2015: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Initially, I wasn’t going to write the obligatory end of the year summary.  As the year winds to a close, however, I naturally started thinking about where the year had taken me, and I wanted to document it – if only just for me.  It’s been A year!  I have had some heart-stopping, stellar moments.  I’ve also had some heart-stopping, heartbreaking moments.

2015 Word of the Year

Last year, I chose a word of the year: Balance.  I felt everything in my life was OUT of balance and I desperately needed to get control of things.  My running was clearly out of control – I was prone to over-training and terrible at supplementing my fitness with cross-training and strength.  I was over-scheduled in almost every area of my life – there were some things over which I had control of scheduling and many things that I did not.  I’m not going to lie….I still struggle with balancing all of life’s demands.  But, I am better at the balancing act now than I was 365 days ago.  Truth be told, this is an ongoing challenge, but I’m up for it!

The Bad and The Ugly

I’m lumping “The Bad” and “The Ugly” together because I simply want to be DONE with all this negativity! LOL

  • Started the year with an ITB injury that stole the first 4 weeks of the year from me.  I was finally able to s-l-o-w-l-y return to running the last week of January.
  • Battled another injury – stress fracture in my heel – in July.  This hiccup took another month of running away from me and in the setback I wondered if I would be fit enough to run the full at Dallas.IMG_4598
  • The entire year felt like a battle.  I was battling to beat my ITB.  Then I was battling to recover from my heel.  Recovering from injury takes a lot of time, patience that I don’t have, and mental fortitude.
  • My biggest battle was in my mind.  It isn’t a secret (or at least I don’t think it is a secret) that I don’t have a lot of faith in my abilities – unless you count my ability to injure myself, in which case I have full faith in that!  Spending basically an entire year injured caused me to doubt myself.  I didn’t believe that my body could recover enough to ever run long distances again.  I didn’t believe that I could run smart enough to stay uninjured.  I just didn’t believe in me at all.  This was, hands down, the biggest tragedy of the year.

The Transformation

When I looked back at some of my earlier blog posts, I realize how much I had to learn….and how much I have learned!  I can’t believe how much I have matured as a runner.  I know there are still many lessons to be learned, but I have been able to find a peace with running that I never had before.  Some things I learned on my own.  Some lessons were taught to me by John, my partner for part of the year until he moved, and others I learned from my current coach, Brent.

  • I started the year with the intent to train by heart rate, but that change didn’t happen fully until I started working with my current coach in October.  The beauty of this is that all things prepare us for what will happen in the future.  Since I had been monitoring my heart rate all year, I knew how my heart would react in certain situations. Since my training with Brent is set up almost exclusively by heart rate, I was ahead of the curve, in a sense, because I already “knew” my heart.  This type of training has been very good for my running!
  • My partner, John, taught me the importance of running slower (which, ties right into the heart rate training).  With his guidance, I learned how to pace myself (which is something that I COULD NOT do before running with him).  Developing this discipline in my running certainly laid the groundwork for great things to come and made it much more easy for me to execute workouts properly.
  • I finally learned to listen to my body, even though I didn’t always act upon it.  I hope that will come as I continue maturing as a runner.  The fact that I now notice those little things is a huge victory.
  • I gave up running with music.  BEST.  DECISION.  EVER.  Taking away the distraction of the music opened up so many amazing things.  First, I can listen to my footsteps to see if there are any imbalances.  I am more aware of my breathing.  I don’t get lost in songs and beats, which formerly meant I would end up running too fast.  In addition, during those tough spots in a run, I had to rely on myself to get through it rather than finding a song to distract me though it.  BIG difference.  I think that helped my confidence A LOT.
  • The most beautiful thing happened when I started believing in myself.  By the time Dallas rolled around, I began to have a quiet confidence and somehow learned to have peace with what would come – good or bad.  I honestly didn’t fret over that race, which, if you know me, is a MIRACLE.  I am carrying that peace and confidence with me into 2016!

Cycling helped me through the rough patches

I love to bike….outdoors.  I dislike riding on the trainer, but I did a lot of that early in the year because I knew how much the cross-training would help my recovery.  Cycling also saved me during my heel fracture, because I was given the green light to ride as much as I wanted as long as I didn’t suffer discomfort.  I biked A LOT in July!

This year, I transitioned from a hybrid to a road bike, and with that came clip-ins.  Most people know how clumsy I am, and so you can imagine the number of falls I had because I would forget to twist my foot out….all of them happened in my drive-way!  I still laugh about it.

