Friday, February 28, 2014

Brain Building

The multitude of ways I could damage my brain in the next few months is terrifying. However, if we never push ourselves and take risks, what are we doing? Thus, going into this I am putting together a plan for the hours, days and weeks after the summit that will attempt to repair and build my brain. Exercises include balance, memory, math, conversation, and best of all, simultaneous mental and physical tasks like doing math while running or holding a conversation while standing on one foot with my eyes closed. Plus, the goal is returning to work as soon as I can. The brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised like anything else lest it fade away.

I am doing this because brain damage as a result of thin air, let alone rock and ice fall, does not have to be permanent. It dawned on me that not only is exercising my brain after a damaging incident important, varying the stimulus in my normal life to build additional connections amongst the nuerons in my brain is a great way to probably reap long term benefits.

We are all an experiment of one. What does the future hold? I don't know. Will my experimenting fail miserably and lead to a painful and debilitating existance? Perhaps, but again if we never try, we will never know.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mental Training Rewards

The mental satisfaction of being the only runner out there this morning putting in the time and effort is very satisfying. The rewards of training are not just physical just like the difficulty of a hard goal is not just physical. One little piece at a time we chip away at bigger ideas.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

USATF Indoor Women's 3000 Controversy

In the world of USA Track and Field, this weekend was an interesting one. Here is a link to get you started. In short, and I watched the race, Gabriele Grunewald won the race, in a tight race with people bumping and jostling. Then there was a protest filed about one such bump, she was disqualified, and then a day later, reinstated as champion.

The first thing I hope comes out of this, is a transparent appeal process. In my opinion, in racing, sometimes elbows get thrown, sometimes you get pushed, and about 1/3 of the races in indoor I get spiked by a competitor's shoes.That's racing, it's a mild to moderate contact sport. If it wasn't a contact sport we would run time trials, like long track speed skating or indoor cycling.

The second thing that comes out of this for me, is the question, 'why do I want to be a member of USATF?' The answer is I want to run at a world championship some day, but 2014? It's not going to happen. If I don't stand a chance of running an international, or even a national event, why should I be a member? This question has been in my mind before this event, but this certainly makes me even more skeptical.

Besides, racing in Europe is a lot more physical than in the US. Just look at the way newbies to the Euro circuit get bumped and pushed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2013 Year in Review

It’s taken me 15% of 2014 to write this down, but better late than never right? Wow 2013 was a long year! I did so much in hindsight. Where to start? First a link to 2012, which has links to my 2011 year in review and previous years. 

How about work, that’s a good starting point as that one activity seems to occupy most of my waking hours throughout the entire year. It’s strange when put in that context. I mean I spent roughly 2300 hours at work in 2013 out of 5800 waking hours. I took two business trips one to North Carolina and another to British Columbia, Idaho, and Washington. I concluded my tenure in FEA and moved onto product design. That’s kind of  profound thing as far as my career is concerned. On the one had I imagined doing FEA indefinitely, on the other hand, I never intended to do it nearly as long as I did it. Now that I am in design, I feel that most engineering education is geared toward design and development. It is going really well. 

There are so many details! I always gloss over the details when in public like this, trying to focus on the big picture, yet there are so many details. In FEA I could recommend changes and often they would happen, other times people would just tell me “no”. Now that I am in design, I am ultimately the one who can change things, yet I have quite a few more people waiting to tell me “no”. That might give a negative view of it, but the truth is, design starts out with an idea of how something should work. Every idea has issues and it takes a team of people to refine the idea to the point where it is actually works. 

A coworker who made a similar move to me said it similar to this, “some people are really good at making decisions. Every decision they make seems to have good results come from that little decision. On the other hand, make the wrong decision and the issues will just multiply.” I am beginning to see that in the design world. Little decisions are made, like putting a vent flap on the back of the speed skaters uniform, and the consequence of the extra drag is a lack of medals. That concept can be extrapolated to a multitude of designs. Japanese cars for a long time were made to stricter tolerances than American cars and thus lasted longer because the quality that went into them was higher. I am getting to see that now. 

