Wow. Time passes so quickly. I've been out of the blogging game for quite some time now but I miss it. I find that it helps me to process thoughts, be creative, and provide somewhat of a 'lasting' record of events.
That being said, here goes the last over 18 months in review. Let's do it by topic:
Family - a lot is going on. Presently in the early stages of adopting a child. R and Z are now 8 and 4 and time is flying. They are so much fun. I document a lot of our fun on my instagram account, @akworm.
I love my wife more each day and we are continually working to better our relationship. Through ups and downs she sticks by my side, always spurring me towards my best self. Though I don't always receive her with grace, she showers me with mercy and I couldn't ask for a better mate.
We always wanted a large family and always spoke of adoption being something we wanted to pursue, so we are. We are hoping and praying for a girl and have agreed to present to several birth moms so far. If you have ever wondered about adoption you can follow our journey at our YOUCARING site. I am posting weekly updates; started after we went active with our consultants. It has been awesome to see the outpouring of love and support of family and friends and we can't wait to get our baby (or babies, how fun would twin girls be?).
Work - Oh man. At the end of the 2013-14 school year I was laid off from my teaching job bc of budget cuts and seniority issues. It was a stressful summer but my principal stood up for me and I ended up with 1/2 my job back. I picked up another 1/2 job and split teaching between 2 schools all year. It was a hassle, but I tried to remember I was blessed to have a job at all. In the meantime I ended up doing a 1 year pastoral internship at my church where I was surprised to discover a gift for preaching. It was a humbling, growing, learning experience and it never would have taken place had I not been laid off from my teaching job. It is cool how God uses circumstance (providence) to get us where He wants us to be. I don't know what the future holds as far as preaching/ministering goes, but I know there is a calling on my life to spread the love of Christ. Right now it looks like using the platforms I have as a husband, father, teacher, and friend to shine God's light of grace, mercy, and love everywhere I go. It requires constant vigilance on my part to not let my self/ego/pride diminish the purity of that light.
UPDATE (10/16): So I realized I kind of left work hanging. After the 14/15 school year I was rehired back to full time at the original school I was at, teaching a brand new class that I helped develop the curriculum for. The class had previously been Photography, but is now Visual Media and Communication. I am really excited about the potential of this class. It teaches the technical aspects of photography, design, video, and writing/editing for digital media, and then applies these mediums over social media for the purposes of marketing and advertising. Pretty cool.
Running - To recap this in a coherent format I will preface by saying I have continued to run, a lot, for the last 19 months. Picking up where I left off here are some excerpts:
Jan 2014 - ran Frosty Bottom 50 mile (actually only 43 miles) 9:55. Inadequate training caused significant struggle in the last 6ish miles
Feb 2014 - Little Su 50k (only was 26.8 bc of reroute mistake) 4:51, 4th place men, 6th overall. 2 runners in front of me took wrong turns. yay me!
March 8th, 2014 - first ever race win! Snow Canoe loop 11 miler, 1:49. BOOYAH!!! sunny and CCCCOLD! 6-8" groomed snow so loose/packed, -8˚ at the start, warmed up to probably 5-10˚. Went out hard and maintained the entire race. Ran in 2nd place until the final mile and 1/2 and then made my move and held on for the win. top 3 were within 30 seconds of each other. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
June 2014 - first 24 hr. race, Mr. Miles. 67.5 miles for 3rd place. This type of race requires it's own type of mental fortitude. 4.5 mile laps on a trail loop; complete as many as you can in 24 hours. Starting at noon I ran consistently until about 5am the next day, then kind of threw in the towel only completing 1 lap in the next 7 hours. Good learning experience of what it takes to keep going.
August 2014 - Resurrection Pass 100 time again. I went into this one feeling undertrained but knowing I could complete the distance bc I had done it before. Ran the first half calm, strong, and within my abilities, but on the climb out from the 42 mile aid station the wheels fell off. I was unable to consistently run again for the rest of the race. Walked all night, alone with my thoughts into the morning and the 70 mile aid station, 2 hours later than the previous year (19:30 hours). I called it there. Another DNF. Looking back I believe it was stress. Stress I had been carrying all summer about not having a job. Nothing was wrong, I just wasn't mentally tough enough on that day. Two weeks later ran the Lost Lake Race again for a PR in 2:23 (15.5 miles).
September 2014 - back to Fairbanks for another Equinox Ultra (40 mile). Not my best performance on a rain soaked, cold day but gutted it out for a 8:01 finish.
