Friday, June 28, 2013

Failure to Connect

We live in the connection economy. Who you know might be more important than it ever has been, given that nearly the sum of human information is available at the tap of a few fingers. This aspect I feel I continually fail at.

Objectively I am actually probably doing quite well. I organized a meeting last month that I didn't even attend because I was the only one who knew everyone that needed to be there. Strange to me that the others did not know each other. Yet Thursday night I missed three solid opportunities to spend time with friends and develop relationships. Why did I pass up every one of those opportunities? To run 14 miles?

I have thousands of unread emails and I pass up so many opportunities to socialize. What is the point? I mean, life gets lonely, yet I don't want to spend it all following others dreams. For some reason I write this ridiculous blog every weekday. What do I get out of it? I like sharing what I know, but I've shared so much. It feels sometimes like I am screaming in the wilderness and the world has forgotten me. 

What is the resolution, the grand epilogue, the happy ending? The great socializing period in my life is next? Hardly. No, there is no happy ending today. The story continues as the misguided character plunges deeper into the darkness.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Winning a Marathon

I won the Run4Troops Saturday. I covered the Heritage Trail faster than anyone else known. That's not saying much because I know of three people in Iowa that could pop a sub 2:40 tomorrow if they wanted. I've run 2:30, so 2:47 is really no big deal. Regardless 2:30 is no big deal either. I quit reading the results at major marathons before I get to 2:30.

What does it mean to win a marathon? There were only 108 individuals in the race so I suppose that once again puts me in the fastest 1%. Not 1% of people mind you, 1% of marathoners. Not all people even attain marathoner status.

It's past my bedtime so much for the philosophical and on with the physical.
Marathon Pace and Heart Rate

This is my GPS data of pace and heart rate for the race. I hope you like it because the heart rate monitor chaffed my chest and now I have a burn/scab an inch long on my sternum. You can forget me doing this in any serious marathon.

I executed the plan quite well. The first mile was 6:20 way too fast but I stayed relaxed the first 16 miles as planned before dropping the pace under 6 and upping the heart rate as shown above. In that 17th mile I moved from 4th to 2nd. Then right after mile 22 I moved into first with a jerk move. I eased up beside the leader and ran stride for stride with him for a bit before taking off 30s a mile faster just before the checkpoint. Regardless, I did what I set out to do. I did struggle the last three miles. This felt more like a long run than a race. I mean, I have worked roughly as hard in other long runs and struggled even worse in the later miles of long runs that a few 6:30s near the end isn't the end of the world to me.

People wonder what I think about while running for nearly three hours. I spent a lot of time thinking about pacing and drinking fluids and keeping my upper body relaxed. However, in this race I spent part of the race talking to other racers including a 22 year old that fell apart later in the race. A marathon is hard! I spent quite a bit of time thanking God for the blessing of being able to run this far healthy. There have been times when I was worried that my running might end, and it was going plenty strong Saturday. I am so blessed.

Finally, here is a video of me with a little less than three miles left. I was not feeling great at this point.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When is a Message Overplayed?

I'm tired. You have all heard that before. How many times can I relate that before people quit caring? I don't want to know. My whole life I am going to be tired. I just can not live with myself if I am not giving life my everything. I am pretty terrible about resting.

This isn't just about me being tired, although that is the immediate issue, this is about overplaying something. Whether that is a pop song, burger commercial or Galaxy S6 advertisement it doesn't really matter. At some point the message gets annoying.

This strikes me from two separate direction. On the one hand is the fad, the burger, new phone, and pop song. The item is exciting for a few weeks or months, or perhaps just minutes before it is no longer interesting. This is the repetitive selling message that advertisers thrust in our faces over and over until purposely plan not to buy it. (Or we are subconsciously seduced into thinking that we need it to fulfill some unmet need in our life. Muhaha!)

On the other hand is the message we can not get enough of. The person quietly perfecting his art. The wisdom that seemingly continuously offers us new insight. This message does not ever get overplayed. To those that this message speaks to there is never enough.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Live in Iowa: Week 113

I'm still exhausted. Last week I worked a lot. There is plenty of work to do and things happening to see that I just spent quite a few more than 40 hours at work. I suppose that having work interesting enough to warrant more time at work is a good thing, at least to a point.

There was quite a bit of running on the legs this past week. The highlight is really running a 2:47:51 marathon Saturday morning and setting the course record in the process. I will talk about this more with a full rundown later.

