I remember my first workout…

First, thanks for all your support in response to my last post! It means a lot to me to have more people out there believing in me. Also, fun fact about that fortune I posted: I spotted it on the ground during my warmup before a turkey trot in 2012…on my cooldown after the race I was too curious not to go grab it.

I ran [long] hill repeats with two friends this morning. The experience really got me thinking about something…aside from my announcement that there should be a community website for runners to go and color-code roads and sidewalks on a map after a snowfall, indicating what’s been shoveled and what hasn’t (that’s almost better than the porta-potty network idea, I think). Anyway, one friend ran competitively in high school and college like me, and now runs marathons. The other found running, running races at least, later in life and now balances training with a very busy family life. So, the workout idea I had in my head was pretty natural to me; I had done things like this a dozen times before: warm up about two miles, run hard up a medium-grade hill 0.4-0.6 mi. in length five or six times, and use the downhills as recoveries, then cool down a mile or two.

This hill is in the middle of the Princeton Half Marathon course…hence the photo of so many runners on it at once.

Long story short, this is what we did, but I was reminded during the workout that piecing together something like that might come very easily to me and my one workout partner, but not as easily to someone who was not introduced to competitive running (meaning, training to run a race for which you have a time goal in mind) by a coach at an early age. I seem programmed to use some of the same things I did in high school and college when it comes to workouts, such as two mile warmups and cooldowns, an ab workout and stretching immediately following a cooldown instead of another time during the day, not doing “workouts” two days in a row, not lifting two days in a row…the list goes on. To be fair, I guess the things that have stuck with me are things that worked for me. I don’t run my long runs the day after a race anymore, because that doesn’t feel like a good idea to me most of the time. I don’t do 2-3 mile runs in the morning if I’m doing a hard workout at night, in fear of too much mileage. These were some other things my teammates would be advised to do sometimes. I’m lucky to have had good coaches who understood my bad luck with injuries; I don’t blame them at all for the times I got hurt.

It all got me thinking about how other people started to grasp the concept of a “workout.” Did it just make sense to you? Did you look up workouts specific to your race distance online? Seek out a coach? A friend who seemed to have experience? I think runners on both sides of the continuum can learn from one another: there are probably things ingrained in a former high school/college runner that need to be given a dose of variety, and there are things that a runner new to the whole training-to-race thing is missing and can find within a typical college cross country team workout schedule. Then there is the concept of a sport-convert: the marathoner who played soccer (or another sport) all her life without once touching the track aside from the preseason fitness test. This also has given me a different perspective on the newbie runners I talk to everyday. I fitted a collegiate swimmer for running shoes yesterday; he told his sister he would train for the Disneyland Half Marathon in August with her (what a nice brother!). A “half marathon” to any college or high school runner doesn’t sound daunting: increase the length of your tempos and the number of intervals you are already familiar with, maybe increase your long run by a mile or two at the max, run the race. To imagine myself as the runner I was when I started, however…running 2-3 miles a day for fitness and not knowing how fast I was going at all…or to imagine that all my workouts had been done in a pool and I was in shape for an entirely different sport…well, a “half marathon” doesn’t sound so easy anymore, I guess.

I’m glad I had such a gradual transition to marathon training…but tell me, what was yours like? What was the first faster “workout” you ever did, and how did you go about choosing it? 

It just occurred to me before I hit “Publish” that I might have evidence of my first track workouts in spring of 2006 in a folder a foot away. Success! Check it out:

march 2006

A confession in limbo

I have thought about writing a post like this for probably seven months. It was finally time.

