Year in Review – 2011

It has been way too long since my last post (20 months). This was not because I had nothing interesting about which to write; just the opposite, in fact! However my crowded working, training, traveling, and eating schedules ended up squeezing out my writing. But, as is customary this time of year, I wanted to take some time at year end to reflect on the year and what’s on tap for 2012.

2011 by the Numbers

  • 0 – number of bears I saw while hiking Mt. Whitney
  • 1 – number of new states I visited, as defined by traveling outside the airport (Idaho)
  • 2 – batches of beer I brewed (Strong Scotch Ale and Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout)
  • 6 – number of energy gels I ate while running the Carlsbad Marathon (best flavor: GU Chocolate)
  • 7.6 – number pounds lost in 2011
  • 53 – total number of pounds I’ve lost since August 2002
  • 334 – number of restaurants I’ve been to in San Diego since moving here in 2002
  • 535 – number of miles I ran in 2011
  • 1,321 – number miles I logged on my road bike in 2011 (doesn’t include commuting)
  • 7,255 – number of calories I burned while riding the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic, if you believe my Garmin
  • Total: 9514.6

Weight chart since I started keeping track

Accomplishments

Carlsbad Marathon complete, recovery drink in hand

  • Finishing the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic on April 16. 101 miles and 10,088 feet of climbing, ascending Mt. Laguna thrice by three different routes. My time wasn’t great – 10:05 elapsed. By mile 80 my right leg would cramp and seize up when I pushed hard on the pedals, and therefore I had to walk up the severe 20% slopes.  I was so drained by mile 90 that even though the rest was all downhill I had to sit at the rest stop for 10 minutes just to build up the mental strength to get back on my bike.

Riding up Kitchen Creek, the second of 3 ascents during the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic

  • Climbing Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the 48 contiguous states at 14,500 ft. This was done as a monster day-hike of 22 miles, climbing 6,200 ft in elevation. I started at 3:00am, was on the summit by 10:30am, and was back at the trailhead at 3:45pm.

Summit of Mt. Whitney with Lone Pine and Death Valley in the background

  • Visiting Machu Picchu in Peru by hiking the Inca Trail for 4 days and 25 miles

Amanda and I in front of Machu Picchu

  • Finishing the Borrego Springs Century bike ride in 5:32, a personal record. I was able to share the pace with 1-3 people for almost the whole ride, making the day much easier. I believe I finished 4th overall, and thoroughly enjoyed the pie and ice cream reward in spite of the chilly temperatures.

New Experiences & Great Memories

  • Wonderful December weekend spent exploring San Francisco, crowned by seeing The Weakerthans play all 4 of their albums on consecutive nights

The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson from front row

  • Following the Tour of California bike race. Pre-riding the Solvang time trial one day, then riding to the top of Mt. Baldy to see the mountain-top finish

Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner zooming by near the summit of Mt. Baldy

  • Snowmobiling in Lake Tahoe during Chris’ bachelor party.
  • Innovative exotic mixed drinks made from an array of infused piscos at the bars of Cusco, Peru. Everything from eucalyptus and coca leaves to aguaymanto (gooseberry) and cinnamon.
  • Trip to Las Vegas with some of the TakeLessons crew – playing craps, seeing Love, hanging out at the pool.
  • Cruising the Snake River in a jet boat, hitting 3 states in one day (Idaho, Washington, and Oregon), eating home-smoked cheese and fish.

Jet boat on the Snake River in ID/WA/OR

  • As training for Mt. Whitney, Amanda and I also climbed San Jacinto (10,800 ft) and San Gorgonio (11,560 ft). These were beautiful hikes that I’d love to do again, possibly as short backpacking trips.
  • Being in the aviary with giant Andean Condors in Peru.
  • Pumpkin-themed dinner with Chris & Dani. The menu: pumpkin butter whiskey, pumpkin quesadillas, braised beef short ribs over pumpkin puree, pumpkin beignets with Mexican chocolate dipping sauce
  • Trying alpaca and guinea pig in Peru.

Things I Learned

  • It must take a LOT of cocoa nibs to make a beer taste really chocolately. I added more than any of the recipes I found online, but my chocolate imperial stout still wasn’t as chocolately as the Pizza Port one.
  • The mental fortitude it takes to complete athletic endeavors lasting up to 13 hours
  • How to shoot clay pigeons
  • Bicycle construction and maintenance. I replaced the component gruppo on my road bike and built my Soma commuter bike from scratch (except for sawing the fork).

