On Moonshot Goals and Training Plans

Having followed Nike’s Breaking2 story for awhile now, as well as Runners World editor David Willey’s BQ efforts, has had me thinking about my own moonshot goals, especially since I’m not currently registered for an A-race. Dopey was my own moonshot goal for 2017, and maybe those only come around once every few years. My last true moonshot was Ironman Louisville, which ended up being downgraded to the HITS 70.3 Palm Springs that winter (2013). The last moonshot before that was the Athens Classic Marathon (2011). What’s next?

In my first year of running, I was really into time-based goals, and I found it a bit disappointing. I didn’t hit the goals I wanted to, as quickly as I thought I could, especially when it came to pacing. I never hit my race goals, especially when it came to marathon times. (In fact, I was way off…) Ever since what I considered a disastrous LA Marathon finish time, I swore off time goals to focus mostly on distance goals and fear-based goals. I have a few distance-based goals left, but they don’t seem as appealing right now, so my focus is a bit shifty. It turns back now to the quintessential “What’s next?”, which leads me back to the road of time goals, which is something I’ve been avoiding for 5 years now.

So, there are SMART goals, and then there are worthwhile goals. I’ve found it really difficult to discern the difference, and I think because with the latter there is a bit of a value judgement. What makes one goal more worthy of my pursuit over the other? If it were my last goal to ever pursue, would I be happy? If I were to die pursuing it, would it have been worth it? I’ve been grappling with these questions since I finished Dopey, in search for the next big goal, mostly because without that north star, it’s hard for me to focus my efforts. While yes, it’s all about the journey, and yes, some goals are so lofty that they are perpetually missed, it’s nice having that carrot there that is so almost-attainable that you can almost taste it.

I’ve been practicing my daily sevens since the last week of April, where every morning I write out my goals and my to-dos for the day, and a few quick thoughts of whatever’s on my mind. My goals have changed, week over week. The first week they focused heavily on deciding between an end-of-summer sprint triathlon, an early-summer ultramarathon, or an early 2018 goal marathon. My second week focused on deciding between the 50K and the marathon. My third week focused on breaking down time goals for a marathon or half marathon finish. This was the week that I learned that I wouldn’t be able to finish the Rock n Roll Seattle under the time limit, so I toyed with the idea of cutting down to halves completely. Then I took a break from running goals and focused on some personal finance goals for a few weeks and now I’ve completely circled back to running goals. In addition to goals, I also write down some to-dos for the day, which end up being a mile long. I find that on some days they map 1:1 to my goals. On days where they don’t it makes me question where my priorities fall on my schedule, and I try to reprioritize my time around them. I’ve recently added an area to account for gratitude, which has helped add a bit of reflection, which has been good for me.

I’ve tinkered over and over again with my training plan, but the more I look at the distances and my time goal, and when I run by feel or by dictation, I feel like I’m capable of a lot more. Perhaps on my hard days I’m not pushing myself as hard as I can and I should adjust my speed to see if that helps, before I increase volume. Perhaps I should find a coach. That was one of my New Years resolutions and I’m about five months behind on that one. However, when the inevitable question comes up — What are you looking to achieve? — what will be my answer? I think perhaps I also need someone to look over my past numbers or my current numbers to tell me what I’m capable of. Or, I could use the Galloway magic mile calculations, which have been pretty accurate too. Maybe that’s a good place to start.

Anyways, the first few runs back after my week-long cold haven’t been too brutal. Sleep has been escaping me for awhile now, and even with the increased melatonin that hasn’t been helping. I have two races coming up, both Rock n Roll remixes (5K + half marathons in succession) in Liverpool and Seattle. I’m not sure if they will be stellar performances, but they certainly will be….something, especially since they will be at sea level. I’ll have 11 weeks until Virginia Beach or 14 until Paris if I want to work with a coach or find a plan that I can stick with.

Until then, I’ve been working with my plan (one I’ve created myself based on my experience), and have been mostly waffling between 26.2 and 13.1. Maybe I could start with the Runners World run streak (where you run at least one mile a day between Memorial Day and Labor Day). I know I should add in strength training and have been doing it in bits and pieces. It would be great to have a coach that could provide some workouts in that arena too.

