2009 Year in Review

Posted: December 15, 2009 in Motivation

I am a big believer that goal setting is the first and most important step in goal achievement.  Whether it is in your personal life, business or athletics for me it boils down to choosing the goal, formulating your plan for achieving that goal and doing the work.  If at the end of the day you did everything that you could in the pursuit of that goal and your effort was honest and true – you are a winner no matter the results.  Of course, that said …. results are nice ….  

As I continue to work through this nagging injury that is keeping me from training the way I would like right now I found myself searching for a pick-me-up, so I thought I would glance back at the year that was 2009 and see just how we did with respect to our goals for the year when it came to training and racing.  

2009 Goals

At the start of 2009 my number one goal that I was focused on from the first of January until May 3, 2009 at Pittsburgh was to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  What was interesting to me when I stumbled upon my “2009 Goals” in my desk drawer this morning was the other goals I had set that would allow me to make a legitimate run at a BQ (Boston Qualifying) Time in Pittsburgh on May 3, 2009.  

In hindsight I did a pretty good job setting my goals for the year as even if I was to fall short of my goal at Pittsburgh due to injury, weather, ability – I was still going to have achieved a great deal over the course of the year.  To me, that is what setting goals is all about.  If the only goal on the page was to qualify for the Boston Marathon and I had fallen short – is that really the payoff for all of the hard work, early mornings, strength training, eating right and dedication?  

Setting goals is an important part of the process, but they have to be the right goals.  Not necessarily goals that are “easy to achieve”, but goals that are “possible” given hard work and dedication.  No matter how hard I train I am never going to be able to run a sub-2:30 marathon in my 40’s with only 6 years of running experience ….. can I make a run at a sub-3:00 marathon in the future?  Well, I guess you’ll have to keep reading as we set our goals for 2010 and 2011.   

So how did I do?  Let’s take a look back at 2009.  

1.  Develop a BQ training plan   

With the help of Hal Higdon’s marathon training guide I was able to develop a 5-day a week, 18 week training plan that would cover 687 training miles leading up to the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I would need to bring my mile pace down to 7:29 to make my Boston time shaving more than 30 minutes off of my PR (Personal Record) for the marathon distance to qualify.  

2.  Run each training mile in plan  

I was fortunate enough to train 100% injury free for the Pittsburgh Marathon with the exception of a few blisters here and there and general soreness.  I ran each and every training run 89/89 and make it to the start at Pittsburgh injury free!  

3.  Run each workout with a purpose  

Easier said than done, but I was very proud of my effort throughout the training period.  I trained in 11 different states during the ramp up to Pittsburgh, never missed a workout and tried to focus on that day’s workout with maximum effort.  Whether it was a pace run, a recovery run or a long-run – I focused on that workout that day and made sure I was giving 100% effort.  

Pittsburgh Marathon Training Schedule

4.  Achieve BQ (Boston Qualifier) time of 3:20:50  

It all came together for me at Pittsburgh and as I struggle through a nagging training injury getting ready for 2010 I realize just how fortunate I was.  Race day temperatures were in the mid-40’s at the start of the race with very little wind.  Great course, great crowds surrounded by a lot of family and friends made for a perfect race.  I was able to hit my splits and finished with a new PR and BQ time of 3:17:43 in 209th place overall, 28th in my division.  http://results.active.com/pages/searchform.jsp#hot_links I couldn’t have asked for a better result.  

Mile 6

5. Enjoy Pittsburgh Marathon regardless of BQ outcome  

This was perhaps the easiest goal on the list to achieve – having trained so hard for such a long period of time, this was the first time in many weeks where I simply laced ’em up and ran.  Whatever was going to happen with respect to Boston was out of my control at that point.  All of the training miles were already in the books – I was either going to make my time or not – but I was determined to have fun along the way.  

After the Pittsburgh Race I was asked by a friend if I would run with him at a small 5K race up in Holland, TX.  I had not run a race other than marathon distance since 2006 and had not run a 5K since my first ever race while training for the Philadelphia Marathon several years ago.  

Sure thing, let’s do it I thought – which is the best part about goal setting in advance for the year – always time to make new goals and enjoy new experiences.  

I showed up to the Holland Corn Fest 5K without a lot of expectations.  It was  a warm day on June 20th in Holland with race temperatures in the upper 80’s.  I am an early morning runner like many Texans and very rarely run later than 7:30 a.m., and very rarely in temperatures above 75 degrees.  87 degrees is “air-conditioner” weather for me – and pushing a quick pace at that temperature is not something I even think about doing.  

1st Place Finisher Holland 5K

The Holland race was an exception however and the chance to race with a friend was going to be a new experience as I had never had any company for a race day before – so I was willing to give it a go.  

Being able to simply “run” without a lot of thought about each mile and how I would feel 5,10,15 miles later was very liberating.  I remember looking down at my Garmin at the end of mile 1 and I had just completed a 6:15 mile.  I had NEVER covered a mile so quickly and was interested to see how much I would have left in the tank over the final 2.1 mile of the course.  

By the race end I was as tired coming through the chute as I had been at the end of any marathon finishing with a time of 19:47 in 9th place overall, 1st place in my division!  I have to say that my “corn-themed” 1st place trophy is among my most prized possessions in my office directly below my bib and finishers medal from the Pittsburgh Marathon.  


2009 had it’s down moments as well especially as we all learned of our good friend Dom’s battle with cancer this past August which serves as the inspiration for this blog, for the Run for Dom effort http://www.runfordom.com/ and the inspiration for many of my 2010 goals which I will be writing about at the start of the new year.  

Joe and Dawn at Pittsburgh Marathon

As of this morning 1,604 miles have been covered in 2009 over the course of 229 runs.  A new PR at Marathon Distance, A Boston Qualifying time achieved and a really cool Corn Cobb 1st place trophy ….. not a bad year 2009. 

Can’t wait to see what 2010 has in store for all of us.  I hope that you and your families all have a happy and safe holiday season – God bless and thanks for visiting! 













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