Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Independence: Week 10

This was as eventful of a week as they come. It started off high on Longs Peak at 4 AM as S and I attempted to climb the Casual Route on the Diamond. That is a story for another day. At the rate I have been blogging, maybe I'll get to it in 2017.

After a couple quiet days, including an 11 hour sleep on a work day, my parents came to town for a visit. We didn't do a whole lot together because I didn't take any vacation, and they weren't here on the weekend, still it was really nice to get to see them even if it was only for about seven hours.

In other news, I have a contract pending on a house and the inspection was Tuesday. The inspection went well, no obvious show stoppers, mostly small things. I close September 30th, so I will not say much until then, in case it falls through. There is a lot of paperwork required first to agree on a contract, then to get a mortgage.

Work has had it's moments lately where I'm not entirely sure what I am supposed to do, or what I can do. Which is to say, for every job there is a written description, and then there is what you actually do. One of the first projects I have is a big one, and I'm not sure exactly where I fit in it because there are quite a few people involved.

Running is going. I keep running, slowly. I feel unfit, which is to say I ran 8:20 pace tonight breathing decently hard in 80ºF weather, I would like to be running a minute faster per mile at that effort, but I am not. In an effort to spice up my training I did a triathlon Saturday morning, and broke my hand.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pain: Validated

Nice Watch Eh?

I've said before, I might have an unhealthy relationship with pain. I may be jealous of how my parents talked about my little sister after she had several serious injuries as a little kid. I may be trying to prove something because I was often picked last or near the end for games growing up. Perhaps it has something to do with never seriously playing contact sports, and wanting to show I can handle pain, who knows.

Breaking a bone is really the best injury, it shows up clearly on the x-Ray. It is an excuse to not do things, a reason to not be perfect. It validates the feelings of pain that I have from the injury. It allows me to relax, to just be me, with no expectations for myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, and the world tells me consistently how much of a failure I am. Church tells me I am a sinner. At work, the work is never done. Regardless of the workouts I do, they never seem to be the right ones. 
Pretty Clear: Broken
I feel like a failure so often, but with nothing to prove my failure. I know that feelings are not fact, but they are my experience, so they do matter to me. A broken bone is proof of failure, and like I said above, it allows me to relax and accept myself as imperfect. That can be really hard. I've said it before, I feel I have the best life in the world, and I hope you feel the same way about your life, but with that statement comes the unspoken obligation to be the best I can be, superhuman, and I am certainly not superhuman.

For the record I broke it trying to get on my bicycle. Saturday I did my first triathlon because running training has been underwhelming and I needed some excitement. I finished the 200 yard swim and went through the transition area. It rained the night before and there was maybe a little gravel on the road, as I sat on my bike I had this strange thought, 'it feels higher than normal' despite the fact I haven't changed the seat height in a year. As I was struggling to get my feet in the pedals I was also trying to take a left turn, at all of 3 miles per hour, and I fell over on my left side. I probably fall off the bike once or twice a year, it's never been a big deal, but now that I'm over the hill at age 30 I suppose I have to more careful. As I went to pick up my 15 pound bike my left hand didn't seem to be working. It hurt. I finally got my chain put back on, did the 10k bike, and 2k run, changing shoes with one hand, and I think I won the race but I left before the awards.
Woohoo Selfie!
I went to urgent care and they wrapped me up and took x-rays. I refused pain medication because I need to know if I do something stupid and hurt myself. Already I have learned it is somewhat harder to do thing with one hand. Try getting dressed, tying your shoes, taking milk out of the fridge, opening a car door or using the turn signal, not to mention washing your hand, or drying off after a shower. The pain isn't too bad, I ran six hours in the last 36 hours, and most of the time it was almost insignificant.

I take comfort in my proof of the pain and in a number of Bible verses. As Elihu said, "But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction." Or as Paul wrote, "...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Hope is motivation. It is what we are running toward, and if suffering increases my hope, bring it on!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Independence: Week 9

Wow, my blog has been neglected. I'd like to say that's going to change, but honestly I have a couple half written trip reports and some videos to edit and upload, and I don't know when I am going to do that.

I have been tired. I spent 11 hours in bed yesterday. That's part of why I'm getting to my week in review on Wednesday after 9 pm. 

Work was pretty quiet this past week because we were on the standard two week shut down for repairs and maintenance. In other words, some of the things we would like to get done will have to wait until shutdown is over. I spent some time this past week studying oil. It's pretty interesting stuff and since the actual chemistry of it is hard to find, it is rather hard to describe why one oil is better than another. Fun fact, GL-5 oil wears away at copper parts 2-3 times faster than GL-4 oil wears away copper parts, and I wish I had a better source for that. 

