Category Archives: goals

I read a whole bunch of books. You won’t believe which are my favorites. Number 3 made me laugh

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year, thanks in no small part to Audible and Overdrive, which let me read while I am commuting, cooking, and working out at the gym.  So far, I have 46 titles accounted in my Goodreads account, and I am 171 days ahead of my annual reading goal. Granted, at least 10 of those are graphic novels (I had a mild Flash obsession going there for a bit.).

Here are some of my favorites so far this year, in no particular order.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store  by Robin Sloan – If you love quirky mysteries, Google, Helvetica, awkward protagonists, or glow-in-the-dark dust covers, this is the book for you.

The Stand by Stephen King – The forces of good and evil gather in a post-apocalyptic show down. This was the second of three books in a row that I read that start with a virulent pandemic.  That was not on purpose, and it stressed me out. I could not be an epidemiologist.

The Martian by Andy Weir – Fantastic science fiction.  There’s a movie coming out later this year.  I bought a second copy for my Mars themed bathroom.  XKCD described it thusly :

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman – This was the story of the first few years of my career at Ford Motor Company.  It was interesting getting the behind the scenes look at some of the things that happened.  It is also a fantastically well written book if you are interested in the auto industry in general.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – I don’t rightly know how to describe this book.  Gaiman writes books that demand to be read but elude description of why you should read them. I put this one off for a long while, but I picked it up and couldn’t put it down.

What have you read and loved so far this year?

Midyear Goal Introspection

It’s the middle of the year, I’m stuck for a blog topic, and it’s an eep day to boot. Looks like it is time for some introspection about how my goals are going.  Here are my goals and how they seem to be doing:

[ ] Create more – I seem to be on track

[ ] Constellation Quilt: I’ve been a little stalled out on this one. Quilting isn’t a summer thing, plus I’m down to the stars on the section that I’m working on, and I really haven’t figured out to do those efficiently. But all in all, it has gotten a lot of work, and will get done.

[ ] Say Hey Doctor K video collab 1x/month : Oh yeah, this one is on track. Have you seen them?  You should watch them all! 

[ ] Blog 2x/month: Modified this to 1x per month, and I’m hitting that one. (If I get this published today, that is.)

[ ] Daily Diary: On track. It’s sometimes hard to find something to write down, but the fact that I am space constrained helps a lot.

[ ] Be kinder: Hard to measure. Anyone want to give me anonymous feedback. Am I doing a good job of being kinder?

[ ] Be more active – Seem to be on track, I derailed once on purpose in order to spend out on a relationship.

[ ] Symbolic Bike Riding Goal (tbd): The tbd is sitting at 500 miles at the moment. I haven’t really figured out what that symbolizes. I have logged 165.5 miles as of today.  I have derailed twice, paid my fine, and am on track presently.

[ ] More steps than 2013: On track, no derailments.  As of today, I’m sitting at 1.17 million steps for the year.

[ ] Do more yoga: Completely off track. I didn’t set up a beeminder on this one, and I haven’t really done any yoga at all. I’m kind of thinking of a monthly daily goal in August or September to try to remedy this.

[ ] Cook more – I am on top of this one. I have been on a cooking jag all year. I have days when I don’t feel like cooking, but overall, my habits have changed significantly.

[ ] Plan meals: Have I sung the praises of eMeals?   Oh, that’s right. If you listen, I have probably talked your ear off about it. I highly recommend it for people like me who have a hard time planning. It has taught me a lot about menu development. I have used the Vegetarian and Paleo meal plans, and like both of them.  I am spending more at the grocery store, but less for lunches at work, and I’m throwing away less food. Here’s my referral link:

[ ] More Vegetarian Meals: Thanks to eMeals, I consider this one a success, even if I am currently on the Paleo plan, which is very definitely not vegetarian.

