Friday, December 30, 2011

Victories and Defeats: My 2011 Year in Review


The year started off on a great note!  I finished my 6th Mountain Mist 50K trail run while wearing shorts on a snowy day.  It was incredibly fun, and I managed to get my course PR (5:37:57) and got 5th overall female too.  You can better believe I'm looking back at my entries about this race to see if I can beat my time this year!  (To see my history with this race, click here.  To see my race report, click here).

I opened up to my blog readers and shared a pretty detailed story of my past with anorexia here.  I hoped it would be an encouragement to others facing similar struggles.


I wrote my favorite post ever here.  I hope to hang on to the memories of that day (and this stage of my life) through that blog entry.  I began loving documenting my day-to-day runs as much as I loved documenting the "bigger" races.

I ran the Myrtle Beach Marathon and got a new PR--3:18:05.  It was a great race for me.  The time caught me off-guard, but so did the finish--when I ended up in the medical tent.  Read about it here.


I found out that I made the 2011 Fleet Feet Racing team here in Huntsville, Alabama and that I was chosen for the elite segment of the team.  It was--and is---a HUGE honor.  I wrote about it here.

A big disappointment was the cancellation of the McKay Hollow Madness, a local 25K trail run where I was hoping for a chance to defend my title.  Instead, I made the best of it and unofficially ran the course during a thunderstorm (see here). 

I had been looking for a way to prove one of my favorite quotes, and I think I did it that day rather nicely!

The challenge in running is not to aim to do the things no one else has done, but to keep doing the things anyone could do---but most never will. --Joe Henderson


A small defeat was having the Boston Marathon pass me by yet again (see here).  It reminds me of Alexander Graham Bell's quote, "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” 

I have had to close that door and not look back.  I made a decision to enjoy the MANY other opportunities that have presented themselves to me other than Boston--for now anyway.

One of those other opportunities involved me revisiting St. Louis, the site of my first ever DNF marathon, for a second chance.  Without my amazing husband, it would not have been possible.  I enjoyed having his aid along the course--and his encouragement too.  I still get teary-eyed reading about how he met me at Mile 22 at the spot where I'd dropped out the year before.  The encouragement he gave pushed me along when I had nothing of my own to give.  Read here.


I had a great time at the Memorial Day Cotton Row Run 10K, 5K, and 1-Mile events.  My whole family was able to participate as spectators and runners, all dressed in our red, white, and blue.  Read here.

Photo by James Hurley

I did some prep work for a sub 20 5K in July, including my first speedwork session, and I reflected on how much running takes away from my relationship with Rick.  Yes, I don't always talk favorably about running!


I PRed in the Firecracker 5K with a 19:55 and scored a first overall female as well.  Here is the race recap.  It was wonderful to have babysitters at that race so Rick could pace me to the finish.  I was also in the local news; see this entry.  I won another 5K this month, the Paint the Streets 5K.  See here.

In perhaps the biggest move of the month, though, I decided to commit to the 3:15 training for the Chicago marathon.  Read here


My entries this month vacillated between talk of setting my bar high to entries of doubt to many, many entries about the specifics of my training.  Good posts to read if you are training for the marathon.


With the start of school came stroller runs in rush hour and rain.  Read about them here.  I wrote a nice entry about not comparing yourself to others.  I need to reread this many times!


The big marathon month was finally here.  I wrote more entries this month than any other month this year.  It was such a victory for me to achieve my goal of a 3:15 (and a new PR) at Chicago.  Read about it here and here.  If it seems like I talked about it a lot this month, it's because I knew how special of a gift it was to me.  I knew it may be the race of my lifetime. 

But I was also reminded this month that there's much more to races than times at the Liz Hurley 5K, where I ran with a team from work in honor of two breast cancer survivors at our school.  Read about it here.


I broke my 3rd PR for the year at the Huntsville Half Marathon with a time of 1:31:53.  Read about it here.  I knew then that this was a special year of racing for me.  I wrote here about breaking my PRs in the 5K, 1/2 marathon, and marathon all within four months.  The victory was in "beating" my old self--the one that wasn't a mother of two small children.  I definitely appreciate each and every run more now, and I was thankful for the chance to reflect on my blessings from this year during a month full of thankfulness.

I earned a disappointing time in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day (a 20:58--my slowest 5K on the year, including the one I ran a week after my PR marathon). There was no denying that lack of speedwork was the cause for this time, but it was still hard to get out there to race and not feel the same "kick" as usual.

Photo by James Hurley


Though you're supposed to end on a high note, it wasn't the case for me in 2011. 

My biggest defeat for the whole year was my pacing experience in the Rocket City Marathon.  I felt like I let myself and others down.  I wrote about it here.

While I can let things like a failed attempt at pacing or shoes that are wearing out too soon or even the struggles of fitting running into a busy schedule get me down, I choose not to let the year be defined by these moments of defeat. 

Instead, I choose to see the victories.  And they probably aren't the ones you are bringing to mind---the PRs, the second chances, the first place finishes.  You see, if I look back over my year of running---and the entries on this blog that remain to define it---it was personal growth that I am the most proud of.  The entries where I expressed gratitude for those who help me run, the entries where I tried new things, the entries where I opened up about who I once was, the entries where I revealed my relationship with God, the entries where I set a goal and made that first step towards it.  For my two children, this blog will hopefully be a chance for them to see a glimpse of who I was at this stage of my life.  I proudly showed that this year.  A victory for sure.

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