Race Lessons from 2015

I love the axiom that we either win or we learn.  By win, I don’t mean First Female Overall, I mean we got something right, we had an a-ha moment, or something just clicked.  The same can be said of a learning experience, which is my diplomatic word for a fail.  Not a dead-end-street fail, but a fail forward where we take a temporary detour before that learning experience becomes wisdom.   This is a look at each race I ran in 2015 and the lesson that came with it; some were wins and some were great teachers.


The 2015 St. George Half Marathon taught me to to have a goal and fight for it.  Races are the culmination of countless hours of training and sacrifice, and if it’s part of your plan, it can be a day for determination, grit, and glory.  At mile 10 I was in 4th place, but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I began thinking about all the training I had put into this one day.  There were Crossfit workouts filled with burpees, pull-ups, toes-to-bar, and lifting.  There were the miles and miles of tempo runs, long runs, speed work, and hills.  That’s when something clicked, I had worked too hard to settle, to not know that I gave it all I had to give, so I did.  I caught up with the third place runner and ran my heart out to the finish.  I was able to secure 3rd place overall and get my first sub 1:25 half marathon.  The feeling of knowing I gave it all I had was the reward.


The 2015 Zion Half Marathon taught me that life is better seen on a run.  I love the quote,  “A man on foot will see more, feel more, and enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourist can in a hundred miles.” I only live 45 minutes away from Zion National Park and I have driven through the park and hiked there many times, but there was something special about running my way to the park entrance and watching the sunrise over the red mountains of Zion that was truly breath taking.  It’s a running memory I cherish.


The 2015 Boston Marathon taught me that you can’t plan for everything, but try to.  It’s the old boy scout motto: be prepared.  Weather is tricky.  Cold is bad.  Wet is worse.  Cold and wet are lethal.  I knew the weather was going to be a challenge, but I didn’t make adjustments to my race day clothes or my race plan.  I could have mitigated some of the pain of that day by being  prepared with more options.  I packed my race day clothes and hoped my arm warmers, cotton gloves, and compression socks would keep me warm and dry-they didn’t.  With the additional wait time at the start, I should have bundled up like I was heading out to explore the Arctic.  I learned to always wear extra shed-able layers and bring many options for race day.  I learned the truth of this statement, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”


The 2015 Southern Utah Half Marathon taught me to listen to my heart.  This half marathon was the Saturday after Boston, I had no plans to run it, but I had worked so hard to train for Boston that I wanted to go prove to myself that my speed had improved.  Many people told me not to run, that I was risking an injury, but my heart felt like I could, and that I should, so I did. I was able to get a PR on this course and run with one of my favorite people in the world.  Pictures like this remind me that running is so much more than finish times; it’s friendships, it’s sanity, it’s laughter, it’s balance, it’s joy.


The 2015 Parowan Half taught me that you have to train for downhill.  Hill training is a normal part of my running, but I always focused on training to run a strong uphill and assumed that my body would be able to handle the downhill.  I was sore for days after this race.  I should have incorporated some downhill training.  It’s important to remember for downhill running to focus on a quicker cadence so that your steps feel lighter helping your feet to land midfoot instead of using your heel like a brake.  Doing a downhill workout every other week can help you improve your form so that you can take full advantage of the downhill assist.


The 2015 St. George Marathon taught me to hydrate.  I know that this is not marathon rocket science, but it was a lesson I had to relearn this year.  I was so focused on the clock that I failed to pay attention to the signs my body was giving me.  I depended on planned water stops from family members because I didn’t want to take the time to go through the water stops, slow and drink, and try to pick up the pace again.  What I didn’t realize was that dehydration could happen so quickly and severely.  Just a 2 percent decrease in hydration can slow you down.  The time I had worried I would lose at water stops became a complete loss when my body was in shut down mode due to dehydration.  This was a painful lesson to learn, and I hope it’s the last time I have to learn it.


The 2015 Save a Sister 10K taught me to run for something.  It’s amazing how inspiration and gratitude can fuel you.  Running for something is so much more powerful than running from something.


The 2015 Snow Canyon Half taught me to pace.  I had two great pacers for this race. These sub 3 marathoners and fellow St. George Running Club members told me to slow down.  Through huffs and puffs I told them I was shooting for a PR.  They said things like “slow down,” “drop your arms,” “ease off,” and “go now!”  Their support and race advice set me up to have a strong finish which was the confidence booster I needed after the St. George Marathon.  I’m always so thankful for others runners who help support, teach, and pace.


The 2015 Gobbler taught me to run for fun.  I love that this sweat-band wearing, giant turkey with it’s tongue hanging out, is giving me rabbit ears.  I love the crazy costumes, sparkly outfits, tutus, and the enthusiastic energy at races.  Running is hard and challenging, but above all it needs to be fun.  There is magic in the enjoyment and celebration of this sport, especially when you share that magic with people who feel the same way.  It’s maybe the most important lesson I learned all year.

2015 gave me nine races, nine finish lines, and nine learning experiences. Being healthy enough to have these nine experiences is a gift that I feel gratitude for every day.  Happy running friends!

What is a lesson running taught you this year?

What is your best race advice?


7 thoughts on “Race Lessons from 2015

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      You are so sweet! I love that each races teaches us something different. You have so much to celebrate this year! Congratulations on an amazing 2015, I’ll be cheering you on in 2016 my friend!

  1. Kate @ SoCal Runner Gal says:

    I LOVE this Katie! You’re right. Every race serves a purpose and it was neat to read what you gained from every one. Maybe you missed the lesson that you’re total bad ass!!! 🙂

    Happy New Year to you and your family! I can’t wait to see what big things you do in the new year.


    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Right back at you my friend! You made my day! I think 2016 is going to be a great year! Happy running and please come run the St. George marathon again! Loves!!!

  2. Regina says:

    Learned to listen to my body. When my left quad did not feel right 3 weeks before my October Long Beach Marathon, I should have listened. Instead I kept training, ran the race in 91° heat and am now just coming back. I HAD to adjust my goal time for the heat, but didn’t adjust my fuel intake. Guess that’s 2 lessons from 1 race!

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Those race lessons are hard ones. I had a few of those this year, but they are great teachers. I’m so glad to hear that you’re back at it.

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