Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Not Rocket Science: Week 12

In the work week it was one of busiest week’s of the summer. We ran about 150 scouts through camp which is a large number for 13 staff members. In case you were not aware I am the Rock Climbing Director at this camp. It is a nice job because I am able to rock climb most days, I get my 14 hours a week to run, the rest of the staff is quite agreeable, and I get to impart to teenagers some adventure and perhaps some values.

As far as running, I ran 76 miles. No workouts because I was pretty tired from the 15 mile race last saturday, the busy week at camp, and I had a few late nights. It's amazing how a full day of work, an hour and a half run, two hours of dishes, then an hour just reading a book by my fireplace make it close to midnight. I did get to run a 5.5 mile run with a 13 year old from Nebraska up to the local reservoir. It was amazing how well he could keep up with me. I could not run like that when I was that age. It was also interesting how on the uphills he was really hurting, it helped me realize how hard it is to adjust to altitude and that it's not just me.

I also ran up Longs Peak. Not the whole way but about six miles up to boulder field. It was from 9,400 feet to 12,700 feet in only 1:28. Thats just over 2200 vertical feet of elevation an hour. That's a new record for me. I got hailed on though so I turned around because I didn't have the equipment to deal with it.

As far as climbing. I did a first ascent of what my friend and I think is a 5.12. That is to say, "really hard." Basically it's a right hand undercling at knee level with sloper feet while you move the left hand from a side sloping two finger pocket to a counter pressure way above your head that becomes another undercling when your body is three feet higher. That is to say, "really hard."

As far as job search, maybe it's a good thing for my mental health to not stress out about a job so much right now. That being said, I really want to do actual engineering. I like it, I'm good at it, and I'm sure that I would help some company make more money. All of that being said, I think that it is important to be mentally in a good place (most people would call that happy) rather that have money. So I'm teaching kids climbing and rappelling, helping them get over their fears, I'm running and I'm climbing. Not really what I would prefer to be doing all of the time but it is awesome. I am pretty sure that I will not be able to do things that I do now when I am in my 60s so I had better enjoy it while I can.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Don't baby me, I would prefer to do it myself.

Laziness promotes laziness. For the better part of the last 5 years I have been on my own cooking, cleaning, taking care of my own health, and other facets of life. Unfortunately, I have been in a number of circumstances recently when I was provided with a service which meant I had to do less.

Cooking, laundry, driving, schedule planning, you name it someone else has been deciding what I was going to do. This has gotten to the point that it is actually frustrating. Over the last several years I developed a routine. A routine I like very much. I thrive on routine. Repetition, regularity and predictability help me get things done. Without a system of time management, built on routine, very little gets done. For example, the last semester I was at WPI my daily schedule looked something like:

6:50 AM - Wake up
7:00 AM get to WPI by driving or riding my bike
7:15 AM go for 3-6 mile easy run
7:45 AM shower
7:57 AM get into office before 8 but sometimes as late as 8:30
8:00 AM check last night's computer simulations, change variables and run new simulation
8:10 AM blog for 20 minutes
8:30 AM read Runner's World Daily News
8:35 AM check email
9:12 AM head up to department office in search of a cup of coffee
9:15 AM evaluate the previous night's simulation in greater detail, read related scientific reports about finite element heat treating, write my thesis, in general it was work on work.
11AM-2PM At some point I would eat lunch at my desk all depending on when I actually got hungry
4:00 PM head to the gym for running with the cross country or track team
6:30 PM Depending on relative progress of work either head back to office or home to eat. If home then usually head back to school after eating. Sometimes it was just back home to eat and watch tv. If back to office generally stay there about an hour before going home for the night.
11:00 PM In bed, asleep in minutes.

