Monday, October 29, 2012


The Sunday ranch run is always a highlight of my week but often for different reasons.  Sometimes it is about the discussion, sometimes the course, sometimes the effort, and sometimes the weather.  It all started for me as an intimidating introduction to the local running community and it was the first place where I got to run side-by-side with Ironman champions.  I owe some of this to my trailmom, Laurie (aka Rapunzel), who first mentioned a group self-named as "El Perdido" who met at San Dieguito park on Sundays at 8am.  After some discussion I found out that more than one group would start from the same location, with some of the old timers heading out at 7 or 7:30 and those with fleeter feet laying chase at 8.  I allowed myself to be talked into checking it out with Laurie's own group of primarily masters runners one morning.  For some reason I decided to bring Hunter with me, and after suggestions to let him off leash once we got on trail, he promptly threw down a nice coil and left me on poop patrol.  That was the last I saw of Hunter until the group returned from the loop, apparently he had stayed with everyone while I cleaned up his mess, lost the car key somewhere in the wood chips, and spent the rest of the morning stressing out because I couldn't figure out where they had gone or if Hunter had followed.  I was lucky that Laurie was resourceful and good with dogs, she used her shirt as a leash and kept an eye out for him that day, returning him to me as a tired dog which really is the best kind of dog there is.

On one subsequent venture into the ranch, I brought Mika and Tomppa as they were staying with me en route to Kona.  We met up with Jurgen Zack and as I remember it, one or two others.  I was reasonably fit at the time, but not nearly prepared to run with as fast as they did, so I managed to hang for about half of the 11 mile loop but I fell off the back around the reservoir.  I took a wrong turn heading home and then another wrong turn and wound up having to retrace my steps.  Three hours after the start I found the car and a laughing group of professional triathletes who had no choice but to sit and wait for me.  I was mildly embarrassed at my mistake, but I knew it could have happened to anyone who didn't know the area, the roads are very windy, the hills are confusing, and the trails criss cross each other as they snake through small canyons and ridges.

Once I started coming more regularly, I got to know that 11 mile loop a little too well.  The first hill, where I had lost my car key that day, it was always a place to test yourself and others, sometimes in thick wood chips, sometimes in mud, sometimes the first few hot rays of sun exposure.  Make it up that thing with the group and I'd be OK for the rest of the day but if I fell off the back there, it would set up an ominous theme for later.  The 5950 rock is another little hidden spot, one day I took a thorn at that turn and man did it hurt, other days there would just be a river of mud for almost a half mile which made footing very difficult.

For some reason, or perhaps for no reason, I became friends with Luc.  He has since been a part of all of my running accomplishments as we typically run together 3-4 times a month, almost always on Sundays in the ranch.  Luc has been running in the ranch for almost as long as I've been running, so he knows them all very well and under his direction I ventured off into some of the lesser traveled sections.  One day we named a course "The Tiger" since that was big news at the time, and we started using that course as an alternate route on rainy days because the footing was better for much of it.  Luc coined his own "classic" consisting of the majority of the 11 mile standard loop plus a number of additional hills and what felt like a backdoor arrival to the finish, increasing mileage to about 14.

For some reason, or perhaps for no reason, after perhaps a decade of 8am starts at San Dieguito Park, Luc, Chris, Todd and I shifted and began running from the village, starting and finishing at Cafe Positano.  At the time I did not give this shift much thought, I felt like it may have been temporary, and while it was a further drive, it did seem more civilized.  The best part of that decision was our ability to spend up to an hour or more bs'ing after the run while drinking coffee.  As ironic as it sounds, this move may have been the most brilliant decision ever made with regards to the Sunday ranch run as it opened up all sorts of new possibilities.  The standard easy run became a loop to the coast, passing through the golf course, the lagoon, the coastal stretch of 101 in Solana Beach, and heading back east past the race track along the coast to crest trail.  That course is as "classic" as any, with it's share of ocean views, breathtaking scenery, horse stables, trees, and even a few water stops.  Alternatively, we could head east out towards Lake Hodges and turn around at the dam for roughly the same total distance on very well groomed trail with more climbing involved, such as we did yesterday.  On top of these options we had all of the same routes we did before with just a different start/end point.

