Friday, July 31, 2015

Return of the Cavalry!

Oh old movies... when the soldiers are losing, out numbered against the (possibly politically incorrect) foe, just wait for it... The Cavalry arrives on shiny horses to slay the enemy!

It might sound cliche, but be the cavalry. Be the person that can show up and solve the problem. Maybe I'm just too deep into engineering, and we love solving problems. We live in a world where people want someone else to solve the problem. Seth Godin's book Linchpin is a good one because it's about picking yourself, regardless of your place in life, to make a difference in your world. It's a simple question, who can make the biggest difference in your world? You.

In other words, be the cavalry. Even if you solve the problem and no one seems to care, maybe they will at a later time. Step forward often enough to "save the day" and soon enough you will get the respect to solve more problems, and your voice will have more respect. There are opportunities every day to improve your vocation. Pick yourself, be the cavalry.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Redo

Stay in any job long enough, sometimes only a few months, and you will get the opportunity to redo something that you thought you had already finished. I'm not sure if this is due to the many quality checks of a big organization, or if everyone deals with it. It's actually quite positive for me to think of a redo this way, because in the moment it can be so frustrating! However, looking at it as part of the job, and something to do, and an opportunity to get it right, keeps it from being something I don't want to do.

There is a relaxing aspect to redoing something. You've been through it, you know the history, you know your way around the situation. Also, the first time something is done there is often urgency to actually get it done to meet some schedule, however, later the urgency to redo something is not the same. In other words, when someone assigns you the task of redoing something the question is hanging in the air, that no one ever asks, 'why didn't someone bring this up when we first looked at this?' The schedule has been blown out of the water, we screwed up once, let's make sure we don't screw up again. So I'm just going to take my time and do it right.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ever Changing Motivation

I've been in a low spot of motivation to run these past few months. I've only run one race in nine months, and it wasn't pretty. I have a race in two and a half weeks and I just don't feel ready for it. Lately climbing mountains has interested me more than going for a run, however I don't live close to any mountains, which further exacerbates the draw to not exercise hard.

After any big event there is a let down, a depression about putting so much effort into something, and then it is over. It is no longer a motivator. I wanted to be on a team USA for years, six plus years, and now I have been. What's next?

In this case it's pretty simple, I know I can do much better than 154 miles for 24 hours and I would like to improve on my personal record. There are also a variety of races I would like to run and take a shot at being on the 100k team USA. Yet I also know, it takes time to get in shape, it takes effort, sacrificing social time with people who don't further this goal of mine. All of that is hard, and it's not as easy a sacrifice as it once was.

For training to go really well it is best if it is the most interesting thing going on in your life. Life has to be a little boring and monotonous so that you aren't wasting energy on things other than training. I'm struggling with that because there are a few things in my life a little more interesting than running right now.

I've run and raced for so long. I'm a better marathoner than Hannes Kolehmainen was when he set the world record. I'm the reigning 24 hour USA national champion. I set personal records at the six Olympic distance running events after leaving college. The motivation has to come from somewhere, it has to be set on something, but as the accomplishments become greater, the goals usually need to be greater, which means they are harder, which means more suffering.

The point being, motivation changes. What used to be motivation is not what it will be in the future.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Today was a Good Day

Sometimes life just flies by and having a solid, only moderately paced day with several positives is really nice. I went into the office for nine hours. I went for a little nine mile run with a fartlek in the middle. I bought some groceries. Nothing great, nothing dramatic, simple. Frankly, vacations are great, traveling is awesome, work trips are usually fun, but they are all often tiring. One plain old ordinary day can be just what I need. (Now I'm a little terrified to face tomorrow, I'm setting myself up for a whirlwind.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 214

Hardly, I spent three days in Arkansas and the last three days in South Dakota, I'm writing this from a Starbuck in Rapid City, as I wait for my Strava segments to upload.

It's not good news when your boss and your boss's boss both leave voicemails and text messages on a Tuesday at 5:30 PM on my personal cell phone after I have left work. Not the best thing to return to from a run. That being said, I'm usually in a better mood after I run than before. So I went to work Wednesday with my bags packed, and I was on a flight to Little Rock that afternoon with two other engineers. When something fails, something big, something we never saw in testing, everyone gets pretty excited pretty quick.

