Look Back: Goals 2016

At the beginning of this year, I set a few goals for myself. Unfortunately, I did not do a very good job of sticking to them this time! Last year, out of about 10, I completed or partially completed 8 of them. This year, well...you shall see! I found that this year I focused more on a few specific things in my life and a lot of the other little things went by the wayside. 

1. Run a 100 mile race. As much as I hate to say this yet again, this was one goal that I Did Not Complete. I signed up for the Silverheels 100 mile race in Colorado, where the course was from 10,000 feet to 12,500 feet. I got about 60 miles into it before I finally threw in the towel. This was after a lot of nausea and a very difficult time keeping food down, hence very little energy overall. However, I learned from my time in Colorado, and I am ready to try this goal again!! 

2. Run 2,000 miles / climb 250,000 ft elevation: Completed. Last year I ran about 1,800 miles and climbed about 250,000 feet, but my goal was to train smarter than last year, because last year I got injured, which put a damper on my running. Happily, I ran approximately 2,230 miles this year and according to Strava, I climbed 413,000 feet. I will take this with a grain of salt, as my weekly running partner did about 300,000 feet. However, I probably got about 100,000 feet more than him just by hiking in the Alps. So I will call it something between 300,000 - 400,000 feet. Total win.
3. Read 52 books. Completed. This year I read 72 books. I also did the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, which I will probably not do again next year. I found it fun to try new things but felt pressure to complete the categories and guilt if I read something that did not "count toward something". See this post for my favorites of 2016! 
4. Read 12 books from my own shelves. Did Not Complete. I ended up reading 3 books from my own shelves and throwing all three away. It's not great, but if I was a baseball player, I would have a better batting average than most pitchers. 
5. Ride my bike to work 2 times per week: Did Not Complete. According to Strava, I biked 134 miles for a total of 57 rides or 2.35 miles per ride. Before you say that it's not so bad because that's still over 1x per week, let me remind you that a "ride" to me is to AND from the BART station, which would be about 4 miles each day. So I probably rode to work 28 times, which is an average of about once every two weeks.
6. Practice my Spanish: Did Not Complete. My goal was to talk to a friend for at least 5 minutes once a week,  and to study and learn at least 100 new words per week. This is a goal that I didn't really even try to make happen. My running husband is from Mexico and he would happily talk to me in Spanish, but I didn't even try. Total fail.

7. Try new things: Partially Complete. (1) Visit 12 places that I have never been before. DONE (2) Learn one new recipe a week. Did Not Do. (3) Try 6 new things.  DONE (ate Polish food, went cycling in New York city, walked over a huge frozen lake, went to a jug band party, carried chairs down the streets of Brooklyn, ate at a three Michelin star restaurant [and many more!]).
 8. Spend less than I spent last year: Did Not Complete. This year, although I did not buy a house, I did buy a car and so my transportation category is way inflated over last year. In addition, paying all the household bills myself rather than splitting them like I did for part of the year last year probably increased the "bill" portion of my "home" category by at least twice as much. I will be posting my annual 2016 money pie very soon and will give a breakdown of how much each category increased/decreased from last year. 

As you can see, out of the eight goals I posted, I only completed two and partially completed one. Next year I will have to think about where I could improve upon achieving my goals. I think my biggest downfall this year is lack of planning, which is not normal for me! But, in the words of good old Benny F., "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." So true. First goal of 2017: be more structured in my planning! (Side note: If you haven't listened to this episode of Freakonomics about productivity, you should do it now!)

In case you think that I am a totally negative Nellie, fear not! I have a lot of things that I am proud of from this year! I installed a ceiling fan in my room, I did a ton of work in the backyard, I did a huge purge and Goodwill run (and got rid of a ton of books etc. in the process), I had a new 100k PR and beat my old 50 mile time for one difficult race (in the snow no less), I spent a lot of good times with my friends and family and I traveled to some fabulous places! However, those items are not as easy to quantify, but all in all, I would say it was a successful year.
Did you make goals in 2016? Which ones were difficult for you to obtain? Do you fail to plan or are you good at seeing things through? Did you have a successful year?


