2016 in Review: My Best Running Year (with lots of bad races too!)

Racing Tips

Oops, I missed it.

2017 is already here, and I am still talking about 2016, even though that is the year everyone wants to forget. It was a pretty bad year for the world in general, I can admit that for sure, but for my running, it is amazing all that has happened.

Thought I would recap my races to show you that life is a rollercoaster, and so is our running.

Firstly, I want to say how thankful I am, I made it mostly unscathed through 2016 when it comes to major injuries. I still had my peroneal tendonitis for most of the year, until Dr Kyle (Cookie Dough) finally gave it the kick it needed to heal through dry needling….*shivers* Ugh, I still hate needles.

The reason I was able to stay healthy was because of Team Ice Cream, more than anything, that is the purpose of your support network, and mine are amazing:

  • Steve (vanilla) is the obvious one through coaching me correctly and understanding what my body can handle…and even adding a buffer in as he knows I will tack on a few miles here and there!
  • Drew (coffee) made me strong and resilient. Did you listen to the podcast with Dr Jordan Santos yet, in all his research (and there was a lot), the result that came up over and over again was the benefits of strength training, and I am thankful to have a strength coach who really knows his stuff (and me) to keep me healthy.
  • Dr Mike and Karen (Graham Cracker and Chai) with their regular treatments to keep my muscles, joints, and tendons in working order. Anytime I had niggles, they would treat the source not just the pain itself.

Okay, so 2016 was the best year of running I have had so far, and we got a lot in, in a lot of new places, but all that travel was actually pretty tough on my body, and the main reason for the lows and the struggles this year.

As I mentioned on Monday, 2016 started off in Tallahassee for some warm weather training, meaning I did not race, especially as I was pretty out of shape, and had gained quite a bit of weight (WELL WORTH IT!!) that I needed to work off. My sister’s wedding was in early February, so I did not get to race until the end, which left me putting all my eggs in one basket when it came to getting selected for the World Half Team.

To be chosen to represent Great Britain, you must prove your fitness close to the race. But as hard as we tried, we could not find a competitive, flat and fast 5k, 10k, or 10 mile. The only race we could find was the New Orleans 10k, which was going to be more like a time trial, but was at least flat and fast. I knew I was good at pushing myself, and we didn’t have another option, so we swallowed the cost of the (very expensive) ticket down there, and I raced.

I didn’t run smoking fast, it did have a few very sharp turns, and it was me and one teenage boy up in front, but I ran fast enough to show I was almost ready to go (or would be in a months time).

Photo from nola.com

New Orleans R’n’R 10k 34:20 (Road PR)

The Great Britain team makes their selection 3 weeks before the race, which is iincredibly stressful, and I tried to handle it as best I could….but still not very well 😉 not knowing if I was racing the World Half or the London Marathon, but it definitely got to me. I am a BIG planner, and I struggled with this.

Finally, the announcement day came, I was confident I had made the team, but knew there were a lot of people going for those places. When the phone call came telling me that I had not been selected, I shattered into little pieces. They offered me a place on the regular start line with the masses and running in an England Jersey, which is still a HUGE honor, but I had my heart set on Great Britain, and the GB jersey was my ultimate running goal. I felt like I had made it to my Olympics, but then got injured on the warm up.

I cried on the floor for hours, ugly tears. No one could console me.

I know in the grand scheme of life that meant nothing, I knew someday it would make it feel even sweeter when it did happen, but I just could not let go of the feeling deep in my heart that I was going to represent GB&NI in this race.

So in secret, I held on to that hope. Steve and I planned for me to run the race for England (without a taper), and then go on to do the London Marathon as the goal.

My gut was right, as it usually is, and three days before the race, I was called up to represent GB as one of the runners dropped out.

I was not ready, we had not dropped my mileage, and we had even done a workout that morning. I still had to travel to the UK and then from home a 6 hour drive to Cardiff, Wales. But I was on the team, and I had nothing to lose.

It was a dream come true. I soaked it in more than I have ever enjoyed a race before. I still ran tough and ran hard in some nasty conditions, but that is a moment I will never forget.

All those tears, hours, sweat, heart, love, sacrifice I had put into my running over the years was for one day, I would make this team, and I had done it! I was honored. I finished 49th overall, and 3rd British runner, not bad for finding out on the Wednesday before a Saturday race!

World Half Marathon Championships 1:15:12

We thought I would be really beaten up after the half, and would need to do minimal training the following week to make sure we could bounce back in time for the marathon, but I felt surprisingly good. I was still sore for a few days after, but recovered a lot quicker than I thought.

