Sunday, January 20, 2013

Swim Bike Run - What?!

So, it looks like I'm going to train for and complete my first sprint triathlon this year.

I may be a little crazy, but I'm not alone-my three sisters and I are planning on doing it together. This sprint tri is comprised of a 0.5 mile open water swim, 12 mile hilly bike ride, followed by a (thankfully) flat 3 mile run.

The entire race will of course be a challenge, but especially the swimming portion for me. Swimming has historically been difficult for me.

Here's a true story that might demonstrate my lack of swimming ability. When I was 17-18 years old, I was signed up for a swimming league that met a couple of times a week. After a few months of this, the league competed in a swim meet, which was my first. The breast stroke is my least-awful stroke, so I completed in a 500m race.

When I finished the race and got out of the pool, everyone clapped. Not because I had won, but because I had finished a good few minutes behind every else. Pity clap! Hey, at least I'm persistent if nothing else.

So, while I may be a persistent swimmer, I'm not a particularly fast one.  That's okay though. I have some time to work on it, as well as biking and running, which will be my stronger components. I feel comfortable with training for a 3 mile running race - it's not likely to aggravate my injury nearly as much as running long distances has. 

I gave it some considerable thought, and I think that training for this sprint triathlon will not negatively affect my renewed recovery from eating disordered behavior. In fact, I think it may help in my recovery. Training for a competition helps to reinforce the role of food as fuel, and removes some of the emotional associations with it. If I eat well, I can train better. If I don't, my training and body will suffer. It often is as simple as that.

I will continue to watch myself though for slips or lapses, and will strive to continue to counter unhealthy thoughts with the truth instead of choosing to allow them to control my behavior.

This race is a very positive motivation for me. It would be amazing to share this experience with my sisters. Life is enhanced by experiences like these. I wasn't expecting it, but I'm happy to add "Finishing my first sprint triathlon" to my 2013 goals.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 Reflection

2012 will go down in history as another year the world did not end. For me, it was a year of progress and beginnings.

Although I did not achieve all of the things I had wanted to at the start of the year, it was still a year of maintaining and starting good things. I want to reflect on some of those positive aspects of the year.

I kept asking questions until I figured out what was causing my hip pain. It took an MRI, but I finally learned that it was a partial gluteus medius tear. Recovery has been slow. I have gone from running 25+ miles per week to >10.  Because I have to use my butt muscles just in daily activities, I'm essentially "picking at the scab" and it will take some time to heal. But it will heal. There are things I can do to help it along, such as not injuring it further (hence the reduction in long distance running) and strengthening muscles around it (yoga, weight training).

I took a leap and got a job working for a company that I admire. After almost three years of working for my previous company, I was proficient at my job and there was even talk of a promotion to management. However, the culture at that particular company location did not reflect the core values that I have, and it was in an industry where I did not see a future. I began to actively pursue other job opportunities, and eventually was contacted by one of the companies that I have admired most. I seized the opportunity to work for them, and I am very glad that I did. It was a huge risk to leave a secure job to work as a long-term contractor for this company, but it wasn't reckless and was a good decision, both financially and professionally. I've had to learn a completely new set of skills, but have found a culture of excellence and continuous improvement that resonates with my personal values.  

I continued to maintain A Running Tally.  Although this blog/website was originally created to primarily chronicle my running progress, it adapted along with me and expanded to include wellness and continuous personal improvement. I began to honor my body and find my identity beyond being a runner, as described in this post.


I finished another year of coordinating the church nursery schedule. It was challenging at times, and sometimes I wanted to quit, but I stuck with it because I believe it is important to serve in some capacity. I've gotten to know some pretty neat kids this year.

Yoga has become part of my exercise routine. I tried my first class in March 2012, and have enjoyed it frequently since then.

I tried going to a chiropractor.  I only went twice, as I didn't really care for it and will likely not go again, but it was something different and I was willing to give it a shot. It was useful in that I learned from the x-rays that that I have an unusual neck condition that I should keep an eye on.

I tried a bunch of group fitness classes. Classes from Zumba to PiYo to Turbo Kick to Calorie Crusher . I have learned so much from them-especially proper form from the instructors. I expect group classes will continue to be part of my exercise program in 2013.

