There are just two more days to 2006, so I guess now is a good time to take a look at what I accomplished this year. The following were my 2006 goals:
1) Improve my bike times.
Goal met in a big way. In fact, I think the bike went from being my weakest part of the race to my strongest.
2) Start a regular strength training routine to work on basic strength and also to avoid further injuries.
Uh... No... My intentions were good, but it didn't happen. No strength training, or very little. Lots of excuses. However, apart from shoulder problems at the beginning of the year (left over from 2005), I did manage to avoid over-use injuries. Of course, I didn't count on breaking my hand and all the strength training in the world couldn't have prevented that.
3) Run 10k in under an hour.
Well, I ran the Omer 10k in under an hour, but it's slightly less than 10 km. I ran 60 minutes and change at Ein Gedi, so I came close -- within less than a minute of my goal. Goal not accomplished, but I'll give myself credit for making the effort and getting so close.
4) Learn to like running.
This was the big surprise of the year. Until very recently, I was fairly certain that I was not going to achieve this goal and I'd made peace with that fact. Then I started training for a half marathon. At first, upping my mileage was hard and not a whole lot of fun. But then, in the last week or so, everything changed. Either I hit the magic number or things just clicked -- I don't know -- but I had some pretty damn good runs, on the treadmill, no less! They were slow, but they also got progressively easier and more enjoyable. And this past week, I've been suffering a bout of depression and the only thing that has really picked me up is running. I can't say I've experienced "runner's high", but I can say that running has worked better and faster than any chemical anti-depressant could. I've started looking forward to my runs, especially the long ones. It's hard to believe, but I'm pretty sure I've achieved this goal.
5) Keep a positive attitude, at least most of the time.
I still complain some. It's my nature and it's something that I'd like to change about myself. But I think I complained a lot less this year. I found something good in most workouts and I finished most of my workouts feeling good. Goal achieved? It's hard to say, but if I didn't completely achieve it, I certainly got the wheels in motion.
There's lots more I could say about 2006. I completed 13 races, lowered my times on every single course that I had done previously and swam, biked and run further than in any previous year (more on that in my yearly totals in a few days). I also fell completely head over heels in love with my road bike (the one I bought second hand after totaling my previous bike at the end of 2005). I broke a bone for the first time in quite a few years and managed to bounce back from the injury in time to do fairly well and much better than expected in Eilat. I think that in 2006, I made the change from a person pretending to be a triathlete to a "real" triathlete. I'm not the fastest or most talented person out there -- not even close -- but I've certainly acquired more than enough experience to take myself seriously as an athlete.
I can't finish this recap of 2006 without mentioning the down point of my year. I've spent the last six months watching a good friend and former (and hopefully future) training buddy deal with cancer. Her battle has put a lot of things into perspective for me. Triathlon is something I do because it's fun and it makes me feel good -- and because I can. I really believe that life is about doing the things that make us feel good and doing them today, because none of us knows what we'll have to deal with tomorrow. In addition, living a healthy lifestyle can prepare us for challenges that we may need to face in the future -- I know that all the training my friend did before she discovered that she was ill and before all the debilitating treatments is now helping her to get through her struggle.
I'll post my 2007 goals when I decide what they are. The only thing I want to say about 2007 now is that I hope it will be a year filled with good health and lots and lots of happiness and fun and things that feel good.