2016 has included 2 marathons, breaking the 4 hour marathon, 2 PRs, new speed training and strength training, and lots of progress! I would say that this is the year of realizing I am capable of a lot more than I realized I was with running.
I started the year with adding more HIIT, strength and yoga classes than ever before- and realized I loved every second of each of them. My training for the Nashville Marathon began in January, I was absolutely intimidated by the idea of training for a full marathon throughout a Chicago winter, but I was pretty lucky- it was a very mild winter last year. I wasn't a part of any group during this training so every run was done alone, followed by a text to Braylee, who was training as well, to keep me accountable and excited for race day. The biggest difference throughout training for Nashville was that I was encorporating strength training and yoga into my weekly workouts, and I began to do speed runs. I will admit, my speed runs were definitely not exactly what they should be- I was guessing and googling most of the workouts. I did them all alone, and can 100% admit I was not at all running to my full potential during them. The part I was most nervous for for the Nashville Marathon was the hills, it's full of them and Chicago certainly is not full of hills at all. I ran across every small bridge I would pass over Lakeshore Drive along the Lakefront on my runs, and sometimes did repeats on them for my "hill" training- aka hardly any hill training. I did have one 18 miler in San Francisco, which was helpful to see how I would react with a hilly course. I was basically banking on my strength training and bridges to get me through a constantly hilly course, needless to say I was NERVOUS the day before while walking around Nashville discovering that they weren't lying when they said it was a rolling course.
The day of the race, there was a 40 minute rain delay and I was silently telling myself that I could try to beat 4 hours but there was a good chance that it was not going to happen. I ran in a pace group, and somehow felt strong the entire time. Towards the end, during the last three miles the pace leader said to me, "you know, you could slow down and still PR." It was a comfort, but I knew if I slowed down at all I would lose it. So I pushed on and crossed the finish line with a 3:56:25, when I wasn't even sure if I would make it to a 3:59:59. The realization that I had PR'd by over 5 minutes was one of the best moments ever. Needless to say, the changes in training certainly improved my marathon performance!
My second marathon of the year was The Chicago Marathon, I had high hopes for a big PR again but didn't quite hit my goal. It was a lot more challenging to accept that because of the huge excitement about my Nashville Marathon result earlier in the year. I was completely on track to run a 3:50:00 marathon, but slightly fell apart starting at mile 20. A couple of months ago I chatted more about the details of The Chicago Marathon here on the blog.
So, overall it was an amazing year for running!! I definitely got burnt out with marathon training, I had three marathon training seasons back to back which was a large time commitment, so I've ended my year out in more relaxed shorter runs. Looking forward to 2017, I've decided to only commit to ONE marathon and also run a couple of half marathons- which I think will make me mentally enjoy distance running a little bit more again!