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2010 has been such an extraordinary year for me, I decided to write it up (also I have some me-too going on because of Jill’s year-review post(s), but of course I have barely any pictures and can’t write too good, so don’t expect much). Here we go (and yes, I completely shamelessly stole the format from Jill):

Wine and Cheese

January, “Wine and Cheese”: The new year started out slow. Both me and my ex realized our relationship had been over for a while and acknowledged it, and I finally decided to move back closer to work, cutting my commute from 2 hours a day to 20-30 minutes. Overall, I was sort of aimless and in a sort of bad mood, which was fittingly confirmed by my earning the Wine and Cheese award at the 2010 HURT.

Tilden Park Berkeley

February, “Back to the start”: In February, I finally decided to move back to Los Altos, almost to the same place I lived in for a few years before my stint in Berkeley. I missed the steep hills and excellent views of San Francisco and the North Bay from the Berkeley Hills, but I definitely did NOT miss the horrible east bay commute with its crazy drivers. Still, it felt like my life had come to a full circle with no progress, and I hesitated to even unpack my boxes. Apart from my racing, which I loved, everything else in my life seems to have stood still for the last couple of years, with no real prospect of any change.

Fun at C2M

March, “Shiny and new”: March was the turning point of the year. Just because as a software engineer you have to interview with Google at least once I had given that a try earlier in the year, but didn’t expect anything to come out of it, much less anything that I would want. To my surprise though, Google made a good offer and I took the opportunity to change and see one of the most unique companies in the world from the inside – and I haven’t looked back. To this day, this is clearly my best job (at least my best “real” job) – crazy smart people, great leaders, great work environment.

Harry, Me, Steve in the middle of our little 100k adventure.

April, “Friends”: April continued the positive trend as I became much better friends with Heather, Martina, Harry and Steve, spending lots of training runs together, leading to our own little 100k race, which was a ~50k run from my apartment to the start of the Skyline To The Sea 50k, leaving at 1:30am from my place. We got the the official start with about 30 minutes to spare. I was surprised to find myself in my usual spot for the first few miles, only to bonk quite badly afterwards, the price you pay for trying to keep up with fresh legs. At least I was able to answer the question “Is this your first 50k?” with “No it’s my second. Today.”.

May, “Old”: I honestly don’t have any pictures from May, and there wasn’t much going on, really. I turned 41, which means I was now really really quite old, and sure enough stuff started hurting.

Martina, Harry, Steve, Me at the Bighorn award ceremony

June, “Racing”: June held a hectic schedule – I ran Diablo 50k (with ~9000ft climbing in brutal heat), starting very early at ~6am so I could catch a flight to Switzerland later the same day, did the Biel 100k road race with my friend Chris Marolf the weekend after right before flying back, just to head out to run Bighorn with my south bay friends the following weekend. Despite the tight schedule things went surprisingly well. I also ran many miles with a fun gal named Leslie, who, amongst many other things, told me about a crazy friend of hers doing a crazy mountain bike race from Canada to the Mexican border. She in turn introduced me to Danni, who was one of the RDs for Swan Crest which I intended to run later. If my life seems to be centered around running races at this time it is because that’s exactly what my life was – work and run (mostly in form of racing). Not much else.

Steve snaps a flattering picture of me trying to navigate a debris field.

July, “Dumb Luck”: Swan Crest almost did not happen for me. First I wanted to run Fat Dog in Canada, but Swan Crest had much more climbing so I switched to that since I felt I had to train for Tor Des Geants. Then some pseudo-environmentalist douchebag almost had Swan Crest cancelled, but last minute the RDs decided to run it as a not-for-profit event. Swan Crest itself was an interesting experience, but of course the highlight of the run was meeting Jill at the finish.

Pirate's Cove during Headlands 100

August, “Possibilities”: This was maybe the second-most intense month of my life, only because September would beat it. Jill and I struck up an intense Facebook friendship, and things went quickly from “Montana – impossible. But that chick is cool.” to “I have to meet Jill in person and ask her out or I’ll forever regret it”. At the same time, several friendships deepened significantly. Racing wise, I did Headlands just a week after Swan Crest in a childish but successful attempt to impress Jill and went for a completely surreal 51k road ultra in the Nevada desert near Area 51 with Steve. However all this foolishness left me with some lingering overuse injuries that made me wonder if I would get far in the Tor Des Geants.

The "tooth of the giant", which gives the Tor Des Geants its name.

September: There isn’t really one key phrase to describe this month, which is the most intense month of my entire life (so far). It contained the most intense race/physical effort I have done – 200+ miles, 80000ft of climbing, 132 hours, 4 1/2 hours of sleep – most of which I thought about Jill and my plans to meet her. This was followed by the most crazy, risky, stupid and brilliant plan that lead to the most romantic and challenging first date ever – Jill pacing me for 50 miles at the Bear a mere week after finishing Tor Des Geants – her not having ran more than a few miles ever, me being completely obliterated from TDG. To this day I wonder how this all just turned out so perfectly, but it’s the month where my life went from “so-so” to “extraordinarily great”.

My first mountain bike ride in California ...

October “Bridge“: When Jill and I were running the Bear in the night, we mentioned the issue of distance. I called it a “minor complication”. Now here I was, dating my dream woman … 1100 miles away. The month was all about finding out just how minor this complication was … and it turned out to be not so bad, thanks to uber-cool bosses and a solid financial situation, and things just kept getting better and surprising me positively. This month I learned a host of new things: how to pack and travel efficiently, mountain bike at night, what a bike shuttle and a personal man-slave is, and did my first overnight backpacking trip. I got a mountain bike back home as well … a new world full of possibilities!

Perfect day

November “Snow”: Going into November, things kept getting better, more fun and more exciting. My first mountain bike race, snowshoe excursion, snowbike ride, visit to Canada … it was a year in one month! Intense. Insane. Super-awesome.

Once you go fat, you never go back ...

December “Happy“: You can’t resist fatbikes … as is well known. I just had to get one. Also I am signed up for a 100 mile snow bike race in Alaska. More fun adventures ensued, things still kept getting better … looking back I have to shake my head at the lucky string of events that got me here, a lot of crazy decisions (starting with signing up for TDG, leading me to picking the hardest races to train, rejoining Facebook, doing the Bear, starting a very very long distance relationship with poor flight connections …), and think back at what Stevie Haston told me when we were running together for a few hours at the TDG: A faint heart never won a fair lady (french proverb). I think I did quite well.

Stats: Some fun stats for my year …

  • miles raced on foot: ~1231
    (7x50k, 1x51k, 1x50m, 2x100k, 6x100m, 1x208m)
  • feet climbed in foot races: ~283000
  • hours raced on foot: 400 and 32 minutes
  • Trips to Europe: 2
  • Trips to see Jill: ~12
  • New bikes: 2
  • New activities: 5 (snow biking, mountain bike racing, snowshoeing, backpacking, bike shuttling)

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