(unedited) Well I am really kind of amazed at how far I have come and what I accomplished in 2013. When the email showed up from MapmyRun I had a chance to really sit back and take stock in it.
This was my 2013 Summary
86,495 kcal burned
wow, that is really remarkable considering I never thought of myself as a runner. Never contemplated doing it seriously. What started as a few runs a week in the gym has gained momentum and truly taken on a life of its own. Back when my buddy asked me to do Tough Mudder I remember thinking to myself – there is no way I am running 11+ miles and climbing over obstacles. hmmm. I promptly went out and ran 8 miles in the freezing cold rain and wind. It was miserable but I DID it. so it started slowly. After TM I decided I needed a new goal and that was the 13.1 Celebrate Life Half Marathon in early March. I was consistent and ran religiously. It became my routine. The race was a good test for me and I enjoyed it. I continued to run. Often I would run to settle my head or my nerves. I made it my go to skill when things started to slide, or if I just needed some time away from the farm. It was a true love – hate at times. I had runs when I felt I could take flight and go forever. I had runs when I felt someone had poured concrete in my sneakers. Others were some combination of the two. I learned hard lessons about pushing too much. I walked out on the edge of what my body could do and what it could handle. At times I stepped over that boundary and paid the price. I learned about bruised metatarsals and how they made life miserable. Akin to a stone bruise our horse’s occasionally get. Most of all I learned that our Achilles tendon is truly a weak spot. I learned never to put a hill workout up against a speed workout. Novice mistake I paid for handsomely. Still not 100% and have yet to return to the trails because of that sore tendon. I put to work all my skills I learned with the horses. I used all the same techniques to get it feeling better. Thankfully the last month or so I feel like I am finally returning to where I was pre injury. There was a silver lining to that injury. I took up cross training on a bike. I had not ridden a bike since college, and that was a motorcycle 😉 It was comical. Bikes have come a hell of a long way since I had a mountain bike in high school. I chose a CX bike since up here is a bit of a mix with lots of rail trails, and rough roads. In the back of my head I was thinking maybe a Tri in 2014 so I went with a bike I could set up to race if I wanted. That being said I needed to adjust to a fast bike and SRam shifters. It was pretty priceless. I remember going about a mile up the road and back. I survived and went from there. Didn’t take me too long to fall headlong into the world of bikes and bike fit. With some assistance the bike was tweaked and I felt like it was just an extension of my body. I was hooked. It became about how fast I could go. How hard I could push. I realized right quick that running fit is not bike fit. Not even close. A hill could bring me to my knees right quick. I adapted. My body changed. My quads grew and my strength increased rapidly. If only the gains you saw running were as quick as the ones when biking. Those hills that killed me before became fun and the rides grew. From that 1 mile ride day 1 to the last 25 mile ride before it got too cold. It was a great change from all the running. I became fitter. My running improved. Hills became my friend and my tendon was feeling better. I conquered some fears. Even my partner thinks it is completely insane to clip into pedals and take off into traffic. I assured her I would be fine. In the short few months of riding I did come face to face with the reality that drivers really do not “see” bikes. I had a few close calls and have taken a defensive strategy when dealing with idiots in cars whether I am running or biking. I have had trucks intentionally move over to hit puddles to soak me. I’ve had elderly people practically run me over before they realize I am there and have had drivers pull out in front of me while LOOKING directly at me. Unreal. Friends laugh at my neon attire though I do feel a bit better in high visibility gear. I do feel safer when running since the bike isn’t yet 100% within my comfort zone. I have come so far though. To think I’d be biking and running??? If you told me that a few years ago I would have not believed them.
I can’t forget to mention my TM buddy and her goal of running a half. She reached her goal and ran a great 13.1 this fall. I joined her and ran a solid race knocking almost 6 minutes of my first 13.1 and raced it just 6 days after a quick local 8K. It was one of the first times I really felt like I could get somewhere if I just applied myself and worked harder. I read and absorbed all I could and tried to apply it to my running. As Thanksgiving approached my goal was a fast 5K. Unfortunately my plans ended up usurped by work and it got shelved. I really struggled off of that and sort of found myself aimlessly running. It was way too cold to bike, even with shoe covers and winter tights. I hung up the bike shoes once the weather turned too cold. I returned to the running and as my mood shifted I started increasing the mileage. December saw the highest mileage I had done to date and I did it most of the month. I felt it was the one thing I could hold onto as everything else got dark. I forced myself out the door. The worse my mood the more I pushed. I never had a plan when I left the house. I usually threw a gel in my pocket and sometimes took a water but often ran with nothing. I would decide as I went. my routes varied and I tried new roads. I found myself enjoying the solitude and the space to think. I really found my salvation in the miles, all of them. Good and bad. When I look back at the summary I am amazed at what I accomplished. What stands out is that I have made a habit, a new one. Running has become as much a part of my life as that first cup of coffee, or checking the horses each night. On the days I don’t run I feel restless. I fight the urge to run on rest days. I work hard to not push myself too hard as I know that doesn’t end up anywhere good. I know I walk a very fine line before this becomes compulsive and unhealthy. I do know there are days when I am not doing this for healthy reasons. I know there are days when I don’t heed my body and its needs. There are consequences and I know that as this becomes more a part of my life that I need to watch that. It may be good for my head but I need to make sure it does not have a cost to my body. This past month it was a very delicate balance and I knew I was going too far. Sadly my head was such a wreck I had to keep going. I couldn’t stand still without feeling like I was sinking in quicksand. As I look forward into 2014 and try to figure out new goals I know I need to keep that in mind. If I break down my body my head will end up worse. I have to run that fine line and keep everything in balance somehow. I don’t yet know what my goals will be. The easy target of choice would be a marathon though I don’t really think the distance will suit me. I struggle with anything beyond 18 miles. My body just doesn’t like it. That may just be the lack of base building, or it may truly be what my body works best at. I tend to like the shorter faster runs. I don’t think a Tri is out of the running since it looks like a lot of fun (well short of a bunch of people jumping into open water and taking off swimming). It would take quite a bit of cross training and I do not yet know if I can get the swimming in to make it viable, but hey I can dream right?
Well 2013 you have been quite the year. As a friend said “geez you must be due for a rotation and oil change”. Yep. Indeed. 2014 looks to be an open road with 1,000+ more miles to run/ bike and maybe swim. I am so glad I made room in my life for this “me” time. Better yet, that I have committed to it and made it a way of life. It has been nothing but good for me. (well if you don’t ask the assorted sore body parts). My goal is to keep right on going and to get faster and stronger. I see a 6:30 mile there in my future. Just have to work harder and run more.