Wandering with a Purpose

Author: therosywanderer (Page 1 of 7)

Chicago Marathon: Training Update 5

The Chicago Marathon is only 162 days away! Seems like a long time, but I’m old enough to know that time is going to fly by. I’m in the middle of my pre-training schedule. Outside of my brother’s wedding last weekend, I’ve done a really good job sticking to my training schedule. I’m not doing a good job with strength training (I just don’t enjoy it), my diet, or yoga/stretching, but they are all on my radar. I know where I’m slacking, so I want to continue to focus on those areas.

I’m replacing tomorrow’s 3 mile run with the 4.5 mile run that I was supposed to run last weekend. Then next weekend, I’m up to 5. Pre-training puts me up to 6, and I’m ready for it. One of my goals is to have a solid 6-mile base. After 6 mile runs, I will start doing a run/walk combination in my training, but 6 miles and less will be a run-only (or walk when I must).

With summer around the corner, I am getting so excited! I have the Around The Crown 10K coming up, Chicago Marathon, and Charlotte (half) Marathon is now an in-person race. I love the idea of working towards something, and I’m so excited for an actual race day.

Running on the other hand…wow, it’s confusing. My biggest concern is about pace. While this isn’t necessarily my focus or goal during pre-training, I am starting to think about it. There are days when I have to have a walk break during a 2 miler. That worries me. Then there are times when I feel like I’m so slow, yet when I finish, my pace is in the 10-11 minute range (which is good for me). One day I even ran less than a 10-minute pace, and I couldn’t understand. How do I get a better feel for pacing? I’m going to keep being consistent, but that’s definitely a concern I have as I round out my last five weeks of pre-training. Just keep sticking with it!

Chicago Marathon: Training Update 4

Pre- pre-training is over after my 3.5 mile run tomorrow, and I move into pre-training next week. Thinking of things in phases like this is helpful, as it gives me more beginnings and ends.

my pre- pre-training plan
Accomplishments
  • Ran 3 days/week even when it was cold and/or dark
  • Gaining confidence in running
  • Improving my speed on a 1.5-mile run
  • Incorporating strength training into my routine (thanks, Apple Fitness+!)
  • Completed and PRed Swamp Rabbit 5K
Goals for Pre-Training

Pre-training takes me from getting in the habit of running 3 days/week to 4 days/week, which is my goal for marathon training. I am following Hal Higdon’s Novice Base Training Program for 12 weeks. My goals during this phase are:

  • Create the habit of running 4 days
  • Continue growing my confidence
  • Incorporate weekly yoga into my routine
  • Continue during strength / HIIT workouts to build muscle
  • Submit to Noom program’s advice to lose weight

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Voltaire

I’m trying not to take off more than I can chew because building my confidence is really important. I don’t see myself as a runner, and sometimes a run can seem overwhelming or daunting. I don’t want to get nervous and miss one. Consistently running 1.5 miles has been a positive influence for me. I know that is a distance I can handle without a problem. As I continue my training program, if I feel I don’t have the time or the energy, I need to get out and do at least the 1.5-mile loop. A little bit is better than nothing. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good!”

Can’t wait to give you my next update in a few weeks!

Race Recap: 2021 Swamp Rabbit 5K

logo for Swamp Rabbit Half Marathon and 5K

The Swamp Rabbit 5K and Half Marathon is an annual race in Greenville, SC, on the – wait for it – Swamp Rabbit trail. The trail is essentially a greenway that runs throughout Greenville and various points outside of the city. I think it’s over 26 miles in total, so you can cover some good mileage! This race is unique because it is one direction. You take a bus to the start line and run almost entirely downhill, thus giving it the tagline “The fastest race in the Southeast.” When I signed up for it, I pictured running down a mountain and what a challenge that could be.

Registration

Greenville has been on my travel list for a long time. I have been stir crazy from the lockdown situation and was longing for both a trip and a race. I started researching options and somehow stumbled upon this race. It was in person and in a city that I’ve wanted to go to. It’s weird that I live just over the SC border and the difference in activities from North to South Carolina. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do an in-person race, so I signed up immediately. Since I wasn’t in half-marathon shape, I opted for the 5K knowing this would be a great way to cap off my pre- pre-training for the Chicago Marathon.

Sign-up was pretty easy. You just had to make sure to get a shuttle ticket to either the start or the finish. I opted to get the shuttle from downtown to the startling so I could wander around at the end. I booked an Airbnb near downtown and put the trip on my calendar. It motivated me and gave me something to look forward to doing.

