Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Year In Review

I wasn't going to do a year in review for 2016 for many of the reasons that will follow. But, it has become tradition and I enjoy looking back on my blog for personal reflection. There is a good chance that 2016 will be viewed as my climactic year in running. I hit several big goals: I ran a Boston qualifying marathon and ran probably my best 100 miler at Wasatch 100. However, I spent a good chunk of the year dealing with nagging injuries and losing motivation. How many years can I continue to focus this much on running? And, what do I really know about training? Running 2500 miles a year is pretty extreme, a fact we often lose sight of when we surround ourselves by like-minded runners. Is it necessary? I doubt it. I truly believe LCHF transformed my ultra running more than any training cycle did.

Perhaps my greatest day in 2016 was October 28th, my fortieth birthday. Knowing we'd had a mild few months, I asked my wife to climb Grays Peak with me to watch the sunrise. It required that we get up at 3:30 am and be at the trail about 5 am. It was the first time I've been the first one in the parking lot at a 14er! It was quite invigorating to be out on that trail in the pitch black (and with traction) and sharing the experience with my wife. She's not an ultra runner, so it definitely qualifies as one of the craziest things she's done in fitness. It was a blessed day and I am lucky to have a spouse fit enough and crazy enough to do something like that.
We didn't quite summit before sunrise, but this view was pretty awesome.
So cool to ascend to over 13,000 feet and look back at the valley we traversed in the dark.

Two pretty good views in that photo. Had it not been so cold, I would have stayed up there hours.
A fun collage from the day.

As for my races, it is really hard to pick my favorite. They were all great. In fact, I've been on an incredible run since knee surgery in 2013. A fortunate and blessed streak of great years. I would give a slight edge to Wasatch 100 as my favorite for two reasons. First, I was joined by some great friends and my sister. I love the team/social aspect to those events. I cherish the memories I make with my friends. Words cannot describe how deep my sister got me to dig those last 8 miles. It is something I'll remember forever. I cried. I prayed. I hurt all over.  It was worth it. Second, I think it was my latest evolution in really getting what it means to compete in one of these events. Western States was the first time I demonstrated the grit and mental toughness to run a good one hundred. But this year was the first time I added to that the gratitude to truly enjoy it and share it with others. And, I believe gratitude allowed me to run to my best.

My big sister, crew member and pacer extraordinaire

The memories, the friends.  Those are the things that last, races come and go.

In terms of achievements, Colorado Marathon may have been my biggest conquest in 2016. Having not run a marathon in four years, and doing very little pace work along the way, I wasn't sure I could do it. I trained my heart out, literally leaving everything I had out there. In fact, I spent the rest of the year feeling the impact. Once again, it was worth it. I exhibited faith in myself and just went after it. I caught the perfect day to run and made it count. My splits were near perfect the whole way. There were a few moments of doubt, but I conquered them all. As a bonus, I had my good friend Chuck running along side me the whole way. I have nothing left to give the marathon distance. But I am going to Boston to celebrate.

It is really hard to count North Fork 50k as a "throw in" -- I did finish 4th overall -- but that is kind of the way it worked out. I signed up as a "training run" and to fill the big void between Colorado Marathon and Wasatch 100. On race day, I decided to get after it and it also went perfectly. I love that race and may one day go back.

This is just running! There are so many countless awesome things that happened in 2016... family vacations to Utah for Christmas, Puerto Vallarta for summer break, I bought a smoker, I climbed 10 mountains, I started really reading again, the Broncos won the Super Bowl, and countless amazing conversations with family and friends. What a year!

As I eluded to in previous posts, I am starting to see a different focus as I approach my next decade of life. Somewhere along the line I decided my 30s was the decade to get physically fit. I think my 40s is a time to get spiritually fit. Running is a huge part of who I am and has taken me amazing places. I still plan to run and compete (hopefully well), but it feels like time to pursue a life bigger than running.

No comments:

Post a Comment