Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's been a while...

It's been a long time since my last post and I have no excuse other than I have a lot to say, but I don't know where to start. I guess I'll go with training today. Politics and other stuff will show up over the next few weeks...

Overall, I would have to say I am confused a bit. My mileage is down to about 30 miles per week and I am seeing better results on my long runs than I did when I was running twice as far per week. I guess going out for 3-5 miles a couple times a week (with the wintry weather we have been having, a lot of the distance has been on the treadmill; which is mind numbing when you are running on a treadmill for an hour) and then loading on the long run (12 miles last week and 15.1 today), I am able to maintain a training pace equal to my marathon pace from my last race. I guess over-training before the last race may have cut performance, but weather and time have put me in this training cycle and so far, it hasn't hurt. We'll see how the New Year's 20 miler goes next week.

My next race is in mid-January in Redding, California. This race also brings other benefits in that I'll be able to visit with friends that I have not seen in over 3 years (other than those I saw 18 months ago). The big challenge for me is not over do it. First, the marathon's first 2.5 miles is on a 6% downhill grade, so I can't start too fast or my quads will be killed. Being in the flatlands, I have had little opportunity to train on similar terrain that I will be experiencing, so there's the first risk. I am getting out to Redding 4 days before the race so I can get a little local training in. Hopefully, the training will help. The second challenge is to not set expectations too high for my visit. The world has gone on for everyone with me being gone, so like I have learned, it is best not to make waves; just ride them.

Anyway, I think this are setting up for a successful run at the race. I am hoping for a time that is sub-4 hours and we will have a really good idea after the New Year's 20 miler. Am getting tired now, so must go. More later in the week!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Laid up a little for a couple of days. I found my soapbox!

I just have a couple of quick thoughts I wanted to get off my chest as I am recovering from an excruciating neck and back of my head injury (not quite sure what it is from, I did feel horrible after my 10 miler Tuesday (got the shakes and all kinds of bad stuff), but it’s been a week and I am really tired of it). But anyway, I have some thoughts about constitutionality and the role of the Federal government.

Why is it that Tea Party “Patriots” all talk about the intrusion of the Federal government and the un-constitutionality of certain programs; especially when it comes to things like Social Security, Medicare and the recently passed Health Care Law? Now, I admit that I am no “credentialed constitutional scholar, but it seems that these folks stop at “We the People” when they read the Constitution. In the Preamble, the Constitution furthers 6 goals of the Federal government; well really five and by performing those five, the sixth comes along with it. “…In order to 1) form a more perfect union, 2) establish justice and 3) ensure domestic tranquility, 4) provide for the common defense, 5) PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE (emphasis mine) and 6) secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Now Joe Miller, Republican Senatorial candidate from Alaska can see no constitutional standing for Federal entitlement programs in the constitution. By providing a safety net to people who need a hand up (unemployment insurance for folks who are out of work due to no fault of their own, social security for people whose retirement savings were wiped out in the capital markets decline of 2007-2008 and even access to preventative medical care to catch medical problems before they become big medical problems) aren’t we promoting the general welfare. If people can earn a living wage, won’t crime rates fall, neighborhoods be kept safe and won’t our economy expand as workers are now confident that they will be able to keep their jobs and they will again be the drivers of demand in our economy? I spoke about stimulus and such in a previous post. Anyway, when you frame the discussion in the “general welfare” clause of the Preamble, doesn’t that give you constitutional authority?

And now, about Federal income taxes… A progressive income tax is the only way to go here. Everybody in this nation has certain necessities of life that are required just to live. Every working citizen gets taxed at the exact same rate on the income necessary for those basic needs of food, shelter, retirement (social security) and medical care (Medicare/Medicaid). If you make more than the amount necessary to cover those bases, you get taxed, at most, at 39.8% (after expiration of the 2003 tax cuts) only on the income above what you need to live. Economically speaking, the only time you would ever be deterred from making more money is when the marginal income tax rate is greater than 100% (that situation in which it would actually cost you to work more). So, the argument that allowing the tax cuts to expire is a disincentive to business growth is false on its face because you still get to keep over 60% of what make. I also spoke about the false narrative regarding the 2003 tax cuts in a previous post. Now the real question to me is why isn’t anyone else looking at it like this?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You get to think a lot over 20 miles

With all the running I am doing lately, I have had the opportunity to think about possible solutions to moving the nation forward out of the economic quagmire in which we find ourselves. First, I will talk about immediate things to stimulate the economy, how some plans are just plain wrong and finally, a long term solution to properly incent capital formation, stabilize job creation and eventually balance the federal budget. As many of my faithful readers will recall, I am all about teaching people to fish so they can live for a lifetime, not giving them a fish so they can eat today.

Stimulating the Economy

We need to start from an agreed upon premise that the U.S. economy is dependent upon consumer spending. We can make the best widget in the world, but if no one is buying widgets, then we might as well be pissing in the wind while widget inventories go through the roof. In the ‘80’s, the federal government drove consumer spending through a re-tooling of the military industrial complex in a strategy to out-spend the Soviet Union on defense and drive the USSR to the brink of bankruptcy. During the ‘90’s, true economic expansion through productivity gains mostly driven by technological advancements added jobs to the economy and drove per capita Gross Domestic Product at an average annual 4.5% growth rate, balanced the budget and led to federal budget surpluses. During the first decade of the 2000’s, we decided to harvest some of the growth benefits and give tax revenues back to taxpayers, in the hope that they would use those extra dollars to spur additional consumer spending and business investment. Well, under the burden of a terrorist attack, two un-funded wars and an un-funded prescription drug plan all driving federal budget deficits higher and crowding out of investments for business expansion by having cash being driven to safer, more secure investments, per capita GDP only grew at an average rate of 3.45%.

