Sunday, February 8, 2015

Why I Ended My Running Streak

It was Fall 2010, and I was the heaviest I've ever been in my life.  So I started to run.  I made it a quarter mile.  But I went out again the next day.  And I kept trying.  I ran a mile.  I ran 2 miles.

In December 2010, I ran my first 5K.  I was hooked.  I was losing weight.  So I made a vow to run at least one race every month.  I thought it was just going to be for a few months.

4 years later.  56 races later.  A triathlon, 6 half marathons, and a marathon later.  1,000+ miles of running later.  Here I am.

And I am done.

I decided that it was time for me to end my streak.  I struggled making this decision for months, but in the end it was easy.  And here's why.

The streak isn't for me now what it was for me then.

It has evolved over the past 4 years into many different things.

In the beginning, the streak was about one thing - accountability.  I figured that no matter what, once a month I would push myself.  I struggled to run a couple miles, so this was that chance to see if I could do it, and if my race didn't go well, which many of them didn't, it served as the motivation I needed to keep going.

Then, once I started being able to run 3+ miles consistently, and the weight kept coming off, my running turned into a test to see how far I could take it.  So I built my way up to a 10K.  Then I built my way up to something I thought I could never accomplish - a half marathon.

That's when my running went crazy.  In a 2 year stretch, I ran 6 half marathons, a Tough Mudder, a triathlon, and a marathon.  The streak became the incentive I needed to push my body to every imaginable limit and keep pursuing the impossible.

It was after these feats that the unimagined happened.  The streak became a burden.  My fitness declined.  I gained weight.  I ate too much.  I ran too little.  So every race I've done, I have been declining.  And declining.

Here I am, back at a place where I don't want to be with my fitness and my running.

It's time for a fresh start.

I've realized that I need to fall in love with running again, and the only way I can do that is to let the streak go.  I won't even be tracking miles in 2015.  Get back to the root of it - nothing but me, some headphones, and the pavement.  No pressures.  No stresses.  Just running.

I plan on running many, many, many more races in the future.  As long as I am able to move, I hope that running will be a part of my life.  And I will race again soon.

It's just time that I get all the other junk out of the way, find races that will drive me to be at my best, and run for the love of running again.

See you on the roads and the trails.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

So This is 30

Here I am... finally hitting the 30 mark!  Kristen and I spent an amazing 30th birthday weekend taking in the sights and sounds of the Super Bowl - catching some of the events and watching the big game on the big day with my favorite gal!

So with that, my 30 Before 30 List officially comes to an end.  A year full of amazing memories and incredible triumphs.  To read posts about the things that I accomplished, click here.  However, there were a handful of things that I didn't get accomplished.  So although the list officially comes to a close, the remaining things still are my goals:

1.  Read the Bible
I made it about halfway through this year, and I can't wait to see what else lies in the pages.

2.  Run marathon #2 - sub- 5:00
I've debated about this one since I ran my first marathon a year and a half ago.  Some days I lean toward running another.  Some days I don't.  So we'll see what the future holds for this goal.

5.  Publish or Sell a Photograph
This fall, I was able to have a few of my photos featured in a gallery in Gunnison.  It very much accomplished what had I intended - taking a risk and taking my photography to a new level.  So although nothing sold or published, it was a successful year.

11.  Be Debt Free
This was a huge goal from the get-go.  I did manage to knock a couple thousand dollars off my grand total though, so we're getting there!

12.  PR in 3 race distances: 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon
I managed to do well in a 10K, but overall, my running tanked this year.  Back to the grind!

17.  Get below 200 pounds
Not anywhere close, and actually went the wrong way...

21.  Do a pull up 
I actually came closer than I've ever come on a couple of occasions.  This is the year!

23.  See a mountain lion in the wild
Some day...

28.  1 Second Every Day Project
I have the videos... now I just need the time to make the final project.

30.  Do something unforgettable
This year was amazing, but outside of the things I DID accomplish on the list, nothing really warrants the grandiose caliber I was hoping for to cross this one off.