What I liked about this routine:
  • I could run twice a day during the daylight
  • I found I was usually most productive before 10 AM and after 7 PM when the office was quiet.
  • I had inspiration several times on runs of new things to try in my research.
  • I chose all of my meals.
  • I ate when I was hungry, not at a certain time.
  • My hours were flexible so I could come back and work 7-10 or even 11 PM if something was getting done. I could also take off at 4 for the day if things were going especially well.
  • My schedule allowed me to go out to eat or go over to a friend's house.
  • I found I had greater consistency by working every day albeit less on Saturday and only a few hours most Sundays.
My routine was nearly entirely necessity driven. I ate when I was hungry. The same for laundry and other errands. I had the flexibility to work whatever hours I wanted, which until you've had a thesis I am not sure you will understand the desire to come back to work after supper and work on some difficult problem. It constantly hangs over your head and graduate school turns into working all the time combined with serious destressing. I learned to water ski last semester and ran far more miles that I ever had before. I attribute my extreme productivity that semester to a huge focus on finishing my thesis and wanting to get the most out of my life after Pakistan.

I once feared the 9-to-5. Now I think that consistency would be nice. At least, I would like to do-it-myself. Two weeks ago I made the quote, "you don't have to be the hardest worker, as long as you are trying to be the hardest worker." In other words, always be doing something that is positively productive in some way. Be it running which benefits mostly just yourself or building a book shelf for a friend which takes lots of time and energy yet has no monetary profit.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's Not Rocket Science: Week 11

Three and a half day later than normal I update you on the week in review. I'll get to that.

I ran 99.5 miles. I would have liked to get 100 but I didn't know my mileage totals so after running a race Saturday I skipped the cool down. Had I jogged for five minutes I would have gotten the nice three digit total in my log. Oh well, close enough. Saturday I ran a 15 mile race and was beaten again by a woman, well a 2:24 marathoner 13th in Athens Olympic marathoner. So that makes it a little better.

It was a moderately slow week at camp. We are having a great summer. Most of the staff is really awesome. I mean I rock climb for a paycheck and have time to get in 100 miles a week at 9000 feet and have time to hang out with others about the same age with somme of the same passions.

Saturday I went to a used book store in Boulder and started buying Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. That is to say the 3rd and 5th edition. I already owned the 6th and 7th. The reason being each edition is rather different as climbing techniques change. As late as 1980 they suggested hip belaying, carabiner braking, and urged caution at new devices that could be used for belaying and rappelling. So I'm looking for a 1st, 2nd, and 4th edition if you find one let me know so I can buy it. Thanks in advance.

In the middle of the week we found out that our satellite wireless internet was close to the limit. So basically no more internet was the message I took away. Very depressing. In late May and early June I watched about 12 hours of video on the internet up here because I was the only one up here and had nothing else to do at night. So it's partly my fault. So I sit here on Pearl Street in Boulder writing this before the coffee shop closes in 17 minutes.

What of my future? Good question. I'm making decisions in my mind about what I want to do come August. I'll warn you in advance, the media over plays the danger of many places and I feel comfortable in many locations and situations that would scare most Americans.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Running In the Mountains

I have run somewhere over 15,000 miles in my life. In all of that time the only people that have asked if I need a ride are people I know. That was until last Tuesday. It was raining and some guy I had never met outside the village of Ward, Colorado was driving by and offered me a ride. I refused because I wanted to be out there running. Then again on Sunday it was epicing (think rain and snow in decent amounts, but in June above 9000 feet of elevation)  outside and again I was offered a ride near Ward. The point is, for whatever reason people up here, at least a percentage are very friendly.

When I lived in Kansas I was routinely offered rides by my friends in our small town. The last six years I have been living in a very different environment. Hundreds of cars rumbled past without saying a word. I was never offered rides. The occasional whistle, shout to put on a shirt, "run Forrest run", honking horns, and a smattering of profanity were just part of the game.

Up here I wave to most of the locals. They offer me rides. Bicyclists and I wave or give encouragement to each other. Locals on the side of the road say "hi" and the moose don't charge at me. I can't say that it's better than running in a city with predictable weather, sidewalks, water fountains to refill my water bottle, and an endless number of different loops instead of only three roads. However, the traffic is low, the people are nice, and the scenery is just fantastic. 

