2014: The Year in Review

With everyone getting all excited to share their Facebook photo montages and blog posts about how totally super amazing their year was, I started to feel down. I didn’t do much this year, I thought. It was sort of lame. And, then, I realized I guess I did a lot actually. I crashed the car; I shattered my teeth; I did an Ironman; I moved down to L.A. for this grad program; I started school (which means I had to quit a bunch of work); I went to Turkey, Canada, Boston, Chicago, Wisconsin, Arizona, Seattle, Kentucky, other places; I wrote some stuff too. So. That’s a year.

I’m not a New Year’s Resolutions person. This may come as a shock, but I generally find the whole exercise a self-congratulatory pointless, well, exercise. If you want to draw a line in the sand after which you will raise your fist to the sky and declare that now, now things will be different, then that’s your right and that’s fine. Mostly, though, it’s just annoying for the rest of us that the gym is full for the first two weeks of the year.

But, since December usually coincides with off-season, it’s always been a convenient time anyway to make plans and sketch out schedules. The problem this year is that none of those things are true. I have no plans past May. Or, rather, I have plans, lots and lots of plans, but no sense of which of them is going to work out. No timetables or checklists. Nothing to write in your little journal and underline, to pin on your vision board.

This means I’m not thinking too hard about 2015 yet. I’m just going to put my head down and work for a few more months, get things done and learn and explore ideas. And, then I’ll draw my arbitrary line around April or May, my New Year’s Eve, after which I will declare that now, now, things will be different.

In 2014, I…

Ran: 774 miles (plus a little water running)
Biked: 3,266 miles
Swam: 256,050 yards

This amounted to about 455 hours, give or take — the biggest obvious difference over last year is that I started being a triathlete again and stopped being a lifestyle runner.

I raced…

Then, after almost two months of nothing, I went on a racing binge from late October to early December and did:

The biggest months were probably this month (clocking in around 50 hours) and late February through mid-March, when there were the training camps but before I shattered my teeth. The lowest month was August when I’m pretty sure I counted walking from the train station to class as “exercise.”

This year was some of the most concentrated, consistent and highest volume training I’ve done, but it also included some of the biggest drop-offs mixed in. That kind of thing is so frustrating, because it’s so easy to just keep thinking ‘what if…’ I was pretty fit in May/June. What if I hadn’t torn a muscle and face-planted off my bike before that? What if I could go a whole year without any major injury or accident? I raced really well at Alcatraz, but ended up a few seconds off the places I wanted to be. What if everything just came together? What if…

In case you were wondering, yes, I have those thoughts about work stuff too. What if one of the great things I wrote (which are rarer than the average things I write) actually got into the right hands? In that vein, here are a few things I wrote this year that I actually liked. There was other stuff I wrote, lots of it, that was quick and fun and light and easy, but these are the things I’m kind of proud of:

Sunny Running posts from this year that are worthwhile:

And, since I spend an absurd amount of time reading everything, here are a handful of things I read this year that I loved. This is not a comprehensive list. It is not a ‘best of’ list. It just is some things I really liked:

And, these are the books I read — slightly fewer than usual because of all the reading the news and the internet, which is boring me right now:

  • The Book of Life — Deborah Harkness
  • *Americanah — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Seating Arrangements — Maggie Shipstead
  • *Public Apology — Dave Bry
  • The Odd Couple — Neil Simon
  • The Secret Race — Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (re-reads totally count)
  • *The Princess Bride — William Goldman
  • *Duel in the Sun — John Brant
  • The Circle — Dave Eggers
  • *Slow Getting Up — Nate Jackson
  • The Runaway Jury — John Grisham
  • Never Have I Ever — Katie Heaney
  • *Hyperbole and a Half — Allie Brosh
  • Orange is the New Black — Piper Kerman
  • *The Night Circus — Erin Morgenstern
  • Eleanor & Park — Rainbow Rowell
  • State of Wonder — Ann Patchett
  • Tangerine — Edward Bloor
  • How to Buy a Love of Reading — Tanya Egan Gibson
  • *Let’s Pretend This Never Happened — Jenny Lawson
  • David and Goliath — Malcolm Gladwell
  • *The Interestings — Meg Wolitzer

* means you should definitely 100% read this; I had no absolute-must-recommend-makes-my-top-ten-overall-list book this year, though

What if?

2013: The Year in Workouts

Since all I’ve been writing lately is year-end round-ups, why not write one more before I’m completely sick of the year and never want to think about 2013 again. And, evidently, everyone else feels the same way. Even though there’s like another day left in 2013, no one wants to read year-end wrap-ups on Jan. 1. So.

