Monday, January 02, 2017

2016: Best 9 pictures

So this is more of an Instagram thing, but I had such a tough time narrowing down by top 9 pictures this year that I thought sharing them here along with some details would be a good idea, so here we go!

Apologies to Beth for cropping her out of this picture on Instagram, but alas, 9 pictures in a square means even smaller square pictures... We took this picture after we ran the Asheville half marathon together and it was the first of my back-to-back weekends in 2016 where I ran a half marathon on Saturday followed by a marathon on Sunday. Beth ran with me for the half and we took tons of pictures and just had fun running around in our St. Patty's day attire. When I signed up for this race in 2015, people told me I was nuts, but I had a lot of fun doing both races and this only further embedded the idea of running an ultra in 2016.

In September I was able to visit Washington state for the Ragnar Trail Cascades race and we actually drove through the Cascades on our way to the race venue. This was just at a rest stop but had such amazing scenery that we actually stopped on the way to the race and the way back! Someone asked me if this picture was from another country because they couldn't believe how blue the water was and I've certainly never seen anything like it.

In June, I got to meet Scott Hamilton who I've now had the opportunity to hear speak twice. I grew up watching figure skating and loved Scott Hamilton for the crazy songs he skated to and his infamous backflips. He is a terrific public speaker and has quite an amazing story about how he got into skating, leaving home to pursue skating full time and his "hobby for collecting life threatening illnesses." Scott was a great speaker and was extremely willing to talk with anyone who wanted to chat - he even hung out in the hotel lobby as he was waiting for his ride and talked to our attendees the day after his speech. During his second speech with our company this year, Scott revealed that he just found out that his brain tumor had come back for a third time and I wish him all the best in his battle going forward. It was hard not to catch the optimism that he exuded from the stage and his positive attitude was very inspiring!

In July I took on my hardest marathon to date, running from the town of Boone to Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. I've run The Bear for the last 4 years which is the kick-off to the annual Highland Games and originally I had planned to run this race for the fifth year and was part of the group that managed to shut down the registration site when it went live in February. After an hour trying to make the site work, I went over to the marathon signup and it was still open.. so I did the next logical thing and registered for the marathon instead! My first marathon was through the University of Pittsburgh's campus and now I've done the one through Appalachian State's campus too. I didn't do as much training as I should have for this race and it definitely hurt, but I was able to do (most of) my lap around the track in front of everyone who had come to watch the Highland Games. I was met about 3/4 of the way around the track by the official timers who stopped me to give me my medal as they ushered everyone off the track for the games to begin.

In August, I was recognized by my company with a Values Award. It's a competitive award where people are nominated by their coworkers and winners are chosen by a committee based on their daily behaviors and performance. It was an amazing experience to hear my accomplishments read aloud in front of my entire company, going on stage to get a picture with our CEO and COO, and being given an award. I've been with the company almost 9 years (!) now and I was really touched by all of the people who came up to me at the dinner to congratulate me or sent me emails afterwards.

In October, I got to check off one of my bucket list races by doing the Cane Field Classic. I found this race on one of the "top race lists" a few years ago, but the timing wasn't right until last year. They offer a machete to anyone who completes all 3 race distances: 1 mile followed by 4 miles followed by 2 miles through the cane fields. The 2016 medal was a little less machete and a little more Rambo knife, but is still makes an impressive addition to my medal collection. I made a long weekend out of the trip and got to see a ton of different places in Louisiana, from Baton Rouge to Lafayette and down to New Orleans. It was a gorgeous weekend to get out an explore and I love using races as an excuse to explore somewhere new!

In October, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon with a great group of people who have adopted me into their running group. It wasn't a great marathon for me, having to walk a lot due to some unexplained headaches, but the atmosphere was really good. This was my first big marathon, with 30,000 people running the marathon and while it was a little crowded at times, it was great to see everyone on that journey. Immediately after the race, many of these people said this would be their last marathon, but I've decided to officially join their run group this month and I've heard a few of them got into the Chicago Marathon for this year, so I guess only time will tell how many more races we'll be able to run together!

Team 3 Y'alls and a Yinz made it 2/3 of the way through Ragnar Carolinas before the race was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew. Our team survived pretty well through the rain and mud, but it just wasn't to be this year. I've already committed to coming back and finishing the race in 2017 and I think at least a few of my teammates will be right there with me at the starting line in October. Our "team Dad," Ben, was a huge help for our team, reminding us to eat and drink after our runs and helping to MacGyver our canopy to keep the rain out as much as possible. We ended up in 5th place overall in the ultra division and 2nd in the mixed division, so I'm excited to see what we could do in the full race. I'm also still very tempted to try to put together an all-female ultra team, but it may not be in the cards for this race.

This is the Ragnar SWAT (Sweaty, Wet And Tired) crew at the end of the Ragnar Trail Cascades race. This was my third race volunteering with Ragnar last year, but my first being around for the team picture at the end (the Loop Managers are always out on the course at this time). I've had so much fun meeting all of these people and can't wait to kick off the 2017 season volunteering at Ragnar Trail Kentuckiana in April.

So those were my top 9 photos of 2016. This was a really hard exercise for me! I picked and replaced at least 20 pictures before finally coming up with these 9, but I think it encompasses my year really well. You can see my best 9 from 2015 here.

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