Hi everyone, this week I celebrate my 31st birthday. It was bittersweet, since, for the second time this year, our whole family caught a nasty virus. My wife and I put a lot of energy into nursing the twins back to good health and we also caught their germs. This whole things has drained my energy and I’m striving to return to 90% by Monday.
WTF! It’s only February and we’ve been through this common cold thing twice this year. Why is wellness eluding us? It really sets me back and slows me down.
On the running front, I don’t have much to report this week. It was pretty much a zero week for me. After last week’s 10 miler I was feeling good the next few days. I’m happy with the recovery.
This week I returned to a daily practice: reading a favorite book called The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. This book is a collection of 366 lessons from Stoic thinkers, and the idea is to read and practice one lesson each day. I keep it near my bed and read it first thing in the morning. Here’s an excerpt I enjoyed, from page 59:
February 19th – THE BANQUET OF LIFE
“Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass by you? Don’t stop it. It hasn’t yet come? Don’t burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth–one day it will make you worth of a banquet with the gods.”
-Epictetus, Enchiridion, 15
The lesson is to be patient, wait for your turn. And also to be humble and generous. Avoid taking too much advantage when it’s your turn, and invite others to join at the bounty table.
I also received a few books as gifts. Thank you friends! I have new titles on my reading list. I’m excited to up-level my leadership skills and my writing style.
Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer by Stephanie Capparell and Margot Morrell
The Associated Press Stylebook 2019 by The Associated Press
This week I’m proud to report I finally resumed by work blog called Torrey’s Weekly Report. It had been nagging the back of my mind for months. I realized the core purpose of the project is to share what I’m learning and share what I’m working on, with my work network. It’s very similar to the blog you’re reading now, with a different audience. I realized I’m developing a passion for communications.
This post marks four weeks in a row of weekly posting. Hooray!
This week’s photo is the Goodyear blimp flying over our neighborhood.
Thanks to readers I learned the bird photo I shared last week is of an adult Red-shouldered Hawk. And, the coloring is unique to California.
Not in money, but in time. 108 billion people have lived throughout history. 93% of them are dead.
You have what every king and queen, every pharaoh and ruler, every CEO and celebrity of the past would give all their wealth for:
For running, I ran a total of 15 miles this week. I took a few shorts runs during the week and a longer run on Sunday morning. My long route explored a good chunk of Redondo Beach, California. I paced down some unknown streets and discovered hidden treasures. One of them being the raptor pictured above.
I’ve been working more exploration into my long runs. This week I wanted to head to the beach and then bounce back inland. I ended up at the Redondo Beach Pier, which is a pretty cool place to look around. After reaching the coast I turned around and beelined over to our YMCA branch. I regrouped with my family there, showered off, and then headed out to our next stop. Total mileage for this run: 9.8 miles.
For reading, I picked up a copy of Edison by Edmund Morris. This book was recommended by one of my favorite authors, Cal Newport. I’ve only glanced at the introduction, but Edison seems like a fascinating character so far. I haven’t read anything else by Morris, but I know he is an award winning author and he penned a trilogy of biographical books about Teddy Roosevelt.
I’m still reading the Gregory Hays translation of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. Gotta pick up the pace!
For writing, this is my third weekly update in a row. And, 155+ people are following the blog. Awesome!
I’ve been thinking about maximizing learning. I have a habit of journaling every night and listing everything I learned during the day. The question I ask myself: is what did I learn today. Some days the list is short, and some days the list is long and varied.
I think there are 2 important aspects of learning: reading and questioning. Reading books opens your mind to ideas new to you. Trying new things requires asking lots of questions.
Thanks for reading! Have a great week. I appreciate all of you for subscribing and leaving comments.
** The photo is a raptor I saw on my run. I thought he was fake until he looked at me and took flight.
Hi, I’m Torrey. I’m a runner, a reader, and a writer, among many other things. Each week I take some time to share my experiences running, reading, and writing. Thanks for stopping by.
On the running front, my tracking app tells me I ran 11.8 miles this week. No PR’s broken or milestones hit, but I’m happy with the progress and proud to say I’m back in the habit. I realized something during my long Sunday-morning run. I enjoy the experience of exploring new places more than the running itself. Running long distances just enables going new and interesting places, off the beaten path and off road. Repeating the same routes over and over doesn’t bring the same level of enjoyment.
