For a few years now, I make a list of the races I plan on doing in the upcoming year. This was really helpful when I was on a streak of running at least one race per month. Sadly that streak came to an end in 2019 when I did not run my planned race for January. As I was looking back on the races I planned on doing at the beginning of the year it was a fun comparison to the races I actually ended up doing. My goals took on a totally different direction from what I had expected.
I had planned to run the Chill at the Mills 5k – signed up and everything! Then the nasty polar vortex came through and Paula and I opted out. It was tough, but it was my first lesson this year in letting things go. I had to let go of my “run a race every month” streak, and guess what? Nothing horrible happened! I’m still a little annoyed by it because I ended up running a race every other month this year, but hey. It’s all good.
I ran the Winterlaufe 8k for the 5th time. For some reason I just really love this no frills race. The 8k is probably tied for my favorite distance with the half marathon (which is funny because I can’t stand the 10k distance and that’s only 2k more!) and this race has its challenges with the hills and unpredictable winter weather. This year I squeaked out a 56:00 time. Not my best and not my worst. Considering the conditions of the course I was very happy with it.
Probably one of the most memorable experiences from this year was taking a road trip with my friend Jenny to Virginia Beach for the Yeungling Shamrock Dolphin Challenge. I met some amazing people and the running was pretty amazing too. The Dolphin Challenge was an 8k on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday – my goal race was the half, although I almost got a PR at the 8k! My 8k time was 53:25 which at the time was my second fastest 8k, and ended up being my second fastest 8k in 2019.
I ended up running the half with a new running friend, Tammy. She was training for her first marathon and was a little faster than me, so she had no problem with going at my pace. I told her that I wasn’t looking to PR but figured that I probably would, because my goal was to run the race without run/walk intervals. She kept me to my goal, pushing me through my walks at the water stations, and I ended up reaching a time goal I never thought I would reach – I had a sub 2:30 half marathon! What I didn’t know is that I would go on to beat that time TWICE in 2019. My time was 2:29:24.
I ran the inaugural April Kade 8k. What a fantastically fun event! There were so many fun aid stations that you hardly noticed just how disgusting the weather was. I pushed so hard in that crappy weather to get a PR for our friend April who passed away in September 2018, and I thought that I had done it! Then I realized that the time I was looking at for my PR was gun time vs. chip time, so I came very close but unfortunately did not get a PR. In fact, the 8k is the only distance I ran this year that I did not get a PR. My time for the April Kade 8k was 52:45 – my PR remains from the 2018 Resolution 8k at 52:32.55.
I also ran the Owens Corning Half Marathon in Toledo in April. I knew I wanted to run this one for time and had planned on it being my first sub 2:30 half marathon… but since I did that in Virginia Beach, I needed to push even harder! I was not 100% myself for that whole race experience, dealing with stress and some disappointment, but I did accomplish my goal. My time was 2:28:09. The best part was watching my friends crush their goals: first time half marathoners, PRs for the half and the full marathon. The time I spent with friends was the best part of the whole experience.
In May I did not run any officially timed races. I did participate in the Still I Run – Run Streak for Mental Health Awareness Month. I did not run every day but I did run or walk at least 1 mile each day in May. I also ran the 5k at Run Like An Animal with My Team Triumph. That was a really fun day spent catching up with my friend Staci and cheering on my friends that ran the half.
My focus after the amazing accomplishments I had in the half marathon distance was to get a 10k PR. As I mentioned earlier, the 10k distance is my least favorite distance, and I have not worked towards a PR in years. This was my year. I chose to run the 10k at the Midland Dow Run-Walk race. My friend Jenny decided to run the race with me since she had a 6 mile run on her plan that day anyway. She usually does run/walk intervals, and I planned to run the whole thing because I would have to run way too fast to get a PR during those run intervals. Jenny ran with me for a while before switching to intervals. She can probably attest to the fact that I was NOT a happy camper for most of that race, but I pushed hard and I reached my goal. I beat my PR by over 3 minutes – my time was 1:03:18.
Since I hate 10ks so much, I decided to run a 10k at Volkslaufe this year! They moved the starting time an hour earlier so I thought, okay, this will be fine. Yeah, I was wrong. It was still super hot. That race is ALWAYS hot. It will never NOT be HOT. Somehow I still managed to pull off a 1:08:01, my 3rd fastest 10k time. I’m pretty stinkin’ proud of that.