Best of 2016: Books

Wow, this year has really flown by and it's time again for the best of the best lists! I enjoy looking back at other people's prior year's lists as well as my own and seeing how things went in years past. So I can't pass it up this year and am looking forward to checking out everyone else's posts. As much as I love all lists, the best of lists for books are probably my favorites.

This year I read 71 books and I gave five of them five stars on Goodreads. They were:

Winter of the World by Ken Follett: This is book two in the Century Trilogy. The first is about WWI, the second takes the characters through WWII. He does a great job of introducing characters from different walks of life which gives you a lot of insight into what different sides and countries were going through during the war. I am looking forward to reading the third set of the series, although these books are a bit long, so I have to space them out a little!

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult: This was a great story of a girl working at a bakery who befriends an old man, who ends up being a former Nazi SS officer. To make it even worse, the girl's grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. This book was recommended to me years ago by Lisa and I am glad that I finally took her up on her suggestion!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: The first book in the Shades of Magic trilogy, this is a great step away from reality. The story takes you to several variations of London, some good, some bad, and is full of magic, kingdoms, good, evil and adventure.  The characters are likable and the second book in the series is also a lot of fun as well!

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly: Set in WWII, this is a story about three different girls, a doctor from Germany who ends up working at Ravensbruck, a Polish girl who ends up imprisoned in Ravensbruck and an American socialite who ends up entangled in the mix. I learned a lot about the horrors that happen in the camps that I hadn't really known much about before.

In addition to these, some of my other favorites were: Aristotle and Dante Discovery the Secrets of the Universe, Circling the Sun, Between the World and Me, Ready Player One, Homegoing and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. See other 4 star recommendations here.

I also participated in the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, which encourages people to try new types of books. I did not finish the list of 24 categories, but I had a lot of fun exploring new categories! Below is my list. Yellow are the ones I did not complete.

1 A horror book - The Terror
2 A nonfiction book about science
3 A collection of essays - A Manual for Cleaning Women
4 Read a book out loud to someone
5 A middle grade novel - Finding Someplace
6 A biography
7 A dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel - Ready Player One
8 A book originally published in the decade you were born
9 Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award - Euphoria
10 A book over 500 pages long - The Lake House
11 A book under 100 pages long - Holy the Firm
12 A book by or about a person that identifies as transgender
13 A book that is set in the Middle East - Prisoner of Tehrah
14 A book that is by an author from Southeast Asia
15 A book of historical fiction set before 1900 - The Taming of the Queen
16 The first book in a series by a person of color - Blanche on the Lam
17 A non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
18 A book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie
19 A nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes - Spinster
20 A book about religion - 1000 Lashes
21 A book about politics, in your country or another
22 A food memoir - Cleaved
23 A play - Death of a Salesman
24 A book with a main character that has a mental illness - Tender Points

How was your year of reading? What was your favorite book of 2016? Did you participate in any reading challenges this year? 


Looking Back: October & November

You know how sometimes you go into a motivation rabbit hole and you just can't climb back out into the light?  I have been going to work earlier than normal and it's dark all the time and a glass of wine and a movie has been sounding way more appealing than suiting up and going running. Not to say that nothing is getting done. I have been revamping the backyard, which is my excuse for not running on some days (cross training!) and there is a never-ending supply of leaves to be raked. And I've purged the closets again and again. And now it's December, the month of parties and friends and eating and merriment and although fun, it sometimes gets a little overwhelming! I look forward to January, when things quiet down and I get back into the running groove. Until then, here's what's been happening!

Running: In October, I ran 167  miles. I am actually surprised at this number, as I was sick for a couple of weeks and went home to visit my parents one weekend. In November I ran 125 miles, which doesn't surprise me, as I was sick (again!) and I had my Mom in town one weekend. My longest run was the Quad Dipsea (28 miles) and man was I sore afterward! As for the biking plan, it's pretty much gone out the window, as I got a flat and I have been lazy about fixing it! I need to get back on track with that for sure! However, I have already reached my 2,000 mile running goal for the year and have way overshot my 250,000 ft climbing goal (I have about 400,000 feet of climbing so far this year)!