I share a lot on this blog. Or, it seems that way to the outside eye. There is a big part of my life, something I think about every hour or every day, that I have not written more than a few sentences about to date. I have had my reasons for this. Being a part of the running industry, and also being a 23-year-old resident of the place I like to call “limbo,” there is an unspoken “professional” demeanor I like to maintain on the blog. Basically, I don’t want to write things that come back to haunt me later, or ruin any opportunities. Since my running life, my work life, and my social life are connected so much (unusually so for the average person), I have found myself not writing about one topic that takes over my brain on a daily basis. At the same time, it was starting this blog that has provided me with at least two very real wake-up calls that have caused me to evaluate and question everything I thought I wanted, and to finally settle upon a reaffirming conclusion (for now, as should be added to all “confirmations” until it’s truly real). Like we all announce which race we are running – 10% for the fact that it’s a means of accountability –  it’s time to share this.

I am interested in so many things in addition to running. I enjoy marketing, social media, public speaking, painting, writing, journalism, photography, reading, teaching. However, unlike those (many, many people) who aren’t sure what to do with their life career-wise, I have known what I was most interested in for about six years. Over the past two years it has more often than not seemed like there has been a huge, convoluted path over a large mountain standing between me and this goal. There were times I recently questioned if it was worth the effort, the money, the time. I found myself being really happy doing other things and wondering if I was only still telling people I wanted to do this because it was what I was programmed to do. Surrounded by academics and other really accomplished friends in their early 20s on a regular basis, I felt the need to have a similarly-minded goal, and that I would be more respected if I said so. I strayed from my goal and explored other options for a few months. I was (and am…) constantly in a tug-of-war between the countless people who told me this “was a fine place to be at 23,” I was “still so young,” I should “just have fun,” I should be in “no rush at all,” and those who had resumes that resembled those of 40-year-olds, published scientific papers, lofty salaries, and generally just life plans that convinced me I’d someday say, “I know him/her!” Talk about pressure, and confusion.

It wasn’t really until the past couple weeks, when an opportunity was presented to me and was attainable by just saying a three letter word, that I realized I had been right all along. Regardless of the mess I’ve made and the strange path I have taken and will continue to take to get there:

I want to go to physical therapy school. That is, I want to be a physical therapist. 

There will be no more giving in, thinking it’s impossible, giving in to others’ doubts, refocusing elsewhere at the sheer overwhelmingness of the prospect. Note: I wrote all of the above before a big turning-point day last Thursday when I landed on an even more specific conclusion about what path I will be taking to get there. I just re-read it though, and everything still applies. The point is, there are some things to not write about on a blog. However, I was starting to feel like I was actually hiding a huge part of myself and my dreams by not mentioning this at all. I’m a very honest person in real life, so it only makes sense to translate it here. I probably won’t write too much about it again…but I’d like to document the important parts of this journey, especially those that will be useful to those reading. As step after step become more official, I’m sure there will be very running-related material to share, and I most definitely will do so.

So, there it is. Time to get after it. If I can run marathons after nine stress fractures and countless other issues, I can become a physical therapist after some not-great undergrad grades due to trying to do a million things at once (e.g., taking care of those injuries and their mental side effects…). That’s what I have to keep telling myself.

A picture, because I’ve never written a post without one. I think it applies.

Dashing through the snow…and an epic fall.

I’m going to take a risk and commit a faux pas of mine: I’m writing about the weather. Something you all are aware of and can look up online at any time.That being said, it would be difficult to write about my last week of training without doing so! Here in New Jersey, we have gotten snowfalls more frequently than any previous year I can remember. They have not all been significant, but I hold the theory that to a runner, one huge snowfall a month is much preferred to bi-weekly medium-caliber snowfalls. The reason being, we can move around an important workout or long run according to the one huge snowfall, but it is much more difficult to constantly have your speed workouts become a project week after week. Easy runs in the snow are no problem, but when it comes to hitting specific paces…there’s ice, there’s packed snow, there’s loose snow, there are unplowed loops and unshoveled tracks…clearly, frequent snowfalls make it much more difficult to do the exact run you want to do, when you want to do it.

…it actually looks better on “paper.” You had to be there.

