Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Studying the Past; Defining the Future

Life can only be understood backwards,  but it must be lived forwards.

One of my wish-it-could-happen-but-never-will-so-don't-get-your-hopes-up goals for 2014 is to be more efficient, and I thought I would jump right in with an efficient blog post combining a look back at 2013 with a look ahead to 2014. Some people say efficiency is just another word for laziness, but other people say "work smarter, not harder." Besides, if I don't combine the posts, at the rate I'm going, you won't hear about my 2014 goals until 2015.

If I were a coach talking about a team, I'd say 2013 was a rebuilding year. Of course, we all know what that's code for.

I had some mysterious health problems and not a lot of focused training. It was not a spectacular year of racing. I was explaining this to a friend when my husband interrupted.

"Didn't you run a marathon PR this year?"

Uh ... oh yeah.

It's a good thing I have someone in my life to help me keep perspective.

So with that, here are some of the highlights (both good and bad) of 2013:

Eugene Marathon

The week before this seemingly miraculous PR, I also ran a course PR at the Escape From Prison Hill half marathon - a race I've run probably five or six times. So the takeaway - apparently I was in good speed shape. I managed a 3:11 marathon (an 8 minute PR) on pretty low-mileage training. Three cheers for track intervals! Not only did I feel awesome throughout the race, but I got to spend a beautiful weekend with my dear friend, Charlie. Also interesting: the highlight of my year running-wise came only three months in. It was so long ago, no wonder I forgot it happened in 2013!

Red-faced, happy 3:11 marathoner!

Spring and Summer Races and Adventure Runs

I followed up Eugene with another year at Reno's awesome Silver State 50K. There was plenty that bore mentioning about that race, like sharing several enjoyable miles with the lovely Katie Trent (who, by the way, blew by me in the last 5 miles to kick my butt!), and teaming up with another woman to push each other on the final 10 miles of downhill. However, among other ways that I was a slacker, I didn't do a lot of blogging this year, so no race report.

I didn't write a report for Utah's Squaw Peak 50M either. Nonetheless, it was a highlight because it was my first race in Utah, my first time in the Wasatch, and a perfect destination race to enjoy with my best friend. In fact, Jamie and I ended up running most of that race together, which is another reason it makes the highlight reel. In addition to being a challenging and beautiful race, I also experienced probably the best aid station treat I'd ever had at the first aid station - pigs in a blanket with fresh cooked pancakes and sausages doused in maple syrup. Oh my God. So. Good.

This year at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50M did not disappoint, of course. Heat, friends, and a mad finishing dash for a Western States qualifier. An excellent day, followed by a night of aid station volunteering for the 100 mile runners. I did manage to put together a race report for this one!

The Summer of Joy

This was the first summer in 10 years as a teacher that I did not pick up a summer job. The plan was to spend as much time with family as possible, and boy did we! My sister took to calling it the Summer of Joy, and it was awesome. A week in Yosemite, a week at the beach in Monterey, a week visiting family in Seattle, a trip to Minnesota for Andrew's HS reunion, and another week in SoCal. Whew! My only complaint is that it all went by too fast.

Laura, me, Jamie, at Mirror Lake, Yosemite.

High country long run with Jamie in Yosemite. I swear the twin outfits were not planned!!

Gettin' high on Yosemite granite with my sweetie.

Road ride along Monterey Bay.

Brugman Family Jam at the beach house.

Kite flying available here, all week long.

Surf's up! Sis and I head for some beginner breaks. 

Kayaking the Elkhorn Slough. So much fun with up close encounters with playful sea otters!

Birdwatching beachside with sis.

Family portrait at the beach house.

Ian and me playing wave tag. Best game ever! The goal was not to get wet, but we figured out it was way more fun if we just let the wave get us.

Campfire on the beach!

Campfire in the backyard! (In Truckee)

Road trip! Truckee -->Seattle

Seattle! (You can tell because it's raining.)

Family reunion in Seattle. That's a lot of Brugmans!

Seattle -->Truckee. Dad flew us home, so no road trip this time.

Shakespeare on the lake, Tahoe. An excellent version of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Truckee Thursdays!

High school reunion, Edina, MN.

The Year of Living Painfully

If the best part of last year was the Summer of Joy, it was countered by the worst part: a continuation of the mysterious abdominal pain that has plagued me periodically since just before Hardrock in 2012. I learned a lot of things this year, even if the answer to my problem still eludes me. I learned a ton about nutrition, a little about alternative medicine, and more than I ever wanted to know about the digestive system. I also learned how important it is to have good health insurance. Thank goodness mine is good!

The long and the short of the story is that we are still monitoring the situation and are without any definitive answers, although a lot of things have been ruled out. I spent a lot of time getting tests - blood tests, upper endoscopy, ultrasound, more blood tests, another ultrasound. Probably more blood tests; I can't remember. I met my deductible and my out of pocket maximum on my insurance. Fun stuff. Then I finished off the year with surgery to remove a fibroma from my abdominal wall. Super fun.

But! I feel fine at the moment, even though I'm pretty sure my problem isn't solved. I'm running well and just appreciating each pain free day as it comes.

Looking ahead to 2014 -

It's funny how the ultra season seems so far away, and then, in the first couple weeks of December, your calendar is suddenly packed. In spite of some lingering health questions, I was still anxious to get back on the 100 mile horse. I made it through the lottery for San Diego 100, and the rest of my races fell in line nicely to lead up to it. Here's what I've got on the schedule:

Way Too Cool 50K (March 8th)
Lake Sonoma 50M (April 12th)
Miner's Revenge 26M (April 27th)
San Diego 100 (June 7)
TRT 50M (July 19)

And of course, I'll probably do the Silver State 50M to help with San Diego training, but I want to wait until all the Ultrasignup charges fade from my husband's mind before throwing another one on the credit card. December is tough on the pocket book, man!

Although I feel a bit more serious about my racing than I did last year, I'm still trying to keep my overall goals focused on other things - taking care of my health, spending time with family, and appreciating every day, even when I don't accomplish all the things I'd like.

That last one is a nod to my lack of creative outlets in 2013. I didn't write much, I only played guitar when my sister was around, and I didn't knit a single stitch. I simply had to re-prioritize a lot of the time, but the truth is, those creative outlets really help me. They help keep me from feeling frustrated and anxious. They help me focus. They fulfill some of the same job that running does for me. They make me happy! So I'm planning to do a bit more of those things in 2014, even if it's just a tiny bit, and to still appreciate and enjoy the days when I can't find the time.

I hope to see many of you out there at races. I'll be volunteering and cheering at the local races I'm not running (except TRT, where, of course, I'll be doing both), so please look for me out there, and tell me how your year is going!

Happy 2014, everyone!