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Monday, January 30, 2012

January 2012 Charity of the Month : Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

One of my goals for 2012 is to be more charitable.  Each month I'll pick a different entity to donate money to in an effort to help organizations, events, or causes that have personal relevance.   

The organization I chose for January 2012 is a no-brainer.  My Granddad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2005 and has slowly been losing the battle to the disease.  Our family has watched as his mental state has slowly deteriorated over the past few years to a point where his mental state and ability to function became dangerous to himself and my Granny.  I made a gift to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in an effort to help fund research to find a cure for this horrible disease.  It is such an ugly disease that steals the memories and identities of too many people.   I chose to donate to OMRF because I wanted my money to go directly to research.   For the basis of most of my charitable donations this year, I'll use the CharityNavigator.org website to filter through potential recipients.   When I did a search for Alzheimer's research, the OMRF received one of the top ratings in the US and ultimately received my money due to location and rating on the site.   After working through the OMRF website, I realized that they have made several promising advances in their research.   In an effort to be brief, here is an excerpt from their site:

OMRF is at the center of this struggle, and its scientists are battling Alzheimer’s on multiple fronts. Led by Dr. Jordan Tang, a team of OMRF researchers identified and cloned the enzyme believed to cause the disease, then created an inhibitor to halt the enzyme’s action. Today, an experimental drug based on those discoveries is progressing through human clinical trials. If those trials prove successful, the new drug, known as CTS-2116, could offer the first effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.
OMRF researchers also have achieved promising results from a pre-clinical study of a potential Alzheimer’s vaccine. And they have uncovered a molecular mechanism that provides important clues why certain people are at higher risk for developing the disease.

Results like these are what make my gift meaningful to me.   I want to fund research to help other families who have loved ones that may be at risk for Alzheimer's.  I want to fund research to help fight the disease in my own family if the genetic predisposition to developing this disease has been passed on to others.  I never want to have to go through this again with someone else in my family.  Hopefully a cure will be found soon.

If you have any interest in donating to the OMRF, here is a link to their website and a link to their rating on CharityNavigator.org's site:




Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 - A Year for More Reading

Another one of my personal goals for 2012 is to read more.   In the past few years, I've read a book here and there, but I've never really considered myself an avid reader.   I've decided to focus more of my free time on reading rather than surfing the internet or watching TV.  As a natural result of Ironman training, my TV viewing has decreased dramatically the last couple of years.   I've paired down the number of shows I DVR and find myself not just mindlessly channel surfing very often.  Instead I've accumulated a number of books I want to read and even pulled out a list of "must-read" books compiled by my favorite college professor at Oklahoma State.  I've hung onto the list all these years because I knew one day I'd want to go back and make an effort to read them.   Currently my goal is to read at least 15 books this year.   I decided on 15 because it will force me to read more than 1 a month which seemed a little too easy.  I've already finished my book for January which was "Catching Fire" the 2nd installment of the Hunger Games trilogy.  Although the Hunger Games books are not hard reads, they are enjoyable and are a good place for me to start as I get back into the habit of reading.   I already have the next few books lined up and eventually will probably get a Kindle or Nook to allow for more convenient access to a variety of books.

On the training front, all systems are a go at the moment.  I just finished up my long run for the week with the local running club.   I ran a little over 13 miles along the Oklahoma River near downtown OKC.   It was a cold, crisp morning with light winds which is nearly perfect for marathon training.   I've been having a little bit of tightness in my right calf so I'll get out The Stick and the foam roller to help loosen it up before Tuesday when I hit the streets again.   The running feels strong though.  I'm pretty happy with where I am currently.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Operation 2012 is in full effect

I know I owe you a post from last week.  I only posted once, so shame on me for missing one of my goals already.  I'll try to make up for it and post three updates this week.  

One of the reasons I was MIA from the blog this week was because I started hammering out (literally and figuratively) one of my big goals for 2012.   One of my main goals was to declutter my apartment and make it a more inviting place.   I had a couple of vacation days I had to burn before my anniversary date (February 1st) so I took off Friday and today to work on my project.  I ordered all new bedroom furniture, a buffet, and a desk from Target a couple of weeks ago.  I wanted something affordable and Target was running a 15% off promotion on all furniture so I ended up with a nice batch of furniture for under $1000.   I bought two six-drawer dressers, one five drawer dresser, a nightstand, and a headboard for my bedroom.  It replaced the current furniture I had in my room and gave me a lot more storage space for my ever-growing collection of triathlon and running gear.  The buffet gave me an area to store my glassware (pilsners, wine glasses, goblets) and wine bottles and make my breakfast nook area more organized.  It also forced me to organize all my bike accessories, nutrition, and miscellaneous endurance sports items.  The desk just gave me an area to organize my computer accessories and give me a place to work when I have to log in from home.   Overall I really like the new space.   The construction/cleaning/organizing process took every bit of 2.5 days.  Finally today I was able to put the finishing touches on everything and can now sit down to write this blog from my new desk.

