Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year In Review

Wow, a Year End post can take so many different directions. Like many runners, I tend to focus on the stats and the work that I accumulate over the year.  (It really is impressive what a person can accomplish if they apply consistency and discipline to anything in their life...) I'll get to the stats, but I think I'll start this post with the things I am thankful for:

Health.  Running has always been about getting healthy for me. I've now gone 2 years without an injury that required any meaningful time-off or attention.  I am quite proud of that.  Some of that is due to the slower paced nature of trail ultrarunning -- my focus the past 2 years. But, trail running also comes with tremendous amounts of vertical gain, which can cause injury in excess. In addition to physical health, I am happy with my metabolic health. Two years on LCHF and I have never felt better: I've barely been sick. My blood pressure is lower. I sleep better. I am running better. My body composition is leaner.

Friends. Running has also become a large part of my social life -- how can it not when you devote 12 hours a week to something? I am so thankful for my group of running friends that help to keep me motivated and show up to support me on my crazy adventures. The social aspects of running come with some challenges, like any social circle, but it is a very positive influence in my life overall. Some of the biggest highlights of 2015 were seeing my friends have success -- Chuck destroying Leadville and Jon nailing his first 100. I guess I like to think I had something to do with helping them succeed...

Racing. I enjoy racing as a way to test my limits, test the things I learn and want to implement along the way, and really just to add adventure to my life. 2015 was incredible as far as races go, by far my best year racing trail ultras. Of course, it will always be remembered for Western States, but 8th and 9th place finishes at Javelina and Bear Chase 50k respectively is also an accomplishment I am quite proud of.

Now for some stats.... I finished with PRs in mileage (2852) and vertical gain (300k), both are 10-15% improvements on previous PRs. I don't train to accumulate stats; in fact, I believe in doing the minimum necessary to be prepared for racing. And, I believe in being a complete athlete, which means time in the gym and sometimes pushes running to the back-burner. Nonetheless, this year was a big year in stats, primarily because I raced on both ends of the calendar (D30 in May and Javelina on October/November). Interestingly, I accumulated another 350 miles and 30K of vertical gain walking, mostly with my spoiled dog! I have never tracked that before, so it was kind of fun to see how that turned out.

2016 is still a bit up in the air. I am committed to the Colorado Marathon and actually quite nervous about it. The primary motivation is break out of the ultrarunning mindset a bit and re-develop some of the systems I've neglected by doing so many slow, heart-rate-driven miles. That's exactly what scares me, the unsureness of how quickly those systems can come back. The last time I raced a marathon, I was on a streak of 5 straight marathon PRs. Now I am coming off a 4 year break.

Beyond that, things are very much up in the air. I've struggled to find the motivation to do a 100, but I need to requalify for both Western States and Hardrock. I never thought I'd do Hardrock, but it is slowly emerging as a potential endpoint to this crazy ultrarunning life. I am basically considering every race other than Leadville at this point.

No matter what I do, I am positive it will be fun and full of adventure. Thanks to all of you that were a part of my 2016. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't include my family and say thank you to them for all of their support. Hopefully I contributed something positive to your journey as well.


  1. A great year and another great write up. SO happy to have been a part of Western States with you and to have been a part of some crazy training runs. Congrats on 2015. Let's make 2016 just as exciting if not more.

  2. Awesome wrap for your year! Great to hear your thoughts and insights. You worked so hard and earned the results with huge races. It was fun to watch. I'm proud of you. And many thanks for all your support, encouragement, and coaching me. And it was a blast to run with you at WS and JJ. What a year. Here's to 2016!

  3. Awesome write up AJ. Great year and I am glad it was so successful for you. Nice work!

  4. Great post on all fronts, AJ. Count me among those that have gotten a positive contribution out of knowing you. Your dedication and focus are inspiring, and I'm impressed with how you pay such great attention to being a good athlete by cross training, resting, and eating well (not just racking up miles). I'm taking away a lot to think about in my approach to 2016. All the best to you in the New Year and I hope we get to share some miles along the way.