Arrival and Logistics

Once I got into town, I went to pick up my bib. I was disappointed that people didn’t seem very friendly. It may be because of COVID and people don’t chat anymore, but I literally gave them my name, got my bib and shirt, and then left. I was hoping to talk to someone about the shuttle and how it worked, but it just seemed cold. They did have the medals laying out and wow! I couldn’t wait to get this one. Even though it was a 5K, the medal looked awesome – stay tuned for a picture at the end!

It took me reading the website several times to feel comfortable about where I needed to go. The Peace Center downtown at 6:15 am for a 7:30 am start. The half arrival time was 5:45 am since they had further to drive. I was nervous about parking, but there was a lot of free street parking at that time. I think the parking limit started around 9 or 10 am, and the race would be done long before then.

Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery

The Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, a restaurant on the trail (I told you it was long!), was the starting point of the 5K. I bet it is a very cool place to hang out. They had these funny bike stations for repairs, so it must be a common stop and cycling must be very popular.

There was lots of time to explore since we had to wait for so long. We wore masks at the start but took them off when we started running.

The Race
Start Line

After playing the national anthem, they kicked off the start. There wasn’t an actual “on your mark…” because of COVID. Everyone started at their own time and kept their space to social distance. Your time would start on your chip. My goal for the race was to run the whole time and speed up at the end. I’m sure the half marathon runs on the trail most of the time, but the 5K didn’t. In the beginning, we ran through a neighborhood to get us back onto the trail. Then we were off the trail again on the 2nd mile because of construction. While we were on the trail, it was very nice. Unlike at Disney, I didn’t take any pictures because I was running. It was very easy to socially distance. And while you can see on the elevation graph, it was mostly downhill, it was not going down a hill or a mountain like I pictured.

5K Course Map - Swamp Rabbit 5K
Elevation Map - Swamp Rabbit 5K

Once we got to the end (about 2.5 miles), we saw the downtown area and the finish. It was an awesome setup, and I couldn’t wait to check it out! At the end, you go up a short hill and then it was a sprint to the end. And sprint I did! I finished the race with a PR of 33:18, which works out to a 10:42 mile.

cool medal

Once I crossed the finish line, I got one of my favorite medals – look at the sliding rabbit!

I was admiring my new bling when I heard someone yelling my name loudly. Since I didn’t know anyone in town and my friends were still sleeping (or so I thought!), I thought it would be for another Kristin. Eventually, I looked up and saw that I had a fan club! They made signs and had a balloon. I couldn’t believe they took the time to do that for me – the surprise completely made my day! I felt very cool and special to have such amazing friends to greet me. They were cheering for me at the end, but I was too focused sprinting to hear them.

fan club
Takeaway

This was just the kind of race I needed – something simple yet in a very cool town. This made for a great weekend, and overall I think the Swamp Rabbit team did a great job! I would recommend this race to someone in the future. I would like to do the half marathon at some point in the future. I’ll definitely be back!

Goals in 2021: A Second Chance

After the unexpected shut down of 2020, I am hesitant to set my mind on anything specific for the year 2021. Regardless of what “is allowed,” I need goals; I need plans to look forward to or I struggle. 2020 was a hard year for me like it was for many other people. The let down of canceled events caused me to shut down and not engage, which (I hate admitting it) led me to a sad space. I’m lucky that I at least go to work, but I lost motivation in my personal life. With that, I stopped running. I didn’t have anything to work towards.

Luckily, in November, I received an email regarding my deferred entry to the Chicago Marathon and entered my request for 2021. Within a few hours, I received the email confirmation, and I was registered for the 2021 Chicago Marathon! Finally, the motivation I was looking for; I was rejuvenated!

Each year I pick a theme and a “checklist” of items to complete for the year. As I started thinking about 2021, I knew I needed a different list. Several podcasts I listen to talk about goal setting: Dave Ramsey, BiggerPockets, ChooseFI. Lead and lag measures is a concept frequently discussed on the BP podcast, and I love the thought process. Typically my checklist is just a list of lag measures, but I don’t take the time to plan the tasks to “lead” me to achieve those.

Fulfilled Intension

Fulfilled Intension is my theme for 2021. For me to accomplish my goals (the lag measures), I need to have the right behaviors so that each day I am moving in the right direction. I need to be intentional in my daily acts and habits. Instead of checking off my accomplishments, my goal is to fulfill the behaviors I intentionally set out to do.