Luc typically brings his purple-cased iPad to the table and the first one done buys the first round at this cash-only but oh-so-cozy coffee joint.  On hot days, Todd and I hose off at the real estate office which conveniently leaves a hose coiled up outside for watering the plants in front of its window.  Sometimes we speak of politics, sometimes history, sometimes women, sometimes children.  On any given week, someone will have to leave early while others can stay and linger.  It has become something truly special, a small piece of routine in an otherwise disorganized and unplanned weekend.  We consistently invite other friends to join us but it seems as if nobody else has the interest in the alternate start.  There are the die hards who continue the San Dieguito 8am start and then there are those who prefer a Seaside Market start and stick to the coast with an out and back to Torrey Pines.  Obviously a large group would not work so well in the ranch, as the cafe can barely hold 10 people in line and with one group of cyclists present, the chances of being able to grab a table outside approach zero.  As a result, our group of four becomes a little tighter every week, living through deaths of parents, bike crashes, children growing older and heading off to college, dogs aging, and of course as the token unmarried guy, the ubiquitous talk of the ups and downs of marriage, the challenges of men and women relating, and how to work running into an otherwise busy life.

At one point a number of years ago I accepted a new job and planned to move out of town.  Believe it or not, the ranch run was on the top 10 list of reasons why I wanted to stay.  I wound up reversing my decision and I'm sure that was the right choice.  Jobs come and go, dogs get older, children get old, we all get older, shoot even the barista gets older, but the ranch run remains.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sometimes I read

Lately, I haven't read enough.  I haven't made time for many things that I truly appreciate in life, reading friend's blogs, making time to see and talk to friends in person, reading books, walking Hunter, etc.

Work has taken over a large portion of my weekdays.  Perhaps I am particularly poor at multitasking or perhaps there is something truly exhausting about the never-done aspect of software, it could always be better, and the millionth iteration is no more complete than the thousandth.

My yoga practice is suffering, and my running is nonexistent.  I loved reading about James's course record last weekend, meanwhile the thought of racing seems terribly foreign.

I barely have time during the day to walk next door to grab lunch before they close.  I typically get by with groceries bought once a week at jimbos and kept in the office fridge to fuel myself.  I typically get dehydrated even though the water spigot is merely 10 feet away.

I'm overdue on coaching updates to the team from our time trial on Saturday.  I didn't see Cody last weekend, and I only got half of the hedge "fixed" after it felt down in the rain/wind.

And so, the moments for self reflection are few.  The moments for reading are even fewer.  I don't even have a child, I simply cannot fathom how parents are able to survive a single day.

I look forward to a little bit of settling down, but meanwhile I recognize this steady roller coaster of a ride that work has become.  I hear about it from everyone else as well.  It seems as if the generation before us had some modicum of sustainability to their jobs which we may never know.  Feast or famine is the modern definition of work, no employer seems healthy without a big growth angle.

I remember feeling this way about this time last year.  Perhaps coaching simply is asking too much of myself.  Of course I have college interviews coming up which always take more time than I expect, 1 hour to meet, 20 minutes to drive each way, and another hour to write about a student who has less than a 1% chance of getting in to Princeton, it all seems so futile and wasteful, just as my father's discussion of the Waikiki storefronts spewing cold air onto the sidewalk.

I know how to deal with this, just like any stress, the first response is to simply "breathe".  Yoga truly helps me through these times.  But I also know that I'm going to have to say no to things in the future and that's part of what seems to wear on me now.  I don't like saying no.  I'm not any good at it.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Those three letters, in that combination, a black mark on endurance sports they seem have become.

Feb 2007
I don't empathize with Christian Hesch, just as I didn't for Nina Kraft or John Friend, all of whom seem to have forgotten something about why they were doing what they were doing when they were so busy doing it. I don't attempt to understand anyone else's decision-making when I'm still trying to find a frame of reference to understand my own. I feel no pain for the running community based on one person's decision to take EPO or any other banned substance, nor do I feel like it matters enough to warrant any sort of formal punishment or lifetime ban. I don't condone Christian's actions nor do I condemn them. My feelings lie somewhere in between, in that grey area of nebulous indifference.  Selling your integrity for $40k seems strange to me but so do a lot of things that I do on a daily basis.

The yogger had a great quote today, "If you're serious about training, everything you do and everything you put in your body is intended to be performance enhancing." The rules of what is allowed and what isn't don't seem based in a black and white, right and wrong type of world.

