Ah, 2011.

Last year I recounted the glory that was 2010. I'm doing the same this year, even though the latter quarter of this year can suck a fat one. YOU HEAR THAT, 2011? YOU ARE ROTTEN. GOOD RIDDANCE. When I began going back through the year, I was convinced 2011 was SO VERY OBVIOUSLY the worst year in history, but gladly, I found that wasn't the case. It was actually pretty awesome. I did some phenomenal shit, if I do say so myself. (Yes, I do say so myself). So while the year is ending on a sour note, I have hopes 2012 can only get better. And it will. Because if it doesn't, I'm going straight-up HULKSMASH on the world.

So here we are. The top 10 significant moments in the life of yours truly in 2011:

10. Race pacer extraordinaire

Grabbed one of my best friends this spring, and rather than racing a half marathon, we led a pace team. I highly encourage you to try this, if you're a runner. It's a great way to get a new perspective on a race and use your abilities to help others, rather than just satisfy yourself. ALSO OMG WE HAD SO MUCH FUN. Because we're awesome. Duh. I paced one other half marathon in 2011, and fully intend to do it again in 2012.

9. Ragnar Chicago

A relay race from Madison, Wis. to Chicago? OK, sure. 200 miles, 10 people, crowded vans, new friends, relationships, crankiness, no sleep, kick ass medal. Done and done. Have never done Ragnar? Do it. You can thank me later.

8. Dances with Dirt 

2011 was the year of Amazing Besties Races. The Dances with Dirt Marathon is very close to the top of that list. Five best friends, 26.2 miles through the bluffs of poison weeds of Devils Lake and a campfire of citronella candles. Hardest race I've ever run. CAN'T WAIT TO DO IT AGAIN IN 2012.

7. Chicago Lakefront 50K

In terms of temperature, this race was the exact OPPOSITE of Dances with Dirt, but this March race kicked off the year of amazing races with these people. I've never been so cold probably EVER. But it was my first 50K, and even though those were some pretty torturous miles along the Chicago lakefront, the experience goes down as one of the best I've ever had. It's possible I'd cease to exist without these friends. Truth.

6. Online dating, never again

It's no secret that my dating life has been, is, and will continue to be, full of bad luck. HOWEVER, mark my words, you'll never see me online dating again. I didn't want to poo-poo something I'd never tried, so I gave it the old college try this year, but Jesus Christ, no way. Never again. It was horrifying, degrading and awkward. So don't worry about me, I'll just sit here patiently and await Prince Charming, who hopefully doesn't have tiny hands.

5. The Cleveland Experience

I hopped on a plane to visit one of my very bestest friends this year in Cleveland. Yes, I ran the marathon there, which is totally not the point of this post because it was, uh, terrrrrrible, but that happened, too. My visit is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Sara and her husband (and HAPPY BABY! as shown above) welcomed me into their home with open arms. It was such an enjoyable, relaxing, comforting and happy six days. I fully intend to go back once they welcome Baby No. 2 into their lives. BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY THE KID NEEDS TO MEET AUNT KRISTA.

4. 29 miles for my 29th birthday

It was on my 2011 Bucket List, so I did it. Over the course of the day on my 29th birthday, I ran 29 miles, concluding the day with a nighttime lake loop with my favorite Annie (shown above with our final mile sodas). Hands down one of the most fun birthdays I've had. I'll be spending my 30th birthday in 2012 running a 50K with all my bests in the snowy woods. So. We'll see if we can top 29.

3. Hey, I started a novel

I hopped aboard National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November to try and hammer out 50,000 words of a novel. I went into it with no plot outline, loose ideas, and a couple characters, and debuted the very rough draft of a prologue here on the old blog. By the end of November I'd only reached just more than 16,000 words, but that's a hell of a lot more than I had previously -- zero. I think I might make writing part of my overall goal in 2012. That story needs some work.

2. Doomsday

Ah, the day that started the decline. I lost my job of a year-and-a-half on Oct. 18, 2011. If you look back at my 2010 review, you'll see how excited I was to have gotten the job in the first place. My how time flies. Two weeks later I got dumped. A month-and-a-half later I found myself in another hopeless love catastrophe. Unemployment has put a lot of things into perspective for me. It's also made me really fucking sick of my couch.

1. 50 goddamn miles

Oh, the day that made this entire year worth it. Months of training, months of worry, hundreds of miles, threats from my mom, lots of ice baths -- the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler. The day that shall go down in infamy in my little life. Nothing to date has topped the joy of this day, and it'll be hard to match any time soon. But I haven't seen the last of 50-milers.

So, happy New Year, friends. May your 2012 bring double the awesome of your 2011. Out with the old, in with the new. Insert every other cliche imaginable. But, if you're like me, when the clock strikes midnight on a new year, give 2011 a swift kick in the ass and smile at what's to come.