Goals and Behaviors

It’s hard to list out goals publicly, but I find a lot of motivation in listening or reading others’ goals. Who knows, maybe someone will read this when looking for motivation.

Lead Measures
  • Meal Plan Weekly
  • Avoid eating macaroni and cheese (focus on healthy dinners)
  • Focus on my running plan and complete runs as scheduled
  • Strength train twice/week
  • Practice yoga on Sundays
  • Incorporate self-care (Epsom salt baths, foam rolling) into my routine
  • Signup for short races
  • Budget monthly and save money
  • Continue learning about real estate; regularly attend a meetup
  • Get my notary license
  • Write blog articles for one hour each week
To Achieve (Lag Measures)
  • Lose 35 pounds
  • PR the Chicago Marathon (read about my new training plan)
  • Visit Australia (continent 5!)
  • Actively post on The Rosy Wanderer
  • Achieve my next financial milestone
Second Chances…

I want to make it count. I feel like we are getting a second chance at 2020 in 2021. So much of 2020 was missed opportunity. I could have maintained a running schedule, I could have participated in virtual races, but I didn’t. Since I’m frustrated about the missed opportunity, I have even more reason to get it right the second time. My lag measures this year is a scaled-back list of 2020, but the difference is I have the lead measures to get me to achieve them and am rethinking the type of person I want to be.

Chicago Marathon: Training Update 3

I’m in for the 2021 Chicago Marathon using my 2020 deferral. I feel like this is a second chance to do things right…so following one of my 2021 goals, I am going to keep promises I set for myself. This is going to happen. I am going to stand at the start line feeling prepared and excited. I’m going to make it to the finish line and finish my first “real” marathon without character stops.

The Phases

Since I am not a strong runner, I structured my training in three parts:

  1. Pre- pre-training
  2. Pre-Training
  3. Marathon Training

I’m currently on week 8 of phase 1, which started back in November when I created this plan. My training schedule for this plan is to run 1.5 miles on Tuesday and Thursdays, walk 30-ish minutes on Saturday, and finally run 3 or 3.5 miles on Sunday. The goal for this phase is to get out and run even when it’s dark and cold (it’s through the whole winter), build up a small base to increase my confidence, and lose weight. I’m a fickle runner and running in the cold is usually enough to make me not run. I’ve seen myself do this on my short runs when training for the 2018 Disney Marathon and 2020 Dopey. I don’t need to go far – I just need to do it,

For pre-training, I am following Hal Higdon’s supreme novice training program. This phase kicks off in mid-March. The weather will be better and it will start to get lighter then, so I shouldn’t have those for an excuse. I’m also hoping my losing some weight and building the small base of confidence, running will be easier. The goals for this phase are to continue losing weight, maintain consistency, and increase my mileage.

Marathon Training begins in June using Hal Higdon’s novice 1 program. At that point, I should have a solid weekly base of 9-12 miles. I will start to incorporate speed and hill workouts (which were very beneficial when I did those training for Chicago last year) and increasing mileage for my long runs. My goal for this phase is to think like a runner – monitor pace, have varying degrees of difficulty/excursion, and stick to my plan.

Throughout all of the plans, I am incorporating strength training and yoga/self care, which I never actually implemented in past training seasons. I don’t want to get hurt, and I want to improve my fitness. I want to be a runner. People often stress their importance, but then we forget to do them. For strength training, I am trying out Pure Barre and Apple Fitness. My Apple strength workout yesterday was really good! I really feel it in my legs. I’ve had more of a challenge sticking with yoga because I can’t focus or slow down my mind, so I need to make this a priority.

Looking Ahead

I foresee several obstacles ahead. I’m lucky that this is not the first time I have trained for a marathon, so I know my shortfalls.

  • I can get overwhelmed with the time it takes to run in the morning. I need to be honest with my schedule and not dilly dally in the morning.
  • If I work on Saturday, I either won’t do my long run or not prepare correctly. This training, I will not join the running club and commit to doing long runs on Sundays.
  • For long runs, I don’t plan my route. I’m already preparing the route for my 18 and 20 mile run so I don’t get overwhelmed on those days.
  • I get nervous, so I am (hopefully) going to try to add races to my training schedule. So far I have the Swamp Rabbit 5K and the Around the Crown 10K. A few others are still being planned as virtual, but hopefully they will be in-person so I can sign up.

