Thursday, January 9, 2014

The year.

Really, I just didn’t want everyone to get sick of reading New Year’s resolutions...nah, I’m just a bit behind.  Nine days late, but better than never?  So, about that last year.  2013 brought a lot with it.  I spent it with some of the most amazing and inspiring people, a blend of friends, teammates, and family, who taught me that the experiences and relationships that come with life are the most important things we can have.  We traveled to some incredible places, (Phoenix, San Diego, New Orleans, Tempe, Boston, Maine, Minnesota, St. Louis, Denver, Oregon, Seattle, Vancouver, Nashville, New York, Chicago, New Mexico), raced some exceptional races, and had a hell of a time doing it.  I embraced New Mexico, for its’ beauty and its’ quirks, its’ proud people and its’ transplants that love it for sunsets and green chile, art and the terrible way people drive.  It is an unrecognized heaven.  I ran three thousand, nine hundred, and twenty-five miles over twelve months.  Even with time off from an injury, no running.  Basically, I could have run from my hometown in York, Maine, to San Diego, CA, then up the coast of California to Oregon (one day, I’ll do it all at once.  One day.  Google Gary Allen.  He’s my hero).  That’s a lot of time on the roads, both solo and more importantly, with athletes from all over the world.  Tuesdays mornings will never be the same, looking back to some of those workouts up at Academy track, with athletes from the US, Japan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Korea.  
I’m blessed to know such people, elite athletes none the less.  Indescribable gratitude I send out to my sponsors, Saucony, Nuttzo, and Nuun.  I don’t know what I’d do without you!  I watched the Dukes Track Club grow, in numbers and in spirit.  With many new additions for the women and the men, we were able to race, score, and not be last, at USATF Club X-C Nationals.  And stand out at the Picky (Sticky) Party.  We will all go back next year, to Pennsylvania for the race, but more for the party.  With racing came a lot of excitements and disappointments.  I ran close to my marathon PR at Boston, and truly loved every minute of the race, with a finish of epic proportions.  We experienced the madness and sadness that ensued afterwards, and I will say that the only positive thing that came from that was witnessing the support and love that runners, and even non-runners, have for one another.  Boston will always have a special place in my heart.  I ran some fast races, some slow races, won some, lost some, got in the best shape of my life and the healthiest, and watched it all crumble quickly underneath me as stress, lack of sleep, anemia, and thyroid issues ripped me apart.  Through that, I was able to recognize even more pieces of the puzzle that had fallen to the floor, and put them back together, albeit slowly.  How do you deal with stress?  Well, much of my stress stemmed from my job, in that I was working many hours in something I wasn’t fully passionate about, on little sleep and an intense training schedule.  All those amazing trips, yeah, the downfall was a lot of time traveling meant a lot of time on airplanes and living out of a suitcase.  So what happened?  I pulled out of my goal race, Twin Cities marathon, a week beforehand, watched from the sidelines, and took a break from running.  I take iron supplements, I see wonderful medical providers and sports folk (massage, nutrition, psychology), I get everything in check.  I rediscover the reasons I love this sport.  And...I find a new job.  Rather, it finds me.  At the perfect time that I could have asked for it.  When I just happened to be in Minneapolis for a marathon that I wasn’t able to run.  Divine intervention?  I guess we will find out in 2014.  

Here I sit alone at my new favorite restaurant of the day (yesterday it was Thai, the day before it was the half priced wine place, what does tomorrow hold?  Suggestions?).  Drinking my fancy pants almond milk latte with a pretentious gluten-free kale caesar salmon salad, pretending to be a writer and looking into the future that is 2014.  What do I see?  Well, a new home.  With the help of an ever amazing best friend as fabulous road trip company (and tortilla chips), I relocated to Minnesota on January 2nd.  This is the place where people LOVE happy hour, springtime, boats, dogs, bike paths, and microbreweries.  At least that’s what I’ve learned so far.  I think there’s more to it though.  With a new home comes a new job, one that I feel strongly will fit my focus and passion of my profession very well.  I feel strongly that what I do with my career should make me happy, it’s reality and I face it every day.  There are people that don’t feel the same, that work is just work, but to each their own.  Knowing that this new opportunity reignites this little spark in my heart, that’s exciting.  Community health has long been a passion of mine, and I have the residency program in New Mexico to thank for a strong foundation in this.  Also with a new home comes new friends (I hope!)  People here are kind, and I look forward to meeting more of them on a level that is above just in passing.  It’s hard to make friends in your adult life!  To break down those barriers of “how about this cold” and “what do you do for work,” it is really a challenge.  I was lucky that our recent trip to Club Nats allowed me the opportunity to meet a huge lot of Minnesota runners, all of them inviting and fun.  So then, running in 2014...I’ve been on the treadmill more than a little, but I did also happen to move to MN on the coldest day since 1884.  Yeah, a windchill of negative sixty isn’t conducive to being outdoors, since “exposed skin will freeze in five minutes or less,” according to the Weather Channel.  But the good news, getting involved with Netflix (New Girl and Orange is the New Black), my car still starts, the heat in my apartment works well, and it’s supposed to be forty degrees in a few days.  Nervous and excited to meet some new running companions this weekend.  As for running focus?  I hope to continue to proudly represent for my sponsors, spreading the word about fabulous products and gear.  And well, the main "idea" for the last six years has been to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials in the marathon.  I mean, 6:13 mile splits and an overall time of 2:43?  Yeah, that’s challenging.  The field will be a lot smaller from 2012, when the qualifier was 2:47.  But hell, dream big right?  If other people can do it, why can’t you do it too?  Why should they dream bigger than you?  Just put in the work everyday.  There are a lot of little benchmarks to hit, a lot of smaller and fun races along the way.  2013 provided a lot of building blocks and hurdles.  Injury, internally and externally, strength imbalances, setbacks, missed goals and opportunities, nutrition regulation, sleep deprivation.  But I’m still running.  What will 2014 bring?  All this knowledge from 2013 will make 2014 amazing.  Beyond amazing, not just for me but for all the people that I care about and love so much, because this is our year for success.  Just keep believing!  That’s a goal in itself, being positive everyday.  With athletics, relationships, work, little stupid stuff.  I can have a short fuse, and I need to not hate myself for 45 minutes because I trip and fall over air and cut up my hands, or the birthday card I sent three weeks ago gets returned because I didn’t put a stamp on it (sorry!)  I need to better appreciate the people in my life, and tell them how important they are to me.  Saying I love you has always been hard for me, not because I don’t feel it but because those are strong words.  Important, meaningful ones.  Taking risks, not over-thinking things, being less of a hoarder, not losing my to-do list, and just DOING the things that I know are important (like an oil change, sleeping, and sending wedding gifts on time...again sorry!)  I need to be a better friend and a better communicator.  And I need to appreciate all that I have, family, friends, health.  Because really, I’m fucking lucky.  

Life is definitely different now.  I don’t have the physical companionship I had one week ago, through friends and their families, their puppies, and even an physical environment that is familiar.  I keep waking up and forgetting where I am.  I have a lot I get to relearn.  Little things, like, what time do you pay the meters till?  Where is the nearest dollar store?  What night is half priced wine night again?  Who has the cheapest vegetables?  What’s your name again (names are HARD)?  Can I run outside without Yak Traks or am I going to fall on my ass?  I forgot what snow looked like, really.  But with all change comes new adventure, and we sure have a lot planned already.  I am thrilled to be in a new place, where I can develop some new relationships, and still know that I always have a home, and a family, in New Mexico.  Here’s to 2014, being all that it can be.