2017 Running Plans

I think it’s wise to document the idiocy that I’m sure to be in for this year, so here goes…

Sure, 2017 is already a quarter over, but never too late to talk about races and plans, right? This year was going to be a year of half marathons, in search of the ever-elusive sub 2 hours. It was to start with the Walt Disney World Half Marathon this past January. The wife and I were there, we were ready to go…and then mother nature showed up in a bolt of lightning, and the race was cancelled. Queu sad faces and scrambled plans.

We did run the Little Rock Half Marathon in early March. We both rocked it! The wife had a nearly 10 minute PR, and I was only three minutes off of mine. Though, I will say, I felt 100% better during this one, ran the entire thing and got a negative split (10k pace was 9:51/mile, total race pace was 9:31/mile). Still working towards that sub-2 goal though…

As mentioned in my previous post, the wife convinced me to run the Dopey Challenge in 2018. Why, I don’t know. Silliest decision we have ever made. For those that don’t know, the Dopey Challenge is to run all four runDisney races during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. So, a 5k on Thursday, a 10k on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday, and the full marathon on Sunday. Four races, six medals, 48.6 miles covered. Oh, and four straight 3AM wake-up calls.

Beyond that, we’ve got the Kentucky Derby Festival Half Marathon in late April for my next attempt at sub-2. Once that’s done, it’s time to buckle down and start stretching out, because we will be running a fall marathon….somewhere. Hopefully we figure it out soon, but we both need to do it to get our confidence back up after the Chicago debacle (more to come on that).

I look forward to sharing my training mishaps with everyone once again!

2016 Financial Goals

2015 was an interesting year in terms of my personal finances. I managed to continue tracking every dollar spent and using my framework of a budget. I also managed not to carry over any credit card debt (meaning all balances were paid off each month, accruing zero interest). I increased my 401k contribution to 9% of gross pay, maintaining the 3.5% company match. So, three positives.

On the other hand…I spent a decent chunk of cash on two major events. First, in May, the girl and I got engaged! It was exciting and we are enjoying the wedding planning process, but the ring and the related wedding expenses has definitely put a damper in my savings. Then in August, we bought a house in Midtown. We split all expenses 50/50, so I paid half of the $12,500 down payment, half of the closing costs and half of the moving expenses. I had to move quite a bit of money around, and cash out my old traditional IRA that was funded with a cashed-out pension fund from a previous employer. Sure, I’ll take the tax hit (I had them withhold 28%) but I’ll avoid the 10% penalty since it was for a first time home purchase.

NOTE: not my actual house

NOTE: not my actual house

With that as the backdrop, here are my 2016 Financial Goals:

#1. NO. NEW. DEBT.
This is the most important one. Obviously last year I added a massive load of debt with the house mortgage. Additionally, we added some furniture at 0% that we will pay off this year based on our calculations. It is critically important to not add any more debt to what I’m already facing between my car loan, my student loans and the mortgage/furniture bill. In order to accomplish this, we must be vigilant about…

#2. No debt for the wedding
I’m confident in this one. We have set a budget for what we’re willing to spend and we have been diligent in funding that account. So far we have paid for all expenses (deposits, dress, suit, etc.) in cash, and have built up a bank to cover what is left. We will continue to build that up so that on the day of our wedding we won’t owe anyone anything.

#3. Pay off smallest student loan
Sure, it isn’t the biggest one I have, but my third loan has a balance of $1987.25 and an interest rate of 5%. It’s paid quarterly, which is annoying, so I’d like to just kill it off this year and not have to worry about it. This should be completely realistic.

#4. Increase emergency fund to $10k
I’m currently at $6900 so I’ve got $3100 to go. Most of the savings will happen in the back half of the year (wedding in April and honeymoon in June), but I’m confident it can happen.

#5. Stretch goal: Pay down highest interest rate student loan to <$10k
If we maintain #1 and #2, this could happen. It’s at $13,800 right now @6.8%, which definitely puts this as a high priority loan. Cutting out some entertainment and discretionary spending would help a lot.

My calculations say that doing this, along with maintaining minimum payments on my other loans, would put my personal (non-home) net worth back in the positive. It will also also me and the girl to have an awesome wedding day with our family and friends, and enjoy a great honeymoon on a tropical island.

Coming soon: personal and health goals for 2016

Idiocy In Politics: Denial of Syrian Refugees Into America

After the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last week, the world was once again stunned at what type of destruction and death zealots are capable of leveling on a free and open society. They believe that anyone that holds different beliefs should be destroyed by any means possible, by bombs or guns. They believe that inducing fear into others is a valid way to get what they want. Their acts bring out both the best, and the worst, in people.

This statement applies not just to radical extremist Muslims, but also to radical extremist anything. Yes, Christianity too. It seems the GOP is tripping over itself to claim that the US should not allow any Syrian refugees from entering the country. Actually, they have limited it to Muslim Syrian refugees. Christian refugees are ok. As Slate so elegantly puts it, they straight up say that Christians are not capable of terrorism, only Muslims. Ted Cruz, ever the open and honest guy that he is, said that there is no risk of Christians committing acts of terror. Well, Teddy boy, allow me to enlighten you a bit.

Christians are perfectly capable of doing just that. Need I remind you of Dylan Roof, who murdered 9 people at a church in Charleston, SC, whose crimes were considered domestic terrorism before ultimately being ruled a hate crime. Need I remind you of Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympic Park bomber, who used a bomb to kill 2 people and wound over 100 others, to further his anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda. He sought to strike fear and intimidation against those who held different beliefs from his own, Christian beliefs.

We could go on: the multiple instances of bombing abortion facilities and murders of doctors that performed them; Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which led to the deaths of over 160 people. All of these were perpetrated by Christian terrorists.

What the GOP fails to understand is that there are extremists in all facets of the world; whatever one group of people believe in, you can bet your bottom dollar that there is at least one person in that group who has extremist beliefs. The point of this is to not write off an entire population of people, especially when that population is filled with women and children who are desperate to escape the very people that are sponsoring terrorism around the world. It makes them sound foolish to be ignorant of history and assume that an entire civilization is unable to perform terrible acts, when we know the opposite is true.

Syrian refugees should be helped as much as we can help them. We should not be fearful; giving up the very values that make us Americans would mean the terrorists are getting what they want.

My First GoPro video

For my birthday, the fiancee got me a GoPro Hero 4 Silver, something I’ve wanted for quite awhile. I haven’t gotten to play with it too much, but so far I love it! I took it for a little three mile run around our new neighborhood using the head strap. I built this little timelapse, hope you like it!