Reflections: 2015 in Review

Is this the real life?

I found myself asking that question several times throughout 2015. Ok, maybe on an (almost) daily basis. (And then it’d be followed by hours of trying to get “Bohemian Rhapsody” out of my head)

cropped-IMG_0616.jpgBut, no, seriously – 2015 was a trip. Tumultuous at times, but so incredibly, freaking awesome at others. I constantly have to remind myself to take a look back at the last few years and really take in and embrace the sideways turn my life took back in 2011, and where it’s brought me to today – the highs, the lows, and sometimes, the utter ridiculousness.

But as the sport continues to grow and evolve (and actually be defined as “a sport”), I’d like to think I continue to grow and evolve with it. And I do so, in part, by taking stock of what has happened, and letting that help shape my future.

So what did 2015 teach me?

I can hang on short courses

If you know me at all, you know that I will be the first to whine and moan about short races – my loathing for Spartan Sprints is well-known and well-documented. I have one gear: grinding. Just like I avoid speed work like the plague, I’d prefer to avoid races that are shorter than my typical week day runs. But while I’ve had a hang-up over not being able to compete on a short course, my results from this past year show otherwise. While I didn’t win either the Montana or Breckenridge Sprint, sold 2nd places showings gave me some confidence that “heeeeey little speedsters, you can’t shake me. I’m gonna hang there like that annoying gnat that’s just not going to go away.” Or, you know, just hope for some hills on those courses.

…but I still prefer long courses

I can’t emphasize this enough. Before World’s Toughest Mudder this year, Matt B. Davis asked me if I was nervous. I believe I told him that this is the LEAST nervous I get all year. I love the long courses. I love the slow grind. And that’s where I’m happy. My experience at the Georgia Death Race this year (despite some mid-race wheels coming off), only solidified that. Long makes me happy. Short makes me nauseous. And that’s totally cool. Speaking of…

FINE. I’m a runner. 

For the last few years, I’ve maintained that, “hey guys – I’m not a runner.” I trained primary with CrossFit. I ran maybe 15-20 miles a week. I’d only run one road race before in my life. I didn’t own a Garmin. I had no idea what a tempo run was, and hadn’t set foot on a track since I finished dead last in the 100m dash in middle school.

Pretty hard to deny the “runner” part of me after this

But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy running. I always have. I just hated running in Chicago. Because you had one 18 mile stretch of flat, FLAT ground, and that was about it. But this year, I finally had the opportunity to get back on the trails, trails like I grew up running and hiking and backpacking in the Northwest. And I rediscovered that love. That feeling of pure joy climbing up a mountain (I
still hate the running down).
And I discovered how much I love running for hours on end. How exhilarating it is to find a new trail, get lost, and have a 15 miler turn into a 22.  So, FINE, guys – I’m a runner. Maybe I’ll do a 5k this year.

Speaking of love and joy…

Sometimes, if you can’t beat ’em – join ’em

I was the first person to cry foul when Spartan partnered with NBC Sports to start televising races back in 2014. I didn’t want it. I avoided the cameras (I remember literally running away from the cameras in the first televised race in at Tuxedo in 2014). And I viewed the media and TV as a chore, not an adventure.

I finally realized, however, that the cameras weren’t going away no matter how much I protested and/or rained out expletives on national TV. I had two options: be butthurt or miserable about it, or I could embrace the opportunity and hey, MAYBE, just maybe, have fun with it. So the 2015 season was an adventure in this. Unsurprisingly, once I stopped resisting, I actually found it was possible to have fun with the cameras (and they really are a GREAT crew of folks). Even when they show you crying on national TV. (Whatever, I ain’t mad about it). However, even though I (reluctantly) let the media into my life…

The answer to “are you a professional…?” is still “no”

Well, if the full question is “are you a professional attorney?”, then the answer would be “yes.” (not that anyone phrases a question like that). But it’s been a tricky question for me that I get asked more and more often as of late. Admittedly, it’s mostly asked when I’m on a plane traveling to a race decked out in Reebok warm-up gear. In those situations, I’ll get asked if I’m a collegiate athlete. Which I’ll always respond to with “about 10 years too old for that one. But thanks for making this 32-year old feel good about herself.”

I will concede that racing has certainly moved past the “hobby” stage, but the cocktail party answer to “what do you do?” is still “I’m an attorney.” Along the lines of attorney-ing…

Change is good. I think. (Ack! Ask me again in 6 months)

I’ve never been great at change. I freak out. I try to embrace it. But I second guess myself and constantly look for the “right”
answer. Leaving my firm job for an in-house position, moving across country, all right in the middle of OCR championship season wasn’t my most brilliant idea (timing-wise), but opportunities don’t always wait. Especially when they are pretty damn awesome ones

So while I’m learning to embrace change (and get better at dealing with it), there are certain things I’m ok with…

I’m never going to be super regimented or dogmatic about my nutrition. And that’s ok. 

