//2016: A Year in Review

Because I’ve been so particularly bad at keeping my blog up to date, this will be an abbreviated, but dense, post in review of the year at large. As we move into the New Year, I’m looking to refresh my writing in both style and consistency. I’ve also cleared out some of my previous writings to simplify and streamline my site to better depict my vision for the future of my blog.

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As 2016 winds to an end, it seems only fitting to pause for a deliberate reflection on the year past and all of its events as well as to ponder the year to come and all of the adventures that await.

February started with the abrupt and succinct possibility of a dramatic life shift: by the 11th day of the second month of the year, I had received military orders to Germany. For almost a year before that, I had been working towards a clean divorce from the military life and into the life that I would both drive and fuel my passion for life on the trail. Instead, in a cruel play of the cards, I was extending my government contract and moving to Europe. This left me with a little more than six months to dramatically change my life’s trajectory; I had been working with Conor Fournier at 4 Corners Athletic, an Endurance Sports Rep Group in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii, Natasha and I had just moved to Napa, I had a full year of racing lined up, and I was preparing to re-enter university to finish my bachelor’s degree.

Well, I told myself, this would be the opportunity of a lifetime – I’ll get to move to a place that people spend their lives dreaming about visiting or burning a hole in their wallet to get to, all on the government’s dime, while getting an opportunity to completely immerse myself in a culture other than my own.

So we moved.

By the beginning of July, we were in a new country. I had never had a passport before now and my first stamp into another country was to live there for three years. Needless to say, I was wigging out a little bit.

Rightfully so, I’d say…the European lifestyle is so far removed from what I have ever known. Just going grocery shopping or filling up the gas tank is a process. Not to mention I had been led to believe that the assignment I had been given was one that would fit my drive for adventure; instead I am sitting behind a desk struggling to find purpose in my everyday. I went from having everything under my own control, bending to my will, to feeling lost and useless in what seems like the blink of an eye.

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My race schedule took an immediate hit when I found out I was to move – I only got to the start of two races: Lake Sonoma 50 and the Canyons 100K.

I had been dealing with an ongoing hip issue at both races. My pain brought me to the finish line of Lake Sonoma in over 10 hours – the slowest I’ve ever run a 50 miler and WAY past my goal time. At Canyons, I had barely managed to walk a 30 minute mile on the last climb in the first half of the course. I DNF’ed.

I was so dejected by these performances that I didn’t even take the time to write a race report for either of them. I should have seen it coming, though. I had been having recurring pain in my hip for several months before the start of the year, starting just after the Lake Tahoe Flume Trail Half Marathon in October of 2015, then worsening when I was hit by a car that ran a light while I was on my bike commute, and definitely not getting any better when I lined up for the North Face Endurance Challenge just over a week later.

If I were a wiser athlete, I would have done things differently. Perhaps I would have pressured the flight surgeon to look harder into my pain. Maybe I would have doubled up on the exercises the Physical Therapist had prescribed.

Maybe. But…not.

I’ve been to the doctor and physical therapist here in Germany now, and they seem to be more concerned about the issue than anyone in California ever was. I’ve had both an X-ray and an MRI: the conclusions are still a little ambiguous. It’s been reduced from the high probability of a stress fracture to now being a suspected Labrum tear or an impingement – both of which seem to be injuries that you manage pain for more than expect a full recovery of.

I’ve kept my coach, Chris Vargo, in the loop and we’re coming up with a plan to keep me moving – spending a lot of time on the bike and in the gym working with non-impact activities and stabilization. Hopefully though, I can work with Chris along with the physiologists to come up with a path to recovery; I need to get back on the trail!

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In other news, for those who don’t already know, our family is brewing up a little cup of something good to come in February, so I’m sure my adventures will take a turn in a whole new direction shortly. I’m so nervous and excited – I can’t wait to share my love for the freedom that the big mountains and trails offer with the new human that we’ve made from scratch! I’ll have a lot more to write about as the new year unfolds!

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I don’t believe that humans are wired to make bad choices. The choices we make may have unforeseen circumstances and outcomes that are unfavorable to us; we may make a decision based on faulty logic or misinformation, but we make the best choice available to us at the time. It’s about how we handle the outcome of those choices that makes the choice a positive experience or a negative one.

I made the best choice for me and mine back in January, with the information I had. Now, I’m working to make this section of my life’s trail a positive one. It will be a trying journey, with some shadowy valleys, but one that ultimately leads to high peaks and stunning vistas.

I look forward to the trail ahead – I’ll see you out there! Cheers!

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