My home-built Soma steel commuter bike, complete with fenders, rack, and leather handlebar tape

  • I spent a lot of time reading management and leadership books this year: 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; Made to Stick; First, Break All the Rules; Start with Why; The Evidence-Based Manager; Drive
  • San Francisco is not nearly as scary and dirty as I thought, although I still do like San Diego burritos better
  • Dishes I feel I mastered cooking this year: fish tacos; philly cheesesteak sandwiches; short ribs; grilled steak with frites and Belgian beer cheese sauce

Oh, the Things that I Saw…

  • British Airways 777 planes landing at Lindbergh Field
  • Marmots at High Camp while climbing Mt. Whitney

Marmot near High Camp on Mt. Whitney trail (small rodent in middle)

  • Llamas chewing grass among ancient Peruvian ruins where wild strawberries grew
  • Wild bighorn sheep in Idaho

Bighorn sheep along the Snake River in Idaho

  • A man running while wearing short shorts and carrying a discman
  • Cycling along Harbor Drive (big street with 45 mph speed limit) a man started jaywalking across the street a hundred feet or so ahead of me. There were some cars coming but they were far enough back that he was fine. However, he was quickly followed by a mother duck and about 10 baby ducklings. They must have thought he was the father. I had to swerve my bike to weave between the babies, and I thought for sure they were doomed by the cars. However as soon as I passed I heard the desperate screeching of tires and the angry honking of horns. The oncoming cars stopped and let the ducklings across.

Favorites of the Year

  • Non-Fiction Book: Made to Stick, by Chip & Dan Heath. Engaging and enlightening explanation of how to best communicate ideas.
  • Fiction Book: The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King. I’m still in the middle of reading this 7-volume series, but this was the best book so far. Ender’s Game was also great.
  • Restaurant: Blind Lady Ale House, followed closely by Sessions Public. BLAH consistently has amazing, fresh, innovative pizzas and a great set of beers. Sessions Public has the best fries in San Diego and tasty pub fare to boot.
  • Album: Natural Causes by Steve Tibbetts. Technically a 2010 release, but I didn’t buy it until 2011. Tibbetts is an amazing guitarist who combines samples and eastern melodies into subtle yet rich compositions.

Disappointments of the Year

  • Carlsbad Marathon. Although I was proud of finishing my first marathon, I was disappointed that I fell apart in the last 3 miles.  I had severe leg cramps that made me unable even to walk at certain points. I believe most of this was caused by lack of electrolytes. I ended up finishing in 4:08, which is slightly slower than median for my age group and about 20 minutes slower than I had trained for.
  • Silver Strand Half Marathon. I trained for 3 months with the goal of finishing close to 1:40, and I felt good going into race day since my 12 mi training runs had been at nearly race pace. However the weather was warm on the big day, so I got dehydrated and faded the last 4 miles. I finished in 1:50, 4 minutes slower than my PR.
  • The whole toilet, shower, and drinking water situation in Peru.
  • The Tour de Julian bike ride is held in early November each year and features beautiful scenery and challenging climbs. We drove up there the evening before to camp at altitude and acclimate, but our campsite was speckled with snow. The forecast for ride day was in the low 30’s and rain. After a frustrating night getting our fire started and shivering in the back of our car (virtual tent), we got the notice that the ride was going to be shortened due to the conditions. I was still going to give it a shot, but when I got up in the morning and was still shivering even with my warmest biking gear on then I knew it would have been miserable and we headed home.
  • My Russian Imperial Stout didn’t carbonate (but still tastes great)
  • The Inca Trail was really a lot more crowded and commercialized than I would have expected. It just doesn’t feel like a hard-core hike when you have people trying to sell you coke and snickers in the middle of it.

Goals for 2012

  • Become a Cat 4 cyclist. I have really enjoyed my time on the bike so far, and I wanted to commit to doing more cycling next year. I needed something to push me to train harder, so I joined the Moment Cycle Sport Road Race team. I have also applied for my racing license, so I can start competing in criteriums and road races starting in February. To get to Cat 4 I need to start in at least 10 races. I am also committed to the team training 3 times per week, about 100 miles.
  • Finish the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic faster than last year, hopefully without walking my bike
  • Visit a new state – Mississippi – to see my sister in law
  • Gain backpacking experience by going on a 5-6 day trip. A long-term goal is to do some more serious mountaineering (e.g. McKinley) so I want to get comfortable with multi-day adventures in the backcountry. This includes figuring out how to use my camp stove.
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