Last year, I posted my annual list of resolutions online. For me, this annual tradition is pretty much an exercise in public shaming. I try to force myself to keep my resolutions by making them public. Often, my real goal isn't the resolution itself, but simply to attempt to keep the resolution. And if you think of things in that light, it's better to shoot for the moon. Last year, I posted a particularly ambitious set. So how did I do? Erm. Kind of lousy. Results below.
1. Complete a marathon
I'd like to do this in less than 3.5 hours. But that's an aspiration more than a goal. What I'm going to accomplish is to run 26.2 miles.
Nope! Not only did I not complete one, I didn't even try. The closest I came was the Double Dipsea, which is a fun (and exhausting) race from Stinson Beach to Mill Valley and back again over Mt. Tam. But at 14 miles, it's hardly a marathon. I did run some long distance training runs last year, hitting the 19 mile mark twice. But 2009 turned into a year of enjoying the outdoors and fitness rather than competing in events (see the next entry). I probably logged more miles running in '09 than I did in '08, but not competitively. I uncharacteristically left my GPS at home, and just ran for fun. I think, as a result, I love running now more than I did a year ago. But I'm still longing to check that 26.2 miler off my list.
2. Complete a Half-Ironman in less than 5.5 hours
This year, I finished my first half in 5:34. I think I can get it under five and a half hours simply by doing better in the transitions. I took a lot of time transitioning at Vineman, because it was my first time out and I more or less used them as breaks. But one area where I can certainly shave some time this year at Wildflower is my swim. I'm a crummy swimmer. Which leads me to:
Nope! I didn't even come close to this. In fact, the only Half-Ironman I registered for last year was Wildflower, and I chickened out at the last minute and competed in the Olympic distance instead. I essentially spent all of 2008 competing in triathlons (I did 5 that year in all, including two Alcatraz triathlons, and a Half-Ironman). I was burned out. I was tired of competing. I was tired of training nearly every day in pursuit of personal records. I needed a break. I'm signed up for the Auburn Triathlon in 2010, but given its reputation as "the world's toughest half" I doubt I'll finish in less than 5.5. And you know what? I don't really care.
3. Swim lessons
I suck at swimming. While I was a strong and frequent swimmer growing up (I even worked as a lifeguard at Boy Scout camp and the YMCA) I was never on a team. And because I was never on a team, I never learned good form. And because I never learned good form, I'm slow. You know the difference between me and Michael Phelps? Too many to count. But the difference between me and the guy who finishes five to ten minutes ahead of me on a 1.5 mile swim? It's not fitness; it's form. I'm going to suck it up and take some swim lessons this Winter, even if they bore the shit out of me.
Done. Although just one. But that single lesson did more to improve my form than all my other practice in the previous three years combined. I need more.
4. First Elvis
I'm going to be the first person dressed as Elvis to cross the finish line at this year's Bay to Breakers. Hunka, hunka.
Check! This was one of the best things I've ever done. Harper waited for me at the end to verify that I was the first E across the line, but it turned out that she didn't need to: all along the way I heard over and over, "hey, it's the first Elvis!" Hauling ass in an Elvis costume was a phenomenal feeling. While I was far from being a race leader, I was certainly one of the leading people in costume. It's a rush, and I felt a little bit like I was giving back to the city I love. But one major lesson learned: Elvis costumes are hot. I felt like I was going to pass out by about mile 5 from the heat inside that suit. This year, I may try to ventilate it.
1. Three Blog Posts Per Month
What's this doing under professional? One thing I've always said I love about blogging is that as a professional writer, my blog is my freedom. It's the place where I get to say whatever I want, however I want, unfiltered by editors, factcheckers, spellcheckers, or common sense. But it's also a place where I refine story ideas, where I try out new concepts, and organize my thoughts. It's a valuable professional tool. In 2008, I almost quit blogging. It was an accident, I tumbled too much instead. I don't know about you, but I've grown tired of Tumblr. Yeah, it's a meme crucible. But it's also a circle jerk, and it's too focused on hipsterism. I rarely find anything interesting there anymore that isn't actual old school, long form, blogging. I've enjoyed it, but I think I'm just about all done with Tumblr. I'm going to try to put up one post on this site per week, and I may even re-point emptyage.com at this blog again.
