Best race experience: The New York City Marathon. This was so much more than a race for me, and now after losing my dad it means even more. I have never been so miserable but still had so much fun in the same race. This was one of those races that makes you fall in love with your life. A close second was finishing second female at the Keystone State Sprint Triathlon. This is probably the race I am the most proud of. I really went for it and didn't hold back, and saw a glimpse of what I am capable of in the future.
Best run: My 18 mile long run. I ran some of it by myself but was accompanied by my dad on his bike for most of it. I ran at marathon goal pace and felt strong the entire way. Not only was it a run that I am incredibly proud of but it was the last long run I did with my dad. Even though he was biking, he was the perfect long run buddy. He knew how to motivate me when I was struggling in a way that no one else could.
Best new piece of gear: It may not be running gear but hands down my road bike. I got it last November but didn't take it outside until this year. I was never a big fan of biking and frequently skipped rides until I got this bike. Biking is freeing and exhilarating in a way that running is not. I went from cursing every hill I had to climb to seeking out the hilliest rides I could find in my area. One of the things I'm most excited about for 2014 is spending more time riding.
Best piece of running advice you received: Whenever I would get nervous before races or before a hard workout my dad would always tell me something about relaxing, not thinking, and just doing what I trained to do. I tend to get in my own head and worry about silly things I can't control. Learning to turn my brain off and just race was hands down the best thing I learned this year.
Most inspirational runner: I'm going to have to go with the lovely Robyn Humphrey. Robyn is a super fast runner but more than that she has such a positive outlook on life that is contagious. Robyn is supportive of every runner no matter their speed and is the perfect run club leader.
If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Meaningful. I know I'm in a different frame of mind because of losing my dad but everything I did this past year means so much more to me now. Everything this year had a purpose, whether it was setting a new PR, pushing out of my comfort zone, or running a race I had long dreamed of doing. Looking back, having my dad at every race cheering me on when I least expected it means the world to me. [Once he showed up in the middle of the woods during a trail race and completely scared the shit out of me]