[ ] Spend out: I feel like I’m doing ok with this. I spent out on a closet system that is making my life better. I got some art I love and some other tools that I am using (hello, new ice cream maker and dehydrator and shelves). Also, some concerts!

[ ] Plan better: This is a perpetual problem for me. I’m starting to get a system down at work, and need to transition that into my personal life.

[ ] Plant a garden: Planted

[ ] Eat what I grow: So far, the harvest has been green beans, sugar snap peas, squash and zucchini , and herbs. Yummy. Looking forward to / slightly terrified by the prospect of the tomatoes

[ ] Be ok: Yes. I am ok.

[ ] Be braver: I went to Nauvoo all by myself and didn’t know anyone. That’s brave, right?

[ ] Be a good Primary teacher: I think I’m doing ok. I just changed classes from the 9 turning 10 class to the 7 turning 8 class.  That’s a whole new ballgame, that is.

[ ] Deliberate practices – 1000 paper cranes: Paper cranes are all over my house. I have folded or caused to be folded 541 so far.

[ ] Host more dinners: 6 so far, my favorite was a waffle party.

[ ] Invest in relationships: I’m trying, but I sometimes let my emotions and Eeyore side get in the way.

[ ] Take a class: I’ve taken 2! Both at Zingerman’s. I may need an intervention, and/or enablers and gift cards.

[ ] Do things I’m not good at: I’m not sure. I’ll have to introspect on this one a bit more.

So, that’s where I am at. I feel like I’m doing pretty good. I’m most happy about the Be More Active and Cook More goals, plus the collab goal with Kara for Say Hey Doctor K. Those three seem to be my brightest successes.

Here’s to the best of the rest of the year.  How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Snap Judgement: Fitbit One vs Jawbone Up24

It is no secret that I enjoy self-quantification.  Well, if it is a secret, it shouldn’t be.  I enjoy self-quantification.

I have been using a Fitbit since 2011, so I’m starting to get a wealth of data out of it.  One of the ways it has been most useful is through its integration with Beeminder, which charges me money if I don’t keep up an average of 6500 steps a day. (Which I sometimes struggle to do)

Last year, I told my friend Abe (who is gainfully employed by Jawbone) that I like the concept of the Jawbone Up, but I wouldn’t get one until it had wireless syncing and integration with Beeminder.  Late last year it got both, but didn’t have Android compatibility, so I waited.  This spring, it finally did get the Android app we have all been waiting for, and I decided to try it out, to see what I liked and didn’t like about it.

I’ve had a Jawbone Up for about a month now, and I have thoughts about the differences and benefits of each.  Which I am now sharing with you.  Because I can, and because why not?

Step Tracking

Well, the Jawbone and the Fitbit are tracking different motions to estimate steps, so there are bound to be differences in the step counts, right?  The Jawbone tracks on the wrist, while for me, the Fitbit is on my hip.


How do they compare?  The Fitbit is almost always higher. On average, if I exclude Saturdays from my count, the Fitbit is on average 1086 steps per day higher.


[Why do I exclude Saturdays? Two reasons: #1 I usually grocery shop on Saturdays, and if I am pushing a cart, the Jawbone does not pick up steps reliably (given that my wrist is fairly stable). #2 I have been going to the gym on Saturdays and riding a stationary bike.  Because I keep my Fitbit in my pocket, I pick up a ton of “steps” that the Jawbone doesn’t see.  Last year when I was rowing on the erg a lot, the Fitbit didn’t pick anything up.  I kind of wonder what the Jawbone would do with an erg.  (I did discover that kneading bread is a great way to rack up Jawbone steps.)]

Winner: Neither has an obvious advantage here. I think that if you are consistent, you can estimate your activity level with either.  They aren’t directly comparable though.

Sleep Tracking

The Jawbone has a distinct advantage for Sleep tracking.  I absolutely hate the way Fitbit does sleep tracking. I have to get out my special velcro wristband, and fumble around after I’ve taken my contacts out to get the Fitbit in its special pocket, and then try to push the button, and then hope that the Fitbit doesn’t fall out in the night.  Then when I get up, I have to log on to a website to see the details of how I slept. You can imagine I haven’t tracked my sleep with the Fitbit in a long time.