Reading: In October and November, I read 5 books each month, the best being Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, which talks about aging and having too much stuff and life in general. It was a quick and easy read that, although I am not of the same age, I could relate to a lot of the author's tales. Otherwise, a lot of them were just so-so and I especially was not a fan of The Nest, which got great reviews or A Little Life, which was really depressing and just went on and on.

Travel: Having traveled a lot during the summer and then gone on vacation in September, October and November were more like decompression months, where I stayed home a lot and worked in the yard and/or around the house. I did get up to see my brother a couple of times in Santa Rosa, I went to visit my parents once and I took a couple of smaller trips to Auburn, Sacramento and Tahoe. I found a great video game arcade and bar in Sacramento that has all of the old games, like Donkey Kong and Mrs. Pac Man. Along with pizza and beer and the fact that the games still cost a quarter, it can't get much better than that!!

December is almost over and Christmas is nearly upon us! I hope that you and yours have a great time wherever you are and I will see you all next year!!

What do you like to do when the weather gets cold and its dark outside? What are your plans for the holidays?


Looking Back: September

For the past two Septembers, I have taken advantage of the fact that I get Labor day off, that the weather is still nice, and that the flights are a bit cheaper, and I have gone on my annual vacation. This year was no different In my line of work, I am actually required by law to take 10 business days off in a row. Fortunately, this has never been too much of a problem!

Since I was on vacation, I am going to switch this up and put the travel category first....

Travel: This year, my travels took me back to Europe, as I could not pass on the cheap Euro and the great deals on flights. I had my eye on heading back to Nepal to finally finish my Himalaya trek, but when I saw a great deal on United to Frankfurt, I knew that Nepal could wait another year. I flew to Germany, then did some hiking in the Stubai region of the Tyrolean Alps (Austria), the Dolomites (Italy) and the Bavarian Alps (Germany). In addition to lots and lots of hiking, I drank way too much wine and ate way too much good (read: carb loaded) foods!

Running: I ran about 180 miles, about 100 of which were mostly hiking in the Alps. Other than that, I did a couple of runs in Frankfurt and around the fields of the Bavarian Alps as well as some short runs while I was home.

Reading: In September, I read 5 books. Surprisingly, it was not more, as I traveled a lot. However, I also watched 5 movies on the plane ride home, so I didn't get a lot of reading done then. In addition, I ended up reading magazines, news and other items, so did not get as much book reading in as I normally would. The best book was Winter of the World, which is the Ken Follet Century trilogy. The first book was about WWI, this one was about WWII and there is a third, which I believe is about Vietnam, the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis. None of these books were mine; nor were they part of the BR Read Harder Challenge.

Lab Girl (3 stars)
The Kings Curse (4 stars)
A God in Ruins (3 stars)
Winter of the World (5 stars)
Everyone Brave is Forgiven (3 stars)

All in all, September was a great month. Now I just need to start planning my next vacation!

What was the highlight of your month of September? Where did you go for vacation this year?


Looking Back: July & August

I wrote the July portion of this post over a month ago and then it just sat in my drafts folder until today, when I was going to start an August post and....voila and oops, there it was!  SO this is going to be a combined belated effort! 

JulyJuly is one of those months that always flies by. It is usually full of summer outings, camping, family and fun. You just can't sit inside in July; in fact I can't even get any chores done, as there is so much fun stuff to do! Needless to say, my garden is a bramble and my fridge looks like a cross between Siberia and the Amazon (empty but tangled?) as I have not been home enough to care for it!

Running: In July, I ran about 240 miles. This was the month with the ramp up and the taper for my 100 mile race at the beginning of August. The first couple of weeks were 70 - 80 miles and the last couple of weeks were very little miles (40ish). In addition I had a week off where I went running almost every day, with the highest day being 40 miles, which was the Rae Lakes loop (beautiful).

