2010, another good year

It’s interesting — and sometimes, gratifying — to look back at the previous year after the completion of another cycle through the Gregorian calendar. And I enjoy the narcissistic satisfaction of celebrating my achievements. So here’s a look at noteworthy events in 2010, from my self-centered point of view:

  • I got married to my wife on May…. something (no worries, I have until May 2011 to remind myself of the exact date). That was a courageous act for both of us. Yet I can state in all honesty that I have no regrets — and I do believe she can say the same. If you think that should go without saying, think again. The hard truth is that all intimate relationships have their difficulties, and why shouldn’t they? People are imperfect. How could their relationships with one another be otherwise? In a recent conversation with my beloved wife, we concluded that a good marriage is in a sense comparable to raising children: it makes your life harder, but better. (Whereas a shitty marriage simply makes your life harder.)

    Don’t feel bad if you weren’t invited to the ceremony — almost nobody was. We had the obligatory two witnesses, an officiant, one witness’ spouse as photographer, and our kids. We stood barefooted in our back yard and the whole thing was over within three minutes.

  • I let go of my formal Zen practice for the time being, withdrawing from the zendo at which I had been a student for three plus years. The reasons are somewhat complex. Suffice it to say was time to move on. I might have liked to join some other zendo, be part of a sangha, work with a teacher. But I had to accept the fact that I while I may have a pretty good shot at doing most of what I want to do sequentially, I can’t have everything I want all at the same time because there simply isn’t enough time. Raising kids, having a substantial commute, being married, and maintaining a committed running practice — that’s about all I can handle. I sit as much as I can when I can, generally at least 15 minutes every day save a very few days per year. I sit longer when I can.
  • Speaking of running, I ran no marathon in 2010, but nailed personal records in shorter distances, such as
    • a 10K race in March that I jumped into spontaneously — i.e., without training for it explicitly — and surprised myself with a 6:55/mile pace, 5th in my 50-54 age group. I didn’t think I could run it at a sub- 7:00/mile pace; my previous best had been 7:18. This meant it was time to raise the bar.
    • the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May, where I was aiming for a 7:25 pace and ran at a 7:22 average pace. That was good for 17th of 169 in my age group, which might not sound stellar except that this popular race draws a pretty strong field. Not the least satisfying aspect was that it felt like I was pressing to maintain a quality pace the whole way and was actually concentrating on what I was doing for almost the entire 1:36:35. I probably could have done better if I had trained with a coach and run more strategically — but rare is the race in which you cannot say you might have done better if this or that.
    • a 5K race in August on Martha’s Vineyard with over 1500 runners, at which your servant finished 5th in his age group at a 6:39/mile pace. Not two weeks before I had run another 5K in hot and humid conditions and had gone out too fast, finishing at a 6:52 pace — which happened to be good enough for 2nd in my age group, but I went out too fast and struggled later. This one was pleasing because I kept up a reasonably even pace the whole way and did better. My wife also ran it just for the pleasure of running.
    • a five mile New York Road Runners race in November, an event in Central Park with over 2000 runners. My 6:46 pace was good for 4th place in my age group. It’s exciting to come this close to actually being given some sort of award.

    This bragging may be unseemly. All the ass-kicking runners I know around town are genuinely modest. But I am still getting over my astonishment at the sudden and unexpected gift of being able to run this well, because I never knew what it was to attach a timing chip to a shoe, pin a number to my shirt, and run seriously until three years ago. I am a kid who is thrilled with his cool new toy.

  • We acquired two more cats.
  • Our daughter Mylie got two guinea pigs whom she named Calvin and Hobbes.
  • Speaking of kids, all four of ours got a year older, got bigger, moved up a grade in school, kept on inhaling and exhaling, kept us on our toes — and for this we are boundlessly grateful.