Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Review

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times", that's really not my style. My style, it turns out, is brain spillage on this little creation called a blog. I was never someone who wrote in a journal nor shared much of anything personal with anyone. Now I publish it online for the world to see. Ironic, I'd say. I set out one year ago today, December 30, 2007, to start a habit of sharing my thoughts on running, life, and serving my you see in my subtitle above. Funny thing? My first post was last year's WaterFalls Run! It was so short that you could almost speak it in one breath. The picture has a total of 7 in it in front of Brandywine Falls. Greg, Vince, Chef Bill, Brett H., Mel, Aaron, and me. This year, over 50 showed up! Anyway, I scrambled for a name for my blog...something catchy, not too "100% Running," unique, and wrapped up my whole point. Point? There's a point?! My goal has to always be genuine and real, be free of sugar-coating anything, put my deep thoughts into words on a screen, and more than anything, make an impact...if even on one single person. Whether it is motivation, inspiration, or whatever. That goal has been met time and time again. The e-mails, the side conversations on group runs...thanks for all of them. I've thought many times: "No one reads this stuff. I'm just going to shut it down." Then, like always, I'm on one of those early morning, moonlit runs with "Mr. Moon" and thoughts start showering over me and I just "have" to get it into writing before I forget it! That's not a joke, either. I forget stuff so easy. This "journal" has helped me focus my energy and goals by seeing it in writing...and it ends up almost being an accountability partner in a way. (that's the main reason I started posting my training plan each week on the keep myself accountable to it...and to you) Through it all, I love writing and sharing my thoughts. We're all running the it literally or figuratively....set before us. We each must plot our own path and be accountable to it. This just happens to be my journey. So on to Post #93 on RTRSBM!

Events/Times of 2008: my race recaps/reviews are linked

173.3 miles, Winter Buckeye Trail 50K, 4hrs, 47min, 4th overall
February: 180.5 miles, training and speedwork only
March: 160.3 miles, training and taper to the Athens Marathon
April: 153.4 miles, Athens Marathon in 3hrs, 26min, 7sec (my 20th marathon!)
May: 191.6 miles, Green Jewel 100K, Part 1, Part 2 (62.4 miles) in 13hrs, 9min and Buffalo Marathon in 3hrs, 44min, 43sec
June: 214.2 miles, training and buildup for BR100, started two-a-days
July: 199 miles, Summer Buckeye Trail 50K in 6hrs, 13min and continued two-a-days, taper to BR100
August: 191 miles, 55 miles of the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run in 13hrs, 30min, many days off for recovery and healing from injury
September: 157 miles, Labor of Love 5-miler, pacer for 1:45 group for Buckeye 1/2 Marathon, YUT-C (Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic) 50K in 6hrs, 50min, and Akron Marathon with Karen S. in 4hrs, 1min, 24sec
October: 133.75 miles, recovery from heavy September, then taper again for Mountain Masochist 50+ Miler
November: 179 miles, Mountain Masochist 50+ Miler, 10hrs, 50min, 8sec, 90 of 185 finishers; Home Run for the Homeless 4 miler on Thanksgiving Day
December: 172.95 miles, Tecumseh Trail Marathon, 4hrs, 27min, 49sec; recovery from Tecumseh

2008 Total Mileage: 2,107 miles. 2007 Miles in comparison were 1,972.

Overall, I'm incredibly thankful for a great 2008. As I was jumping around this year's posts, so many memories were brought to the forefront. There were many days where I just fell down on my knees and was simply thankful...thankful for family, friends, the trails, health, freedom and the list sometimes kept on going. I think back to Labor Day when I ran my first race with my daughters at the Labor of Love Run. Even my 5 year old ran the whole mile without stopping! I think back to standing on the Buckeye Trail just before Blue Hen Falls late afternoon on during Burning River debating myself on what to do: drop? go on? smart? stupid? Hands down, that was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. Follow that up with "Daddy, did you quit?" as I got into the car at Mile 55 to head back to the Boston Store to get my ankle worked on at the aid station. I think back to spending over 13hrs on asphalt, in the pouring rain, for 62.4 miles with Greg D. in the inaugural Green Jewel 100K. It was amazing how little of an increase in elevation suddenly became known as a "hill" as the day grew longer. I remember fondly how it felt to run in the front of a race as I placed 4th at the Winter Buckeye Trail 50K. I'd never been there before and no other 50K has been faster than 6hrs, yet this one was under 5hrs (yes, I know the course was a bit short but not THAT short!). That was a day to remember! With joy, life oftens balances that out with pain. On May 8th, the incredibly difficult decision to put my 12 1/2 year old Chocolate American Cocker Spaniel to sleep came. I'd never cried so much in my life. Actually, a tear is rarely shed, but I just lost it as I held his head and rubbed his ears while he laid down....hmmm, that was tough. Then there was that time I got stung by 3 yellow-jackets during the YUT-C 50K only 1 mile after the start. The day ended up being warm and sunny and I had a tough time finishing. The bonus from YUT-C is that I met a whole other group of ultra-runners in NEO Trail. Bob Combs, a veteran 100 miler directs YUT-C and it was a great experience...finish line food/beverage was the best ever!

On the family side of things, a great trip to New York City followed by a cruise to Bermuda was sensational! My chance to run in Central Park...only hours after Burning River, was a real treat while in NYC. The beaches in Bermuda are second to none. We also took a few days to hike around the Gorge area in Cuyahoga Falls as well as the Brandywine area.

For 2009, my goals are simple and straight-forward. The schedule is quite fluid and is open enough to add/subtract events or vacations(!) as they come up. My passion is certainly shifted from less road marathons to more ultra trail marathons. Down deep, I want to push further than I've ever gone. For me, that translates into the 100 mile race distance. Burning River and I have unfinished business and my name is already on the registration list. I've grown and learned a lot about nutrition, training, and mental preparation in 2008 and I will employ that in my 2009 events. The biggest lesson I think I've learned in 2008 is about strict recovery. Some people can run 6 or 7 days a week without injury. Some can run excess distance (20+ miles) weekend to weekend without any problem. For me, I'm not physically able to do it so in order to grow stronger and build endurance, I must allow my body to "fix" itself after I tear it down...only to become stronger. I also refuse to run a weekly mileage that negatively impacts my family life. Many claim that marathon training and better yet, 100 mile training will wreck a marriage. I'll prove to you (yet again) that it doesn't...with a plan. Open communication and working together is the key. I have countless testaments from ultra-runners all over the country attesting to the fact that it is NOT necessary to log 80-100 mile weeks to run a 100 mile race. I also have friends who believe it IS necessary. One thing is for sure: each must find their own plan that works for THEM. Not only the physical self, but the social side as well. We are all different and ultra-running is a very far cry from "one size fits all." If 100 mile weeks work for you...GREAT! There is no concrete right/wrong answer. Write down your priorities...together, and stick to them. Running is not at the top of my list. It's up there but it doesn't "rule the roost." Ya's all about "Running the Race Set Before....YOU!"

Happy New Year, everyone!
Plus, it wouldn't be me if I didn't wrap 2008 with:

Happy Trails, everyone!


Susan said...

Happy New Year, Nick! Reading your blog is something I do with regularity--thanks for taking the time to write it all down. I count your voicemail after Columbus as one of my 2008 highlights! Here's to more running and friendship in 09!

Nick Billock said...

Thanks, Susan. You had a phenomenal year in 2008. I wish you the very best in everything and another great experience at Boston '09. See you on the trails...or roads!