Thursday, March 29, 2012

What is the Role of a Designated Driver?

I was out this past Saturday as a designated driver (DD) until about 2:45 AM. This is way past my bed time. An interesting question that came up during this event, and even before, when I knew that it would happen that I would be out that late is, what role does the DD have in determining the course of the night? If the DD wants to go home at 11 PM does the group go home?

Ideally this is a group decision. Everyone would be on the same page. But as groups involved with alcohol often do, a subset of the group becomes interested in remote prospects for future entertainment, and everyone else follows along. However, in the rare circumstance that you are in a DD rotation with like minded friends (as I was in grad school) remember that what goes around comes around.

I do not have an answer, but I do have a few words from the DDs among us: we don't want to stay out as late as you, and we aren't having as much fun when we are out that late.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I Live in Iowa: Week 49

Wow, I'm nearing a year here. It seems strange because the obvious question I ask myself is, 'how long will I be here?' I do not know. The options are infinite.

At work I had a relatively busy week. I worked 45 hours including a ten hour day. We have been having a crisis of documentation in recent weeks and I evaluated everything I am working on in some respect and got a little stressed out. It is really no problem, but for about two days I was furiously working on presentation slides and acceptance criteria and tables of loads and boundary conditions. I think I am back on track. Of course there is more work to be done, but I suppose that is the nature of work and a 175 year old company.

On the interesting side, I had the chance to promote aluminum heat treating at work this week. Since I am a huge heat treating promoter, every chance I get to advocate it I do. The part in question is an aluminum casting that must pass certain structural requirements. As it was designed it did not meet the requirements, however with the heat treatment it would be strong enough to meet the requirements. I also recommended some geometry changes to the structure in the event that a heat treating was not feasible. I realize that nothing will probably come of it, but I had the opportunity to spread the message of heat treating to a few more people.

You would be surprised how often working more and running more go together. I ran 87 miles which is the most I have run in one week since CIM. I had a couple good interval workouts. one was just 6x200 around 30-31 pace and the other was a nice 4x2k in 6:58, 6:48, 6:37, 6:33. All with 400 meters jog in two minutes between repetitions. Nothing spectacular but quite nice and just what I needed. Since most people don't think in kilometers the last two were at about 5:18 and 5:15 mile pace.

Regarding my running for the outdoor season I think that I will run 5k this week at Augustana, 5k next week at Wartburg, 1500 or 5k rabbit at UW Platteville, and 10k at the Augustana Meet of Champions April 20th. That will probably be my race of the season. There are quite a few races in the area after April 20th, like Drake Relays, a local Heritage Trial race, and a 10 miler in Des Moine. So I'm not sure what I will race in May or June but I am really focused on running a good 10k this season. Since I typically tell all, if I don't PR I will be surprised. If I am not under 32 there will be some initial disappointment. If I get under 31, the season counts as a qualified success.

On the coaching side I only made it to practice like twice this week because of work obligations. Coaching is... not the same as giving workouts to myself. That is to say a plan can be given, but it is not always followed. The results then speak to the preparation.

On the investing side DHT went up to over $1.50 during the week, and then crashed to below a dollar after they announced that they were raising capital through a backstopped equity offering. It closed Friday at $1.03. In other words, they are selling more stock. I listened to the 45 minute conference call and looked through the presentation. The important factors as an investor are:

  • The four managing directors are fully investing in the offer (basically doubling down)
  • The offer is only open to shareholders of record March 29th
  • Shares that are not purchased by shareholders will be bought by an investment bank whose name I forget (that is the reason it is called backstopped)
  • The price of five and ten year old double hull tankers is at a cyclical low relative to the price of new tankers
In summary, this is basically a mezzanine level of financing. In another word: opportunity.

