Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mission Accomplished...Highlights of my year

There are two days I tend to reflect on my accomplishments, what I have done and where I have been. Sadly both days are relatively close. One is New Years (Jan 1rst) and the second is my birthday (Jan 4th).

This means during the major part of the year I am living my life to the fullest, voiding the warranty on my body (although in the case of my knee it is not entirely the factory installed parts so that warranty may already be voided:-).

The past year has been an amazing journey. I have been to places I never dreamed of (Slovenia comes to mind), accomplished successes I never imagined (sub-29 hours at Umstead 100 and almost sub 29 hours at VT100) and shared time with so many great friends. In my world these are the highlights of my year and unlike any "thing", these will be precious memories throughout the rest of my life.

The year started out with a trip to Disney World to run the Disney Goofy Marathon. The half marathon I ran all by myself, but the full marathon I had company: my sister, Cindy. Cindy has crewed for me at JFK 50 miler in 2007, 2008 and at Umstead 100 in 2008. But this was the first time Cindy and I had ever run together. While my pace not ideal for her (we were 2 hours slower then her PW-personal worst marathon time), her training might have been lacking and all the stops for pictures might not have been fun at the time, we still had a great time. Although this may have been positively influenced by her beer stop at mile 25.5 at Germany in EPCOT . Regardless, we finished hand in hand nearly 6 hours after we started. In fact until Las Vegas, this marathon also happened to be my PW this year (and of course being a younger sister I busted on Cindy for this!) Making this trip and race more special was that Tristan also ran the race and my mom was there to cheer us all on.

Since I am not a big fan of cold weather, I headed south 3 times during January and February. In February, Tristan and I flew to New Orleans for a vacation and to run the Mardi Gras Marathon. The marathon was a blast! And the city is slowly recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The course is very cute and I loved the Mardi Gras beads gracing the trees all along the marathon route. They have some wild and crazy trees in New Orleans! I also was fortunate enough to go to Tampa to run the Gasparilla Marathon and see my mom and Grandmother. The race day was perfect and it was nice to spend a long weekend with my Grandma and mom seeing the sights, enjoying the beach and just catching up.

My first big event of the year was Umstead 100 miler. This was my second time at Umstead and I really enjoy the whole race experience. Because the weather was predicted to be bad (which it was), Gilligan did not join us. However, before the race we did get to visit Tristan's dad in Richmond and on the way back we also visited a bit (although this visit is a bit more hazy in my mind--guess 36+ hours of being awake and running 100 miles can do that;-)

Later in April, I had my first business trip. I flew to Boston to speak at the Association for Clinical Research Professionals. I really enjoyed this conference and found the subject matter of the various sessions to be very relevant and well presented. While at Boston this time, the city was a bit chilly and overcast; however, my next business trips to Boston (June for the Drug Information Association and September for the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society the weather greatly improved). In fact from Sept 07-Sept 08, I had 4 business trips to Boston and spent over 12 nights there. I now consider myself an expert since I have walked, used the tube/metro system or run all over the city :-)

May included a trip with a friend Qian from work to Burlington Vermont to run the Vermont City Marathon. I had a great time at the marathon (which runs along a beautiful but slightly hilly course next to Lake Champlain) and sightseeing with Qian. We went to many of the factory outlets including Ben & Jerry’s and the Vermont Teddy Bear, as well as a day trip to Stowe to see the sights including the Von Trapp Family Lodge (it sure is alot easier getting to this mountain top resort by car as compared to running as I did in 06 during the Stowe Marathon). Our trip to VT was great fun and we plan to have another trip in 2009 at New Orleans.

During June Tristan and I took our yearly trip to Niagara Falls Canada. We spent several days near the Falls (on the NY side primarily, which was good because at that time the American dollar was pitifully weak!). At the end of our trip we went to Niagara on the Lake so both Tristan and I could run the Niagara Ultra 50 km race. I started early, finished pretty late but in fact ran 60+ km so I could make it all the way to the falls (which was so worth it...the Falls are spectacular). We had great weather for our vacation and the race and were able to do lots of activities. We love taking the maid of the mist boat ride, walking along the cave of the winds and doing all the other activities by the Falls.

