After a crazy Summer of accomplishing things, this September I decided to give myself a sort of Rumspringa from it all - just going to work, eating whatever I want, only exercising when I feel like it and taking it as easy as I want when I do so, and generally deciding not to feel bad about days like today, when I spend most of my time sitting on the couch watching football.  Physically I needed it - with the Camino and Cascade Crest, Angel and I covered about 850 miles on our feet in two months from mid-June to mid-August (after never having done more than around 250 in a month previously).  Emotionally too - since May I've 1) officiated at two friends' weddings, 2) graduated nursing school, 3) travelled around Spain, 4) studied for, and passed, a stressful licensing exam 5) started a new job, 6) run two 50 milers and a 100 mile ultramarathon, at least 5 50k's and at a couple of marathon distance training runs, and 7) been involved with an overnight mountain rescue for a friend (a story for later, maybe).  I don't say all that as any kind of brag, but just to point out that it has been an incredibly crazy Summer, out of all proportion with any previous crazy Summers that I have experienced.  I'm not entirely happy that it's over, because overall it's been a ton of fun, but it has been nice to step out of the firehose for a minute and catch my breath.  Angel is out of town this weekend, so it's been a nice chance to just lay around mostly by myself, and to think about what's next.

A couple weeks ago I was thinking about writing a post here about running a first 100 ("Fundred"), and how Angel and I seemed to have the training process nailed, because it was essentially all just a bunch of fun.  From the time we signed up for it early in the year, we ran a ton, but I personally don't remember much of that running feeling like "training".  That is, it never felt like a chore, or something I had to do because I wanted to accomplish a goal (although Angel worked a little harder, I think, and might have a different perspective).  Running took up a ton of time leading up to Cascade, but it mostly felt like a bunch of long runs in the mountains with friends; just my weird social life, not some onerus Rocky-esque training program where we spent hours in a freezer pounding beef or anything.  Especially because the Camino ended up as such an awesome experience, the hardest part of our training felt like a really awesome adventure (at a leisurely pace fueled by pastries and excellent espresso).  Then, as I was sitting here on the couch, I started to think that, actually, pretty much everything this Summer has felt that way.  Nursing school sucks unequivocally,  but because I've been on my unit for three years, the transition into an actual nursing role, much to my surprise, has felt like a fun challenge rather than a terrifying one.  The NCLEX was lame, but not terrible, and the testing place was right next to an awesome donut shop so that improved things.  Officiating weddings used to seem like about 50% stress and 50% fun, but the two I've done this year were more like 10% stress and 90% fun.  I don't know if it's just that I've turned a corner in my life in my 30s, I've found the right niche, hard work has paid off, I'm lucky, or better health has improved my outlook on life, but attacking challenges has just felt a lot more enjoyable this year than it has during some other periods of life.  

It doesn't hurt that I haven't blown it on any of the big goals - we made it through the challenges of the Camino, I didn't accidentally say the F-word during either wedding ceremony, I got a job, passed the NCLEX on the first try, and did better than expected at Cascade - and this series of fortunate events has made me want to keep this approach going:  setting goals that sound either meaningful or fun, and then trying to put myself in a position to enjoy the process of working towards them.  I think a main difference between me during the last three years, and me during the five years prior to that, is that I thought you had to go through a process that sucked in order to get to where you want, after which things would be fine.  I'm not sure that's true anymore.  Doing something like running 100 miles clearly involves work and some difficult experiences, and I'm really lucky to have a job that I like, but it seems like if you can get yourself on the right ladder, it's possible to enjoy both the climb and the view from the top.  And it seems like, especially for leisure-time activities, you should be enjoying yourself at some level in life, right? 

That's why, while I'm taking some time to think about what I want the future to look like, I'm hereby coming out against doing crap that I hate or setting goals that I don't really care to achieve.  (I'm also coming out against interpreting challenging experiences as negative, but an insight I gained during my career transition is that it's often harder and less productive to change your perspective on your circumstances than it is to just change the circumstances themselves - not that both aren't important.)  That is to say, I'm going to be intentional about pursuing the things in life that are meaningful or valuable, because that makes the whole process of life more enjoyable.

More Goals

From a running perspective, I admit that I'm in a bit of a post-Cascade inspiration lull, and I don't know what the next big goal will be.  Maybe another 100 next year?  No major inspiration has yet struck.  Doing Cascade again seems like the most fun prospect at the moment, but beyond that I'm not sure.  Right now I still just want to have fun. 

Seems more appealing right now to try to broaden my wilderness recreation skills.  Now that I'm working and money isn't tight/locked up in school, it would be fun to get some gear for fast packing, and maybe learn to use an ice ax during the snowy season.  At some point it would be great to climb Rainier or some other proper mountain, but learning the skills and getting the gear for that seems to take a lot of time and money so I'm not sure if its in the cards this year.  Maybe do the West Coast Trail in 2 days next Spring/Summer as a fast pack?  Or plan a trip on the Sunshine Coast Trail?  Maybe a little more cross country skiing this year, or an attempt at downhill?  These also seem like time/cost intensive goals...

Also, Angel and I are trying to coordinate with a couple of friends for a trip back to New Zealand for the first time in 9 years in March.  Milford Routebourne Abel Tasman Kepler Challenge?  I really hope this happens.

And our wilderness rescue experience at Rainier last weekend was a huge reality check that makes me want to prioritize learning some wilderness rescue/first aid skills as part of the training program this year. 

And coordinating some social stuff with the Seattle Running Club that maybe doesn't involve actually running.  That should happen - we're already organizing a report on the Camino on Thurs, Oct 17.

Other potential goals: Organizing a run to replicate some of the Camino experience locally.  Maybe Seattle to Snoqualmie Pass, overnighting in Issaquah and North Bend or something?  A birthday challenge in February.  Another "Santa's Fatass" overnight holiday fun run?  Organizing a "Trailrunners and Climbers Should be Friends" event. 

Things that don't seem like appealing goals at the moment: Running faster.  Bumping up for a distance bigger than 100 miles.  Heat training.  Speed training.  Volunteering in any administrative capacity.   


Adventure Mom said…
I still think you guys should apply to be on The Amazing Race, and win it. Very cost effective!