January 31, 2011

Resolution check in

Here we are at the end of month number one. The specific January goal was to avoid alcohol except for the post-marathon celebration on the 23rd. As some sort of cosmic insult, there was no beer garden at the finish line, but we had a great time at the Sean & Marci BBQ.

As I mentioned before, there was no great hangover or disaster that prompted giving up the drink for a month. It was just another check to make sure that I can. I have done it for Lent a couple times before, and it turned out to be pretty easy this time around (which is a good sign in itself). There were nights of temptation when the roomies opened a bottle of wine with dinner, but it wasn't all that difficult to resist. Like other bad habits, drinking can be as much a habit as it is a desire, so it was nice to break the habit for a little while. Unfortunately, I don't feel any better physically or more well rested, but I did manage to drop five pounds without any extra effort.

The more general "would be nice to do" goals for the year have also been going relatively well. I have taken a picture each day so far, the pooch and I are taking much more regular walks together, and I have been spending less money and losing weight. Still need to work on that clutter and staying in better touch with friends.

Next up on the goal-a-month plan is to work out every day in February. I have been tossing around some sort of guidelines as to what constitutes a workout (3 mile run, 1/2 mile swim, etc), but I may leave it a little vague. If I can just get out and do something every day, it will be an improvement and the beginnings of a habit.

January 30, 2011

Definition(s) of crazy

I saw something the other day that reminded me of a scene from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams. The scene:

One day, after coming across a set of detailed instructions on a set of toothpicks, John Watson, distressed and fearing for the world's sanity, built The Asylum to put it in and help it get better.
"It seemed to me that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a package of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane."
His asylum was basically an inside-out house. He lived on the outside (inside) with his wife because they were sane. The rest of the world lived on the inside (outside) because they were not. He pitched tent on a beach in California and built four walls around himself. He then decorated his side of the walls to look like the outside of a house, complete with front door leading back in to the outside world. He named the house "The Asylum" and he continued to live blissfully on the one patch of the world outside of it.

And in case his resolve should ever weaken, he had a plaque placed above the door of The Asylum engraved with the words which had driven him out...

Hold stick near center of its length. 
Moisten pointed end in mouth. 
Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. 
Use gentle in-and-out motion.

What I saw was a similar indication that something has gone entirely sideways. I received this free packet of peaches at the finish line of the Carlsbad Marathon.


Nothing too weird here. Peaches packed in white grape and lemon juices, produced by Dole of Westlake Village, CA. Then I happened to look at the side of the package.


The peaches are from Greece, and they were packaged in Thailand before being shipped here to California. At minimum, this 4oz packet of peaches traveled 13,200 miles to be given to me for free. Of course they are not free in any real sense when you consider all the pollution it took to grow, manufacture and ship this tiny carton halfway around the world.

Anyway, it boggles my little mind that, even discounting the environmental costs, that this is the best or cheapest way to get food to our table. And if you're going to give away food, you could probably find more deserving people, less than 13,000 miles away.

Crazy.

January 29, 2011

Quote of the day

If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.
~Edith Wharton

January 28, 2011

The e-book is here to stay

Yes, it's finally happened. The digital book has overtaken the paper book on Amazon.com. And this time that isn't only true about hardcover books. Now we're talking paperbacks.
In reporting its latest earnings, Amazon said that it was selling more Kindle books than paperback books, though the score is still close. Since January 1, for every 100 paperback books Amazon sold, 115 Kindle books were sold. To top it off, the company says that since the beginning of the year it's sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books.
cnet story
When I heard that e-books were outselling hardbacks, I wasn't that surprised considering the economy. A$25 dollar book is a tougher sell these days. But I did not expect e-books to bypass paperbacks anytime soon. I figured the e-book, though growing in popularity, was still a niche item.

I have been reading a blog turned book called The Newbie's Guide to Publishing. It is interesting to see the author's change of perspective as time passes. He is a traditionally published author with several books in hardback and paperback. In his earlier posts, he discourages authors from self-publishing and dismisses e-books. As the Kindle and other e-readers gain in popularity, his tune changes. He has released several earlier books (previously rejected by brick-and-mortar publishers) exclusively for the Kindle. Many are outselling his traditionally published works. From what he can tell, the primary (only?) reason is price point.

