Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 in Review

While I was at Wake Forest, when my teammate Merry and I were having a bad season, we would muse that when we looked back on our college days, our best and our worst races would not be the defining moments of our collegiate experience. Instead, we both agreed that we would remember the overall experiences with our friends that were most memorable. Experiences like road trips to meets (like getting so lost in the Boston ghetto that we were late for a meet and had to have the race postponed for us), experiences like Student-Athlete Semi-Formals (where the track team always was the first on and the last off the dance floor), experiences like the Annual Sketch Party (where teammates' feet feel through the ceiling in the attic) - these experiences are what I remember most and I revisit these memories often.

In the same light, I could choose to list whatever accomplishments I achieved in the year 2010, but breaking a PR does not compare to the friendships that I've acquired. It does not compare to the trips that I've taken...nor does it come close to having my parents there as I debut in my longest race ever. Unlike college, where I had the rare opportunity to travel to places like Stanford or Oregon to race against some of the best, I kept the majority of my 2010 racing within a 200 mile radius of Charlotte (with the exception of two big races - Cherry Blossom and Twin Cities).

What I liked most about 2010? All the new friendships that were formed. Fortunately for me, some of the best female talent is centered right here in NC, so I had lots of competition in Meagan Nedlo, Molly Nunn, Addie Bracy, Megan Hovis, Kelly Fillnow, Alice Rogers, Alana Hadley, and many many more. Megan and Addie have already qualified for the Trials and I know that Meagan, Molly, and Alice have the determination and talent to do the same in just a few weeks. I have enjoyed racing against and running with all of these women in 2010 and look forward watching their 2011 accomplishments unfold on the roads. With many miles on the roads, through rain, sun and sleet, I have gotten to know each of these women and know that these relationships will carry on into many more new years.

Although I just mentioned some people above, to list all the people who I have gotten to know better is probably a bad idea because someone will inevitably get left out, but I can list people in groups. The standard Thursday Dowd run boasts so many runners that I actually look forward to seeing them every Thursday in the hours of dark-thirty. I got to know some of Charlotte's finest masters runners this year and had the opportunity to work out with them on a regular basis. I've shared sweat and water with some of the best sales and technical representatives in Charlotte. I've road tripped with Aaron, Jay, and Matt to races and long runs. I've had the Thunder Road Marathon Champion, Jordan Kinley, slow down countless times to pace Meagan and I. I've continued to meet more and more members of the Charlotte Running Club, all individuals which are making an impact on our running community.

I've continued to build upon my relationship with the founders and board members of the Charlotte Running Club. As our Club evolves, I watch as our relationships evolve as well. We accomplished a lot in 2010, but we know that there is so much more to be done in order for us to make some noise regionally. I've shared in fun CRC socials that have ranged from taking a shot of tequila to celebrate CRC's first birthday, to singing karaoke, to racing in a prediction run. At all of these events, I was able to put one more face to a name, and to help one person find a running buddy. I was able to connect with my current coach, Mark Hadley of Maximum Performance Running, who has helped me move achieve some fast times.

What do I most remember about the summer? Running in super hot, terrible weather and then heading to the Hepp Hovis Training Facility to eat and swim. Those are some of the best days! Nothing like running together and then hanging out for a couple of hours with your legs surrounded by a body of water. We are all forever indebted to the Hovis' for their graciousness in allowing us into their home. These summer long runs aren't remembered for the sweltering heat, but for the company and food that was shared afterward.

These are the long runs that helped propel me to success in my debut marathon and to make my dream of making the Olympic Trials a reality. Without the company of many friends on so many long runs, I doubt I would have been able to have as much fun as I did during the Twin Cities race. The slew of texts, facebook messages, and voicemails that I received from friends and family after this race might be up there as one of my top memories from 2010. The support, love and friendship radiated from each of those messages, and I was so proud to be able to call Charlotte my home. To make the moment even more special, I was able to share in this entire experience with my parents and high school coach at my side. Not only did they bounce around the course, but they took pictures, provided words of encouragement, and gave me a hug as soon as I crossed the finish line. Did I mention that my parents and coach are 58 and 61 years old? I'm pretty sure they have more energy than me sometimes. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Personally, I celebrated my third anniversary with Garrett while we were in Costa Rica with my family. I've continued to learn more and more about Garrett's family and have enjoyed every moment with them, which is quite often in comparison to how often I see my own parents. I have been blessed to have a second family so close to me in North Carolina. However, since my family is all over the place (and since I've gone to some good races), it has given me the chance to go so many places this year! The list is great! Costa Rica, California (three times - LA, SF, LA), Boston, Illinois, Orlando (twice), Minneapolis, DC, Nashville. I traveled quite a bit this year, but it was totally worth it.

While I may have just slated 2010 to be one of the best years ever (which is was), that doesn't mean there weren't any lows - there were definitely some, but the best is to always learn from those experiences. I had a terrible race soon after the Marathon at the Huntersville 10k, where John and I thought there was prize money but instead we won a blanket. I did terrible on my GMAT (and probably did not put in the amount of work that was necessary). When I list these things now, they seem so menial (especially considering that my best friend Merry is fighting poverty in the Dominican Republic), so it's probably best to just stop writing anything. 2010 was one of the best years I've had since college, and I hope that 2011 will bring the same happiness to all.


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