2016 didn’t kill me. Although at times I felt it was trying. Maybe I survived because I’m not a celebrity. Or a Cuban dictator. Or Mariah Carey’s manager. The new year is off to such a hectic start that I haven’t had much time to look back at 2016. But it deserves some retrospective attention. Many disastrous things happened last year. Almost every year recap I read called it some version of despicable. Yet, for me, 2016 was a year of new achievement and significant life change.
The first two months brought two major marathon PRs (Charleston in January and Phoenix in February). Both sub-3 hour marathons put me firmly in the 2017 Boston Marathon field.
I also hit my 5K and 10K PRs in the spring — the 10K at the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans and the 5K at the Heart of Gold race in Shreveport.
Then came my disaster season. Summer burned me up, and I had several of my worst running months ever. Every run felt forced. Most of the time I stayed in bed and skipped my planned workouts.
Then came a shift to the west coast, where I’ve slowly regained my running form.
In December I ran a half marathon PR, which officially made last year my best racing year so far.
I finished the year with 2,519 total miles run. The final tally was well below my goal from the previous January. And I failed to reach 3,000 miles for the first time in three years.
Last year was a year of extreme highs and discouraging lows. Looking back, I know I learned valuable lessons from both extremes.
I learned that patience pays off. And going to track work doesn’t hurt either. Most of my PR accomplishments were building for months before I ran the actual races. Running confidence isn’t instant. It takes multiple successful long runs and workouts to put together a PR.
I also learned how to fight through dark times and rediscover why I love running. I ended my running streak in the spring — nearly three and a half years of running at least a mile a day finished. That decision was tough. I fought to keep that streak alive for so long. Multiple frantic 11:50 p.m. runs to squeeze a mile in before midnight. Once, two days before my first Boston Qualifying marathon in 2014, I sprinted out a mile at 11:50 after eating a full meal at Lou Malnati’s in Chicago (was on the way to the Green Bay Marathon).
I quit my streak because it had become more of a strain than a motivation. Now, I’m contemplating starting a new one.
Running, like life, is a process. I have to remind myself constantly not to look ahead. It’s easy to get caught up in dreams and planning. I have so many goals I want to accomplish. But I can’t complete them all at once. I must focus on this moment only and make positive choices daily.
Spending too much time in the past can be equally paralyzing. It’s important to learn from what I did well and from my mistakes (which seem to be much higher in number).
In that spirit: so long 2016. You brought PRs and trials, life changes and constant hurdles, some of which I failed to clear.
I’m stronger than I was a year ago, and now it’s time to keep building.