Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner


2 Comments

Thoughts on graduation

Graduation season is upon us my friends. Every year, without fail, Facebook nearly goes into overload with pictures of grad caps, sashes, celebratory drinks, and mushy status updates about how proud people are of their loved ones who make it to walk across that stage in oversized gowns.

Guess what?

I am totally one of those mushy people this year.

My little(ish) brother Landon graduated from high school Friday. I feel that I have to include the “ish” because in recent years, he racked up a couple mean growth spurts and has turned into some kind of adult, or man-child. I’ll stick with the latter description for now.

Landon did his thang Friday, had his grad party at our house today, and then I ship out for Boulder, CO tomorrow morning for my not-so-patiently awaited move.

Graduation and grad partyGraduation and the grad party 

All of this has thrown the entire family into a hyper-sentimental/nostalgic time. I’ve caught my mom just staring at me and smiling several times within the last week. And I’ve randomly received old pictures of me striking Charlie’s Angeles poses and the like with my high school comrades, dug out from the shoebox archives, courtesy of my dad.

I know, they’re a pretty adorable duo.

My in-house performance playing the role of annoyed offspring has been practically award-winning.

In other news, I have to admit I’ve gone a bit mushy as well.

Sappy-ness

My younger brother is off to the University of North Texas to study trumpet performance. Not music education. Or something that secures a bit more of a stable career path. And I’m leaving to continue doin’ what I’m doin’ with other people who are doin’ the same thing in Colorado.

Somehow my two completely sensible parents with medical professional jobs raised two ragamuffin kids. In case I didn’t completely shoot their nerves in the first go-around, Landon has to have done some real solid follow-up damage.

Well done, bud. I’ve taught you well.

In all seriousness, this post originated from some reflection on how my brother and I have gotten to where we are, and the abundance of opportunities that we’ve each been fortunate enough to have. And it really seems to stem from our parents.

The support that they’ve given each of us through everything (hovercraft creation, flamenco dancing, flute playing, choir, horseback riding, to name a few), has always been laced with the empowering underlying notion that we truly had the capacity to do whatever we set our mind to (cue, “aww”).

These guys deserve some major credit.

Many times they haven’t fully understood what we’ve each chosen to set our minds to over the years, and I know that they are far from done trying to understand the many more decisions that we each make in years to come. But they’re incredibly supportive on a core level. On a level that I’ve come to realize not everyone has the good fortune to grow up with.

Family at graduati

Tomorrow!

Antsy doesn’t even begin to describe how ready I am to get out there (ready being a loose interpretation of the word…I’m staring into a couple open suitcases as I type).

That said, I should put some more stuff into them. I’m going to take the sun setting fully as my cue to get serious about packing my life into suitcases.

Until next time, folks!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Chasing marks

Going into my most recent cycle of training and racing, I planned on the Payton Jordan 10k being my capstone race of spring training. I was excited with the race opportunities as a whole that my coach and I had lined up leading up to this big one. The schedule looked set. I was content with it.

However, after running a huge 5k PR at Stanford, and feeling workouts lock into place, the “A” standard of 33:20 for USA championships began to feel more and more within reach.

I felt fit, fast, and fired up. And I wanted to nab myself a spot on the start line of that 10k in late June in Des Moines.

I ran a good race, got to run nearly the entire thing with Kara (soon-to-be roommate and old teammate, who killed her 10k debut…NBD), and PR’d by almost a minute to nab myself a new mark of 33:37 in the 25-lapper. My time puts me on the qualifying map with a “B” standard, but not the guarantee of the “A.”

Payton Jordan 10kPhoto credit to the one and only Gary Towne.

Overall, it was an awesome night. I was lucky enough to have the support of a good chunk of the Chico State crew, my coach, family and friends who made the drive to see me. Honestly, anyone who sticks around for a 10k that doesn’t even start until damn near 11 p.m. should get a medal. Or better yet, cookies. With chocolate in them.

Anywho: to everyone who stuck around-you are really really really awesome.

Decision to end the season

Within the days following Payton Jordan, I had a decision to make. I could extend my season to give the mark another crack at the Portland Track Festival in several weeks. Or I could call it. Move on.

After thinking on it for several days, I decided to close the season. As much as I wanted another shot to show my fitness, when I looked at what I’ve got going on currently and in the immediate future, I feared that I would show up in Portland strung-out, tired, and not ready to tackle a fast 10k. I felt like it would be a real stretch to get myself there in the mental and physical condition that I wanted.

The decision left me feeling a bit happy/sad, in awe of how quickly my own expectations and confidence as an athlete have shifted, but still sad to see the season end. This mark wasn’t even on my radar at the beginning of March, but it was still a bit difficult to see it go.

I know that I have a lot of unfinished business with the 10k (and with many other distances, for that matter), which is possibly the most frustrating part about moving on from a season. No matter how big the PR is, it can become far too easy to finish a race and still feel a twinge of disappointment by the potential you possess that still has yet to come through.

I’ve learned that what can feel like a conflicting dissatisfaction is part of this whole competitive lifestyle. I’m lucky to be moving forward, to be where I am, with what I have ahead of me. I am anything but done with this sport.