Changing jobs was a difficult thing to do. I was comfortable. I was good at FEA. In fact, I was so good that I did something in the summer no one else had ever done. I proposed it was worthy of some additional intellectual property protection, but it was denied. Still, I was the only one to ever do it, in the world. I can look at competitors machines and know that I did things that are unique. It’s hard to walk away from that kind of skill. Yet, on the other hand, compared to weeks like that, the rest becomes boring. 

While I find my work and engineering intensely interesting, I realize that in the vague and alternatively detailed way I talk about it, most people probably get bored. So let’s talk about running. I had a very strong year of running. I ran 3406 miles. That is my 3rd most miles in a year. Despite having a very week May and November. I've only had three weeks over 3000 miles. For personal records I set an 800 meter PR of 2:08.97 in February on a double. I ran a nice mile PR of 4:31.20! That was such a good race for me. I mean I came through the 1000 in 2:46 which is a PR too. Later in the year I ran an 8k cross country PR of 26:30. I’ve run 8k faster than 26 twice on the track in 10ks, but I generally have struggled with xc. In september as a vegan I won a half marathon in 1:14:56 winning by 9:53 on a relatively hard course. Not a great time, and the course is maybe only 60 seconds slow, but it was nice to have a race that I had fun with being out in front just pushing it. 

In other races I ran my first real trail race and came in second to a guy that once ran for the USA at the world mountain running championships by 90 seconds in the half marathon. I’ll take it. I also won the Run4Troops marathon on the Heritage trail in course record time. Slightly out of shape I ran a 2:47

The Chicago Marathon continues to haunt me. That’s not the kind of race I want to have. Honestly, back in 2009 and 2010 and 2011, I never thought I would run a marathon slower than 2:30. Yet three years later I have yet to run faster than 2:30. I know I can go faster, I just have not yet. This is a not a running post, so I won’t focus on the details. However, I did have a great experience at Chicago as my parents were there and I heard them a few times. At one mile I looked over and there three feet away was Rita Jeptoo, who went on to run 2:19. In fact, the women were maybe only a minute ahead of me even at the half marathon. It is very exciting to be that far up in such a big race!

Rock climbing was not a big year. I did some climbing, a little trad, but only three days I think. I did get out to Colorado in December, which was nice to work on my snow and mixed skills. I suppose that back in January and February I did get over to Cedar Falls for some silo ice climbing. I also climbed at a few gyms in Cedar Falls and Madison. Despite the fact I did not do a whole lot of climbing, I enjoyed the few days I did get out. 

Coaching was rewarding. I won’t lie, it can be stressful fitting it in the rest of my life. Plus it can be stressful when it seems like year after year people are not improving. However, 2013 had a number of people run strong races on the team. It’s a slow process. Training a team is hard. Not everyone wants to put in the work that I want to put in as a runner. Not everyone can put in that kind of work. It is so exciting to see young adults develop and mature and break barriers they did not think they would conquer. 

I visited Rwanda on my first full week of vacation (outside of Christmas and New Year’s which our whole factory has off) since I started working as an engineering full time in 2011. Was it a life changing experience? Yes. I knew what to expect, and it was about as I imagined. Kids without shoes. Dirt floor huts. Poverty so serious a dollar can feed a person for a week. I was so affected by it that now I know, my charitable mission in life is to help the poorest in the world, South Sudan. There is so much more to say, suffice to say, I have so much more wealth than they have. It motivates me to really be the best I absolutely can be. To those much is given much will be asked. 

Coming back from Rwanda I stopped in Belgium for most of a day, and had a great experience! I still haven’t posted those videos yet

The vegan experience for 73 days was quite the experience. I ran my cross country 8k PR. I weighed 123 at one point, the lowest I have been since my junior year in high school. It broadened my horizons about what is possible. I mean, so many people wrote vegan off as impossible, I did a mere three weeks before I became one. However, I lost weight, I had two of the best workouts I have ever had in my life, and I feel that under different circumstances (someone more knowledgeable preparing my food) it could work longer term. As a short term “cleanse” I might do it again, for perhaps a month here and there. As a consequence, my latest cholesterol reading was so high in good cholesterol that it didn’t even read the good or the bad cholesterol. Yes, a plant based diet is probably the most healthy diet in the world. 

