2016 #BESTNINE

 

Happy New Year!
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Accurate picture of what some of you may have looked like last night so don’t even laugh! 

After a not-so positive previous blog post, I am super excited to get rolling on this one because it is the opposite of depressing and negative.  2016 was amazing for SO many reasons and I can’t wait to share!

I discovered my love for marathon running in 2015 and was hoping it would not be just a 2015 thing.  I am so fortunate and grateful that my passion for the distance not only carried over into 2016 but was taken to another level of competitiveness.  Running the Boston Marathon has been a running goal that I have had for years.  This year was the first time in 4 years that I was not glued to computer screen on Patriot’s day and was on the Boston roads running the incredible race.  Finishing the race was an accomplishment in itself but setting a PR, having to fight through some rough conditions and seeing familiar faces in the crowds to pull me through those rough patches made it even more exceptional.  I started the race in athletes village with Bethany and Katie and finished with a new PR, my parents at the finish line and word that my brother was the First American.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

So on Instagram I saw people posting nine photos with the hashtag #2016bestnine.  I wasn’t sure how it was generated so I took it into my own hands and generated one myself by scrolling back on my Instagram and deciding on MY favorite 9 photos of the year and created a collage haha.  I later found out that Instagram generates the best nine based on ‘Likes’ (that should have been obvious since the IG world is all about LIKES) 😂.  SO, I will show you what the Instagram world views as my best nine and then MY best nine.  It was actually cool to see both and how a photo that didn’t even cross my mind as a top actually had an impact on those around me.

INSTAGRAM BEST NINE

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Instagram, I would have to agree with you on most of these.  I am going to talk about the pictures Instagram chose as a top 9 that did not make it into my top 9.

The pre-marathon FLAT MEL (middle 2) – I am not sure if I should take it personal that you prefer my outfits when they are on hotel room floors rather than on my body 😂 but I am just going to use those two pictures to justify all my clothing purchases because apparently they are helping me with my Instagram game!  But seriously, I would have never picked my pre-race FLAT MEL pictures as my favorite but when they popped up on my #bestnine, I realized that Instagram has a point.  One of the best parts of a marathon is that nervous but exciting feeling you have the night before a race. The moment you lay out your pre-race outfit and fuel is a pretty special feeling – it is that final piece of preparation after months of hard work.  It solidifies your readiness.

My first day of school picture (bottom left) – (insert Mean Girls quote)…..”So you think I am pretty!” …Just Kidding. Maybe the first day of school picture just means summer vacation has officially ended and that is a bitter moment so it did not make the cut as a favorite for that reason but I would agree that the start of every new school year is special.  I get the opportunity to make an impact on 70 new students.  It is another year of students that push my buttons but ultimately teach me the importance of patience and help me better myself.

Thanksgiving 5k PR (bottom middle) – I did not chose this one because the 5k distance has really slipped down the list of interests over the last two years.  However, I did write a sub-19 5k PR for 2017 goals so I really should have been more proud of this moment.  More importantly, this was the first race that I did under a coach.  Granted we were only about 3 weeks in and just slowly building up, but it was nice to PR and see even just the 3 weeks of training pay off.  It fueled me and made me feel like this coaching plan was the right decision and made me excited for the next 6 months with McKirdy Trained.

The Random 6 mile Night Run (bottom right) – This one took me by absolute surprise. Maybe it’s the beautiful Saucony Kinvaras or maybe the reflection makes it look super insightful and reflective.  Regardless, thank you Instagram for liking me at my best moments and liking me at my slow and steady moments!

 MY BEST NINE!!!!!

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I will save the THREE that overlap for the end because they overlap for a reason…they are so close to my heart and hold so much value!

Disney Princess Challenge (top left)- I do not know why you Instgramers did not chose this one!! Come on, our skirts are so darn cute!!!! Disney will always be at the top of my list because it is week of spending time with my Mom, doing what we love, running around the parks like kids again and relaxing by the pool.  Unfortunately, we are not doing the challenge in 2017 due to Boston 2 Big Sur expenses…and my dad HAD to buy a new mini van just as we were thinking of jumping the gun and making a spur of the moment last minute trip 😂!  There is no doubt that I will become a little depressed come February when @runDisney posts a ton of pictures but I know we will have a wonderful trip to Big Sur and she is running Boston!!!

Crossfit Competition (top middle)- I knew this wouldn’t be an Instagram favorite because not many runners are into Crossfit but it was for me.  Not necessarily the competition itself but what Crossfit has brought into my life.  I have gained lifelong friends through Crossfit and it has always been that place I can go when I need a break from running. My coach is incredible – she yells at me, she pushes me but lets me have a melt down on her shoulder when you have those moments in training when you’re overwhelmed, overtired and everything is hard.  There is no doubt that sometimes I fail at balancing Crossfit and running and that can hinder my performances in both arenas but overall, I think each sport makes me stronger in the other.  I have been taking a break from Crossfit workouts to focus on Boston 2 Big Sur but I still go to the box to do my running strength exercises and just to annoy my friends while they workout. 😉. I also chose this photo because I see strength.  I will never look like the elite runners.  That is not my body type. But that is OK because I know that my strength is what helps me prevail in races and makes me an all-around athlete rather than just a runner.

Union College 5 Year Reunion (top right) – My 4 years at college were some of the greatest years of my life.  I still have moments when I get down and miss those 4 years.  I miss having my best friends live right down the hall.  I miss when life was just about learning.  I miss my lacrosse career. Oh man, I miss a lot about my collegiate career, I am tearing up typing this.  BUT, life is about growing and growing is what I have done.  Going back for my 5 year reunion was refreshing.  There is nothing better than being reunited with some of my best friends and living the college life for 48 hours.  After 5 years of growing up, adulting and learning to love just curling up with a good book or a good movie on a Friday night, 48 hours of college was all I could handle!  Union College is my roots and gave me the greatest things in life – an education, unforgettable memories and the most amazing group of friends.

