Year in Review: 2016 Goals Recap

I didn’t accomplish all my goals this year. But, in Googley thinking (external perspective on what I mean by that here), that’s actually a good thing. It means I’m pushing myself. I feel pretty good about everything I accomplished this year. Not great. But pretty good. This sort of felt like one of those years where you work your butt off and don’t really see very much progress, but it’s all really important work that will pay off later. At least, that’s how I hope this turns out…

These were my 2016 (non-work-related) goals:

  • Swimming <– Total Score: 67%
    • swim at least 215 days out of the year (compared to 207 days in 2015) <– Score: 86%… I only swam 184 days out of the year
    • swim at least 400 miles (660k yards) total (compared to ~386 miles in 2015) <–Score: 94%… I ended the year with 374 miles total
    • drop time in my top five events, ideally trying for the following SCY goal times: <– Score: 20%…  I didn’t really race SCY this year, but I did race LCM Nationals and placed 9th in the Nation in 200m breast
      • 2:47.59 in 200 breast (current best = 2:51.65)
      • 1:17.89 in 100 breast (current best = 1:18.62)
      • 36.9 in 50 breast (current best = 37.75)
      • 2:55.36 in 200 fly (current best = 3:03.87)
      • 5:43.8 in 400 IM (current best = 5:59.11)
  • Writing <– Total Score: 83%
    • Finish my 2013 and 2014 NaNoWriMo drafts (both currently just over 50k words and about 60% done) <– Score: 50%… I should have revised this because plans changed when I got in to P2P and spent the first 4 months of this year working on “TLE” instead
    • Polish my 2015 NaNoWriMo first draft <– Score: 100%
    • Participate in NaNoWriMo 2016 as Marin County Municipal Liaison and write 50k new words in Nov <– Score: 100%
  • Reading <– Total Score: 70%
    • 50 books total (~1 per week) <– Score: 100%
    • Keep track of how many books I’m reading against the 2016 “Read Harder” challenge list <– Score: 100%… note how this does not say I needed to finish the challenge… 🙂
    • Read mostly books I already own and try to get my  to-read shelf (books I own but haven’t read yet) on Goodreads to less than 60 books (this list currently contains more than 100 books… ) <–Score: 0… Massive fail. I added at least as many books as I read this year… 
    • Write at least one blog post per week about what I’m reading and why (with photos) <– Score: 80%… I posted nearly 60 posts this year, which is more than one per week, on average. Not all of them were about what I was reading, but the vast majority of them were, and I did at least do a monthly review post through September.

Overall Score = 73%

I’m still working on goals for 2017. I am trying to make sure that I’m making them flexible, but specific enough that they keep me focused on what’s most important. For example, it’s unlikely you’ll see another “swim 400 miles” or specific goal times for races in 2017. I already know that competing isn’t going to be my priority next year, and not just because I’m now at the top of my age bracket. But more on that in a future post… For now, I’m just going to celebrate all I managed to accomplish this year, on top of working a pretty intense and demanding job with a ridiculous commute.

Year in Review: Reading stats on genre and format

I just finished my analysis of what I read this year (yay! more book-related data!), and I thought I’d share some fun facts about my reading habits this year…

Total “books” read: 53 <– projected total… I still have a couple I plan to finish before tomorrow night…

Total Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: 77% fiction (41 books) and 23% non-fiction (12 books)

Total YA vs. Adult: 19% YA (10 books) and 81% adult (43 books) <– bet you didn’t anticipate that, huh? I certainly didn’t.

Total books read by diverse authors (non-white and/or non-American): 12 (23%)

Total books from library: 14 (26%)

Total books by format:

  • Kindle: 66% (35 books)
  • Audiobook: 13% (7 books)
  • Paperback: 13% (7 books)
  • Hardcover: 8% (4 books)

Of the 41 fiction books I read, here’s how they broke down by genre:

  • Sci-fi and fantasy: 25% (13 books)
  • Romance: 17% (9 books)
  • Comic trade volumes: 13% (7 books)
  • Novellas and other short fiction: 13% (7 books)
  • Literary fiction: 8% (4 books)
  • Mystery: 2% (1 book, which I nearly could have almost classified as romance…)

Beside the fact that I read a lot more “adult” books than “YA” books, which was the first stat to jump out at me, it seemed like my percentage of short fiction and comics was higher than in years past. These data points seemed unusual, so I went back and checked last year’s stats. Turns out, last year I read 75 books total and 26% of those were YA (vs. 19% this year). So, this year was definitely a lighter YA year for me, but my percentage of short fiction and comics was about the same (24% vs. this year’s 26%).