He has no control over the pricing of the books under contract with his publisher. This is true of both the paper and electronic versions. The paperbacks are generally $7.99 and the Kindle versions are around $4.70. The ones he has control over vary in price from $.99 to $2.99. He has found that the e-books at the lower price not only sell more items, but actually produce more total revenue than the higher priced ones set by his publisher.

I have been reading up on this because I am considering releasing my novel as an e-book and maybe even a paperback. The jury (of one) is still out whether it is worth releasing on the world, but I did finish the first round of revisions yesterday. I have no real expectations, but it would be pretty cool if I could sell a few copies.

I was also an early nay-sayer on the e-book. I thought the tangible experience of reading a paper book was something that couldn't easily be replaced. But I love my Kindle. I don't think the paper book will ever disappear, but it appears the e-book has finally found a toehold in the market.

I have been getting my newspaper delivered to the Kindle for about two years now. It does not replace the physical newspaper as well as it does paperbacks, but it is still a good product. I did wake up to this though this morning:


This is the first time the "paper" has been late, and it actually showed up about 15 minutes later. I don't think any paperboy could boast only one late paper every two years. And of course it is never soaked with rain.

January 25, 2011

Best of

Best T-shirt I saw along the course. Puts "Just Do It" to shame.



Best sign along the course:

January 24, 2011

2011 Carlsbad Marathon

Every one of these marathons is a little different from the rest, and this was no exception. But it was also a bit of a flashback as well.

I would be running with Sean and Marci, just like I did at my first marathon finish. I spent the night at their house before the marathon, and we enjoyed a great pasta dinner while excitedly/nervously talking about the race the next day. I ran the whole way with Marci during my first finish, and I would be running alongside Sean the next day. I was really looking forward to the day, regardless of how it went.

I actually had a decent night's sleep before this marathon (about 6 1/2 hours). Where I usually toss and turn for an hour or two, I was able to read myself to sleep this time. Unfortunately, my alarm did not go off, so that extra half hour of sleep sent me scrambling around to get ready in time. We reached the start line a little late, but we did not have to fight the crowds like we normally do. The 1,500 marathoners took off an hour and a half before 8,500 people running the half, so there were no lines at the bag drop or the porta-potties.

We queued up in the starting chute about five minute before the gun and did our last minute stretching while the Star Spangled Banner rang out in the darkness. The race started at 6:00am, 50 minute before sunrise, so the start line seemed a bit more subdued than most. The three of us ran together for about the first mile, before we wished Marci a great race and Sean and I took off together.

After mile 2, the course joined highway 101. A nearly full moon shone as a beacon before the sky slowly brightened in shades of orange and pink. After passing through the small downtown area, we were out on the coast and the sounds of crashing waves drowned out the shoe strikes and heavy breathing of the runners. There was a high surf warning and a number of surfers were taking advantage of the large waves. At mile five we turned inland for a long grind of a climb that ended around mile 9. There were rolling hills along the coast, but this would be the big test of the day. We held a pretty steady pace and crested the hill with an average speed 3 seconds per mile faster than goal.

Right around mile 8, we saw our great support crew. It is a lot of work to support runners along a marathon route. Beyond the logistics of trying to catch several runners at different points of the course, this one included a very early wake up call to make the hour-long drive to the course. Along with Matt, Holly and Annabelle, our friend Kristy was a surprise guest to cheer us on. It is hard to describe what it means to see a friendly face along a marathon course, but when it is a complete surprise it gives you that much more of a boost.


After reaching the top of the hill, Sean and I upped the pace to put some time in the bank. Our support crew had crossed the street and cheered us on again while we were flying downhill. After another quick out-and-back, we rejoined the Coast Highway at mile 15. We also joined the half marathoners who had started an hour and a half after us. The runners that joined us were at about the 5 mile mark of their race, and they were flying by us. It was a little discouraging, but we tried to resist the temptation to keep up. They turned around a mile later, and the marathoners were by themselves again.

We headed south along the coast until the turnaround at the 18 mile mark. There was a short, but very steep hill at the turnaround, and it was pretty brutal on our tired legs. Looking over our time splits, it looks like we had built up almost six minutes in the bank to beat my last PR, but this is where we started to slow down.

We saw our support crew again at around miles 17 and 19. They did a great job of using the out-and-back portions of the route to see us twice by just crossing the street. We were still in good spirits by then, but their cheers really gave us a boost.



The out-and-backs were also great for us because we spotted Marci twice along the course.