Oh you know…just eating a Krispy Kreme mid WTM

One of the questions I loathe the most in interviews is when someone asks me to describe my diet. I generally answer with “you don’t want to know.” Look, I’ve tried. I tried to go Paleo. I tried ketosis. I think the idea of being a fat-adapted athlete sounds phenomenal.

But I simply love things like ice cream and ketchup chips and Pop-Tarts too much.

Is it lack of will-power? Probably. But I’ve beat myself up enough over not eating “clean” for so long, I’m over it. Honestly, 80% (ok, maybe 70%. 50% on bad days) is generally healthy, simple stuff – veggies, chicken, etc. But I also eat a fair amount of processed, nasty crap. (confession – I love a good can of Redi-Whip). And until it adversely affects my performance as an athlete or I see abnormal health effects (high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc), I’m going to enjoy myself a little. And stop apologizing for it.

So get off your “holier-than-thou” clean eating train and recognize that,  hey – Cheez-its and wine is sometimes a perfectly acceptable dinner.

In more self-love type of news…

You are not your race results. The people that matter don’t give two flying flips how you finished in any given race. Or any race at all. 

I met up for coffee with three of my best friends from high school when I was back in Oregon for Christmas. We chatted about our lives. Where we’ve been this past year. Where we’re going. Not once did one of these strong woman, whom I call my best friends, ask about how I did at a particular race. Because really, they don’t care. They love me for Amelia, as their friend – not Amelia, the OCR athlete.

I think Ryan Atkins said it brilliantly in a post leading up to Spartan World Championships: when we are SO caught up in our sport, when it seems like EVERYONE is focused on one race, you lose sight of the fact that 99% of people out there don’t care. The result of a race doesn’t change who you are as a person. And who you are as a person is what matters to those in life that actually matter.

My family for the past six Christmases. They love me regardless of race results. And we need to get my Dad a new sweater.

As to deal with the people in life that definitely DON’T matter…

Ignore the peanut gallery

The internet is a funny place. It’s full of good – you can make great connections, learn super cool stuff, and hell – change the course of your life. But It also can be an extraordinarily awful place, with people feeling super confident in speaking their minds, shielded by distance and behind a computer screen. I’ve run into many situations this year where people have said, well…less than flattering things. Nevermind that 99% of comments or a post or a picture that someone has shared are super complimentary, I will fixate on that one bad thing. For example, a picture that Spartan posted of me crossing the finish line after winning the NJ Super, and one ashole who commented “weird body.” Despite everyone else congratulating me, all I could do was fixate on that one idiot. My immediate reaction is to defend – it was an awkward angle (it was), I was jumping over fire (I was), and yeah, I’m kinda built like a ruler (my waist and hips are pretty much the same size). But if I feed the internet trolls, if I acknowledge it, what is that going to accomplish?

This is not the picture in question. But this is my favorite race picture of the year. And how I feel about the peanut gallery.

Along those lines, there seem to be a new crop of “OCR commentators,” or, as I’ve called them, the “OCR peanut gallery.” They think it’s fair game to comment on people’s performance in a race. “WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE?” for instance. Or “WHY DIDN’T YOU WIN?” Well, gee sir. There were hundreds of people in a race and only one can win and sometimes that person isn’t you. How about you – did you win?

And perhaps it shows evolution of our sport – that it’s popular enough that people want to comment on it, want to make predictions, want to pick ponies before a race. But it’s still a small enough community that, as racers, we read that stuff. We control our own social media handles. And (some of us) still do this mainly for fun. So, if I have one request for anyone reading this – think before you post. Anything. I don’t care if it’s Kim Kardashian, JJ Watt, or an OCR racer. That’s a human you are talking about. “Fame” doesn’t take that away from someone. Hell, at least I hope not.

But even when people get you down, just remember…

This sh$t is bananas

2015. Let’s see…I was on the cover of Runner’s World. I was mentioned in Christopher McDougall’s book. Tim Ferriss let me ramble for an hour and a half on his podcast. I won some polls and popular votes about best OCR athletes and what not. I claimed my third World’s Toughest Mudder win. I was the Spartan Points Champion. I randomly appeared on NBC Sports late at night. I filmed a second Spartan TV show (teams!). I did a photo shoot with JJ Watt. I went to Wrestlemania. And Summer Slam. And the Super Bowl (for the second year in a row).

And he’s like “who the EFF is this girl? And why does she seem to like Russell Wilson so much?”

Hot damn, I’ve done some freaking cool things in the past year. If I believed in  hash tagging “blessed,” I suppose this would be the place where I would do it. But I try to not be a social media asshole, so I won’t.

I list all these out not to brag and peacock (is that a verb? I’m making it one) about my year. I list them out to remind myself that, hey – life is pretty rad. Because despite all of these cool accomplishments, I find myself, like many others do, in periods of self-doubt, or of random sadness. And 2015 was also a year of personal upheaval and other matters best left unpublished on the interwebs. So, the goal, like always, is to find that happiness. To find that joy. To seek a new challenge. And to constantly better myself.

