2012: My year in races

Here we are, folks, the post I started December 20somethingish and am just now getting around to finishing.  I spent all of December, in fact, kicking around the idea of posting about the cool races I took part in during 2012.  Because posting a year-end wrap up for a banner year of running seems like a clever idea in December.  Now, in January, it seems a little lame.

But I am here at the library on a Tuesday evening and I can’t go home until at least 8:30, the time I am certain my aunt Cindy will have Zoey tucked in and sleeping.  I have an hour and 10 minutes to get this written!  So, in your minds, pretend like New Years Eve is just around the corner and we haven’t actually started 2013 yet.  Everyone around you is full of New Years resolutions and thinking fondly back to their favorite moments of 2012.

But first, flash way way back to December 2011, which is when I made MY 2012 resolution to travel more in the name of running.  I was ready and excited to branch out of Pierce County and participate in some races that took me out of my comfort zone.  I should warn you that I take my resolutions pretty seriously.  So I started with a bang by booking a flight to Washington DC to meet my long-time pen pal, Erin, and two of her friends to run the Cherry Blossom Race April 1, 2012.  Yes, I was flying across the country to run a race with a woman I had never met.  Yes, I was signing up to run 10 miles right at the beginning of spring, when my legs were likely to consider the five mile loop from my house a ‘long run’.  But no matter!  As I described to my co-workers just days before I left, “this is either going to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever done or a total, complete disaster”.

Lucky for me, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

We all started off on the right foot by 1) me actually getting on the plane after a brief moment of “I can’t leave my child for all the reasons stated in the above paragraph” panic at the airport, and 2) Erin and her friend Jen actually showed up at the airport to pick me up (one of my nightmares having been that I would be left stranded on the east coast and needing to immediately find my way home).  It was one of those freakish, rare moments when you instantly like someone (in this case, two someones) and feel as if you have known them all your life.  I actually flew in to a small town in New York near where Erin and Jen live, and we spent all day Friday road-tripping it to DC to stay with Emily and her very patient husband, Jason.  Erin, Jen, and Emily were the greatest people and the most fun to be with for an entire long weekend.  We ran a great race that Sunday.  I remember pacing myself so well in the beginning (which is my optimistic way of looking at the fact that I started a little slow and sluggish) that I actually had ‘gas in the tank’ at the end, enough to sprint across the finish line and feel like a million bucks.  And then I remember eating huge burritos at Chipotle and spending the remainder of the weekend holed up in Emily’s apartment watching the entire first season of Downton Abbey.  It was basically the best vacation ever.

Amy, Carrie and I foolishly signed up for the Wenatchee Half Marathon at the end of April, thinking it would motivate us to train through the late winter/early spring slog that is Pacific Northwest Weather.  I can’t remember now (probably because it’s January and not December) why Carrie couldn’t run the race in the end…injury, maybe?  At any rate, I remember picking up her race shirt.  I also remember really not caring much for the race shirts.  Far too busty.  Anyway!  It was our first half marathon of the year and a camping trip to boot.  (See?  I told you.  I’m not messing around with my resolutions.)  We drove to Eastern Washington in Amy and Scott’s RV with Zoey and Allison in tow.  (Allison is Amy and Scott’s now-nine-year-old daughter.)  Scott generously offered to watch the girls the morning of the race and we set off from our beautiful campground on bikes, seeing as how Amy realized a little late in the game that our camp spot was slightly further than ‘a little ways away’ from the start line.  We biked two miles to the vicinity of the start line, rushed to get our spot in line at the PortaPotty just minutes before the start time (we were banking on it being one of those races where an 8 a.m. start time really means 8ish), heard the sound of a starting gun as we still waited in line, and potty-danced across the start line without having gone to the bathroom.  Maybe that set the tone for me because this was NOT my best race.  It was an out-and-back course (my least favorite kind, as I spend the entire ‘out’ dreading the same scenery of the ‘back’.  However, this is why Amy and I stick to together.  One of us will inevitably lag during a half marathon, and it is the responsibility of the non-lagger to remain cheerful.  Which meant Amy had her work cut out for her.  The highlight, for sure, was seeing the girls (and Scott, who had made a great sign and encouraged the girls to make signs, too) twice during the race.  Of course, as we headed ‘out’ and saw them at mile 4, we were all smiles.  Doubling back and dragging big time at mile 10, we could have easily said ‘screw this’ and called it a day.  But we kept going, because you didn’t get your shirt until you crossed the finish line!  In hindsight, I wish we had skipped the shirt…mine went to the Goodwill months ago.

In early June, I was part of my first ever relay team.  I ran the Rainier to Ruston 50 mile relay with the only friends I would want to share a van with after a whole day of running (and stinking).  Amy, Paul, Trish, Amy’s friend Tasha, and my best friend Rikki were my teammates.  We recruited Paul because leg #2 of the race was described on the website as being ‘heavily wooded and isolated, strongly encouraged to have a male runner or a very strong runner for this portion’.  We at work dubbed this the Rapist Trail and set about coercing male friends to run with us.  Paul was the only sucker who took the bait and he probably regretted it later because I’m pretty sure he blew out his knee on the Rapist Trail.  (He had very successful knee surgery in August.)  I ran leg #1 and leg #7.  My first leg was about four miles of downhill off Mt. Rainier.  I won’t lie, it was a little distressing to see my teammates drive off in Trish’s Eurovan while I waited in the rain for the race to start.  But it was absolutely thrilling to round the last corner of that first leg and see all my teammates standing out in the rain, cheering me on.  My iPod playlist was blaring in my ear and I was soaking wet and praying my sports bra would dry out before my next leg.  But I have never been so happy to spend all day running and tooling around town in a van.

Amy, Carrie and I spent July and August beefing up for the You Go Girl! half marathon in September and the Run Like a Girl half in October, both of which I have already blogged about.  I felt like we all went in to these races in great shape, which obviously showed in September when we clocked our best race times ever.  Late summer and early fall are my favorite running times of the year, when every weekend is defined by a search for a new, fresh route and the evening light stretches long enough to allow for a few mid-week, after-work runs.

So many great adventures with so many great running friends led to my best year in this sport so far.  If 2013 is half as fun as 2012, I’m going to consider myself one lucky girl indeed.


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