As 2016 draws to a close, it’s time to recap the year. This was a big year for me, not because of any significant race or finish, but because this is the year I started to take my running seriously and actually considered myself a real runner. I completed a number of races, earning some serious bling. Given the fact that I have yet to set a time goal for any of my races, I can honestly say I ended the year quite happy with all that I accomplished. In total, I ran one 5K, one 10K, six half marathons, and one full marathon. Not bad for a newbie runner!
This year started with the ChiTown 10K in Chicago in April. My eldest son and I signed up for the half marathon assuming (or at least hoping) the weather would cooperate. Ah, the best-laid plans. It was sleeting when we went to bed the night before the race, and by the time we woke up the temperature had dropped to 24° and there was an inch of ice on the ground. My son tried his hardest to get me to bail on the race, but I convinced him otherwise. As we shivered our way to the start line, we did at least make the decision to complete the 10K rather than the half, and what a wise decision that was! There were countless runners slipping and falling on the ice, some of which looked to have been hurt pretty badly. What is wrong with people? Some of them were running on the slick ice as if their best PR depended on it! Near the end of the course I saw a young woman down with a broken ankle. My son and I were both careful (or lucky) enough to have avoided any falls, but I will say, this is likely the last time I will sign up for a race along the Chicago lakefront before the spring thaw!
Just two weeks later I ran the first annual Naperville Women’s Half Marathon, and what a difference two weeks makes! It was absolutely beautiful outside; warm and sunny and not a cloud in the sky. That’s Chicago weather for you—we can see 40 or 50 degree temperature drops in a single day. I loved everything about this race, probably because the weather was in such stark contrast to what I had experienced earlier in the month.
The following weekend I ran the Southwest Half Marathon, again with my eldest son. What made this race so special is that my best friend from college ran the 10K. She’s only recently started participating in races and this was her first 10K. It was a blast catching up with her and I am working hard to convince her that a half marathon is in her future…
In July I ran the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon and Oh. My. Gosh. What isn’t there to love about this race? Around 10-1/2 miles into the race, the Gundlach-Bundschu Winery was handing out white wine to the runners. I decided to keep moving and did more than my share of tastings at the 20+ wineries at the finish. Although it started out as a misty, cloudy morning, running through wine country is an experience like no other. Napa to Sonoma is the premier race in the Destination Races Wine Country Half Marathon series. This year’s race sold out in 17 minutes, and I felt quite fortunate to get a spot. I am already signed up for two of their races in 2017 (including Napa to Sonoma), and my goal is to complete all eight races in the series. I loved this race so much that I am now a Destination Races Ambassador (use Promo Code DRAMBJUR for $10 off of the registration fee for any of their Wine Country Half Marathons)!
My fall racing began with the Fox Valley Half Marathon in September. This was a beautiful race along a mostly shady path, much of the race on natural trails. The weather was perfect and I had the added fun of running (pun intended!) into a few friends along the way. Many Chicago area runners use the 20-mile distance as part of their training for the Chicago Marathon.
Speaking of which, this year I ran the Chicago Marathon for the fourth year in a row. This was the first time I had actually trained for the marathon, and overall I was happy with my finish. By Mile 17, however, I stopped running and walked until Mile 20. My legs weren’t sore and my breathing felt easy; I just didn’t want to run. From Mile 20 through the finish, I did a combination of walking and running, and felt great in the end. In subsequent days as I contemplated my race, I realized that I need to spend some time working on fueling strategies before next year’s race. I simply ran out of steam.
Next came back-to-back half marathons in October. First was the Country Sole Half Marathon in Chicago on October 22nd. My best friend from college and I were into country music back in the day (think 1980, Urban Cowboy), and we were excited about this race that promised country music and a finisher’s medal that looked like a country belt buckle. Hell yeah, we were in!
Unfortunately, just a few days before the race my friend’s kidney decided to pass a stone, so I ran this race solo. It was a cold morning in the city (in fact, it was the same route along the lakefront as the ChiTown Half earlier in the year), but the race, with its country music theme was fun, and I’m glad I ran it.
The following day I ran the Naperville Half Marathon. It hadn’t been my original intention to run two half marathons in two days, but when I signed up for the Fox Valley Half Marathon, I learned of a three-race challenge called the Chicagoland Triple Crown. Did someone say challenge? I’m in!
Running the Fox Valley Half, the Naperville Half, and another long-distance run in between would qualify me to earn this award. Since I was already running the Chicago Marathon (which of course qualified as a long-distance run!), I decided to go for it. People thought I was crazy (and in fact, having run these back-to-back halfs made me a Half Fanatic!) but I thought, ‘hey, if I can complete a marathon in a day, why can’t I complete two half marathons in two days?’
The race was fun, close to home, and the weather was perfect. The Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Pennant the night before, and I got lots of cheers of my own as I ran the course sporting my Cubs jersey.
I ended my 2016 race season with none other than the annual Naperville Turkey Trot. This is a fun 5K event, whether you are a walker, a runner, or even a spectator. It seems the entire town is either running or watching this race. It was especially fun for me this year because I ran it with my future daughter-in-law, who isn’t (yet) a runner. We ran most of the course with only two short walk breaks. She urged me to go on ahead, but we stuck together and finished within one second of each other.
What a fun year this has been for me! Sure, there were many negative things happening in the world and there are way too many social media posts focusing on them. Yes, there was a lot of negative news, but I choose to focus on the positive. 2016 brought many happy times for my family, including another year of health for all of us, my youngest son finishing a successful first year away at college, my middle son graduating from college and landing a great job (and staying in Chicago as an added bonus), and my eldest son getting engaged. All three of our boys are leading happy and productive lives and are partnered with three girls I simply adore. My husband and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary in October, and we all lived to ring in another year. I’m looking forward to another great year of running, and I wish all of you a happy and prosperous 2017!
How was your 2016 running year? Did you meet any goals you might have set? What are your goals for 2017?