Motivation Monday: Cross It Off Your Bucket List

Again and again, I’ve found a way to stay motivated in my fairly new running habit…

Work at crossing off my bucket list races!

There’s a very distinct formula I follow for this. I pair a race distance I haven’t yet tried with a city I’ve been meaning to visit.¬†What I ended up with was an awesome bucket list of races. Planning for and setting personal and running PRs has never been more rewarding.

I recommend taking races in increments: I started off with 5Ks, moved up to 10Ks, then started registering for half marathons and sprint triathlons. Then I put a few marathons on the horizon to keep me focused each and every week. Here’s a general guideline you can consider following:

  • If you’re just starting out, think about signing up for a 5K or 10K race.
  • If you’ve been running 3-5 miles a few times a week, consider signing up for a half marathon.
  • If you’re looking for the ultimate challenge, consider signing up for a marathon.
Now that I’ve put together a pretty comprehensive bucket list of runs I want to do in cities I’ve wanted to visit, I’m working on my next list: a list of charities I want to raise money for. Some that I’ve considered:

  • Dress for Success (in progress!)
  • Team in Training/Lymphoma and Leukemia Society
  • AIDS Project Los Angeles
  • Give Your Sole
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Best Friends Animal Society
  • Special Olympics
  • Operation Smile
  • Children International
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Vitamin Angels

My first major bucket list item was going to Europe and running a marathon, so I naturally combined the two and registered for the Athens Classic Marathon. It’s coming up in November! By putting in my goals into a bucket list, I’ve found that they have been much easier to attain, mainly because I hold myself accountable to achieving them.

What will you put on your bucket list?

Dress for Success Named an Official Charity of the 2012 Honda LA Marathon

I hurriedly spent the month of April planning the inaugural Dress for Success Worldwide-West 5K/Power Walk here in LA. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun! Planning a 5K is much more different than running a 5K, that’s for sure. And, if I had to do it all over again, I absolutely would.

So, imagine how thrilled I was when I got wind that we were chosen to be one of the official charities of the Honda LA Marathon? Really?! The marathon of the city that I’m so proud to have been born and raised in? Dress for Success means so much to me that it was a great honor to be able to bridge that gap!

I’m incredibly excited about the possibilities to bring some much needed dollars to this fantastic organization while helping a group of people reach their fitness and fundraising goals. There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to gently help people reach their goals. NOTHING. This experience is going to require a lot of patience and learning on my behalf but I am a willing student.

The news of the marathon comes right on the cusp of Dress for Success’ Worldwide West office (here in Los Angeles) helping their 1000th woman in a little over one year. It was an absolutely amazing feat and would not have been made possible without the amazing leadership at the office and the devotion of our volunteers. If you are interested in running for an awesome charity that is helping women transition from welfare-to-work in Los Angeles, definitely consider joining Team Dress for Success! Give back to your community while doing something you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Setting My Sights on Athens Marathon, LA Triathlon

This week marked a number of momentous occasions for me personally.

I finally had the guts to commit to a marathon…the Athens marathon, nonetheless. I’ve registered for the event and I’ve booked my flight. I will be in Greece for 10 days and in Turkey for 1. I have a 24-hour layover that will permit me to leave the airport so I am excited to get to enter another country during my stay. If things work out I might try to add Cairo or Alexandria via ferry during my time there.

I also made the decision to begin training for the LA Triathlon in September. I finally bought some swim gear as well as a bike today, so I’m super stoked to get this show on the road! The last time I rode a bike I was only able to make it one block before falling down. Today was a little different…I made it five blocks (not consecutively) but I didn’t fall down. Apparently when you lower the seat far enough you can still stop with your feet on the ground.

For those of you who don’t follow my tweets or don’t know me very well, I haven’t been able to bike for longer than a city block at a time and I dislike water in my face when swimming…so yeah, this is going to be pretty challenging!

* * *

It took me a long time to get to this point. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately as to why I’ve been on this weird health/wellness kick for the past few months. As with most things in life, there has been a number of things that have happened to me that’s affected me more than I thought it would and patterns in behavior that, in hindsight, are clear.

I used to be a pretty decent swimmer as a child. I took classes at the local YMCA and competed a little bit. I can remember the last time I swam as a child…it was some sort of final round of something related to my swim class, and our test was to jump off of the high board, dive into the pool, and swim to the other end. It seemed simple enough, but as I climbed up that ladder all alone as a wee child I tried to keep my cool. I’d been training for an entire summer for this moment. For some reason I froze on the dive board, petrified of the height and my swim-mates, my instructor, and the pressure of having to perform up to some external expectation rather than just enjoying swimming. (Strange concept, right?) I figured that it was my time to spend anyhow so I took my time getting up the ladder, and took my time getting across the dive board. I stood there for a bit just taking the moment in but apparently that was a bit too slow for my instructor, because it was at that moment that I was ready to dive that she took it upon herself to push me in. Feeling rather demoralized and shocked, not to mention scared, I quit swimming and didn’t start again until I got accepted into the Coast Guard Academy. I’ve since gone swimming here and there with no real consistency. As with the bike riding, I really only rode in circles in my backyard and in my driveway. Plenty of negative reinforcements were there to ensure that I stayed on my bike — cacti in the backyard, a rather steep hill and T intersection near my driveway. I rode for a summer or two and stopped because I outgrew my bike but my parents really couldn’t afford to get me another one.

After dropping out of grad school a few months ago I fell into a pretty bad spell of self-doubt and disappointment. It was a lifelong goal for me to go to grad school and I practically set myself up for failure by packing my schedule and making it impossible for me to complete any of the work. Despite all of the roadblocks I faced — difficult classmates, tedious assignments — there are a lot of things I could’ve done differently. Academia never came easy to me, and juggling my own business with another startup business and a crumbling personal relationship didn’t help. I’m hoping to go back in the near future and finish strong. But for now, I’ve decided to take up these new goals — finishing a marathon and a triathlon — hoping to convince myself that I still have the drive in me to set goals and to see them all the way through.

Here’s to a second wind!