The Army is undergoing a huge reorganization once again; my job has been in a weird limbo state for some time. With the love of my life 350 miles north, I've been trying to find a way to take advantage of this reorganization so I might get to be with her. It seemed like a long shot but after less than two months after we met, I did my best to get myself up there, somehow.
On 24 July, I started my inquiries about a job in Fairbanks. I figured my odds would be at least greater than zero; not many souls willfully move to one of North America's coldest cities. E-mails flew back and forth; the deliberation was ongoing for months after months. Anticipating a new answer every day, I waited and waited. It seemed like I found out a new piece of information each week but still wasn't making much process. I reached out to the District Deputy Commander of the Corps of Engineers and eventually got to interview with him in November. Turns out, they had a slot for me to fill. My then current chain of command was reluctant to let me go until later in February. Getting orders was about as easy as getting a grizzly to let go of his salmon. Things really did come down to the wire. To frustrate things even further, I was about to leave for the USMES training camp in Tucson and still didn't have orders by then.
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I was homeless for five weeks this year. Planning on an imminent Permanent Change of Station from Ft Richardson to Ft Wainwright, I packed my things and gave my 30 day notice as soon as I felt comfortable. The Skinners, a family from my small group, was kind enough to host me for something like two and a half weeks while I waited on orders to come through. The extra time to sleep and train wasn't so bad but most days were more frustrating that not. When the time finally came, I cleared out of Anchorage in record time and headed north. My plane to USMES training camp would leave from Fairbanks two days after my departure from Anchorage.
For 2015, the hard working staff on our growing endurance sports team put together three different camps into one week of training and I elected to participate with the triathlon folk this time around. Every day brought a new challenge and my skin soaked up as much sun as it could take in. We ran along desert trails, rode all day and ate all afternoon, swam in a surprisingly cold desert lake not far from the Mexico boarder, and had to opportunity to attend several great lectures on training and racing. In the middle of the week, we had the chance to swim in the University of Arizona pool. Lined with palm trees under the bright blue sky, swimming there felt downright magical. I hadn't swam in an outdoor pool since camp last year.
I learned a lot at camp and enjoyed taking time to get to know other team members I would have never had the chance to living in Alaska. I'm very optimistic about this season. While I only have a handful of races on the calendar, the level of competition is higher than I've ever competed at before. I recently found out that the All Army Sports Triathlon team found it reasonable to take me to the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship in Chicago this June to compete among the best in the US Military. It will be the first draft legal race I've ever done but I'm really looking forward to putting my road riding skills up against all the tri geeks there. If, somehow, I place well enough at that event, there's a small chance I could also get selected to go to the international military games in Korea this October. These games only happen once ever four years so it would be quite the opportunity, but I'm not holding my breath just yet.
My other big race the year is the ITU World championships that, as it turns out, is also in Chicago. Between those races, I'm going to do as many tris in Alaska that I can. There is a series of races in the summer here in Fairbanks that I was very competitive at last year and I plan on doing those again. Also on the calendar is my first ever IRONMAN brand event in Victoria. It's a week after the Armed Forces Championships so June is going to be a very full month of racing. There will be a bunch of Alaska friends meeting me and Kinsey down there so it could very well be the most fun I've had at a race.
Now that I'm somewhat settled in to the Golden Heart of Alaska, I'm excited to get in some good training here over our very short summer. The riding here, as far as I'm concerned, is a step above anything Anchorage had to offer. Less traffic and more roads are always a good combination in my book. Now if it could just stop snowing in the middle of April, that'd be great...