Thursday, May 29, 2008

Recovery Day 4/First Successful Living Seminar

Well, I said I was going to run the next morning in my last post, and I didn't. I ran this morning instead. We just opened New Self Renewal Center in our building, which is a gym, café and spa with great childcare that caters primarily to moms. Happily, employees get free memberships, so I hopped on one of the treadmills, which is the nicest I've ever had my flat feet on.

I ran two miles (1.9, actually) and my calf started hurting, so I went right to cool down. The last thing I need to do is keep aggravating that injury. I think it's time to lay off the running and do some cross-training. I don't know if biking will activate it as well--I'd think it would. I'll give it a shot. It's about time I did some upper body work anyway. (Why is it that all the stuff I love to do builds legs?) I should also get an appointment at Sports Medicine and see how they can help me.

Tonight was the first night of the Successful Living Seminar series, which Karen and I led at New Self. There were about a dozen people there, and it was great fun. We had some great discussion--very thought provoking. It was the first time we taught this course in a 1.5-hour format--it normally last 2.5 or 3 hours. While I don't always enjoy that kind of compression, given that it's a free introductory course, I didn't want to make it too long for people.

Shameless plug: if you are interested in taking part in the upcoming sessions, please do sign up!

I had a sad phone call on the way home, and I'm feeling a bit sad right now. I hope I can help.

Anyway, it's time for bed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Recovery Day 2

I'm amazed at how great my body feels today (well, in comparison). My IT Band and calf don't hurt one iota. And, as expected, today the lactic acid is in my quads. I'll go on an easy jog in the morning to work that through.

I convinced my coworker friend Ryan to start his own blog. I set it up for him in two minutes. After he starts blogging, I'll put a link to him in here.

It was fun talking to people at work today about the half-marathon. I appreciated everyone's atta-boys and support. I feel even more inspired to do it again. I really want to run another half with these leg injuries gone so that I find out what my next limitation is--is it mind? breathe? energy? I'd also like to get higher than the 13th percentile. : )

Speaking of the 13th percentile, unless I'M misunderstanding it, every time I say I'm at the 13th percentile I'm surprised when people say how impressive that is. I then state, "no, the bottom 13th percentile," and crack up at their response.

Today I was curious where my blog was appearing, so I did a search. I have about 5 seconds of fame by appearing on the Daily Page of our local free, weekly newspaper! Search for "Jay" when you get there. I have no idea how this page gets its content, and I'm tickled they found me.

I was less hungry today, and not quite back to normal. I think I will be by tomorrow. In a few minutes, ibuprofen and bed.

I'm really enjoying perusing others' blog entries. Collin turned me on to searching for blogs. I've been using searches like this one:

What fun!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Recovery Day 1

My legs were pretty trashed after the race yesterday. I dropped Josh off at his house and took some ibuprofen there, then stopped at Home Depot to pick up some stuff for my house. I was walking with a pretty pronounced limp, such that upon entering I heard a little girl say, "Why is he walking that way, Mommy?" I didn't hear what Mommy said, although a suitable answer may have been, "oh, he's simply one of those insane runners, honey."

With my mathematically-oriented brain I tend to think in terms of efficiency of my path, and that was cranked even higher during this trip: I needed to get paint from aisle 3, woodwork from 8, a vent from 6... I didn't want to waste a single step in the store. I found using the cart helped a lot. Oh God: is this what using a walker is like? Ulp.

While I have often cursed the hot tub I have as being a financial albatross and general pain in the hinder, it was a true blessing. I sat at my computer and iced my left knee for a while, then limped into the spa. I sat in there, dozing actually, for probably 30 minutes. When I got out, I could walk normally! Somebody give me an AMEN! That told me that much of the pain I was experiencing was from tight muscles, so my strategy now is ibuprofen, ice on the joint (lower inflammation) and BenGay on the muscles. Oh, and stretching--always the stretching...

