Wow, 2016 what a year...
'That will be hard to top' were the words a wise Steve Gray said to me just as the year was finishing up on my 29th Birthday, which just happens to land in the days leading up to New Year's Eve.
In 2016, I visited 8 different countries.
Ran a 2.21.53 marathon, which was just short of a 5 minute PB.
Bought our dream house and rented out my old one meaning I successfully dealt with the constant phone calls from banks, solicitors, pest inspectors and builders.
Finally won a major Fun Run in Melbourne being Run Melbourne Half Marathon.
Played a key role as an Ambassador in helping to raise $81,000 for Community Living and Respite's Opening Doors Project.
Ran 7300kms over 513 hours, an average of 140km per week.
Had a massively successful year at work in my role as Classroom Teacher/Deputy Principal/REC. Our enrollments are up, it was the best senior school PAT Maths/Literacy and Naplan data I've seen and an overly smooth year with some very successful key events.
I signed a key sponsorship deal with the Moama Bowling Club and Getfitco.
I signed on as running conditioning coach with the Echuca Football Club.
We hosted our first combined Family Christmas with Carley's family and mine.
Had public speaking gigs for Spreading the Good Stuff, The Moama Bowling Club AGM, Echuca Football Club and the GV Student Leadership Day.
It makes me exhausted just writing those things down...
And they all look good on paper in reflection.
'Oh what a year you've had' has been said at least once in the last couple of weeks.
All those outcomes from 2016.
We sit back and reflect on a year looking at all the things we've achieved. For me it's even taken me a week to put this blog together, fine tuning it and wondering what direction I'll take with it.
Which made me think, we focus too much on the all the outcomes though. Not so much the process that get us to those outcomes.
It's because the outcomes look pretty.
When we sit down at the end of the year for dinner with friends and family everyone focuses on the outcomes.
To the outside person the outcomes look good and make the person feel good about themselves.
It's like that iceberg image that pops up on Facebook every couple of weeks that has the success above the water and all the hard work underneath that you can't see.
That's why social media can be extremely misleading. The vast majority of people, me included only put up their good looking outcomes, no one's putting up the terrible days when things aren't going so well. And, I give you the hot tip I had plenty of those in 2016.
It's what really annoys me about social media and I know I fall for it and I'm sometimes a sucker for it as well, but it's only a snap shot. And, usually the very best snapshot with a load of filters over the top to make everything look even better.
I've written about it before in my blog for The Riverine Herald that too many people only focus on the outcome.
My 2017 had some amazing outcomes that I'm very proud of but, at the end of the day I don't know if I'd sign up to do it all again in the same way.
Because to be honest there were some crap moments as well.
Actually there could of been more crap moments than good moments, I didn't keep a tally but let me tell you there were a stack of challenges thrown in there. For example:
I started the year injured and spent the first quarter of it trying to get into shape. (Not much fun running and thinking your watch is lying to you)
I pulled out of the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan in March. (The week after I signed to be an ambassador for the MBC which was a touch embarrassing)
I dealt with some low iron and my first real experience with the health system. (Not the most efficient system getting around)
I ran my 2 slowest Half Marathons in a while at the Gold Coast and Hobart Half Marathons. (Due to the low iron and a few other training difficulties)
I trained through a terrible winter for running. (We didn't have the frosty mornings we usually do but that was replaced with wet, windy and cold days and hardly any Spring.)
I was constantly struggling with fatigue and low energy levels from biting off more than I could chew.
So, if I could do it again would i?
Hmmmm... I'd love to run Berlin again. I was in great shape and it was by far my favourite running experience and such a thrill.
But the process for Berlin is a different question. That wasn't as much fun as getting cheered on by thousands of Germans.
The juggling of work, winter, life and marathon training was bloody hard and I wouldn't do it the same way if I had my time again.
I stretched myself too thin and although I got a result I was happy with in the end it impacted on other parts of my life too greatly.
I spoke the other week at Spreading the Good Stuff by The Splendid Word about how life became too much about surviving and ticking everything off the list. I'd wake up and one of my first thoughts would be 'S**t I can't wait to get back into bed tonight because it will mean I've achieved all I have on my plate for the day'.
Some days I'd rush around and tick everything off; 2 runs (around 30km in total), a teaching day, some meetings and time with Carley but hardly be present in any of them with my mind racing at a million miles per hour thinking how I can get ahead for the next thing or with ideas or projects I wanted to pursue.
I don't want to come off as thinking I'm this super human, super busy person, because in reality I'm not. I could have kids to chase around after and many more commitments. I believe it's a shame we somehow pride ourselves on how busy we are and make it a bit of a competition, I realised I was doing exactly that in 2016, trying to add bows to my string. This isn't me saying I'm the winner of who can be the busiest competition for 2016, it's more me realising I became too busy for the life in which I wanted to live. Think about it, how often do we ask/or get asked how we are and go on to hear about or say how flat out busy we are. "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans." -John Lennon
It wasn't an ideal way to live for me, it may be for you and that's your decision, but you wouldn't have known that unless you were super close to me as the photos of me running fast, eating good meals or lounging by the pool on Instagram didn't show the constant struggle, the grind, the day to day. That's me doing what everyone is and only showing the good stuff.
So I guess in a way 2016 is going to be hard to top but I've decided I don't want to top it.
I just want to be more present in the year ahead and wake up excited for the days.
We live in this consumer world where we want and think we need everything. Me and my running is the same;
I wanted more PBs.
I wanted to be in more races.
I wanted more sponsors.
I wanted more shoes, clothes, the newest watch, protein powders etc.
I wanted to be an ambassador for more organisations.
I wanted to start and be successful in my coaching business.
The goals and achievements were my desires.
"There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires." The Buddha
So in conclusion, for me 2017 is going to be simpler. I've made decisions already to lessen my workload which will help me in many ways.
It will cost me financially but will reward me spiritually.
It will mean I can increase my training load and recovery. It will also give me time to pursue some ideas I've had that always get put onto the back burner when I became busy. Watch this space.
There is no doubt my milage needs to increase. During 2016 I averaged 140km per week. Solid but nothing special and very similar to my averages for 2015 and 2014, therefore if I want to improve I need to train harder. I can't just keep banging out the same amount of mileage and expect different and improved results.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”H Ford
I know in my lead ups to the Melbourne and Berlin Marathon my body can handle 180-190kms per week and I need to be more consistent to hitting those bigger weeks.
As mentioned above 2017 is about me becoming more present by doing less things well, rather than a lot of things okay.
Both those things are achievable and I look forward to continuing to share my journey with you.