Overall, I’m pleased with the diversity of what I’m reading. I have a pretty wide range of taste in books, and it’s nice to see that verified by the numbers.

Does anyone else track stats like this for what they’re reading? Is there anything else I should add? A different slice you’d like to know? Just let me know in the comments (or on Twitter).

Year in Review: Book buying stats for 2016

I keep track of the ebooks I purchase in a spreadsheet, because of course I do. My spreadsheet doesn’t account for ebooks I receive as gifts, only ones that I purchase for myself. However, just to make things slightly more confusing, the books I buy for myself are usually purchased with gift cards. Technically that makes them gifts. So, I really don’t have any idea why I even bother with this exercise except that at some point I realized that I buy a lot of ebooks and wanted to know how much money I was spending.

For the past three years, I’ve averaged about $235 spent on ebooks per year and purchased about 60 books on average. This puts my average cost per book at just under $4.

Actual stats:

BookBuyingStats_2014-2016

As you can see from the table above, my book buying has been steadily increasing over the past few years, but I am doing a decent job of keeping my average cost per book under $4. So, basically, my ebook buying habit roughly equates to just over one Starbucks cappuccino a week.

I feel pretty good about that. I mean, ebooks last a lot longer than a cappuccino, right?

The part about all this that makes me a little uncomfortable is another metric I keep track of… How many of these books that I’ve purchased have I read? And what’s the average cost of those books that remain unread?

The answer to that question is that I have 85 unread books of the 181 that I’ve purchased (~46% unread). That’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. I feel a bit better when I consider that the average cost of those unread books is only $2.90. But, assuming I read about 50 books per year, that’s still nearly 2 years worth of reading without me buying any more books at all.

This is why I’m going to put a temporary hold on purchasing any more sale ebooks, unless it’s something I really want to read and can’t get on ebook from my library. When I started buying ebooks, I don’t think you could even get books for Kindle from the library, or at least, if you could the options were very limited. These days, almost anything I’d want to read is available. The only catch is that I might have to wait a bit if it’s an extremely popular book, but that’s something I can plan around.

Next year (2017), my only reading goal is to put a dent in this backlog of ebooks and maybe also lower my average cost per unread book. There’s really nothing on that list that I don’t want to read. So, I should be able to find something on my tbr-Kindle shelf to fit whatever reading mood I’m in. If not, there’s always the library.

So, what I want to know is, am I the only one buying this many ebooks? Does anyone else keep stats like this? I’m curious to see where I fall in the book buying continuum.

2015 recap: Goals

Every year I end up making some crazy personal goals for myself. Looking back on 2015’s goals, I’m a little surprised at how well I did. Taken all together, this is some pretty challenging stuff I signed myself up for this year, and I accomplished almost all of it.

  • Swimming
    • swim 20 days per month –> partial credit… averaged 17 days per month, but swam more days (and yards) in 2015 than I have since I joined USMS in Dec 2012
    • get SCY times on the books for 400 IM and 1650 free –> done
    • qualify for SCY Nationals in the 3 breaststroke events plus 2 more (200 fly and 400 IM) –> partial credit… qualified in the 3 breaststroke events and dropped time in my 200 fly and 400 IM, but I am still a few seconds off qualifying times in those two events
  • Writing
    • Finish at least one novel (“Empire”) and be ready to query by end of 2015 –> partial credit… finished first draft, but not ready to query… 
    • Participate in NaNoWriMo as Marin County Municipal Liaison –> done
    • Plot NaNoWriMo novel in October and write complete first draft by end of 2015, at least 50k in November with goal to finish complete plot arc, but must continue and finish in December if not done yet. –> still working on this one… 
    • Pick the next incomplete novel to finish first draft of (“Falling” or “Augmented”) and prep outline / notes in December so I’m ready to write in January –> done
  • Reading
    • 50 books total (~1 per week) –> done
    • Read at least 12 “diverse” books in 2015 (~1 per month) –> almost… I finished 10
    • Write blurb book reviews for books read on Goodreads –> done
    • Continue weekly inbox/outbox post on the blog –> done
    • Participate in Book Riot’s “Read Harder” challenge –> done

