As 2011 getting closer and closer to closing its chapter in my life I am taking the next two days to look back, look back to what has happened over the past year. I am not sure how I will feel about it when I look back 10 or more years from now, but in this moment I know this has been an important year in my life.
Why this year and not another. The year I graduated college or high school was important right? Wasn’t that first job important or the year I got my drivers license? I am not married and I do not have kids so I cannot compare my year to those things. No this year has been memorable because of other reasons, this year I found my voice. But before getting into that its important to look back at 2011.
February marked the first real memorable day of the year. It was a snowy (blizzard) night near Burlington. I happened (this never happens) to have two days off in a row in the winter. I left my work to spend some time with my very pregnant sister who was on bed rest. I joked during a day of just watching television it would be great if the baby came while I was up there and worked into my schedule. That evening my sister went into labor and my first niece was born during a blizzard. They say blizzard babies are good luck. I was in the delivery room and that day I became an Aunt.
Fast forward to the first Sunday in May, I raced in the Tough Mudder and finished 3rd for women in the first heat that day, qualifying myself for World’s Toughest Mudder. It is hard if you just read the blog to know where I was at that point in life. Prior to TM, the longest distance I had run was 8 miles once my longest race 6 miles. I had proclaimed my entire life, I am not a runner to all that would listen. At the start off that race I feared I would not be able to do a 10 mile race, stressed over the mileage, it’s kind of laughable now but in the moment it was a very real concern. I finished that race and better than I could have imagined.
Early June, this really was the month that changed it all. I started Dirt In Your Skirt. The name was from a phrase I have said to my female lacrosse athletes for years about being aggressive on the field. When I started writing the blog it was simply a way to track training and hold myself accountable. It seems like forever ago it started and has morphed over the months. I had no idea it would grow to where it is today. June is also the month I decided to email Joe Desena to tell him about my thoughts on obstacle races. I did this after hearing way too many people ask me for my opinions on the races to go soon after to have a meeting with him and repeat my experiences. So I acted. An email turned into a meeting that truly changed everything.
By the end of June I had been a featured athlete on the Spartan Blog, I spent over 20 hours volunteering at the Death Race and was introduced to Carrie Adams, Katie McCabe and Jason Jaksetic who are today three of my best friends. At the Death Race I also met a handful of other people who have become major parts of my life and that I chat with often. Although it was not until later I would really get to know all three.
Early July, I run the 4th of July celebration in Killington. It was one of the biggest years as it was also the towns 250th Birthday. Shortly thereafter I had my first workout with Jason and we started to train together. We went for a swim and he forgot his goggles and couldn’t see a thing. I didn’t know how blind he was and swam off. Had to swim back to get him and this started our friendship. Little did I know that an email about the weather would turn into the friendship it has. He had no choice at that time but to follow me. It was in July I signed up for my 50K that would happen in September.
August, the month of the Spartan Beast, this was my coming out of sorts in the world of Obstacle Racing. I had silently been training on Killington for month prepping for the race and had no idea what I was about to do on that day. My post, You Just Got Chicked, best explains it. This was the weekend that I got to know Carrie, Katie and Maurya, three totally amazing women on a impromptu rescue mission after car troubles. This was the race where the Spartan Chicked Team started. That race was the day Jason and I became truly training partners and not just someone who can go on a swim. That day changed a lot of things, it made it real and showed me I could achieve beyond my expectations.
August is also the month I turned another year older, two days in fact after the BEAST. It it the month that I ran my first marathon and ultra marathon in training, on the same day in the same run. My 34 mile run with Joe and Jason. That post is, Taking it Long describes that day. Late August was also the month of Hurricane Irene, the storm that left my town and those around me islands. I was stuck away and had to deal with being away from my community, a difficult task.
September, I decided to take the year off grad school and focus on my job and training and other parts of life. It is also the month that I completed my first ultra marathon, the Vermont 50 (50K). I went from May having never run more than 8 miles to completing my first ultra in under 7 hour. I suffered real pain in that race with an IT band and had to work through it. But it made me realize I could do it and did it by myself. It was also in September that I got to know Joe Desena better and through a couple runs learned about him and we truly became friends.
October, I headed to Virginia to crew for Andy Weinberg and Jason in their triple and double iron distance triathlons. That was my first glimpse of a real endurance race and learned massive amounts about racing, nutrition and just how long I was able to function and stay awake (60 hours). I also paced the two for over 40 miles that weekend. This was the first sign of how deep my endurance was becoming. Those posts only touch on the surface of what I learned, Posts Here. It set me up with loads of knowledge that would help me two months later. October also marked the first time I led and overnight hike in the woods or Vermont. I took a group of 6 on a 23 mile hike on the Long Trail on a cold windy night. It was the first time I put together such an adventure.
November, I learned how to carry a sandbag up a mountain and back down. I learned how to deal with injury (bad ankle sprain) while training. I also learned in this month about meltdowns and battled most of the month and part of October with minor burnout and self doubts. I came out of this battle in time to race in December.
December has been a month of transformation. I went to Texas traveling the furthest yet for an obstacle race and finished 6th for women in the process overcoming a huge challenge and proving the third time is a charm on a traverse. I raced in my first 24 hour endurance race, and had my first DNF. That race taught me a lot. I am still working out all the details of what it taught me but it was a culmination of many parts of my year. Even though I did not finish that race, I went further and did more than I could have ever imagined back in May when I my biggest fear was finishing a 10 mile race. I hung in 21 hours as many a seasoned and tough competitor dropped. I was one of the last women standing in my first endurance race. Even in not finishing I proved mostly to myself, I can push and push pretty far.
The trophies and the medals are the physical reminders of accomplishments from the year. But when I look back some of my greatest achievements had nothing to do with medals, ribbons or trophies those things rust and years later end up in a box or a landfill. I have a collection of bibs, they are cool scrapbook items but again one day they will turn to dust. The scars on my body remind me of the races and training days completed, but when I look back some of my favorite moments were the time I spent alone or with a friend on the mountain out in the elements. Those are the moments that matter, the quiet moments that no one but you sees and feels. It’s the relationships I have built and the people who inspire to achieve more each day. Those moments are what I carry into 2012.