2018 Goals!

Now is about the time that many people are falling off the wagon with their new year’s resolutions and goals, so I figured now was also the perfect time for me to share mine. I don’t really ever set resolutions, but I like to have some goals to focus on.

I’ve actually got some pretty big goals that I’m keeping private for right now (but if we’re friends IRL, please ask me about them!), but here’s what I’m putting out there for the world:
 

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1. Read every day.

In 2016, I set a goal to read 52 books, or one per week. I actually surpassed this goal and read 53! I knew I wanted a slightly less aggressive goal in 2017, but I read even less than expected and probably read somewhere around 25-30 books (which is still a lot!).

To get back into reading more regularly, I’ve set a goal to read every single day (and so far I’ve still got a perfect record!). I use Goodreads to track my reading, and I’ve set a goal on there to read XX books, so I’m hoping daily reading time will help do the trick!

I’m not putting further parameters on what “read every day” means - so some days it may be a chapter, or other days might be a bit more, like the day recently where I had 3 hours of flights and read a few hundred pages.

I’m also committing to reading all of the unread books on my bookshelf (as opposed to the hundreds of unread books also sitting in my kindle app haha!)



2. Run 2 marathons.

I’m already registered for the 10th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Marathon in May (on my birthday!), so that’s one for sure. I’ve got a free entry for Akron in September and had a great experience there in 2017, so I’m definitely considering it again as well. I’m also tossing around some other ideas!

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I'm also participating in the Run for a Reason program once again and am looking to raise $1000 for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. I'm currently 15% completed with my goal. I'd love to see my friends and family sponsoring my race at $1 per mile (that's 26.2 miles, folks!). Even $0.50 per mile is a HUGE help and goes a long way towards funding a cure. You can donate by clicking HERE!

First things first - I’ve got to get back into a rhythm with running. The past few months have not included much running and while I’m ok with that and know I’ll get back into it, I also know these next few weeks will probably be rough, particularly with all the gross weather we’ve had.

 

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3. Create a plan and budget for a trip to Europe.

A Eurotrip has been high on my bucket list for many years, so I’m determined to finally start making some plans!

I won’t be going on the trip or setting dates until I’ve met some financial goals I’m working towards, but I’m also hoping that making more concrete plans will help keep me focused on those goals.

 

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4. Stick to my #powersheets.

I haven’t used a planner in many, many years thanks to technology because I keep my calendar and task list in Google Calendar, but I decided to try one out this year in hopes that seeing my goals in writing, on paper, in my own handwriting, will help me stay focused on them and not lose momentum. I figure if I’ve got to drag this book everywhere with me, I may as well smash the goals and plans written in it, right? :-p

After looking at a few options, I settled on the #powersheets planner from Cultivate What Matters. Unfortunately, they were sold out of the 12-month planner and aren’t restocking their inventory, so I purchased a 6 month calendar. I’ve been chipping away at it a little bit at a time and hope to have all of my action plans laid out by the end of next week!

This goal also encompasses achieving those other goals I vaguely mentioned at the beginning of this post, so it's actually more than just writing in a planner (though I'm definitely going to buy some fun new pens to write in it!)

 


Do you set New Year’s resolutions or goals? Share them in the comments!

2016: A Year in Review

Like most people, I can agree  with the sentiment that 2016 was a bit of a dumpster fire. I'm not really sad to see it go, but there were also a lot of highlights and memories made that I will cherish forever. Here is my 2016 year in review:

-I took trips to Chicago, San Antonio, DC, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis (again), St. Louis (again), Dover, Niagara Falls, Riviera Maya, and Boston;

Kansas City has a pretty great skyline. #travelswithlauren #adventureisoutthere #collectmomentsnotthings

A post shared by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on

 

-I said goodbye to my beloved Grandma Margaret;

-I ran 26.2 miles and didn't die (mostly thanks to Jeff and Chelsea);

-I turned 30 and had two parties to celebrate;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on May 7, 2016 at 7:24am PDT

-I celebrated the weddings of friends;

Whoever thinks running is a solitary sport is just. plain. wrong. 😘😘 #mcshuppwedding #ohana #manatees #runbutler
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on May 22, 2016 at 4:35pm PDT

-I scrambled around downtown Pittsburgh with Laynie to find a place to watch the last few minutes of the Stanley Cup Final so I could see my favorite team win their 4th Stanley Cup;

-I watched David Boudia and Steele Johnson qualify for the Olympics in person;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jun 24, 2016 at 5:54am PDT

-I said goodbye to my childhood home and moved to a new one; 

Thanks for the memories, 431.

