Recent Read: 50/50

I was in the thicket of planning the inaugural Dress for Success Worldwide-West’s 5K when I was hunting for resources to guide my efforts. I needed something that went through race logistics from both an organizational and runner’s perspective and was lucky to stumble upon this great find.

As usual, Dean is a fantastic writer. This book was written a different style than Ultramarathon Man. It was a little less upbeat and more serious. The idea behind 50/50 was that he was chronicling his Run Across America campaign. He raced 50 marathons in 50 days. The pace of the book was fast: the pages were upbeat when he was recollecting something he enjoyed. They were a bit whiny when it hit a pain point for him. It seemed more like a post-experience chronicle of his experience but all in all it was still a very good read.

The content itself was a little scattered. When writing books it’s difficult to make the judgement call to organize by chapters, topics, or by chronology. Since he organized the book by chronology the topics seemingly came out of nowhere but they all had their place in time during the 50/50 challenge. He discusses tips on nutrition, hydration, and technique that he has found helpful in his running career. He also extensively discusses the racer’s experience when it comes to runs, so for me, being able to go through the motions with him through each of the 50 runs helped me anticipate race needs for my power walkers, sponsors, volunteers, and other organizers. This special focus on logistics is really what helped me most, as it mentally prepared me as a race organizer and as a better runner.

Pick it up! My rating: 8.5/10

Recent Read: Ultramarathon Man

This is a fantastic book! I found it when I started running early on and it was helpful to see that someone else was going through the same things I was experiencing. Dean is a fantastic writer — the pace of the book is fast but it keeps you in the moment with anecdotes and stories of his motivations, family, experiences, and perspective.

Without giving away too much info, my favorite part of the book was definitely the beginning. He chronicles his “EUREKA” moment and his first run, recounts his experiences in vivid detail, and flashes back between the present perfect and the past seamlessly.

I would highly recommend any newbie runners looking for extra motivation to pick up this book. Most serious runners scoff at him since he’s a marketing machine, but in my perspective he is just using his talent to promote the health and well being of children. To me he is more of a cause/fund-runner since most of the time, he is promoting his charity, Karnos Kids.

Pick it up! My rating: 10/10

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.

Finally Wrapped the Triple Crown Race Series!

Today I wrapped up a three-part race series in Orange County called the Triple Crown. It was a sequence of three back-to-back races that all benefited different charities: Miles 4 Melanoma, Project YES, and the Villa Park Library. For my stick-to-it-iveness I got some nifty, long awaited medals for my efforts:

  • Triple Crown Race Series medal for having ran all three races
  • A 10K finishers medal (even after my cramp/side stitch in mile 2)
  • A progressive marathon medal (for having completed 20 miles prior to my 6.2 this morning)

Pretty neat idea and the proceeds benefit charity…everything I like in life! (Well, almost.) I would definitely recommend this race series for anyone local to LA/Orange County, who is looking to test their limits and train consistently, and to also give back to the community. The 5k/5k/10k series every other weekend is pretty manageable if you build up a decent running schedule about three-four months beforehand. I’ll be looking forward to it next year for sure!

I also finally came across Be The Match, the national bone marrow donor registry program. Got my cheeks swabbed and I’m hoping to be entered into the database in the case that my bones can offer any sort of help to someone in need. Ever since I’ve heard of the program I’ve been wanting to add myself to the list but just haven’t had the chance. It was a great idea to have them table at this race.

Adding some photos courtesy of Shant Kiraz, whom I dragged out of bed at 6am to join me. What a trooper! I think I also might have convinced him to do a duathlon with me but I suppose we will see. Enjoy the pics! I finally got some shots of me that don’t look like I’m dying. Awesome!

Also, I’ve managed to improve quite a bit from my first 10K race in April. Nice to see that in two months time you can see an improvement with consistent training and eating right.

 

 

My Theory on Excuses

I spent the summer after my high school graduation with my face in lots of geese poop in a very humid and steamy New England. Most of the time I was getting yelled at — not because I was doing anything wrong, but mainly because I wasn’t doing anything right. I was a cadet candidate at the US Coast Guard Academy and I was looking for an easy way out of paying for college. Big mistake!

Didn’t look forward to much during those eight weeks. I made a few friends and learned a lot about myself and the power of persuasion. On the days where I mentally fought back and made excuses for why I was slipping up, they were infinitely tougher. On days where I just accepted my shortcomings and strategized on how to improve, I felt more in control of my situation.

But, one thing I learned from the indoctrination experience was that there are “no excuses” — meaning, that for whatever you slipped up on, there was no real, viable reason why you should’ve done or reacted the way you did. Having to bite my tongue whenever I was called out on a really daft move to say “No excuse, sir” was really just a mental exercise in asking myself the deeper question of “Why on earth did I do that?”