Fiscal discipline not only was thrown out the window by government, but the economy as a whole sought out ways to make a quick buck. By investing and borrowing to invest in financial assets and shortening capital gains holding periods, the markets were no longer places to stimulate capital formation for business growth; they became parachute factories, granting golden, platinum, even diamond parachutes to corporate management whose only concern was this quarter’s earnings number. The markets also gave business owners the opportunity to cash out and leave new shareholders holding the bag with no insight to what made the business marketable to begin with. This resulted in cost cutting being the primary way to drive profits; on the backs of the line employees whose jobs were sold off to cheaper markets. Investment of cut taxes in the markets also drove prices for both equity and debt securities causing the largest pricing bubble for financial assets (including real estate, equities and debt securities) in generations. As we all know, starting in 2007, it all came crashing down. While the markets over-reacted on the way up, they also over-reacted on the way down, losing 8 million jobs over a 13 month period. Businesses are still overly cautious because they have no confidence that the American consumer will come back to spending like they did in the past. In order to get things moving again, we need, yes, a REAL STIMULUS BILL. Almost a WPA for the 21st Century.

The federal government spends billions of dollars in unemployment insurance to provide a safety net to the real victims of this recession. All this spending goes on while roads, bridges, electrical power grids, water, sewer and all types of infrastructure goes un-repaired. BY employing the un and under employed in infrastructure projects, we can kill two birds with one stone. It is not the time for more tax cuts. The last stimulus bill included over $275 billion in tax cuts for people who did not really have any money in the first place. The middle class tax cuts in the ARRA went to people who LOST THEIR JOBS, for the most part. Across the country, we could start on a decade’s worth of work to repair and update the nation’s infrastructure in order to keep hold of our place as the world’s largest and most productive economy. By repairing 20th century infrastructure and building a foundation for the next century (high speed rail, green energy and agricultural advancements), we can also employ millions of workers and have the program PAID FOR with no addition to the long term debt of the nation. For every dollar that goes into unemployment benefits, the economy sees $1.67 in activity. For a 10 year, $5 trillion infrastructure package (structured with loan guarantees, direct funding for public projects and low interest loans to expand domestic material manufacturing), the economy will grow by over $9 trillion; paying for itself with increased tax revenues. These infrastructure investments will also lessen local government burdens of maintenance and will give states the opportunity to re-coup “rainy-day” funds to weather the next economic storm. Like Reagan did in the ‘80’s, we need to have government spur consumption.

Long Term Economic Stability

As I stated above, short term profits came to many Americans at the expense of long term sustainability of the U.S. economy. We need to have the capital markets return to their role as the bastion of capital formation and business expansion. To match the incentives of shareholders and management AND WORKERS, I propose ELIMINATING THE CAPITAL GAINS TAX; with one caveat: As the holding period of an equity security extends, the capital gains tax rate will fall. Starting at a rate of 40% in year one, the rate will fall to zero by the end of year 5. This will help to better stabilize the markets and have companies valued for their acumen and success, rather than just money flows. Management will be more inclined to work towards long term value creation rather than spiking quarterly profits to maximize the current value of their stock options. Also, long term value creation will best serve workers as well, since capital looking for long term returns will flock to those economies that have a strong sense of the rule of law and property rights. Long term value creation and business expansion will lessen the burden of government to provide for those needing a hand up, since they will be working, too. A lessened burden lowers expenditures, a domestic energy program lessens the need to project military power and an expanding economy raises tax revenues; all pointing to a balanced federal budget.

For the short term, let’s fix stuff; it probably should be done every 50 years or so anyway. For the long term, let’s have a long term view; because even though we are each in it for ourselves, we are all in it together.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Quick update

90 and 90 this week, so run early in the morning or late at night. Did not run at all yesterday and had a quiet night in. This morning I put on 6.62 miles in sub 9 minute pace and it really felt great. For the first time in a long time, I feel semi free of a lot of burdens; or at least have them in a manageable spot. So anyway, 3 and weights on Monday, 6.62 this morning, 3 and weights tonight, run the parking lot for my hill work tomorrow then Friday rest. 6 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday. All tolled, 31 this week and so far I feel like Spartacus! I will just keep going when I reach the Alps this time, no turning back to Rome for me!

UPDATE: Four times up the 5 level parking garage on Thursday was fun, the Saturday 6 was at 8:30 per mile and due to a late night on Saturday, the 13 miler was this Monday morning before work at about 9:45 per. Felt great and I think I am headed in the right direction.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Settling in and Remembering how Old I am

I am now in week 3 of training for the next race. The Portland Marathon on October 10 is my next challenge. Even though I had a disappointing 4:13 in the Illinois Marathon, I was bitten by the bug and enjoy getting out to get the miles on and I continue to do the mental laundry when I run. Plus, I can see the improved physical condition evidencing itself in body tone, mental focus and improved endurance (in all areas ;)). I am shooting for a time well under 4 hours this time and so my training has taken on a little different approach. First, since it is summer, I have added swimming once a week (800+ meters) as well as speed work (hills (parking garages here in the flat land prairie), tempo runs and longer pacing runs). In addition, the long runs on Sundays started at 10 miles and only go up from there. Between Portland and next year’s Illinois Marathon, I hope to break 3:30 to be the Boston Marathon qualifier that I know is inside me.

I moved into my new apartment a month ago and am settling in. Waiting for the cable guy today. I am living downtown and as such, walk everywhere or take the bus (plus, it saves $150 per month for gasoline). Yesterday, I ran most of my 11 mile training run (90 degrees and 90% humidity killed me at 8.5 miles) then walked another 5 miles each way to get to the parade route. Right before the parade, we had a brief downpour so while the marching bands and politicians did not like it, the spectators (well okay, me) welcomed the rain. I then realized that after watching an Irish folk band over at the Blind Pig, that it was time for me to get some rest and I missed the fireworks. All part of remembering how old I am.

An aside with respect to remembering age and maturity: I remember when I was, oh, I don’t know… 18, that if you did not want to see someone anymore, you would just not call or respond. With age and experience come refined communication skills and a certain amount of respect for others. A polite conversation that gets the point across that it is time to move on earns a tremendous amount of respect and a walking away from a relationship, albeit pretty casual, that everyone feels pretty good about. So, why, in any higher power’s name, do the mixed signals continue to go on? Text: “I really have fun with you, you make me feel good.” Next 5 Texts: “No. Already have plans” (or something to that effect). Just tell me to leave you alone and I won’t invite you out anymore. It’s really that simple. Anyway, I still feel good about me and I have already moved on. The training helps.

