Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Year In Review

Wow, I can’t believe that 2009 is almost in the books. As I think back on the year there are so many memories. I’m sure I’ll miss something along the way but here are some highlights.

January – Great trip to Disney with the family. Dad & I finished our 2nd Marathon and beat our previous time by more than 30 minutes. That being said we still didn’t train as well as we should have, maybe one of these days we’ll give it our full attention and see how it goes. For now we’ll stick to ½ Marathons and Bike riding.

March- My first Walk event in my position as Development Coordinator was the Zoo walk on March 28th. It went great and I was glad to have it under my belt. I have great committees for both of my walk sites & excellent staff support that helped make this first event go great. Thanks to everyone for your help on that.

April- My other 2 walks were in April and both went very well. There was a monumental accomplishment for me personally in April. I rode up Pilot Mountain for the first time. Since I had just started biking when I was in middle school I had always wanted to be able to do that. My dad has done it hundreds of time but after starting back riding in 2007/2008, I was riding a lot more in 2009. We set out to try it and just see how far I could make it and I think it surprised both of us when it went better than expected and I climbed the whole thing(on a bicycle for those wondering). After doing that I knew that although it goes slowly that I’d be able to make it up most any mountain in the area. The most important thing that happened in April was that I asked Tara to marry me and she said yes. I asked her right before Easter Sunday lunch and we were able to share the day with both of our families. Again, it seems like just yesterday that happened and we had over 14 months before our wedding (June 26th 2010) and now we’re less than six months away.

May- My classes in may weren’t to bad and it helped turn may into my busiest cycling month. I rode over 650 miles in may including the Lewisville Metric Century and the 75 mile route at the Tour de Lions.

Summer – did some good biking, one great ride that Started out at Mars Hill called the Devils Fork Metric Century. It climbed 4 mountains and was 63 miles long. It was a great ride, I believe I’ll try to make it back out for that one again this summer. We spent a great week at the beach and with Tara being off work for the summer we spent as much time as possible at the pool. I had a very touch second summer session of school but it was worth it because I graduated! I was done as of July 31st but didn’t get to walk until December 17th. I was super excited both days to finally be done with my undergrad. It “only” took 9 years but at least it was finally done. It was also nice being back on a bike a lot because it helped me loose some more weight. I’d gained some weight back over last winter, not back to the 250 I used to be but up to about 225. I got back down to 195 and would like to be lower than that in 2010.

August- My parents surprised me with a graduation gift in August, truthfully I didn’t expect anything from anyone. I was happy enough just to be done. That being said my new Nikon d60 is amazing. I’ve always liked taking pictures and as soon as I got this camera I got a crazy idea of making a little money while doing something I loved. Hill Event Photography was born. I started researching sites where I could host my pictures that used 3 party printers. All I would have to do is take great photos, upload them and price them. Event participants could go look at them and if they purchased them I would get most of the sell price in a check from the site. My first event was the Tour de Gaps in Mount Airy. It’s a really tough ride and I was set up on a really steep hill, those cyclist that were able to talk as they went past me and weren’t gasping for air told me how mean I was for being at that spot. It turned out to be a great spot and I sold a lot of pictures.

Fall- I booked several more events in the fall, a triathlon out side of Boone, the Hawg Run, Tour de Pig, RHABA 10K, Great Pumpkin Run, Go Far 5K, Ridgewood Turkey Trot & New Balance Reindeer Romp. My dad is probably the better photographer(where do you think I learned and got the passion from) and he was more than willing to help with the larger events. We both shot the RHABA 10K, Go Far 5K & Ridgewood Turkey Trot(3000 participants). Things are going great with the side business, it’s a lot of fun.

After working all weekend with the Bike MS Tour to Tanglewood the next weekend it was off to be a participant in a Bike MS event. We rode 100 miles from Rock Hill to Greenville SC on day one and took it easy with a 35 mile ride the second day. It was a great weekend to ride, the weather turned out really nice, I’d like to request we get that kind of weather for the 2010 Tour to Tanglewood(I mean, they won’t let me ride, but it’d be nice to be dry while working 16 hours.)

