Take that, Gump!

It’s been awhile since I have blogged….hey, I’ve been busy!  This time of year my social calendar is full of events and holiday functions, making it quite difficult to get anything done unless I pencil it into my calendar. Thank heavens for my iPhone. I would be lost without its calendar function…..seriously.

One thing I have been busy doing: SMASHING GOALS!!!!!

Those of you who are faithful Katetasticans know that I started out 2013 with some lofty goals, of which I have been blogging about throughout the course of the year. These goals, which I titled “The Big 31 of 2013” included various things I wanted to complete ranging from new recipes to books to shoes.  For me, the start of a new year has never given me the desire to have a resolution…it’s always been about goals. I am a competitive person by nature, but the person I am most competitive with is myself. If I set a goal, I’m doing it, and I won’t stop until I’ve done everything in my power to accomplish it.

Of all of the items that make up my Big 31, the one I was most worried about completing was one of the most important to me: Successfully running 31 races. We all know I love to run, and even though I do it all the time, fitting races into my schedule has proven to be difficult for many reasons. When I first mentioned this was something I was going to do, I remember my dad telling me I was crazy. “There are 52 weeks in the year,” he said, “Do you realize you will be spending 31 of those weeks with a race scheduled?” I told him I did, and that even though it would be insane, I was going to do it.

Throughout the course of the year, I strongly questioned my goal setting with this particular task. I tend to run myself down and get sick easily, and this interfered with my race schedule several times. I wasn’t able to run my first race until March, and then I was sick for about a month the end of August, which is prime race season for me. Several races that I had registered for ended with me not being able to participate, which is always upsetting to me. I remember having a moment of reflection on this the end of September as I prepared to run my leg of the Akron Relay. I hadn’t run for nearly a month and knew there weren’t many weekends remaining until the end of the year, and I knew I wanted to avoid as many winter races as I possibly could. I just didn’t know if I would be able to fit them all into my schedule based on race availability and my life.

Today I did it. I ran my 31st race of the year!!!!

Here are the races that helped me get to #31!

Santa Hustle 5K: Coldest Run of my life. Ecstatic it got me to 31!

Santa Hustle 5K: Coldest Run of my life. Ecstatic it got me to 31!

As I reflect back on this past year and these photos, I can’t help but get a little bit emotional. I can’t believe a year has gone by, nor can I believe how much fun I had running all 31 races. I am so thankful I took photos of every single race (well, all but one. Gary and I ran the Steeplechase together, but we didn’t get a team photo)….each race brings back a different memory that makes me smile with jubilation or shudder in disgust. As always, I’ve learned an awful lot this year during my races……………these lessons include:

1. I wouldn’t be where I am with my running if it wasn’t for my decision to join Summit Athletic Running Club last January. I had been scared to join a club, but I cannot imagine not having my running club friends in my life. As evident in many of my photos, my friends Sharon, Andrea, Sara, Steve, and Gary were my running partners throughout many of the races. It is hard to believe that I didn’t know them this time last year, but I am so thankful they are in my life now. It’s pretty sweet to be a SARC Psycho.

2. Friendship can get you through any difficult situation, races included. I was excited when Whitney and I decided to run the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Nashville for many reasons. The day of the race we woke up to a downpour that I cannot even begin to describe…and I know we both did not want to do it deep down. Yet, we lined up at the start, waiting nearly 40 minutes to cross the start line (yes, there were that many runners), and somehow managed to make it through the 13.1 mile storm in garbage bags. Did it absolutely suck running in such weird makeshift outfits in blinding rain? Yes. Was it an amazing feeling to cross the finish line with one of your best friends? A million times YES. I don’t care how much it sucked…we did it together because friends don’t give up on each other and help get one another through anything life throws at them.

3. I run best when it is really cold outside or there is some form of a food prize. This is especially true for pancakes.

4. It’s a really smart idea to look at a course map prior to starting the actual race.Mayor Alai’s 5k comes to mind. The amount of swearing that occurred when I turned the first corner of the course and saw a mile long hill from hell was off the charts. Same goes for Wigs for Kids at the Zoo…..and here I thought that course was actually flat. YEAH RIGHT!

5. You don’t need to shop for running clothes if you run a bunch of races. Running 31 races means I was gifted 31 sweet pieces of running swag. The perks of being a runner. My tshirt and tech shirt collections thank you.

6. Don’t listen to the haters, big sunglasses help. A LOT! Many people make fun of me because I wear huge Jackie O inspired sunglasses for most races. Do you think I do it to be cute? Here’s a shocker….I don’t. I wear them because they protect my eyes from the elements. They also allow me to mean mug people without being caught.

7. Non-runners need to learn proper race etiquette. I get that not everyone runs like I do, trust me, I get it. But if you choose to run/walk in a race, please keep a few things in mind: It is frowned upon to form a barrier of walkers blocking the path for runners. You may not want to be competitive, but others do….get out of the way! This also applies to people run/walking with a jogger stroller or a dog. Just move over to the side. Thanks in advance.

8. Don’t underestimate the power of Under Armour. All I can say is…..worth every damn penny. Is $35 too much to spend on gloves? No, not when you are a runner outside in the cold. Best money I have ever spent.

9. You don’t need a team of people around you to run, but they sure make it a better experience. I can’t begin to share the laughs, inside jokes, or complaints that my running pals and I have had over the past year. Yes, running is an individual sport, but having people there that are pushing you to do better….that is what I love. I was struggling during the Home Run for the Homeless 4 Miler because my toes were frozen, and even though he had finished ahead of me, Steve looped back and ran the last 3/4 mile with me to help me get through it. Moments like that remind me I am not an individual out there on the roads.

10. You CAN run with a donut on your head. I know because I did it, and I looked pretty sweet doing it as well.

I could go on and on and on, but the biggest lesson I learned this year is to never, ever doubt myself. I know I am a machine. I know I am hard on myself sometimes, but deep down I can do anything if I stay focused. I doubted myself this year many times, but I managed to do it, and I am so proud of myself.  More importantly, this year gave me the courage to do something I never thought I could do….I signed up for a full marathon this coming May.

For those of you who have supported me….from the encouraging text messages to cheering me on in the blistery cold to running alongside me….thank you from the bottom of my heart. I could never have done this without you.

Oh, and the year is not over yet….I still have two more races I will be doing…bringing my year end total to 33…my lucky number. Coincidence? I think not.

One thought on “Take that, Gump!

  1. Whitney B. says:

    What a great post! I can’t express how proud I am if you!! And I’ll never be able to thank you enough for Nashville

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