Year of Running: 2013 in Review

About a month ago (December 9, to be exact), Miss Zippy posted her now-famous How Was Your Year of Running? post.  I am both too late for the formal link-up and too slow to publish before we hit 2014.  On the plus side, I’ve had the chance to see every OTHER blogger’s “End of Year” wrap-up (both Miss Zippy-style, and otherwise), and have chosen three to copy/share.  So here’s the first one, and the only one that is running-specific.

  • Best race experience? No question: Chevron Surf to City Marathon in Perth.  The combination of awesome weather, a perfectly organized event (There was space! Lots of space! No Singapore-style smushing in Perth!), and a faster race than I had the nerve to expect all combined to make the day an amazing one!  Plus, I got to enjoy not only the race, but also a few days exploring Perth with GCA.  On the morning of the big event:
Last race-related photo from my camera. I opted to leave my phone in the room; hence, no photos.

Last race-related photo from my camera. I opted to leave my phone in the room; hence, no photos.

  • Best run?  This is a tough one, and the only one where I’m struggling with the meaning of the word “best”.  I had some great training runs, but one of the most memorable actually wasn’t super awesome or easy.  It was a long, sloggy, hot training run for my first 50K (28 Miles is a Really Long Way).  I did it solo, and pulled through some pretty low points.  Ultimately, that mental training was important for helping me handle some tough moments on race day.  So even though it wasn’t the sparkliest, happiest, prettiest training run – it was one of the most important.
  • Best new piece of gear? The running towel.  Boring, but so freakin’ true.  It took me at least four months to start grabbing a towel when I went out for a long run.  Finally, I decided to try carrying one of the little absorptive towels I’d been getting in race packs.  (There must be a reason they were being put in there, right?)  So I started hooking one onto my hydration pack for long runs, and BINGO – something to wipe my sweaty hands on before I wiped my eyes, something to wipe my sweaty face on when I stopped for a drink and suddenly had sweat pouring into my eyes, something to throw over my shoulder when I hop on the bus to go home so I LOOK like I’m making an effort to manage the sweat situation.  Check out the towel, in all its glory – tucked sexily into the strap and under the hose on my vest:
Official race photo, courtesy of Running Shots.  Their dedicated photographers were braving the rain and risking their equipment to capture our day.  Thank you!

Official race photo, courtesy of Running Shots. Their dedicated photographers were braving the rain and risking their equipment to capture our day. Thank you!

  • Best piece of running advice you received? I am crushing HARD on Jay Dicharry (author of Anatomy for Runners) lately.  Reading his work has pushed me to become increasingly interested in the non-running exercises that runners can do to make their bodies better and more efficient running machines.  So the advice I’m sharing here is a direct quotation from the first chapter of his book:

“Runners run, and oftentimes aimlessly, which leads to injury or suboptimal performance.  Athletes develop their brain, their body, and the complementary skills necessary to take the right path.  Runners, it’s time to develop your inner athlete.”

  • Most inspirational runner? This is totally corny, but I’m going to say that my new runners (first time 5Kers) are my greatest inspiration.  It’s one thing for me to pop out of bed and knock out 4 or 6 miles (7-10K) before breakfast. I do it on the regular.  If I don’t want to, it’s because I’m tired or lazy or not in the mood – but not because it’s all that hard (for me).  But for new runners, every.single.step is a challenge.  NOTHING is easy.  Yet they persevere, rallying their drive, determination, and dedication to get out there for their workouts every week – trusting that one day those steps will get easier.  [THEY DO! I promise!  Ask the folks who’ve been there already!]  They are the ones who remind me to get out when I’m not quite feelin’ it.
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Sweat and hydration management.  [Pretty fitting for my first year in Singapore.]  Oh, and Run With Holly, of course! 🙂

If you haven’t taken the survey already, feel free to answer any of these questions in the Comments section.

Or (since we’re not just about running) tell me about your MOST MEMORABLE ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT in 2013.

Or, because I’m feeling all weekend-y, tell me what you’re most excited for this weekend.

31 thoughts on “Year of Running: 2013 in Review

  1. Allison

    Good job this year! With all my foot problems, this past year was not good for running. But my foot is healed! So I am starting to rebuild. But it is hard being patient and I want to get back to where I used to be quickly, but I need to take it slow and accept where I am.

    Reply
  2. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    I think it is awesome that you picked new runners as your most inspirational runners. Not corny at all! I picked my 4 y/o as the runner who inspired me most in 2013! Running alongside her in summer track meets and kids’ miles was the best. I can’t wait for little sister to tackle the track this summer. If we can only get her to focus long enough to run the 100…

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I had forgotten about you choosing your daughter! I don’t think my choice is bad, just a little corny. As much as I’ll read a bit about professional athletes, runners, etc – they already have some natural skill. I don’t doubt that they work hard, but it’s a lot easier to work hard at something that you’re good at, than to work hard at something you aren’t naturally good at (my opinion).

      Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      YES! Thing is…I never saw them in the US! But they are always showing up in race packs over here. They’re made of wicking material, so they’re super easy to squeeze-and-keep-using. After another year or so, I’ll probably have enough that I can send you a few of my spares! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Karen@ La Chanson de Ma Vie

    I agree on the most inspirational runners being beginners, especially ones that aren’t gifted naturals at it. Their determination is so admirable. My biggest running accomplishment in 2013 is believing in myself and trusting that I have the strength and ability to go after big goals.

