With no pregnancies, new babies, pending surgeries or lengthy recoveries in 2012, I began to think of it as My Dream Year of Running. I was finally able to do a bunch of those races I'd always wanted to but never could because of other things going on in my life. As I madly signed up for things all spring, I hatched my grand plan to run the Goofy Challenge and really wondered what on earth I was getting myself into. Little did I know I was embarking on one truly incredible year of hard work, personal successes and learning so much about myself and what I'm made of.
Here's a look back on the races that were Nikki's Dream Year of Running...
1. Langley Chilly Chase 15k - After training all fall for my first half marathon since having my boys and doubting if I could actually do it, the Chilly Chase is what convinced me I'd be okay. Somewhere out there during those 15 snowy, icy but sunny km, I realized I'd be ready and I'm pretty sure I smiled all the way to the finish line... This race showed me how great it feels to realize your hard work has done it's job - a feeling that would bring me to tears later on in the year.
3. Green Sock Shamrock'n Race 5k - my very first costume-y kind of race - little did I know I'd be dressed up in a heck of a lot more elaborate get-ups later in the year! This race taught me how fun it can be to wear a ridiculous outfit to a race...
4. Birch Bay International Road Race 15k - Growing up we've spent lots of time in Birch Bay and I always wanted to do this race so my sister and I did it as part of our training for BMO and it was just wonderful - almost completely along the beach, it was peaceful, serene and kind of goal-affirming for me. This race taught me what it feels like to love a race, just because.
5. BMO Vancouver Half Marathon - this event is incredibly special to me because BMO was my very first half marathon back in 2008. I worked so hard and crossing that finish line was one of the biggest successes of my entire recovery. Running it again last year was kind of like coming home. It was also because of BMO that I met Cori (who was an official Run Van Blogger) who has now become a close friend and running companion. I ended up setting a big PR at BMO last year making it that much more special. This race taught me how awesome it feels to have worked hard for something.
6. Run for Water Half Marathon - this was the first time I ever ran half marathons just weeks apart and unfortunately was doing so with a healing hip flexor injury from just after BMO. The whole Run for Water event and the incredible work of the organizers and volunteers year round really struck something inside me. Having met my first running hero ever - Ray Zahab - at the RFW gala just nights before, I dug deep on that race being careful not to further injure myself. At this race I learned how it feels to be inspired by a running hero.
7. Starbucks Run for Women 10k - a new race to Vancouver I was excited to run a shorter distance and one through the beautiful trails at UBC. The race was fine but probably more momentous was the random meeting of someone who has become a true inspiration for myself and so many other runners and women in Vancouver - Jillian Walker. At this race I had my first glimpse of how the online social running community can quickly become part of your real life running journey.
8. Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon - my first big American race. Ever since I first heard about the Rock n Roll series I always wanted to do one and Seattle was the perfect introduction. With my hip flexor finally feeling better I enjoyed every km of that race. This race was also memorable for me because I got to meet so many bloggers I had followed for years. At this race I learned how to take it easy, enjoy the race and not push too hard before you are ready.
9. First Annual Kamloops Half Marathon - a true last minute decision, I registered myself for this race because my training plan called for 20km that weekend and I was already up at the cabin, just an hour away. Little did I know it would turn out to be an amazing race and my current half marathon PR - the field was small and the course was beautiful. At this race I learned how good it can feel to push your body and see what it can do.
10. Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon - seriously, how could I not run the first ever Lululemon half marathon? After being seriously disappointed by several organizational issues with registration and the expo I went into the race feeling kind of indifferent. With the heat that day this race was probably my worst half ever but it was also the start to a new friendship. Krista was a brand new running buddy that day but has since become a close friend. At this race I learned that things (and people) have a way of coming into your life when you need them most.
11. Color Me Rad 5k - a 5k run where you get bombed by handfuls and handfuls of colored corn starch. Need I say more? Probably the most fun race last year. This race taught me to just let go of being a runner and run for the fun of it.
12. Coho Run 14k - I wanted to do this race because it was a unique distance and it promised two coastlines and 3 bridges. It definitely delivered in the scenery department, by far one of my most scenic runs in 2012. However, that big hill in the middle sucked and this race reminded me how hard big, steep hills can be!
13. Surrey International Music Half Marathon - I grew up in Surrey something about running this event in it's inaugural year really appealed to be. It was a last minute sign up and a race I was running purely for fun. There were no bridges or beaches or anything spectacular like that but I truly enjoyed every km of this race and was so glad I could be part of their inaugural year. This race showed me how exciting it can be to be part of something new.
14. Victoria GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon - another "local" race from my running bucket list I was excited to be able to combine this event with a weekend on the island for Thanksgiving. It started out feeling like my worst race yet but thanks to running into a friend from our local Running Room, she saved me and my race was totally turned around. This race taught me how much of a difference running with a friend can make.
15. Energizer Night Race 10k - after being asked to be a product ambassador leading up to this race I was excited to run the big event, especially since I had to miss it last year. I ran it with friends and even in a light-up rainbow tutu to boot. This was the race where I finally cracked the 60 minute barrier. This race taught me that dressing up and having fun at a race can still lead to great results!
17. Walt Disney World 5k - the perfect warm up to the Goofy Challenge beginning the day after. This race taught me that careful race costume planning definitely pays off come race day!
19. Mickey Mouse Marathon (Goofy Day 2) - all of the planning, the training, the hard work and the dreaming finally lead me to the start of this race. With such crazy hot conditions, it was probably the toughest race I have ever run but at the same time, I felt ready and knew I had trained properly. The realization that I was actually running my first full marathon and not failing at it brought me to tears a couple times throughout the course. It was 26.2 miles of the hardest work I have ever done, the most preparation, the most planning yet also the most humbling, the most exciting and the most emotional time I have ever spent on the road. To put it simply, this race was amazing and I am so proud to have done it. This race and the entire Goofy Challenge taught me the importance of hard work and planning and the amazing power of both supporting and being supported by close friends. I learned so much about myself, who I am and what I am capable of during the 39.3 miles of the challenge. A truly incredible experience.
So that was my year, as summed up in 19 incredible race experiences. I have many more events on my running bucket list, some old, some new but 2012 truly was a Dream Year of Running for me. As for what 2013 holds, it's going to be hard to top 2012 but I have some pretty good things in the works that I can't to get working on and share with you all.
Thanks for being there and following along on my ongoing running journey. I feel like a little piece of everyone was along for each km of every race. Thank you for being part of it.