Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SOO Advisors Institute

Monday night I gave a presentation to the Advisor's Institute, as organized by the Student Organization Office (SOO) of UW–Madison. In preparation, I met with Barb, Eric and Mark of SOO a couple of weeks ago, and after that hour and a half, had enough ideas to create a one- or two-day workshop. And they needed a 45-minute presentation. : ) They asked me to speak on When Your Word Becomes Law, which is one of the Successful Living Seminars offered by the Center for Creative Learning. I fashioned the presentation around concerns that student organization advisors have with students surrounding integrity and accountability.

The institute was held in Gordon Commons, which is the first time I've been in the building since I went to school myself. I checked the status of the deconstruction of Ogg Hall next door--they haven't yet gotten down to 6th Floor West, where I lived as a freshman. One day soon the physical signs of that part of my life will be gone.

I had a great time. At Table 3, I went to the buffet table to get my dinner (in order to eat quickly to present in a few minutes), and discovered upon my return that my water glass had spilled. I first thought I had done it myself, and discovered I hadn't. I shared how spilling of milk, etc., at the dinner table was a big sin when I was a kid, and we laughed at the thought now. I got to know the others at my table as we talked about birth order, and where we all fit.

The presentation itself was also very enjoyable. Despite cramming a lot of information into 45 minutes, I followed the minute markings on my outline and finished right on time--not bad considering I love to talk and could have spent several hours! A memory came up while I was giving an example of breaking something when I was a kid that I hadn't thought of in years; the spontaneity was fun.

After the presentation I encouraged the group to break into smaller groups to practice some role-plays of an advisor holding a student accountable. About a third actually did the role-plays, and the rest had valuable discussion about the issues. I shared my wondering with the group whether those who didn't practice the role-play did so as a way of avoiding holding others accountable, which can be uncomfortable. It also occurred to me that if folks didn't know each other well enough, there may not have been enough emotional safety or comfort to do that type of activity. I'm still curious to find out more about that. : )

During the debrief and Q&A, we had great discussion: folks raised some challenging questions about holding students accountable. I answered some questions, and turned others back to the group, which led to the sharing of wisdom that I knew to be in the room.

Evaluations were positive--people enjoyed the information (new and reminders), the playfulness and energy, and meeting with other advisors and sharing ideas.

I'm very excited for the progress that SOO is making. They will soon be creating a listserve/email list that advisors can use to connect more and share some of this wisdom and experience between group members. And they are doing this during a hiring freeze! They get lots done.

My thanks, once again, to everyone who attended, and to Barb, Eric, Mark and Renee for inviting me to present! I look forward to hearing how the organization continues to develop, and support the students and their organizations into the future.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


At church for several months, Pastor Curt Anderson has been talking about a group, Cantus, that will be performing in April. It sounded like it might be good, and I hadn't really planned on attending.

That changed this morning in an instant.

Cantus is a male vocal ensemble from the Twin Cities. They performed three pieces a capella during the service this morning. Exquisite. It was so beautiful I simply wept. There was nothing that was going to stop me from coming to the evening's concert. Josh felt the same way.

So we both went our ways--Josh went home to work while I went on my easy run for the day, did some yardwork, laundry, etc.

We were back at church before 7, where we sat in the second row. Cantus members are all highly trained, professional musicians, and they do this full-time. The songs range from sacred to secular, serious to funny. It was heaven to listen to a group of musicians who sing together, move together, breathe together. Simply flawless. They sang Franz Biebl's Ave Maria, which again had me crying. The piece is gorgeous, and their rendition was out of this world.

While there are nine members, there is no conductor--they are incredibly alive while they sing, and connect with each other visually, constantly looking from one to another, or focusing on whoever is leading at the time. There were countless times where they were looking out front, and still beginning and ending consonants were right on. I was stunned. It's obvious to me that they have sung for so long together that they are just... together.