The good news of the trip is we have a few simple action items. Who would guess that not tightening one bolt could lead to a $20,000 failure? On the other hand, what if our simple action items are not enough to solve the problem?

Friday night we made it back to Dubuque, in time for me to run a couple miles and go to sleep.I had a cold all week so my running was not pretty.  

Saturday I drove west. You have to wait for that story. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Being Sick is Not Fun

Ugh, I've had a runny nose and small cough all week. Quite a few people I know seem to have come down with something. It's tiring. I won't run today, and I had a workout planned. Going from cold air conditioning to hot and humid southern weather doesn't seem to help either. I will be sweating then freezing.

I will say, the world doesn't stop for sickness. It's this fine line between continuing as normal as much as possible and throwing in the towel for the day and lying on the couch. I don't have the answers. It's uncomfortable being sick. I suppose that time can help recovery, but it can be quite hard to be patient, as with anything. The lessons we don't want to learn are often the ones we need to learn. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Be the Misfit

When people are young, it's hard to be different than the other people their own age. If someone is a misfit for any reason he or she can get picked on, called names, be uninvited to events, and have other pitfalls of social unacceptance. However, as people grow older the qualities a young misfit learns suddenly become desired qualities, such as persistence, patience, and creativity. A misfit might also learn over time to discern between emotions and facts, because emotions hurt others, but facts just are what they are. A little discernment goes a long way when interpreting human communication. I'm not saying it is ever easy to be a misfit. I am saying being a little awkward at times when one is younger helps when inevitably for the awkward times when one is older.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

In Arkansas

Yep, emergency work trip leads to me being down in Arkansas. What is going to happen on this trip? I'm not sure. Obviously we have a goal, and hopefully it goes smoothly. You never know, life is full of surprises. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Doping and Cheating in Sport, Specifically Running

I haven't talked a whole lot about doping and cheating in sports, specifically in running. In this article when I say sport I mean athletics, which is the Olympic designation for track and field. I haven't said anything because as a scientist I realize how difficult it is to draw the line. What I mean is, is taking testosterone wrong, or is it wrong to have your testosterone level above a certain level? I'm speaking out now because it seems we, the athletes, have reached the consensus that taking testosterone (or any other drug, testosterone is simply an easy example) is wrong. The problem is, how in the world do you know if someone is taking any? I could easily pay a friend cash, or a stranger cash for that matter, to buy drugs for me and microdose and no one would even know but me, and perhaps the other person, but not necessarily. It's the same for EPO, steroids, blood transfusions (actually blood transfusions I could do myself if I had the equipment), and every other banned substance or practice. And yes, it affects ultra running, not just the 100 meter dash.

An article and documentary broke recently about alleged cheating in running, and it's not positive and uplifting.

When it comes to drawing the line, it is hard. In the running community, a huge percentage take iron supplements and caffeine. I take both at times. Both taken in large enough doses are lethal, and both contribute to good performances at moderate levels. Yet both are legal. Obviously iron deficiency is a problem among runners, especially female runners, but even I feel better when I take an iron supplement and I've never had an iron deficiency. Although, I have always measured at the low end of the hemoglobin spectrum (14.7ish, although I was at 16.2 when I recently gave blood, my highest ever reading). Also, when I ran my PR 10k I had a blood test as part of starting a new job at work and my hematocrit was only 43, which basically means lots of room for improvement without alerting a biological passport inspector. In other words, I have blood that I could easy screw with and improve my performance without being detected.