On the reading front, I’m enjoying two books. A lot of my free time has been soaked up by little computer programming side projects in the last few weeks, but I did pick up some books to check out. I continue to practice Ramit Sethi’s book buying policy: if you think about buying a book, just buy it.
Here’s an outstanding excerpt from one of my open books.
“But the greatest battle of all is with yourself–your weaknesses, your emotions, your lack of resolution in seeing things through to the end. You must declare unceasing war on yourself.”
That passage comes from the preface of The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. The author is known for another similarly titled book The 48 Laws of Power. Greene draws from historical examples to illustrate principles. In this case, 33 different principles to help you think and act strategically. The passage I shared above resonates with me, because it speaks to the question: how many times have I let myself down?
The second book I’m reading is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Gregory Hays. Before now I never really thought about how important the translator and translation is. This is probably the third time I’ve tried reading Meditations. The text is so old, it’s in public domain and you can find free ebooks. But, each time I tried reading it I found myself bogged down in the awkward language of the translation. The Gregory Hays translation was recommended by Ryan Holiday and Shane Parrish.
So far, I am not disappointed with this version of Meditations. I’m still making my way through the preface, which provides a summary of Marcus Aurelius’s life. What an awe-inspiring life, from orphan to emperor of Rome, and all the while a humble philosopher. It’s amazing that his meditations have survived through the ages and we can all read them today.
On the writing front, I’ve re-established by weekly writing habit. This update makes 2 weeks in a row of publishing Weekly Updates here on Torrey’s blog. Let’s see how long it can continue. Woot!
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great week! If you like what I wrote, please follow or subscribe. I enjoy reading and responding to your comments, too.
The photo is a brilliant flower which bloomed in our backyard on the day of Chinese New Year. It’s a happy sign of good luck.
This is a weekly blog where I share updates and document my journey. I focus on four areas: fitness, reading, writing and thinking. In the past, for the fitness category, I have written mostly about running. I am beginning to focus on cycling this week. After a month-and-half of talking about it, I rode my bike to work, finally!
This week I had a great conversation with a coworker about preparing for a half marathon. I’m no expert, but I wanted to share some of the ideas with you.
Q: How long did it take you to prepare for the half marathon?
A: It took me 4 months to ramp up to half marathon distance. In training before the race I ran a maximum of 11 miles. This was a mistake, because mile 12 and 13 were the most challenging 2 miles of the whole race. Lesson learned: train the full distance.
Q: Do you have any other advice for someone considering training for a half marathon or a marathon?
A: Talk to your family early. Carving out a few hours per week for training means taking time from somewhere else. You family is your support team and they may need to do extra work to support you. Be up front about the time commitment, and look for ways to get everyone involved. They will meet you at the finish line!
Back on the Bike!
It’s been over a year since I last sat in the saddle. I talked about biking to work for over a month, and other stuff kept getting in the way. This week I finally hopped on my bike! There were some hiccups (as expected) which turned the 90-minute ride into a learning experiences.
When I ran to work I travelled very light. I was able to do this leaving my laptop and my gym bag under my desk. It just required some extra planning ahead. On a bicycle you have the luxury of storage! So you pack everything up and jump on the bike in the spur of the moment.
I have 2 Nashbar saddle bags that clip on to the back of my bike. I filled one with clothes, towel, and other essentials. In the other bag I shoved in my whole laptop bag. I did this because I was worried about damaging the laptop, and wanted extra protection. This added a lot of extra weight. I think a better strategy is to wear a backpack or leave the laptop at the office the night before.
I rode my usual running route. For the first 5 miles I was fighting traffic lights and rush-hour traffic. I think for next time I will seek out a more bike-friendly road (with a bike lane). Some drivers just get too close for comfort.
The last 12-ish miles were sublime. I was right on the beach from Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey. And from the marina to the office it’s along a dedicated bike path.
