Well, another year has passed quickly and I catch myself asking, "Where did it go?". Fortunately, this year, I not only know where it has gone, I am happy with my fitness accomplishments!
For 2010 I had a few simple goals. Most importantly, when the year ended, I wanted to be more physically fit than I was at the beginning at the year. Secondly I had some tangible goals in place. I wanted to finish two full marathons and run 1200 total miles. I was succesful with two of those three goals.
As 2010 rolled in, I was in the final stages of training for my first full marathon, the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, AL. When I first started running in March of 2009, I had absolutely no desire to run a full marathon. I only wanted to get in shape so I could chase the kids around without nearly dying. I ran several 5K's and a few 10K's and really felt good about what I was accomplishing.
Here I am running the Patrick Ball 5K in Gadsden, AL
(Photo courtesy of Dave Hyatt with The Gadsden Times)
During the entire year of 2009 I had several of my Anniston Running Club friends wanting me to run a full marathon. Many of them had run marathons and many more were training for them. I kept telling them that they were crazy to want to run 26 miles and I had no desire to do so. I knew I would never finish one if I didn't really want to do it. As the year progressed I found myself intrigued by distance but not totally convinced that it was for me. In November, several of my running friends ran, and finished, the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL. One of them, Kevin Payne, posted several pictures on Facebook of his race. I was hooked and knew I had to do it.
Training for a marathon was something that I had no idea how hard and trying it was going to be. The level of commitment needed was unbelieveable. At times, I didn't think that I could or even wanted to finish the training. Thankfully, I had several friends encouraging me to stay strong. One of them in particular was Jeannie Atchley (@ThreeCsMom). We trained a good bit together but most importantly we challenged each other to keep going in those hard times when your mind and body said to quit. We are both extremely competitive and it paid off for us. As you can see from the picture below, we both finished our first full marathon together. Words cannot express the feeling when we crossed that finish line together.
Jeannie and me after Mercedes!
Marathon #1 done!
The second goal of the year was to run 1200 miles. I was in good shape as coming out of January and February due to my marathon training. I did pretty well adjusting after the marathon and got back into it pretty heavy during March. I had a personal best 5K time in March and felt really good. About that time, I made the decision to have my tonsils removed. I have always had issues with throat infections and a doctor finally agreed that it was my tonsils that were the issue. If you've had your tonsils taken out at my age, you know what I went through. It was awful. No other way to explain it. It hurt! I am better off by it now now but I sure did wonder if I had made the right decision with the surgery. With that said, I did very little running in April or May and got behind in miles.
Around the end of May, Jeannie once again challenged me to get going. I signed up for St Jude in Memphis and got back to the grind of marathon training. This time it was diffferent. I knew what to expect. I knew I could finish a marathon and I had a new sense of urgency to finish with a better time. I piled up the miles and felt really good about myself and my training. During this time I moved to Chattanooga, TN with my company. With a ton of new places to run, I was really able to train hard.
This picture was taken at Chickamauga Battlefield in Ft. Oglethorpe, GA. Great place to run!
During my training for St Jude one of my college roomies, Randy Presley (@randypresley) decided to run his first full marathon, the MidSouth Marathon Championship in Wynne, AR. I initially committed to running the half with him but later opted to run the full. A decision that I now wonder if it was a good one!
As I trained for my next marathon I really felt good about what I was accomplishing. I added core training to my routine and saw immediate improvement. I began to improve my times and my endurance. On my 20 mile run, I paced at 9:30 which would have given me personal best time by 40 minutes in a marathon. As usual for me, something came up to stall my training. I had to have a cyst removed from my neck a week before the race. It was something that I couldn't put off. It had started to really effect me so it had to go. Becasue of the incision and the pain meds, I did little training at all the week of the marathon, and quiet honestly, felt horrible the week of the race. Race day came and it was what was to be expected. I finished but I really have no idea how. I started cramping bad at mile 12. Despite that fact, I made the turn at a personal best time. I thought maybe I would recover but it wasn't going to happen. I hit the wall at 16 and barely finished. The last ten miles were brutal and it was complete will power that got me through.
Randy (blue shirt, orange hat) and me (orange shirt, blue hat) at about mile 1 of Wynne.
The positive side to this marathon was that Randy finished his firt marathon in just under 5 hours. As the runners reading this post will know, there is something special to finishing your first marathon and it's fun to watch a close friend do it also. I was pumped that Randy finished. Also, a friend of mine from college, Russell Clayton, and a friend of Randy's, Larry Cope, finished their first marathons on that day. Something really cool in this marathon was that Randy's family met us at several points of the marathon. His wife Hannah and his children, William, Josh, and Margaret Anne, cheered us on with home made signs. Really encouraging for a struggling runner!
Marathon #2 done!!
After I finished the Wynne Marathon, I had 4 weeks to prepare for St Jude in Memphis. Training went ok but it wasn't what it should have been. The incision from my surgery was still bothering me and getting over the disappointment of Wynne hampered me. I finished it though. My previous blog post explains it all but it was one of the best experiences ever for me. I was really proud to raise money for St Jude and enjoyed every minute of the event!
Pre race at St Jude sporting the @operationjack hoodie!
Marathon #3 done!!!
The one goal that I didn't accomplish this year was running 1200 miles. I got in exactly 1000 miles with an easy 4 mile run on December 31st! Though I didn't get to 1200, I got close. For a former fat guy like me, that is a pretty huge accomplishment!
Anybody can list what they have accomplished in year and "brag" about what they have done. I kind of feel like that's what I have done here. The question is, what is the result of these things? The following is a list of things that I feel like are positive results of my running in 2010:
1. My wife and kids have a healthier Dad and Husband. I can run and play with my children without losing my breath!
2. I have been told that several people are now running because of my running and I have seen evidence of this result by watching several friends finish their first 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, or Full Marathon!
3. I have been lucky enough to become part of an online running community that is so encouraging! Thanks everyone.
4. I was able to spread the word about my favorite charity, St Jude Children's Research Hospital. As a St Jude Hero we were able to raise over $2600 for the hospital. On top of that money, many of my co-workers were the ones to donate and our company matches every donation dollar for dollar. By my calculation, that meant another $1000 for the children of St Jude!
5. I now have 2011 to accomplish even more!
What will you do in 2011 to improve your physical fitness? I know what I am going to do, run!