The fatigue I feel today is mostly from putting 20+ miles on my feet yesterday and partly from having people aged 35 to 70 acting like 18 year olds. Say what you think and others will not have to guess. That’s something that I have recently had trouble with, but no longer. A mild relapse to come close to seeing how I really was long ago and remembering that I do not like that guy. I am back on track and back on the track. It’s good to be back.

Monday, May 3, 2010

How did it go?

Okay, so that’s over with… I had 3 goals that I wanted to reach. First, I wanted to finish; secondly, I wanted to beat 4 hours and lastly, I wanted to reach 3:30:00. I guess when you are trying to overcome the challenge that is a marathon, reaching at least one of your goals is most important. I FINISHED! I was slower than some, faster than most, but I did not beat 4 hours. At 4:13:35, I was the 665th finisher of the 2,420 that started the race. 612 runners did not finish and I did beat about 60 marathon relay teams! The average time of the finishers was 4:30:15, so I was faster than average. I never walked and the only time I cried was when I had a moment alone after I finished. All in all, a great day!

I got to sleep around 11:00pm on Friday night after the big pasta feed. We heard from the first woman to ever officially run the Boston Marathon back in 1967. She even greeted almost everyone when they came across the finish line. I was supposed to get up at 5 to make the pancakes, but I was so excited that I woke up at 4 to get eth breakfast rolling. Weather had just come through and I was a little unsure of how to dress for the race, so I just took the long sleeve tech shirt they gave us at the registration (probably not the best idea for my approach, but hey I made a number of mistakes during the day). Anyway, I got to the race at about 6:30 (an hour before schedule) feeling very pumped up. I cranked up my iPod while I stretched and then checked it in with the rest of my stuff (I wanted to run “Old School”, with no tunes) at about 7:10 and then I walked up to where my 4 hour pace group was standing. We all did a little chatting and waited for the race to start.

The gun went off at about 7:40 and since the Half Marathoners were starting with us, it took about a minute and a half to actually cross the start line. At about the 1 mile mark, it seemed that the race was going to settle into a good rhythm. I saw an old friend from over 20 years ago; which was amazing in its own right. With over 10,000 runners starting out, I guess the odds of seeing him were 1 in 10,000! We were both shooting for the same time so we ran together as best we could. Now I am at the 2 mile point in the race and I realize that the long sleeve shirt is not the right call. I am sweating like crazy because of the humidity and that means a lot more use of the water and Gatorade tables. It does help to cool me off when the wind blows, but I probably got fatigued more quickly than I otherwise would have. By checking my watch, I am clicking of the miles at about a 9 minute pace, which is just where I want to be. At 55:28 for the first 10 K, everything is feeling pretty good and now we have already gone the furthest East on the course. On to the next 6.9 miles to the half-way point!

Mile 9 and weaves through Meadowbrook Park and there are a couple of good bands playing (one rock and roll on the way into the park and a dixieland band on the way out). I see the first severe casualty on the course. One guy experienced the terrible too’s (too fast, too hot, too soon) and passed out, He was put on the crash board and had oxygen strapped to him and was being driven out of the park by EMT’s. To have that happen so early in the race was a wake up call for me; especially since I’m already over dressed for the weather. We come out of the park and get our first hand out of energy gels. At this station, they had strawberry banana and vanilla bean. Let me say one thing… STAY AWAY FROM VANILLA BEAN ENERGY GU GELS WHEN IT IS HOT OUT UNLESS YOU WANT TO PUKE ON THE ROAD! It was just not a good thing for me. Now we head back north into town and we have been the furthest south on the course and I am still feeling pretty good. At mile 11.5, we lose the half-marathoners as they head back into the Stadium and we (about a third of what we had) head back to Green Street, through campus again. The half marathon timing spot comes up before I thought it would, so I feel really good about that; especially since I am at the half-way point in 1:59:01. Everything is still looking pretty good for a good pace. Now, off to “no-man’s land” – miles 15-20.

Downtown Champaign is moving along and the Elvis impersonator is doing his thing, a little behind the tempo for “Hound Dog”, but nice, nonetheless. Coming up to West Side Park, I see the 4:00:00 pace leader moving out from me and I appreciate the road shower to help cool down. There are a couple of these on the course and they are a God-send. Now this part of the course is one that I train on regularly and so I still feel pretty good. Get another Gel at Eisner Park, but I can start to feel my pace suffer a little bit. Coming back up University Avenue, with the field thinning out, the race starts its transformation to a group effort to a personal challenge, now. Mentally, I am a little down, but I also know that at this point, I will finish. I thought that Maynard Lake was going to be the worst spot, and it was from a pace standpoint, but I think the toughest spot for me mentally was John Street to Centennial Park. I was pacing with a guy who apparently had a lot of friends on the route because a lot of folks were cheering him on and I tell you, when people cheer for one and not others, it is definitely not a lift. I got over though when I started chasing a pair of French Braids in tight shorts. I thought when I hit 20 miles and only had 10K to go, that I would feel exhilarated, but no such luck. I get here in 3:06:14 and there still is a very outside chance that I beat 4 hours, but my last two miles are at or more than 10 minutes.

The rest of the run down in Southwest Champaign is fun. While pace is slow, the fans are good. Two tables along the way are offering beer to runners. I laugh, but am not tempted too much. It took a little while to get to Mile 23 and now I am back in my old training loops. Our version of “Heartbreak Hill” is along the north side of the Champaign Country Club and we start losing a lot of runners to walking. I WILL NOT WALK! I WILL NOT WALK! That is my mantra throughout the climb and when I finally make the turn at Hessel Boulevard, I know that it is almost over. I do not have the speed I hoped I would, but I pick up the pace by about 30 seconds per mile over the last 1.5-2.0 miles.

The crowd over the last 385 yards is great as they line the chute and cheer us on. I try to sprint once I get up the driveway to the stadium and onto the field. The Astroturf feels pretty good as I keep going to the final finish. The speaker from the Boston Marathon greets each finisher and that feels great. I get my medal and I am overcome with a rush of emotions. I find the folks and greet them and get some pictures.