May 2007
Take me for example. I had one season of Flowers-for-Algernon racing. My HCT went from 43 to almost 48 by sleeping in a tent designed to limit the amount of oxygen I breathed as a simulation of sleeping at altitude. After a few weeks of sleeping in said tent, I felt like I had an extra gear and a physical advantage over my previous self.  I was able to train at a level I had never reached previously, and by doing so I prepared my body to run faster than I ever thought I might. Christian's actions, regardless of his intentions, seem not so far removed from my own.

Christian admits to EPO boosting his HCT from 44 to 51 which isn't terribly far off from the boost I saw, a change from a baseline at 43 to almost 48.

Aug 2010
I haven't had my blood drawn in a while but I'd imagine I've returned to something near 43 by now and I certainly feel every bit as human as I usually do, limited by a governor which keeps me from daydreaming about chasing another PR.  So, what keeps me from asking my friend to loan his tent to me again?  I don't have an answer to that question.  It was a complete thrill to race with thicker blood, I certainly felt the effects and I wouldn't object to feeling that way again sometime.  Why is one method of increasing performance OK and another not?  What about the whole silliness with women who were paced by men being stripped of world records?

I guess it all seems arbitrary to me.  Luckily I'm not good enough to waste too much time thinking about the athlete I could be with a little bit of "help" since it still wouldn't be anything of note.  And as I age, I feel like my life has shifted, it has become more about the method than the outcomes, however fatalistic that may seem.

Maybe I am a little sad.  Sad that racing doesn't seem to make much sense to me.  Sad that something I once loved with such a passion seems so unimportant to me now.  But that doesn't have anything to do with Christian Hesch or EPO.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I had one of those effortless workouts this morning as I looped Mission Bay in my coach's shirt, herding my sheep, soaking in the Autumn sunshine, and breathing in the moist salt air. Granted it was only 11 at a 9:00 pace so of course it's going to feel easy peasy, but it did get me thinking.

The last two months, since starting my latest job, haven't been the best training. I started out reasonably fit, put on weight, and wound up getting progressively less fit. That's a standard trend for me when I'm stressed trying to deal with a new job and trying to measure up to the players who have been around longer and inevitably know more than I do. I accept it.

At the end of the workout, one of my athletes asked why she didn't feel a huge burst of energy when she ate a Gu midway through and I tried to explain how fueling during running is aimed primarily at avoiding the bonk rather than seeking a moment of elated euphoria. Which sort of got me thinking more.

While I'm not a huge over-indulger in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, I certainly understand their appeal, along with tagging a mountain peak, winning a race, falling in love, etc. These euphoric moments often accompany a rush of adrenaline, a great sense of satisfaction, and a buzz which I can certainly understand someone else becoming addicted to. But they also have corresponding crashes which in my mind negate some of the brilliance. My friend Shelley once told me, in a moment of realization, "you want to skip the honeymoon and go straight to the hard part of a relationship" and I felt that was an adequate description of my take on most things.

So, yeah, I totally get the thrill seekers, as I am not immune to the seductiveness of excitement. I'm with you. But I'm not built like you so much. I am a little different.

I'm far more vulnerable to the spontaneous seduction of a long run punctuated by a lack of "bad pain". Managing the trough, the valley, it seems like a very big key to the ultrarunner mindset and it's how I get the most enjoyment. How can I minimize my "wasted" time? How can I avoid "slowing down"? What techniques can I employ to shrink moments of depression, frustration, or anger? Geronimo seems to have this wired, his zen-like attitude makes for a man devoid of massive swings of emotional state. There are a myriad of life lessons in this pursuit.

I truly adore the surprise morning runs which seems like it could be twice as long and I'd feel just as good at the end. I find those workouts better than sex, better than momentary highs which inevitably fade as the brain returns to sea level. Perhaps part of this is why I have such a soft 5K pr and that my 10K pr is from the AFC half? I'm not sure, but to me the most exciting part of life is the part that might still be a part of my present by the time I've reached tomorrow.

Peaks are cool. I like peaks. But I'm a bigger fan of working through the valleys.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


An interview with Rachel Ross about her 2:58 PR at the Chicago marathon

1. You recently achieved a long term goal of your first sub 3 hour marathon.  Chronicle the timeline and all of the prior attempts on your journey to this accomplishment.

