Nationals: Cleveland Adventures

I definitely haven't given this trip the attention it deserves, as a lot of incredible moments came out of Cleveland. From the food, to the road trip memories, how I grew as an athlete, and where it is taking me - here’s to taking a moment to give it the needed attention. Further, how it's opened doors for much more to follow.

Each shot depicts an aspect of the race and adventure. A mix of the science in sport that I geek over, race results (plain and simple), but also the pure stream of thoughts that flow.

 

Cleveland - Nationals - 8.10.18 - 8.12.18

racing

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The Swim

Let's fast forward past the moment when there was an E.coli outbreak and the swim almost didn’t happen, to the unbelievable morning sunrise and Lake Erie swim. For some reason when it comes to the swim, it's hard for me to get up and go, or really judge my pace. I'm used to the black line and going all out…and that's far from the case in open water. Usually, people get super intense, warm up and sprint. Usually, I like to do the opposite of what everyone else does. This means taking it easy and bringing it home. When it comes to triathlons, so much of it feels like fun rather than racing, so a major area of improvement learning how to switch gears (as opposed to admiring the sunrise, not wearing a wetsuit, making friends, and barely getting to the starting line in time). This was one hell of a wonderful swim (and that's probably not what I should walk away saying…so there was more left in the tank here). Considering this is my strength, I realized that I need to race this harder.

Time: 26:24/100yd

Pace: 1:23

Place: 5th in AG, 22 Gender, 123 Overall

The Bike

Now, a week before this race I bought and was fitted for a new bike (s/o to Rocktown for whipping this up quick and being one hell of a help still!). So this was the first time I really got to whip her out….and the feeling was nothing short of what I imagine flying feels like. For the first time, I wasn't the one getting passed by everyone. That was quite the feeling. Coming right off doing the Half, this felt like a piece of cake. Hit my targets, never went as fast, and nothing feels more liberating than riding your bike on the highway with 4 wide-open lanes of road to yourself. Win: first time averaging +20 mph and not getting by everyone!

Time: 1:10:17

Pace: 21.22 mph

Place: 8th AG, 75 Gender, 503 Overall

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The Run

This hurt. I thought I bonked. I truly thought I had hit my end here. I spotted a disappointing pace on the watch and that was the last time I looked at it the rest of the race. I was thirsty. Feeling the heat. Overcome with depletion. There were these 2 massive hills on the loops and I savage mode went into full swing. This is testament to how important it is to not match physiological sensations to performance because little did I know that I was holding my fastest pace to date.

Time: 42:57

Pace: 6:54/mi

Place: 7th AG, 58 Gender, 428 Overall

FOOD

Most of this trip revolved around the poppin' vegan scene (who would have guessed!?). Needless to say, I think my performance in food selections overshadowed my racing. The pictures/comments say it best.

Winners: 

FUN

All around, I walked away asking myself, how can I do this all the time? Experience this world through triathlons, my plate, meeting new friends, and exploring with great company. So effortlessly living out my lifestyle of swimming, biking, running, sustainable living, nutrition, health, science, entrepreneurship. It's all coming together so organically as I continue simply training, improving myself, sharing my ideas and skills, and getting after life with no reservations.

Overall: 5ht place in the US for the Female 20-24 category. Left with lots to improve on, zest for this life, valuable learnings, and a major itch for more.

Next stop: Switzerland. To be honest, not sure how this whole thing works but evidently a top 18 finish secures you a spot on Team USA for World’s. I’m just out here doing what I love and making it happen. 

 

 

ap

Two Degrees Later: Why I'm choosing to live in a trailer on my parent's drive-way over taking a job

How I went from attending a prestigious graduate business school to scoring a sick Boston fellowship (with the company of my dreams) where I was living on a futon in a rat-infested loft with two dudes above a rock concert venue, but ended up moving into 1970's trailer on my parent's driveway to pursue a business idea.

They say 10 months would fly by. I believed them. However, I didn't believe I'd have the vast experiences, emotions, living, opportunities, learning and relationships in that time period. From staying in the on-campus dorms to my last day sleeping on my couch…what has taken place over the course of theses 10 months has been a ride where I've grown in ways I never anticipated or sought. They also say you will be employed. I also believed them.