I then go get a banana and my gear (I can’t believe they made us walk up the stadium steps to get to where the food was) and when I then I find a quiet space and I actually weep for about 20 seconds. I am fully spent, happy, disappointed with the time, but feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It is at this time that I see someone in dehydration tremors being carted out by EMT’s. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to run the marathon and for today, even maybe for a little while longer, I will feel like I am in a select group. It’s not everybody who can complete this challenge. I am pleased that I completed it and it gives me confidence to attack other things in life because I have been on Champaign’s Heartbreak Hill and I did not stop. When my pace started falling off, I did not stop just because I was not going to beat 4 hours; I adjusted my expectations and kept on going. I kept on going and I was able to show myself that when it got really tough that I could not and would not turn to anyone else. This day, this event, was about me. Nobody was going to help me when I felt like quitting. I feel great about it, all the training in the rain, sleet, snow, heat and incredible cold. I learned a lot about training and myself. I am looking forward to the Portland Marathon this October (running with some friends there) and I am pretty sure I will run this one again. Thanks for all of your good wishes and support.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tomorrow's the Big Day!

So the months of training are coming to their "climax" tomorrow! I can say that I am a little nervous, but mostly excited to get going tomorrow. I hope for the serenity of the Buddha, the strength of Thor, the speed of Mercury and the patience of Job. I have laid out a strategy for the day and I think I'll be able to be successful. I will let you know how it all goes as I write about each stage of my strategy next week.

Adam’s Marathon Strategy:

5:00 AM – short stack of pancakes and coffee

6:15 AM – Get to race area

7:00 AM – Drop off Gear

7:30 AM – Race Start – set out with 4:00:00 group

7:50 – 8:00 AM – Reach Downtown Urbana (Main between Race and Vine) (Mile 3) (R&C Photo?)

First tough stretch through Stone Creek Golf Club

8:45 – 9:00 AM – Meadowbrook Park (CK Photo) (Mile 9.5 at the corner of Race and Windsor) take first Energy Gel and first Gatorade

Half Marathon at Green and First – Shoot for right at 9:30 or a little earlier (remember short strides, use upper body)

9:40 AM – West Side Park (Mile 14 on Church Street Side) (R&C Photo)

9:50 AM – Eisner Park – Gatorade and Energy Gel

10:15 AM – Crescent and Sangamon – Take first carried (3rd overall) Energy Gel at Mile 18

10:23 AM – Gatorade at Kirby and Duncan (Mile 19)

Keep focus through Maynard Lake – Imagine this 4 mile stretch to be the worst – Take Gatorade and Energy Gel at Mile 21, Gatorade at Mile 22

10:55 AM – Take second carried (5th overall) Energy Gel along with Gatorade at 23.25

11:04 AM – Gatorade at Country Club corner

11:14 AM – Gatorade at Mile 25 – Start Sprint all the way home (CK Photo at Elm and Hessel)

11:25 AM – FINISH in Stadium

Adam to West Stands/Great Hall to pick up gear and some food

12:00 Noon – meet family in East stands, south of 50 yard line

Beer at 1:00 PM

Wish me Luck!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It would help if they knew what they were talking about...

Yep, you guessed it. I did not run today so instead I got out my soapbox as I got my dander up over all of the truly inane comments I have been hearing about the terribly intrusive Federal government; especially since the 2008 election. "Taxes are too high!" "Obama wants to run every aspect of your life!" "The stimulus is a waste of money!" "If Brown can't stop it, a Browning can" blah blah blah. My personal favorite is in some states that think the burden of of the federal government is too much when all they are really saying is "Keep your government hands off my Medicare, Social Security or my Social Security Disability Compensation!" It would really help if these people actually knew what they were talking about. Or better yet, because they all can't be that STUPID, it would be nice if they stopped lying. Let's attack each of these issues...

"Taxes are too high" - Taxes are truly lower as a percentage of personal income than they have been in over 25 years. The real complaint that is coming from the crowd is that did not get their taxes cut; the folks who make over $250,000 per year; roughly 2% of the population. Although it is true that only 53% of all families paid income taxes, that does not mean that 47% of the citizenry is a bunch of deadbeats. What it does mean is that people are buying houses and taking advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit, it means that people are going back to school to take advantage of the education tax credit and true enough, there are approximately 9.5 million people out of work. All that said, for those people who actually end up paying income taxes, it's not so bad to have a tax problem. IT MEANS YOU MADE MONEY! Also, those folks who paid no income tax also finance a portion of the federal deficit spending by contributing their social security taxes. Social Security is the largest investor in Federal Treasury bonds. Financing the government; not the Chinese, Japanese or any body else.

"Obama wants to control every aspect of our lives" - This is just plain silly. It's the other side of the aisle that cares about who you sleep with. It's the other side that wants to pick its nose into some of the most personal decisions that someone can face. Decisions that should be left to you, your partner and your higher power are not the business of old men sitting in the legislature. All that this administration wants to do is give everyone the same opportunity. That include the same opportunity as you and I to buy private health insurance and not get ripped off. That is all this NEW LAW does. The last government started the snooping ON YOUR PHONE CALLS AND READING YOUR E-MAIL.

"The stimulus is a waste of money" - Okay, tax cuts are a waste of money, 2.2 million new jobs are a waste of money, helping millions of homeowners improve and keep their homes are a waste of money. Money multipliers take time and although it's easy to erase 6 million jobs through lack of regulation and letting the inmates run the asylum, it will take more than 9 months to fix things.

My favorite one is the secession and militia movement. As Harris and CBS news mentioned, the Tea Party members are primarily Republican voters (92%) and there is an interesting discussion that needs to be had about how much of a burden the federal government truly is to the states. The Tax Amnesty Program follows net federal taxes paid compared to federal funding received by each of the states from 1981 through 2005. On average, 15 states receive less than $1 in federal funds for every $1 in federal taxes paid. 35 states receive more in federal funding then they pay for. Before I outline who these stalwarts of fiscal responsibility are and who the leeches are, I'll tell you what... If you are in a state that receives more than you share of federal funding, I will support your secession movement as long as you pay back the other states you owe money to. It will sure help balance some state budgets!

