January 29, 2008

Quote of the day

Still feeling crappy, so today's quote of the day is:

"The great thing about athletics is that it's like poker sometimes: you know what's in your hand and it may be a load of rubbish, but you've got to keep up the front." - Sebastian Coe

January 28, 2008

From the WTF department

I went to the marathon movie with our friend Tami on Thursday night. Friday night she was out with a co-worker at an event for work. She went home a bit early complaining of some stomach pain. It got much worse during the night and she went to the hospital.

The initial diagnosis was the flu. When they did a MRI, they found she had a folded bowel. They scheduled her for surgery to try to correct it laparoscopically. This wasn't working, so they went in surgically. What they found was a carcinoid tumor on the outside of the bowel which had caused the folding.

It is just crazy. She goes home early with a stomachache and wakes up having a cancerous tumor and her appendix taken out.

From what she knows so far, it was a very slow growing tumor, and though it had spread to her lymph nodes, they believe they got it all. It doesn't look like she will need to go through chemo or radiation. She will find out what her next step is from the doctors in the next few days. For now it is just recovery from the surgery. We visited her again today and she is already doing laps around her hospital floor.

We've been planning a relay run for this summer, and in the last month or so both co-captions have found out they had cancer. Very freaky coincidence. I am hoping that their fitness level will help speed their recovery and that they of course remain cancer free.

Taking a snow day

So I woke up to this

I had actually slept in a bit because I have managed to catch a bug of some sort. The snow sealed the deal that this would be a work from home day. I think it is pretty common to get sick during a taper period of training. Something about heightened defenses while you're stressing your body disappearing when you slow down. I'm not sure if that is the case here as my taper wasn't a huge dropoff.

So I ploughed through e-mails, worked on a couple loans, did some work for our relay group, some laundry, cut my hair and shaved off my beard. It is funny, shaving suddenly seemed awkward. I'm guessing most guys shave their face in a certain order unconsciously. Having not shaved in a few months, it felt like I was doing it left handed or something. Where do I start? When I left the house later, my face felt really cold. The beard apparently is a great winter coat.

I got an automated phone call that said my garbage and recycling would not be picked up today. I think they'll be by tomorrow for the garbage, but not for another two weeks for the recycling. Or maybe it was the other way around. It wasn't really clear (or I wasn't focusing). We definitely produce more recycling than garbage these days, so it'd be nice if they grab the recycling. The phone call was a nice touch for those that actually listened.

Still feeling pretty crummy tonight. Hopefully I can kick whatever this is before the weekend. The snow will be around for another day or so. The pooch seems to enjoy it.




January 26, 2008

Pushing towards the finish line

10 mile run this afternoon. It was drizzling most of the way, and the rain at times thickened up like it was going to turn into snow. Fortunately it didn't quite get there. The run went OK, some problems with my leg but nothing too painful.

My training for the last month or so has either been outside in the rain and wind with the temps in the 30s, or inside on a treadmill with the temps in the 70s. Freezing or soaked in sweat. My next event should have temps from the mid 40s to mid 60s. That kind of weather will be much more tolerable. Hopefully that means a good time!

Watching The Spirit of the Marathon the other day, I was reminded what inspired me to attempt a marathon. The final push was the challenge put out by Cherie, but the inspiration came six months earlier. I was watching the women's marathon at the summer Olympics. I don't watch much of the Olympics typically, but I must have had some seeds of interest in marathons developing.

I remember watching the marathon and seeing Paula Radcliffe slow, stop, try again, and finally succumb to the Athen's heat. Deena Kastor patiently worked her way through the field; at 25K she was 11th, at 30K 8th and at 35K 6th. Four minutes from the finish, she decisively passed Elfenesh Alemu of Ethiopia to move into third. When she crossed the finish line to earn a bronze medal, she looked like she had left everything out on the course. She broke down and wept with joy. I thought - I need to push myself like that and find out what my limits are.

I've been trying to find a video of her finish on the web somewhere, but the Olympic Committee is notorious in protecting their copyrights. It was great seeing the finish again on Thursday.

Quote of the day

We can't solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. - Albert Einstein.

Not so fun statistics

1 in 32 children in Washington State have a parent in jail/prison.

1 in 3 - The chance that a red lipstick tested by a Washington advocacy group last fall contained dangerous levels of lead.