I do love any time that I get on the bike, however, and who knows – there may be a tri in my future.

The Good, Running-wise

Despite the setbacks, I had lots of victories on the roads this year.

  • Ran Skyline HM in May, even though it might have been too close to rehab and recovery.  I was 8 minutes off my PR, but the important thing is that I was able to run a fairly strong race, and it felt like a HUGE victory.Medal
  • I ran Rock the Block 10k at the end of May because I wanted to focus on some shorter distances to help bring down my HM time.  I was able to PR this race by about a minute @ 57:46.

    Start line selfie with my favorite oldest daughter :)
    Start line selfie with my favorite oldest daughter 🙂
  • Even though Plano Balloon HM was the WORST race of the year for me, it was a victory.  I ran this race after being back from my heel injury only 7 weeks.  I realize (now) that I was being to aggressive, but thankfully it all worked out in the end.

    Maybe my favorite race sign ever :)
    Maybe my favorite race sign ever 🙂
  • I joined Renegade Endurance and love having the support of the athletes in the club.  It is so much fun to hear about their successes and lift them up, and racing is much more fun when your teammates are there racing as well!

    My RE team members are the BEST!
    My RE team members are the BEST!
  • Rock n Roll St. Louis was one of the highlights of my year.  I went into this race just wanting to finish strong, plus the main reason I went was to socialize with my group of Twitter friends.  At this point, I had run Plano Balloon just a month earlier and missed an entire week of workouts afterward because my body wasn’t ready to run that race.  I had just started working with Brent and the main goal was Dallas Marathon.  I was completely shocked and surprised when I ended up with a PR 2:13:17 (by 43 seconds! LOL).
    Pood paced me to an awesome finish!
    Pood paced me to an awesome finish!

    My Sole Sister Jenn
    My Sole Sister Jenn
  • Believe 10k was the first 10k I ever ran.  Every year, I want to get down to McKinney to run it again but it never seems to work out.  When I asked my coach if I could run it instead of the 8 mile training run, he gave the green light and I immediately signed up.  But then, the monsoons of Thanksgiving  nearly washed away my hopes of running the race.  The race went on as scheduled, and I went, prepared for a wet, cold race.  I ended up with another PR 56:15 (1:30 better than May) and first in my age group!
  • I knew that I would have to run a TERRIBLE race to not PR at Dallas Marathon this year.  2014 was the race of the bum ITB and it took me wayyyyyyy too long.  This race was to be the highlight of my year, plus I felt I had something to prove on that course.  I was somehow able to run the most perfect race ever…for me anyway…and ended up with 4:15:12, considerably faster than the 2014 bum ITB marathon. Plus, I beat my time goal by 15 minutes!  My biggest fear is that I have now peaked.  Even so, I’ll take it, because so many runners never have a race experience as good as the one I had!  This is the race that made me feel like a real runner; like a real marathoner.

Here are just a few of the well wishes I got from my friends, near and far during and after Dallas:img_6754



This one had to call me at the finish line ;)
This one had to call me at the finish line 😉



The Non-Running Stories

So many non-running things happened in 2015.  As I look back, it probably seems that I am going through a mid-life crisis, but I think I decided that I am too old to care what anyone thinks, plus I’m running out of time to do all the fun stuff!

  • I lost my tattoo virginity.  By the end of the year, I had already gotten my second tattoo!  Be looking for a 3rd after Ragnar….I’m forcing myself to wait until then!BraceletIMG_6173
  • I jumped out of a plane.  SO.  MUCH.  FUN.  I will go again in 2016, to take Logan when he turns 18 years old!Jennifer_Kirkpatrick 034
  • Taylor went to Thailand, lost her passport in Tokyo and lived to tell the tale.
  • Taylor graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Woman’s University.147
  • Alli’s team, Madfrog 10 National, was the highest placing American team at AAU Nationals, placing 7th in the nation.  The top 6 teams were Puerto Rican.rainforest
  • While in Orlando for AAUs, I rode in a helicopter!Takeoff
  • Logan made a 34 on his ACT, which was supposed to be “just a practice”.

Looking back, 2015 was a very good year!  I look forward to continuing this progress in 2016!

Happy 2016!!



What the heck (and Ash) Wednesday

FINALLY, a run deserving of documentation in my blog!  Ahhhh, yesterday’s run was great!  AND I may have reclaimed some of my #badass status as a runner.  Disclaimer: I am going to detail the weather conditions and, believe me, I KNOW they are NOTHING compared to what my friends up North are dealing with.  However, this is Texas and it is all relative, right?

