Friday, December 31, 2010
I did it!!!!!!
On January 1st of 2010, I decided I was going to try to run every single day of the year. On December 31st of 2010, I completed my 365th run in a row.
It was something I've been curious about for years. I wondered if I could ever accomplish such a daunting task. Every time New Year's resolutions came to the table, a small part of me thought about this idea and I quickly dismissed it because of all the self doubts in my head. Finally, on a run at the beginning of the year, I was thinking about a question a friend asked me, "What do you like to do"? In my travels on the trails, I said to myself, "I like to run, I like to take pictures and I like to motivate others". It was then that I decided to finally give it a try.
I have done most of my trail running in San Diego. Many of my favorite running trails included Torrey Pines State Reserve, Los Pennasquitos Canyon, Sycamore Canyon, Mt. Woodson, Iron Mountain, La Jolla Cove, Del Mar Mesa, San Elijo Lagoon and many more. I've completed days of running during my travels this year to running trails in Zion National Park, Breckenridge Colorado, Bancroft Iowa, Palm Springs California, Omaha Nebraska and Kauai Hawaii.
Every day, I carried my "baby blue" waterproof Canon camera and took pictures during each run. Not one beautiful moment passed me on a run without a photograph. I posted one each day. Posting my favorites became a gallery of San Diego photography. There are still hundreds of trail running photos I have not yet shared but will find a way to do so in the future.
When I started this excellent adventure, I was looking for a fun hobby and a personal challenge. What I learned along the way was so much more:
Respect: The body and mind are fragile. Each day has it's challenges both mentally and physically. I have a new respect for the ability to focus, motivate and reach new limits physically. A healthy mind and body is a true gift and one which I do not ever take for granted.
Effort: Like any long adventure, there are good and bad days. I realized that the days I disliked this project the most were the days when I was not giving it my all. The days when I went out of my way to find a good spot for photos or put in a few extra hard miles were the most rewarding. I got out of my slumps by trying harder.
Distraction: When the economy was terrible and it seemed that there were so many negative stories surrounding me, this blog became a good friend. In a landscape where I struggled professionally and sometimes personally, it was a soft place for me to land. To me, it became a quiet safe place in a noisy world. I have enjoyed being able to tell the world who I really am and have loved the open arms of so many friends, old and new.
Loyalty: During the days when I thought I was out there all alone, my dog, Zeke was right there with me. I never realized the power of "loyalty" until I needed a running buddy on a rainy dark day. He offered me safety and companionship every single day. Most importantly, he had a way of making me smile when I needed it most. I hope that I can become as reliable and consistent in my love for others in my life.
Positivity: I've been amazed at the incredible stories people have told me after hearing about my quest. A little personal mission that may have seemed self indulgent has become an army of people motivated to become better and stronger. If you are a positive person, people want to be around you. If you have a story that lifts people's spirits, they will share theirs freely. Soon, you have a lot of people feeding on each other's enthusiasm, passion and hope. I'm so grateful for those who have joined me along the way and who have come forward with their hearts open. It is not what I expected but is profoundly moving and will forever change my life.
Connection: The running wasn't the hardest part. I am a rather private person so forcing myself to make a public blog and share my thoughts and feelings was outside of my comfort zone. It took awhile for me to realize that the blog was connecting me to family, friends and strangers in ways I could not have anticipated. We all had this piece in common. Some people would tell me throughout the year how they have started their own excellent adventure or how I helped them get motivated, etc... Sometimes, I would help someone out of an emotionally hard spot without even knowing until later. More importantly, knowing others were supporting me by engaging in my blog helped me stay motivated and determined. We are fueled by each other's strengths. To connect with people on so many different levels has been the greatest gift of all. I've learned the magic of deeper love.
For these lessons and so many more, I am thankful for this wonderful year. Thank you to everyone who joined me along the way and for the unconditional love and support. I would not have made it without you. You have helped me become a better person.
I am inspired to find something new that will lift me to new levels to become the best "me" possible. Until then, keep your chins held high, do what you want, live a positive life, never stop believing in yourself, remember all things are possible and keep enjoying life on the trails!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
I found my way over to the most amazing trails in San Diego today, Torrey Pines State Reserve. With trails that wind for miles in the bluffs along the Pacific Ocean, it's hardly a struggle.
Though these trails are extremely familiar to me, I found myself being extra cautious. In the last few weeks of my 365 day experience, I have been worried about potential injuries. Being so close to my finish line, I don't want to sprain an ankle now. So, with delicate steps and sharp focus, I meandered through the "trails in the sky" taking pictures and greeting fellow outdoor enthusiasts.
It's been a real challenge this year to keep myself healthy enough to run daily. It's forced me to pay close attention to my body's needs and respond quickly. Throughout the year, I weathered a few aches and pains and a couple colds but for the most part, was able to get through physical hurdles with little drama. I feel extremely fortunate for this and will always remember this year fondly when I am older and not as agile.
