Races

Doing More, Better

It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve updated this blog! I remember the moment that inspired the last post: I was rehearsing with my old improv team in a back room of a strange charter school in Ravenswood.  The exercise was to get to know each other better. We stood in a circle with one person in the middle and the other group members were able to ask anything they wanted.

A question to me was, “you seem to do a lot; what all do you do or try to do?” My answer was that ensuing blog post.

So 2 years later, it feels like a good time to take a look back and see what I’ve accomplished, what I started, where I’ve made progress, what I’ve given up, and what I’ve yet to do…

  • Work/Career growth
    • Started an amazing new job at Healthbox in March 2016 with an amazing team and have made great strides there
  • Study for the GMAT
    • Done and taken!
  • Apply to business school/get my MBA
    • Applications complete—see a forthcoming blog post on that : )
  • Start a podcast
  • Go on more dates
    • Yeah, some.
  • Work on self-exploration with a therapist (just started!)
    • Doing this regularly. Also have a great accountability group that have been so helpful in this process
  • Go to chiropractor regularly and do rehab/prehab exercises
    • I did this… one time…
  • Learn to dance hip hop
    • Went to a class! And hired a coach for one lesson. Not pursuing this right now, but would love to pick it up someday when I have time
  • Workout
    • Non-negotiable
  • Do triathlons
    • Did a few more this past year! Made a commitment to not “bail” on any races and upheld that! The accountability group was incredible in this
  • Do obstacle/adventure races
    • Had a blast! Won the Savage Race outright and Qualified for OCR World Championships

 

  • Travel
    • Went to China in January to see my sister who is teaching there. Incredible trip!
  • Practice for Improv group 2
    • Doing
  • Shows for Improv group 2
    • Every other week
  • Networking
    • The new job has afforded me amazing opportunities to travel to conference and get more involved in the tech, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and venture capital worlds
      • Pro tip: Always add value to the relationship 
  • Go to more business/professional development events outside of work
    • See above
  • Keep great friendships
    • This should always be ongoing
  • Maintain my social life (where it doesn't overlap with other items on this list--like simply going out or concerts, etc.)
    • Could be better about this
  • See more live music
    • Pusha T, Eve 6, Run the Jewels, Ja Rule, Chance the Rapper
  • Sleep MORE
    • Not even close
  • Write more for myself
    • Nope
  • Writing articles for other websites
  • Practice mindfulness/meditation; possibly in a class setting
    • Much much better as of late! Having accountability partners is crucial
  • Go to gymnastics
    • Not yet!!
  • Go to Crossfit
    • Rarely, but would love to go more
  • Play more basketball
    • Have played some random, unplanned pickup games and it’s been a blast
  • Start playing hockey
    • Putting off till later
  • Play in my rec sports leagues
    • Rarely
  • Host some mastermind group dinners/friends dinners
    • Did a couple! Or at least arranged some get-togethers of like-minded people
  • Go play ultimate Frisbee
    • Once!
  • Read more books
    • I read my first physical book for the first time in year recently: The Inner Game of Tennis. Really great lessons that I’ll write more on at some point.
    • Currently reading Radical Candor by Kim Scott as team at Healthbox. This book is great!

What happens between November and March…

I’ve done and accomplished many things since I last wrote a blog update. I guess I’ll blame Chicago’s winter for my lack of writing… Although it hasn’t stopped me from riding my bike to work every day and walking everywhere (both of which I love!) So I’m going to go through a quick highlight of coolest, most fun, and most impactful things that have occurred up until now.

In November, my parents came to visit for the first time here in Chicago, which was a blast. They were able to stay with me at my apartment and then tour the city and do everything they wanted whilst I was at work, and then I was able to meet then for dinner and do some other fun things. They then drove the 3 of us to Pittsburgh where we spent Thanksgiving with the family at my cousin’s new house. She and her husband moved there from Tulsa, so we collectively got to do some exploring.

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In December, I took the most epic trip I’ve ever been on. My cousin Stephen and I took a 10-day trip to Costa Rica. We started in San Jose, the capital, and rented a car and drove to Arenal, the country’s biggest volcano. It also happens to be a rain forest… and it rained for the entire day we were there. Thus, instead of waiting around to see if it would stop, we hopped in the car a day earlier than planned and headed to the beach!

