Wait. This week is the start of 2016? Where did 2015 go?
This year flew by and dragged on at the same time. It was definitely the most transitional year of my life. I graduated college. I went backpacking through Europe. I started my real world job. Being 22/ 23 is basically the age of change. It has taken some getting used to, but looking back I realize I did have a great year. And a really great year in terms of running. Running was the constant that helped me deal with everything else.
This year in terms of races I ran a couple 5K’s, two 10K’s, a 10 miler, 4 half marathons, a 20 miler, and two full marathons. I had a 10K, half marathon, and full marathon personal record. I set goals and earned them. Here’s a little recap of each race:
March 8th– Kappa Delta 5K. First female. 7:08 pace. 22:52. This was an impromptu philanthropy race at school, but I decided to just see how fast I could run it. I ended up being the first female. The first male got a $50 gift card and the first female didn’t get anything. Needless to say, it wasn’t my favorite race.
March 14th– Get Lucky Half Marathon. 1:42:37. 7:50 pace. New half marathon personal record! This race was a fun run and I hadn’t intended on trying to PR, but it was a beautiful day so I went for it. I forgot my headphones for this race, so it was a solo music-less struggle, but I did it! I was really happy to beat my personal best without stressing out about it beforehand. I just ran as fast as I could and enjoyed the day. (How could I not have fun running in a tutu?)
April 12th– Run for Uganda 5K. 8:08 pace. This was also an impromptu charity race. The sign-up money went to charity and it was just on the quad at my school, so I randomly decided to run it the day before. It was actually 3.35 miles on my Garmin, but that’s okay. Just a nice little 5K for a t-shirt and a good cause.
April 25th– Christie Clinic Half Marathon. 1:48:24. 8:16 pace. So this half marathon was the morning after my last college barn dance. I wasn’t exactly feeling my best that morning. And it was pouring rain. I just gave it my all and still managed an 8:16 pace. That seems to be my sweet spot for half marathons. I love this race because it was the first half marathon I ever ran. I ran it as a freshman and it only felt right to run it as a senior as well. This race will always remind me of why I fell in love with running. Plus Champaign is a great place to run because it’s so flat. It was a fun race and I got to see a lot of my favorite people run as well!
May 9th– Quarryman Challenge 10 Miler. 1:21:45. 8:11 pace. This race will forever be the hardest race I’ve ever run. I ran it in 2014 as well, so I knew what was coming, but it didn’t matter. They don’t call it a challenge for nothing. This race is hill after hill after bigger hill. I’m honestly more exhausted after the Quarryman than after a marathon. And that’s why I love it so much. It’s a low key local race. Cheap. Just a shirt. And it’s one of my favorites.
July 25th– Big Ten 10K. 8:16 pace. I ran this race the morning after a 14 miler, so it was strictly for fun, but I was still happy with my pace. It was a warm day, but not too terrible. Ran with friends and enjoyed a free 312 beer after. You can’t beat that.
August 23rd– Nearly Sane Trail Half Marathon. Talk about a tough half marathon. I loved how low key this race was. Jen, Lexi, and I just showed up and they started the race with a guy chugging a PBR. We liked the style. Lexi and I stuck together the whole race which was fun. It was drizzling and the trails made us exert a lot more effort than usual, but it was still enjoyable. We didn’t run for time. We just ran for a new challenge. Trail running is a whole other world and I’ve really fallen in love with it. Plus we got vegan hot dogs afterwards. How fun is that?
September 5th– Marquette Half Marathon. 1:49:00. 8:17 pace. This half marathon was in the midst of marathon training, so I was just treating it as a training run. I went to Michigan with my boyfriend’s family for Labor Day weekend and Kyle’s Mom and I decided to run the half. It was a pretty warm day and the course was much more hilly than I expected, but I still had a great time. I ran by feel. Enjoyed the scenery. I’d definitely want to run this race again.