After some time to reflect on what took place over these 10 months at grad school - where I am now, where I was then, where I thought I would and what actually happened, after cherishing the special relationships fostered and unique souls who have forever impacted me...leaving this wonderful place and time in my life was bittersweet.

It's a truly special feeling to move on to a new adventure from a place and time in life that makes it so hard to leave. To drive away with a heart so full, knowing that you did it right, that you are heading in the direction that you've wanted, and seeing your friends head down the paths that is best for them is all for which I could have asked.

Monday I graduated with closure in every way I could asked - with friends who are following what they love, while I get to venture off on the path I'd always desired.

Yet, there was a moment where I almost dropped out.

It was never because I didn't believe in the program (disclosure: WFU was amazing and if you are ever interested in a jam-packed year of learning, hit me up to talk) or felt like I didn't need this knowledge - rather it was 100% me...I was so damn eager to get my hands dirty and learn through taking action right at that second. When entering grad school, my goal was to gain the business acumen that would allow me to start a business. I quickly learned, that nobody has the answer to that. While I surely gained business acumen, I also gained much more than what I hoped for - unique experiences that I didn't realize would make such a difference.

In January I stopped focusing on 'getting a job' and focused on the reason I went to Wake in the first place - to learn and apply. Everything changed. I had ideas again, I created, I was involved in the community, I had overwhelming support from the university, and I was presented with opportunities and experiences that gave me energy. 

I never needed a piece of paper to validate myself and what I am capable of accomplishing (and no one should), however the people and experiences provided a sense of strength and newfound knowledge that by myself I would have never gathered. It's a blessing that it's so hard to leave, because that means I did it right. It took exploring those areas of discomfort, testing the waters, diving into the fields and conversing on levels beyond my realm of experience or interest. I struggled, I learned, I then ran with it.

In March I took that incredible trip to Boston where I hoped to one day work for the company of my dreams. I got the Fellowship, I was going to apply my new skills while improving the food system. I was going to live in Boston on a futon with two dudes in a rat-infested apartment over a rock-venue ..and I couldn't have been more stoked.

Then, two weeks ago, with deep regret..the company informed us that they would be closing their doors.

That was the final tipping point - between the cancellation of my fellowship and job rejection after rejection..at some point it's one of those things that you can't help but just laugh in amazement at how I was getting absolutely nowhere. If I wanted anything to happened, I was going to need to create the experience I wanted where I could apply everything I've learned in school while bringing my ideas to life. 

I committed to longer investing my energy into convincing someone of my value and fitting their need - my energy was much better spent just making shit happen. I had an idea I'd been tinkering with since the winter and at there was no other option to make it happen. As if I was waiting for that invitation to do it - I felt like the closing of my next job was that.

The last few weeks of school were been spent heavily researching, meeting, learning and creating this. While most people were winding down, accepting their jobs and taking vacations and stuff...I was just getting picking up speed.

NOW WHAT: This will be something I'll be rolling out these next couple weeks however I had to share a taste (hint).

As my roommate constantly reminded me these past couple weeks - I was never going to accept a job (…if only I knew that too, it would have been the year much less stressful). So maybe this is what you expected (it wasn't really for me).

But here's the plan….

Yes, I'm heading back to Northern VA, the place I vowed to never return. However, ...it's for business opportunities where I believe I can make the greatest positive impact and learn the most.

Yes, I'm heading back to my home, the place I vowed to never sleep another night. However, …I'll be living in a trailer in my driveway (I get to live out my dream of staying in a tiny home). So that doesn't count. 

I'm giving myself 3 months to do everything I love - learn from people, implement and test ideas, create, train, work hard, absorb in knowledge, challenge myself, follow a strict daily routine and only do the "hell *@^#^ yes".

Three months.

I'll see where it takes me. If I don't do this, if I don't scratch this itch, I'll always wish I did. The worst that happens - I get a job after the summer. However right now, this is the kind of shit that I look forward to - grinding out on business ideas, making shit happen and being healthy AF.

This is the shit that makes me so excited that I can't sleep at night because I'm shaking in my bed ...the type of work where I can't help but wake up extra early to get after the day. It's a life full of energy, excitement, challenges.. and I absolutely thrive.