Saturday afternoon, after winning a marathon, I went rock climbing. The purpose was training for the Hilary Step. I feel it will be akin to running a marathon then going rock climbing, so that's what I did in practice. It was a substantial mental hurdle.

The week was packed! It was great! Things are getting done, problems getting solved, and my fitness is on the upswing. It was a good week.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Long... Weekend...

The weekend wore me out. I am tired, and it was a great collection of experiences!

The point being, if you never wear yourself out what's the point of having energy to do things in the first place?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Running a Marathon Tomorrow

I am running the Run4Troops Marathon tomorrow. Considering my sickness last week I had my doubts about how it would go. However, I have gotten somewhat better since then, so I feel okay again. The goal is to run under 2:50 to set the team relay record which now stands at 2:52. The individual record if 3:15.

While I am not 100% healthy the day before I am quite confident that even if I have a pretty bad day it will still go in less than 3:05. My expectation with that kind of time is that I would win and set the record. Hopefully sub 2:50 is in the cards without destroying my body, but the last few miles are always a little unknown.

The plan is the first two miles warm-up around 7 minute pace, the next eight miles around 6:40 pace, the next six around 6:20 pace, then hopefully a pace variation tempo the last 10(.2) miles alternating 5:40s and 6:10s. That would give me 2:46-47 total time, but we'll see how it goes. My fitness is on the upswing but again, those last few miles are hard to predict what will happen.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Just Hang On

Last night was a fun 47 mile bicycle ride at an average of 19.8 mph with a dozen of my friends. I was gassed from mile 15.

Bicycle riding, even at speeds of 20 mph is very aerobic. I digress, let me clarify, the transition from aerobic to anaerobic is much faster and harsher on a bicycle. In other words, grinding up a hill standing up or on a 30 mph+ sprint my legs get tired real quick, as in a few minutes or even less than a minute. However, sitting down I can ride at 20 mph for at least an hour, even on my own sometimes (once). The point being, often times the group pushes harder than one might desire, and each person has the choice of sticking with them or falling back. One of the benefits of group training is that some days when people are feeling mediocre they are pushed to work a little harder. Most people can stand to work a little harder.

In short, just hang on. Especially if it is aerobic, like a bunch of college kids that take a recovery day and turn the last 5k into a 6 minute mile pace light tempo. It's not the workouts that knock your fitness out of the park  three times a year that make any one person into a world beater, it's the consistent week in and week out minute improvement year over year that make a difference. Some days are going to be hard. Not only days running, but days working wherever you work, or relationships with people will be challenging, so just hang on. Consistency, or hanging in there when it isn't comfortable, in just about everything is regularly what separates the successful from the unsuccessful.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Paying for Time

Regardless of the situation, payments are for time. Buying a smart phone costs more than a not smart phone because it takes more time to make. A latte costs more than drip coffee from the pot because it takes more time. The same goes for cars, houses, and as far as I can tell, everything else. For example, even though corn and steel and coffee are all commodities, priced on the open market, each price is determined by the relative amount of time needed to take it from field or rock to a useful form.

The same goes for you, you are paid for your time. Whether that is through a pay check or dividends from holding stock, whether you are officially paid hourly or are salaried, you are paid for your time.

All of this begs the question, how much is your time worth? In my mind this is not a strait single number. Time at work is probably economically worth a little more than time spent sleeping, yet all time has a cost. In short,  while life is not all about money (it's about relationships), how can the use of that money improve our time (spent in those relationships)?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Politics Versus Economics

As I follow the news and talk to others with differing view I come to the conclusion that what we call politics too often is actually or should be called economics. For example, not something I discussed with retirees this weekend, the Illinois Pension Crisis. That is only one of two links of the article, because it's that good. It's not about my topic, but a perfect illustration of the problem.

There are political decisions and economic decisions. Too often we let the same people make both decisions while they are not skilled in both areas. For example, a political decision would be to offer a pension to public employees because they will not qualify for social security and because 40 years ago pensions were common. Another political decision would be how to fund the pension, through a tax or fee of some sort I assume. The economics of the problem would be deciding how big the pensions would be based on service time and earnings while employed as well as how big the tax needs to be to cover the pension.

Maybe I am ignorant of the problem, but in my view economics are relegated to a back room in politics.  For the record, before the Great Recession economics was just as bad or even worse than the rest of us at predicting the lethargic future economic realities because they are humans living the same lives we are.