What Went Wrong and What I Learned
Several learning opportunities arose from this trip. I’ll go into more detail below. First, here’s a short list of what went wrong:
Rush hour traffic and no bike lane
Saddle bag fell off
Forgot to turn on fitness tracker
Forgot to pack shower shoes
The first five miles of my route were packed with traffic lights and heavy traffic. I can experiment a bit here to look for an alternative road that has bike lanes. Wide pickup trucks were too close for comfort. Lesson learned: seek dedicated bike lanes.
I packed too heavy. Around mile 13-14, I accidentally kicked my starboard bag and it fell off completely. Luckily this was the bag with clothes. I could experiment with this to find a better way to attach it, or switch to front-wheel bags. Lesson learned: pack light.
Unintentional braking is tricky to explain. I took a break during the ride, and when I parked my bike I inserted a wedge into the front brake handle to freeze the front wheel. Then, I put two earbuds in my ears to make a phone call. I kept the earbuds in when I resumed my ride, listening to a podcast.
About a mile down the road I thought: why am I struggling so much? Then I heard the brake noise. And then the thought: What the heck is wrong with my front brake? … Stupid me had forgotten to remove the wedge I had stuck in the front brake handle. Laughable! Lesson learned: double check your brakes for an enjoyable ride.
After I crested the final hill in front of the office, I coasted in towards the front door. I slowly stepped off my bike and question popped in my head: how far did I go and how long did it take? Only then I realized I had forgotten to enable Strava to track the activity. I also have a bike computer hiding somewhere which could measure speed and distance. Time to dig that out. Lesson learned: double check you started your fitness tracker.
When I went to shower off I found that I had everything I needed, except for shower shoes. Oops! This is not ideal for many reasons which I won’t get into. I have done something similar once where I forgot my towel. I think the no-towel situation is worse, maybe. Lesson learned: double check you packed shower shoes and a towel.
I realized that I really enjoy trying new things, and then looking for ways to make it more fun and convenient, through experimentation and iteration. I’ve had a lot of fun writing about this experience. Lesson learned: try new things and constantly experiment.
I’ve been enjoying a book I did not expect to get into. It is called Street Smarts by Jim Rogers. The dude has a lot of interesting stories from living in Manhattan, working on Wall Street, and moving his family to Singapore.
I’m also reading a little Mouse Book called The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane. Crane is a a Civil War era writer who died from tuberculosis at the age of 28. Despite his short life he produced well known literary works including his well-known novel The Red Badge of Courage. He was an innovative writer in his time.
It’s been a very busy week. I did a little bit of writing. I did not publish anything since last weekend’s Weekly Update #15.
I stopped thinking and started doing. There were plenty of reasons to not take the bike-commute plunge. I had already put it off for a month (I first mentioned the idea in Weekly Update – #13 – April 14th, 2019). I was congested with a head cold all week. The week was unusually over-scheduled. The weather was not great. The bike needed air in its tires and chain maintenance.
BUT, all that aside, it is done! And I want to make it a weekly routine.
What have you been thinking about doing for a while? When are you going to take the leap?
This week I have some quick updates on running, reading, and writing. At the end I’ll talk a little about innovation.
This week I ran farther than ever. 16.5 miles I ran from home to work. My route runs along the California coastline from Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey, providing beautiful views of the ocean and mountains. Because it has been cold and rainy in LA, the mountains are snow-capped. I wish I took photos!
Making some good progress towards marathon distance. 10 more miles! 4 weeks left until the LA Marathon. Let’s do it!
I’m reading Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. Tim is known largely for his breakout book “The Four Hour Work Week” and his podcast “The Tim Ferriss Show“. Holy cow, Tribe of Mentors is packed with so much wisdom. Tim asked 13 hard hitting questions to dozens of high performing people. Their backgrounds span a wide range of fields. Athletes to chefs to business executives, to film directors, … you name it. This book is not quick if you want to read cover to cover, it’s really dense.
This week I don’t have too much to report here. I published the 15th edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report, which covers some new technology being shipped by the team and some new projects spinning up.
I wanted to start publishing a public version of Torrey’s Weekly Report in January, but I’ve missed the target. This week, for the 16th edition I am breaking from the usual format to produce something I’m comfortable publishing on Medium.com.
How do I accomplish more today than myself one year ago, five years ago?
