A Look Back on 2013

On Monday December 30th I ran my last mile of 2013 finishing the year with a grand total of 1,134 mile – give or take a few undocumented steps due to forgetting my mileage or my watch stroking out on me (which it did a lot until I upgraded in April).  It was a busy year in the running department with 14 races, two relays and a lot of training.  It was also a very emotional year with the bombing at Boston and the return of the NYC Marathon.  I have so much to be proud of but wanted to highlight some of the most significant points of my 2013 running life.

My Personal Best 5k – I ran what I believe to be my personal best at the Spring Classic 5k.  I wish it wasn’t so complicated.  My watch said one thing; the race clock said another but at a 5k that’s often the way it goes unless you are toeing the line.  Regardless, I ran the fastest I’ve ever run 3.1 miles and had an awesome day with friends.  I’ll call that a personal best anytime!

With friends after the Spring Classic 5k

With friends after the Spring Classic 5k

All those 10k’s – I do not care for the 10k distance but somehow found myself registered for three of them in 2013.  Each was slower than the one before beginning with the B.A.A. 10k on June 23rd.  It was my first race after the Vermont City Marathon and very warm day.  It was also the first race in Boston after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon so I was very happy to be a part of event.

About a week later I ran the Finish at the 50 10k hoping to do a little better in the distance.  Again, it was crazy hot and humid and the race course included running up and down the ramps at Gillette Stadium.   I wanted to die until I ran toward the finish line across the Gillette Stadium field which never gets old.   Several minutes later my friend Ruthanne came out of the tunnel toward the finish line and when we all cheered for her she got a kick in her step to sprint to the finish.  So fun to watch.

Lastly, I ran the famous Tufts 10k for the first time.  It was a week after the Smuttynose Marathon and part of my brilliant plan to bounce back from one marathon to do another 4 weeks later.  I signed up to force myself into a 6 mile run that would be fun with the crowd and finally score a Tufts 10 long sleeve that everyone woman in Boston seemed to own but me.  Mission accomplished but it was my slowest 10k of my running career.  First official goal of 2014 is to turn this pattern around.

BAA 10k on Boston Common with Stacey

BAA 10k on Boston Common with Stacey

Trail Race – In July, I participated in my first ever trail race.  With Chrissy’s help I picked a great one with the VERT Race Series Sasquatch.  It was well organized and short.  Our goals were to enjoy ourselves and not to get hurt (in that order of priority) and both were accomplished.  Plus the t-shirt is a new favorite.  Chrissy was able to run the longer race later in the year (Big Bad Wolf) and she enjoyed that one just as much.  Maybe in 2014 I can add one or two more trail races on the calendar and learn how to speed things up.

Best Post Race Photo Ever – Chrissy’s boyfriend Brian took this shot of us after the New Bedford Half Marathon in March.  I think we both look remarkably adorable considering we just ran 13.1 miles and boston.com agreed.  The photo was up on the well-read site for weeks leading up to the Boston Marathon.   I also love it because Chrissy is one of my favorite running partners and it’s nice to have a snapshot of us celebrating a race we ran together.

Our famous 2013 New Bedford photo!

Our famous 2013 New Bedford photo!

Nantucket/ Hero Triathlons – I’m not a strong triathlete but this race is always a favorite, mostly because it’s on Nantucket.  This year my performance didn’t improve much but it was still a great time.  In 2013 they added an Olympic distance for Sunday morning and I volunteered for that race.  It was fun being behind the scenes and helping out the athletes Sunday morning.  Jared and our friend Chris both competed in the Olympic and I was able to cheer them on all morning until, in true Nantucket Island fashion, the weather pulled a 180 and it started to downpour.   I watched the results from under a tent with fierce anticipation until Jared came in finishing first in his age group.  It was so exciting and another amazing accomplishment in his tri career.

Congratulations Jared!

Congratulations Jared!

Taylor’s Triumph – This was such a special day.  It was one of my first runs after VCM but for this race it wasn’t at all about my performance.  Participating in Taylor’s Triumph was about being there for my friends to help them celebrate a very special girl and her short but meaningful life.  From the original blog post:  There are races you run to finish, races you run for time and sometimes, races that represent much more than just a running event, like this one.  Taylor’s Triumph was an opportunity to bring communities together and support Kristin, Dean and Jack while they find a way to move forward and ensure Taylor leaves a legacy.  She was with us all day on Saturday; you could see her in every smile just as big as the one on that little girls face.