Reading: Not surprisingly, this was not a good reading month for me. I read 4 books, but it was hard, as I was traveling with other people a lot, as well as training for my race. (Books are starred for RHC, bolded for my own).

Fangirl (3 stars)
Death of a Salesman (2 stars)*
City on Fire (3 stars)
Blanche on the Lam (2 stars)*

Travel: I had a great time in July! I went to Tahoe a couple of times, to Yosemite once and up to my parents neck of the woods for a family gathering. My favorite part was...everything!

August: August is usually full of birthdays and outings and trips, and this year was no exception!

Running: I attempted to run another 100 mile race, this time in Colorado, but once again, I did not finish. Due to this, I ran about 156 miles. This included 50 miles of Silverheels for myself and a pacing stint in Leadville, which was about 20 miles.

Reading: I only read three books and they were:

1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think (2 stars)*
The Doubters Almanac (3 stars)
A Darker Shade of Magic (5 stars)

Travel: I went to Colorado twice in August; as stated above, once for my own race and once to pace a friend in Leadville. I am not a huge fan of the Denver airport (or highway 70) but I became very familiar with it in August. In addition, I had one weekend where I stayed home (blissful) and one weekend where I went to visit my parents.

So there you have it, my summer in a nutshell. It is a bit late, but I think that just shows that it was fun!!

How was your summer? Are you ready for Fall? What was the favorite part of your summer?


Looking Back: June

Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/june.html
Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/june.html
Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January. Hal Borland
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/june.html
"Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January." -  Hal Borland

Running: June was a pretty good running month with a one week setback where I was sick so I laid off the miles during that week. However, I still managed to get three weeks with mileage around 60 miles, bringing my month's total to 235 miles with a total elevation gain of about 45,000 feet. I did no hiking and my cycling miles were puny = 1.7 miles. My Garmin has been on the fritz, so I am not totally tracking all of my data but so far my elevation gain for the year somewhere near 210,000 ft, which is well over my target for this time of the year. My mileage is also over target, but I do expect to have a slower and milder 2nd half of the year, running-wise.

Reading: In June, I read 6 books. None of them were really very good! I gave all of them 2 stars on Goodreads except for the last two, which I gave three. As before, starred books below are for the RHC and bolded ones are "owned" books. Total RHC books read so far = 12/24 ; total owned books read = 3/12.

In the Unlikely Event
Reminiscence of a Stock Operator
Holy the Firm*
The Disappeared
The Beautiful Mystery
After You

Travel: I actually stayed local two weekends this month, as plans fell through one of the weekends and I was sick on the other. However, the other two weekends were spent up in Tahoe: one in the north and one in the south. Both were beautiful, although running up there still involves a lot of snow scrambling, slipping and sliding and route finding, so runs are a lot more work than normal. One of the days we went on a 26 mile run/slog which ended up taking almost 10 hours, although only about 7 and a half of it was "moving" time. The rest of the time was spent route finding, map gawking and head scratching! However, the scenery was stunning, as you can see from the  Lake Aloha photos below.

Lake Aloha

Lake Aloha

My brother and I met up on one of the "local" weekends and did an anniversary Mt. Diablo hike. Three years ago, on almost the same day, we did a 14 mile run/hike and it was probably about 100 degrees that day. It was during the drought and some of the water fountains were turned off. We remember it as being hot and dry and dusty and unpleasant!! So, the other day I got this photo from Google:


So we decided to try it again! We went for a 12 mile hike and once again, El Diablo lived up to its name. It was hot and dry and dusty and we were so thirsty! How's that for two suckers! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Fool me twice, shame on me!


How have you been spending your long summer June days? It's mid-year: how are you doing on your yearly goals so far?


Looking Back: May

My favorite month of the year is over! I always like May, as it is springlike and jolly, plus it includes Mother's Day and my birthday! It also is the real kickoff of trail racing season, although here in the Bay Area things don't really slow down too much, even in the winter months.

