Thursday, November 10, 2011

How did I become the crazy one?: Reflections on a year of running

Mom and me posing
after a midnight run
New Year's Eve
My mother started running regularly in the early nineties, and completed 4 marathons (3 NYC, 1 Boston) between 1993 and 2003. While I admired her for her accomplishments, most of my family thought that she was a little crazy, myself included. Why would anyone want to go out at 6am and run several miles around Central Park when they could be sleeping/watching TV/doing anything else?

I was never much of an athlete. I played soccer and basketball in middle school, but I wasn't especially good at either of them. But after watching the marathon year after year, and hearing about a few friends' marathon experiences, I started to think that the marathon was something worth aiming for. In other words, I got attracted to all of the hype and the mystique of doing a marathon. I also figured that I should lose weight and get in better shape, so this would be killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. I investigated my options, and decided to start running and do the 9+1 required for guaranteed entry in 2011 in order to get into the 2012 marathon.

Of course, this required actually getting out there and running. With trepidation, I went to the Central Park reservoir the day after the 2010 marathon and told myself that I wouldn't go home until I did two laps of the reservoir loop (3 miles). I ran very slowly, and I stopped more times than I wanted to admit to catch my breath, but I eventually got the miles done. Well, ok, that wasn't so bad, I thought. Let's try that again tomorrow. It felt a bit easier, and I could almost run the whole time without stopping. To my surprise, I went out 6/7 days that week and ran a total of 24 miles, joined NYRR and signed up for a 4 mile race later that month.

I completed my first race, which was 4 miles, in 42:59 (10:44 pace) about two weeks after I started running, and although it was not a fast time, I was extremely proud of myself. My mother was nice enough to pace me, and having her there made all of the difference. It was also much easier waking up in the morning when I knew that someone would be out in Central Park waiting for me.

My first 15k race in late March
I never thought that I would ever get infected with the running bug, but before I knew it, I found myself enjoying it more and more. I lost some weight, got in better physical shape, and slowly but surely got faster. I signed up for as many races as possible to keep myself motivated to keep going out there, and before I knew it, I started planning for my first half-marathon. I used to think that running was something I had to do to get in shape, like a chore, but now I find that my mornings flow much more smoothly and I concentrate better at work when I run beforehand.

Throughout the year, I had several great race experiences, and a few not so great ones, but I felt like I learned something each time, and proved to myself that I was capable of more than I thought I was. Pictures from my running journey from 2011 can be found here and here

I also made a whole new group of amazing friends from all walks of life who I would have never known had I not gotten into running. There are way too many of you to name, but other than my mother and her running buddies, you guys were the ones who tolerated my running neurosis, were supportive, and gave me advice on how to train properly. I wouldn't be the runner I was today if it weren't for the support and patience of all of you.

Since I am almost as type A as one can possibly get, it's time to evaluate what I've accomplished over the past year, and set new goals for myself for the upcoming year (and beyond).

Wallis, Rachel & me at Grete's Great Gallop HM
We clearly coordinated our outfits :P
Things I've accomplished
- Completed the 9+1 for the 2012 NYCM (ok, it was more like 20+2 - someone got a bit overenthusiastic when it came to racing this year :D )
- Raced almost every distance under the marathon in under 9mm, including my first sub-2 hour half marathon
- Ran over 1,000 miles this year so far. Final YTD number is to be determined, but my guess is somewhere near 1,300

Goals for this coming year / 2012
- Run my first marathon - ideally under 4:30 but I'll take making the NY Times
- Beat my 2011 PRs
- Run 1,500 miles for the year
- Increase base mileage (this will be easier once I graduate business school in June)
- Get an AG rating of 60% in at least one race this year (my closest was 59.41% in the 5th avenue mile)
- Get a NYRR bib time of 7:xx (current bib time is 8:23)
- Eat healthier and actually keep an accurate food log. I started to do that this year but I fell off track and never quite got back on

Long Term Goals
- Sub-4 hour marathon on the way to...
- BQ: The likelihood of happening before age 35 are slim to none. Under the new standards, BQ means doing a 8:12 pace, which I could possibly do over a 5k at most. Perhaps this will happen when I'm 40
- Do the Clam Chowder Challenge in Cape Cod

A year ago, I could have never imagined becoming a runner, and now, I feel like running is a vital part of my day to day life. I look forward to seeing what the next year brings, and hopefully all of the hard work I plan on putting in to improve my running will pay off. 


  1. You've already accomplished so much in such a short amount of time...very proud of you! xo