Despite the fact I didn't hit all my goals, the purpose of this whole thing was met and exceeded.  I wanted this to be a great year, and this gave it a fun spin on it.  And when all was said and done, 29 was one of the best years I've ever had in my life.

But 30 is shaping up to be one for the ages.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#6 - Land a Flip

Ah yes, probably the list item I was most nervous about...

I headed to Jump Street in Denver to attempt to accomplish this one.

I got on the trampolines and just had to give it a go.

The first several attempts, I didn't go around far enough and landed on my butt and legs.

Then, I finally got the rotation down, but would have too much momentum and launch forward, ungracefully crashing into the trampoline beneath me.

Then, on about the 12th try...


Monday, December 1, 2014

#9 - Take My Family Out To Dinner

For the first time in 6 years, I made it back to Minnesota for Thanksgiving.  One of the big highlights of the time was taking my family out to dinner.  This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but it is to me.  With my parents always treating the family to dinners throughout my life, and with my brother occasionally offering as well, I wanted to have that moment.  I've never financially been in a situation where I can do things like that, so I wanted to save for the opportunity to treat my family to something fun.

With my brother's suggestion, my parents, my brother, Kristen and I went to Smack Shack in downtown Minneapolis.  We each ordered our own dishes, but it ended up being pretty family style - everyone trying things that everyone else ordered, and there was lots of great conversation and laughter.

This was exactly what I had in mind when I put this on the list - a fun, enjoyable feast with the family.

It was perfect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#10 - Get Baptized

For a more complete backstory, read this post I wrote a while ago.

After what seems like an eternity of going through my spiritual journey, I have decided to trust my heart and follow my faith, which is a journey I am happy to continue to pursue for the rest of my life.

Since I can now confidently say I am a Christian, I wanted to follow my heart and show a symbol of my faith.

I was baptized as a baby, but as I grew up, I turned away from God.  But over the past few years, I have felt him continuing to guide my life, and now I am finally listening.  Because this is the first time in my life I have actually felt this way and decided to follow Him, taking the plunge became more and more important to me.

On the Friday before, there was a pre-baptism meeting and celebration, and I decided to invite Kristen's grandparents and aunt & uncle along.  After the logistical announcements, we got to share our stories of how we came to faith around our small table.  Afterwords, they announced that they would like a few people to share their story on video to possibly be part of the Sunday service, so I decided to give it a shot.  After a few takes, I told my story, and we prepared for Sunday.

As a special treat, Kristen's mom flew in from Idaho to share the special day with us.  We invited a handful of friends and Kristen's family came again, so it was fun to have a cheering section.  Our pastor gave the sermon, and then it was show time.  Between the two services, almost 200 people were baptized, so it was quite the production.  While we waited to start, they played the video of people sharing their stories, which was really inspiring.  And there I was, the grand finale of the video... the final thoughts before the baptisms began.  I looked back at the cheering section and all I saw were tears.

Kristen came with me on the stage to share the moment with me.  I was toward the end, so after over a hundred people took the plunge before me, it was my turn.  I got into the tub, shared a few words with the pastors doing the dunking, and held my breath.

It was a really cool experience, magnified by the fact that I was able to share it with some great people.

And the celebration?  Wings and football at BDubs!

Monday, October 27, 2014

#25 - Rock Climbing

I put together a little work rendezvous to cross off this list item - with the weather about to tank for the year, I needed to get this done ASAP.

The extent of my rock climbing experience came when I was in middle school/high school... on a wall... so since I moved to Colorado, I've wanted to take advantage of an amazing opportunity that surrounds us, and give rock climbing a shot.

After work, we got to spend a couple hours hitting the rocks at Taylor Canyon.  This experience solidified a few things:

-I have no upper body strength
-I can conquer my fear of heights when needed
-Rock climbing is pretty epic

It was a beautiful day, and not a bad way to spend a few hours on a Friday.  Thanks to Renee, Geoff, and Tricia for being so easily talked into taking the trip!

Celebrating victory!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#26 - Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

To celebrate 3 years with my beautiful Kristen, I decided to surprise her with something a little crazy, yet something we'd remember forever.  Despite my fear of heights, I've always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride, and this weekend, it happened!