It's a temptation. Seriously. To admit that the allure of getting 5% faster in one training cycle (4-8 months) is not a temptation is a lie. No I have never taken a banned substance as far as I know. Well, okay, there was one time with some steroids. In 2009 when I went to Pakistan to try and climb Broad Peak I had a number of prescription medications including the steroid dexamethasone. Dexamethasone is banned in competition. Well, I took the pills out of their original bottle and put them in plastic bags and then in little diabetic needle bottles the rationale being with mittens on they would be easier to get to, very logical. However, having been to 23,000 feet, I now know that during the day you can always take your mittens off for a minute to open a pill bottle. At night, outside, like on a summit day, if you have HACE you should head down and not be popping pills anyway! I even have some dexamethasone in my apartment now that I got before Everest in 2014 and it's in the original bottles, pictured below. Anyway, back in basecamp in Pakistan in 2009 I was curious how I might react to the dexamethasone so I licked the powder off of the ziplock bag the pills were in and for the next day I felt amazing! I know now that the placebo effect probably does not affect anyone else more than it does me, and I was probably riding the placebo effect more than the medication. Still, just the powder made me feel good. I can only imagine if I took a full pill I would feel great.
My 10 4 milligram tablets of Dexamethasone for Everest 2014
In fact, doping on 8000 meter mountains is unfortunately common. People take dexamethasone proactively to climb faster and feel stronger at altitude. Most people seem to be oblivious to it though.  on Everest last year I think I was the only client, or maybe one of two, that brought our own high altitude medications. The thing is, there is no testing in mountaineering. It's the wild west. Even in running, I've never been drug tested. I've been drug tested twice for work, as a condition of employment, but not for athletic performance enhancers.

Part of me thinks athletics will never be totally clean. You would need a drug enforcement officer to follow people all the time. You could try to audit finances for payments, but clearly a handshake agreement depending on payment a decade down the road could happen.

There is rationalization too. I read that dexamethasone helps people recover from Achilles tendinitis issues quickly too. Before my recent trip out to Colorado July 4th weekend, I thought, 'wow, I could "proactively" take dexamethasone to make sure I adjust well to the 13,000 foot elevation, and I could reason that it would help my Achilles heal faster too.' Fortunately, I totally forgot about it as I packed, so I didn't bring it. Yet it sits there in my bathroom medicine shelf, a little temptation that would improve my running. We are most vulnerable when things are going poorly. When injured, an athlete wants to get back to full health faster. Then there is the fuzzy line between injured and healthy, and who is to say you need to stop taking those performance enhancing drugs and you are fully healthy?

Just to elaborate on my thoughts, I realize this next statement goes in the minority, and actually doing it would get me banned, but blood doping, that is taking your blood out and then putting it back in at a different time seems fine to me. It's a very mechanical act like using an altitude tent or training at altitude. It also comes with significant risks as Tyler Hamilton's book about doping with Lance Armstong describes, you could die or put yourself in the hospital. In other words, in my mind, if you are brave enough to take that risk go ahead. I like racing and competing, but I'm not about to take that kind of risk.

Another example in my personal quest to navigate the drug taking world I live in, was when I quit asthma my junior year of high school cross country when I was 16. I was getting better and I had some trouble breathing when I ran hard. I went to the doctor, described the symptoms, and without any testing he prescribed me albuterol for exercise induced asthma, and I used it before every run, three pulls with the little air regulator tube. However, after a week of using it before every run and even a race, I decided I didn't feel any benefit, and I actually felt like I was trying to squeeze some unfair advantage out of medicine. So I quit asthma. Running hard puts anyone out of breathe, it's simple but no one in my family had ever been a runner, we didn't know gasping for breath after a hard bit of running was normal. Now I know it's the best evidence you actually ran hard. Frankly as a coach it's something I am always really happy to see from an athlete.

All of that being said, I've never done anything that I view as controversial with regards to extra advantage. Yet to ignore the reality that something that will improve my performance, without the pain of the really hard workouts, is a temptation, is naive! Maybe it sounds cliche, but it's true, I think of Jesus being tempted by the Devil for 40 days in the desert. Just because we are tempted does not mean we fall into sin. You are welcome to come to my apartment and count my 10 dexamethasone pills to make sure the number in the bottle match the number on the label. Reading this it might sound like a big temptation to me, but the reality is I know when things go poorly on a mountain those ten pills might not last ten hours when three people come down with HACE and no one else has anything to help them. Still, it sits there, whispering to me, 'you can recover faster, you can be a little stronger, you can lose a little fat.' Funny story about fat, at the IAU 24 Hour World Championships in April the team doctor squeezed my arm, and the fat on it, and said he knew I wasn't doing steroids because it takes away all the surface fat on our bodies. Turns out a doctor telling you, "you have fat" can be a complement.