Regarding a Tweet that I had Saturday night, you need some background. A group of friends and I went to Madison for the weekend. After attending an athletic event in the morning and early afternoon we went downtown. I did manage to get in a ten mile run in and around Owen park, which is quite nice. Downtown we honked at the Recall Walker protesters and I explained to an out of state friend the issue with unions and collective bargaining. We ate at this amazing restaurant, the Tipsy Cow I believe, and proceeded to go to a stand up comedy show. At the show we sat front and center, yet were never made fun of. On the far right side, stage left leaning against the wall was a man. He looked to be drinking whiskey before the show started but as it progressed he looked asleep. Finally his phone went off and the comic started to make comments, but the drooling Wisconsinite was incoherent. A few people he was sitting with tried to get him to be coherent but it was in vain. Eventually he was carried out by one of the people he was with and a waitress. Seconds later everyone had forgotten that there was a drooling nearly unresponsive younger man at the show.  This is typical Wisconsin. I am serious, Wisconsin has an alcohol problem. I have lived around the country and drank alcohol with a number of people and I was exposed to it at a young age in high school, but nowhere that I have been is it like Wisconsin. People aren't supposed to pass out in the front row of a comedy show.

To add to the excitement about 20 minutes after the show as we were walking down the street the paramedics were helping a young woman who also looked very incoherent. Yet people were just going around the spectacle and more or less ignoring the fact that this young woman probably had alcohol poisoning. Another example from the night was when we were at Qdoba eating our 11PM snack and on the news a woman was arrested with her 11th DUI, and my friend went crazy because it was one of his former managers. Now you stand a 2% chance of getting a DUI when you drive drunk. Based on the people I know that have had a DUI (all but one from Wisconsin) that seems an accurate statistic. That's 550 times to have driven drunk. That's driving legally drunk twice a week for over five years.

To end on a positive note, my week starts on a negative note if I miss church on Sunday morning. It is one of my greatest hesitations for traveling places on the weekends. As it turns out the house that we stayed at on the west side of Madison was a three minute walk from a church of my Christian denomination. I could not plan for my life to work out that well.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Four Consecutive 5 AM Runs

Sometimes I start pitying myself. It's a bad cycle. I have really grown to like early morning runs over the last year for a number of reasons. They are humbling. They wake me up far more than a cup of coffee. They allow me the feeling that I can accomplish enormous tasks. They also increase the damage in my legs from previous runs so that recovery is then increased and I become stronger. These runs also feel to me like a priviledge instead of an obligation. It took years for my mindset to change from morning runs being obligations to priviledges. I did not double in the mornings for about three years.

Often, things take time. The best solutions can not always be rushed. It can be hard to be patient, but it is regularly the best course of action.

Life is good. I am so blessed. I have so many gifts and so much I do not deserve. I hope that I can share my successes with others because celebrating alone is not celebrating.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Alaska 2012

I had been planning for more than a year to go to Alaska for three weeks during May and June 2012, but since taking the Deere job I lost the vacation time that I did have and will not have any accrued vacation time until September. I work for the man.

I was in talks with a friend to do a route on Mt. Hunter and in thoughts with myself to do the Cassin or West Rib on Denali. I have a couple of friends that would probably go with me to Denali. Every mountaineer in the US wants to go there at some point. It is like the big goal that can be fathomed. Personally, Pakistan has far more opportunity in terms of altitude, new routes, and difficult routes. However, I have never been to Alaska and I have wanted to go for a decade.

This is a really interesting decision. I'm giving up on a dream to make more money. I feel like a total sell out. I feel like I am buying into the ideal of delayed gratification that we call retirement. It is a ridiculous concept, spending your most healthy years behind a desk saving money so that when you are old and not able to physically do what you did before, you have the time to do what you desire. That is part of the reason I had a hard time going to Deere. Many of the perks like 401(k) matching and pension benefits and promotions have rigid requirements based solely on years of service. Why do anything spectacular if there is no possibility of being promoted in the next year and a half?

This is enough of my whining. I am ridiculous. I make more money than most households in the US, and billions of people in the world, I enjoy more benefits and perks like clean water and not living in a war zone than billions of people can claim. I will tell you what, coaching is opening my eyes to education. Education in the US is bogus. Kids get three or four months off for the summer, they get two to six weeks off over Christmas and New Year's and a week of spring break and a week of fall break. Since beginning engineering in January of last year the only break longer than four days I have had was 11 calendar days around Christmas and New Year's, which is incredibly fortunate that Deere takes that week off, because they do not have to shut down that week. Still these kids, and my former self included, get used to these numerous vacations. I see in teachers and students that they do not understand that the world works year round. Is it better to complain about a problem or be ignorant of that problem?

