January 1, 2010

2009 Reflections...

My plan was to post this yesterday, on the last night of 2009...but then my computer went and got a virus. My whole life is on this computer so it was kind of scary, but I was able to fix things with the help of my very smart and technical uncle. Lately I've just had really bad luck with my electronics - I can't use the front of my phone because the unlock key just stopped working, my iPod blew out a couple weeks ago, and then I got this damn virus. Seriously, what's up karma?

Anyway, on to the purpose of this post...reflecting on my running in 2009. For all important purposes, it was my first year as a runner. Let me clarify - I actually ran quite a bit in high school. I played soccer year round and even did cross-country for a couple years as a way to stay in shape for soccer. I would run on my own a bit too, but again it was mainly for soccer and it never exceeded 2 miles. It wasn't until 2009 that I began running for the sake of running, and it was the first time I called myself a runner. In January I signed up with Team In Training and began training for the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon with a wonderful group of people and fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I had always wanted to run a marathon, and I had heard that TNT was a great way to do it. I ran my first "official" race in April, the Santa Barbara Chardonnay 10-miler. At that point 10 miles was still pretty far for me, but I loved every minute of it. The race environment I experienced that day made me even more excited for my marathon, but there were still several more months of training left.
The amazing SB chapter of Team In Training!
 SB Chardonnay 10-miler (1:44:18)

As I trained with the Team, my life slowly evolved as well as a result of my running. For the most part I stopped drinking and went out much less than before. My body just didn't want alcohol, and it wasn't exactly conducive to training anyway. Having a long run at 7am on Saturday also made it virtually impossible (or maybe just foolish) to go out a lot on the weekends. My diet changed drastically as I began to see food as fuel, and I began having a water bottle glued to me 24/7. I embraced these changes, however, because running had given me other things that made my life much better. My fellow runners will understand exactly what I'm talking about - the state of mind after a run, the feeling of physical health and well-being, the sense of purpose and accomplishment...it's hard to put into words, but for us runners, it's why we do what we do, day after day, one mile after another.
 Track practice with the Team.
 Swedish relays, my favorite!
 The ocean was the giant ice bath for our Team after long runs : )
 Stretching after running my first 20 miler ever!

I finally ran my first marathon in June and it was by far one of the best experiences of my life. As I ran mile 25 with my close friend Sarah, I just kept repeating, "oh my God, we're about to finish a marathon", over and over. Crossing that finish line, arms in the air, was a surreal experience. There is nothing like finishing your first marathon, and it will be a moment I remember for the rest of my life. My goal was simply to finish, and if possible, under 5:30, and I did just that, with 3 minutes to spare : ) I am forever grateful to TNT, to the people and the program who helped me cross that finish line, I could not have done it without them.
 Nothing like it.
 Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (5:27:46)

When I got back to Santa Barbara a couple weeks later, our team reunited to run a local 5k as part of a summer running series called Nite Moves. I hadn't run since the marathon, and I wasn't fully recovered, went out way too fast, and my knees paid for it in the end. This was my first official 5k, and I finished in 29:17. During training with the Team we did a few unofficial timed 5ks and based on my time for those, I know I'm capable of better and I'm looking forward to testing out my 5k capabilities soon! Over the summer I ran off and on. I ran my first 10k, the McConnell's Ice Cream Run with Tom and my roommate Jordan. The best part of the race was after, however, because all the finishers got free ice cream!
Nite Moves 5k (29:17)
 McConnell's Ice Cream 10k (1:03:30)
 Jordan and I enjoying our ice cream sundaes post-race!

By this point I had become kind of addicted to running and racing, and in order to stay motivated over those next few months, I registered for my first half in September, the Disneyland Half Marathon. I met up with a fellow TNT alum, Katey, and we had a great race, finishing under our goal of 2:30. After this race I immediately began scouring the internet to find my next. In October I finished the San Luis Obispo City to the Sea Half Marathon setting a new half PR and marking my first race run solo. Back in Santa Barbara, I decided to take on my next big challenge and registered for the inaugural Santa Barbara International Marathon, and began training with my running buddies Tom and Stacey. In November I drove up to Monterey Bay and ran the Big Sur Half Marathon on an unbelievably gorgeous course. I set a new PR and had a wonderful weekend with my mom, visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium and shopping on Cannery Row. I went home to Sacramento for Thanksgiving and ran the enormous Run to Feed the Hungry 5k with my dad. It was our first race together and was so much fun. I'm hoping it will become an annual tradition : )
Disneyland Half Marathon (2:26:28)
SLO City to the Sea Half Marathon (2:24:00)
Big Sur Half Marathon (2:17:50)
Sacramento Run to Feed the Hungry 5k (30:30)

Then December came and before I knew it I was toeing the line of my second marathon, SBIM. I will spare you the details, but it was ugly. I was sick and had to walk/run almost the entire thing, but I pushed myself and crossed that finish line, and for that I am proud of myself. I wasn't anywhere near my sub-5 hour goal, but along the way I adjusted my plans and aimed to at least finish under 6 hours, which I did (just barely!). I know I have it in me, and in March I will once again be running 26.2 at the LA Marathon. My birthday was also in December, and thanks to my amazing dad I became the owner of my first GPS watch, the Garmin Forerunner 405. With that on my wrist I really feel like runner! So far it's amazing, I love being able to know every little detail about my running : )
 SB International Marathon (5:59:05)

Looking back, I accomplished quite a bit for my first year as a runner. I have established a solid base of running and racing and now can focus on getting better and faster in 2010. As much as I want to improve my time and set new PRs, for me the most important part of running is enjoying myself. If I ever find that I'm not having fun, I'll know it's time to reevaluate my training and remind myself why I love to run. I know 2010 will be another great year of running, with just as many ups as downs, but I'm ready for whatever comes my way. Happy New Year to all and here's to a fantastic 2010!


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