Reflections

The Why of What We Do

Whether it’s a day of commitment, celebration, or renewal, let’s welcome the new year!

Taking Time to Reflect

For all of my Asian-extra-large, American-small life, I’ve always been told that I don’t need to lose weight in the States and then get sneered and stared at abroad. Even when I did Biggest Loser earlier this year, I was told I didn’t need to lose weight. Fact of the matter is, I could live a healthier life.

Playing the Long Game

It’s not so much about losing weight as it is about being able to do what I want to do. 

My friend who’s played volleyball for the longest time just learned that he has knee arthritis. I’ve heard from others how their bodies are starting to break down. Even I have trouble standing for more than an hour, though I suspect that’s temporary due to sleeping on an unsupported surface.

Nevertheless, if I want to continue running, I have to continue… well, running.

Chipping Away at Life-Long Beliefs

As a kid, I knew I wasn’t that strong. I would try to do a pushup, and I’d never quite make it to the bottom. Later my lower back was an excuse for not trying at all. Now I know better. I can do a pushup, but I do need to work at it. I’m not asking too much of myself — it’s a life-long belief after all. 100 pushups a day means simply working at it whenever I can. If I can reach the point of doing them all consecutively, all the more power to me.

Listening to the Powers that Be

If there’s an infographic about something, it must be true — not really, but it’s generally taken this way. Anyhow, here’s why clutter sucks.

The Countdown Starts Now

Happy new year’s everyone! Hope you make do on your promises, commitments, resolutions, what have you—

You may run, walk stumble, drive or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.
—Gloria Gaither

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Reflections, Resolutions

Resolution Thursdays: Quest for Redemption in 2018

My one word for this year was rituals. And did I stick to it? Like many others, I did not. Hence, redemption.

What’s In Store for 2018?

100 pushups a day

I have an archenemy named Push Push, with whom I have a push-pull relationship. If I could do one pushup in good form, I’d be on cloud nine. At this time, I’m going to strengthen my upper body by doing pushups on my knees.

Running/walking 2018 miles

If I’m going to cancel my gym membership and run the Boston marathon next year, I may as well continue the running routine even afterwards (given the cost it takes to run the marathon, it may as well be my gym membership). That’s about 38 miles a week or 5.5 miles a day — some of which I’ll walk off.

Declutter my space

I have books and papers that, albeit neatly stacked and hidden, is taking up space. I have clothes I need to either alter, sell, or donate. I also have a desktop full of icons and getting to Inbox Zero will take time.  If anything, I don’t want to add too much more. unless it truly sparks joy per Marie Kondo.

What’s Different This Time Around?

I already left the gym, a crutch of sorts, so there’s no turning back on that.  I have an official entry to the Boston Marathon. Checking in via this blog might do me some good. And I know I’ll eventually move into a smaller space in the future. It’s what stopped me from purchasing a 75% off life-size King Penguin with its baby plush doll today. That in itself is a lovely Christmas gift to myself.

Why Thursdays?

Resolution starts with an ‘R’ and so does the one-letter abbreviated version of Thursday. And that’s how Resolution Thursday started.

Discipline is remembering what you want.
— David Campbell

Reflections, Running

Finding the Right Running Club

Setting Myself Up for Success

Now that I know I’m working towards running the 122nd Boston Marathon, I’m getting into the habit of running and training regularly. I was starting to run more anyway since cancelling my gym membership earlier this month. Of course, a little motivation (aka peer pressure) couldn’t hurt either.

Midnight Runners

I joined the Midnight Runners last time out of convenience. Looking back, it does say on their website that runners usually run 6:30-9:30 minute miles. I guess that explains why I was behind the pack.

All I remember is warmups, a team huddle, some chants and shouting, someone running with a boom box on his back, one of the crew members having a hard time finding/trailing where the rest of the runners were, bootcamp stops, and high fives at the end, and lots of photo opportunities and videos along the way. Maybe it was the setup of the event itself — since it wasn’t a regular 10K bootcamp — but if I had run off on my own (maybe take a wrong turn), no one would’ve known. If you can keep up, it’s an energizing group to be a part of.

