2019 Goals and Word of the Year

One thing I like to do every year is look back and see how I spent my time, what I thought I would get done and didn’t, and what I want to prioritize in the coming year. I also look ahead at what I have on the calendar. I use all of these things to set some goals for the year. Typically, these goals are focused on bettering myself and the world around me.

This year, I’m also setting a word of the year, something I want to use to help focus my year. I have a number of Coeur teammates who do this every year, and I decided this year, I would too.

For 2019, my word is Challenge. I picked this after reading through some quotes and came across this one: “Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.” This definitely resonated with me, especially when it comes to racing. I often set race goals for myself that I fear I can’t meet but then I end up meeting and beating. The majority of the time, I crush my A goals. To me, that says I’m not setting my challenges high enough. This year, I want to push myself, both in triathlon and in life. I want to see what I can accomplish.

I took a look at my goals for last year and used those as a framework for 2019. I think some were too generic and I need to be more specific. I won’t say these are full on SMART goals, but they’re closer.

Goal 1 – Train and Race Smart at IM 70.3 Ohio
As the race draws closer, I will set specific time goals. Ideally, I would like to crush my 70.3 PR, but isn’t that always the race goal? Truly, the goal is to be smart about training. I want to push myself, but not so hard that I burn out or get injured or sick.

Goal 2 – Cook One New Recipe a Month
I have so many amazing cookbooks, and yet I tend to pick one or two recipes from them and just make them over and over again. I want to try at least one new recipe a month.

Goal 3 – Read More Books
This year, I got really into longform journalism, which is awesome, but it meant that I wasn’t reading as many books as I used to. I want to get back to that (which will also mean not reading from a screen before bed, which is a terrible habit) and track in Goodreads. I am going to try to read 50 books this year, which will include audiobooks. Given the hours of training I have ahead of me, that should be doable.

Goal 4 – Get My Budget to YNAB’s Rule 4
I have been using You Need a Budget for money management for probably around 10 years. The application has changed a lot in those years, but the basic concepts of the budgeting method haven’t. Rule 4 is the basic idea that you live on last month’s income. It helps you build a buffer for when unexpected expenses appear, and it makes monthly budgeting a lot easier. Now, I’m certainly not living paycheck to paycheck, but it’s been a while since I’ve been fully at Rule 4 and I’d like to get back there.

Goal 5 – Lift Heavy Things
When I injured my hip, I gave up on a lot of my workouts, and the big thing that hasn’t fully returned is weightlifting. I’m doing bodyweight workouts and some upper body strength work, but I want to get back to doing my regular weightlifting routine. My plan is to start with once a week and then increase that. I have the ChaLEAN Extreme Program that was popular a number of years back and I really enjoy it. It’s slow, controlled movements, and the workouts are under 45 minutes.

I think these are definitely doable goals, but also goals that will challenge me, especially in terms of time management. Life is busy, but it’s important I prioritize myself.

Training Safely with AfterShokz Trekz Air

Of course, I wore them around the house while doing chores too.

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Trekz Air to review (and one to give away) as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

My first experience with AfterShokz bone conduction headphones wasn’t actually wearing them myself, it was hearing all about them from friends and family. While I’ve never had an issue wearing earbuds, plenty of people find that they hurt their ears, and AfterShokz made a great solution to the problem. I was never sold on the idea, but I did like the added safety feature of having your ears completely unblocked, and thus able to hear all the ambient sounds around you.

What sold me on the product, even before trying them, was racing Space Coast with my sister. She wore her AfterShokz headphones during the race, and she was able to hear her music and still have a conversation with me and I couldn’t hear a single thing from her headphones. I honestly didn’t realize she even had the music on until she commented about a song that was playing. They aren’t lying about the lack of sound leakage.

So of course, when I was offered the chance to try them myself, I was absolutely in. The AfterShokz Trekz Air paired easily to my phone and I immediately tried them out, wearing them around the house as I did chores. It took me a bit to figure out how to best position them on my head, but once I did, I was immediately impressed. The sound quality was incredible and I could still hear what was going on around me.

