2014 Running Year in Review

This year was my highest-mileage year so far. I set 10K, half marathon and marathon personal records, I made it through a celiac disease scare, and I started treating food as fuel. I even was stung by a bee and kept up a quick pace to finish my 20-miler in all kinds of pain. I’ll count 2014 as my best running year yet, but I know I have a ton of work and bigger plans in store for 2015.


  • Total distance: 3,968 miles
  • Marathons: four
    • Rock ‘n’ Roll USA (3:07:09)
    • Boston (3:11:28)
    • St. George (3:02:21)
    • Marine Corps (3:16:26)
  • Age group awards: 2nd Female 30-34 in Rock ‘n’ Roll USA, 2nd Female in Roosevelt Run 5K, 1st Female 30-34 in Erie Half Marathon, 1st Female 30-34 in Battlefield Half Marathon


Top five runs

  1. Paris in the Bois de Vincennes: Imagine losing yourself in a prototypical Parisian park on a beautiful late summer day. Michael and I ran along the Seine to get to the park and realized my planned 14-miler would have to end unless we could navigate our way back using the Metro. We took a (good) gamble and put in another eight miles in the Bois de Vincennes park. The park had enough trails, roads and even wood-chip paths for many more miles.
  2. Boston Marathon: This year’s Boston was particularly emotional after the 2013 bombings. The spectators came out in full force, and running it helped put an emotional bookend on the events of that day.

    Wild Rivers Recreation Area
    Wild Rivers Recreation Area
  3. St. George Marathon: Any time you can shave five minutes off a marathon PR is a good running day. St. George is a beautiful race that I highly recommend to anyone looking to set a PR and enjoy beautiful scenery.
  4. Catoctin Mountain Park: A simple 10-mile loop we read about in Run Washington turned out to be one of the most challenging, punishing runs of the year. I loved it, even though giant bugs kept swarming Michael and me as we ran.
  5. Wild Rivers Recreation Area: In May I found myself running on the roads right before a massive wind and rainstorm in a random recreation area in the middle of New Mexico. I was able to stop to look down in to the Red River gorge. I saw no other runners — no other people except one elderly couple in their RV.

Best running discoveries

  1. Caramel macchiato GU: This flavor of GU makes me look forward to fueling mid-run. It tastes like coffee and caramel and sex, unless it’s frozen. Then it tastes like caramel.Caramel macchiato GU
  2. Beet juice: I read a book by Matt Fitzgerald that recommended beet juice before races to help improve performance. It seems to work pretty well, though the placebo effect might be in effect a little bit. Either way, I’ve incorporated beet juice and smoothies into my diet this year, and I’ve noticed myself feeling fuller longer.
  3. Oiselle Scantron bra: I’ve slowly swapped out my old sports bras for this model. It provides just the right amount of support for a smaller-chested lady like me, and it doesn’t chafe on my chest. That’s what I want from a bra.
  4. Strava: If you’re not on Strava — either the free or paid version — you should be. Strava’s most impressive feature is its segment tracking. I can tell how I’m trending on segments and courses I run often. It also lets you compete against other runners for course records.

Full video: on Strava

2015 health resolutions

  1. Hire a coach: Having a coach in the new year will be huge for me. I’ll say more on this in the next few weeks. I have big goals with Boston 2 Big Sur, breaking 3 in the marathon and running my first ultra, and I think a coach can help me get there.
  2. Listen to my body more and play the long game: In my 90- and 100-mile weeks, I typically push pain aside. I need to remember that I’m going to be a runner for the rest of my life. My body needs to last a while. I should remember to work in recovery weeks with high-mileage weeks. For every three up weeks, I need a legitimate down week.
  3. Eat fewer sweets: Ugh. Sweets and liquor are the reason I’m not five pounds lighter. I’m resolving to cut out sweets and stick to wine during the week for the month of January. That should be easy, right?
  4. Arrive at the Boston starting line healthy: This will be tough with high-mileage weeks in February and March, but if I listen to my body, I can get to Boston and Big Sur in good shape. That means I’ll have rested legs, a good base of mileage, speed work, and I’ll be ~126 pounds. That’s when I feel my best.
  5. Choose races strategically: For the past few years, I’ve fallen in to a pattern of  throwing in races because someone has a spare bib or because they sound interesting. I love to race, but if I’m going to throw in fun races, I don’t have to race them. I should use them as building blocks, which is what I intend to do with my first race of 2015 in 10 days.

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Amanda runs nearly every day. She likes data and avoids deer at all costs.