Sunday, January 13, 2013

Year in Review 2012

Two weekends back, I was blessed, yet again, to spend time on great trails with great friends.  And, as a special treat, the Best Trail with a Best Friend.

With only hours left of 2012, BGD and I ran from Cool to Green Gate AS (via Lower Quarry Road), then back on The Course.  About twenty minutes into the run, I came up with the idea of sharing our Highlights of 2012.  Going month-by-month, we discussed our favorite moments of the year.

On the 220-minute run, we only made it to August. 

It was a great year.  A special year, for us both.

Without further ado, the Highlights of the highlights:

Bandera.  Incredible.  One of my best performances, and my best-ever, most thrilling finish. What made it most special, besides earning the coveted Golden Ticket against a formidable field, was having so many great friends and supporters there.  In and out of Crossroads AS, I fed off the excitement and support of LB and Bryon.  I thought, "Wow, they're really excited! I must be running well".  Then, floating along those final miles, with "Grandpa Joe" singing in my head, was a surreal experience that I won't soon forget. 

A Few Good Men

"Did I say that I was two minutes back with five to go? I did?, OK..." - The Queen being a good sport.
(+sweet photo-bomb!)
San Antonio Airport.  My Western States Entry was inside this bar.

Artist's renditon of my Bandera 100K finish.  Some of my greatest art work.
 Lord Balls' Birthday.  A doubly good day, as that was when he (and only later, we) found out that he'd be the next RD of WS.   

Birthday Treat!
The Olson Family Weekend.  Got to spend a terrific weekend in Ashland, OR, with Jimothy, Krista, and Tristan-Baby Bump.  Shared some good beers and great trails.  Tim and I did close to thirty miles that Saturday, and I was rewarded with the most epic bonks of all-time: early hints of Tim's year to come in 2012, for sure. 

It was also great to run past Prickly Pete a couple times, as well. 

Chuckanut 50K.  Not a great race, but a fun one.  Got to hang out with a bunch of great ultra folk.  But I also got to run with two former UW-La Crosse guys, Jim Parejko and Steve Vesbach. 

Post Chuckanut in Bellingham, WA, with two UW-La Crosse alums: Steve Vesbach (L) and Jim Parejko.
Western States "Spring Training".  After a frustrating two months of running, I made the pilgrimage to Placer County.  Jake and I ran a Green Gate to Placer shuttle at dusk, beginning the mission to forge positive memories on the final 20.  Then, after being thwarted by heavy winds, snow and cold (that, incidentally, almost buried Matt Keyes in El Dorado) on Saturday, I ran a solo Robie to ALT and back on Sunday, and "found my mojo".

Crucial post-run refueling. In 'N' Out...

...and Pickle Chips and beer at The Auburn Ale House.
Mississippi Trip.  Made a pleasant trip to the Gulf Coast to see family.  It was a nice break from the cold and rain of the PNW.  Besides a dose of Vitamin D, I got in some valuable family and rest time before a big-time 50...

Lake Sonoma 50.  Perhaps the most enjoyable race weekend of the year.  Once again I got to spend some quality time with the Olson Family in Sonoma County.  Most of it was spent off-trail, as Tim ruined the early-race love-fest (or Hal Joke-Fest) by busting open the race at mile twelve.  Undaunted, I spent another score of miles among some True Masters before dropping it down a peg. 

Equally thrilling to my hard-finishing sub-7 were the two tubs of India Pale Ales conveniently positioned just past the finish line.  Sun + beers + great folks = you don't leave the finish line until Happy Hour.  Does Tropical John put on a great race, or what?  Might need three tubs this year, Mr Tropical.

Sporting the Sunsweet colors for the first time. Photo: Bob MacGillivray/Drymax

Good Company (Who's that little kid in the yellow, standing with those guys?)
Photo: Bob MacGillivray/Drymax

 "Dark and White Chocolate" meeting for the first time: Jorge and Me. 
Photo: Bob MacGillivray/Drymax
This is how a Champion recovers.  Now you know...
Tib Anterior Injury.  Incurred during Sonoma, left shin pain put me out for about three weeks.  It was hard not to panic, given similarities to 2011.  I recovered, and laid down a huge May.  The forced rest was crucial to May...and the end of June. 