I also ran the fun run 5k in Canadian Lakes 4th of July weekend. That was my test 5k as I was doing a training plan for speed in order to get a sub 30 minute 5k at the inaugural Running to Honor 5k at the end of the month. I pushed to try to keep every mile under 10 minute pace and I did that for most of the race. I ended up with a 30:52.4 according to Garmin, at the time making it my 2nd fastest 5k.
My last run of the month was the Running to Honor 5k. I worked so hard on my training to try to get a sub 30 5k (the only other time I have accomplished this was in 2017 at the Elsie Dairy Dash 5k) so my hope was that the weather would be decent. Unfortunately it was not my ideal running conditions – it was hot and humid. Thankfully my friend Christine ran with me and she pushed me to my goal. The course was a little bit short, so my official time was 29:12, but I kept running to get an official 5k distance on my watch and my time was 29:30, 3 seconds faster than my time at Elsie in 2017. Happy birthday to me!
August was a super busy month. I ran a 5k with My Team Triumph, ran a loop on a team for the Lake Lansing Team Relay, and ran my 5th Crim. I was not sure I would be able to run Crim this year because Paula was planning on doing her first half Ironman triathlon the same weekend and I wanted to support her. Unfortunately she did not do the half IM, but it did make it so I was able to run Crim. We had crazy good weather for Crim, which is unusual. In years past it is has been ridiculously hot and humid, and last year there was a 2 hour rain delay. This year it was great PR weather, and since I had just gotten new shoes that were making me feel pretty speedy, I decided I wanted to go for a PR. I ran it in 1:49:50, shaving close to 8 minutes off my best time.
September was hard. When I think back on this year, I think about it in sections. The beginning of the year involved a lot of indoor running but was a lot of fun. I had huge accomplishments and felt super great about myself. Summer was busy as usual, maybe too busy, and I trained really freakin’ hard. The hard training paid off with PRs but I also think that it burned me out for the fall, and September was the worst month of them all. Which sucks because normally September is my favorite month of the year.
Sometime over the summer I decided that I was going to run a marathon. As I said in the beginning of this post, my goals and plans changed drastically from the end of 2018 going into 2019 to what actually happened in 2019. I had planned on not running a marathon in 2019 after running 2 in 2018. As marathon training season approached, I was feeling the FOMO. I had already signed up for the half marathon at Detroit, so I looked for a marathon I could do in the fall that wouldn’t interfere with that. I ended up choosing the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.
My goal for the marathon was to run it without run/walk intervals. Similar to my goal earlier in the year for the half marathon. I decided to try something different and work with a coach for marathon training. I wanted something customized to me and especially wanted input on cross training, since I really truly suck at it. I hoped and figured I would get a PR, but really did not set a specific time goal.
Then Crim happened. I did so freakin’ well. I was working with the coach, and I am sure I owe a lot of how well I did to the training I was getting plus I had switched my shoes. This got me excited and started to think about time goals. Now in the past I have stayed away from having really lofty time goals because it leads me to disappointment if I don’t meet them. As Meb said in his book 26 Marathons, I prefer to underpromise and overdeliver. But with all of these huge accomplishments, huge PRs, I thought… why not more?!
September marked the beginning of a downward spiral. There was a lot that contributed to it – I was experiencing burnout on life. My summer had been go-go-go, super busy and overplanned. I do that to myself every year. And I had overplanned my running as well. I had lots of races I wanted to do. In September alone I had 3 pretty major races planned: Run for Your Heart half marathon, Capital City Half Marathon Relay and Ragnar Relay.
The burnout affected my running, and I wasn’t feeling the workouts I was getting. I was exhausted. Mix that in with the fact that I had changed shoes too drastically and it was the perfect storm for injury. I ran Run for Your Heart and got another half marathon PR, but it wasn’t really pretty. I was feeling awesome most of the race and then felt like I died towards the end. I ended up with a 2:27:12. Then a few weeks later I ran in the Capital City Half Marathon Relay. My team jokingly said if we do it next year we’ll name our team “6 working legs” because all of us were hurting in some way this year. I did the last leg, which I’m sure didn’t help, because I was standing around in this muggy gross weather for hours waiting for my teammates. When I finished my shin was in a lot of pain… enough that I went for a PT screen the next day. The PT said she couldn’t rule out a stress fracture, and I knew that I was out for Ragnar. Running the marathon was more important to me and I wasn’t even sure if I would get to do that.
