2017: Year of Productivity

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It’s another year which means it’s once again time to reflect on last year’s accomplishments and start looking towards what we want to do in the new year.

For many of us, this means making resolutions that we plan complete, but for one reason or another, never do.

I, for one, hate the idea of resolutions. I feel that most of the time when people make resolutions they make them very general and uninspiring. In the end, a lot of people never keep up to their resolutions and drop them all together by early February.

This is what led me to create The Challenge List, in which I set out a number of challenges for myself and try to complete them before the end of the year. These challenges are made to push me out of my comfort zone and improve both the mind and body.

Throughout the year I’ll be sharing what I learned form taking on these challenges. During my journey I’ll also be experimenting with different productivity methods and utilizing ideas from Tim Ferris, Charles Durhigg, and other productivity experts. As I try out these productivity ideas I’ll be posting what worked and what didn’t,and what can be learned from applying these concepts.

2017 Challenges

Progress: 6/20
Last Updated: July 24th, 2017

  1. Swim 2 Consecutive Miles in Open Water
  2. Finish a Tough Mudder[ACCOMPLISHED July 15th, 2017]
  3. Take a BOB Survival Course
  4. Shoot 150 Points in Archery[ACCOMPLISHED June 29th, 2017]
  5. Develop A University Capstone App
  6. Obtain my Bachelor’s Degree
  7. Get into Advanced Krav Maga Classes
  8. Get into Intermediate Swords Classes
  9. Get into Advance Parkour & Free Running Classes
  10. Climb Black Edge Peak, South Dakota[ACCOMPLISHED July 19th, 2017]
  11. Earn a Front-End Web Dev Certificate at Free Code Camp
  12. Be a Nerd Fitness Rebel for 365 Days
  13. Finish A Triathlon Sprint[ACCOMPLISHED June 3rd, 2017]
  14. Post 50 Blogs in the Challenge List
  15. Make a 5-min Parkour video
  16. Read A Productivity Book A Month
  17. Become a Level 4 Blacksmith on Habitica
  18. Make Cheese
  19. Snowboard Down Green Circle Slope[ACCOMPLISHED February 19th, 2017]
  20. Get a Development Related job [ACCOMPLISHED February 28th, 2017]

You can follow me on my journey by clicking on the Follow Button on the right side of the screen. If you also have any Challenges or Goals for 2017 let me hear them in the comments below!

The 2016 Round-Up: Biggest Takeaways From A Year of Challenges

It’s that time of the year again!

It’s the end of the year, and that means it’s time to step back and reflect back on 2016’s Challenge List. This is where I take a step back to review the list and go over what went awesome, what didn’t go so great, and what was learned as a result.

So let’s take a look at total amount of challenges completed for 2016:

18/25

In total, I managed to complete 72% of all challenges on my list. Some of the more notable tasks included:

  • Running a Spartan Race
  • Publishing an Android App
  • Tripling my distance record for swimming
  • Taking a trip out of the country
  • Building and shooting an arrow from scratch
  • and many more

While this was a year for new experiences, it also had one of the most pivotal moments that changed how I view productivity. With many successes came many learning experiences. With these learning experiences I plan on taking on 2017 with these ideas in mind:

Better to Be SMART Instead of Busy

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If I had to pinpoint my biggest mistake for 2016 it would have to be doing my 20 Things A Month experiment. You see, back in early February I had an idea that would push me to get things done. In order to motivate me to focus on my yearly challenges, I would select several tasks each month and then draw them up on a list of 20 things to complete at the end of the month.

My initial thought was that if  I broke it down like this I can chip at each tasks little by little and complete almost all of it by the end of the year.

Instead, I ended up finding myself pulling out my hair each day constantly doing work but barely making any significant progress towards my Challenge List goals.

It wasn’t until I listened to a podcast interview of Smarter, Faster Better‘s author Charles Durhigg that I realized what I was doing.

I crafted my To-Do lists to make me busy, not productive. Sure I would be spending 15 hours a day, working my brain and body to mush, but all of that was pointless because I was tackling small, insignificant tasks on my list in attempt to cross more items off.

I was experiencing, what is known as a False Authentic Pride, where you working towards  feelings of the little dopamine effects you get from doing small accomplishments  instead of working towards the much grander feeling of accomplishing something worthwhile.

Now I’ll be tackling on my tasks with SMART Goals in order to handle the bigger, more difficult tasks on my list and get much more done.

