Year in Review – 2016

2016:  The short version

I recently finished this book called Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.  In it he describes, among other things, the critical role that cognitive dissonance in human psychology has played in our biological and cultural evolution as a species.  Harari argues that the absolute power of cognitive dissonance is something so significant and so significantly overlooked:  that human beings can simultaneously hold contradictory thoughts and genuinely believe that all of them are true.

This allows our psyche to be incredibly flexible, allows us to explain and understand the world in very complex ways and enables us to adapt to the world around us as circumstances dictate, while still holding true to multiple core and contradictory beliefs.  For example, in the United States, we believe in competing ideals in the Declaration of Independence of equal rights (“all men are created equal”) and individual liberty (the inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”), even if equal rights and individual liberty can at times be at odds with each other.

Cognitive dissonance has been running high for a lot of us in 2016.  On the world stage, ’16 has been a year of madness and uncertainty.  I don’t need to recap that here.  I think most people can probably relate.  And yet, 2016 also had a lot of bright spots for a lot of people, especially if you are a Cubs or Cavs fan.

For me, this year was defined by two profoundly emotional personal events:  expecting my first child and my mom’s diagnosis of stage 4 cancer.  I’ve spent the bulk of my year bouncing between these two events.  On one particularly crazy week, I visited my mom for surgery one day and flew back home that night for an ultrasound appointment with Jess the next day.  In one scenario, we are working and fighting hard to stop rogue cells from spreading and in another scenario, cells are rapidly growing to sustain life for my daughter-to-be. Talk about cognitive dissonance.  2016 has had some of the highest highs and lowest lows. It’s been quite the mindfuck in ways that I don’t think I can even process right now.

It has been, though, a very good year for me to run.  It has allowed me to exert some level of control and regularity, how ever fleeting, over this crazy up and down year.  If I have learned one thing this year, it’s that stress and emotions don’t just disappear into the ether once you’ve experienced them.  They go somewhere and they manifest in different ways.  Some people take that toll physically, some put it into their art, their careers, their relationships, their crafts, their vices.  I’ve seen a little of all of that.  A large chunk of that emotional byproduct has made its way here, into this ambiguous goal I’ve put out there for no real purpose than just going along for the ride.  It has not been perfect, but it has been a start, and in a year like 2016, just starting and moving forward has seemed to be enough.

If you add up the time foot to pavement, I spent over three days running, and I ran 100 times this year, on average of 5.9 miles per run.  I ran at an average clip of 9 min, 2 seconds per mile for 590 miles, which is approximately the distance from DC to Montreal with a few miles left over to look for a hypothetical Montreal bagel spot. I was fortunate enough to run in ten different cities, one of which was in Copenhagen.  I’m looking forward to setting new goals for ’17 and seeing how the numbers play out.  Happy new year to all, and best wishes for a good great 2017!

2016:  The long version

2016 Stats:

2016 overall stats:

Some overall stats for the entire year:

Distance 590.24 miles
Workouts 100 runs
Total time 3 days, 16 hr, 51 min, 50 sec
Avg. Distance Per Run 5.90 miles
Avg. Pace Per Run 9 min, 2 sec per mile

For reference, 590.24 miles is approximately the driving distance from Washington DC to Montreal Canada.

I averaged just under a 10k per run, and ran at an average pace of around 9 minutes a mile.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with that.  If I’m honest, when I was hitting my training in September, I was eyeing for a 1,000 mile year, but the craziness of November and December pushed that goal away this year.  But, hey, always something to reach for next year!

Distance stats:

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January 20.96 miles
February 2.6 miles
March 16.49 miles
April 27.9 miles
May 47.72 miles
June 61.57 miles
July 76.43 miles
August 93.21 miles
September 91 miles
October 97.19 miles
November 42.37 miles
December 12.8 miles

The big volume months were predictably those leading up to the Baltimore Marathon in October.  I was pushing towards running the Rehoboth Marathon in December, but I got sidelined with a medical issue that was quasi-run related.  December was really low as a result.

