Monday, March 31, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 151

Another busy week! My stress, mostly work related peaked Tuesday and Wednesday, but by Thursday I realized that some things were not going to get done before I left, and so much was taken care of that my absence should not be the end of the world. Also, my boots finally arrived on Thursday, I am the new owner of the La Sportiva Olympus Mons! (Foreshadowing?) Everything I wanted to get for Everest, from four batteries for one of my cameras, to Buffs and the new economics book Capital in the Twenty-First Century have all arrived!

I worked a lot of hours, had a lot of meetings, and a lot of last minute things have gotten done. I can successfully say I pushed the needle in the right direction. I ran some, I'm not sure on exactly how much, close to 20 miles probably. I did 8 on Saturday and my knee flared up the last couple miles. It's a blessing in disguise that this knee and muscle imbalance came up before I left so that I have had time to work on fixing it before I leave.

Sustainable South Sudan also got off the ground thanks to more emails and a meeting. I also gave a $1000 donation to get it started and start helping the people in South Sudan. We are going to build a farm!

Short, discombobulated, marginally coherent, thus is life before a big trip.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

T-Minus 72 Hours to Everest!

In about 72 hours, three days, I board a plane to India and the adventure which until now consists of emails, ordered gear, awkward conversations, and a plethora of intricate details, becomes real.
My Two Pairs of High Altitude Boots
My Plethora of Electronics
The Only Actual Climbing Equipment I am Bringing
A Full Bottle of Air I Brought Down from 23,050 feet on Broad Peak in 2009
How am I feeling? I'm just ready to go. It's a lot of packing left to do. I have everything I need, now it's about the little things I desire, like a new tube of sunscreen, a travel razor, which shirts do I bring, do I have the contact information of everyone I can think of, etc.? The list is mind boggling. I have four headlamps. I might only take three. Maybe I should only take two. Worth noting, I'm only bringing two pairs of non climbing pants, and I will probably end up wearing them 50 of the 63 days on this trip. It's strange to bring such a wide selection of gear and clothing, much of it in the hope of summiting, and in that best case scenario, wearing that stuff for only 48 hours. The cost of my specific 7000 meters and higher clothing and equipment gets close to a dollar per minute, even while I am sleeping.

Well, from now on most updates will be intermittent and at unusual hours. I have the map tracking turned on, I plan to embed that on here soon. Also, I plan on Twitter (@isaiahjanzen) being my main form of out going communication. I will update this blog as I can, but Twitter is more basic and less bandwidth consuming.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Only 192 people as of today have climbed to the top of Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen. I aim to be in the first 200. In 1978, there were only two people. In 2013 there were nine. This is a fantastic documentary on the 1978 first ascent without bottled oxygen. For the record, you can see Peter Habler's blue suit hanging on the wall behind the tents at Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, Colorado. The point being, it was first done 36 years ago, and it is still a somewhat elusive club. More people dissappeared on commercial plane flights in March this year than have walked to the top without supplemental oxygen.

Find a small group, crowd into it, and aim to become the best in the world. The rewards, mental satisfaction, of being really good at something, and the chance to share that skill with others is immensly gratifying.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Paying Future Bills

Not only did I have to save money, drive an old van, go without cable and Internet for three years, go out to eat less, work the last six consecutive weekends in the office, but I have to have money saved to pay bills that will come up in April and May. I don't want to come home and find out the power and water has been turned off. Most of my bills are automated, especially the ones that count, like rent. Others like water, are not.

It's just one more part of an expedition that no one talks about.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

That is Everything

Sometimes… there is no more to give. When I hit the wall in the Chicago marathon last lear, I knew, that was everything, I had no more. At work, I had a two on one, recently. My supervisor and her manager and I reviewing my progress. I saw the failures. I saw the missed deadlines. I saw all of the problems. I felt like a failure. I felt like the worst employee. Yet twice the manager said that I was doing quite well, and my supervisor also said I was doing well especially considering I had not been through the process before now.