Sloth again

Sloth!!

Mt. Arenal

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Sloth!

Tamarindo picture

After 4 hours on the treacherous Costa Rican roads, we arrived in beautiful Tamarindo, a beach town on the Western Coast. Leaving a day early was a great decision and we toured the city and body-surfed in the Pacific all day. From there, we moved to a nearby hotel for a couple more days, then drove south to Samara (spending the majority of our time in Nosara, a surf-town in between Samara and Tamarindo) before spending a fun night in San Jose before flying home.

Resort pictures

I can’t remember which activities we did in which city, but here are the activities we got to do and some pictures!

  • Mountain biking
  • Left cell phone in mountain biking guides truck…
  • Surfing
  • Went to a Costa Rican “Discotecha”
  • ATV riding
  • Hiking and driving through a crazy forest on barely-existent roads
  • Body-surfed some epic waves at different beaches
  • Saw a sloth
  • Saw howler monkeys
  • Got our car stuck in a river… and consequently made friends with locals who help us lift it out…
  • Ate Brahman (grass-fed Costa Rican cattle)
  • Got stung by jellyfish (in the worst possible places)
  • Went zip-lining
  • Worked out at a tiny, sweltering gym in Samara
  • Walked around San Jose central marker

Tamarindo

Samara hotel

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Off-roading

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Crossing Costa Rican "river road"

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IN the river...

Coming back to Chicago in the middle of winter from Costa Rica is a pretty hard transition.

I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but I started taking Improv classes at Second City back in April. This has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I plan to write a lot more about it in the future. In short, I just graduated from their Improv program last week after completing Level A through E! Friends and I have done some shows around the city and I was also part of a Coached Ensemble recently, doing a 4 week run of shows on the Second City stage.

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I also took a hip-hop improv class, called Yes Yes Y’all, late last year which was a blast! YouTube videos to come...

I’m now taking an Auditioning For The Screen workshop and plan to take an acting class beginning in April.  I don’t have an end goal, but I’m excited to see where this all goes.

Lastly, I’m stoked to announce that I’ll be racing for the Wattie Ink Elite Triathlon Team again this year! This team is comprised of such an amazing group of people and I’m so proud to be a part of it. Check out my sponsors page as well for more on some of the amazing sponsors our team has. I’m also excited to announce a few new partners in a couple weeks as well!

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I’ve been doing an indoor triathlon series put on by my local gym. I’ll write about the whole series after the championships in April, but it has been a lot of fun doing smaller distance-for-time style races to even a full indoor Olympic distance race this past weekend! Last week I got to again with one of my AWESOME teammates, Cate!

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That’s it. I’ve got some cool stuffed planned over the next month that I am really excited to bring to fruition and highlight here! Here’s a hint—if you are doing something that’s cool (anything!) and want to talk about it, let me know!

Be easy--

Lake Zurich Triathlon Race Report

A few weeks ago I finally got to race my first triathlon of this year! After seeing a bunch of my teammates at the Chicago ITU race a few weeks before, I was itching to race. That night, I signed up for the Lake Zurich Triathlon, a nearby triathlon. I didn't know how I was going to get there, just simply that I was going to race. Getting to the race was no easy task. My plan was to take the train to my aunt's house, sleep over there, borrow her car the next morning and drive to the race, then drive back to her house, and take the train back home. Turns out I chose the ONE weekend of the year that you can't take bikes on the train (due to the Taste of Chicago)... After lugging all my tri gear to the train station with me (and managing to not crash on my bike there) I was crushed when the conductor told me I couldn't board. After pleading my case for the next 15 minutes, he decided to break the rules and be a decent guy and let me on. Thanks conductor--you're awesome.

The rest was pretty simple--except that they didn't have my registration when I got to the race site that morning. Turns out I had just signed up late but there were no issues with me racing.

The water temperature was awesome; wetsuit legal but not too cold. I wore my Wattie Ink exclusive BlueSeventy wetsuit and got off well with the age group pack I was in. My swim was feeling strong but, as has happened in many races before (only is open-water, wetsuit races), my left shoulder started aching. I don't know how to describe the feeling except that it felt like there were only so many strokes I could take in a row, or only so much power I could put behind the stroke before I had to give that arm a second of rest. I gave my shoulders a ton of warming up before the race in fear of this, but it still happened. If anyone has any insight, I'd love to hear it!