Of the nearly 2,938 questions asked of the presidential candidates by the top five TV political reporters to date, only four mentioned global warming. Number of questions asked about UFOs - three.

Car Mileage: 1908 Ford Model T - 25 MPG. 2004 EPA Average of All Cars - 21 MPG.

Percentage of New Jersey residents who say they would like to move out of state - 49%

The number of text messages sent and received each day exceeds the population of the planet.

Today's 21 year olds have watched 20,000 hours of TV and played 10,000 hours of video games.

Number of Americans that will be overweight in the year 2015 - 75%

Prius vs Hummer

I have heard this Prius vs Hummer argument several times before, most recently from someone at my wife's work justifying driving his own Hummer.

It is true that the Prius isn't all that it is cracked up to be. The extraction of nickel and production of the batteries produces significant environmental damage before the car ever hits the street. Manufacturing damage that is allowed by the Canadian government by the way, but that's an argument for another day.

According to the article, when this damage is factored in the cost of the Prius is $3.25 per mile vs. $1.95 per mile for the Hummer over the lives of the vehicles. This assumes that the Hummer lasts 300,000 miles vs. 100,000 for the Prius. I have no idea if these assumptions are accurate. Using this data, if it is a mile per mile comparison, the Hummer's cost would be $5.85 vs. $3.25 for the Prius. I'd be curious who did the study. Maybe it is the same people who say walking causes more environmental damage than driving.

This is all beside the point. Poking holes in the self-righteousness of Prius owners doesn't change the fact that you are driving a tremendous gas guzzler and causing your own brand of environmental damage. The H3 (the smallest version) gets 15mpg. The H2 through a loophole in the system doesn't even need to submit gas mileage figures, much less meet fuel efficiency regulations. Owners estimate that they get around 10mpg. An added bonus to the loophole is that business get to write off the cost of the vehicle at a much faster rate. Lets subsidize waste while we're at it.

The fact that someone's attempt at being more eco-friendly fails does not somehow excuse your own senseless waste.

January 25, 2008

Four thumbs up

Four of us went to see Spirit of the Marathon last night, two who had run a marathon and two who hadn't. All agreed it was a very good movie.

As I mentioned earlier, it follows 6 athletes - 2 pros, 2 past marathoners, and 2 first timers. I thought they did a great job of following each, though they probably could have done a full movie on just one of them. For the non-pros we saw their 10 and 20 mile training runs as well as a half marathon they participated in. Seeing the faces of the first timers at the marathon's start line brings the experience into focus.

Along with following the athletes, some history was brought in on the marathon's origin, the Olympic competition, women fighting to be included, and the Boston marathon mystique.

There were some great lines that had the theater laughing out loud:

  • Asking a first timer "do you think you'll win?"
  • The older guy "They talk about the runner's high. The only high I get is when I stop running."
  • The non-running husband "I don't get it. 26 miles is what public transportation is for."
  • The line about uteruses falling out.

At the start of the 2005 Chicago Marathon, they slowly pan from the start line back to the 35-40,000 runners behind them. It just goes on and on. They also did a great job following and filming the runners during the race. The pain and emotion on the single mother's face describes the experience better than words could.

They had a shot of one of the athletes training, and he was talking about how amazingly fast the pros are. He is running on his treadmill and cranks it up to 12 mph. Just watching his feet fly brings it home how fast they are moving for 26 miles. The elite men actually go a bit faster than that.

The movie wasn't sappy, but there were a few moments when tears were welling. I am guessing many would only hit a marathoner as it wasn't heavy handed. There were some extras and deleted scenes after the credits that were worth staying for. I may go see it again in February, and will probably buy the DVD when it comes out.

January 23, 2008

Giving us the business

Sometimes I just don't understand business. Well actually lots of times. The stock market's ups and downs seem to be based on whims, panics, and puffery. To me the stock market is simply gambling with better tax treatment. I'm not sure why gains on stocks are taxed at a lower rate than the money you actually work for.

Much of the tax code is based on encouraging certain behavior. As an example, people who own homes have the ability to write off the interest on their home loans, making housing a bit more affordable. It is believed that owning a home makes for more responsible citizens, so the government encourages this by giving owners a break.