In a way, I want to go a bit easier on myself next year. This year was pretty intense and I pushed myself pretty hard trying to get all this done. But, on the other hand, I’m pretty proud of my accomplishments.

By the Numbers: March 2014

This has been just hanging out in my drafts folder for a while, but I never posted it. I also never really finished writing it… At this point it’s almost time for my April “By the Numbers” post, so I think I’ll just let you have it as I found it….

_____________________

And just like that, 25% of the year is gone.

Books

Total read so far this year: 5
(target = 36 total in 2014)

I finished two books this month.

Writing

I am pretty sure I did no writing this month. This has been a month full of distractions. I need to find a way to get back to writing every day, but I already know that April is going to be just as crazy as March. So, I’m not going to make any promises about April.

I will make promises about May. May is where I draw the line. Spring swim season will be over and life will (hopefully) have settled back to something nearing normal again. May is the half-year anniversary of NaNoWriMo, it’s also my birthday month, so it’s the perfect time to get back into the writing.

Of course, I could maybe try to get some words written in April… you know, a head start on May wouldn’t hurt….

Swimming

This month I swam:

  • Total through 3/31: 85.3 miles (42 swimming days)
  • 2014 goal: 400 miles (~21% of goal)

I didn’t swim as much this month as I should have and it showed in my performance at the Championship meet this past weekend. I’m grumpy about my performance in my breaststroke events. I did make some nice improvements in 200 IM and 200 fly, but I was way off personal best times in my main events and that was disappointing.

The cutoff to register for Nationals fell before the Championship races. So, I registered, and I’m glad I did. I really need that extra month of training so I can have one last shot at getting below 1:20 on my 100 breast and below 2:50 on my 200 breast.

One of the main reasons I didn’t practice as much this month was because I started coaching a high school team. Their season is almost over (it was almost over when I started), and it isn’t a very big team, but the swimmers are really nice and it’s fun to be coaching again.

 

By the Numbers: February 2014

Wait. What happened? February is over already? I mean, I know it’s a short month and everything, but the last 28 days went by way too fast!

Books

Total read so far this year: 3
(target = 36 total in 2014)

I didn’t finish ANY books this month. Zero. I started and abandoned several that I just couldn’t get into. I am currently trying to get into a new book. I bought a bunch of books that I thought I’d want to read. I had a really good recommendation for a non-fiction book. I just can’t get into my reading zone. I really want to curl up and spend an entire day reading. But this month has been so overflowing with “things to do” that I haven’t been able to sit down and read long enough for anything to grab me.

Reading, like swimming, settles me and calms me. And, with all the activity this month, whenever I’m not asleep or in the pool my brain churns and whirs out of control. I need a good book. I need a book that will grab me by the shoulders and force me into a chair and keep me turning pages, sucking me into the story. I also need about two solid hours with nothing to do and where I’m not about to fall asleep so I can give a book a chance.

Writing

I re-shelved “Empire” temporarily and dove back into “Falling” my 2013 NaNoWriMo story. This month I re-read most of it, revised the beginning bits, and started filling in the plot holes. Total word count is still pretty much the same, but I feel like I’m making progress.

I tried explaining this story to someone and it came out sounding all weird, prompting the response, “Interesting…” I think I’m going to have to stop trying to explain this story to people until I’m done. At this point it’s easier for me to explain what it’s not rather than what it is, and after you rule out most of what it’s not you are left wondering what’s left for it to be.

Still. Something about this story is grabbing me and holding my attention the way that none of the books I’ve started and abandoned this month could. Sometimes I think I go through phases. When I’m primed to be writing, everything I read frustrates me because it’s just not right. Then, when all I want to do is read, it’s almost impossible to get any writing done.