After the turnaround, we had about six miles along to coast before turning inland for the two miles to the finish. We were both slowing down a bit, but not crashing at this point. There were a number of spectators along the Coast Highway to help us along. All of the runner's bibs had their names on them to help the spectators cheer us on, and several laughed as they shouted, "Go Sean! And the other Sean!"

At around the 20 mile mark, I felt a rock in my shoe. I first tried to ignore it, and then get it to move by shaking and flexing my shoe, but I finally had to pull over. I took off my shoe but could not find anything. I still felt it but did not want to stop again. I wasted a few more seconds stopping to loosen the laces, and then to retie them when they came loose. Not long after the fruitless search for the phantom rock, my IT band grew tight and my right knee began to hurt. I haven't had IT issues for a number of marathons, but would struggle against it for the last four or five miles in Carlsbad.

We rejoined the half marathoners again, and now we were running with people slower than us. The road was nicely roped off for a while, but eventually we had to dodge and weave around the slower runners. We were slowing down ourselves, so eventually it became less of a problem. The road had several rolling hills, and it became difficult to maintain a steady pace. We walked for the first time on a hill around mile 23, and Sean said "don't let me hold you back" for the second time. We had agreed ahead of time that if one of us was feeling stronger at the end, we wanted them to press on. When we reached the top of the hill, I was actually feeling pretty good after the walk break, so I took off on my own.

I ran on ahead, passing a few runners along the way, but after about a half mile that small burst of energy disappeared. I would struggle along for the last three miles, walking up portions of each hill that remained. The last mile included a short downhill and then a flat portion to the finish, so I was able to increase my pace to a stronger shuffle. I actually ran right at my goal pace for the last .2 miles to the finish line, so that felt pretty good. Matt, Holly and Kristy were just shy of the finish line, but we missed seeing each other. I was running on the opposite side of the road, and they had been looking for Sean's bright green shirt instead of my bland gray one.

I crossed the finish line in 3:52:13, a PR of just over a minute. Sean recovered from hitting his wall and then a bout of leg cramps to finish strong just 45 seconds behind me. Marci, after worrying that she would not finish because of painful knees, shaved more than two minutes off her own PR and finished in 4:24:53. The Carlsbad course was more hilly than Long Beach, and I was also a little less diligent about my training this time around. I said I would be happy to shave off a single second off my Long Beach time, so I am pretty happy to have shaved off 1:09.

About the only thing I could complain about was the lack of a beer garden at the finish (especially since this was my one drinking day of the month), but Sean and Marci hosted a wonderful BBQ back at their house. We swapped stories in the sun and enjoyed bottles of Sean's home-brewed beer.

It was another difficult but beautiful day. The weather was about perfect and the course along the ocean was gorgeous. I can't thank our support crew enough. It sounds like they had a pretty fun day, cheering on strangers while waiting for us to come by. Even Annabelle got into the action, waving her hands in the air and saying "WooHoo" just like everyone else. And it was great to spend the two days with Sean and Marci. Marci pushed me along to my first marathon finish, and now Sean has pushed me along to a new personal best.

January 23, 2011

6 am, Carlsbad. Marathon starts in 3, 2, 1...


The two Seans are actually going to be running together this morning, and the other Sean (Hawkins) has a Run Keeper profile where you can (hopefully) track us if you like. You can find us at this link.

Once at Sean's page, click on the 'Races' tab on the top bar. Then click on the 'Carlsbad Marathon' link and that should take you to the map of the race. From what I understand, our picture (from the Vegas Marathon) will show up on the route map to show where we are. The button on the lower right on the map should enlarge the map to screen size, and you can zoom in and out with the buttons in the upper left. Hopefully this will work a little better than the text message thingys have in the past. 

We take off at 6:00am and if all goes well, should be done sometime before 10:00am. Should be a beautiful day.

January 21, 2011

SQUIRREL!!

Today is apparently Squirrel Appreciation Day. A perfect day to watch UP. SQUIRREL!!

