Thursday, March 5, 2015

14 (or so) in 2014 - My Year in Review

I have been terribly absent in recent months.  There was a big shift in my life; I changed jobs quite abruptly in November 2014 and have been settling into the new environment (which is great!) and new schedule.

With that, though I have completed more runs, my running has been pretty terrible.  I ran a handful of times in November, which became a few times in December and so goes the "slippery slope".  I'll write about that more later and will even do a catch up on recaps.

But, finishing what I originally started drafting in November 2014....

Where my journey began.... where I am now...

Pi Day Pi K
Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K
Ravenswood Run 5K
Chicago Spring Half Marathon and 10K
Soldier Field 10 Miler
The Original 5K
The Color Run 5K
Esprit de She 5K/10K
Zooma Half Marathon and 10K
Elvis is Alive 5K
Magnificent Mile Chicago Women's Half Marathon and 5K
Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K
Hot Chocolate 5K/15K
Girls on the Run 5K
Grant Park Turkey Trot 5K

Best moments on the course
~While standing in the corral for the start of the Soldier Field race, it really hit me:  I'm running this race at Soldier Field during Memorial Day weekend.  What a privilege it was to be able to use my freedom, both physical and emotional, and honor those who protect my rights everyday.  I hope to run this race again and again. 

~John was coming back from some foot pain but decided to run the Ravenswood 5K anyways. When we took the final turn at mile 3 and saw the finish, we both sprinted for the line together (not hand in hand but you get the idea) and by chance, finished at exactly the same time!  It was awesome being able to run that race with him.

~At the Elvis is Alive 5K, my colleague Fran and her friend, Joe, joined us for their 8th(?) running of the race.  They power walked the entire thing and it wasn't until afterwards that I learned Joe had lost his wife suddenly just weeks before and that this was his first time running without her.  His strength and commitment really moved me.

~Though I trained very seriously for my first half, there was nothing that could prepare me for the weather.  Seeing the finish line for the Magnificent Mile Women's Half was pretty damn satisfying.

5 worst moments on the course
~And speaking of the Magnificent Mile Women's Half....after crossing the line, the heat finally took me over and I was light headed after the race.  I found a spot on the curb where I could sit down and was able to cool down with an ice pack.  Luckily, John and Carolyn found me and I came back after 5-10 minutes.  For a moment, I wasn't really sure if I was going to be okay!

~During the Chicago Spring Half/10K, I saw the turn around and was feeling awesome.  Then about a quarter mile later, that blazing sun really hit me.  And after taking the final turn around the Shedd, I looked ahead and thought "holy f*ck"; there isn't a single spot of shade for the next 1.5 miles.  

~Mile 8 during the Soldier Field 10.  It's like my body said "yep, that's the farthest you've ever run and that's about as far as you're gonna go!".  I had to gather up some mantra strength to get my mind and body back in the game.

~I was battling some shin splint-like pain in the weeks after the Soldier Field race so when I signed up for EDS, I stuck with a 5K and dropped my hopes for a PR.  Somewhere around mile 1.5, I realized that my fitness level had dropped so much (like it was very high to begin with?) and I had to take a walking break - the first time I had to take a walking break during a >5 mile distance since the first race of the year!

~The port-o-potty at the Chicago Spring Half/10K.  Oh my god.  I was scarred for life.

Other great running moments not race related
Winning a free entry to the Zooma race - I've never won anything before in my life!

Going out and telling my hubby "I'm gonna just run...I'll call you with where I need you to pick me up".  I ended up going 6.7 miles that day - my longest distance at that point in time.

Sharing my story with the Magnificent Mile folks and being featured on their blog!

best swag bag
Zooma had the most bang for it's buck.  At the expo alone, I received a hat, race shirt, Feetures! socks, reusable bag, yoga gift cards and free samples of Honest Tea, Muscle Milk, LUNA bars, Advil and JustGoGirl pads.  

worst swag bag
The Shamrock Shuffle.  For such a huge event and ginormous expo, each swag bag included a white race shirt (not a speck of green) and a bib.  Yea, that was about it.  Well, I did manage to swipe an apple from a vendor.

best swag earned
That goddamn Ravenswood Run themed Mizuno water bottle.  I endured two icy-cold, snowflakes-that-leave-you-soaking-wet runs to earn that bottle.

best feel (running)
To date...I would say the Ravenswood 5K.  After going through this summer, I realized that I just don't run as fast when it is hot.  Though I took a short walking break with John (his first race), I felt like I was cruising the whole way through.

best vibe
This is really tough because each race is really different.  I would have to say the Original 5K comes really close here.  It took us back to 1972 "where it all started".  Our swag included striped knee-high socks and totally went old school.  It just felt like tons of fun and I actually stayed through most of the post-race party with my running buddies.

best post-race party
This is hard... I'm torn between Athleta/Lifetime's Esprit de She and the Fellow Flowers/Chicago Women's Half Marathon.  EdS's night market included tapas, two complimentary wine pours, LUNA bars, Greek yogurt,  massages, hair braiding, nail polish changes, photo ops and more.  With Fellow Flowers, we had Chicago deep dish pizza and DANCED.  In both cases, it was an intimate group of women sharing in women's health.

best shirt
Actually, my favorite running shirt is not from a race but from the Chicks' Night fun runs.  It's a pink striped Lole shirt with the Chicks logo on it.  It's something both athletic and casual.

But in terms of best race shirts, I must say that I really enjoy my Zooma shirt.  Baby blue and light weight, it is the first shirt I've owned that says "Chicago" in front!

best medal
In terms of accomplishment, it is a tie for the Soldier Field/Magnificent Mile Half.  But the one that earned a spot in my car is the Girls on the Run medal.

best splurge
I was getting nervous for my first half marathon and got an e-mail offering a VIP experience from a group called Fellow Flowers.  At first, I didn't really buy into the "Fiercely United" thing but after reading more about their story, I was hooked.  I still keep in touch with some of those ladies today and LOVE seeing flowers at other races and talking to people I don't know.

most random thing on the course
While running the Zooma 10K, this creature ran across the path.  Naturally, I said "Oh my god, is that a rat?".  Of course it was a squirrel but it was seriously lacking that fluffy tail.  Some women on the path had a good laugh.

most random thing in the swag bag
Okay, this wasn't in the swag bag itself but after the Chicago Spring Half and 10K, they had a flower station where you could pot your own plant and bring it home.  It died about 3 days later....

So to conclude...
I learned a lot about myself this year.  I learned that I always had it within me but that putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is critical - I guarantee that if I did not go out for the icy run that day, I would have done none of the things listed above.  Zero.

I also learned what I could do on my own and with the support of others.  I learned a lot about balancing my personal life and hitting the lakefront for 2-3 hours to try to get a long run in.  I dragged a bunch of friends into this (thanks, Carolyn!) and am happy to find that whether over coffee, Facebook, a run (or all three!), we can share in something together.

It was a pretty kickass year.

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