Michigan Bluff Training Camp.  A big week in a big month.  Wanna know how to train for Western States?  Ask Tim Twietmeyer.  And Andy Jones-Wilkens.  And read Craig's blog.  What also might help is a whole bunch of miles, most of them run at "51 year-old woman-pace"*.  I got to spend over a week on the trail - if not running, then living beside - and with a bunch of great people. 

(*which is actually a pretty damn good pace, by the way)

Western States.  Jake and I must've spent an hour talking about this weekend: rehashing memories, squeezing bits of memory pulp that, somehow, had been missed in our non-stop discussions since the 23rd of June.  Highlights within the highlight:
  • Hitting Red star in 2:35, under Hal's winning split...and being in 13th.
  • Seeing my cousin Matt and his wife Meghan - for the first time since Christmas - at Robinson Flat.  I'd hear those choppers clapping all over the course that day.
  • Seeing no runner for 48 miles (save the elusive ghost of Neal Gorman on Pucker Point), then passing three guys in five miles between the River and ALT.
  • LB and AJW at Rucky Chucky
  • Quality time with The BGD - he helped me make it quality, instead of quantity.
  • Running up Quarry Trail.
  • Running up Robie Drive.
  • Smelling beer at the Mile 99 Party. 
Brett Rivers took two of my all-time favorite running pictures of me, ever. 
This one is at Rob Flat, seeing family for the first time.  Photo: Brett Rivers.
This was as cool of a moment finishing: crossing the river with Yassine, with AJW and LB cheering. 
Photo: Luis Escobar
That. Hurt.  But M9 feels good.  Getting my medal from the RD-elect.
(Is that the same red chair that LB used at his roast??)

We started beside each other - only fitting we finish that way.  Me with "Dark Chocolate" at the finish.  Photo: Larry Gassan.
A bunch of real nice guys.  Photo: Sha Ali.

A little stat treat from BGD on the morning after...a good day's work.
A special weekend.  It always will be.

Hard Core Yoga.  Starting yoga was good for my body, but better for my mind and soul - it was the launching point for self-improvement off the trail.  Thank you for the encouragement, Kelly!  It didn't "break me"!  :-)

Waldo Training Weekend.  Though still depleted from WS, spending time with BGD and meeting the Berzerker was worth the hard trail miles and mosquitoes of Waldo Lake.  Most importantly, that's where "The BGD" moniker was born.

BGD and Connor atop Willamette Pass, with Diamond Peak in the background.

When you ask Connor to get some firewood, he GETS SOME FIREWOOD.

We were on top of this; albeit with more creative adjustments to these recommendations. 
Use your imagination...

BGD and me, finishing up Gold Lake to Maiden, around to the finish, then up and down Fuji. 
Brutally tough day.

Brandie's First Triathlon.  In 17 years of running, I'd never run with my sister, until 2012.  She ran with me from Bath Road to Foresthill at WS.  Then, I got to return the favor by cheering, crewing and "pacing" her at her first Triathlon in Minneapolis.  So cool!  I thought she'd have a tough time at the end of the run, but she rolled the entire thing to the finish!  I'm very proud of her!

Brandie and me, pre-race - at the restaurant that, apparently, she goes to thrice weekly (Smalley's in Stillwater, MN)

That stride looks a hell of a lot better than mine.  Brandie (far right) with a mile to go
Time for a family picture, post-Triathlon.  Pretty good looking crew!
(No, really...they're a good crew...)

Waldo 100K.  BGD didn't need to be paced, because he BGD'd everyone early and often.  I was simply hanging on - and barely, at that.  But it was special to share that experience with him.  However, I'm still a little miffed at his lack of appreciation of my quality Grandpa Joe serenading along the Rosary Lakes in the last 5K. 

