Saturday, January 6, 2018

2017 Year in Review

I didn't write a 2016 year in review because honestly, I was a little depressed. To address the elephant in the room first, I'm not going to write a 2016 review, but I will say why I was upset, because it sets up 2017. Climbing Mt. Everest was pretty great, but I did it sucking bottled oxygen, and for the seven years leading up to Everest 2016 (since 2009 in Pakistan) I planned to do it without oxygen, and that was definitely a buzz kill. I've got to be one of maybe 200 people in the world that climbs Mt. Everest and is disappointed how easy it is. On top of that, I kind of failed at my 24 hour race in September and did a lot of soul searching in September and October 2016 about whether I would even continue running. Unfortunately I partly define myself by what I do, and that includes running, and I didn't really have a great race in 2015 or 2016 and that was really hard mentally. Plus, as much as I like my job, it is pretty awesome, I am, and have been, struggling to live in the middle of nowhere.

Enter 2017... I'll skip around and keep this shorter than 2014...

Running actually went quite well. I ran four races, a half marathon, a 100k, a 15k and a 24 hour race. The half marathon I won by like three minutes, the 100k I became the 2nd person at the USATF championships with a 7:10:42, which is 6:56 pace. I slowed quite a bit the last 30k, but overall, it went quite well. My training was not even that great leading up to the race, good, but not great. My 15k I went into with a little knot in my hip, and that made it worse of course, but I recovered, thanks in part to a massage therapist. Then two weeks out from my 24 hour I had a little hip issue, and then in my 24 hour race I went out too fast in the heat of the afternoon, and got into the cycle of crashing and recovering, which is not nearly as effective as consistently eating and slowly running. The best part is that I had a great training cycle leading into it, and I attempted to set the American record. It's the first time I've ever attempted something so grandiose, and it was an honor to think I even had the chance. Stepping to the line thinking that 160 miles is "nothing" is a mental place that I quite enjoyed.  I realize how limited my time on Earth and my time to attempt these records is, so every chance to make the attempt is quite valuable.

Small town living has been quite the struggle. I went to Colorado six times this year! My house was robbed. The local coffee shop is not open Sundays. I went out this past week with my sister's friends, who I had never met before, and who I have no idea that I will ever see again. We discussed our jobs, and location came up. I remember a scholar's bowl question from high school that my friend that went to MIT got right, "What are the three Ls of real estate?" The answer, "Location, Location, Location." I remember looking at him like he just spoke Urdu. Now, at age 31, I get it.

I grocery shop at War-Mart. It's actually not that bad, they have eight flavors of hummus, organic vegetables, and decent salmon. Fortunately there are some trails about seven miles away from my house to run on, and there are few sidewalks, so I end up on the road with drivers who don't know what to do with a runner. Bicycling is even more dangerous as I end up on roads where people drive 70 miles an hour, and there are no hills or mountains to ascend.

Taking flight lessons has been quite the adventure. If you want to get your private pilot's license here are my recommendations:

  1. Do it as quickly as you can, like take a month of vacation and fly every day.
  2. Have a plan, and specifically a plane, that you will be able to fly after getting your license. Many people get their license, and then lapse, or become non-current within a year.
I soloed, I've done cross countries, and I've practiced IFR flying, and I like it all. Except spins, or anything close to a spin, that's pretty terrifying. I'll be trying to finish that as quickly as I can in 2018. 

Financially this was the best year I have had! My income was actually a little less than 2016 due to a moving bonus in 2016, however compound interest is starting to work for me, and the stock market went up something like 23% in 2017. The biggest thing is, I paid off my student loans!!! I am so blessed to have what I do. My heart goes out to those in Rwanda, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, and Nepal that I have seen, and the billions more I have not seen, who will never have the chance to have the financial wealth that I do have, and the comfort that comes from that wealth. I mean, I fly airplanes for fun!

I had a great trip up to the Bugaboos with a good friend! Wow that was a blast! I would gladly go again! I also had six trips to Colorado and climbed something like 9 14ers this year! By the way the Ouray 50 and 100 are insane races! Super steep, more of a hike than a run.

On the dating scene, I didn't go on any dates in 2016, and I went on three in 2017, with two different women. I know that probably sounds pathetic to a lot of people, but I know what I'm looking for, and what I am not looking for, and for the better (I think) I can often tell in a few minutes that it isn't going to work between us, so why even go on a date? On the upside of that mildly depressing dating life: Umm... you never know... 2018 could be very different. There are many wonderful women in the world, and I'm just looking for one that I can share my life with and share in her life. 

I suppose I should mention work. I work on drivetrain design engineering, so gears, bearings, castings, forgings, heat treating and all of those things take time, which can be frustrating when you spend close to two year working on a project and you are still looking at another year before there are parts in production. A couple things I learned this year, I am a huge fan of tribology! It's the study of surfaces, lubrication, and wear. It's incredibly detailed and we often don't understand it, in fact I had an email conversation in 2017 with two Ph. D.s in my company trying to find a lambda value, and neither one was able to provide much help! Talk about a difficult subject! I learned I like statistics. I never studied it in college, but it's really interesting, and very applicable to my life. What is the chance I am injured or die on a mountain, or in any activity I do? Third, I took a big step forward in project management, leading people. I have two people that I delegate most of their work to them, even though I do not directly supervise either one. I really like the mentoring role. I don't have all the answers, but I'm not a bad teacher, plus both of the guys I work with are excellent! I mean really, sometimes I look at our little team of three and think, 'those guys don't need me.' Which is a good thought because it shows how strong of a little team we are.

In other work news I traveled to India for the first time and South Korea for the second time. I had a great time at both places, just not when my house was burglarized and over $5,000 of my belongings were stolen. I also made a trip to Mexico and a few trips to Iowa, although those are more like going home than an actual business trip. I also had two weeks of training in Colorado, and yes, I about cried both times when I got on the plane to return to Kansas. 

What is ahead for 2018? 
  • Finish my pilot's license.
  • Build up my emergency fund which suffered due to replacing the items from my break in and paying off my student loans.
  • Get healthy, I have a little behind the knee tendon/calf issue right now.
  • I'm debating an expedition...

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