Part 2 of a series...
2008 followed a life-changing year that had a lot of successes and got me to a lot of places that I never would have imagined at the start of the year, but it also didn't get me going in the right direction with regard to losing weight, and ultimately regaining my health and setting the example that I wanted to set for my family. However, 2008 held more promise and more hope for a shining future than I had seen in a long time. One of the hardest things writing about the years 2008 and 2009 is that I did not keep as good records of those periods and am relying on my memory for some of the key points. I am sure that even if my memory is off, it is close enough.
I set 5 goals for myself in 2008:
1. Run a sub-30 minute 5K
2. Run a sub-2:30 half marathon
3. Complete a full marathon
4. Run the SunMart 50K again
5. Lose 25 lbs
I felt that since I had been running for a year I knew what I was doing and had set reasonable goals. The truth is that these goals may not have been unreasonable, but I still had a lot to learn that year. In fact, as each year has gone on since then I learn more and more and I feel like I know less and less about running.
The year began with a New Year's trip to Disneyworld (and might I add the New Year's Eve fireworks there are a wonder to behold!). Here is a photo from the dinner on New Year's Eve showing how I looked hours before the start of 2008.
In January I enjoyed the Houston Marathon as I ran the half marathon, and dreamed of doing a marathon. When I went down to the race expo, I learned of--and registered for--the San Antonio Rock n Roll Marathon that would run its inaugural race in November....and I kept training.....anyway let's get back to the Houston Half Marathon that was the reason I was down in Houston to begin with. I ran the half marathon in 2:47:19. This was a great race and I was thrilled with the experience, but I was disappointed in finishing about 12 minutes slower than a half marathon from last October. The truth is this was a large race with a congested course, and it was not a day for me to set a PR, but this was not yet something I really understood.
In March I entered the Spring Fever 5K for the second straight year. In this race I took advantage of my improved fitness and finished in 33:19, cutting off 5:24 from the 2007 time! I can telly you this had me feeling good as I saw some positive results.
The rest of my spring races would not be so kind to me. In March I ran the the Seabrook Lucky Trail Half Marathon in 3:06:46. It was a warm day and I spent most of the night before dealing with family problems, but I still had fun and enjoyed the day. In April I ran the Hog's Hunt 25K (essentially the same as the Rocky Raccoon 25K last November) in 4:46:45, or 1:00:19 more than November's time. I seem to recall I may have had ankle issues or maybe was just over-confident that I could do everything I wanted, but it was certainly not a banner day for me. In May I ran two more 5K's a week apart in 38:02 and 38:25. This was pretty consistent pacing, but by now the Texas weather was heating up and PR's were no longer realistic. As the spring racing season ended I took stock of my races (and what I perceived as partial failures where my times had slowed down) and worked to improve myself. I also learned of a local triathlon and was intrigued and would have entered if not for it selling out, but I went to watch the local CB&I Triathlon and hoped to do it one day.
In late May/early June my plans took an abrupt change when I was rear-ended in an auto accident. Fortunately, I was not seriously injured. However, I was injured enough that I had to take several weeks away from all exercise. After that I was able to return to walking and began physical therapy. I'm not quite sure my doctor knew how much walking I was doing, as I was trying to get back onto a plan that would allow me to enter the Houston Half race in October again. I worked hard on the physical therapy exercises and I branched out into less rigorous exercise that I was approved to do (such as swimming, cycling and light weight-lifting). Also during this period, I worked hard to maintain my diet so I would not begin to put on some of the pounds that I had lost during the first part of the year. At the time I was rear-ended I was around 240 pounds and I was actually able to maintain that and get down into the upper 230's as I resumed some exercise.
I think it was around mid to late September that I was cleared to begin running again. I set my sights on completing a series of races designed to prepare runners for the Houston Marathon in the following January. These races run through the fall and are made up of a half marathon, a 25K and a 30K race. In addition, I was still registered for the San Antonio Rock n Roll Marathon in November.
When late October rolled around I was ready for the Houston Half and I clocked a new PR with a time of 2:33:57, clipping almost 2 minutes off of last year's best time for this distance. Two weeks later was the HMSA Classical 25K in Houston. I ran a good race for my expectations and finished in 3:28:26, which is still my PR for the distance (and my only non-trail 25K). A week later was the San Antonio Rock n Roll race where I downgraded to the half marathon and ran in 2:59:09. Admittedly I was running for fun and dancing to the music at times at the band locations. Finally, I rounded out the year's racing a month later at the Lakes of Williams Ranch 30K. This was remarkable for me in several ways that were unexpected to me. First, I had a bad day. This was most likely due to not quite being prepared for the distance and being worn down by an active fall season. Second, I made a great friend who helped me enter the next phase of my racing in 2009. I met Heather (as pictured with me finishing to the left) on the course, as it seemed we were frequently near each other, so we decided to run the rest of the race together and had a good long conversation during our run. That conversation--and the friendship that followed--set the stage for many greater things for me to come.
So, I put the cap on a big year with a less than stellar finish, but it was a finish that taught me lessons and gained me numerous friends, such as Adrienne who is sneaking into this next photo. Most importantly, I learned more about testing my limits, and how to judge the reasonable expectations from the unreasonable expectations.
I made many strides (no pun intended) in 2008. I don't know how easy it is to see in these photos but I dropped almost 30 pounds in the the year. I finished the year around 233 lbs after having been as low as 223 lbs in October, but it still finished off a great year for me in so many ways. Even though I failed to achieve four out of my five early years goals, I learned how to deal with setbacks and successfully come back from adversity. Perhaps more importantly, I set the stage for the next few years in ways that I did not yet understand.