And I’ve come to realize…

I’m truly happiest when lost on the trails

Ok, maybe not the “I’m going to die out here” kind of lost, but you get my drift. The more time I spend out on the trails, climbing mountains, hours at a time, the more I realize how much peace I find out there. And to paraphrase what a wise Norm Koch told me this past year (while I was bitching about “having” to do the Montana Sprint, and not the Beast, because of the NBC cameras…), life’s too short to be spending it not doing what you want to do. (man, I just butchered that into a double negative. Sorry, Norm).

So 2016 may be a year of doing what I want to do. A year about my joy. My happiness.   I’m not sure exactly where that’s going to take me yet, but I have a good idea.

Happy New Year. May each one be better than the last.

(and yes…I will be fixing my website. 2016 goals)



23 thoughts on “Reflections: 2015 in Review”

  1. Congratulations and Happy New Year to you! Continued success and ass kicking in the new year. You are an inspiring individual and the world can never have enough inspiration! Thank you.

    About your diet……CHEERS!

  2. Love your authenticity, honesty, and your incredible sense of humor! Thank you for sharing a bit of “you” publicly. Here’s hoping that the 2016 race season is a success (by your definition)!

  3. I could help with those 2016 goals! Let me create a website for you, so you don’t have to spend the time doing it yourself. I could create one with several different elements with your blog being the main focus.

    Feel free to send me an email and we could talk more about it if you are interested in getting a redesigned website for yourself to help kick off the new year.

  4. Amelia,
    Once again I am uplifted and humbled by your words and your deeds. You are an incredible woman. One I’m so proud to know and always have been since I met you. Keep doing and being you. You is awesome, beautiful, smart and enough. So much love for 2016 to you.

  5. Love it! I’ve followed you now for a couple of years and you’re so bad ass and inspiring! I’ve never run an OCR race but maybe the new year will be my year. Happy New Yrs! 🎊 P.S. #GoHawks I believe we’re going for our 3rd SB appearance (fingers crossed!)

  6. I’m of course referring to someone who said you had a weird body. Your accomplishments too, are also beyond belief. Here’s to a happy 2016 for you Miss Amelia.

  7. Amelia,
    Congrats on a great 2015. Had the pleasure of chatting with you for a few minutes walking back to the parking lot at WTM ’15 in regards to my 9 yr. old daughter being you for Halloween . Just last night we went around the dinner table stating our New Years resolutions, hers was “To run whenever & wherever I can, even if my friends are walking”. I asked her why & she said “cause I wanna be like Amelia Boone!” What a great influence you have had on her & she’s never even met you, only seen you from a distance at Tuxedo & on NBC Spartan Race. Please add inspiring young kids to be active to your list of accomplishments. Be forewarned, if she sees you at a race in NJ be prepared for a hug, I will not be able to restrain her 🙂 Best in 2016.

  8. I ran my first Spartan Beast this year and there is definitely a thrill about being “lost” on the trails. You are an inspiration! Thank you for being real and sharing it with us.

  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding the OCR and social media connection. Glad to hear you are choosing to do what will make you happy in 2016. I hope we will see a bit of you on the courses, a Battlefrog perhaps(is 9 miles long enough?). A reluctant role model you may be(yoda-speak) but a great one for myself and my 12 year old daughter whom I continue to teach love of self over the approval of others. It’s also refreshing to see a woman who is so successful but humble, it is rare to see you comment on social media but when you do it is usually a positive message. No peacock “preening” is the verb I think you were looking for. Take care and have a very happy New Year!

  10. Your an awesome role model for the sport. One of my favourite WTM memories was being lapped by you multiple times and you were always running at the same pace, grinding up the hills when everybody else had stopped running them hours earlier 🙂

  11. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it was really fun to read and so very relatable! It was nice to chat with you a bit back in Atlanta and I hope I’ll see you at some races out West now.
    I wish you all the best for this fresh, new year!

  12. OCR couldn’t ask for a better face on the sport. Your RunnersWorld cover made me ask “WTF is OCR?” As a 28-year-old runner who thought anything other than the golden sport of slapping my Asics up and down the asphalt was considered second rate, my world was turned upside down with your issue. The day I Googled OCR is the day I felt like a kid again, discovering something new. So, as a first time follower in 2015 of OCR and the big players included with the sport, I just wanted to say you are awesome and a great representative of the sport!

  13. Great post, especially the parts abut what really matters and to whom. Thanks for sharing. Hope to meet you one day but now that your abode is on the west coast, that may never happen but I should never say never.

  14. You are an inspiration, Amelia. I found out about your exploits via the Tim Ferriss podcast. I’m running my first ultra in February (Orcas Island 50k) and training has been a grind. Plus, I love all the awesome craft beer in the PNW, so this whole clean movement has been tough. It’s nice to see someone find success in spite of the “rules” to better racing. 🙂
    Anyhow, keep at it. Hope to see you on a long run some day.

  15. So much awesome packed into one human being. You are amazing and an inspiration. Stay true to you and keep doing what makes you happy.

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