Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Change, Or At Least Its Contemplation

Change is in the air.  I was talking with someone recently about possible next steps to take in my career as I have been a bit stuck on what to do since I graduated earlier this year.  They asked me, "What are you passionate about?"  I didn't miss a beat.  "Writing."  The half-smile, half-frown that came back at me reflected my own thoughts on the matter.  With zero intention of sounding arrogant but 100% chance of it being impossible to come off any other way, I have always known I have talent in writing.  Yet, as with so many other areas, I have not been able to find a way to parlay that into a professional career.  The rest of the conversation I had with this person went down a similar path as I remarked, "I have some leadership qualities, but I am not a leader.  I have some presentation skills, but I am not a presenter.  I have some project management background, but I am not a project manager."  In that same line, I have writing talent, but would be hard-pressed to refer to myself as a "writer".  Granted, the latter is judged only by how I decide to define it.  This is not the only way to attain a "proper" title of "author", but in the current day, I can only consider that if I am making money and/or a living off it.  As that is not true, it seems to fit with a long line of other attributes I possess in some measure, but seemingly not in sufficient quantity to do something meaningful with.  My comment to this person at work was, "I did not expect this next step to be easy, but I did think it would be a little more clear than it currently seems.  Right now... it's pretty murky."

This is when she responded with the question regarding what I'm passionate about, and so we completed the maddening loop rather nicely, and frustratingly.

To be honest, there has not been a lot of effort on my part to find a way to parlay any of these skills into a career.  That comes from a mix of things - partly, I quietly figured that if I'm good enough at something, I will just kind of plinko my way into where I should be to use that skill.  I have recently realized that is too lazy an approach to the matter - some aggression, or at least assertiveness, is called for.  Some of it is what I think most people experience when they realize it's time for a change - fear and anxiety about the unknown.  How do I know I will be successful at [whatever]?  I like to flip the script in situations like this and think about what I might advise someone else if they came to me with this, the answer of which would be, I can't know.  No one ever really does on this side of the equation.  As with all things, it takes a little luck, some skill, some hard work, and a bunch of other little things coming together (relationships, timing, etc.) to create success.

Her parting comment was about someone she knows who faced a similar dilemma in their lives.  He realized it was time for a change and ruminated heavily on it for a while.  Eventually, he decided he wanted to work from home and start his own business.  His wife was less than thrilled at the time, but she ultimately realized this was something he had to try.  Many years later, it was among the best decisions he ever made, and his wife agrees.  It wasn't easy, but because he was passionate about what he did, it didn't matter how difficult it was.  I couldn't help but feel that entrepreneurial spirit as this person told me that story, but as with other available options, I ended up with a similar reaction - I have some interests and some skills in several areas, but don't feel I'm far enough along in any one of them to take that decisive step forward into The Next Level.

I do feel much better about the situation after this conversation, though.  It cut through all the confusing thoughts swirling around my head and stabbed at the heart of the matter - stop trying to put all the pieces to the puzzle together perfectly, decide what I want to do/am passionate about the most, and go do it.  It won't be easy, but it's not supposed to be.  Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback the game has ever seen (again, arguably), but he still loses games, has bad days, gets sacked, etc.

Insert pithy meme about getting up one more time than you fall, here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fortress Maximus

I had various friends throughout childhood but if it came down to a coin flip between going out or staying home, I stayed home.  I enjoyed keeping to my own thoughts, losing myself in a book, or playing quietly with my ever-growing collection of transformers than venturing out into the world.  I vividly remember thinking when I was eight or nine years old, after looking at my older brother by three-and-a-half years who had long stopped playing with toys like transformers, "I will not be like him.  I enjoy this way too much.  I will play with toys forever!"  I would get my favorites out, either at my desk in my room if it was to be a smaller battle, or at the kitchen table if everyone was getting involved, and duke it out.  Thinking back, I eschewed my desk for the kitchen table the older I got as not only the size of my collection, but the contents within that collection grew ever larger.  For Christmas in 1987, my parents sold out and got me Fortress Maximus - to that point, by far the biggest transformer made at literally two feet tall, well over half that wide, and sturdy as hell.  If memory serves, he carried a price tag of $99.99, a small fortune almost 30 years ago.  I don't know what happened to him - my toy chest disappeared mysteriously when my parents' house was being renovated many years ago - but today, even in moderate condition he sells on eBay for several hundred dollars.  He had three tide-turning modes and signified before anything began how the battle would end.  The Decepticons just didn't have anything that could compete.  As it should be, I figured.  The good guys should always have an ace in the hole.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Physicality

Two weeks ago -- didn't get much done during the week but did two four milers back to back on that weekend.  Which led to...