I ran my first marathon at Honolulu in Dec. 2005 in 3:12. I had thought 3:30 was a reasonable goal, at the time. Since I qualified for Boston 2006, I figured I should run it. I ran 3:04 there. I definitely thought about sub-3 after that. But then, I got sucked into the Ironman vortex, where I remained for the next 4 years. I ran Honolulu a few times in there (3:12s, almost all of them) but didn't focus much on open marathons. I ran 3:18-3:23 in all of my Ironmans, I think.

Then in December 2010, my friends Stacky, KN, and I went to Vegas for the marathon. My friend Beth Walsh was just coming off a 3:10 marathon in the Kona Ironman, and I thought that translated to sub-3, easy, and told her to come. She did. So I went for it with her. We ran a 1:30 first half, an then I got tired. She went on to run 2:59. I ran 3:03. A little closer.

In 2011, Charisa told me I should employ the services of an excellent pacer named Dave Easa to help me break 3 hours at Honolulu. I knew who he was from high school, but since he was older and cooler, he'd never heard of me. I emailed and asked if he wanted to run with me anyway. He did. I went in a bit of an emotional wreck, and under-prepared. In spite of world-class pacing, I ran 3:08.  I signed up for Chicago because it's flat and considered fast, and I figured I need every little bit of help I can get.

2. How would you compare the Chicago course to various other courses you have raced?  Was there something special about the course which helped you achieve this goal?

The course was everything everyone said it would be. Flat, fast, lots to look at, great support. I don't think I would've run 2:58 on the Honolulu course yesterday. The cold weather made me want it done as fast as possible. The long straightaways let me focus on pace and nothing else. I always had people around me to use, either to follow, or pace off of, or make fun of in my head.

3. Comment on the weather and specifically what it feels like for a Hawaii girl to be in 40 degree temps.  You mentioned dressing like a Michelin Man for the start, did that work ok?

It worked! I wore the beanie until mile 16. People were cheering: "Go eskimo girl!" The only real problem was gloves. I bought Nike knit gloves at the expo. They soaked through when I grabbed water at the aid stations, my hands froze up, and I wasn't able to get shot bloks out of the bag after the 11 mile marker, so I think that's the last time I ate. That could have been a deal-breaker!

All in all, I think the cold weather was key to making the sub-3 day. I was uncomfortably cold a lot of the time. But I think that yields a better performance than uncomfortably warm. My body didn't have to work so hard to keep me from overheating, so it could work on running instead.

4. The Elite Development experience is much closer to first class than business class in terms of privileges.  Did having special treatment factor into your mindset or your performance in a substantial way?  How different was the elite development experience than VIP at Honolulu?

The Elite Development Tent made all the difference in my pre-race experience. Even dressed as the Michelin man, I would have been miserable waiting in the corral. I get so cold sometimes that no amount of clothing can make me ok.

As for the race - it took me a while to warm up my legs. I think that would've happened with or without the EDT. But I bet I started happier because of the EDT. And it's always good to start happy. I have never really taken advantage of the Honolulu VIP start, because the race starts so close to home. It starts at 5:00 am, and I try to arrive at 4:45. So I can't really compare the full experience. I'm pretty sure they don't heat the tent, though. Last year I tried to drop a sweater there, because I had access and a low bib, and a volunteer bit my head off, yelling that the bag drop was only for "real elites." So.

5. You shared this experience with KN, your long time friend and training partner who also co-blogs with you.  Describe how important her help was in achieving this goal, what she said specifically to help get you ready and how her calm early on contributed to your success.

KN is always a calm and happy presence. A shared goal seems less daunting. We were both chasing sub-3. Sometimes I felt stupid even stating such an ambitious goal, like some first time tennis player saying my goal for the day was to beat the Venus sister that's really a man at Wimbeldon. But there's safety (or confidence) in numbers. We worked out our training plan together, did long runs and speed work together, and all of that factored into Sunday's race. On race day, she helped me pre-race by joking around with me, chatting about nothing, and fashion-policing at the start.

She helped a ton in the early miles, using her GPS to keep us on pace. I might have blown it without her. I was bummed when we drifted apart during the race, but we have a deal - if one of us is feeling good, we go. There's no staying back to support each other in an A race, and that's what Chicago was.

6. You've completed Ironman and you've run sub 3, can you comprehend the difficulty of putting those two together?  If so, what form does that comprehension take in your mind?

