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Look Back to Learn, Move Forward to Grow

The other day my husband asked me what my goals were for 2014. The question came out of nowhere, but it got me thinking. At work it is that time of year to reflect on goals and learning, and following my first year of running and racing, I have been thinking about personal fitness goals as well. It is easy to forget to look back to see where you were 1 year, 2 years , 5 years or more ago;but it is important to take time to reflect on both achievements and mistakes. If we don’t take time to take stock, then we really risk just forging ahead with no real purpose or direction in life. So here are some of my reflections on 2013, in no particular order:

1. PR- A year ago I did not even know what a PR was. I had just started running, jog/walking, really, on a treadmill mostly. In the last year I have achieved PR’s in the 5K, 6K, 8K, 10K , 10 mi, 12 mi and Half Marathon; I ran in 24 road races, I broke a 9 min mi pace for a 5K, and I ran 2 half marathons in 8 days. I learned from every run , from every race; ironically, the most important thing I learned:PATIENCE.

2. Hard wood floors and a king size bed– it might not seem like a big deal, but again, a lot of research went into the hard wood floor thing and I learned a lot about why I could not have the wide boards I really wanted, unless I wanted very short boards which would not look that great in my living room. The long boards (tall trees) are being used to make furniture- which is why the king size bed is here. Two items on my long list can now be crossed off; thanks to my father in law for visiting and needing his own room with a big bed so that my husband felt pressure to purchase another bed. What I learned: PERSISTENCE and PERSEVERANCE.

3. Online teaching– Teaching on-line is very different from face to face teaching. The preparation to teach the course is as demanding as facilitating the course. The platform matters. Through much preparation, trial and error, through standards, rubrics and discussion forums, both were successful, but one was much easier to facilitate because of the platform. For those of you wondering, the easier course to facilitate was delivered through Moodle, the more difficult course was delivered through a combination of Sakai, Google Sites and Google Groups. What I learned: NIMBLENESS.

4. Adding weight to subtract weight- About 9 months ago I told my personal trainer I wanted to lose 5 pounds. Along with running, I began using more weight training at the gym and began paying attention to what I ate. The My Fitness Pal and Runkeeper Apps really helped me stay focused on my nutrition, which I learned, matters if you want to not only lose weight, but change body composition. A calorie is not a calorie, and the fuel you put into your body is used differently running a 5k than when you run a half marathon. Last week I dead lifted 185 lbs. But that was just a small percentage of the tons of weight I have lifted in the last year. I lost over 30 pounds, but my goals was not focused on losing weight, it was focused on getting stronger. What I learned: CONFIDENCE.

5. Social is a verb. I have been using Twitter for 5 years, and have made some amazing connections and have built my personal learning network so that increasingly my on-line life blends seamlessly with my face to face life. Six degrees of separation are more like one degree. Networking connects us to experts, colleagues, friends and interests to communicate, collaborate and share both personally and professionally. My on-line social reach has expanded to include my professional life as well, and for that I am grateful.  My core beliefs and values are still about personal connections. What I learned: CONNECTIONS ARE STILL IMPORTANT.

6. Let it go. Anyone who knows me knows this is hard for me. From personality conflicts, to a bad race, a bad day, a failed recipe, my friends and family have had to tell me more than once to, “Let it go.” My biggest disappointment, but also my biggest lesson learned was my Seacoast Half Marathon race. I didn’t ever really want to run a half marathon; I could not see the point of running 13.1 miles. Who would ever need to run that far? Who would want to? I decided to run it after I ran my worst race ever-a 10K that felt like a hundred miles. It was the only race I ever thought seriously about quitting with a mile left to go. I realized I had experienced the worst that could ever happen, and I survived. So I decided to register for the Seacoast Half Marathon. I told my trainer and we began training seriously, and stuck to the plan for 11 weeks. That is when I decided to run a “practice” half marathon the week before my goal race. “Can I run it?” I asked my trainer, “It’s not a good idea,” During the week he changed his mind, “You can run it if you want.” And so I did, and it was fine! The last two miles were rough, but I was okay with my results. The next 6 days, I continued to run and ran 12 more miles leading up to my goal race day.

“Start out slow for the first 2 miles, even though it is downhill.”(Really? I had self -doubt-not good.) The first four miles felt good, but after the first 2 miles at an 11 min pace, I found myself trying to play catch-up. At mile 6 I walked for a little bit, and then came around the corner heading out toward Great Island Common, feeling okay-not great, but okay. And then somewhere around mile 8 I stopped for water and it went down my wind pipe. I thought I was going to die. I had to stop and cough and try to get my lungs working again, until finally, I was able to run again. When I got to mile 11 and saw my time I gave up. Not literally, but in my head. The last 2 miles were slow, painful, and demoralizing. When I crossed the finish line I was not happy, and I snapped at my friend, my hsband and my daughter-not cool. I then proceeded to beat myself up for a week and a half over it. My time was not terrible- 2:24 ish or something like that. It was an 11:00 min pace, which is what I started out at, which was what my 5K pace was a year ago. I had to work through it and hear my husband and my trainer  tell me to, “Let it go.” It was hard to let it go. But eventually I did. I only bring it up now as I look toward 2014 to try to learn from my mistakes-and there were plenty.

Letting it go is a big lesson for me-the biggest lesson probably. You cannot change the past, and you cannot do anything about what hasn’t happened yet. It sounds so simple, but it is true. You can only control the moment you are in. What I learned: ACCEPTANCE

So as I look toward my goals for 2014, whether work related, related to family and friends, or personal, I should probably keep these six words posted somewhere as a visible reminder that in order to learn and grow, connections are still important, learning takes time, and mistakes will be made –accept, learn,and let it go.

connectionseducationgoalsLearningonline learningPLNprreflectionrelationshipsrunningsocial mediaweight training

Cathy Brophy • December 24, 2013

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