As before, the activities I summarize are those I track by recording GPS data. This means my hiking and fitness walking-type activities, but not other day-to-day activities like running errands or walking around the house/office. Besides carrying my GPS, I also usually carry a pedometer during fitness walks; when I’ve not carried a pedometer I estimate my steps based on the terrain and my experience.
I separate my activities into potentially 3 categories: hikes, training walks, and rehab walks. I am very pleased that 2014 was injury-free, so there aren’t any rehab miles that need to be included in my summary!
A small confession: I generally set up a running annual total on a spreadsheet tab that I don’t look at, other than occasionally. Well, I happened to look at it in early December and realized that, with just a little “extra” effort, I could exceed 700 hiking miles and 1000 training miles for the year for a personal high grand total of over 1700 miles. The table shows that I made this late-year goal: barely!
Here is a comparison of some totals over the last 4 years. Note that 2011 was the year in which I broke my hip in late October, and consequently I spent 2 months of 2011 and 4+ months of 2012 in rehab. Even though I only spent about 5 days completely off my feet at the time of my hip fracture, it should be no surprise that I’m able to walk and hike more when I’m injury-free.
In a way It’s difficult to put into perspective 1700 miles, or over 130,000 vertical feet (that’s only about 25 miles, though I descended an equal amount), or almost 4 million steps. My stats are pretty comparable for 2013 and 2014. I hiked a little more in 2014 and trained (including rehab walks related to a hamstring injury) a little more in 2013. In 2013 I walked a marathon and two half marathons, and in 2014 I walked three half marathons, so I certainly did a greater number of longer training walks in 2013.
Although this summary includes tables of numbers, I also want to mention several highlights for the year. After all, the journey is really much more than numbers!
Significant life experience: Since I started hiking seriously and walking for fitness I have enjoyed sharing some of my experiences with my mother. Even as her own health began to fail, she really got it that I was outdoors on my feet on an almost daily basis. Often when she’d call for a brief chat, her first question typically was “Are you out on a walk?” rather than “How are you today?” She went into a more rapid decline at the beginning of 2014, succumbing to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s on July 1 at the age of 93. I was privileged to spend the month of June with her, just taking each day as it came and going for walks more sporadically. My siblings helped by providing transportation to and from local parks for a few hikes. It was truly a special time to be with my mom.
Hiking: I started this blog as a way to chronicle my adventures hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail. At the end of 2013 I was approaching completion of the currently dedicated segments. I had decided early on that my last segment would be the one that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, and early in the year I chose the date when I would become an official Ridge Trail circumnavigator: May 21, which would have been my dad’s 97th birthday. I think he taught well and by his own example that outdoor exercise is pleasant, and it seemed an appropriate way to honor him.
Another highlight was spending a week hiking along the north coast of Northern Ireland. It was truly an eachtra aisling Éireannach (Irish dream adventure)! The scenery was spectacular, even with more rainy than dry days. And I’m proud that I planned the entire trip by myself.
In addition, I signed up for three trail challenges: one on the Tahoe Rim Trail, one sponsored by the East Bay Regional Park District, and the third sponsored by Santa Clara County Parks. I completed all three challenges, each of which consisted of 5 or 6 hikes on associated trails. I also enjoyed several hikes with other members of the Tahoe Donner Hiking Club, including several new-for-me segments of the Pacific Crest Trail. Three of these segments were accessed via a car-camping trip, also a first in my recent experience.
During 2014 I added a couple of particular new categories for hikes/walks: birding walks and wildflower walks. Focusing on bird and wildflower sightings, especially when they are numerous, adds a new dimension to some of my hikes.
Fitness walking: I completed three half marathons in 2014, including one in San Francisco, my first overseas event in Dublin, Ireland, and my seventh in San Jose. All three events were in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series. The San Francisco course had over 900 feet of hills and was additionally notable by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge – on the roadway, not the pedestrian walkway! In both the San Francisco and Dublin events I carried a camera and took some pictures on the move – I didn’t stop, or even break my cadence, but I’m sure I lost some time in the process. It was certainly worth it! In Dublin I was fortunate to meet two couples, American Army civilians living in Germany, and we continue to stay in touch and plan to reunite for a future half marathon event. For the San Jose event, since my training had been somewhat unconventional (for me), consisting of more hikes than long training walks, I wasn’t sure what would be a reasonable time goal. I made a couple of spontaneous changes to my fueling during the event, let my body tell me how hard to push, and ended up achieving a new personal best time by just over a minute and a half, with an average pace of 12:57 per mile. In a 12k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, I managed an even faster pace of 12:46 per mile. These times are really pretty good for a walker with my leg length. (Longer legs generally translate to a faster pace.)
Preview of 2015: I plan another overseas hiking adventure, along with friends in the Tahoe Donner Hiking Club. We’ll hike for 9 days in the Dolomites (in Italy) followed by another week in the Julian Alps (in Slovenia). I am busy planning other exciting adventures for before and/or after the hikes. I will be planning some steep hikes as training, hopefully including more new segments of the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail challenges of 2014 were great ways to explore parks and open spaces, and I hope to be able to do 2 or 3 challenges again in 2015. Each organization selects different trail segments to highlight each year, so these will definitely not be simple repeats. And the Bay Area Ridge Trail is expected to expand by 20 miles in 2015; I’ll plan to hike these additional segments as they are formally dedicated. My plans for walking events are currently undecided while I sort out hiking plans and other special events, but I’ll at least do Bay to Breakers again and I’m sure a few other timed walking events will be added. Last but not least, I hope to stay healthy and injury-free, and I do what I can pro-actively to support that goal.