SMART Goals: Settle for Good, Get Great or Chase Perfection?

smart goals

I think modern consumerism has gone and shot itself in the foot this time. All our resolutions (or regular ol’ goals) are still fresh and fulfilled, we’re not even a week into January yet, but my local grocery store already has hearty (heart-‘y’! I seize the opportunity to make bad puns when I can ūüôā ) displays of chocolates, Valentines, and balloon hearts to smack us all in the face when we enter the store! Not that I am anti-love, but I guess the candy companies and Hallmark didn’t realize that the diet/weight-loss industry and gym chains are trying to capitalize on the idea of the “fresh start”. I don’t think candy and chocolates go together with the typical resolution to “lose weight”. Careful now junk food industry, don’t make the weight-loss industry mad!

Okay…this was not intended to be a rant, just thought I’d poke some fun before we got into the serious stuff! Resolutions, goals, or just Tuesday’s ‘to-do’ list, how SMART are you about accomplishing them? (Don’t get offended, I know you are all plenty smart…but it’s a clever acronym that you may have heard before, and that I really like!) I learned S.M.A.R.T. in high school once, and it has actually stuck with me, unlike some other useless word play designed to get me to critically think, etc.

smarter goalsI challenge you to use SMART to tackle a goal, small or big and be amazed! I actually prefer this (left) acronym even more as it includes “ethical” and “reasonable”! Never settle for just SMART when you could be SMARTER (or good when you can be great, but I am getting to that.)

My goals for 2015 are this:

  1. Bed by 9-10pm (10 at the latest): 8-9 solid hours of sleep each night.
  2. Keep my diet clean, comprised of whole foods. Low fat, all natural. Eat enough to fuel my running. *No hard alcohol, 1-2 drinks max. (Reinforced from New Years Eve)
  3. Run a 2:43 marathon!¬†Subgoals: keep running 90 mile weeks, stay injury free, and make one of my runs my “long run”.

Basically, I want to keep doing what I have been doing,¬†but better.¬†Eat clean, recover well, and run more! Each of these goals are¬†specific¬†because I know exactly what I want, for example “bed by 10pm”. There’s nothing vague about that. “Get fit” or “eat healthier” are good examples of what¬†not¬†to do. My second goal concerning diet could be interpreted as vague, but I know what I mean by all natural, and it’s based on how I have documented my eating previously on my blog.

My goals are¬†measurable,¬†I can measure amounts of drinks, I can measure miles, I can “measure” a whole food vs. a packaged food. Are they¬†achievable? Depends. I can control my sleep, my diet, and how many miles I run a week….but I can’t control all the factors concerning the marathon. I can only do my best to set myself up to succeed. I do think it’s¬†realistic¬†based on my training and previous performance.Measuring_the_Infinite

My goals are also¬†realistic¬†in the context of my lifestyle. I have the resources and time to eat well, run, and get to sleep on time. I know there are many people who find it a lot harder, but those people need to weigh their priorities and their¬†“perceived” resources against what they can actually do. Don’t use lack of time as an excuse, the same goes for having a family (they need you to take care of YOU too!), or not having enough money to be healthy. If it is important to you, you will find a way. By realistic, I mean don’t attempt a marathon if you’ve never ran before. Try a half, or resolve to run 5 days a week no matter what. No climber attempts Everest as their first summit!

perfect-enemy-goodMy goals are¬†timely¬†or time-bound, exempting the diet goal. Diet is tricky, because unless you are on a “get-slim-quick-2-week-cleanse” (don’t do it!) diet should not have an endpoint. Diet is the foundation of the other goals you set for yourself. It comes naturally in the process of achieving the other goals that are time-bound. My marathon is a time-bound goal because I committed myself to running the LA Marathon in mid-March. So I have 2.5 months remaining to keep logging 90mi weeks and get my longest run up to where it needs to be. As the date draws closer, you had better believe my sleep and diet will be as fine-tuned and on-point as I can get it so that I¬†can¬†run a 2:43 marathon.

My goals are¬†ethical¬†my diet is vegan, and running a lot doesn’t hurt anyone ūüôā I urge you, if you are considering a dietary change this year, go vegan! It’s the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success! You also withdraw your vote of approval from inhumane factory farming practices and animal cruelty. Instead, you free up valuable resources like water and land for starving children who go without because the animals are using it instead. (Don’t worry, the animals won’t starve….instead the intense and unnatural breeding processes will diminish as consumer demand does! Farmers won’t lose their jobs either, they’ll just farm plant foods instead!)