The concert was a fundraiser for Porchlight, Inc., a Dane County organization whose mission it is to decrease homelessness in Dane County. The Executive Director spoke at the beginning of the intermission, then a fellow who had received help from Porchlight shared his experience (yeah, more tears from me). I was doubly happy we came to the concert.

Afterward, Josh and I bought all five of their CDs, and got at least one signature from each member. They were also very pleasant to meet and visit with. All-around nice guys.

If you ever get the chance to hear them, it would be well worth your while.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Girls Rock!

This is one of the movies that Rachel and I saw during the Wisconsin Film Festival. It was my favorite movie of the festival. It might immediately appear silly, and do not be mistaken: it is a great movie in several respects.

This is a Rock 'n' Roll camp for girls in Seattle. I was expecting a nice feel-good movie, where the participants would be shepherded through a process--no way! These girls learn an instrument in five days if they don't know one, and they have to pick their own bandmates. Nothing about this movie is predigested. The women who staff the camp rock themselves. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

It's currently playing at Sundance Theatres in Madison. I recommend this film to anyone, and any girl or woman who wants to feel more empowered--go see it!

You can also visit the Girls Rock movie website.


Great Run! and Google Earth

I stayed up a bit late last night playing with Google Earth. It really blows my mind the level of detail that they have all over the world, not to mention when the program "flies" you from one place on Earth to another--I actually felt a bit of vertigo!

I was looking at places where I was in Nepal, even finding a route that very much matched Mary's and mine when when we trekked the Annapurna range in 1990. I uploaded a few images, including some pictures I took at Pearl Harbor when visiting the USS Arizona Memorial Museum. And I was very naughty to stay up as long as I did.

View Interactive Map on MapMyRun.comAfter six hours of sleep I got up and futzed some on the computer, waiting to digest breakfast some so I could go on my run. And what a great run it was! I was a bit intimidated thinking of running 7 miles, but also knew I could do it, even if I had to take my time. Take a peek at the route I ran, if you're interested. My average speed was 5.83 mph (that's a 10:16 mile--I think in mph...). Not bad for a longer run! Now I'm even more confident that I can run the 13.1 miles well.

Josh is busy today, so it's a great opportunity to get lots of stuff done. I'm very behind in laundry, kitchen, and other housework, and I have to work on some other projects and presentations as well before the Varsity Band concert tonight.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

And Here's the Half Marathon Route!

I'm totally jazzed about! I just mapped the route of the Half Marathon as best I could. Here it is:

So now I just gotta keep up with the training! Speaking of which, take a look at my training calendar.

Yee ha!

Last Night's Run

I had a great run last night, which was very welcomed given how much my body hurt on Sunday! My coworker, Libby, turned me on to MapMyRun, which is an AMAZING Site! Here's the map of my workout last night:

I'm super-excited to have this tool to track my training progress! I was using a Google Spreadsheet; this will be even more useful.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

McNaughton 10

This past Friday and Saturday my coworker friend, Ryan, ran in the 150-mile McNaughton Park Trail Run in Pekin, IL. Some might think Ryan is a bit nuts, and in this regard I probably wouldn't give much of an argument.

Anyway, months ago he asked if I'd support him in the race. Last year was the first year he ran it, and he had a full crew of folks from work and others come to make sure he had plenty of fluids and solids going in and out of his body, as well as to "pace" him (which means to run along).

I had planned to go down for both days, and with the level that my life showed on the insaninometer, I just couldn't swing both days, so I told Ryan I'd come down on Saturday and possibly run with him (what the hell was I getting myself into!).

I set off at 7 am and had a great, solitary drive down, with the exception of missing the jog on US 39 and needing to call Josh to get new directions--which he sent to my phone as a text message. Parenthetically, I've decided that was the LAST TIME I'm ever going to deal with that: I'm buying a Garmin or TomTom or something. Life is to freaking short to spend time and energy getting lost and following maps. Bah.