In summary, I don't know what exactly I am complaining about. I chose my line of work and I suppose that I knew that engineering was a 51 week a year business. I could have just as easily chosen mountaineering. Or had I known a thing or two eight years ago I could have gone into investment banking. I can't believe anyone read to the end of this post to listen to all this whining. I'm going to make a great 1%er some day. Anyway, I'm not going to Alaska this spring, it is my choice, it was not taken away from me. I simply chose a different route.

Monday, March 19, 2012

On the Issue of a Motorcycle

I try to convey a subtle message that I am a bold, daring and brave man. In reality I am simply an analytical coward. I have a higher tolerance for risk than most people but I only partake in those activities which the height of the reward outweighs the likelihood of the risk. People die on a mountain because they ascend with headaches, ascend with frostbite, climb unroped, and travel onto avalanche prone slopes. Take away those four contributing factors and the number of deaths is about 90 percent less.

I bought a motorcycle. I have wanted one since I rode my friend's Yamaha 175 around in high school. So I finally plopped down the money and bought a 1966 Yamaha ya6 123cc one cylinder.

So it is likely I get in an accident this year. Yet I will save lots in fuel this long summer and it's hard not to smile after riding a motorcycle.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I Live in Iowa: Week 48

Kind of an interesting week. I worked 45 hours because I have a number of projects going and several reports to finish. I even meant to go in on the weekend to work more, but my bicycle and my couch seemed to call harder than the 15 minute drive to work and inevitable 15 minute drive back. It is interesting how we treat work. How does our work define us? How much do we define ourselves by our work? A couple of questions that deserve more than a few lines in my weekly update.

I ran a fair amount, I haven't totaled it up yet but I think it is in the 72 mile range. But that is not the significant part, I had five workouts with a total of more than 14 miles at faster than 6 minute per mile pace. In eight days I did six workouts. I am pretty sure I have never done that before. Of course some were as short as 10x50meter short hills or three miles at 5:50 pace. Still, it takes effort to do quality day after day.

The University of Dubuque was on spring break so there was no coaching, although I think I have picked up another individual client to coach.

After months and really years of looking I finally bought a motorcycle! Well, I agreed to buy it, I still have to pick it up and pay for it. I'm just going to leave you in suspense about it for now, there will obviously be pictures and stories shortly.

On the social side I ended both my Friday and Saturday evenings at a friend and coworkers house. I am not going to give away any sort of details which might detract from the relationships being developed. In short, I had a really good time. It is a slightly different social circle than I am used to and I liked it.

On the investing side, I had a great week. I had two stocks that went up over 20% and I "made" $10 less through investing than I did working this week. It's absurd. I've been engineering in a corporate setting about 60 weeks and I have managed to save enough and invest well enough that in a week I can "make" more through investing than engineering. Of course some weeks I have "lost" hundreds of dollars. DHT closed at $1.25, one of my stocks up more than 20%. Last week I forgot to mention it but it closed at $1.03. It's hard to take that much in losses but I am confident enough about it that I actually bought more last week. DHT is actually now my largest portfolio position. Still, the fact that my portfolio was up over $800 in one day is not fair. Oh, I also bought apple last week at $534 during the iPad release. I'm already up like 7%. It's absurd. It's also worth another article because iTV, iPhone 5, iPad HD, iPad Mini, Ivy Bridge (an Intel thing), and the decline of standard programming will probably help Apple surpass $1 trillion in market cap in the next decade.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

This Is It!

I have been watching Internet videos and reading books. The video is so good, it conveys the feeling of a track meet. The book, well, death is kind of a big deal and how you approach it is easily in my mind the most important thing in the world.

The point is, you have to keep the fire alive! I have been contemplating my next "trip" or expedition rather. The unique thing about post-collegiate life is that there is plenty of time to make decisions and think through problems. I am seriously in no rush, and I do not like it. The solution to life's issues should not simply be: wait a few more weeks for a few more paychecks. Yet all too often I find myself caring about the numbers and sticking to what I know.