Okay, here it is, the list of states that pay more than the get, along with the % of each dollar funded that is received back and which Presidential candidate the state voted for in 2008. Also, before we go any further, JUST BECAUSE YOU LOST THE ELECTION, YOU CANNOT SAY THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS ILLEGITIMATE!

State $ received/$ paid Presidential Vote
Colorado $.80 Obama
California $.78 Obama
Connecticut $.70 Obama
Delaware $.77 Obama
Illinois $.75 Obama
Massachusetts $.80 Obama
Michigan $.90 Obama
Minnesota $.70 Obama
Nevada $.65 McCain
New Hampshire $.70 McCain
New Jersey $.60 Obama
New York $.80 Obama
Oregon $.93 Obama
Wisconsin $.86 Obama
Texas $.95 McCain
Washington $.93 Obama

As you can see, real hot beds of socialism here. The anti-tax stalwarts lead the pack on the other side, though. Alaska (Sister Sarah's home) gets $1.60 for every dollar it pays, Arizona, a real mavericky place gets $1.40, and Oklahoma, who recently had a legislator propose an anti federal militia, receives $1.40 for every dollar of federal taxes paid. Being someone who is a resident of a net payor, LEAVE ALREADY! We can balance out state and federal budgets without your leeching state being part of the union. Let's see how your state residents like having their taxes increase 25%-80% to make up for no more federal aid.

ANYWAY, it's time to base arguments in fact; no, it's past time. No more with the lies, the spinning and the made up stories about 9/11 AND about the secret Kenyan birth certificates. You know, Rodney King may not have been wrong! Let's get along and have reasoned debate, not hysteria.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Three Weeks!!!

I am beginning to feel a lot like Forrest Gump these days ("I just kept on a runnin'"). Oh well, the last real big training week then taking it easier over the last two weeks.

Tuesday - 11.07 miles at 9:55 (I ran in the evening and and it was very warm out (upper 80's)
Wednesday - The Spring Bloom killed me and I went to bed early and slept for about 10 hours.
Thursday - Woke up feeling feeling a bazillion % better and it showed... 5.55 miles at 8:49 per.
Monday and Friday are lifting and Sunday is the monster---

20 miles + on Sunday. I will try, repeat, try to beat 10 minutes. Hopefully it will be a little cool out and I will go in the morning to avoid the wind. Well, I started out at about a quarter to 8 this morning; pancakes at 6:45, had my electrolytes/carbs/protein in the camelback and the energy gels and the Ipod and I came in AT 9:17 PER MILE! 22.25 miles and it felt GREAT! Only 2 energy gels (at 13 and 18) and only about 13 ounces of electrolyte/carb/protein drink. If I feel like this in two weeks, I really believe that my time can start with a 3!

By the way, Curious George was one if my favorites, too. On to May 1st! If you can make it, would love to see you there! Excelsior!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Under a month to go!

Okay, this week is 5, 5, 5, rest, 8, 13 Tuesday through Sunday (Monday and Friday I lift (maybe on Wednesday, too)). Weather is good, mind is in the right place and after the first mile, my ankle does not hurt anymore!

Tuesday - 5.55 miles - 9:04 pace
Wednesday -2.5 miles on the tread mill. I was kind of out of sorts. 9:30 pace
Thursday -Made up for lost miles. Got 8.4 miles in at 9:27 pace felt great. Chilly evening; great running weather.
Saturday - Cross training workout. Burned over 1,300 calories
Sunday - 12.3 miles at 10:09 pace. Lots of climbing in comparison city routes

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

32 days to go!

This week it is 5 Tuesday, 8 Wednesday, 5 Thursday, rest Friday, 5 Saturday and 20 on Sunday. 32 days to go! I am feeling confident!

Tuesday - 5.76 miles - 9:07 pace - First thing in the morning
Wednesday - 9.14 miles (I know, I planned on 8, but I felt pretty good this morning) - 9:24 pace
Thursday - Another 5.76 miles - 8:54 pace - Beautiful morning, great run! First day without a long sleeve shirt!
Saturday - Rain, Hail, otherwise a nice run. Slow pace (not much sleep last night) - 5.1 miles - 10:00 pace - Tomorrow is the big one!
Sunday - Wow it was windy today! Got those parts out of the way early, but spent myself into the wind. Oh well. 3:30! This my marathon pace for 26.2 miles, so I need to pick it up some still over the rest of the month (about 25% faster!).

One more 20 miler before the race (2 weeks from this Sunday). Only concerns are hips and lower back.


Sunday, March 21, 2010


After years of being riddled with self doubt, I have come to a point where I have tested myself on a number of things lately and the answer that came back every time was "You Pass". I feel great about it!

First, at work, I am in my element and being successful. Sr. Management and the Board are looking to me to answer questions and they are at a point where they rely on my expertise for strategy. The challenge for me is to continue on team building and maintaining a sense of humility. I am confident that I can keep my ego under control and continue to be a cog in the machine without clogging up the works. This week I am also going to put some real energy behind a couple of additional projects to get them the momentum they need. Over the past several months, I'll admit that I have spent too much time at liberal blogs and on Facebook when I should have been working; so... the motivation is back and when I am in full gear, I'm pretty tough to stop. A busy 6 weeks are ahead of me and I expect to have plenty of accomplishments to show for the effort come May 1.

Secondly, as you know, She came for a visit. That went really well. A lot of things that needed to be said face to face were said face to face and we laid out a road map for putting our old relationship to bed. In addition, I think that after the walking on eggshells that happened for the first 20 hours or so, we opened up to each other and also set a preliminary plan for how we will work on having some sort of relationship in the future. Too soon to fully define what that will be, but I think we are and can be positive for each other. We will cover a lot of those bases over the next few weeks and then on onto the summer. I feel really good about that, too.