What is next? 2014, you are going to be a big one. Everest is coming up. Another fall marathon. Work was planned to be busy, but it is looking like 2015 will be the big event. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 146

What a week! Sometimes I feel like I run this joint. Well, maybe I do run this website…

Work is stressful. No denial there. I've been going in on the weekends to get stuff done. That being said, I am getting stuff done. WE are getting A LOT of stuff done. In fact, considering the deadlines, both group and for me as an individual I think we will make it. I am quite confident that in five and a half weeks when I jet off, the company will continue to exist. Some of the victories this week were significant successes. I mean, sometimes there is a lot of paperwork and drama, for what amounts to less than an hour of actual work. Feelings are not fact, that applies to work just as much as it applies to body image.

Running was a step in the right direction. I ran 63 miles, including two long runs, no workouts because I was pretty tired after work to get on the track and do intervals. Still, I'm healthy, I've been lifting weights, I'm eating great, life is good.

Coaching was great! School records were set in the men's mile, women's 800 meter, men's 4x400 and I think women's pole vault. That's the kind of way I want to end the week! Despite the fact many of our records are very weak, it's still rewarding that after a long 2.5 years we are finally starting to break them left and right. However, for context, we broke the school record in the men's mile by getting like 7th behind six men from Augustana.

Everest preparations have two hitches, one is my boots and the other is my satellite texting device. The satellite texting thing I am not worried about. The boots on the other hand, could be an issue. I ordered boots back in January and they have not shipped yet. Rumor has it that they are still on their way from Europe. I still have my old Koflach Arctic Expe boots and Outdoor Research overboots, which will probably do and are currently being stretched out in my living room. Yet I want the warmest boots on the planet.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Traveling the World, Saving Money

Something strange happens when you go to one of the less developed places in the world, you spend less money. There simply aren't as many opportunities to spend more money. The most expensive place to eat is $4. The most expensive hotel is $22. There are no shopping malls. When you add up the spending that comes from gas in the car, food, and all those other little expenses we seem to accrue, spending time in a remote corner of the world is pretty cheap, once you get there.

The other side of the coin is that many of us have recurring expenses, like electricity, heating, and life insurance which don't totally dissappear even when we are away from home.

Overall though, it is possible to save money by living abroad. In fact, some of the professional US climbers that I know live in a van or on a friend's couch the few months of a year they are in the US and the rest of the time live in tents and hostels throughout the climbing world. That's the trade off, to really save big bucks you can't keep renting an apartment you only spend four months in a year. Still, as I think about my upcoming expedition, it's all paid up. I won't go grocery shopping or go to the gas station in April or May. My thermostat will get turned even lower than 66 and my lights will be turned off.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Delayed Gratification and Compound Interest

Compound interest came up at work as a coworker suggested I max out my 401(k). I already put in quite a bit, and I have other savings, yet the truth is, compound interest is pretty amazing. I am spending a lot, in cash, to go on a vacation to Asia this spring. That is more possible because I spent over three years saving for it.

The point is, go after it. Your big goals, whatever they are, work towards them now, because to bring all the details together in three years will take making steps today. The farther away the goal, the more compound interest may make a difference. If you want to retire some day, money you stock away in your 20s maybe double, tripple, or even quadruple! (A parallel to this is climate change, doing something now would be minor compared to what we may have to do in 50 or 100 years.)

Furthermore, I find that there is pleasure in the pursuit. I mean, by striving for a high goal, and passing up all the simple short term pleasures, like cable television, is a rewarding process, in part because it is exciting to watch the monetary savings grow. It is often hard to see the produce of one's labor, but saving money is abaout as simple and clear as it gets. Seeing that you are actually making progress towards the goal is a reward in itself. I suppose that is the idea behind process oriented.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I have had to delegate a few tasks lately to others. I am not a big fan of doing that. I am the engineer, I want to do all the engineering. Yet the fact is, I can't do it all and get to the final goal on time. That uncomfortable feeling I have farming out my work is in reality the beauty of teams. A collection of people with different skills capable of doing things really unimaginable for just one person to do. Teamwork is how big things get done.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Paradox of an Easier Option

Given two options to accomplish the same goal, one harder and one easier, is it really a choice? 96% of people summit Mt. Everest with bottled oxygen. Yet the question is one of the first few that always comes up in talks of the world's tallest mountain. It seems many perceive the choice to be somewhat trivial. The truth is, the choice is so obvious that 96% of people take the easy way out. Is it really a choice?

