My original goal was to run full marathon. However, my training was sporadic and inconsistent as usual. In the 20 weeks leading up to this race, I had six weeks where I ran zero miles and six weeks over 20 miles. In total, it was the most run volume I’d done in a long time, but I dropped down to the half marathon since I didn’t want to risk injury (my longest training run was 13 miles). My goal for the race was to improve upon the 1:50:15 I ran in Sioux Falls Half Marathon in September 2018.

The day before the race, I met up with my friends Barb, Matt, and Matt’s wife Angie (Matt would be running the full and Barb the half). We did the ‘Fairy Tale Cottage’ escape room at Outfox Escape Rooms. This one was unique in that there wasn’t a code to get out at the end, rather twelve fairy tale items you had to accumulate. This was Angie’s first escape room, and, despite being several months pregnant, she carried the team, finding the most items.

ESCAPE ROOM

The race day temperature was a perfect 38 degrees. The course consisted of a couple of rolling hills and 550′ of elevation gain per my watch. I had no idea what sort of speed was maintainable given my training, so I started around 8:00 min/mile pace and tried to hold on. Matt was running the full, and the night before we had tried to calculate if he would pass me after the courses merged, given his faster pace and earlier start time. Turns out we met up almost exactly where the two courses merged, Matt 30 yards ahead of me. I tried to catch up with him, but a 7:00 pace is really hauling when you’re struggling to maintain an 8:00 pace.

RUNCRANDIC 1

The second half of the race was painful, but I managed to run an almost perfectly split race, crossing the line in 1:42:29. That’s a 7:49 min/mile pace, and almost 8 minutes faster than my previous half marathon

RUNCRANDIC 2

SPLITS

In the 10 weeks leading up to the race, I counted only a single mile that I ran faster than 7:49 pace, so apparently running slow does allow you to run fast.  This was my second fastest half marathon ever (not that I’ve ever run a fast half marathon). It’s always encouraging to see that when I run a little consistently, I can put up a decent time. Next race will be the Washington Island Ultra, a race I did last year and hope to improve upon.

 

I accomplished this goal back in August, but didn’t write about it because I sort of side stepped the purpose of it. I joined the Milwaukee Makerspace, got trained on multiple pieces of equipment, and then never went back. I had imagined that I would meet people with similar interests and build cool projects utilizing equipment that I couldn’t afford. Why did I stop going? There aren’t any good reasons but I do have two excuses. The Milwaukee Makerspace is located 20 minutes from my house and I already have most of the tools I need in my current workshop, making it inconvenient to travel to when I could work on most projects at home. Again, those are just excuses.

This is a pretty lame goal post, so let me update you on an exciting development…

We’re moving to Boston! Alexis will be doing a two year research fellowship with the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change through Harvard Medical School. It’s the same organization she worked with when she spent a year in Haiti. She’ll also be pursuing a Master’s in Public Health through Harvard Medical School. In order to get this all funded, she agreed to come back to Milwaukee every month and take call for one week at the Children’s Hospital. We’ve found an apartment and will be moving out to Boston the beginning of July. Our apartment will be tiny (697 sq. feet), so I’ve started investigating Makerspaces in Boston. Artisan’s Asylum seems to fit the bill, and given our small apartment size I will be forced to use it if I want to continue making projects.

Goal #20 on my 30 Before 30 List was to assemble a > 1,000 piece LEGO set. I never played with LEGO growing up, which surprises my fellow engineers as almost all of them loved LEGO.

My interest was sparked when I saw the Saturn V LEGO set my Dad had received from one of his buddies. When did LEGO get so cool? The Saturn V was an incredible engineering achievement, and now LEGO created a miniature brick version! For my 29th birthday, I received the 1969 piece Saturn V LEGO set.

This set was assembled two weeks ago while my father in law was in town. The entire  process was very enjoyable. You follow a set of instructions and end up with a cool model. There was no creativity or original thinking (I was merely an assembly line worker), but I didn’t feel bored or distracted.

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This is a hobby I’d like to continue. Some other sets that sparked my interest were the Porsche GT3RS and Star Wars Millennium Falcon. I’d also like to modify my LEGO Saturn V and turn it into an actual rocket. That’d be a sweet Lethal Engineering video, right?

I don’t know who reads this blog, so it’s strange to give recommendations. My assumption, though, is that if you read my blog than you might like other blogs that I like. That’s the transitive property, right?