Honestly, it suddenly sounds less insane to me! Maybe because Beth just did it and made it sound easy. I'm not saying I could do it (no way could I do it) but I think if one was really fit in the bike, and then had a good day out on the run course... Well, I get it.

7. What went through your head over that last, long, straight, 2-mile-long stretch?  Did you experience any doubt?

I knew I was slowing down, but I was confident the worst that would happen was 7 min/mile. I don't know why I thought that was worst-case scenario, I've certainly run slower in the last 2 miles of a marathon before. But I'd seen enough 6:39-6:44 splits to be pretty confident at that point. In fact, I think my confidence that I'd eek in under 3 improved with every mile that ticked off. I spent most of that last 2 miles trying to pass women (I think I got 5 or 6 in mile 26) and trying to hide from the headwind between men. My dad was standing at the 25 mile marker, and I can't remember what was said, but he didn't look like I was blowing it, so I took that as a good sign.

8. If you could have Ikaika at the finish line waiting for you with a big bear hug and the beverage of your choice but no extra clothes and you'd still have to walk back to the tent in your race gear, or you could have a volunteer hand you a full length down parka to warp yourself in as soon as you crossed the line, which would you choose?

Ikaika. I didn't even have to read the rest of the question.

9. You have discussed your sensitive stomach in the past, did this factor in on race day?  Did you have any moments of nausea during or after the race?

I usually start getting chills in the second half of a marathon, then wind up with horrible cramps and well, runner's trots, for 2-3 hours after a marathon. Even with preventative immodium pre- and in-race. I had none of it on Sunday. I had goosebumps from the cold the entire way, so maybe I didn't notice the chills. I met my parents and we bolted for their condo a few miles from the finish immediately, because I was that sure I'd be sick. And the sick just never came. I wonder if it was the cold. Now that I think about it, I didn't get sick after the 3:03 in Vegas. Or the 3:04 in Boston, and both were 40-50 degrees. It could simply be the cold, or it could be the changes I make to my nutrition when it's cold. I only drink water during the race. And I don't hit every aid station, just every other aid station. And this time, I didn't eat anything on the back half, because of my total hand malfunction.

10. You mention kicking Minnie's butt, but did you notice anyone else on the course who fired you up to beat them?  Of the many who you passed over the last 10k, did anyone other than Minnie stand out?  How much of this accomplishment was internal mental toughness as compared to competitive fire sparked from the outside?

The thing I love about marathons vs. triathlons is that I don't feel very competitive in marathons. I feel like most tri-girls are all about who they beat, which is part of why I don't go back to Kona every year. There's too much negativity. At marathons, I feel like it's a cameraderie. We are all out there racing ourselves, our brains, and the clock. I made it a goal to pass girls just to give myself something to think about other than "6:45, keep on it, 6:45." But I said something nice to each one I passed. One girl flew past me at the 26 mile mark, and I thought "WOW, she's amazing!" We spoke after and her last mile was sub-6. There was one heavy-breathing girl who tried to latch on at mile 19 or so, and I made a point of ditching her over
the next mile, just because she sounded so tired, and I was afraid listening to her would make me feel tired. I think most of this race was about battling my brain to reach my goal of sub 3h. Kicking Minnie Mouse's ass was just a bonus.

11. Describe how you felt going over that little carpeted bridge before the dip, underpass, and left turn at mile 22 or so.

I don't know what you're talking about. So maybe I felt ok? Is that where they were giving out beer? I remember thinking that all the guys running over to take cold beer in 40 degree weather were totally insane.

12. What did you eat the night before and what did you eat race morning?

I carbo-loaded for the first time ever. I cut carbs Mon - Fri (with the exception of Trader Joe's PB Cups), even though I hear that is out-dated science and unnecessary, and then on Saturday, I actually had breakfast (rare) of an english muffin and egg whites, I had a chicken sandwich and a scone at whole foods for lunch, and a cinnamon roll in mid-afternoon. By dinner time I felt like a whale, so I had some bites of my mom's spinach salad and my dad's pasta at a little Italian place in Hyde Park. Race morning, I woke up early to eat, so that I wouldn't have any weird blood sugar spikes/crashes going on by the start. I usually just have a venti soy latte pre-race, but this time I added a clif bar at 2.5 hours pre-race. I didn't eat anything in the two hours leading up to the race, and just sipped on water.