I don't expect people to agree with me. Frankly, I don't expect people to respect me for admitting that cheating is a temptation. I hope that you will believe the stories I have told as the extent of my use of banned and prohibited substances, and even then I don't expect you to believe me. I wrote this because I wanted to let the next generation of athletes know that being tempted does not mean you cheated. I want people to know that you can have success without using a variety of drugs and illegal methods. I am slow! If I can have success running, almost anyone can. (It just takes 15,000+ miles of running, lots of workouts, long runs, and a lot of suffering.) I will say, I've been beat by cheaters a number of times, and I hate it! Chicago marathon 2013, Rita Jeptoo passed a few feet away from me at the one mile mark in that race, she looked so strong...

Don't cheat. If it feels like it is wrong, don't do it. After I failed at my third big wall climb in Yosemite in 2010, I called my 8000 meter mentor and he told me, "If you aren't whole without it, you won't be whole with it." It means, if you "need" to win, to set a personal record, to summit Everest, climb El Cap, when you do, that feeling inside you won't go away. It helped me learn I love the process. I like climbing; summiting is a bonus. I like running; winning races and setting records is a bonus. You will be tempted, if not by cheating at sport, perhaps by filing your taxes, speeding on the highway, or by some other unethical situation, but you don't have to fall into sin! Enjoy the suffering, I do sometimes. "...we also rejoice in our suffering, because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us"

Monday, July 20, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 213

I have a sore throat right now, so I won't talk much tonight. Or something like that... 

Failure. I fail. I fail often, and the last couple weeks have had an above average volume of failures for me, at work specifically, but since sometimes it feels like I don't have a whole lot going on outside of work, it kind of gets to me. I know, I know, don't take work home! Yet it can be so easy to continue thinking about what I just spent nine hours thinking about. The main lesson to learn from these recent failures are simply to check my work again before I publish it. Really none of them were that serious. They won't stop me from sending emails that sound uninformed, because I am uninformed, and it won't stop me from making future mistakes. 

I ran 47 miles, one less than last week. A couple workouts were in there but I ended the week running slowly in hot and humid weather which I blame for giving me a sore throat at the moment. Really training is coming along well. Slowly, but it is certainly progress. 

We had a little grilling action Saturday night at a friend's house and slack lining action, and I made it half way across twice, which is the best I have ever done. I'm trying to strengthen my ankles some and slack lining I think will help.

Ugh, I feel sick, goodnight.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

It's Friday

And sometimes, that's enough to make it  a good day. A week is really a cool unit of time. It's conceivable, it's manageable, it's long but not too long, short but not too short. Also, tip of the hat to those people years and years ago that pushed for six and then five day work weeks, thank you! I can't say watching a movie in my apartment is making the world a better place tonight, but it recharges me for the future. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

In My World, It Is Possible.

The last two weeks have been rough for me. But frankly, complaining about it won't make it any better. However, I realized today that the way I view climbing Mt. Everest without bottled oxygen, or running a great 24 hour race are the way I view many things in life, with possibility. Few people think this way and as such I have to guard my mind against the mediocrity of thinking things are not possible. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Processes can be good. Processes can be bad. It's like organization, it may seem like more and more organization is a good thing, but there comes a point when "not my job" or the idea of something is just beyond what seems possible. In other words, if you have no process to cook diner, you might be eating cereal. However, if you have such a detailed process that it takes an hour and a half to make a simple meal, you might end up ordering take out, because it's easier.

The same goes for business processes, exercise routines, and education too. For example, simply having a teacher provides a level of organization to the process of learning. Yet endless standardized testing and common curriculum, down to identical lessons across thousands of classrooms creates such a detailed process that I guarantee students will tune out and not be interested. There has to be a balance between the process and... Chaos I suppose. 

In business I find there is the formal way to do things and the informal way. Informal means actually talking to the person you need something from and formal means submitting some automated form that will go to the same person you could have simply talked to. In other words, the formal process is slower than the informal one. I find processes interesting. We take comfort in doing the formal process but agonize ove the time it takes. We take delight in the informal process but agonize over the time it requires explaining the situation to every person in the process. I don't think there is a perfect process for every situation, but I know some are better than others. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


For the first time in the history of humans, and likely the last time in my life, a human spacecraft flew past our former ninth planet! Growing up, for my generation, there were nine planets, four rocky inner ones and four gas giant outer ones, and Pluto. Then in 2005 they started to discover others like Pluto, in similar orbits of similar sizes, and some even have moons. However, call it nostalgia, but growing up there were nine planets. 

