Thursday, January 1, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

Out with the old:

So 2008 has come and gone. My theme was "Great In 08", and in retrospect, it was a pretty great year by comparrison. 2007 was a HUGE low point for me. The details are fairly private because they are so embarrasing, but I will share if you give me an email address to send you the details. It had some high points, Evil Genius was born May 31, 2007. But there were many, many more low points. I lost the business I had owned for over 4 years and had to take a job which I now enjoy, but 2007 was really tough. So 2008 didn't have to climb very high to seem like a great year. Here's what I did in a nutshell:

  • Garden kick-off: I got the hobby of organic gardening started, and defined some landscaping in all sides of the house. Bed prep, plant selection, starting plants from seed for the first time, building a raised bed play area for the kids, and planting my first Muscadine vines were the highlights. Plus studying and practicing the organic technique. Fighting bad bugs with good bugs, and attracting the right predators are all really cool things to know how to do. That was mostly Jan - May for the prep, watering over the summer, and harvesting in the summer & fall.
  • Training: I signed up for my first triathlon (the Greenville Sprint) in January after talking to a trainer at my gym. I just happened to get a trainer who ran tri's purely by luck. It was one of those free sessions they give you when you sign up as a new member, and she told me the greenville sprint was very beginner friendly. That one meeting was all the assistance I got. The rest of the training research, training plan, everything was done alone by me online. Wifey, my parents, nobody wanted or actually expected me to run this race.
  • My first real car accident: April 5th I was at a fraternity brother's wedding in Wilmington, NC. Jon is a great friend and the wedding was awesome. I left the reception, pulled the parking ticket off of my car, and drove 4 hours 25 minutes home. I was waiting at the last stop light, cross the street, get some gas, turn right and go to house #14. I was 2 blocks from my house after not stopping the entire 4+ hours. Light turns green, I pull through the intersection, and some redneck from the next county runs the red light and smashes into me. Then lies to the police about it and claims HE was going through a green light. Even though the witness (who was gone by the time the state trooper got there) clearly agreed that he went through a red light and was solely at fault. I separated 3 ribs, tore 7 tendons at the base of my neck, and straightened my spine from the whiplash. Yea, I had little scraped cars before, but never anything that required police involvement. So this was the first time I had a car accident where the car was totalled. We are still a one car family from this accident. We don't really need two cars right now, so I was planning on selling my car anyway. But the way it shook out, I got a grand less than expected for the car from the insurance deductible, and had to cover my own health care costs. It only took the chiropractor a few months to get everything reconnected. But health insurance doesn't cover chiro care, and the car insurance doesn't cover any health care costs. If the redneck would have accepted responsibility for what he did, his policy would have covered my health care costs. So as it stood, I ended up with $55o left out of the deal to buy my Javis road bike. and that was all.
  • Ran my first triathlon: I was determined not to let this redneck (I really don't like many people from Spartanburg county) cost me my race. I was in the middle of a couch to sprint tri training plan when the accident put me on the sidelines for all of april and may. I had gotten out of the habit of training at all during recovery. My schedule had enveloped the regular workout time. Finally Wifey had convinced me not to run the race at all when I revolted against her request. She still says that she had to be a complete jackass to make me realize it was not a feasible goal anymore thanks to my lack of training. That made me revolt and take control again. I was able to recover the schedule, get back into training, and run the race as scheduled. The day before the race, we picked up the race packet, and drove the bike route. She even told me "you've got the race t-shirt, we can tell everyone you ran it and now it's out of your system, and all we have to do is eat breakfast". Then when we showed up at the race site at 6 am and it was still raining with thunder and lightning, and there was no way I was going to run this thing. Then the rains cleared, the sun came out, and my 8 am start time I was in the pool swimming. I finished the race in 2:02:30. It was the first race of any kind since freshman year of high school. I didn't start out as a biker, or run a 5k, or any other kind of training or race. I just picked a sprint tri as a goal when I stopped smoking in december 2007 and met the goal. If I don't pick goals that are really high, higher than most people thing are actually achievable, then I tend to forget about them. That's why I don't like making new year's resolutions. People forget about them by valentine's day. I ran my race, and got hooked on tri's. and training. And the road bike.
  • Then my first running race since high school: The Ache Around the Lake 5 mile race was september 20th, and it was the first running only race since I did a 5k with my mom in high school. Wifey ran it too, and it was her first organized race of any kind, ever. She took 3rd in her age group. So it was a bigger deal to her than it was to me. I finished last in the novice category in the Greenville Sprint Tri (10 competitors), and last in my age group here (6 competitors). I'm ok with that.
  • Found Coach Katie: I volunteered to do some work on the Ache web site, and Katie is the race director for that race. She then volunteered to help me out with a little coaching. Since people don't volunteer expecting to get something in return, this is really, really nice of her. I'm not trying to usurp to much of her time, but I think we're going to get together once before the marathon, and she's helping me set the schedule for 2009. She's a 13 time ironman finisher, pro triathlete (she even ran Kona once in Elite category), and makes a living as a tri coach. So she's amazing.
  • Started this blog: Working from home has it's benefits like setting your own hours, working without interruptions, training in the middle of the day if I want to, etc. But there are also downsides. Like social depravation. I find that talking to other people at the gym gets in the way of my workout. So I hate talking to other people at the gym. But it's the only time I ever leave the house ever. So for any given month, I will have about 5 phone conversations with people in the office, 10 skype video calls with office & client people, and maybe one get together with some local friends. I have incredibly few local friends left here, since they were all people that worked for me when I had the business. So this blog has filled the social void I so desparately needed. Thank you, internet readers for becoming my friends. I have enjoyed getting to know you through your blogs and revealed self-interests as I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me. I'm the same in person as I am online, so if you think I'm funny here you should pump a few beers in me. Call, email, or skype me anytime.