Last week -- didn't get much done during the week (noticing a trend) and had a tough time bouncing back from the consecutive fours.

Did my first run in a week yesterday, 2.5 miles in 23:34 on the treadmill.  I felt really good for the first mile and a half; that tells me I needed a break.  Really had to push for the last mile; that tells me my conditioning took a shot for it.

The good news is, post-run yesterday I came in at 306 and woke up to the same this morning so at least I didn't give anything back on that front.

Goal for this week: do something different every day.  Running five times in a week is neither realistic nor healthy and, judging by recent performance, just isn't going to happen.  I ran yesterday so I stayed home and did a cacophony of little things this morning:

Jump rope (5 minutes)
Pushups - 3 x 5
Wide-stance jump squats - 2 x10
Planks - 2 x 30 seconds

I've never done planks in my life.  I can't believe the feeling in my lower back right now, about five minutes removed from the work. It is a mixture of pain and relief -- very bizarre, I've never felt anything like it.  It's as if I may have pulled one muscle but fixed another?  We'll see how this pans out.

I ran into an old friend at Nate's wedding over the weekend, Carlos.  Carlos is a ball of energy -- he is just naturally high and full tilt, all the time.  We got to talking about running and he perked at the thought of doing the CR again as he admitted to being a little rudderless of late.  I know the feeling.

We'll see how the next four weeks or so unfold.  If everything goes well and I'm headed toward six mile long runs at the end of January I'll sign up for the CR.  If this falls apart, there's the mid-May-ish half marathon connected to the Delaware Marathon.  The course is much more forgiving than the CR but the temperature will probably be mid-60s instead of mid-40s.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Aaron Rodgers

From an article on ESPN.com, Rodgers explains the consequences he'll face from Packers GM Ted Thompson for refusing to slide while rushing during Monday night's game against the woeful Atlanta Falcons:

"Sometimes you just want to feel like a football player," Rodgers said. "Ted probably didn't appreciate it, and he usually will tell me at some point this week I'm sure, that sliding is always a good option. So I look forward to that conversation with Ted."

Translation: some guy is going to yell at me for doing things the way I decided they should be done.  I'll listen to what he has to say and then move on.  We'll agree to disagree, whether Ted knows it or not.

Sounds vaguely Howard Stern-ly, although with less use of "pig-vomit".

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Physicality

Not a bad week.  Did just about what I needed to do -- maybe came a run and a couple miles short but there's plenty of month left to make that up.

I unveiled my plans to Colin Thursday night for regaining half-marathon status after showing up to the bar in shorts.  "Aren't you supposed to not do that?"  He referred to my knee issues from a couple years ago.  Well, there's that.  But somehow, someway, I think I can do this and not destroy myself in the process.  Although I freely admit, this seems a little crazy right now.

There are four points to hit to make this work, and they all lead to the same outcome if executed properly:

1. Run smart -- not hard, not fast, not overly consecutive.  Lots of treadmill running.  Road runs need to be deliberately sloooooooooow.

2. Eat less.  Eating more means having to run more.  Having to run more because of eating more is bad.

3. Incorporate *something* besides running on a consistent basis for physicality.  Lifting weights is a great option.  The tried and true combination of pushups/crunches can't be beat.  Either works, really.  It just can't come down to strictly running as a means of physicality.

4. Smart stretching/rolling.  3-4 full rolling sessions per week sounds good.  Why not every day?  Stretching, too. 

Ultimately, I need to get my weight down so there is less overall impact on all my joints.  These four things will create an environment where that can happen.

I weighed in at 309 earlier today after my three mile run on 273 (only minor hip soreness, woohoo!).  Definitely want to see 300 or less at the end of this month.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Physicality/CR Plan

Not a great week on this front but those accursed pilgrims from four hundred years ago rather ensured that was going to happen, now didn't they?

