Ten Year Challenge: Blog Edition


By Heather Nelson

It’s 2009. High school is simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana dominate airwaves everywhere. (Don’t lie, they’re catchy.) Barack Obama enters his second year in the White House. Adult life hasn’t quite hit, yet, and it’s actually perfect this way.

I’ve been reflecting on what my life was like in 2009 since the “Ten Year Challenge” sparked popularity on social media. I’ve changed in the ten years that passed (of course), and yet, I still feel like a 16 year old some days.


I was a really cool 16-year-old and basically my interests have not changed much.

I’m a sucker for reminiscing, so why not create the “Ten Year Challenge” blog-edition?


Well, 2009 wasn’t exactly *the year* for my sports teams.

The Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team, after winning a National Championship in 2008, exited March Madness early. Kansas failed to advance past the Sweet 16. (North Carolina won the National Championship over Michigan State.) However, the team easily became one of my favorites. The squad boasted stars such as Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Tyrel Reed, and Brady Morningstar — who returned from the 2008 championship team. Then the Jayhawks added Mario Little, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Travis Releford, and Tyshaun Taylor to the mix. It’s like I said, this particular group was my favorite. I loved watching them play, and I only wish I’d been in college during those years. WOW. I miss that crew. (It’s a shame that a team of this quality did not bring home a ‘ship for Kansas.) Needless to say, the Jayhawks’ future looked bright.

And baseball? Well, the New York Yankees took home the World Series trophy. So, I definitely wasn’t happy about that. I remember bitterly tweeting that “27 rings is too many.” Nope, not upset at all… The Red Sox finished second in the American League East behind the Yankees in 2009. The Sox earned a spot in the playoffs through the AL Wild Card, but were swept by the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS. (I would’ve never guessed that nearly ten years later, Sox fans would be celebrating a fourth World Series win in recent years.) Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that the 2009 Sox included my favorite Red Sox player, Josh Beckett. The obsession was real…creepy.


I lived and breathed Josh Beckett. I deeply cared about his statistics. Probably too much.

I don’t even want to mention football/the Super Bowl. A few things: the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl; the gigantic Dallas Cowboys stadium opened; Josh McDaniels was the Denver Broncos head coach — I wish to forget this ever happened.

At this point, I don’t think I was watching much Premier League soccer. But if I was, I wasn’t a Liverpool fan, yet, which is terribly disappointing. So, nothing to note here especially since Manchester United won the League.

Heather’s favorites of 2009:
1. Josh Beckett
2. Cole Aldrich
3. Jonathan Papelbon
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
5. Dustin Pedroia
6. Fernando Torres
7. David Beckham
8. Joe Mauer

Heather’s favorites of 2019:
1. Mookie Betts / Andrew Benintendi (tie)
2. Mohamed Salah
3. Mike Trout
4. Jordan Henderson
5. …Josh Beckett?


My music taste has always been eclectic. I’ve listened to (and loved) almost everything ranging from musical soundtracks to Eminem. My music choices in 2009 reflected this wide range in music taste, but I can think of a few albums that I listened to almost non-stop.

I remember mornings on the school bus where I’d turn on my iPod Classic and hit “shuffle.” Listening to music on my iPod was how I started and ended long days — I was involved in several activities in high school, which often left me feeling stressed and worn out. Music helped me escape and focus on something else for a little while.

Jonas Brothers Concert 010.jpg

A selfie. Fake Ray Bans. And Jonas Brothers temporary tattoos on our face. Why?!

I’m still a music-fiend, but I’ve switched from iTunes to Spotify (I am a subscriber). I’ve curated playlists and discovered new artists thanks to Spotify. Music fuels my long runs and strength workouts and sometimes my commute (if I’m not listening to podcasts).

Heather’s favorites of 2009:
1. The Killers
2. John Mayer
3. Jonas Brothers
4. Ingrid Michaelson
5. Ryan Star
6. Lady Gaga
7. Kelly Clarkson
8. Miley Cyrus
9. Ke$ha
10. Green Day

Billboard top artists of 2009:
1. Taylor Swift
2. Beyonce
3. Lady Gaga
4. Black Eyed Peas
5. Miley Cyrus
6. Kanye West
7. Britney Spears
8. T.I.
9. Nickelback
10. P!nk

Heather’s favorites of 2019:
1. Kendrick Lamar / Childish Gambino (tie)
2. The 1975
3. John Mayer
4. Lauv
5. Ed Sheeran
6. Bruno Mars
7. The Weeknd
8. Ariana Grande
9. Justin Timberlake
10. SZA

Billboard top artists of 2009:
1. Drake
2. Post Malone
3. Ed Sheeran
4. Taylor Swift
5. Cardi B
7. Imagine Dragons
8. BTS
9. Bruno Mars
10. Camilla Cabello

Social media

My parents said that I wasn’t allowed to create a Facebook until I was 16 or 17. I’d made a MySpace page at a friend’s house without them knowing it — all the cool kids were doing it — and my dad quickly discovered my secret. One day, I logged onto the computer and the MySpace page didn’t load. I was embarrassed when he confronted me a few days later, but he was saving me from being sucked in to a whole other world. I jumped on Twitter back in the days when no one had an account and people tweeted about what they were eating for dinner.