With the Jawbone, because I am already wearing it on my wrist, all I have to do is push a button to start the sleep mode, and push a button to stop it when I wake up.  The data is (almost) instantly sent to my phone and I get a notification in the app showing me how I did.  It is easy as pie to use.

I like the silent alarm feature on the Jawbone, which allows me to set a regular alarm and/or set a smart alarm which will wake me when I am not in deep sleep, up to 20 minutes before I need to be up.  I have used the silent alarms on the Fitbit, but not for waking up, so I don’t have a direct comparison.

Winner: Jawbone, by a long shot.

(I also have the capability to integrate my Jawbone with my SmartThings house using IFTTT, so when I indicate that I have woken up on my Jawbone, the light in my room also turns on, so I don’t have any excuse not to wake up.)

Form Factor

The Fitbit One is a small fob that I generally keep in my coin pocket. No one has to know its there.

The Jawbone Up is a bracelet that sometimes doesn’t play nice with my sleeve cuffs.  Anyone who is paying attention knows it is there, although they might not know what it is.  Is there an etiquette yet for asking people about their self-tracking devices?

Winner: Fitbit for inconspicuousness

App Experience

In my opinion, the Jawbone’s app really shines.  It just has a friendlier interface, and I think it does a good job bringing the data you need straight to the user’s attention.  I particularly like the cards that pop up every day giving me information about how my habits stack up and how I can improve them.  On the downside, the Jawbone App tends to be a bit crashy for me.  Don’t know if that is just me and my phone, or if it is a common problem for others.

Jawbone App
Jawbone App

I don’t have anything bad to say about the Fitbit app, but I don’t have anything great to say about it either.  It is functional, it does what it is supposed to do.

Fitbit App
Fitbit app (can you tell I biked today?)

Winner: Jawbone

Other Stuff

Little things I like about the Jawbone Up:

  • Inactivity alarms – they  wake me up at work and remind me to get up and move around
  • Powernaps – when I need a quick nap, it will rouse me in about 25 minutes. Perfect!
  • Integration with IFTTT – Makes getting data into Google Docs really simple, plus SmartThings integration!

Little things I dislike about the Jawbone Up:

  • For the life of me, I cannot get the Stopwatch mode to fire consistently.
  • It doesn’t have a website where I can check data. I don’t like being constrained to my phone. Also, no tablet app?
  • I can’t get instant feedback from the device about step count without going to the app
  • This is tiny, but I hate that for Android it has to display a permanent notification that it is syncing via BlueTooth. I understand why it has to be, but I don’t have to like it. My notification space is precious to me.

Little things I like about the Fitbit One:

  • The Fitbit website has your data visible and you can do crude analysis there. I like the previous version of the site better than the current iteration.
  • Chatter – When I pick up my Fitbit, it greets me by name, tells me , and sometimes tells me that it loves me. 😀 Who doesn’t love a pocket computer that cheers you up?
  • Instant feedback – If I want to know how I’m doing, I just pull it out of my pocket and push a button.

Little things I don’t like about the Fitbit One:

  • It is hard to get the data out of Fitbit’s greedy little hands. It is doable, but it is not easy.
  • Until recently, it required a computer connection to sync. That was annoying if I was travelling and wanted to make sure I didn’t hit a Beeminder eep! day.  Now it will sync with my phone.
  • It is super easy to lose. I have never washed it, but it has fallen under my bed and gotten temporarily lost on numerous occasions.

Winner: Tie, probably.


At the end of the day, both of these devices seem to be good activity trackers.  They both have their quirks, and they both approach the question of self-quantification from different angles.  The only place where there is a clear outstanding winner is with Sleep Tracking. If you are interested in that, Jawbone Up is the way to go.  Otherwise, it really comes down to personal preferences.  Each does some things better than the other, but I don’t think there is a clear standout.

