Personal Development, Rock n Roll Marathon Series, Running, Team Nuun 2018

2017 Retrospective: The Year I Pushed My Boundaries

2017 was a fun, interesting, wacky, bumpy year.

By the numbers (even though the year isn’t over yet)…

  • 28 races
    • 3 marathons
    • 16 half marathons
    • 1 10Ks
    • 8 5Ks
  • Total distance ran: 786.9 miles
    • Of that distance, race miles: 319.2 miles
  • Average pace: 15:01 min/mile (yup! run/walk…)
  • 148 runs
  • 89,543 calories burned
  • 42,739 ft elevation climb (and I do most of my running on treadmills, by the way)
  • 203 hours ran

I barely finished my races by the skin of my teeth. All in all, it was filled with lots of good memories and a few lessons. The bulk of those memories were through my half and full marathons in the Rock n Roll marathon series. Getting a chance to travel to a bunch of new cities was a blast. My husband was alongside me for most of the cities, with exception of maybe two. (Hopefully he gets to do the hall of fame this coming year.) Running a few each year has been fun…however, running the Hall of Fame this year was a completely different experience. From the collage below, you can see just exactly how much I took away from each city.

The Rock n Roll Marathon Series Hall of Fame was an incredibly difficult but fulfilling challenge. It took a lot of coordination and patience to get the logistics and timing right, given the amount of planning, work, and training it took to make it feasible. There were a lot of times when I thought I wouldn’t make it, but somehow I managed to pull some last-minute miracle. Sometimes it felt like a battle of the “means,” meaning that if you had the money and the time you could make it happen. I also forget that you actually need the training, motivation, and stubbornness to see it through. Especially with my last race, the Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon, it was one of the most emotionally and physically challenging races I’ve ever done. I’ve never worried that much about being swept before. I’ve never had to constantly look over my shoulder to gauge how many blocks away I could see the police cruiser. I’ve never had a pacer van swing by multiple times to essentially do a welfare check. And through the struggle and pain (and awful humidity and inevitable chafing) I continued running as much as I could, because I wasn’t going to be swept nor was I going to get my 15th heavy medal/hall of fame be taken away from me after a year of hard work.


Even without the Rock n Roll races, I had a great time at my other ones – 5 Disney races (well, the Dopey challenge which is 4 races, and then the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon) and the Run for Totality in Nebraska. I’ve never timed a race with a solar eclipse before and I don’t suppose I will get the chance to ever do that again. I’ll also never get a chance to dodge big rigs on a two-lane highway but there’s a first and last time for everything! I snapped one of my most favorite race photos ever, in a corn field on the side of a Nebraskan highway with Erik. It was damp and humid and we’d gotten rained upon. He also learned what it was like to walk/run a half marathon 30 seconds at a time. I don’t think he enjoyed it much, but at least he can empathize with me when I finish hangry or grumpy.

Even though I ran a lot of races, only a few times did I truly run for time: the Liverpool 5K, where I aimed to finish in 30 minutes (finished in 32:02 – 10:20min/mi), the San Diego 26.2 in under 7 hours (finished in 6:22:43 – 14:36min/mi), and the Los Angeles 13.1 in under 2:45 (finished in 2:41:28 – 12:20min/mi). My full marathon time is my best yet!

To circle back on this year’s running resolutions…

  1. Get a running coach: I used an app called RunCoach to help me figure out my strange training plan. It was really neat but got weird at the end when I wanted to fiddle between marathon and half marathon distances and my long run weekends never adjusted. I had to make some manual adjustments on my own. Otherwise, it worked great!
  2. Run in least two race costumes: I ran in the RNR DC as Lady Liberty and in RNR LA as the Cookie Monster.
  3. Run three marathons: I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon, the RNR San Diego Marathon, and the RNR San Antonio Marathon.
  4. Snap four photos per race (one being a selfie!): I don’t think I always did 4 photos a race, but I always had photos each weekend for my blog. 
  5. Run the year I’m in – focus on what I can do better in 2017 by building from my Disney World races, rather than my previous years’ races: I really tried my best with this one. It’s hard trying not to get too hung up on old PRs and numbers. I really set that aside this year and focused on “my race, my pace” for RNR San Diego and I did amazingly well. I did so well that I actually PR’d and beat out my very first marathon time, 6 years later! I was ecstatic! 
  6. Get into the Rock n Roll Marathon Series hall of fame! (by finishing at least 15 races): After lots of mishaps, I did it!

