Monday, April 4, 2016

4 Half Marathons in 4 far!

IIn January of 2015, I had my son, Matthew. I decided that year would be the "Year of the Babes," and during that year I would focus on getting fit, but not at the cost of enjoying my precious new baby boy and my sweet 3 year old girl. Sure, I had fitness goals.  I wanted to lose the baby weight and build back a strong body.  I was excited at the prospect of building it back a little differently than before, of starting over, starting fresh.

And the year of 2015 was wonderful. I kept my mileage short, letting myself slowly build up while trying to hold a decent pace. I raced a few 5ks and gradually dragged my time down to 23 minutes and some change. I let my sister, Jessi, coach me in the 21 Day Fix and PiYo (which I loved).  And from both of those I saw and felt great results.  I was never too tired to take care of my two little ones (well...let's not completely discount those sleepless nights), but my fitness goals were reasonable for my current phase of life, and I enjoyed everything I did.

The year 2016 was to be (as my friend, Lynzey, named it) the "Year of the Race."  Jason and I had a little half-marathon race series planned, and I was looking forward to it immensely!  January was to be the Elkmont Half-Marathon.  February would be our annual Seaside trip and half-marathon. March would be Scottsboro, but they moved it so March became a half marathon in Bowling Green, KY, and April would be Oak Barrel, which neither of us had ever run.

I believe I've written about Elkmont, Seaside, and Bowling Green, and this past weekend we ran Oak Barrel. It was fabulous!  I loved the gorgeous course and the challenging hills. I had heard so much talk of "Whiskey Hill" that I had built it up to be much worse in my mind than it actually was.  Maybe this was due to all the crazy hill runs with my friend, Julia (who let me just say right now WON the race this weekend). 

Me and my hilly course running pal, Julia!

At the race I discovered my dear friend, Shannon and her twin, Stacy would be running, and I knew we ran a similar pace so I started with them.  I had such a great time running with them and catching up with Shannon. We stayed together for the entire race, chatting the whole time. 

Climbing Whiskey Hill
Around mile 8 I started to feel like I should buckle down and pick up the pace, but the little hills kept coming, and I didn't want to get too frisky too soon. Shannon and Stacy caught up to me easily and we resumed our running and chatting.  At mile 12 I saw that a time of 1:55 was still within reach so I turned on Billy Idol's song, Dancing with Myself (an 8:00 minute pace song for those with short legs) and cranked it up.  Again, Shannon and Stacy kept the pace easily which made me think all three of us could have run a little harder, but we had such a good time, I couldn't feel too bad about it. We finished in 1:55:11, which was about 20 seconds faster than my previous half-marathon in Bowling Green, KY.

Making the final dash to the finish line!
As always, I had a wonderful "race date" with my guy. Jason won 1st in the Master's category (40+) and was 4th overall.  He always amazes me. I think, for both of us, this training cycle and half-marathon series (which he says is not over) has been fraught with obstacles in the form of sick babies and sick selves!  But we've still managed to have a wonderful time, and while I really thought my half marathon time would be around 1:50 at this point, I'm quite happy with the experiences surrounding each race. Most of them were filled with joy and fun, gorgeous sights, good friends, and challenging aspects, and I find myself not looking back on them with disappointment, but with fondness.

I'm not sure what the rest of 2016 holds as far as running and racing.  I'm still formulating my plan and my goals. I have some long term goals in mind, but I'm still trying to figure out what I want from this summer and next fall.  Jason claims we are still on our "one half per month" series, and I'm totally game for that - although I think the weather is no longer on our side for fast times as it is going to get warmer and warmer now.

I count Oak Barrel a success, and I feel so blessed to have gotten to run it. I feel blessed whenever I get to run these days and I'm focusing on enjoying the journey instead of getting all wrapped up in my finishing times. I'm a little wrapped up in my finishing times, but only as a way of motivating myself to push harder and keep training.

I may not be where I want to go yet, and I may be further back than I thought I'd be at this point, but I'm enjoying the process of getting there and... I intend to keep going!

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