This morning I mowed the lawn, which didn't feel good: pushing the mower up the hill was hell on the left calf. However, it was necessary, lest I get 'kicked off the island' of my neighborhood for not keeping my lawn up. I often hear their drums at night; I better start behaving.

Since the race I have been CONSTANTLY HUNGRY. I ate and ate yesterday, and today I was still hungry, even though my head told me I'd eaten plenty of food earlier and shouldn't be hungry yet. I'm guessing it's a result of the race. Josh and I went to his brother's house to spend time with Josh's family. Brats, potato salad, brownies and ice cream floats. I finally stuffed myself to the point where I think I've reached stasis once again.

Later in the day I was able to walk pretty normally. The speed of recovery is pretty amazing to me, and I'm not going to push it by running this week. We'll see how I feel on the infamous second day after--tomorrow.

Quit Slaving Away—Master Some New Technology!

This is a copy of a blog I keep on BigLife.

Part 1 of at least a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!

After listening to Victory's interview of Melissa this morning, I was inspired to do some blogging in here to share some of the tools I've used to turbo-charge my own life.

You know, to be honest, I haven't been doing coaching in the strict sense of the word in several years, although I do lots of informal coaching of folks. And I'll tell you why I do it: with anyone I have in my life personally or professionally of any significance, I want them to share some of the systems I use so that I/we don't have to muck around on mundane tasks, and can instead get on with spending time together! Since I'm a geek who enjoys camping out on the leading edge of software products, I can sometimes push right past people's comfort zones with technology. I've since learned to tone it down and get more buy in. Anyway--enough about me; you are likely more interested in the technology.

Are you the Master of the Slave?

Right now I have at least 10 ideas of things you may or may not use already, but I'd be willing to bet you don't use most of these things! How would you like to turbo-charge your life in these areas?
  • Do you waste time scheduling with the people close to you, or do the back and forth of setting meetings with clients or associates?
  • Would you like greater mastery of all of the valuable information that you are flooded with on a daily basis? Do you ever waste time looking for that one email from that one guy about that one thing?
  • Do you have a great EASY way to organize and clean up pictures?
  • Are you a blog master? Have you dabbled? Do you not know what I'm talking about?
  • Do you have a lot of documentation (fancy word for information, procedures or instructions) that you'd like to keep organized for your own use and perhaps share with others?
  • Would you like to have a greater number of quick, easy, "soft" connections with people, that allow you to know what's up in their lives without spending a lot of time?
  • How much time to you spend on the administration of your life when you'd rather be spending it on living your life!

How about we work together to minimize some of that could-be-better-spent time, eh?

Stop spending time scheduling—Use Google Calendar!

I'm sure you already have a calendar of some kind, be it paper or Outlook or something else, and your first response to my suggestion to add yet another makes your stomach hurt.

It'll be ok—stay tuned.

When I was first getting serious with my boyfriend Josh, we were having one helluva time finding time to spend together because we're both pretty busy people. I'd always used Outlook and he'd always used Yahoo! for his calendar. Well, I'd just begun playing with Google Calendar, and I had a great idea.

You see, Google allows you to create multiple calendars for yourself, and SHARE them with others! And you select the access you want others to have: see only free/busy information, see full schedule, make changes to your schedule, manage sharing of your schedule. See my public calendar (new window).

Considering what I mentioned above about pushing people too hard with technology, I suggested we try it. It was a smashing success from Minute 1. Here's a typical screenshot of a week in my calendar:

(I've" shrunk the image to protect privacy.)

The gold is my personal schedule. Blue is Josh's. Brown is time scheduled for ME, sleep and work. Me, sleep and work—are you kidding? Nope. If you don't schedule EVERYTHING then visually it seems like you have a lot of free time that you don't actually have, because you have to sleep! I also schedule two ME! nights each week, which are nights that I DO NOT allow myself to work. I can do laundry or read a book or see Josh, but it's time I invest on me. I hope I don't have to say how valuable that is here... I can also move them around in the week as much as I want, but they have to stay on that week!