Is an easier option really a choice? From my time watching people I have noticed we prefer the easy processes. The choices in life are not take the highway (common way) or take the winding dirt road (the difficult way). The choices are take the highway or take the poorly marked grade IV 5.8 AI 2 with rockfall and avalanche danger. The question becomes, is that really even an option?

The solution is to turn the question on it's head. "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." JFK

The paradox of an easier choice is not really a paradox, it is an opportunity to be set apart. An easier choice is an opportunity to show that the easily attainable is mundane. The difficult path, that is reserved for the few convicted and tormented who hold themselves to a higher standard than the world. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 145

This was an awfully long week. That is actually a really good description: "awfully". I could have said very, tiring, exhausting, draining, or some other word, but awfully describes it well. Okay, actually, now that I am on the other side of the week it is not so bad, but Friday night I was at my wit's end.

We have a number of deadlines at work. It's natural to set timelines to get work done. This past Friday was one of the several deadlines coming up over the next few weeks. March 14th is going to be an even bigger week. Why is this stressful? Several reasons:

  1. I've never been through this process before. I feel somewhat incompotent about my ability to get the work done.
  2. So much of "my" work depends on other people. If they are working on it, well, I have to wait on them. It is a hazard of any large project, yet as the person ultimately responsible for the parts, I feel stressed the work does not go faster.
  3. I am leaving for Everest pretty soon. There is quite a bit of work that, if I don't get it done, with all of my detailed part knowledge, it will end up taking hours of work of others to figure out the details. Now, the knowledge is there, I am replaceable, but I don't want to let down the team.
Finally, there had been a delay in the project. Again, not related to any of my work, but a large series of small errors, by many people, and now some of our deadlines are being extended. However, not any of the deadlines in the next two months.

Running went well. I had a good workout Tuesday and a below average 5k Saturday. I planned to register, but I didn't, and then with 90 minutes to go before the race I asked if they had space available, and I ran a 16:23. The slowest track 5k I have ran in years. Slow because I didn't have the mental time to prepare for the pain, slow because of the mental and emotional toll of the work week, slow because I just did not take care of my body in the days leading up to the race like I was going to race.

Coaching, I can finally say I am partly (perhaps a large part) responsible for an individual school record as a coach. Granted, our school record is so slow I'm not even going to write it down. Yet, because I have been there, day after day working with a kid for over 18 months, he finally got his name on the board. Coaching is a two way street. The more the athlete puts in, the more I put in. When everyone puts in more effort, school records and qualifying times are the result.

I should also mention, on Valentine's Day I had supper with my parents up in Madison, Wisconsin. I was so stressed out. Fortunately, descalating my anger, frustration, and stress over the weekend by a series of people was quite successful. Family and friends are quite priceless.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Lecture in Team Sports

I never did well at pure team sports. In part because of my size. In part because the motivation was not there. I still am not sure what the point of putting a ball through a hoop 10 feet high really accomplishes. Regardless, one of the aspects of team sports I despised was the lecture. When the coach would yell at the team, or tell us to work harder and get our act together. Rarely was the coach talking about me, yet I felt every time that I was the culprit, guilty of bringing down the team.

Switching to more individual sports I no longer had anyone to let down. My performance was a result of me. The benefit is that no matter how poorly I did, I didn't let others down. I can let myself down, but letting others down is unbearable! Sure I may let the spectators down, but it's not the same as letting down other teammates out there, presumably working very hard.

I take it personally. Maybe that is not the best. Maybe that is not healthy. Yet, that is me. After talking to my parents, that has been me since second grade.