The tax break on stock profits is probably intended to encourage investment in businesses - keep the capitalist engine modern and running on all cylinders. Not a bad goal, except that of all the traffic on Wall Street, very little of this money ever goes to the company. You're just buying paper from some random person. If you're buying stock for a startup company, you're helping a new business get off the ground. Buying stock issued by an existing company can help them expand. That makes sense to encourage. The rest is just betting on a horse.

Apple shares fell 3.5% Tuesday, then an additional 11% overnight. This is after reporting the highest ever quarterly revenue and profits in their history, beating expectations. The reason for the drop - Apple's forecast for the next quarter didn't meet Wall Streets expectations. Thanks for beating our expectations Apple, but your expecations don't meet our expectations.

Washington Mutual's stock has dropped 70% in the past year. However the executives who ran the company are set to earn six figure bonuses. The size of CEO bonuses are ridiculous in general, as are their "golden parachutes". When they do a terrible job, bonuses aren't earned and shouldn't be awarded at all. Again, if the CEO has been there from the beginning and has created and guided the business to success, a nice bonus is in order. But CEOs seem to get out of proportion bonuses even if they have been there for a short period, and results don't seem to matter.

On the other side of the coin, the CEO of Tesla Motors has been dumped after founding the company, and for the last five years bringing a 100%, 125mph electric car to within 3 months of market. At least he is still second on the waiting list to get one of the cars he helped create.

January 21, 2008

Motivational movie

This Thursday, Spirit of the Marathon is coming to a theater near you. The film follows six athletes as they prepare and then run the Chicago Marathon. The athletes are: two professionals (Deena Kastor is one), two people who have run 4-5 marathons, and two people who will be running their first marathon.

The film also features big names like Dick Beardsley, Joan Benoit-Samualson, Hal Higdon, John Bingham, Paula Radcliffe, Bill Rodgers and many more. The film premiered at a couple of film festivals, and is being released for a single showing on Thursday. If Thursday doesn't work for you, the film will have an encore presentation on February 21st.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie, especially so close to my next marathon. My go-to motivational movie right now is a taping I have of the Ironman Championships in Hawaii. It does a great job of covering both the pros and the amateurs. There are always some great stories behind the athletes.

Review to follow...

Chilly morning

Went out to the car this morning and found it iced over. As I was scraping the windshield, it became obvious that there was ice on the inside as well. My run on Saturday was through on and off rain, but the last two miles the skys opened and drenched me. Apparently there was still plenty of moisture in the car this morning to freeze over.

It has been a while since I had to worry about ice on the inside of the car. My old Mustang was not air or water tight. I don't miss those days.

January 20, 2008

Home stretch

My long run yesterday was 20 miles. 20 miles is the longest run in my marathon training. I do less mileage than is recommended by most programs. My plan was to run 3 days each week, maxing out at 35 miles in a week, but I didn't even make that happen this time around. I have erred on the side of caution as I've been running injured the last month and a half. Hopefully it will pay off to get me to the start line healthy.

The run went pretty well. I used a vibrating massager and a foam roller on my IT band before heading out. It seemed to help. My legs were tight for the first few miles, but loosened up. However, the last three miles my hips were pretty sore. Not sure what it would have felt six more miles down the road. I am not too sore today, so that is a good sign.

Now it is time for the blessed taper to get ready for race day.

Thank you for not smoking

Lawmakers in Washington state are looking to ban smoking in cars with children in them. We have already banned smoking in public buildings, and even within 25 feet of entrances. All this to protect people from second-hand smoke which has been linked to several ailments. Three other states have already passed the smoking/children in the car law. The infraction would be a secondary offense (need to have another reason to pull you over), and it would not appear on your record or be reported to your insurance provider.

Washington has a reputation of becoming a "nanny" state by taking away personal choices for the protection of our citizens. However this bill has little opposition so far. Interestingly, it is already against the law for foster parents to smoke in a car with children in them. The new bill simply passes the protection to all children.

Just from casual observation, it seems there has been a drastic reduction in smoking in our area. It is a rare sight to see someone smoking in their car these days, even though this is one of the few places they can smoke anymore. Though my sense of smell is generally dull, I can usually smell someone smoking in a nearby car. I imagine it is pretty nasty for any kids inside.

