“The New Year is a moment of quiet reflection. Screw that, let’s celebrate it with some noise.”

This time of year, we’re inundated with reflections on the past year. In the social media and blogosphere world, these are primarily focused on the individual who posts them. As much as I like to think other people really care about the high points of my year, I know they really don’t (it’s okay, they’ve got their own to bask in). So rather than focus the obligatory end-of-year post on myself, I’m putting the spotlight on others with my Best of 2014 Awards.

From today until New Year’s Day, I’m awarding my Twitter favorites in various categories. Spoiler alert: The full list is included in this blog, as I didn’t want to have to write a bunch of separate blogs or keep coming back to update it every day. But each day I’ll tweet out the chosen ones for that day’s category – so don’t read ahead if you want the suspense and surprise each day!

I have to say, this has been a really fun blog to write. It took some time and “research” if you will to choose the best but that’s what made it fun. So I hope you enjoy it! Presenting: The Best of 2014 from My Twitter Universe

A blog worth reading.

A blog worth reading.

Dec 26: Best Writer – @RunFasterMommy (RelentlessForwardCommotion.com) and @MattBDavis

I originally titled this category “Best Blogger” but had to change it, as that wouldn’t do justice to either of these two.

Practical advice for serious athletes and workout newbs. Product reviews and giveaways. Funny stories, big-mouthed opinion pieces, recognition of others’ achievements – @Runfastermommy blogs about it all. There’s a good variety to the posts, keeping it interesting and never mundane, yet she still keeps the focus on what she knows.

The aforementioned “big-mouthed opinion pieces” is probably the main reason why I chose her as my favorite blogger, not the simple fact she blogs about health and fitness. I love when people have the balls to tell it like it is, to say things we’re all thinking but don’t have the guts to actually come out and say. Rather than write simple posts about stuff everyone else is writing about or what she thinks the masses want to read, she often goes against the grain and has the courage to say things that may piss off a few people (damn it, her sister deserved that Ironman medal). But that’s the beauty of having your own blog. It’s yours so keep it real and write what you want, not what you think others want to read. Bravo, Heather. You’ve got good stuff.

Then there’s a guy who was so good, he turned his hobby and passion into a career. When I met Matt B Davis about two years ago, he was a podcaster with a solid following in the obstacle racing world. Fast-forwad to today, he’s the guy behind Obstacle Racing Media, a website full of OCR info, race reviews and other goodies. I love his honesty and humor – it’s often crude which is the best kind of humor. He’s also a published author. His book, Down and Dirty: The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Racing and Mud Runs showcases his writing as well as his expertise on the sport. And he better have the latter – dude races practically every weekend!

Dec 27: Best Foodie – @FeistyEats and @NDPaulson

Because of my love for food (sometimes it’s an appropriate amount, most of the time, it’s not) I had to recognize those who’ve made the biggest contributions to my world in the way of good food.

Food porn. It's okay to look.

Food porn. It’s okay to look.

Recipage.com/FeistyEats/ is a food-lovers dream. From apple bread and pumpkin cheesecake squares to cauliflower crust pizza and caprese on a stick (yep, on a stick!) there are enough mouth-watering recipes on the blog to keep me well-fed and plump for years. Bonus, she’s a North Dakota girl (like me) and loves to hit it hard in the gym (like me), making me love her blog even more!

Although he’s not a food blogger, I had to give the male choice in this category to my own manfriend, NDPaulson. The fact he doesn’t share recipes on a blog makes him even more appealing – instead, he does the concepting and cooking for me. I just get to sit back, eat and enjoy!

She lost 100+ pounds the right way. High fives.

She lost 100+ pounds the right way. High fives.

Dec 28: Best Fitness Journey – @KJsFitMomma and @rsheels11

Those of you who follow the blog closely will remember the letter I wrote to MV. I’ve loved watching her kick ass and lose more than 100 pounds, but it’s been even more fun to see her find a love for fitness and building muscle, to see her beam with pride when she posts progress pics and to see her do it both for herself and for her little man, KJ. Looking forward to watching another year unfold for MV and what accomplishments she’ll tack on to her list.

For part of this year and all of last year, I worked for an obstacle racing event company. The experience I gained from the unique opportunity pales in comparison to the friends I made and fitness journeys unfold before my eyes. When I first saw Ryan compete, I never would have imagined the road that got him there. Like many, he developed some unhealthy habits in college. Unlike many, he committed to his health and made changes in his early 20s. Now, he’s fit, fast and, best of all, humble. I saw him place Top 5 in his age group, Top 10 overall, multiple times. I even had the pleasure of putting the medal around his neck and offering my personal congratulations a couple times. One of the best parts of watching him compete and grow as an athlete was the fact he did it with his father by his side. He encouraged his father to get healthy too and they became training and racing buddies, often finishing together or just seconds apart. It was amazing to learn his father went from unhealthy to his now fit, fast and humble self. Although the OCR company I worked for is no longer, I hope to see Ryan and his father at local and regional races – maybe even keep up with them!

He will make you hurt and sweat. You'll love it.

He will make you hurt and sweat. You’ll love it.

Dec 29: Best Fitness Pro – @JoeFitness and @CTolleRun (Olympian Carrie Tollefson)

Starting as a personal trainer at a typical gym, JoeFitness has grown himself into more than just a kickass personal trainer. He has become a business owner, a brand and a life-changer. He’s the personal trainer you’d brag about and recommend to your friends yet want to keep all to yourself. Plus, I was there when the whole “JoeFitness” name came about, so I like to think we’re lifelong pals.

