I wrote this “story” on December 31, 2016. It has always been my dream to have a blog, a place to house all my “stuff”. Going over it, reading it again explains so much about who I’ve become now and what I love to do…..
5 min read (I think)
I can summarize my 2016 by the races I did…
- 5 cities I ran in – Austin, Dallas and Pilot Point (Texas, USA), Breckenridge (Colorado, USA), Angkor Wat (Cambodia, South East Asia)
- 4 Half marathons
- 3 Spartan obstacle races (a Trifecta!)
- 2 5k races (charity and corporate)
- 1 mud run, 1 trail run!
And various undocumented runs in between! 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – GO!
I didn’t start 2016 intending to do ANY of this. By January, I had been on the road for four months, travelling back and forth from Texas to New Jersey, for work. A week here, another there, a months went by. Oh the exotic management consulting life. I was EXHAUSTED. The worst of it was I had gone from working out 5x a week to “just about once”. I’m also a stickler when it comes food, let’s just say I’m a “selective eater”, ok picky eater, are you happy now? My body was SUFFERING. Fitness is a routine built into my lifestyle, it’s such a part of who I am, I do it without thinking about it. By the end of January, the project I was on went into overdrive, I was to travel EVERY WEEK for the next five months. The suffering was about to consume me. Until I snapped and said no. NO, you will NOT.
I made a resolution. I made a new routine. That was the missing piece. That is the basis of EVERYTHING. Anything you want to do successfully, anything you want to get done, in my opinion.
5) “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse” – Jim Rohn
On February 1st, I decided I was going to run a half marathon. I didn’t know which, where or when. I’m not bothered much by detail. What I did know was that I was going to stop moaning about how tired I was and start doing “something”. Typical Gemini that I am, I can take my mind to many places at the same time. I just needed something shiny to distract me! I found a half marathon training plan online and my mind became consumed with figuring out how to work it in and around work. I took all my crazy fast busy fun tiring weeks and turned them into just “great” weeks! For the next 5 months my routine became:
4am - wake up (4 hours of sleep), get ready, head to DFW airport. 7am - fly from Dallas, Texas to Newark, New Jersey (another 3 hours sleep) 12pm - arrive at office 6pm - dinner 9pm - short training run (treadmill) 11pm - bed
TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY
8.30am - arrive at office, breakfast 12.30pm - lunch 6.30pm - dinner 9.30pm - short training run (treadmill) 11.30pm - bed
I later switched to running outside to catch some sun, followed by a light dinner. I hate (HATE) running on a treadmill. This was a feat of focus, to keep my sights on the message not the messenger.
7.30am - arrive at office, breakfast 1pm - leave office for Newark or La Guardia airport 3pm - (or whatever time American Airlines decides), fly to Dallas, Texas 7.30pm - (or anytime up to 10pm) arrive home! 11pm - rest, read etc
FRIDAY – work, play, do whatever Friday does!
SATURDAY am – group class workout
SUNDAY am – long training run
4) “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will” –Mahatma Gandhi
Indeed, where there is a will, there is a way. I had a routine, I had my distraction, I found my mojo!! I registered for the Texas half marathon on April 10, with 10 weeks to train. Perfect! I threw myself into it. Then a friend said we should sign up for Dallas Rock n’ Roll half marathon. “That’s March 20th, three weeks before our Texas half”, I said confused. But ok!
Mid-April, two half marathons in the bag, I’m having brunch with friend Liliana and she says “hey, I’m doing a Spartan (obstacle race) in Austin, you should come”. What? Really? I barely have enough time when I’m back home from travelling to do anything, I began to internalize. “Hmmm, err…when is it?” is what came out of me. “Sunday” she replies. SUNDAY SEVEN DAYS AWAY???? Alright then!
By the first quarter of 2016, within two months, I had done two half marathons (13.1 miles) and one Spartan “Super” race (8+miles with obstacles). You honestly really won’t know what you are capable of until you try. I was on a high. I could smell the adrenaline in me. My brain was sharper, I was acing work. I was on FIRE. I then learnt if you do three Spartan races, you get a special, additional “Trifecta” medal. I’m all about the racing bling, I was salivating, count me IN! I also decided to run 2 more half marathons. I closed down April with the Vineyard 5k run on the 30th in the “vineyards” of Colleyville, Texas. Enough said about that.