I wanted to cry at work three times Monday. I didn't. I suppose that's more in the metaphorical sense, but it's laying everything out there, the bare details, and no matter the result, it feels so vulnerable. When we find things to change, on the third group review, the one that is ideally a mere formality, it's like, that is everything I had, and it did not pass.

Personally, the highs are high and the lows are low. I lost some of my emotional swinging when I was unemployed in 2010, but it has been slowly creeping back. Also, as I learn more about the world and find the people and events I want to get emotional over I have been getting more in touch with the emotion in the world. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually the feeling of bearing everything, the vulnerability… that is life! It is so amazing that mere words fail to adequately describe it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 150

150 Weeks!! I've been here for so long! I had no idea how long I might live in Iowa, and for some reason, tonight, 150 weeks seems like a long time.

This was one loooonng week. I worked, specifically went into the office, every day this week. Two hours on Sunday, I think four ten hour days, one almost 11, a nine hour day, and then I went in for a couple hours on Saturday. Now, I am on top of the world! Seriously, of all the major things I had to do before I left, they are all done. Now there are simply a slew of details left to iron out, but the major things have been taken care of!!!!

There are still quite a bit of things for me to do at work, but it is getting done. It's extremely rewarding. I mean I set out to do a slew of things before I left, and it's happening. I was so stressed out most of January, all of February and much of March. Getting close enough to see the end, and being as close to the end in terms of results as we desired, is a very good feeling.

My knee is healing! I ran 11 miles over three runs, did enough bicycling to set a Strava KOM on a nice category 4 that I've had my eye on for close to two years. It's the most consistent steep hill around, but I hadn't attempted it due to the bicycle shop owner having the fastest time, so I waited until someone else took it to go after it. There are ethics to taking down other's fastest times. Plus, I spent quite a few hours hiking around with a 30-40 pound backpack in the mud and on the ice patches in the parks around Dubuque.

Getting ready for Everest, I finished gathering all of my electronics stuff. There are a ton of things I am bringing, like GPS, communications, headlamps, and stuff to charge and power it all. This week I hope to put together all of my clothing and other soft goods to figure out what little things, like a neck warmer buff, I should get before I leave.

Wow, 150 weeks. I've changed so much since coming to Dubuque. If this much has happened so far, what does the future hold?

Friday, March 21, 2014

How to Finsh Big Things:

How to finish big things: one step at a time.

For me, Mount Everest is a big deal, but certainly something that is possible for me. Other people seem just astounded that I am attempting to tackle it. Like any big goal, a successful marriage, buying a house, becomming supervisor, finishing college, even finishing high school for some, the key is to do it one step at a time. Thinking about the whole project, even 10%, or just 1% of the project sometimes is too overwhelming to be productive.

The concept of taking just one step, in the conext of something like a marathon, that takes me about 27,000 steps, may seem pointless on it's own, but it is the only way to finish.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Changing A Metric

Give me a metric, and I'll change it for the better. The problem is give me the wrong metric, or one that is incomplete, and don't blame me when I chase down the less important work.

This actually happened to me recently. I heard one thing and thought that meant this one metric was the most important. Some time later from a different source, I heard that it was inappropriate to focus on just that one metric. This is the kind of conflict that gives me stress that I take to my personal life.

Any work, even and maybe especially volunteer, comes with a variety of priorities. Choosing which ones are actually most important is a delicate task.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Biggest Worry, Greatest Fear, About Climbing Mt. Everest

Someone asked recently, "what are you most afraid of on this Everest expedition?" The answer came fairly easily, someone else's incompetance hurting me. There are several scenarios of someone's lack of skill hurint others I can imagine, that have happened to mountaineers that could possibly happen to me.