Josh and I simply check out our shared calendar when getting an invite from friends, send the other an appointment, and when accepted, accept the friend's invite! Or we plan the time we will spend together, etc. It's been a real godsend.

The green in the upper right marks Memorial Day Weekend. Now look at the list at the left, which is of calendars that I keep with other organizations. I can't tell you HOW USEFUL this is! Others who are involved in the same organization can have these listed on their calendars, and life gets a whole lot easier!

You can also send invitations for any event, and if you use Gmail, all of your contacts are already available (you can also import them).

I keep calendars for: a monthly dinner group of friends, instructors at the Center for Creative Learning, the public calendar for the Center, the Detroit instructing calendar, my half-marathon training schedule (big success!), a public calendar (where others can see my important travel, etc.), and a monthly video group I like to attend.
Don't want to give up your calendar? You don't have to!
Google has a program that will automatically synch many calendars directly with the Google Calendar: either your calendar or Google's can "win", or it will synch both ways. Problem solved!
Don't feel like there's a need to keep as many calendars as me—if you keep just one and use some of the techniques I've mentioned, you're way ahead of the game!

Your Next Steps

In each of these columns I will give you some suggested action. If you don't take action on new information soon after learning it, it's as good as gone.
  • Read about Getting Started with Google Calendar
  • Do you use Google Calendar? Please leave a comment below on a great trick you have, or just share how you enjoy it!
  • Have you tried it and gotten stuck? Leave a question below and I'll answer it in an up-coming entry.
  • Do you have a technology tip that would be good for this blog? Please share it below or email me directly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Success at Madison Half-Marathon!

All set for the raceFor about six weeks I've been sharing information about running and my plans to do the Madison Half-Marathon. I first decided to do it after running with Ryan at the McNaughton run. Today is the day, and not only did I survive--I did pretty well!

I've been struggling with some injuries from over-training in my left leg involving my IT Band and Posterior Shin Splints. As a result of them, I've done basically no running for the past two weeks with the exception of 20 minutes this past Monday. I was pretty nervous (just ask Josh) about what was going to happen when running 13.1 miles, which, by the way, is the furthest I've ever run in my life. Even in training I only got up to 9 miles in the Dells.

I picked up my race packet yesterday at the Alliant Energy Center and perused the products offered by the merchants at the trade show going on there, although I didn't buy anything because I have set a near-moratorium on spending unnecessary money while working on the house.

I lined everything up last night and felt nervous like a kid before his first day of school. Do I have what I need?

I didn't sleep very well—I was awake and a little anxious between 3 and 4:30 I think. I also woke up in a sweat.

I did some research about what to eat the morning of a race, and opted for my normal routine: protein shake smoothie with fruit and fiber.

Josh and I got to the Alliant Energy Center (where the race ends) to park by 6:15, and were on a shuttle to the Capital Square (where the start was) in a few minute. A really well-run event! Josh was going to carry the backpack with stuff in it, and take my last warmie from me before the race started. I stretched and we waited in line at the porta-potties. LONG LINES, and I made it just in time for the start of the race.

You can see my playful-nervous face at right when they shot the gun for our race. OK, so maybe I wasn't completely being playful. ;o)

My strategy was to shoot for 5.5 or 6 mph during the race while I ran, and to do cycles of running 20 minutes and walking 5. If I was going to make it through the race, I was going to have to be reasonable and give my body a break from time to time, or my leg wouldn't allow me to finish. There were several groups of pace setters whose job it was to do just that--set the pace. One carried a sign with the total goal time and goal time for each mile. I stuck with the 2:20-total group (I think it was 11:47/mile time).

I had a little shock after running about a half mile when I realized in the excitement I'd forgotten to put an ace bandage on my left calf to support the shin splints! Oh well, too late to do anything about it. I focused a great deal on my body, ensuring I was running with a good, smooth form. After about 2 miles I walked for 4 minutes (it felt like enough), and then walked mainly on uphills only. My breathing and energy levels were great. My left IT Band began to tighten up after a few miles, and I just stayed as relaxed as possible. It was OK.