I have fears of shaking my life up too much that I will ruin the good thing that I have going. I am afraid to cannibalize myself. Yet every time I can think of that I have taken a chance to do something that others do not do, I have been rewarded in some way far greater than I expected. Several examples, going to school at WPI, a thousand miles from what I knew, I was rewarded with an amazing education, five and a half years of incredible experiences, and a cadre of amigos that I will care about the rest of my life regardless of how little I actually speak to them. Going out for college track, I made more close friends than I ever expected and I ran faster and more than I ever thought I would. Going to Pakistan was definitely a life changing experience I desire to go through something similar again. Simply put, when people are dying near you on a mountain it makes your life so much more real and important and every minute becomes a greater gift!

The point is, and in large part it is to get myself more motivated, I can't sit around and wait for things to happen, this is it! I have to go after the things that I want! If I don't do these things, someone else will, and they are no more qualified than I. Get after it! This is it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NCAA D3 Indoor Track and Field Nationals 2012

For the first time I had the opportunity to go watch indoor nationals. It was a great experience! Then again, I am a track nerd so I get really excited about this stuff. To set the stage let me tell you that we have one particular sprinter at the University of Dubuque that is rather good. He squeaked into nationals this year by setting the school record in the 60 meter dash several times. No one else on our team qualified.

Day One:

I am not a sprint coach or a sprinter. I ran a 28.52 200m this winter in a race. However, I would easily drive three hours to watch one of the athletes I know run for less than seven seconds. So the other distance coach and myself drove down Friday afternoon to Grinnell.

It was expensive to get in, $10. They had official wrist bands with holograms. It felt very classy. We struggled to find the indoor track because Grinnell has huge facilities and you have to wind down and around to find anything. However once we finally arrived we realized their track is amazing! The building is huge with stands on the outside and external jump pits and windows. Those three things determine the basics of an indoor facility versus an amazing indoor facility.

We proceeded to watch the races. One of the day one surprises was how slow Ben Sheets ran. He came in the fastest in the 800 and mile by two seconds in each event. He was the clear favorite, but he became sick a few days before and despite running a 1:54 and 4:18 he did not advance to the finals.

When they ran the 60m prelimbs our runner, Dav, made it to the finals in his "worst" race of the season. He was pretty upset about it, but he did make it into finals, and that is better than half the people that lined up for the 60 Friday.

We watched the DMR from the corner between the strait-away and start curve. We were beside the Middlebury coaches and chatted up with them a little bit during the women's race, which they won. Then during the men's race there was an incredibly close finish between Bowdoin and UW Stevens Point. The latter closed incredibly fast but did not make it to first. Of interesting note the Wabash team dropped the baton in the first 15 meters and the 1200m runner took off but the writing was on the wall, they were probably not going to be top eight and All-Americans because of it. So their last runner, who was also in the mile final the next day jogged his leg more or less and they were last place.

There was a WPI runner there in the women's 400 and I was ten feet away at the start but I did not get the chance to talk to her or to my college coach. Oh well, I'll be at more nationals in the future. Next up is D1 nationals at Drake in June.

We went to a steakhouse on the south side of town and grilled our steaks ourself, except a few people in our group ordered chicken sandwiches, and since they were busy it took them 90 minutes to bring the sandwiches out. Also at the steak house was the North Central coaching team. They must have close to a dozen coaches. While we grilled I chatted up the Worcester State coach and runner. It was nice to talk about familiar people and places. Then we drove home and made it by about 12:30. A long drive home.

Day Two:

After going into the office, going to a coffee shop to fulfill my Internet lust, and running half a track workout we were off with two of our athletes who came to watch. The drive down was pleasant again. In no particular order:

I had the chance to spend some time talking to the Wartburg distance coach and one of his runners. I won't name the runner but I was talking with another person in the row behind that if we were in a race with big screens we would be watching ourselves and when this runner raced some of the runner's attention was totally on the big screens. I probably had nothing to do with it, but it was kind of funny because we did make the comment and then it totally happened.

In the women's mile we were at the end of the backstretch and watched as the runner from Washington tripped and fell and proceeded to get up and tear off hammering around the track and end up second. It was impressive. There were skin marks on the track where she fell and then she got up and still raced to second place. The winner was a woman from UW Oshkosh who at 27 or 28 years old with two kids ran everyone else into the ground.