  1. Climbing unroped, a person above me falls into me and we both fall. Everest is "sewn up" with fixed ropes, so this is a very unlikely scenario, but as it becomes more crowded every year, the chance of getting hit by a falling person lingers. This is a major concern on less popular mountains, where significant portions of the route are not fixed with rope.
  2. Getting stuck in line at an exposed location. Having two ropes on the Hillary Step will help things move a little more quickly, but I expect to still spend some time waiting in line. If I wait, standing around, long enough, I could get frostbite, or worse.
  3. Failure of a fixed rope. Either a frayed rope breaks because too many people are on it, or an anchor pulls out. Both have happened, and it is standard practice on most other 8000 meter peaks to have only one person on each fixed rope section at a time, but images of Everest clearly show dozens of people on one section of rope.
  4. A bad weather forecast could mean I am in the wrong place at the wrong time. I started mountaineering in the days of waking up early and going for it, only to find out at treeline how bad it really was. Now we have predictions, generally very acurate, but there is still opportunity for error. 
  5. Food poisioning could hamper my ability to recover. 
  6. What I have not imagined. Frankly, some of our biggest errors are because it is the first time it happened. Apollo 1, Columbia, Challenger, and Everest 1996 are perfect examples of "it's never been a problem before" mentality.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

People Are Worrying about Me

I think I am being thrown two going away parties by friends here in Dubuque. Pretty strange to me. I had a party when I came back to Worcester after Broad Peak in 2009, but a going away party? Two of them?

There are quire a few people who have told me they are worried about me. It's surprising, or maybe not surprising, but unexpected. I mean, it's a justified concern. Climbing Mt. Everest isn't the safest way to spend two months. Yet, I feel most of the time like I am basically alone, just doing my thing, mostly alone, and then finding that all these people have an interest in what I am doing. It motivates me to keep pushing my limits.

I feel that in part this is a reaction to growing older. In other words, being alone every night, is lonely. After planning this for nearly 10 years, none of going to Mt. Everest is surprising to me. I mean, I feel that in a way I have already done it. Mentally I have prepared and thought about the Khumbu Ice Fall, the Lhotse Face, the summit ridge, and the Hillary Step for so long that it feels like I've already been there. So to have people in my daily life take an exaggerated interest in me, just feels strange. Yet, I want that, not for everyone, but for one person to take extra interest in me, every day.

My friends, you are welcome to worry about me. It's just strange, to me, that so many people are worried about me. Thank you. Honestly, your care for me is humbling. I was not expecting it. Thank you! I have so much, I don't deserve your affection, care and prayers. And the truth is, I may never feel that I deserve affection. I am not good at accepting accolades and affection. I just don't know what to do with it. So thank you! I am so blessed and every comment you make about my safety I am grateful for. God has so richly blessed me, and then he puts you in my life on top of everything else! Thank you!

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 149

Another semi-blur week has past. Wow, I mean, I slept 12 hours Friday night from 9:30 PM to 9:30 AM. Do you know what it takes for me to have 12 hours of sleep? I have to be tired, that's a once a year kind of thing. That's actually one of the things I really look forward to about my upcoming trip, a lot of nights of 10 hours of sleep. It's not that an expedition is that much more tiring, it's that there is not much else to do. Well, it is tiring. Plus, there is a mental toll to an expedition, and that means you need time to recover during the expedition.

I worked a lot this week. Sunday for a few hours. 10:45 on Friday, I left after 5 PM Friday night, having gotten there by 6:30 AM. It's a long day. In college, you may "work" for 16 hours a day, but it is broken up into three classes, a group project, two clubs, a sport and three meals. Working at my desk for a long time, it is all just at my desk, in the same place. At the same time, I finished so much this week. I mean I had the realization this week that all of the things I want to get done at work before I leave, might actually get done. The last few weeks I didn't think it would get done. There is hope, with roughly 100 working hours left before I go there is a shorter list of things that need to be finished.

Running was terrible. I ran 9.7 miles over three runs. My knee has been hurting, and I absolutely need to arrive in Nepal healthy more so than fit. That being said I went for a bicycle ride, spent time on an elliptical, and did some weight lifting (squats and plyometrics mostly), plus I went for a five mile hike with maybe a 30-40 pound backpack at the Mines of spain. So I still spent something like seven hours or more doing something physical for the sake of getting in better shape, but that's minor compared to where I wanted to train at this point before I leave. However, it is critical that I arrive there healthy rather than super fit. I'm not training to race a marathon anyway, I'm training to take steep steps uphill on the snow while on a fixed line while struggling to breathe.