Of course, I had to test if they were working because I was hearing the sound from the speakers or if it was actually bone conduction. So I put in a pair of earplugs. Yep, still clear as a bell. This technology is awesome.

I’m not sure that these would stay on Minnie’s head when running.

The first opportunity I had to wear them outside was on a rainy day, and I was thankful for the water resistant features. (Though one thing I did miss from my earbuds was that they kept cold water from dripping into my ears! Maybe this is the only downside.)

This is probably a dumb feature to some, but I love the fact that when I’m not wearing them on my head, I can just put them around my neck. Yes, I know this is a feature of all headphones. But after years of earbuds, I was so used to having to deal with something in my hands and getting the cord all tangled up that being able to just put these around my neck as I got ready to head out felt miraculous.

I mostly listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I workout, and I wasn’t sure how well the bone conduction would work, and I did find I had to increase the volume slightly, but other than that, I had no issues at all.

I was really impressed by the strength of the connection between the headphones and my phone. I had my phone charging in the kitchen and was walking around the house with a podcast playing and I only once had some audio dropout when I was a floor away and across the house (of course, my house isn’t that big). Conversely, when using my wireless speaker, I need to keep it in relatively close proximity to my phone (such as across the room) to hold the connection. I’m not sure how this is a useful feature, but it’s good to know that even if I have my phone buried under layers, I’ll still have great sound.

And in the spirit of the holiday season, AfterShokz even sent me a pair to share. I’m looking forward to 70.3 training with Liz, and thanks to these headphones, we can run together, listen to music, and still be able to chat!

I made her go swimming with me on a cold day before I gave these to her. I think it was a well-deserved reward.

So in sum, I’m now an AfterShokz convert. I’m excited to have a better way to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I’m running on the trails in my neighborhood. The single earbud just wasn’t cutting it. Wearing AfterShokz not only gives me better sound quality, but allows me to truly hear what’s going on around me. I look forward to a season of training with them!

2018 Year in Review

I had big plans in 2018, namely to finish a 70.3.

Well, we all know how those plans went. 2018 quickly went off the rails, but I did my best to regroup and reframe my goals. One of my goals was to get healthy and I can successfully say that I did that by rehabbing my hip. I’m back to running pain free, so I consider that a huge win.


January was definitely a month of discovery. I started the month with an awesome trip to Disney to cheer for the marathon, but ended the month with a diagnosed labral tear as well as MRI findings showing some sort of mass on my ovary. Unexpected, for sure.

Though I had been working with my PT prior to this (she’s the one who initially suspected the labral tear), at this point, we started doing focused work on my hip.


In February I saw an amazing doc who confirmed my super cool ovarian cyst and told me she was going to take it out at the beginning of March. I really appreciated her no-nonsense attitude.

This also began the month of cancelled plans. With the labral tear, racing the Donna half was out. Given that I wasn’t sure what surgery was going to cost me after insurance, I opted to cancel that trip to conserve expenses. Thanks to Southwest’s awesome policies, I transferred that flight to a trip to my parents’ house to see family. Always worth it (and much cheaper lodging too).


I started March with surgery. It was not as bad as I feared, save for the fact that we discovered that hydrocodone doesn’t have an effect on me. After surgery, my heart rate was elevated, and when the nurses asked if I was in pain, I said yes, but it wasn’t awful. They gave me more pain meds, which didn’t really help. I just figured the pain made sense. I had just been cut open. It was bearable after all. Turns out with the drugs I had been given, I shouldn’t have been feeling anything. Whoops. I discovered this later, when at home and alternating hydrocodone and ibuprofen, I realized that the ibuprofen helped and the hydrocodone did nothing. (Turns out this is a fun family trait. Thanks, Dad.)

Because of my surgery, I had to step back on some of my PT exercises. My surgeon was great and told me which of my exercises I could do, but it turns out that when your abdomen has been sliced open, you don’t want to do anything where you are leaning or laying such that the weight of your organs is pushing towards those incisions. So I lost a bit of recovery time here.

