Round The Bays 2016

Yesterday I ran at a running event called Round the Bays. According to their website, it is one of the world’s largest fun runs and New Zealand’s largest mass participation sporting event. It is a 8.4km walk / jog / run from the city along the waterfront to St Heliers Bay, one of the rich suburbs.

My employer paid the participation fee and gave a nice bright orange tee shirt. This is not the only reason I ran though. I wanted to experience how it is like running among thousands of people wearing a bib. And I wanted to see where I stand among some of my super fit coworkers.

I did not practice specifically for this event. I run a 5k every Sunday. So this is my weekly run, just in the different part of the city, with thousands of other runners.

I ran 8.47 km non-stop in 39:42, my best. I stood at 13 among 187 coworkers and 635 overall among 19,619 participants. I’m pleased with my time and ranking.

Now what? a half-marathon? marathon? Nothing. I am not getting carried away by this result. Keeping my weekly tiny 5-8k running routine is important to me than any grand goals.

The official result:

Chaitanya's Round The Bays 2016 Scorecard

Mindful November

At the end of October I finished reading this book titled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. So during this month, I hoped to practice some of the things I learned from this book. Hence Mindful November.

I liked the idea of conserving mental energy that’s otherwise wasted on small stuff so we can use it for the things that really matter. The central theme of this book is to help keep the little things from taking over our lives.

I picked twelve things to practice during November. These rules sound like truisms, but as with all truisms, the challenge is in practicing. I failed miserably multiple times when situations have arisen. Lately some of my ducks are getting out of row (if they aren’t, they are not ducks, are they?). I would have saved a lot of mental energy had I applied some of these rules. But alas, such is life!

It is not all bad though. I did well in some of them. For example, I am not an aggressive driver but I am neither sagacious. I received a rather expensive speeding ticket in mail during the Bay of Islands road trip last month. Much earlier to this, since the start of the last year I decided not to honk at anyone on the road, regardless. Who knows what the other driver is going through. Everyone does mistakes sometime. So there is no point in getting zealous with horn as if I am saintly.

However, I was only not honking. I am still disturbed within when I see bad or dangerous driving. This morning someone cut in front of me in the traffic. But this time, instead of feeling angry, I recalled the following from lines from the book and instantly felt better.

Why not simply allow the driver to have his accident somewhere else? Try to have compassion for the person and remember how painful it is to be in such an enormous hurry. This way we can maintain our own sense of well-being and avoid taking other people’s problems personally.

And from the essay 57,

…you end up saving no time in getting where you want to go.

Nevertheless, I am an optimist and believe in practice. So I will get going.

Here are the twelve things I will continue to practice.

Let others finish.
Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences.

Let others be right.

Let others have the glory.

Let others be more enlightened.
Imagine that everyone is enlightened except you.

Choose being kind over being right or being intelligent.

Praise and blame are all the same.

Become a less aggressive driver.

Think of what you have instead of what you want.

Look beyond behavior.

If someone throws you the ball, you don’t have to catch it.

When trying to be helpful, focus on little things.

Mind your own business.
Avoid analyzing or trying to figure out other people.

Elevate milestone

I reached 401 day long streak on Elevate today. I was at 101 last time when I wrote about  this cool educational app.

Elevate combines two of my passions: deliberate practice and building tiny habits. This is what makes me reach out to Elevate as soon as I wake up every morning.

It hurts to break a habit streak. Especially, when it only takes about five minutes a day to build it. It totally sucked when I broke the streak twice, once around 30 days and the other at 52 days. Luckily, I am yet to miss a day since. Until I break the streak again, I will say that it is easy to build streaks on tiny habits :). Touchwood!

Completing three games daily takes about five minutes. It is easy to do, it is also easy not to do, as I recall a note from the fourth chapter of The Slight Edge. It usually takes another five to seven minutes to score perfect games. So it only takes at most fifteen minutes to make the day count and score perfect games. Everyone has fifteen minutes. There are no excuses really. I think this is what has helped me get going.

Following are my stats and Elevate Proficiency Quotient (EPQ). I love how both the app’s design and my EPQ have evolved over time. I did not improve in listening because I always skipped listening games.

                                

EPQ    

Now that I celebrated the 400-day milestone by writing about it, 500, here I come.

Back to Toastmasters

I recently quit Toastmasters as I am not finding enough time to practice my speeches. Insufficient practice shows up pretty badly in front of audience. Toastmasters are incredibly forgiving. They will put up with the worst of the speakers.  But it hurts to not live up to the Toastmasters Promise.

There is one thing that all bad speakers have in common. They don’t practice enough. It takes about  an hour of practice for every minute of a speech. So you got to practice at least five hours to deliver a five-minute speech reasonably well. This is in addition to the time spent to research and write the speech. I don’t have that much free time. This was the reason I quit.

But I really loved being a Toastmaster. So I decided to go back to the club meetings as a guest and take part in impromptu speeches. I won’t have a membership but that doesn’t matter. What matters is practicing in front of audience and remembering to use word of the day in the speech.

In that sense, I am calling myself a Toastmaster again.

Elevate App

Today I am pleased to learn that the Elevate app is picked by Apple as the best iPhone app of 2014. So well done,  people at Elevate Labs. Your work is awesome.

I discovered and started using this app since this May. I broke the streak twice, once around 30 days and the latest at 52 days. But I am glad to hit a 100 day streak yesterday.

101Streak

It is a very well designed app that trains my brain across a range of cognitive functions like reading, writing, speaking, listening and math. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time and money, so I play the free version which lets me play three bite sized games a day. I can play all three games under 5 minutes and I spend a bit more time if I can, to get excellent scores.
Here is my EPQ:
EPQ

I strongly suggest everyone to check this app and start using it. It is an addiction that will indeed enhance your smarts and thereby your life.