk and do something that totally scares you, and while you’re training for it you think to yourself “why the hell am I doing this?” and on race day you’re terrified that you’re going to completely fail. It’s like that quote “only those who risk going too far can find out how far they can possibly go”. If somebody had told me a year ago that I’d be running 2 marathons, one of them being Boston, before I turned 23, I would have laughed in their face. You just never know what a new distance has in store for you...and you’ll never find out unless you give it a try.

Finally, as I say goodbye to 2009, time to put in place some GOALS for 2010! Dare I say new year’s resolutions?
-Be SMART about injuries, and don’t run through an injury again. If I hadn’t been an idiot and tried to run through this IT band crap, I probably would be fine by now. Sometimes taking a break from running is completely necessary and it’s not going to ruin all of your fitness and strength.
-Along those same lines, working on injury prevention and strengthening. I’m really going to try hard to keep up with my core work and get in the gym to lift a couple times a week, because strength training is something that’s always been missing in my running routine and I’m sure it hasn’t helped my injury problems.
-Cross train on days off of running. Now that I belong to a gym, I don’t have an excuse. I actually really, really enjoy swimming, and I’ve found that it can mimic the intensity of running pretty well. I’m still keeping my 1 day off of running a week [it keeps me sane], but I’m hoping to at least get some workout in on that day.
-Run at least run race of 5K, 10K, HM, and marathon. The marathon is obviously Boston. I’m really interested to see what I could run in a 10K in a couple months. The 5K I’m kind of scared of because I’m sure I’ve only gone downhill from that glorious 19:54, but my road race PR is only 21:47, so I’d love to best that. And the HM...well, we have some unfinished business to take care of. I’d love to have a GOOD half marathon race.
-Try some new distances. I’ve already got my eye on the Eastern States 20 miler as Boston Prep, but I think a 15K or 10 miler would also be fun to add to the repetoire.
-Run a couple of XC meets. I miss XC. I want to get more involved in GBTC too, it’s been hard since the marathon with being injured and all, but hopefully that’s on the road to recovery.
-Try to eat healthier. I’m blessed with a combination of a great metabolism and being really active, so I basically eat whatever I want, but I really WANT to do a better job of eating more things that are actually good for me. More fruits and veggies, and more cooking instead of making crap from a box [difficult at times as a poor grad student, but at least making the effort would be good :)] If nothing else, at least take my vitamins every day. :)
-Have a healthy, injury-free, successful 2010 filled with fun, races, and many PRS :) this long enough yet? I’m writing this at 35,000 feet or whatever airplane cruising altitude is because I’m on my way back to Wisconsin for Christmas...yay! First time bringing a laptop on a plane...oh so thrilling haha. I’m also running on approximately 2 hours of sleep which is awesome...our flight left at 6:15 am and the trains don’t run that early, so we decided to just go the night before and hang out at the airport from midnight on. FUN TIMES! Luckily my quickie 4 mile run [yes!! I’m running again, and my knee doesn’t hurt!!!] at 9 pm woke me up for awhile. Airport floors/seats are not as comfortable to sleep on as I would have hoped haha, but I did snuggle under my pea coat and catch a few Zs. And wrapped all my presents! Hehe. Actually funny story...I am bringing my Stick home so I can keep up with my IT band rolling while I’m there...and my bag got called out of security because of it! Not because of the scissors I used to wrap presents, oh no, the guy was like “’s some sort of exercise bar?” It kind of made me laugh.

I guess this is what happens when I don’t post for like...forever, and then I’m bored and caffienated on a plane and need something to do haha. But I’m going to wrap this up. Hope everyone has a WONDERFUL Christmas and holidays, and a happy, happy new year! I hope you all had a fantastic 2009 and that 2010 is just as good. :)

In the immortal words of NSYNC...”Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!”

Edit on 12/26: Finally getting around to posting this! Sorry I have been absent for quite some time in blogland, my google reader has 49 new blogs for me to read which is A LOT for me! Thanks a lot, crappy home internet.  I'll be back to commenting and whatnot soon :) Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas...I'm now back in the airport at Milwaukee [thanks, Google, for the free WiFi!] and headed back to Boston on a slightly delayed flight. AND I ran 6 miles yesterday [Christmas day], outside [in the rain :)], pain free [longest run with no knee pain since the marathon!!].  Talk about a great Christmas present... :)


lindsay said...

merry belated christmas!

yes, this was quite the post :) '09 was such an action-packed year for you. so many races of all kinds of distances. funny how you go from thinking 5k is "long distance" (in track speak, anyway) to the marathon :) i know when i ran cross-country 5 miles seemed like eternity. haha.

it's great to look back on your year, and keep that level head on as you tackle your 2010 goals!

Lacey Nicole said...

whew!!!!! it is only fair that i post a ridiculously long post today and then i make it over here and i was like, yes iam going to read the whole thing!!!!!!!!!! :) hehehe.

so glad you were able to run a solid 6 on christmas!!! congrats!!!!!

hope you had a fabulous break at home :)

so never run a 10k?!?! add this to your list NOW: tufts 10k columbus day 2010 (october). okay good. glad that was so easy :) hehehe. eastern states will be great pre-boston!!!! and you are so inspired by boston marathon that it will be a momentous event regardless how training goes. but it sounds like you are on your way into a really great training cycle. cross training and strength/core will def set you up for success. (gosh i wish i could swim well). good luck!!!!