Snow #1 of the week was on Tuesday…the day of my interval workout. I had off work, so there was no point in waiting until 6:30pm, by which significant snow would have surely accumulated. After some running around in what was already lots of snow, I decided to do hill repeats in the middle of campus. The footing wasn’t ideal, but it was a good workout done by effort, and with less traffic than on a normal road. I was glad I did it instead of a normal run…but I’m still itching for some concrete, distance-based workouts. That might not be a bad feeling to have in January though.

Exercise on this snow day wasn’t over after the run. I somehow managed to do double workouts on a day it snowed all day. Kind of ironic. A friend came over and we set up shop in my shed/barn out back for a trainer ride. We rode for 50 minutes at a steady effort while chatting and sort of watching Without Limits (since he had never seen it). A trainer ride had never gone by so quickly, and I realized what people meant when they said it’s hard to make a trainer ride “easy.” There were tight quarters due to the temporary storage space this thing has become (if it was all mine I would totally make it a triathlete’s dream barn…if there is such a thing), but it worked. I also did a solo trainer ride here Monday night, and my view was something like this:

10 Things I Hate About You…so many quoteworthy lines.

On Wednesday morning I managed to find a running buddy and had a lovely, chill run through the snowy streets. There is something really fun about getting out on foot to see what it looks like after a snowfall that lasted the entire previous day.

Thursday I took off because I got up at 5:45am and proceeded to have a day that rivaled the entire past year in terms of productivity. Seriously, I may have figured out my whole life on Thursday. More on that soon.

Friday I ran with a friend before work, and unfortunately chose roads (hilly roads of course!) that had inadequately shoveled sidewalks, making the run pretty slow. I’m starting to realize I run slower when I run with most other people. Strange.

Saturday more snow was expected, so I decided to do my long run today (versus Sunday). I admit I should have started earlier than I did. The snow was coming down kind of hard when I started, and I immediately understood the purpose of running vests…I should really add that to my wardrobe one of these days. Today would have been the perfect day to wear one. Anyway, this run is probably worthy of its own post, but I’ll consolidate the highlights. Or rather, the most important episodes within it. I mapped a 15 mile loop on roads I usually run, with the exception of one unfamiliar corner, since it was a mile farther out than I usually go. Despite the bitter cold snow pelting me (and the salt-spreading trucks…oh, the salt-spreading trucks. Love ’em and hate ’em), I was feeling really good. I cruised at about 7:30 pace on every flat stretch that didn’t have a lot of snow cover, but made up for it on the hills that did. I found a new really steep hill during mile eight (reference elevation map to follow), so that was cool. Then the intersection came in the later part of mile ten. I knew these two roads were busier, but they have shoulders when there’s no snow (guess I overlooked this factor), and I was hardly on them for long. A car was coming so I moved over to run partially in a snowbank…when the road beneath said snowbank became really uneven (it dropped off onto the dirt but I couldn’t see it coming because of the snow). The next step was no better, and I lost my balance and wiped out. It was my first fall on a run since January 1, 2012, so it was a big deal! The snow gave me a soft landing on my hands, but my knees took a beating. The only answer was to get up and keep running like nothing happened, which was easy to do because any pain I felt was delayed until after I was no longer frozen….

A visual representation of the fall & its aftermath.

A visual representation of the fall & its aftermath.

These were my newest pair of Brooks Infiniti tights…and yes I will still be wearing them like this because a.) I no longer have a washer & dryer in my house and b.) I can’t budget for a replacement pair right now. Oh well.

As I discovered when I showered, the battle wounds actually look a lot worse underneath the tights – some swelling and bruising. I suppose it’s bound to happen to every runner someday – that little-kid-who-fell-off-her-bike look. I’ll be rocking it for awhile, but at least it’s winter. In other news, who would’ve thought to put Body Glide behind the knee? And only the left? Well, not me.

Weekly long run hill report…note that short & steep climb during mile 8!

To conclude, the random things I learned this week are plentiful:

1.) Don’t touch your eye after chopping hot peppers, even after two hand washes.

2.) Trainer rides are not easy, but they can be fun.

3.) The path to get where I want to be in life is actually there, contrary to previous doubts.

