Monday, August 18, 2014

Half-Year in Review

I'm way late getting on this, but after reading this midyear assessment article a month or so ago I thought, "yep assessing twice a year is such a great idea because we easily forget what happened 8, 10 months ago." Even though it's middle of August, I'm gonna stop at the end of June for sake of the "mid year" review. It's not going to be very long or revised due to time constraints (no longer a student to my dismay), and might be for my own purposes than the masses. You'll see a lot of the same positive adjectives.

Is it too cliche to say in every "review" article that it's been the best time period of my life? I suppose that is college. Unsure if I'll be able to say the same for the second half of the year, but really the first six months of 2014 were fabulous.

Cold as the ice queen this month! Started doing a few running workouts, which I had never really done before. Still remained in off-season mode, certainly not running a ton but still running for fun and getting out and moving. Started "Friday funday" which involved snow this month. Started last semester of school, noticeable changes there. Everyone being friends and just jolly moods everywhere. The ultra team and tri team started to mesh in a really fun way. Went camping one weekend in sub 15 degree temps--a first really cold weather camp for me. Great run that next morning trying to warm up with Dmack and Darren. Signed up for Bighorn 100.

Started logging consistent workouts, mostly on T/R/Sun. Started to see some drastic improvement in speed and 10k times only after a couple of weeks. Won Mt. Cheaha 50k in Alabama which I didn't taper for. Put zero pressure on myself for the race and it went super well. I think racing this close since a good down/rest period made me have plentiful endorphins and adrenaline to succeed here. Darren & I ran most of the race together quite quickly which showed us that we can run all 30whatever miles fast. The trip in general was just spectacular with good weather, good friends, and good running. Continued to camp a couple times this month. Skipped crewing Holiday Lake due to a cold (I think?).

The big miles started here, perhaps a little too early in the training block. I wanted a consistent high-mileage build for Bighorn, partly due to the fact that you have to run a lot to run a lot and partly because I had the extreme luxury of time. I previously had done a couple of months of high mileage for the Gstone that never was but now felt prepared to do it again and do it well. Continued to road/camp/party lifestyle. I picked up a part time job researching trees for a professor. A highlight was a wine party on Friday night that got a tad rowdy, then waking up at 8am, forcing Danny Luciani out of his bed, literally, and driving down to the Linville Gorge in NC. Weather was great, camping was great, the hiking/running was Type 2 fun, spectacular weekend. I remember being tired here and needed rest, but I went for the camp to keep racking up these east coast experiences while I could.

Ran Terrapin Mtn 50k and placed 2nd in a fast time, faster than I expected. Like Cheaha, Darren & I ran most of the race together. We did about 85% of this semesters training together. Unlike Cheaha, Darren was the one pushing me this whole race. I never felt bad, but I didn't have that extra boost that I had at Cheaha. Definitely because I had been running 90/95 mi/weeks the two beforehand and finished the Terrapin week at 100. No rest = less endorphins and adrenaline. We had a great crowd for Terrapin and it was a great event. That night after the race, the "adventure club" subset of UltraVT hiked up 2000' in our backyard hills on the AT and camped in a shelter with some beers. Cold but fantastic. Woke up and ran 10 miles which was pretty rough but we got it done. Again, great vibes this month.

The week after Terrapin Darren & I fastpacked some AT, putting in 15/30 mi days. Great fun staying active but not specifically running. I love fastpacking for this reason. It's not boring backpacking, but it's not concerned-with-time/HR/effort/etc running. Earlier in the month I did a solo short fastpack in NC Roan Highlands which was cold but fun to do that solo.

The month started with pacing Brett Sherfy at Umstead 100 and being uber inspired by him. The month continued with hitting multiple 100+ mi weeks, including 112 in there. I won a low-competition, hilly, road half marathon after running out of my mind and not really knowing what I was doing going out at 10k pace. That afternoon Glove, Mike Jones & I did a double and saw the sunset from a firetower. Special moment I'll remember. Stayed that weekend at Gloves. The travel continues. Went home the next weekend to see family. The following weekend was Promise Land, a favorite race, and raced hella fast, again with Darren. The vibes were totally on for PL. Looking back I think I adapted to the high mileage to the point that I wasn't as worn down as I was in March. Again, I didn't taper. Wasn't too disappointed at yet another second place finish.

The energy of May is always palpable, but this May was graduation month. Everyone was trying to squeeze in as much as possible, social-wise, so it was a great month of friends and parties that I'll always remember. One Saturday Mike Jones & I picked up a thru hiker and threw a party for him. On the running front, no May races, just really dialing in on the training and throwing down some really good Sunday day-after-long-run medium-distance tempos (usually 10 miles, thanks to Glove). My T/R workouts had faded a little bit, but Sunday was always there and Darren and I had been doubling most mornings. Late April/early May had a few memorable rainy easy morning runs that were oddly peacefully entertaining. Everything was meshing athletically and socially.

The vibes continued, but the golden age all came to a close in the middle of the month upon graduation. All the sudden BAM your daily life is gone. No more walking over to best-friend's houses on a Tuesday evening for a beer and movie, no more Saturday blackout parties or Wednesday bars, no more always being around everyone your age. I'll leave it at that as I could get a hella lot sentimental.

The end of May I found myself in Colorado with Darren & Glove.

June was the simplest month I've ever had in my post-high school life.  Living with D&G out of our cars or in Darren's backyard, our daily schedule was thus: eat, run, eat, read, nap, eat, read, run, eat, read, sleep. That is basically all we ever did. It was as fabulous as the Colorado mountains themselves. The training took a sharp turn obviously as dictated by the terrain, specifically when we spent the majority of our time in the unpopulated Sangre de Christo range. I strained my quad with 10 days of hard training left which really put a damper on my mind, but it eventually worked out. Life was simple, and we were living it. Put in a 28/35/28 mi long runs on consecutive weekends somewhere in there. I remember after running 28 up/down Pikes Peak, Darren and I ran a low 00:38 10k on a gravel path the next morning. That was wild.

Camped for a week and a half in the Bighorn Natl Forest by myself preparing for the race. Probably overkill, but it's fun to camp alone every once n awhile. The taper was hilarious as I had NOTHING to do in the forest besides read. One day it snowed and I spent 22/24 hours in my tent. I was sleeping around 12 hours a day, basically just napping all day long.

Ran an interesting Bighorn 100.

Crewed Glove at WS100 and spent some more time in California. The week inbtwn Bighorn & States was one of the greatest weeks. My best friend & roommate Wyatt Lowdermilk & I were just road tripping together, doing whatever we wanted spontaneously. Rodeo, saloon, ice cream, a makeshift game of pinecone bocci ball, accidentally running 12 miles instead of 6 after missing a turn in Tahoe National Forest, you name it. The week was abysmal for Bighorn recovery, sitting in a car most the time, but whatever.

Next Review will be at the end of December. Who knows what I'll be up to? Working for sure. I'm currently living in California working as an arborist. The transition is taking a bit of time to adjust to, but I'm getting there. I no longer have the will/time to put in 80+ mile weeks, and I'm currently ok with that. Having a new job is a fun new challenge in a totally different way and I honestly don't think about running when I'm at work. I'll probably write a blog on work/life/rest soon. I by no means have conquered distance running, but I'm such a newbie at the practical-arborist duties that the new challenge is more intriguing than running currently. The trails here are sweet. It is indeed TRAIL running, not mountain or technical running. 6/7 runs/week have been solo as I've yet to find folks my age, but the time will come, I'm attempting new things and trying to be patient with the transition phase. Cheers friends.

California Love

3 mis from my apt, Tam in the background

Play, not at work

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