Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review of 2012's Big Events and Expectations for 2013

The last three years have been focused for the most part on running and completing the trek to Auburn via the Western States Trail. I fortunately wrapped up almost all my running goals and a couple of life goals in a pretty little bow this year, completed, done.....finished! Though not all of those goals/events have been related to running, I can say running has helped me either achieve them, or find my way through them all. Consequently my heavy focus on running has led to delaying action on other parts of my life that needed tending to. 

My personal, professional and athletic components of my life are in need of a better balance. This next year I want to concentrate on my life as a whole not just a single part. I've spent the better part of the last couple months delving deep into my soul and my brain to try to figure out what, if anything, is missing from my life. The answer.....goals. I'm goal oriented, I need something to strive for in order to make sense of my life. I've realized over the last three years I have lacked clear and concise professional and personal goals, to go along with my athletic goals. 

I intend on attacking every aspect of my life that I currently deem unacceptable and replacing it with something I am either passionate about or that increases my happiness. I have come to realize I'm pretty darn happy with a pair of shoes and a route to run, my four legged children and my gal by my side. At one time I felt I needed a lot of "things" to be happy. I now believe I felt that way because I lacked some fundamental components in my life and I used those materialistic things to fill the void. I've made a list of what I do not like in my life, and I've started taking steps to cross the first one off the list. I suspect come this time next year, my life is going to be drastically different, in all areas.

I'm still going to toe the line at races, and I intend on running the TRT100 as long as I can train properly for it. I want to give back to the running community that has given me so much over the last few years. I'd like to share my knowledge as well as spend more time volunteering with races, clubs and helping anyone who wants to run. I've wanted to organize a hill climb up Peavine mountain on a certain route that is sure to bring even the most fit to their knees and I want to give Reno a taste of the classic "Beer Mile" with a little BDey twist. However, next year I'm going to minor in running, next year is all about change. I do not like change, but if running has taught me anything it is that you need to get a little uncomfortable to figure out how great you can be, I've spent the last decade being comfortable. It is time to take some calculated risks, and see where things fall.

I've had an amazing year in 2012. Most that know me would probably say that finally running and finishing Western States was the highlight of the year, but in reality it pales in comparison to two other events. Without those two events occurring, I would not have the courage to make the changes I intend on making in 2013.

#1....I got over my fear of commitment in one key area. I actually made the move to ask my long time girlfriend to marry me. For reasons that go all the way back to childhood I have had marriage issues. My parents were divorced and it was ugly, it got to the point I really did not want to be with or around either of them. 

Fortunately for me she said yes! I'm positive that one word answer and the journey to get there, has helped me more than she will ever understand. That answer, for what ever reason, validated me. While the thought of such a long term commitment scares the heck out of me, at the same time, I now realize that this commitment has brought with it a partner to share in both my successes and failures. I'm not going at life alone anymore. Coming from someone who genuinely likes to be alone and to do things by himself, this has been an unexpected revelation. Since 10/01/05 when we became official, I've had the best partner I could have ever imagined. She makes me a better person, she's changed my outlook on life, and she’s taught me to stop and smell the roses rather than be so completely focused on the goal or directive I'm obsessing about at that moment. She's taught me to travel and to take things (especially myself) not so seriously. Taught me that I will never be perfect no matter how hard I try, so perhaps a new barometer for success is needed. Most of all, she has stood by me through all that I've been through for so long. She's never tried to change me, she's never asked for anything other than what I could give. I simply can not imagine my life without her. I'm usually an early adopter...but damn it took me a long time to figure out the riches I had beside me the whole time. 
We said our vows to each other at the same place we met in 2005. Not a real wedding in the strictest sense, but it was to us. 

#2....My mom finally took her life back. My mom had been a chain smoker for close to 60 years. Most of my memories of her have a cigarette in her hand. 3 days before Western States I got a call no child wants to ever get. Unfortunately, I've gotten that same call so many times for the last decade. This one was different though, the end was truly near. My mom was dying, she'd been dying for years and to cope with it I made the decision to be ambivalent about it. We all knew that smoking was the culprit, but I chose to stand idly by, while it killed her. I rationalized it in my mind, that it's her decision to smoke and I'll support her if it is what she wants to do. Right or wrong, that was what I did. That call upset me greatly; I was a wreck, to the point I considered scrapping my Western States run in only 3 days and taking a plane to St George to go see her. 