After 2.5 days of extreme apartment makeover, I finally had a chance to get out and enjoy having the day off.  The weather was beautiful today in OKC so I shook out the legs with a nice 5 mile run at Lake Hefner.  Running in shorts and a t-shirt makes me thankful for the current weather, but also makes me wary of the summer months ahead.   Last summer was brutal for training.  I hope this summer isn't a repeat.  I may officially pack up and move to Colorado if we have another blistering summer.   Other than that, I just cleaned up a bit around the house, went grocery shopping, and enjoyed some downtime.   It's back to work tomorrow for what will undoubtedly be a very busy week.   I'll update again later this week as I pick my charity for Jan 2012.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 : A Year for Organizaiton

In most areas of my life I'm fairly organized.  One area where I haven't been is my apartment.  I live in a small 1-bedroom apartment with very minimal storage space.  Anyone who is an endurance athlete knows that the sport is gear intensive.  Over the past 3 years I have definitely outgrown my apartment in it's current state.  I use the living room as bike storage.  I use the bedroom for shoe storage.  I use the breakfast nook for nutrition storage.  I use every square inch of my apartment for storage of some sort....and it still isn't enough.  One of my areas for improvement in 2012 is my organization at home.  I'm determined to declutter my apartment and make it more presentable.  Hiding my endurance sports lifestyle is not an option.  I'm proud of my hobbies/lifestyle and hope to showcase them in a more tasteful way.   To get the ball rolling, I've already purchased a few pieces of furniture which I'll start to assemble this week.  I'm going to gut my bedroom and get rid of excessive clothing, gear bags, shoes, and hats.  I'm going to organize my nutrition in a way that's more presentable and accessible.  I'm going to dedicate a spot for my two bikes where they can serve as both a reminder to get off my butt and a conversation starter when company visits.  I also want to make the living room a functional area for work, study, relaxing, and exercise.  After I'm finished I'm going to have a place that functions well for my lifestyle.  It won't be the nicest place you'll ever visit, but you'll never doubt what I consider a priority in life.  I'm excited to have a "new" home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 : Year for Charity

Another one of my goals for 2012 is to be more charitable.   I donate to various causes throughout the year, but this year I'm going to make a concerted effort to increase my giving through regular charitable donations.  Each month I will select an organization of personal relevance and donate money to that cause.   I've decided not to limit myself exclusively to non-profit organizations, but rather organizations or causes that have personal significance.   This will allow me to openly explore areas of my life where I'd like to give without limitations.   I also will leave the amount open, but I'll set a minimum of $25 each month.   Some months I'll give more based on my current financial situation.   I think this will also allow me to share with you some of my favorite organizations and causes that are dear to my heart.   I hope you'll follow along throughout the year to see which organizations I pick.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 : Improvement in Marathon Time

One of my main endurance sports goals for 2012 is to improve my marathon time.  Currently my personal best is a 4:02 at Chicago in 2010.  I didn't run a stand-alone marathon in 2011 so my personal best is outdated.   I feel like I have a sub-3:40 in me, but only time will tell if I can actually stay healthy during the training process.  For me the big limiter is my health.  I love to run.   Getting out the door to run is rarely an issue.  I always run into problems with my health.   My weak spot seems to be my Achilles tendons.  I've had problems with both my left and right Achilles tendons over the past 3 years.  The good part of an Achilles injury is that I know how to deal with it and I know I can elliptical myself to a marathon finish.  I'm never going to reach my ultimate goal of the Boston Marathon on an elliptical though.  It has to start with me being disciplined and listening to my body.   I've become a smarter runner over the years, but I still do things I know are wrong.  I toe the line between injury and pushing to myself to become better very closely.  I've yet to find the balance where I don't cross the line into injury during a marathon training schedule.   I'm trying very, very hard to make my 2012 OKC Memorial training program the best one yet.  I feel really strong as a runner right now.  My long runs have been fairly effortless and I seem to be gaining strength/speed thanks to my new workout additions : pilates, yoga, and core.   It's only a matter of time before I put it all together and have a good marathon.  My goal is to make that happen this year.  My original goal is to just break the 4:00 mark.  My big goal is to break the 3:40 mark.  Dream big.  Work hard.  Make it happen.  April 29th, 2012 will be here before we know it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 - A Year for Improvement

One of my goals for 2012 is to blog at least 2 times a week.  I'm trying to make good on that commitment starting now.   I spent last weekend spending time with two very dear friends in Austin, TX, by celebrating a monumental 2011 and ringing in a new chapter.   One of our many discussions centered around 12 in 2012 - our commitment to make positive changes in our life and those around us.  I really, really struggled to come up with 12 specific goals which is odd.  I wrote down 6 things and then left the other 6 open-ended.  An opportunity for me to examine my life and pinpoint areas where I need to be better and grow.   A couple of my goals are fitness-oriented, a couple are charity-driven, a few are personal development related, and the others are more personal matters which probably don't belong on this site.   Over the next few weeks I'll detail a few of my goals and try to track my progress throughout the year.   One of the main themes for 2012 is improvement.   I knocked off a lot of "firsts" the last few years and now it's time to continue to strive to better myself and challenge my mind, body, and soul.   I hope to come out of 2012 a much-improved man.  I hope you all have goals and aspirations for yourself in 2012 as well.   It all starts with taking that first step.   Dream big.  Work hard.  Make it happen.