After learning this it led to another way I need to tackle my goals

Work Towards The Long-Term Goals

As Steve Kamb said in his book, Level Up Your Life:
Think of each big quest on your list as a series of tiny, incremental quests. If we can create 10 steps to a mastery of a skill, then we can focus our energy on simply putting one foot in front of the other and the process will take of itself
After hearing reading this it sparked something in my mind: There are very different feelings between how I feel accomplishing each challenge.

Each challenge I’ve completed thus far has been no stroll in the park. If I wasn’t pushing myself to go beyond my physical and mental limits, I was pushing myself to do things that went beyond my comfortable zone.

The problem is, I found that the challenges that ended up going towards my overall goals(i.e. My Impossible List) were far more satisfying than those I wanted to do because I thought it would be “fun” or “look cool”.

This caused my focus to shift towards my long-term goals instead of short-term, spontaneous goals. As a result, I didn’t really work towards some of these items as hard as others. My energy and focus went towards my long term goals, and each one I crossed off ended up giving me a more deserved feeling of accomplishment as well as put me that much closer to being who I want to be.

With that being said, there is one last thing I will be doing for 2017

Do A Lot in A Little, Not A Little in A Lot

Probably the biggest thing I’ve been debating about these last two years has been the number of items I’ve used on my list. I’ve done 25 challenges for 2 years now and each year I only get close to finishing 20 of them. Each item I work on typically takes a long time and a lot of focus to complete, so trying to do an average of over 2 per month starts to look less realistic.

If I really want to buckle down and finish off my goals I need to shorten my list so I can give it my all. But than that begs the question, how many challenges do I do? 20 challenges, 15 challenges, 10 challenges?

Well… That’s still up to debate. Right now I have quite a few items already sorted out for 2017’s list.

The idea I’m leaning on most is to cap the limit on 20  items and attempt to do 5 extra if I finish my list with a lot of time to spare. There would be something more definitive in my post for 2017’s Challenge List.

All and all though, I have to say that this year proved to be a great year for experimentation and learning. I am looking forward to this upcoming year and cannot wait to see what’s to come.

For all of you out there, I hope you had a great 2016, and shoot hard for an even better 2017. Train hard, and I’ll see you next year!

Lessons Learned After Becoming A Spartan

Back in September of 2015 I ran a 5k Obstacle Course Race called a Rugged Maniac. Prior to this race I had felt a slump in my workout that made it really difficult to find the motivation I needed to train.

Running this Obstacle Course Race(OCR) ended up being just the rejuvenation I needed to push myself back into Parkour and Endurance Sports. Immediately after I ran my Rugged Maniac I thought to myself, “This felt pretty easy, I bet a Spartan Race wouldn’t be so hard”.

This led me to signing up for a Spartan Sprint, which ended up being a whole another ball game than a Rugged Maniac. At the end of my Spartan Run I was bleeding, dirty, sweaty, and bruised. But more than anything, I felt a sense of accomplishment that is unparalleled to anything I’ve done before.

You see, running a Spartan Sprint not only gave me a much better idea of my physical self, it also taught me 5 very important lessons I will be taking with me for both future races and towards my own self-growth.

Lesson 1: Be Positive

When you are putting yourself in a situation that demands you to go beyond your limits, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve trained beforehand or how much energy your body has. All of this can be useless if you do not face the obstacle with a positive mindset.

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During my race I was faced with a seemingly easy obstacle known as The Z-Wall. I’ve done much more difficult rock climbing routes a thousand times before so I thought this would be a piece of cake. Halfway through the Z-Wall I found I had to really stretch out my leg to get my foot placement onto the next block. My leg ended up cramping up on me, shocking the pain through the rest of my body. I lost my grip on the wall and went down like a ton of bricks.

Despite the pain I gave myself a moment of rest before limping to the Peanlty Zone to do my 30 Burpees. This was a set-back but by no means was this going to send me down a Downward Spiral. Instead I looked at this optimistically, “I can still stand on my feet, and it’s only 30 burpees”. I knocked out the burpees then continued the race with a smile on my face.

This positive attitude is just not something you should do for yourself, but for others. My start time had many of the racers run in 90% humidity and 90 degree weather. It was miserably sunny out and many people weren’t running at their ideal performance.

At mile 2 I saw a team of two trying to hoff it up the hill. At one point one of the runners sat down in the shade and told his buddy, “I just can’t do it”.

His friend knelt down next to him looked him dead in the eyes and said, “Yes you can. You’ve already made it farther than you thought you could. You can keep going”.

Meanwhile, a passing runner past by the two, flashed a big smile to the first guy and told him “You’re doing great!”. I didn’t see these two guys again until mile 4, both of them running downhill with smiles across their faces. Seeing these two inspired me to give positive energy to my fellow racers as well.