A Week in Niseko

After being flogged at work and school for about six weeks straight, I was able to score a week or so off to hit up the slopes in Japan. It was my first international trip since I left LA, and my first trip to Japan, and it was awesome! The groomed beginner runs were challenging enough to break me into a sweat, and when I got tired of the narrow hairpin turns I tried out a short blue run a few times which took me forever but alas, I survived.

I’ve learned enough about myself out there to know that I psych myself out way too much. Half of the time my mind is in panic mode and the other half is in lala-land. If I keep reminding myself that I can pizza my way down a hill then I keep my bearings and manage down fine. It’s when I watch the other skiers zoom down the hill gracefully and effortlessly that I eat a mouthful of pow.

I’ve gotten pretty decent use out of my Epic ski pass this year already. 3 days in Vail + 5 days in Niseko so far. It’ll be nice to head back to Vail (or Breckenridge or Beaver Creek) before the season is up, but I have a ton of summertime activities to prep for. Thanks to my diligence at Orangetheory, I was fairly strong for this season’s ski vacay. I’ve been adding in some running over the last month so I have some base miles under me now.

It’s time to turn my attention to my race schedule for the rest of the year. I have a half marathon in March, a full marathon in June, and an ultramarathon in July. I have a sprint triathlon trifecta this summer as well (an excuse to keep me on the bike and in the pool during my rest days). I’m still wondering how I’ll squeeze in some open water swim training. In October I plan on celebrating a season well done with a half marathon trifecta in beautiful Lake Tahoe! Squeeeeee! It feels like the odd-numbered years are my overzealous years and my even numbered years are my rest years…so let’s see if the tradition continues on.

This year is already off to a pretty good start. Granted it’s already late February but I could’ve sworn that it was just the new year. Regardless, I’m pretty happy how things have turned out so far. I’m never going to forget this trip and I am definitely coming back!

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Looking forward to being stateside again in a day or so. My birthday festivities are coming up and I need to find a place that has enough snow for skiing in early March!

Turning a Setback into a Comeback

When you’re off kilter, the name of the game is to build new habits.

I’m currently working on a new experiment. I’m aiming for 5 days a week of exercise and 2 salads a day. So far I’ve been successful a little over 50% of the time — I logged three workouts last week (3/5 = 60% completion rate) and I think I had salad for lunch and dinner about 4 days as well (4/5 = 80% completion rate).

Same goals for this week will apply. Hoping to have something more like an 80-100% completion rate for both. The light at the end of the tunnel is a FlyWheel and/or FlyBarre membership. My coworker is already peer pressuring me into joining so I have to hurry up and feel worthy of my reward! Also, I have a Tuesday afternoon appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. Hoping that my next set of x-rays give me some good news and that I could do some light running or something again. This lack of cardio is driving me absolutely bananas!

Week of 4/20/14 recap:

Monday, April 14, 2014:

1 set of Trunk Rotations Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Elbow-Shoulder Circles Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Cable Crossover Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Wrist Curl Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Shoulder Circles Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Neck Rotations Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Bicycle Kick Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Chair Pose Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of T-Push-ups Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Chair Pose Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
4 sets of Dips Max reps 15, max weight 0 lbs.
4 sets of Upright Row Max reps 15, max weight 20 lbs.
4 sets of Dumbbell Tricep Press Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Upright Row Max reps 10, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of T-Push-ups Max reps 15, max weight 0 lbs.
3 sets of Bent-Over Row Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Upright Row Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Pushup Max reps 15, max weight 0 lbs.
3 sets of Side Lateral Raise Max reps 10, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Dumbbell Fly Max reps 10, max weight 14 lbs.
1 set of Wall Chest Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Downward Dog Pose Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Shoulder Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Finger Flexor Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Elbow Across Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014:

1 set of Windmills Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Neck Rotations Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Shoulder Circles Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Chair Pose Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Reverse Crunch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Elbow-Shoulder Circles Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Small Arm Circles Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Trunk Rotations Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Pushup Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Burpees Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
4 sets of Dips Max reps 10, max weight 0 lbs.
4 sets of Upright Row Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
4 sets of Dumbbell Tricep Press Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Bent-Over Row Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Pushup Max reps 15, max weight 0 lbs.
3 sets of Upright Row Max reps 15, max weight 7 lbs.
3 sets of Upright Row Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Pushup Max reps 15, max weight 0 lbs.
3 sets of Dumbbell Curl Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Side Lateral Raise Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
1 set of Doorframe Chest Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Back Raise Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Neck Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Overhead Press Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Shoulder Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.