Coaching was a fizzle, we were in wind down mode from conference and last chance track meets. So it was pretty quiet.

Long week. I won't deny, is the stress of preparing for this big trip and the stress at work of deadlines exacerbating my knee troubles? Probably.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Kids, there is a lot of paperwork in the world. You can get paid very well to sign your name and check boxes and fill in blanks. You don't have to like it, but chances are you will have to do some of it. There is money in paperwork, just ask SAP or EPIC. If you can figure out a way to do it better, like Amazon or Apple, but on the technical business side, millions of people will be thankful. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Focus While Climbing

When climbing, both rock or snow and ice, my mind breaks the objective into little pieces. At least 50% of my time is spent thinking about the very next move or step. Yes, half, even most, of my time is spent thinking about the very next step, what lies a mere two feet from where I am. At climbing's most basic level it is all about the next move. Similarly, exploration is all about the one step ahead of you not taken. 

About 35% of my time is then spent thinking about about the next ten moves or steps. So roughly a third of my time is spent thinking about walking across the room. What small issues might I encounter on the way? Can I maintain the style of climbing I have on this last step, or is a change over needed? Am I changing directions? Do I have a belay coming up?

The final 15%, or less, of my time is spent thinking about the bigger picture like the next belay anchor, the climbers on the rope beyond mine, the weather, my need to drink and eat. This is still a good chuck of time, but it pales in comparison to the mental effort extended on each step, with each body movement, focusing on just making it another 10 meters. 

The time for enjoying the view, thinking extistential thoughts, communicating, and doing most eating and drinking comes at the camps, before and after the day of climbing. For example, the danger of dehydration, acute mountain sickness and HACE pale in comparison to the danger of slipping and falling in my next step. 

Many a goals have been accomplished with the unwitting determination of putting one foot in front of another, until suddenly, there are not more steps to take to reach the goal.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

...But I Get a Lot Done

Whining, complaining, procrastinating, gossiping, feeling sorry for myself, believe me, I am not a master of full time positivity and productivity. That being said, as I was stressing my way through work today I realized, I might actually finish everything I planned to before I leave in three weeks. Honestly, I was starting to think less than half of it would get done, but things are coming together, as I suppose they should. The result is, my productivity the last few months might be enormous. 

The perspective has changed from that of drowning to riding out the wave. Not running off a cliff, but running toward a pole vault pit. (Which means the progress seems nil until the last step when the vaulter launches into the air and completes the goal.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Good Picture

The evening of our first full day in Rwanda last July we took this picture. I knew when we were taking it that this was in some ways the picture we came for. It tells a story about my parents and I and our friends more detailed than pages of writing. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 148

This week in one word: exasperating. Yeah, I just like gave and gave and went hard as much as I could and I'm spent. My left knee has an MCL grade one sprain, I should be fine later this week, but I'm not yet. Work is… work. I mean it's not called play, because it's not play. It is stressful. At least, I make it stressful because I am new, and we are at a point were a lot of our deadlines are due. Those two things are stressful. That being said, I pushed the program 0.025% forward Friday! It is kind of a joke, but not entirely, I did actually push one metric, the big metric 0.025%.

I do too much. People are constantly asking me, "Are you getting excited for Mt. Everest?" And I respond, "Yeah, but I'm so busy that I don't have much time to think about it." Oh yeah, I'm leaving for the tallest mountain in the world in a few weeks. Yet I'm just worried about getting through two meetings on Monday and pushing more stuff through the paperwork. Then making it to two meetings after work Monday. Hopefully I can squeeze in a run during the day sometime too, because I've only been running about 3 miles every other day the last five days or so. Hardly ideal training.

I'm looking forward to Everest because it will actually be a vacation. I mean, honestly, I will use skills and techniques intensely, and it will demand an extraordinary amount of patience and concentration, but it's really only one task, walking on steep ground with crampons and huge boots in really cold weather. No other stuff to distract me and not multiple groups to go to meetings with everyday. It is simple, climb the mountain.