Due to orbital mechanics, which I did get an A in my sophomore year of college, the speed required to get there in only nine years meant there was basically no way, short of another $300 million dollars or so for fuel, that we could stay for long. So we flew by this morning at 30,800 miles per hour. We have the best full frame photo already, it was sent back before the closest approach in case the spacecraft hits something and we lose everything else. Fortunately there is much more to come, 99% of the science will be sent back over the next 16 months, and we will learn so much more about the composition of Pluto and Charon. As I write this New Horizons sent the all safe signal this evening, meaning it did not hit anything during the fly by! 

New Horizons was launched while I was in college, getting my aerospace engineering degree. It is kind of "my" mission. It's the one on a shoestring budget, going to a far away place, with just a couple days to do 95% of the work. It's like going to climb a new route on an unmapped island that presumably has climbing routes. It's exploration. 

Honestly, just go directly to the source, most of the images are posted when they are received and commentary of the scientists help explain what we are looking at:

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 212

Short this week, I'm tired. 

Sunday I went for a run up Cinch, the road up Beaver Creek ski resort, ended up being 12 miles, a bit more than expected. Highest elevation was just over 11,000 feet.

Monday I drove back to Iowa, yep, it takes a day.

Tuesday was a quiet day at work.

Wednesday we had a meeting at work at about 8:30. The topic: who is going to Shreveport? I thought it would be our mechanic and one of two others. Nope, they were both busy, it was my turn. 2:20 PM flight to Dallas! However I was bumped from that flight ended up on a 6 PM flight, then drove three hours to Shreveport arriving at 1 AM.

Thursday at 7 AM we meet in the hotel lobby and head to the site of our work. By 8 AM the wrenches are turning and the temperature is past 80F. We go all day until about 5:45, then head back the hotel to shower and go eat, which is all finished by 8:15. I manage to run four miles on the treadmill, then pass out in my bed. 

Friday starts at 6 AM and we are finishing up our work shortly after that. By 10 AM the machine is repaired, both of us test drove it, and our work there was done. I went for an eight mile run in 92F and humid weather before driving back four and a half hours (traffic!) to Dallas. I would not desire greatly to live in Dallas. We fly to Moline and drive back to Dubuque and I turn the lights off in my apartment at 12:05 AM Saturday. 

Saturday I woke up at 11, I'm not kidding. I went and had coffee and wrote the peak C trip report before going for a nine mile run including my first 20 minute tempo in months (6:10 pace). Then I laid around the rest of the day, tired from a busy few days. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Trip Report: Peak C, Gore Range

For years I have wanted to get out into the Gore Range. It's rugged, it's hard to get to, none of the mountains are class one walk ups, and they are all 12ers or 13ers which keeps away the peak bagging 14er crowd. Plus, they are actually close to Vail and Avon, which means very accessible by car, unlike the Crestones or other mountains in southern Colorado.

Why Peak C? It's official unnamed, you won't find it on any map, only 13,200 feet, why would anyone want to climb such a thing?
That Picture! Posted by Monster5, a SummitPost Member (Thank you Monster5!)
I'll tell you why, adventure, exploration, the unknown. I looked at that picture and it just screamed at me, 'come climb me!' You see after climbing the known (including attempting Everest) time and again there is a certain aspect of the desire to explore and push the limits of possible that is missing. Plus, few trips reports, or trip reports of failed attempts, only add to the allure of going after it.

We woke up at 3:30 AM at Steve's parents condo in Avon, Colorado, home of Beaver Creek Ski Resort, which to be honest I had heard of but never knew where it was. It seems to be the Vail for both those with a lot more money, and those who don't care about the name recognition of Vail who have maybe a little less money than the standard Vail crowd.

After brewing some coffee, and making sure that everything was packed, we drove to the trailhead north of I-70 about 30 minutes on a good dirt road, I know for a fact that a Toyota Previa could have made it up the road.

