2020 – Burning the Boats

2020. Another decade is upon us and boy did 2019 seem to fly by. January 2019 I was made redundant from a job I really didn’t like, working for a boss and company which had a toxic culture and frankly was totally out of it’s depth. Fast forward to June 2019, I was out in California for Western States, and once again in a place that means the world to me, surrounded by an abundance of incredible people and stories. My old company, well they ended up going out of business completely in the UK, losing the only contract they had and proving my earlier point.

2019 was challenging and rewarding. Did I achieve all of my goals, no. Did I make a ton of progress, have a bunch of fun, both grow and evolve in a multitude of ways. Absolutely. So yes, I missed a few goals, and I probably always will. My goals are always set extremely high, so I’m forced to push myself constantly. The end result always being growth, even if the direction that goes in is different to what I originally planned or intended. Running wise, I got stronger, faster and more experienced. I had a full year of training to add to the years prior, with no major injuries or time off. I again raced internationally, and had plenty of adventures with wonderful friends. I gave back plenty to the sport. Personally, I grew as a human and after what’s felt like years, found what felt like tangible direction and clarity in my professional life. More importantly, after an epiphany at work, I reached out to the Marketing & Communications Director asking to join her team, and have since being working part time in that space with goals to increase that to fulltime ASAP. In that short space of time (end of 2019), I’ve felt a welcome part of a team, an equal, and had significantly more inspiration and passion for work than ever before, and whilst I have work to do still, I am optimistic about what my future looks like. It helps being surrounded by a team of talented and capable individuals who are all loyal to a great leader. In that time my loyalty to the team has grown exponentially, and I am grateful for how they have all embraced me. As a side project, I’ve also been blessed to be working with dear friend Julia Hanlon, as she re-launched her Running On Om podcast. That podcast is one of my all time favourites and I’ve known Julia for a while now, so it is SUCH a joy to be working with her and bringing a revised vision to life.

Training wise, 2019 was another incredibly strong and consistent year under my belt. Not crazy mileage, just moderate (I consider 100mile weeks to be high), decent  vert, but more than anything, another year of almost no time off outside of scheduled down time to recover post racing. No injuries that took me out for more than a few days, and I was stoked to run year round. I’d even say more motivated than I’ve ever been. I tackled a monstrous hundred miler which was by far the most rugged and alpine course I’ve ever run. Whilst that didn’t quite go to plan, I am stronger and faster than I’ve ever been, and a day later felt like I’d ran a sub marathon distance event. All huge wins. So it is with all those positives that I head into 2020 excited. I didn’t get into Leadville, which I wanted to be my goal race. In reflection, I’m glad, as it opened up a world of opportunities of which Big Horn 100 the week before Western States (I’ll be at States, don’t you worry) sounds like an exciting adventure out in the mountains and wilderness of Wyoming, still TBC though. I’ve got races in Arizona (Crown King Scramble), Utah (Zion 100km) and a bunch of other plans and adventures on tap and waiting to be confirmed. So that gives me so much to be excited about. Many of the plans involve time with friends and assisting other people with audacious goals and adventures. Contributing to the running community, of which is one of the most important things to me. I have many personal goals, and coach Alicia Vargo is ready to step things up a bit and push me a little harder this year, now that I’ve shown 4 or so years of injury free, consistent running. So I welcome the challenge.

My relationship with running has grown tremendously, and more than anything else my love for the community is what tops it. Yes, I will be significantly worse off if I don’t get to run daily, or at least move outside. Currently my running training is mostly solo, but the adventures globally are what fill my soul with immeasurable stoke and joy. 2019 alone, I spent time with friends from all over the world, consolidating existing friendships and making new ones. I had so many people reach out to offer me accommodation and a number of other things when I was travelling, and I continue to be grateful for the love of the community. In turn, I’ve done my part by offering to help freely and openly, as often as I can, and without any need or want of anything in return. That is a key pillar of the trail-running community and I’ve learnt if one gives freely and honestly, then the returns just add up anyway.  I’ve realised how important the fabric of volunteering at races, trail work, and essentially a lot of the non racing elements of trail running are. Speaking of volunteering, I’ve always had goals within running that don’t involve race times or even being in a race. Circumstances shifted and original plans to crew/pace Amanda Basham at Western States this year have changed, as she is now heading to Italy to race Lavaredo. Whilst I know I’ll always have the opportunity to pace/crew friends, I made a conscious choice to enquire about working an aid station. Specifically, I wanted to work Devils Thumb, situated on top of the single most brutal climb on the course out of Deadwood Canyon, at mile 47.5. It is extremely exposed, and the bottom of the notorious ‘Canyons’ section at Western can reach 50C if the conditions are right. It is a critical point on the course, and that aid station is make or break for many. Due to all those factors, it is a closely regulated aid station, where Aid Captain Denis is very strict with whom he allows to join his very important team. As of writing, I am officially on the team and truly honoured to be working one of the most challenging points of the course. It is my hope that I can add as much value to all runners, from my friends at the front and middle of the pack and to every gritty individual that pushes up those 36 switchbacks of that heinous climb. A true honour to be part of Denis’s long standing team at the Thumb, and a Western States experience I am equally as excited for.

