Sunday, October 17, 2010

And life barrels on like a runaway train

So, on my "recovery" weekend, I had some time to think about this whole 30 thing. Apparently people think this is significant? I have heard some people talking about mini-crises and what-not. On the other hand, Shannon is happy to no longer be one of those "20-somethings". In general I don't care too much. BUT at the same time, I think it's meaningful to look back to see what you have done, what has changed, and what direction you think you're heading.

Sometime in my mid-20's I set a few "by the time I'm 30 I'd like to..." goals. If I remember all of them correctly, they went like this:
  1. PhD in...something.
  2. Qualify for Boston Marathon.
  3. Run an ultra-marathon (of 50 miles or more).
  4. Do an Ironman.
  5. Own a company, or part of.
  6. Start a family.
I'm happy to say that I've accomplished 1 and 56because I had the motivation to, and I happened to be with the one I wanted to start a family with. What's funny is that I think 2 through 5 would have been the easiest to accomplish. Maybe I didn't do those because I didn't have the motivation (or a real reason/justification) to do them. Maybe it was because those were the most tangible (I tend to procrastinate the easier things by taking on the difficult). Maybe it was because I found out that the combination of 1 and 6 got me in way over my head. Probably all of these I guess. Finally, I am taking on #4. I don't know that I really have a justification to do it...maybe I just have more time and feel that I need to cross it off my list.

hmmm...maybe my "before 30" list will become my "before I'm 31" list. If not, hey, there's always a bucket list! :)

Okay, now to the point of this post--my life as narrated by cake. No, not the band. The food. Shannon really likes to make decorative cakes that highlight my current obsession. I think they are quite telling, actually. It is also really cool that I can see pictures of the cakes, and they take me back. Something like hearing an old song... Anyway, here goes:

20: Early in junior year of college. The duck is all about my outdoorsy phase. Not that I'm no longer's just not my major obsession. Anyway, 18-20 was when I really started growing up. First time living away from the parents. First time having a "real job" (although does the rec center really qualify?). Prior to 20, I was always hunting/fishing/wakeboarding. Shannon and I had been dating for a year, and we were finally comfortable being a real couple. BUT, this was also party time. Flyer parties several times a year. Slapfish playing live at each party, and I would jump in on bass and lyrics whenever I had enough liquid courage. I still vividly remember Shannon waking me up on the roof. "Are you going to class today?" Yeah, crazy times. Workout-wise, I spent several days per week at the gym, but still hated running. After losing my freshman 25, I was working on gaining it back again.

21: Senior year. Finally legal to drink, and my partying phase was fading fast. I moved in with Shannon. I told her she was crazy for running four miles every day. Then I interned in the middle of nowhere, North Carolina. Bears everywhere, deer, turkeys, rattlesnakes, muddy roads. I discovered trail running! Started at two miles per day, and finally got up to 5 per day at the end of the summer. I started surfing, and spent every weekend camping solo on the Outer Banks. Sometimes in campgrounds, sometimes in the back of my truck. Surprised Shannon and signed up for the Tucson Marathon to run with her (to be my first running race ever). I came back from North Carolina a very different person.

22: Tucson marathon completed, and it was a life-changing experience. If you have done a marathon, you know what I mean. Signed up for the San Diego RNR marathon the next week. Had graduated from college. In desperation with a Wildlife Science bachelors degree, I moved to Ajo and started working on the Barry Goldwater bombing range. My job was to look for endangered Sonoran pronghorn (or illegal immigrants) in bombing areas. If nothing, call the Air Force, and tell them to blow up the desert. Had a pronghorn cake (can't find any pictures!!! :( ) Lost my motivation to run four weeks before San Diego, and backed out. Pretty much burned out from running. Spent my spare time studying for the GRE and hunting/traveling.

