In my world, the year is broken into three different years. The calendar year (obviously), the recruiting cycle for admissions (July-May), and the race year (January-Thanksgiving).
And tomorrow we reach the end of the race year, at least in my world. For me, the obligatory Turkey Trot caps a year of racing nicely. I think I’ve run exactly one December race in my entire life. Typically, for me December is a mix of recovery from the year, and new build-up for the next year. Races don’t need to happen in that stage.
So with my final race of 2017 on deck tomorrow (I really need to check the start time…) I thought this was a good opportunity to look back on a 2017 full of highs, lows, and fun races, month by month (and I’ll have pictures today!!).
January – I rarely do January races, but the Icebreaker Indoor 5k was too neat of an experience to pass up. 12 laps on a 440 meter track? How many places can you do that? Additionally, the race was a Friday night event, which I think is kind of cool. Navigating a three lane track in a 5k with no good way to pace yourself is a treat at best.
I was coming off a cold in this one was well, and didn’t feel in great race shape anyway, yet there I was. A top 15 finish was just fine with me. Definitely a unique run. Would recommend 10/10…except that the race is under new management, not in January, and there’s no more 5k 😦
February – It’s becoming a tradition that I hope continues in 2018 (I’m signed up already). The Frozen Feet Half up in Minnesota. Because really, you can’t beat 13.1 miles of single track in the winter in Minnesota. Oh and the breakfast burritos are the best I’ve ever had.
Although this year was a bit different. Our warm winter, and freezing rain during the week, moved us off the single track onto a double loop bike path. If you’ve never tried to run on sheer ice, trust me it isn’t fun. Definitely hoping we get to run on the single track again this year. If you’re looking for a fun and different kind of Half, this one is for you.
March – Here’s where my racing started to take off a little bit in the Spring. First up was the Leprechaun Chase in Des Moines. And full disclosure, I signed up because it was cheap and we got a zip-up hoodie if we signed up on the first day. So I did. The race is a 10k where the women get a 5 minute head start on the men. The overall winner wins a beer for his or her gender! It’s quite an event.
However, this year ice altered a second race for me. Ice on the path around the lake made running slightly unsafe, so the race was changed to an out and back 5k, and everyone got a beer. Fine by me! I’m a little salty I didn’t get to run a 10k, but I totally get the decision, and a free beer made up for it!
My big March race was the Music City Trail Ultra 50k. After a 50k as a training run went well in 2016, I decided to give it a whirl in 2017 too. Coupled with an excuse to go to Nashville, this seemed like a winner.
And it was!
What an amazing race experience. Most of the race was on single track or jeep roads, but there were parts where we followed tiny orange flags through the Tennessee mountains. The amount of brush, hills, and water crossings was like nothing I’ve experienced. And despite my longest run since October was only 15 miles, I came away with a 5th place finish.
I’m signed up and have my AirBnB booked for this March already, and I am stoked for this one! I already told my coach that I want top 3, but I’d LOVE to take the win if that becomes a possibility.
April – I kind of ran a race on accident in April. The First Call Half fell on a day I wanted about 13 miles for a training run. It also fell the day after a 24 mile training run. Why did I sign up? My Dad talked me into it. I was planning on a relaxing run to the race to see him finish. Instead, I wound up in the race.
All in all, this was a good race, and in general Silver Circle Events puts on fantastic races! Mentally, it was a relaxing race and I still came away with an age group medal. Not a bad day.
Two weeks later, I was back on the race course. This time at the La Jolla Half out in California. This was the second time I’ve had the opportunity to race this one, and it never disappoints. HUGE hills and amazing views make this one a great experience. Knowing the course helped me to run this one way smarter than the last time.
Who cares if this was two weeks before my A race for the Spring. Loved this one, and would recommend to anyone.
May – Oh dear. I went a little bonkers in May.
The first weekend in May was my A race for the Spring, the Lincoln Marathon. In what became a theme for all of my spring races, it was a little too warm. Temps soared into the mid-high 70s by the finish on a course that offers minimal shade in the back 13 miles.
If you’re going to check Nebraska off your states list for marathons, then Lincoln should be your go to. This race is well organized and sells out super fast. The Half is a phenomenal course, and you run that whole thing in the Full before setting off on an out and back the second half. This race can be made or broken by weather, though, much like literally any Spring race.
The week after Lincoln, it was time for the Market to Market Relay in Iowa. We gathered our team of 8 and set off on the 75 mile journey. This year marked the fewest amount of miles I’ve ever run in the relay, and that was fine by me. This race is mostly for fun anyway. Love this event, even though I won’ be returning this Spring.
But wait! I wasn’t done in May just yet. One of my former co-workers had left our office to become an Event Manager with a race organization. And they were hosting their Des Moines race. So I couldn’t say no to a spontaneous 5k on a Sunday morning. This was two weeks post Market to Market, and a day after a 22 mile long run.
Yet here I was again on a chilly and windy day for the Head for the Cure 5k. The course was one loop (exactly 3.1!) on a limestone trail around a lake. I would say that this was my best run 5k ever. Pacing was very good, and for once I was actually patient in the first mile. A top 3 finish is always nice for a spur of the moment race.
But a quick PSA for Head for the Cure. It’s a great event that offers 5ks throughout the US. Good organization, a good race, and for a good cause.
I’ll stop my recap of 2017 at May. But June continued a bonkers Spring. In fact, the very next weekend it continued.