Running: In May my totals were 215.6 miles running / 40,000 ft climbing, 6.6 miles hiking, and 5.36 miles cycling. So far, I am on track for my running mileage and climbing goals but I need to step up my cycling goal. The month of May involved two races, a 100k and a 50 mile race, which makes it easier to keep the mileage numbers up. However, soon I will need to ramp up even more in order to conquer the dreaded 100 mile race in August.

Silverstate 50M -- bit o' snow this year.

Reading: In May I read 6 books, which are listed below. None of them really wowed me, but my favorite of all of them was Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed, which was a bunch of different people's takes on why they decided not to have children. I think I would have read a lot more, but The Terror was almost 800 pages long! I also knocked 3 books off for the RHC and read two books from my own library (books I own in bold, star next to the ones that satisfy the Read Harder Challenge). So far my totals are 11/24 for RHC and 2/12 for reading my own books.

Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed (4/5)
How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others (3/5)
The Measure of a Lady (3/5)
Cleaving: A Story of Meat, Marriage and Obsession* (3/5)
Tender Points* (3/5)
The Terror* (3/5)

Travel: This month involved a few local trips. I went to Reno for a race, which ended up being a 9 hour drive due to snow conditions (on May 21!!). I also had a great time in Tahoe with friends, doing some snow running/hiking, swimming in Donner lake and eating our weight in hamburgers. Other than that, the only other travel has been near the Bay Area for race spectating and participating.

My friend KH -- snow running near Castle Peak.

Do you have a reading or running goal this year? What is your favorite place for a weekend getaway near you?


Quicksilver 100k

Last year I ran the Quicksilver (QS) 100k right in the middle of buying a house and therefore I just realized I never recapped the race. However, the short and dirty of it is: I ran, it was hot, I ended up getting a total time of 13:11.

This year, I decided to tackle the beast again. On my birthday. Happy birthday to me. My goal was to at least beat my time from last year, but I really wanted to try to break the 13 hour mark. Either way, if I made my goal, I would have a 100k PR. This race is a Western States qualifier and to qualify, you have to finish within 16 hours. Therefore my C goal was to just finish within 16 hours.

The good thing about 100k is that basically whatever pace per minute you are running will be the number of hours it will take you to finish. For example, if you want to finish in 13 hours, you have to run a 13 minute mile or faster. 

One of the things I have been doing in my training is to attempt to run the hills that I can run. There is a regular loop that I do with a friend and we have been trying to get faster and faster at the loop each time we do it. It's hard to pace yourself though; knowing when to run the ups and still have enough energy for the downs or the later miles is a bit of an experiment.

Mile 1 - 10: The race starts, of course, with an uphill, which whether good or bad in this case, was runnable as per the new training plan. It is a loop course with a series of out and backs. The first four miles is about a 1,100 ft. gain and I ran it at about an 11 minute pace, which was plenty ahead of my goal. The next few miles are rollers and then around mile 8 comes the long out and back (uphill) to Bald mountain. This out and back is great because you get to see everyone else. I noticed at this point that there was only one woman ahead of me and maybe about 15 other runners in total! My average pace at this point was about a 10:49/mi.

Mile 11 - 20:  11:19/mi average. As you can see above, this portion has a long downhill! But first, you have to do the Bald Mountain out and back. Afterward, you have a steep uphill to the Kennedy aid station and then it's the 6 mile long steep downhill. I still felt good up until about the second half of the long downhill, when my knees started to ache a little.

Mile 21 - 30: 13:35/mi average. The main part of this section is a long 6 mile uphill back to Kennedy aid station. One of the parts of the climb is called "dog meat" which is exactly how you feel when you reach that point. It was also getting hot and there is no tree cover, so this section is hot, plus I ran out of water before the top because I was so thirsty!

Mile 31 - 40: 11:42/mi average. This section is the final part of the first loop. It goes from Kennedy back down to the start line at Hacienda. It is a long but less steep downhill. This part was also bothering my knees and I was dreading the final downhills later in the race. When I got back down to the start line I had to do some blister control, I had a bite to eat and I was on my way again.