The run was really fun. It reminded me of doing the Devil's Lake Sprint Triathlon with Rachel and Adam in 2002 (I think). I had a dumb smile on my face most of the time. I am so used to running alone with just my iPod that it was a lot of fun to be surrounded by a bunch of people! Also, the folks along the way who cheered for runners were really great. Since they put our names on our race numbers, people often called specific encouragements, "Way to go, Jay!" which felt really fantastic.

After we got to University Avenue, my leg was getting tighter and I walked again. It was at this point that I realized it was more painful to run up hills. I ran up Monroe Street very carefully (I couldn't walk all that way--too much time), and downhills were much more pleasant.

There were police officers along the entire route to direct traffic (or stop it, primarily) and ensure we were safe. I had a lot of gratitude for them.

As I got to mile 10 things were getting more painful. I had to stop at one point to tie my shoe, and starting was a bit difficult. So I decided to not stop again--logical, right? : ) At mile 11 I realized that my 'tank' was beginning to feel a bit empty, so I pulled out the Gu (energy stuff) that I got at the Mile 6 aid station, and ate it. Mmmmm--chocolate! That helped.

Sometime around Mile 11 or 12 the pain in my lower calf started to hint at me, and my focus on my form and body were critical at this point. It was at this point I discovered I could not run up hill--it was too painful. I decided once I got to Mile 12 to pick up the pace and end strong. I hadn't saved very much during the race in terms of total running ability. Had my legs been in good shape I could have run faster. So I picked it up for the last mile.

As I got nearer to the finish my excitement was building. I could hear the music, and the cheering increased. And then I saw the finish line. I picked up the pace again grace a the adrenaline coursing through my body. It was a pretty moving experience. For so many years I'd said that I "hated running" and didn't consider myself a runner. I was now completing 13.1 miles, which, again, is the longest distance I'd ever gone. It felt great to break through a barrier of limiting belief. I'm going to call myself a "runner" even if I don't feel it completely. I think running a Half-Marathon allows me to qualify for the descriptor.

I crossed the finish line ensuring I stepped on the mat so that the sensor on my shoe registered! I was done. I got in line to have the chip taken off my shoe, then started looking for Josh. I couldn't find him, yet found Brian, a fellow I'd met at Friday Night Dinner two nights ago. I walked right up to him and said hi, and had to remind him who I was. : ) I asked to borrow his phone, and called Josh. He was just on the other side of the exit. I went out and he gave me a big hug and just held me for a minute. It felt very good. I then went back into the finish area and grabbed some food, and saw Brook and Libby, who ran the 10k. I came back and ate with Josh, then Ryan finished his race. Josh took a couple pictures of us talking.

I'm impressed that when I got home, the results were already online! Here's how I did (full results):

bib number: 3575
age: 41
gender: M
location: Madison, WI
overall place: 2201 out of 2866 (23rd percentile)
division place: 140 out of 161 (13th percentile)
gender place: 1076 out of 1238 (13th percentile)
time: 2:20:17
pace: 10:35 (5.67 mph)
mile 6: 1:03:59
mile 8.5: 1:30:40
chip time: 2:18:42

Are the times fantastic? Nope. And while I tend to be perfectionist about many things, that doesn't matter to me. My only goal was to finish, and that I did. I would have been happy had I averaged 5 mph, so for a first crack at it, I'm very pleased. Any race/run I do next I will be in better condition with no injuries, and can then find out the next limiting factor to work on.

Josh has been so wonderfully supporting through this whole thing, and especially today by getting up earlier, playing the roles of pack mule, boyfriend support and photographer. I also appreciate the support of many others in my life as I've shared the ups and downs of my training and challenges with my leg. I'm very grateful for all of this, and after I take a break and recover, I look forward to taking it easy and running for fun, both alone and with groups...

...until I decide whether I'll be doing another Half, or a full Marathon next.