In 2013, I…

Ran: 1064 miles (plus 31 miles on the Alter-G and 5:20 worth of water running)
Biked: 1,738 miles
Swam: 121,200 yards

I raced…

That’s less than I raced last year, but more serious-like with not as much dicking around maybe. For a total training volume of: 372 hours.

That’s not much training volume. But, most of it was running, which tends to be lower volume than cycling or triathlon, so it’s more intense than it looks. My biggest month was August, same as last year, which probably has to do with the fact that the Marin Century is in August and I was trying to crash-train for triathlon in September. My lowest month was June when I did…wait for it…8 hours of training. (Though that should probably be like 11 hours if you count my disastrous mountain bike attempt in Hawaii.) The 372 also included a few weeks after both Boston and CIM where I laid around and ate cookies like it was my job.

All in all, compared to last year, this year was far more structured and less randomly just showing up to shit. Yet, I was only slightly faster? And, it still wasn’t as structured as 2014 will be (or as 2009 or 2010 or 2008 were). We’ll also be hoping that next year is faster obvs.

The real lesson is that it turns out I’m much better at triathlon than running. Just give in, you can’t fight it.

We spent a stupid amount of time traveling this year too and as best I can count I went to:

  • Kauai
  • Phoenix twice
  • Chicago
  • Boston
  • LA twice I think, maybe three times
  • North Carolina
  • Tahoe twice
  • the mountains
  • Monterey twice and Santa Cruz twice
  • plus other random places

And, because I’m all cultural and shit, I’m including the stuff I read this year. Or, rather, the books I read, because I also read a crazy large amount of stuff on the internet and in magazines. The problem is I can’t remember all the internet and magazine stuff. One of my goals for next year is to keep better track of my favorite articles of the year — probably with an app for that. I can tell you this story about running made me cry on a bus and this made me righteously angry and pretty much everything on this list was good.

The Books I Read in 2013:

  • Beautiful Creatures — Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • **Hyperbole and a Half — Allie Brosh
  • Allegiant — Veronica Roth
  • Reconstructing Amelia — Kimberly McCreight
  • Very Recent History — Choire Sicha
  • Wool — Hugh Howey
  • Heads in Beds — Jacob Tomsky
  • Under the Dome — Stephen King
  • *The Age of Miracles — Karen Walker
  • *A Visit from the Good Squad — Jennifer Egan (yeah, re-reads still count as reading)
  • Ready Player One — Ernest Cline
  • Sad Desk Salad — Jessica Grose
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette — Maria Semple
  • **Tenth of December — George Saunders
  • Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar — Kelly Oxford
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep — Phillip K. Dick
  • *The Fault in Our Stars — John Green
  • The Edge of Reason — Helen Fielding
  • *Tiny Beautiful Things — Cheryl Strayed
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary — Helen Fielding
  • *Gone Girl — Gillian Flynn
  • *Beautiful Ruins — Jess Walter
  • *Ender’s Game — Orson Scott Card (yeah, yeah, just pretend the author never said anything in the media)
  • Reached — Ally Condie
  • *Bel Canto — Ann Patchett

* means you should definitely read this
** means this was one of my most favorite books ever

Back to Training After Vacation is Exhausting

Today, I was back to my regularly scheduled programming, which was tough. I suppose it’ll be tougher tomorrow, when I have to actually go back to work. But, with the whole ‘working for myself’ thing, I haven’t made any money in three weeks, so back to work it is.

I ran ten miles today and barely made it the full ten. I even tripped over my own feet more than once.

I also had to dodge 60-70 mountain bikers on the trail. That isn’t an exaggeration. On the weekends, it’s a popular mountain bike trail, so there were a good number of groups and families out. The trail is also used for a program taking inner city kids into the outdoors — on bikes. Five of those groups of leaders + kids passed me, in addition to the regular mix of weekend warriors and small children.

At that point, I’m not going to stop for every single mountain biker. That’s not bitchy, right? I just move to one side and keep running. The only problem is some of these kids learning about the outdoors don’t have amazing handling skills. Not that I’m going to hate on anyone’s poor mountain biking skills. Kettle. Black. But, still, it makes it rough.

The kids are also practicing their trail etiquette, so instead of one person yelling, “Runner Up,” every single kid yelled it. It was cute/annoying.

About halfway through, I was doing a pick-up effort at about 6:30 pace and a group of kids + leader passed me going the other way. One of the kids yelled, “Jogger Up.” If I’d been near the end of the effort I might have stopped and done some explainin’. Look, kid, this is not a jog. I am definitely going harder than you are. 

But, I was too tired. So, I didn’t.

The main reason I’m so tired is because of all the visiting, and traveling, and being a tourist with my parents for the last week, and ‘skiing.’