Swimming

This month I swam:

  • Total through 2/28: 55.5 miles (28 swimming days)
  • 2014 goal: 400 miles (~14% of goal)

This was a much better month for swimming. I only had one meet this month. I did pretty well and beat my seed times, but didn’t really swim any personal bests. I did swim a Nationals qualifying time in my 100 breaststroke. So, I can check that one off the list! Once again I just missed a qualifying time in the 50 breaststroke by a few tenths of a second.

I have two meets in March. I’m hoping to hit my qualifying time for the 50 in one and for the 200 in the other. If I can get any other qualifying times, that would be great (like maybe 200 IM…). But, mostly I’m just hoping to swim some personal bests in 50 and/or 100 free, and keep dropping time on my breaststroke events.

US Masters Swimming Nationals is near-by this year. So, as long as I qualify, I’ll probably compete. That gives me at least another two months to get to peak performance.

The preliminary listing for “Top Ten Times” in short course meters (fall season 2013) are posted. I ended up #7 in the nation in my age group for 200 breaststroke (out of 23 people who competed in that event during that season). Only 10 people in my age group competed in the 200 fly during the SCM season, so I ended up #6 in 200 fly. That’s two top ten times for my swimmer brag page on USMS! Go me!

Pop Culture of the Month

SHERLOCK!!! I finally got to watch season 2 of BBC’s Sherlock, and it was over way too soon. But so good! Can’t wait for season 3!

 

February was too short (as usual) and went by too fast, but at least it was better than January! Can’t wait to see what March brings…

By the Numbers: January 2014

Let it be known, for the record, that 2014 and I did not get off to a good start. I almost don’t even want to recap January, because January and I didn’t get along so well. Needless to say, I’m really glad that January is over, and I’m hoping for a New Year “re-boot” with the Lunar New Year.

Books

Total read so far this year: 3
(target = 36 total in 2014)

I didn’t write a long blog post about books this month. I haven’t felt much like writing anything (more on that in the next section). I did read three books, even though, for a while there, I thought I wouldn’t get through any books this month. I kept picking up books, starting them, getting bored, and putting them down.

The first book I finished (but not the first I started) was The Circle by Dave Eggers. I read it for a book club at work, but then didn’t get to go to the book club because I was sick. The book is about “the horrors” of living in a world with social media. The company in the book appears to be a poorly disguised version of Google. And, the entire thing comes off like a luddite hipster rant about the evils of technology. I have a lot of thoughts on that one, but they probably deserve their own post… one that I should have written when I didn’t go to that book club.

The next book I finished was Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue by Hugh Howey. I’d started this shortly after the New Year, but got bogged down in the middle. I still haven’t read the series he’s become famous for (Wool). Eventually I will, but when I found out that his first series was a space opera featuring a sassy heroine who gets kicked out of her space fleet military academy, I knew I had to read that first. The story and the writing are a little rough, but overall I enjoyed it enough that I’ll probably pick up the others in the series. I think this was his first novel, so I imagine the writing gets better…

And then, last weekend, I finally finished Dare Me by Megan Abbott. I started this on New Year’s Eve and thought it would be a quick, fun read. Nope. This book just dragged on and on for me. Her descriptions of teenage girls are vivid and realistic. Her ability to get into the mind of these high school cheerleaders and write believably from their perspective is impressive. Still… something just didn’t click for me. I don’t think I ever really cared about the characters or their story. Or maybe I’m just not a fan of contemporary / realistic YA.

Overall, January was a disappointing reading month for me, if only because I didn’t read anything I really LOVED this month. It’s like I keep sampling all the chocolates in the box and, even though they’re chocolate, and what’s not to like about chocolate, they just aren’t satisfying my sweet tooth. I just can’t find my favorite flavor combination.