Mile 41 - 50: 14:40/mi average. From Hacienda there is a 3 mile section to get to the finish line, which is also the 42 mile mark. It is really hard to leave the aid station since there are already people done and they are sitting around eating and drinking beers and it is so tempting to stay. However, I headed back out after filling up with ice water and fruit. This section has a lot of windy single track, which is both uphill and down, neither of which were really that great. Also, it was hot. The only saving grace was the aid station that had popsicles, which I ate while I ran (running with popsicle?). However, my stomach was starting to get that feeling where you don't feel like eating, even though you know that you should.

Mile 51 - finish: 14:53/mi average. This section goes up, down, up, down, up and then there is a 3 mile downhill to the finish. The first up was slow but then you get to aid, where I ate some turkey sandwich and a bunch of grapes. The next up seemed like a long slog, but really wasn't too bad. However in the middle of this one, they make you do an out and back down a hill where you punch your bracelet and head back up before doing the last climb of the race. Then it's the popsicle aid station, where I did not stop for long before heading out and down to the finish. Right at the very end a friend of mine passed me and he ended up beating me by about 30 seconds. Darn it.

Total time: 12:55
Total elevation: 12,714 ft

Moving time: 12:30 (this means I spent about 25 minutes total at 12 aid stations, an average of about 2 minutes each)

The verdict? This is my second time doing this race and I will probably do it again. It is a great training race, as it has a lot of elevation gain, some very steep climbs and descents and it is usually hot. However, this is exactly why when I am running this race I sometimes wonder what the heck I was thinking when I signed up.

Where could I improve? I went out too fast. However, it's hard to go slow in the morning, when you are feeling fresh and it's not too hot, especially when you know it's going to be hot and you are going to be tired later no matter what. Time in the bank is good, but you don't want to end up slogging through the final miles like I did. The other thing I need to work on is a good hydration/nutrition plan, since I generally have no appetite, even though I know I need to eat and am sometimes even hungry (if that even makes sense). I also need to eat "early and often", which I do sometimes forget.

What races (or other fun outdoor activities) do you have on your schedule this summer? What's your favorite kind of Popsicle or other cool treat?


Looking Back: April

What's the saying about April? It it the one who goes in like a lion and out like a lamb? Or is it that April showers bring May flowers? The latter is probably more fitting, as it did rain a bit in April and now the days are sunny and bright and the tomatoes are starting to grow!

Running: April was a good month for running! I ended up doing a couple of really long weekend runs with some wicked elevation (one on Mt. Diablo was 25 miles with over 6,000 ft of gain) which helped achieve a total of 223.2 miles of running with 37,500 ft. of climbing. In addition, a couple of commutes plus riding around Brooklyn got me 39.6 miles of cycling with 1,300 ft of climbing. I also clocked one hike, which was 8.1 miles.

Reading: I feel like April was not a good reading month, probably due to the fact that I was often with people. However, once I checked I realized that I actually read 5 books, which is more than my goal of one per week! Here they are (starred ones are for the Read Harder Challenge):

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee -- 3 stars
The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel -- 3 stars
Finding Someplace by Denise Lewis Patrick* -- 3 stars
Spinster by Kate Bolick* -- 3 stars
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline* -- 4 stars

Travel: I actually did not travel that much in April, but I did have events each and every weekend. The first weekend I did some canning with a friend and some trail maintenance volunteer work in Pacifica. The weekend after that, I volunteered at a race, had dinner with my brother and friends in Santa Rosa, and then my parents came to visit and we had a nice dinner and a catch up. The weekend after that, I had breakfast with my grandma in Mill Valley and went to pace/cheer on a friend at a San Francisco race. Then I hosted Lisa and Phil and we had a great time gadding about the city, hiking, walking, going to a Giants game and just hanging out and chatting.