There's a time and a place for these types of projects, and it comes with it's uncertainty but I'm absolutely embracing it. Bring it on.

20 years of school was great, but right now I'm eager to get after what I've always wanted to do.

ap

Food+Future Workshop&Makeathon

Sunday: Food+Future & IDEO Makeathon

Saturday: FFxBitten Workshop: A Clarifying Sprint

Some say "We Came, We Saw, We Conquered"

However yesterday, We Came, We Ate..and We Make(athon)

This was the Food and Future Makeathon

I'm going to continue off the questions raised these past two day's: How do we verify what's in our food? What's the truth?

With this question buzzing in my mind all weekend - on Sunday, 60 of the greatest bad-asses gathered to discover and answer this question. With 48 hours of curiosity itching behind me, I was eager to dive right in.

Here's the thing. We think we know what's in our food..well not exactly.

  • For Example - Human DNA in our hot dog: In 345 hot dog samples, human DNA was found in 7 and 10% labeled as vegetarian contained meat DNA.

 

Let me introduce to you Illuminate - a scanner decoding nutritional content of one-ingredient foods. Using molecular spectroscopy (throwback to science fair in high school when I tested for the polyphenols in various vegetables based on agriculture methods…funny how seven years later this was what I was trying to get at), analytical chemistry, and deep machine learning - F+F is bringing to light food transparency.

It decodes (provides the true nutritional content), gives the power to the consumer to decide (take action based on the quality of your food), and delivers transparency (through superior outcomes allowing a change in health and decision making).

What are the possibilities of this...why even stop at food?

Perhaps you want to understand where your clothes come from, or have access to your own personal health data, can this be a tool that educates children and engages them in life of healthy choices, can this be the end to allergy attacks, what if all toilets scanned our shit? This is what we explored, and in four hours, brought to life.

The human centered design Process - inspiration, ideation, implementation

Discovery - understand, prep, inpso

THE PROMPT: So fast forward 3-5 years, when Illuminate is a widely adopted technology (with competitors and a need for innovation to remain relevant) among retailers - giving them the power to hold distribution accountable…a world where food is purchased based on nutritional levels. This data is translated into actionable explanations for the common person (from a kid to grandma). In the long term, the consumer can even interact with this machine.. and we know exactly what is in our food. Illuminate needs innovation to remain relevant. Go

Four hours and four people later (an MIT+Cal Designer, Tufts Engineering Psychologist , and NYU Culture, Education and Human Development), we proposed a solution.

RULES

  1. Get inspiration - talk to people, listen..and more than with just your ears
  2. Make assumptions - like as if all the technology was available and this couldn't fail
  3. Think big - like super big (that also means no shooting down ideas)
  4. Be real - prototype, test, bring it to life.

TL;DR

OUR SOLUTION: Leveraging Illuminate’s technology - we created a brand extension...a pill that takes a snapshot of your individual gut biome to increase transparency about your health. The data collected is able to provide recommendations to optimize your personal biome - in particular, focusing on the pregnant population who commonly suffer from ailments (everything from morning sickness to gestational diabetes) directly related to their internal microbiome. Not only is there a live child inside a mom...but live bacteria..and mom's should care just as much. There's an abundance of emerging research on the topic of gut health, and most recently pertaining to this population. We discovered that gut bacteria has incredible short and long-term impacts on the health of a mother and the carried child.

The possibilities are endless. 

How we got here was even more fascinating.

Interpretation - frame opportunities, search for meaning

"How Might We" Questions and Design Thinking

  • How - assumes a solution; might - free from judgement; we - takes a team
  • A constant cycle of inspiration, ideation and interpretation to arrive at a human-centered designed approach
    • (We hit the ideation phase hard today)
  • It's constant reiteration. No to pressure. Yes to brainstorm.
  • "What if"…generate ideas
  • A balance between broad focus and narrow constraint.