There is a scene in Wall Street where they are talking about the overfunded pension at, I believe, Blue Star Airlines. I have a feeling that in the 80s there were many "overfunded" pensions. Somewhere along the way someone or some people changed a few percentage points in projections based on the most recent data and pensions became "overfunded". The point being at some point the information and experience used to make decisions was not based on the best and total information available. My guess is that a few eager people showed this to their "bosses" who were politicians in an effort to please them and the result was lower taxes and increased spending on other programs instead of on funding the pension. Again, if left to their own economic devices I would guess that the changes year to year in terms of benefits accrued to public employees and taxes charged to the general public would only change minutely along economic lines. However, given the firestorm that is politics this kind of $100 billion issue becomes a political hot potato of the week after years of failing to make the small changes that would make a big difference later in the future.

A success story on the other hand would be moving the retirement age for full Social Security benefits form age 65 to age 67. Nobody give that little transition much thought, but it's genius. We are saving billions, maybe trillions as a country because of that little economic decision in 1983. It's been 30 years, maybe we should do something like that again?

In short, some decisions can be backed up by financial numbers as viable and others as not viable. Taking those realities into consideration in "political" situations has the potential to make significant positive impact on the economy and the country.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I Live in Iowa: Week 112

Another week living the dream! (That's such a profound statement, I should blog on it again...)

Work, is going great! I digress, testing = finding problems. However, that is the point isn't it? To continually make things better. The only way to do that is try something new and when it breaks, or part of it breaks, figure out why, fix it, and by then the next thing will break. In my life, that is happening, in real time. It happened multiple times this past week! None of the issues discovered thus far are a result of my incompetence or inexperience. Which makes them all the more fascinating. They give me significant opportunities to learn about potential issues in the future.

That was a little vague, for example, without micromanaging I can ask a particular person to check one particular configuration, and easily save hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars. In other words, knowing where to look is the first step in finding a problem.

My time working at the winery went well. Due to a little rain the attendance at the Toast and Jam event I worked was sparsely attended, but we had a few comments that it was the best band we had ever had, which is always a good sign. Secondly, we had visitors from South America so I had the chance to practice my Spanish, and while it gets more rusty every year, it's still there. Good enough for a couple questions and answers.

Running had a nice 20 miler in 2:14:37, and 45 miles total because I came down with a soar throat. I've already written that to death so let's move on. I am up to 167 consecutive days run in a row.

I high jumped four feet four inches!! Can you believe it! I almost had 4'6" but my heels clipped the bar. I didn't know you were supposed to lift your feet up. I've never attempted anything seriously higher than like 4'. The back story is I went into the gym to lift weights and the high jump mat and standards were out, so I decided it was a great time to try. I jumped 3'6" first, my former PR, and made it easily on the first jump, same for 3'9". At 4' I stopped making it easily. I had been jumping off both feet as uncoordinated as I am, but then I figured out the whole physics of jump off the outside leg while bringing the inside one up quick and high, with an ever so slight torso twist back. I've spent scores of hours watching high jump and even taken some coaching lessons on how to coach it. I get the physics of it, but doing it is a different matter. Once I put it together I made 4' easily. I cleared it a second time just to be sure it wasn't a fluke. As I sailed over the bar I realized I could go higher. At 4'2" I cleared it again easily. At 4'4" I once again cleared it on the first jump. Up to 4'6" the bar went. I think it became a mental game at the point. Plus, I had run a few miles and done half of my lifting before even starting to jump. After three misses at 4'6" I was done. My legs did not have the pep left after probably a dozen jumps. As an innovative training method, I warmed up jumping a few 3' hurdles like I would for the steeplechase.

Saturday I traveled to the great white north, Minnesota to visit a slew of relatives. I'll blog about that at least once more this week. Suffice to say for now that seeing aging relatives is almost always a very good thing to do with my time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Becoming a Neurotic and Obsessive Compulsive Runner

I am in a place I have never been before mentally. I feel neurotic is the best way to describe it, but others might like obsessive compulsive. I’ve run ever day of 2013, that’s over 160 days. Now if it was just a run streak that was bothering me that would be one thing. However, it’s more. I feel like I really know the things that need to be done to run the kind of race I want to run. There are training logs available of people who have done what I want to do. All I have to do is something similar. Not the same, everyone is different, but you’re not going to run under 2:18 without a couple 20+ mile runs, unless you have 1:03 half marathon speed, which I don’t.  So my mind has been taken up with these ideas of workouts, long runs, mileage, and paces that I need to run in training to have the kind of race I want to have. It’s a fine and blurry line between biting off more than I can chew and doing enough to have a nice breakthrough. You can step over the line, but you have to step back quickly. Also, when you cross the line not every time do you go the same distance across.