The take away, that I related from sports and activities to every other area of life, if you berate the group enough, I'm going to leave and go where I don't let the team down.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Name on Your List

Today I skipped an optional meeting I could have gone to. Then I showed up 30 minutes late to a two hour meeting. Then I finally skipped two meetings at the end of the day. Not all meetings are equal. Not everything is actually a meeting, but if you have a set time you want me to be there, it might as well be.

I do too much, every so often it overflows. Monday and Wednesday I worked over ten hours. That's okay, that's what I signed up for, yet that doesn't make it less tiring. When I say tired in this case I mean mentally and emotionally. Like, if you said the wrong thing to me I would probably tune out and ignore you. It's better than yelling right?

My time is valuable. Yes, I want to help and contribute to your cause, but you rank pretty far down my priority list. It's not that I don't care. I am showing up more than most do most of the time, but when the cup fills up, it can't hold any more. 

You want my name on your list. You want my time in your meeting. This is a one way street. I only set meetings when I can see no other way to get out of a formal meeting. Yes! I want your help on this issue, and perhaps you want my help on that issue, but can we work this out with fewer total human hours talking about it?

I don't have the answer. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cold Acclimation

This winter is actually working out very well for my everest preparations. Sunday was an interesting day. When I went outside in the morning it was 4 degrees Fahrenheit and it didn’t feel too bad. One moderate layer jacket was enough. No gloves were necessary for traveling from car to building. I don’t think I have ever been this comfortable at 4°F. 

Then in the evening I went out to eat with a friend who was spending his last night in town. I walked home well after dark in 2 degrees Fahrenheit wearing jeans, a tee shirt and hoodie and with one bare hand holding my leftover pasta at all times. My fingers did get cold so I changed hands a few times, but overall, it was not very bad. I could have walked farther. The fact that I was wearing so little clothing and nothing on my fingers in 2°F weather is surprising to me. Yet I have spent more time running in sub 20°F weather this winter than ever before. We have had dozens of very freezing runs so far. Yes, I did run on the coldest day of the year, although the warmest part of the day, outside when the temperature was -11°F and the windchill was -35°F. All of the runs, trips from cars to buildings, walks downtown, and even time in my sometimes frozen van are contributing to me being acclimated to the cold. I am withstanding temperatures that were mind boggling to me only weeks ago. 

I still get cold, but this is really great preparation for Everest. I think that while we focus on the altitude acclimation, the cold acclimation is a big part of success on 8000 meter peaks too. Better acclimation to cold means doing the little things like tying boots, taking pictures, clipping safety lines, just a little more efficiently because you are less affected by the temperature than a lesser cold acclimated person. 

In Pakistan in 2009 I felt that the actual temperature was kind of irrelevant most of the time. If it was cold, I put on more clothing. If I was hot, I took off layers, my hood, or unzipped my jacket. Since there is less atmosphere the temperature swings seem more dramatic. At camp two, at 20,300 feet in the dark in the morning my -50°F boots did not warm my feet up very fast, yet in my tent the day before I would be laying there shirtless hiding from the sun! However, when you are preparing for below zero temperatures, 55°F seems like a hot day on the beach. 

The one thing I have been doing is going gloveless a lot more often than a sane person would in these temperatures. I even run with snowballs in my hands when the temperatures are in the 20s and 30s. My hands could easily mean the difference between life and death. Making sure that my body can adjust to cold weather and keep my hands dexterous and thawed at all times could mean success, or "failure" in the strictest sense of making it to the top or not.

People on focus on the material preparation, or the aerobic and strength preparation, but it seems few give any thought to longer term metabolic or circulation changes, like running with snowballs in my hands. I would drink antifreeze if it would not kill me and I thought it would make my body able to operate at -40°F wearing only a tee shirt and jeans. Extreme, I know, but the point is by moving the baselines in which I am comfortable and safe, what was deadly is now tolerable. Let's face it, Pheidippides probably died because he hadn't trained well enough. I don't intend to make a similar mistake.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Risk Seeking?

