They say learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint. Well, if that's true, and I believe it is, I just hit mile 5 in my marathon. No, I don't mean I'm almost 20% to perfect Spanish. Not even close. But it feels like I feel when I'm hitting the 5-mile marker in a 26.2-mile race - not that I do a lot of marathons - my count is 2. The adrenaline that surged through me at the start, the over-excitement and somewhat reckless speed have passed, as has the let down after the adrenaline drained away around mile 3 or 4.
So now I'm in rhythm, just working away every day. All I am doing now is working to expand my vocabulary. I am reading newspaper articles from the El Nuevo Herald in Miami and looking up words that I can't figure out from context and inhibit my understanding. I am gradually figuring out verb endings as I do this. Articles are still the hardest for me followed by syntax, i.e. word order. Although Spanish syntax is a lot more like English than Japanese is, it still throws me fairly often. And those false cognates are a kick. Who in the world would think "éxito" means "success"?
I can feel enough progress that I now know that I will keep working on my Spanish everyday long after our three month contest ends. I am as determined to get to advanced low in Spanish as I was to finish my marathons under my targeted times. Once you have done the work to train for a marathon, it is an exhilarating experience. So is becoming proficient in a new language.