Holidays – I love the holidays because I have such a great family to spend them with. It doesn’t hurt being engaged to a wonderful girl with an equally wonderful family! Some people dread having to spend time with their in-laws (or in-laws to be) but I can speak for both Tara & myself and say that isn’t the case. We feel equally as at home either place and they are both a lot of fun. Thanksgiving was great and since I did most of my Christmas shopping online that wasn’t too painful either. Christmas was great as it has been for the past 3 years now. Being able to be relaxed and enjoy Christmas is truly a blessing. I am so lucky to be surrounded by all the amazing people I have in my life. I participated in the December commencement ceremony at UNCG and I was glad to be there. It was long but afterwards I went to lunch with mine and Tara’s parents(she was busy enriching the lives of 23 second graders J ) I started running again in November. Although Dad & I ran 2 ½’s and 2 full marathons I never really enjoyed running until November. I started out running shorter distances and started building up, I’m still slow at it and presumably will stay that way but I’m enjoying it. I believe the fact that I started to enjoy running again is why I decided to jump in and pursue a goal I’ve toyed with the thought of for some time now. I’ve always be intrigued by triathlons and decided to take the plunge(see previous blog post) and sign up for the Beach to Battleship ½ Iron Distance Tri. To accomplish this I have sought out my friend and tri coach Suzanne Duncan to be my coach for the year. My training starts with a 2 month group training on January 3rd and then its one on one training from March-July, Group training from July-October for the Pinehurst International Distance Tri and one on one again for the last month leading into B2B. (My next blog will lay out my events and goals that I have in mind for 2010)

2009 was the first year that I’ve had a full time job that was outside of a restaurant. The National MS Society is a dream place to work. Great staff, great hours, and I don’t have to work every weekend and holiday. Its priceless getting to spend holidays with friends and family. I’ll never(you should never say never), so lets say, I hope to never spend another Mothers or Fathers Day working, Easter, Christmas, New Years Day, etc. After working all of those days for years and years I don’t take them for granted and they are even more special than in years past.

In 2010 I hope to do a better job of updating my Picasa albums with pictures to share and when that happens I’ll post the link and let you know when there are new pictures. I’m off the next four days so maybe I’ll get 2009’s pictures up so I can get 2010 started with a clean slate.

2009 was an amazing year and I’m sure that I missed a ton of things that I’d like to include, but if you have thoughts on some of those feel free to leave a comment and let me know what I missed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Something strange happened last weekend. I ran in 2 separate events, the Ragsdale YMCA Reindeer Romp 5K on Saturday & the Run to Victory 5 miler on Sunday. Both runs were dare I say it…fun. I am by no means a fast runner, probably never will be, but I really enjoyed myself during both events. Enjoying running is something that I hadn’t ever really done until this November when I started running again after having not really run any since January. Saturday I wanted to take it easy for at least the first mile and a half to two miles and see how the last mile felt because I would be running on Sunday as well. Early in the week the forecast had looked bad for Saturday, rain and sleet, however that had changed and it was just cold. Sunny and around 28 degrees when the run started. I followed my game plan for the first 2 miles, ran those in about 21:30, and really enjoying my run & smiling! I picked it up during the downhill that started mile 3, I was feeling good so I just kept up the pace to the end and finished right above 30 minutes. I ran the last mile in 8:30, that’s about as fast as I can run. I had a great run, but had to get home and change to get ready to go to the Mt. Airy football game w/ Tara & her family. Mt. Airy lost in overtime when the other team went for a 2 pt conversion and converted what a gutsy call in overtime.

On Sunday dad came down and we rode to the start of the Run to Victory. We ran the ½ Marathon last year at this race as preparation for the Disney Marathon but we were only doing the 5 mile run this year. And thank goodness for that because it was a cold wet day on Sunday. I looked over at dad around mile 3 or 4 and said, it’s a shame that we are running better this year than we were last year and we had a big race in a month after this event. We ran the first mile in 9:30 and the hills slowed us down during the 2nd mile to a 10:45 mile, we finished in 52:57 or something like that. The rain wasn’t too hard but it was still there, so we both had a laugh as we got close to the end when I said, see I told you it was possible to run and smile. We really had a great time out there Sunday, and at the finish line its always nice to walk into a warm building where there’s chili, cornbread, hot coco and krispy kreme doughnuts waiting for you.