Workouts

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January 4 runs
February 1 run
March 5 runs
April 9 runs
May 11 runs
June 15 runs
July 11 runs
August 13 runs
September 10 runs
October 11 runs
November 5 runs
December 5 runs

Avg. Distance Per Run

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January 5.24 miles
February 2.6 miles
March 3.29 miles
April 3.1 miles
May 4.33 miles
June 4.1 miles
July 6.94 miles
August 7.17 miles
September 9.1 miles
October 8.83 miles
November 8.47 miles
December 2.56 miles

Same trend as above, with a core distribution showing up from May to November.

Time

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January 3 hr, 3 min, 14 sec
February 0 hr, 20 min, 0 sec
March 2 hr, 25 min, 57 sec
April 3 hr, 38 min, 9 sec
May 7 hr, 36 min, 34 sec
June 9 hr, 0 min, 17 sec
July 11 hr, 17 min, 56 sec
August 13 hr, 42 min, 12 sec
September 13 hr, 54 min, 15 sec
October 15 hr, 28 min, 30 sec
November 6 hr, 29 min, 0 sec
December 1 hr, 45 min, 28 sec

Note:  If audiobooks weren’t so hard to listen to while running, I’d get some serious learning in while I’m out there.  I save that stuff for the work commute.

Avg. Pace Per Run

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January 8 min, 44 sec
February 7 min, 41 sec
March 8 min, 51 sec
April 7 min, 49 sec
May 9 min, 34 sec
June 8 min, 46 sec
July 9 min, 0 sec
August 8 min, 49 sec
September 9 min, 10 sec
October 9 min, 33 sec
November 9 min, 11 sec
December 8 min, 43 sec

Combination charts

There doesn’t seem to be too much to glean from the charts below.  January to April and November to December are essentially outliers, given that my run output was pretty low those months.  I still kept them here for reference.

One thing that might be worthy to note is that my avg. pace held relatively steady between 8 min, 30 sec to 9 min, 30 sec from about June til October.  This pace held steady as I went for a lot of runs during this time and as my total miles and avg. mile per run trended up.

Avg. Pace vs. Total Distance:

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Avg. Pace vs. Avg. Distance:

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Avg. Pace vs. Workouts:

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2016 Races:

Race Distance Time
2016 Capitol Hill Classic 10k 52 min, 23 sec
2016 Lawyers Have Heart 10k 10k 53 min, 56 sec
2016 Baltimore Marathon Marathon 4 hr, 41 min, 35 sec

I ran three official races this year:

Capitol Hill Classic 10k:

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Lawyers Have Heart 10k

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Baltimore Marathon:

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I had planned two more, the DC Half & Half Marathon and the Rehoboth Marathon.  I didn’t do the Half & Half out of pure laziness, and I missed Rehoboth due to a medical issue.

2016 Run Locations:

City Number of runs Total miles
Washington, D.C. 73 449.15
Baltimore, MD 12 68.97
Columbia, SC 3 10.76
Copenhagen, DK 3 14.43
Austin, TX 3 6.02
Henrietta, NY 2 14.75
Chicago, IL 1 11.38
Warrensville Heights, OH 1 10.15
Raleigh, NC 1 1.39
New York, NY 1 3.24

As shown above, I ran in ten different cities in 2016.  Note that in some of these places (probably only DC, actually), I crossed over different cities/states.  Most of my runs in DC started in DC but traversed portions in either VA or MD.  I have yet to do the three state DMV run, but that can be an early goal for ’17.

I almost was able to add Rio to that list, since Jess and I visited at the end of last year, but we came back right on New Years Eve.  Obviously, between home and work (and the Baltimore marathon), the vast majority of my runs were in DC and Baltimore.

2016 Run Pictures:

Taking pictures during most runs this year has been a lot of fun.  It’s going to be a complete disservice to even try and do this, but I am going to select one picture to summarize every month (starting in April, when I took the first one).  Not necessarily my favorite picture from the month, just one that jumps out to me for whatever reason.