Finally, today, 21.21 miles in 220 minutes! I know, the pace was not all that great, but I felt pretty good during and after the run. I had a medium stack of pancakes with honey, not syrup about an hour and a half before the run, so I had a good carb base on board. I also loaded up my camelback water pack with my recovery drink (4:1 carbs to protein) and took sips at mile 13, 15, 17 and 20. Also brought the iPod along with me. At 10:24/mile, it was not near my 3:30 marathon goal pace, but I had really good pace for the first half (probably too much ABBA; Waterloo is a great running song!). The key for me is that I ran a marathon -5 miles and I feel confident that if I had to go the last 5, I could. 4 hours would have been lost, but with 40 days to go, I believe I can get there (sub 4 hours; 3:30 will have to wait for an autumn race)

I guess what I am saying is that I have not been afraid to be open minded and to try something new. A big part of it is managing expectations for myself and others. I was not quick to blurt out answers at work before I had done my homework, I let She know what I was looking for from the visit and all I wanted today was to finish the route running and not collapse at mile 17. In every case, I stayed within myself and I met the goals I set for myself. A great foundation for a wonderful year has been poured and the concrete is about to set. I'll let you know how things go from here.

Next up, several runs in the community over the next several weeks, the Big Race on May 1 and tanning season is upon us, so back to becoming the bronze Adonis that I was last summer (the body is in great shape, just need the color). More tests to come, we'll see how things go. So far, everything is looking good!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feeling Great!

9 weeks to go and things are going pretty well. I am averaging between 25 and 30 miles a week and making pretty good time. I have been able to shave up to 30 seconds off my mile pace for runs up to a half marathon so I am now under 2 hours. So, things are looking up. However, we have also learned some things along the way.
  1. Take a rest day between 8-10 miles and then trying to run 20
  2. Energy gel packs are a good thing
  3. One bowl of oatmeal and 4 cups of coffee are not sufficient to provide enough energy for a long training run (15+ miles). If you are going to do that, be sure you have cab fare to get back to your starting point.
This weekend, I ran 8.4 at 8:57 on Friday and that felt really good. On Saturday, I had a reasonably light breakfast (see above) and then went to the office for a while and then tried to put on 20 miles. I was at 1:57:40 at the half marathon point and then at 15, I had to stop for a traffic light. At that point, my lower body said "Enough! We're hungry and you think you can still push us like this with hardly anything to eat?" I realized that I was truly abusing myself and I acquiesced to the protests from my lower regions and then slowly jogged the 3.5 miles back to the gym where I drank a recovery drink and then sat in the shower (the one reserved for handicapped) for probably 20 minutes. I ate a little and feel better today. A little sore, but okay. Now, if I add the distances from the last 2 days together, I have accomplished a marathon in a bout 4:40. It gives me great motivation that I got as far as I did with such little fuel. I will work some more in the first part of the week coming up; but I have something that takes precedent over training that is going on next weekend...

As if I were not already a glutton for punishment (who in their right mind would run so much when it is just as easy to get where you are going by car?), I am taking on the biggest challenge I have faced over the last 7 months next weekend. After not seeing each other for over 2 years (sure, we have communicated over the phone and via e-mail), SHE is coming to visit. You have read in previous posts how I have alluded to SHE and how I have struggled with where our relationship has been, how it is or should be put to rest and whether there is anything there to set a foundation for a future relationship. Well, I guess it was an aligning of the stars or just some mental weakness that got us to agree to meet for the weekend. There will be few if any distractions, so we might be able to get some ground covered. I hope so. As I am putting together a life, there is a big piece missing in the puzzle that is Adam and hopefully, getting some shape to this piece, whatever shape that is, will keep people from looking entirely straight through me; like they can see through the hole that is there. I am keeping expectations low, being open about what I hope to get from the visit and trying to be sensitive to how lives and people change; not only for me, but for everyone who has ever known me.

Anyway, enough about that. I will fill you in on how things went later on. Back to running... May 1 is the Illinois Marathon and I have a number of 5 and 10 k's to run before that, plus training in high gear. Need a massage in a couple of weeks. Maybe after all this work, including the visit, there will be "happy ending" (get it...happy ending/massage?). Oh well, enough!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Making hay while, well you know...

Contrary to the blathering on of all of the rocket scientists in the main stream media, I do believe that there is a real problem with global climate change (mis-named "global warming"). Between the constant warming of the oceans and the 2010 El Nino that is going on, we are seeing tons of snow where it usually does not fall (hello Virginia) and little snow where it is expected and needed (hello Vancouver). We have been blanketed here in my Midwest Exile, as well, and that has made training a little challenging. Too much ice and snow on the roads make for dangerous training outside and you all already know my feelings about running laps in-doors. So, over the past 2 weeks, I have been limited in my training. I only got speed work in last week and lifted weights last weekend. I expected to lose some effectiveness in my training and set an even steeper hill to climb in order to be ready for my little endeavor in 12 (YES 12!!!) weeks. However, I have learned that if I set expectations low enough, I will be pleasantly surprised. It's amazing how that happens. So...

Speed work consisted of run a mile, walk a quarter, sprint a quarter, walk a quarter, sprint a half, walk a quarter, sprint three quarters, walk a quarter, sprint (in a manner of speaking, all things being relative) a mile. I hurt for a couple days after that, but it felt pretty good. I received new guidelines for the next three years on Tuesday and they all seemed pretty reasonable and the sun started shining yesterday! I put on 5 indoors at sub nine minute miles and 6.3 this morning at a speed a little bit better than yesterday. Maybe 3:30 is still in reach!

Other areas of life are also moving forward well. I spoke to an old friend a couple weekends ago and she really helped me put things in perspective (gave me my very own Stuart Smalley moment (daily affirmation)) and I am building relationships here in my very own Elba. Anyway, all things are moving forward. Let's hope they move forward at approximately 8:30 per mile! Cheers!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Re-assessing goals and being flexible

Training has been going pretty well lately and things have been coming together for me in my life in general. But not all things have been easy, that's for sure. Before I have to get all new art to cover my walls because I have been banging my head against the wall, time has come to re-assess my progress and see if goals need to be re-directed. Some things are just too difficult to get through; regardless of hard I work at them. It does not mean I will give up on my goals; just push them back a little bit...