I think you're running well when your "pacer" can barely breathe, let alone talk. 
Near the Maiden summit.  Photo: KRW.
McKenzie River 50K. I found my trail legs again on the original McK River 50 course. Actually, running with Jeremy Tolman helped me find 'em.  It felt good to run hard and fast on a trail.

Pine to Palm 100. Got to work my first aid-station, and it was a blast.  Might've had something to do with the great weather, great people and "comfortable attire".  A most random highlight was seeing Dr Dave Eitrem, a physician and ultrarunner veteran from Menomonie, WI.  We'd met a couple lifetimes ago when I was coaching for MHS.  It's indeed a small world.

Making it look good: MB and LB heading up Seattle Bar AS at Pine to Palm 100.
Can you guess the AS Theme?

The RD, applying a second coat of bronzer on race day. 

"Ready to go? Ready to give it a push?"

Me with ultra veteran, Dr. Dave Eitrem, from Menomonie, WI.

The keys to any well-stocked AS...
3.5th Decade Fest. A fun get-together that assembled a great deal of Sterling Silver. 

Matt, me, Ricky.  A couple budding trail grinders...

The dart shark...

A grand-worth of Comstock Heritage Silver!

KRW croons a country tune at the Red Lion.  Someday BGD will rock this stage...
Solo Fast.  What was already becoming a year of awakening was blasted into overdrive.  I'm still wrapping my brain around the experience.  It was special.

And it made me more comfortable with depletion. 

Colorado Trip.  What a triple-threat weekend!  Spent the front half of the trip learning valuable hands-on skills and helping pediatric neurologically-impaired kids - how awesome is that?  I also got to spend time with my friend Dallas.  Then, as a capper, I got to spend some great time with the Clark Family, which included a leisurely slog/boulder/'shwack/run through Rocky Mountain NP.  And I turned Alistar into a Bears fan - perhaps my most impressive feat of 2012.

Downtown Denver with (fellow UW-L alum) Dallas Vincent.  And Pikachu. 

Ahoy!  Atop Horsetooth with Old Man Clark in Fort Collins, CO.

M9 and M3 atop the podium of Horsetooth.

Alistar Clark, Mountain Man, wrecking a pizza...
On Sprague's Pass, on the shoulder of Stones Peak (>12K'), with the Continental Divide plateau in the background. 
Not pictured: 28F and 30mph winds.

Pumping up atop Stones Peak.  Can you figure out why it's called Stones?  Hint: no Keystone Lights were found...

A spirited descent.  Not exactly "a run"....
This looks like a flat, but we're 100m from yet another shelf, and another 1000-1500' of descending to go...
Post-run beers at Estes Park Brewery. Clarkie's expression symbolic of our day on the "trail"! 

Papa Clarkie and Alistar.  I think this was the story about how the Bears shellacked the Lions...
Autumn Leaves 50K.  Another dose of suffering.  Cold rains, wind, crappy mechanics.  Pain.  But friendly faces, cameraderie and mutual suffering.  And there's nothing like a warm fire and Smores to make a great day in the park.  Autumn Leaves '12 marks my two-year anniversary of running ultras.  It's special.  I intend to return as long as I can.

Autumn Leaves 50K. Not sure who this guy is, but he's bad-ass. 
Took a little spill on the mud, but pressing on.

What's Awesome about Ultras: Me, at the fire pit, guy in yellow, coming into the AS....

...and roasting a quick marshmallow...
Eveleth, MN.  Got to take a trip back to the Midwest and to Northern Minnesota, to see my uncle and cousins, and meet the newest member of the Uhan Family.  I also got to learn a bit more about the Uhan family roots, which was a valuable experience.

What a beer fridge looks like in Northern Minnesota.  To his credit, my uncle did have some New Belgium Ales, which I quickly put away.

My nephew Evan, 5, on my dad's old Yamaha 350 three-wheeler.  I rode this, alone, no helmet, starting at age six.

Evan and my sister, Brandie, with the newest member of the Uhan family.

Getting a family history lesson: Brandie and my Uncle Joe at the Eveleth (MN) Cemetary.