Life Time Run

This time I went with Life Time Run. Admittedly, I was a bit biased because of the shocking price tag of their monthly gym membership when they first opened (for loyalty membership requiring a 12-month commitment, it was $149/month with a $69 enrollment fee (already reduced from $129). That’s a sinkhole of $1788 a year without the initial enrollment. While I’m biased, I’m also open.

The running coach had left runners a box of some homemade chocolates filled with a motley mixture of peanut butter, toffee, cashews, and more — how sweet. There were a number of seasoned runners that I couldn’t keep up with eventually, and there was someone at the end who caught up to me in time to explain where the split was. She even offered me her flashlight since I wasn’t prepared to run in the dark — this had only occurred to me during the run. We also chatted a bit about prepping for the marathon. Maybe it was winter, but I didn’t really feel as if I connected with anyone. We took a picture at the very end, as I’m sure they want to promote on Facebook to recruit more members.

Marathon Sports Run Club

I ran with Marathon Sports’ run club because I had some free time and because I wanted to check out what it’d take to get some free swag. The quick and dirty version is 10 runs = $25.

When I signed in, I noticed that everyone wrote down how many miles they would run. Someone then kindly explained to me that they have specific routes for running  8.7, 8, 5.5, 4.5, and 3.5 miles, so it depends on how far I want to run that day. The club made sure that I was paired with someone, and my running partner John matched my pace and was kind to offer to walk with me if I needed to. I was never alone. What’s more, the store provided me the a reflective vest (bunch of straps?) so that I can be seen at night.

The people there certainly have a great sense of humor, and I happened to join on their santa/yankee swap night with food and festivities after the run. For first impressions, even without the post-run event, they seem to be a great bunch.

Peer Pressure — It Works

In both cases, I ran a lot more quickly than I would on my own. Compare less than 10 minutes to my usual 12+ minutes. For someone like me who’s a laid back casual runner, I’m grateful to be part of a group that can push my limits — and it’s all free(!).

In the Beginning Was

…the Greater Framingham Running Club. I’m finding that running clubs are social clubs with unspoken rules — that is, there’s such a thing as a running culture. One major difference with being a due-paying club member here is that we run on a track field or up a hill repeatedly. Because I don’t have to catch up to anyone, there isn’t much accountability beyond showing up (which is half the battle already). The club will help keep me running regularly, but I’ll also need to figure out how to bring my A-game. In any case, I have them to thank for my invitation. I’ll be sure to pay it forward—

In a Nutshell

Finding the right running club is like finding the right shrink. Do some research, have a test run, and stick with what feels right.

The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.
— Richard Bach

Reflections

Running By Necessity — A Traffic Jam in Retrospect

Observation Sparks Curiosity

I was in Boston trying to find parking, and one of the first things I noticed was that a bus was traveling on a residential street it normally doesn’t. On a three-lane one way street with cars merging in from the intersection, I turned left onto this street — and could only stay in the left lane. Something happened, but what?

Calm and Collected Because It Pays To Be Early

In any case, I need to park. But first I’ll need to get out of this gridlock. I had to park about 10 blocks away from where I normally do. While I’m running later than expected, at least I have some buffer time so that I’m not stressing out in bumper to bumper traffic.

Glancing Elsewhere While Others Cannot Stop Staring

I was trying to cross a bridge but the street right before the bridge was sectioned off with police tape. I remember seeing a truck on the street and a few people staring at it. Others were starting to crowd in to take a look, and I heard someone say, “You can’t cross the road here.” I didn’t see anything notable, so I shifted gears to finding a way to get across.

In retrospect, because I was focused on my goal to cross the bridge, I might’ve missed what people had been staring so intently at.

Reality Sinks In — OMG

I learned an hour later that a pedestrian was killed by a truck at the bridge I couldn’t cross. The police officer explained how people just fly down this road and gave her attitude when she asked them to not block the intersection. There’s a school on the other side of the bridge, so a lot people — many kids no doubt — also cross here. A passerby even commented that, before she knew about this, she thought it was great there wasn’t any traffic on the road. I don’t know why she mentioned it, but maybe nervousness is her version of my loss for words.