Immediately after returning from this trip, I flew to Boston to participate at the Drug Information Association Annual Meeting. My first presentation was the day following my 60 km race and was a brief description about what I wish I knew when I graduated from college about the field I am in (Pharmaceutical...although I am on the regulatory side). Over the next several days I gave several more presentations including one about career development. In this session I even invited my dad to speak about interviewing techniques (I spoke about Creating an Effective Resume). Based on the feedback I received both of our presentations were well received and definitely provided actionable items for professionals looking to secure new positions. A final presentation I gave was about my experience being in a clinical trial. My experience was pretty tough because the trial I was in involved smallpox vaccine. Let's just say the smallpox vaccine is one that nearly beat me and I have a scar on my shoulder to prove it! Although my experience in the clinical trial was tough, in retrospect alot of crazy things happened during my 18 months as a "guinea pig". And what doesn't kill you makes for really good stories:-)

In early July Tristan went to California to spend some time with his mom. He also attempted to summit Mt. Shasta. Sadly, Tristan has a poor record in summit attempts in July. He has failed at Shasta, Whitney and Whitney a second time in the past several years. Again this year he kept this streak going! The highlight of July was going to Vermont so I could run the VT100 miler. While there, we made our pilgrimage to the Ben & Jerry's factory outlet, Pie in the sky pizza at Stowe as well as the Queechee Gorge. And of course I ran the VT 100 and I succeeded in a time of 29 hours and 6 minutes. I will be back in 2009 hope I can break 29 hours!

August was a great month for Tristan and me. Our month started with a business trip to present at the Joint Statistical Meeting in Denver that was extended and ended as a pleasure trip. During this trip I presented at one technical session and led a roundtable luncheon discussion. While at this conference Tristan and I both participated in a 5km scholarship race. Neither of us did well. We blame the altitude! After our conference finished, Tristan and I spent several days in the Denver area.

A HUGE highlight during our Denver trip was hiking Carpenter peak with Jamie D. then having dinner with her and David. They are such a cute couple and so nice. It was a real treat to spend time with her and amazingly we could keep up with her hiking pace. I think she might have been slowed by her recovery from her amazing victory at Badwater less than a month prior but perhaps Tristan and I are decent hikers. During our hike she did nearly cause me a few heart attacks when she would turn around in excitement. Sadly I am pathetic and her enthusiasm mimics my perceived rattlesnake/cougar alert so a few times I nearly fell over trying to scurry away. Meeting her husband and doggie family and having dinner with them was so much fun. It was really nice to hang out with her dogs Morrison who is so cute and reminded me of Gilligan (only a bit larger) and Kosmo who was a really sweet dog.

While in Colorado, Tristan and I also had the opportunity to sightsee at Boulder which is a beautiful city. We considered tubing down the river that goes through the city center but sissied out. In retrospect we should have toughened up and done it!

During this trip, Tristan and I also were lucky enough to stay with a family friend, the Spangler’s. We met the Spangler Family when I was about 7 or 8 years old when my family took several month long family vacations out West. Jerry was a park Ranger at Rocky Mountain National park and since my family would go there regularly our families became friends. The Spangler’s, both Marge and Jerry were so kind. They gave us some hints for good hikes and of course maps to get us there.

While on this trip, Tristan was able to get another state high point by climbing Longs Peak. After starting out on his climb about 11 p.m., it took him many hours but he was able to get to the summit. He had a really great time and I suspect he will climb this peak many times in the future. While Tristan was peak bagging I spent some time with Marg. She bicycled while I ran through the City of Longmont. Longmont is a cute city with many parks that look out to the Rocky Mountains. On our last night there, Jerry cooked several salmon he had caught recently in Alaska. It was so good!

After returning home, I participated in my second IronGirl Triathlon. My friends who triathlon are amazed I spent over 20 minutes in the transition area after the swim. I may have taken longer in the transition area then the elites do in the swim or the run. But they did not have super clean feet after the transition or a camera that needed its floaties removed (hey the camera needed to be able to swim on its own if we got disengaged!)

September was a very eventful month for Tristan. He participated in a 5 day mountaineering expedition on Mt Baker. During this time he had no shower, access to soap and minimal changes of cloth...yuck! But he had a great time and really enjoyed the experience (well until apparently one night they nearly abandoned his group in a crevasse!). He will be returning to the Pacific Northwest for another expedition in July 2009 to climb Mt Rainier. I am glad he has found something he is so passionate about.

In the middle of September I returned to speak about technical writing at the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society in Boston. It is an excellent conference with a variety of perspectives about the pharmaceutical industry.

At the end of September, Tristan and I went to Upstate New York so I could run the Adirondack Marathon. This is one of my favorite marathons: it is a beautiful course, the town is really supportive of the race and the race organizers really treat the runners well. Tristan and I stayed at Schroon Lake within 300 meters of the start (which is late is so great to sleep in until 8 or so, for a 9 a.m. start!). During the race I was delighted to see my friends Jesse and Jericho who I had met at the race in 2006. It was great to catch up over the 15 or so miles we ran together. During this trip Tristan continued his mountaineering by climbing Colden Peak, a 5,000 ft peak in the Adirondacks that is considered one of the more difficult peaks.