Happiness Index

From So Are You Happy, Seattle?
The dead of winter, in Seattle, during tough economic days doesn't seem the time or place to be poking around in people's psyches.
You may as well sit down for lunch at a nursing home and ask, "How's the food?" You're gonna get an earful.
But Sustainable Seattle Executive Director Laura Musikanski thinks it's "a great time" to ask people how happy they are.
"We're in a recovery phase," she told me the other day. "When you've hit rock bottom and you're ready to head back up, it's a great time to think, 'Well, maybe we'll do something different.' "
So the nonprofit is trying to gauge the smiles on our faces with The Seattle Area Happiness Initiative, which Musikanski says is the first such effort in the country.
The Happiness Index began in Bhutan back in 1972, and countries around the world are starting to look to this sort of index to put a finger on the pulse of their nation. Sustainable Seattle has put up a survey as part of the research, and the article included a link to the site. The survey asks questions in nine domains, or areas, including psychological well-being, physical health and social connection. I took the survey this afternoon, and was a little surprised at what I found.  My scores are below. As far as I can tell, the scores in bold take into account the numbers within the same section.

Satisfaction With Life score: 64
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 68

Positive Affect score: 57
Highest: 98  Lowest: 0  Median: 61

Overall Wellbeing score: 60
Highest: 99  Lowest: 0  Median: 65

---

Time Balance score: 50
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 43

---

Interpersonal Trust score: 83
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 67

Community Participation score 17
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 42

Social Support score 82
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 82

Social and Community Vitality score: 61
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 62

---

Health score: 52
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 67

---

Psychological Wellbeing score: 54
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 76

---

Material Wellbeing score: 54
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 69

---

Culture and Education Access score: 45
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 50

Inclusion score: 63
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 74

Cultural Vitality score: 54
Highest: 96  Lowest: 0  Median: 62

---

Confidence in Government score: 50
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 50

Institutional Confidence score 57
Highest: 97  Lowest: 0  Median: 47

Rights and Freedoms score 71
Highest: 100  Lowest: 0  Median: 71

Social and government Vitality score: 59
Highest: 95  Lowest: 0  Median: 56

---

Ecological Vitality score: 46
Highest: 92  Lowest: 0  Median: 50

From the survey results page: "In interpreting your scores, it is important to think of the scores relative to one another- which dimensions received higher scores and which received lower scores. This provides a general profile of the relative strengths and weaknesses of these factors in your own life."

I am not too surprised at the overall happiness score as I am still a work in progress after the last couple of years. The time balance score doesn't make much sense since I answered that I have more time than I need. The next section about trust and support seems dead on, but the health score is surprisingly low. None of the rest seem too out of whack.

It is always interesting to take these sorts of tests, regardless of the results. They make you answer difficult to quantify questions to try and put a score on a fuzzy concept like 'happiness'. It is certainly more detailed than the casual question you might respond to at a party. I am sure that most of us would respond to the casual question with a score higher than we really believe.

As the article points out, it is somewhat more valuable to see score averages for larger populations. It would be interesting to compare results from a few years back or in the future when the economy isn't as bleak, and compare winter to summer for those places prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (perfectly acronymed as SAD). And as the article's author commented (who also suggested Dry January), "Doesn't help that I'm at midlife and not drinking this month."

Interested in your score? The survey takes about 20 minutes. It asks for your zip code, so you won't throw off any Seattle results if you live elsewhere.

January 20, 2011

Cabin fever

No work this week, so I have had lots of time on my hands. I have tried to stay at home to avoid spending any money, and have made some decent progress on the novel's first edit. I also dug out an old video game (Thief) and have been spending (wasting) some hours on that as well. I haven't played any video games for the last five years, but for some reason thought about digging it out while I was writing the novel. I held it out as a carrot once NaNoWriMo was over, figuring I would waste some time on entertainment after putting in the all the hours during the month of writing. I forgot about it until this week, and it has been a lot of fun replaying the game after all these years.

But I was getting a little squirrelly this morning and needed to get outside. The weather has been ridiculously warm this week and I still haven't broken the mindset that I need to take advantage of it while I can (San Diego is of course perpetually sunny compared to Seattle). I decided to go to the zoo since my annual membership is still good until the end of April. I have been to the zoo three or four times already, but the place is so huge that I still haven't seen it all. Today I saw the Koalas and Giraffes for the first time, and stopped by to see the Meercats and the Otters because they are just so darn cute. I also saw a pen where jungle cats and dogs live in harmony.

All in all a great afternoon on the cheap. I even edited another chapter in the book, so that might buy me another hour playing Thief tonight.

Cats and dogs living together...mass hysteria...

January 17, 2011

Welcome back Marty!