23: Spend a year in Ajo waxing and waning. Train for a while, get in shape. Get burnt out, spend every afternoon playing horseshoes and drinking beer. Quarter-life crisis inducing. Realized that if Shannon and I were going to stay together, long distance had to end. I came back to Tucson for grad school (Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering). Spent my spare time golfing (no pictures for golf cake either!), and drinking beer and studying (often at the same time). I had a ton of pre-reqs to make up, so it was a stressful time. Got engaged in February, and bought a house a couple months later. Suddenly, no free time. Landscaping, landscaping, landscaping. It was my escape from grad school.

24: Grad school took over. I went through a period of three months where I was not home during daylight hours. In the summer, I decided to start running again for my own sanity. It had been a long time, and I was SERIOUSLY out of shape. My early runs consisted of 1 to 2 miles of walking/jogging. How to get motivated? Sign up for the Tucson Marathon again. It worked. Talked Shannon into signing up again.

25: I trained for real this time (speedwork and all), did several road races prior, and PRd by 38 minutes. Stayed motivated for a couple months, but then got overwhelmed by the combination of grad school and wedding planning. Got married in April, and lazy after. Finally got focused to write my thesis. Played darts in the garage between hour-long focused writing sessions. I spent enough time with darts to justify a cake, so that tells you how much I wrote... Started working at my current company!

26: Really buried myself in work. Moved on from a high-stress advisor to a high-stress boss. High ambition led to high workloads, lots of travel, conferences, meetings, and other all-you-can-eat events. Got lazy (er) and pretty much forgot about working out. Welcomed Rylie to the world, and everything changed. Few memories are as vivid as my first couple days in the hospital with her and Shannon. For some crazy reason, I went back to grad school. Landed the perfect research project at work, and couldn't pass it up (see before-30 goal above).

27: Realized how lazy I had become, and started to go crazy. Remembered my previous fascination with triathlon, and realized I had the perfect chance. Joined TriCats, the University of Arizona club triathlon team. The new obsession had finally arrived, and the team atmosphere only enhanced it. Found out Shannon was pregnant again right around my birthday!

28: Started my triathlon career. Lots of racing, lots of training, a ridiculous amount of schoolwork. Hannah was born in June, so time was very short. I kept it up my optimizing time, and minimizing sleep (not recommended). Time was FLYING by. Shannon realized that my triathlon obsession was not going to die quietly...

29: The recession hit home, and I volunteered to reduce my hours to help keep the business afloat. Not good financially, but it was the first time that I wasn't working full-time while going to class full-time. It was still busy, but I got a little bit of sleep. I trained like crazy, and finally got my shot at collegiate nationals. I was really in great shape (the best I have ever been in). From my highest weight (205-ish), I was down to the high 160's. Something like junior year...of high school! First year sponsored by! Still lots of fieldwork with my cottonwood trees... Then lots and lots and lots of writing. Sleep disappeared, and I let go of some of my fitness. Serious IT band syndrome did not help.

30: FINALLY FINISHED SCHOOL! What else do I need to add? Well, I decided I needed a new goal (or list of?). I signed up for Ironman Arizona, and started riding a mountain bike. And here I am today! The other big change has been the huge focus on family. Our growing girls are suddenly doing all kinds of activities. Gymnastics, parks and rec classes, swimming lessons, learning to ride bikes, track meets. Yes, they keep us busy. But it makes you understand the pride that parents really have in their kids. They are simply incredible. Between their smarts and interest in sports and outdoors stuff (yes, even at 2 and 4)... Children are really life-changing in every way you can imagine.

So what is the point of all this rambling? When thinking about all of this stuff today, I realized how totally different life today is from a decade ago. It is absolutely crazy how much life has changed in ten years. What is crazier? There are still unknown decades left! I can't wait to see what life has in store. I expect that my 30's will bring completion of some goals and letting go of others. Can't wait to see what's coming next!

Might as well throw out some new goals:
  1. Qualify for and race 70.3 and Ironman worlds.
  2. Those other things above.
  3. Settle into a community and really get involved!
  4. um...I guess that's it for now!


Archaeology Ash said...

Happy Birthday, Matt. Inspiring. Life moves fast and changes fast and then are 30! Rock on...or ride on...or run on...or swim on...

Shannon said...

Great post, Matt, that was fun to read! Welcome to 30!