Sunday, December 30, 2012

A look back at 2012

Ahhh, 2012. 
You have been quite a year. 
I set some easy goals for 2012 and I set some hard goals. 
The easy goals, or goal (since there was really only one easy one), was to read at least 50 books.  Since I'm always reading at least one (and sometimes as many as 2 or 3) books, I knew I wouldn't have any trouble with this one.  I'm currently in the middle of number 67 for the year.  I may or not finish it by tomorrow night, but even if I don't, I still more than met the goal of 50.  Yay me!!  If you are interested in such things, you can go here: Books read in 2012 to see what I read.
The running goals were harder.  A lot harder.  So hard that I didn't meet any of them.  Not one.  Nada. Zilch. Zero.  
Which has me more than slightly disappointed in myself in some ways.  But in others, not so much.
Here's the run-down:
Goal #1 - Run (or walk) 1200 miles
As of right now (7pm on 12/30) I'm at 918 miles.  I may manage to get a couple of miles in tomorrow to finish out the year, but I'm not anywhere close to 1200.
But, even though I'm 282 miles short of my goal, there's a lot of goodness and awesomeness crammed into those 918 miles.
Those miles include 12 races - 8 5ks, 1 8k, 1 10k, 1 15k, and 2 half marathons.  Look at that - 12 races in 2012.  Totally unplanned, but pretty cool, right? ;-) 
Those miles include 60 (give or take a few) miles that totally changed my life - the Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure.
Those miles include running with my best friends - Actually running together in snow, in drizzly rain, in the cold (someday we will run together when the weather is good!!) And more often, running together in spirit, motivating and supporting each other in the journey to the Disney Princess and beyond.
Those miles include the fastest mile I've run to date (8:55mpm)
They include the easy miles that flew by as well as the hard miles where I struggled for every step.  They were all good miles and I wouldn't trade any of them for the world.  I may not have achieved the quantity of  miles I wanted, but I definitely had some quality miles.
Goal #2 - Run a 5k in 27 minutes of less
My fastest 5k in 2012 was 29:37.  I don't know what happened to my speed this year.  Well, that's not exactly true - I know what happened to it - I didn't train for it.  I focused on distance, and it slowed me down.  I spent the spring training for a half marathon, the summer training for a 60 mile walk, and the fall training for another half.  Speed got put on the back burner.  So as the year progressed, my goal changed from 27 minutes or less to 30 minutes or less.  I may not be fast, but I got out there, I showed up 8 times, and I ran. 
Goal #3 - Run a half marathon in 2:10 or less
I ran 2 halfs in 2012.  One in April (2:26:55), and one in November (2:29:07).  I didn't come close to 2:10.  In all honesty, I didn't really think I would, not this year.  But I was still hoping to finish faster than I had before and to run the whole distance.  But I didn't get any faster and I didn't run the whole way. But I did finish. Twice. And that's saying something. 
So there it is. 2012.  On paper, it sucked.  But dig a little deeper and scratch below the surface, it wasn't quite so bad after all. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Random Thoughts on a Tragedy

  1. I'm not a parent, so I can only imagine the depth of love that a parent feels for his/her child.  I was, however, a "pseudo-parent" (aka a nanny, babysitter, you pick the word)  for 2 awesome kids quite a few years ago.  And though I haven't been a direct part of their lives for a long time, I still feel a connection to those two, and yes, I can say I love them.  And I have parents and I know they love me with a deep and profound love.  So maybe I do have some small inkling of parental love.

    That being said, I can't imagine that telling parents their children were taken/killed/murdered because "God wanted another angel" would be the right thing to say.  (I don't know if anybody out there has said this in this instance, but I've heard it used before as statement of sympathy.)  It would take a profoundly religious person with an extremely deep rooted faith to find comfort in that statement.  - And frankly whose faith isn't tested and shaken by events like yesterday's?  

    I would think that statement would be met with "Doesn't God realize that I need my child? That my child needs me?  How could he be so utterly mean and selfish?"  That's how, if I were a parent, I would respond to it.   So unless you're prepared with valid answers to those valid, tough questions, I wouldn't try to comfort a grieving parent (or anyone for that matter) with the statement that God needs another angel.
  2. I did see this statement out there on Facebook on one of the many memorial/support for the families posts that are out there.  I don't remember what the original comment was, but someone posted a comment in reply that "Your God allowed this to happen."

    No.  God doesn't allow things like this to happen. To tie in with thought number 1 and to give a simple answer to those questions - Yes God knows you need your child and that your child needs you.  He is not, at least in this case, a mean and selfish God.  He is weeping and mourning with us.