It’s like this, you want to build a mound of fitness, like a pitcher's mount, but bigger. To do that you must dig a hole of hard work. The process is to dig a little, get out of the hole and use the dirt to build the mound, then go back to the hole or a different hole and dig some more and return to the mound and build it bigger. However, if you spend too much time digging in one hole, you might not be able to get out. You want the biggest (aerobic) mound, but it takes time to get the dirt, there are no shortcuts. You also don't want to get stranded in the hole, because then you may never get back to the mound.

Why is this training cycle different for me this time? First of all, I ran through my "break". Running every day. Second of all, I have been ramping up the quality faster than I have in the past. There is a fear that I am 27 and I have not really accomplished anything in running that I would like to. I am not confident the next seven years will show improvement like the last seven years. (Of course, who knows, it could be more improvement.)

That still doesn't get to the root of the issue. The issue is I feel like I lost some of my common sense. I'm not sure whether I did or not, but there was no good reason for me to run 20 miles at 6:44 pace in 86 degrees and humid weather three days after grinding out a 4 mile race. Okay... the reason was I need to get in long runs. 

It's different this time. When I step outside to run, I know I can beat myself. The last vestiges of feedback that warn me to stop and slow down are fading. They won't leave, ever, but I am not listening. 

This too shall pass... I think. The fact that I am writing all of this down means my attitude is already changing. Perhaps the rest of the summer will see a return of my common sense. In fact, I had a revelation Wednesday. What if I didn't try to run under 2:18 in the fall? What if I scaled my ambitions back a few minutes now in June? It was like a weight was lifted off of me. Low 2:20s? I could do that, that's slow. Plus, it's ridiculous to think of jumping from a 2:30 to 2:17 in one race without 1:06 or 30:XX credentials to back it up. 

I jumped off the high dive into the deep end, and swallowed some water. It looks like I'm coming back up though and this time I will know better.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

And Over the Line

Woke up with a rather sore throat this morning. The reason, over stressed physically, typically called over training, but I don't believe in over training, so I call it over living.

Tuesday I hammered a 20 mile run after work. Maybe not hammered per se, but certainly not a relaxed jogging pace. After two hours, running another 6:45 mile when I am ill conditioned does not help my immune system.

This is the process, approach the over doing it line, back away and try to absorb everything. The positive side of this is that a 20 miler in 2:14 this time of the cycle is as good as I ever have done one. Also, as I get older I know enough to blame my sore throat on running too hard and too far instead of spicy Indian food.

Building mileage, or getting into shape, is the hardest part of a training program. Even though I have run a number of 120+ mile weeks, I will probably be in the 70s or 80s this week, yet it is tearing me apart. You can't really build quality and quantity at the same time. At least, I can't.

Quick tangent here, in the odd case that I die or get sent to the hospital in a coma while running, keep me on life support for a week and pull the plug. If whatever afflicts me is something with a high chance of medical cure (25%+), like I just need some saline or potassium because I passed out from serious heat stroke, then do it and get me healthy again! But, in the odd chance I have stage four pancreatic cancer and I'm in a coma, don't spend the time and effort. This death comment is spurred by Seth's blog post today.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mmmmm... Fat and Salt!

I try to eat healthy. Well, in general I do, but I am also trying to lose a little weight, and that requires not eating everything in sight. My most recent creation is a lettuce and spinach sandwich, it's actually better than it sounds, especially on cranberry walnut bread with hummus.