As Mondays go, this will be a memorable one for longtime listeners of The Mountain: The old gang is back together.
Marty Riemer, who was summarily shown the door in September 2009 after 12 years at the alternative-rock station, then launched a successful podcast from the basement of his West Seattle home, is returning to The Mountain on Monday
(full story at link below).

Familiar radio voices are back on The Mountain

January 16, 2011

A long run with friends

The Carlsbad Marathon is a week away. I did my last long run of about 10 miles yesterday, and have only a couple 3 milers next week before race day. I showed up really tired at my last marathon, so I am trying to take it a little easier this time around. I had originally planned on a three week taper to rest up, but I fell behind in my training when I was back home in Washington.

So my peak long run was last weekend, and I did something a little different this time. I ran with my buddy Sean, and he suggested we run part of the marathon course. I have never run any part of a course ahead of time, and I don't even want to drive them if I can help it. For some reason, I always felt that if I saw the course ahead of time, I would psyche myself out. I always check out the elevation profile on paper, but I like to leave the in-person experience for race day.

We decided to run 20 miles together, and basically ran the course from the 3 mile mark to the 23 mile mark (so the finish line will still be a surprise!). Early and late, the course travels along the ocean on a road with a few small rolling hills, but there is a pretty significant hill halfway through the course. On paper, it looks pretty ugly, but fortunately it wasn't as bad in person.

We had near perfect weather, and I can only hope it will be the same a week from now. A 20 mile run is never easy, but it was certainly made more enjoyable by running with Sean. He is a faster runner than I am, so we don't get to run together very often. We did start together at the Surf City Marathon back in 2008, but the pace was too fast for me, and too slow for him. On Sunday, we ended up finishing the 20 miler right at my hopeful marathon pace. This is faster than recommended for your last long run, but we were just running by feel.

The time passed by quicker than normal as we chatted about every little thing. He did more of the talking because I was panting a little harder than him. When he mentioned this to his wife Marci, she mentioned that it was much the same when she and I ran together at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006.

On race day, we will be running separately at our own pace, but Sean, Marci and I will be at the start line together. It is going to be great!

January 13, 2011

Turning down the volume

Courtesy of Indexed

"To lower our voices would be a simple thing. In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of words ... from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds, from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading. We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another -- until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices."
~ Richard Nixon, in his first inaugural address.

January 11, 2011

Father and daughter



A cover of "Home" by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. You can't help but smile.

"Home is wherever I'm with you."

January 10, 2011

Toast of the day

(Watched Fiddler on the Roof last night)

To life, l'chaim! 
L'chaim, l'chaim, to life! 
A gift we seldom are wise enough 
Ever to prize enough, 
Drink l'chaim, to life! 
...
To life, to life, L'chai-im! 
L'chai-im, l'chai-im, to life! 
It gives you something to think about, 
Something to drink about, 
Drink l'chai-im, to life! l'chai-im! 
...
May all your futures be pleasant ones, 
Not like our present ones, 
Drink l'chai-im, to life!

January 9, 2011

Phantom hangover

"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."
~ Frank Sinatra
So it has been a little over a week without alcohol. It has been pretty easy so far, with no major cravings or temptations to speak of. Monday is my typical weigh-in morning, so I will find out tomorrow if it has made a difference on the scale.

The frustrating thing is that I feel no better in the mornings. If anything, I have felt a little worse this past week. Still exhausted even after a full night's sleep, and yesterday I woke up with nausea like I was hungover. About the only difference I have noticed so far is that I seem to be thrashing around a bit less in my sleep. The covers aren't as twisted up in the morning, so maybe I am sleeping deeper, but I sure don't feel the difference when the alarm goes off.

Hardly seems fair.

January 8, 2011

Picture of the day

And what a picture it is!


A 7-9 team beats the Super Bowl champs as an 11 point underdog.  First the Huskies and now the Seahawks. Incredible!

January 6, 2011

Resolution tips

click to enlarge

From the article: Three Ways to Make Change Easier in 2011

1. Do more of what’s working. People are wired to look at the negative. We like to analyze things that aren’t working and then try to fix them...Instead, flip that mindset and focus on the “bright spots”—that is, those times when things are working well. For instance, say you’re a parent trying to improve your relationship with an uncommunicative teenager...ask yourself: When was the last time we had a good conversation?

