In 2021, I started doing longer swim sessions and once per day. In 2020, I was doing two-a-days and shortening the swim. But I’m not a strong swimmer, so I need to spend more time in the water.
In 2021, I started doing more brick workouts. A brick is a combination of bike then run, in that order. A brick trains your body to get used to running right after biking. I was only doing one brick workout per week in 2020. But in 2021, I was doing at least 2-3 bricks per week.
In 2021, I took swim lessons from a coach. I learned so much about efficiency and power that I would not have picked up on my own. In 2020, it was me, myself, and I.
In 2021, I got fitted onto my bike in a road position and aero position. I also got aero bars. In 2021, I will race in the aero position, which is much faster and more comfortable. In 2020, I only had the road, upright position to ride in.
In 2021, I got another pair of goggles. These goggles are anti-fog. In 2020, I only had one pair of cheap goggles. Also in 2021, I bought a wetsuit that I didn’t have in 2020.
In 2021, I got calf compression sleeves for my legs. These reduce muscle fatigue for races or intense workouts. In 2020, I was relying on my bare legs.
In 2021, I started practicing with nutrition. I tested out 3-4 different endurance mix powders and took them on long workouts. For what it’s worth, I landed on Infinit Performance Nutrition. I also bought the Maurten gels and Quantum bars that will on course at the race. I bought Salt Sticks and took them everywhere. I trained with a mix of Gatorade and water. In 2020, I was trying out a things without much discipline.
In 2021, I started running with a water bottle. I can’t understate how important this is. I will race with a water bottle containing my Infinit endurance mix. And, I can refill the bottle with water and Gatorade and cola. This way, I can sip on fluids in between aid stations.
There were other smaller things I did differently from 2020 to 2021, but these are the big ones.
One thing that remains the same is the commitment and motivation from 2020. That has only grown in resolve in 2021.
I started training to do an Ironman triathlon since August, 2019. But from then until now, I’ve gone through ups and downs in my training. Below are some summaries of the distances / durations per week of each discipline: swim, bike, and run. My training has been split up into distinct blocks.
First, in August 2019, I decided to go all-in. I had been experienced in biking. I had run occasionally but not seriously over the last few years. But I hadn’t swum in many years. So, I found a training program online (thanks, Josh Muskin!). I adapted the training program to my schedule. I began to train 5-6 days per week. At first, I eased into swimming. But I started with short distances while I learned the form. I filled out the rest of my time with biking and running.
In the winter, I continued to swim in the pool, run outside, and bike inside. I joined a Zwift indoor bike training program in early 2020 (Dec-Feb, 2020) which got me into great biking shape. I took a couple weeks off from swimming due to some vacation around the end of 2019.
In mid-March, 2020, I went on another vacation to Miami. That was the exact week when the US closed down due to COVID-19. Our flight actually arrived back to Minneapolis on March 16th, the very day that closures were mandated.
After that, I went into a slump. I stopped swimming (my planned swim durations remain in grey, but my actual durations sank to 0). I began biking and running more, while paying attention to the events. Eventually, one by one all my Ironman and triathlon events were canceled in 2020.
For the summer of 2020, I kept in running shape. I focused mostly on biking far and fast. I went on century rides and fast sprints. I just wanted to stay in shape. By the end of August, 2020, my running culminated in my first marathon, unassisted.
From September until the end of December, I went into slump number two. I stopped biking, running, and didn’t start swimming. My Ironman events were being rescheduled until 12 months from September, and I knew I couldn’t keep up my momentum from then until September, 2021. Instead, I did indoor yoga, stretching, and gained a bunch of weight.
In late December, 2020, I started up indoor biking again. Soon after that, in January, 2021 I started running outside consistently as well. I ratcheted back my yoga. I was competing in online Zwift bike races, which raised my fitness level again.
Then in May, 2021 I restarted swimming. I took swimming lessons. And I got smarter and more focused on my biking and running.
Now that we’re in July, I have two more months until the full Ironman distance, in September. I’ve trained smarter in 2021, not necessarily harder. With two years of training under my belt, I am ready!
It’s odd to express gratitude to people for their help when I haven’t even completed my goal yet. What if I fail? Then all that help goes to waste, right?
Nope. Honestly, I appreciate so much the advice and support and attention that I’ve received from the following LONG list of people. I’m sure I’ve missed many more people, so the list is probably longer.
This has shown me that the journey and community support has already affected me deeper than the actual Ironman day itself. Pausing to notice gratitude has reassured me that regardless of what happens on September 12th, I’ve been changed for the better.