Close enough. I'm going to count this one as completed. It was an aspirational goal, and while I fell short, I did what I set out to, more or less. But as for being "all done with Tumblr"? Hogwash. 2009 was the year of Tumblr for me, and very many other people. I'd been using it since 2006, I believe, and after falling out of love with it in '08, I radically trimmed who I followed, and found it one of the most stimulating sites on the Internet. Interestingly, however, I've come to think of it as a group blog or bulletin board, rather than as "my tumblr." For me the Tumblr experience starts and ends with the Dashboard.
2. One Pitch Per Week
Lately I've begun leaning on assignments too much. I used to have a goal to send a pitch out every single day. That was eight years ago, when I was just starting out as a freelancer. It was often the same pitch, rejected in one spot, and sent somewhere else, but I was pitching. Pitching not only helps keep the work rolling in, but it also forces you to stay current and focused on the things you are interested in. I can't send out a pitch a day anymore, but I can and should do at least one a week.
Not really. But I did do pretty well. I managed to send out an average of at least three per month. I also found, in 20009, a much, much, much higher percentages of my pitches were shot down. While in previous years, I'd guess 2/3 or so of my pitches were accepted, this year for the first time in a long, long time, the percentage fell below 50 percent. That sucked.
3. Book Proposal
One of the very many good things to come out of my book deal this year was that I scored an amazing agent at an amazing agency. I need to take advantage of that and get a book proposal into her this year.
Yeah. Nothing happened. Good experience, but I still don't want to talk about it.
I drink too much. I'm going to cut back on it this year because I love beer and I love wine and I don't want to have to stop drinking either one. This is kind of a touchy-feely goal, in that I don't have a concrete number or achievement to check off a list. But I'll know it when I see it.
Oof. A big nope. The biggest. Alcohol is my most profound and worrying problem. Right now, I think it's fair to say I have an alcohol habit that's fast approaching problem or even addiction status. I'm very rarely drunk, but I drink almost every day. Worse, I drink to unwind and self-medicate. It worries me. It worries other people. It worries my wife. I have to get my drinking under control in 2010 or I have to quit. And I damn sure don't want to quit. I love beer and wine and sake. I love the flavors and the smell and the colors and the process and the rituals and so many other things that have nothing to do with the alcohol or intoxicating effects. But it's the alcohol I have to worry about it. And I'm worried.
Another touchy-feely one. I have the best relationship of anyone I know. There's a simple reason for that, both Harper and I put the other person's interests ahead of our own. She's the most important thing in my life, and I'm the most important thing in hers. I want to make sure I don't take her for granted, and be a better husband and friend in 2009 than I was in 2008.
You'd have to ask Harper, but I think I pulled this one off. I hope. Which just makes me want to do even better in 2010. Relationships are like fitness; you always have to work to maintain them, and no matter how well you are doing, you can always do better. In that spirit, I'm not checking this one off.
3. Go Crazy
Life should be an adventure. You only get one shot at it, so you have to make the most of it. To me, there's nothing better in life than having a wide variety of experiences. It was why I did acid in high school and why I swim from Alcatraz as an adult. I just want to live, live, live. Harper has much the same life philosophy. We had hoped to go to Tanzania in 2009, to climb Kilimanjaro. Yet barring another book deal, that's likely going to be too expensive for us to save up for it in time for this year. But somewhere out there is a stunning adventure with our names on it. I don't know if that's in South America, or Africa, or on the John Muir Trail. But wherever it is, I need to find it.
I'd say hiking the John Muir Trail (on three or four weeks notice, no less) fit this bill. It was one of the greatest things I've ever done, and I'm not sure that I'll ever top it. It was remarkably challenging, both physically and mentally. It was beautiful, spiritual, and stimulating to my mind and body. I can only hope to find something equally as rewarding in 2010, although I doubt I will. That was truly one of those only-once-every-few-years experiences.