When trying to come up with a title for this post, I considered Moving Forward, Forward Thinking and Forward Progress. All of them seemed to capture part of what I wanted to write about, so I settled on simply Forward and using the other titles as headings. As the word may suggest, this post will focus on the year that has just passed and a look ahead as I go forward.

Moving Forward

While Amanda and I enjoy many different physical activities, the one that has served as a common theme for the past few years has been our interest in running. 2011 was a particularly interesting, frustrating and rejuvenating year in running for me. Early on, I was running and just trying to stay warm in temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius while spending a month up in Iqaluit, Nunavut. When I returned, I got into training mode for the Ottawa Race Weekend where I completed my second marathon in a span of 7 months. Race day was a mixture of emotions. Of course, I was thrilled to have finished my second marathon and improved on my time. The frustration was that I was unsure if I had bilateral stress fractures in my feet, just sore overused muscles, or something more serious that may signal the end of my young running career.

After taking time off from pounding the pavement, I knew I would have to start slowly again and rebuild in order to avoid that feeling in my feet from coming back. After lots of rest, walking and stretching, it was time to attempt running again. It was also time for a bigger shake-up. All of the downtime led me to read even further into barefoot running. It seemed like as good a time as any to give it a shot since I would be having to “start over” again anyways. I was not willing to go “all the way barefoot”, so I settled on a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves to be my new minimalist barefoot shoes. It was great to have my feet truly feel the ground again and slow but steady, I have built back up to about 12 km over the summer. It was also a great way to see the streets of Gaborone, Botswana, and even a trail run in South Aftica. Definitely rejuvenating!

Moving Forward. In 2012, I hope to continue building on the new form I have learned over the past 6-7 months in the barefoot shoes. I plan to do more trail running, especially in the summer when we move back to Calgary. The plan now is also to keep slowly building my distance and run the half marathon at the end of May in Ottawa. There is also a trail half-marathon just outside of Calgary in July that I would like to try. Depending on how my feet are holding up, I’ll likely add a few more goals to close out the summer of 2012.

Forward Thinking

Amanda and I were extremely fortunate to travel as much as we did in 2011 and experience many different people and cultures. It also gave us a lot of time to think about our beliefs, values and what is truly important to us. I have written before about us trying to minimize the “stuff” in our lives, and I’ve recently discussed that people should be treated fairly for the work they do.

Forward Thinkng. Moving back to Calgary in July will give us a chance to rethink some of these things again. How big of a house do we really need? How much of our “stuff” do we really need to move? Should we buy things for the 1 or 2 times a year we might need them, or should we figure out how to get by with what we have or rent / borrow what we need in those rare instances? Perspective on these things changes when you see how little some people have as well as living out of a suit case for almost four months!

As part of the process of minimizing, we have already given away quite a few of our things to local charity. We have also started posting a number of things online for sale. Of the things we have given away or sold so far, I can’t say I’ve missed any of them yet!

Forward Progress

In some ways, the biggest thing happening in 2012 is something I don’t always talk about but will try and elaborate on a bit here. Three and a half years ago we moved to Ottawa for me to start my Pediatrics residency. As part of that program, I was fortunate to be able to spend 16 weeks working in the health care system in Botswana. It was very different than working in Canada, but kids are kids and I do love my job. There are frustrations working anywhere in the world when it comes to health care, but the kids don’t know any of this. They just want to get better and we do our small part to try and help them.

This year will mark the end of this time in Ottawa. In May, I have a series of exams to become a certified pediatrician in Canada. These exams are known to be quite difficult and will require me to put a focus on studying for the next four months. In July, the next chapter of my training begins as we move back to Calgary and I start a Pediatric Gastroenterolgy Subspecialty Fellowship training program. What’s another two or three years?!

I am reading a book right now about training for ultramarathons,1 Relentless Forward Progress. I think the title also sums up the fact that I am currently completing my fifteenth year of post-secondary education! Who needs a real job anyways!

All the best to everyone! Move forward and have a successful 2012!

  1. Not committing to anything, but maybe a potential long term running goal of mine.