So that’s my plan for 2021. I need to stay accountable, but I am really excited about this. I will decide my race goals once I hit phase 3. There is a different approach when this is a second chance. I appreciate what I have more than I did before.

Are you participating in the 2021 Chicago Marathon?

5 Personal Finance Books Everyone Should Read

Books educate and use your imagination to take you somewhere that you’re not. People are smart and thankfully many people take their knowledge and put it in a book to share with other people. If you want to learn about personal finance, then I strongly believe you should read all of these books. They each have their key takeaways, yet play off each other and contradict each other. There is not one right way to manage your finances because it is personal finance. That being said, you should be aware of different thoughts and strategies so you can make the best decisions for you and your family.

  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  • Set for Life by Scott Trench
  • The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley
  • Thou Shall Prosper by Daniel Lapin

Of course, I haven’t read all of the books out there! If you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them!

My Takeaways

The Total Money Makeover

Dave Ramsey is an icon in the personal finance space, and this is his flagship book that summarizes his seven baby steps. This is the model I used to create my personal finance plan. This book is incredibly important if you have any debt, but it also gives you a framework to grow wealth. Hands down a great place to start!

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Robert Kiyosaki is another iconic thought leader who can be somewhat controversial. That being said, if you talk to anyone who invests in real estate, I would guess almost 100% of inventors would tell you to read Rich Dad Poor Dad. This totally changed the way that I thought about investing and made me think bigger about my personal business! There is too much to discuss in a short summary, but make sure this is on your list!

Set For Life

Scott Trench, the author, is CEO of BiggerPockets and co-host of the BiggerPockets Money podcast. He wrote a book before starting the podcast to give young adults or people new to thinking about their finances advice on how they can do more and grow their wealth. This book is full of practical advice and many of the suggestions I implemented in my own life.

The Millionaire Next Door

Thomas Stanley wrote another classic that shows that looking like you have wealth doesn’t mean you actually do – and looking like you are normal may actually be what a real millionaire looks like. This well-researched book shows that you cannot judge a book by its cover. True wealth is not extravagant. Slow and steady wins the race. Live on less than you make. Anyone can build wealth regardless of their income. Building wealth is empowering, and you can do it!

Thou Shall Prosper

This is by no means a quick read, but I think it is an important read if you see wealth and money as negative. Much in our culture villainizes wealth and money, which in turn, makes people feel bad to have money or to be successful. If you believe wealth is bad or makes you a bad person, then how can you aspire to have wealth of your own? It is important to view wealth through a lens of good, and that is what Rabi Daniel Lapin does in this long but succinct argument. He takes a religious approach in showing that until you are successful, you cannot help other people. Wealth is not bad because it is those who are wealthy and secure who are able to help others. The Jewish people see that and that is why, traditionally, many Jews are very successful.

My Path to FI

In 2017, I started my path to FI. Technically, it was probably the end of 2016, but in January 2017, I started my debt-free journey and became a self-proclaimed member of the FI movement. Three-and-a-half years later, it is satisfying to look back and see the major progress I’ve made and new goals I’ve set to achieve. I constantly wonder why I don’t know anyone who is also part of this movement. Why doesn’t everyone want to jump on board this path?

If you don’t know, FI stands for Financial Independence. The FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement has been around for several years, taking its formal start after the 2008 financial crisis. A few good resources to understand what this is are:

I’m fortunate that I’ve always had some regard for money. I managed my allowance as a kid, got really excited to go to the bank to deposit money in my saving account where I accurately tracked the balance, and set savings goals in high school. These goals were all quite small. I never thought big or long-term. I’m also blessed that my parents had the discipline to tell me I had 4 years of college then I would be on my own. No support; I just had to make it in the world. My parents also showed me how to be responsible with money.

When I became independent with my first job, I was blessed that I made a lot of money for a 22-year-old. I worried incessantly about how to budget, what I should do with it, and what was right. I followed advice like “put 6% in your 401k and make sure to get the match” but never questioned doing more. Goals like saving an emergency fund would be my main focus, and after I saved up the money, I would get bored of seeing it sitting there, so I would spend it. Ultimately, I made more money than I needed for expenses and didn’t have long-term saving goals, so I would find ways to spend it but was disciplined enough to not overspend.