Cresting the hill on the road from Jamestown to the Peak to Peak and seeing Audobon and Sawtooth there under a light blue sky is just amazing. No tree covered hill or barren field compares to a steep partly snow covered mountain less than ten miles away.

It's Not Rocket Science: Week 10

Weekly accomplishments: I ran 100 miles with 70 of those above 8000 feet and a six and seven mile tempo. I learned how to and spent five hours opperating a Cat 436 backhoe. Yeah it is awesome digging a hole and filling it back in. I spent part of two days rock climbing. I started carving a book shelf out of a beetle kill tree. Finally I have been more or less out of cell phone service range, limited Internet access, and both very frustrated and liberated about those two facts.

Will I be blogging a whole lot more this summer or once a week? I don't know. Hopefully more. When I don't write I feel like the world is a sad place.

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's Not Rocket Science: Week 9

In the job searching world I applied for about four jobs online through a big aerospace company. Besides that I did not put much effort into finding a permanent job. I spent several hours considering the energy industry, specifically oil as a career. Something I am learning is that it is important to not worry so much. I will easily get stressed the more I focus on my career. So for now, as always, I am working hard on the tasks at hand.

I had a good week of running. I ran the Bolder Boulder and ran a 36:19, which is one of my slowest 10ks but it has been my best race at altitude and there were some hills. I placed 148/53000 however I was beaten by five women, which is not something that I like to have happen to me in a race. I ran 75 miles and hiked about 30. I also did a 90% of marathon pace tempo. That is to say it is distinctly slower (10%) than marathon pace but also somewhat faster than I normally run. I am following a Canova schedule for the marathon and he prescribes many such "slow" tempos but at distances ranging up to 32 miles. The goal of these workouts is to get your body burning more fat and less carbohydrates so that you do not "hit the wall" in the marathon.

I started working Tuesday and did some painting floors and a little cleaning. Many of the staff members that I worked with in 2008 are back in 2010 and I am looking forward to an amazing summer. I am the Rock Climbing Director here at Tahosa Scout Camp. I hope to give many scouts an amazing opportunity and experience that I never exactly had.

For those that don't know, I more or less taught myself how to climb. I have also continually had to push my mountaineering to get to the next level. That is to say, the most motivating person for my climbing, I feel, has been myself. I hope to motivate others and give them the opportunity to learn this activity in an environment that is more safe than the way I learned this sport. I never took risks so high that I would not take again, but I know that I have been in situations that had something gone wrong I would have had a big problem with self rescue. For the most part I know more now.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More than 50,000 People

I ran the Bolder Boulder 10k Monday. There were supposedly more than 53,000 people. There were dozens of starting waves a new one started every one or two minutes. I was in the first wave behind all of the wheelchairs. It was all of the best runners that were not in the professional race. That being said the top men and women in the non-professional race were running as fast as some of the people in the professional race.

I had never run in a race with more than 10,000 people and let me tell you it is a different experience. In most races there are a few hundred people and where I run in the pack it separates out so that near the end I am more or less running alone. Several times I have gotten near the end of the race and seen the nearest person ahead of me 20 or 70 seconds ahead and looked back and seen no one as far as the next curve (20+ seconds). Monday was different. Four of us rounded the last corner together only seconds behind another half dozen people. It was a constant parade of people. After the race I sat in the bleachers and watched the people just stream across the finish line. If we say that people were finishing over a span of about four hours thats a little under four people per second crossing the finish line.

It was a nice experience. As far as I saw it was set up very well, but I am pretty low maintenance. It had that big city race kind of feel where everything costs a lot of money. Of course they had lots of coupons and free stuff to go with the entry fee unlike smaller races. Road running is a pretty fun sport. Everything from odd distance, free entry, time yourself races to three digit race fees that include jackets, free food, tens of thousands of people, finishing medals, and prize money big enough to retire to an inexpensive country at the age of 27.