The only real training was today's effort:

3 miles
28:03

Not bad but nothing special.  What did happen was a rather important realization on how I can rebuild to CR-levels of conditioning.

I only ever ran 100 miles in a month twice.  I've been running since 1999 in some form so there's roughly 180 months there.  2/180 = 1.11%.

Obviously, and I knew this beforehand, I don't need 100 miles a month to hit CR-levels.  What then do I need?

I'm sure I hit 70-80 miles most years in January/February to train for the race in mid/late March.  Earlier this year I did almost 70 miles in May, with no special prompting or reason.  I don't need to jump right into that, it's still technically November after all.

But I will need to get there early next year.

For December, I just need 50 miles in 20 runs to establish a baseline and some consistency (note: it's always a great month if I run > 15 times).  2.5 miles per run.  2 miles today, 3 miles tomorrow, 2 miles the next day, etc.

Then, I need 60 miles in 20 runs in January.  Mostly three mile runs.  For every 2, give me a 4.  Maybe try five.

In February, now we change gears a little bit.  70 miles in 15 runs.  Going to need a lot of four and five mile runs, with a couple sixes sprinkled in for good measure.  Difficulty: I need an eight mile run that doesn't destroy my feet, knees or hips at the end of the month.

The CR is Sunday, March 22nd, 2015.  I need to hit the brakes the prior weekend, March 15th to give everything a chance to recover so the weekend of March 7th/8th, I need a 10 mile run which, again, does not destroy my feet, knees or hips.

I always wondered about the advice to do long training runs significantly slower than your projected race pace (I don't care about my race pace for CR -- I only want to finish).  It's been long held in running circles that if you're aiming to run 10 minutes per mile in the race, do your long training runs at 12 minutes.  I never got that logic... until now.  There's a conditioning component that responds to faster speeds for sure, but now there's a significant wear on the joints and tissues to consider.  A slower run is less impact on those joints and tissues, resulting in a better shot at arriving to the starting line in a less-injured condition.

This all sounds relatively easy.  Let's see how it pans out. 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Rant/Physicality

Traffic.  We all hate it.  But are any of us doing anything to make it better?

"What do you mean?  We can't just go out and expand the local neighborhood street, let alone a highway or interstate."

That's true, we do lack that ability.  However, we still have the opportunity to make a series of choices so that all of us can get to where we're going faster than we currently do.

Look around the roads the next time you leave wherever you are.  There are all kinds of traffic signs affixed at different points.  Some of these are valid and serve legitimate functions.

Some of them are full of shit.  Which ones?  99% of the ones outlined in black with a light gray background and a pair of numbers affixed to them with the words:

SPEED
LIMIT

Speed limits were created 50 years ago when there were still a fair number of Model Ts on the road.  If you were lucky, there were seat belts.  Everyone was driving cast iron boats capable of destroying large buildings in a single sideswipe.  They didn't even have fuel injection, let alone the modern safety features of anti-lock brakes, 28 airbags and redundant crumple zones. 

Alas, 50 FRICKIN' YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE MOST SPEED LIMITS WERE ESTABLISHED.

Ahem.  Sorry.

The point is, 90% of the cars on the road have the modern safety features mentioned above such that increasing all speed limits -- perhaps neighborhood streets notwithstanding or other thoroughfares featuring frequent appearances at random by small to moderate animals/children -- by 20 miles per hour is completely reasonable and gets us all where we're going so much faster.

"What about the police?  There's speed traps to consider, after all."

Fair point. 

It's a little early but here's one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2015: I will obtain a high quality radar detector and use it liberally -- as in, daily.  Speed traps are not set up for safety, they are set up as a cash grab by the local municipalities and highway patrols as a way to bolster the revenue side of the ledger.

"Radar detectors are illegal!"

They are also easily hid should the unthinkable happen.  Which, by the way, most companies offer some sort of, "If our product fails you we'll pay your ticket" guarantee.  Doesn't help when you insurance company learns of the infraction but it's a minimal risk I am more than willing to take.  I encourage the lot of you to follow suit.

Physicality!

Carbon copy of yesterday except I did half a mile less on the treadmill:

1. Full foam rolling session.
2. 2x25 crunches
3. 2x5 pushups
4. 1x10 jumpsquats
5. 2.5 miles @ 23:20

Still no pain in the legs, woo!