2014 Resolutions

I’ve been putting this off.   Here goes, it is largely based on last years goals:

[ ] Create more

[ ] Constellation Quilt
[ ] Say Hey Doctor K video collab 1x/month
[ ] Blog 2x/month
[ ] Daily Diary

[ ] Be kinder

[ ] Be more active

[ ] Symbolic Bike Riding Goal (tbd)
[ ] More steps than 2013
[ ] Do more yoga

[ ] Cook more

[ ] Plan meals
[ ] More Vegetarian Meals

[ ] Spend out
[ ] Plan better

[ ] Plant a garden

[ ] Eat what I grow

[ ] Be ok
[ ] Be braver
[ ] Be a good Primary teacher
[ ] Deliberate practices – 1000 paper cranes
[ ] Host more dinners
[ ] Invest in relationships
[ ] Take a class
[ ] Do things I’m not good at

Update 2/28 – Finally figured out what I want my 2014 Theme to be: Engage

2013 Resolution Wrap-up

So, wrap-up time.  My 2013 resolutions were a thing. Given the nature of my goals, some of which were more of a becoming thing than a doing thing, it’s kind of hard to know exactly how I did.   I’ll try to give my thoughts about how they went, and some thoughts about how I want to proceed in 2014. Look for a new post with those as I finalize them (still considering how I want to approach them. I’m thinking of doing an RPG style game/goal this year.)

[ ] Create more  – I’m gonna give this a Fail. I don’t really think that I specifically created more this year. Although I tried a little, it wasn’t as much of a focus as I wanted it to be.  I did work on a model airplane for a while at the beginning of the year, I never really finished it.  I had wanted to do some video blogs, but never really got anywhere with that. 

[ ] Be kinder – With a few notable exceptions, I think I was a little kinder this year. I have to continue to work on it. I’m not very patient sometimes, and that leads me to do things that are unkind.  Pass, with continuing efforts.

[ ] Be more active – I’m going to say I achieved this goal. It probably could have been more measurable.  I can use my step count as a fairly good surrogate for my activity level.  In 2012, I recorded 1,880,902 steps.  In 2013, I recorded 2,198,161, a 16% increase.  On average, I took 6211 steps per day in 2013, compared to my long term average of about 5499 steps.

Here’s my step Beeminder goal this year.

[ ] Row the length of the Huron – Nailed it.  This was a symbolic goal (I did very little on the actual Huron this year, I think one float on Labor Day…), so it was really to pull 21,000 strokes on my rowing machine. Going into this, I wasn’t sure if I could do this. In the end, I probably could have doubled it, if I had really tried.  I finished up at the end of November.  I had a few eep! days, but I never fell off the road.  Here’s my Beeminder graph:

[ ] Cook more – I don’t have a baseline to compare to, but I think I did do a better job after I got several talkings to by my doctor.  Vegtember helped a lot, since it is very difficult to find vegetarian meals in the frozen food aisle.  I’ll give it a win.

[ ] Spend out – This one was one of those becoming goals.  I defined it as a reminder to not hoard, to use, to be willing to spend on quality.  It’s one that I need to continue to work on, but I feel like I’m remembering to spend out. (Now if I could just convince myself to replace my ragged work shoes with quality!)

[ ] Take a real vacation – I’m going to give this a double win.  The purpose was to take a vacation to a place I wanted to go and see things that I wanted to see on my own. In April, I visited Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival and in October I headed down to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.  Both were incredibly cool. (I was playing with the idea of Costa Rica or Orlando for the October trip, but I delayed planning too long for both of those. Maybe this year!)