Some of us are going to hit our limits and something as simple as a “Good job”can be all we need to keep pushing.

Lesson 2: Don’t Underestimate The Course

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Initially when I signed up for the course I didn’t think of it as a big deal. I thought, “It’s only 5 miles, that’s just another light run but with a few obstacles in between”.

Because I didn’t go at it with the same mindset I normally do with my races I ended up committing several runner’s sins:

  • No Carb Loading
  • Improper Warm-Up
  • Didn’t Tapper Prior To Race

All of this resulted in me performing at my worst throughout the race. By mile 3 I was already half an hour into the race and I already drained the energy in my body. I was hungry, weak, and all I thought about was how good pancakes would be right now. If I just spent the time to properly carb load I know I would’ve been at a much better physical state throughout the race.

For my warm-ups I did essentially the same routine I do before I do my regular runs. I did no research on the average time it takes to finish a Sparta race so I shot for 10 minutes slower than my usual 5-mile runs. My expected finish time and my actual finish time ended up being vastly different:

Expected Finish Time: 50 min
Actual Finish Time: 2 hours, 28 minutes

If I planned my race a bit smarter and did more research on how long it takes to complete a Spartan Race, I would have definitely spent more time warming up. I also wouldn’t have put in 15 hours of working out the week of the race.

I’m not sure what would’ve happened if I took this race more seriously and treated it like my other races, but I guarantee I would’ve ran that race far less fatigued, sore, and hungry. It may have also avoided some cramping the occurred throughout some of the obstacles.

Lesson 3: Remember To Pace

Along with the 3 runner sins mentioned in Lesson 2, there’s another big mistake I ended up committing during my Spartan race: Being impatient.

Taking away from my experience running my Marathon last year, I made sure not to push myself to run faster when I’m already doing well. Although, one mistake I did end up repeating was trying to compete in a race I wasn’t initially planning on being competitive in.

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When I started my Spartan Race all I cared about was finishing. All I wanted to do was see if I could complete a Spartan Race and learn just what my body can do. If I didn’t reach my expected finish time, that was perfectly okay.

With that being said, I experienced Deja Vu during my race. Much like my marathon I got to the race a bit late. At this point, many of the runners who started earlier than me are well off into the course. Remembering to keep it slow, I ran at my normal pace.

After mile 1 I started passing racers who started a little earlier than me. Eventually I started passing racers who started a good 1-2 hours before I did. At this point, I grew a big head that nearly ruined me for the rest of the race.

Instead of just finishing it I was thinking of ways I can finish it faster. If there was an obstacle that had too many people ahead of me, I would just skip it and take the penalty burpees. Even if I was drenched in sweat from the blaring hot sun I would not stop to rest by the water station but instead drink 1 cup and move on.

Then by mile 3 my body hit that point where I struggled to do obstacles I know I could do easily. I was exhausted, sore, and was losing stride. At this point I realized I needed to just slow down, a decision I was grateful to have made. While I took my time going through the obstacles there were some people who seemed to have the same idea as I did and rush through the course.

These same guys trying to rush through were soon found either collapsed on the ground or slowly limping along. Meanwhile, other racers taking a slower pace were briskly passing by them.

Lesson 4: Adapt to Anything

One of the things that makes a Spartan Race so challenging is that it has you use your body in ways you aren’t normally use to doing at a gym. Sure carrying a 50lb object may be easy enough for most athletes out there. Heck, some of you are probably hitting higher weights for your regular workouts. However, 50lbs becomes a whole different story when that object is in the form of a 5 gallon bucket, filled with rocks, and needs to be carried up and down a steep hill.

When I looked into some of the obstacles typical in a Spartan Race it seemed like I would be working my body in some unusual ways. At first I was fine with this. Being from a Parkour background, adaptability is what I strive for. Although, while I was able to make it up the walls and across the monkey bars with ease, I was not prepared for some of the more awkward obstacles out there like the atlas ball.

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The atlas ball has been estimated to be 100lb for the guys, and about 60lb for the women. At first, this didn’t seem like a problem. When I went to the gym with my friend I spent some time lifting and carry 100lb weights until I was confident enough for the course. Then when race day came, I bent over and reached for the ball and… I couldn’t lift it. The ball was too smooth and slippery from the mud making it difficult to get the grip I needed to lift it.

Other racers around me seemed to be in the same boat. When we couldn’t lift the ball we asked some of those around us if they can help us grip it just so we can lift the damn thing.

Then there is the infamous Spear Throw obstacle. This obstacle is known as the Burpee Maker. Not only is it difficult to stick a spear 20 feet away, but you only get one shot to do it. Most racers aren’t going in it with a degree in spear throwing so you can imagine the number of people in the Penalty Zone.