We decided to do a weekend getaway to Moab, Utah for our anniversary, and I figured this was the perfect place to cross this off.  If anyone has been to Moab, you'll know it was a pretty easy decision - it is hands down one of the most beautiful places you'll ever find.

We woke up before sunrise to meet the crew and the rest of the people flying, signed our waivers, and hopped in the van to meet the pilot.  The excitement grew as we saw the balloon inflate and come to life.  This was really happening.  We hopped in the basket and up, up, and away we went.  Once we got a few hundred feet in the air, my anxiety picked up and I got super nervous.  But I took a few deep breaths, took in the scenery, and enjoyed the experience from a couple thousand feet in the air.

It was truly a once in a lifetime experience...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#29 - Complete Something Off The "Life List"

When I was 17 years old, I wrote the first version of my "Life List" - things that I wanted to accomplish.  Over the years, that list has evolved, and I have crossed a bunch of things off of it.  Many of the things from my 30 Before 30 list are taken directly from that list, but so many couldn't make the cut.  Usually, it was because they were too big or unrealistic to accomplish in this year, but I needed to make sure one of those things happened.

This past weekend it did!

Go to a football game at Lambeau

Yes, the home of my bitter rivals, but THE stadium in the NFL.  The MLB has Fenway and Wrigley.  The NBA has MSG.  And the NFL has Lambeau.  

Kristen and I planned on going at some point, but through a random conversation of happenstance with my friend Shannon who is originally from Green Bay, and she was one of the main reasons this dream became a reality.

I had tickets, and we were set to go.  But just for fun, I checked tickets just before the game to see if prices were going down.  They were.  Tickets in the front row were staring me in the face, cheap enough that it could actually be a consideration.  So I spent the next 12 hours talking myself into doing it.  The best part?  Kristen had no idea.

We spent the day in Green Bay taking it all in.  Wandering the tailgates, checking out the merch stands, wandering the town, taking photos with the statues, and seeing the Thursday Night Football stage come to life.  As discreetly as I possibly could, I picked up my new tickets and still had to sell my originals - so I told Kristen about an upgrade, but I kept our location a surprise.  I sold my tickets to someone and got a good chunk of money back, and we headed to the stadium.  

Once we decided to take our seats, we entered and went down the stairs.  And kept going.  And kept going.  Kristen thought since nobody was really checking tickets that we were just going to check out the field before the game.  I told her these were our seats.  Cue the confusion.  I showed her the tickets.  Cue the waterworks.  In that moment, it instantly became worth it!

The game was a nightmare.  Unless you're a Packers fan.  A completely one sided domination in favor of the home team, but that made the energy inside the stadium electric.  It was a truly incredible experience, and one that we will never forget.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Journey of 1,000 Miles

"A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step" - Laozi

Over the weekend, I just surpassed the 1,000 mile mark since I started running at the end of 2010.  Time to reflect on this milestone...

The First Step

I was finishing up grad school in Florida, and I was fat.  I've always been a pretty good athlete, but that's been conflicted with a lifetime of weight struggles.  In grad school, I let myself go, and I knew it.  I reached a breaking point.  No more.

I went to the gym, and I stepped on the scale.  284.  The heaviest I have ever been.  I was so humiliated.  But I knew that there was no time for that - it was go time.  I knew it was going to be a long road, and just at the right moment, inspiration came in the form of a YouTube video.  This video.  I laced up my shoes, and I headed out for a run.  I made it a quarter mile.  I started sobbing.  This was one of the lowest moments of my life.  But it was only the beginning.  I kept going.  And that quarter mile has always been a reminder - and the start of my new journey.

The Last Step

I went out for a run on a chilly, wet, fall day in a prairie park in Illinois.  And it was beautiful.  My running hasn't been up to par recently, so I was going to be happy if I made it 3 miles.  I made it 6.5.  And it felt gooooddd!  A great way to surpass the milestone.

The In Between

This has been an unbelievable journey filled with tons of ups and downs.  At least 1 race every month since then.  54 races.  6 half marathons.  1 triathlon.  1 marathon.  Several states.  So many unbelievable memories.  I've met so many amazing people through being a part of the running community.  I've been able to strengthen relationships and get to know friends in a better way through running.  I have pushed my limits and discovered levels of strength within me I didn't know existed.  

