Monday, December 10, 2012

A year of races draws to an end; Rudolph Ramble

December 8 brought an end to the Races of 2012, and I don't think there will ever be another year quite like this one. Twelve months; 23 events. It's safe to say I exceeded my goal of one race per month, I think. It feels like quite an accomplishment.

Sunday dawned dark and cold. By "dawn" I actually mean "an hour or more before dawn". The race kicked off in Lincoln Park at 9 a.m., so we had to head out by about 6:30 in order to get there, find a place to park and make it to the starting line. It's parking that's an issue, so we ended up getting there about an hour ahead of when we needed to, but we parked for free! We got a great spot, too, so it was (almost) worth the early wakeup call.

Before we headed to the race start, it was time to suit up! For me, that meant green wig and kilt, but for all of us, it was time for race ribbons on our shoes, jingle bells on our shoes and antlers!
Linda and Kristen, the red-eyed reindeer.
And then, it was time to forge ahead to run the Rudolph Ramble 8K! We headed toward the starting line, where we'd meet up with Diane and Justin (or "Meat" as we call him, after a massive plate of chicken-fried steak he ate more than a few years back) and their three kids, Aidan, Eva and Koen. It was misting and windy, and we shivered while we waited for the race to start. Oh, and we took time for a few photos.
Me and Justin (or Meat, as we call him; chicken-fried steak, anyone?)
Our shoes, complete with jingle bells and festive ribbons.
The race felt pretty good - all five miles of it! This was the longest run I'd taken in a long time, and I knew it wouldn't be easy. I was sick last week, and when you aren't particularly good at running anyway, being sick makes a difference. But I had fun, and I finished smiling.
Me and Linda, makin' our way to the finish line. I'm not sure why she's making that face.
The official results say I finished in 1:08:55, running a 13:51 minute mile. I've only run one other 8K, the Shamrock Shuffle, and I finished that in 1:06, or a 13:20 minute mile. I'm a little disappointed in this, but only just a little. We can't always get a PR, can we?

But the true victory here is the magnitude of the yearlong achievement. I started the year with a goal of 12 in 12 - a dozen races during 2012. I surpassed that. By almost double. Yep, 23 events (one wasn't a timed race) in one year. I have to acknowledge that there's something extraordinary about that.

The coming year will not likely include this many races; I simply don't have the finances to bankroll another year like this! But looking back, this has been an incredible experience. When I first started running, or doing anything remotely physical, I couldn't imagine putting myself out there, in public, and reaching for a goal. Today, I reflect on a year that included a 20-mile midnight bike ride, two triathlons (in addition to learning how to swim!), a half marathon, two obstacle races and an array of Ks (5, 8 and 10).

Being able to move is a gift, and it is not one I take lightly. On days when my feet hurt, my muscles ache or I am just plain too tired to log another mile, I run for them. Here's to another year as a runner.

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