However, regardless of my desires, I have cravings. Last night, after running 20 miles, which is a very long afternoon for me I wanted ice cream. Or rather, I tried to go to bed at 7:30, but woke up at 8:15, 8:45 and 10:30 to eat and drink because my restless legs did not want to sleep. One of the cravings keeping me awake was for ice cream. I have realized over time that when I crave something, there is something in that food my body really wants. Thinking about ice cream more I realized that I wanted fat and salt. The salt aspect has been an issue ever since the Wonderland Trail run in September 2010, and craving fat is probably a sign that I am calorie negative for the day and I am losing weight. I tried to fight the fat craving, but alas I was hungry. So I finished off the milk I had, ate a couple green queen olives, and had a few teaspoons of newly opened almond butter, plus a few glasses of tart lemonade (I seriously ran out of agave nectar or sugar to put in the lemonade). Finally I slept through the night. In total I was in bed for over 10 hours.

The moral of the story is to try and find the reason for a craving and satisfy it with something healthy. I still want some ice cream, but then again I haven't had any in about a month so it wouldn't destroy me.

If any of this sounds crazy and unhealthy, believe me, I am wondering that too. I am 160something days into a running streak and it has taken me to a mental place I have not been. Hopefully it is not over the edge.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I am Going to Rwanda in July. Yes that is in Africa.

I am going to Rwanda the second week in July. I have been itching to go to Africa for years and an opportunity came up that I just could not pass up.

The backstory is that my dad started an exercise program a few years ago and he started with a man from Rwanda. Having a training partner is significantly better than not having one. So they rode their bicycles on the trails talking and peddling as cyclists do. Getting to know each other. Well, S, the man from Rwanda who's wife is from Uganda, invited my parents to go back with him. However, my mom has type 1 diabetes and only recently has it gotten to the point where she understands it well enough and has insulin that can last three weeks without refrigeration to attempt such a trip.

Basically, my parents ran out of excuses not to go. I have known about this for months as I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to go. Finally, Thursday, yesterday, I took the plunge and bought tickets. My parents are adventurous, maybe 30% as adventurous as me, but they have never done anything like go to rural Africa. I would regret it if I didn't go. The chance to go to east central Africa with a local and the chance to see my parents reactions to everything will be well worth the plane ticket. Honestly, I don't expect to have an opportunity like this again. (Now that I say that my parents will have the goal of visiting 100 countries before age 70 or something...)

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Live in Iowa: Week 111

Another long week it was. Started off working at Park Farm Winery for a few hours at one of their Toast and Jam events with live music. The week flew by in a slew of hours worked, miles run, and problems learned. 

I am part of the testing division at my company. Nothing goes out the door until all of use sign off on it. Well, we had a perfect example of why we exist this week. A small mistake, that might have only been checked by one or two people during the design phase, erupted into what we are affectionately calling 'the million dollar mistake'. It probably isn't that bad, maybe not even six figures, but regardless, it's the kind of thing that insures test people like me a job, even as our factory lays off more employees. Don't worry, the upcoming 'two million dollar mistake' is going to be a real learning experience. 

I am too harsh. All things considered, the products I work on are doing fine. It's hard, especially when one is so close to the action, to quantify in overall terms how development or progress is growing. I suppose that's why consultants charge so much.

I ran 84 miles, including getting 7th place at the 8th Grandview Gallop in a PR 21:27. I was tired out for the race, so even though I was hoping to run faster, my legs just were not there, and the last half mile was pretty ugly.

Finally, Saturday afternoon I went skydiving!! I successfully climbed out of the plane, did a horrible arch! I looked down immediately after letting go and forgot just about everything. Then I remembered I was supposed to count but by then my parachute opened. Wow, sailing through the air is so quiet. It's so strange to be thousands of feet up alone just hanging in your harness. I landed pretty well. My left foot was sore for a day and a half because the landing is pretty hard, yet I stuck it anyway. I have a video up of my landing on YouTube and I will be sure to include a longer post about the experience soon. 

Sorry for getting this out so late. It's been a long day. I am tired. I do too much and my health suffers.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Haircut Metaphor

I had my hair cut Thursday, yesterday. A haircut is a good metaphor for life. Removing the old and allowing room for the new. Reducing the maintenance associated with superfluous possessions (using less shampoo is like using less heat for a smaller house).

The Grandview Gallop is tomorrow and my mileage is almost up to "serious training" levels, it was time to get serious. Plus, when the hair is flopping up and down on my neck as I run, it's too long.

In short, my life could use a haircut. A refocusing on the important things instead of more distractions. I'm going to run a marathon in October and I had better be as fit and as fast as I can be, which is more than I ever have been. I have enough stuff, no new toys this summer. Maybe I will even sell one of my bicycles.