I’ve a range of plans for the rest of 2020, and options to adventure and race which will unfold as I know more. Gone are the days where I was set on a single lottery or race, as there is SO much to see and do, and every year one plan changes and opens up multiple other opportunities. As someone that loves to plan, is brutally organised and informed, letting go of having to know everything is an evolved part of me. I guess because my core guiding framework is to have fun, to adventure, to help out others, be part of a community, and to challenge myself and evolve constantly, in my pursuit of exploring the world. As an old mentor said to me once, “if you plan early, you plan twice”, I’m greatly excited about things to come.

2020 I have a lot to get done. I want a new career in a totally different field to what the last decade has looked like, and have bigger visions for where I want to be and what I want to be doing. So I’m getting after that HARD. I have huge running goals (and more in the athletic realm), and in my relentless pursuit of excellence, I am hungrier than ever. My theme for the year is ‘burn the boats’. Taken from the mentality and history that when Caesar invaded England, he landed and then proceeded to burn every ship that took his army here. Why? Because having no way to back out, meant a completely committed, determined and powerful intensity of resolve that meant failure wasn’t an option. So in that view, 2020 we burn the freaking boats. We go full send (shoutout to Molly Seidel). And to condense that down to a single word of focus for me, 2020 I COMMIT!  So here we go.

Lastly, and slightly different to what I’ve ever done, I wanted to list a bunch of practical things that gave me joy and growth in 2019. Things I read, listened to and are loving still in 2020.

Podcasts 

  • Running on Om (I loved this before I worked on it and one of my greatest joys is to listen to new episodes and write out the show notes etc. What a privilege to have this as a side hustle)
  • Finding Mastery with Michael Gervais (constantly having my mind blown, as his understanding of peak performance is unparalleled)
  • The Morning Shakeout with Mario Fraoli (Mario knows whats up)
  • Tim Ferris Show (I cherry pick episodes as they are long, but there is always something to gleam and the Bob Iger episode was PHENOMENAL)
  • Joe Rogan Podcast (likewise, I choose my episodes but there is always plenty of amazing guests and conversations)
  • Hamish and Andy Podcast (I’ve listened and followed these two incredible hosts from their very first radio show as a team way back when. It never gets old, and I continue to laugh like a lunatic episode after episode. I literally fell off a treadmill once…True story. The chemistry between these two best friends is unique and there is a reason their radio show captured a nation back in the early 2000s)
  • 2 Bears 1 Cave (new find and heck Bert Kreischer and Tom Segura are hilarious)
  • Wilosophy (my all time favourite comedian Wil Anderson has several podcasts, all of which I adore but these really open up a world of fantastic conversation)
  • The Gary Vee show (Gary is one of a kind and always something to get you fired up in life or business)
  • The Lineup (hosted by the World Surfing League, really interesting and as someone who got back into following surfing this has been incredible)
  • Long Underwear (winter sport focused, Amie does a fantastic job hosting, and it turned me onto the best cookies in Squaw, so WINNING)
  • Showing Up with Lynsey Dyer (I love Lynsey and all that she does, one of my favourites for a long time now)
  • The Tony Robbins Podcast (no one can re-frame your brain like Tony)
  • Coffee and Mike (buddy of mine from AZ, loves to chat and gets such a diverse range of guests. I particularly like the food ones)
  • The Koop Cast (Jason Koops new podcast which brings his incredible knowledge to trail running and discussing key topics unlike anyone else in the space)
  • Billy Yang Podcast (an old favourite by someone who played a huge role in me entering the sport)
  • The Bertkast (Bert Kreischer in long form, what more do I need to say)
  • For the Long Run (a friends new to 2019 podcast, with some great conversations)
  • The Forward (Lance Armstrong, haters gonna hate but he has some powerful conversations and It has changed my opinion of him drastically)
  • The Well (Pro runner Dylan Bowman’s very new release, and surprisingly despite so many running podcasts, this has been fantastic. Dylan always crushes on race commentary so he is a natural in analysis and conversations in the sport, and has brought something new to the table)

Books

  • Grit by Angela Duckworth (Thanks Cassie, this came in to my life when I needed it)
  • Open by Andre Agassi (possibly one of my all time favourite books)
  • Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins ( #stayhard)
  • The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger (Disney CEO & incredibly strategic thinker)
  • Range by David Epstein (really helped confirm a lot for me)
  • Running with Sherman by Chris McDougall (Born to Run authors latest one, couldn’t put it down)
  • Both Jesse Itzlers books (Living with Monks and Living with a Seal, both great stories and wisdom from Jesse)
  • Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor (brilliant)
  • Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by Jason Koop (Koop is a deeply knowledgable coach and this is a great read)

Other

  • Fast Women Newsletter (Alison Wade is amazing in what she does, and this weekly recap of all things Womens running is remarkable and a Monday favourite)
  • The Morning Shakeout with Mario Fraoli. (I’ve loved this since its inception years back and Mario is unique and dialled with his commentary and views of the sport, a steadfast Tuesday read with a coffee)
  • Irunfar in general, but especially AJW’s Taproom on Fridays (Short, concise and his wisdom shines through and I love the remembering races/stories themes. Irunfar do something special across all they do, and have changed our sport for the better)
  • Momentum Generation (HBO doco about Kelly Slater and his crew and how they changed the sport of surfing. I watched it twice on the plane and was blown away, inspired and loved the parallels between surf culture and running culture. Also love that surfing remains a sport where Aussies are constantly dominant and at the top end of competition across both genders)
  • Cheer (very recent find but loved this Netflix docu-series about elite cheerleading)
  • The Defiant Ones (another HBO one, Mike from Coffee and a Mike got me onto this and it is unreal)

 

 


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