We started at 5:17 AM just as the sun was coming up.
Peak C in the center and Mount Powell on the left.
The first few miles of the trail were very flat along a lake and stream. We moved quite quickly, until we crossed a little creek and started uphill to the left, north.
Peak G (I think) to the South...
Apparently everyone loses the trail when they hike up to the unnamed kneeknocker pass, so we didn't feel bad about losing the trail. Inevitably the trail grew more steep as we neared the pass.
Steve hiking up the unnamed Kneeknocker Pass.
When we reached the pass we went over a bump in the ridge maybe 50 meters high to get to a second slightly higher pass and get our best views of the north face.
North Face of Peak C from the Northwest Ridge
When we finally got up there I wasn't feeling like going out to attempt a first ascent. I mean look at that north face! Much of it looks climbable, but there are a couple cliffs, even an overhanging section closer to the northeast ridge. We were moving well, but we weren't (or rather I wasn't) climbing as well as I thought necessary to do a first ascent on that face. So we decided to do the ridge, a more mellow climb. Steve led off first and we traded leads throughout the climb.
Steve leading the first pitch.
While the rating on the route picture above went at 5.4 for the ridge we climbed, I am skeptical of that rating, 5.5 or even 5.6 seems more accurate. Most of the route was fourth class or easier, but there was maybe four or five little 15 foot tell sections of rock climbing that make the whole thing more than a scramble. I would like to say, my lead climbing has been lacking lately, I have retreated off many leads, but this day went really well, I was climbing fast, running it out between pieces of protection and using the loose alpine rock holds quite well. I think I just get motivated by bigger objectives.

We climbed a number of actual pitches, maybe four or five, and then we did a fair amount of simul-climbing (simultaneously climbing both of us at the same time with the rope and a few pieces of protection between us). Around 11 AM the clouds started to build and we were nervous it would rain so we moved a little faster to get up and down.

We made it up to the summit at 12:30, our proclaimed turn around time based on the weather that day. We took a couple pictures and a video. Then we began the descent down, hoping to avoid the rail while rappelling. There are no bolts or pitons on this route, so we repelled off of rock horns leaving no gear behind, which is a perpetually nerve racking event. I liked this climb for the large number of skills we had to use. It wasn't blindly following a topo to the next two bolt belay station, or waiting in line on the route. The first 12 hours we were out we only saw one other person close enough to talk to, a guy with two llamas.

The descent turned into a bit of an adventure. It looked easier to go through the valley to the south of the valley we hiked up, we both agreed. However, once we got to the treeline it turned into a route finding mess as we found cliff after cliff after cliff and ended up repelling when we were almost at the river.
Our Route Up the Northwest ridge of Peak C and down the Southwest Valley
Finally we made it back to the trail, even though we could not see it until we were ten feet away it was so overgrown with brush.  The last few miles as always were tiring because we were safe, yet not done yet. Sometimes I cry on the hike out, the day being so emotional. This day was so positive that I did not, I could have spent longer out there and a small part of me says we should have ventured out onto the north face.
Previa! With a roof rack! Also, Peak C in the middle of the picture, left side of mountains in the background.
Car to car it took us 12 hours 48 minutes reaching our car at 6:05 PM, and we were never rained on. It was a very good day in the mountains!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Go Young Man

Sometimes it's up to you. Everyone looks around the table, and the question is, who is going to Louisiana? A few people voice prior commitments, and then everyone stares at you. It is your turn. You must go young man.

Business, and life, is a learning experience, and sometimes you have to travel to an unfamiliar place and mature a little. Sometimes you have to swim in the deep end to know that you can.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Learning to Lead

I like following. It's simple. Follow another, do your part, together we are stronger. However, there comes a time when suddenly the leading cannot be "delegated" to someone else. Suddenly, I am the leader. I like leading, yet it comes with the inevitable second guessing by those following and the reality that if we screw up it is because I screwed up. 

Leading is a delicate balance, at least in today's world. No one can blindly make decisions that sacrifice or marginalize his or her followers. Yet at the same time, someone has to take the first step. Someone has to accept the risk of being wrong. 

I've led in the mountains for a long time, over a decade, and it has gone very well. I've led in the running community. Now it is time to lead in less physically stressful environments, where the difference between success and failure is a much more blurry line. On a mountain, success is living, great success is a summit. In the normal world success is a stronger relationship or more efficient use of time or some other immeasurable goal. Honestly, it scares me because it is new. It's a new situation. No one says, "Isaiah, you will lead us on this." Instead leadership is amorphously earned, if those two words can fit together. We are all the same, we are all human, but to those more is given, more is asked. 

