Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 In A Nutshell

Everyone out there has talked about goals for the New Year in their blog posts, and I haven't even completed my recap of last year!

And what a year it was!

Professionally: I was promoted at work (and we moved into our swanky new building)! It was a great move for me personally and professionally. I'm on a much younger team now, and I can say my coworkers are friends as well as colleagues. It's also fun to note that we are definitely a team. The other day I was talking to someone who was trying to get me to take my lunch early/slip out early for the day and I kept saying I couldn't. He asked me if it's because my department monitors our time that closely, and I said, "No. It's part of being on this team. They wouldn't leave me alone on the phones so I'm not going to do that to them." Though it has been insane and crazy and sometimes stressful, I'm glad I made the move. I have learned a ton, will continue to learn, and it should be an interesting 2017!

Personally: Well a lot happened there...! I completed my first two triathlons and I ran my first marathon - things I am unbelievably proud of. I've been bitten by the bug, and it's not going to stop!

I can also honestly say I am very happy right now. Even with the whirlwind of changes that happened this year, I came out of it better. A better person and in a better position personally. I haven't gone all crazy-braggy here on the blog (though I know there are at least a few inquiring minds) but having Anthony enter my life was a complete game changer, 100% for the better. I cannot explain it and I won't bother trying, but 2017 is looking to be a really fun, crazy (and slightly stressful) year for the two of us.

I plan on blogging (probably more towards the end of the month, at the rate I'm going) about 2017 plans and goals, but what I really want to do here is recap my 2016 race season!

So here goes...2016 in all it's glory!

February 28th: Hustle Up the Hancock
The Hustle has been on my bucket list ever since I knew it was a thing, so CHECK!

April 3rd: The Shamrock Shuffle
My first race of the season, run with one of my best friends! The 5 mile route for the Shamrock Shuffle is almost step-for-step the first few and last few miles of the Marathon (both done by Bank of America). My toes were numb for two miles, but it was a great way to start the season, and I'm excited for more races with my dear Steffi in 2017!

April 9th: Illini Veteran's Memorial 5k
The second weekend in April I had the honor to run this small race at the University of Illinois with my Papa Bender - his first 5k in 25 years. It was cold and drizzly, but I wouldn't change the experience at all!

My first active effort at a PR was this race. My best 5k time prior to this race was at the 2015 Chase Corporate Challenge, and I was determined to beat that time. I did so at Busse Woods (where I ran my last race of the season/first official half marathon too!).

I crushed my time, coming in at 30:16 for a new personal best.

This race also wins the "coolest t-shirt" award!

July 10th: ET Lake Zurich Triathlon (sprint)
My first for-real triathlon experience! It was a good one, and far too short. I completed the course in just over 1 hour and 30 minutes, I felt amazing afterwards, and it got me fired up for the distance I would train for an cover in the Chicago Triathlon just over a month later!

August 28: The Chicago Triathlon (international distance) - Part 1, Part 2
I spent all summer training for the Chicago Tri, and it was one of the highlights of my season. It was huge and fun and quite an experience - every triathlete in the area should try it at least once, and see the city from every angle you can imagine. From the lake, to flying through the underbelly of Lower Wacker drive, to the (hot and ridiculously humid) scenic Lakefront - it was fantastic. It's on my list to do again!

September 18th: CARA Ready 2 Run 20 Miler
I don't think I ever blogged about this run (I did mention it briefly here) but oh my god. It was so hard. It wasn't a race, it was a "supported training run" meant to mimic the marathon conditions (mostly the aid stations and pacers). It was so hot, so humid, and in full sun. It was brutal. I was tired and jetlagged from my Europe trip. After 2 weeks of travelling I was toast. At Mile 16 I wanted to cry, and almost did until I realized how painful it was to do so.

Oh, and it was actually 20.2 miles long. -_- Funny, guys.

I made it through - barely. I honestly didn't know if I'd be able to finish the marathon after that race though. The thought of another 6 miles on top of what I'd already done?? WHAT?

The greatest lesson I learned from this run? You taper for a reason.

October 9th: The Chicago Marathon
It finally came! Marathon day! The day I wasn't sure I would make it through (especially after the CARA run). It ended up being one of the best runs of my life. I made it through all 26.2 miles. I hurt towards the end, but I embraced every ounce of hurt and knew I would finish. I knew I'd be doing it again. I loved the day, the crowd, the atmosphere, my friends and family who came to see me...I have done many things I feel proud of, but crossing the line of the marathon is at the top of the list, for sure.

October 29th: The Hot Chocolate 15k
Only 20 days after the marathon I laced up and ran this one with some friends. I was "undertrained" in that I hadn't run much since the marathon, but it ended up being a good, strong "shake out" run. It was a gorgeous day, especially considering it was the end of October in Chicago. I enjoyed all 9 miles and reminisced on the marathon only a few weeks before (was that all? In some ways the memory was so distant, and in others so fresh...!). I ran it with a great group of ladies - Steffi and her sisters - and Anthony got to practice his growing spectathelete skills :P

November 26th: The Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon
My first OFFICIAL half marathon distance, and last race of the season! It was chilly to start, warm to end, and I PR'd the distance by TEN MINUTES over any half-distance I'd run during training. Woot! I also got to see my friend off for her first 5k ever, which was quite the honor! I love welcoming new runners to the fold!

So now some fun roundups:

Favorite Swag: Chicago Triathlon T-Shirt
The Hot Chocolate 15k sweatshirt is a close second, but the ChiTri shirt fits SO well, matches the medal, and is pretty much my favorite t-shirt so it wins!

Favorite Medal: Chicago Marathon
Not just out of pride for having completed my first marathon, but because it has the famous Picasso sculpture on it that I have always believed looks like a weird, giant duck! Next time you're in Chicago give it a visit!

Favorite Race: The Marathon
Why did I give myself such tough choices??? I loved every race this year, but the Marathon takes the cake. Seeing the city on foot and running for RHMC made it amazing. Hands down I will do it again because I have only good things to say about it (even with how much my feet and knees hurt the next day)!

Favorite 'Experience': The Chicago Triathlon
Doing it with a friend, the expo, spending all that time downtown flying through the city, the course, my support crew (my mom and Papa Bender), the amenities, the satisfaction of completing a longer distance in three disciplines...just everything. It made me so proud of myself.

Best Crowd Support: The Marathon
It's just awesome to have an entire city come out to support something you've worked so hard for. The signs, the people who bring their living room and dining room furniture's pretty sweet. Seeing my own family and friends at the half way point (and Anthony, every time I saw him), and having them at the was awesome. Run Chicago, see the city, see the made me want to do it again before I even finished the first time.

 Truly, I had a fantastic season. 2017 will not hold as many races (spoiler alert) but I'm still excited for the ones I will run, and I'll work just as hard every day of training this year - if not harder.

So stay tuned! I have some fun and exciting things planned for 2017, and I can't wait to share them with you!

Farewell were awesome (race-wise) and it's time to usher in a new year of fun and personal challenge!


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