The 2015 Year in Review

The year of 2015 ends which means it’s time to take a look back at everything accomplished this past year. With the end of the year I have can finally mark off three more items off my list such as Meditating twice a week, Practicing Martial Arts, and Complimenting a different person every day. With those three items completed my total number of challenges finishes off with 16 completed out of 25 challenges. For a complete update on the list and my analysis on each of them you can look here.

Now with those items crossed off the list, let’s take a look back at what didn’t work, why it didn’t get completed, and how I can take that information to help with my goals for 2016.

One of the biggest reason for some of these items not being accomplished is a change of interest. To put it straight, I didn’t study for my A+ certification nor did I work towards my gold medal for my President’s Challenge because I no longer saw it beneficial towards my life’s goals. I felt my time would have been better spent if I didn’t focus on these items rather spend time developing skills for my long term goals. By doing so, I ended up exceeding my ambitions that started these goals and became a much more accomplished individual in the end.

Some other items were not accomplished simply because I didn’t have the funds to do them. Some of these items, such as going to a shooting range and going to a Parkour jam, would’ve been financially draining. At the time, I did secure funds to complete some of these challenge items, but did not manage to have sufficient funds to complete the some of the more expensive items.

As for the rest of the uncompleted items on my 2015 list. I would like to say that I had a justified reason for not completing them, but I can’t. I felt like I overshot my list and greatly underestimated my ability to complete one of these items while juggling every day chores and the other 24 items on the list. A good chunk of these items I was able to accomplish because there was always some sort of deadline to complete them by. The rest of them did not have such a dead line and felt like I had all the time in the world to finish them. When there wasn’t any sort of deadline for these items I couldn’t find the ability to focus all my efforts to complete them.

So, what does that say for my goals for 2016? Well, I feel like to best accomplish my tasks I need to organize a plan that allows me to spend 100% of my effort towards completing them. I think the best way to accomplish that is to schedule a few days out of the month to really sit down and focus on completing my goals. Finishing my goals would be best accomplished if I take the time to sit down and focus solely on completing one project at a time. By doing so, the project will not only get completed faster, but I will also be able to accomplish it to my best ability.

In the end I felt like I had accomplished a lot during the year of 2015. I managed to go through 4 jobs, ran my first marathon, got my driver’s license, became Lifeguard certified, and placed second in state in the Cyber Defense Collegiate Competition . I felt like none of this could have been possible without the endless support of my family, friends, and colleagues to push myself to go beyond expectations. I also feel that this blog and my readers became a driving influence to keep me going.

So I ask you, my readers, what are you proud to have achieved in 2015 and what are your goals for 2016?
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Goal 12 Accomplished: 12 Hours Of Parkour

Parkour has always been a big part of my life. Before I got into it I had very little muscle and about 20 lbs of fat on me. When I started out I only dabbled in it a bit just to master some basics. It wasn’t until I met some skilled athletes practicing downtown did I discover this passion in me that wanted to improve.
Since that day, I began to push myself to do things beyond what I’m use to. I restricted myself to a veggie filled diet and exercised nearly 4 hours a day. I felt myself improving both in body and mind. As I grew older, I started to loosen my restrictions and ended up neglecting my Parkour training. I felt like I needed to get that push again, and so I decided to set my goal to train Parkour in a 12 hour period.
The task seemed like it would be simple, I practiced 6 hours in a day before so I thought another 6 would be no big deal. I calculated that this task would require me to consume at least 6,000 calories. To make sure I was in top condition, I prepared tomorrow’s meals before hand, did some carb loading, and went to bed early.
The beginning of it wasn’t bad. I wanted to diversify my training to prevent boredom and settled to jog to a different location each hour. The start of the day was extremely humid so I did light work as a general warm up. I wanted to take things slow first as I planned to do more intensive work in the evening.  The first 3 hours flew on by. I ended up smashing my toe slipping on a precision jump. I felt like that was due to low energy from hunger and decided to take a refuel break. I downed some carbs and proteins, a Gatorade, and an energy bar before quickly going back to training. The rain started to pour in causing me to move my training indoors. The break from the sun was just what I needed to cool down a bit while I gradually built up the intensity my workouts.
After a few hours of some moderately intensive training I took another refuel break and drove to the Fight or Flight Academy for some Parkour classes. I felt energized enough to head to my classes where I’d do the more intensive workouts. I got to the class where I signed up for Flips work. After flips classes we moved on to freerunning where we did some more flip work off of walls. I did another quick refuel break before moving onto Parkour.  The class for Parkour was Kong vaults, but myself and several others were taken to the intermediate class to train double kongs. I was a bit exhausted at this point and being that I haven’t done Kong vaults in a while, it took a while to get a few of them going. After a little guidance from my instructor, however, I not only performed my Kong vaults beautifully, but was also able to nail the double Kong.
After Parkour the gym stayed open for an additional 2 hours for open gym. I spent this time trying to smooth out some of my front flips. After a while I joined a few others and we started messing around with a couple of tricks. The gym was closing so I moved on to practice at a local park. I was working on what little energy I had left so I moved on to really light stuff. I hit the 12 hour mark just as my Parkour rolls started to get sloppy and painful. I rewarded myself by eating an entire frozen pizza and stretching out for a really long while.
In the end I sustained a broken toe nail and an injured leg, but managed to make a heck of a lot of progress in my training. The next day I was exhausted and sore, but was still able to move around to do some more stretching and leisure activities. I feel proud I manged to stick with the entire journey without tapping out and managed to cross one more item off my list.