In the men's mile the Wabash runner who jogged his leg of the DMR ran with the pack until the last 200 or 400 and took and blew everyone away. Was ruining his team's chance of being All-American so that he could win the mile worth it? Probably, there are eight All-Americans in every event but only one champion. In second place was Klein from UW Platteville. It's nice to see him do well because we see him race fairly often so it's nice to know that when he solos a 8:30s 3k that is an indication of his strength in the mile.

In the women's 800 Keelie Finnel of Coe, who we see race pretty often lost out to the same runner from UW Oshkosh. In the men's 800 the runner from St. Thomas won in the last 100 meters. Of note he has a brother who is a sub 4 miler. I am sure he has different standards of fast than most.

In the men's 5k Tim Nelson won, which was really exciting. He was the only person in the field that I know. He has just developed over the years and months and the way that he ran that race was inspiring. He led most of the first half, not looking comfortable. Then after a little time drafting pushed the pace the last 1200 or so to run a nine second PR to 14:11. He ran low 14, off the front, leading most of the way on an uneven pace. I'll tell you what, I hope that he gets a 12 second PR in outdoor.

In the women's 5k I was rooting for the Wartburg women and I was totally confused that they were running out in lane two the first mile. But after they passed that slowly in 5:40 Alana took off with Laura right behind and soon enough they were alone and then Laura took off again to run the last 1800 in 6:02 or something. Wartburg went one and two in that race. That is awesome because we see them race fairly often.

Finally in the event that I came down for, the 60 meters, Dav ran a race that was rather disappointing for him. Had he ran it six weeks ago it would be a school record, as it was he was 8th of 8. It was good enough to get his 5th All-American award, but clearly disappointing. I didn't even talk to him about it afterward.

Here is a link to the results.

Congratulations to all competitors! You all did very well and I hope that your experiences have been fulfilling, but that you also desire to improve. You are all very inspiring to a slow poke like me and it just gives me more motivation to put on the spikes and get out there racing. Thank you for the performances!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Live in Iowa: Week 47

Sorry this is late. Of course, this is my blog I'll post when I want to, post when I want to...

I spent the week sick and coughing and hacking up mucus. It was unpleasant. As a result I only worked about 37 hours and ran 55 miles. Which is significantly down from the week before of 43 and 82 respectively. It's terrible that I measure my weeks in terms of hours worked and miles run. While I love numbers, they are such a shallow way to describe something. For example, ladies, if a man came up to you and said, "wow you are totally a seven," I would expect that the relationship would be over about as quickly as it started.

I could try and go into mild detail about what I did at work, but suffice to say that I worked on finite element simulations helping give equipment a longer fatigue life. I more or less worked two half days, one because of sickness and another because I went to watch the NCAA D3 Indoor Track and Field Championships. That is really what I would like to talk about.

First, on the coaching side, it was a sparse week at practice. It seemed like only one or two distance runners showed up each day. My own running was pretty ugly as well. I even took Monday off because I was sick. On the positive side I worked out with one of my training partners for the first time since October. He had a stress fracture. He is back now and I look forward to more training sessions with someone.

Going round and round... I feel a little obstinate that I did not go to the doctor when I had a cold. I counted the number of people that I know that are doctors, premed, in medical school, nurses, or other medical support staff (dentists don't count for this example) and it is at least 2% of the people I know. It is not that I do not trust doctors, it is just that I feel doctors have failed time and again to truly help me. I did not have kidney stones when they said I did. I was not going to stop running when they told me to stop running. When they tried to sell me orthotics I said no, and healed just fine. When they gave me an inhaler for asthma I used it for a week and quit asthma because I felt the inhaler did not help me breathe better. Although, to doctors credit, antibiotics have worked wonders on me and so has anti-fungal stuff. You should have seen the athlete's foot I had in the summer of 2005... (But he was an intern...) I don't intend to die of stubbornness, but I don't intend to whine and complain to get some pills every time life is not perfect.

Anyway, indoor nationals deserves it's own article, tune in tomorrow.

