Monday, October 27, 2014

The New Physical Year

The simple definition of a fiscal year is “an accounting period of 12 months.” A fiscal year does not have to align with a calendar year, and it rarely does.  The company I work for just closed the books on their 2014 fiscal year at the end of September and though it was not an awful year, the hope is that the next fiscal year will be a more productive one.  It will certainly be a different one.  All eyes are looking forward.

This also seems to be a good time for me to personally look back at my last “Physical Year.”  Though it is still more than two months shy of the 2015 calendar year, my future running goals fall on the other side, and in order to achieve them, now is the time to start taking stock in what needs to be done to prepare for those goals.  So to simplify things, I declare that my Physical Year also runs from October 1 through September 30 each year.

Looking back on my last physical year makes me want to forget it.  If my running was a business, I would have considered myself on the brink of bankruptcy.  It is almost embarrassing to look back at my annual mileage and to realize that I fell four miles short of averaging a single mile a day.  I logged 361 miles total for the year.  There are various reasons for that dismal number, some of which I had no control over and others due to choices that took me in other directions.  But the bottom line is that other than to capture lessons learned, there is no reason to look back, and every reason to look forward.

The new 2015 Physical year started on October 1, 2014 with a future objective of running the Big Sur 21-miler on April 26 of next year and completing a marathon the weekend after my 60th birthday.  In 2014, Big Sur, my bucket list race, was on the schedule, but my knee rebelled and had other plans for me.  So on race day, I was a spectator while my wife ran the race, and the next week, I went under the knife, and soon after, started my long slow journey back.  It was a necessary evil to revive the hope I could ever run pain-free again.  Running with constant pain is the precursor to becoming a former runner, and I was willing to exhaust all options before ever giving in to that.

Physical year 2015 started with promise, but there are still obstacles to overcome, mostly attitudinal. October started out wonderful, with short runs five of the first six days.  Then, a two week gap without a step occurred.  I could blame it on business travel and a team conference, but those are just excuses for a lack of desire to create a routine in an unfamiliar environment.  I’m back on track now, but next week I travel again and know I’ll be on shaky ground.  By sharing this challenge here, I am hoping to overcome this hurdle and find the will and the place to run while I am away.

New years always represent hope, and my hope is to continue to remain injury free, continue to find consistency, and continue to grow stronger and faster.  Yesterday, I ran a benchmark 10-mile race, totally under trained, just to see how far I still have to go.  I was hoping to average 10:30 miles, and I was ahead of pace until the challenge of Cardiac Hill just as I was running out of steam.  I ended up running a 1:46:08, so I still didn’t miss by much.  Most importantly, today, I feel good with no ill effects from the race.

After the Atlanta Track Club 10 Miler, 10/26/2014

So far this physical year, I have 39 miles in 27 days, but I feel that things will improve from here.  When I think back over my running history, it’s hard to realize where I have been compared to where I am now.  I have had years where I have averaged 30 miles a week, and while that is not a stunning number, it represented the energy and consistency I am currently lacking.  I have had months during “proper” marathon training where I have exceeded 65 miles a week.  Though I know I will never do that again, it’s still a reminder of what my body was once capable of. 

The one thing I do know is that I am still capable of much more than what I am currently achieving, and the next Physical year is expected to be a year of phenomenal growth.  The pain is gone, the desire is returning, and a desire for significant improvement is in the air.  An optimistic outlook for a strong Physical year is in the offering.  I feel I am ready to invest the time now, so I can reap the benefits down the road.  I look forward to sharing this journey.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

365 Days of Happiness

Today is my 59th birthday.  The mere fact that I’m even mentioning that fact is unusual for me.  I usually prefer to sweep birthday under the rug and hope they pass without notice or fanfare.  I can’t really remember the last birthday I actually looked forward to.  But this one is different.

I remember very clearly when I turned 50.  Emotionally, it may have been my most difficult birthday ever.  I actually had very little to do with actual age, but more what it symbolized and where I was in life at the time.  I was not running, more due to apathy and anything else.  I was not taking very good care of myself, I was not in a good career path and my immediate surroundings were not pleasant ones.  I felt old, and I allowed myself to buy into it.  I had very few happy days during that time.
A lot has changed in the last nine years, and it has all ultimately led me to arrive at a much better place. It has included many ups and downs, peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows, but I know that every low point has been necessary in order to experience, and more importantly, to appreciate the high ones. 

Today, I am in a very good place, and at 59, I am looking in a different direction than I did when I was 50.  Instead of lamenting that my best years of my life are behind me and my life is more than half over, I am looking forward and living in the present and for the future.  There is so much I am thankful for every day, and so much to look forward to in the coming years.  I plan to celebrate that thankfulness every day for the next year and beyond.

I’ve seen people do #100happydays posts and have been inspired by this. Thank you for those who have done this exercise and found something to celebrate each day.  I’m sure there were challenging days when it was difficult to come up with something positive, but I am also confident that looking for happiness and finding even a glimmer of it in the midst of the tough days, like finding a needle in a haystack, make the whole exercise worth it.

One thing that age can do to a person manifests on the inside, in the forms of cynicism, skepticism and distrust as life deals blow after blow and saps energy while teaching tough life lessons.  It’s easy to buy into that, and look for the worst in everything, and I have leaned more in that direction in recent years.  But life is too short to feed on a steady diet of negativity, and I certainly don’t like being around it.  As the years go by faster and faster, it make more sense to value, and find the good in each day, each hour, each minute. Time may go by too quickly, but everything we have is dependent on it and must happen within its confines, so it should be spent in a way that touches the most people in the most positive way. 

I have many goals for this coming year, in every aspect of my life.  I want to be a better everything to everyone starting with myself, and it has to come from within.  I want to personally take the hundred day challenge and expand it to 365 days, every day until I turn 60.  Anything, done long enough, becomes habit, and I can’t think of a better pattern to fall in to then one that includes at least a happy thought every day. 

I know doing this for 365 straight days will be an extreme challenge, but hopefully, I am up to it.  I am, by nature, a moody person, and dark clouds show up from time to time, with a feeling they will never leave.  Today, I am enthusiastic about the goal, but today, I feel good, so it will be easy.  But there will be days when the break in the clouds will be hard to find, and those will be the days it will be most critical to find the glimmer of light. 

But I have so much to be happy for which I will elaborate on over the coming year, an item at a time, and a day at a time, but in a nutshell, it all revolves around a few simple things; love, faith, family, friends, health and accomplishments.  Most of my writing has to do with running, and although that is not the focus here, it is certainly still an inspiration.  I started today with an easy 3-mile run, getting up at 4:30 in the morning to do it. I can’t say I was overjoyed to get up that early this morning, but since some of my goals for the next year are running ones, it had to be done.

Running, especially pain-free running has always been the tool to get my creative juices going.  I’m sure over the next year, running will be a central theme of many happy days, and running time will most likely be the inspiration for many other happy thoughts.  And if I can’t run, as has been the case for much of the past year, the challenge with become exponentially harder, but I will be up for it either way.  I just know which way I’d prefer.

So, with that in mind, let the happiness begin.