So long as I still have that feeling, that hunger, it just means that I’m still in this.

I’m welcoming it.

New home, new cycle

I’m excited to focus on my move, which is coming up (three weeks from yesterday)! The opportunity to settle into my new home, new surroundings, and lack of oxygen, without the stress of being race-ready is appealing as well.

It feels like a good time to transition. And I’m really grateful for that.

For now, I’m doing my best to take a short break from running before gearing up for the next cycle of training…which will be for a fall marathon! Getting back on the track this spring to continue developing my speed was incredible and incredibly important to keep me moving forward. However, I’m hungry for another shot at a marathon, this time with a bit of experience under my belt and some Colorado mountain trails to build up some strength.

Bring on the miles!


Leave a comment

BOULDER!

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time moves once racing season is fully underway. My absence from this little blog is only one small caveat in which my lack of free time has shown.

My last post kicked off one of the busiest month’s I’ve had in awhile. It included PRs in three distances (1500m, 5k, 10k), a 10 mile road race, and a decision to move…to Boulder, CO!

All of the above has left me ridiculously ecstatic, exhausted, giddy and overwhelmed by the generosity that I’ve experienced.

There is SO much that I want to write about, but for now I’m going to stick to my current focus.

B-B-B-BOULDER!

I’m kind of excited, if you hadn’t gathered that already. “Where is this coming from?” you may ask. You probably haven’t asked, but you’re going to hear it anyway. After all, you’re the one who decided to read this garbled blog post.

ANYWHO, long story short is this: I had actually strongly considered moving to Boulder a year ago, when I was about to graduate from Chico State. In a wonderful flurry of events, I flaked on the immediate move, and spent the year trying out a variety of different ventures (start from my first post on this shindig for the extended cliff notes version…I’ve been busy, to say the least).

Then, in what I’m going to go ahead and call fate, my college training partner/amazing incredibly missed friend Kara called me up and told me that a room in her apartment opened up.

She offered it to me. I jumped.

Spaghetti+Kara

How could I say no? What can I say, this girl gets me.

The move out there accomplishes many things including but not limited to:

  • Training with a group! I cannot fully describe how much I’m looking forward to this. I’ve learned a ton about myself as an athlete during this past year or so of largely solitary training, but I’m ready to be around some like-minded people again.
  • A new adventure. After I grew out of my sulky teenage years, I realized that Sonoma County isn’t all that bad…that I actually might like it. However, I’m in a restless time of my life, and feel the need to experience something different and a little outside of my comfort zone.
  • Trail and mountain heaven. If you need more help with this explanation, I can’t talk to you anymore. Sorry.

Details, details, details…

I’m still smoothing everything out, in a an “as I go” fashion, which I’m pretty sure is completely frying my mother’s nerves. I’m lucky enough to have Kara and her amazingly generous family to help piece together some of the important aspects of the move, like, oh finding a bed to sleep on. Thanks all!

I’m not taking a car (I’m afraid the good ol 96’ Corolla wouldn’t survive weather in Colorado…let alone the drive out there) , so I’m trying to get a little creative in maneuvering my belongings. I’ve already managed to send one suitcase with Kara when she was in California for the Payton Jordan invitational.

Suitcase in new room

I think it’s settling in nicely. I’ll be there on June 3rd to unpack!

More to come…

There is still a ton I want to write about. Training, races, upcoming training, work…you know, life.

For now, I’ll leave you with this: the past couple months have made me feel incredibly fortunate to have the people in my life that I call my support system. I’m at an interesting position where I simultaneously recognize how far this ex-soccer player has come, and also feel as if I’m just beginning to tap into something totally new.

There are so many upcoming ventures that I’m so excited about, and I get to share them with some incredible people.

Lucky me.


Leave a comment

Adjustments

I began my internship in the beginning of November in San Francisco. I dove headfirst into a move, full-time job, and full-time training.

Since then, my mind has been like some sort of real-life rigged pinball machine, seizure-inducing flashing lights, obnoxious noises and all. I really, really wish that there was someway to record my complete stream of consciousness.

…on second thought, maybe not.

Anywho, the past three months have been a rollercoaster. I’ve had a lot of really amazing experiences, and they haven’t come without their fair share of difficulties. I could sit here and write out endless cliché phrases about finding your way in life and all that good shit, but when I was feeling particularly low, my mom threw out this one that stuck with me.

“You are in a transition. Embrace the bumps, they make you ask the important life questions.” 

Well said, momma.

With some writing, ocean air, a healthy dose of honesty, and the help of some red wine, I’m proud to say that I’ve done a lot of growing up in the span of three months. This is a quick post to catch y’all up on where I’m positioning myself next (mentally positioning, at least).

Plight of the working runner

Growing up, I’d always looked to San Francisco as a place that I wanted to live, at least for a bit as a young adult. It was close enough for my family to come in occasionally for a “city day,” or, (when I got my driver’s license) to drive in with a friend for concerts.

In case you’re wondering, yeah, I felt pretty damn cool driving into “the city” for concerts as a high schooler. Even cooler because they were concerts for bands like Something Corporate (try not to laugh too hard).

