Even though this wasn’t necessarily the running year I had expected, a lot of great things still happened. For example, I ran 21 half marathons and added 12 states to my 50 state half marathon quest. On top of that, 8 of those half marathons came in double weekends from September to December. I didn’t do any races longer than a half this year and only a handful of shorter races that were usually attached with some challenge for a race weekend. It certainly wasn’t the year I expected, but I still smiled and made the most of it.
It’s been awhile that I have done a Five Things Friday post, so I thought with my racing wrapped up for the year, I’d put one more out for 2017 and I’d rank my top 5 races. These aren’t necessarily in the list because of my finish time, but perhaps the people I ran with or the meaning of the race to me.
5) Coming in as the 5th best race of the year is the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half. This was my 2nd half of the year and a new state for me. I flew down on Saturday and didn’t plan much time in NOLA. I am not a huge fan of Bourbon Street, but somehow I got roped into a stag party with a bunch of guys from Australia and found myself staying out way too late.
I figured the race would go horribly for me, but it was fantastic. The crowds were amazing. Music was fantastic and there was king cake! I smiled a lot during this race and to me that is always an indicator of how great a race is. This was my 2nd fastest half the year, but overall with the race itself is what really made it one I would go back and run in a heartbeat.
4) At the number 4 race of the year is the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. This was the race that shouldn’t have been since I didn’t sign up until 2 days prior to the race. I had just gotten out of the hospital 6 days earlier (after being admitted for 5 days) and I had no idea how the race would go. I honestly thought I would need every last minute of their 3:30 time limit. There is really just something magically about this race and this course as it went a thousand times better than I thought it would.
It was by no means my fastest half ever and I did hit the wall hard in the last 1.6 miles, but overall this race was just what I needed as I was coming out of the hospital. Most people probably would not have attempted to race 6 days post hospital release, but I’m not like most people. This course holds my current half marathon PR, so deep down I do have a soft spot for this race. As I tell everyone, that trail is magically and while you think you aren’t doing great, in reality, you’re actually crushing it and that’s what I did for at Buffalo Creek this year.
3) Okay, no top 5 list of mine would be completed without having the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in it. This year was actually my slowest Pittsburgh Half since running this race. I knew going into it wouldn’t be the best for time and I was okay with that. Since I knew that going into the race, I got to enjoy the course a little bit more, look for friends I knew were spectating and just enjoy 13.1 miles with Lauren. Any race run with a friend is a great race and that is always the case when Lauren and I get to run together.
I think what also makes Pittsburgh land at number 3 this year is that I actually participated in 4 races over the weekend. I did the official Steel Challenge with the 5k on Saturday and the half on Sunday, but I took on my official “faux” Aunt duties and ran with Lauren’s niece and nephew for the kid’s race as well. In addition, I was a last minute add for a friend’s relay team. What other race weekends give you an opportunity to run in 4 different races? Not many!
2) My second best race certainly comes in for a few reasons, but certainly the top reason was in fact my finish time. As my third to last race of the year, the Race 13.1 Baltimore Half Marathon was a wild card. I had planned this race for a few months, but it wasn’t until the weeks that lead up to it that I decided to push it at this race. Based on some recent results, I decided to give it a go at trying to get a sub 2:30. I hadn’t done that since February and wasn’t too sure if I would even be able to do it.
The race conditions were perfect. Temperatures were in the high 30’s-low 40’s with no wind. The course was flat and I was ready to try for that sub 2:30. I had had such a bad racing year, so I did want this. Well, I wanted it so badly, that I ended up going 2:20:05! It was my fastest half since August 2016. I was actually upset that I missed a sub 2:20 by those 5 seconds. Needless to say, I was more than thrilled with how this race went which is why it’s at number 2 of the year.
1) Believe it or not, my number one race of the year isn’t even a half marathon. I’ve chosen the EQT 10 miler to fit this spot. I love the 10 mile distance because without that extra little 5k, you really can push it a bit more than you normally can. As another hometown race, it’s great to run with friends and this year’s EQT 10 miler didn’t disappoint there.
What made this so great though was that it was really the start of me getting back to some strong running. It was the mental and physical boost that I needed. This race couldn’t have come at a better time and I was so glad I had the chance to run it. I hadn’t run this particular race since it’s first year back in 2013 and it was great to get back at this distance again. It wasn’t a PR, but finishing strong with negative splits and with a huge smile on the face meant more than getting a PR at the time.
Even though 2017 was an up and down year for racing, I learned a lot from each and every race and I felt lucky to have run each and every race. The year didn’t go how I planned, but other than the hospitalization and missing Hawaii, I don’t think I would have changed anything at the end of it all. I can’t wait now for all of the fun and adventure that 2018 will hopefully bring.
What would you rank as your top race of the year?