Three weeks later, I raced the London marathon, and although it was not the same fun time it was the year before, this time I went in with a job to do, and I did it.

I was over the moon that I had finally broken that 2:40 barrier, and not just broken it, but smashed it. 2:37 was a time I was very proud of.

The London Marathon 2:37:35 (PR)

After two weeks totally off, I started back running again, and focused in on getting the speed back into my legs. The original plan was to race a lot of shorter races (5k, 10ks), but life kind of got in the way of that one.

I did get the opportunity to jump in a local 5k with Sarah only 5 days after I started running, we just ran it comfortably together, holding hands at the finish, but it was a lot of fun

RJ Corman 5k: 18:16

A few weeks into running again, I received a phone call from the British selection team asking me if I wanted to represent them in the European Championships in Amsterdam in July at the Half Marathon distance.

We were not really ready for it, but we put my training on turbo (while still being safe) to get me ready.

I only managed to get one race in, which was a confidence buster rather than confidence booster. I finished 2nd female in the Hyde Park Blast, and felt awful, so bad in fact that afterwards I told Steve I wasn’t even sure I wanted to run anymore. He assured me that it was just the training and what we were doing.

Hyde Park Blast 4 Mile: 23:16

The European Championships is a 5 day event, where a full squad of athletes are taken (I think GB&NI took almost 100). It was fun to have Steve with me this time, and get a bit more experience at the international level.

Even though I had a terrible race (as did most people that day), the experience as a whole was fun and was fun to know that I had earned this one, rather than just someone elses bad luck giving me a spot.

European Championships Half Marathon: 1:17:23

After the European championships, we had more races planned, but once again, life got in the way, and for me, my family and friends are far more important to me than my running.

However, after one of the most stressful, emotional weeks of my life with the passing of my dear Nanny Jolly, I raced on my birthday after no sleep and no energy, but somehow managed to squeak out a 16:35 solo, which was a huge confidence booster for me.

Run Through Battersea 5k: 16:35 (Road PR)

Things were looking good for Falmouth a few weeks later. I had always wanted to do this race, and prided myself on being tough (and smart), so it looked like it was playing in my favor.

But this was by far my worst race of the year. From start to finish I felt horrible, and I crossed the line deflated, and once again wondering if my heart was still in it.

Remember Fernando from episode 75 of the podcast?

Falmouth 7 mile Road Race: 40:43

It was at this point I also figured out that I had taken my high protein and fat diet a little too far, had cut the carbs a little too low. Not intentionally, and I think I would have been fine had it not been such a short race, I think I just ran out of carbs in this 7 mile race.

A good reality check though.

We took a week off running again, and decided to go for California International Marathon to give me enough time to get my legs back under me and my confidence back.

I committed to this segment more than I have ever committed before when it came to the intensity of training and volume. I did everything, okay….almost everything I needed to do….let’s just say we have some things to work on this time around.

Even though I was not great about my mobility and stretching, and I did not really hone in on my diet until the last month, Steve and I believed we could be ready for a big jump, and I wanted to take every opportunity to go for it.

I raced the Kentucky 5k as a rust buster after a 10 mile warm up, my friend Tim organized this event for its inaugural year, and it was a lot of fun. I did it as part of a 24 mile day, so it was a looooong day, but I was happy with it.

Kentucky 5k: 17:08

After putting my head down to work for a few weeks, we raced the Indy Monumental Half Marathon, completely by feel, I had NO idea whatsoever about how fast I was going.

During the race, while running alongside my Saucony teammate, Sarah Pease, someone yelled “you are on PR PACE!”, I said to Sarah “HA! I am not gonna run a PR”, and then with a mile to go, Sarah (Crouch) yelled to me “you can PR”, again, I thought “HA! Stop lying Sarah!”, but turns out she was right, I could have…instead I slowed down the last mile….oops. I surprised myself with a 1:13:43, and things were looking good for CIM.

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon: 1:13:43

But then as it often does, life reminds us that things are not easy, we do not always get what we want.

In my final workout, we ran the Thanksgiving Day race in Cincinnati. The year before, I had a panic attack, and this was very much in my mind, but it wasn’t just the mental, I felt HORRIBLE. Absolutely awful, and it was hard to wrap my mind around 26.2 miles at under 6:00 pace when I could barely manage 6 at 5:45.

Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race 10k: 35:43

Thankfully, as always, Evie was there to boost me back up, as was a few moments of fate to keep me focused.

I raced California International Marathon a little unprepared as we had not trained my body enough for the rolling hills of the first 15 miles, but my heart and mind were there, and I fought as hard as I could.

