In an alternate universe, I would have run the Philadelphia Marathon this past weekend. Since my 1100-day running streak ended with the birth of my fifth child, the marathon was going to be a new running goal to inspire me. While it would have been challenging, I did believe I could make the time. I ran Big Sur in 2010 when I had a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old. Days have the exact same 24 hours as they did when I managed that training.
Then most major races ended up canceled because of Covid. I did not find the idea of training for and running 26.2 miles absent the course, crowds, and water stations exciting. And so I let the whole thing go. This past weekend I ran 3 miles both weekend days. I know I can do 10 mile long-runs (I’ve done that a few times this fall) but 10 miles and 3 miles are a fair ways down from marathon-level fitness.
But so it goes. I know, as the calendar wends toward brumal* weather, that many people are contemplating setting goals for 2021. I know that many people also feel that 2020 has soured them on the project. Is there any point in setting goals when it’s quite possible that goals will have to change?
My answer: If 2020 is the first time your goals have needed to change, you have led a fairly charmed life! Life is always unknowable. We are spinning on an improbable planet in the middle of cold and inhospitable space. On a less existential level, the ordinary coarse of illnesses, job changes, relationship changes, the miraculous but not always predictable appearance of children and such can alter any plans.
So it goes. The upside of making goals and plans is that doing so lets us articulate our hopes. We can see what matters to us. We make space for these things even if the timing and the particulars need to change.
I have been thinking of this as I look over my goals for 2020.
Some happened. We adjusted to becoming a family of seven! I went outside for 20 minutes a day all winter. We went on a family leaf-peeping trip in the fall. I got a book deal (if you count The New Corner Office, I signed contracts for two). I hoped to “execute on a housing decision and embrace it” in Q3 and lo and behold, our offer on the new house was accepted in August.
Some had to change forms. I listed a Q2 personal goal of going to the Bach festival in Leipzig, and while that did not happen, it’s interesting to me that I listed the goal as “Bach festival” and not as “Germany trip” or anything like that. Knowing that it is the Bach part that is the lure inspired me to sign up for a combination lecture plus virtual sing-along that a local music group is doing on the Bach B-Minor mass. As for Mommy Days with the kids, the point was to spend time with the less demanding (i.e. older) kids. Thanks to Covid and hybrid/virtual schooling, I’m eating lunch with my teen and pre-teen children most days, usually while the little ones are out of the house.
As for the marathon, this is a reminder that I like to run, and I like to run long, and it’s worth prioritizing a longer outside run in my time. I don’t set goals like “find a fun new fitness class” or “join a sports team.” As long as running is working for me, I don’t need to go seeking or wondering about something else. I can just run — whether that’s 26.2 miles, or 3.
*”Relating to winter; wintry.” New word in my vocabulary and I am using it whenever possible.