Running was okay. The highlight workout of the week was a 2:40 run on trails over 17 miles that started with a heat index of 106ºF and ended with a heat index of 98ºF. I drove 15 minutes home, drank probably 1.5 liters of milk and orange juice, showered, and went to bed. I didn't even eat supper I had no stomach for it.

On Tuesday I put an offer down on a house, more details to come on that. Yes, it seems to have been accepted and now I'm working through the paperwork, and bills.

Friday I drove out to Denver, and Saturday hiked up to Chasm Lake to spend the night before attempting the Casual Route on the Diamond on Longs Peak

Sunset looking East from Chasm Lake Bivouac at 12,000 feet.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Independence: Week 8

I am going to get this posted before next week. Last week was not terribly dramatic or exciting, which is a good thing.

Work is going just fine. I'm asking questions that no one else ever seems to have asked and I'm crunching through data that no one else has ever crunched through. It may not be as thrilling as flying around the country and world to repair machines but it's how real breakthroughs come up. It takes time staring at something to ask the questions and challenge the assumptions that have gotten us to this point. In other words, I'm learning quite a bit, which is exactly the reason I wanted to come down here and work in this department.

Running went really well. I did 81 miles for the week, including 22 on Friday and 23.6 on Saturday for a couple back to back hard days. Not to mention, all of that was run in temperatures above 70, some above 90, not including humidity and sunshine, which both increase how hot it actually feels. I've never trained for a 24 hour run and it's different. Everything is pretty slow. For example, before my first 24 hour run I was marathon training and doing 10-14 mile tempos at 6:10 pace, and 100 mile weeks, but no runs longer than 2:30. This time I haven't done a single tempo and I'm doing less overall mileage, but many runs between 2:30 and 3:40, which is a long time to be on your feet.

Pretty quiet week otherwise, just watching some Olympic preview coverage.

Monday, August 8, 2016

You Make Money Buying a House

Some people say that buying a house is an investment. That if you buy in the right neighborhood, with all the bells and whistles, like a three car garage, and stay in it long enough, taking care of it the whole time, you can sell it for a profit. Well, that's not always true. Housing prices go down sometimes.

No, where you make money on the house is when you buy it, getting the best deal for it you can.

I want to buy a house. Rather, I want to have a house bought already. I've learned quickly what creates value in a house, what I want and what I don't really need. You want the truth, I only need one bed to sleep in, a two burner stove, a couch, and I would like a dishwasher, laundry machine, two car garage, and bath tub. But no one wants to hear that.

People try to sell me on things like resale value (which is of course higher if you pay a higher price for the house) and multiple bed rooms, multiple bathrooms, and a seemingly endless flow of excess. Anything above 2,000 square feet scare me. The heating and cooling bills on that house seem just too high for one person, not to mention property taxes and the interest on a larger loan.

I looked at a house a few weeks ago that was listed for $24,900, and I liked the house. It was a nice two bed, one bathroom house in a part of town I like, with a new roof and a one car garage. The thing that drove me away was the neighbors with uncut grass who were borrowing the driveway for their truck with two confederate flags flying from the windows. Yep. I get the fact that I'm acting liked a spoiled kid trying to get something for nothing, when the prices for homes here in southeast Kansas are half of what they are in Dubuque and legitimately 1/3 to 1/4th of what you would get for that money around Worcester, Massachusetts.

Buying a house is something that you have to do and have to be invested in. There are so many reasons to walk away. The thought of taking on more debt, even if it is only a $65,000 mortgage, is something I'm not terribly excited about.

As I have gotten older I feel more detached from what defines normal, despite the fact that there are actually quite a few people "like me". It's been five years without cable television or Internet in my apartment, and I can't really imagine going back to having them. Oh I don't know...

Chances are I will have my student loans paid off by the time I turn 31, but no guarantee. It's just one more thing that is prohibiting me from willingly plunking down $70,000 for a three bed, two bathroom, two car garage house. A deal that would be unbelievable in most other parts of the country still scares me because it's so large.

Part of what makes this hard is that it is not like buying a new TV or a car. Research is way more difficult. Maintenance is a huge wild card of expenses. You can't read reviews of houses built by some guy in 1910. Plus, unlike the guy at the store selling you a new television who is not on commission, everyone stands to profit from your home purchase if you pay more/buy from them/buy today. I kind of like being an anonymous shopper because I can take my time as much as I like, and buying a house is not anonymous.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Shopping at Walmart

In Dubuque I probably went into Walmart every 12-18 months to buy things I didn't know where else to buy, like swim goggles. Well, now that I live in a much more rural community, I'm shopping there weekly.