At the same time, I’m sure a number of drivers have thought worse. After all, it wasn’t a typical rush-hour traffic jam.

Be Careful Out There

I see people running out in roads all the time. Hey, even I do it. I don’t know about you, but I often gauge whether I can run across the street before the car reaches me. Is the chance worth it? It’s a reminder to stick to lights when I can — while exercising good judgment with making sure cars stop first. Just because the light is red, it doesn’t mean a car stops.

Artists can color the sky red because they know that it is blue.
— Jules Feiffer

Failure, Reflections

What Can We Learn from Failure?

Life Still Goes On

I failed to keep this blog going not just once, but twice. It might not be as apparent because I deleted several initial posts. I felt ashamed that I was so gung ho about keeping up the blog, yet I never committed to it. This time is no different, except that there’s no shame in picking myself back up. Fall seven times, get up eight — heard of that saying?

No one cares. Only you do— so stop overthinking. 

There’s Always Room for Improvement

Because if there was none, we’d be perfect and life would be dreadfully boring. Failures are merely life’s reminders of our aspirations.

Dream big.

Maybe It’s a Sign

Sometimes we take a detour, and failures are u-turns that help us return to where we started. Maybe it’s a test of our resilience, mind over matter. No matter what it is, a failure is a minor bump in the road that we can acknowledge and move on.

Do you believe in yourself?

Each thing she learned became a part of herself to be used over and over in new adventures.
— Kate Seredy

Reflections, Running

Midnight Run Madness

Caution: the Midnight Runners is a supportive group but it’s not the best for people who are novice runners. If you don’t care about making people wait or losing the crowd, though, you’ll probably be fine.

I attended the Midnight Runners (explained here) Run with Reebok and Runner’s World at Reebok’s newly opened store in South Boston, and it was another wake up call. I’ve been doing cardio fitness, but I haven’t been running regularly — and it showed. Hooray to being the last one to finish in the pack of fitness enthusiasts! It was cold enough to weed out the more casual runners perhaps.

IMG_20171207_172824

Most people probably did a little over 5K, maybe up to 10K. I did 15K — 5K both to and from my parking spot (less hassle with traffic) in addition to the 5K run. My lungs and legs are fine, but I’m feeling sore in my lower back. That probably has to do with the two bootcamp stops we did — first, we held squats to the song of Bring Sally Up  and at the next stop we performed a lot of Russian twists (of course, being me, I held my feet up and halved the speed — to each her own).

Killing Time at the Reebok Store

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First, I arrived at the store a little before 5:15 when the event started at 6. I was serious about being one of the first 50 to attend in order to receive a $25 gift certificate. In fact, I was the third person there. Because this was my first time here, I was intermittently checking in on when they reached the first 50. I’d say they had about 30 people signed up by 5:35 and then reached their quota for gift cards after 5:45.

While waiting, I found some unique items, in part because I haven’t shopped at an athletic store since… forever. I’ve learned that after running several races, you’ll never need to buy another technical shirt or long-sleeved fleece or hoodie again. Maybe you’ll still need a sports bra and pants, but how many pairs do you really need? If you have high quality clothes, they should last for a while. Anyhow, the idea of foam roller water bottles (care of MOBOT) seems novel enough. I don’t know if it’d fit my needs, but I can see it coming in handy when nothing else is available. At the same time, at that point  anything goes, right?.

In any case, since the hat I wanted wasn’t at the store, I left with the gift card for later usage. No impulse buying? Check. Even with the 20% discount all runners received, the prices are pretty steep. $16 for a sweat band is a challenge to create my own from a technical shirt I can part with. For now, I’ll archive what I call quests here.

For those of you who’re curious about the extra perks, here’s what we had been looking forward to:

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Pretzels and beer / water

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Swag bag

I’ve since signed up for Strava to see what the online running world was all about. We’ll see how I fare with it.

Part of the Fun Yet Missing Out

I loved running with music playing in the open air, but I definitely lost the music for a while because I was so far back. I loved the seeing Boston lit up from across the water, but I didn’t get to enjoy it fully because I was already falling behind.  So long as I practice, I’m sure I can turn this around next time.

