It’s almost the new year, and I keep hearing people say how the year flew by. Well friends, this year did not fly by for me. I think I would have preferred that. For me, it was a year of rebuilding my fitness. It was a year of new challenges and learning to work with my more-often-than-not back pain. It wasn’t all terrible, but I would put 2023 on my list of years I’ll be happy to see in the rearview mirror.

A highlight for sure was the addition of our little Penny. She’s a 7 pound ball of adorable stubbornness. We adopted her in May. Her previous owner passed away and we were able to step in and offer her a home. She’s settled in quite nicely, much to the chagrin of her big sister Florence. We’ll get there.

After injuring my back in November 2022, I had a lot of work to do starting in 2023. From December through February I walked and went to PT. I was able to start really making an effort to run again in March. I did a lot of run/walk intervals those first few months. I admit that I had some dark days, but I’m grateful my friends and family supported me and helped me along. I ran/walked a 5K in Los Angeles in March, and another with my nephew in April. Both were quite humbling, to say the least.

My nephew and I being absolute weirdos.

In June I traveled back to the west coast to work the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. It’s always hard work, and a lot of fun. Unfortunately I came back with a souvenir I didn’t want: covid. In addition to the heat of the Florida summer, my running was a bit sad those few months.

In August, the US Masters Swimming Nationals were just over a bridge from me in Sarasota, FL. I swam in 3 events and had a blast! I swam a bunch in preparation and then promptly fell off my swim streak. Oops. Then later in August, Nick and I went to Stockholm! We loved it! I ate a cinnamon roll everyday. And, I was able to run everyday in the glorious nordic weather. I even met and ran with a local running group.

The Run Collective Stockholm (I’m on the far left in black tank top.)

I wasn’t able to hit a 10 mile run until September. But after that, it was off to the races. Literally. I ran a half marathon in September and that was such a joyous event I could have cried. I traveled to New Hampshire with a great group of friends. The weather was absolutely perfect and that half could not have been more beautiful. My time was 2:08, and I’m quite proud of that. I have run much faster, but I’ve also run slower. This race was a great confidence boost that I can get back to faster times. Maybe not PRs, but then again, maybe…

Clarence de Mar Half Marathon with friends!

In October, I headed to Arizona to help crew for a friend running the Javelina Jundred, a 100 mile race in the desert. It was an amazing experience. I made new friends and covered a 20 mile loop with my friend Anne. I would love to go back to that event. I would say it’s a cross between a music festival and a marathon. In short – a total blast! Unfortunately, I again got sick and had to back off my running for a week. (I did do the 20 miler with a cold which probably wasn’t the smartest but what can I say? I’m le dumb.)

Rose, Anne, and I at Javelina Jundred.

In November I ran a 5K that, while it was a great event, it was very hot. I ran it in a time of 27:06. I was NOT happy with this. But looking back, I can see that I ran it smart and just dealt with the heat the best I could. I know myself, I do not run well in the heat. While I did manage negative splits, I just wasn’t happy with how badly I felt. On the plus side, my I Heart Finish Lines athletes and I had a team tent and had a total blast with the 80’s theme!

Totally 80’s, totally fun.

Later in November, I was able to get some redemption at the Turkey Trot. It was a great day for a race. With temps in the 60’s, I felt really good and ran a 25:33! What a difference weather can make.

This leads us to now – December. I had a great time working the CLASH Daytona event and got to take some cool shots at the iconic Daytona International Speedway. CLASH events are worth racing, if I do say so myself, so if you haven’t raced on, you should put it on your list.

My last race of the year was the Hot Chocolate 15K. Oof. That’s how that went. Ha. I honestly ran it well. I was able to negative split it, but again, warm temps and I went to battle. I dug very deep the last three miles and again wound up with a cold! I’ve been down for the count since. See what I mean about a long year? I know I need to take a look at my immune system and add in some more vitamins. If you’re counting though, it’s really two colds and one Covid. I may chalk it up to travel and hard work?

I’m again an Ambassador for the Still I Run charity. I was diagnosed with depression in my 20’s and found running was, and is, a great help. Still I Run aims to promote the benefits of running for mental health, while also working to break the stigma. Feel free to give it a look and donate or run the virtual Breaking Stigma in Stride 5K. I’ll definitely be running it again this year.

I mentioned that I still have back pain. I think I always will. Some days are better than others. And I am learning what seems to be a trigger. I am still doing the exercises my PT provided and working on smarter movements. After reading this, I do see that I had a lot of very positive experiences in 2023. I made some new friends, worked some great events, and was able to start training in earnest again. I’m hopeful 2024 is more travel, training, and fun.