Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: The Year Lots of Stuff Happened

2016 was an interesting year for me. One the one hand, I accomplished a lot in terms of running, writing, and my career. I ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. I published a book. I started a new job. On the other hand, I encountered some major rough spots, both physically and emotionally. I guess if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be "eventful." Rarely boring. Both exhilarating and exhausting.

Boston Bound
I published this book in May, just one month after running the marathon. It took me nine months to

write it, but over seven years to live it and blog about it. I wrote it because I believed I had a story
that was worth sharing with the running community, or anyone who struggled with perfectionism and anxiety. Although I am an extreme example of how one's own mind can be the biggest barrier to a person's success, I think that we've all played victim to our mindsets at some point or another. It's this universal struggle that (I think) has made the book so successful, as well as the fact that few books exist about everyday runners who aren't at the elite level. The most common feedback I receive is that people were able to relate to the book, and they appreciated its honesty.

Needless to say, I never expected that the book would have sold as many copies as it has. Depending on the day, it's usually ranked on Amazon as one of the top 20-30 best selling running books. I didn't have a sales target in mind when I wrote the book, I just put it out there and waited to see what would happen. I also used my marketing skills to make sure the book received as much exposure as possible. I built up my social media presence, I formed relationships with high-visibility publications, and I even ran some advertisements on Facebook.

The experience of publishing a book and connecting with so many people who've read the book has been truly remarkable. I honestly would have been happy to have just one person read it and say that it helped them, but the impact has been much greater.

I don't write too much about my career on this blog, but I do write quite a few articles on the topic of marketing. The Publications tab on this blog has a list of all of them. I was thankful to have the opportunity to write for some very prominent marketing publications this year, and one of my articles has thousands of shares on LinkedIn.

I changed jobs this year. Although I enjoyed what I did at my previous company, I never felt like I fit in there. The culture just wasn't for me. I frankly wasn't treated very well when I came down with mono, and I was accused of taking advantage of the situation by working from home too much. My skills weren't being maximized and I wasn't able to contribute to my full potential. I'm much happier in my new role, and I believe I've already made a notable impact in less than four months. I'm a marketing vice president for a large software company, and I'm charged with managing the marketing programs that drive revenue for the company. I really enjoy the work atmosphere, and I find myself smiling and laughing a lot while I'm there.

I actually used to work for this company 17 years ago. It was my first job out of college and I was a marketing communications associate, tasked with writing the marketing and PR materials. I was laid off after just three months, however, when the company went through a rough patch financially. I've always been interested in returning.

And of course, running
My running year is best summed up by looking at the 4 quarters.
Shamrock half marathon, March 2016

First quarter: I ran the highest mileage of my life (60-70 miles per week) in preparation for Boston. I also set a massive PR in the half marathon in treacherous conditions.

Second quarter: I ran Boston and then published my book. The majority of my focus in May and June was promoting the book.

Third quarter: I was sick from July 1- September 20 with mono, or some mono-like virus. I made a few attempts to run, but they just set me back even further.

Fourth quarter: I made a huge comeback from mono by gradually adding distance and speed to my runs. And now I'm now stronger than ever!

Because I'm a data junkie, here are the numbers and graphs from 2016.

  • My total mileage was 1,793. If you remove the three months I didn't run, this averages out to 199 miles per month.
  • I ran 10 races. This includes one marathon (Boston), one half marathon (Shamrock), one 10K, two 4-milers, and five 5Ks.
  • I won 8 awards. 4 of these were first place age group, 3 of these were second place age group, and 1 of these was 3rd overall female
  • I set 3 PRs.  Half marathon: 1:33:36, 10K: 42:09, 5K: 20:50. I set an unofficial 10-mile PR during the half marathon and an unofficial 5K PR during the 10k.

Monthly Mileage
It's great to see that I'm building back to the level I used to train at. Running high mileage is a skill and unless you build up to it over years, then you're likely to get injured. I'm extremely fortunate that I haven't had any running injuries in the past three years. My last injury was in 2013 when I had a stress reaction in my shin. Below is a snapshot of my mileage for the past 8 years, since I started tracking it:

I was also sick with mono in 2012 for the same amount of time, but my mileage before and after was much higher this year than it was back then. 2010, 2014, and 2015 were the years when I was both illness and injury free.

I think my biggest takeaway from 2016 is that balance is really important. I was trying to do too much all at once, and it resulted in me getting sick. I've learned that I need to prioritize taking care of my health and I need to keep perspective on things. Worrying and obsessing over things never helps; it actually makes things worse. I used think that I needed to stress over things to ensure they went the way I wanted them to go. I was wrong. I'll have a better shot at having things go my way if I lose the stress and the worry. I won't be a victim of self-fulfilling prophecies. I'll be more rested and more confident. And that will manifest itself in everything I do.

Finally, I'll end this blog with some of my favorite photos from the year.

Realizing that I crushed my PR at the Shamrock half marathon

Meeting my coach in person for the first time, as well as Greg McMillan himself

Finish line of the Boston Marathon

Running with the love of my life
Launching my book

Being treated like a princess while sick

Pacing a new friend in a half marathon instead of being upset that I wasn't in shape to race

First race post-mono, beating my goal by a full minute

Setting a huge PR in the 10K
Making new friendships with Rochelle (pictured), Lisa and Hannah
That orange shirt has seen me through a lot of good times. I just realized that I'm wearing it in half of the photos!

Happy New Year to all my blog readers. Go out and crush it in 2017!


  1. Although you had some difficulties, 2016 held many accomplishments! Congrats on how well your book is doing and your PRs!

  2. Nice summary, Elizabeth!! Quite the year, eh?? BTW, doesn't Monumental count as a second HM for the year??


    1. Well, I didn't actually "race" it even though I participated. It's a gray area!

  3. I'm so glad that you contacted me about your book and that it has become such a success!!! I hope my blog had a little part of that! Your book is my second most popular book club post (after Suzy Favor Hamilton's book, which really wasn't about running at all).

    You've made a great recovery from your illness and I predict a great year for you!

    1. Oh, that's so awesome to know. Thanks again for writing about it!

  4. I am sorry you were treated that way at your old company. That is horrible!

    Even with your illness you still did great in 2016!! Hopefully 2017 is even better!!

    1. It was not fun at all. Thank you for supporting me!

  5. Congratulations on a good year, Elizabeth. I'll have to check out your book and recommend it for our next run book club. Jennifer @ Run Jenny Run

  6. I love your wrap up for the year, Elizabeth. Congratulations on running Boston, publishing the book, getting a new job, blowing your old PRs out of the water as well as your mono recovery. It was a huge year of ups and downs for you but I'm glad you were able to end it on an "up" with the 10K PR. I hope to meet you at Myrtle Beach in just two months!

    1. It's getting so close! Thank you for all your support this year. I really appreciate you always commenting and checking in on me when I was sick. It will be awesome to meet you.

  7. Great post! Love those running graphs! You have battled back from mono tremendously!!

    1. Thank you! Excited to meet you in a few months.

  8. WOW. What a year! Truly incredible. I didn't realize that you had the job change on top of everything else that you were doing. EVENTFUL might be an understatement! I'm excited to follow along and see what all you do in 2017!

    1. Thanks, Sam! Yeah, I am looking forward to less drama and my wish for 2017 is that things just stay the same. I'm very happy as is!

  9. Great wrap up! I love the mileage charts! Can't wait to see what 2017 has in store for you!