I find predicting a New Year’s goals a mixed art. In keeping a training diary since May 1982, upon review, I can safely say the end result rarely squares neatly with what was planned. My diaries are neatly drawn out by hand. Each month is preceded by a blank area in which I can write reflections of the previous month and how it squares up with my predictions. Correspondingly the end of each year has a page or two in which to reflect the year; each new year is prefaced with my aims, goals, distances, destinations etc., etc. It may sound tedious, but once in the habit it becomes quite an archive of one’s path through life. Of course, as one gets older, one’s goals have to be tempered and measured with a degree of common sense, for at 62 I could never achieve the same physical feats of a 30-year-old Me.
2018 was planned as being a constant triumph. I began with writing up a schedule to get me to my first race, The Alónnisos Challenge, with speed in my legs and the body of a hungry whippet. Earlier parts of this blog will show how I buckled under the rather nasty infection of Prostatitis, and the dreadful side-effects of Ciprofloxacin on my tendons. However, I did manage to recover enough to complete the race, albeit with no real aim but to survive. That I did, and enjoyed it, taught me a lot about what I may achieve and that I enjoy trail running – even in 33ºC of heat. Yet, by July I needed a rest as the Ciprofloxacin aftershocks on my tendons resurfaced. For the last few months of the year I was plagued with sciatica. I learned to manage the pain and ran a 6-hour 30 miler in training, but reached December a little flat. My goal of running 1000 miles for the year had been passed in November, so what next to get me to the end of 2018?
It came down to Elevenses. A long time ago messages between my Passepartout and me were often recorded at 11:11. We noticed that time cropping up regularly in our lives. The reason is no real mystery, but simply because it is around that time of day we seem naturally stop for a break, so 11:11 is not that unusual, but does have a binary simplicity and symmetry. Thus, once I passed the 1000-mile mark in my new goal was to line up those 1s in as neat a package as I could. On New Year’s Eve I set out at 11:11 to run 11 miles to end the year with a total mileage of 1111. I set out feeling fine and took it far too easy on the hilly part of my usual route. As I dropped down to more level ground I decided to push myself and see how close to 13:00 I could finish. I’m guessing I lallygagged for 6 miles, then upped my effort to sub-10s for the rest. Thus, I completed the run and was astounded that the clock read 13:02 – I had run 11 miles in 111 minutes! Symmetry was beautifully complete: at 11:11 I set out and completed 11 miles in 111 minutes to reach a total mileage of 1111 for the year. Oddly enough if you at the integers of 2018 together you have a total of 11.
It had been a good year. I have started to smile a lot more and feel as if the self-imposed pressure of pursuing greater career roles and gathering more stuff has finally been sloughed off. By-and-large my recovery from a series of illnesses is pretty much complete and I have emerged well ahead of the Reaper Man once more. There is no doubt in my mind that taking control of the person that is You is the primal driver towards a better way of life. I am sure I am the one responsible for what I want to be. If anything gets in the way of health, fitness and happiness – change things. For now, the Reaper Man has lost ground and 2019 could well be a wonderful year. The eleventh hour of my life could well be a long one.