October was a great month! Tristan and I took a vacation to New Hampshire for some hiking and so I could run the New Hampshire Marathon. The foliage was great and really added to my enjoyment of the marathon (which is a beautiful course around a lake in the lake region of New Hampshire). Tristan was able to climb several 4000 and 5000 foot peaks including a challenging loop including Mt Lafayette, Flume, Liberty and others on the Franconia Ridge. This was extra difficult because there was snow and ice at the tops of the mountains.

At the end of October I went on a business trip to Slovenia to attend and present at the Drug Information Association Clinical Forum. My presentations focused on professional development and identifying and pursuing professional positions. I had a great time presenting and think my sessions were well received. While in Slovenia, I ended up staying in the same hotel as the Queen of England (Elizabeth) who was there at the same time I was. It was interesting to deal with the additional security. Oddly enough I did not realize we could step on the red carpet so for a day or two I was leaping over it (in good business attire)--I must have looked pretty amusing. In my defense I did not know protocol and did not want to be wrestled to the ground!
During this trip I was able to explore the country a bit. I ran extensively in Ljubljana. There was an impressive castle on the hill right in the middle of the city I became familiar with. In addition to Ljubljana, I was able to travel to Lake Bled as well as Postjonia. Lake Bled is famous for a castle in the middle of an alpine lake as well as a castle on a cliff right on the side of the lake. Both castles are really beautiful. Lake Bled is also very close to a very pretty gorge, Vintgar Gorge. The water of both the lake and the river is a vibrant emerald green. I also was lucky enough take a small trip to Postjonia where I was able to see Predjama Castle, which is a Castle in a cave as well as Postjonia Jama (Cave). This small day trip was one of my favorite memories from the year. I had to bike from the cave to the castle, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience and seeing the countryside. I hope I will be able to get back to Slovenia in the future.

At the end of October, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for the 5th time. Next year I have a guaranteed entry. I am so excited about this, because for this race, there will be no more waiting at the computer for registration to open! I really enjoy this marathon and enjoy running all around DC seeing all the monuments and history so close to my home.

November was a fairly quiet month. The two highlights include running the entire Harrisburg Marathon with my friend Dave. We previously ran a bit of the Delaware Marathon with Dean Karnazes. It was so great to run a marathon together and catch up. I have limited recollection of the course but really enjoyed spending time with Dave and look forward to running Harrisburg Marathon with him in 2009. My second event in November was the JFK50 miler. I really enjoyed seeing so many friends before, during and after this ultra. My sister was an awesome crew and it was nice to know Tristan was running this event as well. Although I completed the race by about 5 p.m., Tristan finished faster then I by about 20 minutes because he did not make use of the 2 hour early start at 5 a.m. He is starting to talk about running JFK again next year, as is my sister. Now I need to find a crew who will not abandon me to run the race!

December was another great month. We started the month with a vacation to Death Valley and Las Vegas. Because the temperature was so nice, hiking in Death Valley was a pleasure. We hiked through many geologic features including sand dunes, canyons and by vibrantly colored rocks. The marathon was great fun and I was able to see many friends. The night before the marathon Tristan and I had dinner with Joe and Richard. It was great to catch up with both of them. They are such impressive runners and like I were planning to run the Double Marathon. My friend Lauri stayed at both Death Valley and Las Vegas with Tristan and I both nights before the marathon which was alot of fun. We were able to catch up and just had a great time together.

After the Death Valley Marathon, I showed Lauri the Death Valley sights including Badwater. It was alot of fun and we have many stories from this weekend. Las Vegas was amazing as well. It is a sparkeley city, which I really like. The marathon ran along the strip. I made use of this knowledge the day after the marathon when Tristan and I walked around and went sightseeing. Death Valley and Vegas are alot of fun and we definitely plan to go back!

After returning from Las Vegas the remainder of December was fairly low key. I was assigned an acting team leader position at my work. So far it is going well. Around Christmas Tristan and I were able to spend time with my sister who lives in Reston and my dad who was visiting from NY. Additionally, during the holidays we started pet-sitting a friends dog, Billy. Billy has been keeping us busy and will do so through the beginning of next year. On a positive note with his company we have hiked and run extensively. Luckily in DC the weather has been fairly nice so we have been able to hike in Shenandoah, at Great Falls and some local parks. We end the year very physically active, just like we like. Hopefully this will ensure we are prepared for all our planned activities in 2009, which I hope to highlight tomorrow.

1 comment:

John said...

Would be interested in hearing some of the 'realy good stories' of your experiences as a smallpox vaccine guinea pig.