2016 – Year in Review Part 1

It’s been a long hiatus for the blog with lots of changes in life and in running, but like lots of folks, I like this week between Christmas and New Year’s as a time for reflection on the past year and planning for the next one. The first half of the year went pretty well, with only a few hints of the crazy autumn that was on its way. Then some time around October, things started to get really out of hand and by November, the shit storm was raging.

Am I talking about running or politics here or just life? Good question.

The year started off well. I came out of the Philadelphia marathon in pretty good shape and with a huge PR. I found a chiropractor who helped fix the rest of my back issue. I had a great race at the Colchester Half and got a nice PR. Since I am thinking about races, here is my 2016 list, PRs are in bold:

Colchester half marathon, 2/27/16, 1:55:29, 8:50 pace, 26/73 in division
Warrior Dash, 3/5/16, obstacle course 5K, untimed
Middletown race cancellation, 4/3/16
Middletown half marathon, 4/24/16, 1:54:08, 8:44 pace, 6/37 in division
Broad St 10 miler, 5/1/16, 1:24:25, 8:26 pace, 93/1401 in division
Vermont City, 5/29/16, 4:29:14 [watch says 2 min faster], 10:17 pace, 24/120 in division
Summer Solstice 5.5 Mile Trail Run (Rooster’s birthday race), 6/12/16, 1:04:42, 11:46 pace, 8/16 in division
Havellauf [8.5 miles] 7/17/16, 1:14:37, 8:44 pace, race results have me as first in age group because they think I am 65 years old, ha ha!
Old Wethersfield 10k 8/28/16, 54:33, 8:47 pace, 5/34 in division
Surftown half marathon, 9/11/16, 2:00:00, 9:10 pace, 13/92 in division
Hartford Half half marathon, 10/8/16, 1:52:44, 8:37 pace, 40/364 in division
Manchester Road Race, 11/24/16, 59:07, 12:27 pace, 337/479 in division
Ugly Sweater, 5K, 12/3/16, untimed but watch says 39:04, 12:36 pace

In retrospect, Colchester might have been my best race of the year. I remember Tough Guy Trainer saying, if you get to the starting line healthy, well-trained and with good weather, you owe it to yourself to go for it. Thank goodness I did.

With Fast Friend and Teacher Runner

I ran the Warrior Dash in Texas while on a work trip for the second year in a row. This race is a lot of fun and it was so good to get out of the New England winter for a few days. I got some good work done and had a chance to catch up with my best friend from grad school.

In early April the first bit of weirdness started. The city of Middletown cancelled the Middletown half, scheduled for April 3rd because of a predicted storm. I heard about the cancellation and within 45 minutes started a 14 mile training run to get the miles in before the storm arrived. Teacher Runner was in a meeting so she got notified later and snuck off and did a half the next day in Danbury, a town braver than Middletown, and got a huge PR. It was a weird weekend because we had also planned a post-race party that we went ahead and had anyway when the storm fizzled out. This was the first weather related race snafu of the year, but certainly not the last.

Nicole of Runningwhilemommy and I cooked up a scheme to go spectate the Boston marathon. We ended up finding a great spot in Natick. We got to see Nicole’s BRF and also Sarah Bowen Shea of AnotherMotherRunner. It was crazy exciting to watch a race I hope to run someday.

Look at that joy!

The actual Middletown half marathon took place on April 24, which turned out to be unseasonably warm. I ran this in 1:54:08, a PR of another 50 seconds or so over Colchester. Middletown is an easier course, but the weather was worse. The real difference here was mental and it wasn’t a good one. The non-existent race report for Middletown would be filled with excellent pictures and dark thoughts. I don’t know if it was the postponed race, the warmer-than-usual temperatures, a little training burn-out or something else, but my mind went very dark during this race. I had certainly hoped to run faster, but I wasn’t counting on the heat. I lost mental focus early and didn’t get back on top of it until near the end. For a whole lot of this race, I just didn’t care. Getting passed by a pregnant lady at mile 10 did nothing to help my spirits. She wasn’t a little pregnant either – she looked like she could run right through the finish line to Middlesex hospital and deliver. She blew past me though, oy. Seeing friends on the course was awesome, as was having my family at the finish line. This race produced some of the best race photos I’ve ever had, further evidence of an inverse relationship between photo results and race results, but I don’t have the heart to pay for them. We had a great post-race party on the porch though and I did get a PR.

With Sub30 buddies at the start

As the semester was wrapping up, I snuck off to Philadelphia to run the Broad Street 10 Miler with a bunch of Sub 30 people. I met North Shore Strider and Coach Cupcake in person for the first time at this race.

With North Shore Strider at the Reading Terminal Market – where else?

My gang ran as part of a DNation fundraising team so we had a pre-race dinner. The whole atmosphere was fabulous. So many wonderful people that I couldn’t spend time with all of them. This race also vies with Colchester as best executed of the year. Look at those splits!

I planned to run 1:25 and ran 1:24:25 in what felt like a nearly perfect race. The ending was completely horrible, however. Luckily North Shore Strider and I found each other at the finish. Then we spent an HOUR wandering around trying to find the tent that DNation provided for our team. An hour in freezing rain wearing nothing but shorts and our singlets. By the time we found the tent, we could hardly work zippers or cell phones. Once we finally got warmed up, I spent an intensely wonderful afternoon and evening with my sub30 teammates enjoying lots of delicious Philadelphia treats.

Freezing with North Shore Strider at the finish

Freezing with Coach Cupcake at the finish

The Bearded Wonder! He doesn’t even look cold.

Despite the wretched ending, this race confirmed my newfound love affair with the city of Philadelphia. And hey, top 10% in a national level race feels like nothing to sneeze at. Plus, pretzels! Yum!

This gang found time to squeeze in a little run the next day

The last serious race of the spring for me was Vermont City. I’ve already written more than anyone can be expected to read about that experience here and here. Suffice it to say, it was really stinking hot. I was over half an hour slower than I had hoped to be. I never gave up. I successfully downgraded my goals many times during the race. I got an official finish time, barely. I owe a massive debt of gratitude to North Shore Strider and my family for their incredible support before, during and after the race. Aside from the actual race, the rest of the trip was fabulous. Maybe we should go on vacation to Burlington and forget about running there.

June was meant as a recovery month from Vermont City, but I did do one race for fun, the Summer Solstice Trail Run for Rooster’s birthday. Poor Teacher Runner ran this one injured. We pretty much stuck with her, but she shouldn’t have been out there at all. The course was fun, interesting, but not too technical. The crowds didn’t bother us since we were just screwing around anyway. Rooster brought cupcakes and matching headbands. We agreed we would totally do this again, hopefully without injuries to anyone next time around. Happy Birthday Rooster!

June also meant the end of school for the kids and lots of preparation for our Berlin trip in July. It meant being really busy, thinking of a million things to organize and pack. I decided I still wanted to make it a 100 mile month and I managed that. I did not, however, manage to replace my shoes. Shoes that were already pretty worn down from marathon training……Big. Fat. Oops. End of first half of the year. Cue foreshadowing for second half of the year.

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