13. Would it have been helpful to have KN with you longer?  Or did it help your focus to be alone?

I love running with KN, and it would absolutely have helped and made the experience more rewarding to have her by my side the whole way. We rarely spoke in the miles we ran together, we were very focused, and I certainly didn't gain anything by being alone. It was ok, but not what I had hoped for for the day.

14. There is a turnaround at around mile 18 where you feel pretty far away from the start/finish.  It also starts to thin out at that point in the race.  Did your thoughts drift in any way as you made that turn?

18 - that's where that heavy-breathing girl showed up. She sounded like she was in the last 100m of a 5k. So my only thoughts were "ditch this chick" and also, "wow, we're kind of in the hood. I wouldn't want to be the last person on the course today."

15. Were you happy wearing shorts in 40 degree temps?  Would you have dressed any differently?  Thicker gloves?

Better gloves. But aside from that, I think everything else was just right.

16. Now that the dust has settled but the experience is still fresh, do you think this was simply a greater effort than the past or was it a combination of a strong effort, decent conditions, and a fast course?

It was a combination of things. I have worked harder than that in a race for a crappier result. I think I was stronger from my training. I think I was more determined than ever to run sub-3. And I think great conditions and a fast course were absolutely part of it. I recognized that I had the best possible build, the best possible conditions and course, and I'd pretty much told everyone I'd ever met plus a million strangers on the internet that I was out there to break 3. Although I reminded myself that there's no shame in going after something and failing, I also knew I'd be pretty ashamed had I failed.

17. Describe the halfway point cheer station, the crowd, the noise, and how it affected you making that right hand turn.

I saw my family right after that turn. I heard my aunt from that huge crowd, somehow, and was so happy to catch sight of them. I smiled and waved. I loved that right turn. I also knew based on the split that sub-3 was possible, but I wouldn't let myself get excited yet. Too much can happen on the back half. No one told me that it's uphill
right there, but that really felt like a climb up and over the bridge, to me. I checked the split after that little climb and saw 6:44 again, and got a little more optmistic.

18. Did you think of any of your kids during the race?  Any specific thoughts you'd be willing to share?  Or was this more of a personal experience during which you retreated into your own head?

You know, I should really say yes. And that I do it for my kids. But no, endurance sports are so selfish, and my kids think all moms run marathons and have no idea that my time goal is any different than anyone elses, really, so it's not like they're especially invested. I thought of them, yes, a few times, and wondered what they were doing on Kauai today, and thought that they'd be excited if I broke 3. I called them after, and Sky and Henry forgot I had a race and didn't ask my time when I told them I'd just run the marathon. Wyatt, though, my middle kid, he asked and was excited about my time.

19. Is there an individual athlete who motivated you in a specific way over the past 6 months?  Please don't say Lance Armstrong :p

I heart Lance.

Do I have to pick just one? I have a bunch:

  • Katherine, who went after the goal with me. I know she really believed I could do it, and I wanted to live up to that.
  • Brigitte, who is after the same goal but couldn't make the Chicago trip, who also really believed I could do it and who offered up lots of great, positive thinking guidance. She's also tough as nails, that one, and carried me through a lot of miles.
  • Beth, because if she can do it off the bike, I sure as hell should be able to do it in an open marathon.
  • Ikaika, because he is a world champion paddler who knew my every training workout, my every meal, my every fear, and how my brain works more than anyone else, and he absolutely believed I could do it. He texted me the night before, as I lay there not sleeping, from Molokai. "You ate awesome and I love you and am proud of you no matter what. Plus you're super hot." He made me laugh when I needed to stop worrying, and he reminded me not to stress out, that in the end, sub-3 or not, life would be fine. (I think he meant "are awesome" but I could have ate awesome too).

20. Now that it is settling in, do you feel this result is repeatable?  Do you feel a desire to keep pushing the limit of your marathon PR?  Do you have a satisfaction that allows you to focus on other goals, perhaps triathlon again or different distance PR's?

Yes, I feel it's repeatable, but I don't know if I could improve upon it. And no, I don't feel a major desire. I bet I will later, though. I already know what I'd tweak to try to do it a little faster.  I had in my head that I'd race for the sub-3 at Chicago, then go to NYC and just cruise it and enjoy the race and sights. I feel satisfied enough to do that. If it's under 40 degrees in NYC, I will sleep in instead.

