2017 has been an interesting year. Looking back on my 2016 Year in Review post, I basically started off the same way. But honestly, if a year isn't filled with ups and downs, valleys and peaks, has life been fully lived that year? The joys gave me motivation through the hard times, and the hard times taught me important lessons. They were all a necessary part of the year, and looking back, no matter what.
I honestly can't tell you what my goals or "word of the year" were for 2016. Partly because I'm not sure how well I lived them out if I can't remember them, and mostly because I can't find the journal where I wrote them all down in (my 2017 journal ended before 2017 ended, and it probably made its way into the dark corner of my bedroom somewhere!)
I did have one BIG goal that I set early on in 2017 (in January) that I finally accomplished in November, and THAT goal has taught me more this year than I think anything else. You have to understand that I never considered myself a runner or a sporty person, growing up or even through college and the few years after college. I have, on multiple occasions, sat on a field or sand volley ball court picking flowers or, yes, building a sand castle (and yes, the later one was in college). I danced but didn't play intramural sports in college, but did use the sidelines of my friends' intramural games as a balance beam to practice my cartwheels. I went to the gym for Zumba and Hip Hop Fitness, but never joined friends on their runs around campus. In fact, I took beginning jogging as my fitness class freshman year at Carolina, and hated it with a burning passion.
It was just never the right time to run. I don't think I was ready for what God would teach me through it. But after moving into the city, having a regular 9-to-5 and roommates (shoutout to Jackie G.!) who ran and set goals for themselves running, something changed. I wanted a challenge, but had to acknowledge that I had to start from the beginning, and actually try. So in January of 2016, I took it waaay back, started with one of those Couch to 5K programs, and tried. I ran/walked 1, 2, and finally 3.1 miles for about 6 months, and then ran a 5K in June. I didn't know a lot about running or what to wear or how to train, I just knew that patience and persistence through pain got me to accomplish something I hadn't done yet, basically running more than a mile and enjoying it. And while the next 6 months would see a lot of changes (see 2016 Year in Review) and not a lot of running, I knew there was something more to be done there. So on January 1st, 2017, I put on running shoes and ran for a mile. And I made it a goal to run more regularly. But I needed a concrete goal, something tangible to work towards, so two weeks later and a couple (hundred) dollars less, I signed up to run a half-marathon in November 2017.
And on November 5th, 2017, I did it.
Running taught me so much this year.
- It allowed me to set such a long term goal in a way I hadn't before, that required me to really trust God that I could do this, and diligently work towards it
- It taught me patience. I started at 1-mile. I had to get to 13.1 miles. I had to go slowly and consistently to get there, and it took all 11-months I had to train to get there
- It brought me space. Space to clear my head, space to talk to God, space to run through and deal with emotions or situations instead of burying them
- It has helped with my anxiety. It hasn't fixed it, but it helps to break me out of my head, and has shown me that learning techniques to help your mental health is important
- It showed me exercise can be fun; running can be fun. Did I ever envision myself spending a Saturday morning running 10 miles, waking up before dawn, eating a runners meal the night before and spending Saturday afternoon in recovery? Absolutely not. But I also never envisioned the friendship I got to form with my running mate Katie or the joy of running through Pandora-World of Avatar as the sun rose that day
This turned more into a reflection on running than a year in review, but I think that is because this was one of those goals that, to me, was as impossible as getting into a Ph.D. program was in 2016. I seriously, for awhile in college and right after, didn't think I had what it took to get in. But I realized it was because it wasn't the right time then, nor the exact right path. And before 2017, before being where I was school/career wise, I guess running wasn't the right goal yet. It was a goal that had to develop when the timing was right, I just couldn't see it yet.
You know the old saying "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?"
I guess I'm the one looking back and chuckling now, God :D