Sunday, January 27, 2013

Looking back, looking ahead

2013. Yup, we are almost a full month into the new year and I'm finally sitting down to write my first blog of the year. This is a big year for me. I will celebrate my 40th birthday in May. I'll become the mother of a teenager in November. I'm looking forward to a fabulous week-long trip to Disney World in February with my family to run my 5th Princess Half Marathon.

Last year I set some simple goals. I wanted to run a race every month. I aimed to beat at least one of my personal best race times. I wanted to worry less about little nagging things like cleaning my house and focus more on the simple pleasures in my life, like spending time snuggling with my sons or talking with my husband. I wanted to spend less time feeling guilty about what I wasn't doing and more time feeling joy and being thankful for my many blessings.

2012 turned out to be a pretty good year. On the fitness front, I ran 20 races in 12 months. I ran personal best times in every distance I raced, except one. I joined the Mullica Hill Women's Triathlon Club. Much to my surprise, I completed two triathlons and fell in love with the sport. I started the year with the worst race experience I've ever had and finished with one of my most enjoyable races. I ran three races side by side with one of my best friends. I was blessed to watch my cousin (my original running buddy) find her stride again after devastating loss, and go on to beat her own personal best in the half-marathon. I made new friends and found new training buddies who pushed me to be better. My older son ran three 5Ks with me, and wants to continue running.

Ignoring chores and turning off guilt proved much more difficult, but I think I did spend more time enjoying my family and less time stressing over dust-bunnies and messy drawers. In September I had wrist surgery that was much more complicated than the surgeon originally thought, and I ended up being out of work for ten weeks. I struggled with the guilt of knowing how much strain my co-workers were under with my absence, but I enjoyed every extra moment I was able to spend with my husband and kids.

I do felt like I took more time to celebrate the everyday joys of life this year and count my blessings, but this will always be a work-in-progress. It is far too easy to get weighed down with life's burdens and stressors. I sometimes feel that every time we conquer one challenge with our kids, a new one emerges. I know this is a standard part of parenthood, but it sometimes seems magnified when dealing with an autistic child.

In 2013, my personal goals are similar. I want to enjoy as much time with loved ones as possible, count my blessings, feel less guilt, find more joy, and stress less about things I just cannot control. I want to shut my computer, put down my phone, and enjoy a conversation or a good book or a quiet moment.

I'm planning on competing in my first Olympic-distance triathlon this summer and improving my overall time in the sprint triathlon. Other than that, my fitness goals for 2013 are less specific than last year. I'd like to run a half-marathon in under 2 hours and a full-marathon in under 5 hours, but more important, I want to fully enjoy every race that I run.

Here's to 2013! More joy, less guilt.