It’s incredible. I mention Ironman Triathlon, and immediately everyone gives genuinely good advice or knows someone who’s done the thing. Even if they don’t have anything to offer, they express admiration for my journey, which is enough to keep me going.
If you commit yourself to a crazy goal, generally people are good. They will support you to get there.
That said, here’s my list of Thank Yous below…
Thank you to…
Sahyli, my wife, for generally just putting up with me and supporting my obsession.
Mom, for reminding me that I can do anything.
Dad, for showing me the right way to approach solving problems.
Peter, for always asking the right questions at the right time.
Luis, for pushing this idea and giving me all the knowledge I needed to get started. I was at a crossroads in life, and you helped me choose the right direction.
Fernando, for reminding everyone that this is part of my identify now.
Cindy, for all of her relevant and reassuring advice.
Chris, for giving me the hunger after we got 3rd place in my first triathlon.
Kevin, for connecting me to everyone he knows that’s even remotely related to fitness.
Team SMILES and the TK ride, for keeping me bike-fit and bike-smart.
Tom, for allowing me to swim in his lake and hosting triathlons.
Francisco, for ordering my race kit.
Christian, for giving a fantastic gear recommendation.
Ben, for giving me race day advice.
The cyclist who recommended I stuff a PB&J sandwich down my shirt for the bike leg.
Team CRYO-GEN HAUTACAM, for pushing my anaerobic limits and for giving me great nutrition advice.
Anna, for teaching me how to not sink.
Brennan, for teaching me how to reach in the water.
Taylor, for reminding me how fast I can run.
The Brownings, for giving me so much useful nutrition and training and race-day advice when I didn’t know I needed it.
Daylight Savings Time comes and goes again in the USA. Our representatives again are trying to introduce a bill to stop it. Will this be the year that we break the habit? Or will we kick the can down the road again?
It started with best intentions in mind. The idea was to reduce fuel usage during dark hours. But in the contemporary world, is Daylight Savings Time useless?
Something new for me in recent years is the global element of time zones. For some people living in the Americas like me, our clocks changed on March 14th. For Europe, the Middle East, and some other areas, different changes happen on different dates. The remainder of the world does not alter their clocks. Since one region changes at a time, this means that when the US changes its clocks, most of the rest of the world hasn’t. This causes friction when you talk to people in other time zones.
As part of my work, I meet on virtual conference calls with people around the globe. Twice a year I have to reschedule my calls to address overlaps caused by Daylight Savings Time. I know it’s not just me. The number of companies working in a global marketplace is rising more with every year. So this issue will only increase.
Let’s estimate the costs of this:
Suppose 15 minutes to find free time to reschedule all my recurring meetings
Suppose 15 minutes more from follow-up scheduling or meetings missed due to miscommunications
Doing this twice a year costs 1 hour of time annually.
Suppose the individuals involved have an average annual salary of $50K USD and work a standard 2,080 hours per year.
That’s 500M people spending $24 each, which is $12 Billion. Ranking this $12B amount compared to the GDP of other nations would place it at number 132 out of 190, behind Brunei and in front of Armenia and Madagascar (which has a population of 25 Million people!).
$12 Billion from rescheduling meetings due to Daylight Savings Time. My numbers may be off, but by how much? My next question is, what’s the value of the fuel saved from those participating in Daylight Savings Time? Are we saving $12 Billion in fuel per year?
Plato outlines significant ideas in his well-known work, The Republic. He writes how Socrates, the protagonist, uses the metaphor of a city to summarize the parts of the individual soul. Socrates focuses heavily on education as the way to nurture the parts of the city, and thus the soul. What does education teach us?
First, Socrates separates the soul into three parts: 1. wisdom, 2. courage, and 3. desire. To better understand these soul parts, consider how we would build a city. At the bottom of the social hierarchy in our city are the craftsmen. They work at individual tasks to survive and follow their desires toward luxuries. In the middle are the auxiliaries, who redirect their spirit into arts that guide those desires of the craftsmen. At the top are guardians who rely on calculation and discipline to lead the rest of the people. They fight against external enemies and quell internal rebellions. A good and just city, and thus a soul, emerges when rational wisdom rules over the spirited courage and desire. Each keeps to its own type and task.
The education that the city and soul need includes music, poetry, and physical training. These activities create harmony between the rational part and the spirited part. Music and poetry nurture wisdom with “fine words and learning” and relaxes the spirit “through soothing stories.” And physical training makes both parts gentle through “harmony and rhythm.” (442a)
The result of this nurturing, soothing, and relaxing is that both soul parts learn their own role better. The rational part governs the appetitive part better, making sure desire doesn’t become too strong.