Carrie Tollefson is one of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. She’s smart and professional, yet bubbly and personable. She’s down-to-earth and humble, while crazy-talented on and off the track. Best of all, she’s funny. I love her workouts and fitness tips, not only because she’s an Olympian, but because of how she brings in her personality and sense of humor into it. Sure, she takes her workouts and business seriously (how could she not to have achieved the things she has) but she reminds everyone to never take him or herself too seriously – and that working out is fun!

Dec 30: Best Twin – @fit_blondiegirl and @Rodzilla9

The closest Jerry Seinfeld ever got to being married on 10 years of the show was to a woman that was so similar to him, it lead him to a revelation: “Now I know what I’ve been looking for all these years…myself! I’ve been waiting for me to come along and now I’ve swept myself off my feet.” And they say we tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to us. There are the two Twitter peeps, who I’ve never met and likely never will, but have connected with who have so much in common with me, I feel they’re my long-lost twins.

Takes the words right out of my mouth.

Takes the words right out of my mouth.

From her love of cheat meals and living in workout clothes, to her honesty about cursing too much or that, sometimes, you just need to drink the whole bottle of wine, I feel like this IrishBarbie and I are identical souls. I seriously want to retweet half of her tweets because it’s stuff I would say and favorite the rest just because they’re great – but I don’t because that would put me a little too close to stalker status.

We both had busy summers with triathlons. Our half marathon PR goal is identical. We’re both ginormous football fans (though we do NOT cheer for the same team!). This guy is about as close as it gets to being the male version of me. Like it or not, dude!

Bonus of these two: Their tweets are often funny (I like to think I have my own gut-buster moments from time to time) so, in awesome bonus fashion, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite recent faves:

@fit_blondiegirl
I broke down & made sugar cookies this afternoon. & then I ate at least 3, plus some dough, plus some frosting. Now I feel like crap.

Photo w/text: My mom cursed so much when we were little, I thought my name was Fuck.
Accompanying tweet: I bet my daughters say this. Sorry not sorry. Fuck!!

Okay got my Christmas melt-down out of the way. Then watched a couple Christmas movies & drank a bottle of wine. Christmas cheer is back!

Male version of me? Or am I the female version of him?

Male version of me? Or am I the female version of him?

@rodzilla9
Sometimes I stare at my 3 year old and can’t believe I’m a father and in charge of him.

Is it that hard for ‪@NFLonCBS and ‪@nflnetwork to change the Thursday night football graphic to Saturday night football?? ‪#comeonman

I just wanna lose myself in a nice long run.

Dec 31: Best Retweet – @311

As if you couldn’t tell by my Twitter and Instagram handle, and the name of this blog, I’m a huge 311 fan. I’ve spent nearly 20 years jamming out to the music of Omaha’s finest guys, never letting a few cities or hundreds of miles prevent me from seeing plenty of their live shows. I also own every album – the physical CD. At this day in age, most people find that odd and unnecessarily old-school but each is a personal treasure to me. So you can imagine when I got a RT from the band this summer, I nearly had a heart attack.

Me, dorking out over my autographed 311 goods.

Dorking out over my autographed 311 goods.

Side note: I also received a personalized birthday wish from guitarist and singer, Nick Hexum. A little something my pal and local rock radio DJ, thechowsenone managed to pull off. Lesson: It really pays to be friends with the local rock radio DJ and bug him relentlessly to get 311 to come to town – which they did last summer! Not that I’m taking any credit for that… I also snagged a follow and favorite from the band’s bassist, @Pnut. Topping it all off, I won an autographed CD and guitar pick for being such an enthusiastic super fan (not I didn’t say obsessed, obnoxious or stalker). Yes, 311 day came multiple times in 2014 for this girl.

Jan 1: Best To Watch In 2015 – @WickedLMessner and @XRACEWEAR

I couldn’t end this list without a little forethought to the upcoming year. I’ve chosen the two who I feel are ones to watch in 2015. I think they’re both in for big years and will keep up with them via social media to see how it all unfolds.

That's how you #StrikeAMessner

That’s how you #StrikeAMessner

Laura Messner has become a household name in the obstacle course racing world. What’s interesting and unique is why. You won’t often hear her name in conversations about the sport’s top racers – like Amelia Boone and Rose Wetzel, Matt Novakovich and Hunter McIntyre – but she has built herself into a brand based on more than athleticism (not to take that away from her, the chick is fit). She’s created a following based on her fun, relatable personality, her positivity and her infamous race pose, #StrikeAMessner. If 2014 is any indication, I expect her star to continue to rise and shine even brighter in 2015.

Rockin my own XRACEWEAR gear.

Rockin my own XRACEWEAR gear.

XRACEWEAR is the athletic clothing company famous for taking safety pins out of the race-day equation (#NoSafetyPins). Athletes themselves, the company founders saw a need in the market and addressed it – and now we’re all like, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” But it’s not a simple flash-in-the-pan and done for these guys. They listen to customer requests and take feedback seriously to improve their product line. That’s a big reason why I think they’re going to continue to grow and expand the business. I’m a proud owner of a few XRACEWEAR items and can attest to how great they are, both on race days and typical gym days.

Thanks for taking the time to read My Twitter Universe’s Best of 2015! Hope you’ll continue to follow my blog this year and share your lives with me on social media. As always, I love to hear how you liked (or didn’t like) this entry, so comment below or tweet me @runlikeagirl311. Cheers to a fantastic 2015!

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