2014: Goal, Theme & Challenge – Review

At the beginning of 2014 I wrote about my goal, theme and challenge for the year. I’ve posted a few updates throughout the year but want to take some time now to do a final review.

2014 Goal: Read 24 Books

Self Grade: 7/10

My goal was to read 24 books – I finished at 17. I had hoped to cover 12 fiction and 12 non-fiction. I actually read 3 fiction and 14 non-fiction. I also got 50 hours through the 60 hours of Les Miserables.

I started the year off doing pretty well. I cruised through the first 8 books, thanks largely to utilizing audiobooks.

I hit a rut in the summer when I stopped listening to audiobooks as I trained and got stalled in the paper books I was reading. That resulted in months of no progress.

I eventually got back in the habit though & finished strong by finishing 5 books in December.

My list for the year was:

  • The Millionaire Next Door*
  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants*
  • The Joy of Less
  • The 4-Hour Workweek*
  • The Art of War*
  • Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People*
  • Warren Buffett’s Management Secrets*
  • The Triathlete’s Training Bible
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  • From the Heart of a Lion
  • Why Guys need God
  • Shepherding a Child’s Heart
  • Jack: Straight from the Gut
  • Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week
  • Into Thin Air
  • 83.33% of Les Miserables*

*Denotes audiobook

2014 Theme: Bear the Burdens of Others

Self Grade: 3/10

2014 demonstrated with clarity that it is incredibly hard to focus on others when most of your energy is going into focusing on yourself or your own goals.

I was training for an Ironman which took up most of my free time. Not only did that not give me extra time or energy to bear the burdens of others, but there were often times where I was placing extra burdens on others.

I was able to find some ways to contribute, but am not happy overall with the progress I made this year.

2014 Challenge: Complete an Ironman

Self Grade: 10/10

I had at one point decided on a partial point system based on my finishing position, but have since decided that for my challenges, the result should be binary.

I not only completed an Ironman, I competed. I put up an impressive time for a first timer and am happy with the progress I made this year.

I do believe I could have done a bit better – but circumstances around my race being moved took me out of my prime fitness. Additionally I don’t think I pushed quite to my max during the race as I was worried that if I pushed any harder I would hit a wall and not finish at all. If I were to try again, now that I’ve finished one, I would probably push a bit more earlier on and see what happened.

I don’t think another Ironman is in the cards for me based on my current family and career goals. Maybe in 10 years or so I’ll try again – the good news is ultra-endurance races are one area where people can perform admirably well into their 30s and even 40s.

2014: Goal, Theme & Challenge: Update 1

2014 Goal: Read 24 Books

I’m on track.*

In January I completed ‘The Millionaire Next Door’ and am half way through both “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” and “David and Goliath”.

*The asterisk is because of a decision I made that audiobooks count. It wasn’t my original intent to listen to books, I wanted to read them. As I started I realized how much time I would be spending training for my Ironman, 1-5 hours a day, so I invested in a waterproof mp3 player and got some audiobooks so I could leverage that time.

I’m going to try to consume less than 50% of my books as audiobooks and I’m going to try to limit it to the non-fictions. I feel like I am able to learn from a non-fiction even when listening to it while I’m not able to slow down and imagine the world of a fiction quite as much.

2014 Theme: Bear the Burdens of Others

My updates will be short of this theme. I don’t really feel like it is appropriate to share much here – where I do have the chance to bear burdens for others, sharing will often sacrifice privacy and confidentiality.

What I will say is that I’ve found a great organization to partner with and am excited for the work they’re doing in San Francisco.

2014 Challenge: Complete an Ironman

This is one of 14 updates about my 2014 challenge to complete an Ironman – you can see a list of the others here.

I’m training again and it feels good, though a bit more difficult than I remember it.

The last time I was seriously training I was 21. Its been a long 6 years and I’ve sustained a few injuries that  have never fully recovered. Stiff knees, weak ankles and a rotator cuff issue. Training for this race is going to involve a lot more careful planning than I remember and a good deal of listening to my body.

I started off the month training for two challenge’s: 2013’s, which I had extended my deadline for, and 2014’s. Now that I have completed my 2013 challenge I can focus 100% on this year’s Ironman.


