Let's summarize my life since I last checked in: 50k training didn't pan out (there are many reasons for this - my training plan was likely overly ambitious, I was sick for a few important training weeks, was feeling close to injury, got a boyfriend, had way too much going on at school, was planning to spend a week in Wyoming during what was supposed to be my peak training week, etc.) so I had to abort mission about ten weeks in. It was a hard decision to make because I despise setting goals and failing to meet them, but it really was the wisest thing to do.
Time limitations really put a damper on all things running in 2015 but I wasn't as torn up about it as I thought I would be. With the exception of a rather long stretch this summer (see below), I've continued to run/hike four or five days a week, albeit much shorter distances. The past few months I've consistently run between 20 - 25 miles per week (mileage excludes a weekly/biweekly hike), usually with a long run of about 10 miles and plenty of trails. I also ran a half marathon in October (again, see below). I don't have any exciting races on the horizon but I'm okay with that. Life is good!
I dragged myself to this corner of the internet to check in while I have time, and to share my favorite pictures of the past year with you all. I stole the idea from Jill in 2013 and am quite fond of it. The rules are simple: choose your favorite photo from each month and say something about it, if you want.
It was interesting to see my schedule reflected in the photos I had to choose from. Unsurprisingly, I had fewer/worse options for months when I was swamped at school. February, April, May, and June seem to have been particularly bleak (each with only one photo worth keeping on my phone!). Conversely, choosing photos for months in which I had time off was difficult, to say the least. In fact, it was so difficult that I've altered the sacred rules of this photo review thing to allow for "alternates" at the end of the post. Hey, it's been a while! We've got a lot to catch up on.
January: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon
This sunrise was ridiculous. In fact, I blogged about it before my annual 11-month blogging hiatus. I took this at Spencer Butte, a place I aim to go once or twice a week. It took me a while to fully appreciate this place, but now I enjoy it immensely. It doesn't hurt that it takes me less than ten minutes to drive to the trailhead!
February: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon
Ugggggghhhh, another Spencer Butte sun picture, you say? See above - February was bleak. Also, this is sunset, not sunrise, so you will accept it.
March: Grand Teton National Park - near Jackson, Wyoming
I spent Spring Break at a friend's cabin in Jackson, which was super fun and super beautiful. I drove through different parts of Wyoming on two separate occasions in 2015 and I have to say, Wyoming's scenery gives Alaska a run for its money. And before you yell at me about shitty Wyoming, I've heard about shitty Wyoming. I just haven't seen it. I hear it's near Utah. My friend here decided it was a good idea to walk on the lake and throw an ice chunk at it.
April: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon
Are you sensing a pattern? When I have a lot of work, Spencer Butte and Mount Pisgah (see May, below) are the only pretty places I go. I almost crushed this little critter coming down Spencer. I happened to see its moss hut quivering just in time to avoid it. Adorable, right? Let me know if you can tell what it is - a vole, maybe?
May: Mount Pisgah - Eugene, Oregon
There are lots of beautiful colors in May, although you can't really tell from this photo. Spring in Oregon really is wonderful.
June: Alton Baker Park - Eugene, Oregon
This was the month I taught my first solo class, one of the most stressful (and rewarding!) things I've ever done. I was at school 10 - 14 hours per day, including weekends, and didn't run more than 3 miles at a time. It was rough. I did make it to Alton Baker for a nice sunset, though.
July: Shoshone National Forest - outside Yellowstone National Park
Shoshone was such a pleasant surprise. My boyfriend and I went on a three-week road trip through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah, some because they're beautiful, others to see friends, and yet others because they couldn't be avoided. We ran into some issues in Yellowstone (apparently showing up at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night in July without a place to stay is a "bad idea"), which made the park less enjoyable than it otherwise would have been. It was still beautiful, of course, but frenzied. We were on our way to the Black Hills in South Dakota when we came upon the Shoshone National Forest just east of Yellowstone. It was amazing. As soon as we saw it, we knew we were staying the night. It didn't matter that we had only been driving for a few hours and were expected shortly in Madison (that's in Wisconsin, which is definitely not next to Wyoming). If you ever find yourself in Shoshone, stay! Our campsite was $6, a steal compared to the $65 we had paid for a KOA "campsite" the previous night. This was the view from our tent, just before a (brief) rainstorm.
August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska
I was torn between this photo and the August alternate (see below). There are fewer mountains in this photo (a negative) but it's got a nice view of the mud flats (a positive). Bailey's also a welcome addition.
This was taken during my trip home to Alaska. I was really happy to finally make it up Bird Ridge. I had wanted to do this hike for years but something always seemed to prevent me from doing it. I'd recommend it to anyone! Anyone who's ready for a real grind, that is. This is not an easy hike.
September: the Pacific Ocean - near Florence, Oregon
My boyfriend and I chanced a trip to the coast one day when Eugene was particularly gross. We were pretty pessimistic about the weather until a couple of miles from the coast when it suddenly cleared up. Oregon weather is weird. This is a very small but very idyllic beach.
October: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon
Another Spencer Butte photo, because school. Winter in Oregon!
I also ran a half marathon this month. It didn't go that well - 2:07, I think? That time (relative to my previous half times) doesn't properly convey what a shitty race it was - I started out too fast, positive split, and ended feeling completely drained and defeated. I've never been a particularly fast runner but I pride myself on having a really strong mental game. I'm used to feeling strong and passing people at the end of races, which definitely didn't happen during this one. Basically, I raced like I was Fall 2014 Jean instead of Fall 2015 Jean. I lost a lot of fitness this summer (teaching and my road trip meant I was largely inactive for about seven weeks) so I had no business running like I did. Lesson learned!
November: someplace near Reedsport, Oregon
November photos were slim pickins. It was either this or another Spencer Butte photo. I took this on the way to my friend's cabin when the fall colors were doing their thing. This part of Oregon is full of short, steep mounds covered with pine trees, something I haven't seen anywhere else. They make me laugh.
December: looking back towards Williwaw Lakes - near Anchorage, Alaska
Home for the holidays! I've been here for two weeks and it hasn't snowed at all. The snow that's on the ground fell weeks ago. I really am bummed that I'm not going to see any snowfall this year but it's still been a beautiful trip.
July: somewhere in Yellowstone. I didn't think I'd be that into hot springs/geysers but I totally am. Old Faithful was so cool! This is not Old Faithful.
August: Brothers, Oregon. This was the last day of the road trip. I love this picture even though there's not much going on. I think it's the openness, colors, and clouds.
August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska. The sun was bright that day, which really washed out my pictures. The view was unbeatable, though!
September: Diamond Peak - Oregon. Some friends and I hiked Diamond as a last hurrah before the school year started. It was an awesome hike on a bluebird day.
Happy new year!