So what did we learn from 2008?

  • How to persevere through challenges
  • How to set goals and achieve them
  • Take control of your own time
  • Value your relationships with non-work and non-family allies
  • Spartanburg county is full of rednecks that cannot be trusted to do the right thing. I still can't believe I didn't have the balls to confront that stupid redneck and demand that he accept responsibility for what he did. I thought the truth would come out just because I was right.

I also became very cynical in 2008. I went from fairly conservative Republican standpoint to a fairly democrat/socialist person. I finally accepted the view that "people" in the grander scheme of things, are all bastard coated bastards with bastard filling. People are greedy and don't care about what's right, only what's best for them and damn the affects on anyone else. That's why the lending industry collapsed and started this whole recession. Deregulation allowed banks to lend to anyone for anything, then foreclose when they couldn't make the payments. Banks could then sell the properties and still turn a profit on the deal thanks to the fees charged up front on the mortgage closing costs. When they couldn't sell the properties anymore after foreclosure, the house of cards collapsed, a bailout ensued, and now we're in a recession. Big surprise. Republicans only do things that benefit the republicans, which was ok when I had a fat 6 figure income. Now I see how bad that is for everyone else, and how much it hurts the american economy in the long run. What's good for everyone can still benefit the republican's just as much if not more than everyone else without hurting other people. I think old W dumbass has done irreparable damage to the republican party, and it will have to refocus priorities to something more along those lines in order to get me aligned right of center again. but's that's enough of that.

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2009

We're going to be "Fine in 09". Since 2008 was so much better than 2007, I'm optimistic that the upward trend will continue. I want 2009 to be a year of firsts for me:

  • First half marathon 1/3
  • First Full Marathon 2/14
  • First International distance tri 4/25
  • First Half Ironman 11/7
  • First 10k race 4/4

I'm also going to run the ache race again, and maybe 3 sprint tri's. And I'm sure I'll sprinkle in some 5k races in there too. Wifey doesn't swim or bike, and only wants to run. She doesn't care about tri's. Marathon training has made her not enjoy the distance as much as she had hoped. So she wants to get into running really fast 5k, 5 mile, and maybe 10k races after the marathon. But she claims she will not purposely do anything longer than a 10k again. I also said last year that I would do that one triathlon, and that would be it. Now i'm hooked on multisport, and I bet she will get hooked on distance after running Myrtle Beach next month. So we're looking for firsts and PR's every month of 2009.