Steve and I on the Pinecrest dam. "Hiking."
Steve and I on the Pinecrest dam. “Hiking.”


This is the only photo of me actually skiing. Eat your heart out.
This is the only photo of me actually skiing. Eat your heart out.

I say ‘skiing,’ because I don’t ski. I have skiied four times in my life and twice was in the Midwest, so that evidently doesn’t count. The last time Steve and I went three years ago at Dodge Ridge, it didn’t go well. We don’t talk about that.

So, this time, I started out very slowly and worked my way up the mountain.

Eventually, I was able to do a few long blue runs all the way from the top. I would say I only fell a few times, but it might be more accurate to say I only totally wiped out a few times. I fell plenty. Still, I only got a couple blisters and no new concussions. We’ll call that successful.

I also ran a little bit in the snow (and ‘hiked’), which was also exhausting. Doing drills in a semi-plowed parking lot, I accidentally ran backwards into a snow drift. Not a peril that I encounter regularly.

Back to normal it is.

Steve, me, my sister's boyfriend, Jake, and my sister, Maggie, near the top of the mountain.
Steve, me, my sister’s boyfriend, Jake, and my sister, Maggie, near the top of the mountain.

New Year’s Resolutions?

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I think if you are used to constructing a season around races and long-term goals and short-term goals and benchmarks, the idea that once a year everyone else gets on board is funny.

I do believe in goals. Obviously. And, I have plenty. One of my goals is to have more realistic goals.

I’m not going to share all my professional and life goals because that would be 1. weird and 2. possibly counter-productive. I will, however, share my athletic goals, which I’m actually far less attached to.

  • Run a 3:07 at Boston
  • Run a 1:27 half. We shall see.
  • Top 100 at the Dipsea?
  • Try an ultra
  • Sub-40 10k b/c I’m just annoyed I haven’t

I’m not sure about the second half of the year, since it’s generally important to reassess after the first half. I’m also not 100% sure how I’ll feel after June or so. Maybe I’ll take a short break. Maybe I’ll take a long break. Maybe I’ll spend the entire second half of the year going to all the weddings already on my schedule.

My one other athletic goal is not actually for me: I’ve been constructing a training plan for my friend Natalie to run her first marathon in LA in March. And I hope know she can go sub-3:40.

Do you have goals/resolutions?

2012: The Year in Workouts

Since it’s the end of the year and I love random stats and bullet-ed lists, and it seems like the thing to do, here is my year in workouts (through today):

In 2012, I…

Ran: 1,197 miles
Biked: 1,440 miles
Swam: 75,400 yards (none of which have been since Sept. 30)

I raced:

Things I ruled out as ‘my sport:’

  • open water swimming

For a total training volume of: 318 hours. That’s more than 100 hours less than I’ve put in any year since 2007 or so, but actually more races than any of those years probably, since I wasn’t focused and peaking performance and shit. It’s interesting that lots of my results were about the same and some were better (and some would have been worse, if I had raced a half-Ironman this year).

The most I trained was in August, when I actually cracked 40 hours for the month — though that included the shitshow of me trying to finish the Marin Century in time to make it to a wedding. The least I trained (not counting October, when I think racing the Chicago Marathon was actually most of my total monthly volume) was last January, when I counted Tough Mudder as a long run. Hah.

You know it’s not a triathlon year when running mileage nearly equals biking mileage.

And, to show I’m multi-layered and stuff, this is also the list of books I’ve read this year, though it’s not a complete list because I only started keeping track in June and I couldn’t remember everything from earlier. And yes, I read a lot of teen dystopian future novels.

Books I read in 2012:

  • Life of Pi — Yann Martel
  • *A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again — David Foster Wallace (best thing I’ve read. ever.)
  • Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail — Cheryl Strayed
  • Next — Michael Crichton
  • This is How You Lose Her — Junot Diaz
  • *The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France — Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle
  • While Mortals Sleep — Kurt Vonnegut
  • *Behind the Beautiful Forevers — Katherine Boo
  • The Oracle of Stamboul — Michael David Lukas
  • Shadow of Night — Deborah Harkness
  • *The Art of Fielding — Chad Harbach
  • Off Balance: A Memoir — Dominique Moceanu
  • A Game of Thrones — George R.R. Martin
  • The Maze Runner — James Dashner
  • Insurgent — Veronica Roth
  • Divergent — Veronica Roth
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother — Amy Chua
  • Pirate Latitudes — Michael Crichton
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? — Mindy Kaling
  • Bond Girl — Erin Duffy
  • The Girl Who Played Go — Shan Sa
  • A Question of Attraction — David Nicholls
  • *The Tiger’s Wife — Tea Obrecht
  • Swamplandia! — Karen Russell

*means you should definitely read this