2011 Rewind, 2012 Crystal Ball

This has been a banner year and it seems like I've been saying that to myself for the past few years, but as each year passes new opportunities arise which leads to new things: whether that's a new adventure or new personal challenges or being one step closer to having a life-long profession.  As I look back at this past year I can't help but be satisfied and answer the question of whether I've made the most of things this year with a resounding yes.  Since this blog is really about backpacking, running, and PT I'll address all three:
Running: Back in late December 2010 I started to build a running base, something I've never done, and it saw me run 40-60 miles per week (January 2011-June 2011) consistently up until my first 100 mile race in June.  It's certainly nothing spectacular in absolute terms but relatively speaking it was a major step for me, since I've never undertaken anything like that before. Previously, I had been sporadic and inconsistent with more of my interest in running races without the proper work and respect for training.  2011 saw the shift from a recreational to a more focused but still very inexperienced runner.  To put it in perspective 50% of all my races happened this year: 1-Road Marathon, 4-50km races, 1-50 miler, and 2-100 milers.  With those experiences under my belt I'm ready to shift from a base-building runner to a hopefully more competitive runner and that's gotten underway the last few weeks.  My most proud races are the LA Marathon, Bishop 50 miler, and Javalina 100 runs.  The LA Marathon not only saw a 38 minute PR and Boston Qualifying time but it was the first time I considered myself a possible runner.  Bishop was my second 50 and I had doubts I could run it well because of a mile-42 ITB injury in my first 50 miler the previous year that saw me walk with a locked knee (couldn't bend it without severe pain) for the last 8.  That put seeds of doubts and a sour taste in my mouth while knocking me out for 6 weeks. So Bishop turned out to be a pretty emotional run, especially after running the last 12 miles hard.  After a disastrous San Diego 100 I needed to prove to myself that the 100 mile distance is something I can do well in.  Still undertrained I decided to give JJ100 a go and the result re-affirmed the potential I believe I have in the 100 mile distance.  Now I have Angeles Crest 100 in my sites and with proper training (already underway) it's an event I know I can do well in.
PT:  I have officially finished the academic portion of my PT schooling and it's been quite a road.  The last six years of full-time academia have been all for the purpose of one goal: becoming a PT. Now I'm 6 months away from my National PT Board Exams, July 2.  All that stands is a full-time 4 month internship and my school comprehensive exams.  Oh I cannot wait to get that financial and temporal freedom.  Also, my 5+ year job as a PT Aide came to a close yesterday and it's been a great ride with a once-in-a-lifetime boss, a great PT, friend, and future colleague.   
Backpacking: None of the aforementioned would have been possible without a passion and love for backpacking.  I wouldn't have gotten into running trails if backpacking didn't kick my ass every time I went out there and I wouldn't have devoted many years to get into a profession that allowed me to take time off to do it.  The first half of the year saw a small 2 day trek in Joshua Tree and an adventurous 110 mile east to west traverse of the sanctuary that is the Grand Canyon.  The real highlight of the year though was the Grand Traverse of the Alps, a 415 mile journey in the French Alps from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea with the love of my life, Megan.  By far the most physically demanding trip I've taken (117,000 of gain) and most rewarding.  It was a bittersweet day on the shores of the Mediterranean when tears and laughter were ever present.  What an experience of nature, culture, and personal challenge.  I can't wait to fully experience more of what this world has to offer.

So what's in store for 2012: My real focus is going to be Angeles Crest 100, getting my PT License and paying all my student loans off.  It's going to be a relatively quiet year for backpacking, a calm before the storm of sorts (PCT 2013, woohoo!) but this will give me time to reconnect with the Sierra's, my most cherished surrounding, on a JMT through-hike and new terrain not yet explored. I cannot wait for 2012!

December 22-27, 2011: 89 miles, 21,000 gain: High intensity week but will back off this coming week, especially with internship coming up.  Felt good throughout even at the tail end.  Best week of training so far and good progress.


2011: ~3050 miles running>hiking

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