Challenge List:
12 12 Hours of Parkour ACCOMPLISHED

Goal 8 Accomplished: Hike Up Eagle Mountain

Back in June, three of my friends and I made the journey to travel up to Northern Minnesota to visit the Spirit Tree. Unfortunately for us, the Spirit Tree was no longer accessible to the public and we weren’t able to complete our journey. While we still had a fun camping trip, I felt like the trip was no longer a challenge.

 

After thinking it over I decided to save up some money and make a second trip up north. This time, I was going to test myself physically by climbing up Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota. This 2,300 foot tall trek would be a 7 hour hike on rough terrain and will be the first to cross off on my list to trek the highest points in each of the fifty states.
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Devil’s Kettle

My girlfriend and I readied ourselves for the trip. It would be a four hour ride from home to Two Harbors, where we planned to set up camp, then an additional half hour car trip to reach the start of the trail. We felt like taking advantage of our time up North so we planned a number of other visits along the way, such as touring Enger tower in Duluth and hiking to Devil’s Kettle.  After hitting up some of the sites we eventually landed to Two harbors on our third day. We set up camp in the early morning then headed off to Eagle Mountain. While the trail was 7 miles long the actual summit was a  3.5 mile hike from the closest parking space. We readied our gear, checked for water, then hit up the trail.

 

DSC00088The trek to the summit felt like a very easy walk. The silent nature that surrounded us was very captivating. By the time we started to hit the 2nd mile marker the weather got increasingly humid. We stopped by a small beach to dampen our faces with the cool water before quickly heading back on the trail. We arrived at the summit and found the trail getting steeper. We hit a nice clearing that we assumed only meant we were at the finish line. We would’ve stopped there too, if it wasn’t for a hiking couple who pointed out that the trail goes another mile upward.

 

We took this time to munch on some food and re-hydrate ourselves. We made the foolish mistake of packing salty treats with an inadequate amount of water. We finished out snacking and were down to less than a cup of water a piece. We carried on and soon found ourselves to the top of the mountain. We grabbed some pictures, enjoyed the lovely view, than drank the rest of our water. After we rested for a bit we decided to head back down the mountain.

 

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Our Savior, the Beach

The hike back down felt a lot easier than the hike back up. Eventually we hit the small beach and cooled our faces in the water. The rest of the trail was going to be very rock and very hilly from then on out. We realized we made the huge mistake of not packing enough water. The weather started to hit it’s peak temperature during our trek back. We started to become exhausted from the combination of dehydration, heat, and exercise. We finally got back to the car where we drank a bunch of Gatorade as a reward for our climb.

 

The next day we drove up Ely to enjoy the rest of our trip in the Boundary Waters. It was definitely a worthwhile experience to take on Eagle Mountain. It also proved to be a valuable learning experiencing to make sure we pack more water for future hikes. Eagle Mountain, a very enjoyable trip, and is now the first out of fifty I have climbed.
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8 Hike Eagle Mountain ACCOMPLISHED!

Goal 4 Accomplished: Be Lifeguard Certified

One of my first memories as a kid was when I fell into the water and nearly drowned. My second memory was when my mother took me to swim classes where we did a rendition of “The Wheels On The Bus” as she dunks my head in the water. As you can tell, my first experiences with water where not pleasant ones. Although, as I grew older I found myself ever more fascinated with water. Every camping trip we went on my goal was to get everything set up before dusk so I had time to go swimming. When I started exercising more my exercises consisted of a lot of running, and a lot of lap swimming. I felt like I could never escape the water.

A few years back I found myself also getting more interested in the outdoors. I loved being one with nature and wanted to be with it as much as possible. This lead me to an interest in wilderness survival, where I would study and practice how to live off the land for years. Eventually I realized I can make my love for the outdoors a career by being a Wilderness First Responder. Not only would I be able to challenge myself to face the dangerous beauty of nature, but I could help people who are in need.

Logically, my love for the water and my goal for being an outdoor rescuer led me to signing up for a Lifeguarding class. I felt that it will be a good preparation towards my goals as well as challenge me to be a better swimmer. Boy, did it challenge me.