That conversation is your bright spot—it’s the evidence that it’s possible for things to work the way you’d like. What was different about that encounter? Maybe you were talking at a different time of day (late at night?), or you were in a new place (in the mall?), or you were talking about something you don’t usually discuss (heavy metal bands?). Identify what made that time different, and do more of it.

2. Set “action triggers.” Say you’ve been putting off going to the gym. So you declare to yourself: Tomorrow morning, right after I drop off Sarah at school, I’ll head straight there for my workout. Let’s call this mental plan an “action trigger.” You’ve made the decision to follow a certain plan (working out) when you encounter a certain trigger (the school’s front entrance, tomorrow morning).

...a group of patients in England, with an average age of 68 who were recovering from hip or knee replacement surgery. Some of them were asked to set action triggers for their recovery exercises—something like, “I’ll do my range-of-motion extensions every morning after I finish my first cup of coffee.” The other group did not receive any coaching on action triggers. The results were dramatic: Those patients who used action triggers recovered more than twice as fast...

Action triggers work so well because they allow us to avoid making tough decisions in the moment...we simply carry out the plan we created earlier.

3. Don’t be derailed by struggles.  To make a big change, you’ve got to expect some failure along the way. As the California Tobacco Control program says in one of its anti-smoking ads: “It took you years to learn how to smoke. How come you thought you’d be able to quit the first time?”

...So if you make a New Year’s resolution, and then slip up, then relax. What made you think you could change overnight? No one stops learning how to cook because they accidentally incinerate a chicken breast one night.

January 5, 2011

Picture of the day

I saw this out on the run on January 2nd. I don't know if this is some sort of after Christmas tradition, getting rid of old ties, but I thought they were put to good use.



UPDATE: Here is the story behind the ties. Thanks for the tip Team Kess!

January 4, 2011

New Year's resolutions

I don't think I made any specific New Year's resolutions last year, so in that respect I didn't fail to live up to any. In fact I looked back at the blog posts from last January, and it looks like I resolved to procrastinate (Nailed It!) I did decide to move down to San Diego last January, so maybe any goals were tied up under that heading.

But this year I am going to set more specific goals. I was out on a run December 30th when I decided to take on the Dry January goal I had read about a couple days earlier. As I ran, I decided that I would keep this monthly theme throughout the year. Each month I will take on a new challenge. By focusing on one thing at a time, I think I will have a better chance at success. Also, there is a built in ending point so I think it will be easier to wrap my head around the commitment.

January's goal is no alcohol except for the beer garden after the marathon. In February, I plan to work out every day. As I am feeling a little burned out on running, I will either run, bike, swim or go to the gym each day. If I commit to doing it every day, hopefully it will become a habit and I won't need a marathon on the calendar to pressure me to work out.

At this point, I think March's goal will be to write something everyday. I don't know if I will be ready to start another big project, so it may be a variety of things. Other future monthly goals may involve eating a piece of fruit everyday, giving up fast food, continuing not to smoke (OK that one's a cheat).

There are a few more generic things I would like to do in the new year. These include taking the dog to the beach more often, losing weight, tracking expenses more closely, spending less money, calling friends and family regularly, reducing clutter, etc. I am also planning on taking a picture every day. I probably won't post all that many, but just the exercise should put me more in tune with my surroundings.

I hope to accomplish several of the generic goals, but I am interested to take on the monthly challenge this year. I think the structure will help quite a bit, and of course it would be great to carry many of the goals beyond the 31 day limit.

Are there any good ones you are planning to do that I can add to my own list?

-----

UPDATE

Here is a list of the monthly resolutions I ended up doing in 2011

Jan - no alcohol
Feb - workout every day
Mar - write an hour every day
Apr - no fast food
May - no coffee
June - no tv
July - better food choices/lose 10#
Aug - meat only once a week
Sep - 30 minutes or less online
Oct - become a morning person
Nov - NaNoWriMo
Dec - Publish Share the Road

You can find recaps, struggles, and thoughts about each month here.