As someone allergic to cigarette smoke, I have enjoyed the smoking ban in restaurants. There is no effective way to corral the smoke into a smoking section or into the bar. When I worked in restaurants or I spent any time in a bar, I had to hang my clothes outside when I got home. I think the 25 feet buffer is a little excessive, but on this subject, I'll take a little nannying from my state.

January 17, 2008

January 15, 2008

Jump start

I haven't felt terribly inspired lately. A dulling of the senses. A little post-holiday fog, recent losses, or maybe just lingering effects from insomnia.

At the same time I am excited about our new office. We are looking to update our advertising and business cards to reflect our new location. I took a walk down to the waterfront to take some pictures we could use.



I might need to take my morning coffee down here. Natural inspiration.

January 14, 2008

Beautiful day

Another long run this weekend (14 miles). It actually went pretty well. I had less pain in my legs and hip flexor than I've had in the past few weeks. I'm in the home stretch now in my training. If I can only get to the starting line in one piece...

It turned out to be a beautiful day as well - sunny and in the mid-forties. The sunny weather seemed to effect everyone I passed. Nearly every person smiled and waved as I passed by. Even folks in cars waved. It is amazing what a difference a sunny day makes.

Happy Anniversary Brian and Cherie!


Photo taken at home the morning we headed to the airport.
It was nice to leave the snow and head to the tropics.

January 13, 2008

Gerry's memorial

Gerry's memorial was yesterday. It was a very nice celebration of his life. The pastor estimated that there were 300 people in attendance. I'm sure there was probably another 300 that wished they could have been there. Many friends and family wrote some wonderful stories sharing moments of his life. There was also a video presentation with some great pictures. Afterwards there was a reception where we shared more stories and met with the family.

About 30 of us met ahead of time to do a quick bike ride before the memorial. We met at the gym where Gerry took his spinning classes, rode to his home, and then took the long way back. There were riders from his Big Rides as well as friends from Whidbey Island. Several more people who couldn't attend the ride wore their jerseys to the memorial. There are plans for a longer ride in his honor sometime in the spring.

One of the stories at the memorial (I think it was Michelle's) made a nice comparison of Gerry's riding style and his life. Gerry was never the first into camp at the end of the day. He was certainly a strong enough rider, he just wasn't in a hurry. He'd take his time enjoying the sights and the day, making several stops along the way - especially if there was an ice cream shop. For Gerry it was never about the destination, it was about the journey. No need to rush through it.

Like Gerry we should relish every moment.

January 11, 2008

"My job is so small town"

WE'VE MOVED! OK we haven't moved, but my office did. We have moved from south Everett to downtown Edmonds. It is a much better location.

Edmonds has a great little downtown. There are some cool shops and restaurants. Someone mentioned that Edmonds has a ban on chain stores, so the shops are unique. It has nice small town feel.

Our broker went out looking for a new coffee maker, and ended up in a tea shop. He met the owners and chatted about our company, our move and how excited we were to be in Edmonds. He ended up buying some great teas, an electric teapot and a silver decanter. All in all around $160. They didn't take Amex, so they let him take everything with him, trusting that he would be back with a check. Love it. When I ran the check up a couple hours later and mentioned how cool their trust was, they said "Oh that's just Edmonds".

I was reminded of a trip to the bookstore across the street a year ago. I was Christmas shopping for my Mom, and spied a book she might be interested in. I didn't pick it up at that point though. I came back a week later, but they had rearranged the shelves. I couldn't remember the title or author, just the shelf it was on. Feeling like a fool, I asked the kind lady for some help. All I had was "it had a blue cover and I think a picture of the Earth on it". She knew just what I was talking about and walked right to the book. Try that at Barnes and Noble.

I'm going to enjoy our new digs, checking out the shops, meeting new people, and walking everywhere.

January 9, 2008

Sunrise from the wrong end of the day

I'm battling with insomnia again. Sunday night/Monday morning I didn't get to sleep until 5:30a.m., a time when the wife was just getting out of bed. Tuesday night the zzz's didn't come until about 3:30a.m. I have this problem occasionally, but experience doesn't make it any less frustrating.

I just can't seem to turn off my brain sometimes. There may be a few important thoughts at the beginning, but it is the random stream of conscious tangents that are frustrating. Sometimes I try to trace back to see how I got there, and it is weird the connections your brain makes. I'd give you an example, but what kept me awake until 5:30a.m. clearly wasn't worth remembering the next day.