21. What is your favorite part of Chicago?  What did you do for fun after the race?

Hanging with my family. My parents are there, and we spent the whole time together. I also have aunts and uncles and cousins etc. in Chicago. Even though I never lived there, it's our family's home. After the race I took a bath for fun, then laid around on the floor and watched football with my dad and the dogs. I don't even understand football, but my brain was fried enough to lie there and pretend. By the next day, my mom and I were shopping downtown again.

22. How do your legs feel after this effort as compared to previous ones. Does a PR mean a trashed body or does the elation from the PR eliminate some of the muscle soreness?

I'm slightly sore, but not like I have been in the past. Weird, isn't it? Maybe it was the elation. Who knows. I feel fine today and will run this evening.

23. How will you build on this confidence with your upcoming performance at the underpants run?  Do you plan to do anything differently this year based on this recent performance? 

I intend to run the Upderpants Run tomorrow slightly fatter than last year. Unfortunately. And I think the team bikini is shiny, this time. Whether or not there's a skull on the crotch is TBD.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


What is it that I want?  What do I desire?  What do I crave?  What do I wish for?

To start with, I feel utterly content these days.  So, this is a strange time to ponder such a question.  However, it also feels oddly appropriate to dissect my wants at a time when I have no real needs.  My life is good, so why not inspect what motivates me, what gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps my blood pumping.

While it may sound boring, I honestly want to get more familiar with the nuances of the system I'm working on with my new job.  I've only been exposed to it for 8 weeks, but I am surrounded by a bunch of really smart and motivated people and that has me feeling the sting of being the FNG, a title I will hold until Monday when our most recent new hire starts his journey.  I don't like not knowing as much about the system as everyone else.  I want to at least reach a level of competence in excess of my current level of comprehension.  I want to be able to contribute in a timely manner and not have to have to learn everything the hard way.  I want to come through in the clutch instead of delivering late and forgetting about important details.  I want to contribute to creative design and problem solving.  I want to have some small piece of this app to call my own.

I also want a whole lot outside of work.  So off we go down that rabbit hole.

I want a life partner who is happy with and without my presence.  Perhaps more specifically, I want a life partner who is able to enjoy or at least tolerate my idiosyncrasies.  It seems to me, after a number of wobbly trips down my cobblestone highway of a personality, that I am an extremely difficult partner.  I don't like that label so much, and yet I'm unsure how to resolve this problem without abandoning my sense of self, without giving up the parts of me which make me special.  I sometimes wonder if a waiting period should be required in order to date me, sort of like purchasing a handgun.  Anyway, bottom line, I long for a healthiness which doesn't mean I'm off the hook when it comes to effort, but some sort of natural state which doesn't depend on my ability to be someone I am not.

I want a child.  Not two, although I'd consider that, but just one.  I think one is cool.  I like the 2 parents to one child ratio.  I think that works.  I feel like my clock is running out though.

I want to lead a group within the context of yoga, running, etc.  I really enjoyed today's workout because I finally got to actually lead my athletes through their first set of intervals.  I yelled, I blew my whistle, and I ran around everyone until well after sunset.  However, tonight also felt a lot like herding cats, with 90% of my effort being used up by logistical concerns.  I sometimes wonder if the team would be better off with a more simple minded cheerleader type of coach.  Or an enforcer type of coach who sticks to the plan and doesn't improv or explain, just takes convention as fact and spoon feeds it.  We'll see where things are at as the season progresses.  Ideally, though, this leadership would eventually transition into the yoga studio, a space where everyone can come and go as they please without me having to worry about tracking any lost sheep.  I know I enjoy this type of dynamic, of leading and motivating a group, of sharing my quirks with others and feeding off their energy as they would feed off mine.

Finally, I want more time, more time to write, read, learn, etc.  I also want to spend more time alone, perhaps one day incorporating meditation.  But the problem with all that is that I already feel like I've been drifting away from many of the friends I cherish the most lately because I find myself completely over-scheduled.  I don't think I have any free time in my calendar before Thanksgiving.  Missing out on good friends bums me out as much as not having enough "me" time.  So, at the heart of things, I really want more time overall, more time to do more.  Maybe I should stop sleeping.

