Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell, 2009

Bryon Powell over at super awesome ultra blog asked me to write a short response to these two questions:

"What 2009 running moments are you proudest of? What in your running life you are most thankful for?"

My response, as well as others from ultra elites and everywomen/men, can be found here.

Writing back to Bryon gave me the chance to reflect on 2009 and what it meant to me personally, professionally, and in my running life. I am so proud of my kids and what they have accomplished this year, and I am proud that Rusty and I have been able to raise mindful, thoughtful, and compassionate teenagers despite all the mixed messages they get from their peers and the media. Professionally... I am very proud of a few new programs and initiatives I have organized that will benefit the health and well-being of my students, and grateful to work for and with people who believe in me and have confidence in me. I love my school, my students, and my colleagues!

As for my running life... despite getting older and busier (see above), I am proud that I was able to run a few course PRs at a variety of distances: 5k (20:30 on the hilliest 5K course in town); 50K (5:42 at Potomac Heritage 50K in cold, wet conditions); and 100K (14:58 at Hellgate 100K). I attribute this ramp up in speed during the second half of 2009 to my huge miles from Grindstone training over the summer coupled with more longer hill repeats and harder track workouts thanks to AJW's coaching plan. I also recovered well from Gstone, taking a full week off post-race and then no speed or tempo for 4 weeks. This recovery plan made a huge difference for Hellgate and I am using it right now as I recover and get ready for 2010. My oldest son graduates from high school this year, and will be off to college in August. This will dictate my race planning, as I will have a lot on my plate this spring with school, coaching, and "senior year" parent stuff. As a result, I am focusing on just one key race this spring, the Terrapin 50K in March, and then just training through and volunteering at other ultras. Over the years I have figured out that trying to race in April and May, while juggling coaching, work, and parenting, as well as heat acclimation, is not a good recipe for me. It is better to train in January and February for a March key race, then scale back for a push at Highland Sky 40 in June (my second key race).

I will not be training for a 100 miler this year, but I plan to refer to my 100 miler training cycles as I go for a sub-9:30 at Masochist in November(key race #3). I love the challenges of going for course PRs, and this will be my fourth Masochist and third attempt at the sub-9:30. In 2006 I ran 9:40 and in 2007 I ran 9:34, so the challenge is set!

Finally, if all goes well and I emerge from Masochist injury-free, I am considering running a road marathon (gasp!). A few of my ultra buddies and I helped out at the inaugural Three Bridges Marathon a few weeks ago, and it was a blast. Low-key, flat and fast, this race is the closest thing to an ultra in vibe. We had an aid station with hot chocolate and soup, and were able to jump in to pace runners at any time since it was a four-loop course. The course followed a beautiful rushing stream and was very serene...perfect for my first road marathon since 2003. My marathon PR is 3:28, set at Richmond in 2001. I am curious to see what the ultra training effect will do...can I run a PR nine years later? We shall see!

I am very thankful for so many things in my running life. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words...

thankful for my VHTRC peeps (shown here causing trouble at the VHTRC Gap-to-Gap training run, 1-09)

thankful for my Charlottesville training buddies, Bill and Quatro, shown here with Jack, Stephie, Bess and Robin on Q's birthday run on the AT, 1-09

thankful for fabulous trails like the Rivanna Trail, 1-09

and The Wild Oak Trail, 2-09

thankful for the Catawba Run-Around, the defining run of my ultra career back in 2004, and one that I am happy to share each year with new friends--here are Rebecca Byerly and Bobby Gill atop McAfee's Knob, 3-09

thankful for the chance to pace Marlin Yoder at MMT 100...what an honor! 5-09

thankful for redemption at Capon Valley 50K after my Bull Run Run drop, 5-09

thankful for the chance to run the Priest and Three Ridges with good friends, with the mountain laurel in full bloom, 6-09

thankful that racing gave me the chance to bond with Michelle Harmon at Highland Sky 40 as we brought it in for third place, 6-09

thankful for more bonding with Michelle, Bobby, and Marc Griffin at Catherine's Fat Ass 50k, 7-09

thankful for new ultra friends who "get it" like Hallie, who was totally hooked after suffering through Martha Moats Baker 50K, 8-09

thankful that I could train for Grindstone with Rusty and watch his reaction to the climb up Chimney Hollow, here with Quatro, 9-09

thankful for the endless support of my family and students, here at the Grindstone finish line, 10-09

thankful to be able to share the ultra life with Virginia while volunteering at the SMUT 50K, shown here with Gary Knipling, 10-09

thankful for a reunion of friends old and new at the Mountain Masochist 50+ finish line, here with David Horton and Bethany Patterson, 11-09

thankful I can share the pain and pleasure of a tough 5K with Virginia and Carter, here at the Boar's Head Turkey Trot 5K, 11-09

thankful for annual training runs with the VHTRC, here at Vicki's Death March, 11-09

thankful for the chance to experience my fifth Hellgate 100K sunrise over Headforemost Mountain, 12-09

I am also so, so, so thankful to the folks at inov-8, who selected me to be a member of Team inov-8 for 2010. I am very excited to be representing a company that supports the very best of the ultra life: competitive yet inclusive, committed to excellence yet down to earth, and environmentally conscious. I look forward to being an active ambassador for inov-8 and grateful for this amazing opportunity!

As the waning moments of 2009 drift away, I would like to wish my family, friends, and readers a very healthy, happy, and safe 2010. Thank you for your positive vibes, shout-outs, and support. I can't wait to share new adventures on the trail and in cyberspace with you in the new year!


ultrarunnergirl said...

What a great 2009 you had Sophie! Congrats on all your accomplishments! I'm sure, despite being busier than ever, you will achieve new pinnacles in 2010. Look forward to seeing you on trail!


Rick Gray said...

Sophie, As the year and decade comes to a close, it is with great anticipation that we all look forward to the future. You have had a spectacular year and I know 2010 is going to happen in your grand style. Happy New Year to you, Rusty, Virginia and Carter. Expectations are so exciting and fun! Rick

And Miles 2 Go said...

Awesome, Soph! Another fantastic year for you. Glad to get to share some of your highlights with you.

chris mcpeake said...

Congrats on a great year

ultrastevep said...

Sophie, what a fantastic 2009 you had...that's all we can ask for out of running.

Go for the marathon....I've run over 30 road marathons and think they help us in ultrarunning. I have a goal of a sub 3:30 at age 60 in 2 years :-)

Congrats on the Inov-8 team, you deserve it!

Good luck in the coming year and unless we sell the house and move back to NM soon, I'm sure we'll see you at some of the winter VHTRC training runs. Deb and I are in for MMT1 & 2 and also the Reverse Ring.

Also congratulations on the good job you and Rusty have done raising your family. That is the supreme reward in life!


Thomas Bussiere said...

2009 was a great year for you and I have enjoyed reading your post as you shared your journey with us. You are an inspirational force and hope to read more in 2010.
Thanks for stopping by my blog and providing words of encouragement.
You might be interested in my recent post with a moving story about a middle school teacher.

Andrew Speidel said...

Hi Sophie,
Great photos. Love that first one with the pup! Hope to join you at Highlands Sky, God willin'