Obviously, I did not make that decision. It was an act of selfishness, that to this day, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I like to think that some of my running and the struggles I have had getting to the WS start line, my ability to never accept circumstances and to make my own way despite what I may have been told by the "experts" helped my mom realize she that she too had power. The power to quit smoking. 

Since that phone call, my mom has not had a single smoke. Of all my accomplishments, none of them compare to what she has done in taking her life back and quitting smoking. In the last 6 months I have seen her turn into the woman I remember from my childhood, but now, without the cigarette. I recently had the chance to spend her birthday with her and it was the best week I've had with her in my adult life. She’s motivated, happy and healthy. She's my mom again. I'm not sure what role I really played in her journey, or what role I'll play going forward, but I've been given some extra time on this earth with her and I'm not about to take it for-granted. My mom has taught me through this experience that it is never too late to make a change, and the longer you wait to make it, the more time you lose. Life is simply too short to waste time accepting undesirable circumstances that you have the power to change yourself.
My mom going for a hike at 8700 feet, it was tough for her but she did great.
#3....I finally made it to Western States, I ran it and finished. I've always dreamed of a sub 24 hour finish on the track in Auburn. I still dream of it, but sitting on the lawn inside the track with so many friends around me sharing in my accomplishment, I realized how great things were. It may be a fault, but I'm a perfectionist, I can not run from that, excuse the pun. I'll always look at what could have been done better, for any task. On this day though, I was content, I really had all that I needed. Of course sitting on the couch 24 hours later I was already making changes to my plan for the next one. I have a Western States binder, 2 inches of strategy, course data and all the information I can find on the race. The pursuit of perfection is ingrained into me. I have, however, learned that there are many ways to measure success and I am very proud of the effort I put forth on that day and my training leading up to it. I'll be back someday and I will go sub 24. For now though, I'm content to be a part of the event that is the Western States Endurance Run, in any capacity I can. I've spent so many years thinking about Western States, my journey to get there has been so cathartic, that I want to keep it in my life. The culture of the event breeds awesomeness. I can say for certain, once you experience it, you realize you are capable of much more than you thought. While that thought may not be a pleasurable experience, it will change you and how you view what you do.

Super Awesome with a side of Tu-Tu!
Running, rather my pursuit of finishing that run from Squaw to Auburn has shown me how to improve my life, not just my time in an event. You push hard, let yourself regress while you build back up the strength to push past that previous limit again. Repeat this over and over like the waves in the ocean. Eventually you look back and realize the gains that have been made.

In the last year I've come to realize how good I have it, how far I have come and of course, how far I have to go. For now though I'm content knowing I'm able...  to do anything I wish, to run to my hearts content, to do what I've always dreamed of, to love, to be loved, to sort through my problems, to take care of, to be taken care of, to learn, to motivate, to lead, to follow, to succeed and most importantly to fail. A lot of those things I was incapable of doing just 12 months ago. 12 months from now I hope to be better at all of those things and maybe add a couple new one's to the list.

As the New Year approaches, you owe it to yourself to find one of the many things you've been putting off for so long and take the steps to make it happen. I promise, this time next year, you'll be happy you did. Call it a resolution, a goal or a mid life crisis, but act on it. It may not turn out as you envisioned, but you'll be proud of journey and all that came from it. Break it into small steps, start with a plan and execute it. You are going to fail at some point, but you have the power to get back up and fix the failings. It's at that point the goal becomes a reality. I'm convinced, if you are committed enough to fail and get back up to try again, you are committed enough to succeed. You will get there, it is just a matter of time and considerable effort. 

She said yes! Feb 14th
1600 miles run
197,415 feet climbed
Average pace of 4.4 MPH
W.S. 27h19m15s