2009: A Year for Coming Back and Moving On

“Two things in life that I have experienced moderate success at, and that I love when they’re going well, are writing and running. Neither is going very well at the moment. This blog represents my commitment to get both going again. Writing and running have been on hold due to inaction and injury. … I’m feeling stupid and stiff, wondering how I’ll ever regain a sense of flow at the keyboard or striding out on the trail.”

Morgan and me running last week on the North Island of New Zealand. A year ago, I never imagined we'd end the year here!

Morgan and me running last week on the North Island of New Zealand. A year ago, I never imagined we'd end the year here!

I wrote those lines in my first-ever blog post in August 2008 while nursing a broken foot and hoping 2009 would be a comeback year.

I got the comeback I wished for and more, but what I’m most proud and grateful for is I headed off in completely new and unforeseen directions. Never, ever would I have imagined I would write this year-end post from New Zealand, having embarked with my family on a round-the-world journey after six months of reaching new personal bests as a runner. Just as I never, ever would have imagined that when I started jogging 15 years ago I would actually stick with it to the point where I could call myself “a runner.”

I’m not writing this to gloat. I’m here to remind myself and others that life takes entirely unexpected turns, and being open to change and thinking that what seems impossible might actually be possible can take you to places you thought only other people, not you, could go.

I’m listing some month-by-month highlights to help get my head around this year and look ahead to 2010:

January: Started the new year with the marathon-length Epiphany Run in Redwood Park. Had an epiphany on a long run the following week that we should travel for a year while homeschooling the kids. Morgan took the idea and ran with it.

February: We committed to the journey and gave ourselves six months to get ready. Peaked in training for the Napa Marathon.

March: Marathon PR at Napa (3:05:53), followed by the Diablo 50K.

April: Traveled to DC and ran the Boston Marathon. Generated heat and praise for calling it “the world’s most overrated marathon.

May: Celebrated turning 40 by running the Redwood 50K and Ohlone 50K.

June: Launched our family travel blog, Away Together. Reconnected with running buddies at the Lake Tahoe Relay.

July: Met a 40th birthday goal to run a sub-six mile and then won a 10K.

August: In one of my busiest, most emotional months ever, we moved out of our house and hit the road.

September: Fulfilled a desire to reconnect with family roots and run a high-altitude race at the Imogene Pass Run in Telluride, Colorado.

October: The Buenos Aires Marathon helped me fall in love with Argentina.

November: Experienced the Salomon K42 Adventure Marathon in Patagonia and Thanksgiving in Santiago. Words fail to express the gratitude.

December: These photos show some of the places we ran and hiked this month. Need I say more?

Bay of Plenty coast, New Zealand

Bay of Plenty coastline, New Zealand

A riverside trail near Rotorua.

A riverside trail near Rotorua.

I don’t think I’ll ever top 2009 in terms of meeting challenges and living a full life — but who knows? It’s possible. What a Christmas gift: to wind up happy and healthy, with my marriage and kids this close. (Note: It wasn’t always so.)

In my days as a working journalist, I adopted the cynical view that good news is boring. I don’t doubt many may find this essay boring, insufferable and devoid of news, but it feels important — to me, at least — to reflect on this year in order to preserve it like a treasure or a favorite page from a scrapbook, something that can be lingered over when I’m older or if I’m ever down and out.

I intended to look ahead by listing some goals for 2010. A lot of runners I know post their yearly goals online to generate encouragement and hold themselves accountable to reaching those goals, and I fully support that. I just don’t want to get tied down to a concrete goal, like having a strong debut in a 50-miler or running over 2000 miles. My goals for 2010 and beyond therefore are more vague, less measurable and simple only on the surface:

  • Stay happy and healthy.
  • Try new things.
  • Don’t revert to old ways.
  • Keep writing and running.

I started this blog to help me come back and move on. It achieved that goal, and since my priority has shifted to the Away Together blog, I don’t know how much I’ll write in this space in 2010, beyond the occasional race report. To all of you who’ve read this and encouraged me with your comments along the way, thank you. May you go new places and envision new possibilities in the year ahead.

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3 Responses to 2009: A Year for Coming Back and Moving On

  1. Paul Charteris December 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm #

    aah – Toi’s Track. that’s one of my “happy places” I am glad you had a great time with Mike and Sarah 🙂

  2. David Lavender December 26, 2009 at 7:18 am #


    I hope you don’t abandon this blog all together. While I love what you’re doing with the travel blog, I also really enjoy how your posts on this one are infused with the appropriately narrow perspective of a runner. Guess you’re giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘Globe Trotter’. Anyway, keep it up!

  3. D January 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    Sarah, just found your site after reading Born to Run. I love your “don’t revert to old ways” and may have to borrow it for myself for 2010. I am not a big follower of blogs, but I enjoy your writing and will be checking back often.

    Can’t wait to read more from you. And I hope you called yourself a runner before you did the 3:05 marathon! 🙂

    All my best,

    Your Newest Fan

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