11 July 2011

2 years later...

34 Kilometers.
I woke up in the late morning today, eyes still a bit blurry for a long night of work on the computer. With rain pattering on my window I prepared myself in the old familiar way: short shorts with a debit card in the back pocket, worn out Adrenalines on the feet, and a t-shirt with a cherished line cutting through a map of Europe. "Yeah, this is about to happen," I thought for a moment before taking the first step into the rain. I've yet to become completely accustomed to the Swiss landscape, and my legs felt a bit like rubber as I powered up the Uetliberg on the southwest side of Zurich. As thunder rolled above me, I briefly pondered the likelihood of my getting struck by lightning. It was going to be a long run to Zug, but I smiled as I recalled being in this same place almost exactly two years earlier. "Bring it on."
I guess there's some catching up to be done, so I'll try to make it quick. To pick up where we left off, I was at my dad's ranch until about this time last year, where I worked, ran and drank as much as one should when living in the country, all with the company of my good friend Jake. During this time, I also grew a ridiculous moustache. In mid July, we packed up all my things from the west coast, and took a very slow road trip back across the country, where I began to get settled into my place in Princeton, NJ. The remainder of the summer was spent doing an excellent combination of renovating, unpacking, and running like a maniac. School started in September, and all in all it has been just about what I expected: a very small but well-rounded class (only 13 of us!), long hours in the studio and a good amount of juggling priorities. The first month was especially hard, as I made my best attempt to stay well rested while intensely doing studio work and getting in the last month of preparatory training for my first "official" marathon.
In October (10-10-10!) I raced Chicago, and with much credit due to my friend and fantastic coach Jon Clemens, everything came together surprisingly well. I crossed the line in 2:25:44 to come in 44th overall and really couldn't be more happy with the way it went. After the short weekend trip, I was back to school for more crazy projects, and of course, more running.
The winter in NJ was a rough one, as snow kept me entirely on pavement for about 4 months...but I had some good breaks, including a trip to the ranch for Christmas, a week without electricity in an island in the San Juan's and a half-marathon PR in Carlsbad, California. Somewhere along the line I also managed to meet my long-time goal of running sub-15 minutes in the 5k (Photo Above)...and grew an even more ridiculous moustache (now gone, again).
My school work has been engaging, and I've been really free to play around with the things I love, integrating more electronics hacking and computer science into my "architecture" projects. Towards the end of the spring, I got in contact with the research group of Gramazio & Kohler at the ETH in Zurich (I had visited them on my run!), and through a scholarship provided by the ThinkSwiss program gained the possibility of going to Switzerland for summer research.
With my first year of graduate school under my belt, I can now say quite happily that I'm living in Zurich for the summer and enjoying every minute of it. Apart from being so expensive, this place is really a dream: mountain trails in every direction, lakes and rivers for swimming, and all that a good city has to offer. My job is also incredibly rad: I'm working with a big robotic arm that can drive around and lay bricks, programming it to follow my hand and build walls where I indicate (and that's only the start of it!).
Anyways, that's about it in summary. It's getting late here, so I think I'm going to hit the hay. I had a bit of nostalgia today running to Zug and swimming at the same dock on the same lake I ran to two years ago. My trip has defined so much for me, and it seemed so strange to just step out the door and relive a section of it.
I hope the last year has treated you well as well, and look forward to more updates soon...I'm back in Europe!