Welcome to the Resolution Guide

Promises, promises. It’s almost the end of January. How many resolutions have you broken so far in 2009? This year, we resolved to tell you only the stories of personal promises kept.

I’ll begin with my own. Last August, I resolved to complete a marathon. I’d never done such a thing, so I tried to make this goal doable. I didn’t resolve to run. I didn’t even consider the 26-miler. Instead, I told myself (and a few friends — that part was key) that I’d attempt to walk a half-marathon. A few of us signed up for the P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, printed out a training schedule, and — for the most part — actually stuck to it.

The day of the race, I was miserable. My feet hurt before we’d even started. But I forced myself to get out there. And I did it. I made it to the end before the cops swept the streets of late finishers. I didn’t get a medal (I was just a bit over three minutes past the four-hour mark) and it wasn’t at all graceful, but I completed a half-marathon.

Mission accomplished, promise kept. And someday, I’m sure, those blisters will heal.

In our 2009 Resolution Guide, we’re bringing you more stories of promises kept. Allyce Hargrove knew she was spending too much money. Instead of ripping up all her credit cards or putting herself on a budget, she did something simpler (but possibly even more difficult!) and swore off Target for a year. Benjamin Leatherman wanted to get in shape, so he gave up meat. Kimberly Kunasek found the one item she needed to get herself to a more spiritual place. A biting comment finally made it easy for Anne Smith to swear off cheating.

And some found it necessary to give up something: drinking at a favorite bar, women with questionable taste in music, patronizing Circle K, and a fear of flying.

Sure, there have been some lapses along the way, but lots of lessons learned (most notably, Wynter Holden’s, in which she tells the true tale of the year she swore off lying). After all, some promises are easier to keep than others.

Like the one I made to myself, about a mile into my own amazing race: I will never again sign up for a marathon, half or otherwise.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.