I'm unsure if I want to race seriously again.  I might change my mind if I could focus on training without worrying about income and work.  For now I feel completely content without racing.  Not because I don't love racing, but because I feel like I would rather give it a full effort than anything half-assed.

I don't know if I want to move ever again.  I think I want to stay in this house as my residence forever or at least for the next 20+ years.  I'm happy here.  I wish it weren't so expensive to live in SD, but I frequently feel like it might actually be worth it, even with the traffic.

I've wavered on if I want another dog.  I think I've come to the conclusion that Hunter will be my one and only soulmate of a pet.  Perhaps if I had a child who wanted a dog that would be the right time to consider another one.

I want to travel and see the world but I can wait on that until I'm squared away a bit more on the home front.

I want my garage cleaned and my bikes functional.  That's a simple matter of putting in a few hours.  I seem to be stalling on that indefinitely.

I want to purge my closet of half the junk that's in there but I have a hard time getting rid of good stuff.

I want to go to sleep because I'm tired.  So I think it's time to do that.


I rarely ask myself why.  Why do I do the things I do in the manner in which I do them?  I enjoy exploring motivations, of analyzing decision making along the way, but rarely do I step back and examine the big picture, the root cause of where I'm at.

Why do I not ask why?  Probably because it seems irrelevant to do so.  Once I commit to something, the reason why I made that commitment pales in comparison to my dedication to the task at hand.  I don't waste cycles pondering the reason why I'm on the path I've chosen when I'm focused on exploring that path through to the end.

Today is a little different.  Today I'm pondering why.  And I'm going to try to answer, for myself, some questions along those lines.

Why do I run?  This is a great question and one without a concrete answer.  I haven't raced, at least not seriously, in over a year.  So I no longer run to compete, to achieve, or to improve.  These days I run mostly because I can.  When there is nothing else, no class to get to, no burning need to be at work, no social commitment to fulfill, my first thought becomes lacing up my shoes.  Especially on a sunny day, running is my connection to the outdoors, to my youth, to the elements of the earth.  I do truly love the act of running, alone or in a group.  I have never felt satiated with my running.  I don't think I ever will.

Why do I ride?  The sad truth is that I don't have time to ride my bike anymore.  I haven't even taken the time to get it back in streetworthy condition.  This bums me out a fair bit.  I wish there were more time in the day to bring this back into my life a little bit.  But priorities have to be made and cycling at the moment falls short on that list.

Why Yoga?  I've been thinking about this one a lot.  I suppose part of the yoga decision is similar to why my father picked dancing to obsess about.  I chose yoga because I found it challenging.  I chose yoga because I saw tremendous room to improve and explore.  Yoga as a box of goodness seemed deeper than any of the endeavors I've indulged in over the first 35 years of my life.  Yoga seemed new and ripe and succulent.  Yoga connected me to people, to the human spirit, and to sensations in my body which I never knew about or was terrified of in the past.  Most importantly, what I found with yoga is that it restores a balance and calm that I need in order to function in the workplace.  I can get to this level of calm from running but it takes longer and sometimes when it's cold/wet/miserable outside, yoga is a much shorter conduit to this space.  When it's beautiful outside as it has been over the past few weeks here in SD, yoga takes on a slightly reduced role, just as it does when I visit Honolulu.

Why software?  This is the toughest question for me.  I think I have experience and ability when it comes to database development and software in general, from troubleshooting to design and implementations, I think I am halfway decent.  But there is no love, no passion for software, no driving force.  Half of the crap posted on facebook these days is aimed at encouraging all of us to "do what you love."  I don't follow this advice although I sometimes lament that decision.  I do what I have to do in order to pay the bills and because it seems like my dharma to do this type of work.  I believe in specialization of labor, I believe that we should make compromises at times to ensure the quality of what we produce or where we spend our time is as high as possible.  And yet I often envy those who have chosen to pursue their dreams at all costs, those who can pick up and travel with two week's notice.

Why blog?  Writing centers me.  It washes over me as if I were still that child, out on a foam board in Kailua bay, bobbing through the 1' surf with my head on my board, daydreaming.  Writing slows my thoughts down to a pace I can handle.  Writing cleanses me just like yoga, or perhaps just like meditation might do.  When I pick the words, they are all safe words.  When I decide which thoughts to listen to, it always seems fresh.  Writing is my connection to fantasy, to hope, to dreams, and to ridiculousness.