By every objective measure, 2019 has been an amazing year for me. I started the year with my family for the first time in years. I started a new job that’s fit and treated me well. I’ve smashed almost every goal that I set for myself for this year… from qualifying for the Boston Marathon, running not one but two 50-mile trail races, and cycling my first century, to getting promoted at work, getting my name on a patent (application), and trying out potential hobbies I’ve never thought I’d try.
But 2019 also hasn’t totally been sunshine and roses. For one, though I didn’t suffer any traumatic or acute injuries like in 2018, I’ve spent over half of this past year nursing low-level, chronic musculoskeletal pain, that’s sadly reduced my enjoyment of life and sport. It’s also made training and racing that much more delicate. Though I’ve mostly recovered, sometimes even sitting down is still uncomfortable. It sucks, it reminds me of my limited time on Earth (and yet, it reminds me that I should spend and enjoy that time wisely).
It’s also been an increasingly lonely year. I was asked by a 20-year-old during an urban hike how 30-year-olds make friends. My answer, only semi-joking at the time, was “you don’t!” Looking back, I feel lucky that this hasn’t been completely true. I’ve been privileged to meet (and continue to hang out with) some amazing people who share similar goals, hopes and dreams. Friends who I sincerely hope I’ll be sharing time with, for years to come. But, it’s also felt harder to find true connections, “close friends,” kindred spirits who will always be there to listen.
When I looked back at 2018 and resolved to do better in 2019, I was exhausted and uncertain. Yet, I was also optimistic. I’m glad that optimism wasn’t misplaced!
But where do I go from here? That’s been a burning question in my mind as this year as rolled on by. And now 2020 is merely a day away.
As usual, my resolutions are incomplete, and they evolve. But some things I’ve already committed to.
One theme is bigger, longer, farther. This will be the first year I run 100 kilometers. The first year I run an ultramarathon internationally.
This will also very likely be my first year running 100 miles. The distance and climbing required continues to boggle my mind, but that’s not stopped me before. I’m told that, at this distance, I’ll really know what it’s like to be “in the hole.” I hope I’ll be ready.
As for cycling, we’ll see. I feel like centuries are “good enough”. But a double might be on the books. The real goal here is some kind of big cycling and/or bikepacking trip, somewhere in the world, maybe Asia, maybe for several weeks — if not next year, then the year after that. Type 2 fun, for sure 😆
Triathlon is still on the table. I’ve started swimming again. Half-Ironman in the fall is the goal. This might be even more of a commitment than ultras, at my level. I hope I’ll be able to stand up to that commitment.
Professionally, I want to continue to excel at my job, and my trade. I’ll spare the details here, but one thing I’ve wanted to do — but have rarely actually done — is contribute to open source documentation and open source code. Ideally I’d do this with a specific public good in mind, or for a non-profit. It’ll be for me to figure out how to best execute on this, next year.
Along those lines, I’ve realized over the past year that teaching, mentoring, and helping others is something that brings me pure joy. I’ve already started along this track, and I’ve been much more receptive, and sometimes proactive, to chats over coffee, connecting people to others, and sharing guidance where I can. I hope to do more of this next year.
Friends who know me have probably heard that me talk about buying my own place in the Bay. In many ways, I still don’t think homebuying will be a sound financial decision, though I can now afford it. But the idea has been growing on me: “a place to call my own.” Perhaps it’s an artifact of growing older. I think 2020 might be the year I pull the trigger?
Finally, the search for kindred spirits continues. The resolution here is to keep doing what I’ve been doing: taking a chance at saying yes to doing or organizing something, and going somewhere, instead of just working more or staying home alone. I’m curious where this will take me next year, and more so than ever, who I’ll meet.
2019-12-31, 6:28am, Yangon, Myanmar.