When I first learned of this obstacle I decided I was not going to be one of the many who fall victim to this obstacle. So, a month before the race, I crafted a spear using a stick, some rope, and a pocket knife. I then spent a good 3 hours throwing it at a wooden board in my backyard. It took quite a while until I was able to stick the spear consistently, but when race day came I successfully stuck that spear on my first try.

The point I want to drive home is that if you are going to run a Spartan Race, look at the obstacles you’ll likely be doing, then train for them in a simulated environment. If you can do pull-ups, work on different grip strengths by changing your hand position or using a towel hanging from the bar. If you’ve never carried 50lb bag over long distances before, make your own then spend some time walking with it.

Keep in mind that your body is going to be doing things it may have never done before.

Lesson 5: No Such Thing As Quitting

Unless you are one of the Elite Spartan Runners, you’ll probably not running a Spartan Race for competitive reasons. You are doing it to see if you can do it.

"The hardest part is showing up. 40% don’t. Don’t be part of that 40%" 
-Tony Matesi, Spartan Race Director

By being at that starting line you have already past the first and most difficult obstacle, just being there. Remember that the human body has always been capable of doing the impossible. Before Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile, researchers were convinced it was not physically possible for humans to do.

Marathons are often thought as the most ultimate feats of endurance, but then we learn there are Indigenous tribes out there who can run 200 miles non-stop.

 

Runners don’t cross that finish line because they ran until they started feeling tired. At some point it no longer becomes a test of the body, but a test of the mind. If you want to complete this race you need to remove the word quit from your vocabulary and think that the only stopping point is at that end.

Remember that once you are out there is just you against you.

Conclusion

If there’s anything you should take away from this it is that you should plan smart, train smart, and keep your will strong. There is no telling what you are going to be able to do until you do it.

"Only those who endure the hardships of training can attain glory" 
-Hiroshi Yamanka, Gash Bell

 

At the end of my race I was well past my exhaustion point. My fingers were cut up, my shoes were torn to shreds, and I had bruises throughout my body. My girlfriend asked me, Was it worth it?

To which I responded:

Not only was it worth it, I am already waiting for registration to open up for next year.

 

Goal 29 Accomplished: Do Not Say “I” For An Entire Day

“Have you ever noticed how often we use the word “I” in a conversation. Whenever we do talk to someone it’s not difficult to accidentally make the conversation about ourselves.”

When I first heard this quote it made me more aware of how often I used the word “I” in a conversation. It was common for me start a conversation or chat with someone for a period of time and use the word “I” at some point. It got to the point where it was difficult to try not to use that word in my vocabulary whenever making conversation.

So in the start of 2016, I chose to challenge myself to completely remove the word “I” from my vocabulary for an entire day. This challenge would not only require me not to say “I”, but words that utilize “I” in abbreviation like, “I’m, I’ll, and I’d”. This challenge was not just limited to conversations spoken orally, but also through different forms of communication such texting, e-mailing, and IM’ing. To make sure there wasn’t a way to cheat this challenge, like staying quiet for the entire day, I made it required to be able to do this challenge only on days where I’m doing my regular duties. These were days where I was the most talkative whether it was when I worked, doing extracurricular activities, blogging, socializing, or other activities that required a lot of communication.

This challenge ended up being quite different than some of the others on my list. Instead of it being an accumulation of activities or one activity happening on a specific day/event, this was something that could be done every single day. This challenge meant there was a lot more room for failure throughout the year. So, when the year started I decided to take up this challenge right on January 1st. At first, I thought this challenge would be a bit difficult but possible after a handful of failures. However, despite being actively aware of not using the word “I”, it ended up taking me 114 consecutive days before successfully completing this challenge.

Doing this challenge ended up becoming quite the experience. When “I” was removed from my vocabulary it largely influenced the way I conversed with others. Trying to be aware of not using the word “I” ended up making me talk slower than usual, often making me think about what to say for a good 1-2 seconds before actually speaking. This ended up causing me to put a lot more thought into what to say order to convey a concise but meaningful message.

Although the most interesting aspect of not saying “I” was how much it shifted what to say during a conversation. Removing the word “I” from all conversations also removed most topics related to myself. This shifted about 95% of my conversation to either be more general or about the other person/people I was conversing with. This helped me realize how much people tend to like to talk about themselves.It felt like one of the easiest ways to make someone happy was to make the discussion about them. When they are talking about themselves they seem to be a lot more open towards sharing things about themselves and enjoyed my company more. Whenever I conversed with different strangers it was far quicker for them to be friendlier towards me than prior to when I started this challenge.