I’ll be starting my triathlon training in January with a program at Spears YMCA. That should get me ready to compete in an indoor triathlon that the triad tri team puts on. I’ll be competing in the Ragsdale indoor tri on 3/14, I’m looking forward to the training and getting the first one under my belt. After that I’ll be training with Suzanne ( ) for the rest of the year to get ready for the big goal for the year, The Beach to Battleship ½ Iron Distance Triathlon.

There was also another reason to smile last week. My graduation! Although I finished everything during the summer and was officially awarded my diploma in August there isn’t a summer commencement ceremony so I opted to take part in the December graduation ceremony. Although I was on the 9 ½ year plan (with a 4 year break to manage restaurants) I’m finally done and couldn’t be happier about it. My parents & Tara’s parents came down for the commencement at the Coliseum and we went out for a late lunch after it was over. I am so lucky to have some many wonderful people in my life. My parents have been by my side since day one and are always there to offer advice, ears, support, whatever I may need. Tara & her family are also wonderful and I couldn't be a luckier guy when it comes to future in laws and my future wife. We had a great time. It was great to get to see everyone and I just had a wonderful day. Too bad Tara had to work but we went out Thursday night.

Until next ride (keep smiling!),

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Plunge

The Plunge
So I took the plunge today. I signed up for a triathlon that I’ve wanted to do for the past 2 years. Never mind the fact that I’ve never done a triathlon before, I’m going to do it. I have wanted to do the Beach to Battleship tri since its first year in 08. I signed up for the 2010 edition which will take place on November 13th. Triathlons intrigue me, always have. That’s probably why, at around this time every year for the past three or four that I’ve thought about doing them. The problem used to be I didn’t swim, I hadn’t biked enough in a long time and I didn’t run. Then it became I didn’t run or swim, after this year its just I don’t swim very well. If you know me, you know that I enjoy a challenge and something to train for. I really like having a goal, something new to achieve. I’m enjoy running more now that I ever have, I love biking, its my passion and I’m not particularly fast at either. But I enjoy the experience and the accomplishment of completing a challenge. I just want to finish this triathlon ( and hopefully a few other shorter distance ones in 2010). The Beach to Battleship offers to options the Iron Distance and the Half Iron Distance. I will be attempting the ½ Iron Distance, that’s plenty for me to take on. It consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run (1/2 Marathon). The biking and running are not a big concern for me. I will train all year in biking and running for other events, it’s the swimming that’s going to be my biggest challenge. My friend and possibly my future coach Susan Duncan recommended a swim clinic to me a few weeks ago and it starts the first week of January. Its 2 meetings a week for 8 weeks and will culminate in being prepared for one of the Triad Tri Teams indoor triathlons. I am very excited about starting the swim clinic and hope to get some good tips and really be able to dig into some swim training. After all, I’ll have 11 months to really get ready for the B2B tri.
Beach to Battleship starts with the swim in a channel connected to the Intracoastal Waterway at Wrightsville beach. From there the bike leg of the event will take us to Wilmington to the Battleship and from there it will be a 13.1 mile run finishing back at the battleship.

So there you have it. I’ve signed up and am really excited to do this. In 2009 I ran my second marathon(and possibly the last, but never say never) and biked over 2,300 miles including some epic mountainous rides a century or 100 mile ride in October. 2008 was my first really great year in accomplishments of the athletic type and I followed up with some more fun and amazing accomplishments. I have a few things penciled in for 2010 in addition to the B2B tri, including:

Climb MS: New York City(2/28) a stair climbing run up the 66 floors of the Rockefeller Center in New York. Its business and pleasure since I will be hosting a Climb MS: Power up the Tower in Winston Salem in march. (you should sign up for it, it’ll be a fun challenge)
Indoor Triathlon(very first one!) - March
ING Atlanta ½ Marathon in March
Getting Married in June 
Devil’s Fork Metric Century (cycling) – July
Few options for September still in the air
Cannonball ½ Marathon or Baltimore ½ Marathon in October
& the biggie for the year!! Beach to Battleship 70.3 in November

I will be posting weekly(ish) recaps of my training and other thoughts here in the blog. Wish me luck & take the plunge in your own personal challenge. It doesn’t matter it its walking a mile, running a 5K, going to the gym 2 days a week or cycling 100 miles. Take the plunge, get started training, you’ll have a blast at the finish and an incredible ride to get there!
Until next ride,