Me at the Cherry Blossom Festival in  DC
Mammoth Caves – Rainbow Room


[ ] Plan better – I’m going to give this a Fail.  I was terrible at it this year. I think I did ok with the planning for our Family Reunion in December, but that was about the only thing.  Both of my vacations were fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants experiences, and I missed out on a conference I wanted to attend because I didn’t plan far enough in advance.  Could use some better planning at work too, although for routine things, it went alright.

[ ] Plant a garden – Winner.  I planted a great garden. I struggled to keep up with it, my squash failed to thrive, and I regretted not planting green beans, but it was a resounding success. This year, I plan to expand my raised beds (I converted my non-raised bed into a bulb flower garden), and do a better job of eating what I grow!

[ ] Be ok- This one is a hard one to measure. I’m going to give it a pass though, based on one experience.  In the late summer/early fall, I could tell I was slipping back into depression (stupid brain not doing what it is supposed to!). My sleep was disordered and I was finding little joy in life. I asked for help, and got it, and am doing much much better now. That qualifies as being ok, I think.

[ ] Be braver – Again, a hard one to measure. I’m going to mark this goal as one to keep working on. I can’t think of anything that says I failed, but I can’t think of anything that says I didn’t fail, either.

[ ] Be believing – This is one of my major struggles. I’ll keep working on it.

[ ] Deliberate practices – I struggled here too.  I’ve got a few ideas for deliberate practices for the new year including keeping a diary and possibly folding paper cranes for the sake of folding paper cranes.  Possibly some meditation.

[ ] Host more dinners – I hosted a few, including my first Thanksgiving at my new house.  I don’t know if I hosted more or less than in prior years. I don’t feel like I hosted enough dinners specifically, plenty of parties and get-togethers (and Rob did a lot of the planning for those…). I have a specific goal to host 12 dinners (at least 1 a month) in 2014.  That way I will know if I accomplished it or not.

[ ] Invest in relationships – I did alright with this one.  I’m doing better with my family relationships, especially now that most of my immediate family have begun to text more frequently. (Got to maintain favorite uncle status! I have a nefarious plan for that in 2014! Watch out, other contenders!)  I’d like to do better outside of my family. I’m considering The Friends Game to help myself in 2014.

[ ] Dress better, take better care of my appearances – I’m going to give this a win.  I bought (and used!) a can of spray starch, I made certain to iron my shirts, I invested in higher quality clothes, especially dress shirts. (I have one with a monogram on the sleeve now! How fancy is that?)

[ ] Take a class – A win, but kind of a combined win-slash-maybe I’m cheating.  I took a yoga class… See next goal.

[ ] Do more yoga – Yep, Winner. I took a yoga class, which I really enjoyed.  I should have re-enrolled, but I didn’t. Guess there’s always this year.  Also, Yoga X from P90X is intense. I can making it through the dynamic standing poses, but by about 45 minutes in, when it gets to static poses, I die, every single time.

[ ] Shave with a razor – Winner. I don’t think I used my electric razor more than once or twice while traveling this year. I don’t know why I never went with a regular razor before. I can get away with only shaving every other day, and my side burns have never looked better.  Also, so much smoother!

[ ] Do things I’m not good at – I’m going to go with Fail on this one. I think it slid off my radar, and I continue to avoid doing the things that I’m not good at. I’ll have to try again.

In addition to these resolutions, I also did a series of monthly challenges, although not every month got one.  I for sure won February, March and Vegtember.

So, mostly successful in 2013.  I’ve got some things to continue to work on.  I’ve got some goals for 2014, which I am still mulling over.

How did things go for you?  Did you win 2013?


Resolutions Update

So, you can see from the graphs in the post below how I did with my personal challenge to try to get 10,000 steps in a day.  If you throw out the final data point for a day when I forgot my Fitbit, I averaged about 9600 steps a day, which is a fantastic average.  My long term average is 5,400.  I had 16 days over 10K steps, which is the same as what I had in all of 2012.  I ended up getting a new Fitbit One mid-month, when my Fitbit Classic kind of fell to pieces.