I came out of the water in a time I was pleased with given the circumstance. My bike was ready to go, but after scratching the visor on my helmet, I had opted to remove it and race with sun glasses instead. My Rudy Project glasses look sick anyway, so it was a good move.

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H/T teammate Cate Demet for this image (these are her glasses and picture but I have the same pair)! Image source: Rudy Project

The bike was a 2 loop rolling course so you had the benefit of learning the course during the first lap and attacking more aggressively on the second lap. The course had enough hills that it was fun but not so many that you couldn't still go consistently fast. I was caught by a few of the strong older guys, but spent of the time passing earlier waves.

I much preferred riding without the visor on my helmet as I could see a lot clearer and didn't have to worry about to the visor fogging up, especially early on during the bike. Nor did I have to worry when trying to wipe away any sweat or water that would collect on the visor.

I decided to really push hard on the bike and had one of my fastest bike splits to date on an olympic course. This left me more tired for the run, respectively, but I still felt good. It was my first run of that distance in a while--my training as of late has been much more focused on short intervals and tempo work, so I was happy to be able to keep the pace I did.

The run was 2 laps as well. On the first lap I felt strong, but knew I would be hurting by the end (but that's supposed to be the case!) I started running alongside a guy in an older age group and paced with him for most of the race. He actually was passing me and I wasn't going to let that happen, so I filed in immediately behind him and basically drafted off him. Whether drafting during a run is mental or there really is some benefit, it seemed to work! At one point I ran up next to him said "Just to let you know, I'm not trying to be a dick, just trying to keep up!" His response was something like "Fuck you kid, you're 20 years younger than me!"  To which I just gave a grin... While there was nothing memorable about the run course, I would rate it as "difficult". It was all pavement and only partially shaded with small rolling hills.

I finished with a time I was happy with! I placed 3rd in my age group and in the top 10% overall. It felt really, really good to medal in my first race in 7 months. I'd really like to figure out this shoulder issue and see how well I could do in the swim if I could really give it my all.

 

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A fun start to the season and I'm looking forward to a few more races I have planed for this year! Let me know if anyone has insight on my shoulder issue!

- Rock the W -

 

This Feels Right

A lot has happened since my last post--which is a large reason I've been delaying this update (well, that and until today it used to take me hours to upload pictures...). I've got a changes coming, but I guess I'll start at the end first. Then weekend before last, I hopped on a plane and jetted out to California--I flew into LA, saw my cousin, and rode with a friend 4 hours north to be a part of the one and only Wildflower Triathlons. This was a team event for Wattie Ink, so I had the chance to meet about 20 of my teammates...  they are all awesome and overall really really good people. We camped out Friday night (in a tent) and I then spent the entire day Saturday chasing around most of my teammates who were racing the Long Course half-Ironman race.  I think I got a video of nearly everyone crossing the finish line or out on the course! (Let me know if you raced and I'll see if I got you on video!) Heather Jackson, a Wattie Ink pro triathlete, won the overall Pro female division and dominated the course!

Heather Jackson- the Champ!

Transition

If you don't know about Wildflower, it's known as one of the toughest triathlon courses in the country. Mad props to everyone who finished on Saturday as it was easily like 90 degrees- I was getting a workout just around with the camera so I know the racers felt it.

Some of the squad at Wildflower

The next morning we woke up to temps in 50s. I was so cold I didn't even know if I was going to start the olympic distance race I would be doing that morning.  Luckily, I got into my Blue Seventy wetsuit early and was able to stay warm. The race was awesome--swim was choppy and impossible to sight, hills on the bike were crazy, and the run felt entirely uphill until the last mile.  My swim was bad, but I blame that on how I swam, not my swimming ability, bike was solid, and my run was really good.  This felt awesome based on the amount and distance that my training has been. I've been doing less with more intensity and lifting a lot more.

Headed toward the finish

Me and One-arm Willie!

My wild one-armed uncle Willie was there! I met him at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon a few years. He won the overall challenged athlete division

After the wild weekend, I returned to LA, got In n Out Burger with my cousin (that's right bitches) then hopped a train to San Diego, bike in tote. I stayed with a good friend of mine and we sealed the deal on an apartment we'll be moving into in June...

