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My happiness apps: Month 1 – Boost energy

4 Oct

The Happiness Project by Gretchen RubinA few years ago, while doing research for a story, I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project blog. When her book came out, I thought, “This is perfect.” I needed to jump-start some things in my life, and her “theme of the month” approach seemed perfect.

I’ve tried to start a Happiness Project a couple of times and failed utterly. Rubin talks a bit about having a tracking system for your various goals, but none of the ones I tried — those on her site, Google Docs spreadsheet (which kept me honest on my New Year’s Resolutions for a number of years), etc. — seemed to fit.

Finding the right tool for the job

And then I thought: Apps! This eclat coincided perfectly with a better reason to start the Happiness Project. Like Rubin when she embarked on the year-long self-study, I’m not unhappy. In fact, I’m really happy. So happy that I realize how important it is to stay happy.

So why apps? The best tool, ultimately, is the one that’s with you when you need it. The Happiness Project Toolkit required me to turn on my computer when I went home, go to the site, log in, and use its tools. Google Docs was more convenient (I could get to my resolution tracker within a few clicks of my home screen), but I still had to get on my computer.

My iPhone is the one thing I bring with me everywhere I go. I use Mint to track my spending (and before a recent update, I used CashTrails). I started using LoseIt to count calories and take off a few pounds. When I went back home, I used Nike Training to fit in a strength workout or two when it was too humid to run outside.

Apps for boosting energy

So, for the first month, I’m going to work on boosting my energy. Specifically, these are my goals, and the apps I’m going to use to keep me honest:

If all goes well, I’ll recount my experiences here, both with the apps and with the Happiness Project. We’ll see how it goes…


Presidio 10 2010

18 Apr

My results!

Distance: 10 miles
Chip time: 1:37:51
Gun time: 1:38:50
Pace: 9:47/mile
Age group: 32/59
Overall: 511/765

The winner finished this in 58:32, with a pace of 5:51/mile! The top lady ran it in 1:04:03 (6:24/mile), and the top lady in my age group’s time was 1:11:59 (7:12/mile). I should probably do some speedwork. I’d like to finish in at least the top half of my age group.

32 Nicole Solis San Francisco CA 1871 35 511 1:37:51 1:38:50 00:59 25:52 9:47/M

Kaiser half marathon

1 Feb

Here’s how I did:

  • Chip time: 2:17:47
  • Gun time: 2:22:52
  • Diff: 05:04
  • Pace: 10:31/M
  • Rank: 4143 out of 817
  • Age group rank: 307 out of 500

Going the Distance

19 Sep

I sometimes joke (though not often out loud) that as an English major and film minor, I find symbolism everywhere. So it’s no surprise that I find endless metaphors for running in my life.

At festivals, when you really can’t get a moment’s peace (ear plugs and an eye mask when you go to bed are the closest things to solitude), running helps me literally put distance between myself and the festival and get some space. I’ve written before about how tackling hills is an endless series of challenge and accomplishment — and how hills that seem insurmountable at first get easier the more often I face them. I mean, how can you miss that? It’s so obvious, it feels like I wrote it in high school.

But the other thing that strikes me about the way I run is that I’m a distance runner. I always have been. I’m terrible at the fast sprints where you go all out and then — over. I need time to settle in, and once I do, you can drop me in Golden Gate Park, and I’ll happily run for 6, 7, 8 miles and feel like I can keep going.

I always feel that’s a metaphor for how I deal with a lot of things in my life. I stay in for the long haul, whether I should or not. But I am proud that I can and do go the distance. I’m proud of myself that I’m capable of that, like I’m proud that my body can run 6 or 8 miles and not crumble after. And it makes me happy. At mile 2 today, with the Nike Club Run, I just got into that zone. I was smiling. I just wanted to keep running forever.

Tiffany wasn’t feeling quite so exuberant. I noticed after we turned around at Aquatic Park that she wasn’t talking as much (If you know Tiffany, you know that this is a sign of something. Could be fine, could be bad, but it’s not the norm). So I picked up the slack. For the first time in my life, I did a six-mile run and talked almost the whole time (If you know me, you know that this, too, is not the norm).

That’s when I realized that even though I’m hopelessly undertraining, I can totally do this half-marathon. Not fast. But not slowly either. And definitely all 13.1 miles. Because once I get going, I can just keep on happily going — or grumpily going, depending on my mood. But I’m going to do this. And it’ll be hard and good and awesome. Like a lot of things in life.

Oh, and Tiffany and I still ran 11-minute miles — with a million red lights and tourists by Fisherman’s Wharf. What?!?!

Eight Mile High

9 Sep

There are two things I’m thankful for today.

  1. I’m in better shape than Britney Spears.
  2. I can run 8 miles.

I mean, I know Britney’s a train wreck, but really? I have a more toned tummy than her? How did that happen?

I finally figured out where the Nike Marathon training schedule was on the site (how did I miss it before?), and realized that I’m totally undertraining. I freaked out for a moment, but the good thing about actually running again is that I’m realizing why I do this.

So why am I doing it? Running is a constant series of successes. Every time I make it to the top of a hill, every stride or pickup I add, every time I up my mileage or cut minutes off my time, it’s an accomplishment. I did that Noe hill twice today. I rock!

Oh, and the other thing I realized? I accidentally bought the wrong width sneakers. So now I have to buy a(nother) new pair. Why must running shoes be so expensive?

Why I Run

24 Aug

I think it’s funny that, while I’m training for my second-ever athletic event, Gillian is training for something, too. Which I just realized, by going back through her blog, is the same half-marathon I’m training for!

This morning, I suddenly realized I should go for a run after work. After my run with Annie on Tuesday (and Gillian’s inspiration), I’ve decided to turn an alleged training plan into a real training plan. I turned down a Wilco show (I’ll probably regret that) and a chance to grab some drinks with coworkers (I probably won’t regret that). Then I got home, put on my running clothes, and dashed out for a 4.5-mile version of my super-hilly neighborhood run.

I always keep a good pace at the beginning (You need to have good form when running in an ex’s neighborhood. It helps that it’s downhill), but I realized when I was running up San Jose on that gradual incline that usually kills me — I was keeping the pace.

I wish I could say that I noticed all these amazing things on my run, but I was really thinking more about what it means to me to be in shape. I don’t really care about having a great figure. I don’t ever expect to get rid of the belly I’ve had since I was in middle school. But climbing that hill on Noe after having run more than three miles already and not having to walk, then getting to the top and looking out over the city. That’s why I run. I love being able to do that.

Goals for next year

5 Sep

I gave up on most of my athletic goals for this year. I didn’t start training early enough (well, at all) for the Pac Grove Tri. I decided to do the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon instead of the Treasure Island Tri, but the day I went to sign up was the day after the half-marathon sold out. Oh well. Next year.

As a matter of fact, next year, I’d like to do Bay to Breakers again, Pac Grove, and the Nike Women’s Half. I want that Tiffany and Co. finisher medal, dang it!

After finally starting to recover from my post-vacation cold, I went for two runs this weekend, and boy, am I out of shape. I was hoping to get up to go to spinning tomorrow AM, but maybe I’ll sleep in and start back up with Spinning on Thurs. As always, we’ll see…