Happy New Year! Hard to believe that a year ago, Bec and I were just about to welcome our little girls into the world. So much has happened over the course of those 300-something days, and aside from the obvious thrills of raising a baby, the past year has been a flurry of adventures and new experiences. Especially when it has to do with running. Even after close to 20 years of running, I’m still learning so much about myself as a runner—and as a person. But last January, after welcoming my third baby in 4.5 years, I had no clue what would lie ahead, and, admittedly, I was a little skeptical if I could actually keep up this whole running thing. Little did I know I was about to have one of my best years yet. Here’s why.
1. I met a new BRB. That’s Best Running Buddy, of course. Last March, Becky W. contacted me via Twitter. We went on a blind running date in March and she put up with me as my very-out-of-shape self huffed and puffed for eight miles. We clicked while bonding over our two-year-old girls and our obsession with running stats (she may be even bigger of a track geek than I am!). As the year went on, Becky introduced me to new running routes in the area, coached me through a nagging injury, and taught me the value of consistent training (she hardly ever misses a long run). Now, Saturday mornings just aren’t complete without a run with B.
2. I Embraced the Fun of Running. There was a time in my life when races were these stressful experiences that literally made me or broke me. In 2013, every single race I did was purely for the experience—and nothing else. Instead of putting pressure on myself to beat my old times as I have in the past, I just went out and tried to enjoy the moment. This helped me ease back into the competitive scene and served as a reintroduction to the sport, which I needed after starting from square one after having Nell.
3. I Raced A lot. And by a lot, I mean a lot. 14 races, total. Unlike many runners who map out their race schedules a year in advance, I only had one race—the Nike Women’s Half Marathon—on my calendar at the start of 2013. But then my good friend, Kristen, convinced me to sign up for the Ex2 Adventures Backyard Burn Series (we did 5 together; she did all 6!) as well as the Giant Acorn Triathlon, and a few others. Having those late-season races kept us training all summer long and registering together gave us each a sense of accountability we otherwise wouldn’t have.
4. I PR’d. I didn’t run my fastest 5K or half-marathon this year—not even close. But, I did nab PRs in the oddest of distances: 18-miles, 5-miles, 12K, and 4-mile. I use that term loosely because some of my times are slooooow, but a PR is a PR, right? And because I have no plans to run another 18-miler again (it was brutally long, yet not nearly as satisfying as a marathon), some of those marks may stand for a very long time.
5. I Got Stronger. For a while post-baby, I wasn’t positive that my body would ever be able to snap back into race shape. I certainly didn’t feel anything close to fit for months after having Nell. But, slowly, I’m getting there. Incorporating more speedwork and extras like squats, planks and corework into my routines has given my ol’ legs a little more life and I really do feel stronger than ever. Hoping I can keep up the momentum going into 2014—and beyond.