Even though this challenge is completed, the habit of trying not to say “I” still has stuck with me. Many of my conversations have now shifted to rarely talking about myself to instead making talking more about other person. I still have an awareness for speaking with others and find how little the word “I” is used. Not sure if this has became a temporary habit influenced by this challenge or if the result is more long term. Whatever the case, this challenge proved to be extremely difficult yet fun to do.

2016 Challenge List
29 Do not say “I” for an entire day

The Impossible List

I use to always fell victim to the Bucket List Conundrum. I had a list of about a million things I wanted to do but instead of crossing any of them off I ended up just adding things on.

This is mostly because I saw this list as an indefinite To-Do list where any one of these items can just be put off until  later. I needed a reason to work on these things now rather then sitting there twiddling my thumbs at a list filled with unresolved dreams.

This is where the impossible list comes from. This idea was created by Joel Runyon, who defines the differences between a bucket list and an impossible list. To summarize: an Impossible List is ever-evolving list of experiences that implore you to take action. Your list should not be dreams you’ll like to accomplish, but a journey of challenges you gradually build upon.

Below is my impossible list. I will be frequently updating the list to make revisions and additions as I worked towards them. In addition to the Impossible list I will also have a section towards the end showing progress on each year’s challenge list.

Fitness Goals

  • 10 Years of Martial Arts(1/10)
  • 10 Years of Weaponry(0/10)
  • Score 300 with a Recurve Bow(FITA Archery Scoring)
  • Do a Simple Walk Into Mordor
  • Climb Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
  • 7 Summit Challenge(Except Mount Everest)
  • Walk Across America
  • 50 Points in 50 States(2/50)
  • Complete all Fitocracy Quests
  • Learn to Surf
    Long Distance Running
    Run Alpha Warrior
    • Texas
    • California
    Spartan Races
    • Spartan Sprint(5 miles, 20 obstacles)(June 25th, 2016)
    • Spartan Super(8 miles, 25 obstacles)
    • Spartan Beast(13 miles, 30 obstacles)
    • Spartan Tifecta(Sprint, Super, and Beast in one year)
    Triathlon(Swim/Bike/Run)
    • Sprint(750m/20k/5k)
    • Olympic(1500m/40k/10k)
    • Half-Iron(1.2mi/56mi/13.1mi)
    • Iron(2.4mi/112mi/26.2mi)
    Intense Races
    Parkour&Freerunning
    • All the flips
      • Front
      • Back
      • Side
      • Aerial
    • All the Twisting
      • Corkscrew
      • 540 Kick
    • 5 Muscles Ups(No-Kip)
    • 10 Freestanding Handstand Push-ups
    • Full Splits
    • 15-second Human Flag
    • Sign the White Block at Fight or Flight Academy

Fun Goals

  • Go Skinny Dipping
  • Go Sky Diving
  • Cliff Swinging
  • Paragliding
  • Full-Body Wax
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Find 1,000 Geoaches(24/1,000)
  • Make Food From Scratch
    • Cheese
    • Yogurt

Survival Goals

  • Make Deer Jerky
  • Finish a Survival Adventure Race
  • Wilderness First Responder Certification
  • Become certified as a Waterfront Lifeguard
  • Build and Shoot a Bow and Arrow from Scratch
  • Take NOLs semester course
  • Survival Camping
    • 7 Days Survivor-man Style
    • 21 Days Naked and Afraid Style

Educational Goals

  • Get a Helicopter Pilot’s License
  • Publish A Mobile App
  • Write a Novel
  • Pick a Master Lock
  • Earn College Degree
    • Bachelor’s
    • Master’s
    • PhD
  • Play Piano
    • Piano Man by Billy Joel
    • Roses and Butterflies by Making April
    • Guitar vs Piano by Goukisan (Piano Piece)
  • Play Guitar
    • Guitar vs Piano by Goukisan (Guitar Piece)
  • Play Harmonica
    • The They are Changing by Bob Dylan
    • Piano Man by Billy Joel

Events/Conferences

  • Eeyore’s Birthday
  • Go to Room 13 San Antonia
  • Sundance Film Festival
  • Attend Cirque De Loteil
  • Google Local Guides Summit
  • Red Bull Art of Motion

Travel Goals

  • See an Aurora Borealis
  • Visit Sweden
  • Hike the Ice Age Trail
  • Visit Canada
  • Go To a Japanese Hot Spring
  • Go Scuba Diving in Australia’s Coral Reef
  • Paragliding Down a Mountain
  • Marble Arch Caves, Ireland
  • Spontaneous Vacation(From Yes Man)
  • Bizarre Landmarks
    • Bunny Island, Japan
    • Strawberry Hill, Wyoming
    • Corn Palace, North Dakota

Life Goals

Challenge Lists

2016: Continuing the List

One year ago I made a list of 25 things I told myself I had to complete by the end of 2015. I called this list “The Challenge List“, in which I would took up 25 challenges to help improve myself throughout the year. I figured by instead of referring to them as goals I would like to get done, they would instead be thought of as challenges I must complete. By the end of it all I ended up accomplishing a large chunk of my challenges and pushed myself towards boundaries I never thought possible.