September 20th– Fox Valley 20 Miler. 2:45:42. 8:14 pace. This race was a game changer for me. I signed up last minute and planned on keeping a 9+ minute pace, but I did much better than expected. The weather was perfect. I felt strong. And I decided to just see what kind of pace I could hold. It just so happened I could hold an 8:14 pace for 20 miles. What? The random man I met at mile 8 definitely helped. He had never run more than 17 miles before and he wanted a buddy, so he asked if he could run with me. I said sure, I mean how could I say no and then run near him for 12 more miles? But really, I didn’t mind the company. We chit-chatted the whole way. So I could run an 8:14 pace for 20 miles while chatting? This race made me confident for my fall marathons and confident in the fact that I can attempt to qualify for Boston. I’m stronger than I think. And this race finish line photo is my favorite running photo of myself. Pure happiness.
October 10th– Prairie State Trail Marathon. 3:53:33. 8:54 pace. I really wanted to love this race, but honestly it wasn’t great. I had a marathon personal record of over 20 minutes which was huge. I’m really proud of this time and I worked hard for it, but I felt awful at the end of this race. I did bonk. I started out too fast and under estimated how hard trail running was going to be. This race was nothing like the Chicago Marathon (my first). I was alone for a majority of the race. Just me and the trails. I even turned the wrong way at one point. I appreciated the beauty around me and did enjoy running on trails, but I missed the energy of Chicago. I missed the spectators and the atmosphere. This race was really tough mentally. And I hated working the day before. I wasn’t properly hydrated and I didn’t focus enough on nutrition that week. I am still very proud of this PR and I did have some fun, but I could have done better. You live and you learn. (I did get an extra medal for being 3rd in my age group!)
October 25th– Sycamore Pumpkin 10K. New 10K PR. 48:03. 7:45 pace. I decided to run this race with my boyfriend’s Mom and her friends the day before. I had run 17 miles that day before, but I wanted to get back out there and fall in love with racing again. This race was so cute. Such a great course, a cute shirt, great beer at the end — really everything you want in a race. And I didn’t even look at my watch while I ran because I wanted to just run for fun and run by feel. I was shocked to see at the finish line that I held a 7:45 pace. And this was the day after 17 miles. I was pretty surprised. It made me really want to race some shorter distances in 2016 and see how fast I can be. I love that feeling of running fast. And it’s a different runner’s high than from a half marathon or a marathon. Planning on running this one again next year!
November 8th– Naperville Marathon. 3:55:54. 8:58 pace. This race was the highlight of my year. I never planned on running two full marathons in 2015, let alone two marathons that were less than a month apart, but on that first 20 miler runner’s high in September I signed up for this race. I am so glad I did. I felt laid back for this race. I just wanted to finish. I convinced Carly to run the half marathon so I was excited to run with her in the beginning. I ended up sticking with her for her entire half marathon. I pushed her and she helped me keep a consistent pace for the first half. It was the perfect combination. I think having the company really helped my mindset. I took every mistake I made in my October marathon and did the opposite during this race. And it paid off. After I left Carly I picked up speed with every mile. My last mile was my fastest of the race. I didn’t bonk. I didn’t slow down. I didn’t almost pass out at the finish line. I felt AMAZING. And I came in at under 4 hours again. Two sub 4 hour marathons in a month? If you had told me I could do that a year ago I would have said you were crazy. I’m still in shock about this honestly. But it really proved to myself that I can accomplish great feats when I apply myself and have a little faith. This race just reinforced the idea that I will make a Boston Qualifying attempt in 2016. Why not try, right?
I truly am proud of what I accomplished this year. I pushed myself. I trained hard. I got stronger. That’s what it’s all about. I’m nothing if not determined and once I set a goal I want to achieve it. It will be hard to out do 2015, but I will do my best. I want another half marathon PR and a marathon PR. It can’t hurt to try. I’ll have a full list of 2016 goals and my plan of attack up on the blog soon!
I will be totaling just over 1,200 miles for 2015. My goal was 1,000 miles after running 900 in 2014 and I crushed that goal by October. My lowest mileage month was May at 59.90 miles (graduating & backpacking Europe) and my highest mileage month was August at 168.30 (peak of marathon training). I was pretty consistent throughout the entire year and managed to stay injury free. Honestly, that’s the best part. I got to do what I love every day for a year. I ran fun races. I logged a lot of miles. And I fell even more in love with the sport of running.
Here’s to hoping 2016 is even better!