Friday, January 9, 2015

Changing Plans

Over the past few months, I've been dealing with a dilemma:  my two main goals for 2015 conflicted with each other.  One was to run the Appalachian Trail and try for the unsupported women's record, while the other was to try to improve my speed at the marathon to 50 mile distance.  Unfortunately 75ish days of plodding along with a backpack on the AT is not conducive to getting faster, not to mention the potential for a long recovery time afterwards where I might not be able to run properly.  After going back and forth on the issue for what seemed like ages, I finally came up with a plan:  to do the AT but to do it just after my summer goal race, when I'd need to take some time off proper training anyway, and to do it as comfortably as possible to minimize recovery time.

That sounded like the perfect solution...until my boss said no to the idea of unpaid leave, on the basis that the office is currently too understaffed to lose someone for that long.  Since I'm a person who likes to find a way to solve problems, the obvious course of action would have been to think about changing jobs, leaving a gap between the jobs as the time for the AT.  I'm not ready to do that though, for two reasons--one, I love my job, and two, with the doubts I had about whether or not to even do the AT, it's not worth it, at least not yet.  If I still want to do the AT in a few years and still haven't been able to get unpaid time off, maybe it will be time to think about other job options.

For now though, I'm happy to switch focus to the "getting faster" goal and try to get in another solid year of uninterrupted training.  I've never had a full year of uninterrupted training, let alone two--there have always been months off for Arrowhead training, climbing, illness, or injury.  My 2015 race calendar is looking pretty exciting so far:  I've got a half marathon in March, the Lake Sonoma 50 mile in April, the Quest for the Crest 50k in late May, and the White River 50 mile in late July.  After that my schedule is wide open; I just need to figure out what the best use of all that time is...

Friday, January 2, 2015


2014 has quite possibly been the best year of my life so I'm a bit loathe to see the year end.

Before this past year, it had been virtually impossible for any year to live up to the gold standard of the 2005-2006 school year:  during that year I lived in Leeds, a place which fit me so well that it still feels like home, I shared a house with a good friend and had many other good friends living nearby, and almost every day I took advantage of the perfect climbing and running that was on my doorstep.  Since then I've had many good things happen to me but no continuously excellent year like that one.

Until 2014.  All of the following happened over the past 12 months:

  • Divesh and I were able to spend the entire year in our new house in Georgia, free from weekly commuting, the long harsh Midwestern winter (mostly...), and the intense DIY period of the first few months after we bought the house
  • All but one of my races went well, with Arrowhead especially being one of the best races I've ever had
  • I was able to make longer visits to the UK and Duluth, keeping the visits to friends and family from being quite as rushed as they normally are (though I was admittedly still guilty of trying to pack too much in on several occasions)
  • Maria and I had a fantastic trip to the Balkans, which became one of my favorite places I've ever visited
  • My running fitness steadily progressed throughout the year, ending with a "growth spurt" of improvement just before JFK
and finally...

  • in the last two months of the year I've been on a sudden climbing upswing, thoroughly enjoying it and finally getting back to the level I was at before I quit climbing on any kind of regular basis back in 2009.  

The only real hitch to the year was a potentially serious Achilles/calf injury back in April, but with the help of a radiologist friend, I got on the path to rehab quickly and was only out for about 4 weeks.

I'll start 2015 remembering how lucky I've been the past 12 months and do what I can to continue everything that was good about 2014.

Divesh and I watched the last sunset of 2014 from the top of Coosa Bald, then camped and started off 2015 with a run on the Duncan Ridge Trail.  So far I'm liking this new year...