As you all know, I participated in the 13 in 2013 challenge with Jen at Marathon Mom and Jill at Fitness, Health and Happiness. You can read all about my sign up here but I participated in this challenge because: 1. I was fairly new to this running blogging thing and thought it was a great way to connect with others in the running community. 2. I really wanted to kick my running game up a notch and challenge myself and 3. to experience new races. With the 13 in 2013 you could choose 13 races of the same distance, including virtual runs, or a variety of race distances. I already had a slate of varying distance races on the docket so chose the variety option. Overall this was a great experience. I traveled all over, participated in a trail run, volunteered for charity, set a half marathon PR and just really tested my mettle. I learned a lot about running and myself during the past year and interacted with some great people!
13 in 2013 – What I learned
Lesson One: I’m stronger than even I give myself credit for. Sometimes when I race about halfway through I think, what the heck am I doing this for?! or I could be sleeping Same thing for this challenge. After about race #6 or so I was like, ugh 7 more, really? But the fact remains my love for running is endless you just need the mental as well as physical strength to get through. And that desire prompted me this summer to sign up for my first marathon next spring!!
Lesson Two: I need to join a running club. I did the majority of these races on my own. The online community is great and my non running friends are uber supportive but I would have enjoyed some of these runs a little more joined by a few running friends, just as nutty as I am. I admit to getting runners envy reading fellow bloggers fun weekends and trips with ther running pals.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve had great experiences and my travels took me to places where I got to see friends and family and I even strong armed a friend or two for a couple races. However, 2 running weekends I was looking forward to with friends got cancelled for various reasons (after I paid registration) and I’m the type of person who when they get an interest in something wants to pursue it. I need to find others with the same interest.
Lesson Three: 13 races is a lot. Seriously. But I guess that is what made it a “challenge”. In actuality I did 17 total races I just didn’t use all of them in the “official” count. Anyway, I’d say I lost a little steam along the way. I expected the challenge alone to keep me motivated but it didn’t always. Which leads me to:
Lesson Four: You get the race you train for. At times I felt I was always training. So, I took some races more seriously than others, rested when I needed it, yet felt slightly frustrated when my time wasn’t exactly what I thought it should or could be.
Lesson Five: The racing bug is a sneaky little thing. At the beginning of the year I had my entire schedule mapped out for the whole year (and mostly paid for). I should not have planned so far in advance and also waited to register for some events when I was sure they were a go or thought they might sell out.
As the months ticked by I discovered new and fun races I would have loved to do but realized I was already committed. Lucky for me I had a couple of registrations I was able to transfer (Army 10) to free up the calendar and do something else. A couple of others I just lost money on which was a budget buster. I need to refer to my running bucket list and check the transfer policy ahead of time, and stick to my budget
Again, overall this was a great experience, I finished healthy and upright and glad I accepted the challenge. There is now a 14 in 2014 challenge but I have opted not to take part. I want to focus fully on my marathon in March and then we’ll see what happens the rest of the year!
Race #1 – Disney Princess Half. My first runDisney event and certainly not the last. It was a LOT of fun (so much so I’m going back in February). This race truly made me LOVE the spirit of running, having fun, and set the stage for many racecations to follow.
Race #2 - Rock N’ Roll USA Half. This was my second time running this event and aside from the gear check situation, and a ridonkulous hill at Mile 6 – I loved it. Totally redeemed my effort from the year before!
Race #3 – Chris 4 Life Scope it Out 5k. A race to honor a colon cancer survivor and hey! I know the gals on the cover of their brochure It was a special race with friends and “family” and I was honored to be a part of this team. Running isn’t always about how it makes you feel, it’s about a community and of giving back.Race #4 – Cherry Blossom 10-miler. I was glad to experience this race for the first time after years of trying to get in through the lottery. Sadly I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought and I think my expectations were too high. It was crowded and the blossoms weren’t out yet but I was happy to have done it and can check it off the “bucket list”. Race #5 – UPMC Pittsburgh Half. This was my second time running this race in my hometown and – I got a new Half Marathon PR out of the deal – 2:03:35, huzzah. This race gave me hope that I could cross that sub-2 hour threshold. Haven’t yet but that is a goal for 2014!Race #6 – Boston’s Run to Remember Half. Run one month after the marathon bombing this was a special race for me as I consider Boston my 2nd home after Pittsburgh having spent 13+ years of my adult life there. It was also nice to run this with my best friend’s hubby – his first half!Race #7 – Baltimore Women’s Classic. A fun 5K I ran “for the bling” but this turned out to be one of the most meaningful 5k’s I’ve ever done. It will be a repeat race for sure.Race #8 – The Biggest Loser 10K. Ugh. This race was run in the hot, summer humidity of DC so I probably should have known better. BUT, I ran with a good friend who did her first 5k here while I PR’d in my 10K, 53:36 (trying to beat the heat perhaps!)Race#9 - Rock n’ Roll VA Beach Half. I’ve been trying to run this race for a couple of years. It was my first time ever in Virginia Beach and definitely not the last (cough marathon cough). It was hot, sticky and humid and probably my slowest half time outside of Disney but the bling made it worth it.Race #10 – Crawlin’ Crab Half. This race was a late add to my fall race calendar and I am beyond happy that I did it. Located in Hampton, near VA Beach I cut 7 minutes off my RnR VA Beach time as it was A LOT cooler then. Everything about how this race was managed to staffed was excellent. Not to mention my favorite medal so far this year. Isn’t he cute?Race #11 – Rock n’ Roll Brooklyn 10K. After running RnR USA and signing up for RnR Chicago, I discovered this 10K was an eligible race for the Heavy Medal series, usually relegated to half marathons. And who can pass up a weekend in NYC? turns out, my beloved Steelers ended up playing in NY that weekend and I was able to turn this into a great racecation full of football, friends and fun!Race #12 – the MCM10K. I love this race and think I will make it an annual event (missed 2012). The crowd support, the cause, the Marines. Everything about it is so positive and heartwarming you can’t but help to want to be a part of it.Race #13 - Saving the best for last was the Outer Banks (OBX) half. I did the 5k the day before, which I didn’t include in my 13 in 2013 but the scenery and the people – simple southern hospitality was just great. I also raised $600 as a SoleMate for Girls on the Run. Another must do race. My body felt the effects of 13 in ’13 for sure after this one.
Did you participate in 13 in 2013? How’d it go? Would you consider 14 in 2014?