Marshall's Beach

View from Green Point

For the last part of the month I flew to New York and spent a couple of days in the office before heading over to Brooklyn to spend some time with friends. We rode bikes around the borough, drank beer, ran in the park and had lots of fun reliving the "good old days" when we were all traveling around Africa.

How was April for you? Did you travel? What book are you reading now?


Looking Back: March

March is the month of madness! I finally did my taxes (mostly), got a lot of stuff done in the yard/around the house and spent a lot of time with friends who I had not seen in a while. I am feeling like I need to schedule a couple of down days in April before the summer comes along and things get too crazy.

Running: This month I got back on the horse and logged about 215 miles of running with about 43,000 feet of climbing. In addition, I hiked 11 miles with an additional 2,700 ft of climbing. My strength training has been pitiful, and this month I logged none. However, I did do one day of plumbing work (digging and crawling and lifting) and two very physical days of gardening (moving rocks, digging, carrying dirt) and one less physical day of gardening (raking, pulling weeds, mowing with a push mower). I am calling this strength training, and in that case, I did it roughly once a week! On top of that, I cycled a little over 15 miles, which is about 4 round trip commutes.

Reading: This suffered a lot in March due to the fact that I was outside gardening or fixing plumbing or running. By the time that was all done, there was no brain power or time left over for reading! I ended up reading 4 books and setting two down that I could just not get into. The ones I read were as follows (stars on those that satisfy the RHC).

Between the World and Me
A Manual for Cleaning Women*
Prisoner of Tehran*
Orhan's Inheritance (would satisfy, but category already filled!)

Travel: Over Easter weekend, I was supposed to go to Ouray, CO and do some fun winter activities, but the day of my flight there was a huge snowstorm in CO and all flights were cancelled. So I took a camping trip to Yosemite instead! I also traveled up to see my brother and his girlfriend, and I helped them weed their garden, which was another day of strength training!

Mirror Lake

Tenaya Canyon

What was your favorite thing about March? What book are you reading this month? What everyday activities do you use as your strength training? 


One Man's Trash

I am always trying to get rid of things. I probably go through my closets once every month or two months and throw things away. When I moved into the new home and moved my old stuff out of storage last May, I tried to ge through each box as I unpacked it and to get rid of what I could then. I probably gave away a half a dozen bags full of stuff then. I definitely tried on all my clothes and threw away anything with holes, that was too small/big or that was completely not even close to my style anymore (huge Rage Against the Machine t-shirt....okay, actually I kept that to sleep in but I did give away the Nirvana shirt).

However, I somehow still have a ton of stuff and much of it is things that I have not worn for months or years, is expired or that was given to me by someone and just isn't something I would use (or that I need). So I decided to join Lisa in the February Purge Project. Her goal was to get rid of as many things each day as the number of the day that it was. For example, on the 1st, you give away one thing. On the 19th, you give away 19 things. And so on. That ends up adding up to 425 items. While you may think that there is no possible way you could get rid of 425 items, it is surprisingly easier than you would think!

So many old t-shirts!

I did not get it all done in February. I also did not really finish my sorting and purging (I still have the garage to go through! Ack!) However, I did get about halfway through, and in total so far, I have given away or thrown away 333 items. The majority of the things, unfortunately, are smaller things. For example, my biggest category was office supplies. Next biggest category was accessories. Here's the breakdown.

125 Office
73 Accessories
52 Home
43 Clothing
22 Books
18 Toiletries

I have to admit, I still have a lot of boxes from my move that I have not thoroughly gone through. When I began this purge, I started with a couple of them and either threw things away or put them in the Goodwill pile anything if I had not used in years or in many cases, if they no longer worked. For instance, I had so many old pens!

I will not read these again.

Doing this kind of thing takes time, especially when you are talking about some of the things that carry memories, as they are hard to give away. However, over the years I have become better about throwing or giving away things that I am not using or looking at or enjoying and probably never will. As much as I cherish that tchotchke that my grandmother gave me, I really don't need it and it will either sit in a box in my garage or it will just be another thing to dust on the shelves in my house.