Finishing 5th overall in the women’s field, and another minute off my pr to make it 2:36:39, I completed my year of racing.

California International Marathon: 2:36:39 (PR)

2016 has been successful for me, and it is funny looking back, at random times, you forget all those good moments, like when I finished at Falmouth, I said to Steve “most of my races have been bad this year”. Other moments, you feel like it has all been good.

But when you reflect, you see that it is pretty balanced. I had a handful of great races, a handful of okay races, and a handful of bad ones.

We need to remind ourselves of this in those moments of highs and lows, that there always will be that. If you have had a lot of good races in a row, we all know in our heart, it can’t go on forever, but at the same time, ride that wave, keep fighting, and pushing yourself, do your very best, and that is all you can ask for. As steve so often tells me, the result will take care of itself, but all you can do is do your best for that day.

2017 is here and we still don’t have a solid plan of what we are doing, but I am going to do my best to enjoy the ride, and give it my very best. I don’t know how many more years we will have to keep going before we put my running on hold for a while, but I intend on giving it my best, while still living my life to the fullest I can.

Life is short, and I hope I can make 2017 an even better year than 2016.

As for the stats, I know you guys love those!

Miles run: 3824

Average per week overall (including the off weeks): 73.5

Highest mileage: 99.6 (yep, we did cut off there!)

Longest run: 26.2

Days off: 37

Finally, joining courtney for my 2016 year of running

Best race experience: World Half Marathon Championships (shocker huh?)

Best run: London Marathon. After so many near misses of breaking 2:40, to finally do it, felt amazing. This was also the first time I felt like I had got the marathon right.

Best new piece of running gear: Dash Seamless Sportop Ooooh I have loved so many of Sauconys winter running apparel, but I am going to go with the as its so comfortable and I love the color. (Use coupon code TINA for 10% off!)

Best running advice you’ve received this year: Be kind to yourself, from my sports psych, Evie. This changed the game for me mentally.

Most inspirational runner:

Ah there has been so many on the podcast, but I think I am gonna go with Heidi Greenwood. For those of you who know Heidi, she was the first one to be really honest about period talk , and she also was brave enough to put her running on hold to focus on a family. Heidi and her husband went through a real heartbreak a few months ago, but her bravery to share her story of Jules is absolutely unheard of, and she is one of my heroes for this reason.

I also loved Jared Ward’s story of how chugging along, taking off little chunks can help you do big things, especially if you pace it right! This was one of my favorite interviews ever…in case you couldn’t tell from the interview with him 😉

Favorite picture from a run or race this year: 

I think you know the answer to this one, the smile says it all

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: 

See above…am I becoming a broken record yet?

Actually….maybe European Championships, because I would tell myself to not be such a dumbass, swallow your pride, and listen to your body!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? 

Life Changing.

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6 Comments.

  • I think you had such a great year of running and racing. We all have both good and bad races but you definetely came through with more good races. I could not be happier for you Tina. Be kind to yourself is such great advice that I think we could all benefit from.

    I like the Saucony dash series a lot too. I have their tank tops and they are so comfortable.

  • Wow! When you recap it, it’s even more impressive!! You are so amazing my freind and such an incredible inspiration! I cannot wait to see and read and witness your accomplishments in 2017!!

  • Loved reading about your year in this post! So awesome, Tina! I just love it. And you are right – Heidi is extraordinary. I just adore her so. Happy New Year!

  • I forgot the whole roller coaster at the beginning of 2016- what a year of highs and lows! It’s really helpful to reflect in this way and remember that the path to improvement is not linear, but fulls of ups and downs along the way. So proud of you for all the successes this year!

  • Congrats on a great 2016. And here’s to making 2017 even better.

  • Tara Rhoades Gilbert
    January 8, 2017 10:17 pm

    Loved reading about your year of running. What advice would you have for someone like me? I have what I believe to be a realistic dream: eventually break a 3 hour marathon. This year I’ve learned that plowing through just because I’m TOUGH doesn’t work. My 42 year old body has constantly been plagued with injury. I have a goal to make 2017 an injury free year, because I will never achieve my dream if I don’t have consistency. I know 3 things are key: proper running drills, strength and mobility. Being a perfectionist and having a total type A running personality, I thrive off of having a “plan”of what to do and I have the discipline to do it. I know that focusing on these areas has improved your running as well. Where could I go to learn more about the things you have done to aid in your success? My dad always taught me, “If you want to be successful, find a successful person and then do what they do.” Thanks Tina, and a HUGE congrats on an amazing year.

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