I am also blessed that I started working in July 2007. A year into my job at a large, international financial institution, the industry and world collapsed. I had money coming in and my job was safe because I was cheaper than other employees. At that time, I learned firsthand the benefits of buying low. I thought understanding money meant understanding the stock market. Since I’ve always had an interest in finance, I worked to understand how to buy and sell stocks. I opened an E-Trade account, deposited a couple of hundred dollars, and start buying.

My First Trading Account

I was fortunate to buy companies like Bank of America ($4.15/share), Ford ($2/share), and other large companies for low amounts of money. It would be okay if I lost the couple of hundred dollars I invested. I did lose some (thanks GM bankruptcy), but ultimately, I learned more than the money I lost. Over the next few years, those shares went up immensely. I sold them to put towards my down payment for a house in 2009. Imagine if I kept my Apple stock this whole time!

Getting My Feet Wet

I loved tracking my stocks and watching my portfolio. Market crashes are a great time to buy, but you have to understand the long-term perspective and not get emotional. While I understand the benefits that had for me 10 years later, I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I kept trying to understand what to do with my money, but I was never sure. I thought about buying a house in 2008, but after a day of shopping, I told the realtor that I wasn’t mature enough yet for this decision. Finally, in 2009, I made a decision to move forward with a new construction townhouse for $201,931. It was a HUGE purchase and a HUGE house with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. 1900 square feet and just me. I should have house hacked it if I had the knowledge I have now.

At that time, my 2002 yellow VW Beetle named Frank started to die. I’m not passionate about cars, but I loved that little guy. I went car shopping, got completely overwhelmed and cried to my dad. He was looking for a new car, so he said I could take his Passat and pay him a car payment. Awesome! The car was a nice car. I considered it done and didn’t even think of the monthly payment. I paid it off in less than 3 years at $300/month.

Tracking My Spending

With a new house, a car payment, and an increasing income, I knew I needed to do something. I had to figure out personal finances. Somehow I came across Mint.com. I wrote about Mint before because I love this site. I’ve tracked my expenses since July 2011 when my net worth was $71,000. This was huge for me because it started giving me insight into my spending and net worth that I couldn’t see through the budget spreadsheets I would try to make

Around that time, I stumbled across a show on NPR called Marketplace Money. I listened to this religiously, and I could have discovered Mint.com through this show. I learned about credit scores and how to monitor your credit reports on annualcreditreport.com. That show was fantastic and provided a lot of good insight into personal finance that I had never considered before. When Apple released the podcast app in June 2012, this was my number one listen. I didn’t explore many other podcasts at that time.

My NYC Journey

In 2013, I decided to move to NYC. I had a good amount of money in savings and needed a change of scenery for my life. This led me to sell the car back to my dad and sell my house instead of renting it. I still wonder if that was a good decision when I saw the house was valued at $300,000 in July 2019. But looking back doesn’t do any good! I knew NYC would be expensive, but I wanted the experience. Before I moved, I interviewed several people who already moved there. Most of them told me it was impossible to not go into credit card debt when you live there. I have always been wary of debt, so my one financial goal was to live within my means.

During that time, I spent more of my savings than I would have wanted, but I didn’t add new debt. I started running while I lived there, and I listened to podcasts like Marketplace Money. When they canceled the show in June 2014, I was very sad. To this day, personal finance podcasts are my favorite choice of running entertainment.

Returning to Normal

I decided to end my NYC adventure a year later, but during that time I started a new adventure to visit all 50 states by the time I was 30. This would be expensive, but I would do it without going into debt. Living in the Northeast let me visit New England via train and bus, which helped with costs and time off work. When planning (and expensing) expensive work events, I collected AmEx points and exchanged them for Marriott gift cards. I used these to pay for a lot of my hotel rooms on my trips.

Even though this was an expensive goal, I was still contributing 6% to my 401k, dabbling in an employer-sponsored ROTH 401k that I didn’t understand, and tracking my spending. I know I wanted to understand it, but I couldn’t understand anything I read about it. I didn’t think to Google for more information.

My decision to return to North Carolina was the right one. I was going to start on a new career path, and my parents let me come home for a short period of time before I found a place to live in Greensboro. Unfortunately, this job was not the right fit for me. I ended up living with my parents for about a year-and-a-half while I figured out what to do. The end result was to work for our family business and move to Charlotte. Living with them not only help me emotionally, but it allowed me to have incredibly low living expenses and put money towards my goal of visiting all 50 states.