Not the most specific description of the week, but a good one. Sometimes the emotional description, not the factual one is the makes the difference to people. Do you care that someone reads your problems? Or do you care that someone looks you in the eyes and feels your pain, even without saying a word? Obviously it's the second. The point being, I'm trying to let you look me in the eye.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Yet Another Setback (MCL Injury)

The best diagnosis I have had for my knee yet is a grade one MCL sprain. I have really only approached one person for a diagnosis. It started hurting slightly a week and a half ago after my 20 miles and four hours of skiing day. I of course ran on it until a 17.6 mile run on very slippery roads made it worse. Who would have guessed?

I feel like an idiot most of the time when I get injured. I mean, signs clearly point to something in my body not working right, and I push it to the end of the workout, maybe even multiple days. I know, I know! That an ounce of prevention is better than the pound of cure that will have to be applied later, yet I struggle to take that first step and admit it is more than just a bruise. Soreness and discomfort are part of the sport. I have a friend who just had hip surgery on his labrum in his hip. Apparently it was like that for 10-20 years. A fantastic runner, reduced to not even going to his desk job, and using crutches for a problem that might have been diagnosed 10 years ago. We work to deal with the pain. We aim to ignore the senses in our body that say "stop!"

I am quite confident I will be fine in a month when I set off for Everest, but it's not the setback I wanted at this point. I had plans of some long, big back to back 6+ hour workout days of running and hiking. Maybe they will still happen, but putting in 30-40 miles two days in a row sounds a little hard right now when a two mile run is painful and even walking a mile involves some pain.

In a perfect world, of soft trails and dry pavement, running would not stress the side of your knee. When a person runs, of the maybe 200 Newtons per step, or 200 to 300 Newtons (an even better article) that go into horizontal forces, from my experience maybe 1-10 Newtons when running in a strait line are lateral forces. In other words, between 0.5% and 5% of the force that your left foot puts into horizontal motion probably pushes your body to the right. However, at 180-190 steps per minute it is only about 0.30 seconds before your right foot pushes back the other direction. The better the runner and more efficient and more experienced generally the lower the percentage of horizontal force is put into lateral motion. However, vertical forces are 5-10 times higher than horizontal forces (5 times at faster speeds and 10 times as slower speeds). Thus, if my left foot ends up just 2 centimeters farther to the left as I push off due to sliding on snow and ice that 1 or 2 Newtons of horizontal energy going into my left leg gets a portion of the 2,000 Newtons of formerly horizontal force that amounts to roughly 40 Newtons. Alone, 40 Newtons won't break my MCL. However, put in half a dozen skiing falls the week before, some asymmetrical running around an indoor track, and a 17.6 mile run on very snowy and icy conditions, and I have significant pain.

Let's say that I encountered that extra 40 N on a meager 10% of the steps I took. At 180 steps per minute and a 132 minute run that's 1188 sliding steps with my left foot adding a whopping 47,520 N into my MCL, which it would not normally encounter. How much is 47,520 N? That is about 10,682 lbs. or close to 10 lbs. more per step into a ligament that was not meant to take that kind of damage.

Our bodies are not invincible, but we can tolerate a lot of damage. I probably put roughly five tons of added stress into a little fiber in my body and I still ran four miles the next day.

I'm a believer in fate and purpose, even though that purpose often makes utterly no sense to us whatsoever! This happening to me now, it's a lesson I need to learn about strengthening myself laterally. It's a lesson about listening to my body when it is saying something is wrong. Why I have to learn (or rather relearn) this lesson so close to one of the greatest physical challenges of my life is beyond me. I am humbled again.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mt. Everest is a Warm-Up

The number of people that are astounded I am about to go climb the world's highest peak, ideally without bottled oxygen, just keeps growing. Every time someone is amazed, I lose a little hope in the imagination of humans. About 180 people have climbed Mt. Everest without use supplemental oxygen. It's been done. It's where the sub 4 minute mile was in the 1970s, or a 2:06:38 marathon is today, or being CEO of a Fortune 25 company. Sure it is unique, I have never done it, it will be hard, but there is a somewhat established process for doing it.

