Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review - WOW!

I'm a nerd about the changing of the year.  There's no way to avoid that.  I can admit it.  My friends know it to be true.  I have no reason to try and deny it.  One of the reasons that I love to blog is that I love to spend time reflecting - whether it is on the past weekend, a race, a time of my life, or what I had for dinner and how I cooked it.  I like to document and think back.  It's something that I have been prone to my whole life, which is proof by the two boxes full of notebooks, journals, and diaries that I just brought back with me to Atlanta that I just found in my childhood belongings while I was at home.

So let's get to it. 2015 in review. What will I think back on when I think of 2015?

Well, I will think of 2015 as the year that I grew. The year that I did what I set out to accomplish.  The year that I defined going into and then made happen.

Let's flashback to the beginning of 2015 shall we?  What many of you may not have known, I broke up with a boyfriend days before the new year last year.  Our new years eve plans and couples ski trip plans were no more.  It was supposed to be my first new year in my life that I had someone to kiss at midnight and the first time I did something as a "couples" thing and then it was all scrapped. Instead, I third and fifth wheeled it, with the low point being having to share a bed with my friends who are married because a hotel we were staying in was completely out of rooms or rooms with double beds (I can look back at it now and laugh but at the time it made me want to cry.)

Additionally, I entered this year in a bad place mentally.  The breakup was hard, yes.  But I also was not exercising. I had fallen into a funk after Kansas City marathon.  I was out of shape.  I was struggling to get the motivation to do anything.  My fitness level had been dropping even before the marathon, which was evident in that my marathon times slowed by 20 minutes from April to October.   I was struggling in my new job.  And I literally had NO friends in Atlanta.

I remember when my plane landed in Atlanta around January 5th or so after being in the north for a bit and I had nobody to text for the first time saying "Just landed!" after moving here.  I had a feeling of sadness, of aloneness, and also of, "Welp -- this is it.  Now or never."  And then I decided to tackle 2015 head on.

My initial commitments were to make friends in Atlanta and build a life here.  And my gosh, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the people in my life in Atlanta who make this a place where I return to be "home."  Many people have asked me over the past year how I have done it and how I have made friends when I moved to a completely new place.  One thing I can say is that I made it a priority, another is that running helped, and a third is that I continued to get really lucky.

I enter into 2016 still single as can be but as rich as ever with amazing friendships that make me luckier than anyone I know.  I cannot believe what incredible friends I have made here in Atlanta.  I cannot believe the family and community I found in this city once I actually sought it out.  I am in amazement at the people who inspire and motivate me every day who I call friends.  The life I have built here in Atlanta have made 2015 a success on its own.

Beyond that, my accomplishments in the athletic world -- have literally blown my mind.

Coming into this year, I had very specific goals.  First, to spend the spring getting faster.  I wanted to work on speed and break 2:00 hours in a half marathon.  It was a goal I knew was in my world of possibility, but when I actually achieved that goal in March, it exceeded what I thought was possible of myself at that time.

My next goal was to spend the summer working on triathlons, improving my biking, and to compete in an Olympic distance triathlon.  Which I did in early August and not only did I finish it -- I came in 2nd in my age group.

And my 3rd goal was to do a fall marathon.  And holy cow, not only did I do a fall marathon -- I crushed a fall marathon, running beyond my wildest expectations in 3:58.  Seriously. 3:58??  What that means is that my second time running a sub 2:00 hour half marathon was the SECOND HALF of a MARATHON.  This day, this accomplishment, makes me feel like I can fly and do anything.

My running accomplishments in 2015 have been so strong.  In addition to all of these goals that I set for myself. I did things that literally, didn't seem possible.  I won my age group in triathlons. In road races. I beat times that seemed like flukes in past years.  I hit times that I didn't even think were possible for myself.  I achieved more than I thought possible. I entered this year thinking that there was no way I could top the year before.  I ran a marathon in 2014.  How could I beat that?

This year, I have accomplished things that have been so out of my realm of thought that it has literally been rethinking every aspect of my life.  I know that sounds drastic, but it's true.

The things that I made happen this year, I made happen on my own.  It's made me proud.  It's made me expect more of myself.  It's made me push myself harder.

Today, I did my final workout of the year.  A final 3 miles throughout Piedmont Park.  It literally was a struggle run as I realized that I went a whole week without running, which was the longest that I have gone in all of 2015.  That's definitely not the way I want to close off the year!  However, I did close it off with a run today.  And as I ran I thought back on the whole year.  I thought of all the high points and what it felt like.  I put myself back in the place of running the Chicago Marathon, seeing friends as I ran through those miles, and how good I felt during that race.  How amazing it was to see my time and what it felt like to know that I had run sub 4:00 hours.  As well, how painful it felt at the finish when I felt like I couldn't breathe and wasn't sure if I should go to the medical tent or not.

