2011: Top 5 racing moments

This may sound confusing, but to me it makes sense -- some of my top racing moments of 2011 may not show up in a later post with top running moments of the year, or some of these moments may rank differently. The Baltimore Marathon, for example, was definitely one of the biggest highlights for me -- ever -- but from a racing perspective, it's not my No. 1 moment of the year. Read on  ... Trail Nut 10k, Bedford, Mountain Junkies5. Trail race + age group award + running with my son In May I was very humbled by running the Mountain Junkies Trail Nut 10k trail race in Bedford. That experience was one that reminded me how challenging running on multiple surfaces really is.

This race was made special in that I was 2nd in my age group and my son wanted to run with me after – a perfect way to cool down. Winning a free pair of Injinji socks added to that great day.

4. Sub 7-minute final mile, Percival's Island 5-Miler The fact that I set a PR in this race is not the reason this is here – the final mile of that race is. As I think back to that day, I'm still not sure why I couldn't pick up the pace in the first four miles, nor do I know where I found the motivation to have one of the best miles ever in a race. I do know, though, that it’s worth this list.

Baltimore Marathon finisher3. PR in the Baltimore Marathon Here's where this list gets tricky. Coming back this year after an injury and running in the marathon may very well be my best running highlight this year (that's for another list before the end of the year), but when it comes to racing, it's not what stands out as the best moment.

Here's why: as I near the finish of 8 years of running, I have to think about where I started and where I am now. When it comes to racing, the marathon is not where my roots stand. Yes, it is very important to me that I ran 26.2 miles and was not injured afterward, but as I allow hindsight to tell the story, the Baltimore Marathon was not the best racing highlight of my year. Considering that I ran 13 races this year (also a PR), No. 3 isn't so bad.

2. Destroying my 5k PR In July I set out for a PR in the 5k at a race in Ohio. It was the first time in a while that I've approached a 5k with a "PR or go home" mentality. While I did set a PR that day, the next month I once again set my PR in a 5k (the Fab 5k, another Mountain Junkies race) with a time of 21:52. I have shaved 49 second off my 5k PR this year -- more than 16 seconds per mile.

1. Getting back to the start line Nearly 5 months after being injured after the Richmond Marathon, I went back to the River City for my first race of the year – the Monument Avenue 10k. Not only was getting to the start line a huge deal, I also managed to get a PR by 3 seconds with a well-executed negative split. There's no doubt in my mind that day was my greatest race moment this year.

Monument Avenue 10k, running, Richmond