Thursday, April 17:

1 set of Windmills Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Neck Rotations Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Shoulder Circles Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Chair Pose Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Reverse Crunch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Elbow-Shoulder Circles Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Small Arm Circles Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Trunk Rotations Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Pushup Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Burpees Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
4 sets of Dips Max reps 10, max weight 0 lbs.
4 sets of Upright Row Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
4 sets of Dumbbell Tricep Press Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Bent-Over Row Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Pushup Max reps 15, max weight 0 lbs.
3 sets of Upright Row Max reps 15, max weight 7 lbs.
3 sets of Upright Row Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Pushup Max reps 15, max weight 0 lbs.
3 sets of Dumbbell Curl Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
3 sets of Side Lateral Raise Max reps 15, max weight 14 lbs.
1 set of Doorframe Chest Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Back Raise Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Neck Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Overhead Press Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.
1 set of Shoulder Stretch Max reps 30, max weight 0 lbs.

I’ve also thrown another wrench into my schedule since I’ve decided to go back to school to finish up my program at Golden Gate University. I was about halfway through my masters a few years ago when I dropped out for the second time. I figured that since my next year or two will be heavily involved with strictly design (less marketing than what I’m used to) this will keep my non-design brain satiated for a bit. I’ve also decided to pull the trigger on applying for a complementary masters program in human-computer interaction. If my grand scheme works to plan, I’ll be able to go to school in two places at once, for two different degrees at once, and finish in about two years with two degrees. We’ll see how things work out.

Goals for the week:

1) 80-100% completion rate for 5 workouts this week
2) 80-100% completion rate for 10 salads this week
3) Wrap up my work for my old team
4) Start kicking serious butt on my new team
5) Finish reading 65-75% of the textbook of my upcoming class
6) Follow up with the HCI application

Short term reward: Flywheel/Flybarre membership in late May 2014

Long(ish) term reward: Hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in late summer 2014

Mantra of the week: Respect the training. Honor the commitment. Cherish the results.

 

 

This Is My Broken Leg Rant

Not a lot of action on the blog, mainly because there hasn’t been a lot of training on my end!

Turns out that the last time I went skiing, I did not sprain my ankle. No, no…there was no sprain. The leg itself was just broken. BROKEN. Uhg. First broken bone ever but at least I went down in a glorious yard sale of ski equipment. I had fun and I don’t regret it. What I do regret is not getting the x-rays completed sooner. It honestly probably got worse before it got better, but at least now I am relegated to a boot and am no longer in pain. No surgery will be required — just rest and relaxation. I guess there are seriously worse things that can be prescribed for me, right?

The last month has been pretty hectic, broken leg aside. With the team transfer at work, I’ve been working triple-time to get a lot of this work completed and out the door. I’m still underwater (story of my life!) but at least the end is near. My vacation officially started this weekend, and I’m feeling a lot more relaxed overall. I’m looking forward to my trip tomorrow and staying (relatively) off the grid for as much as possible.

Re-evaluating my Ironman plans for December. I’d really only be able to get 5 months of training in, but I need at least 6 or 7 to include base training. Another year, another Ironman goal down the drain. I know that I have a lifetime ahead of me, but I’m really tired of this goal getting punted because of these unforeseen circumstances. Last year it was a lot of health issues as well. Maybe this year I can be a little more mindful of how my bones can break so that next year, I can train for something fun — like Coeur d’Alene, Whistler, or something.

If all else fails — which I think we’re getting to that point — I will always have the Rock ‘n Roll Lisbon in October. If my fracture heals by the time my doctor says it will, I will have *exactly* 16 weeks to train for it. Even that is cutting it a bit close since I will be essentially starting from scratch. Also not sure about the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike for late August/early September but I think I will be able to manage it physically. It’ll just depend on getting the right amount of time off of work.

I’m getting cabin fever. I really miss the days where I could just get changed, lace up my running shoes, and head out the door for a 10-mile run. Springtime in Seattle means that I see all of these people training for the Seattle Rock n Roll this June. Wish I could be one of them. I guess I could walk it again like last year but it’s just not the same.

And now, I’m going to catch up on all of my Runners World magazines and take an angry nap. Because broken legs.

What You Seek Is Seeking You

I came across a saying the other week: “What you seek is seeking you.”