My races took me internationally — twice! — this year. I’ve been able to enjoy my healthy body in all the cities I’ve traveled to, with exception of Nashville when I plodded through 90* heat and was asleep for most of the weekend afterwards. I met a few new running friends, one that I see more regularly now since she frequents the same races that I do. I’m beginning to see my regular friends at races, which is interesting. Some of them have picked up the running bug. Being in different cities, I can’t always race with them, but perhaps I’ll get to join them someday.

My 2018 goals:

  1. Attend at least two strength training classes per week. It’s really ridiculous that I do NO strength training at all. I’ve stopped completely since I’ve left Orangetheory and since I last worked out with a coach. I feel a lot stronger when I strength train and it helps me be a better runner.
  2. Focus on recovery. Wear my compression sleeves more often, hit the hot tub, schedule my massages, use the stick and other gadgetry around the house. No shortcuts, no skimping!
  3. Finish the Great Wall of China Marathon (or half marathon). For now I think I want to do the marathon because it is a scary goals, and only the scary goals are the ones worth striving for. I have a lot of strength training, squats, stair climbing, and trail running to do before then. I don’t even know where I will find trails that aren’t covered in snow, to be honest. Bear Creek would be a good place to start. If I could find someone who runs at my pace, or willing to slow down to my pace, I could do a lot more trail running to prepare me.
  4. Run a half marathon in/near a national park. There’s a company called Vacation Races that do a ton of events near national parks. I’d really like to run the Rock Mountain Half Marathon since it’s downtime from the Rock n Roll series if I decide to do the hall of fame again this year. (I think I am but I haven’t put down the money for a 10-pack…I have 5 of my races already paid for.) I spend a lot of my time in cities, and I’d like to run in the wild for a change.
  5. Run a 50K. I think this is the year that I will run my first ultra, mostly because I have quite the base mileage already. I know that a 26.2 is very different from a 50K, but maybe I can find a really flat one without any switchbacks. (Dare to dream!) There was one south of Denver I was looking at last year that might be a good contender…I’ll just need to see if it works with my race schedule.
  6. Complete a late summer sprint triathlon: This one has been on the back burner for a few years now. I really feel like it’s time to renew my tri-card. I would need to get some open water swimming in after winter is over, and also get some time on my bike. Shouldn’t be too hard. It’s a shame that I’m moving *away* from the bike trail though! This would require that I cut out some running days or actually commit to cross-training (swimming and biking) through the summer. The problem would be that I don’t want to sign up for just one race! Based on my projected race schedule, I would have some time between August and September to squeeze in a sprint triathlon, so I guess we will see. A sprint should be easy enough if I can get some open-water swim time and remember how to use my gear shifter!

Running and training has really been a constant in my life. When things feel uncontrollable or out of reach, I always know that this is something that I can manage and do on my own. It’s something that can’t be taken away. It’s something that is always there for me. I’m glad that I found it at such a pivotal moment in my life. I’m honestly not sure who I’d be if I’d never started. It’s certainly helped me manage my ADHD and bipolar disorder, often allowing me to re-channel my energy into something more productive. On other days it just gives me an outlet or escape.

Towards the end of the year, when I was really trying to decide between the half and full marathon in San Antonio, what helped me decide between the distance was really this saying –

I will have plenty of downtime and old time, and times when I will be unable to do all of these things. While I still have these abilities, I plan on taking advantage of them. If I can safely run a distance, I will. If I’m feeling run down, I will take time to recover. If I know that I’m slacking, I will course-correct. It seems fairly simple.

Overall, I think I’ve had a fairly successful year. I didn’t get injured, despite all of my travels and races. I was able to keep up with my friends and family. I was able to keep up with my work (all three of my jobs). I got mostly enough sleep. I’m a part of Team Nuun! I made every day and every mile count.

2017 was an amazing year. I look forward to what 2018 brings!

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About Amara Poolswasdi Hulslander