3) “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life” – Muhammad Ali
In May, two of my UK workout buddies, Vanessa and Alison, now stationed in Hong Kong invited me to join them in Cambodia for a half marathon in August. At that time, I couldn’t think that far but they had planted a seed. I busied myself with the Spartan “Sprint” in June, 5+ miles of obstacles, held in the AT&T stadium Dallas. That was fun. That was different. Two Spartan races down, one to go!
June ended, so did my project. On July 1st, I decided, I will do the half marathon in Cambodia and promptly purchased a ticket to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Might as well make a vacation out of it!
On August 7, I ran the Angkor Wat Empire International Half Marathon. Angkor Wat is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the WORLD, with the site measuring 162.6 hectares. The temples are MAGNIFICENT. Before that I travelled through Vietnam from the North (Hanoi), to Central (Da Nang, Hoi An) to the South (Ho Chi Minh city/Saigon). After the half, I went to Luang Prabang in Laos. An AMAZING two and a half week experience I’ll ALWAYS remember!
No rest for the wicked. Back to the US, on August 27, I faced the Spartan “Beast”, “13+” miles of obstacles, in the mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado, a beautiful ski resort town. The race started at 9,600 ft. above sea level, the highest starting point of any Spartan course across the globe. I completed this in seven hours, SEVEN. People have travelled to other countries in that time. The day before the race I went white water rafting. The day after, I attempted to hike Quandary Peak, elevation 14, 265 feet. Not my smartest move. I can still hear my legs screaming “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING”?! I got half way up before the mission had to be aborted due to weather conditions. I wasn’t upset.
I get asked how I stay motivated to exercise or what my workout is or I just get overall incredulous looks on what I do. My response, “do what you want to do, what you enjoy doing”. Walking, swimming, biking, jogging, roller skating, trampolining! Anything. But you have to make it a ROUTINE. In everything I do, I’m in a challenge with myself, not with anybody else. If I’m not having fun, I’m not doing it. Sometimes fun is painful too (smiley face).
2) “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing” – Dale Carnegie
September got busy! On the 3rd was Camp Gladiator “CG” games. CG is an outdoor group fitness workout, boot camp style. The games is a competition, various exercises, timed for completion. Not quite in my sweet spot of activities but sometimes you have to try new things, switch it up a bit. How else will you find out what you really like? On the 10th was the “Savage race” (I know, I know), all I’ll say here is, if you don’t appreciate mud, don’t try it. The next day, I participated in the Richardson Corporate 5k Challenge, with “Team HPE” representing Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, along with other corporations in the area. I earned my brunch that weekend.
October passed by, November picked up the pace. The Night Nation 5k run on November 5th, we adorned LED necklaces and larked about. On the 6th was the Dallas Running Club half marathon. This was another “hey you should come do this, it’s next week”. People need to stop asking me to run with them, I am too weak to resist. We thought we’d take it easy, we hadn’t “really” been training. It was my first time running with pacers. We beat 10mins off what we thought we would do!! I now officially have a half marathon strategy. On the 11th was the Annual Zebra PHest 5k to raise awareness for Pulmonary Hypertension. Due to a mix-up with signage this 3 mile run turned into 4.5 miles. It wasn’t funny at the time.
December! The Isle du Bois Trail 18k run on the 3rd. I was looking forward to this one. All your senses are alert when trail running – you’re looking out for low hanging branches that can smack you in the face, a sudden dip of the earth that can cause you to stumble/fall, a rogue piece of rock that can take out an ankle, a tree could appear out of nowhere to test you. The perils in nature are endless. I find trail runs relaxing. This was tough though, I decided it would be my last (official) run of the year.
1) “It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela
In the midst of all this, I did the “22 day push-up challenge”, in support of veterans. Each day for 22 days, I did 22 push-ups while being filmed and posted it to Facebook. I did push-ups at the airport, in Starbucks, on the 6th floor at the office, the restaurant. I got bolder each day, and didn’t care where I was after a while. It’s all about what you focus on.
By mid-December, I was EXHAUSTED! I bought the feet some new shoes, put them up and thanked them. I’m looking back at the year and I’m WOW. But I’m already thinking ahead, energized! What’s next for 2017??!! I’m excited, are you? Don’t just make New Year resolutions, be resolute about your new year.
A bonus quote, because, you know, over achiever.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can” – Arthur Ashe
Post script: What I find so AMAZING is that there are whole sentences, phrases from here that I have used in blogs this year and to describe “smilefiit”. A lot also features on my website http://www.smilefitnow.com. I didn’t even know it was in my head 2 years ago…
Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Photo credits, all mine