Outside of training, here's what we expect will happen in 2009:

  • I will turn 34 in july
  • Wifey will turn 38 in december (i'm not supposed to reveal that)
  • Bigun will turn 4 in June, and start 4 yr kindergarten in august
  • EG will turn 2 in may. I might even be able to teach her to be less evil.
  • We will move back to North Carolina - I've been saying this since I took this job in August of 2007, the office doesn't care where I live. But this year we really are going to make it happen. By now everything is secure and stable, I have enough work history to qualify for a mortgage, and the pieces are in place for everything to come together for a move.
  • I will remain a non-smoker. One year is great, two is better.
  • I want to make some new friends just for the sake of having friends. no expectations, no "users" (people that only call when they want something), just hang out and enjoy what we have in common. Would you be my friend?
  • "Iron up" my body. This means losing some weight (about 20 lbs), staying focused on muscle definintion and aerobic endurance and capabilities, and working on my heart. This makes nutrition & fuel just as important as excersice and training. It should get my BMI down to about 25 as a goal, even though I don't think BMI is a very effective health measuring stick.
  • Someone will freaking buy this house. OMG I hope this mountain house sells this year. I thought it was going to sell last year, and we still haven't had a single offer even after dropping the asking price by $35,000. that's leaving a ton of cash on the table.

So I'm very optimistic about a healthy and fruitful 2009. I'm also reminded of 1984 and my own father. I was 9, Michael was 7, and Morgan was 4 at that time, and we had just emerged from the gas crisis into a pretty bad recession. The real estate market was in the toilet just like it is now, and my dad owned a Century 21 franchise. His father started the business back in 1947, and passed away in his office in 1981. So my dad was faced with a terrible market, a young family to support, and tons of responsibility to live up to. This sounds really familiar. The current recession, my young family, Wifey is a stay at home mom, I've got all of the responsibility for keeping the family afloat and accomplishing our family goals for the year.

Meeting the family goals will make it easier to measure up to my responsibilities. Our monthly expenses include paying 5 mortagages every month, which (surprise surprise) is not easy. Moving to NC and selling the mountain house will help this burden. It's not fun having the expenses you line up when you have a nice fat 6 figure income when you no longer have the 6 figure income to support it. So that's why I'm optimistic about being Fine in 09. 2008 was about establishing stability. Now that everything is stable, I can implement the changes needed to balance work and family, income and expenses, family time and personal time, training and recovery... you get the picture.

One last prediction.... I think the real estate market will start to loosen up at least here in SC by about may or june. We didn't see the drop in property values that most other states saw, the time on market increased some, but home prices held or rose some. Resort areas (like our mountain house location) might come back a little earlier thanks to out of state money influencing purchase time on deflated home values. It might also come back much, much later in the year because people don't buy second homes until the economy stabilizes completely. But when there is this much undervalued real estate in volatile markets, it's a short matter of time before people start buying it up.

So have a great new year's day! I've got to write some code today, get some cross training in, drink beer and watch football. I wish you all the best for 2009, it's going to be a fine year indeed.

8 comments:

Havs said...

Good luck, John, on your upcoming first 1/2 mary. It sounds like you'll do just fine!

Wes said...

You kicked some ass in 08, did you not? Some serious challenges. Well done! I hope 2009 is everything that you hope it to be, and then some!!

Thanks for the bone you tossed about writing code. I am a contractor, and am always interested in hearing about opportunities. I don't know if you guys have any any black box type of work that can be done, or not, but I'm always interested in making some extra coin. Eh? LOL...

Happy New Year!!

Sarah said...

Wow, that was a long one! Sounds like a great 2008 for you and 2009 is going to be REALLYREALLY exciting. Can't wait to follow along. Anyone else curious about 2007 because I am!

the gazelle said...

That was a pretty awesome year! I hope that 2009 is even better. Good luck on your half this weekend - I know you'll do fantastically. Is your wife still planning on running it?

Girl on Top said...

I hate car accidents. Been in 2 and they both suck. I always thought it happened to other people :(

Hope you are able to sell your house and if not, you can always rent it so someone will pay your mortgage for you. Just rent it enough for breakeven you know?

And I like the theme fine in 09!

RBR said...

Your first half marathon is this weekend?! AWESOME! You are so ready! You ran 19 miles on a treadmill for Christ's sake! I am pretty sure if you can do that you can bend spoons with your mind!

Sounds like you rocked 2008 and I have no doubt that 2009 will be even better. As you know, that which does not kill us...

I quit smoking in 1994. It sucked, but now as an active person (with asthma from smoking and allergies, go figure) I am so grateful that I am not hooked anymore. You know you can do this because you ARE doing it.

I can't wait for you to kick ass and take names in 2009.

Carly said...

You did great in '08! (Ha...I am poet and didn't know it)

Good luck on the half marathon you will do fabulous. 2009 is your year!

coachh said...

Good Read...will catch up w/ the rest later....Enjoy