With respect to running, I got in 15 last weekend and 12 today; both at a pace that will get me across the finish line in a time that starts with a 3, but I am not confident that in my first marathon, I can beat 31/2 hours. I will continue to work hard to meet the 3:30, but my primary goal will be to beat 4 hours. For some reason, it appears that 8:30 miles is some brick wall that I will have to break through in a later race; but I will keep going at it until I break through. I guess I am just being more realistic in my status and the progress I have yet to make in the time I have ahead of me. Mark my words 3:30 will be attained in 2010, just probably not in May.

With respect to life in general, I am still like a horse in the starting gate and I am recognizing that I am starting to get impatient. In the next couple of weeks, my world will open up for me some and I will have the opportunity decide how and where I want to live. It's exciting and frustrating that at this time in my life, I am starting all over again. The thing that keeps me going is the commitment of my friends to sharing in my success in life and my ability to make new friends in my new community (how long this is my community is still up in the air, but I will be asking you all for some input. I don't want to make a rash decision, that's for sure). Anyway, another set of goals that in the short term will require some modification, but in the long term are still on track (California this year, France in 2013, financial security 2010). Don't be surprised to hear from me soon for some input. In the meantime, some aspirin for the legs and the glutes (longer strides today (15 degrees at run time)). Thanks to my friends, my heart feels great!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lost in translation?

As part of my weekly regimen, I'll pick up a long run and a number of short to medium length runs throughout the week. The key is for me to continue to run comfortably as I put the distance behind me as well as try to control my mind in the process. When I say "control my mind", I do not mean focusing on tempo or stride length or pronation of my already warped right foot; I am referring to what a friend of mine calls "doing the laundry". I use running for meditation and since there is not a lot to think about when to comes to mechanics of a 15 mile run, I often find myself getting lost in the rhythm of the stride; especially if I leave my iPod at home. Things come in and go out; I think about politics, common sense solutions, the life of the cows I see as I go by, even about the new friends I am making here in what I sometimes call my Midwest exile. Since everything is going pretty well in those areas, my tempo is good and I have a pretty good pace (often under 9 minutes/mile). However, when I think about other things that are going on in my life, like erasing 5 years of close family relationships like they never happened, like wanting career events to move a little more quickly, like being a bit frustrated in my living situation, I find that my pace suffers and it feels like all I am doing is running up-hill. I go to plus 10 minute paces and it all averages out at just sub 10 minute pace for the overall run. Now, the real frustrating part; I go to the track at the ARC this morning and put on 3 miles; run really comfortably with a few other people on the track (we aren't running together, just out at the same time) and I end up with an 8:41 average over the 3 miles. Hmmm...

Now I know that there really is no comparison because I ran 5 times as far on Saturday as I did on Monday, but I had a very positive mental attitude, was looking forward to the day and I had already gotten over the Vikings giving away the NFC Championship. But I think the real thing was that I kept focused on the good things going on in my life; not on the 1:00 AM calls to be told that I am hated because I am putting my life together and feel good about myself, not the calls asking me to move heaven and earth on someone else's time line because they have no way else to deal with their own life's issues and not the fact that I have a lot of people waiting for me to really screw up again. However, keeping a positive attitude over 25 minutes is a hell of a lot easier than keeping up over 2 and a half hours. TRANSLATING that success to long distances will be key for me to accomplish the goals I have set for myself. I must clear and control my mind to approach things more positively to be the glass half full guy that can keep the tempo moving and #1- complete the upcoming race (only 14 more weeks to go (make travel plans, I need a rooting section!)) and #2 - complete it in a respectable time (Boston Qualifying time). Again, like many other things, that translation can be applied to every day life, as well. That way, I can concentrate on what is GOOD FOR ME not only for today but good in a foundational, basic way that breeds success for the long term.

Anyway, I'm rambling now. I hope my thoughts did not get lost through the translation from my head to my hands. Be well, all!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Training and plateaus

Another week gone by and I am establishing a base line of sub 10 minute runs for longer distances. I got 15 miles in under 2 and a half hours today and while I feel okay about it, I still have a long way to go to get to my 8 minute goal. Training gets hard and I think I need a montage. A montage gets me some really good workout music and speeds up conditioning that would normally take months into about 4 minutes. It's worked for Rocky, Ricky Bobby and even Gary on Team America. My question is why can't it work for me? Oh yeah, I remember, I live in the reality based world. Things that matter take time; maybe that's something the electorate needs to be reminded of, too.

I'm also a little nervous about running with a group. While solo training has been working out okay, in order to meet goals, I need to test myself against others. The Siberian Express run in early January went pretty well (middle of the pack); so I should feel good about measuring myself against others, but it's still a bit intimidating. Stuff that is new or hasn't been done in a long while (running with a group, meeting with investment bankers, DATING) usually makes me a little nervous, but as I still feel good about myself, I should be okay. Again, I really could use a montage.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Making Progress

I'm learning more about my training program every week. First, I learned that if I want to maintain a base to grow from, I need to keep working at it. Secondly, I learned that it takes a lot of commitment and work to break through time barriers; probably need to start training with a group. Third, and this one is pretty important, is that I learned that it was PRETTY DARN COLD OUTSIDE today. I put on 12 miles today with pretty decent time (9:35 per mile), given that it was a balmy 0 degrees out on the road. This is a longer distance pace that is marginally better than my half marathon pace this past summer; so I really need to find ways to take my 5-10k pace to the longer distances. I have a little under 4 months to get there. Otherwise, I am looking at approximately 4 hours for the Illinois race. While just finishing will be great and meet my overall goal, I would love the time to start with a 3.

I am also dealing with bumps in the road, so to speak, with training and life in general, as well. Snow storms kept weight lifting and running down to one day each, respectively, but I have a base built and did not lose too much, but did not gain anything, either. I have also been able to deal with disappointments in things not going my way, even when folks told me that they have done all the things that needed to be done. The crazy thing is that if I bring up the disappointments, I would normally get blamed for something that happened years ago. However, like in running, I have built a base in feeling good about myself and I don't end up going backwards. The way I look at it, if old things keep being brought up, that must mean that I am doing things right because there are no new things to blame me for. See, the glass IS HALF FULL (hopefully with Blind Pig's latest offering). Anyway, the mental attitude is the big thing for me that helps me keep at what I am trying to accomplish (as close to 3:30 as possible, training in the arctic cold and not letting failures by other folks bother me). I guess my only complaints are that my hips are a little sore and now I have to buy dress shirts since my old ones that still fit are missing. I am working on picking up the pace over longer distances and also using the running to meditate on the issues I face on a daily basis. More on privatized education later this week. Stay warm and don't shake too much, Northstate!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It snowed a lot...

