Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Year in Review: 2014

Here is a link to my 2013 year in review. That has links to previous years, going all the way back to a 2009 year in review.

Where to start? This becomes a harder post when I have to rehash the follies of the previous year. In other words, it seems to get harder every year.

Everest, Mt. Everest, and the spring 2014 season seemed to define my year. Oh sure, there was quite a bit more to my year than those five weeks, but it's hard to say that what happened there did not change me, or other's perception of me. I'll admit, my experience this spring was a life changing event. Perhaps not as much as people would assume. When the actual incident happened, I heard it, started to see the helicopters, learned it was deadly, but initially, it was thought to be only a third of the size it ended up being. Only later did I learn how bad the serac collapse, the avalanche, really was. Then, after a political week, we left, via the scenic route.

For months, the experience only seemed depressing. My existence this summer was day to day. I just came out and said I was depressed in June. Yet God's plan, and my plan, or any of our plans, were not the same. After all, it was years of success that led me to the "failure" on Everest, and depending on the view, it wasn't a failure at all. So I moved on in life. Certainly something I won't forget, but not something I plan to dwell on. In fact, I finally published the Mera Peak video, basically the world's easiest 21,000 foot mountain.

Fastpacking over four 14ers and more than 50 miles in about a day and a half, was a pretty cool trip. I'm thinking of doing it again, except trying for the whole Nolan's 14.

Meanwhile, this whole time, work was going really well. Whenever I talk about work it's aways in the this vague language, and I hope that I can give some details in the future, but suffice to say, work is going quite well. I made a lot of money this year. My wealth makes me sick sometimes compared to the poverty of so many. Yet I realize that we all have different gifts, and in my mind it is our duty not to waste those gifts.

So as I worked through June and July, getting second in the Run4Troops Marathon in a pedestrian 2:50, I was continuing to train, or rather run a lot. I managed to put up a number of 100+ mile weeks, six I think, with the highest at 131 miles. For the year I think I ended up with around 2800 miles. After such good training, I thought, 'why not run an ultra marathon?' I knew I would get into it sometime, it was just a matter of when. Well, the 24 Hour USA championships were a half day drive away in Ohio, and I figured, if I'm going to do one of these, it might as well be a low key, but maybe semi-competitive thing. In other words, not debuting at Western States or Leadville, or JFK. Well, as you heard, I won, running and walking 154.5 miles. Which I found out only recently lands me on team USA for the 2015 World Championships in Italy. Yep, I'm going to be running on Team USA!

The rest of the fall and early winter was what I might call anticlimactic. I gave up my coaching job at the University of Dubuque because my day job was about to consume far too many hours of my life into the early spring. I started running with some coworkers from the University of Wisconsin Platteville, which has provided a nice change to the college coaching rhythm. Work began to accelerate and I started to make many trips to Davenport to our factory. I managed to give myself an overuse tendon injury just a few weeks before the California International Marathon. It happens.

I'm still single. Perpetually single. As I write this I'm just back from a family friend's house where a like 20 year old is getting married to a 22 year old in the summer. That seems so young to me. If there is some jealously that I battle with, it's seeing so many people happy in relationships. Don't get me wrong, I have the best life in the world. I have every advantage a white male in the middle class from the USA can have, and I've taken advantage of many of those. Yet it's easy to be lonely at night in the hour or two after supper and before going to bed.

I take being single in stride. I donated the first $1000 dollars to Sustainable South Sudan this March. Completely as a cash gift to my friend JL who was about to return to Africa. I still haven't seen any pictures of how the money was spent, and thus not given any more yet. The point being, my money can make a huge difference in Africa, a difference that it simply can't make in the developed world. If being single, even my whole life, another 60 or 70 years, means that I have more money to help the less fortunate, instead of raise my own children or afford a stay at home wife, that's okay. Obviously I would prefer the wife and kids, but God's plan is not always our plan, and that is my comfort in still being single.

I capped of the year with a trip to Colorado and hiking and skiing on 14ers, even getting to the top of Quandary on my 7th winter 14er attempt! In fact, here is the first video of maybe seven or eight that track the entire descent. Basically it was about as hard as a blue square run at a resort in my opinion. For me it was a 4:45 climb and 1:05 descent.

What to look forward to in 2015? A number of ultra marathons including the 24 Hour World Championships. I plan to pay off a number of student loans this year that I put off paying off until I went to Everest, because now I've been to Everest. I need to get cruise control installed on my new 2002 Honda Insight. Small detail, but I'm really looking forward to it. I really hope to be able to share what I have been doing at work the past four years. Unfortunately, based on our website, it's still not published to the public, despite the fact we have been taking orders for more than a month... I don't understand marketing. I hope to run 4000 miles. The most I have ever done in a year is 3600. I'm also thinking of launching my Kickstarter campaign, which I started building just before Everest.

It's going to be a good year. Hopefully not the drama of Mt. Everest 2014, but with plenty of successes and lessons learned about how to do.

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