I'm not big on New Year resolutions. I can't say I respond particularly well to "everyone's doing something, I should too" situations. Peer pressure can be useful at times, but I also find that it can make me even more stubborn.
So when Jason Brimhall chose the topic for this month's T-SQL Tuesday as "standing firm", considering the ideas of "resolve, resolution, resolute", I scowled a little, and wondered what I'd write about. I considered writing about my MCM journey (although that's over – for a few months), or thinking about some business-related thing – but the closest I have to a resolution this year is related to running. I get that it's not about SQL, but it seems very related to various members of the SQL community. You know who you are – don't make me list you.
Many of you won't know that this May (2013) will mark ten years since I had a nasty back injury. I don't have a dramatic story to tell about it – it happened at work at the water cooler. I simply bent over wrong, and years of having a job where I sit down a lot, cycling (I used to cycle to work most days, every day when I was living in London), and being a little taller than most finally took its toll. Suddenly there was pain, and I ended up in hospital being told I might not get to walk again, and to expect to be in there until some time in July.
Prayer got me out in ten days.
But there were things I lost. I've never since been able to pick up my sons (they were five and three at the time). I've never been able to ride a bike (although I haven't forgotten how). Until 2012, I'd been unable to run. I have chronic pain, and I've got used to it (which is annoying, but I've learned to tolerate it. That's not always a good thing, like the time I had a badly inflamed appendix and nearly got sent home – although my pain tolerance did mean I could fly to Seattle a few days after the operation).
In 2011, I started to walk more. I walked about eight miles one time just to see if I could. The pain level was higher, as expected, but I managed it. Later that year, I walked a half marathon in Portland, Oregon, just before the PASS Summit. I even beat one of the people in the group who was supposedly running (I felt bad and wanted to wait for him, but I think if I'd stopped I wouldn't've been able to finish).
I kept walking, but in June 2012, I talked to my physio about getting running back. He'd supported me through the walking, and knew that it wasn't causing me too much bother any more. He got me on the treadmill, then onto grass, then onto the road. It hurt more, but I was surviving. Annoyingly, a cough I had developed into more and I ended up being sick for the best part of June-August, but I was running when I could, and I was surviving.
In November, I didn't just walk a half marathon, I ran it. Annoyingly I had tendinitis in my right knee, which meant I had acute pain almost the whole way around the San Francisco course. I didn't stop running though, and although my pace dropped so much I could've walked most of it faster, I got to the end. Last month, December 2012, I agreed to do at least 15 minutes of cardio every day, and I managed it. I ran over 75 miles during the month, and I'm sure my fitness level is improving.
So what's in store for 2013 on the running scene?
Well, I want to get a better time in a half marathon. That shouldn't be hard – I just need to run one when I'm not injured.
I wouldn't mind trying a full marathon. I've joined the South Australian Road Runners' Club, and there are some marathons I could aim for during the year. There are also some trips to the US that I'll be doing, and I could try to do one over there.
I want to keep going with doing some cardio every day. My weight is dropping and I would like to get back to close what I was before my injury. I don't expect to get under it – I'm not in my 20s any more – but I would like to get close. In the next few weeks I should get under 200lb again (90.7kg), and would like to be able to reach 86kg. The goal isn't just to lose weight, rather to keep increasing the fitness level and see my back improve. Too many times in the past ten years I've had such bad times with my back that I've been unable to stand straight, or walk more than a few paces without stopping and holding onto something. On those days, I wouldn't've been able to do any cardio at all, and I praise God massively for the quality of life I have when those times aren't haunting me.
I don't know if I can manage to run a particular distance in 2013. If I could average the same as December, that would get me to 900 miles for the year. That should mean that 1000 could be possible, but 750 miles could be a more realistic goal. I'd still be thrilled to be able to achieve that.
So if you follow me on Twitter and see one of these tweets, feel free to hit reply and send me a message. While I'm running, every tweet that starts with @rob_farley will get read out to me by the Runmeter app on my phone. That's really encouraging, and it helps me know that I have supporters. Thanks in advance, because you'll be helping me be more resolute.
PS: If you've read all the way down to here, go and donate some money to the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Society, supporting Yanni Robel who will run 39.3 miles this weekend. I can't see myself trying that particular feat, but two years ago, Yanni wasn't a runner either. Both she and her husband John are good friends of mine who have encouraged me immensely. So go donate some money now and help her reach her fundraising goal too. http://pages.teamintraining.org/wa/wdw13/yrobel