I’ve seen a lot of great and insightful posts lately from my fellow 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Official Bloggers and other bloggers about what they plan to do in 2014, and seeing so many folks with so much focus and drive in the midst of a season when many of us are fighting the winter blahs is very encouraging and inspirational! Many of them brought up good points about setting goals instead of resolutions, and rather than do a poor job of restating what they wrote, I highly encourage you to follow the links above and read their great work.

I was particularly grateful for a Twitter chat a few weeks back and another blog post that discussed about the importance of setting “SMART Goals”. The acronym “SMART” stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. I mentor urban youth at local high schools and part of the work that I do involves helping them set goals to ensure that they will transition successfully to a positive activity after graduation. As I guide them along the process of setting goals, I encouraged them to use some of the same criterion within “SMART”, but my explanation often was long-winded, wordy, and detailed (much like most of the blog entries on this page!)

I feel like I’m the last blogger to post these—perhaps “Stop Procrastinating” should be something that I include on this list?—but in any case, here is a list of my goals for 2014!

1) Set at least two new PRs (personal records)

Originally, one of my goals for 2014 was to run a sub-2 half marathon. (Non-runners: this means I ran 13.1 miles in less than 2 hours.) I made this on the way to the 2013 Towpath Half Marathon. Then I went out and proceeded to surprise myself by running a sub-2 half marathon!

I had never run a “perfect race” before, but everything came together during that race in a perfect way. I made great decisions with my hydration, pacing, clothing, tangent running, nutrition, music, and motivation. While I hope to learn from this experience, I am also realistic about how many variables need to be managed on race day.

Old and new friends gathered after the race in The Galleria to celebrate the completion of a brutal race!

The 2012 CMBA Run For Justice. Set out to PR but high winds and rain made it completely impossible!

Therefore, I am attempting to set at least two new PRs this year. I struggled a lot with how to articulate this goal. Initially, I wanted to shoot for a PR in every single distance (5K, 10K, 10 miler, half marathon, full marathon) that I will be running in 2014. While I’d love to set a new PR in every single distance, I am also trying to be realistic and realize that everything may not come together perfectly for me on the day of the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon and I may not be able to improve upon my 1:59:10 PR. If that’s the only half marathon that I run in 2014, I don’t want to tell myself that I failed at this goal even if I am able to set PRs in all other distances. Self-esteem is something with which I’ve struggled for much of my life, and I want to be intentional about celebrating my successes and triumphs that I’ve achieved in life rather than consistently dwelling upon what I need in order to improve in life or what is going wrong with my life. Sure, striving for improvement is essential, but consistently beating oneself up is a way to ensure that one is never happy or content with life and the positive steps that one has taken in life.

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Setting a new 5K PR back in October 2012 at the Tremont Steeplechase. This was the first 5K in which I ran the entire time!

2) Get down to 180 pounds

For most of 2012, I was focused on losing weight.

heavy cruise

On a cruise in January 2010 during my obese years. Believe it or not, I had worked out this morning. Needless to say, I needed to work on my abs, but doing ab work on a full stomach in the midst of rough seas is a recipe for seasickness.

My focus shifted a bit once I started running and I needed to ensure that I took in enough protein to strengthen my muscles. Quite frankly, I also enjoyed being able to live without worrying about the calorie count of every single piece of food that I consumed. Fortunately, by then, I had learned healthy eating habits and gained some control over my destructive emotional eating tendencies and I didn’t necessarily need to use My Fitness Pal on a day-to-day basis.

Weight Loss

During 2013, I rarely used My Fitness Pal because I was running regularly. While I made an effort to watch what I ate, I didn’t lose any weight.

I still need to lose some weight in order to reach a healthy weight. Much of my weight is located around my midsection, and studies have shown that carrying a lot of weight in this area increases one’s risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart issues. Heart issues run in my family, and I want to make sure that I am doing what I need to do in order to minimize the likelihood that health issues plague me in my later years.

Therefore, I’ve decided to go back onto My Fitness Pal in order to ensure that I stay healthy far into the future. I’m confident that I’ll learn how to be able to take in enough protein and carbohydrates for running while simultaneously ensuring that I shed these last few pounds!

 

3) Read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion

Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile know that I’m a big fan of all things Middle-Earth. My race playlists end with two songs from the soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, I watch clips from the movies to pump me up before races, and I consistently draw parallels between the experiences of the characters in the movies and my experiences as a runner. Sheila and my friends even made some signs with quotes from the movie to encourage me during the Tremont Steeplechase 5K!

I am blessed with wonderful friends and family!

I am blessed with wonderful friends and family!

You’ll note that I said “the movies” and not “the books”. That’s because the only Middle-Earth book that I have ever read in full is The Hobbit. When The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was first released, I tried to read the book but couldn’t make it through it because I didn’t understand much of it. (I also had to watch each of the movies 3 times before I fully understood them.)

Sheila has already read all of these books, and it’s time that I do so too.

 

4) Learn how to fix at least two items in our new house

As an educator who works with both high school students and community college students, I am a firm believer in the value of a college preparatory education. However, one downside of a college preparatory education is that subjects such as shop and home economics often fall by the wayside as students attempt to cram in one more AP or honors class that will impress college admissions committees. My high school (St. Ignatius High School) didn’t even offer shop.

During the past 9 years, I’ve had the luxury of calling a landlord whenever something has gone wrong around my domicile. When our oven wouldn’t start on the only weekend during which Sheila can bake Christmas cookie, I called the landlord. When I heard Niagara Falls-esque sounds coming from our basement as it flooded, I called the landlord. When our dryer broke on multiple occasions, I called the landlord. When our lawn mower bit the dust, I called the landlord and was thrilled when a sparkly new mower wound up in our garage.

We are currently in the process of finalizing the purchase of a beautiful new home, and I’ll write up a post about that entire experience in the future. Once we settle into our first home, though, there’s no landlord to call anymore. Although we are blessed with supportive friends and family who are willing and able to help us with home repairs, I figure that any good homeowner should be able to fix a thing or two around their house on their own, right? Sure, there are handypersons whom I can hire, but my experiences in litigation and teaching various law-related courses has shown me that hiring people to do things can often result in headaches, stress, and high costs. Plus, if I don’t learn, how will I be able to help any future children that we have with their own home?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching some HGTV and I’ve been getting excited about the prospect of learning some home repair. While the home into which we will be moving is in great shape, nothing lasts forever, and I’m certain that 2014 won’t pass without needing to engage in a few DIY endeavors.

What are your goals for 2014?