I’ll be doing a ¬†post on Veganuary soon, but if you want to get started now I urge you to check out their supportive website and make a pledge to go Vegan this January!

Anyway, back to ethics! *I’m skipping reasonable¬†I think it’s a tad redundant after discussing realistic and achievable.¬†Don’t hurt anyone or anything, including yourself ‚̧ ! This segues into my next point about good vs. great and great vs. perfect.

32fdbd0eac41e2e876006ffb317d355cI think most people by now are pretty aware that “perfect” is an illusion. No one is perfect. For example, it might appear that I always have a healthy diet and I always run well…but of course I don’t! New Year’s Eve is a great example, I drank way too much and consequently ran like crud the next morning. I still ran the miles I was supposed to, but let me tell you…it was not pretty! But the reason we fail or make mistakes is for us to learn what¬†not¬†to do! I needed a firm reminder as to why I don’t really drink or party, and I got it. As long as you learn and don’t make the mistake again, then don’t beat yourself up over it. An important note, “mistakes” should only be made once…after that, they are not mistakes, it’s just you deciding against what you know is right.

There is no perfect. But there is always better. If you are good, there is always great. Don’t settle for good because it is comfortable. Being good is a comfort zone, it’s where you can hold your head up high but not feel challenged at all. You’ll never grow either. Strive to get better always, that’s where the growth happens. That’s where character is built, self-awareness is gained and boundaries are tested.

I urge you to always keep growing and striving to master your craft, hobby, and passion. Even if you think resolutions are ridiculous, you can always make goals. No one is ever done learning, there’s always room for improvement.

How can you be a better friend, family member, community contributer, runner, skier, writer, painter today more than yesterday? Write it down, tell your friends, or register for the event.

Go get it!


My (Hard-A**) Health Philosophy, #NoExcuses


The quote above blew me away. Too many times I hear people say they don’t have time to take care of their health because they are too busy taking care of others. When I tell people that their health is the most important thing, and that they need to make healthy choices for themselves above all else, it does sound and feel selfish. And no one wants to be selfish…we all want to be the martyr.¬†But if you can’t take care of yourself, how will you be there for anyone else?

For example, after I pay all my bills, I end up spending the rest of what’s left over on food. Compared to some, my food bill is pretty pricey. I don’t waste money on supplements, pills or powders…but I spend a lot of whole, fresh fruits and veggies. Sure, I could save now for my future if I decided to live on oatmeal, instant ramen, and PB&J sandwiches on ninety-nine cent white bread. But what would my future be like if I did so? Diet and lifestyle affects more than just how you look…it effects¬†everything.¬†My mood would suffer and I would be depressed, I would be injured more frequently and recover slower from running, my eating disorder and body image problems would certainly come back…things would probably start to crumble. I’d probably have to start relying on multivitamins (pricey) and anything I saved in the short term would be spent long-term as my physical, mental, and emotional health began to take a hit. So I don’t sacrifice on the foundations of my health, because it is the most important thing you can have. It’s easy to take for granted, but don’t! Don’t wait until your health is gone, when you can only look longingly at others and wish you had a healthy body to walk, run, and play.


My Health Philosophy Assignment (one of the last of my undergraduate education!): My philosophy regarding health as a future health educator. I already know my professor won’t like this. For some reason, no one likes to hear that it is their own responsibility. The current health theory is that it is genetics (epigenetics is huge right now) and a sick food culture that people are victims of. But public health/ community health is about prevention. In that respect, my health philosophy is the core of PH, advocating for you own health by making your own choices is prevention!


My philosophy places a lot of responsibility on the individual to take control of their own health. Largely, I believe that a person creates good health or bad health as a result of the decisions an individual makes. I do acknowledge, and realize that there are factors outside of individual control such as environment (built and natural), family (history, habits), biology (genetics, gender, age), and government (policy or lack of regulation) that can inhibit or facilitate health of a person.

After reading the text and taking this course, my philosophy has not changed. In fact, I am more certain than ever that the individual needs to bear¬†the burden of the responsibility for their health. A person’s health status is a direct result of their choices in life. How, as a health educator (receiving my Bachelors in a week!) do I justify my philosophy on health?