I hope that you all had either a good week, or a bad week so that you appreciate your blessings more. We never appreciate the bountiful blessings in our life until after we did not have those particular blessings.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Learning, Learning, Learning

I spent my Friday afternoon and evening at Grinnell College watching the NCAA D3 Indoor Track and Field Championships. Some thoughts:

Those competitors from the midwest, like Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota are pretty cool customers when it comes to the pressure of competing at nationals and I can think of a few reasons why. We drive to the meet instead of fly. When you fly to a race it just makes it that much more important to perform well. In New England the runners run D3 New Englands, All New Englands, ECACs, and some even have a conference meet before nationals. Add to that the best chance to run a good time is often at one of the BU meets. By the time people arrive at nationals they are used up. That is my guess why the fastest guy in the 800 and mile looked like he was burnt out last night.  Around these parts we have conference and nationals.

Grinnell College is beautiful! Seriously, it is in the middle of nowhere, but the campus is amazing and how much time do you spend off campus while you are in college anyway? They also have the 6th highest endowment per student in the country. That's $1.1M per student in the bank collecting interest. Thus the amazing campus.

In Abaqus contacts are propagated throughout an analysis you do not have to specify them in every step. At least I think I have learned this. I just went into the office this morning in part because of this but I think I learned that earlier this week. I am not a contact expert yet.

When driving to multiple day event with the intention of returning home every night, bring an overnight bag with clothing, chargers, and a laptop, just in case you have the opportunity to stay the night.

When one has a minor sickness, such as a cold, a hot tottie may be a practical tool to use against the symptoms of a sore throat, congestion, and sinus blockage. Not appropriate for all ages and only tested by the author at a volume of one serving. Consult your physician.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

We Have Health Backwards

Once again I am filling out health insurance forms and several things struck me as not-as-good-as-possible.

First, the health insurance forms that I have filled out over the last couple of jobs amount to the most paperwork of any forms that my employer companies request of me. I suppose the idea is to give me a choice of healthcare options and because there is the opportunity that my healthcare costs will be greater to the insurance company than my salary is to the company. However, my insurance costs to the company will be less than my salary costs to the company. It just seems like the papers of my qualifications and employment should amount to more than my health insurance.

Second, the professionally produced health brochure had people doing core work on the front and a runner inside. Yet only page 18 of 20 was devoted to preventative health services such as weight loss and smoking cessation. All of that literature about tier two and three drug insurance coverage but hardly anything that says "get out and do something aerobic!" My 2011 health care costs were $0 and it is projected to be the same in 2012, although I do want a full blood test at some point. I will not promise that exercise will make you healthy, but it certainly reduces the risk for a heart attack from high cholesterol and the risk of diabetes, which are likely my #1 and #2 health risk factors in my life outside of mountains and drivers who hate runners.

Third, relating to the previous one there really seems to be a disconnect between preventative health and curative health. I'm thinking of the book "Let My People Go Surfing" by Yvon Chiounard. I'm guessing that the employees of Patagonia spend some of the least per person on health problems out of every company in the country.

Fourth, and finally, the healthcare and insurance business itself seems a little flawed. No one gets paid if everyone is healthy. There is a lot of money in sickness, pills, surgery, rehab, and infections. There is also enough money in pharmapseudicals and insurance that there are many for profit companies in the market. While I like for profit companies, health seems too personal to make a profit on top of all the employee salaries. Ultimately there is the question, of the option good for the company and the option good for the person if you have to choose, which do you choose? Thus, I am not in healthcare.

This is another area I certainly don't have many answers and what I feel works for me will likely not work for others, even scaled to a manageable level. Yet, it seems we could do better.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yes, That Is My Fault

How hard is that to say? It can be hard to see faults when we are so stuck in our mediocre ways of modest success.  Recently I was in a conversation and I realized as I was talking that I was the one in the wrong. I had no idea but as I was talking I realized that I was the person at fault. Awesome.

On the positive side once you know a weakness you can work on it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Experiencing Sickness

I am sick. I left work early today because I was having to blow my nose ever more frequently. I should have seen this coming. I ran 14+ miles Sunday. When I am sick I feel it in my legs, specifically my quads, when I run. The run knocked the sickness out of me Sunday but it came back to my weakened body today. Ugh, my sinuses are stuffed up and my nose is auditioning for Niagra Falls. It is funny how our minds deal with this kind of thing. I am certain I will wake up and go to work tomorrow, but it is ridiculous to focus on working instead getting healthy. Yet I still worry more about missing a few hours of work than I do spreading disease to all of my coworkers and being unproductive for a day. In the dialogue in my head, "unacceptable."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I Live in Iowa: Week 46

All things considered, this was a rough week. It started off with the mental and emotional career decisions I made and progressed into a cold or perhaps even the flu. For a more biased and detailed account keep reading.