4.) Doing stupid things while running in the snow (like running on particular roads) does have consequences. Even for me. Shocker.

And no, the contact solution didn't help at all.

And no, the contact solution didn’t help at all.

pre-Boston half choice, running lately, and SHOES galore

And the winner is…

e.murraytoddDark horse, huh? Sometimes I write blog posts asking people for advice, when I really end up deciding for myself just by writing down my thoughts on the choices. My last post was one of those times. I won’t be shooting for a PR here. I won’t need to travel overnight or spend over forty dollars. I could do both of these things, if I picked another race. However, I decided this is best. Boston is my goal race. It will be the biggest race I have ever run in my life, and so that is the race on which I want to keep the focus. Therefore, choosing a really hilly, low-key half marathon to run seven weeks before will force me to not stress over it and treat it as a race I’m running purely as part of my training. A running friend of mine said she’s running it as well, so it will be nice to have her there too (whether or not I can keep up).

Recent long runs

If there is one common theme to my long runs so far in 2014, it’s HILLS. If my memory serves me correctly, it was on the last hill of the first one of these runs that I decided something like, this is a hard run because of all these hills. If I do this often, any hill on the Boston course will feel easier. And thus it began, my new motto:

Suffer now. Glory later.

I may have just made up the wording right now. The concept has been in my mind for awhile though: why not do things the hard way in training, so that on race day, the same factors are so much less of a problem? I can watch the pace on my watch slow down and try not to give in to a steep incline on mile 11 of a long run in January, February, and March. I can make weird faces and wonder how my quads can possibly burn so much after the ascent. I sure as hell want to feel better than that at mile 22 on April 21st. Therefore, I must commit to doing more than my necessary share of hills in training, right now.

Here is what my recent long runs have looked like, elevation-wise.

elevations

Those of you living in the Rockies or San Fran, I don’t want to hear it! I’m basically finding all the hills in a certain radius and doing the opposite of avoiding them. I’ll hopefully drive to some even hillier places later, but for now I think I’ve done a decent job. Each of these contains the same hill at one spot on the run, I believe, and my average pace for that particular mile has gotten faster.

I want this.

I want this…

Theorizing: more is more?

As you may know, I am a little terrified of high mileage training. In high school I would run 45-50 miles a week and was just fine. When I started getting injured I cut it back to 40ish and added cross training. When I still was getting injured, I cut it down to 35ish and added even more cross training. I was paranoid for a reason: when you get stress reactions in places like your pubic ramus on 32 miles a week and people say you “must be overtraining” – newsflash: you are going to get really scared of normal mileage levels. Training for the New Jersey Marathon last year, I really did the minimum possible. I just maximized the training I did on the days I did run. My highest mileage week was 40…and that was the week I did my 20-miler. I did a 20-miler and a 18 (okay, 17.8...)-miler, and those were my two “really long” runs. That’s it. To feel totally prepared for 26.2 as I did come May 5th…that was pretty awesome. I’m considering the theory now that running more will teach my body to handle more, though…and furthermore, actually prevent overuse injuries my strengthening everything just because I’ve taught my body to better handle stresses. A podiatrist once told me he thought my stress fractures happened because my body needed more years of running to truly get used to the stress of running. It took awhile, but I’m starting to get that. I am in no place in my training to experiment – Boston is a mere three months awayHowever, I’m going to try to add one more run a week that my former, paranoid self would not have done. Continue to do PT and core and cross training to the max. See how I feel. It can’t hurt…unless, well, it does.

Workouts

I did one workout last week with the Intervals group. It was nice and easy to start: 3 x 10 minute tempo with five minutes rest (mostly active). I felt better as time went on, averaging about 6:59 for the first, 6:42 for the second, and 6:35 for the last. Clearly that was not a workout meant for marathon training, but it’s still early. As the weeks go on though, expect me to be on the prowl for the best marathon-specific workouts others (all of you…) have done…as I said before, this is something I do not want to skimp on over the next three months!

