This year was a great year for me with respect to running and the running community. It was a year of PRs, breakthroughs, and great moments. Let me start with my own favorite running related moment of the year. This year after the last race of the IHSA state cross country finals as the guys on the team were cooling down Q insisted on running the course and “breaking the tape.” So we did, we set off from the southeast corner of Detweiller Park, we picked up the course along the highway and proceeded to run almost an entire loop of the park (we cut the corner on the north end of the park, Q was only 2 and half at the time). As we ran a few teams ran past us on their own cool down. The boys of Neuqua Valley ran past, with their top runner pointing out that Q was doing a great job of running the tangents (he was actually taking an angle to stomp on some leaves, but no one needs to know that). Then the boys from Hoffman Estates ran by, they asked if he was getting ready for a future state championship race, to which I replied that Q was prepping to win the state title in 2027 (as a sophomore). It was so wonderful for me to get to share in a moment on pretty sacred running ground in Illinois with my son who was loving every minute of it. We were a little slow getting to the finishing line and it was already taken down by the time we got there, so there was no tape for Q to break, but he still picked up the pace to cross what had been the finish line.
Backtracking a few hours before that moment is another highlight of the year for me. This season for the first time in school history the Lincoln Way North boys cross country team qualified for the state finals. It was a historic year for the team, tremendous improvement from top to bottom. You can check out more on the season those guys had on their team website www.runlwn.com.
For my own personal running it was a great year as well. If you read my goals for the year that I wrote at the beginning of the year, one of the big things I wanted to do was increase my mileage. I was able to do that, and I think it really allowed me to take yet another step in my own training. Last week I joined some former athletes I coached and their buddies for a long run (all in their early 20s) as we ran one of them told a story where he said “I mean, she was older, like, 31.” I was able to set 3 PRs this year (5K, 8K, and Half Marathon), which is really something considering the fact that I am older, like, 31.
The last two years I have had a goal race that lined up with the end of XC season, and after that I have created somewhat arbitrary goals to obtain to keep my running going. Last year it was a running streak (at least 4 a day for 188 days). This year in early November I crunched some numbers and realized that even though I had a minor injury set back in July, I could run an average of 10 miles a day from July 1st through the end of the year. This morning, I ran 11 miles during my workout and that put me at 1,840 miles from July first through December 31st. 184 days, 1,840 miles. I think I missed 5 days of running during that span (3 in July due to a foot issue), but other than those few missed days I have been incredibly consistent in the last 6 months. Before this year I had never run a month with over 300 miles (I ran 300 once in 2009). During the last 6 months, I have run 4 months over 300.
With the bump in training I have been contemplating a jump to the marathon again. I still am not ready to commit the time to train for one, but was able to run two half marathons this year (Fox Valley Half 2nd place, and Naperville Half 1st place). Both of them brought some good and bad, but great learning for a longer race. I don’t think a marathon will be in the cards for 2015, but possibly for early 2016.
One of the other cool running experiences this year, my cousin got married in Breckenridge this summer, so we spent 5 days in the mountains. It was some tough running, but also pretty awesome. Getting to run at 10,000 feet through technical trails in the mountains was really cool. Something I wish I could do more of when I get chances in the future. Maybe a destination race and do some legit trail races.
The year in running by the numbers:
Races run: 9
Races won: 6
PRs: 3 (5K: 15:24, 8K: 25:56, 13.1: 1:13:59)
Miles run: 3,209 (my previous high year was 2009 when I ran 2,727 miles. Almost 500 more this year)
I hope 2014 was a great year for you. We will see you on the roads in 2015.