The list ended up becoming so beneficial towards self-improvement that I decided to do it again for 2016. This year I gave myself 25 new things I am challenging myself to complete by the end of the year. Like last year, I am not going to think of these as 25 things I want to complete this year, but 25 things I must complete.

2016 Challenges

Progress: 18/25

  1. Go to an Escape Room
  2. Visit a China Town ACCOMPLISHED(8.27.2016)
  3. Swim a full mile(1650 Yards)ACCOMPLISHED(7.26.2016)
  4. Do not say “I” for an entire day ACCOMPLISHED(4.23.2016)
  5. Finish a Spartan Race ACCOMPLISHED(6.25.2016)
  6. Go to the Wisconsin Strawberry festival ACCOMPLISHED(6.26.2016)
  7. Get a Full-Body Wax ACCOMPLISHED(11.11.2016)
  8. Rock climb Taylor Falls, Minnesota ACCOMPLISHED(9.10.16)
  9. Do 10 Footbag kicks
  10. Publish a mobile app ACCOMPLISHED(7.29.2016)
  11. Make a flash drive
  12. Road Trip to Canada ACCOMPLISHED(10.22.2016)
  13. Winter Cabin Trip Up North ACCOMPLISHED(12.11.2016)
  14. Hike up Timms Hill, WisconsinACCOMPLISHED(6.29.2016)
  15. Visit the Minnesota Eagle Reserve ACCOMPLISHED(7.1.2016)
  16. Create a Video Game ACCOMPLISHED(8.20.2016)
  17. Build an Arcade Machine
  18. Achieve Level 100 on Habitica ACCOMPLISHED(10.17.2016)
  19. Get accepted into Advanced level Parkour classes
  20. Take a Yoga Class ACCOMPLISHED(3.25.2016)
  21. Run a 5-minute Mile
  22. Go SnowBoarding ACCOMPLISHED(1.9.2016)
  23. Start a Fire with a Fire Bow
  24. Craft and Shoot my own Arrows ACCOMPLISHED(8.7.2016)
  25. Win a T-Shirt in Marines Pull-Up Challenge(25 Pull ups) MAX REP: 18, (9.1.2016)

Monthly Progress Report: Midyear Resolution’s

There is a lot more to finish off on the list but I feel like I had a productive year so far. In one weekend alone I got my driver’s license, became president of my Computer Science Club, and ran a marathon.

So far I have completed 4 out of 25 items on my 2015 goals list. I also have crossed off a bucket list item this year as well! A lot of these goals will take a lot of time to complete. I’m expecting to knock a bulk of them out before November.

I have hit some major life goals so far. The first is getting a new job. I had no doubts I can secure a better job, but I never put in the effort to do so. As a result, I was seeing a lot of my fellow co-workers move onto big and better positions. I didn’t want to be that guy who complained about the situation but put in the most minimal effort to change it. So I actively looked for a job. I went through many interviews, applying to many positions, and finally got an awesome job with amazing benefits. This drove my confidence to keep pursuing other opportunities. Just last month I had spoke with a representative of an internship program and I will likely beginning a new job in January. If I get it, I’ll have my first ever dream job.

Second life goal reached was was getting my license. I had failed my driver’s test a total of 4 times. The last time was enough to just give up on my license for a long time. However, I realize I can not just go through life without being able to drive. I have denied a lot of great job opportunities and had to put ambitions on hold simply because of transportation. I figured enough is enough and paid for some driving lessons. In just a few short weeks I finally passed the test.

Within that same weekend I ran my first ever marathon. I trained hard for it, and after 18 weeks of blood, sweat, and tears, I did it. It was an amazing experience. I wrote a more detailed report on my experience in one of my blog entry’s.

My final goal for the year was hunting for a medallion. Every year my town hosts a medallion hunt. The medallion is hidden someone in the city and the goal is to decipher the clues to locate the medallion. My brother and I attempted it as a kid, but failed due to our lack of knowledge of the city. This year I gave it my all to search for that medallion. While I didn’t find it in the end, I tried my best, and I feel that’s what counts.