It is likely stress that sets me off. It is like my brain is saying "look at all these shiny images - pay no attention to your troubling thoughts." I am used to operating on limited sleep. I don't remember waking up and thinking "Ahh, that was just the right amount of sleep." I am tired every morning. A few more nights like this though, my body will be ready to switch to the graveyard shift.

I used the wee hours when I couldn't sleep to catch up on some reading. I was a day or two behind on my resolution to read the Bible. I am also reading another good book. It is called World Without End by Ken Follett. It is a related story to Pillars of the Earth. It is not quite a sequel as it takes place some two hundred years later, but is based in the same town and has some descendants from the original story. Pillars of the Earth is a brilliant story about the fictional town of Kingsbridge and the building of it's cathedral. Though fictional, the story uses actual British history as its background. Ken Follett does a great job of interweaving multiple story lines, and I think Pillars is his best work. At around 1,000 pages it is an investment of time but well worth it. The new one is of similar length and 200 pages in it is looking very good as well.

I have enjoyed book club so far, but the only frustration is not having time to read the stack of books on my shelf. I have around eight books waiting to be read, some that have been in the stack for a year. I read somewhere recently that when you choose a book to read, you are really choosing not to read thousands of other books.

All the books I'll never read. Another thought to keep me up at night.

January 5, 2008

Nice surprise

I received a Christmas card from Gerry today. There was a note on the back from his wife that she found it on the table, and guessed that Gerry had ran out of stamps. It was a lovely gesture for her to pass it along with all she has going on.

Like all the pictures and notes that have been passed along, the card brought a smile and some sadness. The memorial is next weekend. There is talk about some of us riding our bikes to the service. I hope it works out - I think it would be a nice tribute.

Not very regular running note

I am in the home stretch in my marathon training. I feel like I'm being held together with wire and duct tape at times, but I keep moving forward. My left quad and hip flexor have been sore since the Rudolph Run December 15th. I skipped my Thursday run in hopes of some repair, but it didn't really help. At minimum I need to get my long runs in, and today was an 18 miler.

It had rained all night and morning, and the wind was blowing pretty steadily. I thought about the gym for about a nanosecond, but 18 miles is just too long on a treadmill. So I headed to the Burke-Gilman trail. The Burke-Gilman is a great trail in the Seattle area that runs from Freemont, north around Lake Washington then connects with the Sammamish trail to finish in Marymoor Park in Redmond. The trail is actually about 26 miles, so I suppose I could do my own marathon there.

On this long of a run, I not only need to carry fluids and gels, but I need to stop for a refill at some point. Occasionally we have had friends meet us with supplies, but normally I'm self-supported. Today it meant doing a 9 mile out and back heading west, a quick stop at the truck, then another 9 miler heading east. The trail was pretty quiet, I'm sure because of the weather and the Seahawks were playing at 1:30 (thank you Tivo!).

Overall it went O.K. The rain pretty much stayed away, though the wind was strong at times. For the first 4 or 5 miles, it felt like I was running with a charlie horse. It loosened up for a bit, but tightened up again toward the end. The last 3 miles were tough as I was sore and out of gas. I tried a walk break every mile to try to keep loose, and I think it helped somewhat.

Post run I walked for a bit (good), got in my truck and stiffened up (bad), and came home for a cold bath (good). The cold bath seems to help my muscles recover a bit better, but is not as tempting in the winter as it is in the summer.

The bath is in the "wife's" bathroom. Separate bathrooms is awfully nice. I won't give a number (for fear of the wife suspending blogging privileges) but there are an awful lot of bottles lined up in the bathtub. When we shared a bath in the past, I have set off a domino chain of these bottles. Not a great way to start your day.

January 2, 2008

2008 Trip n Dip

Like last year, some friends and I did the Resolution 5k and Polar Bear Dive on New Year's Day. It seems like a great way to get our running year started, and the dip in Lake Washington kind of starts the year off with a dare. It is also one of the few events where we run together the whole way, so it is also a nice celebration of our continuing friendship.

Our New Year's Runners


Out of the water

2008

New Year's Eve was a quiet one this year. The wife and I went over to a friends house for some snacks and libations. No big party this year, just catching up with a couple friends and playing with the kids while Dick Clark played in the background.

Instead of champagne at midnight this year, it was fudgesicles for Gerry.