I thought about how I felt when doing the run during the Olympic triathlon, how much I wanted that race to be over so badly. How I wasn't sure what my place or pace was, and that I just wanted it to be over.  How hot and tired I was and the willpower it took to keep me moving forward.

I thought about the Publix half marathon and the point in the run where my friend/coach Holly asked me what time I had for myself in the race and I told her, "I have no idea - I am just going to run as hard as I can if I make it, I make it!" and how much pain I was in during that last mile in the rain running uphill and using every ounce of my willpower to keep myself moving forward.

I thought about the people that were there during all of those races.  The Movers + Pacers crew cheering me on when I barely knew them.  Brick jumping up and down and cheering for me during the Olympic tri, or how excited she was for me when I placed for the first time ever in Arizona.  My mom's voice cheering for me as I rounded the corner and finished the duathlon in New Hampshire.  Everyone that was there for me to celebrate in Chicago. And all those who made signs, posted on my wall, wrote comments or text messages throughout all of these races.  Legit, it makes me cry even thinking about it now.  Which is why I am probably able to repost this image, even though its terrible... it shows feelings well.

And, during my run today I thought of the hard points of the year that made these races worthwhile.  The day that I ran through a hangover and heat and thought I was going to pass out.  The days of getting up early to run on the treadmill in Mexico, Orlando, and Thailand.  The time spent planning meticulously runs and training schedules and stressing about fitting these workouts in.  I thought of the days of running through the rain.  Of running in .3 mile circles within the gated hotel in Nigeria.  Of compression socks and hydrating and going to bed early.  I thought of the pain and mental fortitude to get myself through the last miles of my 18-mile or 20-mile runs in training for Chicago.  Of gathering the courage to put my clip in shoes on for my bike.  Of falling off the bike.  On multiple times.

I thought of all these things today as I ran.  Because all of these things are what make up 2015 to me.  I am sure that the new year will bring a whole new list of trials, tribulations, and accomplishments to write about.  But today, I feel so proud of 2015.

And that's not to say that everything in this year has been a success. Has been a victory and something to think back on positively.

I think maybe that part of the reason that this year's athletic successes are such amazing accomplishments to me is because of what I wrote about before.  I made all of this happen for myself.  I came into this year knowing noone in Atlanta.  Nobody saying to be, "Hey, why don't you run with me this AM?" or "Hey, you should sign up for this marathon!"  Funny enough, I became that person to others.

Everything I did this year, I did because I wanted to.  And I made it happen.  That is huge.

Outside of running as well...

I traveled.  To exotic places like Mexico, Nigeria, and Thailand.  And within the U.S. I had new experiences like my amazing trip to Arizona.  I also saw friends get married.  I spent New Years and other weekends with friends:  doing simple things.  Laughing, talking about our lives, meeting new people.  I think of the time I spent foam rolling and eating Whole Foods dinners with Jenna.  Devouring ice cream sandwiches and going for walks with Heidi, Dave, and Finn.  Being in Atlanta and having Brick take me to new restaurants and bars. Visitors to Atlanta.  Getting my nails done with friends in Boston.  Walks on the beach, TV shows on the couch, FaceTime conversations, and long written e-mails. Unexpected cards and gifts and texts and all the tiny moments that make life happy when you have long distance friendships.  They have all been here this year as well.

However, just as much as I could write about the things I did this year... I have the urge and temptation to think back on the things that I didn't do or that I missed out on.

I missed baby showers.  Engagement parties.  Wedding showers and bachelorette parties.  First birthday parties. And worse, the meaningless un-event driven days.  I missed being there for my friends on the days that don't really matter. I missed being able to say, "Hold on, I'll drive right there." when my friends are having a bad week.  I missed meaningless conversations and who knows how many hours of laughter.  I missed cheering on my little brothers and some of my best friends during their first 5Ks and being there for a countless life moments. The list could go on on and on.  However, I don't think of those things.  or at least I try not to.

2015 is the year I set three goals for myself crushed one after one. 2015 is the year that I went places that scared me and took trips that took me outside of my comfort zone - from Mexico, to Nigeria, to Thailand, to traveling to Arizona with a group of friends I barely knew.  It is the year I got to make my niece and nephew laugh uncontrollably and see them grow to little humans. 2015 is the year I made Atlanta my HOME.  It is the year that I fell in love with myself a little bit more than I ever have before.

I have no idea what 2016 has in store for me.  Athletically.  Mentally. Physically. With relationships. With friends. With family. With travel, life, living.  I have no idea.

Don't get me wrong, I've set some goals. I have some plans. I am preparing for the future and excited about everything in store. It's just an open box.  And I like it that way.

Happy new year, lovies.  Thank you for reading. Seriously, thank you for reading.

Thank you for being a part of my life, my community, my support, my humility, my high points, my low points, and everything in between.  I wish you a happy, healthy, and safe new year and all that you hope for in 2016!!!  As well as things you never thought imagineable :)

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