2013-03-10 08.58.37-3


Things I learned:
– To get that many steps, I have to do a Morning Mile without fail. (Thank goodness for Radiolab)
– It’s still pretty cold in the mornings in March.
– The Fitbit One has a nifty feature that allows it to vibrate an alarm. I use it to remind me to get up and walk around at work mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
– I still have troubles getting my steps up on Sundays
– The Briarwood Mall is about 1200 steps round trip
– Sams Club is further away than I expected it by foot.
– If I walk while I’m on the phone, I can up really up my steps

Other goals:

I’ve been doing more Yoga via a Rec and Ed class. It’s been challenging and rewarding.
I have been shaving with a razor (instead of an electric shaver) since the beginning of the year. It’s nice because I don’t have to shave every day anymore.
I spent out on a few things that I wanted for myself. (A new television!)
I’m not very good at getting reviews of the media I am consuming written up.
I am about 36 miles into the 130 miles of the Huron River. I am right on track.  The graph below is my Beeminder graph, so you can see when I’m slacking. I don’t actually know if it live updates or not. (The closer the dots on the graph, the more frequent I am rowing. As long as I stay above the yellow/orange line, I’m on track.)


I think my April goals are Plant a Garden (I planted flowers and built myself a raised bed garden last Saturday. Now I just have to fill the garden with soil and figure out what to plant in it.) and Be Braver. I’m also testing Take a Real Vacation.

March Personal Challenge : Be More Active











This year, I set some New Year’s Resolutions, mostly principle based, to help me improve how I feel about myself and about my life.

The idea, when I had them, was to take one or two or three of the principles and work on them in any given time period (months being the most obvious.)

I’ll do a Jan-Feb wrapup here in a post or two, but I wanted to share an experience and my thinking about March.

In February, for reasons still a bit unclear to me, I asked myself a question: “Can I underspend a particular budget category?”

I do pretty good with my budget, but there is one line item that I constantly overspend: Shopping. I bin all of my Amazon purchases, clothes purchases (“Dress Better”), and most household goods to this category, and so have a tendency to overspend.  It’s not a problem to my overall budget, as I’ve got a lot of wiggle room baked in.  But I wanted to see if I could for once, spend within that budget on purpose. (“Deliberate practices”)

I’m happy to report that I could. It actually took a bit of work to rein back some impulse purchases, but I made it, underspending my budget by $43! No creative accounting or anything, although I did use points to pay for one Amazon purchase.

As I thought about the experience, I wondered what kind of a question could I ask myself for March.  I have been playing with the idea of eating Paleo or vegetarian for a month (“Cook More”), but felt like I need a bit more time to learn about those particular diet systems.  I’ve been meaning to start back up my Morning Mile (“Deliberate Practices” / “Be More Active”) once the weather starts to warm back up again. I had a great experience with that practice during November, and put it on the back burner for winter.

At approximately the same time I was pondering these big questions, I found an article about getting data out of the FitBit system into a Google Document.  I love my FitBit, but I’ve never been able to really analyze my habits with it. It’s great on a one off daily analysis, but I wanted to know how I have been changing over time.  Am I walking more? Am I walking less?

I spent some time figuring it out, but I’ve got my data over to a spreadsheet, where I learned some very interesting things.  For example, last November was my 2012 high for average daily steps: about 7,600 vs my long term average around 5,500. (No surprise, thanks to the Morning Mile). I was surprised that I only hit 10,000 steps in a day only 16 times in 2012.  Sundays are my least active day, and Saturdays are generally my most active, but in 2013 so far, it’s been a virtual tie between Mondays and Thursdays. I’ve apparently been more interested in watching TV on Saturdays than going for a walk. Cut me some slack, it’s cold in January and February!

I decide my question for March would be: Can I average 10K steps?  Can I get more 10K step days in March than I did last year? What does it look like if I try to get more walking in?