Here are six recommendations:

Mr Money Mustache
A self improvement blog veiled in frugality and early retirement. Mr. Money Mustache retired at age 30 after a short software engineering career and writes about how you and I can do the same.  Here are some posts to get you started: The 4% Rule, The Simple Math Behind Early Retirement, What is Stoicism, and Happiness Is The Only Logical Pursuit.

Derek Sivers
I first heard of Derek on the Tim Ferriss podcast (here and here). His enthusiasm is infectious. Derek worked as a musician, circus ringmaster, and eventually started and sold a company called CD Baby. His posts are brief and to the point. Here are a couple of gems: Hell Yeah or No, Ideas Are Just A Multiplier, Be An Extreme Character, Be Resourceful, and Actions Reveal Our Values

Tynan
I don’t know how to describe Tynan. Maybe if the Most Interesting Man in the World was real and wrote a blog. A couple of Tynan’s adventures include buying an island, buying a penguin, becoming a famous pickup artist, writing several books, living in an RV, and that’s just scratching the surface.

John Kelly
A PhD Data scientist, Kona Ironman Qualifier, and one of fifteen Barkley Marathon finishers. John takes a very analytical approach to setting and achieving goals. Some great posts to start with are Goldilocks Difficulty, Failing With A Purpose, and Component Goals.

Tim Ferriss (his old posts)
It seems like Tim is focusing on his podcast and books now, but his old posts are gold. Tim posts are long form, in depth write-ups. I managed to lose 15 pounds in 5 days using this post (not recommended). Some of his popular topics include minimalist travel, language learning, muscle gain, and marketing

ZedWeblog
My friend Zach! He is currently pursuing a postdoc in math and made his own 30 Before 30 List. His articles in our high school newspaper were always entertaining to read, and that style continues with his blog. Leave him a comment encouraging him to post more frequently!

Phew! I think that’s the most hyperlinks I’ve ever included in a post. I hope you enjoy these recommendations!

I’ve always been skinny. Maybe weak is a better descriptor. I was embarrassed to lift in high school because every member of the girls basketball team could lift more than me. The solution to that problem was obviously NOT to avoid the weight room, but my high school self had a pretty fixed mindset.

I began lifting in college with the tennis team and continued sporadically in the years after I graduated. During that period, about five years ago, I was exposed to GORUCK , completing their challenge event with my friend Matt Brand.

GORUCK

GORUCK offers an even more challenging event called Selection which has a measly 5% completion rate. I wrote about it previously, signed up, and never attempted it after dislocating my shoulder (that was my excuse at least). It’s an extremely demanding event, well above my current ability. In order to complete it, I would need to become much stronger. That’s why I decided to build a power rack.

The power rack allows me to work the big three lifts of bench press, squat, and dead lift. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to weightlifting, but at least now I can embarrass myself in the privacy of my own home. The design for my power rack was based on this YouTube video:

I bought all the necessary supplies at Home Depot for a total cost north of $200. It took around four hours to build. I also cut pieces of plywood to have a wood platform over the carpet.

For weights, I first looked on Craigslist, but was able to find a barbell weight set cheaper online at Wal-Mart (with free shipping!).

I’m pleased with how the power rack turned out, but it is pointless if not used. My plan is to read through Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength to learn proper technique and then develop a weekly strength training regimen. The ultimate goal is to complete GORUCK Selection in the Fall of 2020.

This was the 5th goal I accomplished in a very productive month of August (what a delayed post!). There’s only four months until I turn 30, but if I keep making consistent forward progress, I should accomplish 20 of my goals.

Learning to Swim as an Adult

Posted: February 23, 2019 in Uncategorized

I should be an Olympic swimmer. 23 time Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps is thought to have a perfect body for swimming with his 6’4″ height and disproportionately wide 6’7″ armspan. I’m 6’6″ with a 7’0″ armspan and webbed toes! My mom was an All-American swimmer at Purdue, her sister an All-American at Notre Dame, and her brother an All-American at Auburn (he also swam in the Olympic trials). My Mom never pushed swimming, instead signing my sister and me up for sports she enjoyed watching (basketball, baseball, volleyball) rather than attending weekend long swim meets.

In late 2012, at age 23, I decided I was going to do triathlons with the large goal of completing an Ironman triathlon. There was one big hurdle though, I didn’t know how to swim. I wouldn’t drown if you tossed me in a pool, but my swimming could best be described as a thrashing doggy paddle.