So, music, poetry, and physical training make the individual part become more into itself. Is this because this education contains the answers on how to become a more complete self? Or, because this education relaxes us into reassurance that leads us to self-knowledge? It could be a bit of both.
In my own life, I can think of songs that lead me to something new by weaving a story and teaching me new ways of thinking. But, I can also think of exercise that yanks my best effort out of myself, teaching me something new about my ability.
I’ll have to wait and read the remaining books of The Republic to find out what Plato says about this.
The next installment of my monthly level-up series is saying more compliments to friends. In the fall, 2018, I was moving from D.C. to Minneapolis and starting a new job. Life changes like that lead to reflection about what we value. We decide what we want to take with us in the next step of our journey. In this case, I wanted to take my friends and the relationships I had built during the previous few years.
One way to build up friendship is to make others feel better when being with you: for example, giving reassurance and compliments.
Usually, I would compliment someone in a reactionary way. I would notice something different and point it out. Or, I would give a compliment in return for receiving one. But then I tried something new and proactive.
I gave compliments by sharing my gratitude: thankfulness toward a shared connection, appreciation for their support, and gratefulness for being a part of my life. It was helpful on phone calls, since phone calls are ways of catching up, not shared experiences. It’s way easier to compliment someone in person or by sharing an experience: “hey you danced well” or “good job crushing those noobs”. But over the phone, I didn’t have those things. Instead, I focused on gratitude for their pure existence.
As a result, I noticed myself thinking harder about why I’m grateful for specific friendships. Genuine caring drove me to enjoy giving compliments. I didn’t do it out of obligation. I felt more motivated to spend time with the people for which I’m grateful. And the little extra effort wasn’t too difficult after some practice. I explained my motivation for continuing to connect with that person. That way, the compliment is genuine, transparent, and positive.
I kept up this improvement for about a month. Then I tapered off. But I still come back to gratitude in my friendships. I now think more actively about how much appreciate people in my life. And for you, dear reader, I learned that a little compliment can move others into hope and joy. I’m grateful for your attention!
When I graduated from school, I had no clue what my occupation would be. I spent six months applying to 30+ jobs in software before getting one interview.
While I was applying, I worked part time as a waiter at a local restaurant. I learned some valuable things there:
1. A transaction is an exchange of value, but value comes in many forms. In a restaurant, a customer pays for more than food. They pay to relax. They pay to choose what they want. Or, they pay to not need to choose. They pay to feel empowered. This lesson is important because I am now more open-minded about why people pay for things. People don’t just pay for a widget. They get value from how that widget makes them feel.
2. Empathy leads to a glass half full perspective. Opening my first wine bottle at a table was the most nerve-wracking thing ever. My hands shook as I spilled wine on the table. Another time, I tripped while walking a tray of water glasses out to the patio. The whole thing drenched a man with his kids. But in both cases, instead of responding with anger, the customers gave empathy. They were patient and understanding. They didn’t dig their nails into the obvious mistake I had made. I actually ended up having nicer, longer conversations with them. On the other hand, there were other customers who found any tiny thing about which to complain. They treated me like a servant to deliver their messages to the kitchen and get some free meals. These people went in with negativity and dragged everyone through the mud to fill their agenda. These people were simply forgettable.
3. The boss sets the tone in a business. The general manager dictated the sentiment of the employees. When he cracked open a bottle of scotch to celebrate after a busy Saturday, the mood was high. When he snapped at waiters for their mistakes, everyone else got tense and bickered at each other. The engine driving us to work came from the culture we shared. This culture came from mostly the tone of the boss.
In the end, restaurant work was not for me. I ended up working at another restaurant part time a few years later, which took my learnings to a whole different level.
In August, 2018, I realized that I need to do a better job keeping in touch with colleagues: both my friends and professionals. I listened to a podcast Manager/Career Tools about networking and decided to use some tools to help me network, instead of just letting luck and vicinity dictate who I talk to.
I set recurring reminders on my calendar to keep in touch with folks every few months. When I get the reminder, I send out a message. Or if I delay, I just shift around the event or push it back. Of course I leave spontaneity open; if I end up talking to someone prior to their next reminder, I just shift the following reminders to start from there.
This works for both personal and professional networks. I often add new people to the list to keep in touch. I also write down people’s birthdays when I hear them. It’s nice to receive a birthday wish nowadays. I can’t rely on Facebook for birthdays anymore, since my generation uses Facebook less.
