2018 Biking Year In Review

Although not quite as big as my running year, 2018 saw me biking a lot more than I ever have in the past. I’ve really come to love the idea of two wheeled transport, and wish that my job was close enough for me to actually do it as a commuting option. I did commute a couple times this year, but not nearly as much as I would like to. My wife and I also didn’t get out quite as much as I had hoped together, but I did get her a new bike seat, so hopefully that will help encourage some additional adventures next year.

IMG_2248.JPGAt the beginning of the year I picked up some studded tires for my hybrid bike, and gave a little bit of winter riding a try. I only got out a couple of times, but it was a lot of fun, and showed me that you can actually do this year round. Once the snow cleared I was able to start getting out a bit more regularly.

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PC: Michael Tangen

One of the most consistent times that I ride is on Wednesday nights with our Beer & Bikes crew. My friend Michael started this years ago and it’s been a great way to keep consistently riding each week. Our little group grew a bit this year and we’ve added a few new regulars. It’s been fun getting to know more people through the biking community, as it’s still a group that I’m not quite as connected to.

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PC: Abe McEtheron

I also managed some nice weekend rides, including a trip down to Saint Paul to cheer on the Twin Cities Marathon. I had a ton of fun on this ride and might make it a tradition. I also did my third annual Fall Fifty+Five ride. This is a 50 mile bike ride that include stops at 5 different breweries. This year we had a ton of people join us, and from the sounds of it almost everyone had a great time.

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PC: Michael Tangen

One of the other joys of biking this year is learning more and more about how to maintain and fix bikes. I spent a lot of time learning about how to tune up my ride and even make some slightly more in-depth repairs, such as shifters and disc brakes. I then got to practice my skills with the wonderful organization Free Bikes 4 Kidz. They take donated bikes and fix them up to give away to kids who don’t have bikes. It’s a great thing to be a part of, and I’m super happy that our Beer & Bikes group did this activity again this year.

DSC08967Finally, this fall I took the plunge and purchased a fat bike. I’ve only managed a handful of rides so far this winter, but simply knowing that I have the option is awesome. Plus, I feel like I’m much more likely to connect with the adventure/off-road biking community than the typical road bikers. Similar to how I’m more of a trail runner than road runner. Maybe it has to do with the beer and beards?

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 12.09.07 PMAt the end of it all I had a new high mileage year of 735 miles, which is not too shabby for someone who also ran 1602 miles throughout the year. I’m hoping to break 1000 next year with my ability to get on wheels in the winter time now. The biggest challenge I’m currently facing is trying to sell my old bike rack so that I can buy one that will fit my fat tire bike. Hopefully, I’ll have that squared away soon.

Cheers to all my fellow beer loving bikers, and can’t wait to do more rides in 2019!

 

2018 Running Year In Review

2018 was the biggest, and most different running year I’ve had yet. As I entered the year, I had to make some changes to my mental state if I was going to have more success than I did in 2017. After coming off some incredibly big years in 2015 and 2016, I ended up spending a lot of 2017 trying to push a reset button. When I started out in January of 2018 I was still battling some injuries, some illness, and some questioning of what I wanted my year to look like in running.

IMG_2344Early on I decided that I wasn’t going to sign up for any races in 2018 until I was sure I was ready for them. In fact 2018 ended up being one of my lowest number of race years ever. I wanted to get back to the joy of running, and continually banging my head against the wall of races I wasn’t ready for wasn’t a good idea. All of that needed to change.

IMG_2456I started the year out slow and steady and built up some good long runs as the weeks progressed. By February things were starting to really click again, and I was feeling great with having zero pressure about an upcoming race day. In March I managed a couple really solid 20+ mile runs, one of them with my good friend Mike. It was after that run with Mike that I decided I was ready for another shot at an ultra. I went home and signed up for the Chippewa 50K which was a little over a month away.