Anxiety and Independence

When I started working for our family business, I took a significant pay cut. I also moved out on my own again by buying a less expensive townhouse in 2016. My expenses were higher than they had been in some time, which made me scared. I didn’t know if I could pay all of my bills each month, even though I purchased a small house. I had money in savings, but the paycheck-to-paycheck life was overwhelming. In reality, it shouldn’t have been stressful. I needed to learn how to control my money. This fear is what I think leads most people to research and learn more about FI.

The Final Runway to Fi

In the midst of my financial fears and the wake of completing my first half marathon in November 2015, I knew I needed help getting my finances together. I remembered how much I loved running and listening to Marketplace Money, so I decided to search for a new podcast on personal finance. Here, I stumbled onto The Dave Ramsey Show. I had heard his name before, and I only associated paying off debt.

Since I “didn’t have debt,” I never thought it was for me, but I decided to give it a shot. I needed something to listen to. A few episodes in and I was hooked! I started listening to him in the summer or early fall of 2016. It gave me hope and a way to have a plan for my money. At the time, I had a car loan at 0% financing. Eventually, I made the decision to start aggressively tackling it in January 2017. I thought it would take me 2 years, but I did it in 6 months by controlling my budget and using my savings.

Mint.com gives you offers and advertisements as a way to keep the service free. One day during that time, I saw an advertisement for Acorns.com as a way to invest small amounts of money and grow wealth overtime. I’m always a fan of a new app and wanted to feel more financially secure. It was worth a try since I didn’t know how I was going to save for retirement.

Acorns has an email newsletter with articles and tips. One day in March 2017, I saw an article “How One 31 Year Old Went From Broke to Millionaire in Five Years” which started the biggest paradigm shift of my life. I couldn’t believe that someone my age could accomplish something like this. Grant’s dedication, focus, and outside-the-norm thinking was impressive. If he could do this, couldn’t I? His blog, which was probably the first blog I ever read, was so out-of-the-box; I was hooked. What amazing ideas! I couldn’t believe people were doing things like this. In addition, he had a podcast! I had more financial inspiration to listen to during my runs. I was still doing half marathons and trying to run often.

During this podcast, I learned about side hustles. It never occurred to me to earn money outside of my W-2 job. I read The Millionaire Next Door and read that millionaires usually have 6-10 streams of income. I needed to have multiple streams of income. My first side hustle was to rent out my spare room on Airbnb. I felt empowered and excited. When I purchased it, I had plans to turn my townhome into a rental one day. I knew I wanted to learn about real estate, and this was my first intro. I wanted to learn more, but I didn’t know how until I thought about my success with podcasts. Upon this search, I discovered BiggerPockets podcast.

At this time at the end of 2017, I had direction and a plan. I paid off my car, was fully funding my emergency fund, and I knew that I could accomplish these goals. It was then that BiggerPockets released their money show, and I stumbled into ChooseFI. My life plan changed completely – these two shows brought it all together for me.

My Takeaways
  • Search with curiosity. I’ve never been one to Google for things or spend time reading blogs. I wish I would have started sooner because there is so much information out there, and sometimes you just need one idea to push you in a new direction.
  • Learn from others. Blogging is a way for people to share their stories. People do so many amazing things! Explore ideas. If you have an idea, chances are others have to and they may be actioning it. Go and take a look!
  • Everyone should have a plan for their money. I think we use money to fill space. We shop, go out to eat, buy expensive drinks. It is all smoke and mirrors. It never occurred to me what else I could do with it. Make a plan for your life that is bigger than you thought it could be. You can do it!
  • The path may be long, but keep going. My Path to FI journey spans almost a decade because I just didn’t know what to do. But I kept thinking about it and each small stone unturned led me to something new. Everyone’s FI journey is different, but I truly believe everyone should take the journey.

Chicago Marathon: Training Update 2

I’m not sure if I should call this month’s training update a training update, but my goal is to keep pushing myself. Unfortunately, the 2020 Chicago Marathon was canceled on July 15. Luckily, we have the option to defer our registration to another year in 2021, 2022, or 2023. I really want to do it next year, but I have a feeling only 1/3 of the registrants will get to do it each year. So, my training updates will continue in the future.

Changing Goals

I’m bummed about the decision for many reasons, but mostly because I lost motivation. I was doing a good job running and was motivated. Now I’m not. I wasn’t going to write this update, but I need to do something to keep my going. I think that’s how most goals are – we need something to continue to work towards. To get there, we need to take little steps to lead us in the right direction. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what those little steps will be for me.