I bring this up because I am in the middle of two situations I need to lead. No one has said it, but if I give that little extra effort, the experience will be better. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 211

This was a really good week. Mostly because I was in Colorado climbing mountains the last two days, and before that I was running quite a bit. The strange thing is, while work obviously takes the majority of my waking time, it has been quiet at work lately. 

For example, Thursday we had a dip day in celebration of Independance Day. Not much work gets done when ten people are standing behind my desk eating a variety of dips. That being said, I'm working on a cost reduction project for a little bracket, and came up with the winning design (my own words) printed off a plastic 3D model full size, found a couple short comings, and then updated it and handed it off to supply management. It's a tiny little project, but I have had full autonomy and that is awesome! So often projects at work get bogged down in meetings and having to pass a variety of difficult and competing criteria, it's nice to have little bite size chunks of simple success. 

Similarly, Colorado was a huge success. We drove through the night Thursday, which is almost easy with two drivers. Climbed part of the first flatiron outside Boulder Friday, then drove up to Avon (Vail) and had this amazing brisket. Saturday we woke up at 3:30 AM and proceeded to go after an unnamed mountain and possibly a first ascent. You will have to wait for the trip report to hear the details, suffice to say for now that it could not have gone much better.

Ran 29 miles, which is really good considering I took Friday and Saturday off, and only ran three on Thursday when I was scheduled to run eight. 

Sometimes it feels like life just flies by and while I didn't especially feel rushed this past week, wow I was productive last week. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Selfie Stick

So here is my experience with the selfie stick. We took the selfie stick because a 17 year old girl left it at my friend's condo after fireworks and the question at 4 AM was, "Should we take it?" "Yes!" I answered. I had never played with one of these things so I thought it would be fun. These picture were all taken Saturday around 12:40 on top of the unnamed peak C in the Gore Range just north of Vail, Colorado.
How does this thing work?
Oh it's working!
Group Picture!
Then I thought, how can I make this more ridiculous? What can I do that takes the self centered attitude that is a selfie stick and make a mockumentary or satire style picture out of it?
Oh yes, put the selfie stick in the picture!!!!!
One more ridiculous picture!
It's funny because with smart phone cameras facing the screen, you can simply reach out your hand and take a selfie. Having a stick to do it felt over the top. I already feel self centered enough most of the time that the thought I could take it a step further, that there is something appealing to our vain desire to have pictures of ourselves, I just think, 'wow'.

Friday, July 3, 2015

First Flatiron, Success

As a training climb after too little sleep and bad coffee, we did the north gully on the east face of the first flatiron. Good day. I could say more... But I might as well save something to say in person. 
Looking down on Boulder.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I'm Headed to Colorado

We're on our way out to Colorado! There should be a link to track me at the bottom of the right column, and tracking is activated on my Delorme. Plan is to climb shorter stuff like the flat irons around Boulder Friday then head up to Vail on Friday night and take a crack at something big on Saturday in central Colorado. Maybe Peak C in the gore range or Capitol Peak. It will depend on weather and how we are feeling. The plan is leave tracking on my Delorme running as much of the trip as possible, because it's just nice to let people know where we are. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What We Don't Know, That We Think We Know

In 100 years will society look back on us as simpletons the way we like to think of our ancestors 100 years ago?

In business, just like in a foot race or climbing a mountain, we are constantly making decisions based on limited information. That is part of the excitement. There is a thrill to stepping into the unknown when you think it is going to go well, but you don't really know. However, using mountaineering as a perfect example, sometimes a serac falls down and kills 16 people climbing up to Everest camp one. They thought they were simply going to hike up to camp one April 18th, 2014.

In business companies go bankrupt when enough wrong decisions are made. Kodak invented digital photography. Empires rise and fall. Rome fell. Runners win medals and set records, and then get busted for doping scandals. All the while people are suffering and dying in South Sudan yet no one really knows or cares.

A former supervisor of mine once said, "everyone thinks he or she is the smartest person in the room." I think about that fairly often. There is nothing new under the sun. We are no smarter now than our ancestors 100 or 1000 years ago. We simply have a huge knowledge base that is accessible now, so we're solving different problems.

In 100 years or 1000 years from now, if the world is still around, our descendants will certainly wonder why we did some things and didn't do other things that in hindsight seem obvious.