-I got to spend time with cherished friends;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jun 22, 2016 at 5:20pm PDT
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Aug 8, 2016 at 6:00pm PDT

-I wish bon voyage to a dear friend who embarked on a huge adventure;

I am so proud of this brave girl, but damn I miss her! 

-I ran new race PRs (heyyyyyy sub-30 5k!);

And the season of PRs continued today with a HUGE PR at Buffalo Creek today."! 2:12:04 - holy crap! Huge thanks to @pghrunner for helping me through that final mile today! #hshive #nuunbassador #gameonpgh
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 15, 2016 at 1:36pm PDT

-I met one of my favorite people and told him he was my favorite (and he loved it);

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 9, 2016 at 9:26am PDT

-I earned a medal the size of my head;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:07am PDT

-I discovered Popeye the Foodie and he became my favorite instagrammer; 

A photo posted by Popeye the Foodie Dog 😉 (@popeyethefoodie) on Nov 23, 2016 at 9:16am PST

-I took my racing international and also ran 3 half marathons in 3 weeks (including another HUGE PR);

-I visited every country in North America in 4 days;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 6, 2016 at 1:00pm PST

-I visited Mexico for the first time and watched my lovely roommate get married;

Nice close-up of the back of my head haha

-I raised a lot of money for CCFA;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 17, 2016 at 8:35am PST

-I read 53 books; 

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 29, 2016 at 5:36am PST

-I celebrated my 4th anniversary with an organization that treats me like family (and I got a promotion!);

-I hugged my favorite super heroes 58982986389237967876532312787 times;

-Annnnnnnd I ended the year with a bout of shingles. But here's a picture of some of the many tacos I ate this year instead. 

When I write it all out like this, there was a lot more good than bad. But that doesn't mean I don't have big goals for 2017!

52 Books in 52 Weeks

I've had a Goodreads account for several years now, but I used to forget about it for months or years at a time. When I'd remember, I'd log on and update my "Books I've Read" list with as much as I could remember (and synced it to my Kindle account!), scroll through the newsfeed to see what my friends were reading, and then promptly forget about it again. I don't know why, considering I have always loved reading and books.

Towards the end of 2015, I was on the Goodreads app and I noticed a "Reading Challenge" section. I learned you can set a goal for how many books you'd like to read in a year, and then use the app to track your progress. If your friends have challenge goals, you can also follow along their progress and see which books they've read to help them reach their goal. I'd never had a reading goal before, and again, I don't know why.

I decided to read 52 books in 52 weeks - one book per week for an entire year. Considering there have been times where I've blown through an entire book in a day, I figured this goal would be easy-peasy! And for the most part, it was, though I did have to read 7 books in December to finish off my goal. I didn't put any restrictions on myself in regards to genre or book length - just 52 books in 52 weeks. Some were print books, some ebooks, and a few audiobooks as well. I did read 2 books that were advanced copies of not-yet-published books. Since they aren't on Goodreads yet, I elected not to include them in my count. I also read a few boxed sets or 2-in-1 books and I counted those each as one book (since they show up on Goodreads as one book).

Here's my reading list for 2016:

1.

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)

by Christian Rudder (print)

2.

Modern Romance

by Aziz Ansari (print)

3.

The Quotable Walt Disney

by Kiki Thorpe, Dave Smith (print)

4.

A Secret Kept

by Tatiana de Rosnay (print)

5.

Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends

by Tim Sanders (I had him sign a copy when he spoke at a conference I attended in 2015!)

6.

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins (audiobook)

7.

Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally

by Kelly Starrett, T.J. Murphy (print)

8.

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival

at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres (print)

9.

The Perfect Witness

by Iris Johansen (audiobook)

10.

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

by Dean Karnazes (print)

11.

Never Never: Part Three

by Colleen Hoover, Tarryn Fisher (ebook)

12.

November 9

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

13.

The Best Goodbye (Rosemary Beach #12)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

14.

Leif (Existence Trilogy #2.5)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

15.

Why Not Me?

by Mindy Kaling (audiobook)

16.