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

SHOE REPORT: this just in, from the land of shoes…

New Ravenna: I am still running through the pair of Brooks Ravenna 4s I got in October, but the Ravenna 5 came out January 1st! I’m getting seeded a pair any day now and I can’t wait to try them out!

I tried them on at work on a day I happened to be wearing pink jeans…so much color!

They FINALLY came!

They FINALLY came!

This is the men's Ravenna 5 if you were wondering.

This is the men’s Ravenna 5 if you were wondering.

Sayonara: Riley stopped by today and graciously gave my coworkers and me some lightly-used (former testers) pairs of the Mizuno Wave Sayonara! The first time I tried on this shoe I wasn’t a fan, but it turned out I was trying a half size too big. I wore them for the rest of the day at work and concluded that I really liked them! (It may have helped that they weren’t the magenta ones….) I’d like to try them out for a short and fast workout…I will report back after said workout occurs.

SAY SAYONARA!

SAY SAYONARA!

New Balance Fresh Foam 890This new technology from NB won’t be released until the first of February, but we were given a sneak peak at our annual work party Friday. We’ll all be getting a pair so I shall report back on those as well. It reminds me of the Adidas Boost, but then again we don’t carry Adidas so I was never fully teched on that anyway.

freshfoam

Run Co group pict

Group picture from the party.

Brooks Transcend: Finally, the Transcend is coming out February first as well. I’ve seen the shoe in person several times – heck, I’ve even sat inside of it:

Seattle-20130821-02364…and falsely advertised its release date months after the fact:

franklin-20130923-02595…so long story short: it will be good for this thing to actually get here. In the meantime, I’m channeling the energy garnered from my anticipation toward drawing spaceships:

 I’ll have lots more to say when I actually run in all of these shoes, of course. This got lengthy; I didn’t even realize I had enough to say about shoes to fill an entirely new post until I was well underway!

2014 Boston training outlook + help me choose a half!

Unlike those who say they are done with 2013 and want to start fresh in 2014, I fortunately was grateful enough to have a fairly solid, satisfactory year, particularly as it related to running. That being said, I don’t need to have some kind of calamity to begin 2014 with the same momentum as those eager to leave the previous year behind. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I make resolutions whenever resolutions need to be made: February 17th, April 2nd, September 8th, an hour from now – doesn’t matter. “Goals for the year?” Kind of a silly question when I’m already signed up for a major marathon and a half Ironman for 2014. So, January 1st held no special meaning for me this year. When everyone else seemed to be posting their race or run photos from the morning, I was in bed until the afternoon thanks to being struck with a cough, sore throat, and nearly-absent (it would be totally gone three days later…) voice. Didn’t mind. Life went on.

A calendar year is a recognized period of time, however, and my “marathon training started” immediately after that awful cold/sickness/whatever subsided, so I might as well share some thoughts on what I hope the first part of the year brings for me as a runner. And what it will bring…because I’m registered for things…so I’m doing them of course.

BAALOGO2014

Winter/Early Spring 2014 = Boston Marathon training. As I mentioned before, I am so excited to be able to say I’m “training for Boston.” So. Excited. When it’s five degrees and snowing, it doesn’t feel anywhere close to now, but that’s all a part of training for an April marathon I suppose. No complaints from me. I plan on making a lot of effort to have long run partners each weekend; I think that’s important and it has helped me tremendously in the past. Specifically, faster partners. I don’t want to do every long run at sub-7:30 pace, but I do want to find people who are 100% okay with the pace(s) at which I run my long runs so everyone gets something out of it and just enjoys it. Also, I want to incorporate some faster miles into some of the long runs, and it would be cool to run with people who are on board with that, and that particular faster pace, also. I want to run as many hills on normal runs and long runs as I can. As far as speedwork is concerned, I’d like to do some longer, steady-pace tempos in addition to the Princeton Intervals Tuesday night workouts. I was also thinking of adding in to the workouts I do with the group, since some of them cater more to 5k/10k/half marathon training. I’ll surely be writing more about my training plan as the weeks progress, but these are the main things I want to make sure I do.

