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?