Beautiful Burn (The Maddox Brothers #4)

by Jamie McGuire (ebook)

17.

Work Rules!: Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

by Lazlo Bock (print)

18.

Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

by by Todd Burpo (audiobook)

19.

Running Until You're 100

by Jeff Galloway (print)

20.

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic

by Hazel Gaynor (ebook)

21.

Fire Country

(Country Saga #1) by David Estes (ebook)

22.

My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan

by Tom Foreman (audiobook)

23.

Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

by Michael S. Kimmel (print)

24.

Yes Please

by Amy Poehler (audiobook)

25.

Marrow

by Tarryn Fisher (ebook)

26.

Hot as Hell

(Deep Six 0.5) by Julie Ann Walker (ebook)

27.

Wild Irish Ride

(Weldon #1) by Jennifer Saints (ebook)

28.

Confess

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

29.

Hopeless (Hopeless #1)

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

30.

Losing Hope (Hopeless #2)

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

31.

Up in Flames (Rosemary Beach #13)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

32.

Devil and the Deep (Deep Six #2)

by Julie Ann Walker (ebook)

33.

When SEALS Come Home Boxed Set II

by Anne Marsh (ebook)

34.

It Ends With Us

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

35.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

by Elizabeth Gilbert (print)

36.

Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial

by Rabia Chaudry (print)

37.

A Beautiful Funeral (The Maddox Brothers #5)

by Jamie McGuire (ebook)

38.

Under the Lights (The Field Party #2)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

39.

Always You

by Missy Johnson (ebook) 

40.

Once She Dreamed (Once She Dreamed #1)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

41.

Stubborn Love (Stubborn Love #1)

by Wendy Owens (ebook)

42.

Broken Flowers

by Robert M. Drake (print)

43.

Born For This: How to Find The Work You Were Meant to Do

by Chris Guillebeau (print)

44.

The Chemist

by Stephenie Meyer (ebook)

45.

Too Late

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

46.

Christmas in Alaska

by Debbie Macomber (print)

47.

The Last Orphans (The Last Orphans #1)

by N.W. Harris (ebook)

48.

She, the Kingdom (She #1)

by Olivian Pope (ebook)

49.

Once She Dreamed (Once She Dreamed #2)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

50.

A Christmas Homecoming

by Melissa McClone (ebook)

51.

The Christmas List

by Chrissie Manby (ebook - Kindle Single)

52.

Married for Christmas

by Noelle Adams (ebook)

BONUS: 53.  

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-Minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper!

by Ree Drummond (print)

There it is - the complete list of books I read in 2016 (as of December 27). I included the last one because I received it as a Christmas gift and read it cover to cover. I've already flagged recipes I'm excited to try! I finished with a week to spare and even finished a bonus book.

I haven't set a goal yet for 2017, but I'm thinking somewhere around 45. Yes, I know some people would set a goal that was even bigger than 2016's, but I'd like to keep it fun and don't want the pressure of having to read books quickly to finish up (that sort of happened in December). 

What were your favorite reads in 2016? I am looking for recommendations! Comment below with your best suggestions! 

January's Goal Progress

Despite traveling for work, obnoxiously cold temperatures, and just overall winter sluggishness, January was a pretty good month in terms of progress towards my goals.

Progress:
Successfully train for and run a marathon: I completed 16.5 out of 20 scheduled training runs, including 3.5 of my 4 long runs. This is a WIN.

Raise $1000 for CCFA: I raised $50 from one donor in January (THANKS, Coach Jeff!), taking my total fundraising for the marathon to $422. 

Run a sub-30 5k

Run a sub-60 10k

Run/walk 1500 miles: 66.41 miles in January. This will increase as marathon training ramps up. 

Clean out my boxes in the basement

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use


Read 52 books: 13% complete - 7 books read in January!

Use more vacation days 

Blog more: I can't really say I blogged more. But there were posts. 

Sort pictures from Alaska and order photo books 


How are you doing with accomplishing your 2016 goals? 


Also, can I get a shoutout for my girl Chelsea for doing 280 BURPEES today?! #BAMF #MoreBurpeesLessCancer

A (sort of) Book Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


I received this book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami as a Christmas gift (thank you, Amazon Wish Lists - you rock!) and took it on my recent work trip (you know, the one with the bed bugs). 