Which brings me back to the start!

A few weeks ago, I made the decision to resign from my job. It was not in line with where I wanted to go in my career and I wasn't happy.  At the time, I didn't have something else lined up yet, but I knew that if I didn't make a move, I never would.  So I stepped away... And I have never felt so happy. The decision felt so right and so powerful. Now, I could be happy, and my destiny lies in what I make of it and how hard I work for ME. I came across this article today, which totally reaffirmed what I plan to do.

So through a series of events and hustling, I am going to be moving to San Diego next week to pursue an opportunity in marketing, brand development, and sports--everything I want to be doing and that will help me determine and align what I want to do in the long term. I couldn't be happier and more excited.  I will be very sad to leave Tampa and the amazing friends I have here, but this is going to be another huge step in my recovery: for me to get to a new environment, leave old habits, and create a life free from the things in my past which kept me stuck.

To help support myself, I'm also going to start personal training again, which I can't wait to do as it is something I really enjoy and I have a lot more experience and knowledge than when I was training in college.

ACEpost (2)

Next Tuesday I'll head out from Tampa on a cross country adventure.  I've talked my little brother into making half of the road trip with me which should be awesome! Our plan is drive from Tampa to Atlanta, spend the night in Atlanta, then spend a night and day in Nashville, followed by the next night and nearly a full day in Memphis, then stopping through Little Rock as we finish in Tulsa for the weekend where my cousin is having her wedding. After the wedding, my brother is flying home, and I'll finish the journey through Albuquerque for a night and then spend a night in Las Vegas! If anyone is along this route, please let me know, as it would be awesome to meet up! Especially in the second half of that trip--who wants to go to Vegas with me??  No, like really, I need someone to go with!

Here goes!

1,000 miles in the car with this kid...

Crystal River Sprint Triathlon... and tubing!

Since this was just a sprint and I have a lot of pictures, I am going to spare you the narrative and just post a lot of pictures

Saturday was the first of a 3 part sprint Triathlon series in Crystal River.  This was a 400m bay swim, 15 mile bike, and 3 mile run.

Sprints hurt.

The swim was a running start from the beach.  Luckily there aren’t really any waves so I was able to work on entry and dolphining from a running start.  Not my best swim ever, but finished ahead of enough people to feel ok about it. I still know that I need a ton of work here, so I’m just going to keep grinding.

In T1 I opted, for the first time to go sockless since I felt it would be a good idea to figure out how I felt about this and my transitions need work as is.

The bike was fast and flat--a straight out and back.  Due to where I was, the course wasn’t too crowded so it was easy enough to pass people and also avoid any drafting.  This is good because while “drafting” can give that slight advantage, it does nothing to help develop my power systems. It was frustrating to see packs of riders coming at me in the other direction as I made my way on the back half of the course.

I finished the bike with and average pace of about 22.5 mph.  Threw on my shoes and bolted out on the run.  3 miles is no joke.  I set my Garmin to Heart Rate and just ran as hard as I could so that I couldn’t look at my pace. After pushing hard on the bike and pushing hard on the run, I was definitely feeling it (it was awesome!)

I kept thinking to myself, I do half Ironman’s??  How do I possibly do those runs?? But these are completely different types of runs. It tells me that I need to better develop the capacity of my heart muscle to allow me to go harder.

My pace for the run was 6:11 min/mile.  Pretty happy with that and 10th overall run.

Overall I came in 32/275 and 2nd in my age group.  The guy who beat me was pretty good, but did get a drafting penalty... No I shook his hand, the picture just caught me at an awkward time lol

Here’s the group we brought from XpMultisport--all the victorious finishers!

After the race we drove up to Rainbow River and spent the afternoon tubing down it in our Walmart Innertubes. The water was perfect and it was a blast.  And rope swings?  Hell. Yeah.

We also began swimming in the long course pool this week. One practice in and I really like it.  I think this is going to really help my stroke. Right coach?

This Sunday I am racing the Long Course Duathlon National Championships in Cambridge, MD. I fly out Friday morning and am really stoked but really nervous/exited to race. We will see what this race holds and who shows up.

Alls I know, when I toe that start line, I’m going to be ready to go and balling to win.

Rock the W