    Yes this awful thing happened and it may seem like God did allow it happen.  He's God after all, He's all powerful, and He could have stopped it.  But God gave us humans a little thing called free will.  We are free to do, to think, to believe whatever and however we want.  Think about it, if God wanted to control us and to not allow us to do or think certain things, do you think He would "allow" unbelievers to not believe in Him?  In this instance God is a selfish and jealous God - He doesn't want us to believe in other gods or not believe at all.  But yet, He does - He allows us to.  He is not a giant puppet master up there in the sky pulling strings and making (or allowing) people to do certain things and not do others.  He gives us the choice.  He gives us the freedom.  He gives us free will.

    And unfortunately, there are people in this world who use that free will to do horrible horrible things.  I don't understand it; I can't even begin to comprehend why a person would do such a thing. But for some unfathomable reason, people do; this guy did.  And God, I like to think, doesn't understand it anymore than the rest of us do. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Race Report - Winter Series 5k

It's time again for the Charleston Winter Series - a series of 3 races in December, January, and February that area runners run so they can get an awesome hoodie stay in shape throughout the cold, wet dreary winter.  The first race of the series, the 5k, was Sunday afternoon.  It's the race where I set my PR last year and the race where I was hoping to set a new PR for this year. Key word in that sentence is hoping. 

The odds were stacked pretty highly against that happening - I haven't been training properly for 5ks, it was raining, I haven't been training properly, I wasn't hydrated or fueled enough, I haven't been training properly, I had on the wrong shoes, I haven't been training properly, I was tired and had the beginnings of a bad headache, I haven't been training properly (sense a theme there??)  So, I saved the PR breaking for another day and another race, and just ran. 

You would think that with the weather being grey, foggy, wet, and miserably rainy that there wouldn't be very many runners out there.  But apparently runners are a crazy hardy bunch, so it was the biggest Winter Series 5k ever.  While I had space to run and breathe and move freely, I was never very far away from (behind or ahead of) another runner.  There was a constant stream of runners all along the course.  Pretty cool.

I was thinking at the start that maybe the miserable rain would make me run faster. It didn't. I ran my normal slow-ish pace and got soaked.  I was running at about 10 minutes per mile the whole way (a smidgen slower on mile 1 since I had to stop and retie my shoe and on mile 3 when I slowed to walk thru the water stop).  Not too fast and not too slow.  Just right for me for the day.

Every time I run on this course I'm surprised by how fast the 1st mile mark seems to appear.  It gets easier and seems to be closer every time. (So I guess, even tho I can't go fast, my training actually has paid off in some ways...) 

So my last 5k of 2012 was wet, slow, and almost miserable.  And oddly enough, I loved every minute of it.

Race Stats:
Winter Series 1 - 5k

Finish Time:
31:26 (Garmin)
31:14 (official)

Avg. Pace per Mile:
10:06 (Garmin)
10:04 (official)

Overall: 269 out of 376

Race Report - Run Run Rudolph 5k

It's December, so that means holiday themed races.  Santa Claus, reindeer, elves, Jingle Bells, and all the trappings.  I chose the reindeer. Rudoph to be exact. 

The 2nd annual Run Run Rudolph 5k and Other Reindeer Games in Huntington.  It's a fun little race.
I ran it last year and several people wore costumes (elves, santa, etc.)  So I thought I would do the same this year.  I have a lime green sparkly skirt that just cries out to be part of a costume.  I was going to be an elf, but then a shopping trip to Wal-Mart got me a really awesome Grinch t-shirt.  And the idea to be the Grinch was born.  Green sparkly skirt, red t-shirt with green Grinch, green hat.  Not a total grinch look, but close enough. :-) 

Saturday morning was wet, but warm-ish.  It wasn't pouring rain, but there were drizzles here and there.  I had a slight ear ache and was feeling tired, so I didn't have any big expectations for the race.    I also had another race the next day and that one was my "A race" for the weekend, so I knew I was going to take it easy at this one.  I've been running really slow lately, and knew this race wasn't going to be the exception.  I just wanted to go out and have some fun.

I took off too fast at the start, but settled pretty quickly into what I thought would be a good pace.   I felt ok until about the halfway point, and then started to tire.  It was a mental thing - the halfway point was right by what was the finish to the half I ran back in November.  So I kind of felt like I should've been done when I saw the football stadium.  But I wasn't done - I had about a mile and a half to go, in the opposite direction from that finish line.  But the brain, holding the power it does over the body, told me that I was tired and that the pace I was running was too fast.  It wasn't really, but I started to slow down anyway and walked a few short sections in the last mile. 

Somewhere about halfway up the uphill (not steep, but kinda long) at the end of the race, I started to hear the cheers from the finish line.  I don't care how tired you are or how bad you're feeling at the end of a race, those cheers, even if they're not specifically for you, really give you a boost and an added pep in your step, so to speak.  I crossed the finish line with a smile (maybe not literally, but I was smiling on the inside).
Race Stats:
Run Run Rudolph 5k, 12/8/12
Finish time:
31:41 (Garmin)
31:39 (Official)
Avg. pace per mile:
10:19 (Garmin)
10:12 (Official)
Overall: 132 out of 258 
Age Group: 10 out of 24