I have already talked extensively about the fact that my paycheck will be coming from a different account that I don't feel like discussing it anymore for now. I have probably already said too much...

Work was good this week though. I have been working on some more complex models than usual and I made significant progress on them this week. Additionally, some ruckus was raised about the general failure of our department to fully document everything, except for the fact that my little group is easily the most up to date. Completely unintentionally, simply doing what we are supposed to, we are suddenly model employees. It's like when a teacher says, "do X, Y and Z" and you show up the next day as one of three people that did X, Y and Z.

Coaching went well. One of our setback distance runners is back training again, which is a a good thing. However, communication with these college students is continually difficult. The issue of communication is worthy of at least one future article. One very applicable side effect is that I can see in my own professional career my recent past failures to communicate effectively. This is providing a great learning experience for me.

My own running went very well. I ran 80 or 81 miles this week, I haven't tallied it up yet, including a 20.6 mile run at 6:42 pace and a 6k sprint-tempo lactate threshold workout in 20:14. Although I did that latter workout in new pair of Nike Matumbo spikes and they chaffed my feet quite badly. I really thought they were designed to wear barefoot, but alas I must have the wrong size or the wrong feet because they beat me up. The tempo was nice and fast, 16:48 at the 5k, but I don't think it is worth tearing my feet up that much to run a few seconds faster. I would return them, but they both have a fair amount of blood on them. Great way to spend $90...

On the investing side DHT ended the week at $1.05. Welcome to investing in small and micro cap stocks! Weekly swings of 25% are common here, however as other stocks like AAPL have shown us a few 25% swings up are not out of the ordinary.

On the social front my sister and two of our friends came down for the weekend and we had a nice time. We went to a wind symphony concert at my church, a winery, Thai food, a brewery, Ulysses Grant's house and then out to meet some of my Dubuque friends. I'll sum up the weekend with a text message from one of my friends, "i think your sis is my new best friend."

On the sickness front the last four days have not been great. It started with a sore throat in the morning that went down during the day Wednesday but it was worse each successive morning when I woke up. There has also been an ample amount of mucus, some light headaches, and plenty of lethargy. These events are significant for me for several reasons, I rarely get sick and when I am in heavy training I am always sick. I will explain, according to Runners World people that run more than 60 miles a week are more than twice as likely to get sick as people that run less than 20 miles a week. More than an hour of exercise per day seems to compromise your immune system. Well, sometimes I run more than twice 60 miles a week and I average more than 60 miles per week year round. However, when you run more your body is in recovery mode overtime. When I get into the low 100s I start to have the ability to do things and recover incredibly fast. I can seriously do workouts when I am running high mileage that I can not do when I am running less mileage even though I am in comparable shape. In other words, since 2006 when I started training seriously I have had more runny noses and sore muscles than the first 20 years of my life combined, but I have only once been sick enough I existed between the bed and the table. That was also an exception because it was on the approach to Broad Peak in 2009 and I think it was more about eating something than shaking one's hand who has the flu. I feel my immune system is incredibly strong. I mean one sick day in the last six years and that was from some form of food poisoning?

I feel very fortunate because I recently watched Contagion, read about the 1918 Spanish Flu, and I regularly watch The Walking Dead, which is based on a virus. I also was reading about the 60 million people that died in World War Two yesterday and I am so thankful that I have this opportunity to live that I do now. We all come from the strongest that existed. Our ancestors survived the Bubonic Plague which killed up to 25% of the world. Our ancestors survived the 1918 Spanish Flu. Our ancestors survived dozens and hundreds of wars and various other plagues and epidemics. We come from generations of survivors. Hundreds of millions of people have died along the way for us to get to the point where you and I are here, sitting in Panera, taking for granted more luxury than we ever deserve. There is no good reason I can think of that our ancestors survived and others died. Our entire lives are such a blessing!