See all 10 pictures in my Picasa Web Album

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cut the Crap

In your mailbox, that is. Josh sent me a very cool link to, which is a non-profit environmental site where you can create an account, then register catalogs you get that you don't want. They work with hundreds of catalog-sending companies, and get your name removed!

I'm starting this tonight--let's see how it works!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rich Dad Education--Dream or Scam?

A few years ago I listened to Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad audiobook. I found it inspiring, and bought the Cashflow Game, which is a great mind-shifter.

I got some notice that Rich Dad Education was holding a free two-hour session in Madison, and I went last night. I was talking with Josh just before I went in, and we were joking about brainwashing, etc. I told him if I had a glazed look later, he should take me out to the woods and deprogram me.

From start the finish the entire event is carefully scripted and choreographed. While it started at 6, we were not allowed to go in ahead of time; everyone had to wait in the hall until they opened the doors. One of the "Success Team" (sigh) members had us gather 'round in the hall, welcomed us, and gave instructions on how to file in and fill every seat, starting with the first row. Another of the STM herded us to ensure we followed these instructions. One woman wanted to wait for her daughter and was a bit concerned she hadn't come in yet, and this guy said something close to "this is Wisconsin--what could happen?" Wow, way to win friends and influence people.

Don, the presenter, was pretty good at what he did. Good presence, and he announced from the beginning the fact that the "English Teachers" present might not find his presentation perfect, especially that he might say things that were not politically correct (what that has to do with English teachers, I'm not quite sure...). At least I was less annoyed after that with his pronunciation of "realitor" and "entrepreneur" (which I can't even remember now).

I found myself operating on two levels during the presentation: as a participant who is interested in learning about alternate sources of income, and as a presenter critiquing another's presentation.

They use pretty much every trick in the book during the presentation. It was interesting to watch the interplay within myself: being aware of the technique being used, and perceiving the level of effectiveness on me. Sometimes the former happened first, sometimes the latter. Here is a list of the techniques they used:
  • Fear - security: Social Security will fail by 2016, and you can't retire on that anyway.
  • Fear - scarcity: our events have been so popular that we don't have enough bonus packages for everyone in the room. He urged people to get up at any time and go to the back of the room to sign up and take advantage of the special package.
  • YES: getting people to say yes to obvious questions ("would you like to replace your current income working 5 hours a month?").
  • Hand-raising: another form of YES
  • Greed: giving examples of those who have succeeded wildly with the system. Paint a picture of having more free time, ensured financial security, stop working for the man, etc.
  • Condescension: As is true of Kiyosaki himself, Don disdained higher education, saying it wasn't an asset if it didn't create positive cashflow. Proof: how many people are still working in the field they studied in school? Specious logic.
  • Time sensitivity: Act quickly or lose it. Take the 3-day course for $495 if you sign up tonight. After tonight, it's $995.
  • Gratitude: This one surprised me. Near the end he talked about how grateful he was for Kiyosaki's gifts.
  • God and Family: He talked about his own faith for the last quarter hour, and how grateful he was for his adopted son and family.
  • Your "In:" Don shared things during the presentation that had the effect of sharing a secret or being a bit conspiratorial. We were going to be able to do something that "all those other schmucks" wouldn't or couldn't. They'd miss out; we'd make it big.
  • Targeting: He used many people as examples during the evening: "let's say Jay is buying a house..." He used probably 20 people in that way during the evening.
  • Humor: lots of it, none of it above a 4/10 in my book.
  • Admonition: He was clearly being a bit chiding of people not taking advantages of opportunities.
  • Sexism: This housewife stuck it to her husband by doing better at it than he did--and she wasn't even interested in it!
I must admit that I'm human and many of these things had an effect on me, although I at least had awareness of the effect and its cause. And I will admit that I considered signing up for the course, and Josh could attend for free. However, there were too many factors that stopped me:
  • I decided before I walked in the room I wouldn't buy anything under time pressure.
  • I didn't know my schedule, so I couldn't plan to attend. ;-)
  • Not enough information: the tone of the presentation was: hey, don't be a schmuck by missing this great opportunity! However, I used something from Don's own presentation to offset that. He stated that it was important when finding these great real estate deals to identify the good ones and avoid the bad ones. Thus, have enough information on risk to avoid the bad ones. What information was Don sharing about the risk of this program? None. hey, it's only $.63/day for a year for this great deal!, etc.
  • In small print on one of the first slides that played automatically before the presentation began, there was a disclaimer that examples shared during the presentation were not representative of average gains from use of the program. Don gave no information about how many people did not succeed who put best effort in, and he certainly didn't share information about those who failed and lost big.
  • If this was such a great deal and folks were so successful doing it, why the pressure? Sure some pressure is needed to break people out of their comfort zone (I know that from teaching Taking It Lightly), yet this was too much. He asked rhetorically why everyone didn't take advantage of this, and his response was that he didn't know...
I don't like being manipulated when the manipulation isn't helpful or in my best interest (tell me a good joke and I'll love it!). I went home and researched Kiyosaki and Rich Dad Education. I found enough information that gave me good reason to go no further.

