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A year's worth of races gave me plenty of T-shirts, sweatshirts, race bibs, timing chips and medals.

Looking back at 12 races in 2012

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Looking back at 12 races in 2012
Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

Giving up french fries, making my bed every day, trying to keep a daily journal -- I've had plenty of New Year's resolutions over the years. Usually I hold strong for at least a week or so before the resolution is quietly forgotten or given up on.

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But when my husband, Chad, and I set our New Year's resolution for 2012, I knew it would be one we'd follow through with. Back in November of last year we decided our goal would be to complete 12 races in 2012. There weren't any restrictions on what the races could be -- running, biking, swimming or combinations of those events -- and we knew we would try to spread them out over the course of the year.

The goal wasn't to win any races. Instead, our mission was to stay active during the entire year despite our busy schedules. By always having an upcoming race, we knew it would help us to keep working out on a regular basis. And we knew we'd have fun with the challenge.

In the end, I completed 14 races and Chad finished 12.

We both participated in the following: Polar Dash 5K, Lifetime Indoor Sprint Triathlon, Get Lucky 7K, Minneapolis Marathon Relay, Tour of Saints 35-mile bike race, Minneapolis Team Duathlon, the Monster Dash 10-mile run and the YMCA Turkey Trot 5K.

I also did the Gillmore Gallop 5K, the Fourth of July 5K, the Dirty Girl Mud Run 5K, the Wingman Sprint Triathlon, the Iron Girl Duathlon and the Stillwater Lift Bridge 5K. Chad also did the Row, Ride, Run Team Triathlon, the Fourth of July 10K, the Wingman Team Triathlon and the River City Ramble 5K.

During our journey, we both lost weight, improved our times, met new people and captured some great memories.

Below are some of our highlights and lowlights:

• My favorite race: The Dirty Girl Mud Run 5K. You are so busy completing all the fun obstacles that you forget you are even running in between them. When the race was finished I wanted to turn around and go right back through. Plus the atmosphere is amazing and it was fun to watch women of all different athletic abilities participate.

• Biggest mistake: I was told the Stillwater Lift Bridge 5K run was using chip timing and I had the chip strapped firmly on my ankle when I lined up at the start. I put myself at the very back of the starting line so I could spread out and stretch before the starting gun went off. When I finally got to the starting line I realized there was no chip timing mat at the start of the race. I asked the people behind me where it was and they answered that this race only has a chip timing mat at the end.

The problem? Only two runners were behind me. It took almost a full minute to get to the starting line from when the gun went off. That meant that I had to pass every single runner I wanted to beat.

It was a rookie mistake: I had no idea that some races only used the chip timing at the finish line.

• Best swag: The clothing from all the Team Ortho Monster Series races are usually the best, but the best overall swag bag from one event was the Iron Girl Duathlon. I came home with a bag full of goodies including a T-shirt, granola bars, hair binders, posters, lotion samples, pens, nail products and also some items that I purchased at the fun pre-race expo.

• Best T-shirt: At the Tour of Saints bike race, you can turn down the race T-shirt when you register and just pay a cheaper registration amount. I mean how many different race T-shirts does a girl need?

• Chad's toughest opponent: The weather. In April he battled strong winds and cold rain during the Row, Ride, Run Team Triathlon and then in July he struggled against the heat and humidity during the Fourth of July 10K.

• Chad's favorite opponent: Himself. Wearing his watch on every run, he enjoyed seeing improvement each and every week in both time and distance. He shaved off almost a full minute on his average mile time for a 5K.

• Favorite post-race snack: The Monster Series gives out Pearson Salted Nut Rolls after each race and we've fallen in love with them. We now bring our own to any other races we compete in to enjoy in the car ride home.

• Best trade: The Monster Series race bibs always include a coupon for a free beer at a local establishment close to the race. Drinking a beer after running 10 miles is the last thing I want to do. After the Monster Dash, we found a guy who was more than willing to trade his Nut Roll for my drink ticket.

• Best support team: The Republican Eagle readers. We both received so much support from people reading my columns during the entire year. People were always asking us how the races were going and how many we had left to do. There was at least one race that I wanted to quit but didn't dare because I knew I'd have to write about it.

With the Twelve in '12 journey behind us we have shifted our focus to the Red Wing YMCA Biggest Loser Challenge that runs through the middle of January. After that, who knows?

I'm sure there will be more races in our future, but I don't know that we'll be looking to complete a baker's dozen in 2013.

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