Friday, January 8, 2016

Where I've been (2015) & Where I'm going (2016)

I had a million drafts sitting in a folder on here for end of year and beginning of year stuff. Lately finishing posts just hasn't happened- life has. Living it, breathing it and making it have all taken priority over writing about it. Not a bad thing, but I also do want to touch on some bits and pieces of those "would have been" posts.

2015 was a big year for me in many, many ways. I finally saw some hard earned breakthroughs in my running, I was also able to be there for others during their breakthrough's. My personal life, followed the cliche of "when you stop looking" adage and here I am happier than I have ever been. Life in general, still had the roller coaster high's and low's but nothing that I felt I couldn't handle with the great support I have around me.

In running, it was a huge year of building. Consistency in training, finding the right support and removing what wasn't working allowed me to really come out on top (personal success). Another 2000+ mile year in the books, with a little less than 200 of those miles raced (22 bibs) and also a new state off the marathon list. I set a personal best in almost all distances with three personally meaningful breakthroughs. Years ago I would say you were crazy if you told me I'd accomplish a sub 3 hour marathon, a sub 85 minute half and a sub 19 5k(1,2,3,4 times) let alone all 3 in one year. I also spent some miles this year, helping others reach their goals. Pacing a half marathon, pacing a marathon, and also running with some friends in parts of their races. I think that those experiences motivated me even more than my own running did.

My three favorite finish lines from the year?

The Most Adrenaline Filled
I don't have words to add.
The Most Rewarding & Emotional
This Photo says it all. I'm emotional, excited and so PROUD of my cadet and friend. Brittany had an amazing first marathon and I was so lucky to experience it first hand with her. Being a part of it throughout the process made it even better, it was so rewarding in a million ways.
The Most Spontaneous and Inspiring
Running the last few miles of Wineglass with Michele wasn't necessarily planned. But it was incredible. She didn't NEED me, but I was glad to be there and it was inspiring to watch her pushing through the final miles. She's always been someone I admire, this only solidified that.
2015 was a year that I really got to experience so much in my life, but also in other peoples lives. I got to be there for some friends during their "big moments". Races, weddings, struggles, all things that I was lucky enough to be by their sides. For clarification, I don't LIKE seeing friends struggle but I certainly can be grateful that I had the chance to give back and help them like they have helped me. I found so much joy this year in being there for others during the good and the bad. Some situations, trying to be a good friend backfired in my face- but I have no regrets. You can't regret supporting others, even if things don't work out.

During the year I also had some great opportunities fall into my lap. I became an athlete for two companies that I have used for years. Zensah and Honey Stinger became more than just brands to me, and I'm so excited to be a part of that again. I have been a loyal Saucony runner for years. I stand by their products and the company itself, which made being a coach for their Saucony 26 Strong project that much more special. Throw in getting a chance to run a great friends first marathon with her, and experience a  race weekend with so many other inspiring women- nothing can compare. Late in the year, I also branched out with my writing and started being a contributor for Salty Running. Over there I'm known as Barley, aka the resident beer girl/runner. I have gotten to know some amazing women through that, and also learned even more about running, training, and the sport itself.

On a personal level, the year started in the black hole of self pity. 2014 was incredibly challenging and even though I worked through so much, the overflow of emotions carried into the new year. So, I tried my best to move forward. It involved attempting online dating (yes, I'm serious) which was an adventure to say the least. Beyond that it turned to focusing back on myself. I was working a lot, training hard, dealing with some family stuff, and also just trying to be comfortable on my own two feet in life. I answered to no one and it was incredibly freeing.
"So trust me when I say I'm not afraid to eat alone....or with my dog"
Then one night at work, things changed. I walked in circles over and over, bought this guy a beer, gave him my number and put myself out there. I couldn't tell you what made me do it, but I knew I wanted to. It started great, but then I got scared, overwhelmed with life(you know, like losing your grandmother two days after Boston Marathon and then also finding out your Mom would be moving out of state) and went back to only thinking about myself. Luckily a few months later, when I realized I'd made a mistake- we tried again and the timing was so much better. Timing is everything, and this time we got it right. This fall I packed my stuff up, and moved Moose's kennel to our new home. Moose has a step sister named Pepper, and Brian and I love our little Brady bunch fur family. Cue the awwwweeee's and the eye rolls.

My 2015 Takeaway? You can't force things. Relationships cannot be forced, timing is everything, and when you know. You cannot force others to be good people, you cannot expect them to change because most of the time they won't see their actions as wrong. You cannot force broken things to be fixed; some friendships, relationships, and life methods are just too far gone to keep pouring time and energy into. That isn't negative, it's realistic. You can't force your training, the PR's or the work that needs to be done to reach your goals. It takes time, effort, and choices to get there and sometimes you'll need help.

The best part about all of that though? The freedom of letting go, and seeing what happens. Because your stress level will go down when you stop trying so damn hard to make everything fit into what you think it should be. Life isn't perfect, it never will be- but if you try hard for yourself instead of trying hard to make it be something else....things WILL get better.

Where does that leave me while starting off 2016? 
Well, the first weekend of the year was pretty amazing. Brian and I had a weekend away together in Buffalo for an NHL game, a night on the town just the two of us, and then rounded it out with witnessing the Bills put a stop to the Jets post-season dreams. We talked, we laughed, we drank, we ate, and we shared a lot of memories together.

Then this week Boston training officially started. Although I've been sick (not that a cold snowy Bills game where I yelled for 4 hours had anything to do with it), it's still been a good week getting ready for a training cycle that will be challenging but rewarding. This weekend, I get to see Heather and Britt to share beers, miles and laughs. So yeah, I'd say 2016 is starting off pretty darn good.

I don't know where the rest of the year will go, but for once I'm not over planning, over stressing, or worrying about things that I can't control. With that said, 2016 I think you and I are gonna get along just fine.

So, here's to 2016. 
More Running
More Laughter
More Love
More Family time
More Friend time
More Writing
More Helping Others
More Goal Chasing
More Nephews to Love....
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