April 2016:

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May 2016:

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June 2016:

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July 2016:

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August 2016:

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September 2016:

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October 2016:

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November 2016:

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December 2016:

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2016 Fundraising/Charity:

I started off this marathon goal with the intent to raise money for kidney cancer awareness, in honor of my mom who is fighting the battle.  Since then, the goal has evolved beyond simple fundraising, but instead, the idea is to provide a positive contribution back for each race that I run, whether that be through personal donations or personal service.

-For the Baltimore Marathon, I made a $250 donation to the Stand Up To Cancer organization.

-For the Rehoboth Marathon (which I did not end up running), some friends volunteered with me to plant trees in DC with an organization called Casey Trees.

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Maintenance week – Dec. 19 – Dec. 25

WEEK SUMMARY

Well, I’m back.  Not entirely back, but this week was a good start to get going again.  It helped, for sure, that it was a short week.  If I’ve learned one thing recently–never underestimate the power of rest.  I tend to let things get ahead of me and it’s hard to manage when I end up burning out.  Lesson for 2017.

 

I ran only once, on Christmas Day, but it was a good one.  Jess got on the bike, baby in tow, and we went for a 3ish mile run.  I’m expecting to get back into a regular routine this week.  Running is certainly a therapy for me, and with all the craziness going on recently, it just feels good to get out there.

 

So the week summary:  3.3 miles over one run.  More over the next few weeks.

 

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TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)

This was the restful week that I needed.  I had a short week at work.  I was out on Monday, and then had the day off Friday, so I was able to catch up on some much needed sleep and rest.  The anxiety of all of the recent medical appointments was starting to catch up with me, and I sorely needed some time to catch up.  If I’m honest, I still don’t feel 100%, but I feel much better than I did last week, and I attribute that to taking some time for myself.

 

Jess and I were at home this year for Christmas.  The last two years, we had been abroad, to Peru two years ago and to Brazil last year.  It felt good to be home this year.  On Friday, we started priming the nursery to start getting it ready for the baby’s arrival in a few months.

 

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I haven’t fully freaked out yet, but I am certainly getting there.  I’m realizing that we only have anywhere between 10 to 14 weeks before our baby makes her appearance.  I think the realization is really going to hit these next couple of weeks.  Oddly though, I’m not as anxious as one would think.  Maybe that’s ignorance or not knowing what I’m in for, but honestly, I’m just really excited.  I think a lot of that is due to me not knowing what to expect, but at the same time, people have been doing this forever, often times without many resources or support at all, so I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to handle this transition in stride.  Check back in a couple of months and you can have a good laugh when you realize that I have gone insane.

 

On Christmas Eve, Jess and I had a small gathering of close friends.  It was really great, just to have good friends in town to celebrate Christmas.  One thing I have learned since my mom’s diagnosis is that ever single day is truly a gift.  I try to remind myself that every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed, I try and recount the good things that happened to me that day, even on the shitty days.  I’m not perfect and there are times when I forget this spirit.  But being able to celebrate Christmas Eve with friends is one of those gifts that I am thankful for.

 

Christmas day was super relaxing for Jess and me.  We slept in, woke up an watch a movie while eating breakfast, took a nap, watched some more TV, went for a run/walk, and hung out at home afterwards.  It was just the perfect day to forget all the tasks we had at hand and to just enjoy some rest and relaxation.  I’ve never been one to be really into the holidays, but I have started to feel the other way this year.

 

Today, we are slated to start painting the nursery.  Then we’re meeting up with friends in Bethesda.  We haven’t seen them in a little while, and I’m looking forward to catching up.