It snowed about six inches today, so I am stranded at home with the opportunity to wax less than poetic. I cannot get out to run today so yes, I found my soapbox. A flyer from a major political party came in the mail earlier this week and it listed 14 major issues that it asked our household to prioritize in order of importance for being addressed by the Federal Government. These items included the following (in the order they were presented, I will talk about priorities later):

• America’s Economic Situation
• Regulation of Financial Institutions and Markets
• Lowering Unemployment
• Dealing with Iran
• Health Insurance Reform
• Fighting Terrorism
• Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
• Improving Race Relations
• Nuclear Proliferation
• Improving Education
• Energy Independence
• America’s Image in the World Community
• Dealing with North Korea

Let’s first look to where these issues overlap. America’s Economic Situation revolves around getting Main Street back to work making products that are competitive in the global marketplace, reducing the operating deficits and paying down the national debt. With an expanding economy, the financial markets will look to participate in the expansion of the economy by funding new businesses instead of tinkering with transaction structures to maximize profits at the margins. This will, in turn lead to more cooperation between Financial Markets and the Government when it comes to regulation. An expanding economy will Lower Unemployment. Fuller employment will lead to improved race relations. Competition for employees in an expanding economy will motivate employers to offer health insurance and small businesses will be dealt a stronger hand in negotiating with insurance providers as their employee rosters grow. The rising economic tide at home will show the world that we are consistent when it comes to reconciling how we may defend rights abroad and how we treat our own citizens; thus improving our image in the World Community. Much terrorism directed at the United States is driven by our foreign presence in the search of resources; primarily oil. If we are not viewed as interlopers, the motivation for hatred is reduced; in turn reducing the risk of terrorism. Iraq and Afghanistan need to see examples of success of a CIVILIAN SURGE to push economic development to turn the insurgents away from warfare as their only hope. An example of consistency between how we treat our own citizens and the face we present to the world is essential. If we can win hearts and minds by being an example instead of shoving something down the throats of a people, our stay overseas will indeed be shorter. Iran and Korea need to be exposed to the world as the oppressive regimes that they are and let their own citizens lead a domestic uprising to accomplish the change that is needed. In order for US to be the beacon of liberty and freedom in the world, we need to lead by example.

I have dealt with 12 of the 14 “National Issues” by showing how they are inter-twined with economic expansion and being an example at home. We can accomplish the 12 by concentrating on the 2: Improving Education and achieving true, long term Energy Independence. Energy Independence for the long term must concentrate on new and evolving technologies in sustainable sources. Solar, Algae, Wind, Hydrogen, Tidal Energy, Geo Thermal, Cellulosic Ethanol (corn based ethanol only drives down food production and drives up food costs) and other technologies will lead America to independence from foreign sources of fuel in the short term and freedom from fossil fuels in the long term. These technologies can create millions of high paying jobs that will MANUFACTURE products here and export them to the global marketplace. Well trained employees will earn competitive, life supporting wages with quality affordable health care benefits and those employees will pay taxes on those wages to balance the budget and pay down the national debt. To develop these new technologies and provide the manufacturing labor to build these technologies, we need a jump start. That jump start can come from billions of dollars of government co-investment in technology development, loan guarantees and technical assistance as well as looking at education in a new way. It is time to privatize the education system. Let schools compete for both students and educators. Accountability and performance pay for education systems should be based on job placement and secondary education placement; not test scores. If schools are going to be required to develop young people who compete in the global marketplace, let them be evaluated as such. A voucher program to be used at secular schools staffed by educators who have actually spent time working in the market at a job directly related to the subject matter they are teaching will help prepare students for lifetime success.

I will flesh out the details in later posts, but I truly believe that the key to solving a myriad of ills is to see where they are inter-connected and deal directly with a few issues to cure many more. Oh well, snow plow has come through, I may head to the office.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Time is running (pun intended) out as we are coming closer to races for 2010. Tomorrow is the Siberian Express Trail Run at Kickapoo State Park. 7.55 miles in the snow; it should be fun, forcasted temperature of 12 degrees (Fahrenheit) . In order to be sure I could do it, I put on 7 today (10 degrees, 9:20 pace) and felt pretty good. I have been training on the tread mill over the past few weeks and it felt good to get out on the road. To actual feel like I was going somewhere was extremely enjoyable. As I have said in the past, the treadmill is frustrating for me; putting forth all kinds of effort and getting nowhere; kind of like most of 2009 for me. However, that is changing.

I can't wait for other people to take action. I need to go after what I want; just like my running. With that being said, I am upping my effort in all areas for this year. I am getting an average of 35 miles per week and will be working more on getting pace up so I can hit that 3:30 pace. I will also become more active in my own community as well as my home community in the North State. I am joining a Yoga group next week and will start travelling more this spring. I guess that a lot of things came together for me over the last quarter of the year, but there are just a few pieces missing in completing the new puzzle that is Adam and I look forward to completing the puzzle this year. The chapter has been closed on a turbulent past couple of years. The next one looks very exciting and continues into tomorrow when I will post my race results. Hopefully, no frostbite!

Speaking of taking things into my own hands (no, not that THING), I ran the Siberian Express Trail Run today. It was, in a word... COLD! 1 degree Fahrenheit before wind chill, which was negligible at race time. We got a start with over 200 runners at about 11:00 am and we were off (to the races?). Pace at first was difficult as we were spreading out the field and working through some tight areas in the first mile, but then things stretched out. It was my first ever trail run and I was surprised that we had some straight up climbs that prevented maintaining pace all the way through. Overall, I think that ate about 5-7 minutes throughout the race. There were other climbs that we ran that reminded me how my legs during the run were like the cook top on my range in the kitchen. They were both quad burners! (I know, bad joke). Anyway, it was a great run; I worked up a sweat and felt pretty good about it. Plus, I got a real cool beanie!

Great start to the year!