Roll another year over, but what about the decade?

David Yon, January 5, 2020

Sometimes I get confused.  Ok, often I am confused.  On January 1, 2020, I began my 38th year of running, including somewhere around 75,000 miles (maybe more).   What I do not understand, however, is whether December 31, 2019, was the last day of the decade referred to as the 2010s or was it the end of the 9th year of that decade making January 1, 2020 the start of the last year of the second decade of the century and December 31, 2020 the last day of the decade.  So, did I finish the 2010s or do have almost a full year to go?

There is a lot of information on this question out there in web world.  The answer depends on who you ask.  The Farmer’s Almanac, based on its review of the Gregorian calendar and its history, concludes that a new decade begins January 1, of the year ending in a “1” and ending on December 31, of a year ending in “0.” (For example, the decade under this approach began on January 1, 2001 and ended on December 31, 2020.)  The calendar began with its first day as year one, followed a year later by year 2.

The Farmer’s Almanac explains its position with an elevator analogy.

As an analogy, think of going into a building in which the ground floor is listed not as the first floor, but as the lobby. So, the first floor is one flight above you.

So if you were to go into an elevator located in the lobby and wanted to go 10-flights up, you would actually end up on the ninth floor (if you were to assume that the lobby as the “zero” floor).

But if you assume the lobby as the “first” floor and went 10-flights up, you would end up on the tenth floor.

In essence, on our calendars, 2021 is the equivalent of a “first-floor lobby,” and after going up ten flights (or years), we’ll arrive at the tenth floor. Or in this case, the year 2030—when that decade ends.

The US Naval Observatory, the keeper of our country’s time, agrees with the Almanac. The Observatory’s staff researched this issue in 1999, as people debated when the new millennium would begin, and concluded that a new millennium would begin on January 1, 2001. In other words, all those people cheering in the new year and millennium on December 31, 1999, were one year early.

But 2019 was a bit of a rough year, matching the difficulty of the decade of the 2019s. I prefer not to wait; let’s get started on a new decade now and send the last one packing. 

Tallahassee and Leon County continue to have amazing resources for runners.  Led by Gulf Winds Track Club there is a vibrant running and racing community.  Gulf Winds alone puts on more than 30 events every year.  You can read about these races at https://www.gulfwinds.org/gwtc-races/.  In addition, the calendar for all races in the area shows 75 or so races likely to be run this year on dirt, trails, pavement and track. The variety of terrain is a strong draw to this area.  The number of participants varies from 5,000 to 6,000 finishers at Turkey Trot to fewer than 100 runners at Prefontaine.  It continues to offer family entertainment as well.

Later this spring the Palace Saloon 5K will turn a large number of runners free on Jackson Bluff Road for the 46th time.  My quick count identified 10 races that have remained on the calendar for at least 40 years.

There are training groups for all ages including groups wanting to train for specific races, weekly interval workouts, fartlek runs, and long runs for marathon training.  Speaking of marathons, GWTC puts on a February marathon and half marathon that help show off the city and its surround area.  And for those who want to run with a team, there is a relay division that is steadily growing.

There are social and educational opportunities as well.   An annual holiday party and awards ceremony are the big hits most years.  Last year a visit by elite runner Meb Keflezighi lit up the city. The Apalachee Regional Park provides opportunities to bring top of the line cross country battles to town – like the NCAA National Cross-Country Championships. It is great venue for spectator viewing.

So, yes, it is a good time to focus on what is possible during this coming year, whether it is the start or the finish of a decade.  After a couple of difficult runs recently, I began to wonder if maybe running was just getting too hard to enjoy.  On a recent Thursday afternoon run, my phone started zinging from text messages and soon I found myself alone on the trails behind the tennis courts at Phipps.  I came close to skipping my run and going home.  For the first mile or so I thought I had made a mistake by not terminating the run.  Slowly though my body started warming up and moving with a nice rhythm.

The sun was setting quickly, and I knew the last rays of light would be gone in no time.  Everything around me was very quiet.   A hush had fallen on the park creating a perfect opportunity to melt away into a beautiful place.  I ran down a trail that ends near an overflow area passing what I always thought was a home for bats.  I thought to myself that there are hundreds of places like this in our community.  Places that help a runner feel free and bring a smile to their face. 

I plan to keep looking for them as we start a new decade.  Happy New Year and I hope to see you on the run somewhere.    

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