I’ve always thought that you can learn a lot about someone by looking at their shoes, and that there’s a good story in every pair of running shoes: dirt that shows where we’ve been; a wear pattern that shows how we run, and often, where we hurt; and a smell that shows how hard we’ve worked. When I look at my running shoes from 2014, I see a lot: dust from Mexican trails, tears on the sides from bunions that insist on poking through, a tread worn from miles and miles run in thirteen states and two countries over the past twelve months. And the smell… well, I will spare you that. I like to think that my running shoes tell a story of joy, contemplation, adventure, determination, and hard work.
As I imagine is true for many people, December 31st is a day of reflection for me. I often spend a good chunk of the day looking back at the previous twelve months, thinking about all of the things that went well, the things that I wish had gone a little better, and the what I have learned from both. In short, I think about whether my year was a success, and how I measure that. Today is no different, as I consider the events of my life in the last year, often remembering which shoes I was wearing at which moments, and review the list of goals I wrote back in January.
Self-improvement / Personal Goals:
Waste less. I’ve done my best with this one, trying to make good use of my time, use only what I need, and not buy it unless I love it. I’d really like to get better at using up all of the food we buy before it spoils. We don’t waste a lot, but I prefer not to waste any, because I hate throwing food away. This gives me something to work on next year.
Read more. I had the time for a few good books this year, though I wish I’d read more. Making time to read can be difficult when there are so many other things to do, but I’ve never regretted spending time reading.
Stay in touch. Being stateside and having more free time in the last few months has made it easier to keep in touch with friends by email and through phone calls.
Explore. Done! Between our trips to the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico City, and Oaxaca, our Great American Road Trip in August, and my recent outings to tour our nation’s capital, I feel pretty great about this one!
Find something meaningful to do once we leave Mexico. Done! Although I haven’t settled on one particular thing, I’ve had the chance to do lots of meaningful things since we left Matamoros… meaningful to me, anyway. I’ve used this time to train for and run a couple of challenging races; visit friends who I won’t see for a while after we leave for Riga; work on dog training for Frieda; complete several sewing projects; rediscover the sights and sounds of our nation’s capital; and redesign my blog and write more frequently. I’ve learned from this that meaningful actions come in different forms and can be measured in different ways.
Running / Fitness Goals:
Stay healthy and injury-free. Done! I flirted with some soft tissue grumpiness over the summer and early fall, but have found a way to work through it and continue to do so through Airrosti therapy.
Track every mile. Done! For the first time since 2010, I meticulously tracked every single mile I ran, down to the tenths. I finished my running year this morning with my last 4.3 miles, for a total of 1,387.4 miles over the year: the equivalent of running from Washington, D.C. to Chicago… and back!
Build strength. Still a work in progress, I am not quite where I’d hoped to be by this time, but I have been able to squat lower and for longer than I have in years… best of all, without pain. I am thrilled about that. I have learned which exercises I need to do consistently in order to continue to build strength and flexibility.
Run a strong Austin Marathon in February. Done! I finished the Austin Marathon in 3:58:24. October was an even better month in marathon running, with a 3:52:11 finish on a beautiful, sunny day at the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Run a personal best at FANS. FANS is an ultramarathon that takes place in Minneapolis in June. I had planned to run the 12-hour event, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to due to some important family events at that time of year. BUT, I got my ultramarathon in for the year in November at the JFK 50 Mile Run… one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. M. was such a wonderful support through all of the training and the race itself. I’m so glad I did it.
Eat to run. This year has been a great one in the kitchen, with new recipes, healthful foods, and homemade meals with M. I’ve found a few foods (kale, fish, and yes, biscotti, to name a few) that really complement my running and have helped fuel me through my training cycles and races.
When I look back on this list, I feel pretty happy. 2014 has been good to me, and I am grateful for each opportunity, each hour spent with family and friends, and each mile I was able to run. I look forward to the new adventures that lie ahead in 2015!
What about you? What are your highlights from 2014?
Wishing you and yours a very happy New Year, and, as always, thank you for reading!