I helped to plan and host a weekend get-together with my mom and sisters. We had a blast and made some great memories.

I developed a deeper love for God. The more evil I see in the world, the more I desperately want the source of all good things. His comfort and love has been a constant presence in my life. The more I reflect, the more I see how He was with me throughout every part of my journey. I am but human and imperfect in my love, but I am learning from the One who loves me perfectly.

It was a good year. I hope to take the lessons I learned from this year and apply them toward 2013.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Very Belated New Year's Goals Post

This year, I started making my New Year's Goals early-December 22nd. However, it has taken until January 9th to finish them.

We all have limited resources. Our time is limited. Instead of spreading myself in multiple directions chasing many goals this year, I've chosen to focus on the few that will provide the most bang for my buck. Here they are.

A Goals: Highly important goals. If I only accomplished these, it would be a good year.

A1: Submit a draft of my book to a publisher.
I have been working off-and-on on my memoirs, and I would like to finish soon before too much time goes by. I have wanted to do this for a very long time, as I think I have an interesting story to tell.

A2: Draw closer to God.
Normally I prefer more specific goals, but this one is difficult to measure. However, there are things I can do that will nourish my spiritual life and bring me closer to Him. This will be a critical key to achieving goal A1, too.

B Goals: Goals that are important, but not imperative.

B1: Take GMAT exams.
I most likely won't be going to grad school this year, but I would like to have the option available to me next year. The scores are good for five years, and I think that I will most likely want to start working on a master's degree within that time frame.

B2: Keep doing yoga 
Maybe 1x a week at least?

B3: Maintain important relationships. 
As I get older the more I realize the importance of my "happy few" and how much they enrich my life.

B4: Be a reliable, responsible, and contributing team member at work.
I want people to be able to count on me to get things done well. I also want to be respected for my skill level, competence, and character.

C Goals: Goals that are not particularly critical, but would be neat things to do in 2013.

C1: Go hiking with my husband more. This is an activity we both really enjoy doing together, and is both good exercise and connection time with each other.

C2: Take a trip to my childhood homes in Maryland. May help with goal A1.

C3: Consider what kind of master's degree to pursue and research possible schools.

C4: Remember and acknowledge more birthdays. 

C5: Keep maintaining A Running Tally. I've really enjoyed creating and contributing to this site. 

It's going to be a good year. I'm not sure all that it will bring, but I think that I am ready and willing to take it on.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Goals: Final Report Out

2012 has been a good year in my life. While I did not accomplish many of the goals I set out for myself (see original 2012 goals post), as I look at the year in review, I can say that some very positive things were accomplished. Some of the goals that I did not meet are ones that are no longer important to me, or could not be achieve due to events out of my control (like my muscle injury). Others are important, and I need to try to understand why I did not meet them, if I want to keep/modify them for 2013, and if so, what I can do to be mores successful at reaching them this year.

This is a both a yearly report-out and a reflection on 2012. I'm so grateful to have experienced this year of life, and I look forward to the next one.