 

Here are some run pictures, Christmas edition:

City Center DC

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National Christmas Tree:

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City Center DC:

 

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New York Avenue Presbyterian Church:

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Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) facing south:

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EEOB facing north:img_2959

 

Carnegie Library:img_2964

 

 

 

(Non) Maintenance week – Dec. 12 – Dec. 18

 

WEEK SUMMARY

 

Another rough week in what has turned out to be an exhausting 2016.  Not much to report on the running front.  0 runs for 0 miles.  I may have come down with another medical condition too, this time likely due to stress.  I have decided, though, to sign up for the San Francisco Marathon in July 2017.  Come hell or high water, I am running that race.  I am making it my goal to do two marathons in 2017, three in 2018 and so forth until I hit my goal.  I hope that when I look back at this blog, I see these times as a temporary down slide along a path where I ultimately achieve my goal.  I want to be able to look at this time as a time when I was down, but not out, even though right now it very much feels like I am down and out.

 

TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)

 

This was a heck of a week.  I was back in South Carolina during the early part of the week.  It was stressful.  I don’t want to blast all the details here, but basically we had another set back with my mom’s treatment.  Everything is still treatable, and we are very optimistic for a good outcome, but it has been exhausting.  The only analogy I can think of is that it feels like we are standing in the ring and getting walloped by a heavyweight boxer, and our job is to just take punch after punch without getting knocked out.

 

And in a moment of complete cognitive dissonance, I am simultaneously experiencing some of the happiest moments of my life.  Our baby is kicking, furiously, with each passing day.  When I feel that, it makes every other trouble disappear for that short moment.  I hope that in several years, when I look back at this time, I can do so with some reflection, on what I have learned, as I go through some very heavy questions and experiences about life.  One thing I do know, I absolutely cannot wait to meet my daughter.

 

On Friday, Jess and I traveled to Rochester NY for baby shower for Mini.  Jess’s family planned a very nice celebration for Jess and us, and it was really good to see everyone.  We celebrated an early Christmas with everyone mainly since we are both staying put for the holidays.  I am very much looking forward to some down time, just me, Jess and Mini hanging out, getting ready for her arrival.

Maintenance week – Dec. 5 – Dec. 11

WEEK SUMMARY + TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)


Man, it has been a rough week. Let’s start with some positives. I finally went back to the gym, after about a three week hiatus. It felt great. I was dragging considerably but it was good to get that first workout out of the way. After the gym, I went for a 3 mile run, which also felt great. Plain and simple, it’s just good to be back at it.

 
It has been a long, long several weeks. I’ve traveled back to South Carolina a lot. Between my last post and now, my mom has had surgery, and I went back to SC on last minute notice on Monday night. I feel exhausted. With everything going on at home and also with all the great stuff progressing with the baby, life is moving at warp speed right now. Kind of feels like I’m just being pulled along for the ride, and I’m smashing into corners with every turn I take. But just keep pushing, through the good times and the bad, I tell myself.
But at least I got a run in. I’ve definitely affirmed that running, above all, is a way to keep myself sane. That hasn’t been more true than this week.

 
I’m also starting to learn that even when things get crazy around you, you can’t get shaken by things out of your control. Otherwise you lose twice when bad things happen. Once acutely with the actual event and once with the longevity of worry and anxiety. Just something to continue thinking about.

My week summary: just getting started again. 3.2 miles over one run.

Snapped a few good pictures on that one though:

(Non) Maintenance week – Nov. 28 – Dec. 5

WEEK SUMMARY

 

This week was another zero mile week for me.  The good news is that my medical issue is resolved and that I can start running and going to the gym again.  My last workout was almost 15 days ago, and it certainly feels like a long time.  I’m hoping to get back into it soon, maybe planning for a late Feb/early March marathon before the baby comes.

 

TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)

 

Not going to lie, this has been a stressful week.  And today I’m on pins and needles.  I went down to Charleston to accompany my mom for an appointment, and we may have suffered a set back in her treatment.  I’ll know more details today, which is why I’m nervously waiting my family to call me.  Really hoping and praying for the best today.

 

I hope to have some positive and progress related posts on my next entry.  I knew that there would be ups and downs, and I have to keep sailing through it all.