2016 Racing Reflections & 2017 Goals

It’s that time of year again, a time for reflection and setting new goals. An opportunity to start fresh and make changes.

Within the next few days I will write up my final entry regarding my 2016 resolutions (I have a big announcement to share so stay tuned for that) and share my “life” resolutions for 2017. In the meantime I wanted to write a recap on my 2016 Running Races and share with you my running goals for 2017.

I had hoped 2016 would be the year I became a marathoner, but as many of you know I suffered an injury in August and couldn’t run for 3 weeks, putting that goal on hold. While it would be easy to dwell on the things that didn’t happen or didn’t go right, it’s much more productive to focus on what did go right.

This includes:

1) Completing my 3rd half marathon in a new personal best of 1:55:22. Bettering my previous time from 2 years prior by nearly 2 1/2 minutes. This was my first race of 2016, and I changed my training to be more speed focused than the previous 5 years I have been running. I still ran 3 days of a week, but instead of just ‘getting the miles in’, I spent 1 day completing a tempo or hill run, 1 day completing intervals and 1 day was my long run. The change in pace paid off.

2) Running a sub-25 5K, a 6 year goal. This was an “unofficial time” on a training run about a week after I ran my half marathon. I was feeling good, and decided to see if I could do it. I never thought I would achieve this goal, even changing it to something more realistic. Read more about it here

3) Completing my first 20K. This was a long standing local race that was really cheap to run, so I figured it was a great excuses to have some company on my long run for the week.

4) Finishing my 5th Boilermaker 15K under my goal time of sub-80, 1:19:30. This turned in a very memorable race as I landed in the medical tent post race.I can truly say I gave it my all during this race, Read more here.

5) I Participated in my first Cross Country series and made some new friends along the way. This was a step out of my comfort zone since I haven’t run cross country since I was in middle school. But it helped ensure I ran once a week, and I really looked forward to seeing everyone every week and mixing up my running.

Some these races seem so long ago, especially because I haven’t been running as much as I should and would like. It’s so easy to forget what my body is capable of, but the pictures, my scrapbook and this blog help to remind me I can do hard things. I just have to believe in myself and stick to a schedule.

With that in mind, and after a lot  of thought, I have (mostly) decided on what my  race schedule will be for 2017 (subject to change ;)) along with my overall running goals.

My races will be:

2 15ks: 1 new one in March, the other my usual Boilermaker in July

My 4th Half Marathon on May 7th: Goal is 1:52:30 or better.

My FIRST Marathon (take 2): Wineglass Marathon Oct 1st with the goal of finishing with a smile on my face 🙂 A Sub 4 hour would be nice too!

I also enjoyed the Cross Country Series, so I will most likely participate in that again.

Mileage Goal: 1,000 miles. This seems a little unreachable, especially because 2016 I am finishing up around 475, but considering the last 4 months I have only ran 1-3 times per week, I think this goal will help keep me motivated even when I am not training for a race.

What are your goals for 2017?

“If we write our dreams and goals down, we dramatically increase our odds of realization. If we share them with other they become potent and alive”-Kristen Armstrong

Run for the Warriors

On Veteran’s Day, we honor and thank those who have served and are currently serving in the U.S Military.

This day took a whole new meaning for me 5 years ago when my youngest brother joined the Army. Since then I have become more aware of the true sacrifices military members, and their families, make every day. They miss holidays, birthdays, their kids events, etc to serve millions of people they have never met. They make a selfless commitment to protect the U.S against all enemies foreign and domestic. They are the true heroes that deserve appreciation more than 1 day a year. They deserve support year round. As a result I make donations to organizations that support Veterans and for the last 3 years have run the Returning Warriors race.

The Returning Warrior race is a 10 mile or 5 mile run held the weekend before/of Veterans Day. This race is sponsored by the local county STOP-DWI program to “Help our returning warriors transition from the dangers of war zone driving to the new risks they face on our public highways here at home” and benefits the local Veterans Support Group. Although my brother is still serving, I want to support this great cause for those who have returned to my area, which someday my brother will return to as well.

You may remember that in earlier posts, I have procrastinated for many weeks to sign up for this years race, only registering a week before the race. I registered for the 5 miler vs 10. I had no idea how I would do as I have not been running much- less than 10 miles a week. I went to support the cause and the weather was a perfect 45 degrees. The course is in a park and is flat, so its an easy course to run.

On Sunday, as I lined up for the race I had no expectations, I was just going to run and see how I did. When I hit the first mile mark I was at 8:50/pace, and I remembered last year I ran at a 8:48 pace, so I picked it up a little realizing that I felt good, and I thought I might as well try to get a personal best time. By mile 2 I was at 17:30, so I was down to an 8:45 pace. By then I thought about how great it would be if all 3 races I did this year I achieved personal best times in, so I kept pushing it. I hit mile 3 at 26:02 and there was a slight downhill, so I picked up my pace even more and started catching people. Then ‘Soldier Song’ by Gloriana started playing. I had purposefully created a playlist before this race to be all Soldier/American Pride songs.

“Here’s a song for the ones
Who sacrifice so much
So that we can be free
In this country that we love”

This song inspired me to run for the warriors, for their sacrifices and for them never giving up. I continued to pick up my pace and concentrated on breathing to avoid side cramps, hitting mile 4 at 34:35. With only a mile to go, I kept my pace steady but strong and as I rounded the last corner to the finish I was starting to get a side stitch, but I just kept going knowing it would be over soon. I crossed the finish line at 42:48, an average pace of 8:34, my fastest pace for that distance and a personal best. I finished 3rd for my age group and the 9th female. I couldn’t believe it. I was proud of myself, and proud to support a good cause.

In the past 3 years I have run this race, it has been a foreshadowing to the pace I run the following year, so I can’t wait to see what next years race bring. After procrastinating registering for this race, I have no regrets of doing it. I don’t know why I waited so long. Participating reminded me of the joys racing provides- a sense of achievement and pride, and supporting a great cause.

This was my last race of the year, and in the last 5 years I have gone from running a 10:30 pace, to now running 8:34 (or 8:11 on a 5K). If you are new to running, don’t give up on yourself, the speed will come with time. Consistency is key. At one point, these times seem sooo far out of my reach, and now I am seeing what I am capable of. Remind yourself why you run and believe you are can do it. 3 races this year and 3 personal best.

Who do you run for?

“Who will you not be able to help if you quit now?”- Paul Angone

Recommended Article: This article resonated with my since the reason she runs is exactly the same as why I fell in love with running

“I ran because it was something I could control when everything else around me was controlled for me.” How One Veteran for her love of Running while Deployed

Midweek Motivation: Adversity

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

Grandmother brought her granddaughter closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.

Grandmother then asked her granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, Grandmother asked her granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.

The granddaughter then asked. “What’s the point,grandmother?” Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee; “Which are you?”

 

-Author Unknown