Strangely, unlike the rest of the world, which tends to get engaged during the spring (you know, the whole "love is in the air" time), many of my friends are either engaged or planning on it right now. What is it about August and September that's so great for love? Don't ask me - I'm too sweaty right now in the 97-degree heat to feel at all lovey-dovey.
I must admit that at first, I was all jealous. I mean, I've been dating my boyfriend for almost 7 years - why can't I be engaged too? Forget about the logical explanations - like the fact that we've been dating long-distance for almost that entire time. I am just ready to be at that stage in my life already. Soon, though, I came around to reason and realized that it's just not quite time, and that once we finally (FINALLY!) move in together next spring, things will happen much more quickly. And I realized one more thing: this whole friends-getting-engaged thing is actually a blessing in disguise.
Yes, you heard that right. It's good for me to see all the planning and work and stress that goes into a wedding now, while I'm still removed from the whole thing. From watching my friends, I've learned a bit about wedding planning: for one, that you need to decide on a location first because that will dictate almost everything else. The really important decisions are something that I will keep in the back of my mind for when I finally do get engaged.
But the best thing so far is actually watching my friends begin to panic about getting in shape for their weddings. Already I've heard talk about having no more sweets, and working out more, and this is still several months in advance of their weddings. I've learned a lot from these discussions: namely, that I don't want that kind of stress for the entire year before my wedding. Although I know that I will still want to work out harder to look my best at the ceremony, I think now is a perfectly good time to start working on more ambitious fitness goals.
This year, my goals were to run a half marathon, and to hopefully lose a few pounds in the process. There weren't very many detailed goals in there, because to begin again from not running at all was in itself a huge goal. I am proud to say that I've smashed my running goal - one half is done already, and I have two more lined up for this fall. I successfully went from non-runner to half-marathoner in 6 months - and I will hopefully be improving my pace in the next two races. Unfortunately, though, I haven't been so successful on the weight-loss front - my weight has stayed pretty steady because of all the food I've been eating to fuel my running. Yoga has helped me tone up a bit, but I have had almost no time for strength training with my running schedule.
Which is why next year's goals are going to be different. Because I've already become a runner - yes, I do call myself that even though I only "run" at 13:00/mile pace on average - I should be able to maintain a decent base of 5-8 miles per week (one short and one longer run) while also improving my strength and balance. Instead of training for endurance races, I'm going to stick to 5Ks for the spring, and spend some more time with weights, the bosu and balance ball, and maybe kettlebells or a TRX (edit: I will be trying out a TRX courtesy of A Jogger's Life in March! Yay!!) The real goal is to make myself more toned, improve my muscle mass, and make myself stronger and faster. In the end, even though I'm not running as much, this should help me improve my running far more than my long runs do right now. And if it helps me lose weight, even better - I'll have a jump start on this whole wedding prep thing, and being even 10 pounds lighter will make me faster and happier when running.
As for life goals? Well, this next year is likely to be super turbulent - shifting from being a Ph.D. student to a postdoc (at a place so intense it's almost scary), moving in with my boyfriend in a different town, and making new friends come to mind. My main goal is to just relax and breathe - I don't do enough of that. Some things will be out of my control, and I'm going to need to just ride with it. And enjoy the ride.