The big question: Should I race a half marathon en route to Boston? Part of me thinks it’s only logical, but it should be about six weeks out. That will give me time to gauge my fitness but also have time to recover and continue training hard before tapering (oh, and note to self: decide what tapering actually means and if I really want to do it, because I think I’ve done it right in the past). I’m at a loss as to what half I should do, for two reasons: 1.) Most in this area are less than 5 weeks before Boston weekend, and 2.) I want a flat one. I’ve raced two halves and both have had hills near the end. Remove the hills from Philly and I know I would’ve ran sub-90. I know it. I hope to be in sub-90 shape regardless in March, but the truth is I’ll be training for a full, not tapering, and…well, I’d just rather play it safe. The hills in training will make up for it in time for Boston. I want a flat half course. I don’t care if it’s boring or really small. So what are my options?

e.murraytoddThis race is so low-key that it doesn’t even have its own logo or website. Kate did this en route to Boston last year, and I trust her decision timing-wise because she ran great at both (though they may have been a week closer together then). Negative: I do recall her saying it was “hillier than she expected.” Positive: $30 though! Could be convinced.

celebratelifehalf

I don’t know why I was so drawn to this at first. Maybe the magic “6 weeks out” of the event. Positives: One description says they eliminated a hill at mile 10 for this year (it’s like they heard my calls), the race course goes around some lakes and looks pretty, the late start could accommodate the extra hour it takes to get there. Negatives: it takes an extra hour to get there. Plus, upon further investigation, it appears that the staggered start times for runners slower than 2:30 and walkers will lead to lots of weaving around people. Lots. Just read this.

This was a top contender of mine for last year’s spring half marathon. Positives: IT’S FLAT, I would be competitive in it yet it’s a big race so that’s pretty cool, I’ve never been to Queens or Flushing Meadows Park, it’s on a Saturday which is rare. Negatives: it’s twice as much money as some other options, it’s only four weeks (and two days) out from Boston. Those of you more experienced than I at this marathon thing (ahem, almost all of you reading) please tell me your opinion: is four weeks too soon before Boston?

EML5FbqOrgegNQUE1C1JThis was another contender last year, especially since it was the same weekend as the race I ended up choosing. Positives: I think I could arrange to stay overnight in the area this year thanks to a relocated friend (wasn’t an option last year), 5 weeks away sounds okay to me, and I’ve never had a RnR experience and I hear good things about their races. Negatives: I’ve also heard bad things about their races, the price is steep (food vs. race fee…not a fun game to play), I would have to stay over somewhere the night before, and probably take days off of work for the ordeal.

So, those are basically my choices. I wish there were more races around here the weekend of March 9th! You’d think race directors would pick up on this void that falls in line with a prime Boston-tune-up weekend! I should also note that last year I did the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in Wilmington, Delaware and have only good things to say about it. I would do it again, but it was hilly and it’s a week later this year, so it just makes sense to do the 13.1 New York race instead if I would consider CR (CR is cheaper though…). Obviously, my goal race is Boston, not a half. So, after writing this all out, I think there is one race I mentioned above that is calling to me more than the others. But I would appreciate any comments, opinions, and guesses as to which that may be. 🙂

Keep in mind, I think my current group of friends this March will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day the way you are actually supposed to, and I won’t want to miss out completely…. 😉

Running in 2013

Reviewing my past year of running will be easier and more fun this year than in any previous year. When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2013, it was like a switch was flipped, and running suddenly worked better for me than ever before. The year certainly had its ups and downs, but it was definitely my best year of running to date. Even writing that sentence seems like an understatement….

In February, I spontaneously ran the ten miler at the Febapple Frozen Fifty and learned about the existence of a whole new sector of the running world that is trail running and ultramarathoning. I had the most fun I’ve ever had in a race, and realized maybe racing would be more fun if I didn’t go into races nervous and overprepared.