I must continually prune away the distractions so that the few things I excel at can shine. The silver medalist will always wonder, what little sacrifice could I have made to prevail over one more person? Similarly, in every market there is a leader and they don't overlap much.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I'm Going to Win a Marathon and Set the Course Record

The Run 4 Troops Marathon takes place on my favorite place to run, Heritage Trail. I do so many long runs out there, especially on Saturday mornings, that I figured I might as well pay $65 and run the race to have a couple tables of water along the way and some people to run with. Then I decided since I was running, I might as well set the course record, which is 3:15 for an individual and 2:52 for a team relay. I should be able to cruze in under 2:50 without too much trouble. It is downhill the whole way. I split a 2:54 marathon out there in April 2011 during a 30 mile run, and I have gotten in much better shape since then. However, I did struggle to run a 16 mile run at 6:50 pace this past weekend, so I have my work cut out for me the next two weeks.

Anyone in the Dubuque area, come out, organize a team, try and beat me. Do you think your team can run 2:49 or better? Or maybe you can? Well, I've only run two official marathons so I'm still a little new to this game. I'll even tell you my strategy, negative split it, the first couple miles at 7 minutes per mile pace and get faster after that. Regardless of what happens I want to have some people to chase down.

Come on, come out and race me. Or come out and watch, I'll probably go out for a big lunch after if anyone would like to join.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Dark Side of Running: Kathy Ormsby

If you haven't heard of Kathy Ormsby, it's because no one talks about her. The LA Times probably has the best coverage of her ordeal. If you only thought runners were crazy, read those stories and then you will know runners are crazy. I first heard this story a week and a half ago at NCAA D3 track and field nationals. I was blown away. I've run for 12 years and only now I heard about this? She just left the stadium in the middle of the race and jumped off a bridge?

As I thought about that over the next week it began to make a lot of sense. Sometimes when I am running long distances on narrow roads with cars whizzing two feet away and I am tired, I imagine that if a car came along, like a 1980s Buick or Lincoln all big and boxy, if it hit my legs I would get to rest. I would have an excuse not to train for at least six weeks, probably more. It's not something I dwell on and certainly not something I want to have happen, but I have had that thought maybe dozens of times. Secondly, I am tired almost all the time. I stay awake past 11 PM maybe two or three times a year. When I am not running or exercising I am often laying on my couch too tired to do anything physical. There's no end in sight. It's not like I am going to quit being as active as I am just so that I feel less tired at night. However I now understand why perhaps 70-80% of runners quit competitive running after college. The stress is too great. They see what it takes to get to the next level and it's a lot, more than most want to give.

You have to love running to do it for any length of time. Otherwise you will take too many days off and not have the motivation to lace up the shoes on the hard days. However, on some level there is a deep dissatisfaction one must have. As soon as you are content with where you are, you are done. If that dissatisfaction is too great however, one might just possibly jump off a bridge.

Who is to say what the perfect balance of happy and excited versus dissatisfied and hungry? This isn't just about people jumping off bridges. Some people just DNF or fall apart in a race. I have seen it several times as a coach and it happens at the D1 and professional level as well. People manage to regroup and return after a mental setback, but the mental side of things is huge. What is the mental difference between a DNF and jumping off a bridge?

I don't claim to have many answers. This new knowledge does give me insight, that I will inevitably use to keep others positively motivated, even if that means telling them not to run.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I Miss My Friends

The last few weeks I have been missing my friends more than normal. Summer camp is in full swing, at least the staff training portion, and the realization that I will probably never be a camp councelor again is a little disheartening. Don't get me wrong, it is a career path I stared in the face and rejected. Yet, the crisp morning air at 8000 feet in the mountains with a full day of teaching rock climbing or trail building ahead has a sweet seduction that the daily commute to a cubicle where I can barely see a window does not have.

The same goes for my education. I think now about the late nights and seemingly endless work that I put in to graduate. It is of course exaggerated in my memory. Still, the intensity of the work and the immediacy of the relationships was so clear. It seems as if there is a pause in life now. If I just keep my head down and wait, I can retire and then do what I really want...

We are where we are because of the choices we have made. I would not change the choices that led me to be here. (There are plenty of things from my past I would change if I had the chance. I have certainly not been perfect.)