This last week I started craving real, paper books. I still love my Kindle, but I think I’m going to change it up and read some paperback books in February. I have a bunch in my TBR pile on the bookcase. So, maybe I’ll give my Kindle a rest this month…

Writing

Gah! I am embarrassed to say that I think I went backwards this month. I did almost no writing, and then, when I did squeeze in some writing time, I decided to pull an entire section of my draft out because it felt like a massive backstory dump. And then I got hung up in the middle of my story and completely stalled for weeks because I just didn’t know what needed to happen to bridge from point A to point B in the plot. In the end, I think I had a net increase of about 1000 words. Pitiful.

I keep asking myself if I just want to ditch this story and move on, but I still think there’s something there. I just need to finish this first (really bad) draft so I can start getting to work on fixing it. The problem is, I want to write it perfect the first time (impossible), which causes me to stall when I am unsure of the exact, perfect way forward. Sigh.

Swimming

This month I swam:

  • 12 of 31 days (target was ~18 days)
  • 24.3 miles (target was ~36 miles)

I couldn’t swim for the first 10 days of January because I got an ear infection on New Year’s Eve and had to take the anti-bacteria drops for the full cycle to get rid of the funk. Oddly enough, it didn’t really hurt at all. But apparently I had some serious junk up in there.

My first day back in the pool this year was the Santa Rosa Flower Power Swim Meet. I had signed up to swim all the 200s except 200 back. I ended up dropping time on my 200 free (my first race of the day), but swam horribly in all my other events. I tried hard to tell myself it didn’t matter, and it was completely understandable because I’d been out of the water for two weeks. But I couldn’t make myself listen.

Then, after that first race and about a week of training, I came down with a cold that kept me out of the water for several days leading up to my second meet of the year, the Fog City Quadrathon. After having been out of the pool for most of the week, I got one practice in the day before the race. Somehow I managed to beat all my seed times and swim personal bests in all four of the freestyle events in the meet, even though I was still congested. This renewed some of my hope for this racing season.

I’ve had too few practices this month, and most of them felt slow and crummy. The last two have felt really good, though. Today’s practice (technically a February swim) was particularly good, though I had to cut it short before I was really ready to get out of the pool.

Next weekend I have my third meet of the year, and my first chance to drop some time in my 100 breaststroke. At this point, I’m just hoping I can stay healthy and keep swimming strong practices through the rest of the season.

Pop Culture of the Month

I bought two new albums at the tail end of December, one of which I’ve been listening to almost every time I have a chance this month: My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men. I’m not sure why I like it so much. The story teller in me especially loves this video:

We watched five good but not great movies, and two fabulous, lovable, perfect episodes of BBC’s Sherlock, Season 3. I’m excited and sad to watch the final episode of this season tomorrow. I hate the long wait between new seasons of Sherlock!

So there you have it. January. Done. Here’s to the Year of the Horse!

By the Numbers: December 2013

Books

Total read since January: 39
(target is 36 total in 2013 — to be on track I should have read 36 books by now)

I’ve been devouring books this month — maybe to make up for the lack of reading time last month… I’ve already posted about the first three of these, so I’m just going to provide a link to my Goodreads reviews for those and be done with it.

Here is a summary of the books I finished in December:

  • Suddenly Royal — Four stars. See the review on Goodreads (linked) or read my “What? Me? Read Romance?” post for more thoughts.
  • Night of Cake & Puppets — Five stars (novella length). See the review on Goodreads (linked) or read my “What? Me? Read Romance?” post for more thoughts.
  • Eleanor & Park — Five stars and one of my “best of” 2013 books. See the review on Goodreads (linked) or read my “What? Me? Read Romance?” post for more thoughts.
  • These Broken Stars — Finally! A YA Space Opera! Yes! Where are the others like this one? Give me more! Actually, there is another coming by this author that takes place in this world, but not about these characters. Some reviewers have been lamenting that, but I’m more than okay with stand-alone books. Seems like everything these days has to be a series. I found this one on a Huffington Post list of best YA of 2013, where I realized that I hadn’t read most of the list. This book was selected as “best overall” and after reading it, I’m only a little surprised. The heroine started off kick-ass and then got a little annoying through the middle, but recovered by the end. The hero is definitely cut from the tall, dark, and handsome romance hero cloth. Even if these weren’t my favorite characters, the plot is solid and unique — something I appreciate. It’s not the best overall YA I read this year (that distinction goes to Eleanor & Park), but it is the best YA Sci Fi that I read this year (Blue Remembered Earth is still better for overall Sci Fi space opera).
  • Legend — I had high hopes for this one. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where the West Coast has separated from the rest of the United States. Right from the start the tension is high and the action is packed. I definitely wanted to keep reading to see what happened next. Unfortunately, I kept getting disappointed by two things. First, the two main characters (each chapter alternates perspectives between the two) are way too similar. In order for this to work they needed distinct voices / personalities, but they kept thinking and doing the exact same thing as the other one did in the previous chapter. Second, the plot stands on slightly shaky ground. I won’t give more away, but the premise for why the baddies are doing the bad stuff didn’t have enough weight for me. Then again, this is YA, and I may be getting burnt out on this genre… Overall, it was good enough and I liked it, but I am not chasing down the rest of the series, yet.