People give themselves a lot of excuses as to why they can’t achieve their goals. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have enough time or willpower to see it through. Sometimes they are terrified of success. Other times their friends or family are sabotaging their efforts. When people begin to realize that “Done is better than perfect” and that “every excuse of a choice to fail,” it will help put their decisions into a real perspective. Even though I’m getting ready for a morning run, I probably won’t do as good as I’d like to do. I can make excuses — I had a hard day at work yesterday…my legs are still sore from the night before…I didn’t get enough rest — or I can realize that getting myself out the door and being consistent has its rewards. If I give myself the excuses to crutch my bad behavior, I’ll keep repeating said bad behavior. Thus, it’s more beneficial for me to take a “no excuses” approach and to answer to the person I’m most trying to compete with — me.

On the other hand, perhaps I should’ve gone to bed earlier.

What’s your theory on excuses? What do you do to combat your own excuses?

Featured in Fitbie!

Check out the original article here

Over the weekend, Fitbie.com published a neat article on my recent journey. It’s been great but it’s certainly not over! I still have a long way to go in terms of training for the triathlon (mainly getting myself INTO the water, which I have failed at the last two weeks and counting) and training for the marathon (only 145 more days)…but hey, it still feels nice to be able to help more people with their journey too.

If you’re looking to ask any questions about this journey, what I did, etc., feel free to submit it via Formspring and I’ll do my best to keep up with them here on my blog.

Dealing with Derailment

Often times things don’t go quite as planned. Actually, let me rephrase that — most times, things don’t go quite as planned.

 

Sometimes you’ve been incredibly meticulous at laying out your schedule and things get in the way. It happens…it’s life! Sometimes, though, you get in your own way, or worse, you allow other people to get in the way. You might make excuses for them or over-rationalize  motives or actions, but what’s the best way to deal with derailment?

1. Being forgiving: Sometimes acceptance and moving on is the best move. If you’ve missed two months of workouts or ten years of brotherhood, sometimes it’s best to forgive yourself, move on, and vow to do better tomorrow. You can’t control what has happened in the past but you can control how you deal with it from now on.

2. Making a plan: What happened that allowed this problem (the inability to deal) to fester? How will you ensure it won’t happen again? And, what will happen when you  inevitably slip up again? (See #1 for that answer.) How will you stay accountable to others, but ultimately, yourself?

3. Seeing it all the way through: Giving yourself a reasonable timeline proves commitment and the responsibility to yourself to stick to something long enough to make it work. Whether it’s a new workout routine, retraining for a new career, learning a new language, or managing your time better, taking incremental steps towards achieving your goals will result in a sustainable (read: maintainable) change in your life.

4. Being patient: You probably won’t see results overnight, or very quickly, for that matter. Know that everything and anything worth having is worth fighting for. Things that come easy are fleeting. Most importantly, remember that a lot of people make their accomplishments look easy. Know that it’s never as easy as it seems!

I think as a whole, I get more annoyed by myself and others because I have been trained to tell the difference between an excuse and a reason. When I find myself in a losing battle, I come to accept that I played some hand in doing something that caused the failure. I then accept my responsibility and move on. Usually what happens is that I find myself making excuses or rationalizing my unacceptable behavior. Most of the time I think before I speak so I don’t blurt it out, but instead recognize it in my thoughts and communicate my apologies and my suggested course of remedy. If I catch myself doing that in an email or over chat, I just delete it.

Excuses are crutches. They are the lazy man’s way of dealing with disappointment, derailment, or failure. How do you deal with derailment? What are you looking to improve on?

The Journey of Me

I spent some time lamenting these photos and I think I’m finally over it.

So last week I was interviewed for Fitbie, an MSN/Rodale joint venture. It’s a great website to help people get tips on exercising and to keep them motivated. I noticed that they popped up after the new year and have been following them. With any luck we connected and they interviewed me for an article that’s due to come out sometime this week. I’ll make sure to post the link to it so you guys can check it out.

Until then, you guys can check out these photos of my journey. I’ve titled them with my weight and year. As you can see it took a number of years, a lot of disappointments, and waning motivations.

If someone had to ask me for “my secret” I would say – Eat less, move more. Make goals outside of yourself. Think of helping others or improving yourself, not about reaching a goal weight or fitting into some silly (or slutty) outfit. Have fun with it — your health shouldn’t be a chore but something you look forward to improving everyday. Challenge yourself!

Q+A: "Why Do You Keep Running?"

I received a blog request from Elijah this week on my running habit —

“You should do a post on why you kept running after you started, even on those days that you didn’t want to.”

