As 2014 begins to slip away, I find myself reflecting on the year.  While reviewing my training, racing in 2014, I discovered that running this year has been a 10270382_10152400675343099_4375492772641664034_nmetaphor of life.  Running is the most simple, primitive activity known to humans, yet sometimes it seems nearly impossible to put one foot in front of the other; and yet we go on.

The first half of 2014 I will call phase one.
With my usual exuberance, I signed up for way too many races way too early in the year.  I worked hard all winter on strength training, skate skiing, and added backcountry skiing to my winter hobbies.  As the snow slowly melted and my runs tilted uphill more, my calves and feet reminded me of how challenging it is to maintain running condition during a Missoula winter.  Spring turned to summer and after early season racing success, my lower leg issues ensued.  Fortunately, self-inflicted PT treatment and a realization during the Bighorn 50-mile that I was compensating for my right calf pain by over-working my left leg (quad cramping).  Humbling to discover first-hand how difficult it is not to compensate for an overuse injury.

The second phase of the year was my adventure summer.
Sure I did some races, but the summer was marked by exploring nine different mountain ranges with no more than running shoes and a Nathan hydration pack.  I felt as though I could run and run and run.  The Bitterroot Range, San Juan Mountains, Pioneer Mountains, Swan Range, Glacier National Park, Bob Marshall Wilderness, Rattlesnake Wilderness, and the Cascades left me smiling and speechless.  Having rediscovered why I love trail running, my body responded and time melted with the summer heat.

The third phase of the year was a major reality check. 
More ready than ever, I dropped from the Cascade Crest 100 at mile 75 with major stomach issues.  Unable to keep anything down for 25 miles destroyed me.  Motivated and determined to prove my failure a fluke, I immediately signed up for the Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Festival (IMTUF) 100 near McCall, ID.  Four weeks later and this time 65 miles into the race, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration ensued.  Stumbling through the night with my dedicated and demented pacer, Kevin Twidwell, I dropped at mile 86 in and physical and emotional heap.  The reality of the fact my stomach does not tolerate the main ingredient in the gels/chews I was ingesting brought me back to earth (or rock bottom).

The final phase of 2014 is the realization that the friends who accompany me on trail running adventures are what make running so rewarding. 
We will all have good races and bad races, but every run with friends (both human and canine) is a good run.  Now the cycle continues; shorter daylight hours, snow on the mountains followed by snow on the hills, Kahtoola spikes, skiing, strength training at Momentum, and plans and dreams for adventures in 2015.  Dream big and stay on course!

John Fiore, PT
Sapphire Physical Therapy