No one will live in a perfect environment that promotes health of individuals above all else, that utopian society does not exist. In America, money talks above all else, and it is profitable to sell people corn, soybean, or wheat-filled/fed products which the government subsidizes. The end result is cheap meat, dairy and egg products, and cheap junk food and fast food- like products. The meat and dairy industries profit, the junk food industry profits, fast food chains profit, and people get sick. Then the health care industry profits off the sick population. Health insurers, doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry make money by keeping people unhealthy and sick, but tout medical advancements to extend lifespan…and the billions of dollars they can make off of longer lived, life-long patients.


No one lives in an environment that makes it easy to be healthy. But remarkably, there are people who still maintain their health. They do this because they have realized that no one else cares about their health, they need to care about themselves. Yes, some people have family history and genetics to work against, but I believe that “genetics load the gun, and environment (lifestyle choices) pulls the trigger.” If you are not doing what you can to promote your best health by seeking your own education, eating plant foods, exercising, and sleeping enough, then you need to own up and take responsibility for your poor health state. Blaming genes or the environment is an excuse and a cop-out.

We all live in the same Take-charge-of-your-own-lifecurrently unhealthy environment, yet many people manage to create good health for themselves because they have taken action. They’ve stopped allowing others to dictate their food and lifestyle choices. Going with the flow in America will only make you sick. Being healthy is abnormal. What it all comes down to, is a choice to be abnormal in society. Buck the media advertisements, fast food chains, and grocery store sales. Our health situation in America is dire, because people only care about your money, but they trick you into thinking they care about your well-being.


Take care of yourself so you can cultivate your own health and have a good quality of life that allows you to pursue your passions, enjoy your work, and be there for your friends and family. This is my philosophy regarding health as a health educator.


My Favorite Running Books! pt. 1

Monica from RunEatRepeat blog recently posted her list of “Top 10 Running Books” and #10 was actually a question: What’s your favorite running book of all time? I am a huge book nerd and prolific reader! One of my least favorite things about college is that I have less time to read what I actually want to…Anyway, below is a list of all my favorite running books, as well as a few that are on my to-read list! Enjoy!

1. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall


This was my running “Bible” when I was in high school! I love, love this book and have read it at least 10x. My hard cover copy is highlighted, underlined and dogeared. I recommend this book to all of my friends and loan it out whenever I can. It’s a true-to-life running adventure story! You don’t have to be a runner to read it…but I guarantee that you will want to be a runner after you finish it!

It’s a mix of biology, anatomy and physiology, anthropology, and adventure that is completely riveting and accessible to runners and readers of all ages (okay, at least to those who are old enough, ~13yrs. +)!

A word of caution: You will want to go minimalist (I know I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers) but be careful. It’s not for everyone. Keep in mind that the Tarahumara grew up running almost barefoot…we did not. They don’t live in our concrete jungle.

Also, you might impulsively sign up for a 100 mile ultra marathon. I know it’s on my bucket list to one day run the Western States 100 mile trail run. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

2. Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

eat and run

Scott Jurek is my vegan-running idol! This book is his life’s story, running tales of superhuman achievement, and yummy (healthy) vegan recipes bound between two covers.

Scott is a seven time Western States 100 mile champion. He’s won both the Western States 100¬†and¬†Badwater (a 135 mile ultramarathon through Death Valley) in the same year, only months apart!

He recounts his un-athletic childhood and of the hardships he faced growing up. He learned how to channel his emotional resilience into ultra endurance events and has been inspiring and motivating others ever since. I admire him even more because he’s VEGAN! He’s accomplished amazing feats on a plant-based diet and is a great example of a vegan athlete.

3. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami


This is the running book you’ll want to take to the beach! Literally, the setting of Haruki’s thoughts take place in Hawaii. It’s a calm and (enjoyably) ramble-y read.

Murakami’s voice is soothing and pensive…it won’t get your heart pounding or legs itching to race, but it will make you more thoughtful about what you¬†think about when you talk about running.




4. Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.


I love this book! It’s a fictional account of what all runners wish they could be in terms of dedication and self-discipline. (It’s also humorous!) The main character, Quenton Cassidy takes on the running monk-like ascetic of self-denial to become his absolute best. The plot is definitely unique as far as running books go, you won’t read another one like it (except maybe the sequel). Like all good books should do, the reader gets to feel the struggles and think the same thoughts as Cassidy as they train alongside him. It’s the original college athlete-turns-elite story that¬†will¬†make your heart pound and legs twitch!