31880916_1004097819714989_4681658212569579520_nRace day came and I was tremendously nervous. Once I got on course I started to calm down, but at the start I still had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t ready. In the end though I managed to get it done, and despite not setting any PRs, I came away from the race with a lot of knowledge about myself, and how to continue to move myself through the dark places we fall in to on ultras.

33781994_1983613511649334_4959292251567030272_oI decided to join my wife at the Treasured Haven Farms 12 hour run, and once again knocked out a 50K+ distance race. If it hadn’t been for the horrendous heat and humidity that day I probably would have hit 40 miles, but I decided to just take what I could with the conditions. Once again, I felt like I learned a lot about how you should never decide that how you feel at one point in a race is how you will feel throughout the entirety. I had a wonderful comeback at the end of that race that showed me things can change incredibly quickly.

The rest of the year only had 4 other races, a couple of which were just little fun 5Ks. The real story of the year though is how strong I was able to be throughout. I managed to set multiple PRs on the Afton 25K loop, and found myself in a position to simply “choose my own adventure” for most of my long runs. Sometimes this would result in 2-a-days, simply because I felt good and wanted to get out again. Other times I found myself discovering new places, and having little adventures that were simple but meaningful.

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 9.31.32 AMPerhaps the biggest story of 2018 for me is that I finished up the year with a new all time total of 1602 miles on the year. This is a HUGE milestone for me, as my previous high mileage year was 1160 miles. One of the biggest reasons I was able to do this was because I chose to run with my wife Lisa on many days. This accomplished two things. It got me out more often, since she was on a training plan, and I wanted to spend time with her. It also meant that I was running a lot slower in my training runs, and that allowed me to really pound out a lot more miles, a lot stronger than I had been able to in the past.

IMG_20180708_084140I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in 2018. I have signed up for a couple races in 2019 already, but I’m approaching everything much more cautiously, and looking to try and just maintain and build slowly. I don’t know if 2019 will be as big or bigger than 2018, but I’m not really all that concerned. My attitude towards running has completely changed, and I’m finding joy in the process again. It’s a great place to be, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

2018 Year in Review

Like clockwork, it’s New Years Eve and time once again for me to work on my 2018 year in review. This year was a big year in many ways, but for the most part, much of it was good. I didn’t blog as much in 2018, and that was intentional. I had been doing a daily blog post for 3 years straight, and I simply needed a break. It was a great mental exercise, and sometimes I miss it, but I was happy to have less pressure to create content on a daily basis. My plan for 2019 is to move towards a more scheduled, and regular, approach to posts, but it won’t be daily again in 2019.

My lack of blogging, and a very busy weekend, meant that I still need to do my yearly running and biking review. Despite being 2019 tomorrow, I think I’ll post those in the coming days as a reflection of the past year. I’ve got some big news to share in my running one in particular.

2018 was a year of changes and self-discovery for me. As my kids have gotten older I’ve found myself questioning more and more what I want to do with the second half of my life. I’ve mused about this on multiple occasions on this blog, but still don’t have any solid answers. However, I’m feeling more secure that I’m on a journey that will soon find some enlightenment.

At the end of 2017 I wrote the following words:

My job is still a job. I struggle with being interested in corporate IT anymore, but it pays the bills, and I’m actually a really good manager, which gives me some satisfaction. There are days that I want to just get rid of it all and buy and RV and live on the road, but then other days I look at my paycheck and realize that giving that up is harder than you’d think.

Those words are even truer this year than last. I changed jobs in 2018, making a lateral position move to a place where I assumed there would be less stress and more opportunity. However, just the opposite has happened. My final months of 2018 have been some of the worst times I’ve ever had in my IT career, and I’m more and more determined to make some kind of change in the coming year.

This year I also had the milestone of celebrating my oldest son’s graduation from high school. Although he’s not quite on the college path that we had assumed he would be on, he’s making progress and is learning more and more what it means to be an adult. He’s a smart kid and I have no doubt that he’ll work it all out in time.