 

Lately, it’s been harder and harder for me to keep the momentum going.

I’ve been running between 4-6 days a week for 4 months now. I can’t actually remember the last time I was this diligent about something. But, then again, I can’t remember the last time I continuously did ONE THING that helped me in all aspects of my life.

In hindsight, running seemed to have been the silver bullet that fixed a lot of problems in my life. If I had a bad day, I’d go on a run. If I had a great day, I’d go on a run. If I got into a fight with someone, I’d go on a run. If I wanted some time alone, I’d go on a run. Heck, if I wanted to pig out that night, I’d go on a run.

So, why am I still running?

There’s a part of me that has made room for this in my life. I made the choice that I was no longer going to be held prisoner to my own mind and body. The extra weight, sluggishness, decreased productivity, and lack of mental focus was really just a manifestation of my unhappiness. That isn’t to say that being skinny is the key to happiness — it isn’t — but when there’s one less thing for you to worry about it frees up your mind to concentrate on the things that matter.

To be honest, I’m still running because I’ve found so much inspiration in a lot of other people…the NPO director who manages a thriving career with spinlates every week. The aspiring triathlete who decided to take baby steps with her training program. The coworker who decides to lace up his running shoes to join me for a few miles around town. The friend who decides to take charge of her life. The significant other who keeps trying to find ways to live a healthier lifestyle, no matter what obstacles life throws in his way. There are people out there who I know that try a thousand times harder than I do to be the best that they can be. If all I have to do is throw on some workout gear and run around town a bit to keep up with them, it seems well worth it. It makes me feel like I’m chasing their successes and supporting their aspirations too.

In addition to that, I think I’ve also been getting better at playing mind games with myself. By always dangling yet another carrot in front of me that is *just* out of reach for now, it makes me work harder to achieve those goals. For instance, I’ve registered my races as far in advance as 6 months. I know that I’ll always have something to work towards. My first 5K was in March, 10K in April, 15K in July, half marathon in September, sprint triathlon in September, and marathon in November.

Living life to the fullest is not about setting it on auto-pilot. It’s about challenging yourself to be the very best self you can be. That’s why, when I get comfortable doing one thing (like running), I try to switch it up a bit (like deciding to train for a triathlon). I had not even been on the saddle of a bike for almost five years before I got back on it again. It took me a few weeks to get comfortable riding around a block at a time. When I got comfortable, I decided to challenge myself to ride it to work about a mile away. When I got comfortable doing that for a bit, I decided to increase my mileage 200% and to get comfortable doing that. And, you can bet that when I am comfortable making that ride I will keep the momentum going.

When I get tired — as in, fatigued from my daily life, bicycling around town, or mentally taxed from an inundation of emails — I know when to lay off. Sometimes, though, my body tricks me into modes of conservation. It tells me when I’m tired when I’ve actually still got some gas left in the tank. What I’ve learned at races is when to hold back — such as in the cases of fatigue in training — and when to leave it all out on the road and to come home empty. At my two best races thus far, I’ve had complete strangers help pace me when I nearly wanted to throw in the towel. My first experience was actually in my first race — about halfway through I was exhausted and tired. I trained primarily on flat roads and this course was hilly. I wasn’t prepared at all and my body was screaming at me to start walking. However, the minute that I began to doubt my abilities, a much older man — probably in his sixties or so — came right up behind me and (literally) gave me the extra push and words of confidence that I needed to hear to keep on going. I still get chills thinking about that kind man’s gesture to this day.

Similarly at my last race in Santa Monica, I was so very close to the finish line that I could see it. I could hear the crowd cheering on runners as they crossed the timing mats. I could feel myself pretty darned tired from the course (uphill grade again), and pretty tired from the four weeks that preceded the race (I just wrapped the planning and execution of a 5K event the day before). He saw me about half a mile from the finish and he began pacing — and I tried to keep up with him. When he noticed what I was doing, he kept speeding up a bit, here and there, to see if I could keep up. I did, and we crossed the finish line together. Afterwards he beamed a huge smile and told me that I kept up a great pace and that he’d see me at the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon in the fall. (I wonder if I’ll be able to keep up with him then!)

Lastly, nothing — honestly, nothing — gives me more joy than knowing that I was able to help someone else reach their goals. (Beware that if you ever divulge some sort of secret hidden goal you have that I will probably try to concoct a way for you to achieve it…and I’ll probably pester you in some fashion as to why you are not yet actively trying to do it on your own.) Being able to cheer a friend on at the finish line or give my two cents on how they should approach a problem makes me happy. And, since running seems to be facilitating that conversation, I think I’ll just lace up my shoes and keep on running!