IDeation - generate and refine ideas

Brainstormin' Rules: 

  • Defer judgment
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • "Yes, and" > but
  • Stay focused on the question
  • One convo at a time
  • Visuals!! People understand better through sight
  •  Quantity > Quality - in order to come up with a good idea, come up with a lot of ideas
*Ross in the wild testing our concept*

*Ross in the wild testing our concept*

Experimentation - prototype and feedback

  • Research and Prototype:  Build, listen, edit, repeat
  • Prototyping - fail early, repeat, creative confidence
  • Doing > describing
  • Ask the right q's
  • Learn from getting the product out in front of people (core users, experts, extremes)

Story Telling

  • NOT A PITCH - instead we are capturing all we learned 

Storytelling moves past words alone to help people understand and feel the power of your offering.  At the end of the day, you’re going for impact with a considered audience. Storytelling is the human way …think of it more as a fun science fair.

  • It's like an arc - you set the scene, you share your promise, and show were you end up now.
  • Formula < Structure
  • Convincing < Immersing
  • Professional < Personal
  • Important notes to hit: Empathy building, the promise made, business model, support (hiring), next steps
  • The Bar Test: pretend you’re at a bar with you buddies. Tell the story of your concept. Are they still listening 5 minutes later? The story of your concept should ignite emotion, ideas, and interest

Tips:

  • Be visual - images, prototype
  • Be crisp. - time is tight..understand your points and communicate them
  • Be human - empathy, anecdotes
  • Be thoughtful - consider the strategy

Have fun

Ok..so maybe this isn't an explicit rule in Design Thinking...but I think it's an essential component of having a kick ass team like we did. Both days, I left bonded with incredible individuals who I not only learned from but created lasting friendships. It's sick when you can appreciate everyone's unique contributions, personalities, skills and experiences..it makes the process exhilarating. It's for that very reason this weekend was so special - I was surrounded by absolute rock-stars, in an environment where people loved food and creating and learning as much as me, and I was constantly in a state of exploration and excitement. 

Whether at F+F, Boston, or in life, this same approach can be applied - finding inspiration, learning from others, coming up with ideas, creating and tweaking (as we grow)..and in the end, you may even have a good story to tell.

As long as you had fun. 

ap

Periodization and Transition Phases - Approaching the Final Cycle of Business School

 
 

(Mostly) Mind (this week)

"The dream you are living is your creation. It is your perception of reality that you can change at any time. You have the power to create hell, and you have the power to create heaven. Why not dream a different dream? What not use your mind, your imagination, and your emotions to dream heaven?"

- Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements (Love More, Fear Less - it's inspirational as hell)

I often think of my life in terms of macro/micro training periodization cycles - here's a very simple picture to visualize how training periodization works (simply put, purposeful waves (gotta love me some water analogies). There are cycles of grinding and maxing out, testing your limits - but in order to grow and optimally perform, these challenging times must be followed my rest, relaxation, and recovery. 

In life, these 'down' periods (transition phases) take the form of reflection, allowing one to process absorbed knowledge and experiences, sometimes realize what you've even accomplished, and take a moment to learn from the past. If you push too far without this, a lot of the hard work and training will go to waste, you risk injuring yourself, you burn out, and you simply become over-trained, not yourself and no longer involved and benefiting from the process.

I'm fortunate to be in school where this type of transition phase is worked into my schedule (aka SPRANG BREAK!!). While many chose to take exotic trips or raging cruises - what I needed for a break was time to simply pause. This week was an active recovery week.

Of course, no surprise...I walked into this week with ambitious intentions - the business plans I would write, the personal projects I'd complete, etc. Yet, the moment I finished those final exams and completed the long trek home...all I could do was sleep (and eat). I had no idea how (unnecessarily) exhausted I was.

Three years ago when I was forced to do nothing but think during my hip surgeries, something I never paused and stopped to do, I promised myself that I would intentionally plan time for this in the future, as it is essential for growing (or else, like stated early, you burn out, or get sick, off-track, etc. and eventually are forced to stop).

Often times my greatest ideas, insights and intuitions come to me after I've taken a break for a few days. Like a taper from training - at first I feel 'off' or may question if I've even put in my best work, if it was good enough, could I have done better. Will it pay off in the end? In sports and life, there's uncertainty at this point because the work's behind you. However, along the way you trusted in the process, so shouldn't you believe in the outcome?

