New Beginnings

The past few months have been quite a whirlwind.  From early April to mid-July, my life changed in nearly every possible way.

In April, I defended my Ph.D. and graduated from school.  I also accepted a new job in a field which is quite a leap from what I ever thought I would do.

Yay! Graduated!

In June, I got married to the most wonderful, fantastic partner I could ever possibly ask for.  We also decided to shorten the commute to my new job by moving, and happened upon the absolute perfect house in the most perfect location, but had to frantically prep to move the day after we got back from our backpacking honeymoon.  Oh, and the wedding was a completely DIY affair, which we self-hosted/designed/made/planned/catered at our house, for 50 people.  Not exactly relaxing.

Image credit: The totally amazing Lucy Schultz Photography

Backpacking in the Maroon Bells with my favorite person

In July, we moved, and I started my new job.  So… things have been a little crazy!  Fortunately, I’m liking the job so far, so that’s good.  It was a leap to leave academia and planetary science and go into industry and computer science/geospatial data analysis, but I’m enjoying the challenge, and find myself looking forward to tackling the next day’s work, so that’s good.

The biggest issue with all this chaos is that I was never able to establish any kind of routine or do any major running like I had initially thought I would with my May and June “vacation.”  So now that things have calmed down and we’ve gotten back to our new normal, I’m struggling to get my feet back under me and get momentum in rebuilding my physical and mental health.  I had to let go of the Ute 100 for this year (Maybe 2019?  Too many variables for now…) and focus my sights on something that was a bit further down the road and slightly shorter, so I could actually get some training in.  So I signed up for the Bear Chase 50 miler at the end of September.  If that goes well and I’m feeling it, I’ll sign up for the Javelina 100 miler that happens Halloween weekend in Phoenix.  I expect that I’ll probably decide to hold off on the 100 for this year, but you never know.  I’m trying to be smart about my race choices lately since I’ve had so many DNFs and DNSs in the past few years.  I keep trying to bite off more than I can chew with all the things going on in life, and I need to be smarter and more realistic about my time and ability to get the long runs in.  I like having at least one day on my weekends to do stuff with my family and take care of other things that need to be done, and while it IS possible, 100 miler training doesn’t really allow for that to happen easily.

So now that life is more settled again, my short term goals are:

  1. Write regularly again.  I really enjoy this blog as my creative outlet and way to sort through my thoughts about training and racing, even if nobody reads it but my mom. 🙂
  2. Work on establishing a morning workout routine.  This means ACTUALLY GETTING UP WHEN MY ALARM GOES OFF IN THE MORNING AND NOT SLEEPING FOR AN EXTRA TWO HOURS.  Do you hear me, 5 a.m. Sarah???
  3. Get back into the habit of cooking dinners for my family.  I love cooking and we eat so much better when I do it several nights out of the week.  It also helps now that we’re settled in our new home and our commutes are shorter – no more driving a half hour+ to get home!  (I’m really digging the 15 minute commute.)
  4. Bike to work at least once a week.  Normally this would be NBD, but it’s 11 miles one way and there are some REALLY BIG HILLS.  It’s a commitment.

I think that’s a pretty good list for now.

2017: Goals and getting started

For better or for worse, 2017 is upon us.  I have never liked the idea of New Year’s resolutions, and refuse to make them.  However, I do find the beginning of a new year to be an excellent time to reflect on the previous year, and use that information to formulate a plan of attack for the upcoming one.

Things I didn’t do enough of in 2016:

  • Being kind to myself
  • Training consistently
  • Stretching and strength training
  • Eating in a way that is satisfying, and still provides quality fuel for my body
  • Saving for future plans
  • Exploring beautiful nearby places in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona through hiking, backpacking, backcountry skiing, etc.
  • Cooking actual MEALS
  • Reading for pleasure/personal growth

Things I did too much of in 2016:

  • Eating too much, and/or eating junk (not junk food, per se, but definitely not eating healthily)
  • Getting down on myself when things didn’t go as planned
  • Spending money on things I didn’t NEED
  • Stressing about things I don’t need to stress about
  • Wasting time

I would like to improve upon each of these in the upcoming year, but trying to do everything at once never works out well.  It’s a rare person who can overhaul every single thing all at once and stick with it, so instead, I’m going with baby steps – one week at a time.  This week, my focus was meal planning and cooking meals for my family, and only spending money on “needs” and not “wants.”  The meal planning and dinners went over wonderfully, and every single thing I made was voted to be a “definitely make again” recipe, and will be going into the “tried and true” family recipe binder.

The meal plan for this week:

Every single one of these was delicious.  I would highly recommend them all.

The other thing I was working on this week was getting back into the habit of tracking all my spending.  I used to be meticulous about this, but I’ve let it slide over the last couple years, and I want to get my good habits back.  Especially since we have some pretty big plans for the future that will require careful saving and planning.  So I got the old excel budget tracker file out (I am a HUGE excel nerd) and dusted it off, and have been logging all my expenses for the week.  This helps so much when it comes to curbing my spending, because I actually see it laid out in front of me, instead of just being some nebulous thing out there that I don’t really have quantified.  I’ve also put my credit card away, so I can’t spend money I don’t have.  It’s still available in case of emergencies, but it’s not the first thing I reach for anymore.  And finally, I set up an automatic $5 daily transfer to my savings.  It’s $5 per day, which isn’t really noticeable by the day, or week.  But it adds up quickly.  That’s an extra $150/month to my savings, and $1,825 per year.  And once I’m done with school and am back to having a normal income (grad student incomes are notoriously low – often close to minimum wage when you break it down by hour), I can always increase that.

As far as running-related financial things go, I made my peace with only having one (totally awesome) race for this year – the Colorado 200 Mile Endurance Run – 50 mile solo race.  I’m really hoping to do the full 200 in 2018, but for 2017, the 50 miler was the perfect option for me.  It’s beautiful, challenging, incredibly well run, and full of awesome people.  Plus then I get to volunteer at aid stations for the rest of the week and help out all the fantastic runners that I got to share trails with for the first 50 miles.  There were many other races that I wanted to have on my calendar as well.  But financially, I really needed to pick one favorite and just go with that.  And the CO 200 was an easy choice since I loved it so much last year.

One other thing I’ve been doing a lot more of lately is reading for pleasure.  As a Ph.D. student, it’s so easy to find yourself only ever reading technical journal articles.  I have always been an avid reader, and missed reading things just because I wanted to.  So I tracked down a bunch of interesting and inspiring-looking books, and have been working my way through the stack of them one (or two) at a time.  There have already been a few that I’ve enjoyed and found extremely helpful:

I found those first two (The Power of Habit and The Slight Edge) particularly interesting and useful.  I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention:

I got that book for my best friend who is an incredible person, but often doubts herself.  It took her a while to actually pick it up and read it, but once she did, the absolutely loves it and now tells everyone else to read it.  So it comes with a glowing recommendation from her.

Now that this first week is nearly done, it’s time to look ahead to plans for the coming week.  I won’t add much, because that’s when things break down and fall apart.  So instead, my focus for week 2 is to continue with the habits that I have been establishing this week, and add in a short run each day (30 minutes/3 miles), and tracking my food intake.

I should also mention the app that I found this week for habit tracking – Strides.  It’s been excellent!  Definitely worth checking out if you’re trying to create new habits (also read that Power of Habit book!).