There was a certain peace and comfort that I found in that phrase. For as long as I remember, I’ve been looking and seeking for a lot: I’ve been looking for a life of accomplishment, things worthy of my pursuit, and people worthy of my time. I think I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve actualized my penchant for difficulty. I seem to be drawn to the most difficult path. You could even argue that the difficult path may be the most efficient path in developing character, persistence, determination, and the like.

What you seek is seeking you. What is it that you seek?

I seek the proverbial road less traveled. I seek the hard way out. I seek the hardest way to make an easy living. I seek the pastimes that make me sweat. I seek the things, emotions, and titles that I have to earn. I seek the miles I have left to go. I seek a type of happiness that someone can’t buy or rationalize. It’s something you have to earn. It’s something you strive for and it comes with the process of loving, living, and compassion. I live to live — my method of living has been misunderstood by many people, those who have come before you and those who will inevitably come after. I seek love, but not in the way that you would normally think. I believe that love is a verb, not a noun. I seek the act of loving, which for me comes in the form of sharing my art and sharing my time. (I suppose you could count that sharing my art is a natural extension of sharing my time, since my craft takes time to manifest.) This blog itself is a manifestation of love. There’s nowhere else that I share a lot of these innermost thoughts. Sure, in my natural conversation with friends I may reference snippets here and there of my daily life but it is here that I really lay it all out. It is up to you, the other person at the end of this connection, to take that initiative to click through and dive in.

I also seek a lot of clarity. There’s more than enough knowledge, books, and the like that I will never have enough time to consume all of this information, but I make do with the time I have. That is, of course, the essence of life: the ability to make do with the short time we all have. There is a certain zen to it, an intersection of ability, time, desire. You could deduce that a lot of what I do — throwing myself into a giant question mark, a lot of unknowns, things supposedly beyond my reach — seems a bit silly, or maybe a giant waste of my time. However, if my life was spent pursuing what I loved, with the people I decided to share that love with, and understanding my implicit motivations, then I would argue that I lived a life worth living.

I’ve spent a lot of my off-season considering my many reasons for pursuing the iron distance. What does it mean to me? What is it that I seek from such a distance? For starters, I think I’ve been thinking about this race for so long that I want to do it already. I am pretty confident that with the right training, the right coaching, and the right prioritization that I can accomplish what I set out to do. It’s a matter of aligning the universe to conspire with me, right? The more I look at this year, the more the 140.6 seems like it’s out of reach. The stresses of work will certainly overcome my ability to train through mental fatigue, and if there is something I’ve learned from the last eighteen months at work is that mental fatigue certainly trumps physical fatigue. Thus, I’m thinking that this is a good year to work on a little bit of me time…the offseason plans of skiing have been progressing nicely. What about nailing a steady 10k, or riding my first criterion, or spending some more time in open water without the goals of a 140.6 looming over me? The race will always be there to burn some brain cells in the back of my mind…it will always fuel me, but then what? All of this is a lifelong endeavor. It doesn’t stop with one race, or goal. It is a way of life, a way of thinking and existing. It is the way in which I choose to construct my world.

So, if what I seek is seeking me…I say, bring on the lifetime of uncertainty, difficulty, discomfort, and insecurity.

You Only Get To Be A Beginner Once

There was a time in my life when I was enrolled in one of those 3-month programming schools. Right before I dropped out to take a full-time design job with Amazon, Jared Tame, my mentor at Bloc, shared this golden nugget with me:

“You only get to be a beginner once.”

I’ve thought quite a lot about what he’s said since then, and even more so in learning how to ski.

Lately I’ve been quite frustrated with myself. Wanting to see impossible gains in a short period of time is like wanting to strike it rich with a game of roulette. It’s just not going to happen. I don’t say that in a self-defeating way…mostly a realistic way. Having a really supportive boyfriend who doesn’t leave my side on the hill is helpful. So is the reassurance from my other friends who say it takes awhile to get a hang of things. I’ve looked in to some private instruction, but the snow conditions aren’t quite right this weekend and my legs are just not having it. Nonetheless, the instructor is lined up. The equipment is primed and ready to go. My season pass is ready to be used. All I need is a pair of functioning legs!

