As I collected these seven Instagram photos to include in today’s post, I was reminded once again how grateful I am to have traveled this year. Disney World in January. Pittsburgh in May. Vancouver in August. New Hampshire in September. San Francisco in October. Las Vegas in November. Last year at this time, I had only planned to visit Disney World, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver for races. Through a few incredible opportunities with brands and spontaneous decisions of my own, four more trips were added to the calendar this summer and fall. I had an incredible time exploring cities, making friends, and earning medals. Destination races have become my passion and a large focus of my blog.
I knew I wanted to write a reflection post on my 2015 races, but it’s been tricky to sort out my current feelings about running. In fact, I’ve had a roller coaster of emotions about running all year, which is natural. I struggled through my last bit of marathon training. I was on a high after my Pittsburgh Half Marathon PR. I toughed out a 15K in the rain in Toronto. I was proud to complete my first Ragnar. I think my current feelings started after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco.
Before we get into my current feelings, I want to reiterate how grateful I am to have run these races. I wouldn’t change anything about this year’s race calendar. My feelings are directed toward my running performance in October-December of this year. For those who are new readers, I’ve only been running for two years. I ran my first half marathon in April 2014. I’m incredibly proud of running seven races this year. However, I’m still uneasy about my performance, and it’s difficult to pull apart and explain those feelings. Maybe starting here will help.
I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish San Francisco and Las Vegas in faster times.
Now you know. Yes, one was very hilly and the other very windy, but I hoped to do better. Out of the six half marathons I’ve run, these two were at an average to slow pace. These thoughts have gone through my head since last month: Did I train hard enough? Did I try hard enough on race day? How much time will I ever cut off my half marathon? Should I blog about running if I’m not super fast? Talk about toxic. Yes, maybe I could have trained harder, but I was finishing a busy race calendar. Maybe I could have tried harder, but I gave all I had at the time. Every race day is different, no matter how hard you train. I still believe that I have more PRs left in me, and I want to share them on my blog.
With three weeks left in 2015, I haven’t let disappointment overshadow my accomplishments this year. Instead, I’ve taken the time to think about why I run and how racing has changed me. As a fitness blogger, most of my friends are faster runners than I am. As in, their pace is about two minutes faster than mine. It doesn’t bother me that my pace is moderate compared to theirs, but it does sometimes make me question what authority I have to blog about running, if I’m not (for instance) qualifying for Boston. I started my blog because I wanted to connect with people who have similar interests and because I wanted to join an online community and conversation about fitness. Blogging has helped me achieve those goals and many more. I started running, at first, because I wanted to prove to myself that I could. I also wanted to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I continue to run because it’s been so good for my mind and my body. It’s become a unique reason to travel. It’s given me a new way to connect with my mom. I never claim to know more than anyone else about running. I’m here to share my experiences and what I learn along the way.
I realize that not everyone has the chance to travel and run, so I’ve enjoyed sharing races in seven different cities. Some people are searching for one or two destinations to visit next year, and I hope that my posts have helped someone choose their next adventure.
I also realize that most of you aren’t fitness professionals, or that you don’t have the time or energy to train perfectly every week. Guess what? I’m not, and I don’t either. I hope that my posts about running as a busy, young professional remind you that you’re not alone in the imperfection. We’re all trying our best and can only aim for a better version of ourselves. Running doesn’t have to be about chasing numbers. There are so many other reasons to enjoy it.
So, what’s next? Part of me hesitates to look forward at a time that should be about celebrating what has been. However, I’m already training for my first 2016 race in Austin. On January 23, I’ll be running the 3M Half Marathon with my mom. I’m not sure if and when I’ll be racing between February-April. I do know that I’ll be traveling to Florence and Barcelona with B and his mom in April. In May, I’m hoping to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon (not registered). In August, I’ll be running SeaWheeze again. I’m not sure about September-October. But in November, I’m hoping that my 2016 race finale will be at the New York City Marathon. Next year will be a mix of destination races and local races. I can’t wait to see where else I’ll be headed that I don’t even know about yet.