My friends, I am rather introverted. I started writing a solo climbing book a few years ago. That is not normal. I spend hours a day alone exercising or reading or writing or cooking and many other activities. After a few continuous days around many people I get worn down, in an emotional sense really. Yet, I feel that life is about relationships. I thrive on those few intense hours of heart to heart openness. It is amazing the way that one person can influence another person's life. I went running with a 13 or 14 year old kid three years ago at summer camp, we did five miles or so. He was from the flat lands and I know that the run we went on in the midst of the mountains just rocked his world. That is just one little story from camp. I have helped dozens of kids become more comfortable with heights and more confident in their abilities. I built (or at least supervised the building of) some of the best trail ever to be walked across.

If you have not gathered, I miss my friends. People are not replaceable. The act of work, or the work itself, whatever capacity that work may be, is replaceable, yet the person is not. There are many people like my friends, but only my friends are my friends. There will be more people counted amongst my friends every week, but that does not diminish or replace any of my friends.

People are getting married. People are having kids. People are buying houses. People are moving away.

I have always felt that time goes slowly, because I desire it to pass slowly. If it went fast I would get nothing done. I'm listening to Coldplay and it all brings back memories. A Rush of Blood to the Head was the January, February and March 2005 when I rediscovered running and learned that I'm really into it. That spring I joined my college track team and was dead last in three of four races. X and Y was the summer of 2005. I bought the CD at walmart in Taos and one of my camp friends' and I listed to it on the drive through the rain back to Taos. We listened to the Gorillaz and Kelly Clarkson on the drive through the rain in the mountains too. Everytime I hear Square One start I think of that rainy drive just outside of Taos. That's was in Scott's pickup. I haven't talked to him since 2005. Parachutes was 2004 with the debut of the Garden State soundtrack. That turned me onto Coldplay. It hit me at a time when I was dealing with homesickness and I had a friend with an eating disorder, a fact that changed the meaning of the song Yellow for me. In 2008 I listened to Viva La Vida during a few hundred miles of running over dirt roads outside of Boulder. Everytime I hear Life in Technicolor I think of coming up the hill on Overland road just West of Jamestown and seeing Sawtooth and Audobon and the other Indian Peaks. It may not be a fast place to run, but it sure is a scenic place to run.

I have all of these memories and friends. Now we have gone our separate ways. I sit at a desk 45 hours a week. I run on the pavement. Wilderness has become a half mile wide stretch of forest between the Mississippi Rive and corn fields. It is as though the energy has worn off a little bit. The excitement of pushing the limit every weekend. Well, I pushed my limits high enough that getting back there will require plenty of time below the limit, which is not as interesting.

Even though I don't call, or message, or email, I miss my friends. There is some fear there, that going down memory lane with my friends in a phone call will remind me of how lonesome the summer working a grown up job can be or how terribly boring a Thursday night can be. I think this is part of the reason people get married, when all else around them changes, they have each other, at least one person to talk to.

I miss my friends.

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Live in Iowa: Week 110

I mentioned Wednesday I am tired, well, that about describes the week. I started off Sunday at 6 AM. That's an indication it is going to be a long week. Sunday I usually sleep in until 7 or 7:15. However, I had to get up and run before church before I drove down to a wedding in Peoria, IL. The wedding was quite interesting, only four of us attending the wedding are part of the couple's current daily acquaintances. The other 146 or so were family or friends from the past. As I thought about it, that is the way most weddings seem to be. Yet, it is a strange way to celebrate. Why mostly the past? What about the present and future?

Memorial Day we drove back after stopping at the Caterpillar headquarters and struggling to find an open coffee shop. Peoria felt silent Monday morning. Every downtown is different, yet some feel alive and others not so alive. Maybe it was just the holiday or summer break from college, but it did not feel so alive at 9 AM Memorial Day.
Hipster, Yuppie, Hippie, Intellectual, You Decide (Off to the Left Inside the Building is a Wheel on a 797)
The week went by quickly. In a blaze of working and running I didn't do much else. In fact, I really need to do my laundry. I have all week. I'm getting to the clothing that I only wear every six weeks when I am too lazy to wash the clothing I prefer to wear.

Mentioning my week at work, a couple things of interest happened. First, a big stage of an even bigger project we were/are working on finished on schedule! That doesn't always happen, but it did happen. Even more impressive was that on day four we were two days behind schedule on a plan that back heavy. Second, I did something this week no one has ever done before. They have done similar things, but not the same.

I hope you did your laundry this week, I know I would sure like to.