Let’s do these in chronological order …
1. Running to my Civil War soldier-ancestor’s grave: Starting the year injured and uncertain about racing goals, I decided to focus on destination runs. At the time, I didn’t do much running in our neighborhood, other than the occasional 4-miler. On Feb. 20 I stretched my boundaries by giving my great-great grandfather’s tombstone a friendly pat at the turnaround point of a 6.6 mile run.
2. The DIY Mud Run — My sister and I couldn’t wait for the trails at our local state park to dry out last spring. Then we thought, “Why wait? We’ll just pretend we’re doing one of those “Dirty Girl” mud races.” I wiped out twice in the muck, and Traci got so muddy she took her pants off to drive home.
3. The Waterfall 5K Trail Run — This is such a beautiful course that simply experiencing it transcends the fact that my time this year was terrible. It was pretty cool to see my picture (in a shot from last year’s race) on the official race T-shirt, too. Best of all, it was fun to run into my finishing buddy from my first triathlon, Chad Ware, and discover that he’s an aspiring (not to mention inspiring) ultra-runner. (June 24).
4. Running in a new friend’s shoes: It was an awesome feeling to go for a run in a pair of shoes once worn by a blogger friend I came to know and respect this year. They arrived on June 28, when the thermometer hit 106 degrees, and the sun was still an angry ball of fire the next morning when I took them out for a spin. Somehow that just contributed to the surreal experience. (She’s a lot better than I am, so every time I put these on I try to “aim a little higher.”)
5. The Swiss Days 5K Race — This is my most sentimental race, due to the fact that my dad co-founded it 39 years ago and still blows the start whistle. The fact that I got a PR this year — and actually placed in my age group for the first time, as did Ben — made it extra special. (July 28).
6. The Gator Gallop — I’d never even heard of this race before, but when I found out Chad Ware was the race director, I had to run it — even though it would mean doubling up with two 5Ks in one day. My time was several minutes slower than the Swiss Days Race earlier in the day, but it was fun to complete my first “daily double.” Loved that “shot gun start,” too. (July 28)
7. The DIY Bluffton Street Fair Half-Marathon — I couldn‘t get off work this year to run the Parlor City Trot, so my sister and I ran the course during the Bluffton Street Fair, which is when the race was originally designed to be run. The late September weather was perfect, much nicer than the muggy conditions on Labor Day weekend. And it was fun to finish at the fair, which meant that I could get one of my favorite fair foods — a sandwich from Mettler‘s fish stand — for my post-race meal.
8. The Galloping Gobbler — This is such a low-key, “everybody’s home for the holidays” kind of race, and yet there’s also this amusing “run for your life!” component early on in which there’s always this mad scramble to escape the crush of the crowd. But the main thing is that on a day jammed with food and activities, it always feels nice to let off a little steam. (Thanksgiving Day; the first run in my Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak.)
9. The DIY Heyerly’s Bakery half-marathon — Running from our house to my favorite bakery for a Christmas cookie has been on my “bucket list” for a long time. The funny thing was, by the time I did the 13.66-mile round trip on Dec. 12, I was in the middle of a holiday sugar detox — and so I wound up carrying my giant gingerbread man all the way home and gave it to Colleen instead.
10. Running over to visit my new niece — This was the payoff for all those destination runs this year, extending the boundaries of the neighborhood to the point where it no longer seems like a big deal to make the 10-mile round trip to my brother’s house and back. On this particular day I didn’t have time to run back home, so I had Rowan meet me at Brent and Darcy’s for a chance to admire Kyla, born Dec. 3.
This was not only one of my most enjoyable destination runs of the year, it was also one of my favorite Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak runs. (Tomorrow’s the last day!)