Three Marathons! – Early in the year I already knew I would run two marathon in 2013.  I was deferring to NYC in November after the race was cancelled due to Super Storm Sandy in 2012 and I had planned to finally check off the Vermont City Marathon in May from my ‘must run’ list.  Then in May, right before VCM, I was chosen for the Saucony 26 program where I would be matched with someone preparing for their first marathon and they wanted me to pick a local marathon to train with my partner.  New York wasn’t option so we added the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon to calendar.  Participating in the program was totally worth it (see below) but I definitely struggled when I finally ran the New York City Marathon four weeks later and posted a bit of a slower time than I would have wanted.  I have a new respect for those runners who go out and do back to backs all year like Danielle of T-Rex Runner but for me it was a learning experience and I probably won’t try it again.

Vermont City Marathon

Vermont City Marathon

They were three completely different and all fantastic marathons.  Vermont City was a terrific weekend visiting with friends and while the weather was AWFUL, I really enjoyed the course.  I’m planning to go back this May to run the relay. Smuttynose wasn’t ideal weather either but it was a special race that I was sharing with Christine and our other Saucony pair Gael and Jennifer.  The marathon has been cancelled going forward (the half is still on) so I’m glad I got to experience this flat and friendly course.  Finally, New York City was everything I had hoped for and more.  The race came back stronger than ever in 2013 with the largest marathon field in history and the biggest cheering crowd we have ever seen.  I think my ears are still ringing from 1st Ave.  Oh my gosh…and the poncho.  Best. Race. Ever.

Showing off some NYC bling!

Showing off some NYC bling!

Saucony 26 Strong – My friends at Marathon Sports had posted a call for runners who would be interested in a program sponsored by Saucony and Competitor Magazine.  The Saucony 26 Strong Project would pair up experience marathoners (Vets) with runners looking to train and run their first marathon (Cadets).  The 26 pairs from all over the country train for different fall races and we would document our experiences through social media.  I was paired with Christine Sinclair who, after a lot of emailing and texting, I finally met in July when I cheered her on for her first 10k.  I was relieved to find that I had answers to a lot of her questions and I seemed to be helpful while she prepared for Smuttynose in October.  When our race finally rolled around the weather did not cooperate but we were tough and everyone crossed the finish line.  Watching Christine run toward the finish on race day was one of the proudest moments of my running career.  We were also featured in the online version of the magazine several times and rumor has it that our photo made the January print issue.

We're famous!

We’re famous!

Thanks to the power of social media, the 26 teams quickly became one massive support system for each other sharing ideas, advice, anecdotes and challenges on our Facebook group.  The program may be over but the friendships have just begun.

Hood To Coast – “It’s An Adventure!” was the theme of this trip that I took with my friend Nancy over the summer.  She and I would fly to Oregon to run the Hood to Coast relay with a team of people neither of us had ever met before and then we would hang out in Oregon for a couple of days.  A vacation that could have gone very wrong ended up to be the trip of a lifetime and I left with amazing memories and friendships…and also some really great wine.  The recap of the weekend is probably in my top 5 favorite posts from 2013.

My adventure-mates from Oregon

My adventure-mates from Oregon: (clockwise from top left) Mary, Elise, Nancy, Me, Lauren, Rhone the Puppy, Adrian, Scott and Steve

Being a Boston Runner – This final memorable event of 2013 is one that will forever impact what it means to be a Boston runner.  I spent most of April 15 cheering on the runners in the marathon and fighting the ‘marathon envy’ that I’ve had the past two years when I chose not to run Boston. When my friend Shifter showed up at mile 18 I ran with him a few miles to keep him company. We were just approaching Mile 22 when we heard the news of the bombing at the finish line and suddenly everything changed.  What happened that day was terrible and tragic but what happened in our city in response was rather beautiful. The compassion, kindness and love that came alive in the city was like nothing I had ever seen before. We all felt immense pride and we did our best to focus on that rather than the violence.  Heartbreak on the Hill, the post I wrote after the marathon, was probably the hardest to write but the one I am most proud of.

While we all have begun healing in our own ways we have done it together.  For me, that meant returning to Boston for the 2014 Marathon.  It will be an amazing event for the city to celebrate our strong and resilience and I’m sure will be at the top of my highlights for the coming year.

We Will Finish The Race

We Will Finish The Race

What else will 2014 bring?  Only time will tell but year after year I find ways to keep it interesting and I promise to continue sharing it all here.   I wish you all many happy miles for the new year!

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