Not yet. Not for a week. But I have had One Of Those Semesters, and may not find the time to do this in the next seven days, while I do have a few minutes right now.
So, I will be 44 years old next Wednesday. Out of college for a full half of my life (somehow that seems relevant as we approach graduation here at SJSU).
How’s it gone, so far?
Overall, pretty well.
Since I finished college, I:
Met the love of my life, earned a Ph.D, got married, completed a postdoc, had two amazing kids, got a tenure track job at a place I generally love, bought two houses (sold one), funded my lab to a level that’s pretty uncommon at SJSU, and was tenured.
It’s a lot, even for 22 years.
A few not-so-great things have also happened, of course. We lost my dad far earlier than we should have. Friends have died or been widowed (mercifully few, but nonetheless). We elected an incipient authoritarian dictator President of the United States. Climate change is a thing we should really look to.
But…to quote Joe Walsh (the good one, not the psycho deadbeat dad former Congresscritter), life’s been good to me (so far).
There is ONE thing that I’ve done recently that I wouldn’t have predicted 22 years ago, though. When I got tenure, I promised myself I’d start exercising again. I hadn’t exercised regularly in…almost 7 years, since my daughter was born.
Exercise for its own sake isn’t part of my personal culture, or at least it wasn’t until recently. I have always been tall and thin, and so the “exercise to keep fit” argument didn’t really affect me when I was younger. When I was in graduate school I played Ultimate Frisbee for a few years, and quite seriously some of the time, but let’s face it: that was REALLY about spending time with/sharing interests with my future spouse, not because I wanted it for my own sake. Yes, yes. Shut up.
Anyway. The benefits of exercise, even if you don’t need it for weight maintenance, are well-established, and I was entering middle-age. Also, I wanted to do something for me…just for me. Not for my kids, or for my job, but for myself.
In August of last year, the week my kids started school, a few months after I was notified of tenure, I started running. At first, I could run only 3 or 4 minutes at a stretch, and for a total of 20 minutes even with walking intervals. I managed maybe two miles on a good day.
I kept at it, using an app designed to take couch potatoes like me and train them for a 5K. I completed it in eleven weeks (it was designed for nine), just before the holidays set in.
So, here we are, nine months later. Nine months later, and I have run 3 days a week for the vast majority of the intervening 39 or so weeks. I had some downtime for a nasty cold in February, and take a week off here or there to avoid shin splints and other injuries. But I’ve done it: exercise is a habit.
I don’t hate it anymore. I look forward to it. Which, hello, super weird.
I now run at least a 5K three times a week, and I do it in about half an hour. I have no doubt that I could train up to a 10K if I could spare the time…but I can’t spare the time for an hour three days a week, unless I want to get up at 5 a.m. Which, no.
But, hey, I figure that 15-16K per week is more than enough to keep my middle-aged bones and cardiovascular system in good shape.
What I’m most proud of is this: I didn’t stop when work tried to stop me. I’ve tried to do this before, and always, always, work would become overwhelming and I’d stop. Like clockwork, week 8 of the semester would roll around and I’d just give up. But not this time.
I triaged other things instead. Stuff at work didn’t always get done exactly when it should have.
So, yeah: my exercise story dovetails with my work-life balance story. Balance is important.
So, my Big Accomplishments of Year 44: Moving to a new house, getting tenure, and running a 5K three times a week.
Now, if we can just get out of this Schrödinger’s Cat of a political situation: is it a collapse into authoritarian rule, or is it the early dissolution of a truly inept attempt at fascism? Feels like it could go either way. Not comfortable, me, with the GOP getting to decide which way it goes.
How was your year?