This is me typing away and trying to reflect and make semblance of sense out of what transpired in the days between January 1st and now.
Thinkin’ out loud. Bear with.
There were a lot of ups and downs in my running life in 2012. It was mostly ups but even the downs helped me get to where I am right now.
Where I am now is without a doubt… completely, totally… invested in this sport. I’m all in and in love and anxious to get the 2013 show on the road… though off season is treating me very well.
It’s 2012 that I have to thank for leaving me with the most positive year of running I’ve ever had.
This year ended up not being the year I got a sub-2 half marathon. It was not the year I ran 2 marathons in 12 months. It was not the year I ran 5 half marathons in 12 months. It was not the year of PRs in every distance.
And yet somehow, 2012 was THE YEAR OF RUNNING… of pure, uncomplicated running. It was 1,272 miles, and counting. It was organic and simple and stress-free. It was naked and hippie and freeing and laid-back. It was surprising myself. It wasn’t unrealistic and it wasn’t forced. It didn’t over-think. It felt blissful and happy and perfectly antiquated… I’m talking like, masters-level antiquating.
Still trying to figure out what exactly I’m getting at there on that last one.
It was rediscovering just running as something I looked forward to complete my day, to sort out my constant stream of ideas, thoughts, beliefs, life dreams, and career goals, to just be outside in the fresh air, to get lost in the music and motion of moving ahead step by step.
All of this felt extremely fulfilling.
And it felt like a breath of fresh air too. It was easy when it felt right, hard when it felt right, relaxed on regular runs, happy-go-lucky meets go-hard on race days. It was WHATEVER DUDE! (((Remember the “whatever dude”? ))). It was so much fun. It was I don’t give an EFF about how I’m supposed to be doing it because I’m just loving doing my own running.
You do you, I’mma do me.
So I really just wanted to say I’mma there. Like I’mma be, I’mma be, I’mma I’mma I’mma be.
Anyway, forget Fergie. I didn’t need a race on the calendar to motivate me to run and get outside after work. I didn’t need a big PR to make me complacent. I didn’t need to run fast to feel like I was improving.
It was also the year of new runner friends, who are now life-long friends. I ran alone probably 98% of the time this year but it’s so important to me to connect with people on the same “road,” who are on the team, who have similar goals and mindsets, and who can relate to everything that comes with taking on running as a hobby. I am so lucky!
This whole year I had this sense that I was improving my running in ways other than PRs… and that seemed like a road less traveled. This year showed me what I can really get out of running (((new friends for one, definitely one of the best things!))) besides setting and reaching goals and making measurable improvements. For most of the year, in the time between the New Bedford Half and the beginning of NYCM training, I took a step back, chilled the heck out, and experienced it all from a very unusual set of rules/plans: no rules, no plans, no expectations, no numbered goals. And come what may.
I got those days and weeks and months so right.
For me, running was incredible that way. Honestly. I itched to get outside every single day by 4PM. I loved the first step, the first song, the second and third steps and all steps start to finish, the air around me (((hippie alert but oh-so true))), the turn at the 1.5 mile mark into the center of town, the breezy downhill at 1.75, the sign for the next town at 3.5, the guy at the gas station who let me refill my water bottle, the turnaround at 4.5, the way back with the opposite uphills/downhills, the big hill right at 6 that could make me smile or curse, the turkeys that could scare the crap out of me at 7, the kid I’d sometime see with the Holy Cross t-shirt, the little fruit flies on my face and in my hair, the steady downhill for the last mile back that could make me feel unstoppable… if we’re just talking my work route.
It was the whole package from beginning to end… not onlyq the glorious end of feeling spent and exhausted and used up and successful and super sweaty.
It was go with the flow. It was play it by ear. It was roll with the punches. This kind of running seems to fit me like a glove.
I really fell in love with the whole thing. It was all so real, so alive. My cup runneth over.
It wasn’t like that from the get-go, though. Early 2012 was preparing for a big half marathon PR. I desperately wanted to go sub-2 hours, 9 minute miles the whole way, and knock 12 minutes off my time.