5. Again to Carthage by John L. Parker, Jr.

Again to Carthage cover

The sequel to¬†Once a Runner¬†is just as good! The reader continues to follow Cassidy, though not as exclusively. His life after college is more than just running, but he’s soon shaken from his comfort zone by a series of events that spurs him to once again push his body to the limit. He decides to return to competitive running as a marathoner .

It’s the original version of the college track star turned elite turned marathon champion story that we see many successful mid-distance runners perform often in U.S. contemporary distance running.



6. The Sports Gene by David Epstein


This book offers a fascinating, scientific look at the biological and social evolution of all types of athletes through history. Are we really getting faster, stronger, harder? Or just smarter and more selective as a species? There is a specific part devoted to running…and a little insight as to why it might be that Kenyans are able to run so fast! I highly recommend this book, you’ll be a little more learn-ed by the end of it!

Listen to Epstein on NPR: Talent Or Skill?: Homing In On The Elusive ‘Sports Gene’ Aug. 05, 2013.


If you are time crunched and want to get the gist of his book in 15 minutes, you can watch his Ted Talk below:

7. PRE: The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend¬†by Tom Jordan

pre americas greatest running legend

I couldn’t live in Oregon and not read about the state’s greatest and most famous runner. Pre’s inspiring story and struggle against the Amateur Athletic Union still gives young runners someone to admire. It’s a super short read and leaves you wondering what could have been…

His story gives context and meaning to some of his most famous quotes:

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

“The best pace is a suicide pace, and today feels like a good day to die.”

You’ll definitely wish you went to the University of Oregon. It’ll make you want to visit Track Town USA to run on Pre’s Trail.


Look out for part 2! I have several more awesome books to review, as well as my list of to-reads coming shortly!

Monday Motivation: Mood Follows Action

destiny ralph waldo emerson

“Mood follows action.” -Rich Roll (Rich Roll Podcast #107: Tim Van Orden Runs Beyond the Kale- Why Personal Growth Begins with Self-Acceptance.)

That sounds funny, shouldn’t it be the other way around? But think about it…how many times have you dreaded working out, but felt amazing afterward? Or what about when you felt like hitting snooze on your alarm and snuggling back under the covers instead of going out for an early morning run? I bet as soon as you hit your stride you were happier than you would have been had you gone back to sleep! (I’m just extrapolating from personal experience here. ūüėČ )

Instead of waiting to feel inspired or motivated, it is your job to motivate or inspire yourself! I know, it’s counter intuitive. And yes, motivational films, books, music, quotes are all instrumental in getting you moving, but they only get you so far. After awhile the effects of external inspiration wear off. Unless you are committed to acting no matter what your mood, it is very unlikely that you will make any lasting changes in your approach to conquering your biggest¬†goals.

kitty with running shoesThe solution is simple: don’t think about it too hard! Don’t think about the next 20 miles when you lace up your running shoes. Just think about taking that first step. As soon as you’ve put a couple of miles behind you your body will have embraced the action. By the end of your run, you’ll feel on top of the world…or at least be glad you went running.

“Gee, I regret that run,” said no one ever!

It’s hard to get out the door sometimes, it’s hard to start that project that seems so daunting. Big things in life are complicated, and we rarely are gung-ho about doing everything all the time. So remember: don’t think about the whole task ahead of you. Think of only the first step, and¬†make¬†yourself do only that first step. Chances are, the rest of the tasks will fall into place. Like a row of dominoes!

Newton’s First Law of Motion:¬†“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

Start the task. Take the first step. The mood to do it will follow, and before you know it, you’ll be done. And inspired and motivated by what you’ve accomplished ūüôā


Monday Motivation: Create Healthy Habits

Success is the sum of small efforts

Are you a creature of habit? Hint: The answer is YES! ūüôā

Most of the tasks you do each day aren’t conscious decisions, they are¬†deeply¬†ingrained habits. Habits are performed on autopilot because your brain is a highly efficient organ hell-bent on conserving energy. Imagine how much harder it would be to perform simple tasks if you had to think about every step of the process. For example, tying your shoes: If you had to think about each step like a 5 year old who just learned, getting out the door for your morning run would take a lot longer!

After you complete an action enough times the same way, your brain gets the hint and you no longer have to think so hard because it becomes a habit. The more often you complete an action, in the same manner, in the same environment, at roughly the same time, the more deeply ingrained it becomes…which is great, until you try to change it.

