Last fall, I finished the Navy-Air Force Half-Marathon in 1:29:19. I had set a goal for myself: if I finished under 1:30, I would theoretically project to running a full marathon in under 3:10, which would be a solid time to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In that case, I told myself that I should make the attempt to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time. I even had a race all picked out: the Potomac River Run Marathon is a nice flat course with a limited number of runners and would have been great for my attempt. Alas, scheduling doesn't look like it is going to work out. But on the good side, delaying to the fall will let me run the same course, and I will be attempting to qualify for the 2019 edition. Since I will be 45 at the time of the 2019 Boston Marathon, my qualifying time can be 10 minutes slower!
I pitched a New Year's resolution story to The Billfold a couple of weeks ago. At this point, it looks like they aren't going to run it, so I figured I would post it here. I thought it ended up being decent, but maybe a little short for what they wanted, based on what they have run so far. Still, it felt good to write things again, which is why I decided to start writing here again, I suppose. Plus, just writing it fell in to the "taking chances" theme of the piece.
Being a parent can make you extremely risk-averse. Not just in the sense that you don’t want your kids to get physically hurt, but you also tend to shy away from making choices in your own life that could negatively affect them. At the same time, you want to teach them that failure is a part of life and things aren’t always going to go your way, and they can learn from their mistakes.
That’s how I found myself last October, trying to decide whether to leave my job of 18 years. It was a difficult and scary decision, but I decided to take a chance and accept a position with a much smaller company. The move wasn’t even that risky; the job paid more and was on a 4 year contract, but I still felt really nervous. When I was in high school, my father lost his job twice in the course of a few years, and the resulting gap in income put a lot of stress on the whole family. In contrast, this was a voluntary move. I know I could have worked in my original job for many more years with very little risk of losing my job or taking a hit to my income. Ultimately, it’s frightening to think that I’ve been doing something for nearly 20 years and I’m not even sure if it’s the right career for me. The thing about being risk-averse is that you can too easily get stuck in a rut with no way out.
How do you know what you’re made of without testing your resolve? As 2016 came to a close, I found that I didn’t have an answer to that question. I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I decided to take more chances in 2017 to put my mettle to the test. The job change was just the beginning. Perhaps I’ll find that the problems with my old job have followed me to the new job and I’ll want to make a more radical career change. Maybe I’ll want to move from the high cost-of-living of Washington, DC to a more affordable area. I already have some things lined up to challenge myself in the upcoming year. I’m going to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon in the
fall (see above). In the fall, I will try again to qualify for the Club National Championships in curling. Both of those goals seem destined for failure, but that's okay! Despite my introverted tendencies, I’m going to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people at events like Creative Mornings
, tech talks
and group running
. I’m also going to branch out and find a new hobby, maybe even something that can turn into a side hustle. This week, I even applied for a "side job," if you can call it that, helping to run a series of trail races
that I love.
As my kids have grown, I’ve noticed that they have followed my example and have become overly cautious and wary of trying new things unless I really encourage them. I’m hoping that, by taking chances in my life, they will start taking chances in theirs too. They both decided to try curling this fall, and my daughter joined the backstage crew of her middle school’s play. We’re even going skiing together for the first time in March. I’m proud that they are trying new things outside of their usual routines.