2016 was a pretty crazy year. It had its share of ups and downs. Huge accomplishments, some disappointments (don’t get me started about November), and a whole lot of reflection and learning lessons. Long runs give you a lot of time on the reflection front.
I have run over 1000 miles (and counting as I train for my first race of 2017, the Disney Goofy challenge the second weekend of January), and approximately 13 races. At least, I have medals for 13, but I’m pretty sure there were one or two that didn’t give out medals that I can’t remember off the top of my head. Of the races that I could remember, they stacked out to equal:
5 – 5ks
2 – 5 mile races
5 – half marathons
1 – full marathon
Charleston Half Marathon
Rock N Roll New Orleans Half Marathon
Tir Na Nog St. Patrick’s Day 5 mile race
Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon
Run Like A Mother 5k
Ramblin Rose Sprint Triathlon
Destination Races Wine Country Half Marathon in Virginia
Esprit de She 5k (race was cancelled due to weather while we waited at the starting line but still ran the 5k on the treadmill while it stormed outside)
Gigi’s Cupcake Run 5k
Oktoberfest 5 mile race
Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon
Rock N Roll Savannah Full Marathon
Rock N Roll Savannah 5k
Girls on the Run Reindeer Romp 5k
When I started the year, I never anticipated that I would even consider running a full marathon. By around June, my running buddy, Rachel, was campaigning hard to convince me that I was capable of it. I wasn’t entirely certain, but I knew that at some point I would be tempted by the Disney races. Ultimately, I decided that not only would I run Savannah as a full (as long as she promised to run it with me… I was convinced that there was no way I could do 26.2 on my own!), but that I would go ahead and sign up for the DisneyWorld Goofy challenge, too.
Through all of this, I spent the first half of the year working towards reaching my ultimate weight loss goal which was 110lbs down. I didn’t know if I wanted to stay at that weight, but as I got closer to my goal and knew that I could reach it, I figured I would let my body help guide me in what worked for it. I was able to reach my goal weight by around April and have since worked on keeping a form of maintenance. The pounds fluctuate, but I don’t feel limited in what I eat, though I always need to make sure I balance the good with the bad. It can be easy to fall into old habits, but my enjoyment of exercise definitely helps so that I don’t feel too guilty when I do over-indulge.
Around the same time, I realized that I really did like this exercise thing. And hey, maybe I’d want to teach it, too! So I started studying for my AFAA certification and as extra incentive to give me a target date, I signed up for PiYo Live and Schwinn Cycle certifications to supplement. The catch was that in order to have them count towards my AFAA credits, I had to take them after I passed the test. I haven’t taken a proctored exam since college so to say I was stressed was an understatement. But I studied, even while on a race road trip with friends, to get that passing grade.
A little over a month later, with lots of practice and friends that were willing to be guinea pigs, I was hired by my local Y to teach PiYo, water aerobics, and cycle. This involved completely stepping outside of my comfort zone – public speaking terrifies me! But I have gotten so much more comfortable in front of these groups and my classes and have gained so much confidence from the experience. Some classes still make me nervous (cycle) but it’s mainly because I don’t have the chance to practice teaching them as much to get familiar with it.
On top of all of this, I was balancing my family and work life! Two little toddlers running around and growing up so fast! My husband has been so incredibly supportive through it all. He has also been working hard to lose weight and exercise and has found a love for a local cycle studio that opened up by us. They know him by name and are so excited when he’s in class.
And as I mentioned there were a lot of learning lessons. Training for a marathon is hard. Not just the toll on your body, but it takes up SO much time. Long runs can be hours away from family and my energy isn’t always at the highest level afterwards. I’ve definitely come to learn that less is more – I’m becoming a big fan of the half marathon but with that, I know I don’t need to sign up for every race under the sun. Race days can also eat up a lot of time and I hate to make my family wait around for me at a busy finish line where parking and downtown traffic navigation can be rough thanks to closed streets. So I’m becoming a lot pickier about which races I do want to take part in and how long those distances should be. The chances that I’ll run another marathon after Disney are high, but it won’t be for a while.
I was also a coach for a local Girls on the Run team. It is such an incredible organization and experience that I couldn’t pass it up, and my company encourages volunteerism. I wish I had a program like GotR when I was in elementary and middle school. It was incredible watching the girls learn how to deal with so many situations that I still encounter as an adult. It’s a powerful tool to have those lessons and the awareness of those situations in your arsenal. I’m going to miss them in the Spring semester, but as part of my learning lessons, I know when I need to pull back and right now I know I want to focus on my family and my career as I kickstart 2017.
So with that, we are quickly approaching the holidays. Work has been so busy as our company gets ready to shut down for the last week of the year, and on top of that, our weekends are packed with activities with friends and family. I’m getting in some of my last training runs for Disney, but then I’m looking forward to a little time off from long runs. Not too much, of course, but runs that constantly reach the double digits will be on the back burner for a while. I’ve been thinking about my 2017 goals – because I always like to have targets to reach in my mind – but I’m also taking the time to slow down a little bit and enjoy the last of the year.
I am thankful for so many wonderful things in my life and in the life of my friends and family. I am blessed to have met so many wonderful ladies to call “my crew” though this fitness and motherhood journey. Ladies I can laugh and cry with. Ladies who help push me at 6am when I don’t want to get out of bed, ladies who can help me see perspective in things that are getting me down – you really get to know people when you have long runs with them weekend after weekend. I am thankful for my handsome boys and husband. I don’t want to jinx anything or tempt fate, but I’m happier than I’ve been in a long while and I hope that I can channel this positive and healthy lifecycle to inspire others to find their balance and achieve their goals. Thank you for reading, I look forward to sharing more with you in 2017!