- Best race experience? This one was easy for me: the Detroit Half-Marathon. It was not only a personal record at that distance for me, it was my first race since I stopped running to rehab my back. I had enjoyed my training with my new coach, but I had no idea a race like that was possible. On top of that, it was a great weekend getaway with good friends (especially Kathy) and my husband, Dan. It was pretty much perfect. Close second: the Houston Marathon in January. That was also a PR race, a fun trip with Kathy--and it featured all the inspiration you could ask for in the form of the Olympic Trials Marathon the day before our race.
- Best run? That's easy too: my first run outside since stopping for injury. I ran with Cynthia (more about her below) at what's since become my favorite place for easy runs. Though it was hot and short, it felt amazing. I knew I had emerged from the tunnel.
- Best new piece of gear? They aren't really new, but I'm going with my Asics arm-warmers. I'd had them for more than a year before I used them in Detroit. They were perfect for that day, allowing me to go light without freezing early in the race. I wore them again in the California International Marathon--same story.
- Best piece of running advice you received? To hire a coach. Which I did. It's wonderful. I'm really cheap, but hiring Darren De Reuck has been worth the money. He's reassuring after bad runs/races (ahem, CIM, which he told me would be slower than I wanted), and encouraging in just the right way when things go well (he's the one who told me to go much faster than I thought I could in Detroit).
- Most inspirational runner? I could also say that this person is the best new friend I made in 2012: Cynthia! Though she's not new in the least to endurance sports (can you say mountain biking?), she was new to running when I first met her in late 2011. Now, she's an old hand with many half-marathons, some tough trail races, several speedy 5Ks and much more under her running belt. She often places in her age group (though she's so modest she often discounts it--we all know better). She's also the person who recommended Darren to me. But she's also inspirational because she never gives up, she never stops experimenting (data nerd!), she doesn't let bad news get her down (at least not permanently) and she's a indefatigable supporter of all her friends and family. I'm excited because 2013 will bring at least two destination races with her.
- If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Peaks and valleys.
Looking back at it like that, it's been a truly fine year. I never thought I would have said that about a year that featured no BQ, plus four months on the recumbent bike and doing back rehab exercises. But it's really true.
It's my humble hope that 2013 will be another good one. I'm sure there will be more valleys, but I know there will be peaks, too.