So, just to recap on my Challenge List Accomplishments:

2 Get my driver’s license

5 Run the Minneapolis Marathon

7 Actively Participate in a Medallion Hunt

22 Get a new job

I am still actively working on these goals. By the end of December, expect to see the a lot more things crossed off.

Marathon Day: Running the Minneapolis Marathon

The day had finally came. On March 31st I attempted my first marathon. After 18 of training, all the blood, sweat, and tears was finally put to the test
I was running the Minneapolis Marathon. Last year I trained to run the 2014 Minneapolis marathon. However, a thunder storm caused the race to be rained out. I call it a blessing in disguise. During my marathon training I realized I was in not prepared to run that race. My weekly mileage averaged 10-20 miles a week, I was doing a poor job carb loading, and I barely had a race plan. If I ran that race I would’ve fell hard. But now the 2015 race came and I went in feeling confident and well-trained.
Sunday morning started without a hithch. I woke up at 4:30  extremely well rested. I had all my race gear laid up the night before. This left plenty of time to gobble down my carb-filled breakfast and to force myself to use the bathroom. After reading through various marathon reports I learned it’s best to go to the bathroom as much as possible before the race.
Shortly after waking up I had my massage therapist friend stop by. I scheduled a warm-up massage session with him to help loosen up any last minute tension. After 30 minutes of work I was ready to run. I made sure to fit in one last bathroom break before heading out. I left a little before 6:00, it should’ve been ample time to get to the starting line before the race started. Unbeknowest to me, some construction sites had caused me to detour enough times to arrive late. The race started promptly at 6:30, and I was cutting it close at 6:25. I got out of the car roughly two blocks away from the starting line and I raced to the starting line. I started my race at 6:35.
I was the the last to start in the race. I knew I had to make up for lost time so my goal was to run at a moderate pace to catch up with the 9:00 min/mile racers than keep at their pace for the rest of the marathon. As I ran I started to catch up with some of the runners going at a 11:00 min/mile pace. Then I began to pass them. Soon I found myself passing by a lot more of the runners. By mile 4 I felt well energized and had passed by over a hundred runners.
This made me cocky. I gradually increased my pace as I passed runners. For the next few miles I kept a mental map of the route. Every 2 miles I was going to drink a cup of water. Every 7-8 miles I was going to have an energy gel. I was still passing by the runners effortlessly. By mile 6 I was greeted with a long stretch of hills. I slowed my pace down so I didn’t tire my Type II muscles. Thank goodness for that. I was seeing many runners keep at the same pace as they went up these hills. It wasn’t long before I, and many others, started to pass them.
The first 8 miles went by quick. I didn’t feel slightly tired and I was still passing by  runners. I felt like by now I had to have been coming close to the 9:00 min/mile runners. I decided to pace myself with another runner. I spotted a runner ahead of me wearing a bright red shirt and an orange headband. He was going at the same speed as I was so I kept close behind him. He and I were whizzing past many of the runners ahead of us. I was impressed that he and I were able to keep a solid pace even when we neared the halfway mark. However, by mile 11 I noticed he started to slow down. I had done well to keep in range of him, but now I found myself going at a lot slower of a pace than I felt I could run. I decided to run ahead of him hoping he’ll catch up with me soon. I never saw him the rest of the race.
Between miles 12-13 I was switching off between people to pace behind. Many of these runners I try to pace with would be the ones who would burst ahead of me for a short distance only to shortly lose steam and fall behind. I finally caught up with the 9:00 min/mile pacers. I felt myself going at a reasonable pace and decided to move on ahead of them. Finally I reached the halfway point. I was excited to have made it so far and not even feel tired. The last half of the marathon was a loop. We would run an extra 6.5 miles from the half way point then turn around and run 6.7 miles back to the finish line.
I felt comfortable at my pace, so I had the crazy idea to attempt negative splits. The last half was extremely hilly. I had tried to do well to slow my pace down, but even then I started to feel my muscles tire. I was approaching mile 16 and I started to slowly feel the effects of my running. It was only then I reminded myself “You are not running this as a race, you’re running this to complete it. Slow down”. I started to keep my pace slower, but I feel like it was too late. I was no longer being the passer, but the one being passed. I took another energy gel by mile 17. It did not digest well the rest of the run. I felt sluggish by mile 20, and I forced myself to take my 3rd energy gel by mile 21.
I started feeling delusional at some point in my run. By mile 21 I saw a kid try to hand out what I assumed was half eaten piece of corn. My mile 22 I referred to the guy handing out a plate of oranges as Saint Juicy. By mile 23 I realized I had been holding an empty plastic cup since mile 22. By mile 24 I settled that if I eat that last energy gel I was going to vomit.
It was a struggle to run those last 2.2 miles. Every step ran was another step I wanted to slow down and walk. However, I kept pushing myself to keep going. I kept thinking to myself the encouraging thoughts I had during my training, “It’s faster to finish if you just keep running”, “You had not stopped running so far, why start now?”, “It’s easier if you just don’t think about it”. It was tiring, but I was able to push myself run the longest 2 miles I had ever ran. I saw the finish line and I crossed it feeling overjoyed, finishing with a time of 3:47:44.
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I felt like I was walking on jello, but I was too happy to care. I not only completed a marathon but I ran it’s entirety. My brother and my girlfriend greeted me shortly after. I was grateful for them to be there. I tried to scoff down some water but my body was struggling to consume anything. The next half hour felt like torture.
I had tried to make sure I stood up and stretched out. I was too tired to move, and too tired to stand. I eventually collapsed on the ground unable to feel my arms. I had to be fed my food because I couldn’t move my body. I knew something was wrong and asked my brother to get First Aid. After a short while I found myself lying down on a bed with 5 different guys asking for my name. I couldn’t remember much, I did remember the feeling of cold towels, people forcing me to drink fluids, and then waking up to the sound of “We Are The Champions” playing nearby. I eventually was given the go to leave. I hobbled down to the car eating the baggie of pretzels given to me at the finish line. They were the best damn pretzels I’ve ever had.
___
That puts an end to my marathon journey. At least for this year. I spent the next two weeks trying to walk normally. I admit, taking a break from running only made me anxious to run more. The 18 weeks spent running were tiring, but it felt worth it in the end.
Were there things I would want to change? Sure. I would’ve gotten to the race earlier so I could have ran at my goal pace. I felt like passing by the slower runners just drove my arrogance to run faster than I should have. I would have stretched out more during my training to avoid my knee injury. It would have allowed me to put in a lot more mileage and maybe finish a bit easier. I would’ve skipped the idea of doing negatives. I realize that just because I’m doing well the first half, doesn’t mean I’ll keep it up the second half. I would’ve also have skipped the energy gels and switch off between water and Gatorade. My need for first aid was caused by a lack of electrolytes. After I chugged a good few cups of Gatorade I started to feel normal.
Overall, I had fun. I would definitely recommend anyone who has never done it to run a marathon, and I mean RUN a marathon. My experience has caused me to push myself hard. It’s now a lot easier to quiet that voice in my head that tells me to stop going when things get tough. I have a new found confidence in myself because of it.
Marathon pic
Thank you all for reading my Marathon Training blog.  It was an exhausting journey, but  it was worth it was worth it in the end. You may have noticed that at some point I stopped posting the Hanson’s Marathon method reports on my blog. I apologize for this, but my schedule wouldn’t allow me to write a summary of the chapter so frequently. With that being said, I still plan on summarizing the chapters. Now that my marathon is finished I will be making posts that will summarize each chapter. These chapter summaries will hopefully be posted on a weekly basis. Stay tuned for any updates on this. Until then, remember to stay dedicated and train hard.