    Reply
  4. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    You had a great year, Holly, and it’s always fun to look back.

    My most memorable athletic achievement in 2013 was something I assisted with, but wasn’t my achievement. It was creating an ultramarathon event in July for my son to run. I ran about 20 of those miles with him and my husband and other friends ran the rest, but my son completed the entire distance!

    Reply
  5. Kristen L

    I’m with you on the non-running exercises that can help us be more efficient. Plus, I kind of love mixing things up. Hope you share some of the things you learn with us. 🙂

    I have taken a few weeks off from running, so I’m hoping to get back out there this weekend.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I love to share – but sharing can always seem a bit dangerous to me – what’s right for some people isn’t right for everyone. Giving advice to a large groups (especially one that I can’t see/watch/supervise while doing the activity!) is always a little scary/tricky for me!! Yes, yes – I am a control freak. =) But I also believe education is important, and has to start somewhere. So, as always, this blog will evolve as I choose how and what to share. Glad you’re along for the ride! =)

      Reply
  6. Brian

    Holly, I highly suggest reading ‘Becoming a Supple Leopard’, and checking out mobilitywod.com. The book is written by the guy who runs the site – a personal trainer, CrossFit coach, and physical therapist. He’s got a lot of non-stretching mobility exercises – using foam rollers, lacrosse balls, etc. that was one of the best finds I’ve had this year. Great for flexibility, strength, and speed.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Believe it or not, I’ve been tooling around that sight lately! I’ve been reading up on some of his mobility stuff. Sometimes I think he ventures into the wonky (he uses a lot of anthropomorphizing of body parts, if I recall correctly!) – but overall, I agree. I’ve watched him mobilize various lower limbs in some crazy (but seemingly effective) ways. Thanks for the reminder to give him a closer look!

      Do you think an ebook would work, or are there photo and exercises that will be better understood and practiced from a hands-on book? [Holly is creating an Amazon order in another open window at this very moment!]

      Reply
  7. Amy

    Yay! What a great year for you! I have to say, a nice absorption towel on a long, sweaty run sounds so nice! I always bring a towel to the gym with me if I run on the treadmill when there is no wind resistance, but I have never taken one outside. Thanks for the idea; I may need to wait a few months to implement it 🙂

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I can’t believe it took me so long to realize the brilliance there (especially as I was simultaneously wondering what I supposed to do with all these little wicking material towels I was getting in race packs). As I said to Cecelia – I may be able to offer some for freebies in another year or so, given our current rate of accumulation! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Char

    Your most inspirational runner choice really struck a chord with me. We’ve had a lot of new runners in our squad lately and their enthusiasm to embrace all things running and to challenge themselves is incredibly inspiring. A lot of them aren’t particularly fast and many haven’t run long distance before but their desire to improve is contagious.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      And I love working with them for all of the reasons you suggest – sometimes, I forget to appreciate all that my body can do, and they remind me that every successful step I run is a blessing, and deserves celebrating.

      Reply
  9. misszippy

    You had a really nice year of running! I love that a towel is your favorite new piece of “equipment”–doesn’t get much simpler and it might be something I look at next summer on trails (I have a friend who does this, too). And Jay Dicharry is about as smart as they get when it comes to running. Good choice!

    Thanks for playing along!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      It wasn’t bad. Not terribly fast, but good enough for me, this year. Bring on 2014.

      Hint: I also tuck it into my shorts, when I’m running sans pack. But that’s an even less photogenic look. 😉

      Reply
  10. Sheila

    Sounds like a great running year for you! Hands down my greatest run was the Boston marathon….powering through that course was pretty unreal…

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Honestly, everyone who ran Boston in 2013 had quite an experience – I’m glad that the race still qualifies as your “greatest”, despite all that happened afterward. I can’t wait to read what running adventures you and your clan have in store for 2014! 🙂

      Reply
  11. Grace

    I love that you picked the auntie towel. I may have to try this at some point; I’m really glad that more races here are cottoning on (pun totally intended…) to the idea of giving out nice wicking sport towels. And oh yes, I will attest to the power of churros and pizza to fuel a marathon! That trip. So excellent. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Alyssa

    I like this idea of carrying a towel. Hard to imagine needing one now, in sub-zero temps, but it sounds useful in the summer!

    My best athletic achievement in 2013 was finally PR-ing the marathon. It took me a year and a half and 8 freaking marathons to do. So I was pretty happy when it finally happened!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      A marathon PR is a big one – so much time and energy (literally!) get invested in marathon prep that a ‘bad day’ really feels crappy – but a PR feels awesome!

      In the sub zero temps, you could always wrap the towel around your nose and mouth for impromptu face protection… =)

      Reply
  13. Jess

    I love that you are inspired by beginners it really is so hard in the beginning. 2013 was a pretty awesome running year for you! That 50k was insane to even read about.

    Reply
  14. Meagan

    I like your interpretation of “best” for the best run. You are so right that our best runs/races aren’t always the awesome, super-easy ones or the ones where we PR’ed in the case of races. In a place like Singapore I have no trouble seeing why your running towel is your best new piece of gear!

    Reply
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