Tuesday, January 9, 2018

100-Day Challenge, Milestone 3

It really was going so well. Despite back to back Fridays that fell short of my 10,000 steps goal, I was running *and* getting my steps almost all of the time. And even though I had missed 3 days of the "10K Every Day" part, I felt like we were in the home stretch, and I would be able to achieve this crazy thing.

And then my hip started to hurt. That's okay, hell, that was even expected. So, okay, I'll get my steps.

And then I got sick. Not deathly ill or anything -- just a good old-fashioned cold, the likes of which I hadn't had in a couple of years.

I got sick on 12/31, and only got 3334 steps in. I rallied on 1/1, and then missed again on 1/2 … though at least I did get 7810 steps. Another rally on 1/3… and then another miss on 1/4, but again I had a decent day with 8250 steps.

Then another miss, on 1/5, with just 2315 -- the fewest steps I had taken in months. Back up on 1/6 … and then back down on 1/7 (3354! Ouch!).

A combination of feeling ill, rainy cold weather on many of the days, not wanting to go out in said weather on those days, and plain laziness are the culprits.

However … I'm happy to say that I didn't drop the entire challenge just because I went through a bad patch. And even on the days I didn't get my steps, I didn't always just give up completely and resign myself to the couch. I mean, on 1/2 and 1/4 I got within a couple of thousand. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

So we've got just over a week until the end of the challenge -- I'll check in again then.

Friday, December 15, 2017

101 things in 1001 days, take 2

Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash
A few years ago Wil and I started a project I'd seen on someone else's blog: 101 things in 1001 days. I'll be honest – I didn't do all that many of the tasks. Being generous – that is, expanding the end date from 5/29/2017 to 11/30/2017 – I completed just 43 out of 101 tasks.

I divided the tasks by theme – unsurprisingly, some themes were more successful than others. "Culture Vulture" was a rousing success, with 4/5 tasks completed. "Blogginess" and "Craftiness" were more mediocre, with 8/17 and 10/18 respectively. And "Fitnecessity"? A dismal 2/18. Ouch.

It was so demoralizing that I didn't even write up a summary post back in May.

But recently I've been doing a "100-Day Challenge" my friend Tony turned me on to. And, well, it's been great. I've gotten my steps 57/58 days so far, and kept up my running. So I'm feeling pretty good. Good enough to want to try the 101 things in 1001 days project again, starting on January 1, 2018 and running through September 27, 2020.

I've learned from my previous project: don't schedule a task that would take all 1001 days to complete. There are no recurring monthly tasks – "Cook a new recipe / month" makes it really easy to fail, while  "Cook 10 new recipes" is doable. Some tasks not completed the first time around are included here again. Maybe now I'll get our wills done. Maybe.

I promise to do check-ins on the following dates:
9/8/2018 – 250 days
5/16/2019 – 500 days
1/21/2020 – 750 days
9/27/2020 – the end!

See my updated task list here. And wish me luck, starting on January 1, 2018!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

C25K W5R3

Just a very quick post to say that this morning Wil and I went to Green Lake for our run. See, today was Week 5 Run 3 of the NHS Couch to 5K plan ... which meant that we did a huge jump and ran 20 minutes non-stop -- and the previous longest single run was 8 minutes. 

I wanted to go to Green Lake so that I didn't have to think, to plan, to wait for traffic -- I could just trot along on a relatively flat surface. And though it was drizzling turing the first few minutes, it actually cleared up a little as we ran.

We started with the usual 5-minute warmup walk. Then the first 10 minutes of running felt hard -- I was relieved when "Laura" (the podcast host) said we were at halfway through. I felt surprised, however, when she said we were at 15 minutes -- I think I was finally warm and loose at that point.  And then I was happy to hear "just 2 minutes left", and really pleased and more than a little tired when we finished.

Then we did our 5-minute cool down walk, and then extended that a tiny bit so Wil could hit 3 miles on his GPS. Twenty minutes! Nonstop! I'm really pleased to be making progress. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

The 100-Day Challenge

On October 5 my friend Tony Dubose posted a link on his FB timeline. The header? "Imagine How You'll Feel on January 18 (If You Start a 100-Day Challenge on October 10)".