5 Run the Minneapolis Marathon ACCOMPLISHED

Bucket List
12 Run a Marathon ACCOMPLISHED

Goal 2 Completed: Got my driver’s license

Hello everyone! It has been a while since I last posted. I have been super busy trying to finish my goals for 2015. Today marks another goal accomplished. I finally got my driver’s license!

It has been a long while coming. I had my fair share of failures from previous tests and it resulted in me having to take 6 hours of Behind The Wheel for me to take the test. The biggest issue with that was that I did not have the funds to pay for Behind the Wheel. Fortunately enough for me, the new job I got in March helped me pay for a lot of necessities to work towards my goals.

Now, after 5 years of waiting, and 6 hours of behind the wheel finished, I passed my Driver’s test with flying colors!

Challenge List

2 Get my driver’s license ACCOMPLISHED!

Goal 22 Completed: Got a new Job!

Last February I was interviewed for a job at a different company. There was some miscommunication that went on, and I thought I got the job. I sent my 2-weeks noticed in to my previous job. I went in on the day I thought I started, only to find out that I was not offered a position. They had informed me that they were still in the selection process, and there were some issues with my paper work. In short, I was unemployed.

Now, 1 month, and many papers later, I was offered the job. I started last Wednesday and I couldn’t be more happier. This job fulfills nearly everything I’m looking for in my field-related career.

Challenge List:

22 Get a new job ACCOMPLISHED!