DSCN0686

In March, I raced my first half marathon in Delaware, and ran a race I was sufficiently satisfied with for the first time in nearly six years. I toyed with the idea of continuing into training for my first marathon and went for it. The last day of the month, I registered for the New Jersey Marathon on May 5th.

In April, I worked at the Boston Marathon expo and then watched the race from the sidelines, cowbelling and cheering near Heartbreak Hill and Boston College. I channeled in the energy to remember for my own marathon a few weeks later, confident that if things went right, I would be among the runners in Boston next year.  A walk and a T ride later, as I was walking to meet up with my aunt after she finished, everything changed. I was less than two blocks away when I heard the awful sounds of the bombs echoing off the buildings. The next hours of running, confusion, and fearing for my life were unlike any hours I had ever endured before. The weeks between Boston and my own marathon were full of questioning humanity, safety, and the fragility of life in general. The bright, optimistic glow of the springtime felt a little dimmer than it had before.

Boston-20130415-01905

On the flip side, my video application for Hood to Coast with Nuun that I had so much fun creating in late March and early April, got me selected to join the Nuun team in August! I couldn’t believe the opportunity that awaited me; I had never been chosen for something like this before.

On May 5th, I ran the New Jersey Marathon. It went better than I had ever expected, and was more of a 26.2-mile celebration of finally having years of perseverance pay off than it was a physical race. I negative-splitted and knew that the marathon was a distance I would certainly want to experience again and again.

About a week and a half after the marathon, I hurt my IT band pretty badly. The next day my car got totaled. Of course, all of these bad things had to be evened out with something good, because that’s fortunately how my life usually works. In hindsight, I think the forced break from running following the marathon was a great thing for the second half of the year.

In the summer, I learned to row, and I learned that life, and relationships with others, are even more complicated than I thought. Among other things. I somehow made it through the NJ State Triathlon after only having returned to running for three weeks, teamed up with friends to run the River to Sea Relay for the third year, and jumped in a spontaneous 5k. I started attending intervals workouts regularly again and began to see results more quickly than in years past.

In late August, I traveled to Seattle to meet some awesome ladies I had only “met” before via their running blogs. It was an experience like no other as we trekked over the city, hung out at Nuun HQ, and ran all across Oregon at Hood to Coast

43ac67a60cfc11e397c822000a1f8f8e_7

I reserved the month of September for training only (that is, no racing), and train I did. I had some of the best long runs and workouts of my life, with some great company. In October I ran the much-anticipated Perfect 10 Miler (and successfully finished before Ironman). I decided I wasn’t quite done yet and drove out to Bethlehem to PR in the Runner’s World 10k the next weekend. I continued training through my Halloween adventures and the NYC Marathon expo.

Lucky #13…on the 13th of the month…in 2013. Did I mention it’s my favorite number too?

In November I started to lose a little mental steam, but held on to get a big PR at the Philadelphia Half Marathon. While I didn’t get my big, big goal of sub-90, I ran 1:30:18, and considering I never thought to make sub-90 my goal for this year prior to October, I was pretty pleased. A sort of had trouble resting after that and decided to go snag a road 5k PR on Thanksgiving too.

I finished up the year with a pretty chill approach to training, trying to gain back the mental fire I had in the early fall again for the start of Boston training. Really, I just like the phrase “Boston training.” You have no idea how much I wanted to be able to say that this time last year, about this year. Success.

On a personal level, 2013 was much like this:

But, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m so grateful to have the majority of the year be full of healthy running and the emotional clarity that brings. Even in the middle of the year when running wasn’t happening, I was blessed to have other events in my life from which I learned so much. 13 is my favorite number (my birthday…), and all in all,  2013 was a lucky year. Focusing on running, I never would have dreamed I would have as much success as I did this year; I had been waiting for so long. There are so many other little things that made this year great that I didn’t mention for the sake of conciseness. There were many ways I could have organized this post, but I chose the way that comes most natural to me: a chronological story!

Next up: what’s in store for 2014!