  • Make good food choices
  • Continue to run at least 3 days a week – build up a really solid 6-mile base
  • Do strength training – Pure Barre is opening near my house, and this is a type of strength training that I enjoy
Cancellation logistics

I had to cancel my plane tickets and hotel. American Airlines gave me a credit for my ticket, which I know I will use in the future. Marriott almost didn’t refund me my $780 for the hotel room! Hotels are incredibly expensive that weekend, and I got a reduced rate if I did a non-refundable option. I was going to do the marathon, so I thought it was a safe bet…in February! When I called customer service to cancel, they told me they changed their adapted cancellation policy to end on July 5 – just 10 days before they canceled the marathon. I escalated to the manager who told me the same thing! Luckily, the hotel helped, and I wasn’t charged a fee. It was a very stressful situation.

Chicago Skyline on a Blue Sky Day
Until Then…

Even though I’m not actively training for the 2020 Chicago Marathon, I am training for it in the future. If I do a good job with these four items, my general health will improve which will make it easier to run a marathon in 2021, 2022, or 2023. So here goes nothing! My next update will be Training Update 3 – and I can’t wait!

Chicago Marathon: Training Update 1

October 11, 2020, is the Chicago Marathon! I am really looking forward to this run and hope it won’t be canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. I am training like there is no chance of cancellation, even though I know that is still a possibility.

In June, I started training using the RunDisney marathon training plan. This is the plan is simple and steady. Just three days per week using short runs on Tuesday and Thursday with a long run on the weekend with increasing mileage. It is a longer plan than some because every other week you do a 4 mile “long” run, which helps me with my schedule and other commitments. Marathon training requires serious time commitments when you get to 10 miles and more! I used this when I did the 2018 WDW Marathon.

If there are too many days required, I get overwhelmed and can’t commit to training. If I cannot commit to 3 days, then I should not run the race. That being said, my goal is not to qualify for Boston or have an outrageously good time!

GOALS – Making IT PUBLIC

My goal for the race (saying this publicly!) is to finish in less than 5:30. This works out to be about a 12:30 pace for the entirety of the race. I feel like this is an achievable goal. I finished my first marathon in 5:52 at Disney. This means there were character distractions and more. I also stopped at the restroom more times than was necessary because I was nervous. The second marathon at Disney was awful! 80 degrees and 90% humidity are not what you want to do a marathon. It was so horrible. I finished that one in 6:46, so at least I know I can finish about that time with walking and character stops.

So far, my runs have varied. There have been ones where I felt strong and confident and others that have been dreadful. Humidity levels make a big difference for me. I just need to focus on getting the time on my feet those days. I feel like this is not normal for others, but I need to accept that it is for me. Maybe others feel this way, too, but it amazes me when I see runners running during lunch on a Southern, summer day.

If I did a really good job training, I would add in strength exercises and yoga. I definitely need motivation and guidance on this. In the end, I can’t wait! Only 117 days left!

US Presidents: A Reading List

It’s funny how interests and passions show themselves at a young age, but sometimes are not appreciated until later in life. In seventh grade, we had to take an assessment for various subjects and my top score was in history. I remember being upset about that because what can you do with history? If I had scored higher in math or writing, those at least had a practical application. I enjoyed history class, but I didn’t give it a lot of thought until after my first time abroad when I went to London in my sophomore year. It was here that history came to life!

Even though I will not have a career that is centered around history, and I think it’s hard to make a case for most people to major in the subject, I think history is a fantastic topic to study. Over time, I have come to appreciate that I can truly enjoy and experience what I spend time learning. The two areas I enjoy the most are American history and the history of the British monarchy. I love to read biographies and learn about life events through the eyes of leaders who impacted the world at that time. It isn’t surprising then that I added “Read a biography of every US President in order of term” to my list of life goals back when I was 20. I told a friend about this when I was 26, and she ended up buying me my first book on George Washington for my 27th birthday. I finally got started in April 2013.

My American Journey

Over the next 7 years, I had a fascinating journey learning about my country’s 232+ year history from the perspective of 44 different men. Each one has a unique perspective and their background gives insight into their decision making and handling of that moment in time. In my travels, I visit their birthplaces, homes, and libraries where I try to envision their daily activities and lives. It has become a hobby, and I am very appreciative of these men who sacrificed their personal independence to lead our country. In reading their stories, I do believe each person did what he thought was best at the time.

