In a lot of ways, 2017 wasn’t the year I hoped it would be. It was supposed to be the year I ran a 3:30 marathon and qualified for Boston handily. It was supposed to be the year I worked away at some shorter distance PRs in the fall after a successful spring marathon. It was supposed to be the year I got serious about core and strength training (I say this every year). But as the song goes, we can’t always get what we want.
But this year wasn’t a total loss — it never is. I finally busted 1:40 in the half after three years of trying. I ran my first trail race (slowly). I got serious about hill work, and could tell it paid dividends. I ran in England. I ran countless miles with dear friends, sharing stories and jokes and workouts. I hiked a lot more – including an amazing weekend in North Carolina with some of the best friends ever. And in my spring marathon, I ran 24 near-perfect miles before the unexpected and unpreventable happened. I didn’t get the fall racing season I wanted, but I learned not to push through when sick, a hard and frustrating lesson. But it also meant I got to bear witness to my husband’s half-marathon success in the fall, part of an upward trajectory for his year, one I was proud to take part in with him.
I started working with a new coach, and I can already tell my body and mind are enjoying the new workouts in an otherwise familiar routine. I’m not sticking to the yoga and core and cross training as well as I should, but I’m getting better little by little (and holiday travel always throws a wrench, doesn’t it?). I learned that some of my best race efforts come from completely ignoring my watch – not freaking out at fast splits, or getting frustrated by slower ones, but surprising myself with how my performance unfolds and seeing the clock seconds before I cross the finish.
I’m still pursuing that BQ dream for 2018, but my focus feels a little different now. I know I can do it – I know I have it in me; those 24 miles this past April weren’t a fluke – but now I hope to derive joy and fun in the experience, in addition to grit. I know better how to enjoy the process, fill the miles with people I love, both beside me and in my heart. Long distance running can be a lonely affair, but it doesn’t have to be.
We’re four months out from the Eugene Marathon, and there are a lot of miles and adventures to be had between now and then. Bring it on, 2018.