2016 Annual Summary
2016 was all about consistency in running and change in life outside of running.
At the start of 2016, I had no idea what to expect from the year to come. Elizabeth was 37 weeks pregnant and the countdown to baby was really on. I was consulting for a few different companies and looking into a few potential full-time offers, but didn’t know where that was going to take me. I was running pretty consistently and feeling fit and helping get Team NutriBullet ready for the LA Marathon; I didn’t know what running would look or feel like once our son arrived, but I for sure knew better than to have signed up for any big races.
Twelve months later, I look back at the year with satisfaction that we survived. A large part of my survival was due to the fact that despite all the change in my life, running was a solid consistency keeping me grounded and generally sane.
The most important thing about 2016 – and the biggest change – was Chase.
Born February 2, 2016
He’s been the best thing that ever happened to me (and I feel confident I can say “us”). I can’t believe he’ll be one in a couple weeks. He’s an awesome kid and being a dad gets better and better pretty much every day. A quick progression through his first 10 months:
I started a new full-time job a month after Chase was born. It was a great opportunity that I felt fortunate to have. I really liked the people I worked with and enjoyed the job. As you can probably tell from the use of past tense there, I’m moving on again. My last day at LRW is at the end of this month. I’m moving on to something different – joining a relatively new and very small research company to be part of management and operations and help the company grow. It’s going to be a big challenge and force me to stretch myself, but I’ve been looking for something like this for years. I’m really excited for this new chapter in my career.
Not all of the change in 2016 was change for the better.
In October, Charlie passed away. He had heart disease and wasn’t doing great but his death came suddenly and as a huge shock. I miss him and think about him every single day. I know that he and Chase would have been great buddies.
And right after Thanksgiving, Elizabeth’s Grandpa Sam died.
Sam lived 94 great years. It doesn’t make the death much easier, but we all did have the opportunity to say goodbye. I’m glad Chase got to meet him and that he got to spend some time with Chase. Whether or not Chase remembers his Great Grandpa Sam, we will always be able to tell him just how bright Sam’s face lit up when he was around.
With all of the other change in my life, the one constant was running. Running consistently helped me keep the rest of my fears and anxieties in perspective. It helped me manage the lack of sleep, especially during the first four months of Chase’s life, but it’s not like I’m getting tons of sleep these days either.
Around the time Chase was born, I decided that my goal for 2016 was to run at least 100 miles every month. I had to stretch a bit to get that in February, but for the rest of the year, I found the time. I ended up running 2,017 miles in the year. It meant a lot of very early mornings (regularly out the door before 5am so I could be home before Chase gets up between 7-7:30) and, after years of running most of my long miles in the Santa Monicas or San Gabriels, I had to get creative and find good running around home.
With the help of Google Maps and Strava, I explored all over the Hollywood Hills. I ran more on the road than I have since I moved to LA and made it a point to find new roads and routes (and Strava segments) all the time. There is some great climbing right outside my door, including some roads that are just as steep and long (if not more) as the trails in the Santa Monicas. I also explored some new trails that I could get to on foot from home – notably some other routes around Runyon and the Wisdom Tree trail, all of which I ended up running a lot. From February until about August, I ran nearly every mile solo and found a renewed love for that quiet time as well. Running hilly roads kept my climbing legs pretty strong and also made me a considerable better descender than ever before. Downhill running had always been a relative weakness for me and I think the road descents helped with confidence as much as strength and technique. It also translated to trail descents when I got back to the trails.
In late 2015 I decided that I wouldn’t race in 2016 – or at least not until we “were a little situated with the baby and my job situation stabilizes”. In truth, both of those happened by the middle of the year, but by that time I had already decided that the Mulholland 85k was a great goal and I didn’t feel the need to do any big races. I’m sure that there are people who love racing enough that they would miss it more or would find running unfulfilling without the goal of a race. And at times I missed some aspects of racing (mostly just the camaraderie pre- and post- race), but I always know that what I like most about running is the running part. And I still did plenty of that. I liked running in 2016 for the sake of running without the pressure of a race to train. That just felt right for me.
Other than all the local exploring I did, there were four defining running memories of 2016:
1. Chase’s birth was timed pretty much perfectly with the LA Marathon. The fact that he came a little late meant that I was able to get to every Team NutriBullet practice leading up to the race. And he and Elizabeth were home from the hospital in time for me to get away for a few hours on raceday and spend time out on the course supporting the team. I started from home, ran backwards on the course and then ran west with various people from the team. Then I spent the longest part of my day running back and forth between 26th Street and Ocean Avenue, shuttling people from about mile 24 to mile 25. It was awesome to get to see so many people I’d trained with for months finishing up their race.
2. At some point in the spring I decided that even though I wasn’t going to race any ultras, that didn’t mean I wouldn’t try to do something outlandish. Given the running I was doing, it made sense that it would be something local, something solo and something on hilly roads. For years, I’d noticed that Mulholland Drive/Mulholland Highway went all the way from Hollywood to Malibu. So I decided to run the whole thing. And on August 28, that’s what I did. It ended up being about 56 miles and took me 11.5 hours. It got hot, I ran out of water (a few times) and I walked a ton more than I’d planned, but had a bunch of fun. And I still don’t know anyone else who’s run it. Here’s the Strava data.
3. In mid-August, as things started feeling a little settled both at home and work, I started getting in a weekly run at Los Liones with Chamoun. And I’d guess we met there at least an average of once per week since then. Most weeks it’s the only run I do with anyone else and it’s almost always my only run that I drive to and is all on trails. We’ve seen some incredible sunrises and it’s also gotten me out the door on some cold and rainy mornings that I might have otherwise bailed on the run.
4. The only exceptions to my “no races in 2016” were the Ventura Half Marathon in January (which seems like a life-time ago) and the Topanga Turkey Trot 15k. I ran somewhat hard at Ventura, but definitely didn’t feel like I “raced” it. Steve and I talked pretty much the entire time. The Turkey Trot was a last-minute decision. After we cancelled our Thanksgiving travel plans, I decided to jump into the race. I was feeling fit and wanted to really race it. That being said, I warmed-up by running 6+ miles from Los Liones to the start at Trippet Ranch (and the same distance back after the race). The good news is that I ran hard at the race and really feel like I earned my time (1:20:05) and placement (9th overall).
While I ran a fair amount, I barely swam. I swam about half of my total 2016 meters in January alone. It went way downhill after that. Between the demands of the job and spending time with Chase and prioritizing running when I did have “free time”, finding the time to get to the pool was nearly impossible. And when I did get there, I was rushed and anxious. I do miss it and hopefully I’ll find time to work it in during 2017. But we’ll see…
2016 by the numbers:
Swim: 73,586 meters (45.72 miles = least I’ve swam since I started tracking in 2007)
Cycling (outdoors): 0 miles
Run: 2,017.4 miles (proud of this, especially considering what was going on this year)
Total Run Elevation Gain: 276,726 feet (proud of this too because I had to work to find climbing)
Strength Training/Yoga: 30 sessions (not nearly enough)
Approximate annual total training/racing time: 347 hours (low, but that makes sense given the lack the things that take the most time like long days on the trails, swimming and strength training)
What will 2017 bring?
Who knows. With a toddler on the move and another new job, I’m again focused on running whenever I can. So far, I’m off to a good start and having a great (consistent) January. People ask me all the time what I’m training for and my answer is still “nothing”. Maybe I will race an ultra this year, but maybe I’ll just find another Mulholland 85k-like goal and do that. I’d like to get back to the pool now and then. Or maybe I’ll decide I hate all this stuff and just start training Chase to fence.