San Francisco has definitely not disappointed in the way of something new and exciting. I’ve never lived in a city as urbanized as this before, and I’ve learned a hell of a lot just in my day to day operations.

A handful of my adjustments/learnings/observations to life in San Francisco have been some of the following:

  • Nocturnal running is necessary with full-time work, in the morning when the moon is still bright and at night after hours (when the hell is daylight savings?!?)
  • Stretching on my bus ride into work is a good use of time, as tempting as it is to sit the whole time
  • The anger and cursing that follows chasing a missed bus and can be almost completely cured by a cup of coffee while waiting for the next one
  • Avoiding hills is impossible. Impossible.
  • Moving a month before the peak in a training cycle is doable, but not the way I would choose to make a move again
  • Colorful buildings are fun to look at.
  • Colorful people are also fun to look at.

What now?

To keep saying that “I’ve learned a lot,” seems to be putting the description of this entire experience to a disservice.

This internship has been great for me for a multitude of reasons, but ultimately I have simply felt stretched too thin, trying to accomplish too many things at once. The way that an agency operates doesn’t generally accommodate a variety of schedules. Not a bad thing, but possibly just a cue that it’s not the best fit for me.

Running is obviously an important part of my life, and also happens to be incredibly time-bound. I’m feeling such a strong pull toward training, and I really believe that there is a way to pursue the elite lifestyle without completely screwing my career outside of running. Time to get creative!

Haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I’m getting there.

This being said, I’ve decided to take a step back from the city, to figure out a way to make this life and this dream work. I’m still searching for that work/training/life sweetspot, and I’m excited and ready to try something new.

Open door?

Despite the challenging circumstances, the decision to leave the city has not been an easy one. I really do love San Francisco. It’s a socially, intellectually and culturally stimulating place to breathe in. There is always something to do! And it really is a beautiful area to live in…no wonder why it’s so damn expensive.

But, with the price tag of living here being so exorbitant, the work schedule required to pay rent can be quite the juggling act to figure out. And it most certainly doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room for someone in-between jobs.

I’m not necessarily saying a final goodbye to San Francisco. I’m simply finishing up my internship this Wednesday, and taking a step back, evaluating my options, and, most importantly…

breathing.


3 Comments

The Times They Are a Changin’


Literally.

It’s the eve of yet another year, and somehow, I’m right back where I was about a year ago, dumbstruck, and wondering where in the hell all that time went.

All right, that’s a little bit of a lie. I have a pretty good idea of where all that time went.

Quick and Dirty

This past year has been one hell of a ride, to put it simply. When I really contemplate all that it happened, I can’t believe my good fortune to have had so many opportunities, experiences and encounters with amazing people.

I’m one lucky gal.

The quick and dirty summary of my year goes something like the following.

  • Kicked off the year with a roadtrip up to Portland (one of many places I’ve toyed with in my quest to find a place to live)
  • Ran several PRs on the track for a really special senior season, and received my fourth collegiate All-American to cap it off at nationals in Colorado

Final NCAA with Kara

  • Graduated from college (though didn’t officially walk across the stage…I had a more ‘casual’ graduation. Hanging out in Colorado before nationals sounded like more fun.)

Graduation (kind of)

  • Found out my name was stamped on an international plane ticket leaving for London, only three weeks before the departure date
  • Loved every second of my five week adventure in Europe

Burano Houses

  • Made it back alive from traveling solo (a serious accomplishment, considering my (lack of) directional skillz)
  • Saw my cousin get married in Delaware (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding style…kind of. BIG family)

Wedding

  • Joined the Sacramento Running Association for my first move in post-collegiate running

Ancil Hoffman XC

  • Started a full-time internship at TriplePoint PR
  • Moved to San Francisco
  • Ran my first marathon

…well played, 2012.

Gearing up for Spring

My fall session of training was an enormous learning curve in itself. Competing after college is a whole different game, but the change has been a bit liberating, and exhilarating the whole way through. I’m already itching to be back on a workout schedule. “Easing” back into running has taken some restraint, as I often find myself so immersed in thought that I end up running at a clip I have no business holding in my first couple weeks back on the trails.

With all the mud and fresh air out there, can you really blame me?!

As nice (and necessary) as a break from a long bout of training can be, returning to the grind is pretty awesome too. It’s my outlet, and I always return feeling more balanced, happy and sweaty. (Ha.)

The excitement definitely isn’t lacking as it’s time to start looking at a brand spakin’ new racing schedule. I’m still working out the details with my coach, but just talking about my options for the spring has got me rearing to get back at it.

Taking Deep Breaths

It’s difficult to not come off a year like that and think, “what’s next?” I’m lucky that I’m at an age and in an area of my life to keep dreaming, keep fine-tuning, keep striving to find what really makes me tick.

It definitely hasn’t been my easiest year, but it’s been my fullest.

I’ve never felt so alive.

If I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s to not be afraid to grab life by the cajónes and give whatever crazy notion currently resides in your head a shot. Or to do it anyway, especially if it scares you.

I’ve got a couple resolution-type ideas swirling around in this brain of mine.

How about you? 

Ready…

Set….