We managed some travel this year with our annual trip to Vegas in the winter, a bunch of trips for races, and a nice camping journey in the Porkies. I also took my oldest with me to Milwaukee where I got some new tattoo’s and we got to spend some father-son time together. Despite these trips, we didn’t get the camper out as much as we had hoped, and next year we need to spend more time relaxing in natural places.

One other exciting part of 2018 is that my wife and I started a small company to put on trail races, and our first race is coming up in January 2019. The St Croix 40 Winter Ultra is a winter-survivalist race, overnight in the cold. It’s meant to be a training ground for tougher races like the Tuscobia 80/160 or the Arrowhead 135. It’s also meant to be a place for Lisa and I to start developing our chops and hopefully expand to other events in the future.

I continued for another year as the President of the Board for the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Association, and plan on keeping that up for a bit longer. I love giving back to a wonderful community, and feel proud every thing this group has been able to accomplish in 2018. I’ve found that I love being a part of vibrant communities that bring joy to people.

A few other notable items from 2018 in no particular order

  • Got back to brewing some beer for the first time in a while
  • Visited dozens of taprooms and had lots of fun brewery trips
  • Got an awesome portrait lens for my camera which has been amazingly fun
  • Went to lots of MN United FC games and am really stoked about the new stadium next season
  • Read more books than I have in a long time

Finally, I did end up finishing the year with a tougher bout of anxiety than I’ve had in a long time. It came with all kinds of strange new symptoms, but from all my medical tests (and I’ve had a lot of them), I’m mostly healthy. I’m hoping that like in the past things will slowly calm back down and I’ll be able to return to a more normal feeling body. I know a lot of my issues relate to my sense of identity and purpose in my life, so perhaps as my job/career situation gets more settled things will get easier.

Here’s to wishing all of you a happy new year, and a happy 2019. Thank you for everyone that’s shared this journey of 2018 with me, and I look forward to more adventures to come.

 

2017 Year in Review

2017 was one of those years that seemed to take forever. Maybe it was the changing political climate, or the anticipation of big life events coming up, but it feels like I’ve been writing the date 2017 for a long time.

The year started with the inauguration of a president that causes myself, and many like me, great fear and embarrassment. As someone who has spent a career in government, it is painful to watch it shredded by people who have no idea what it is that government actually does, or how it does it. It became a frequent topic on social media, and I ended up creating an entirely different Facebook Page to share my blog on, so that I wasn’t constantly being dragged into arguments.

IMG_1725.jpgAside from politics, this year also saw the passing of my father-in-law, and a lot of activity around that. Thankfully, this was the only funeral that I needed to attend this year. It did mean some big changes around the holidays for our extended family, but overall, it’s been going OK.

I continued to visit many breweries in 2017. Twice this year we ended up in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area, and I got to see some of the best beer that Iowa has to offer. We also made a trip up to the Brainerd area and got to try four solid Minnesota breweries that I’d love to go back to. I made a few trips up the North Shore, and always hit my favorites, as well as some new haunts. Even extreme south west Minnesota has some cool beer to offer. All of this was in addition to continuing to sample the amazing beer culture that has developed around the Twin Cities area. I used to have to brew my own beer to get creative, new stuff, but not anymore.

IMG_1893.jpgMy biking and running posts summarized my year in those areas well. I did try to do some weight training early in the year, but ended up falling away from that. Right now, I’m just dealing with a weight problem that I need to solve early in 2018. Despite all of this, I still feel like I’m in better shape than I was 10 years ago. I’m getting older, but I know I can still accomplish a lot.

The family continued to grow and become adults. It’s amazing to see the little boys that I used to chase around, turn in to men with jobs, cars, and apartments. Despite regrets about what type of parent I was, I am happy that it seems like everyone is getting along OK, and becoming productive members of society.

On that same note, it’s hard to believe that next year Lisa and I celebrate our first five years of marriage. It’s been an amazing journey, and we’ve had some incredible adventures. I know that the future will continue to bring many more amazing times as well.