The Power of Habit by Charlthe power of habites Duhigg easily explains the process of habit formation. Simply, you perform an action based on a cue that triggers the action. Imagine that one day you feel tired at 2pm. To pick yourself up you walk to the nearest coffee shop and buy a coffee. The coffee tastes great and does the trick! Your brain files this away as a rewarding experience, you got pleasure from it. Pleasurable feelings that accompany a habit increases the power of the habit!

The next day, you imagine that you feel tired again at about 2pm. Your brain remembers that yesterday you bought a coffee and felt much better afterward, so you decide to go to the same coffee shop and buy another coffee. The process begins to repeat itself, and soon everyday you are buying a coffee at 2pm. Ta-da, a habit has formed! Though habits are psychological, this coffee habit can have physiological consequences. Caffeine is a drug, and you can develop a tolerance to it. This is how habits can become dangerous addictions. Your brain will seek to recreate the pleasurable experience of the first time you bought a coffee. Over time, you may need more and more coffee to get the same jolt until you are literally addicted to coffee.

Good habits go can unquestioned. I love waking up every morning for a run. There are some mornings where it is harder to go for a run, but I do it anyway. I’ve done this enough that my morning run routine has become a habit. If I don’t run in the morning, I feel the negative consequences: I will be sluggish, moody, and feel guilty. These negative feelings will reinforce my habit for the next day.

Just like new habits are formed, old habits can be broken! This is finally the motivational part of the post, after all this is ‘Monday Motivation’! The brain has plasticity, this means that new things can constantly be learned, but it does get harder to change as we age! So it’s a good idea to establish healthy eating habits and exercise routines in young adulthood!

Steps to change a negative habit:

  1. Identify the negative consequences of the habit.
  2. Identify the ‘cue’ or actions that prelude the habit.
  3. Identify the environment of the habit.
  4. Imagine the positive consequences of NOT doing the habit.
  5. Find a similar action that is positive to fill the place of the negative habit.
  6. Repeat the new positive action in response to the ‘cue’ or in the environment your old habit was performed.
  7. Have supportive friends and get rid of people who sabotage your efforts.
  8. Reward yourself.

The first step is deciding that you really want to change. You need to commit to breaking a bad habit 100%, because your brain and environment are extremely powerful and you must be vigilant against trickery in the beginning. Record all the things that lead up to the bad habit, and all the details that surround your bad habit, as well as the negative feelings you have afterward. This record will help you understand where you are tripping up everyday. Once you have identified all these cues and triggers, you will know what to avoid in the future. Or if a trigger is unavoidable, you will be aware enough to avoid going on autopilot and continuing to perform the bad habit.

You cannot simply NOT do the bad habit, unfortunately. You may manage to stop yourself from doing it a few times by sheer willpower, but unless you replace the old habit with something new, eventually your willpower will weaken and the old habit will return. The new habit needs to be rewarding, so that it is something you want to do. If it is not rewarding in itself, you may want to add additional incentives for motivation.

Here’s an example from personal experience:

My student bus pass expired at the end of June this summer. I had been riding the bus to my internship in the morning, then to work and then home everyday. Once my bus pass expired, I had to physically hand over $5 for an adult day pass every day. In addition to this monetary burden, the buses were constantly late and caused me daily stress and frustration. After a couple of weeks, the negative consequences became too much for me to handle and I began to think seriously about cycling to my internship and work every day instead. At first, this seemed like a burden, I would have to carry my bike up and down the stairs everyday and it would be more tiresome to cycle everywhere (I’m kinda lazy). But day after day of frustration and bus fare finally became too much and one morning I decided to go for it and bike to my internship and work instead.

It was hard, my body wasn’t used to it and my brain questioned why I was doing it. But I earned immediate gratification in the form of pride in my accomplishment and an extra $5 in my pocket. I calculated that I would save $25-35 a week, up to $140 a month from biking. I would also get fitter, and save myself the stress of adhering to a bus schedule. It helped that the weather was beautiful and Portland is a bike-friendly city.

I began biking everyday. I grew fitter and the biking became easier. I saved time (my bike route is faster than the bus route), I got exercise, I saved money, I reduced my stress, and I was in control of my schedule instead of the other way around. Now I love biking everywhere! I’ve invested in my new healthy habit by buying a good road bike to replace my free, but very heavy, mountain bike that I rode all summer. The rain is coming back to Portland, and so I have bought fenders. I’m thinking ahead for the winter and know I must buy some warm gear so I can keep riding. I just love the way I feel, and I have gotten to see more of the beauty of Portland by bike.

