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!