I trained my butt off, running after work in the dark all winter. My plan didn’t call for a ton of miles (hovered around 30-35 miles a week), but I did 400s and 800s and interval long runs and tempos. My Garmin was glued to my wrist. It became about nailing the numbers I wanted to see, the numbers I thought could get me there.
I PR’d the Black Cat 10 mile race a couple weeks before the goal half… so sub-2 was going to be close, but a definite possibility. Even minutes off or even a PR would have been a happy day.
Except… race day in New Bedford came and I didn’t sub-2 and didn’t PR. Everything went wrong that day and it felt like I blew it and threw all of that training out the window. That hurt.
But something incredibly BRILLIANT came out of that race experience… so much so that now I can only look back fondly on that race and feel grateful it was as shitty as it was.
I took a week off after to heal my heart and think about stuff.
I realized I was thinking too much. I had been over-thinking the training, and I’d probably over-trained. From January to March it was all about the drills, the numbers, the training plan. All business and no fun and looking back, I wasn’t loving my runs in those months.
My philosophy on running is, I don’t dwell on it, I do it. – Joan Benoit Samuelson
Questions I pondered during that time: Shouldn’t running and racing be a lot fun too??? Couldn’t it be carefree and Garmin-less? Why can’t we just love running for running’s sake and anticipate the chance to do it whenever we want?
Everyone can view running+racing however they please. But in the span of a few weeks it seemed like I went from one end (drill sergeant) of the spectrum to the other (carefree hippie).
I owned my carefree running… it was my best and it made me feel my best.
Since I didn’t have any other big goal races on the calendar for the spring and early summer, I vowed to just run. Just run. Just run. Just run.
Instead of focusing on the numbers and freaking out about a race, I was just running. Running Garmin-less was so much less of a distraction; I focused on getting lost in it all and on getting to the next mile marker as happily as I could.
I ended up running just about every single day for 3 months and really and truly looking forward to it. It was #CSWS like never before.
There were so many life-is-grand moments that I never had when I was running like a bat out of hell in training for sub-2. Turns out, complicating running doesn’t work for me at all. The sport simple and manageable… one foot in front of the other, one day at a time.
My running got stronger and faster and longer… three months of 150+ mile months. There were lots of 9-mile runs and 6-mile runs. Managed to hit 40-50 miles a week.
OH AND THEN. Very much unexpectedly but so happily, I PR’d my half by 3 mins at Providence and then PR’d again another 2 mins at Run to Remember. Down to a 2:07. Races in general seemed so much more relaxed and fun.
When summer hit I found I could not take the heat and humidity this time.
I also just wanted to sit on the beach with a book and beer and my family and friends on the weekends… definitely had my full share of that and don’t regret it!
I was finally ready to start training for NYCM in early August and had a good base built up since April. Out of nowhere after a couple weeks of lower mileage, my tibia bone did not feel good. Extra rest, time off, an x-ray, more time off, tibia mysteriously healed after a few weeks. Good to go part two, training for NYCM.
It was a shorter training cycle, about 12 weeks. Even still it was solid and I hit all my long runs, kept my mileage >40 miles a week, and was ready for the marathon.
But… I can’t gush about it the way I do for running in the months prior, when I got it “right.”
This time running wasn’t as happy. I wasn’t too motivated to go out for a nearly four hour long run. I wasn’t running as strong as I had been. I wondered if I already burnt myself out for the year but I think most of it had to do with the pressure of marathon training and how hyped up it can get (maybe it’s just me!). I started questioning everything. After months of whatever dude, I had a really hard time with being on a training plan and having a big race on the calendar, as much as I’ve wanted to run NYC.
Then, the race did not go on. I chose Richmond as the replacement race, as the way to end the year of running on a positive note. Then… I got really sick with the stomach bug that week and had to hobble the whole way to the finish. Truthfully I’m still not over it but I do not see it as the final stamp on this whole year.
This year was already BALLER. I’ll never see it as anything less than extraordinary. I lived and loved my best self a lot this year and running contributed to that.
I cannot wait to take what I’ve learned in 2012 and use it to my advantage in 2013.
Got some ideas.
Hope you’ll stick around. You’ve congratulated me on the good days and uplifted me on the bad and for that, thank you, thank you… thank you.
Cheers to 2013!
How do you reflect on your running year in 2012?