This was also the second cancelled trip, as I missed out on BDR New Orleans. This month, I also officially pulled out of 70.3 Chattanooga. I didn’t cancel my trip – I was way too excited to spend time with my Coeur teammates. I just knew I wouldn’t be racing.


This month, I started easing back into training. All self-guided, but it felt good to be back. I also started pushing my hip rehab now that my incisions were mostly healed.

This was the third missed race of the year – the local National Women’s Half. This one didn’t feel like as much of a loss, since it was a local race.

In April, I also got to see Hamilton with my family! It was even better than I thought it would be, seeing as I knew the soundtrack inside and out.


May was a big month. Though I wasn’t racing (fourth missed race of the year), I still traveled to 70.3 Chattanooga with some friends and it was worth every single minute. I don’t know that I could have had more fun. It was awesome to cheer for friends and strangers, help out where needed, and just enjoy the company of friends and my Coeur teammates. I’m so very glad I went and didn’t sit at home feeling sorry for myself.

I also went to see Harry Potter & the Cursed Child with my sister and my cousins – our first of two trips for the year. I wasn’t the biggest Harry Potter fan – I liked the books and movies, but wasn’t into it as much as some of them, but I really loved the play. We saw both parts in one day, and that’s a lot of time in a theater, but it never dragged. Definitely worth the trip.

Finally, in May, I started working with a new coach. Nothing against my old coach, but after a few years of working together, we just weren’t fitting as well as we had been, so I took the opportunity for a new start, knowing that I was spending the year rebuilding.


June was a bit of a quiet month, but it was also a month of a lot of training. This was my big push back to running, my big push towards racing. It was a month of a lot of hard work.


This was the month I had been working towards. Finally, my first race of the year. I’m so glad that it was Rev3 Williamsburg, a great way to start my season (and sadly, say goodbye to one of my favorite races). I was nervous, since I was still recovering, but it went so incredibly well and proved that all my training and PT was working.


Obviously, the Baltic Cruise was the highlight of August. I still can’t believe all of the things we got to see on that trip. I’m still trying to put together a photo book from the trip. Of course, I didn’t even get it close to finished by Christmas! It was worth every single penny spent, and I hope my sister and my cousins and I all get to travel together again in the next few years.


Choir started back up this month with our new conductor following two seasons of guest conductors. It was absolutely a change, but a welcome change. I appreciate someone who insists on hard work, but doesn’t ask more than you can give.

This month was also the end of my triathlon season with the Giant Acorn Oly. I had goals for this race, and was really happy with my finish. I managed to PR the course! All my work had paid off. It was a great race that felt incredibly good, and I was sad that my triathlon season was so short, but glad that it was a successful season.


October was a bit of a blur. I raced my 11th Army Ten Miler. It certainly wasn’t a fast race, but I raced without pain, which was the whole goal.

We also had a huge choir concert this month, premiering a work that was written in 1917 and had never been performed. It was absolutely exhausting. So many hours spent rehearsing. But when it was all said and done, it was a very cool thing to be a part of, and I’m looking forward to hearing the recordings once they’re complete.


I finally made it back to book club (then promptly missed the December meeting). I need to find a way to prioritize this in my schedule – I really like spending time with these ladies!

The month ended with a triumphant return to half marathon racing, nearly a full year since my last 13.1. It was like I wrapped up the past year in a nice bow when I finished that race. The previous year, I was struggling with my hip, and this year, I finished strong.

That was followed by an amazing whirlwind trip to Disney World to see the decorations. It was exhausting and so much fun. Anyone who thinks Disney isn’t for adults is wrong.


Finally, a relatively easy month. It’s a month of rest and recovery from an intense year of training. I sang three holiday concerts (still less work than October’s premiere) and am currently spending Christmas with my family, which is the best way to end a great year.


This jerk stole my pizza.

It’s definitely starting to feel like the last half of the year has completely flown by.  I sat down to look at my list of blog posts for the past month and realized just how much this space has been ignored.  I’m going to try to make blogging more of a priority next year because 1) I enjoy it and 2) keeping a record of what I’m doing and how I’m feeling has been amazing for my training.  

