This was a much shorter season that last year’s, but it was a joy to race anyway! I was unable to train as hard owing to the long recovery from my ankle injury. After a few hiccups, I settled into training with the Altra Instincts (zero-drop shoes) and these were a good medium between the extreme minimalist (like the NB Minimus which did not fit too well) and the overly cushioned high-heels! I raced in my Asics Hyper XCs, and those worked really well.
- Institute Woods 6K, Princeton, NJ (04/21): Wonderful race at the beautiful Institute Woods in Princeton. Unlike last year, the trail was dry and pleasant. My ankle was not 100% but I was ecstatic to finish third with a time of 23:31, which was 2.5 minutes faster than last year’s time. Most of all, I just loved being able to get out there for my first race of the year after a 6-month lay-off. It was awesome seeing familiar faces from Princeton Athletic Club and beyond! Awesome day overall!
- 5K Race to the Dream, Hopewell, NJ (05/07): This will probably go down as one of my most memorable races. It had poured all night and the course was swamped. Unfortunately, I decided against bringing my spikes, hoping that my trusty Hyper-XCs would do the job just fine. Race to the Dream was organized to raise money to fight child trafficking. This was the second annual race and everyone was pumped. I won the race last year (19 minutes, or so) and there was quite a bit of hype this time around, but I wasn’t feeling too good. Before I knew what was happening, the race was on. This year was certainly more competitive and I recognized some top runners from the area. I did a 6:00 split for the first mile (which was rather hard, but everyone was pushing so hard!), but I struggled in the second mile and fell to third place. Then, along one of the muddiest stretches of the course the unthinkable happened. I had just passed the 2-mile mark and my time was 12:16 (or thereabouts). My stomach was complaining but I felt I could run a pretty solid last mile. Suddenly, I tripped over an invisible root hidden in the mud. I yelped, fell long and hard and lay motionless for about a minute (which is forever in a 5K). My ankle had survived a painful twist but I wasn’t sure if I could continue. Another runner passed me and my resolve was strengthened. I gritted my teeth and hobbled to the finish in fifth place. I was astounded to learn that my time was 20:01. I was mad, disappointed, hurt, but also strangely happy! A couple friends prayed over my ankle and the post-race activities were awesome, as always. It was a great race and I learned a bunch of useful lessons!
- HomeFront 5K, ETS Campus, Hopewell, NJ (05/12): Another wonderful race. Met a bunch of awesome runners. The winner was a member of my church at Princeton. We started the race together but I could not keep up! I came in fifth with a time of 19:18. I thought the finish was half a mile closer than it actually was, so I mistimed my final kick. No excuses, though, but this was worse than 2011 5K best of 18:52 on the road. This course was hilly, however. Nevertheless, I was super thankful to have come first in my age group (this has been the case in nearly all my races)! But, then again, winning is not everything. You go out there and compete. You get beat and are inspired to work harder. Most of all, I was just grateful I could even run at all after the nasty fall I had only a week earlier. Really, I shouldn’t have raced again so soon, but I could not stomach the thought of pulling out of this one!
If my memory serves me well (since this is such a late report), I do not think I ran any more races in 2012. Things got quite busy at school. I went home for a month in the summer and then on to a missions trip. A little running here and there (including teaching my little brother how to run) but no racing—it was amazing! Excited to see what 2013 will bring!