The biggest test for this project has been the "daily" part. There are so many time constraints, technicalities, physical hurdles, motivational issues or mental setbacks that could keep you from putting on your shoes. I didn't listen to other people when they told me I was crazy and that it was not possible. I got through them all. Every day.
Nobody else can determine your personal accomplishments.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I had visions of celebrating one of my last runs of the year at sunrise on the beach. I had plans to get up early and leisurely stroll through a few coastal miles. Instead, I accidentally slept too late and it was pouring outside. What to do? What to do? They said it wouldn't let up all day. I really wanted that beach run. I was looking forward to it. I decided to go anyway.
Into the backpack went my work clothes, a towel and shampoo. I slid into my favorite old pair of running shoes, ragged shorts, comfy t-shirt, baseball cap and a raincoat. I drove to the beach carefully manipulating the multitudes of sea level rain puddles gathered along the marsh. Sharing the rain soaked beach with only one dedicated surfer and a few curious birds, I ran and ran. The bill of my baseball cap was not very successful at keeping the sideways blowing rain from my face but today I didn't mind. I'm on day #363 and I'm healthy and happy.
Taking photos was tricky with the necessity to clean the lens every time I pulled it out of my dripping sleeve. Luckily, my loyal little blue Canon camera that has been with me every day for this entire year is waterproof. She has braved every rainy, sunny, stormy and dark day with me. She's survived tumbles in the mud, scratches from the brush in numerous single track trails and never once displaced herself in all her backpack transfers. I have a "plan B" camera in an emergency but am so thrilled I haven't had to use it. My "baby blue" and I have understood each other all along the way. Our system has been trustworthy and efficient. Together, we have been able to capture each and every day and share it with our friends without fail for an entire year.
So, after a few miles of frolicking in the rain and chasing the waves, I made it back to the car where I peeled off layers of dripping clothes and threw them in the trunk. I stopped at my gym on the way into the office for a quick shower. I arrived at work in time to watch everyone do the puddle jumping scramble from their cars to the door. I smiled to myself knowing that the biggest adventure most of these people have had today included a stop at Starbucks. I was glad I braved the elements and opted for a beach run instead of the indoor treadmill trot.
Living life to the fullest takes more effort but is much more rewarding.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I woke up super early this morning with the intention of running to the waterfall in Los Pennesquitos Canyon before work. I loaded up Zeke, my ipod and water bottles and headed out before the sunrise. Unfortunately, I made it to the gate before the park opened so I was unable to park in the lot. With no extra time to wait, I decided to drive up the hill along the residential areas along the canyon rim in hopes of finding a random trail that might lead me into it. After a couple miles, I got lucky. I parked on a dead end street and found a barely worn footpath that looked hopeful. The area seemed unfamiliar to me and I realized that I had driven further than I would normally have run. This is part of the canyon I've rarely experienced. Traversing down a narrow overgrown single track trail, I worried I would not be able to find my way back to my car. So, I stacked rocks at every turn to make sure I could return the same way.
The morning was chilly and the canyon was completely empty (because the gate was still closed). We spent a lot of time at this huge rock bed exploring and watching the sunrise. The gurgling water was all we heard as we enjoyed the serenity that surrounded us. It was quite magical to have the entire place to ourselves and I was glad the gate was closed after all.
We traveled on trails that were dewey open prairies, muddy inclines, leaf covered single tracks and rocky gardens. After awhile, we turned around and followed our rock stacks back to the car as planned. It was an invigorating excellent adventure and a fantastic way to start the day.
Keep an open mind in the face of adversity.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Zeke and I ran up in our favorite trail this morning for the first time in two weeks. The rain kept us away but today we were unconcerned about muddiness.
I was a bit melancholy scooting down the trail this morning. For the last month, I've been anxious for my year to be over. It really hit me today that I only have a few days left. Of course, I can keep running for a lifetime but this process has become my friend. It sometimes tells me what I don't want to hear. It celebrates with me on good days. It is consistent and always makes me stronger. Like it or not, I know it's always there waiting for me. This daily commitment has paid off in dividends on levels I never imagined.
The best lessons learned in life are the ones you least expect.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I think the only thing I plan to accomplish today is my run. I tried to get out the door a few times and instead opted for breakfast, shopping and a nap first. Eventually, I made it outside to trot through a couple easy miles. Neighbors of all ages were outside enjoying their new Christmas toys. Our area is now home to a new skateboard ramp, two new segues and a puppy. I'm sure there are a thousand piles of new items collectively within all the houses I passed today.
Hopefully, everyone remembers this holiday for more than their physical collections. It is day I will remember for a long time. I will remember the house full of family, the laughter, the hugs, the games, 2 engagement announcements and the prayers that bind us all together.
Never stop believing in the spirit of Christmas.