Sadly, Walmart has better produce than the local grocery store. Plus, they have whole wheat pastas and whole wheat bread, although they still find ways to put honey, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup in the bread. Why do we have to put sugar in everything!?

The local grocery store does sell meat (steak) in smaller packages, where as Walmart seems geared toward families and bulk food so nothing is really meant for one person at one meal. In general though the local grocery store seems to have even more processed foods than Walmart.

I don't know. Maybe I didn't go at the right time of day, or the right day of the week. I can see already that I will be spending at least one visit a month to Tulsa to buy groceries for things like wild caught salmon, quinoa, tofu, and all things Asian.

To be fair, I grew up on Walmart. Living in rural Oklahoma and rural Kansas for a total of nine years meant frequent hour drives one way to the "city" to Walmart to stock up. Certainly different than the four minute drive I had in Dubuque to Hy-Vee from my apartment.

The thing is, it feels different now. Bear with me. When I was younger, I thought, 'everyone shops at Walmart' because frankly I didn't really understand the alternative. Yes I knew about grocery stores, but in a small town they are usually a bit limited, and certainly don't have all of the extras that a big city grocery store has, like cleaning and showering supplies, or a broad range of seafood and hummus. I suppose, in high school I maybe had hummus twice, and I wasn't terribly fond of seafood or asparagus. However, as I have gotten older, the standard processed foods just doesn't excite me the way something like an organic Honduran coffee does.

What this makes me realize is, I am rich and I view the world in a way that is demanding, needy, and entitled. Oh sure, you can make excuses for me, but what I'm really saying in the paragraph above is that I am too good for bleached white bread, frozen peas, and regular coffee. When I go to Walmart after work, still wearing a button up long sleeve, I feel so out of place. But no one cares. In a way, it's really just reinforcing the stereotype that in a small community, everyone shops at Walmart, even the guys wearing button up shirts on a Tuesday. In other words, I need to shop at Walmart, if for no other reason than it keeps me from thinking too highly of myself. And like I said before, they do have good vegetables.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Independence: Week 7

Man, I have gotten so lazy. After Everest blogging about my daily life has moved down on the priority list. That being said, living in a house with wifi and video streaming has been awesome! Do I want to watch Tour de France highlights tonight, Olympic preview coverage, Top Gear, The Walking Dead, or a movie?

Work is going well, I am learning so much. There is so much about detailed drivetrain design that I don't know and slowly I am learning it. This past week I drove up to Dubuque (9 hours from here) Wednesday and went to a two hour meeting on Thursday in person for a technical review with a diverse team of engineers. We had people from three locations in the meeting, and honestly, should have maybe invited a fourth factory to make sure we were all on the same page. Regardless, we cleared the air and decided on a direction to proceed. Engineering is so much about risk management, just like mountaineering. There is no perfect, there are simply different levels of "good enough". Which is to say, what NASA sends to the space station is held to a much higher level of "good enough" than a welded sheet of steel that digs in the dirt. The hard part is determining what is "good enough" in any specific situation, thus our meeting.

My running started the week poorly, but ended the week much better. I have been struggling with the heat. And yes, I do try and run in the mornings, but even then it is 74ºF and 80% humidity, and I'm half awake. I generally run slower in the mornings than the afternoons because I haven't had anything to eat or drink and it is typically dark out. Also I think the mentality in the morning is often 'get through it' and the mentality in the afternoon is 'enjoy it, see what I can do' probably having something to do with getting to work for the day versus being done with work for the day.

I took Tuesday off (from running), after taking the Thursday before off and it was depressing. I think the heat is taking more out of me than I care to admit, and the effects are lasting several days. A couple times I have come home from work, and taken a nap from 15 minutes up to 90 minutes, and it's hard mentally when I didn't run in the morning and I am so exhausted in the afternoon that I take an unplanned day off. The good news is my runs up in Dubuque went well because the weather was much cooler so I did an 18 miler at the Mines of Spain and a 28 miler on Heritage Trail. That 28 miler was way easier than the 21 miler I did the week before in the heat and sun here around Independence. Which means, I am in better shape than my pace is showing for my runs here. Also, Jeff Galloway had a nice article on page 44 of the August Runner's World about running in the heat and it made me feel better about how I am doing.

In other news we grilled out Friday night and climbed on my friend's bouldering wall in Dubuque. The Olympics are coming up and it will be interesting. I have been reading a lot about the recent drug/cheating/doping scandals and I have my own opinion to share here when I get around to writing it. Keep chugging on right?