One of the requirements for being certified as a Lifeguard is two swim 300 yards consecutively. I use to swim 20 sets of 100 yards when I was younger so I thought this was no big deal. I spent most of my 2014 Fall semester, and summer break training. It turned out to be a lot harder experience than I thought to build up to this, especially because I took a break from swimming for my marathon training.

Nevertheless, I put in months of training for my experience so I was going in with my all. The first day of class required a pre-test that took nearly half the day to do so. I regrettably did weight training with my friend the day before, so I was working on tired legs. I powered through the test and I was thankfully able to go through the rest of the class. Unfortunately, some of my classmates weren’t able to do so. After the pre-test the class dropped from 25 to 16 people.

The rest of the week was filled with a lot more physically straining exercises that went on for hours each day. Each day it was several hours in the water, a few hours of testing, then another few hours studying the Lifeguard manual. As the week progressed we saw a couple more students who didn’t make it through, and one classmate who had an emotional breakdown. I still strove on, determined to finish this to the best of my ability. After pushing through I managed to complete the test and officially became life guard certified.

Challenge List
4 Be Lifeguard Certified ACCOMPLISHED!

Goal 17 Completed: Finish A Rugged Maniac

A lot of people like to refer to me as a fitness fanatic. Personally, I agree with that. I love to spend every day pushing my body beyond it’s limitations just to see if I could. I thought there’s no better way to test my body’s physical abilities then to complete in an obstacle race.

Fortunately for me, when I started to compile this list there was a Groupon available for a discounted entry fee to the 2015 Rugged Maniac, a 5k obstacle course. My friend, Xue and I both wanted to use this as a prep run for our future goal of running a Tough Mudder. Xue and I signed up as a team and were set to run the course.

We signed up for an early afternoon race. By now a lot of the more elite runners finished up so the competitive edge was not present among racers. After the runners finished gathering, the buzzer sounded and we were off. Remembering back to my marathon experience I decided to pace myself for this course. A lot of the runners ahead of us decided to sprint up ahead before quickly dragging behind on the up hill portions.

There were a lot of fun obstacles ahead of us, and fortunately for me, I was an avid Parkour athlete. With ease, Xue and I blew past the early obstacles. We climbed walls, vaulted objects, and jumped over obstacles to quickly find our way to the 1-mile marker. We drank our water and started approaching some of the more shocking obstacles. One said obstacle was to dive feet first into a 4 foot pool of water.

During our run, the weather was well below 60 degrees. After we took our dip into the pool it felt like the weather dropped at least to 30 degrees. We decided to jog around to warm ourselves up, but moments when we had to stop and wait to run some obstacles soon gave us that chilling feeling again. We reached many a more water obstacles between 1-2 miles. My favorite in particular was sliding down a plastic tube, crawling in a foot of water while underneath bar wire, then climbing back up to the tube to be greeted by the foulest smelling mud.

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When we hit the mile 2 marker our bodies became more dirt than clothing. We headed our way past a number of other obstacles that challenged our strength and balance. When we got to the sand bags, Xue did not hesitate to grab the 50-lb bag as opposed to the 20-lb. I decided to do the same and raced him up to the top of the hill. We both dropped our bags down at the end of the obstacle then jogged our way towards the end. After literally jumping over fire and climbing a warped wall we were finally at the last obstacle, a slide down to another pool of freezing water.

We both looked at each then slid down while giving out our battle cries. We ended our race dirty and victorious. We went out to refuel on some much needed carbs before I went off to take two showers to get the mud off me. In the end, it was a fun experience and I had immediately signed up for another obstacle race for 2016.

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Challenge List
17 Finish a Rugged Maniac ACCOMPLISHED!

Goal 25 Completed: 31 Days of Halloween

It’s been a heck of a Halloween. I ended up dedicating a lot more time towards this holiday throughout October than expected and ended up losing a lot of my documentation process. On the bright side, I managed to make every October day a Halloween day. Throughout the month I managed to do a lot of wonderful Halloween stuff. I got to visit various Halloween festivities, I had a bonfire dedicated to roasting Halloween themed candy, crafted my horror crafts, visited many a haunted houses, and even did a traditional pumpkin smashing(Don’t worry, we bought our own to smash). It’s sad to say that the Halloween horrors are over now for this year, but next year I hope to make Halloween even bigger and better.

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Pumpkin Smashing
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Challenge List
25 Do something Halloween related every day of October ACCOMPLISHED!

Goal 15 Completed: Star Wars All Nighter

Another goal has been completed. On Saturday I hosted a party where we marathoned all the Star Wars movies. I decided to do this as soon as Star Wars VII was announced. I never really watched the original three Star Wars movies, so I thought this would be a fun way to prepare for the upcoming release. We started the movie marathon around 4 PM and did not conclude it well after 5 AM. It was a heck of a marathon, and I had a lot of fun with it.

Challenge List

15 Star Wars All Nighter Accomplished