This Year, Next Year

Well, 2013 didn't go anything like I planned when it comes to running (or otherwise, really). A few awesome (hello, Charleston!) and unexpected (uh, I'm pregnant) things happened, and in running, I PR'd in every distance I raced this year and took home a few age group wins and one overall placement, but overall what started as a strong running year with high hopes of fitness gains and lots of PRs sort of sputtered out toward the end.

What was supposed to be the fall of a massive marathon PR became the fall of hoping for a half marathon PR, which then dwindled down to just trying to survive through shorter races. Mostly because I got pregnant and was really sick and exhausted through the first trimester (and still am despite being in the second trimester now).

All of this has forced me to adjust my expectations, not just for my current training cycle, but for the next one as well. The end of 2013 and the first half of 2014 have been and will be about maintaining fitness instead of chasing PRs and improvements. This is a hard mentality for me to get my brain around because I’m pretty competitive, and based on my fitness gains up until I got pregnant, my 5K times should have dropped below 23 minutes, or at the very least, hovered right around 23. But after battling some sinus and allergy issues in early fall combined with a stressful Charlotte to Charleston job hunt and move, then getting pregnant, my training and energy levels just weren’t what they should be to attack those 5K times.

And now I've found that I can no longer race 5Ks as it's just too taxing on my pregnant body to run fast. I'm probably done with 10Ks, too, for the same reason. So for now, any 5Ks I do will just be for fun, and hopefully I’ll be able to convince Dave to run them with me so I can really let go of the racing mentality and just work to pace him to a PR finish instead of focusing on my own lack of a PR (he wants to hit a 30 minute 5K). (EDIT: To clarify, I'm not done permanently with racing those distances and chasing PRs, just for now and until after the tiny human arrives. I love them too much to give up racing them permanently and I hope to eventually get down to a 20-minute 5K.)

I've also had to let go of any PR expectations for the half marathons I'm planning this winter and instead, I’m just trying to be happy to finish. While it would be fantastic if I could hover around the same time I had on previous half marathons because my fitness level and pace is generally back to what it was back at the beginning of 2013 when I ran those races, it all depends on what my body decides it wants (or doesn't want) to do, and sometimes that changes by the day.

The second half of 2014 will be about adjusting to a new normal of taking care of a tiny human and trying to regain lost fitness. Originally, this training cycle was going to be my attempt at a BQ marathon, but that’s on hold for at least another year or two. Instead, I have a goal half marathon in mind for fall and I'm hoping for a PR there - maybe not as big of one as I had planned for this fall, but a small one would be nice.

As for my non-running goals, many of them were hit in 2013, including living at the beach and smaller things like updating my websites and taking dance classes. Nothing as earth shattering as 2012's finishing grad school, moving out of Pennsylvania, and running my first 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon, but still some good things accomplished this year.

In 2014, as with my running goals, I need to modify some of my other goals to suit my new reality. Instead of starting a second graduate degree program, I plan to hit up Skillshare and take a bunch of classes there (bonus- Skillshare is way cheaper than grad school!). I’d also like to break out my thesis project from my MFA and really refine and update that into a workable business plan. And I want to start making things again - jewelry, art, random DIY projects. My day job, while I really like it, isn’t the most creative, at least when it comes to art and design, so I’m really feeling the need to be creative outside of the office.

So overall, while 2013 held a few disappointments and unexpected events, there were some really great moments, both in running and in life in general. While I didn’t get to hit my sub-1:50 time goal this fall in a half marathon, I did hit my spring time goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon within the first few weeks of January at the Charleston half, which was my second half marathon ever; I hit my spring 5K goal of sub-24 minutes on a certified course with the first 5K I ran this year (in April); and in September, I ran a sub-50 minute 10K (and came in second overall female). So even though, most of my fall training cycle goals were left on the table (with the exception of the 10K and an overall placement), the winter/spring cycle goals were hit pretty early on and I can’t really complain about that. Also, I live at the beach now. It really doesn’t get better than that!

Cheers to 2014!