The Future

I know at some point relatively soon there will be a shift.  I'm not built for long distances, so those will eventually come to an end.  The commitment it takes to run a race every month and continue that streak will become more challenging as I embark on other commitments that life offers.  Running for me will look different.  But no matter what, it will always be a part of me.  Why?  The reasons are simple.

I am a better person when I am running.
I am a better person because I am a runner.

Monday, August 18, 2014

#19 - Climb Combo 14ers

In Colorado there are 50+ peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation, and I've been fortunate enough to climb a couple of them.  So for my challenge, I wanted to do multiple in the same climb.  After some back and forth, we settled on the Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln-Bross loop.  Since Kristen and I conquered Mount Democrat last summer, we decided to finish the loop.

Mount Cameron

We started our climb at about 4:30AM, using the moon and a small flashlight as our guide.  We made our way up and up as the cold and wind blasted us.  Since we had done the start of this route before, we knew what to expect, so that made the climb more manageable.  When we reached the saddle between Democrat and Cameron, we basked in the fact that we could be guides for people climbing Democrat, and we got the rest of the climb up Cameron to ourselves.  Frost covered the trail as we hiked in the shadow of the mountain towering above us, but we trekked and trekked until we finally reached the summit at 14,238 ft.  Although Cameron is considered an "unofficial 14er," it is still the 17th tallest peak in the state.  Counts for me!  We snapped a quick picture and because of the cold, we wanted to move on quickly.  Onto the next!

On the way up

On top of Cameron

Mount Lincoln

headed along the ridge toward Mount Lincoln, which looked like the most daunting stretch of the entire trip.  One couple was coming down from the summit but aside from them, we still had this entire stretch to ourselves.  The route got a little frostier and a little sketchier.  The last couple hundred feet proved to be a little daunting, so Kristen was content to stop just short of the summit, still conquering all but the final hump of Lincoln.  I headed up the slippery rocks and found myself on the summit at 14,286 feet - the 8th tallest peak in the state.  Still unable to really enjoy it because of the piercing wind, I snapped a quick photo and headed right back down to catch back up with Kristen.  Onto the next!

Lincoln from Cameron

Lincoln selfie

Mount Bross

This is when we finally started having a GREAT time!  The sun was finally coming up - the wind was dying down, and the satisfaction of climbing the two previous mountains was hitting us.  This was also the easiest stretch of the entire climb.  We headed down the easy hike across the ridge and started our final ascent of the day.  Tired and worn out, we took a few last bursts of energy and found ourselves standing once again on top of the world - 14,172 feet - the 22nd tallest peak in CO.  Because the weather was finally getting nice, and we were on the final mountain, we definitely took our time and enjoyed this one!

Lincoln from route to Bross

From Bross - Democrat, Cameron & Lincoln (and Quandary in background)

The Descent

Now all that was left was the way down - we knew there would be tough stretches, but it would be a relatively easy trek down to the trailhead.


About halfway down we ran into a snag.  The route split and headed down a really rough trail.  About halfway down this chunk, we were in a little over our heads - scrambling, scooting on our butts, crab walking, and shuffling our way down a super steep part of the trail.  We made it down a few feet at a time, and we were getting closer to where it leveled off.  After probably about 30 people were with us on the trail, and after a long time of brutally trudging our way down, a man's voice said that the REAL trail was about 50 yards away from us - we were on a rain gully that tons of people had taken that made it appear to be the trail.  So after all that ordeal, we had to scramble our way across a whole lot of rocks to make our way back to the trail.

Ugh...  Awful...

Once we regained our composure, we headed down, and the rest of it was uneventful.  That section sucked the life out of us, but we both tried to keep enjoying the rest of the journey.  Down and down we continued, until we finally reached grass... then flat ground... then finally the trailhead, thankful to be done.

Aside from our little unanticipated struggle, it was a great day, a great hike, and it was a great accomplishment for the two of us!

14ers 3, 4, and 5 in the books!

On the summit of Bross