January 3, 2011

Dry January

From the Seattle Times article A Good Time to Dry Up by Nicole Brodeur
Nothing awful happened.
No near-misses or massive hangovers. No things I couldn't remember saying, or shouldn't have said at all.
I'd just like to have a Dry January. Not a drop of wine or beer. Not a single martini or glass of wine with dinner...
I'm not sure how it settled into my head. I have friends who have lost and won battles with the bottle, and there have been times when I have lost count of my cocktails.
It's just that my mind has been pausing on words like "exfoliate" and "vinyasa." I'm turning 50 in a few months, and thinking a lot about aging well. A clear head seems like a good place to start.
My friend, Kerri Harrop, has been having a Dry January for six or seven years...
The first week is always tough, Harrop said, because it forces you to see how much and how often you drink. Wine with dinner. Cocktails with friends. It adds up.
What's hardest is the urging of your peers to have a drink.
"They get so unsettled by you, they almost take offense," Harrop said.
As a result, she said, you will "instantly" lose weight. ("Ten pounds in booze, easy.")
...It also encourages the self-control required, he said, and the sense of achievement that can carry you through the year.
...One guy said he might try a Dry February, rather than January. February, he pointed out, has three fewer days.
But Harrop says stick with January, a quiet time for taking stock of what's ahead.
"I love Dry January; it's a real good thing," she said. "You sleep better, you wake up fresh, your mind is sharper, your jeans aren't so tight.
I have given up drinking for Lent a few times. Like the woman in the article, nothing specific happened then or now, but I like to take a break from drinking now and then, mostly to make sure that I can. I do remember that it was difficult at times, particularly in social situations. but enlightening and worthwhile.

So I am on board for Dry January this year. Well, a nearly dry January. I am allowing myself a visit to the beer garden after my marathon on the 23rd.

It is good to have a gut check once in a while, and I could definitely use the help in losing the pounds I put on during the last two weeks of indulgence. And the discipline habit might help me achieve my other New Year's goals.

January 2, 2011

Year in Review

Time once again to tally up the miles and reflect on how the last year of running and biking went. So the numbers from this year compared to last year:

Running
2010 928 miles
2009 613 miles

Biking
2010 106 miles
2009 1245 miles

Swimming
2010 5.4 miles
2009 .5 mile

So, I had my biggest year in running, but I am pretty embarrassed about the biking number. It seems there wasn't much point in dragging my bike down to San Diego. It just sits in the corner silently mocking me. That needs to change this year.

On the racing side of things, things went pretty well. I participated in five events and set a personal best in four of them. I knocked down my half and full marathon times, and improved my 5k time twice. But I am getting burned out on running.

It seems like as soon as I run a marathon, I start training for another. The weekends get filled up with longer and longer runs, and since I am training for a marathon, it is easier to let the biking slide. I have a marathon in three weeks, and after that I think I am going to take a break. I'll still run, just not train for a while.

I still want to do a triathlon, and this is the year dammit (he says again in January).

January 1, 2011

Another New Year

Without any real planning, we did the same thing to ring in the New Year for 2011 as we did for 2010. Rut or tradition?

For about a decade, I was in the same place every New Year's Eve. Back when I was waiting tables at The Keg, almost no one got that day off. It was a surprisingly busy day at the restaurant, as many people either stopped in for dinner before heading to a party, or dinner out was their New Year's celebration. Many of my friends worked at The Keg as well, and as soon as we were off work we headed into the bar. The Keg was one of the rare restaurants that allowed their staff to drink in the bar. Smart financial move on their part.

Our spouses or significant others would come in a couple hours before midnight and stake out a few tables in the bar. As things slowed down in the restaurant, servers would be released one by one, and the group in the bar would grow. Fortunately, most of us would make it in before the ball dropped at midnight, and it always ended up being a great evening. Even friends that didn't work at the restaurant would join us there.

On paper, it sounds kind of crummy to spend New Year's Eve at work, but by the end of the night I was hanging out with most all of my friends. It was great.

I didn't move to San Diego until February last year, but was down for a visit over New Year's. Matt and Holly had some folks over to the house, and we had a mellow but fun time. The next morning, Matt, Holly, Kristy and I went out to breakfast to Tower Two and then went on to Dog Beach. The dogs chased a ball and romped in the surf.

And this year, it was pretty much the same thing. We stayed at the house and didn't invite anyone besides Kristy (and her dog), so New Year's Eve was even more quiet. But we started off the New Year the same way with breakfast and a trip to Dog Beach. This year my own pooch was along, so it was even better.










So New Year's Eve wasn't as exciting as it used to be, but New Year's Day spent on a beach without a raging hangover is big improvement. Rut or tradition? Who cares.

More good photos here.