This is a great example of how a new action can take the place of a bad habit. I identified my bad habit and the negative consequences of it. I knew the environmental cues and reasons why I took the bus. I found a new habit to take the old habit’s place,¬†which¬†came with positive rewards. My environment supported my new habit. I repeated my new habit of cycling everyday.

cs lewis change quote
So don’t be afraid! Don’t think that you can never change or that it is hopeless to try something new in your life! Passion follows actions, not the other way around!

Do the positive thing you want to do and when you begin to reap the benefits it will become a habit and your brain will learn to want it. This applies to everything that we do, good or bad. (Yes, bad habits have positive rewards too).

Remember, all habits begin with one conscious decision.¬†Today, you¬†can¬†make a conscious decision to do something better! Go for that bike ride, prepare your own healthy lunch! Like everything worthwhile, it will be hard in the beginning….but how many other things have you done that were hard in the beginning and are now easy?

Happy Monday ūüôā

Let me know, what will your new habit be?

Track Thursday: 09/25/2014 Last Workout!

karnazes quote
Happy Autumn everyone! Today is the epitome of a perfect autumn day in Portland. The rain from the last couple of days has stopped and left a chill in the air. The yellow sun is casting it’s tentative light highlighting the leaves that have suddenly turned golden and are fluttering to the ground before my very eyes.

My breath came out in a white cloud this morning for the first time as I jogged an easy mile to the track.

track thursday 09-25Today’s track session is my last hard workout before the Portland Marathon next Sunday. I have a¬†race-pace¬†effort 10k this Saturday and then there’s nothing left to do but¬†taper

These last several speed workouts have really flipped my feelings toward the track. A lot of the improvement comes from having a reliable track buddy to workout with. To have someone else there to take on half the work allows me to concentrate on running hard and focusing, rather than stressing about time and splits.

We’re also pretty chatty ūüôā We attempt to fill each other in on the week’s details during our 200m recovery jogs, which is pretty difficult to do! But she definitely lightens the mood, and now I don’t view track workouts as do-or-die efforts. I always put too much pressure on myself during solo workouts which caused me to go flat several times in the past. And the nagging little voice in my head, whispering at me to quit isn’t as loud anymore.

There’s no option to quit when you and a partner are equally depending on one another.

I’m going to miss the track….I won’t be returning to it for awhile. My plans after Portland include immediate recovery and then base-building during the winter months. I used to believe that I needed to do speed work all year long to maintain my fitness, but now I understand that it is futile to attempt to stay in peak racing condition year-round. It’s impossible…you’ll either get completely burned out, injured, or at best log mediocre race times all year. By taking a break I can work on increasing my mileage without getting injured and return to the track feeling fresh. Absence¬†makes the heart grow fonder…

Today’s workout:

12 x 400m with a 200m recovery jog

8 x 1000m no recovery

There was a twist! My coach has consistently been trying to get me to ‘feel’ my pace and I’ve been resisting. I rely a lot on my watch, that’s the type of person I am:¬†I have to know!¬†I am a detail oriented, time-conscious Type A personality. But today we were not allowed to look at our watches after the first 400m. My partner felt liberated, she actually took off her watch and tossed it aside. I was a wreck….her liberation was my chaos! Okay, that’s a little hyperbole. Even though I couldn’t look at my watch during the lap I still started it and checked the time after each 400m. Surprisingly, the results weren’t as terrible as I expected…mostly because my track buddy has a great feel for pace. She actually told me during one lap that I was running an 86 second lap (which was too fast) and she was right!

Results: 90, 90, 87, 90, 87, 88, 86, 89, 86, 86, 86, 86

The first four were supposed to be 90 seconds, the next four were supposed to be 88, and the last four were supposed to be 86.

We jogged a lap before the 100m sprints, which always hurt more than the actual workout. As per usual, I attempted to lift my driving knee higher and kick my trailing leg higher. And as usual, I felt like a marionette puppet with the strings cut.

It was a good workout ūüôā


There’s something pleasurable about pushing yourself farther than you are comfortable with. It satiates a deep desire within us. I believe that I would not be the same driven, determined person that I am if I didn’t run. Millions of other runners feel the same need, that’s why we congregate at starting lines of marathon and ultramarathon distances. We have to push ourselves.