My Great-Grandfather, Frank, who emigrated to Eveleth from early 20th Century Austria
(likely modern day Slovenia...)
North Face and Cal International.  My worst ultra, ever, but a rewarding weekend. Crazy weather.  Good beer.  Great friends.
Muir Beach, Friday night, pre-race.  It wouldn't clear out again 'til Sunday night...

Post-DNF beers at the Lagunitas Taproom. 

"Not everyone obsesses about WS like me and you do!"  ~ Training Camp planning.
CIM Sunday.  Sara's ready to run...into a 20mph headwind and hard rain!

"Tired as F### after that 3:09 race!"
Western States Lottery & Roast of Lord Balls.  I wasn't planning on taking in the Lottery, until I heard about a special evening in works, thanks to AJW and Monkey Boy.  Roasting LB?  Free Auburn Ales?  In.  It was a special evening that was both a celebration of great man and, with any luck, the ringing-in of new, great era in Western States and the ultrarunning community.

BGD getting the low-down on "14-Minute Tree" from AJW at the Ale House.

Greg Soderlund and LB preside over Lottery Saturday at Placer HS.
MB gets the LB Roast started.  AJW can't hardly wait...

Tropical John: a roast with eloquence.  Looks like Gary's spitting out his drink...

By this point in the night, MB's  impressions are melding together.  Double-funny.
Christmas Trip. Booked a last-minute trip back to Wisconsin for the holiday.  And, in typical fashion, I was able to pack six pounds of fun into a five-pound bag.  Highlights within highlights:

  • "Relationship Remediation" with Erin.  And, fittingly, with three of Bell's "Two-Hearted" IPAs. 
  • A night trail run, "meat sweats", and beers with Matt Mitchell and Sam Jurek - veterans of the WS 2011 campaign.
  • A great indoor track session with my youngest brother, Billy.
  • Catching up with Andy Sol in Eau Claire.  Guy's got it together, I'm jealous!  Keep it up!
  • UW-L PT school reunion with Dan, Johnny, and Lucas in Eau Claire.
  • Morning run on the snowy EC streets with Dan, and Scotty Hayden - who reminded me that he's one of my all-time favorite guys.  
  • Legos and Taylor Swift with my 5-year old nephew, Evan
  • Snowy long-run on the trails of River Falls with "The Boss", Bryon Powell.  
  • Driving to Stevens Point and back to get my brother Steve, and learning the difference between "good rap" (Kendrick Lamar, et al) and "crappy rap" (Clyde Carson).  "R-ruh-Really, bro?"

Hoff arranges her homework at the Muddy Pig...

Samuel contemplating life at Juniors in River Falls, WI.

Breakfast with Champions: Scotty Hayden (L) and Dan Reznichek, post-run in Eau Claire, WI

Awesome "annual indoor track session" with my brother Billy, at UW-River Falls.

Me and The Boss, heading out for a snowy trail run in River Falls.
New Year's Weekend in Placer County.  One last trip to the Promised Land. Three excellent runs on the WS Course, including an epic bonk coming up to Highway 49 with BGD.  Also had a couple great hang-outs, including with my friend Rachael, another Eveleth, MN, native and Sactown resident.  

BGD and I finished up our shared highlights, finally, on New Year's Eve, at 11:40PM.  What a year!  

What's with BGD and these "boobfuls" of beer?  BGD at Boneshaker in Rocklin/Roseville.
"Just keep it on the down-low!" BGD gets primed for karaoke with some T-BOZ!

Uh-oh!  BGD hard at work.  I had a headache about an hour later....

BGD "Tearin' up My Heart" with his karaoke debut in Sacramento on NYE.

Happy New Year from BGD, Sara...and a sweet photo-bomb from some historical Irish figure
- La Verre Irish Pub, Sacramento, CA

So what will 2013 hold?  No one knows.  But if it's half as eventful, exciting, and generative as 2012, it'll be a great one.  Can't wait...

Not sure if you noticed, but a lot of folks appeared in this post.  If it weren't for you guys, it would've have been so great.  Thank you for your friendship, love, support and good times!