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!

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