Friday, July 31, 2015

Return of the Cavalry!

Oh old movies... when the soldiers are losing, out numbered against the (possibly politically incorrect) foe, just wait for it... The Cavalry arrives on shiny horses to slay the enemy!

It might sound cliche, but be the cavalry. Be the person that can show up and solve the problem. Maybe I'm just too deep into engineering, and we love solving problems. We live in a world where people want someone else to solve the problem. Seth Godin's book Linchpin is a good one because it's about picking yourself, regardless of your place in life, to make a difference in your world. It's a simple question, who can make the biggest difference in your world? You.

In other words, be the cavalry. Even if you solve the problem and no one seems to care, maybe they will at a later time. Step forward often enough to "save the day" and soon enough you will get the respect to solve more problems, and your voice will have more respect. There are opportunities every day to improve your vocation. Pick yourself, be the cavalry.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Redo

Stay in any job long enough, sometimes only a few months, and you will get the opportunity to redo something that you thought you had already finished. I'm not sure if this is due to the many quality checks of a big organization, or if everyone deals with it. It's actually quite positive for me to think of a redo this way, because in the moment it can be so frustrating! However, looking at it as part of the job, and something to do, and an opportunity to get it right, keeps it from being something I don't want to do.

There is a relaxing aspect to redoing something. You've been through it, you know the history, you know your way around the situation. Also, the first time something is done there is often urgency to actually get it done to meet some schedule, however, later the urgency to redo something is not the same. In other words, when someone assigns you the task of redoing something the question is hanging in the air, that no one ever asks, 'why didn't someone bring this up when we first looked at this?' The schedule has been blown out of the water, we screwed up once, let's make sure we don't screw up again. So I'm just going to take my time and do it right.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ever Changing Motivation

I've been in a low spot of motivation to run these past few months. I've only run one race in nine months, and it wasn't pretty. I have a race in two and a half weeks and I just don't feel ready for it. Lately climbing mountains has interested me more than going for a run, however I don't live close to any mountains, which further exacerbates the draw to not exercise hard.

After any big event there is a let down, a depression about putting so much effort into something, and then it is over. It is no longer a motivator. I wanted to be on a team USA for years, six plus years, and now I have been. What's next?

In this case it's pretty simple, I know I can do much better than 154 miles for 24 hours and I would like to improve on my personal record. There are also a variety of races I would like to run and take a shot at being on the 100k team USA. Yet I also know, it takes time to get in shape, it takes effort, sacrificing social time with people who don't further this goal of mine. All of that is hard, and it's not as easy a sacrifice as it once was.

For training to go really well it is best if it is the most interesting thing going on in your life. Life has to be a little boring and monotonous so that you aren't wasting energy on things other than training. I'm struggling with that because there are a few things in my life a little more interesting than running right now.

I've run and raced for so long. I'm a better marathoner than Hannes Kolehmainen was when he set the world record. I'm the reigning 24 hour USA national champion. I set personal records at the six Olympic distance running events after leaving college. The motivation has to come from somewhere, it has to be set on something, but as the accomplishments become greater, the goals usually need to be greater, which means they are harder, which means more suffering.

The point being, motivation changes. What used to be motivation is not what it will be in the future.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Today was a Good Day

Sometimes life just flies by and having a solid, only moderately paced day with several positives is really nice. I went into the office for nine hours. I went for a little nine mile run with a fartlek in the middle. I bought some groceries. Nothing great, nothing dramatic, simple. Frankly, vacations are great, traveling is awesome, work trips are usually fun, but they are all often tiring. One plain old ordinary day can be just what I need. (Now I'm a little terrified to face tomorrow, I'm setting myself up for a whirlwind.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 214

Hardly, I spent three days in Arkansas and the last three days in South Dakota, I'm writing this from a Starbuck in Rapid City, as I wait for my Strava segments to upload.

It's not good news when your boss and your boss's boss both leave voicemails and text messages on a Tuesday at 5:30 PM on my personal cell phone after I have left work. Not the best thing to return to from a run. That being said, I'm usually in a better mood after I run than before. So I went to work Wednesday with my bags packed, and I was on a flight to Little Rock that afternoon with two other engineers. When something fails, something big, something we never saw in testing, everyone gets pretty excited pretty quick.

The good news of the trip is we have a few simple action items. Who would guess that not tightening one bolt could lead to a $20,000 failure? On the other hand, what if our simple action items are not enough to solve the problem?

Friday night we made it back to Dubuque, in time for me to run a couple miles and go to sleep.I had a cold all week so my running was not pretty.  

Saturday I drove west. You have to wait for that story. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Being Sick is Not Fun

Ugh, I've had a runny nose and small cough all week. Quite a few people I know seem to have come down with something. It's tiring. I won't run today, and I had a workout planned. Going from cold air conditioning to hot and humid southern weather doesn't seem to help either. I will be sweating then freezing.

I will say, the world doesn't stop for sickness. It's this fine line between continuing as normal as much as possible and throwing in the towel for the day and lying on the couch. I don't have the answers. It's uncomfortable being sick. I suppose that time can help recovery, but it can be quite hard to be patient, as with anything. The lessons we don't want to learn are often the ones we need to learn. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Be the Misfit

When people are young, it's hard to be different than the other people their own age. If someone is a misfit for any reason he or she can get picked on, called names, be uninvited to events, and have other pitfalls of social unacceptance. However, as people grow older the qualities a young misfit learns suddenly become desired qualities, such as persistence, patience, and creativity. A misfit might also learn over time to discern between emotions and facts, because emotions hurt others, but facts just are what they are. A little discernment goes a long way when interpreting human communication. I'm not saying it is ever easy to be a misfit. I am saying being a little awkward at times when one is younger helps when inevitably for the awkward times when one is older.