Yes, if this mountain is all that I am ever able to do, it will still be a great experience. Yes, this is the tallest mountain on the planet, when it comes to altitude, there is no higher, it is an end in that respect. Yet, I am 27, there are dozens of things I can imagine that have not even been attempted.

I do not know why I think this way. I feel that if I do not push the limits of what has been done I am wasting my talents. Yes, this is a risk, financially, physically, mentally, etc., but I fully expect to take greater risks in the future in several of those areas. I imagine projects where the risks are not known, because no one has ever attempted them. What was the risk of Apollo 1? What was the risk of the Steve Wozniak quiting his job to work on Apple? Where would we be if these things had not happened?

There is a list, of possible projects I am interested in after Mt. Everest. I don't like lists because they have a tendency to get people killed trying to finish the list. That being said, I see many opportunities to build on the Everest experience starting in June this year. We can learn persistence, patience, resource management, development, through seemingly unrelated activites. Mt. Everest is a long term goal involving a wide skill set. Every long term goal involves a wide skill set.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Does Anybody Care About The Less Fortunate?

I want to start a charity. Sustainable South Sudan, because starting a country is hard. Why help some far away land that is constantly at war when there is so much need at home?

  1. South Sudan probably is the poorest place in the world. It is almost the only place in the world the Guinea Worm still exists.
  2. Having been to Rwanda I know how poor East-central Africa is. One dollar can feed a starving family for a day and ten dollars a family for a week.  Sending a kid to the YMCA for six hours a week just doesn't seem like as good of a deal.
  3. No one else wants to go to a "war zone". I'm not saying I'm going anytime soon, but the point is the most vulnerable people are the ones getting the least help. Planes in and out of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda are full of "do-gooders", high school and college kids and their parents on mission trips, Peace Corps volunteers, and some generous tourists. A country in conflict with no infrastructure has none of that support.
What do I want to do there?
  1. Agriculture! If people can't eat, they can't do much of anything. Wether it is buying hoes, seeds, or something I don't understand, sustainable means eating on a regular basis.
  2. Education! I feel that education is the key to so much in life. It is the opening to more productive agriculture, reading and writing, businesses, commerce, and an economy. 
That's where my head is. As I look around, maybe the right people to help get this off the ground are in plain sight, but I don't see them. I just see new cars, home renovations, and luxurious lifestyles. I'll be honest, I don't even really want to start a charity. I would rather just donate money to one that already exists. Alas, to the best of my knowledge there is nothing like what I am seeking.

Where am I supposed to find the time for this? Can someone else take this mission? You don't have to answer, the answer is no. If I don't do it, no one else will. I would love to be surprised, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I don't know. I have everything but time. People will die because I don't do anything; probably kids under age five. I need help. I can't do this alone. If I save one starfish, thousands more will still die. To be honest, life is happier not knowing some things. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Death Defying, and Talking to Most People

Going from where I left off yesterday, how does a person take on a task with a significant possibility of death, loss of limb, mental incapacitation, and manage to relate to most of the people in the world? I watch documentaries on astronauts for motivation. Every guy in Apollo would have volunteered to be in Apollo 1 at the time. None of the astronauts on Challenger said, "we should wait for warmer weather" in 1986 before launching and none of the astronauts on Columbia said "we should take pictures of the heat shield with the possibility of repair". Mountain climbers die in ones and twos and sometimes larger groups, but generally, everyone accepts that they are somewhat crazy. Same for astronauts. 

Most people don't have the type of goals that involve death so vividly. That's probably for the continuance of society. I mean it's probably not the most healthy to do activities like BASE jumping. Yet, there exists a seriousness to these activities, a professionalism, that is quite engaging. When you could die, you are going to make sure you have your mittens, headlamp, and harness in working order. That's not the main reason we do these things, we do them because it is truly challenging, because we do not know if we will be able to do them. They are a strong test of us. What is possible? Anything, but maybe not for us. 