I’m using runkeeper to track my training. The chart above shows my running activity. What it doesn’t show, except for the one pink bar, is my surfing activity. Most days I don’t attribute a distance to surfing, but I did on January 25th because I could actually map the mile paddle out to Mavericks.

In January I completed 20 activities in the 31 days. I missed about a week at the end of the month due to a cold I was fighting off. Then coming back from that week I re-sprained my ankle playing snow football. (I got the touchdown though)

I’ll be in the pool for a bit (the green bar) and ordered a new bike that should be coming soon. Those two should hold me over until I can run again.

Finally, I decided on and signed up for the race I’m going to run: Ironman Lake Tahoe. I picked it because it is the closest to me NOT because of the 7K feet of elevation I’ll be climbing on the 112 mile bike course. Nonetheless, Tahoe is a special place that I’ve enjoyed visiting many times over the past few years, so I’m looking forward to racing there.

2014: Goal, Theme & Challenge

Last year I blogged about a few efforts I had defined for my year and really enjoyed it. I stretched myself a bit, had something to strive for, and had a decent success rate. One of the most surprising benefits was that by explicitly setting a challenge, and knowing I would do this in future years, I had an easier time saying no to other ideas I had. I realized that I could set them as a challenge in the future, and thus felt no guilt that I wasn’t doing anything to achieve them in 2013.

This year I will do the same. I’ve of course learned a bit and will be making a few modifications to the process.

Goal – Something I want to accomplish that is measurable and relatively continual. eg. exercise X times per week or watch less than X hours of TV per week.

Theme – A central topic for the year – something I can spend time thinking about and take a few concrete efforts towards. eg. grow as a leader, rethink what health means

Challenge – Something big and binary that I want to conquer – likely something I’ll have to train for. eg. climb Mr. Everest or surf Mavericks

2014 Goal: Read 24 Books

In 2014 I’m going attempt to read 24 books. 12 fiction and 12 non-fiction.

In 2013 I probably read just over a half-dozen books. Only one was fiction (The Hobbit), the rest were of about various career, parenting or religious topics. So, two dozen books is a decent goal, but not by any means impossible.

Lately, most of my reading has been online; articles, blog posts or social media updates. Those are all great things that I often learned from and enjoy, but they do not provide the same benefits as reading books. Books offer more depth due to their length and the barriers to publishing often produce well edited and more thought through works – though there are many downfalls to the current state of publishing as well.

More importantly, the way I read books tends to be much different than how I read online. I’ve realized that when reading a book I tend to focus much more. While reading articles I often follow rabbit holes, open new tabs and start researching other items. While this is a fine way to read some things, I want to make sure I balance them. Reading allows me to dive deeply into a single topic, to pause to think and to relax more. Reading from paper or e-paper is also easier on the eyes and I’ve found it to be easier to fall asleep at night after reading from one of these as opposed to an lcd screen.

2014 Theme: Bear the Burdens of Others

My theme for 2014 will be bearing the burdens of others.

I have been blessed with excess. I have more than enough money to feed and shelter my family. More than enough to time to have leisure and to pursue hobbies. More than enough health & energy to travel to distant places and participate in exciting adventures.

I am grateful for these things, but being grateful alone is selfish. This year I want to be intentional about further using my excess to help others than need it. To lift up those with nowhere to stand, to be a post for those who need a place to lean in hard times and to offer second chances to those who would otherwise not have them.

2014 Challenge: Complete an Ironman

In 2014 I am challenging myself to finish an Ironman Triathlon.

The race, which usually takes 10-14 hours includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike & 26.2 mile run.

I’ve wanted to do triathlons for a long time. My first one was a Boy Scout camp back when I was about 12. I really enjoyed the mixture of the three sports.

I ran Cross Country & Track in school, so running is my strong leg. I’ve actually never run a full marathon, even though I used to run ~10 miles per day. I’ve never done much distance biking or swimming – but I have a bit of swimming experience from my water polo days and did some road biking when I studied abroad.

My goal will be to finish, but I suspect I won’t be happy being in back of the race. When I used to run competitively I would usually place top 3 for my age group and I’ve even won a few races, so I’ll have to taper my expectations.