Writing

I didn’t do much writing this month. I am taking a post-NaNoWriMo break and relaxing for the holidays. I posted a bunch of end of the year summaries (books, music, feminism, and movies) on this blog. And I did a tiny bit of editing on the first 7500 words of my NaNoWriMo novel. Now I’m gearing up for next year, which I anticipate will be a big writing year for me.

Swimming

My US Masters Swimming FLOG (Fitness Log) says I swam:

  • 17 of 31 days (target was ~20 days)
  • 27 miles (target was ~30 miles)

The first week of December was ridiculously cold in the Bay Area and made swimming outside challenging. I opted for a cross-training workout on days when the temps dropped below 40 degrees (F). Luckily, we found a place to stay on our vacation that has an indoor lap pool. So I was able to swim as much as I wanted over vacation.

I’ve mostly been taking it easy for the last two months. Spring racing season starts next month and I am going to have to seriously step up my training (and rein-in my non-stop noshing) to make sure I’m in tip top shape for USMS Nationals in May. Oh boy!

Movies

Here’s what we watched this month…

  • Bounty Killer — this will either become a cult classic, or it will fade into the sunset. One of my high school friends co-wrote and co-produced this movie. So, I mostly watched it for that. But if you like cheesy, Mad Max, post-apocalyptic stories featuring bounty hunters and an anti-corporation theme, check this one out — bonus: it’s available on Netflix instant streaming.
  • Red 2 — I am definitely not the target demographic for this movie. But, I really like Helen Mirren, and I surprisingly enjoyed the first movie, so I thought I’d check out the sequel. This movie has no real plot. It’s the weakest excuse ever to throw these actors and actresses together and let them play action heroes. It almost seems like the actors know that too. Basically, don’t go rent this one unless you are actually in the target demographic, you just can’t possibly miss a movie featuring this “star-studded” ensemble cast, and/or you have absolutely nothing else better to do.
  • Love Actually — this was the year that I *finally* watched Love Actually. I know. I can’t believe that I managed to live this long without watching it, either. But I did. And it was cute. And I can see why it’s a holiday favorite. And it has Alan Rickman in it. I liked it and it made me smile, but I didn’t *love* it.
  • Done the Impossible — documentary of how the fans of the TV show Firefly (one of my all-time-favorite TV shows) saved the series
  • The Killing — We watched the first four episodes of season one because I saw this on someone’s “best of 2013” list and it looked interesting. I love that it’s set in Seattle, but I’m not really totally into it yet.
  • The World’s End — British humor, pub crawl, aliens… I expected this to be funnier than it was… it was funny, and weird, and I liked it… I think I just over-hyped it in my head before watching.

And that, readers, is one year of monthly “By the Numbers” posts completed. If you’re interested, check out my 2013 summary post and my 2014 preview post

Happy New Year!

By the Numbers: 2013 summary

Let’s take a look at how I did compared to what I wanted to accomplish in the areas of reading, writing, and swimming in 2013…

Books

I have an annual goal of reading at least 36 books (or about 3 books a month, on average).

This year (so far) I’ve read a total of 39 books! Most were fiction. Only 6 of the 39 were non-ficiton. But only 10 of the 33 fiction books could be considered “young adult” fiction.