I recently heard a story about a teenage girl working at McDonald’s. This employee stumbled upon “would you like some fries with that?”. It turned out some crazy number of customers answered ‘yes’ to that question. The store became an anomaly, selling unusually large volumes of french fries.
Word traveled up the chain to the corporate office, and eventually all McDonald’s cashiers were trained to endlessly repeat the phrase “would you like some fries with that?”. This is innovation. And anyone can innovate just like that teenage girl.
Innovation is just simply something useful that you didn’t do yesterday that you’re gonna do today.
This week was the last week of January. Hello February! This week I’ll give some quick updates around Health & Fitness, Reading, and Writing.
Health & Fitness
I gave the gift of life this week, I donated blood. It’s super convenient because my company partners with Red Cross and every 8 weeks they set up a donation station inside our office. Donating blood is a good way to lower blood pressure. In total, I’ve donated a half gallon!
This week I ran to work (11.5 miles) for the 4th time. I almost skipped the run because I needed to join a conference call at the same time. I decided to do both. My coworkers had a laugh at my outdoor running video feed during the meeting. It’s a good thing I didn’t skip because it’s been raining hard the day before and after. Read about my preparation methods for commute running in How to Ditch the Car and Run to Work.
I need to step up my marathon training. The LA Marathon on March 23rd is looming. Rain, rain go away!
I’m excited about the growth of both of my blogs this week. This blog, Torrey’s Blog, now serves 87 subscribers. My work blog, Torrey’s Weekly Report, now serves 80 subscribers. Awesome! Both have been growing fast in 2019.
Since Weekly Update #4, I didn’t publish any I’ve spent more time reading and interacting with other blogs. I realized there are a lot of bloggers just starting out writing online. And they don’t receive much feedback. Crickets. Having been there, I know what it feels like. So I take the time to read what they write and leave a positive comment to cheer them on.
As they say, whatever you want in life, give it away. And be the change you want to see.
Torrey’s Weekly Report
This week I published the 12th edition of the report. It’s now reaching 80 colleagues who’ve chose to subscribe. Woot! The report typically spreads through word of mouth, but this week I promoted it to a new group of peers. It’s opt-in only, and 10 of them opted-in.
Can’t Hurt Me
While on my long run I listened to a few chapters of ultra-athlete David Goggins’s bookCan’t Hurt Me. One quote jumped out at me because it aligns with my own COMPETE AGAINST YOURSELF philosophy.
Life is one big mind game, and usually you’re playing against yourself. — David Goggins
Measure What Matters
I’m reading another book called Measure What Matters by John Doerr. It’s about defining Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in organizations. The goals of every member of the team, including executive leaders, are made visible. The net result is better organizational alignment and efficiencies. OKRs are similar to what I call SMART goals, except it’s okay to set semi-unachievable OKRs and only achieve 70% of the goal.
My favorite quote from Measure What Matters is:
In God we trust; all others must bring data. —W. Edwards Deming
It’s the 4th week of 2019, and there’s a lot to talk about.
Running & Health
This week I ran my first half marathon. I finished in 2 hours 22 minutes. Woot!
Last Sunday I finished my first half marathon race, the Pasadena Half Marathon. This is the second race I’ve done this season, and my third, a full marathon, is coming up in March. No time for taking a week off!
The night before the race I could barely sleep. Everything I needed was laid out. We were to head out at 5am to arrive before street closures and get registered.
The weather was perfect, a bit cloudy but not a drop of rain. Los Angeles received a bunch of rain the week before. So the grass was shining and the air was clear for my run.
Going into the race, I set a goal to finish within 2 hours 45 minutes. But, the morning of I decided to push myself harder and go for 2:30. I finished in 2:22. Woot!
There were hundreds of runners on the course and I felt lost in a sea of people running through the streets of downtown Pasadena and around the Rose Bowl’s golf course. I did appreciate the designated pacers (from LA Road Runners club) who held up signs to indicate their target finish time. I found my 2:30 group and stuck with them.
In training the longest distance I ran was 11.5 miles. This was dumb on my part. The last 2 miles of the 13.1 were a struggle. Cramps, blisters, oh my!