Dean Karnazes is a perfect example of this, he is a “self-styled ultramarathon man” who didn’t start running ultras until he was in his 30’s. On either his 30th or 35th (I can’t remember exactly) birthday he had a moment of realization that he didn’t feel fulfilled as he celebrated in a bar with his friends. He had a wonderful family and was conventionally “successful” but he felt like he was missing something. That night he left the bar and started running (running 30 or 35 miles in his party attire). Since then, he has thrived on challenging himself to greater and greater feats. (Source: Dean Karnaze’s autobiography,¬†Ultramarathon Man)

Set goals, achieve them and set bigger goals.

Set goals, fail, learn, try again.


Monday Motivation: Who’s your hero?

deena kastor

Photo: “10 Best American Marathoners of All Time” Quote: Competitor Running

When we were little, we had heroes. Whatever we aspired to be as a child, we had someone who we looked to for example of how to become that. If you wanted to be an astronaut, a firefighter, a policeman, the President of the U.S., or an actress, there was someone who had inspired you to go that direction.

When you were little, you would have papered your walls with your heroes’ pictures and posters. You would have read and known every thing you could about who your heroes were and how they became the best in your young eyes so you could follow in their footsteps.

Do you still have heroes, or are you too old for that?

In the running world (and beyond), there are many successful athletes to look to for motivation and inspiration. But what makes someone a hero?

hero definition

Source: “Hero” Sept. 22, 2014

Someone who is an exemplar of hard work, dedication, achievement and strength even during times of challenging circumstances. A hero is humble in their success and dignified during times of loss. Heroes are timeless (*Roger Bannister). A hero is the personification of the greatest values of a people.

Modern day heroes…

“Characteristics of a modern day hero include compassion, strong work ethic, a giving nature, a defined set of morals, and a kind spirit.”(

deena kastor wins

Photo source: Let‚Äô ‚ÄúDeena Kastor sets masters world record of 69:36 at Rock ‚Äėn Roll Philly, Aberu Kebede wins in 68:39‚Ä≥ Sources cited:

…are the people who dedicate themselves to giving their best to their families, in their vocation, in their community,¬†to fellow beings and to their planet. Heroes don’t take shortcuts, they don’t make excuses for themselves, and causally, they don’t fall short of their full potential.

No matter how old you get, never lose sight of your heroes. When you need motivation, inspiration, or direction, you need a hero to look to for example. Don’t seek to mimic them, but their process to achievement can be the spark to ignite your flame. I look to Deena Kastor (who is 4o and still setting records!) and Meb Keflezighi (winner of the Boston Marathon 2014!) as examples of humble, gracious runners who work hard, yet still balance family and training. Both of them are exemplars of dedication and perserverance: they both suffered¬†at least one major running injury that prompted critics to discount them, and they both came back stronger because of their character. Discover your passion in life, and look to those who are excelling in that arena.

Don’t forget to look close to you as well! My mom is my hero.¬†Day to day, as I grew up, her actions never seemed to be anything special. But it was the mundane tasks she performed without praise or reward that have snowballed into her achievements as an amazing mother, runner and community member. Everyday, she cooked healthy meals, helped me with homework, chauffeured, paid bills, and raised my brother and I alone while my dad was in Korea for 2 years and then Afghanistan for 6 months.

It never seemed like she was doing anything special, but I am what I am because of her. ¬†When I was about 7 or 8, I remember my mom started running more seriously. I would wake up and go to the kitchen most days to find a note on the counter that read, “Gone for a run, be back soon. Love Mom.” She’s now run 15 marathons since 2002, when I was 9.

It is because of her that I am a runner. I can look to Deena and Meb and aspire to be like them, but I am like my mom.

A hero is whoever inspires you to be your best in a certain field. Gone are the days of heroes who conquered armies and slayed dragons, heroes today are those who put their head down and work hard out of love and dedication for what they do. Acclaim is never their primary motivator, and so they don’t lose track of their values or focus. Have one, or have many…but have a hero to inspire you and push you to excel as they have.

Happy Monday ūüôā

portland marathon2

My mom, Bill Rodgers, and I at last year’s Portland Marathon expo. He’s a hero of both my mom and I! My mom’s qualified for the Boston Marathon 2015, her goal!