now i’m not one for making new year’s resolutions, but there’s something about a year ending, and a new one beginning, that makes you reflect and look forward.
the rise of the personal demons
this year was very much a “year of two halves”, with the first half devoted mostly to marathon training, marathon finishing and having all kinds of personal “stuff” bubbling up to the surface along the way.
it has been the year where I discovered that my hatred of running was really an unrequited love, and the year where a number of things have emerged from the shadows, and have insisted on being faced and dealt with.
among everything else, the school cross-country course reared its head, and very rapidly became a symbol of the failures of the past. a representation of my willingness to give up. to not complete things. to avoid anything that seemed a bit “difficult”.
even after I had completed the marathon (which in itself was 4 weeks after finishing a half marathon), that cross-country course remained as a demon that needed to be vanquished.
mission accomplished – the aftermath
it was an unexpected thing. the idea was to lose weight, get fit, finish the marathon. that was the intended end-point, the stated goal. there were no plans beyond that.
what happened instead was I fell in love with running, embraced it as part of a new lifestyle, even started to take it a little more seriously.
in addition to that, changes started to occur. changes in perspective, changes in mindset, changes in attitudes and approaches to life itself.
in the months since crossing the marathon finish line, I’ve completed another half-marathon, and an assorted collection of 15km, 12km, 10km and 5km events.
goal-setting and planning started to feature in my thinking – and that was rewarded in finally shifting off the 122kg plateau, and achieving a sub-60 minute time for 10km!
the cherry on top
as 2013 comes to an end, it has struck me that my UK holiday has been the perfect way to round off an amazing year.
the school cross-country course “demon” was faced on Christmas Eve, and it was found to have no teeth. What I had anticipated to be an emotional event actually turned out to be a lot of fun – wading across flooded field systems in the company of one of my former classmates!
I’ve also had the opportunity to do a lot of running (about 100kms in total at the time of writing) around places that hold a lot of memories.
primary and secondary schools, the council estate we lived on, the areas we played in as kids. i’ve run past places where I have worked, places I have got drunk in, places I’ve been kicked out of or barred from, even the place where I was arrested for being drunk and disorderly…
I’ve run in locations of previous glories, previous failures. places associated with pain, and others associated with pleasure. sea cadets, carnival club activities, social activities, college studies…
simply shadows of the past
there has been a consistent theme, a common feeling tying it all together. detachment.
I’ve described many of my runs as “sight-seeing runs” – and while that has been true in terms of taking photos en route, it also accurately describes the sense I have had of being a “tourist”.
I’ve felt like someone watching a highlights package of someone else’s life. the places, the memories, the experiences, the good times and the mistakes – I know I was there, I know they happened to me, but I have now returned a radically different person.
and that has been a wonderful experience. “closure” I think is the term psychologists use. being here, actually running through the landscape of my past – yes me, actually RUNNING! it has brought the year’s events to a fitting end. vanquishing ghosts, expelling demons, creating space for the next chapter to be written in 2014.
where to from here?
so what does this new chapter look like? based on what has happened so far, it might be a little rash to try and predict!
the main themes though are working with a running coach (Jackie of Fit Sparrow), a focus on London Marathon (fundraising for the Heart Foundation) and taking 2 hours off my marathon time at the Gold Coast Marathon in July.
tied in with these key objectives will be a stronger focus on eating well, finally getting my weight under 100kg, taking my running very seriously, continuing to develop the mindset of an athlete. of an achiever.
and then starting the tough work of becoming an “ultra endurance” runner. working towards the charity run across Australia in 2015. building up my running distance. becoming “tougher”, mentally as well as physically. developing the ability to run a marathon or more for 6 days a week, over the course of 3 months!
in short, 2014 will be about taking the lessons learned, tools acquired, and friendships formed in 2013, and creating something amazing from all that – through hard work, dedication, focus and commitment.
2013 was awesome.
2014 is set to be magical.
Happy New Year to you all!