2012 brought a lot of excitement for me when it comes to running and racing.
I began the year in training for the Gansett Marathon, which I had qualified for a few months earlier. Despite being completely burned out from having only 6 weeks off after Hartford, I was so excited to run Gansett, I threw myself into another intense training cycle, hoping I could finish the race with a PR in April.
It's tough to fit in 5Ks when you're training for a marathon, but I lined up for the Super 5K in February anyway. I knew that several months of weekly speedwork would definitely mean a 5K PR for me, and the race is put on by the running club I run with and benefits the Youth Track Series that we love so much, so I couldn't pass this one up.
Training continued with a warmup race in March - the New Bedford Half Marathon. I had a terrible race, completely crashing in the second half. I still managed to PR with a 1:43:43, but it was one of the least fun race experiences I've ever had, and I was happy just to finish it and move forward.
April 14, I ran Gansett, my third marathon - and for the first time, I hit the wall. I didn't just hit the wall - I crashed into it headfirst, at mile 18. The last 8 miles of that race were some of the toughest miles I've ever run in my life, and although I missed my goal time by 3 minutes, I'm proud of the fact that I finished at all, given how awful I felt. And as a bonus, I did PR by 2 minutes, just six months after running Hartford, so it still ended up being a great race for me.
After that, though, I was so, so happy to know that there would be no marathons in my schedule for an entire year. I had already planned on focusing my efforts on the half distance, and I started just a few weeks after Gansett, when I paced my friend Deb at the Cox Rhode Races half in Providence. Definitely one of the highlights of my year.
One of the other biggest highlights of the year - one that's definitely not celebratory - happened on May 29th, when I had a bizarre allergic reaction at the end of a track workout, which turned into a diagnosis of exercise-induced anaphylaxis, and which has plagued me on several more occasions over the course of the last 6 months. It's a crappy thing to deal with, and when I have a reaction, I spend the next week or so on edge every time I head out the door, wondering when it's going to happen again.
But then the memory fades, and I run generally carefree until it happens again. I'm also now not allowed to leave the house without my epi-pen and my phone, and I run with friends as often as possible. I have an appointment scheduled with an allergist/immunologist in Boston for later this month, and am hopeful that I might gain some more insight into this crazy condition, but in the meantime, I'll just continue to be as cautious and safe as I can, and hope that someday the whole thing disappears as mysteriously as it appeared.
One thing it hasn't changed, though, is how I run or train or race. A few weeks after that first reaction, I had another, but still went out and did my annual running of the Matty Siravo 5K, and then the following month, ran my third half-marathon of the year - the inaugural Jamestown United Healthcare Half, where - despite a very hilly course and very humid conditions, I PR'd by 2 minutes, and won 1st place in my age group!
The Blessing was a few weeks later, and brought another PR with a time of 1:16:22. And just two days later, for the fifth time, I completed the Newport Naval Station sprint tri. Despite an absolutely horrible swim, my overall time wasn't too shabby - 1:12:10 - but I was glad that was over, and glad I would have a little break before my next race. July was a busy month!
I finished out the summer with a local 5K in Westerly, inching closer to my sub-21 goal with a 21:31 and a 2nd place age-group award.
Three big events happened in September - I was the first female finisher at the Shoreline Biathlon in Westerly, finishing the race a full 11 minutes faster than my previous PR, set back in 2007.
Then, I was fortunate enough to attend a party in Concord, MA, where I got to meet Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, two of my running idols. And just two days later, a friend and I headed out to Cape Cod for the Zooma half-marathon and yet another chance to hang out with Sarah and Dimity, and meet up with some other awesome mother runners from the RLAM Facebook group. It was an incredible weekend - a fun girls getaway in a beautiful spot - and as a bonus, I set yet another half-marathon PR, beating my Jamestown time by 3 minutes, and winning 1st place in my age group.
On the way home from the Cape, I got the email I had been waiting an entire week for - my official acceptance into the 2013 Boston Marathon!!!!! It was a great way to cap off an amazing trip.
October was my fifth half-marathon of the year, in Newport. On a very blustery day, I was able to chop a few seconds off my Zooma time, setting my current half-marathon PR of 1:37:28.
In November, I set off for Philly with a group of friends from the running club, where I ran a subpar half-marathon, but had the time of my life cheering on all my friends in the full. It was another amazing weekend with friends who I'm so fortunate to have in my life.
As the year drew to a close, I decided to give my sub-21 5K one more shot at the Jingle Bell 5K in Narragansett. And I'm so glad I gave it that one last shot, because I pulled it off, with 9 seconds to spare, setting my new 5K PR of 20:51!!
Now, it's all about Boston. I'll admit that it was a little bit of a struggle to get myself back into training mode, after a full 8 months of doing whatever I felt like doing and not having any plan whatsoever.
But now, two weeks into my training plan, I'm finding myself already so excited. I love crossing off each workout as I complete it, and I love counting down to April.
My goal is a lofty one, - but I know if I work hard and put in the effort, I can do it.
And when I'm doubting myself and questioning whether or not I can really pull it off, all I have to do is look back at this year's accomplishments -
- Seven age-group awards
- PRs at every race distance
- Taking SIX minutes off my half-marathon time in 8 months, and going well above and beyond the goal I had set at the beginning of the year, to run a half in under 1:40
- Sixteen races completed
- Countless track workouts and tempo runs
- 1,316.98 miles logged (and yes, I feel the need to go run .2 miles, to make it an even 1,317!)
It's been a great year, with a good balance of hard work and fun times, and I'm looking forward to more of the same in 2013 : )
For more from Michelle, check out Me and the Boys, her blog.