What was really cool, and I didn’t realize this before, was the finish line. The race ended inside the Rose Bowl football stadium, home of the UCLA Bruins, on the 50 yard line. After I cooled down a bit, I snapped this awesome picture with Joe and Josie Bruin, the UCLA mascots. Go Bruins!
Such a great experience…I will remember this one for a long time.
Miscellaneous other health stuff
I ran to work for the third time on Friday, following the same route as two weeks ago. I was much slower than usual.
A few weeks ago I made a change to my coffee/caffeine habit. While I’m at the office, I only drink decaf. I’ve noticed on Thursdays and Fridays I feel less burned out. Cutting back caffeine seems to improve sleep quality (go figure!).
There are now 73 awesome people following this blog. About 10 of you found me in the last few weeks and hit the ‘subscribe’ button. I salute you! Get ready to learn and grow with me.
This didn’t just magically happen. I’ve made more effort to engage with other bloggers in the amazing WordPress ecosystem. Slowly bridges are connecting my little island to the rest of the blogosphere. Engagement is so crucial and so fun!
I published two blog posts on Torrey’s blog this week:
Three Truths — a written version of a 10 minute talk I gave in front of ~100 teammates. Bring Joy, Compete Against Yourself, and Help Others.
In my nightly journal entries I’ve started recording something unique the twins did/said that day. It’s so much fun going back through these notes.
I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I run. I listened to a short, value-packed Audible called Power Moves by Adam Grant, which is about power dynamics in the workplace and government. The book ends with a powerful interview between Adam Grant and Kerry Kennedy (human rights activist and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy).
I’ve just started listening to Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead. This audiobook is read by the author, which is awesome because she excels at speaking. This is my first experience with Brene Brown, and after a few hours of listening I feel like buying a copy of every book she’s published.
I’m experimenting with waking up even earlier (5am) to read. It is challenging to do focused reading when anyone else in the house is awake.
I’ve just finished reading The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. The last chapter was my favorite and the hardest hitting. It was about 50 cent being shot 9 times (once in the jaw) and facing death. It talked about living life to the fullest, having a sense of urgency and courageously facing death. Carpe diem (sieze the day) and memento mori (remember you will die).
Not that Jesse Itzler has it all figured out. He just seems like he’s figured out more than the rest of us. He’s figured out how to live. The post below is a collection of nuggets I’ve picked up from multiple interviews and Jesse’s breakout book “Living with a SEAL” in which Jesse tells the story of living with high-endurance athlete and all-around badass David Goggins.
The three most memorable nuggets are:
Send hand-written letters.
Take the path with the best story.
Use math to decide how to spend time.
Send hand-written letters
At one point in his life, Jesse Itzler was spending 1 hour per day hand-writing letters of gratitude. Those letters shifted his mindset and led to profitable business relationships.
This is why it works. Writing letters by hand is out of fashion. And, most people don’t bother to express gratitude.
Writing the letter feels good, and receiving the letter feels good. Since almost no one takes the time to hand-write letters, by doing so you immediately stand out from the crowd. Since you took time to compose a sincere message, you express genuine care for the person you write to.
Take the path with the best story
Jesse has lived more than most of us. From launching businesses, to crazy 100 mile endurance runs, to living with monks. He seems to use a story-tellers mental model for deciding how to live.
The mental model is a guide on how to live a more exciting life. When given an opportunity, consider the story as part of the reward. Usually, the worst thing that can happen is nothing. You may miserably fail, but you will have a story to tell. If instead you choose to stay home on the couch, you won’t even have the story. So get moving!
Use math to decide how to spend time
Itzler talks about how, as he turns 50, he re-evaluates how he spends his time, using math. I’m certain a 25 year old who takes this advice to heart will live a vastly different life. He uses math to re-frame decisions in the bigger picture. For example, if you spend 2 hours a day watching TV, that’s 700 hours a year, or 7,000 hours over the next 10 years. What would you rather do with those 7,000 hours?
The other way Jesse uses math is to better appreciate relationships. The average american life span is 78 years. If your parents are already 65, they may only have 13 years of life remaining. If you only visit them twice a year, you have only 26 visits left. Make the most of every single visit.