2015 was a whopper… Actually, 2013, 2014, AND 2015 were whoppers. From a life aspect, I’m hoping 2016 is really boring… From a running aspect, I already have some great line-ups on the calendar for 2016! But I wanted to reflect on some of the amazing opportunities I’ve had throughout the year, if anything to remind myself that I can be awesome! We all can be awesome!
I started off the New Year, 2015 with my bestie Stef. She had wanted to run her first post-knee surgery 5k and I was going to see her through it! We crushed her goal in the Polar Dash 5k in Minneapolis despite a bit of a hectic start.
I shifted gears and set out for the 3rd and final leg of a goal I started in 2014, the Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge… It’s 2 marathons and a cross country ski race within 7 months (Grandma’s full marathon 2014, the Twin Cities full marathon 2014, and the American Birkebeiner 2015). Did I mention I haven’t been on a pair of cross country skis since I was probably 8 years old? Well, February brought a little bit of fresh powder a week before the race and 55 kilometers and 7 1/2 hours after I began my adventure in Cable, Wisconsin, I crossed a sunny and glorious finish line (with tears) in Hayward, Wisconsin finishing not only my first Birkie ever, but rounding out what would be the LAST Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge ever…
Now that I had put that MASSIVE accomplishment (for me) behind me, it was time to have some fun with the annual Duluth Running Company’s Shamrock Shuffle… I learned that beer makes me run sub-9-minute miles! Anything can be motivation, ladies and gents… Anything!
I had quite a bit of a break and really focused more on my yoga than anything else, but Chad and I made an impromptu decision to tackle the Fitger’s 5k once again (a Duluth fave-run) and I crushed my 5k PR with a 25:32 in mid-April.
A week later, my sister convinced me (I mean she really had to twist my arm – lol!) to run a 5k with her for Earth Day, and how could I not help her accomplish her fitness goals AND celebrate sustainability and Mother Nature at the same time?? (Dear Earth Day race in St. Cloud, Minnesota – please go cupless if you’re going to be honoring sustainability!) Jana’ didn’t stop to walk, not once! I was, and am SOOOOooo proud!
Well, shortly after…like the next week…our world got bumped upside down. We made the decision that Chad would take an offer in Maryland, and running and yoga became more necessary than ever. I ran the Green Bay Half Marathon in May with some family friends who trekked over from PA, and even though I thought I could FINALLY clench my sub-2hour half, I just wasn’t prepared for the weather… A good finish, with great beer and ever better brats was worth it anyway!
On a quick (and depressing) trip to scout houses in Maryland before moving out, I found a wine-run 5k in Annapolis and joined on a whim! It was hot…hilly…and humid as all hell. I had no clue what I was in for!
With life moving at the pace it was, I kissed my dreams of running Grandma’s Marathon (full) goodbye and registered for the half instead. Oddly enough, I’ve run the point-to-point full marathon course 5 times and have never just ran the half! Again, the sub-2 got away from me but I doubt I’ve ever had such a strong race…I know for a fact I smiled and laughed through every single mile. Plus, they always have the best beer and post-race party at Grandma’s finish line!
Shortly after the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon (aka Grandma’s half), we packed up everything we owned and moved 1200 miles away to the east coast. And running came to a screeching halt! Yoga and cross training took over, and I started my blog!
Even with the heat, I took my chances and registered for the Half Wit Trail Half Marathon in the backwoods of Reading, PA (read about my post-race recap here!) and really lucked out with some high-70 degree weather with a nice breeze… what a relief!
In an attempt to find a community and my sanity, I searched for online support. I signed up for 2 virtual races, the National Park Service 10kVR that I chose to run through Catocin Mountain National Park in Maryland and the Rocky Mountain National Park Birthday VR half marathon. In the mean-time I also joined a Facebook community called Moms Run This Town. Let me just say… lifesavers.
My first run with “the moms” was a MRTT Summer Virtual, the first time I would break a 10-minute mile pace since moving to this “climate”…
and then I cranked out the Rocky Mountain VR half with little expectations, but ended up throwing in a few extra miles for the heck of it (16 total!).
A quick trip home to Minnesota had me registered for a fun little event to be able to celebrate my friend’s 1-month post-heart-surgery by running the Minnesota Mile. Honestly, I’ve never actually just ran a mile! Super fun, and a sub-8 that I was happy with, especially running with friends.
Through MRTT I was able to join a Ragnar team, which was a bucket list race for me! Myself and 11 other ladies (well, 12 really counting the lovely Jody who drove van 2 and pitched in a few miles) ran 204 miles from Cumberland, MD to Washington DC at the end of September (blogged about that one with a sweet video here!).
The fall temps were far more conducive to my body and I decided to try a few things that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to try in Minnesota…For instance, Bethlehem, PA is home to the Runner’s World Half and Festival, so I made a festival of it and joined the Hat-Trick challenge! It was a 5k, followed by a 10k the same day and then a half marathon the next day on the humbling hills of PA. I also met Deena Kastor (TOTAL GEEK OUT MOMENT!) and set a new 10k PR by like 10 minutes. (blog recap here)
Whew… are you exhausted?? Because I am! Never one to slow down, the Across the Bay 10k was right around the corner and it seriously, SERIOUSLY didn’t disappoint. My 10K PR was shattered once again and I’ll be back for a few more years for that one! (I also did the coordinating Virtual Race that Across the Bay offered shortly after to get the first puzzle-piece medal from last year… 3 more years and I’ll have the full set!)
Finally, with my race budget pretty well spent, I ended this year with a free MRTT 10k Turkey Trot around Centennial Lake in Ellicott City, Maryland.
As I mentioned, I already have a few awesome things on the horizon…but since I’ve written a novel down memory lane, I’ll save that for next week! Happy New Year’s Eve, stay blessed, safe and healthy this year!