I started out on Friday with a Morning Mile, and by the end of the day had only made it to 9000 steps. (I definitely took a few extra trips downstairs at bedtime for things I had “forgotten” to get past 9000.) Saturday, I may have overcompensated with a walk, a row, and then picking the vacuum cleaner at Chapel Cleanup. I hit 10K shortly after noon and ended the day with 14K steps.  Already today I am at or above my Sunday average.

The graphs at the top of the page should show you how I’m doing. They should update daily. I’ll report back in April and let you know how it went.

Goals for 2013

[ ] Create more
[ ] Be kinder
[ ] Be more active
[ ] Row the length of the Huron
[ ] Cook more
[ ] Spend out
[ ] Take a real vacation
[ ] Plan better
[ ] Plant a garden
[ ] Be ok
[ ] Be braver
[ ] Be believing
[ ] Deliberate practices
[ ] Host more dinners
[ ] Invest in relationships
[ ] Dress better, take better care of my appearances
[ ] Take a class
[ ] Do more yoga
[ ] Shave with a razor
[ ] Do things I’m not good at

Why I did it

On Friday, almost on the spur of the moment, I signed up to run the Meteor 10K on Saturday, part of the Martian Invasion of Races in Dearborn. I had originally played with the idea of this race as a tune-up midway through my training for the half-marathon, but those hopes were dashed by my misunderstanding of when exactly the race fell. I was expecting it to be at the end of April, but when it turned out to be at the beginning of April instead, I lost a little interest in it.

Last week was a fairly good week for running, after completing the treadmill challenge with an 11% improvement and a successful short run earlier in the week. I was vacillating a little back and forth with deciding on this race. I thought that I was capable of running the 6.2 miles of a 10K, but I wasn’t sure. After the last few failures, I think I had a lost a little bit of confidence that I was on track for half-marathon goal.

One of my co-workers had been training for the Martian Half-marathon, and my supervisor had been planning to run the Meteor 10K as well. By Friday morning, I was feeling good, and decided I should just take the plunge, and do it. I hesitated throughout the day, not really sure if I was going to do it. At one point, I pegged it at 95% certainty, which is like saying yes, but with an escape hatch if I chicken out. After work, I went over and registered.

At that point I got the pre-race jitters, even though I was focused on making this a training run and nothing more or less. That, I think, is also an important part of practicing for a run. But I was in, and at the very least, I had my new technical running shirt (which for me is a huge motivator).

As it turns out, I’ll do almost anything for a Technical Shirt. Isn’t this one wild?

It turns out I was exactly capable of running 10K. The race went very very well. I stopped for short walk breaks at 2 and 4 miles, just like my plan has me doing. I maintained a fairly consistent pace, right at 10 minute miles, right on plan. The race started out cold and windy, but after about mile 2 you stop noticing that. Around mile 4 and a half, we ran by the Henry Ford Estate, and there were delicate bluebells blooming alongside the road. In short, it was a beautiful day for a race.

More importantly, however, was the sense of accomplishment that came with it.
March, as you may have heard, was a difficult month for goal achievement for me. I struggled with my writing goal, and I struggled with my running goals. The two long runs that I attempted failed. In fact, I was supposed to have been at 7 miles by now, and I hadn’t successfully completed anything longer than 5. Tackling this 10K, for which I hadn’t specifically trained, and actually feeling good at the end of it was validation that things would work out.

Here’s the race. I got a new toy: a Garmin Forerunner 305, which is a GPS watch that will let me track my runs better.

Running: A history

I recently crossed an important milestone… According to my Nike+ iPod system, on November 8th, I ran my 500th mile since I started using the system back in November 2006. So 500 recorded miles in 2 years, plus some amount of non-recorded miles. Not too shabby!

Mike made me this logo in celebration of my 100 miles since his last run. Awesome what you can do with Paint and WordArt, isn’t it?