There is a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. I really like: "Like anybody, I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will." That is just so good! What does Everest have to do with God's will? Well, if I die the one thing I want people to know about the entirety of my life and my work is: Jesus loves me. That's it, three words uttered in a song by elementary school kids around the world. If I don't die, well, that's really the one thing I want people to know anyway I suppose. In the context of everything, nothing else matters. 

Writing, and saying, things like this are one thing, people do it all the time. But MLK, he did it. I mean, the reverend really lived it. But we live lives so removed from seriousness. I struggle to tell a woman I am attracted to her. I fail to really put effort into correcting my bad habits. Yet, there is a distinct possibility I don't live to June. The things that are important in the context of the next few months of my life, are just not important to most people, and certainly not with the immediacy they are important to me. 

Frankly, I just want to pour out all of this to a person. Some of it ends up on my blog, some my parents has to listen to, and still other aspects my friends have to listen. It's just such a vulnerability, worth crying about. My friends and family that read this, I just don't know. I mean, thank GOD for all of his grace and blessings! I'm 27 years old and I have had three solid opportunities to die, just while climbing, not counting the electrocution, or other domestic occurrence. My life, insignificant. My work,  insignificant. My impact on others… well I can count one person who I know I made a difference in her life, and if that is the only one, well at least there was one. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 147

This was the kind of week that defines me. No, nothing particularly life changing or me at the top of my game happened, but it was another week grinding out making it happen. Getting stuff done is what I do, even though it isn't always great, progress goes forward.

I worked a lot. Perhaps not a ton of hours, but I've been working full days than going in to the office a little on Sunday. I would take my laptop home and do work, but I don't have the Internet, which kinds of limits my ability to use a laptop connected to a server at home. As we near my departure date for Asia, it becomes more critical that I get as much done as I possibly can.

In running I ran a small 47 miles. Between work (taking the energy out of me), coaching athletes tapering, and some left knee pain, a few weeks after my right knee pain clears up, I didn't run so much. However, I did run a really nice interval workout of 4:56 1600 m, 3:00 k, 3:01 k, and a 66 400 all with 600 m rest in 3 min after each. Not a blow it out of the water workout, but always nice to run those kind of paces in practice.

This is a perfect lead in to what a phenomenal week of coaching I had! After helping coach a sophomore to a mile and 5k records earlier in the season our team had school records in the women's Distance Medley Relay (DMR) by 34 seconds, women's 4x800 by 23 seconds, women's 4x400 by 2 s, men's 4x800 by 6 s, and we missed the men's DMR by 3 s! Not to mention we had great performances in many of the individual events as well.  After more more than two and a half years, we have the kind of meet that we set out to have. Oh, we have plenty of room to develop, but it's a good place to be. I am blessed to be part of this development.

In Everest news I bought a jacket, another GPS and a satellite tracking and texting device. Nothing I necessarily need, but as I have mentioned before, with an expedition pending, money loses some of it's value. What is the value of having the perfect hooded soft-shell jacket on a snowy windy day at 21,000 ft? Well over the $120 I paid for my new one. What is the value of sending a text message from the South Col? It must be several dollars, perhaps dozens of dollars, maybe over $100? I'm also still waiting on my boots.

On the other hand, as Everest nears, I feel more disconnected, not in a good way. In other words, how do I relate to people? I didn't have this feeling leading up to and after Pakistan, but maybe I was too immature to understand it. Most people don't go to a place where if things go well, there is a higher chance of dying. And… I am afraid. Before Pakistan I was too inexperienced to have this fear. The reality of the number, the volume, of people that die, lose fingers and toes to frostbite, brain damage is just tremendous. On the one hand, I have this superiority complex that I am above many of those problems because of my experience and desire to monitor myself, but two weeks ago Chad Kellogg died. In many respects, his accomplishments as a climber may parallel my own. I don't live in a vacuum. The statistics, by definition, apply to me. Mentally, one can approach this sort of thing, but the mental fortitude necessary is so far removed from 21st century life, that I struggle to tell others about it. This is getting long, how about more on this tomorrow.