It was really hard to deal with not running Ragnar, especially since the weekend after was another race and a bunch of my would’ve been teammates from Ragnar ran it wearing their team shirts. Honestly I’m still not really over it – not that it is any of their faults, but I have definitely felt like an outsider ever since then. Running Bruckelaufe was tough. I wasn’t in a good mood. I wasn’t sure if I should run. I had stopped working with the coach (that was a whole experience in itself that made things even worse for me) and was trying a different training plan. I had tried to just refocus my goals back to running the marathon without run/walk intervals, but it was tough not to feel disappointed in myself, and even a little scared that the marathon wouldn’t happen at all.
Bruckelaufe was supposed to just be an easy run, I needed to do a 40 minute easy run that day. But I felt super good. I ended up with a 32:15 time and just ran a cool down for those extra minutes. My friends and family came to visit that weekend, which was really nice and helpful in dealing with the let down I felt about Ragnar.
The next big race was Detroit. Per my new training plan, it was supposed to be my 20 mile run. So I decided to run a few miles before and after the race to get those 20 in. I wore a bright pink wig and a tutu for breast cancer awareness month, and Paula and I ran the whole race together. It was a lot of fun, her first big race back from injury, so there was no pressure on either of us. We struggled through some parts and partied through others. We crossed the finish line hand in hand and then stayed around to watch others finish. We saw our friend Carlos finish his first marathon, which was so emotional and amazing.
November was all about Indy. The marathon had finally arrived. The marathon I dd not plan to run, that had turned to the marathon I was prepared to crush, that had turned into the marathon I just wanted to finish without getting hurt. The whole trip for Indy was such an amazing experience. I had so much fun with my friends. I was really grateful for them coming to support my crazy idea of running another marathon.
My friends Paula and Jenny ran the first 7 miles with me before they turned off to finish the half marathon. I felt great for a long time throughout the race, but then suddenly I didn’t. Around mile 18 I started to think, this was the longest training run I did. I told myself I could get through the rest but another 8 miles was seeming more and more daunting. Then around mile 19 or 20 my hip flexor started to tighten up. The banked roads didn’t help. It was tough, but I made it through. I finished the race feeling somewhat disappointed because I knew I had a 5:20 marathon in me that day, but I’m not too upset about my time. I ended up with a 5:26:04, crushing my previous PR of 5:40:23 the year before.
After Indy I planned on taking a semi-break from running, but you know how that goes. Before I knew it, I was volunteering to be a running buddy for the Girls on the Run 5k. And then I was signing up for the Lansing Turkey Trot because it was what my nephew wanted for his birthday. The Girls on the Run 5k was easy peasy and fun. I pushed myself at the Lansing Turkey Trot, finishing in 31:01.6, my third fastest officially timed 5k.
December started off with a weekend of running – I ran with my running club at our annual pub run, then the next day ran a 5k with Paula (the same one we did last year – Dashing Through the Snow & Fire 5k in Fowlerville), followed by a Christmas light run in Frankenmuth with the girls. All of it was a lot of fun and very festive! I ended up with a time of 33:27.7 and defended my 3rd place time from last year.
Plans for 2020
I will once again make a “Ready to Go 2020” list of race I plan on running. It was really interesting to look back while writing this and see what I had planned for and what really happened. My big goal for 2020 is to get another marathon PR. I am really hoping to be able to get a sub 5 hour time. I know that is a pretty lofty goal, but people keep telling me “Oh Megan, you can do it!” The other big race I’m running this year is the Riverbank 25k. I have only run it once before and it was a very tough race for me mentally. This year I want to totally crush it, and I feel like my performance there will give me a better idea of how ready I am for that sub 5 hour marathon. There are other races I have planned here and there – most likely I will end up doing a race almost every month, but once again no plans for any January races! And I am okay with that. I am okay with not filling my life with plans. I am okay with things coming up and being different. I have to be – I wasn’t okay with it before and it destroyed me. I’m learning and I’m growing, and my running is coming along with me.