I have an end goal to work towards, and I’m ready to crush it.

It’s winter in Boston, so I’ll need to get my game face on.

We are always the same age inside.
— Gertrude Stein

Reflections

Waking Up After Cruising for Half a Year

I Was on Autopilot

I was pretty sick. Sick of having to self-reflect. Sick of having too many writing options, since expanding the my scope. Sick of the incompetent people and systems surrounding me.

I’m still sick, but now I want to do something about it.

What’d You Miss?

I learned a new skill (if you will) at work. I bought a condo in Boston. I stopped my gym membership. I just won a slot in running the Boston Marathon, care of my local running club’s lottery system. And I’m going to take a shot at embracing minimalism.

On My Way to Becoming Indispensable at Work

On the random day I was out on vacation, an issue was escalated to X to review and resolve. Said issue wasn’t resolved until I came in the next day. At that point, I set a tight timeline to develop a training presentation so that said issue does not go unresolved again. You might think, why disseminate knowledge when you can keep it to yourself and become indispensable? Well, for one, because that’d make me a self-serving jerk. Secondly, I don’t want to be next person people tap as on-call. I like my time away from work, thank you very much. Most importantly, empowering other people to do what I can do is both right. Why wouldn’t I help others if our goal to be able support customers is the same? My response has also led to other opportunities, like learning a new skill. I’ve expressed interest in learning more to my higher ups, and now I’m being told, that’s part of your job now — exactly what I want.

If your higher ups no longer challenge you to do something outside of your comfort zone, you’re going to the ER pile — easily replaceable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still replaceable. Hopefully I sit lower in the pile — c’est la vie corporative (such is the corporate life).

Buying a Condo Is Like Putting Your Head inside a Crocodile’s Mouth

I came out scathed. Admittedly, very few people come out unscathed. The weeks after my offer was accepted were excruciating. I need to write a book about it so that others will benefit from my disaster-not-disaster. All I know is that it could’ve been worse.

Who Needs a Gym?

Some people do, and I respect that. Don’t get me wrong — I absolutely loved the gym when I first started out on March of the previous year. To save on fees, I put a hold on my summer membership thinking I’d be more outdoorsy (mainly running and biking). What I learned is that I only wanted to exercise indoors for comfort. That then led to go crazy on classes when my membership resumed in September and subsequently being lazy about running during the week. The only times I ran were at the many half-marathons leading up to the 16-mile Boston Marathon prep up in Derry, NH. Thankfully I only felt runner’s knees during the first of the half-marathon series.

The other reason I liked my gym was the Les Mills classes I was introduced to. Specifically, BodyCombat was challenging yet doable and, as a plus, didn’t require any equipment. BodyPump made weightlifting acceptable and accessible for me. I mean, how many Asians do you know do weightlifting? I know at least three more now in this suburbian town. Strong Asian women — now that’s what I’m talking about!

After one year, I’ve got some muscles to boot.

GymDiffOneYear

While it’s hard to see, I can at least pose more confidently.

But at some point, the gym became a crutch.

Simply put, I don’t exercise when I miss the class. However, I should be able to exercise when I want. Plus, my company has a gym and flavor-infused water (with actual fruits!). Why not put my health benefit towards a few classes at the Y? Now that I have a place in Boston, I should be active simply walking all over the city, right? Time will tell in this case…

Boston Marathon, Here I Come!

I’ve always wanted to run one but never saw myself as a runner until a colleague at work encouraged me to run my first half-marathon. Hopefully I’ll be able to check this off of my bucket list.

My Art is Minimalistic; My Life, Not So Much

I’m a hoarder with a tipping point. That is, I accumulate up to a certain point, and then I get fed up or misplace something and start cleaning up for hours. Let’s just say that I could be spending time on better things.

My first deadline? Friendsgiving part two with the holiday turkey my company gives out.

화이팅! (Hwaiting!)

Just as Running Man can make its comeback with highest viewership ratings since 2015, I can start blogging again about my ongoing journey to be a better shero.

And if you’re curious, this blog explains hwaiting better.

I don’t want to be a passenger in my own life.
— Diane Ackerman