Monday, February 18, 2013

I was just thinking...

2012 has come and gone oh so quickly. But what a year it was.

On the running front: the opportunity to run for Ireland at the World 100k Championships, a marathon PR, a return to one of my favourite races ever - Waldo 100k, and several other races and training runs (the most memorable being in Big Basin Redwoods SP - don't come to the Bay Area without checking it out!).

On the work front: continued to settle into the no-longer-new job here in CA, made easier by finally selling our house in Mpls and moving to Los Gatos in June. Love my job. Every day. Almost. I know, I hate smug people too.

On the family front: I got to be a godmother again to my beautiful niece Ailish. The trip home in May came just after the 100k race in Italy and my folks had very thoughtfully put together a party at home with several friends and neighbours. Good times. We welcomed another (equally beautiful!) niece, Isabelle, in August. Later in the year, over Thanksgiving, I visited my lil' sis in Abu Dhabi, her adopted home for a few years. And then Christmas in Ireland, but not before a few days in Paris (work, how bad?). Thus I broke our New Year's resolution to spend holidays together not once but twice! I love spending Christmas at home. And it's almost as much fun as winter camping in northern Minnesota.

On the canine family front: we found Juneau after a few months of searching shelters, first locally and eventually we were looking at puppies in New Jersey! Luckily we only had to go as far as Washington. After about an hour of wondering who this uber-friendly, over-excited, cannot stop jumping on me, imposter was, Cooper soon warmed up to her and they are like two peas in a pod now. But apparently not cute enough to make it into the nieces and nephews calendar. But I'll keep trying.

On the really important front: getting engaged in July was a moment to cherish. A whole week of moments to cherish. We spent 7 days on the road, running and camping... Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, Mt. Moriah Wilderness in eastern Nevada, Mount Nebo in the southern Wasatch, the first section of the Bear 100 in the northern Wasatch... one awesome day followed by another. We treated ourselves to a Holiday Inn in Logan (where unbeknownst to me Chris has over-nighted the ring) before heading out to camp at Tony Grove Lake (also a stop along the Bear 100 - if you have not been to this spot consider running the race just to see it!). We wanted to give Cooper a break so we went for solo runs up to Naomi Peak. It was a picture perfect day. I took a photo from the top and decided that Utah might just be my favourite state. Even without the perspective of hindsight I already knew this was a special day. And so it was, after Chris did his run (sadly in drizzle and clouds!), we cooked up a freeze dried meal, cracked open a beer and settled in under the tall trees by the lake, sheltering from the light rain. And the evening just got better from there. We finished up the trip with a Josh Ritter concert at Red Rock Garden in SLC with friends. Sounds like the perfect week? It was. Funny that until the day before we started this trip we were supposed to be doing the Wasatch Relay and most likely not getting engaged. Yet. I love it when life just happens.

And just like that it's 2013. Well, not before a successful Tuscobia - due in no small part to the awesome volunteers who helped us out. Going above and beyond what they signed up for - bike trailer breakdown, delayed race start, missing biker... no problem!

A big year ahead. Already it feels like a big year. My first foray into winter racing with a teaser at Triple D in Iowa followed by Actif Epica in Winnipeg this past weekend. Will there be more? Possibly. Iowa was good fun and well organized - especially the finish at a bar with a free tab AND a massage concept. But more ice than snow on the trails. Manitoba presented slightly harsher conditions with a sub-zero start and colder windchills throughout the day and night. Though it sounds like we were lucky given the blizzard conditions complete with north winds the folks up there are experiencing today. Of course, Chris was regretful when he heard this news. But then again, his idea of winter racing is a little different from mine! Again, the race was well organized with great volunteers at the checkpoints (some a little worried about how the "Californians" were handling the cold) and unexpected, but most welcome, support crews every now and then along the course. I ran with Sue Lucas from MB for most of the second half of the race and Chris caught us with about 20 miles to go. The toughest sections were probably in the first half but the deep snow section after dark and the crazy windy frontage road section more than made up for some pretty runnable sections in the second half. Not to mention the advent of tiredness and a few annoying blisters towards the finish. However, the last few miles along the Red River made it all okay. It reminded me of one of the most incredible training runs ever - a 16-mile night run on the frozen St. Croix some years ago. I was cold, tired, scared shitless of the open water along the edge but happier than ever. I ran a few miles of it alone and thought over and over how lucky I was. Grateful in that "I can't believe I get to do this" sort of way. Thank you again Joel.

In between the frigid runs there was 6 days of running in Costa Rica with two ladies I am blessed to call close friends. "The Coastal Challenge" lived up to it's name. Beautiful scenery, miles and miles of incredible jungle trails, interspersed with miles of trails that were never meant to be trails, beaches that went on forever (good when chilling, bad when running and baking in the sun 8 degrees from the equator) and waterfalls... waterfalls that we could have swam in all day! We sweated profusely, suffered a little, complained some, laughed a lot, and took it all in as we meandered our way from Manuel Antonio to Drake's Bay. There are some great photos here, and great photos seemed to be mostly what this race was about.

What's next? A change of focus. Marathon training. Recovery first - the jungle blisters healed but were replaced with a few arctic blisters and the legs will take a few days to work as intended. But I'm excited to jump into some shorter, and hopefully quicker stuff for the next few months. And I believe I have also committed to a triathlon this spring. And there will be a wedding in July. A nice small one halfway up a mountain.

Somewhat in order...

Serengo with Marie and Mum before the WC100k start. Photo by Tom Hunt.
Juneau's first experience of snow!
They sit so pretty!
And play so well...
Cooper loves Utah too!
Maybe Heaven
Heading out of town after CP1. Photo by Sveta.


Olga King said...

Hello, Helen!!! Blog is surely not on your to-do list with all those changes:) Great year, and seems that you'll keep topping it off!

Alicia said...

Not a bad year at all!!! And that photo of Cooper and Juneau sitting has to be one of the best dog photos of the year.

Your description of that St. Croix river run really made me laugh. I have heard about that run a lot, but from Shawn T's perspective. He always tells this story about doing a run on the frozen St. Croix and it was fun but hard and there was this girl Helen who nobody could keep up with...

Keith S said...

What a year , living the dream, congrats on your engagement also Helen. Run well.

Best wishes for 2013 K.

TN said...

You rock Helen! You inspire all those around you.

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