The forecast for run-time had been mid-50s, partly cloudy 0% chance of rain and very low wind.  Perfect.  I checked the weather at 3:00 and all was still good, although a slight chance of rain had crept in at 10%.  No worries, right?  By the time I dropped Alli off at practice at 5 and headed to the park, the rain chances had increased to over 50%.  The sun was gone and so were temps in the mid-50s.  When I arrived at the park, I knew I might be in for a little shower.  Rain is coming

Of course, I wasn’t going to let the threat of a little rain stop me.  I was, however a little concerned about having only brought compression shorts and ss shirt to run in.  At the last minute, I remembered I had worn my Dallas Marathon shirt to work, grabbed it out of my bag and threw it on.  I didn’t even make it through my warm-up before realizing that I would be running in a downpour.  The rain came pouring down and the wind picked up, so much that it felt like little ice pellets hitting my legs and face.  And for once, I found myself wishing I had brought a pair of gloves with me!  Luckily the rain and wind moved through quickly and the rest of the run was quite enjoyable.

There are several beautiful ponds throughout the park, worthy of stopping the run in order to snap a pic.
There are several beautiful ponds throughout the park, worthy of stopping the run in order to snap a pic.

I wasn’t going to disclose this next bit of info, but what the heck.  I did not run by heart rate on this time.  I have been struggling to keep my heart rate under the threshold AND keep proper form.  I have felt like I was doing nothing more than shuffling, and I haven’t been pleased with the effects of this on my body.  At this point, I feel it is important to lay the foundation with good form so that I don’t have to deal with some of these same issues later on and the heart rate training will be most beneficial when I get to the long runs again.  On Saturday’s run, I focused more on form and my heart rate was well over the threshold, even though the pace I ran was much slower than I had been running (which is saying something, because my run intervals have been SLOW).  Yesterday, I just focused on picking up my feet and swinging my arms.  I probably ran a bit faster that I would have normally, just because it was so darn cold!!  I felt great throughout, though, and I can tell that I am moving in the right direction.  It was very reassuring to someone who constantly questions EVERY aspect of her rehab/recovery.

So this is me at the end.  Drenched and loving it!Wet run

And my lobster legs.  Lobster legs

Now might be a good time to admit that I had my Nike running jacket in the car.  The Nike running jacket that is wind proof and water resistant AND has built-in mittens.  It never occurred to me to grab that jacket.  #fail


You’re probably wondering why the title “What the heck (and Ash) Wednesday”.  Well….I posted “Flabbergasted Friday” not long ago and I keep encountering people that cause me to scratch my head.  Now, it’s difficult to alliterate with Friday, because there are a limited number of “F” words that are appropriate for publishing to the public that express my emotions correctly.  I figured why not Wednesday?

Academy basket
You can see the “owner” of the cart (on the right), sitting a mile away from the cart trying on shoes.

I feel there should be some sort of test to be passed in order to use a shopping cart.  I mean, we require automobile drivers to have licenses.  WHY would someone park their basket this way??

Seriously, rude.  Just rude.  And it also happens every time I visit Wal-Mart!

Along those same lines are the people who walk right smack in the middle of the lanes in a parking lot.  OK I realize pedestrians have the right of way, but can you not scoot to the side to allow cars to pass?

Honestly, I don’t know how some people pass their driving test, but yesterday as I was dropping Alli at school, a man BACKED UP in the MIDDLE OF THE STREET quite a ways, at least 4 or 5 car lengths.  WHY????  What possesses someone to do that?

Finally (oh, I have many more, but I’m stopping at four), people who drive the speed limit (or less) in the HOV.  Maybe it’s just a Texas thang that I feel I need to go a bit faster than the speed limit, but aren’t you in the HOV so you can go a little faster?  *sigh*


It’s Ash Wednesday!  The day we are reminded that we are nothing more than dust.  I probably should have posted my people rant on Fat Tuesday, since my Lenten practice is going to be to have more empathy and patience with people in general.  I will attempt to “give up” the negative thoughts I sometimes have toward others and replace them with thoughts of compassion.

And I leave you with a quote from scripture.  The reason I choose to “give up” a bad habit as opposed to food or something else.

God said, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice . . .? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?”  ~ Isaiah 58:6-7

And while I’m at it, I will share my favorite Bible verse, too 🙂

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8

Happy Hump Day!