Monday, August 25, 2014

Unpacking

I’m attempting to resurrect a dead blog. It feels like calling an old friend that I haven’t spoken to in a long time, perhaps too long. Can I pick up where I left off? Is there too much to catch up on? Would it be too little, too late?
I spent the summer unplugged. Mostly unplugged, that is. I’d post the occasional picture on instagram, but I have approximately 4 followers. Kelsey and I lived at her mother’s place for the summer. My phone had terrible reception there, so an iPhone 5S was used as a primitive texting tool that required a desperate “Statue of Liberty” pose on the deck for optimum performance. Facebook was deactivated. A little rest from this type of ridiculi was in order. Now it's funny again.


Living on an inland lake in Michigan was great. Kelsey and I paddleboarded, swam, and enjoyed some life outside of the college town/city setting. We ran some hilly backcountry roads, but running certainly wasn’t the focus of the summer for me.  I've decided that water skiing is awesome and that I am always going to be better at less cool old school things than their modern counterparts(growing up on snow skis has made me a piss-poor wakeboarder). I worked in a loosely medical related field as a surgical instrument repair technician. Learning how to repair the tools that help medical professionals was a pretty gratifying job, although getting up at 4:45 each morning was less than ideal. 
On the rare occasion that I woke up early enough to enjoy my morning before work, I sipped coffee here.

The ridiculous life preserver adds an old school flair and chafe marks.
Getting in my car and driving away from friends and family felt downright mean. I couldn't ask for better family. We love and support each other and have a good sense of humor about it. My sister and brother-in-law are expecting another child at the end of the month, and I've gone and hopped in a Subaru filled with shit and headed west. We exchanged hugs and displayed some teary-eyed stoicism that we all understand. I thought I was only feeling guilt for leaving, and I realize that it's genuine sorrow for missing my family and friends.

Not to lose track of why I've come here to Flagstaff in the first place, I'm incredibly excited to start a Bachelors of Nursing program at Northern Arizona University. After more than my fair share of fumbling around, I think I've found a career path that fits. If I can get through a notoriously tough 5 semesters, my employment and life satisfaction is likely to see some improvement as long as I don't drown in student loan debt, in which case I will fake my own death and leave a link to a new blog. Though returning to Michigan is something I never thought I would want, I'm considering this one hell of an entertaining, educational, grueling 2.5 year vacation from the midwest. Returning to be based out of the Great Lakes State after this doesn't upset me one bit. Funny how things change. I'm excited to call such a wonderful town home for a while and continue to meet great people while Kelsey and I help each other through the march to higher education.

Because logging exercise seems to help continuation of exercise, here is this:

Monday
About 8 miles on the bike to run some errands, but that's it. I'd forgotten what it's like to live in such a hilly town. Even bicycle commuting is challenging. It's a humbling reminder of how far I've gotten from being in competitive shape. Knowing is comforting, however. I think that using my bike for transportation whenever possible will give a little extra work to the legs to supplement running. Outside of the physical, biking seems to be good for my mind. I'm mobile without the expense of burning fuel and can explore my new surroundings in a way that is time-efficient and doesn't stress me the fuck out like driving a car does.

Bike path near the house that seems to take me wherever I need to go.
Tuesday
12(?) miles - Left from the apartment to the McMillan Mesa trail, where I descended the opposide side to try to find a quick route to the USFS trails just outside of town. I found a way in, but I don't think it was incredibly direct. I left my GPS watch in a hotel in Amarillo, Texas, so I was just letting the iron in the blood of my slightly-larger-than-average nose be my guide. I set out for an hour's jog, and got lost in some cool trails. It was the first run in a long time that left me wanting more instead of wanting to be done. Though it would be a nice, neat statement to say that the mountains were pulling me along, I've come to love exploration in general. Mountains are cool, and I'll do my best to enjoy them while I'm here. I'm eager to get to a point where sustained climbing is possible, but trying to enjoy the process.

PM- About 30 minutes of gym time. The new apartment building has a small fitness center with weights, benches, a couple of cardio machines, and a cable crossover machine. Nothing fancy, just hitting all the groups twice and calling it a day. Trying to get back into shape isn't incredibly fun, but I seem to be getting good at making a little progress then starting all over again.

Wednesday
1 hour (8 miles or so). Without a GPS watch, I have no idea what my pace is or how far I've gone. Even my somewhat inaccurate Suunto gave me a general idea (more on that later). I was feeling really sluggish for the whole run, but shuffled up some decent hills. On last mile, I was cruising along, finally finding a comfortable stride, when my back suddenly seized. The Thoracic region simply locked up painfully with no warning or insidious onset. I stopped immediately and could barely walk. Fuck. Needless to say, I was disappointed in myself for whatever I'd done to cause such a malady. Excessive sitting, some stress, and generally being out of shape probably resulted in shitty form of some sort. I slowly walked home and laid on the floor a while.

Thursday
Unless you're gracious enough to call carrying a sofa and desk into my apartment and putting them together exercise, then I didn't exercise. The weird back injury didn't go away overnight, so I sat around and pouted about it all day.

Friday
A little frustrated to find my back still flared up, I took an Aleve and went to the Elden Trailhead. 2.5 miles up, 2.5 miles down. I really love this climb and descent. A fun mix of runnable buffed-out single track, technical/steep running, and some stair-like objects. A compact run of 2400' over 2.5 miles to the summit gets a good workout over a short distance.
The city down below. A decidedly common sight for the local trailgoers, but I'm new so I'm impressed.
I'm not much of a technical runner, or much of a runner in general, so my lungs hurt.
The top, near the lookout tower.
Next outing, I'd like to head this way. 
Saturday
9 miles - Humphrey's Peak with Kelsey. Standard route(not even sure if there's another) from the trailhead. A pretty tough climb not too far of a drive from the house. As nice as it is to have some solitude in the wilderness, one would be foolish to expect that on a Saturday afternoon. We were making our way up at a decent pace and seeing quite a few people making their way down. Seeing people looking genuinely happy to be where they were made my day. That sounds fake, but it's not. Civilized humans using their precious Saturday to get outside and challenge themselves while appreciating a unique feature of our planet is cool.




Sunday
I'm not sure exactly how long I was gone, how far I went, or even precisely which trails I took. Normally I like knowing, but this fit my mood rather well. Sometimes it's nice just to get lost in the woods with enough water and food to get by. My dad, in his infinite wisdom, would always reassure me when we were a little turned around on our trail riding adventures. "You're not lost until you run out of gas." This advice hasn't only translated to running, but also life, in a more profound way. A plan is undoubtedly valuable, but so is tenacity, wit, and flexibility. I try to remember this when I feel lost.









So, there it is.

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