I try to think about three things: Does it work/fit? Have I used it in the last 6 months (or year for certain items)? Is it worth passing on to someone at some point? The first two are easy, as they are quantitative. The last is not as easy and is where I often run into snags. The tchotchke is worthless to everyone but me, who associates it with a memory or a person. However, it sitting in a box is worthless as well. So why not enjoy it or give it to someone who may, whether they are a faceless Goodwill customer or a friend. So that is what I am trying to do.

Next up: the garage. I will have an update on that later!

Do you do a yearly or monthly purge? What strategies do you employ? How many dried out or non-functioning pens do you have? 


Friday Fun Day

Happy Friday everyone! I am glad this one has rolled around, as I feel as if this week has been a bit of a whirlwind. Here's to a calm Friday and a great weekend to boot!

The high of my week was installing a ceiling fan in my bedroom without electrocuting myself! I pretty much did it by myself with the help of a friend for the "brawn" portion of the task. I could not have held it up and installed it at the same time.

The low of my week was when tub decided to not drain. This has not been fixed yet and taking a shower has become of the ship variety (as short as possible!) as I try to avoid flooding the bathroom.

The past week's workouts consisted of two rainy 12 mile runs in the Marin headlands, one great long run in Point Reyes and a wet and wild and dark street run last night at the last minute (one that I wanted to flake out on). All my runs last week were with someone else, which is a new thing for me, and is one that is keeping me honest!

This week I am reading A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin. It satisfies my "collection of essays" category for the Read Harder challenge. I am not a huge fan of short stories and/or essay collections, but it is entertaining. However, I am getting through it a lot slower than I normally do.

This week I am listening to this Freakonomics podcast about what it would be like if restaurants went to the "no tipping" policy. They have actually implemented this in some San Francisco restaurants already.

The best money I spent was on a beer and a meal out on Tuesday night. If you have never tried this beer, you should, and if you are ever in Santa Rosa, you should check out the brewery too! They make excellent IPAs and sours!

Plans for the weekend include fixing my tub draining issue, working in the backyard to get everything ready for planting, spending time with my family (I have dragged them into the yard work duties), running and probably making a nice meal to celebrate the fact that the tub has been fixed (biggggg fingers crossed here).

How do you feel about the No Tipping policy? What are your weekend plans? What was the high of your week? 


Looking Back: February

This month felt shorter than normal! Ha. That was a joke... Really though, February did go by fast, but that is what happens when you are working on the weekdays and are active on the weekends!

Sunrise over lake Tahoe

Running: I felt like I did a lot of running in February, but I ended up with 84 miles of trail running, 50.5 miles of road running (including Jed Smith) and 4 miles on the treadmill for a total of 138.5 miles. I also had 9 miles of cycling, 20 miles of snowshoeing and 20 miles of skiing. This is not keeping in track with my yearly goals for either running or cycling, so I need to pick up the pace!

Reading: This month I only ended up reading three books, but all of them satisfied a category on the Read Harder Challenge.

The Taming of the Queen by Phillipa Gregory (4 stars)
Euphoria by Lily King (3 stars)
The Lake House by Kate Morton (4 stars)

Travel: In February, I went to Tahoe twice; the first time was with the family, where we went skiing and snowshoeing on the TRT and we watched the sun rise over the lake in the morning. The second time was with a group of running friends, where we trekked up a steep mountain the first day (to 10,000 ft) and over a frozen lake the next. Both trips were really cool and it was fun to get some winter cross training in at the same time!

Going down Round Top Mountain

In addition to all of the above, I also spent a lot of time digging in the yard. I am trying to get the backyard ready for spring and my to do list for that is quite long. I built a wall out of cinder block so that I can have a place to plant more stuff and now I need to set up the drip system and possibly build more raised beds. Each thing takes longer than expected, so of course, the going is slow.

The new wall. This corner is a work in progress! 

How was February for you!? Did it seem short to you? Have you started any spring projects yet?