If you’re interested, I wrote reviews for each of them on Goodreads — you can find links to my reviews by checking out the Reading page on this blog.

Writing

This year I wanted to “create” as well as “consume” content. To that end:

  • I wrote 60 blog posts (on average that’s more than one post per week).
  • I added about 15k words to a novel I started back in 2009.
  • I “won” NaNoWriMo 2013 by writing a first draft of a novel that is currently just over 51k words.
  • I wrote countless short stories, essays, exercises, and even a few poems, for my UC Berkeley Extension classes.
  • I completed four UC Berkeley Extension classes (9 credits).

I’d call that a success. 🙂

Swimming

I started off this year hoping to compete in my first US Masters Swimming races and swim about 250 miles, total, for the year (about one mile 5x per week on average, with 2 weeks off for vacation). I had some swimming goal times for breaststroke, and I wanted to at least swim US Masters Nationals Qualifying times in the three breaststroke events. To that end:

  • I swam approximately 47,500 yrds (~353 miles) this year on a total of 200 days (just over 1.75 miles /day). That pencils out to more miles, over fewer days than I’d planned.
  • My best SCY yards times for breaststroke were: 2:51.81 in the 200, 1:20.59 in the 100, and 38.16 in the 50 (these beat my original goal times for the year of 2:58.03, 1:23.32, and 38.22, respectively).
  • I finished #20 in the Nation for the 35-39 age group in 200 yard breaststroke!
  • I created a Swimming page on my blog and posted a few sample workouts and some info for “unattached” US Masters swimmers.

Not bad for my first year back in competitive swimming, and with training just over 50% of the days in 2013… Can’t wait to see what I can do next year!

Other Cool Stuff

In case you aren’t following me on Twitter, here is my “Year on Twitter” according to Vizify:

And if you missed it, check out what I plan do do in 2014

By the Numbers: looking ahead to 2014

For my “By the Numbers” posts next year (I think I’ll keep the monthly posts, they were by far the most popular posts on my blog this year), I’m going to stick with the same general categories: Reading, Writing, Swimming. But, I think I’m going to drop the Movies category. Instead I’m just going to add a “Pop Culture of the Month” section at the end. This way I can talk about movies or music or tweets or You Tube videos, or whatever happened to be the thing that tickled my pop culture funny bone most that month.

Last year I made a big fuss about saying how I didn’t like the idea of New Year’s “resolutions” but just had some “intentions” for 2013. That actually worked out really well for me. I accomplished pretty much everything I set out to do (as you’ll see in a future 2013 wrap-up post). Since we’re down to the last few days of 2013, I think it’s about time I set some “intentions” for 2014.

Here are some of the things I’d like to do in 2014:

Reading

Next year, as usual, I want to read at least 36 books, total. That’s about 3 books / month on average. These can be anything, fiction or non-fiction, genre, young adult, literary, whatever. I need to balance reading stuff in the genre I’m writing in (to see what’s selling and why) vs. reading stuff in other genres (so that my writing doesn’t sound like everyone else out there).

In addition to just reading, I want to: 1) write more thoughtful / longer reviews (similar the one I did for those romance books I read recently), and 2) when I read a book in my genre, write something thoughtful to the author about the book.

That second thing isn’t something I’d ever thought of doing before, but I saw it suggested in a blog post (the one I link to below), and it’s something I never thought of doing before. On the one hand it feels intrusive and slightly fangirlish to write to an author. On the other hand, if the tables were turned, I’d love to hear from people who loved my book. As a society, we don’t provide positive feedback enough, in general. We are so quick to turn critical and snarky. I like the idea of making a concerted effort to tell people when they create things I like and provide some specifics about why I like it.

Writing

The folks over at Foreword Literary Agency had a nice post about goal setting for writers. Last year I didn’t set specific / measurable goals for writing. I just wanted to be a “creator” as much as I am a “consumer” of content. This made everything fair game — blog posts, novel writing, short stories, in-class exercises and assignments, etc. And it also made this goal impossible to measure. This year I’m going to be slightly more focused.