In terms of training, following Space Coast, I’m taking a bit of an easy month.  This year has been a lot of rebuilding and it was definitely a push towards certain events – getting back to triathlon, getting back to running double digits, and finally getting back to the half marathon.  So for December, I’m taking it easy, getting in workouts, but also making sure to prioritize rest and recovery.

Of course, rest is easier said than done in December.  I’m sure that rings true for many of us.  For me, December means holiday choir concerts.  This past weekend, I sang three holiday concerts.  It was amazing and insanely exhausting.  I joined this choir in January of 2008, so it’s been a pretty constant presence in my life since I moved to DC.  Over the past couple of years though, I had sort of started to dread rehearsals.  For the most part, I enjoyed participating, and I liked singing, but sometimes, rehearsals felt like a drag.  This could be partly because they go from 7:30-10 on a Monday night, which is past my bedtime.  

This year, we have a new music director (only the third since the choir began in 1941), and he has brought with him a new energy that I didn’t know I needed.  It has made rehearsals a lot more fun, but it’s also an absolutely exhausting way to start the week.  Still, I’m enjoying it much more than I have in years, so I’m glad I didn’t give it up.

I’ve been trying to figure out what my goals for 2019 are going to be.  2018 went off the rails quite quickly, but turned out to be a pretty awesome year just the same.  I’m hoping we can skip the “off the rails” part and just go into the “pretty awesome” part for 2019.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?  Set goals for the year?  Got any suggestions for me?

Running with Zwift

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod to use on Zwift running as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I have talked here about how much I have enjoyed biking with Zwift over the past year.  Recently, Zwift has started Zwift running, where with a footpod, you can run on your treadmill and run on Zwift.  I first noticed this when I started seeing runners along the bike course.  It was always a little amusing when I was biking up a 15% grade and my avatar was barely moving and someone would come running past me. (But let’s be honest, that could happen in the real world as well.)

So when the opportunity came up to get a Run Pod from Zwift so I could try out the running option, I was in.

Zwift running is still in the early phases, so while you have to pay to bike on Zwift, running is completely free.  You just need a footpod that you can connect to your computer, tablet, or phone.  If you don’t have one, you can buy one from Zwift for $30, but a lot of runners already have footpods that will work.  Check out this list on Zwift.

I use Zwift on a 4-year-old iPad, with just the Zwift Run Pod, and I had no trouble connecting.  I know that some people with older tablets have had trouble connecting to Zwift, though the team at Zwift is incredibly helpful and will do their best to get you connected.  

I prop the iPad on my treadmill and use it that way.  As you can see, Zwift is also reading my heartrate.  I have a Scosche heart rate monitor that connects to Zwift, so I use it when I run on Zwift, as I like data.

I am a Galloway runner, so I run/walk, even when on the treadmill.  I wasn’t sure how well Zwift would read this.  I was pleasantly surprised.  While there’s a bit of a lag between the speed change of my feet and the speed change of the avatar, it pretty much keeps up.  Zwift didn’t always correctly read my speed (example – I had the treadmill set at 5.3 and it read as 4.9), but after a 45 minute run, the difference between the distance on my treadmill and the distance on Zwift was only about a tenth of a mile.  Given that treadmills aren’t 100% accurate either, I think that’s a pretty great result.

So why use Zwift when running?  Because it’s fun!  A lot of runners call the treadmill the “dreadmill.”  Zwift puts you into a virtual world where you can run.  There are also various running training programs available with Zwift that you can use.  You can also sign up for races or meet up with a friend to run.  And, of course, there’s the gamification as well.  The more you run, the more points you earn, and as you level up, you earn different gear – shirts, shorts, socks… It’s fun to earn a new running jersey and get to kit out your avatar and show it off.  

If your gym has wifi, Zwift might work for you there, and since most hotels now have wifi everywhere, if you spend a lot of time on the road, you may be able to Zwift from the hotel gym as well.  I’m planning to use it over the holidays while at my parents’ house.  

If, like me, you spend a lot of your winter running indoors, Zwift might be a great solution to alleviate boredom.  Get yourself a run pod and check it out.