This time last year I had just come back from taking Christy to Coromandel and then went to my dad's for new year with a slightly irksome knee. After a drunken spur-of-the-moment decision to bound on my half-sibling's trampoline, I my knee for a couple of months. Health of the machinery of my body was immediately set as a theme, but it seemed like a contagious theme affecting my students and staff, especially in the second half of the year.
I'd barely gotten moving painlessly again than work got moving. In fact that was the whole school got moving as the school was immediately at a new location, disconnected from the network for over a month, students pouring in and new staff on board. And I had five weeks to get things stable enough so that I could go on a four week holiday in China. It almost got there. I credit my senior teachers with enough character to really hold it together. I brought my computer to China and it was used far more than I'd have liked to. Then the NZQA descended and I was asked if I could come back early to help defend. I didn't. I'd have missed my father-in-law's birthday and lantern festival, which were big reasons for being over there.
The body however was still coming together. In the rush before China, I'd gotten the process to diagnose my knee underway and done in the nick of time. The knee had issues since August but the New Year trampolining was the final straw for it. Running in early January I could barely run 3km before I was in too much pain. Fortunately ACC gave me a visit to the specialist and my first MRI. The news had been good: a strain but some exercises and a gradual build up was all I needed. The day after the diagnosis I was in China and a few days later, I ran in our village for the first time. But then my arches flared. And then, while eating lunch, I turned to talk to my nephew and sprained my side. The last two weeks in China I had a dicky knee, a strained side and painful arches. I felt like an invalid.
Returning to New Zealand, the school felt on an even keel but not without drama. I failed a teacher's probation and had a grievance case against me. It was thrown out but definitely added a bit of flavour to proceedings. The great thing was that the new senior teacher brought with him a lot of his associated teachers who were a charming lot; they were very quickly the favourites of the students. Compared to the staffing travails of the previous year, things were great. My other senior teacher was really struggling with either chronic or self-inflicted illness. Another teacher had real kidney issues and was constantly ill. Then a student came down with meningitis. Another with appendicitis. And then another had a bad acid trip and was tipped into psychosis.
Fortunately my health was up and unfortunately the same time it was down. After the niggles at the end of China, everything came right. My side-strained eased with rest; my knee pain faded with the right regime; and my arches as I've learned since really do get better the more they're beaten into the pavement. After a tough Coatesville Half marathon where I was compelled to walk, I had a great Rotorua Half marathon where I really felt like I broke back into rhythm. My 1 hour 40 minutes for that race on a tough, hilly course made me believe I could achieve my goals. What were my running goals? As mentioned on 30 December 2018:
"My goals for 2018:
- Consistent uninjured running
- 2500km/year (i.e. over 200km most months)
- 5km - 20:00
- 10km - 41:30
- Half marathon - 1:32:00
- Full marathon - 3:20:00"
Most of these were achieved. My full marathon goal shifted to 3:30 and was achieved in October. I ran 2800km and easily met the mileage goal. The half marathon goal was met in August but that personal best was never bettered later in the year. 10km goal was achieve mid-year and I didn't try again at that distance. The 5km I know I could meet because on a difficult course I recorded 20:20. Probably the nicest thing about the year is generally achieving the first goal, consistent uninjured running. 2017 was hickledy-pickledy with stops and starts. Apart from breaks
But literally as I ran that goal-affirming 1:40 was when the reality of another health crisis came to a head. I'd noticed in the preceding runs a niggle in my lower abdomen. I rested but still it was there. And then I ran Rotorua and it became full-blown pain. I thought I'd done something nasty to myself when I just need ed to look in the mirror to see that it was something rather different. I had a bulge out of my body. Later it was diagnosed as a hernia. After the initial explosion of pain, I found running did in fact not cause or aggravate it and merrily ran onwards and achieved the goals I set out. Until December when I finally had my surgery to fix it. Recovery from surgery is a new thing for me and I have learned a lot - I have a character flaw, probably not exclusive to me, that makes it difficult to refrain from waiting for recovery and always pushing the bounds. It can work for some injuries. I'm increasingly confident that it isn't the case for post-surgical rehabilitation. It's been a busy end of the year and I've wanted to have my cake and eat it. New year will be close the third week of recovery and still the area of the wound is sensitive. I've resumed easy running but still cannot confidently run for 5 kilometres without some discomfort. I pushed myself to do a park run in Christchurch while on holiday and accidentally pushed myself in the last kilometre. By the end I was worried I'd put my recovery back a few strides. Three weeks though is only half-way through the length of time it's meant to take for full recovery.
So I was as fit as I ever was while flawed. My immune system allowed me another year of sustained health, which considering the busyness of work was a great thing. I threw myself into solving the constant issues that a growing school had to overcome. People usually deferred to me and increasingly management allowed me to draw lines and trusted my judgement, often at cost. It came as a relief that when things counted my decisions at the highest level of the company were agreed to. One consistent message has been that our school is the one that higher management doesn't need to worry about, and when problems come up they have the confidence that it'd be handled. A few days after my surgery my boss made it clear she wanted me at the Christmas party and it was clear why when I was awarded the Supreme CARE award. Although I'd have rather not have been there and felt physically ill, it was a pleasant surprise. In my appraisal I'd told my manager that I'd be interested in continuing into an Academic Manager in the future which she also thought might be a future path for me. Overall the professional end of the year ended very well.
For 2019, it's easiest to talk about my running goals. Once my recovery from surgery is complete, I plan to continue in a similar vein, learning from the experiences throughout this year and achieving:
- Consistent uninjured running
- 5km - 19:00
- 10km - 40:00
- Half marathon - 1:29:00
- Full marathon - 3:20:00
- At least one trail race
Probably the biggest missing piece since coming back has been the financial side of things. Because we haven't explicitly sought to save money we have generally just saved when we could. We haven't yet arranged our affairs or habits in a way that will result in us potentially having our first house. 2019 should be a good year for saving but it'll take some planning to make it happen.
Professionally it's going to be another challenging year to make sure everything happens at school. The goal of Academic Manager is not an immediate goal and I'm in no rush. The success this year has, apart from luck, been due to bringing together all the micro-skills I learned managing in China, with the comfort of having worked with a team for two years and confidence to know people had my back. I've still made many missteps and there have been more things to learn from and apply in 2019.
Those are the goals I'm happy to be public about. Although some people are skeptical about new years resolutions I like Christmas break being a moment to reflect and project. I look forward to the new phase. Happy new year to all!