It is also possible that historians and authors tend to fall in love with their subjects while they research them, but I think that is because some people are misunderstood and once you learn their story, it gives you an appreciation of their decision-making process – even if you personally don’t like their decisions. I think this is how historians have come to view Hoover’s and Nixon’s legacy over time despite the initial reaction in popular culture.

My journey started with George Washington and ended with George W. Bush’s memoirs. As soon as President Obama publishes his memoirs, I will pick up with that. I said before that I read America’s history through the eyes of 44 men – the 44th I included was Confederate President Jefferson Davis. While not a president of the Union, he led half of the country through the Civil War and that is still an important perspective. I’m really glad I added that one. Teddy Roosevelt is my favorite, so I read all three books in Edmund Morris’s trilogy.

Selection and Evaluation

I selected books that were well researched and had generally strong reviews. Sometimes, I would get stuck and would default to the American Presidents’ Series edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Sean Wilentz. Over time, as I read more, I was attracted to books by certain historians. Sometimes I chose an option because an audiobook was available (I listen to books when I run), other times it may be because I could borrow it for free from the library. All-in-all, I think I had a good assortment of books. I wanted to list them for people doing a similar journey to see what someone else chose to read.

How then do you evaluate a book? I tracked everything on GoodReads and was good about writing book reviews at the beginning, but then I stopped because I couldn’t focus long enough to provide the necessary detail. I did consistently rate them on the 5-star scale. Unlike fiction, biographies are difficult because are you rating the subject or the research/writing? In the end, I think you do both. It’s unfortunate for the author because some subjects have more documents, journals, and letters; others were given more challenges, which lead to a better story and abundant research. Unfortunately, William Henry Harrison will never have a single biography that is equal to a mediocre-quality biography on Theodore Roosevelt.

Books I Read

REVOLUTIONARY WAR
  • Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
  • John Adams by David McCullough
  • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
  • James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney
  • The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness by Harlow Giles Unger
  • John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life by Paul C. Nagel
  • Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands
The Forgotten or Unknown (America Moves West)
  • Martin Van Buren: The American Presidents’ Series by Ted Widmer
  • The Life and Times of William Henry Harrison by Samuel Jones Burr
  • A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent by Robert W. Merry
  • Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents’ Series by John S.D. Eisenhower
  • Millard Fillmore: The American Presidents’ Series by Paul Finkelman
  • Franklin Pierce: The American Presidents’ Series by Michael F. Holt
  • James Buchanan: The American Presidents’ Series by Jean H. Baker
The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour by William C. Davis
  • The Loyalist: The Life and Times of Andrew Johnson by Jeffrey K. Smith
  • The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H.W. Brands
Industrial revolution and the building of america
  • Chester Alan Arthur: The American Presidents’ Series by Zachary Karabell
  • Rutherford B. Hayes: The American Presidents’ Series by Hans L. Trefousse
  • James A. Garfield: The American Presidents’ Series by Ira Rutkow
  • An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland by H. Paul Jeffers
  • Benjamin Harrison: The American Presidents’ Series by Charles W. Calhoun
  • William McKinley: The American Presidents’ Series by Kevin Phillips
  • Theodore Roosevelt trilogy by Edmund Morris
    • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
    • Theodore Rex
    • Colonel Roosevelt
  • The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The World Wars
  • Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper, Jr.
  • Warren G. Harding: The American Presidents’ Series by John W. Dean
  • Coolidge by Amity Shlaes
  • Herbert Hoover: The Life and Presidencies by William E. Leuchtenburg
  • FDR by Jean Edward Smith
  • Truman by David McCullough
  • Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith
“Modern” Day
  • An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek
  • Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Richard Nixon: The Life by John A. Farrell
  • Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford by Scott Kaufman
  • Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter by Randall Balmer
  • Reagan: The Life by H.W. Brands
My Lifetime
  • 41: A Portrait of my Father by George W. Bush
  • Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham
  • My Life by Bill Clinton
  • Decision Points by George W. Bush

That’s it. Those are the books I read, but history is not finished. As time continues to pass, I will add biographies for the people who serve as president during my lifetime as time continues to pass. Eventually, President Obama will publish his memoirs, as will President Trump. What is interesting to think about is that I will be old before enough time passes for current and future presidents to be studied like the individuals I have finished reading. History is an ongoing adventure that doesn’t end – it is lived.

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