Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Year in Review {Running Edition}

In 2010, I ran 834.5 miles, equivalent to running from my house to the North Carolina border.  Some year, I'd like to run more than 1000.

I also ran:
2 1-mile races (one with the kids, one in the mud)
1 3-mile race
2 5Ks
1 4-mile race
1 10K
1 10-mile race
4 Half Marathons
1 Marathon Relay
and 1 Marathon

I added 6 medals to my medal collection:

Yes I do have a display rack for my race medals next to my bed.

No I do not allow my kids to touch them.

After all of this running, my favorite distance has revealed itself: The Half Marathon. 13.1 is such a great distance because it's a significant physical accomplishment, requires solid training, pushes you out of your comfort zone, requires a sound race strategy and proper fueling, but does not cause severe emotional trauma or leave you limping for days after. And you get a shirt and a medal!

Here are some highlights from this year's races:

Most Stunningly Beautiful Course/ Most Fun:  MDI Marathon
I'm not the only one who feels this way;  Runner's World Magazine voted MDI Marathon the "Most Scenic" last year.  My friends and I ran this as a relay in two teams of three, running legs between 8 and 10 miles each.  The course is a point to point, covering a huge chunk of Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park.  The fall color is in full force, and there are so many take-your-breath-away views on this course it's just ridiculous.  This marathon is also known for its brutal hills and limited crowd support, but the scenery, I'm telling you, makes up for it.  The six of us had a total blast running this as a relay.

Most Inspiring:  Beach to Beacon 10K.
This race is world famous; registration opens and closes within 15 minutes.  Over 5000 people, including international elite runners, line up in Cape Elizabeth and run a beautiful course that is lined with people ringing cowbells the whole way.  It has that big-event feel of a marathon but it's only 6.2 miles.  Again, we lucked out with an unseasonably cool day in the midst of a very hot summer. I missed my sub-1-hour goal by 45 seconds this year and hope to run it again, and meet my goal, next August.  The four of us were totally riding the high of this race for days. 

Hardest/ Proudest Accomplishment:   Vermont City Marathon.  Even though I had a very hard day last May when I ran the Vermont City Marathon, I can still report that it is a great marathon (which you can also run as a relay).  Burlington is a wonderful place, and the city really comes out in full force to show support to the runners.  It's a great marathon for spectators since the runners keep threading back through the center of town, and the finish line area on Lake Champlain was very cool too.  But all I really remember is how I felt in that photo, so much pain, so much pride.

Best Small-Race Vibe:  MDI Half Marathon
This race that takes place the third week of September is capped at about 400 people, so it's small and cute.  9 miles of the course are on the Carriage Trails of Acadia National Park, wide, groomed dirt roads that run around a lake.  It's really quiet and pretty, and hilly.  I don't run particularly fast on this course, but always have a great time.  This was my third year, and I now see it as a race I just can't miss.

 Weirdest Race Ever:  The Mud Mile
Christine and I had a great time running through the mud flats on Great Cranberry Island, but the whole thing was just weird.  We had to take a ferry and then ride our bikes to the start, the race director was wearing a clown wig and a duct-tape loin cloth, and there was a drunk guy wearing a beer-can sash who tried to knock us down.  After the race, they served beer from a keg around a fire.  It was just nutty.
Best Race-Day Outfits:   At the Maine Coast Half Marathon in York in November, I was not-yet-recovered from a bad chest cold and felt lousy.  But this race deserves mention because of the pretty course along the ocean, and because we all wore our "sangria" Asics shirts and got a lot of compliments. 

Worst Race-Day Outfit/ Coldest:  Maine Mid-Winter Classic 10 Miler in February.

Now that is a good look, huh?

I was under-prepared for this cold, hilly course because I had been running on a treadmill only in the months prior.  I barely survived this one on a bleak, windy, cold day.  Will I run it again?  Probs.
Overall Favorite Race Peak Performance Maine Marathon and Half Marathon in Portland, first weekend of October.

This race, in my opinion, has it all:  beautiful scenery that includes running along the bay and running through cool neighborhoods, good crowd support, but not overwhelming wall-to-wall people, not too hilly, and an out-and-back course.  I was very surprised how much I liked the out-and-back aspect of this race, but going around that cone at mile 6 1/2 was such a great feeling.  I said to myself the whole way back:  "I'm on my way back!"
Granted, my great review of this course could be because we had perfect weather, I felt fantastic the whole way, and I had my all time PR on this course, a 2:11.27.  But still, I loved the whole feeling of this race and plan to run it again next year.

Best Pre or Post race eatery:  American Flat Bread Company

Here we are waiting for a table at the really good pizza place on the Portland waterfront after Beach to Beacon.  The all-local, organic ingredients, amazing salads, and unique combos on the pizzas made this one of our favorite ways to round out a race weekend.  I'm quite sure this restaurant will be a part of our 2011 running ritual too.

 Other things worth mentioning:

Best shirt:  Maine Marathon (nice long-sleeve tech shirt)
Worst shirt: Maine Coast Half Marathon in York.
Best post-race food:  Beach to Beacon
Most impressively organized race:  Beach to Beacon
Most runners wearing lobster costumes:  MDI Marathon
Prettiest medal:  MDI Marathon
Nicest medal:  Vermont City Marathon (it weighs like 10 pounds)
Best season for running in Maine:  (hands down) Fall
Best running group:  my friends.

So excited for 2011!


Allie @ Healthy Balance, Healthy Life said...

I live in Burlington and am definitely not ready for the marathon but now that I know I can do it as a relay, I might consider doing that! Thanks!

Jodi said...

Love this post! I am running my first (and maybe 2nd) Half Marathon next year! Glad to hear that it's a favorite; gives me something to look forward to.

Wil said...

Thank you for the great recap. I'm so glad to hear that the half marathon is your favorite distance. I just signed up for my first half marathon, and I'm so excited and nervous. I'm loving the training program and I can't wait to cross the finish line in April. By the way, the half that I signed up for is the Plattsburgh City Half Marathon, in Plattsburgh, NY (just across the lake from Burlington). It's the second year (so it's still a new race), and I have heard that it is a wonderful race. So, if you're looking for a half marathon to run this spring, check it out. It's scheduled for April 17th. They're only taking 1000 people, and there are still spots.

Carly said...

Isn't it amazing to look back at the year and see how much you did? Sounds like an awesome year in running to me!

Michelle said...

I love the first line in this post... In 2010 I ran 834.5 miles... WOW!! that's a lot of running! You are amazing and an inspiration to us all. Soooo... how many pairs of shoes did you go through??

Leandre said...

We're thrilled that the Vermont City Marathon was such a remarkable experience for you. (Loving the medal is nice, too.) It sounds like you had a great year. best wishes for many, many more. We hope to see you here for VCM again!

Amy said...

Can I just say that I LOVE this post!! Looking forward to many more miles and lots more fun with you :)