2012 'A' goals:
  1. Run a sub-55 minute 10k. Not achieved due to a decision to reduce running to allow my body to heal from a repetitive stress injury. I am OK with not achieving this goal. It was more important to me to reduce my running to allow my body to recover.
  2. Run a sub 2 hour half marathon. Not achieved due to same reasons.
  3. Design, prototype, and test my running apparatus idea. Not achieved. I am not sure how I feel about not doing this, except that it doesn't seem as important to me right now. If I were to re-do this goal, I probably would make it a B or C level goal.
  4. Continue improving eating habits. Some progress, but not as much as I was capable of. It made me realize just how important my health is to me, and how critical it is to treat my body well. More on this in 2013 goals, but it is going to be a higher priority for me this year.
  5. Support my husband through the end of his 2nd year of law school, whatever summer work he ends up doing, and the beginning of his 3rd year of law school. Done, and I'm proud of all he's accomplished. He got a good government job for the summer that continues part-time until he graduates this May. I think he would agree that I have given him a good amount of support and understanding when it comes to school and work and his goals.
  6. Write at least 150 blog posts. Not done, but I am OK with it. My blog has changed some since I started it back in November of 2012, in part because of my running injury. I had originally intended for it to be a chronicling of my running training with other aspects of my life thrown in, but it has developed into more of a chronicling of continuous improvement which includes some running and a lot of other activities. The volume of posts is not a high priority for me anymore-I would rather take the time to write fewer, hopefully high-quality posts.I finished this year having written about 40 posts.
  7. Write at least 50 pages of memoir. 80% done. I was only 25 pages in before Christmas break, but used some of the time to crank out another 15 pages. I think this will be a bigger part of my 2013 goals.
  8. Between the two of us, save at minimum the equivalent of half of my 2011 salary. Done. A job change resulted in a significant pay increase which helped with this. Plus, we did not spend much money this year. Our biggest purchase was a new bed, which we got only after a few months of trying to put off buying it. Turns out that a good bed is a pretty nice thing to have.
  9. Draw closer to God. Pray for at least 5 minutes/day on average (have to start somewhere). I think that I have drawn closer to God this year. I recognize His presence and love in my life more.  As for praying, I did this off and on, but not with much consistency. Drawing close to my Maker should be the number #1 goal in my life, and some times it is. Those times need to be more frequent. There are two things that have helped me spiritually. One is being able to listen to encouraging and worshipful music while at work. I could not listen to music at my previous job, but started in July I have been able at my new job which requires more computer work. It's been very good for my soul. The other thing that has helped was that I began seeing a counselor toward the end of October 2012. Even after just 5 sessions, I can tell that it is helping me to become healthier and whole and has encouraged me in my faith. This is a very important lifelong goal, and one that I will be continuing in 2013.
2012 'B' goals:
  1. Take week-long finance course at work. Not done, but OK with it. I tried to get into a course, but it had filled up already. I was registered for the next course, but I left that job before I could take it. OK with not meeting goal.
  2. Execute another Six Sigma project at work. In progress. My current job is less manufacturing oriented, but I've found some areas where I can apply six sigma techniques.
  3. Learn more about mold design and manufacturing. Done, although in July I switched gears completely to work with metal stamping, which I definitely prefer to rubber molding. It was a good career move, and I'm very glad I switched industries.
  4. Finish painting our living room ceiling: Done!
  5. Explore where we want to live after Shane graduates. Done. We have narrowed the list to the following in order of preference:  Greater Lexington region, Knoxville, Winston-Salem, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, and Cincinnati.
  6. Tighten ties with family and good friends. I think several key relationships have gotten closer (my husband, parents, brother, older sisters, and some of my nieces and nephews). I've focused my time and energy on these important relationships, and it has been are very much worth the investment. It's definitely been worth it.
2012 'C' goals:
  1. Grow a small vegetable garden on my patio. Done, and enjoyed a rather bountiful harvest of low-maintenance cherry tomatoes. I don't think I'll do it again this year, but it was fun.
  2. Try running with a running group. Just once. Nope, but OK with it.
  3. Try a yoga class. Done! And Turbo Kick, and PiYo Strength, and Calorie Crusher, and Urban Iron, and Total Body Conditioning, and Zumba! 2012 has been the year of the group fitness class as I experiment with workouts other than running. It has been a blast, and I've really enjoyed adding new activities to my workout repertoire. I have benefited greatly from yoga, and plan on doing more of it in 2013. 
  4. Cook more and experiment with new recipes. Done. I think I will probably be doing not as much of this in 2013, though. I enjoy cooking, but there are other goals that I would rather spend the time on at this time.
Overall, I feel a sense of accomplishment with 2012. There were some goals I could have made more progress with, and I recognize that. I hope to take the lessons learned from not accomplishing as much as I could have with some of the goals and apply them to 2013.

One of the things I have learned is that quality over quantity is important. Some of the A goals didn't need to be that high of a priority, and I think that fewer goals overall would have been a good idea. Therefore, I will have fewer A goals in 2013, and that category will be reserved for the ones that are of extreme importance to me. I might consider C goals to not even be goals at all, but rather things that might be neat to do, but not necessary at all.

Life has a way of throwing unexpected stuff at us too. Dealing with the running injury and the job change required me to adapt and change how I looked at some of my goals, and even whether or not I pursued them.

It was a good year. By God's grace, I hope 2013 will be even better.