18 Ithaca Summer Miles (bottom left)- Ithaca runs are always memorable because they are beautiful and so challenging.  This particular run was just beautiful and less challenging as usual.  I remember the miles just passing by as I took in the scenery.  Later that day, I had to drive to Buffalo for one of my best friend’s wedding.  A day full of friends, family and beautiful runs is always memorable.

The Stud – Oh yes, can’t forget about that stud on the left 😎 I’ll keep this short – you make life fun, you keep me calm when running makes me anxious, you may not always understand my passion for running but you try and your lack of passion for running keeps me grounded. Boy, you are the the yin to my yang.

My Mom’s 2016 Marathon (bottom right) – MY 61 YEAR OLD MOM QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!! She is incredible.  I don’t even care that I shared her age because it is nothing to be ashamed of.  She accomplishes more than most people half her age can accomplish.  She has been raking in age group cash money ever since she hit the 60 year old age category😏!  For a brief moment, I was going to do this marathon but it was so close after Boston and I had a Crossfit Competition planned the day before.  I decided last minute to do the half despite being super sore from the competition.  The half was rough and as soon as I was done, I jumped in the car and went to cheer on my mom.  When I saw her at mile 20, I only planned on running a few minutes with her but when she saw me she said, “Your staying with me until the end right?” 😳 …how in the world do you say no to that.  My legs would have to be falling off before I say no to helping my mom finish a marathon.  She was tired, miserable and a tad bit cranky (as anyone would be at mile 20) so I let her air out all her crankiness and negative comments when I tried to push her.  It was probably one of the best 6 miles I have ever run because you can’t NOT laugh at the craziness people say in the final 6 miles of a marathon.  “I THINK I AM ON TRACK TO QUALIFY FOR BOSTON!”…2 minutes later ..”UGH I DON’T EVEN WANT TO QUALIFY FOR BOSTON, I DON’T EVEN CARE!”…2 minutes later (looks at her watch)…“I THINK I CAN QUALIFY FOR BOSTON!”….Yes Mom, You WILL qualify but for someone who claims she can’t breath, you are wasting a lot of energy discussing this 😂.

TOP 3 PHOTOS!!!!

My top 3 photos (or the 3 that overlapped in both #bestnine) are the finish line pictures at all 3 of my 2016 marathon finishes. Regardless of time, place or experience…a marathon finish should always be a top moment.  You are either on cloud 9 after a killer performance or you are heartbroken with the way the race went after months of training for something that slipped away within hours.  No matter what the immediate reaction is or how the race played out, you are happy and you are proud.  Happy with your time or happy that is over. Proud that you PR’d or proud that you mentally and physically fought the unfortunate obstacles that unexpectedly decided to show up on race day.  Boston and Chicago were definitely what I described first and San Francisco was the latter.  San Francisco hurt.  Thankfully, I had no real expectations and did not train long for it so I did not feel like all my training was a waste but it was a rough experience.  I cried, regrouped, cried, regrouped and said every mantra in the book.  It’s a low and uncomfortable place to be but I am so glad I had that struggle.  I held on for so darn long and kept trucking along despite wanting to give up.  You need to struggle and hit a real deep low to discover new strength.  Another reason I love the marathon! 

Those three pictures also display the amazing people I have supporting me!

  • My parents at the finish of Boston while my brother was being interviewed with his girlfriend by his side followed by a big family lunch.  When you are in the moment, there is so much to take in, your brain is still exhausted from 26.2 of being on your mental game and you don’t always fully embrace the moments.  But when you look back, it is so vivid and engrained in your memory because it was so special. I will never forget that post Boston lunch.  I was so proud of myself and so proud of my brother.  My parents were happy for the both of us and it was all over their face.  They want us to excel in our races just as much as we want to. When we hurt, they hurt. When one has a great race and the other doesn’t, it is hard to manage both emotions.  But to be in Copley Plaza enjoying lunch after we both had great races is a rare and pretty great moment.
  • BETHANY!!!!! Ah.  I think I said it all in the Chicago recap.  This girl has been my training partner from afar.  She makes marathons so fun.  When the race unfolds the way it is planned to and we get to run side by side for 26.2 miles, it is incredible.  Two people with two completely different training schedule, living in two different areas come together, run 26.2 miles side by side, push each other without really ever saying more than 4 sentences throughout the entire race…that’s a special bond!
  • San Francisco….it is a solo shot but it was taken by my friend from college, Abby,  who made that marathon weekend so awesome!  I remember just breaking down when I saw the finish line and then I heard my name, looked to side, and there she was.. her crazy, cute self in a SF baseball hat yelling her head off.  It was perfect.

 

I could keep this blog post going because these posts are my favorite but I’ll end it here.  Have a wonderful 2017 everyone!  While most of the world is kicking off the new year with all the running goals and fitness ambitions, I am starting the new year off with a rest week because if there is one thing that I continue to struggle with, it is listening to my body and learning to rest.  I decided to spend vacation doing a ton of cross training and snuck back into Crossfit workouts when I should have been resting my knee so now I am paying for it.  I decided January 1st would be a good time to use the “new year, new you” to encourage me to be smarter and wiser and do the one thing I struggle most with…rest!  So I mean it when I say I could keep this blog post going all day 😉

HERE WE GO 2017! Embrace the good times and let the bad times run their course so you can be a better and stronger athlete and person!

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