Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 Recap

Crazy how 2016 finished for me with my racing, but I'll begin with how it all started on January 2, 2016 when I struggled around the BU track in the 3000m. I had only been back running for about a month since recovering from my injury (still most likely a gluteal tendon tear). I was wicked heavy and out of shape, and you can even see it my face. This race was really hard for me.

1/2/16 BU Mini Meet
I was at a low after this, just knowing how much speed I had lost and how much weight I had gained. It was depressing. I was fortunate to have a good friend who encouraged me through all of this. I had been so used to no support and doing it all alone, so this was a big help. I kept working hard all winter. I did, however, still struggle because I was doing double training. Trying to get speed back while getting back in marathon shape for Boston. With no snow, I ended up running a lot of short road races for speedwork instead of the usual snowshoe racing, and by March, I was back in decent shape and ran a 5K PR at An Ras Mor in 18:30. I'd dropped the extra pounds, as well. I was happy things were on the up and up.

An Ras Mor
But then I had disappointment after disappointment. New Bedford Half, Merrimack River Trail Race, Pack Monadnock, Mt Washington and then Loon. I don't remember in which blog post I wrote it, but I remember writing how 2016 just wasn't going to be my year. That I would have to hope for a better one in 2017. And then I had a major turnaround!

I had a great race at Cranmore, and a few days later, I had my first appointment with Tina Carr for her running-specific deep tissue massage. Once my injury had healed in December 2015 and I started running again, I immediately had chronic pain in the opposite glute and hip. So including the injury and post-injury, up to this point, I had been in pain for 10 months! No exaggeration. After enough recommendations, I went to see Tina. 90 minutes later, I walked out of there literally pain-free for the first time in 10 months. THIS is when my year changed, and 2016 became my year! I took a weekend off from racing then was back at it the following weekend with Run with the Beavers, my last trail race for awhile. It was hot, but I felt great and in shape. Then I got back on the roads after that and never looked back. I obviously had some mediocre races in there, but for the most part, I was extremely happy with my performances.

Run with the Beavers

Bobby Doyle. Hottest, most humid weather I've ever raced in.
The USATF-NE Grand Prix Road Racing Series started back up, and, now a master, I found myself performing fairly well in the masters category. Turning 40 changed so much for me. I've loved finally moving out of that ridiculous Open category. Those "kids" can have it. I'm much more at home in the 40+. And just because I'm 40+ doesn't mean I didn't continue to place well overall. I'm still up there! I love seeing my age surrounded by 20-somethings in the results. Haha. Masters women are hot shit and very competitive. You can't underestimate them; I've had my ass handed to me by them, so I know! Haha.

So everything just started going really well. The road racing got me back into good shape again. I felt fast and fit.

What a difference in my fitness compared to the at first photo from BU.
So the 2nd half of 2016 made my year. I trained hard, and I raced hard. As Dave Dunham passed me by at the Manchester City Marathon, he said, "You're one of the toughest runners I know." I felt awful in that moment at mile 21, but I thought about it later, and I guess I agree with him. I am pretty tough. Most people don't do what I do. I know people who race far more races than I do a year, but not quite at the same level. Being tough like that can have its downside, though, since I almost did myself in by the end of the year. But it paid off. I finished 53 races and was 1st female in 23 of them. New Hampshire Female Runner of the Year again by the Fosters Daily Democrat. New Hampshire Master Female Runner of the Year by New England Runner. 1st Female Iron Runner for the USATF-NE GP and 1st Female in the USATF-NE Mountain Running Series. Not too mention over $3000 in prize money for the year!

I still can't believe how things turned out after 6 months of feeling disappointed and assuming I was washed up already. Besides seeing Tina for regular massage, it was also a change in mindset that helped. After two years now of increased racing at a higher level, I've finally learned that you're not always going to have a good race. You're not even going to PR most of the time either. Some days are just bad days. Some weeks you're going to fuck up your training. You just have to let it go and move on to the next one. My NH 10-Miler and Lone Gull SUCKED. Just really bad days. A lot of it was my training. So I just tried to learn from it and not get too upset. No one is awesome all of the time. I learned a lot in 2016. Not saying I'm going to be smart and cut back on my racing, though. Hahaha. But I learned a lot about attitude and how to keep a better one most of the time. Just not holding onto disappointing races. Moving on.

It really was a whirlwind of a year. To start it pretty much at rock bottom and then finish where I did is pretty amazing. I worked really hard for it, and I will again in 2017. Does that mean I'll have the same results? Probably not. There are some 39 year olds turning 40 this year who are faster than me. Such is life. There is always somebody out there who is faster. I'll just keep doing my best. I do it because I love it. It's one of the only things in my life where I feel successful. (Up to this point, I feel like I've also been successful as a mother, but it's definitely getting harder as John is approaching 11.)

I guess I'll end this with my favorite races of the year. The ones I was really happy with.

Seven Sisters Trail Race- I felt so good! And I loved the course! It was also my first Master win!

Cranmore Hill Climb- On my 6th try, I finally came in 1st female! And the course was my kind of course with technical downhill that I'm good at. I had SO much fun at this race.

Seasons 20K- I had no desire to be there, but had one of my best races of the year, finishing 7th female and 1st female master. I felt really strong. Awful picture, but I'm including it anyway.

Finally, and of course! Haha. The Hartford Marathon- After 2 marathons in such warm conditions leading to slow finish times, I wasn't sure if I would ever see a sub-3 again, but it happened! 2:57:35! Not only that. I was first female master!

There were SO many great races in between. Quite a few I ran for the first time in 2016 that I plan to return to in 2017. I ran my first races ever in Rhode Island and Connecticut and plan to continue with that. There were some I'll never do again, i.e. Manchester City Marathon. Well put together event, just not my cup of tea as far as courses go. So many different experiences, and I've gotten to know SO many more people in New England. I don't know the last time I went to a race and didn't know anybody. Those days are long gone, and I love it.

As far as 2017... well, much of the same. The NE GP, the Mountain Series, the ATR series, but a few new things in there. I had planned to do more ultras, but as of now, I think only the Pineland 50 will fit in the schedule. I'm signed up for my first stage race, the Ragged 75, which should be brutal. I'm all registered for the World Snowshoe Championships in Saranac Lake, NY just for the experience. I'll also be part of something new that I'll have to announce later. :) And right along with me will be this kid...

Prairie Bomb! It was much harder to choose a favorite beer of  2016 because there were so many good ones, but Bomb! it is!

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