I hardly ever pay attention to our weekly paid-time-off report. I never use all of my vacation time, can't remember the last time I took a sick day and haven't quite figured out how to best use my allotted "personal" hours.
But I took a few minutes to browse the report earlier this week and discovered that I had a few "personal" hours to burn before the use-it-or-lose-it deadline -- today.
Normally, I wouldn't mind losing out on those hours. Instead, as a treat to myself, I decided I'd finally zero out those hours and use them in a way I really enjoyed.
The morning started out as a lazy one, me sleeping in a bit and taking my time. An outdoor run was on my agenda - a way to beat the four days of snow they're calling for - but I wasn't going to rush it.
Shortly after 9 a.m., I donned my winter running gear, clipped on my iPod and headed out into the brisk December air.
Despite the fact that it can get really cold or be a bit treacherous, I like running in winter. Sounds seem somehow muffled, even more so after a fresh powdery snowfall. I never pass any other runners, cyclists or even people walking their dog. Everyone seems to huddle indoors and hibernate.
It's just me and footsteps. I love it. (Although I also like the first spring-like day when signs of life and other runners finally start to appear.)
Today's run felt much better, which was a big relief after I struggled through my last one. I was beginning to have doubts about whether I'd be ready for an upcoming winter half-marathon after my last run.
I found myself reflecting on the year and scrolling through snapshots in my head -- the marathon finish, bike rides and runs, the triathlon relay, hikes and waterfalls, the places I've been, laughs with friends and special moments with TC.
It all makes me smile.
I've really accomplished a lot this year, not just in terms of miles that I've logged (but I did a lot of those, too) or the races I've run or the checklist of want-to's I've ticked off throughout the year.
I can't think of anything, not one thing, I'd change about this year.
The memories I have as I look back at the year make me smile subconsciously - and I think I was outwardly grinning at times on this morning's run. When I reached the dirt road that would lead me closer to home, I actually found myself singing along with my iPod. (For those who are wondering, singing is NOT my forte -- and remember I already mentioned how quiet it was. But i didn't care.)
It was a year in which the sky seemed a little bluer, the grass a little greener, the sun a little brighter. The smiles were a little wider and the laughs a little louder.
Maybe it's just me?
I'm thankful I took those hours to myself to look back at where I've been. After all, isn't the best way to get where you want to look at where you've been? There's always something to learn, good or bad.
Luckily for me, it was a year full of good.
I reached my condo complex at 8.25 miles. No way, I thought, I wasn't going to finish like that. Not today. Like a crazy person, I make the turn and headed down the street a bit, turned around and ran back.
I reached my place (for the second time) at 8.8 miles. Nope, not yet.
I passed by my driveway, put a few extra footsteps in - including a trip through the parking lot - and ended my run at 9.09 miles.
Ending 2009 with 9.09 miles. Pretty cool.
When I later logged into my computer, Facebook asked me if I wanted to create a collage of my 2009 pictures. Sure, why not? (Even though I'm generally not a fan of many Facebook apps.)
What it generated was near-perfect - and posted below - a smile-inducing collage of snapshots of friends and good memories. Like I said in the caption I posted on Facebook, I Heart 2009. But watch out, 2010, you've got a lot to live up to...
Happy New Year!