With my race wheels hung up, and my cross bike all set up for cold, winter rides, it’s time to look back on the blur that was 2017. It was absolutely one of the best years of my life. Hugo was born in March, and just because I don’t have to avoid cliches if I don’t want to, he stole our hearts and changed our lives forever. He has taught Giesla and I more in his nine months of life than we could have ever imagined. Our time together as a new family while Giesla was on maternity leave was extra special. As travel is a hugely important part of our lives, Hugo learned all about it as we visited Virginia Beach for a work trip, Asheville, North Carolina for some gorgeous hiking and beer tasting, and California to check out the Redwoods, San Francisco, and Napa Valley. He was a wonderful traveler, and we think he loves being in the woods as much as we do. He stares into the trees for hours in amazement and then would fall asleep in our arms. We completed a four hour hike near Lake Tahoe, and he loved it, astounded by every tree, flower, and log we passed. We watched his eyes grow bigger and bigger as he smacked each Redwood in Redwoods National Park. He screamed at me as I dipped him in the Atlantic at 7 weeks old and the Pacific at 10 weeks. He has been pretty incredible and continues to amaze us every day. He has been patient as we learn how to be parents. He has cheered me on at all of my races. My last race was in early December in Kings Mills, Ohio, and I have taken a very generous break since then, enjoying long evenings with Giesla and Hugo, lots of family get-togethers, sleeping in, and indulging in ample amounts of dark chocolate and red wine. I thought two weeks off would be enough before getting into some training and weight lifting, but I am really enjoying staying warm inside and sipping coffee extra long on the weekends.
Giesla and I figured out a new routine for cooking and getting workouts in. Which is to say, we had no idea what we were doing in this new family-of-three mode and just did what we could when we could, often so sleep-deprived we felt like zombies. It was a challenging year, but we loved grinding our way through it. Sleepless nights, extra long commutes to and from daycare, and cooking and cleaning while holding Hugo was all new to us. I got a Cygolite to brighten up the 4am morning darkness, so that I could get training rides in before anyone else was awake. It was a major shift in my lifestyle, and I have definitely never considered doing a workout at four in the morning. But in order to spend time with Giesla and Hugo in the evenings after work and cook healthy meals together, it was really the only option I had if I wanted to ride at all. It’s surprising how peaceful and quiet the early morning is. The moon and stars are still out, and I felt like I owned the roads as I a rarely saw any cars at that hour.
Like a lot of years, I started upping my running mileage early on. With a newborn in the house, it was just easier to throw on running shoes at a moment’s notice and get a few miles in. If Hugo was napping and Giesla was good with it, I could sneak out for an hour and just run. With cycling, there’s a lot more involved and the gear needs attention and it’s more challenging as it just requires more time. I started to get some lingering pain in my left foot and ankle, like most of my recent running injuries. It seems like I have ongoing issues in my left leg. I fought that battle with rest and chiropractic visits and massage and foam rolling. I haphazardly jumped into a DINO 15K at the beginning of April at Eagle Creek and did surprisingly well. I felt strong through the whole race and had a decent kick at the finish to grab second place. Unfortunately after that race, my foot rebelled on and off for months, and I ultimately jumped back on the bike in June.
I lifted a lot more weights this year in an effort to rehab my foot and ankle and also because weight lifting is something I typically avoid. Well into my 30s now, where muscle mass begins to wane, I felt like it was time to stop avoiding it. To me, weight lifting is like flossing – I know I need to do it, I am always happy when I do it, and it is challenging to create the habit. This year, I did a lot better with weights (not so great with the flossing, but hey 2018 might be my year). It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with cycling again. I had to face those challenges I mentioned earlier with time and attention to cleaning and maintaining my bikes – it is much harder with a baby to take care of too. But luckily Hugo enjoys sitting in his bouncer in the garage and watching me tinker on bikes.
Though I planned to put in some long training miles with the Harvest 50 and Gravel Grovel as my main goals, I got a little sidetracked. I finally jumped into a cyclocross race at Bloomingcross and absolutely loved it. The speed, technicality, strategy, and strength needed, which are basically all of my weaknesses, was intoxicating. I thought I would do Bloomingcross, get a feel for that type of racing, and then continue on with my long training for the Fall races. But I definitely fell hard for cross and ended up focusing my training on it – I did five cross races for the season, learned a ton about racing, had a total blast, and rediscovered the joy in racing. I am hooked. I improved as the season went on, finishing in the top 10 four times and landing on the podium once. I had a horrible day at the Harvest 50 in October and suffered alone in the cold and wind. But I felt some redemption as I finally felt strong and had a great day at the Gravel Grovel in November, improving my best time by 51 minutes. With this season behind me and all of the mistakes I made during cross races swimming in my head, I have a lot to work on and look forward to next year.
In 2017, I moved 3,419miles and spent 309 hours training and racing – 615 miles running and hiking and 2,804 miles cycling. I put almost 100 hours less into my training in 2017 as compared to 2016, but I was definitely stronger, faster, and in better shape than ever. That’s a strong testament to doing more with less. I am slowly learning to be smarter with my training and recovery. And with Hugo in our life, doing more with less is something I strive for every day. Giesla and I truly enjoy pursuing fitness and health goals so fitting everything in has been and will continue to be a huge learning experience. As with most years, 2017 has taught me, yet again, that I have a lot of things in my life fighting for my attention, and patience, mindfulness, and going with the flow is the key to getting better. More training and more miles does not always equal a better athlete or a better person. To be the best dad, husband, and friend, balance is not always the best option. 2018 is sure to bring more learning and adventures our way. With Hugo beginning to army crawl as I type this, I am heading into 2018 with a healthy dose of excitement. Giesla is getting back to running, and we are hoping to do some trail races together. I am hoping to complete a cross country mountain bike race season, which I haven’t done since 2013. 2018 is loaded with plans, hopes, dreams, travels, and all the beautiful unknowns of every year. Let’s get it going, 2018 – we are ready!
2017 races below:
- Eagle Creek 15K Trail Run
- Bloomingcross CX
- Brookside CX
- Eva Bandman Halloweencross
- Harvest 50 Gravel Race
- Major Taylor CX
- Gravel Grovel
- Carter Park CX