Now, I have just about every social media known to man and spend hours a day refreshing each newsfeed. (Get a life, Heather!) The one positive thing I can say is that I’ve met people online that are now my “IRL” friends. So, in a weird way I’m thankful for the weird blackhole that is social media.

A look back at Heather posts in 2009: 

*All of my Facebook posts are either about me doing homework or song lyrics.*

Ten years ago, I would’ve fantasized a different future (than the life I’m currently living). Ultimately, I’ve accomplished a few goals, learned more about myself, and refined goals for future-Heather. While I’m eager to see what the next decade brings, I’m not in a rush for time to move that fast. For now, I’m living life in the moment and savoring each breath, each sunrise.

Tell me how you’ve changed! What were your favorites in 2009? Have your tastes changed much? 

The Road to 26.2: Why I Run


By Heather Nelson

Here’s some of the responses I’ve got since committing to running a marathon: “You’re crazy!” “I get bored after running a mile!” “Well…good luck!” “A marathon?! Really?!”

The words of encouragement and well wishes make the 26.2 miles seem more real, daunting. I’ve started to feel more pressure, and I thought to myself, “Why am I running a marathon?”

It’s not entirely about the 26.2 miles. Sure, I want to complete a marathon in my lifetime, but it’s about how I feel when I run. This is something that most of my friends haven’t considered when I’ve opened up about running. I always feel crazy for liking something that a lot of people seem to despise. And, in all honesty, I don’t love every run. But running is just one form of exercise I’ve really learned to appreciate. It makes me feel good…

So, here are the reasons why I run (even if running sounds despicable to you):

  1. It boosts my self-esteem. There’s nothing quite like exceeding all expectations one set for herself. Two years ago, I never imagined being able to run more than four or five miles. I never would’ve run outside or signed up for races. Finishing a run leaves me feeling high — and that positive energy lasts for hours afterward. Runner’s high is real! 

    The greater the endorphin surge in these brain areas, the more euphoric the runners reported feeling.  — from ‘How to Achieve a Runner’s High’

    2. It combats depression/reduces stress. Depression takes away my desire to move. Gearing up for a run is normally the last thing I want to do when I’m not feeling my best, but I lace up my Brooks anyway. Running helps manage my depression. Acting opposite to my emotion is just one way I attempt to end the negative cycle. Distance runs help me to combat problems nagging at me — sometimes I simply acknowledge the thoughts and other times I actively search for a solution. Short, speed runs are perfect for clearing up aggression and tension.

3. I sleep better. The nights that I get the best sleep? Nights after I’ve exhausted myself with a run. I’m actually able to turn off my brain and just sleep.

4. It builds confidence. As mentioned before, I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible with running. I solely compete with myself in an attempt to continually improve. Running allows me to grow stronger, more empowered with each step.  It’s as simple as that.

5. Running has taught me to be mentally tough. There’s nothing worse than running against the wind (except maybe humidity). A runner’s mind is forced to adapt and focus on overcoming obstacles. It’s easy to concentrate on the negative. Training the mind to dispel doubts is a runner’s biggest strength.

Running isn’t just great for physical health, it’s a great exercise for mental health, too. This is why I run.

The Road to 26.2


By Heather Nelson

I signed up for my first marathon. That’s right — 26.2 miles. The full thing.

It’s been a dream of mine (what? I know…) to run one since I learned of the Boston Marathon in 2005. I was 12, then. The Duck Boat Tour took us down Boylston Street, the tour guide announced the street marks the end of the world-famous marathon.

Thirteen years ago, I wasn’t even kind of a runner. I hated running. I only ran because coaches forced me to during soccer practice. The coaches said it was “conditioning”.  I believed it was torture.

A few years ago, I picked up running (my favorite form of cardio) in an attempt to whip myself into shape. Running seemed like the cure I needed to catapult myself into “fitness.” While this wasn’t 100 percent true, I found that running became an outlet for stress. It started with short runs everyday. After I mastered the short runs, I signed up for a 5K, then a 10K…. Since then, I’ve finished a total of seven runs — three 5Ks, 2 10Ks (plus another one this weekend), a 10-mile run, and a half marathon. And I’m always aiming to better myself, to push myself.

If you run, you’re a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far.”

  • John Bingham

I don’t run to “win”. But that’s the beauty of it — it’s just me and the pavement. At the beginning of the new year, I made it a goal to run a marathon by the end of 2018. As the months ticked away, I started to kick myself for not actually committing.

So here I am, 13 years later, prepping for an ultimate test. I have no doubts I’ll be pushed to my limits. Running isn’t for the weak. It’s a sport that demands so much from body and mind — that’s half the struggle. Ten more miles seems daunting in the moment, but with the right mindset it comes and goes with the breeze.

Through the next 15 weeks, I hope to share my experiences with training. The ups and downs. The lessons learned. The continuous trials of tackling 26-plus miles. One step, one breath, one mile at a time.


I look forward to sharing my journey with you. If you have any suggestions, questions, etc, feel free to leave a comment.