The End of the Beginning...

I never fathomed being atop a plateau like this one.

One year ago this week, I hit a milestone as an endurance runner.... pinning to my tights for the first time a bib number that signified 'ULTRA'.  While an A-goal 50k finish proved to be out of reach on that day, accomplishment of my B-goal -- a 3-loop / 24-mile finish at the Middlesex Fells with one of my great trail friends Breakheart Dan -- was the first time where I felt as though this whole running long thing was going anywhere.  That day I realized I wanted to become an ultrarunner...

Being so close to Boston and T-accessible, the Fells was the first location where I began to train on trails...I feel fortunate to have anything so accessible as an alternative for city/road training, let alone a location with options so technical - and to have familiarized myself well with this local treasure of a reservation / trail system, running there with large groups often.

After the November 2008 race, I quickly set my sights on the March 2009 race on that same Skyline Trail - using it as a motivator to get through my first real winter of trail training.  With some time to spare, I finished my first ultra-distance run at that March race, and have been keeping up with marathon-plus-distance races ever since.

I offer this context just to give you a quick sense of what the past 9 months of racing have been like, as I now return to the Fells for the last long trail race of 2009 ...the place where I had my first DNF (as it were), and my first 50k finish - it seems so long ago, and yet is still measurable in months. Trailrunning years really do seem like dog years in the mind; hopefully not for this body though.

Once this race is over, I'm planning to crystalize my 2010 running goals and races, starting to orchestrate the supporting scenarios...  Hoping that as we get into winter 'break', I'll be more inclined to post updates than I've been as of late (at least in part, so that I forget as little from this amazing year as possible!!), with some reflections on those highlights, the lowlights, and where I think this Mountain Goat is headed next.

In this holiday season, be thankful for everything and each person you have in your life... celebrate them today, tonight, this weekend, this Thanksgiving, and every day ... that day may just turn out to be the one you come to recall most fondly, when thinking of them.

I'm thankful for all the running exchanges I've had this year, from the daytrips and overnighters, hours/miles of silence shared with close friends on the trail, and meeting veteran/elite runners, to sharing inside-joke-punchlines aloud in a crowd at mile nineteen - aimed at a fellow runner I met on the starting line that very day, just so I could see them break a smile as the next hill started to get tough. 

I feel as though I've grown quite abit this year; given my circulation of 9 readers, if you're reading this (and to many, many of you who aren't!) *trust me* when I tell you that you deserve some of that gratitude personally - I've taken something positive, and probably many things positive from watching and/or talking with you this year.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for the inspirations; so often the real revelations are yielded later.