Staying in touch with friends is great. Our lives are so busy all the time. But I hate that word “busy”. We have so much stress and urgency from the immediate surroundings that we don’t step back and consider the non-urgent, meaningful things.
Set a recurring reminder and reach out. They’ll appreciate the thought.
I traveled through Europe and Asia after graduating from college. I visited Sweden, Ireland, England, then Denmark. I wanted to continue south and east, but a family matter brought me back to the US. I had earned some money and received a graduation gift to travel from my grandmother. After arriving home, I had some money left over. So, I went to China for five weeks, then Thailand for two more weeks.
Traveling was AWESOME. I felt full of creativity, energy, and drive. Going in, all I wanted was to find an epiphany about my purpose in life. Instead, I learned three lessons:
1. There is no epiphany
Nothing came to me in a dream telling me how to live my life. Instead, I decided I must build upon experiences, step by step. Staying open and hungry will allow me to form myself into what I’m meant to be. Deciding what to do without a guide is the longer, harder, but more meaningful road than following a pre-determined path.
2. We are more similar than we are different
Throughout my travels, I met so many amazing people. I could easily communicate with most, but with some there was a language barrier making it harder. But I still made a variety of friends. One of the most meaningful experiences was befriending a man visiting the Terracotta Warriors outside of Xi’an, China. He spoke no English, and I spoke no Chinese. Typically, I would avoid him because understanding each other would be too difficult. But somehow we gestured and smiled our way through the entire museum tour together. We ended up having lunch together after. He showed me pictures of his daughter. I showed him pictures of my family. It was deeply meaningful. I cherish that memory.
3. I yearn to learn new things
When I put myself into an environment without a plan, I found out what I value. Each day is a blank slate, ready for any possibility. I realized that I love to walk and explore, rather than skipping to a destination. I explored back alleys, met up with strangers, and climbed mountains. I downed a fifth while watching fishermen clean their catches in Wuhan, China. I cheered on a hurling match in Cork, Ireland. I created my own log-lifting and rock-carrying workouts in Öland, Sweden. I biked for hours and watched the planes take off in Copenhagen, Denmark. Every moment brought myself closer to living the present and realizing that I love to encounter the unknown.
Here’s the full list of my notes from Europe:
There are free salad bars at many restaurants.
Carbonated water and coca cola rule the beverage industry.
Swedes tend to be less pious (with exceptions), and the family I stayed with had not as much knowledge about Christianity (of which I realized I had ample knowledge).
The school system is free.
The political parties are much “lefter” than American parties. The two big coalitions are the conservative liberals (incumbent) and the social democrats.
Aside: I have now deemed “Swedish workouts” all workouts involving only large rocks or logs.
There are a ton of bikes and clearly marked bike lanes. Very few helmets. Even saw a girl with high heels biking in Stockholm.
The only place from which one may purchase alcohol over ~4% alcohol is a government merchant store named “System Bolaget.” One must be 16 to drink beer and 18 for wine and spirits, and must be 20 to buy alcohol.
There are two major supermarket chains (ICA owns about 50% of supermarket market) and COOP, and there are only a few others.
There are potatoes or potato products with practically every meal.
There aren’t many police officers patrolling around. On the other hand, there are more public cameras.
Similarly, I never saw an officer on the road with a speed gun, but there are speed cameras with conspicuous signs indicating their presence and admonishing drivers.
Kids learn English in school starting in the first few years.
It rains a lot.
Swedish people are generally really attractive.
There are many more VWs, Volvox, Audis, and Mercedes Benzes, for whatever reason.
Public transit is fantastic. The trains better shield outside noise.
There is public land in the non-cities. This should not be confused with the type of land that a government or corporation owns but is named “public.” This legitimately public land is just land, and sometimes cattle range throughout these areas that are surrounded by electrical fence and gates openable with opposable thumbs.
Öland looks like the child of Kansas and Maine. Alternately, it looks like what I imagined Rohan would look like.
Alcohol has much less of a negative or sensitive cultural stigma.
There are Blood Donating centers ubiquitously located throughout Stockholm and in higher-populated towns.
Stockholm beggars are predominant Old Romanian ladies.
Swearing is allowed on the radio. English swears are generally uncensored, from what I noticed.
There is less censorship. Shops and pictures show nudity, and sex shops are not veiled from prying streetside eyes.
