Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back on 2010

Goodbye 2010, I must admit I'm not that sad to see the back of you (although that does mean I will be another year older, so I probably want to take that back).

My 2010 started out really early on New Year's day when Nancy and I drove up to Kingwood to run the Texas marathon together. My New Year's resolution was that I was going to run another fast marathon this year, but it wasn't going to be this one - I hadn't trained properly for it, wasn't really prepared, and had a "comedy finish" when both legs cramped as I crossed the finish line.

Most of the first few months of the year were spent battling annoying and niggling little injuries, not helped by my stubborn nature. Even now I still have some pain in the arch of my left foot, and my left hip flexor is still super tight (it's a good thing Nancy booked me a massage appointment in the New Year).

February saw me standing in line for 24 hours outside Austin ISD to get Gavin into the school we wanted. It was worth it as we received notice in March that it had been a successful vigil, and he duly started Kindergarten in August.

And March also saw us heading up to Arkansas for a mini vacation, which enabled me to run the Little Rock marathon. Again my training had been far from ideal, and I was still getting over my foot problems. But I'd had a few good training runs before the race that boosted my confidence, and I surprised myself with a great run on race day.

Arkansas also surprised me with how beautiful it was, and I really enjoyed the time we spent in Little Rock. The whole town seemed to embrace the race, and it probably ranks as my most favorite marathon to date.

Yeah, it's kinda like that

The day after the marathon we traveled to Petit Jean mountain, where we'd booked a cabin in the woods. We hiked, enjoyed the magnificent views from the Mather lodge and met so many friendly Arkansans. It was a wonderful vacation, and hands down the best part of 2010.

Spring was quite uneventful other than a lovely trip to Corpus Christi.  By the time summer arrived I had started doing regular weekend long runs with a great bunch of friends collectively known as "the sisters". This helped me keep running over the horribly humid Texas summertime, and prepare (sort of) for the El Scorcho 50k, held in Fort Worth in July.

The glory of early morning runs
I drove up with another group of friends. We enjoyed ourselves, and I wound up with a new 50k PR (which is probably more due to the fact that I've never really run a good 50k than anything else).

Our lives were swimming along perfectly, but that all changed in August when Nancy's dad had a stroke. This meant that Nancy was out of town a lot, and my running ground to a halt as I stayed in Austin to look after the boys. I quit my coaching slot with Round Rock Fit, gave up leading my Monday night trail group, and when I did get to run my heart just wasn't in it anymore.

The only highlight of this period was an odd case of mistaken identity.

We transferred Nancy's dad to the hospital in Austin, and he eventually ended up coming to live with us. Let's just say it's been challenging.

I hope things get better in 2011.

By October the weather had cooled off, Clea and I were both training for the Frankenthon marathon and my running was going well again. Unfortunately, the humidity crept back in on race day and I did not have a very good race.

I was so angry with myself that I signed up for the White Rock marathon several days later for a chance at redemption.

White Rock marathon
I had 5 weeks until the race, and for the first time in years I had myself a running goal I really wanted. And I trained hard for it. I posted my weekly workouts on the blog to force myself to be accountable, adopted the motto "no excuses", and channeled all my frustrations and anger into that training. I started pushing the pace and found myself running better than I ever had - regularly hitting sub-7 minute miles.

When race day came I was all focus and ran the race of my life - shaving 22 minutes off my PR and qualifying for Boston with a 3:12:46. I may never run that well again, but I will forever treasure the feeling of crossing that finish line having given it everything I had.

Of all the marathons and ultras I've ever run (all 31 of them), that was probably the best single moment.

Decker half marathon
I took the momentum into the Decker half marathon the following week and had another great race.

Although the fire has dimmed somewhat since then, it is still smoldering and I'm ready to rekindle it for the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race in February. I took the unusual step of announcing my intention to try and run sub-20 hours there, and now that I've talked the talk I need to walk the walk.

Just like I did at White Rock.

So Happy New Year everyone, and thanks to all of you for stopping by to read about my rants, races and recipes. Please come back in 2011 for more tales from the trail and ramblings from the road.

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