Cue doge, who will explain everything to you:

So in addition to my coach warning me that I was overloading my legs, my massage therapist started helping me connect the dots. That two-month old foot cramp has been tugging on some of the deeper muscles in my lower leg and locking up my calf muscles. Those old sprained ligaments are tensing up my lower legs. And for reasons beyond me (as well as my compression socks), my legs feel like LEAD. Like, the type of lead that I generally feel during an intense brick workout. I have less response time. My brain says, “TURN!” and nothing happens…so I dive for the snow. For the record, I think I did that 20+ times on Sunday, which eventually resulted in the bloody mess below when I fell into my ski pole and needed a trip to the ER to get my eyebrow glued back together —

Rest and recovery was never something I did particularly well. My idea of doing nothing is….doing something. If I was over-exerting myself physically, then I’d instead over-exert myself mentally. My method of balance was really just counterbalancing, which in of itself, is just swinging the pendulum from one extreme to another, right? I wish I could take things a bit more zen, but I feel like that’s beyond me. Unfortunately, it’ll be pretty crucial to my longevity in any sort of endeavor. I can’t always fire on all cylinders. I need to know when to push it and when to push back. It’s never been in my personality to take the relaxed approach to any new endeavor. My friend uses the phrase “hard in the paint” to describe the way I do things: “To approach a problem, obstacle, or challenge with supreme confidence of success through a commitment to use all facilities available to one’s self to achieve a goal.”

I see an obstacle, something difficult, something new. I want to figure it out. I want to crack it, understand it, experience it, overcome it. I hate turning away from a problem. The only way out is through. But yeah, I only get to be a beginner once. This is the fun part. This reminds me of all the things that went through my head when I was starting off with swimming, biking, and running. I remember what it was like to get started. I remember how inferior I felt. I remember how much I dreaded going to the pool when people were there. I used to wait for the lanes to clear before getting in. I would go to the pool at absurd hours to avoid swimming with people. I’d go out of my way to run alone when I first started. And don’t even get me started with biking. I’m a bit of a kook I guess.

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior…the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.”

None of this feels natural. I’m feeling meh. I can’t even train until my eyebrow heals over. How frustrating. I have a ton of misdirected energy. I have the energy to go for days but my legs won’t carry me. Time to make friends with epsom salt, a hot tub, and my foam roller. And maybe work on a warm-up routine and mood-setting mental routine for the next time I’m headed to the mountain. And maybe I’ll check in on my races for the year. Or something. Again, misdirected energy.

This whole thing is an exercise in patience…something that I have very little of. Gahhh!

Keep Climbing and Fall Forward

Well before I resume the hustle bustle of the workweek, I like to take a short bit of time to reflect on the things I’ve done, and the time that I’ve spent. They say that what you spent your New Years Day doing is you’ll spend your new year doing.

I wonder if they are right.

I’ve recently gotten into something new: skiing. Terrifying, really. I have (had? is it past tense yet?) a fear of falling down mountains. I fear moving quickly, even though people say I move fairly quickly in my day-to-day life as it is. I fear the usual barrage of worries regarding broken bones and twisting ankles. I fear the night and all the bad things that can and have happened to me after sundown.

My twenties were all about facing my fears, imagined, real, and actualized.

I think learning how to ski at the end of my second decade was symbolic. It reflected within me a cumulation of preconceived notions and personal judgements. It is true that you are your own worst enemy. You are the one that most stands in the way of your own goals. “Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.” Every goal is surmountable if you put in the effort.

And so, I spent my New Years Eve running away from work and worries for a bit to conquer a much bigger challenge: conquering my mind. Like the night before a triathlon, I rehearsed it all in my mind: where to grab my gear, how to pack it, how to navigate to the hill, estimating how long it’d take me to get there, gauging my energy level to see how far I could go and still have enough energy to make it back for some evening festivities.

The next day, I returned with my two favorite gents of Seattle for another day on the hill. I had a blast. My usual goal for my triathlons is to finish with a smile on my face. That evening, I finished with a smile on my face but also a snowball in my pocket, like some sort of existential welcome gift from the snow gods.

This challenge is refreshing, especially after the great swim-bike-run fatigue of 2013. Every time I get off that lift, my heart still races a little. I’m getting closer to conquering those demons inside, the ones that tell me that I’m not good enough, that I’m too slow, the ones that keep me from being the best version of myself. After all, my new years resolution was legs, core, and doing the things that terrify me most.

Here’s to doing the things that scare me…always.