My first swim ‘workout’ was rather embarrassing. I was determined to learn to properly swim, which meant wearing the skin tight ‘jammers’ as well as sticking my face in the water to exhale and breathing to the side. I would swim a little bit, choke on some water, stop, start swimming again, choke on some water, until I got to the end of the pool. Thankfully the pool at 24 Hour Fitness was only five feet deep so I could stop and collect myself midway. Here are the the notes I wrote in the Garmin activity tracking software after a couple of those first swims:

December 29, 2012 –Swimming 1

January 2nd, 2013 –Jan 2nd

January 8th, 2013 –Jan 8th

January 10th, 2013 –Jan 10th

January 13th –
Jan 13th

January 15th –
Jan 15th

January 17th –
Jan 17th

The all caps in that final note is reflective at how excited I was to swim one length breathing properly (a laughable accomplishment now). It took nine workouts, but I finally figured out how to breathe properly. Later that summer, I successfully completed the 500 meter open water swim in my first triathlon. A year after that, I was one of the first people out of the water at that same triathlon. Four months after that, I completed a 2.4 mile open water swim in route to completing my first Ironman.

Thinking back on it, learning to swim was such a rewarding experience. To go from a complete novice to proficient in two years is a very empowering feeling. If I can learn to swim, what else can I do if I sidelined my unreasonable fear and anxiety?

There’s so many things I’d like to learn to do! Riding mountain bikes, rowing, welding, programming, wood working. and automotive repair are a few. What if I picked a project and jumped in feet first like I did with swimming?

Goal #30 on my 30 Before 30 List was to track my time by the minute, and happiness every couple of hours, for a month. This is supposed to be one of those life improvement hacks. By tracking time, I would find out where my focus is and how long it really takes to accomplish tasks . By tracking happiness, I could pinpoint the activities that bring me the most joy.

Track Time By The Minute

Over the last 75 days, I’ve tracked my time by the minute using a phone app called SaveMyTime (Android only). Every time I open my phone, the app prompts me for what I’ve been doing since I last opened my phone and then calculates my total time for each activity for every day. The app also bunches activities into customizable categories (I’ve got Productive, Wasted, Nuetral, Sleep, and Friends/Family). The app is great and includes all the features I wanted.

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So what was the take away of 108,000 minutes of continuous tracking? Not much. What was very evident was how unproductive I am with my time. I could give you exact  numbers, but I’m to embarrassed to share them.

I have tons of free time, and nearly complete flexibility, yet am not getting much done. I’d estimate that I’m currently working at 10% of my potential, meaning if I focused more, and increased effectiveness, I could get 10 times as many things done. I’d like to do better with Lethal Engineering, triathlon, and my business, but only seem to do well at one at a time, to the detriment of the others.

I mentioned in my Goal #27 and Goal #29 posts how productive I was when I woke up at 4:30 every morning and eliminated news, social media, YouTube and Netflix. The past 75 days, I’ve confirmed that I do waste a lot of time on those activities (several hours a day) and that by eliminating them not only could I free up that time, but improve my focus.

Track Happiness Every Couple of Hours

For this portion of the tracking I utilized an app called Daylio. The app prompts me every two hours from 8 am to 8 pm for a happiness rating of either Rad, Good, Meh, Bad, or Awful. I would have preferred a scale with greater resolution (like 1-10) as I only really ever used three of the moods (Rad, Good, and Meh).

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Tracking my happiness for 75 days, I was able to confirm that I am a generally happy person. Being productive with my work would yield a ‘good’ mood. Exercise instantly increase my happiness, usually to ‘rad’. Hanging out with friends and family was the easiest way to keep a consistent ‘good’ or ‘rad’ mood, as evidenced by the streak of ‘rad’ over Thanksgiving.

Takeaways

I’m most happy when I do things that I deem productive, rather than wasting time. So why don’t I do those productive activities more often? I’m not sure. I feel like I reach these little stopping points of anxiety, and rather than pushing through, I get distracted and move onto something entertaining that requires no work. That passive consumption is so easy and temporarily elicits the positive emotions I feel at the completion of difficult work.

I’ve trained myself to automatically reach for distractions whenever a feeling of anxiety or boredom arises. To fix this, I’m going to work on becoming more conscious of those moments and then work to break my automatic response to them. The idea being to sit with the uncomfortable feeling, rather than seeking immediate reprieve, and as a result, increase productivity and happiness.