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My job is still a job. I struggle with being interested in corporate IT anymore, but it pays the bills, and I’m actually a really good manager, which gives me some satisfaction. There are days that I want to just get rid of it all and buy and RV and live on the road, but then other days I look at my paycheck and realize that giving that up is harder than you’d think.

Overall, it’s been a good year. I’m excited for 2018 and another kid graduating high school. I’m also excited about opportunities with groups like Upper Midwest Trail Runners, and the Beer & Bikes group. I enjoy the circles that these groups travel in, and they give me a lot of pleasure to be a part of. Hopefully, I’ll still be able to balance work and life next year so that I can do the things I want, which being able to afford it.

As we close the book on 2018, remember to hug those you love, and remember that life isn’t always as long as we think. Things are scary in the world, but as long as we stick together, we’ll make it through stronger on the other side. Thank you for journeying with me again in 2017, and we’ll see you all next year!

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2017 Running Year in Review

2017 was supposed to be another high point in my running. After completing two years with over 1100 miles, multiple ultra races, and feeling like I was at the top of my game, 2017 was going to be more of the same. However, the second half of 2016 started to see a slow decline in my running, and everything pretty much came apart in 2017.

runninggraphI tried to start strong, but by February, injury and illness had sidelined me for many days when I should have been out there moving. By July I made the decision that I wasn’t having fun with this, and I needed to make an adjustment. I cancelled all my big races for the year and started just focusing on smaller, 25K-ish distances. That worked pretty well to help me enjoy things more, but it still didn’t dull the frustration that my body just isn’t where it should be. I’ve even had some mental breakdowns in the past couple months with frustration about what I’m able to accomplish right now vs. what I want.

17807508_10211516353697703_2921031989954479547_oAll of this aside, I still had a mostly decent year from a mileage perspective. As of the time of this writing I’m just over 700 miles, and might still sneak in one more run before the grand total is set. My runs were mostly shorter, with my longest being 19 miles at the Icebox 480 event. My speed has dropped considerably, and so many of my runs are not at the same performance level of years past. I did manage a few cool races, including the Bluff Tuff Half, Trail Mix 25K, and the Grand Traverse 16 miler. None of these were blowing apart speed records, but I found a way to enjoy them.

So where do I go from here? In 2018 I need to work on getting things back in shape physically. The first part of that is losing 15-20 lbs. I need to get my weight back down to where it was in 2011 and keep it there. Carrying around extra pounds is killer when trying to run. Second, I have started visiting a chiropractor more regularly to get my back in alignment, and hopefully help with some of my other aches and pains.

IMG_0192Finally, I just simply need to run more often in 2018. I need to commit to getting out the door at least 4 times per week, and spending time on my feet. I lamented recently about finding time to run, and that’s something I need to focus on more in 2018. I’ve got an idea for a schedule in my head, and hopefully I can pull it off. I also need to ensure I’m getting in as much cross training as I can to strengthen other areas of my body besides my running legs. I think a reason I came up with so many injuries this year was due to being pretty out of balance.

My plan for races in 2018 is to continue to keep focused on shorter distances, however, I do want to get in at least one 50K. I haven’t fully decided which one it will be yet, but I’m targeting some time in Spring. That means getting off my butt in the winter and getting it done. I’d also like to hit a few races that I’ve never been to, and make them into mini-vacations, maybe with some brewery tourism alongside them. There’s a lot of cool races that offer shorter distances that I might be able to take part in.

I’m also going to continue to volunteer a lot at races this year. I love helping run races, and spending time at aid stations and helping other runners, brings me a lot of joy. I know that this will continue to always be a part of my running life. I might even look into the possibilities of directing some races myself as well.

17761188_1292694630811795_2395707704103357846_oDespite 2017 not being what I wanted it to be, I’m excited for the future. I’m starting to feel mentally more connected to running again. I want to be better at this, and I know that takes work. It may mean that I need to prioritize other things in life differently, but I’m hopeful I can keep everything in balance as much as possible. After all, running is nothing if not a balancing act.

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