I was intrigued – you know how I love a project. So I clicked through to Bill Murphy Jr.'s article from Inc. magazine and read this pull quote:
There are 100 days between October 10 and January 18. What if you decided to change something big during that time? 
The idea is simple. 100 days is long enough to accomplish something big, but short enough to discourage procrastination. And I have things I want to accomplish!

I decided to focus on one thing – increasing my chances of success by decreasing my tendency to get discouraged when I try to do too much at once. And the thing I have really felt has been missing from my life? Running.

It's weird – when we started running all those years ago, it took me a while to feel like a "Real Runner". But then I embraced it. It became part of who I was. Oddly enough, when I went to work for a running shoe company, I felt LESS like a "Real Runner" – I felt like I wasn't fast enough to be legitimate, a feeling reinforced by some of my colleagues who would say things like "Oprah didn't RUN a marathon… she COMPLETED a marathon. Anyone who takes that long to finish isn't RUNNING." Mind you, Oprah famously ran the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon in 4 hours, 29 minutes … a good hour faster than I've ever run a marathon. It didn't *stop* me from running – hell, I ran a lot of half marathons during my time there – but it definitely made me feel like I wasn't a Real Runner.

And then when I left the running company – when I thought I would be able to re-gain my runner self – I hurt my hip. Not running, amusingly enough – in an overeager attempt to do squats and lunges at boot camp. With the Kilimanjaro climb looming I decided to stop running and just do my PT exercises and walk and hike to train. I didn't want to hurt my hip and risk being able to climb at all.

But now that we're back I really wanted to get back to running – to being more active every day, not just when hiking. So the 100-day challenge is perfect.

I set as my 100-day goal to be able to run for an hour, without stopping, at the end of 100 days. Note that it's not a distance goal -- it's a time goal. As part of the goal, I decided to spend the first weeks following the NHS Couch to 5K program. And then, when that ends after 9 weeks,  and I am running for 30 minutes nonstop, I'll just keep building slowly by adding 2 or 3 minutes of running to each run. I feel good about this goal.

HOWEVER, because I'm being very sensitive to my gimpy, old-lady knee, I wanted to have a backup goal. If I had to stop running because I got hurt, I would at least make sure that I got 10,000 steps per day for 96 out of the 100 days. This was, in many ways, the more ambitious goal: since going back to work I rarely get my steps in. I have become weirdly sedentary. In fact, I looked back and in the weeks leading up to the challenge I only hit my step goals once or twice per week, usually on the weekend. Grim.

Here are my step totals for the month before the challenge, September 10 - October 9:

It doesn't look too bad in the early part of that month ... until one remembers that we were on vacation in Africa until September 21.

Thursday 11/9 was the first milestone day -- 30 days into the challenge. I had set my milestone goals as follows: having completed run 2 of week 5 of the Couch to 5K program, and having hit my steps 29 out of 30 days. I'm super pleased to say that I have done both!

Here are my daily step totals for the first 30 days of the challenge, October 10 - November 9:

Yeah, there's one day where I didn't come close: November 3. But I felt like it was a conscious decision that day not to push it, and I was okay with that.

The challenge has served as extra motivation -- I don't want to slip up; and I want to see how I keep progressing. Compare the week before and the week after the start of the challenge, October 3 - 17:

I've been making sure to get my runs in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually running at work, either on the treadmill or braving the roads of Woodinville. And on the weekend I get to run with Wil. And to get my steps in, I've been trying to move more at work, and then we go for walks in the evening. And it's not just because I want to keep earning stickers...

Big stickers = runs; small stickers = hitting my step goal.
There's still a long way to go -- lots of minutes to run, and lots of steps to get. But I still feel motivated and excited to keep going. Okay, maybe it is just stickers...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Zanzibar doors

I wrote about Zanzibar doors back in 2016 ... and I don't think I understood just how prevalent these intricately carved doors are in Stone Town, and how much pleasure I got from seeing them. And to be clear, these doors aren't just on preserved houses, or on museums -- these doors are still used and locked every day.

