Around the New Year, I always like writing a year in review post as a time to reflect on the good, the bad, and the surprising happenings of the year. This post was a bit delayed this year as I was devoting so much of my energy to transforming my blog’s look. But I absolutely wouldn’t miss writing my annual summary, even if it is a few days late!
At the end of 2017, I described my year as “not what I expected”. While every year has its surprises, 2018 didn’t have as many plot twists. Instead, I would describe 2018 as a year of intensity. I had so many experiences this year that activated my emotions and challenged me in some very serious ways.
The biggest fitness-related thing I did was definitely running. 2018 was only my second year of running, but I ran 743 miles over a total of 145 hours and 43 minutes. (Don’t do the math for my average pace, haha.) That was more than twice the running I did in 2017! I ran a whopping 61,217 ft elevation gain, the equivalent of more than twice the height of Mt Everest. I completed 3 races, including PRing my half marathon at 2:18:27. And I ran every single mile outside.
Another highlight was running below the rim of the Grand Canyon for the first time. I ran twice below the rim, including one 18-mile run all the way to the Colorado River and back. Even though I mostly walked back up, I completed the trip in 5 hours and 20 minutes. Running the canyon is an incredibly special pastime for northern Arizona athletes. It’s a powerful, formidable, beautiful experience. I plan to go back a couple more times in the coming months before it gets too hot.
Aside from running and more running, I finally moved up to level 3 in aerial silks after taking 4(!!) level 2 classes. Even after over 2 years of practice, silks is still scary and full of incredibly awkward bruises, but my comfort level is slowly improving.
Early this year, I started my foray into mountain biking as a low-impact activity due to a knee injury. Now it’s something that I enjoy and do for its own sake. I bought my own bike in June and rode 314 miles in 2018.
We went back to New Zealand for the second time in April, this time focusing on a smaller region on the South Island. We spent the night on a boat on the Doubtful Sound, fought mud and rain up to Lake Marian, biked the Millennium Track in Wanaka, and climbed to the top of Isthmus Peak. I also got to spend most of the trip with my brother, an ex-pat who I rarely see.
I met up with my sister at Mt Rainier National Park in Washington in August for 3 jam-packed days of incredible hiking. We lucked out with nearly perfect weather and managed to cover 33 miles and over 8000 ft of elevation gain. This trip was one of my favorites ever. My sister and I have traveled together a couple of times, and the experiences are unforgettable.
In September, we joined my in-laws in Livingston, Montana for a family wedding. We hiked around the area, found the cutest boutique in Bozeman (if you love woodsy scents, buy this candle), and made a couple of trips south into Yellowstone National Park. I even managed to avoid any grizzly encounters while mountain biking solo.
Lastly, I finally snagged permits and made the trip to Havasupai at the end of October, one of the most amazing gems of Arizona. We sat out at Havasu Falls for sunset one night, made friends with our campground neighbors, and hiked out for a nice splash in Beaver Falls one morning. I even got to meet an Instagram friend in real life.
In November, I moved to a new department at work after over 3 years on the same team. My new job involves working on broad projects that cross multiple technical departments, like training or technical writing. Since moving into science in college, this is my first job that doesn’t involve working in a lab! I’ve been working in labs since 2007, and it’s a little odd to be fully away from the bench. But so far, I’m really enjoying my new role and am working on some exciting projects. And I even have an office with a window!
This year also brought growth in my photography. Last year I lucked out with some ridiculously good opportunities with light, but this year I still worked to shoot even in less than optimal conditions. I also upgraded my gear this year from entry level to a more intermediate set-up. I now shoot primarily with a Sony A7II and either my f/4 16-35mm or f/4 24-105mm. Although it’s heavier than my A6000, I absolutely love my new set-up.
I learned a lot of important lessons about myself this year, which is a mixed bag of empowering and painful. One of those lessons is realizing the extent to which I allow others to undermine my emotional experiences. For example, if I (non-aggressively) tell someone they upset me, then they tell me that I’m somehow wrong (overreacting, being too negative, etc), or even just react more coldly I expected, I immediately cede my ground. I feel guilty for ever having had the feeling and immediately assume that the other person’s version of the story is correct. I tell myself that the rational, gracious thing to do is to diminish my own feelings to make the other person more comfortable.
I’ve always had a subconscious belief that walking back my own feelings makes me a kind, understanding, and humble person. I never thought I was shutting down my own feelings, because I expressed them in the first place. I’m finding that that’s not the whole story. Although it’s healthy to admit when you’re wrong, I swing too far to the other end of the spectrum by automatically assuming someone else’s interpretation of a situation is more valid than my own. I’m slowly learning to allow myself to stand firm in my own experience even when challenged.
This concept also relates to trusting my intuition. Like most people, my intuition is usually right. And yet, I am so quick to doubt myself. I’m learning to be aware of when I’m burying my intuition with other people’s opinions or my own rationalizations. I’m learning to listen and trust myself and to hold more space for myself and my own reality. In doing so, I’m slowly empowering myself to validate my own experiences when I don’t get that from others.
2018 was a relatively quiet year on AA. About halfway through 2017, I started to slow my publishing cadence, a trend that continued this year. The amount of time I now spend on my blog is much more moderated to allow myself the time and energy to support my other obligations and interests. This year, I wrote the lowest number of posts ever at only 37. I admit that makes me sad (and a little guilty), but as the rest of the post suggests, I wasn’t exactly sitting still. :)
Most popular (new) posts
What to Wear to Aerial Silks Class
Lululemon Time to Sweat Bra Review
My personal favorite posts
How to Plan a Backpacking Trip to Havasupai
Maxi Dress Dreaming in the Mountains (seriously I just love these pics so much)
Lows of 2018
Although the above might sound rosy, by no means is it the whole story. The year had plenty of lows, too.
