I was thinking about my goals for 2019 and realized I hadn’t yet thought through everything that happened in 2018. In many ways, 2018 feels like it’s been the longest year ever. In other ways, it feels like it flew by. My biggest running goal for 2018 was to qualify for the Boston Marathon at the Berlin Marathon and it was what was driving me through all my running endeavors this year.
At the end of 2017, I was disappointed with how my running had gone throughout the year; I had tried different workouts and plans but things just weren’t clicking anymore. I was frustrated but more than anything I was determined to make a change in the new year so during January 2018, I hired Jessica of Sugar Runs as my running coach. My confidence as a runner started coming back when I was hitting paces in challenging workouts and my excitement for racing returned. In March, I exceeded my goal of breaking 1:40 in the half marathon by nearly 3 minutes running 1:37:09 at the Carmel Half Marathon. My previous best was 1:41:44 set in May 2016 and this was a big breakthrough for me and my racing.
April brought 2 weeks of stressful work travel and I was only getting a few hours of sleep a night to be able to fit in workouts between long nights of work and early morning starts. It was a rough time and I was unsure that racing the Illinois Half Marathon at the end of April would go smoothly. Somehow, I found the extra gear and was able to shave another 30 seconds off my PR running 1:36:39. I was elated, but certainly ready for a break before Berlin Marathon training began. I wasn’t running much or very fast for the month of May but managed to pull off a 10K PR in 43:35 at the Chicago Spring 10K. I won $250 for being the 3rd female to cross the line, a pretty nice prize for a 10K, and my confidence continued to build.
It was a very hot summer in Chicagoland and I struggled for a couple months trying to adapt. I felt like I was breathing through a straw many days and wasn’t sure if the training was paying off since I was running slower and often having to stop to catch my breath (I have exercise-induced asthma that was really kicking in during the heat and humidity). I ran some of the hardest marathon training workouts and long runs that I’ve ever done in my life, but things really appeared to be going well when I ran another half marathon PR at the beginning of August in humid/hot conditions in 1:35:02 (those 2 seconds still kill me!). It reassured me that changes were happening in my body and that my goals for the Berlin Marathon were within reach.
In mid-August, we bought our first house, repainted nearly every wall in the house, and officially moved in at the end of August. It was right around this time that I was running my peak mileage for Berlin training and things got a bit rough when I tried to do everything. After my 3-hour simulation run, I headed straight to the house to peel wallpaper off the walls and ended up with a terrible migraine. I completely overdid it and by late evening was in bed throwing up into a garbage can clutched between my hands. It was a lesson in not trying to do everything at once as my body just shut down and took awhile to recuperate after this incident.
In September, we jetted off to Germany for the big trip. We arrived on Friday afternoon with quite a bit of jet lag and went through the hectic expo. The race wasn’t any less hectic and was congested until about 14 or 15 miles (tiny European streets aren’t super conducive to major marathons, as I would learn, especially when start corrals weren’t enforced) but I was still able to pull off a 3:28:06, a 10+ minute PR and my first BQ. I don’t write this to be bratty or ungrateful but it was the most frustrating race I’ve ever run. I crossed the finish line and knew I had my BQ, but I was just so mentally and physically drained from the race that it took me awhile to internalize what had just happened. There was a moment around 7K where I was nearly in tears as I couldn’t find my husband where he said he would be and I was being bumped left and right because of the congestion and having to weave in and out of people who had started in a faster corral than where they were seeded. The little tiny plastic water cups didn’t help either for being able to get liquids down and we had to slow down through the water stops as there were slippery piles of plastic everywhere. I still firmly believe I had more in me than the 3:28 but I just didn’t have any energy left by the end of the race from all the weaving in and out of people for about 13 miles. After talking to my coach, I found out that Boston will be similar in terms of people always being around so Berlin helped prepare me for that, but at least the corrals in Boston are heavily enforced and down to the minute so I’ll be running with other athletes who have similar times to me.
3 weeks after the Boston Marathon I ran the Chicago Marathon. I was supposed to run it just for fun, but after feeling dissatisfied with what happened in Berlin, there I was going guns-a-blazing through 15 miles until I was stopped dead in my tracks with GI issues. I clawed my way to the finish line, stopping at every porta-potty along the way, and finished my 6th marathon in 3:53. It was stupid and as a result it probably was the cause of my hamstring injury and from this experience I learned the importance of giving your body time to recover between hard efforts and that even if my mind is ready to go back into battle it doesn’t mean my body is.
I spent October and November rehabbing my hamstring and running a few miles at a time. It definitely messed with my motivation and my interest in running for awhile. Just last week I wrote about being in a running funk. But it’s funny, as soon as I aired how I had been feeling about running, things started going back to normal. I’m really looking forward to training for Boston and for the new challenge of hill training. It seems scary at times but I’m thankful to be healthy and happy training again. 2018 was my most successful year of running in a long time and I’m so appreciative of everyone who helped me have such an awesome year. As great as the year was, however, I’m excited for 2019 because while I’m still the same person I feel like a new runner and I can’t wait to see all that this body is capable of in the new year.
Next week I’ll be posting about my goals for 2019. Check back into the blog to read more!