  • I’d like to post at least twice a month on this blog — one “By the Numbers” month summary and one longer book / reading related post, in addition to whatever else I decide I’d like to post about.
  • I plan to finish my Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Writing from UC Berkeley Extension (one more class!) — bonus points for graduating with “distinction” (4.0 GPA)
  • I’d like to complete two submittable manuscripts (“Empire” and “Falling”), and finish two new first drafts (“MPiS” and whatever I decide to write for NaNoWriMo 2014). In order to do this, I’m going to shoot for writing about 20k net new words per month (this is just over 5k words per week, or less than 1k words per day, and would result in 240k new words in 2014, or about 3 full length novels). I created a Writing page to track progress.

Now, you’re probably looking at that and thinking I’m absolutely nuts. Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you should already know that. And if you’re new here, get used to it. 🙂

I’ll admit that it’s a little ambitious. However, this is my main outside of work activity. And I’ve already decided, 2014 is the year I get serious about this stuff. 2014 is also the year where I’m going to start getting comfortable with the idea of calling myself a writer. I may not be a *professional* writer (I’m a professional supply chain geek). But, I’m still a writer.

Swimming

I set the bar pretty low last year and then I tried to raise it part way through the year. This year I’m going to be slightly more ambitious.

  • Training: 18x per month (about 5x per week on average) and about 36 miles per month (2 miles per session) — that would mean 432 miles in 2014, but I’ll set my Nike Go The Distance challenge goal at 400 miles.
  • Breaststroke SCY Times: < 2:48 in the 200, < 1:20 in the 100, and < :38 in the 50 (2014 USMS Nationals SCY qualifying times for my age group are: 2:59.02, 1:24.30, 38.34, respectively)
  • Freestyle SCY Times: < 2:44 in the 200, < 1:10 in the 100, and < :30 in the 50 (2014 USMS Nationals SCY qualifying times for my age group are: 2:19.85, 1:05.50, 29.70, respectively)
  • Record SCY times for 200 fly, 200 IM, and 200 back (2014 USMS Nationals SCY qualifying times for my age group are: 2:57.84, 2:39.81, 2:59.02, respectively)
  • Mix in some dryland training (resistance, yoga, stretching, etc.) to try to prevent injuries
  • Cross train cardio once per week (long walk, erg, kayak, etc.)

I’m planning on tracking my training offline in 2014. This year I used the USMS online training log. It’s cool, but it makes it hard to flip around and see what workouts I did when, and I don’t like how they calculate miles. I think their yards to miles conversion is skewed in Nike’s favor (since this is the official tracker for their Go the Distance challenge). So I’m going old-school and tracking my workouts / yards / mileage in a Moleskine weekly calendar. (Of course this may only be an excuse to buy a paper calendar even though all my appointment details live online.)

I want to focus mostly on the middle distance events in 2014. I’m kicking off the year by swimming almost exclusively 200s in my first short course yards (SCY) meet of 2014. Not many Pacific Masters swimmers seem to like the 200 yard events. They gravitate more toward the sprints. I’m not naturally a sprinter, but I have great endurance. So, I think this may be a sweet spot for me. Especially as I get older and the competition thins out.

It would be nice to get a top ten time in my age group for 200 yrd breaststroke, but the number ten time this year was a 2:41, and I don’t know if it’s realistic for me to think I can drop ten seconds off my current best 200 time. Plus, it’s really hard to set goals that involve measuring myself against other people’s performance. So, I’m going to shoot for dropping five seconds off my current best time in 2014. Who knows, maybe that time will land me in the top fifteen in my age group in 2014… (I was #20 in 2013).

I’m playing the long game here. First, I want to live past 55 (how old my dad was when he died). Then, I want to set records when I’m in the 60+ age group (note for 2037 goals…). Basically, I want to be like this lady (92 yr old world record holder) when I grow up. So, the best thing I can do right now is be consistent with my training, develop my base fitness level, and not get injured.

Oh yeah… and all this is on top of all the stuff I plan to accomplish at work next year… I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be another busy year…

Happy New Year! Best wishes for a happy and healthy year!