To me, what is really impressive about all of this is that amounts to approximately 475 more miles in those 2 years than in the previous 8 years. In high school, I was a runner. Ok, kind of a runner. I did run cross country for two and a half seasons, and long distance track for a season. I was consistently middle of the pack, but I’m pretty sure it was in the front middle. The important part was that I enjoyed running, and was at least in enough shape to do it regularly.

Some persistent injuries and high levels of stress during my senior year forced me to drop cross country that year, and I fell out of the habit of running. Over the next several years, I tried occasionally to run again, but I was never able to hold the habit consistently. My best attempt was during my last year of grad school. My roommate over the summer, Adam Miles, was crazy into running, and he talked me into a nice pair of running shoes, which I did in fact really use to run in multiple times. But grad school was more important, and I didn’t have a real goal in mind, so I fell off the bandwagon again.

With this in mind, once I moved to Michigan to start at Ford, I decided that for once and for all, I was ready to become a runner again. I had a good deal of time on my hands, as I was living by myself in Canton, and hadn’t really integrated myself into the ward here yet. I decided that beginning in September of 2006, after the completion of a travel audit in New York City, I would buy myself new shoes, and reacquaint myself with the road.

I did some research, being the meticulous type, and decided to use the Coach Potato to 5K training program. It is designed to ease you into running. My failures in the past were probably from trying to do too much too fast, and this program, which I highly recommend, keeps it simple by moving from walking with jogging to jogging with walking to jogging. I made my own music mixes with the timing built in, and eventually found that someone else had done that too.

To keep myself motivated, I have used running to bribe myself. For example, I really wanted a new iPod nano to replace the clunky iPod classic I had that would skip after exactly 20 minutes of running, and of course, if I was going to get the nano, I wanted the Nike + to go with it. I determined that if I could consistently make progress on my Couch Potato plan, I could have the whole setup for my birthday in 2006. It did, and I got my running bling. (Leilani once asked if I liked running for running’s sake, or for the gadgets… I’m not ashamed to say that its for both.)

I also used it to earn my Wii, which I officially earned last Saturday when I crossed the 500 mark. I decided that if I was showing adequate progress, I could open the Wii at 400 miles… which I also did, as long as I made it to 500.

One of my tricksiest motivation techniques to keep myself going, and to remind myself that I was a runner again was to take out a 4 year subscription to Runner’s World. On eBay, you can get anything… even 4 year subscriptions for less than $10. Now, I get a monthly reminder to get back on the boat.

It took me a year to be ready to run a race after I started running again, but last Thanksgiving, I finally decided I was ready for it, and talked Amy into running the Turkey Trot in AA with me, on a whim and at the last minute. She did very well, and I finished, and that was enough for me. It was possibly the best thing that happened to me in 2007.

Amy placed and I finished! Sweet Victory!

I’ve managed to run 3 5Ks this year, each with slightly better times or finishes (2nd place in my age group at the Tara Grant Memorial!) and I’ve trained myself up to a 10K finally. It took two attempts, but here I come Turkey Trot. Here I come. This may be one of the few New Year’s Resolutions that I actually keep!

That’s me, streaking to the finish line at the 2007 Turkey Trot.

I’ve also managed to conquer new distances, ones that seemed impossible. The day of the Tara Grant memorial was supposed to be my first 7 miler, and I was terrified. But once I knocked it out, those longer distances don’t really scare me anymore. You’ve seen my casual talk of an 8 miler that may have been a 9 miler. I’ve got a 10 miler on the horizon, and I’ve realized that I’m practically at the half-marathon distance. If I can keep myself healthy and running during the winter and into the spring, I’m seriously considering a 2009 half.

This was the run that put me over the 500 mile mark. Amazing!

I have found peace while running, and for the hectic world we live in, I’ll take peace where I can find it. Running has brought me a sense of purpose, as well as a sense of pride. These last 500 miles have been a wild ride, and here’s to 500 more!

So what are you waiting for? Go running!