Thursday, March 3, 2016

In the deep end (again)

For the last year or so, I've talked about doing a triathlon.  Crossfit is too expensive here, I had been getting bored with running and I've realized that I need a goal in order to effectively work out.  I simply don't have the motivation to just work out regularly without a plan and a goal.  I don't push myself.

So, with the support of my wife (she bought me a nice bike for Christmas), I have begun training for a triathlon in June.  This week, I started my swim training in earnest by joining a "master's swim class" at the YMCA.  It is completely kicking my ass.  Although I learned how to swim as a kid and I know all the strokes, etc., my form is crap.

Frankly, I am embarrassed by my complete lack of skill in swimming.  It is WAY harder than I thought it would be.   I struggle with breathing, kicking and "pulling" (as I learned the part with your arms is called).  Not only am I relegated to the "slow lane" during the class, but I am also easily the slowest of the three guys in this lane.  I can barely swim 50 meters without needing a rest. It reminds me of how awful I was at running when I started.  I am still not a fast runner - I never will be - but I can run  5 miles if I need to.

To make matters worse, we swim A LOT.  When I was learning to run, my first race was a 5K.  During practice, I only ran that distance once or twice before the race.  I mistakenly assumed the same theory would apply to the swim in the triathlon.  For my tri, I have to swim 750 meters (30 lengths of the pool).  The WARM-UP at the first practice was 500 meters!  The total work out was 3400 meters.  I am limiting my workout to an hour, so I only did about 2200 meters. That is still three times the length of my race.

As bad as it has been (and it's been pretty bad), I just have to remember how it was when I started running and how it was when I started cross fit.  In both cases, I was by far the worst person doing this when I started.  But, over time, I improved (incrementally) and other worse people started up.  Improving my technique and building my endurance made it so I eventually wasn't the worst.  I assume and hope that will be the case again with swimming.

Additionally,  I went on a long bike ride (7 miles) a few weeks ago.  I could barely walk for 3 days, so we'll see how that goes.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


C was hit this weekend with a monster snow storm with around 20 inches of snow over two days.  I had to shovel 6 times and my car is still not out of the snowbank.  Work closed early on Friday - the whole city was shutdown over the weekend and work is closed again tomorrow.

Here are a few photos of the snow -
2:30 pm Friday - snow begins

4:30 pm Friday
6:30 pm Friday - after first shoveling
12:30 am Saturday - I've shoveled twice already
Saturday morning
Saturday morning - before shoveling
Our stairwell was a snow drift - Saturday morning before shoveling
Saturday morning from our bedroom
The dogs exploring the back yard
The aftermath on Sunday

The alley between our house and the neighbor's house - Sunday morning

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's goals 2016

As we wrap up an eventful and awesome 2015 and look forward to 2016, let's take a moment to reflect on last year's goals and set some new goals for next year.

2015 GOALS

  • Move in with my wife!!!!
    • It's pretty awesome living with your best friend.
  • Learn Arabic to the 1/1 level by end of year
    • Jack's arrival pushed back the start of Arabic from September until November.  I am making some progress and feel like it is going well, but I am probably not yet to a 1/1.
  • Go on an awesome honeymoon
    • We took our honeymoon to Cape Cod and Boston and it was awesome.
  • Weigh under 200 lbs by September 1 (about 2 lbs/month)
    • I met this goal over the summer.  Despite a few fluctuations here and there, I have stayed below 200 the rest of the year.
  • Complete at least one long race (over 10 miles)
    • I had planned to run the cherry blossom race last spring, but work issues forced me to delay my trip back to the U.S.  The baby's arrival has made it harder to prepare for and plan for a long race.
  • Complete a triathalon (short distance)
    • I didn't even get close to this one
  • Do a pull-up (or three)
    • I spent a lot of time working in Crossfit on this one in the first half of the year.  If I had stayed in Frankfurt and kept working out at Crossfit, I know I would have met this goal.  But, I didn't.  I managed to do pull-ups with bands, jumping pull-ups and negative pull-ups, but never managed a strict pull-up.
  • Visit family and friends on home leave
    • With trips to Phoenix, San Antonio, and Omaha, I met this goal
  • Become a football referee
    • Forgot about this and never even tried it.  Wouldn't have happened with Jack's arrival anyway.
  • Visit at least 3 new countries and 3 new states
    • I visited Greece and Luxembourg for the first time, in addition to return visits to Morocco, Austria, Netherlands, UK, France, and Italy.  I technically missed the mark on this one, but still pretty good.
    • Only new state this year was Massachusetts.
  • Watch at least two sunrises and two sunsets
    • and they were all fabulous
  • Use our wedding china at least three times
    • not even close. I don't think we used it once.
  • Read 15 books in 2015
    • By my count on good reads, I finished 14 books this year.
  • Get promoted at work
    • I was evaluated as promotable, but did not get promoted.  :(

For 2016, I am adding a new element to my annual tradition.  In addition to setting a goal for the year, I am choosing a word for 2016.  This word will serve as a mantra, a goal, a plan for the year.  A few possibilities I considered included "adventure", "family", "aspire", "fatherhood", "experience", "listen", "focus", and "stretch."  The word I decided on is "support."  We have lots of changes coming in the next year: crawling, talking, growing, eating, walking and more for Jack.  New jobs, new cities, new language, new roles for Sara and me.  Sara and Jack will be living abroad for the first time.  We will be new parents dealing with a growing child.  We have to move houses and make new friends.  Support will be key for all of us and I plan to make it my "word" for 2016.

As for the goals - 
  • Pass my Arabic exam with a 2/2 or better (I need a 2/1)
  • Move to Saudi Arabia
  • Train for and complete a triathlon before July (sprint triathlon)
  • Watch at least two sun rises and two sunsets
  • Weigh 175 lbs or less (losing about 20 more pounds)
  • Visit at least 3 new countries
  • Skype with Jacks grandparents once a week
  • Visit with Jacks grandparents at least twice
  • Post on this blog at least twice a month (this post counts for January)