Last night, on New Year’s Eve, I went out for an early evening drink with a friend. Being that it was the end of the year he prompted the question to me… so what were your highlights of 2011? I don’t really buy into the whole “you need to accomplish this and that” idea each year but this did make me think. What did 2011 mean to me? The immediate and obvious responses came to mind: Running three half marathons (and PR-ing each time!), taking some great vacations (Monterey, Disney World and even the recent Las Vegas race), getting a job at Athleta, and making many new cherished friends (including said questioner, of which I told him so as I was hoping he wanted to hear that). All these things happened in some way because of running.
Today, I was running my favorite loop. For me, running this six mile circle through my hometown of 46 years is like sliding into your bed at night. Comfortable. I know every mile marker, every place I need to cross the road, every bump on the path that should be fixed, where I can find a hidden water fountain and every gorgeous view to be taken in. The view of Mt. Tamalpais never gets old.
Certainly, by far, 2011 was one of my best years in recent memory. The idea that it was so great actually frightened me a bit. Will 2012 be able to live up to it? Can another great year be repeated or can it get even better? What was it that really made my year great besides the previously mentioned items? Why do I think I had a great year? It boiled down to one theme: I gave back.
Giving to help others, I believe, is why the year was good to me. I started 2011 after what I thought was a depressing holiday season (thanksgiving, christmas and new years) with a goal of running a half marathon. I had only done one race before, a 10K and originally wanted to run a full marathon, the Napa Valley Marathon, but it sold out last year on New Years Eve much like this year. Or last year now. Anyway, I was really bummed and since that was gone from my bucket list, I signed up for a half, which in hind sight was probably a better way to go. (I am registered this year for Napa and am excited!) But running the half still seemed so empty. That is when I realized I should use my running to raise money and awareness for some charity. But which one? Everyone is doing cancer. Even though I know people who have had it (my dad, a survivor of lung) and ex sister-in-law (breast survivor), I wanted to do something even more meaningful.
The answer was right there in my face: Autism. My son has Asperger’s syndrome and what better way to help other families like my own than to draw attention to this special needs category, Autism Research. I did a google search and found the Organization for Autism Research and from there it just took some begging and pleading (I kid, it was not that hard really-the generosity of others is rather amazing!) for my cause and by the time I ran my half 4 weeks later I had raised $2500! I couldn’t believe how good that felt. That made me want to do more and so I dubbed 2011 as the year I give back. I made every effort I could to donate to whatever cause came my way. I have had such a “privileged” life, if you will, and helping others even if just through donating money, clothes and your time or raising money really made a difference to me. So much so that I will repeat the giving back motto again this year. I firmly believe that giving back to your community or whatever organization you can will bring good fortune your way. I’m not sure if my fundraising page is active as of yesterday, but you may still be able to make a donation, just follow this link: Fundraising.
Of course with 2011 also came the realization that I am a runner. I did not consider myself a runner until this past summer when I met Andrew at the Lululemon Run Club. Prior to running with this group I remember running my favorite loop and some guy just blew past me. I thought, man, I’m not running, I’m jogging. But in talking with Andrew he made me realize that I am a runner. I go out and run everyday and that in itself makes me a runner. And running led me to where I am today. I made a lot of new friends this year because of running. And they are the best. Sonja, Andrew, Maili, Kelsey, Shanna, Walter, Joe and Lisa. My run group buddies I don’t know what I’d do without. Three of them are running the Napa Valley Marathon with me. Then there are my run friends I have made through everyday life and over our vast distances have stay connected through facebook. Kim, Brian, John, Eric, Mike, Chad, Beth (my Spartan teammate!) and then of course, my oldest friend of 20 years, Lisa, a veteran runner, who ran my first three races with me and who always keeps me real. You guys all rock, are supportive and inspire me to be the best athlete I can be. Lastly, there is the guy from last night, the one with the drink and the question, who unknowingly motivates me with his athletic accomplishments (he has done an ironman and is quite the cyclist) and who made me laugh out loud today mid-run when I recalled telling him last night that I can’t wear headphones at the Napa Marathon this March. He said… “why? what are they gonna do… take your prize money away?” Indeed. It was exactly the don’t-take-life-so seriously perspective I needed to hear.
Thank you to everyone (yes, you readers too) who have supported me this year and encouraged me to work hard. I am truly blessed that you are all in my life.
I wish you all the best in 2012. Go make this your year! I am!
My one resolution:
Take care of me. If I do that everything else will fall into place.
continue to give back
and run more hills!