Occasionally people think that others who participate in dangerous activities are "risk seeking" people. That is just not the case. Yes, the element of risk adds a certain seriousness to the activity. It provides more focus and concentration and double and triple checking of systems before taking the plunge. There is a thrill to doing something where the consequences mean you might never be able to do what you do now, but that's not why we do these things.

Do you know the sense of accomplishment you have after you go on a run? If you do, good. It is the feeling that you just did something productive, a flood of endorphins into your head. Climbing something is the same. The more physical it is, the steeper, the longer, the more challenging, the more rewarding it is. In a sense it is the same as a fulfilling career project. Yet there is a physical component to it. When the mental and physical challenges combine the reward is greater than only one or the other.  That's what many of these pursuits are, mental and physical challenges and make our hearts race, our muscles ache, and our minds exhausted. I'm an engineer, I would pick that over running if you gave me the choice of using my brain versus using my legs. Yet while I have the capability to use my entire body, I must. To let any aspect of my blessings fade away is a waste. Risk is not something we must run from, it is something to acknowledge, mitigate against, and continue the pursuit of changing the world. By making the impossible become the ordinary, you can now fly across the Atlantic in seven hours. People used to spend weeks sailing across it, with so much risk.

It's a passion. It shows us what is inside us. It shows us the beauty in the world. It shows us what is possible and what might be possible. It's an addiction. What is possible? Impossible is nothing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 144

What a week! Life, done to it's fullest, is tiring! I will admit there is more I could do in the world, but often I do too much. I arrive exhausted at the end of the day, barely able to read a paragraph or crawl from the couch to the shower after eating supper.

Work was demanding, in a mostly positive way. I mean, things are getting done, we are correcting errors and design flaws. Yet, every week the pressure escalates to meet upcoming deadlines and make decisions about situations we do not have the full information. However, perception is reality and success is relative. In other words, is a successful design update the best or simply better than the current design?

There is so much I could say about work and our program and projects. I mean, I am learning so much, we all are. The scope of the program is so huge too. It's really a blessing that I am having the opportunity to work on a project of this scope this early in my career. This is not simply an incremental improvement, well, maybe a 10% improvement in every direction… In other words, I'm attempting to climb the highest mountain in the world without bottled oxygen, and that sort of going after ambitious goals is the same zest I take to my career.

Running consisted of 61 miles, one tough workout of four miles of quality in 20:50, and two races. I raced the mile and the 800. The mile went okay in 4:40, considering I haven't done any mile specific workouts, but the 800 was a purely tortuous fail in 2:12. We are doing Live Healthy Iowa at work and I weighed in at 136 Friday. That's 10 lbs. more than ideal, maybe even 12 or 15. Considering that, and lack of more specific workouts, I will take the results for what they are, a stepping stone to better results and one or more PRs in the next few weeks and months.

Coaching went. Being a coach is not easy. There are races that are not great. There are workouts that are slacked through. There are athletes that don't want to run more than the minimum, often only 20 or 30 minutes. It is a mental and emotional challenge, not for the faint of heart. That all being said, we are making good progress with some PRs this past weekend and some really strong workouts.

Everest preparation continues. Various items are in the mail as we speak. I'm all paid up with the tour company, permits, plane tickets, and the vast majority of gear I will need. A satellite phone still has not been purchased. I didn't have one in Pakistan in 2009, but I feel I have to get one to maintain better communication with the rest of the world than I did in 2009. Vote, should I shell out for a satellite phone? I suppose that, and some food, is actually the only thing I have left to buy.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Dentist

This selfie is of me getting a filling. We all had a little laugh about it. I don't think many people really like going to the dentist office, but it is better than the alternative. I mean, compared to your teeth falling out and rotting, a filling is no problem. Plus, done well, a filling does not even hurt and takes less than 45 minutes total. I mean it is better not to have cavities in the first place, but once there, deal with it.

(This is also a test post of how to upload pictures to my blog in compressed format from my phone before I am out in the mountains. Unfortunately this last sentence was cut off, likely because it was after the picture.)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Am a Mess

Sometimes I feel people think of me as someone who has his act together. The guy that has it all figured out. That is not even close. In the very actual sense, my apartment is a mess. In a more broad sense, I am often double booked and miss meetings. There is so much going through my head that quite a few things fall off the radar and I miss them all together. My finances could include paying less interest on debt. My transportation is on the brink of breaking. Relationships take work that I don't always put in. On top of all of this I am running away to Asia for two months in two months.

