Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year

The year 2010 has come and gone. It's been a good year. It's been a great year actually. I checked one thing off my goal/bucket list, which was climbing Mt. Rainier. Christine and I had both planned individual trips early in 2010 and this was mine. Christine enjoyed a girls wine tasting trip to Sonoma Valley California with a couple of close friends.

We also were able to take an international vacation in 2010. Soon after Christine and I got married, we discussed plans, needs, goals, etc. One of the many goals we had was to travel. We hadn't had the opportunity to travel internationally and we wanted to take advantage if at all possible. We decided to try and plan one international trip each year. This past year, we decided to stick with the western hemisphere and also a Spanish speaking country. After reading books and doing a little research, we decided on Peru, specifically the Sacred Valley. It was a great place to experience.

As for exercise, running (specifically trail running) would sum up my year. I've had stints of running over the years, but nothing I would consider to be neither consistent nor enjoyable. I would say I began to run semi-consistently in 2009, although I mixed in biking, hiking, skiing, etc. This time last year, I set a plan to climb Rainier and that gave me the encouragement I needed to make trail running my number one fitness activity. As Rainier came and went, I found that running was more than a means to climb a mountain. It had grown to be something I truly enjoyed. A means of getting outside and experiencing nature while exerting myself. I also loved the simplicity of running, which I've mentioned in a number of previous posts.

So as I look forward to the new year, I find myself setting goals associated with running, rather than using running to gain a fitness edge on some other activity. That said, here are a few things I'm planning, scheduling, and letting percolate.

A couple local runs that I want to tackle in the coming year:
  • Boulder Skyline Traverse - I had thought of this run a lot driving from Longmont to Boulder, but it wasn't until this guy wrote about it that I really wanted to add it to my resume.
  • Longs Peak - The first 14er I climbed after I moved to Colorado was Longs Peak. I was at a party in Boulder in 2005. When I left to drive back to Longmont, the idea of climbing Longs randomly came to mind. So, instead of driving home, I drove to the Longs Peak Trailhead, and did an impromptu car-camp. Around 3 AM, I keep getting disturbed by folks already heading up the trail. By 4 AM, I was up, packed and putting one foot in front of the other. When I arrived at the Keyhole, wind speeds were excessive and most everyone was turning back. I decided to press on and I'm so glad I did. Although, as I was headed up the trough, decked out in hiking pants, hiking boots, fleece, and a shell, this guy blazed past me, hopping from rock to rock and running up the mountain. Before my encounter, I felt like I was flying up the mountain. I think I may have moved a couple hundred vertical feet and this same guy, having already summitted, was flying down. He did give me a little encouragement as he passed. From that day, I've been determined to not only hike it, but actually make a proper go at running it. I was having a pretty good day on Longs this year, but I was turned back due to weather. I've also read a couple trip reports of local folks running it like this guy. I feel confident this is the year for a solid day of running Longs.

Ok, here are a few races that I'm tentatively planning:
  • The MARATHON! I've never ran a marathon before and it's been something on my bucket list, although I've done a good job at avoiding it. I did a Half Ironman in 2006 and toyed with running a marathon later that summer, but running was my least favorite part of training for the tri. It wasn't until I got to know my Father-In-Law that I really wanted to take running seriously. He has been a runner most of his life, having ran Boston three times and having a PR of (I think) 2:47. Hearing him share stories of racing and training and even seeing how exercising and being healthy has effected my wife, in large part, because of his running has made me want to carry on that tradition. So, what marathon you might ask. Well, I was somewhat setting my mind on the Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins, but it filled up rather quickly. So, with the help of Christine it looks like it's the Steamboat Marathon on June 5. It should be a nice course and make for a good weekend away for Christine and I. I feel that I've established a solid base for running and should be well prepared in the next 5 months.
  • The Ultra-Marathon - To my knowledge, the definition of an ultra is anything longer than a traditional marathon (i.e. anything longer than 26.2188 miles). Even though I've been pounding the pavement as much as the trails, my heart belongs in the hills. The short days of the winter season somewhat force me to spend time on the roads and sidewalks, and knowing that a road marathon is in my future, this is probably a good thing. Although, another open box on the bucket list sits beside trail-ultra-marathon. So, I'm looking for a scenic, runnable, 50k in mid to late summer. Right now, I'm thinking about the North Fork 50k in July.
Other running related goals that are on the periphery:
  • Keeping better training logs. I broke down and bought a decent watch with GPS. I plan to maintain a better log, with times, distances, heart rate, and vertical feet gained. I also plan to make comments on each of my runs, documenting things such as energy level, aches, tension, etc. I also want to incorporate logging my fuel intake throughout the day. Hopefully that will help me identify, simply what works and what doesn't.
  • Listen to my body. If I'm feeling good, I want to go for it. But, if my body is telling me otherwise, I want to listen. To hear someone like Anton say that he doesn't want to do anything today that may keep him from making running something he does for a lifetime....that encourages me to listen to my body.
  • Strength training. This is something Christine has continually told me I need to focus more on, mainly because she doesn't want me to have an injury. I'm coming to literally see this need, as my weight has dropped significantly. I'm 6'0" and my weight peaked at 187 lbs after I graduated college. When I did my half ironman in 2006, I was around 165ish. I'm now hovering around 150 and feel that my upper body strength has went downhill. I'm hoping to mix things up with a solid strength training session once per week, morning sit-up/push-up sets and a private Pilates lesson when time permits......I have an "in" with the best teacher in Colorado (my personal opinion of course).
  • Balance. No doubt this is an area that everyone struggles to maintain. More than anything, I want to ensure that my wife knows she's the most important part of my life. I want to continue running with her regularly. I also want to schedule my running, as much as I can, to give us ample time to connect and enjoy time together.

There are a lot of other goals I have for 2011, but I won't bore anyone with those details. I'm looking forward to an exciting and challenging year.

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