This was a quick read and I really enjoyed the book. I recommend it for runners, writers, and anyone who wants to learn about the creative process and where different people draw inspiration from. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book (you can see all the post-its flagging them in the picture above):

On running through the pain -
"Here it is: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you're running and you start to think, Man this hurts, I can't take it anymore. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself. This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running."
For new runners - 
"When I first started running, I couldn't run long distances. I could only run for about twenty minutes, or thirty. That much left me panting, my heart pounding, my legs shaky. It was to be expected, though, since I hadn't really exercised for a long time. At first, I was also a little embarrassed to have people in the neighborhood see me running - the same feeling I had upon first seeing the title novelist put in parentheses after my name. But as I continued to run, my body stared to accept the the fact that it was running, and I could gradually increase the distance. I was starting to acquire a runner's form, my breathing became more regular, and my pulse settled down. The main thing was not the speed or distance so much as running every day, without taking a break."
On running the original marathon route in Greece - 
"I can't imagine how this was where, several thousand years ago, the Greeks defeated the invading Persian army at the shore in a ghastly battle. I sit at a cafe in the village and gulp down cold Amstel beer. It tastes fantastic, but not nearly as great as the beer I'd been imagining as I ran. Nothing in the real world is as beautiful as the illusions of a person about to lose consciousness."
On pushing your limits - 
"Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life - and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree."
On adopting a mantra - 
"Ultimately, using every trick in the book, I managed to grit my teeth and make through thirteen miles of sheer torment. 
I'm not a human. I'm a piece of machinery. I don't need to feel a thing. Just forge on ahead. 
That's what I told myself. That's about all I thought about, and that's what got me through. If I were a living person of blood and flesh I would have collapsed from the pain. There definitely was a being called me right there. And accompanying that is a consciousness that is the self. But at that point, I had to force myself to think that those were convenient forms and nothing more. It's a strange way of thinking and definitely a very strange feeling - consciousness trying to deny consciousness. You have to force yourself into an inorganic place. Instinctively I realized that this was the only way to survive."
 The final dedication of the book - 
"Finally, I dedicate this book to all the runners I've encountered on the road - those I've passed, and those who've passed me. Without all of you, I never would have kept on running."

What is the title of a great book you've read recently? Comment below! 

Four Things

Steff over at Run Steff Run posted a "4 things" post on her blog and I figured I'd jump on that train as well! 

Four names that people call me: 
1. Lauren
2. Hop
3. Red
4. Anna (this is what Dex and Quinn call me. We haven't figured this one out yet but I'm rolling with it!)

Four jobs I have had:
1. Retail (HELL)
2. New Student Orientation Coordinator (college)
3. Fraternity and Sorority Advisor
4. Teacher 

Four movies I have seen more than once:
1. Miracle
2. Legally Blonde
3. 10 Things I Hate About You
4. The Santa Clause

Four books I'd recommend:
1. I See Rude People (Amy Alkon)
2. The Providence Trilogy (Jamie McGuire - anything by JM really)
3. The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins)
4. I'd Like To Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had (Tony Danza)

Four Places I've Lived:
1. Plymouth, OH (Birthplace)
2. Cranberry Twp, PA (Growing up and current)
3. Erie, PA (College)
4. Richmond, VA (Previous work)

Four Places I've Been:
1. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
2. Liechtenstein (and several other European countries)
3. Montreal, QC
4. Vancouver, BC (2010 Olympics)

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
1. Somewhere in the Carribbean, where it's warmer than 20F
2. Walt Disney World (my second home)
3. San Antonio, eating shrimp and grits
4. Europe

Four Things I Don't Eat:
1. Peas
2. Sauerkraut
3. Walnuts (it totally ruins a cookie/dessert when they put these in there!)
4. Lima beans

Four of My Favorite Foods:
1. Spaghetti
2. Cheese
3. Peanut butter pie
4. Sourdough bread

Four Things I'm Looking Forward to This Year:
1. Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend, including running my first half marathon!
2. Traveling to New Orleans for work
3. All the running weekends
4. Actually using some of my vacation time

Four Things I'm Saying:
1. Why are you so sucky, Highmark?
2. Something about Dex and Quinn
3. My spring travel schedule for work sucks
4. Deuces

Four People I'm Tagging:

Play along and leave one of your answers in the comments!