Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back at 2009

Baby Dylan - highlight of the year

So that was 2009 - what a fantastic year!!! For me it was neatly divided in two by the arrival of baby Dylan in July. He was certainly the highlight of a year that was full of fun, excitement and adventure.

2009 started for me at 2am on New Years day when Sharpie and I drove up to Kingwood for the Texas marathon. I enjoyed the huge medal and boosted my confidence with a fast run which set me up for a great 100k run at Bandera the following week.

But all of this was part of the build up to my first 100 miler at Rocky Raccoon in February. I got lucky and everything came together on the day. I went out fast, enjoyed the challenge, kept smiling and finished within 5 minutes of my ambitious pre-race time goal. My friends Clea and Meghan were there at 2am to see me cross the finish line and I'm so glad they were able to share my best running moment of 2009 (plus they really looked after me after the race).

What surprised me most was that running 100 miles really didn't take that much out of me - I had another fast run in less-than-perfect conditions on the beach at the Surfside marathon a week later, and at the Seabrook marathon and a half in March.

Nestled between those last two marathons was the Texas Independence relay which consisted of a weekend of running and drinking with 10 buddies in early March. We had a blast!!!

Looking back, January through March was the peak of my running year and I don't think I ever ran as well as this again.

Part of this was due to the Texas heat. By the time I started training for the Cactus Rose 100 miler we were accelerating into a record-breaking summer. I'd picked up a posse of friends who I ran trails with on Monday evenings, and I regularly added on 10 miles of "character building" hills after our trail runs. It was hard work in some brutal conditions, but I kept pushing and telling myself to remember these nights when I felt like quitting at Cactus.

Despite this, I struggled at the Hells Hills 50 miler in June. I wilted in the heat and finished severely dehydrated, though I somehow managed to take 6th overall.

And the long hot summer continued into July when I "celebrated" turning 36. But more importantly it also saw the big event of the year as Nancy, Gavin and I welcomed baby Dylan to the family.

If I'm honest, this is the point where running really dropped down the priority list. Sleep deprivation didn't help, and for some strange reason I'd also signed up for three 60k races in the hottest August on record. The first turned out to be 7 miles too long, the second I will always remember affectionately as "the race with the crazy guy", and the final one I just completely lost it and barely managed to finish.

Somebody please kick me if I indicate I'm going to sign up for them again!!!

September saw most of my training runs done on the hills of the St Eds trails and the roads of downtown Austin. The highlight of the month was our relay team retaining our title and the Governor's cup at the Silicon labs marathon relays.

In an effort to round out my running prior to Cactus Rose on Halloween, I signed up for a marathon on each of the two weekends before it. The first was in Alpine, West Texas and we enjoyed a wonderful family vacation in the Davis mountains. Then a week later I ran the incredibly fun Frankenthon Monster Marathon at Brushy Creek near Austin.

Then it was the big one - Cactus Rose. Although I'd completed a 100 miler earlier in the year, I was irked by the suggestion that it was "an easy one". By contrast, Cactus Rose was anything but - it was the big bad beast, full of technical trail, steep hills and my training was nowhere near where it should have been going into it. But I finished, did the whole thing solo (no pacers or crew), didn't once consider quitting and was within two minutes of my predicted finishing time.

I'm proud of myself for that.

The race did take a toll however - it was over a month before I could feel my toes again, I had a hard painful lump on the back of my heel that took a similar amount of time to go, and I'm still bothered by some hip pain from it.

But it's a sweet finisher's buckle.

In December I hit my other goal of running over 2000 miles in 2009 and finished up the year at 2030. And while my running has definitely tailed off dramatically in the last two months, I am thinking up some challenges that will hopefully see me coming back strongly in 2010.

More details soon.....

So Happy New Year to everyone, and here's wishing you the best for 2010. As for me, I have another 2am start tomorrow to go run the Texas marathon again. This time I'm driving up with Nancy who's doing the half.

Does that count as a date?


clea said...

You did have an awesome year, and I was happy to share some key parts with you. I love that you are wearing a running shirt in your picture with Dylan. I can't wait until I have a similar picture. :)

Ryan V. said...

Great year, amigo. I enjoyed running into you at several races this year (pun intended). I look forward to our paths crossing again in 2010.

What's on your schedule?

Bandera? Rocky? Cowtown 50 km? Toughest N Texas? Big D?

(I plan to be at all of these.)

Have a wonderful 2010!

DavidH said...

What a great year on many levels. Congrats and I wish you the best in 2010!

Mark said...

Thanks guys, and the same back to you.

Ryan - I'll be at Rocky Raccoon pacing Derek, and I may be at the TnT. Beyond that, I have nothing planned.