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Saturday, January 03, 2015

2014 Running Year in Review + 2015 Goals

A previously unseen photo from the Scioto Miles 10 Miler! (I forgot it existed.)
Introduction: 2013 vs. 2014
This year was quite unlike my previous years of running. To summarize pre-2014 activity: I began running semi-regularly in 2012 with a friend, but never more than 2-3 miles at a time. In 2013 I stepped it up a teeny tiny bit after my September wedding and ran my first 4 and 5 mile races in November. After 5 miles I thought I might as well increase my distance. You know, I think the easiest way to demonstrate progress is using numbers. Let's compare and contrast 2013 and 2014, because I pretty much doubled my stats.
Total miles:  2013: 226 miles  //  2014: 550 miles
Longest run:  2013: 5.12 miles  //  2014: 13.2 miles
Races2013: 5 events, 3 distances  //  2014: 13 events, 7 distances

So what changed? 

First and foremost: I joined a training group. I felt a little weird about this at first. Almost ashamed. I didn't want friends to know I "needed help" to go farther. Twelve months later and who cares? It's such a great community with skill levels that span 7:30 to 13:00/mile (training pace) and includes runners and walkers. Each pace group has several coaches and every member is looking to complete half and full marathons. There are two "seasons" per year: Winter from January - May and Summer from June - October.

Technically the 2015 kickoff and people are missing, but here's an idea of the group's size.
I signed up for the full year because I knew it would keep me accountable. Running more than 6 miles alone can get suuuuper boring. I've forced myself to go out and get the miles in if I miss the Saturday morning group run, but those runs are usually monotonous, a bit short if I choose a bad route, or filled with a few walk breaks because I get lazy. Plus, running with the group allows me to get in my miles early Saturday and feel superior the rest of the weekend. ;) (I've improved on running alone, but it was tough in the beginning.)

Another great feature of the group: learning new things! I am almost afraid to admit this, but I had NO IDEA runners ate during runs. I found myself getting tired at the end of my 5 mile runs and thinking, "how do people keep going?" Turns out, on-the-run nutrition! I learned a lot about fueling including when to fuel, what to use, and finally, what worked for me.

My pace group for 2014: the 11s posing in front of The Shoe. (I'm in the middle.)
My pace group for 2015: the 10:45s! (I'm the chick in fluorescent yellow.)
After 2013's Turkey Trot 5 miler (my second 5 mile run ever) something hurt. By the time I ran 2014's First on the First 5K it hurt a lot worse. During one of the coldest, snowiest, and blowiest Saturday group runs last year my knee locked up. It was the second time in a week and so bad I couldn't keep running. Luckily (!) the group has athletic trainers / doctors who were on the scene. They picked me up and drove me back to the starting point. Fatefully, that week we were at Ohio Health Westerville so I was able to see a trainer immediately. She walked me through several exercises, figured out my issue (ITBS), and prescribed insoles and stretches.  I wasn't cured immediately, but by May my pain was a distance memory...

By the way, the group I run with is called Marathoners in Training (MIT) and we run all over central Ohio.

I took this photo on a run around Antrim Lake in August. 
Time Improvements
Maybe the best indicator of my 2014 progress is speed. Between February and December, I chopped almost three minutes off my 5k time. I went from 28:09 (9:10/mile) to 26:31 (8:35/mile) on the same course. In half marathons I went from a 2:19 (10:40/mile) to a 2:09 (9:50/mile) in 5 months (and the latter course had hills). And finally, I ran a 10 miler in August at a 10:30 pace then a 15k in November at a 9:47 pace ... and I could have gone faster.

Odds and Ends
  • I've seen some pretty vistas while running (above and below). Unfortunately, not as many as I would like. I'm so over my neighborhood and crappy nearby streets! I've also seen more dead animals in 2014 than ever before. I can't count the number dead birds and squirrels I've had to dodge. 
  • I ran in Hawaii in February during our honeymoon. One run was very hot and humid and the other was humid, foggy, and about 1000 ft higher than I'm used to, so I couldn't breath well. I found out Phillip Seymour Hoffman died while on one of these runs. Alex was with me and I felt really bad breaking the news.  
  • I never used treadmill until this year. I used one in Hawaii and a few on work trips to Dallas. The Hawaii one had a view of the ocean. The Dallas one is in a really hot "gym" and the TV doesn't always work. Treadmills kind of suck, but on cold, dark days I wish I had one. 
  • I still don't want to run a marathon. I didn't decide to run a half marathon until I knew I'd run multiple. I have to do something a few times before I can consider myself a do-er ("runner," "half marathoner," "marathoner"). I'm not a one-and-done for the bucket list kind of girl. Right now I can't imagine being on my feet for 4+ hours running around a boring city. For some reason a nature-based 50k seems so much more appealing. So until I can think about these things reasonably, a marathon is not for me. 
  • I now consider myself a "runner." At the beginning of the year I compared myself to (Facebook) friends who ran faster than I do (/did in some cases). I got over that by running 13 races and 550 miles. I know there are a lot of people out there who run faster and farther, but that doesn't make me less of a runner. Plus, now I have all the gear. 

Taken after the Summer Squatch Trail 10K at Alum Creek Lake
Goals for 2015
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading. I'll leave you with the juiciest part: hopes and dreams for the future.
  1. Beat my current half marathon PR (2:08:52) 
  2. Get a solid 10k PR (currently I've only run one 10k and it was on a trail, so that doesn't count!)
  3. Improve times on repeat courses.  
  4. It would be super sweet to get down to 26:00 for a 5K.... 
  5. Oh, and I probably need to strength train. Ughhhh...

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