Many simple services are automatic. That’s not unique to Sweden of course, but I’ve never bought movie tickets from a self-service machine at the theater before.
Many things throughout Stockholm’s history have burnt down and been rebuilt.
People in Stockholm walk slower than those in most American cities.
Many of the statues in Stockholm are stylistically Greek. Some depict Greek and Roman figures.
There is a seemingly universally Swedish vocal expression: A sharp inhale “huh” (onomatopoeia) meaning “yeah” or “okay.”
Tivoli- both Stockholm and Copenhagen have an amusement/theme park inside the city. And they’re amazing. We went to Copenhagen Tivoli, though.
There’s no law prohibiting open containers of alcohol in public areas.
Anyone may walk through the palace square.
People drive on the left (a revelation).
London is noticeably diverse.
Speaker’s Corner at the northeast corner of Hyde Park. Anyone can speak openly here, and listeners and hecklers alike come to browse, behold, and engage in verbal intercourse with the orators. Most of the conversation is passionate, radical, eloquent, and intellectual. True Sophists and Socratics at work. I more enjoyed the pure awe I felt at the power of rhetoric than the content of the speeches. Such social dynamics were incredibly entertaining to witness. I asked one soap-box about overpopulation and he took the conversation on a magical journey of speech and language. It was amazing. I almost missed my flight because I was so enamored with a scene of a proclaimed fascist dressed in purchased military garb with a Hitler mustache arguing in support of state, institution, and racism. But it was more than that. It was a beautiful argument. And other speakers entered the fray, making both form and content of the discussion so rich and complex…
Pubs all last names
Rains all the time
Live music and drinks all day served in Temple Bar
The Irish are a hard people- stoic. A hard-working people. Those with experience, who can bear the load.
Music is usually covers of popular songs. Generally in an Irish rock style.
Green plots of land, rock walls, rock buildings, cows, sheep, horses, vines, rolling hills, mountains in the distance…it’s beautiful.
Want a pint custom
Narrow roads in city, or wide
12 point system of speeding
Police known as the Garda or Gardi
Off License stores sell alcohol
Lashing = pouring
Crack = good time (gonna be a crack)
Mad = crazy
Boot = back of the car
Cheers while looking at one another in the eyes
Everyone waves and greets
Something about Irish music. From Doolin.
Elbow pipe, strings, songs about work and hardship
Irish time, Irish distance.
Many local, old traditions! Pilgrimage, goat worship… Etc
Irish sports are HUGE: GAA big organization keeping Gaelic and community alive- Irish football, Hurling, Soccer, Rugby
Signs signifying space or fullness of parking lots way prior to the lot
Paddy at the hosel talk… Ireland was very religious until the 1980s. Britain counterpart, Gaelic, Boston Irish/Italian, religious still (Catholic)
St Patrick didn’t bring Christianity, he brought Rome to Ireland. Christianity was in Ireland 200 years prior.
Everyone celebrates St. Patty’s day!
Ireland is a country searching for its identity. It has typically championed everything non-British, but now, what do they have?
Everyone knows where the best pubs are. And the music!
Ireland- pay 20 cents to use bathroom at bus station???
Ireland is closer culturally to countries like Spain and Italy because of the Atlantic winds and boat travels
All of Ireland: cars will be “clamped” = towed?
Belfast (could be most Europe): Street signs on buildings only
Parking on the sidewalk in the burbs
Humps for ___ mile
Picture of deadend: “T”
Northern Ireland still going through conflict about being in the UK. Streets in Belfast separated by a peace wall. Loyalists vs Republicans. Last attack in 1997 after a truce. Any small thing could set it off.
Scouse is the type of person from Liverpool- hard to understand.
Beatles shit everywhere- milking it
Vegetables is “salad”
Football is HUGE here
Young people in Liverpool- 3 big universities
Won cultural capital of the world 2008
Won ugliest building built in 2009
Shipping is huge
Liver is the city bird, but doesn’t exist
Titanic built here or Belfast?
Merchants contributed to slave trade
Liverpool has been the key to the Atlantic
Way more socialism here and Australia
People wait for crossing signals
Scotland is voting for independence on the 18th of September
There are more sheep than people
Requirements for a town to become a city: cathedral and university
Biking in Copenhagen is the most fun ever. So nice
Copenhagen metro is unmanned, automated! Every 4 minutes. And recently opened.
Metro – clipcards for zonage, or “check ins”, and metro police and fines (risk but worth the card?)
New bike bridge
Polite but free and open people
Laws are VERY liberal. Open containers, pee anywhere (but decently)