Sometimes it feels like I am on the treadmill of life and if I don't keep going I'm going to get pushed out the back.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

There is No One Else

Sometimes I see a need, a void, and incompleteness, and lately I have seen two. While I would like to just support those causes, I can't because they don't exist. As I look around at the plethora of people in the world, I think, 'well, no one else is actually going to get behind these causes.' If I don't do it, no one else will.

That is not limited to me, every single person has issues that no one else will deal with. The teacher who tries to help one student who is struggling. If she doesn't help, no one else will. The police officer that pulls over the swerving teenage driver. If he doesn't intervene in that person's life, no one else will. The one person in the company that says, 'this product flaw is not okay.' If that person does not speak up, no one else will, until it is too late.If Jimmy Wales didn't start Wikipedia, maybe no one else would have.

I don't know what your "mission" or purpose is in life. I wonder what mine is sometimes too... But we all have skills and talents that make us the only person to do things. If you don't do that thing, that hard, tough, stressful thing, no one else will, and we will all suffer.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Break Up Big Goals

If you have a long term goal, a big goal, or anything that at first thought is maybe out of your reach, you have to break it up into smaller pieces. I say this thinking on the long process of training and exercise that brings me to Mt. Everest. June 2006 when I hiked Longs Peak solo without sleeping all night. I didn't need to do it. It wasn't very challenging. It was really just an eight hour hike. Yet I was so tired on the way down and on the drive down to Boulder, I almost drove off the road.

That is one specific example about how I did something physical while pushing through tiredness and when I am late coming down from my summit day in Nepal, and the sun goes down, it won't be one of the first times I have had to descend while extraordinarily tired.

I'm being more specific than I want to. The point is, if you want to go after something big you have to break it up. There are the technical aspects. There is often a physical component. There is the social, mental and emotional aspect. There is the financial cost. There is most certainly a timeline. Within those broad categories there are sub categories. On Everest, from a technical aspect, there are mostly snow and ice sections, but there are also rock sections too. To race a marathon, it helps to know you can run 27 miles, and know that you can run much faster than marathon pace at least for a short time. To become CEO of the company, well you have to get there before you retire.

If the goal is big, challenging, all of the things a good goal is, is must be broken into smaller pieces.

Monday, February 3, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 143

This was a really good week! After figuring out my knee problems late last week I was back to no pain in a few days. It is taking time to adjust to my new position at work, but it is getting much better. I suppose I am seeing the value I contribute now.

I was asked recently, "of all the activities you do, if you could only do one, running, coaching, engineering, etc. what would it be?" I responded and said "Engineering." Proportionately to the amount of writing I publish and web presence I have, everything things running, or even coaching would top the list. However, I'm a problem solver, a tinkerer, a constructor, and at this point in my life that means engineering. It is so mentally rewarding. We are definitively solving problems.

Of the highlights this week, we had a show stopper problem, and there were many valid ideas, and one of mine might just be implemented. At least it was valid enough to pass the smell test, which honestly keeps most ideas from being implemented. Secondly, I am a good communicator. Clearly, I have a long way to go, yet in the context of engineers and business I do well.

Running, I ran 59 miles with a hard anaerobic set of intervals on Tuesday. This week I am expecting the mileage to go up even higher.

Coaching went well overall. There will always be things to be upset about, but we had a number of personal records, one by like 41 seconds in the mile, kind of a big deal. You have to work with the tools you have, and well, we had a good meet overall. Something I have struggled with in the past is focusing on the minority of events that did not go well, where people gave up in a race and jogged it in, where people ran ten seconds slower in the 800 than the year before, etc. Lately I have taken a different approach, be happy for the good performances that we do have. It makes a huge difference in how I view the meet results.

Other than that, Everest preparations continue.

I am very blessed. God just continues to shower me with luxuries.