Spring 2015 - The previous February I had put in for the Cascade Crest Classic (CCC) lottery and had not gotten in. I entered again and was drawn so I would be racing it in August. My good running friends Tony C, Shawn, and Marti had also gotten in so I would travel and pal around with them while in WA. I spent the spring splitboarding (until I broke my tailbone) running, XC skiing, and playing hockey (more later). My goal was to get as much climbing in as possible since CCC has 22k feet of it over it's 100 miles. I also did some pulk (sled) pulling for the first time, running and pulling Z while R would XC ski. It was great and got me thinking about possibly running the Susitna 100 in 2016. I also entered the Mount Marathon lottery again and was drawn, so I would be racing that classic mountain race on the Fourth of July.
June 2015 - entered and ran the Mr. Miles 24 hour race again. This time I was shooting for 100 miles, 23 laps. I was also using this as a fundraiser for our adoption. I ran consistent laps through an 80˚ day and into the night, but my time in between laps got longer. Into the night the 2 people ahead of me struggled and went to bed while I kept plugging away. I ended up with 17 laps, 76.5 miles, which was good enough for 1st place men, 2nd place overall. I was unable to run the last 4 hours with a foot that wouldn't allow me to bear weight. I could have gotten at least another 3 laps in if my body would have cooperated, but I learned that I could keep going even when things got tough, painful, and boring.
July 2015 - the training continued to pile up as I ran less miles, but more vertical feet than ever before. The Fourth of July found me on the start line of the 80th running, and 100 year anniversary of the Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska. And oh yeah, the world's top mountain runner, Kilian Jornet, lined up too. It was an exciting day; everything I hoped for. I wasn't fast but I met my goal of qualifying for next years race so I don't have to lottery again. It was amazing to run in front of 60k people, up and down a 3000 ft mountain in a 3 mile round trip. So much energy, so much fun!
August 2015 - The event I'd been training for all year fell at the end of the month. This one is deserving of it's own write-up, but I don't know if that will happen so I'll give a recap here. A 100 mile finish has eluded me since the first time I attempted it back in 2012. The Resurrection Pass 100 was my first attempt and first finish, but I DNF'd (did not finish) the next two attempts. In a way, the two Mr. Miles 24 hour runs were also 100 mile attempts as I thought it was doable in the time/format allowed, but also the distance escaped my grasp in the nighttime hours. Going into CCC, failure was not an option. Unless I timed out (reaching a specific distance on the course by a specific time, after which one is not allowed to continue) or significantly injured myself, I was going to finish. I had read probably 20 race reports written by everyone from elites to back-of-the-pack runners, giving me what I felt was an intimate knowledge of the course. To keep this blurb short, I enjoyed every minute of this race. I found myself looking forward to the challenges of the course bc I had read so much about them. The tunnel, trail from hell, cardiac needles, and every aid station was familiar, but new. There wasn't a moment I questioned why I was there or what I was doing or contemplating quitting...it was awesome, awsomely difficult. I ran for 73 miles with Marti and it was great. My friends I went down with, Tony and Shawn were a great source of fun, inspiration, and support, as was my family and friends back home. With HAM radio tracking my peoples were able to follow my run through the night and I could definitely feel their thoughts and prayers. I was hoping to 1. finish in 32 hours (which is the cut-off) 2. not get injured 3. finish sub 30. Crossing the line in 29:23 was elating, knowing I had achieved my goals and made my family proud (who are honestly proud of me for even trying).
Fall 2015 - so far I have taken some needed time of from running. Volunteering at the Kesugi Ridge Race by sweeping the second half of the course is the only 'running' I've really done. However just recently I have started again, training our new puppy to have some trail manners. Most exciting on the running front is that my CCC finish qualifies me to enter both Hardrock 100 and Western States 100 lotteries that are held in December. I'm going to drop my name in the hat for both, but Hardrock is my ultramarathon dream race. It is arguably the toughest 100 mile trailrace in existence with over 30k feet of climbing at altitude (9000-14000ft.) I'll keep you posted on that front.
Miscellany - soooooo other stuff...I started playing 'real' hockey on a men's team and some shinny once or twice a week last winter. Pretty fun stuff and a great change of pace from running. R began XC skiing so have enjoyed getting out on the sticks with him. Planning to splitboard a lot this winter to get some climb training in without the impact. As mentioned earlier we have a new puppy: a beautiful yellow lab. She's about 4 months old and a ton of fun. We're all adjusting to her and her to us. This is what crazy people who are adopting, homeschooling, and involved in 800 other things do with their free time. Boys are schooling, running, biking, learning to skate, swimming, and having fun. Tiff is cutting back on work and enjoying her role in the home. It is tough but rewarding to be mom, educator, and spouse to a crazy man.
Wrapping it up, this has been a long post and lot has been omitted, but it gives me a platform to begin from when blogging in the future. Thanks for reading, or not. I don't think anyone is still out there following anymore but that's ok. I have always enjoyed talking to myself.