Friday, December 10, 2010


I'm participating in Reverb 10 for the month of December. Each day has a new prompt to encourage participants to reflect on 2010 and manifest what’s next in 2011.
December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

There's no clear answer that pops out to me for this one.  And even after I've tried to give the topic some serious thought, nothing really good comes to mind.  I guess having the wisdom teeth pulled years ago leaves me with a dearth of wise decisions to choose from at each year-end review.

I'd have to say my best decision this year relates to running.  I've tried very hard to push myself all year, despite meeting with various levels of success.  As I posted earlier, my word of the year is Boston, having finally attained a distant dream. 

My racing results this year could be described as mixed at best.  I trained all spring for a killer 5k time.  Not only did I never hit my goal 5k time, I never even got a new 5k PR.  I was a bit under the weather at my final attempt, but still gave it my all and finished the race with a disappointing time and then a small amount of vomit. 

One of my earlier speed coaches had described several acceptable feelings at the end of the race and overwhelming nausea was one of them.  Running doesn't always feel good and isn't always pretty.  When you're working hard, you might not feel good.  But for me, running hard and getting a great PR (hopefully beating Adam) is a worthy goal, and if I'm puking at the end of a race for my effort, I can live with that.

But this wasn't vomit due to the pointing of running to and beyond my full potential.  This was just remnants of the illness that was holding me down. 

Unfortunately, my last serious 5k attempt occurred shortly before we left for vacation -- a monster trip that included the best party of the year for me, and the source of the most wonder for me this year.  Needless to say, there was no running happening. 

So at the end of April, after months of training including many intense days at the track, I felt like I was left with nothing.  I hadn't met my goal of beating Adam, and I hadn't even closed the gap between our 5k PR times.  I would have been sad if I hadn't had the awesome vacation looming ahead of me!  Borscht heals all hurt, no? 

At the end of May, I started officially training for my fall marathon, MTCM.  I decided to run with a group of friends during the week at a slightly faster pace than maybe would be recommended.  It was my wisest decision of the year.  One of my best friends was also in the same weekend training group with me, and I almost ran with her and others during the week, but aside from conversation with my good friend, the group seemed fairly silent.  It's tough enough for me to wake up early, I'd rather know I'm meeting people I can't wait to talk to and laugh with while I run.  I think training at a faster pace during the week was instrumental in getting me to my goal.  Plus my friends ran later in the morning than my official group, so I was probably a nicer person in general, having an extra 15 minutes of sleep each night! 

Summer training continued and it was hot, and my racing results were lackluster.  I have a late summer birthday, and this year I looked back over my racing log and was kind of sad to see that 2010 thus far had held only one PR for me -- and even that one had been quite disappointing.  It was a 10k, again with a goal of beating Adam, and I'd missed out on beating him by 13 seconds.  So though it was a PR, it wasn't very happy.  I knew I could have done better, but I never attempted the 10k again in 2010. 

So my birthday came, and my luck changed.  My wise decision paid off.  Shortly after my birthday, I got a new 5 mile PR that was unexpected.  That was great -- and instrumental in turning the tide.  I decided to run a 5k and see how it felt, though I certainly wasn't expecting much, having low expectations for the course, and my ability to bring it a couple weeks before the marathon.  But I had a good day and I got the new 5k PR I'd wanted all spring -- the only downside was that I was still 1 second too slow.  If I'd been a single second faster, I at least could have tied Adam.  But the PR was good enough for me.  In fact, my legs hurt afterward and I worried I'd sabotaged all my marathon training (trust me, racing a 5k a couple weeks in advance is not a strategy found in any training plan).  But I was actually okay with that.  In my heart, I was so happy with the new 5k PR that I didn't care too much if it meant I missed my marathon goal.  I felt like at least I had something to show for a year of hard work. 

But of course I was still hoping for a double.  I ran MTCM and had a great race, meeting my goal of getting a BQ time and pacing myself well enough that I was able to get a new half-marathon PR only a month later.  And I was able to pace a friend to her marathon PR a few weeks after that. 

So a late May decision to push my comfort a little bit ended up paying dividends in my race results in the fall.  What started as a disappointing year for racing turned into a great one. 

This post is a little link-heavy, but this is ostensibly a running blog I guess, so it makes sense that this would be my choice for my best decision of the year, and I'd have written about the times the wisdom of the decision was demonstrated to me.  But more than all the long-awaited PRs, I had an amazing time training with my buddies.  They are all faster than I am and it inspired me to work harder to keep up.  The conversations were usually interesting (I almost said "always" then I remembered a bunch of miles devoted to discussions about Boise College or something and other sports-related stuff, so I had to change that to usually).  There were many laughs.  The main reason I joined this group, David, is one of the most fabulous guys I've ever run with, and he apparently attracts many other fabulous and entertaining people.  Every single person in that group was someone I liked.  It was more male than I was expecting (the other woman in the group was out for a couple months early in the season with an injury).  That made it a bit crude at times.  And eventually she made it back from her injury and I got to spend a lot of time talking to her as well, and she was just as fabulous as everyone else in the group. 

While no one loves getting up so early to work out, no one ever complained.  I learned so much about every one.  In my life, there just doesn't seem to be time to spend several hours talking with the same few people about whatever I want every week.  But running together gives us that chance.  My group was awesome for making me excited about talking to them, for improving my running, and for producing PRs for me (and many others in the group too).  Training with them was my best decision of 2010. 

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