At about Day 5, as in training, I hit this point where everything starts to come together. The accumulation of learning, work, and experiences..my training…and I realize "I still got this"…I'm on the right track. I'm thinking like myself. This "performance test" comes in many forms, often life challenges, ideas or direction for what's next.

When training, it's hard to stay in your own lane. We all have different goals - if you train or do the same as the person in the other lane, you will likely perform the same as them. If that's your goal, then that can be a beneficial training strategy...however, today that's not my goal.

There's plenty to learn from those around you. Those you surround yourself with can serve as motivation, challenge you to be better, or simply be there to keep you on track and remember your goals. However, when your goals and dreams differ from the focus of those you are around, it's easy to lose sight of what you came here to do.

After any test of performance, it's essential to redirect your focus and make changes to the next cycle of your program according to what's working and what's not working (and also what you may want to try experimenting). As I head into my last "cycle" of this semester, the final weeks of grad school, it's a time to refocus and align with my goals. Following what I love, doing what aligns with my long-term goals, serving other's, and fearing less.

"Imagine living your life without fear of expressing your dreams. You know what you want, what you don’t want, and when you want it. You are free to change your life the way you really want to. You are not afraid to ask for what you need, to say yes or no to anything or anyone."

It's only after these tests you realize it was pretty damn irrational to have ever worried or questioned yourself. I believe this emotion does serve a purpose those - because without out any sort of discomfort, we would just casually go about things, perhaps not attentive, without anticipation, never feeling the extremes, no satisfaction or appreciation.

"Imagine living your life without being afraid to take a risk and to explore life. You are not afraid to lose anything. You are not afraid to be alive in the world"

This is why I've grown to love the process of business creation - it's often a game, an internal sport. There are no rules when you it comes to your original ideas, no process on how to take principles and concepts and turn them into creative advancements, no one to tell you what's the right way to go about it, no one is making you do it...there's only the optimal level of intrinsic motivation to create in a flow state...there's no wrong, there's only learning.

It's a game, because most of the time while there is a process and plan to the madness...I have no idea what I'm doing or what's going to happen until after I perform. 

Meals 

Spring Break involved lots of meals full of wholesome and fresh food from our greenhouse and chickens. I discovered the magic of frozen avocado's in smoothiess and experimented with improptu recipes when my friend and fellow foodie from school (s/o to Kristen) stopped through for a couple days to join me in eating and exercising all day.

If there's one thing for you to takeaway - I ask you to never waste a rotting avocado again. Dice and pop in the freezer for later use. Thank you.

Moves

Lots of yoga took place this week (where I was introduced to this week's quote)...a time for releasing and re-centering. I couldn't pass up the free time to create and introduce a new lifting phase, and I enjoyed two long, adventurous, warm, sunny bike rides on the C&O Canal. 

Here's one of my favorite, fun workouts that kicked my ass: 

Full Body Barbell + Dumbbell Blast (45 minutes)

  • 10x each exercise, 3x each cycle
  • Followed by 1 minute sprint

1. LEGS

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Reverse Lunge
  • Sprint: 1 min banded jumping jacks

2. ARMS

  • Push up
  • Row
  • Chest Fly
  • Sprint: 1 min hops over barbell

3. CORE (I used a TRX and was in pushup position)

  • Circles (5x each direction)
  • Knees to elbows (Oblique crunches)
  • Pikes
  • Sprint: 1 min elliptical 

4. ARMS 

  • Chest Press
  • Delt Row
  • Rev Fly
  • Sprint: 1 min hops over barbell

5. LEGS

  • Hip Trust
  • Squat Pull-Through
  • Lateral Lunge 
  • Sprint: 1 min banded jumping jacks

It's as hard as you want to make it depending on the weight and type of each exercise. The point is to move everything, keep your heart rate up, and challenge yourself...so it's a flexible workout format to switch in/out whatever you'd like. 

More

Of course, much more has occurred these past months besides the thoughts between these two ears, what I (primarily) share to be occurring in the kitchen, and my gym chronicles.

I continue to be surrounded by loyal friends (and jeez..realize how lucky I am) and family who I cherish and share many special moments and relationships. I included some of the fun...but of course photos don't always do it justice. 

make it a great week! - ap