I was fortunate to have another relatively stable year without any major crises or upheaval to adapt to. However, I honestly wouldn’t call it a great year overall. As I mentioned in the personal section, I’ve been negotiating a lot of personal growth that can at times be very painful. To be honest, I feel like I’m a ways away from a place of contentment. I have felt and continue to feel a deep longing to be more at peace, and while I’ve been doing important work to get there, I’m definitely not there yet.
The year started out on a low note as I was sidelined with an LCL (knee) injury for all of January and February. I couldn’t even walk down the hall without hobbling. Even though my injury didn’t last as long as many do, those weeks felt like an eternity. If you’ve been injured, you know the feeling. Fortunately, I’ve been injury-free since.
Also early in the year, a family member experienced the unexpected, sudden loss of a dear pet that broke my heart. It’s hard to watch loved ones go through that much pain, especially when you can really understand the attachment and sense of loss to your animals.
My year at work was actually really rough. The pressure on myself and my team kept rising and rising, and it got incredibly stressful. On top of that, I had to fight my way out of the hardest situation of my professional career and learned a lot of painful, hard lessons along the way. Although things are looking more positive now, almost my entire year was spent in a pretty low place professionally.
What’s next in 2019
I’m incredibly stoked for another year of growing as an athlete. After almost 2 years of running, I’m starting to catch clearer glimpses of what I might be capable of. I thought I was pushing myself already, but I’m seeing the next level of what exploring my limits might look like and it’s exciting. I’m getting faster and stronger even through the winter when running outside is tough. I haven’t decided on my exact goals for 2019 yet, but I know it’s going to involve some serious mountain running. Watch this space.
I’d really like to improve my bike skills this year and continue gaining more confidence. To give myself a goal to work toward, I’m considering signing up for my first mountain bike race. Committing a race is always a great motivator, not to mention usually a fun experience in and of itself. Plus, time on the bike is excellent low-impact cross-training for running.
This year, I received an extra week of vacation time off work compared to my usual PTO, and I fully intend to use it! As exciting as international travel can be, I’ve really come to appreciate how rich with opportunity traveling within the United States is. I plan to focus more on domestic destinations this year–my list is so long! Although I don’t have anything nailed down just yet, I’ve got my sights set on Yosemite (again) and Alaska. Other frontrunners include Portland/Hood River/Bend, the North Cascades, Glacier National Park, and the Tetons.
In 2019, I’ll also celebrate my 5-year blogging anniversary in April! It’s hard to believe AA is nearly 5 years old. But at the same time, so much has changed since then that it feels like a lifetime ago that I took the plunge. There is a high probability of sentimental posts coming in April. :)
Thank you for reading this year! How did your 2018 go? What are you most excited for in 2019?
I loved reading about your year! Your incredible adventures are inspiring and I hope to get outdoors more in 2019. I think reflecting on the highs and lows of 2018 is a great exercise and one that may be helpful for me too. Career-wise, I’m still in a bit of a limbo (AKA still working towards the job I want), but I’ve definitely made some progress this past year. Fitness-wise…I’ve also had ups and downs, but have learned not to be stressed about it. Sometimes there are other things in life to prioritize!
Hope to read more posts from you in 2019!
Suzanne | Agent Athletica says
I’ve never been one to keep a journal, so it’s been nice to have a space where I can reflect on the events of the past year. It’s especially been interesting to go back and read the old posts and see how my mindset has changed.
I’m glad you’ve made some progress in finding the right fit at work too, I hope you get even closer this year! :)
I moved from a lab bench job into a desk job a few years ago (ok it’s like 10 now) and it’s weird how much I miss the joy of a positive experiment! Hope the transition is easy for you and one positive is that it’s nice to wear open-toed shoes to work now : )
Suzanne | Agent Athletica says
It’s true! I find I also miss how quickly the time passes when you’re totally focused on the task at hand. The level of focus of pipetting out solutions onto a plate is somehow much more effortless than slogging through emails and powerpoint. ;) But yes, now I don’t have to worry about spilling salt buffers on my suede shoes, haha!
I enjoyed the part of your post about “walking back on your feelings.” I’ve let this happen to me repeatedly, even though I’m now in my 40s. Somewhere I picked up the idea that being nice included burying/not trusting my feelings, and like you, buying other people’s interpretations. My most recent conflict ended with ME apologizing for a situation I did not create. Grrrr. Hopefully I’ll learn to stick up for myself someday. lol
I’m really enjoying your journey of breaking out of the gym and trying on new sports!
Suzanne | Agent Athletica says
I can completely relate to apologizing for situations I didn’t create. :\ It’s suuuuch a hard mindset to break! I’m both happy that someone can relate, but sad that you struggle with something similar. I hope you can start to find little ways to carve a different path. :)
Wow AA! I’m always surprised by how much you actually achieve so much each year!
Congrats on all your fitness milestones :-)
And on the job too!! despite the stresses of life at the bench. Hope all goes well and looking forward to all the spring time emotional posts ;)
Suzanne | Agent Athletica says
Awww thanks! It never feels like I accomplish that much, but writing it all down really does help put it into perspective. :)