I guess in the end, I'm either a wise man who heeded the warning Caveat Emptor, or a poor schmuck who doesn't have enough imagination or gumption to grab a dream when he sees it. I benefit, however, from the expanded awareness of better financial planning, and lifting my head above daily life for a bit to get a better perspective on things.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Training Status--Will I Make It?

It's rather ironic that even though I ran track and cross country in high school, I've always said, "I hate running." A couple years ago when Rachel, Adam and I did the Devil's Lake Sprint Triathlon, I found a great pair of shoes and insoles that really helped my flat feet. Indeed, my feet no longer hurt! My chiropractor also fixed the misalignment in my lower back that gave me so much pain.

Over the past few months of running, I've really taken to it. I now say, "I love running!" When I ran my "McNaughton 10" during Ryan's race, I decided to do the Madison Half-Marathon. I've been training for it pretty seriously, and losing weight as a benefit. I'm 6 or 7 pounds lighter than I started; given the muscle I've been putting primarily on my legs, that's pretty good!

However, being the all-or-nothing guy that I tend to be (well, not always ;-] ), I've been overdoing it. The 9-miler I ran a few weeks ago in the Dells went very well. A bit after that, my left IT band started acting up, causing pain in my knee and some in my hip. This past Saturday I was scheduled to run 10-12 miles. I mapped out a 3-mile loop near my house and set out. The first three miles my legs ached, yet by the end that worked out. Miles 3-6 my IT band started tightening up, and I kept that in check. Starting at mile 6 I started feeling a pain at the bottom of my left calf. What the heck is THAT? It got worse and worse, and by the end of 9 miles I had to stop--the pain was too much. Well, to be precise, I could have kept going, and I knew I'd be doing damage, so for once I found a brain in my head and didn't run through the pain.

Ryan suggested it was Achilles tendon problems. However, upon researching it I discovered it was Posterior Shin Splints. Huh? Shin splints on the BACK of the leg? Yup. My calf is stronger than the muscles on the front, and the differential is causing problems.

I've been using the vibrating massager on it and taking ibuprofen. Yesterday I saw my chiropractor, and he suggested wrapping it and some exercises (toe lifts) to strengthen the front of my legs to balance out the strength.

This morning I went on a 3-mile run. I walked several times when my left leg hurt in general. the wrap definitely helped. Even with the walking, I still ran 6.22 mph! I guess that's my preferred pace, since it's so predictable when I'm not tracking it in any way.

I'm concerned about my being able to run 13.1 miles in a week and a half. I think I'll mostly take it easy until then with just a few short runs. I've already decided that for the race I'll do cycles of running 20 minutes and walking 5. That should help my legs stay in ok shape, and I should complete the race in 6 or 7 cycles.

Off to shower and work.