Doors were traditionally the first part of a new house to be built. And the bigger / the more elaborately carved the door, the greater the wealth and status of the house's owner.

Older doors reflect an Arab influence, with geometric designs. Doors dating from the late 19th century, however, reflect an Indian influence. Many doors are fitted with brass spikes, which may be a modification of the Indian practice of studding doors with iron spikes to fend off the attacks by war elephants. (Apparently, when Marco Polo visited Zanzibar in the 13th century, he wrote that the island had "elephant in plenty". Pity there are none left.)

The remaining doors in Stone Town date primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries and are maintained by the Stone Town Conservation and Development Authority.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger versions of these images.


Monday, November 6, 2017

African Adventures 2017

It has taken me longer to write about our trip than it took us to live it. Maybe because it still feels like three distinct trips. It also surprises me that it all fit in one little Poppin notebook.

And, though I don't think this picture is testament to the fact, the edges of the pages where we were on Kilimanjaro have a distinct dingy brown hue.

It feels like we really did go on three distinct adventures. First and foremost, of course, was our Kilimanjaro climb.

Then our amazing safari in Kenya.

There's a lot to read -- and lots of pretty pictures too. Frankly, I don't expect anyone to get all the way through it. But I'm happy to have recorded it here in this blog. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday, October 8, 2017

African Safari 2017

Where can you see LIONS? Only in KENYA!!! After our amazing Kilimanjaro climb; our group headed to Kenya to spend a week on safari... and it was spectacular.

September 4: We crossed the border into Kenya, created the Best Van Ever, and went on our first game drive in Amboseli National Park.

September 9: We spent all day on a game drive in the Maasai Mara. We rescued a stuck van, poured cold water on a frisky zebra and his lady friends (oops), saw a leopard, and, of course, MORE LIONS. 

We put in a lot of hours with our driver, Njaguna, and the fellow members of the Best Van Ever ... so thankful for all of them! Thanks for singing all the parts of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". Thanks for joining in the Best Van Ever chants. Thanks for dancing at gas stations. Thanks for insisting that we sang "I Will Survive" with feeling. Thanks for all of it.

Gretchen, Julie, Liz, Njaguna, Wil, Sunny, Tony... and Liberty #6, the Best Van Ever!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Kilimanjaro Climb 2017

It's hard to believe that we've been home for over a week ... even harder to believe that it was a MONTH ago that we were here:

I've been typing up my journal and sifting through our 2000+ photos for the blog, but it's pretty slow going.

I have, however finished writing up each day of the climb. So sit back, grab "kikombe cha chai" (a cup of tea) and climb with us:

August 23: First we had to get to Africa. And to do that, we had to spend a night in Canada. (Eh?)

August 24-25: Then we spent the better part of TWO DAYS getting to Tanzania. Along the way we flew across the Atlantic, felt trapped in a featureless departures lounge, and ate a lot of airplane food.

August 26: Then we explored the town of Moshi and met the local wildlife. 

August 27: On Sunday we had our pre-climb meeting, packed for the climb, and went into Moshi to poke around the abandoned railway station. 

Then it was finally time for us to start the climb itself.

September 1: Summit day!

If this had been all we did in Africa, I still think it would have been worth it. We challenged ourselves -- summit day was the hardest single-day thing I've ever done. We met a great group of people and cheered each other on. We saw beautiful places. and we reached the roof of Africa. Sometimes I still can't believe it. 

Next up: safari in Kenya!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

We're baaaaaaaack!

Arrived home safely from our grand adventure a few days ago. We're still reeling from all of our experiences, the people we've met, the places we've seen, the things we've done.

You'll be unsurprised to hear that I kept a journal while we were traveling; one that's amusingly filthy on the edges of the pages from the Kili climb. I will slowly but surely write up our adventures, and backdate the blog posts to the days things happened. It'll be like time travel. Or something. And, never fear, I'll put up an omnibus post with links to all the days.

But for now, we're relaxing at home, holding on to our vacation glow, cuddling our little lions, drinking water STRAIGHT FROM THE TAP, and being thankful for all we have. More soon, I promise.