I listened to a number of podcasts on the way down, which is a real treat, since I rarely have (OK, take) time to do that. I listened to Grammar Girl for about two of the four hours on the way down. Love it! It had been so long since I'd had a nice, long drive to myself. I'm realizing I'm a bit more introverted than perhaps I thought I was.

OK, OK, I'll get on with the story. I arrived around 11:30 or Noon and looked for anyone I'd recognize. Uh, I didn't recognize anyone. Eventually Ryan ran through, and I believe Mike was just finishing a 10-mile loop with him (this must have been mile 110). Several of Ryan's friends and coworkers, as well as associates from WTCA and other athletes were there to support him. I brought my gear down, and by God I was going to use it. I guess... I got dressed and did little warm-up, and Ryan was on his way in! He didn't stop, and Steve, John and I started the next loop with him--this was at mile 120.

Let me back up for a moment and describe the day. Cold. Rainy. Windy. Some might say miserable, and I would be in their numbers. Before getting ready to run I'd had all of my clothes on that I'd brought. I paid the folks $10 to eat some food; they did a pretty good job of it. It was a relief to start running and warm up!

The loop started with a downhill mud ski. I'm not really exaggerating. There were three different races going on at this point: the 50-, 100-, and 150-mile--that was a lot of footfalls on the soggy ground! I don't think Steve and John expected much, as they remarked that I was nimbler than they anticipated. It's nice to surprise people. They're both runners. Well, more serious than I, anyway.

We were probably running 5 mph, which is a comfortable pace for me. John and I ran out front for a good part of the lap while Steve stayed back with Ryan. There are several way stations along the way, which was good since I'd not drunk enough fluid before starting.

I would estimate that MOST of the route is NOT on flat land: most of it is going through very hilly woods. As we approached one downhill, it occurred to me that it didn't look as much like a trail as it did an object d'art: the ground was complete mud, and there were long trails of feet sliding in it. It reminded me of a clay sculpture, or perhaps an oil painting with really think swaths of oil painted on the canvas. It was actually quite beautiful... to look at anyway; a moment later I attempted to run or walk or at least not fall in it. I did fall once, although I caught myself so didn't get too much dirty. However, the shoes were getting completely muddified.

We were all falling down. Steve fell right on his rear end at one point; luckily he didn't hurt himself. Ryan fell down eight times in my time with him. At about mile 8 he fell on a grassy, muddy hill and just lay there for a moment. Finally he said quite simply, and perhaps a bit weakly, "That hurt." Ryan's not very flower in general, and his straight-talking is more pronounced after he's run several tens of miles.

At some points the trail was simply wild: steep hills (there was actually a rope tied to a tree at one point!), logs over ravines and little streams, and even some fairly well-made footbridges.

The sheer ten miles was weighing on me; add in the terrain and it was pretty grueling, actually. I've been running for a couple months: 3x/week, about 4-5 miles each at 5.5 to 6.5 mph. On a treadmill I don't have to pay much attention to all the stabilizing muscles in the legs, and especially around the knees and ankles. That was MOST of the concentration during this lap! I became reacquainted with some muscles that I hadn't had good conversation or lunch with in a while.

Oh, I haven't yet mentioned the river that needed to be crossed. Twice. The first time was, oh, around mile 4 or so. While it was cold it was actually fairly refreshing on the feet. It was only about two feet deep, and my shoes were comfortably dry within about half a mile or a mile. We crossed a much deeper stretch of water at about mile 9 or so. That was too late in the game to allow me to dry off before finishing the lap.

Mile 7

I would estimate that at about mile 7 or 8 I was in as much pain as Ryan. Maybe not as much fatigue (he'd started running Friday at noon and this lap was 3:30 to 6 pm Saturday), but he's in much better shape than I--I was really give my body a pounding at this point.

About the last five miles I ran behind Ryan while Steve and John ran 100 yards or so ahead. I had several things to focus on: keeping my body relaxed with good form so it would continue to function, not running into Ryan (oh that would have been bad), being careful where I step to not twist anything, and supporting Ryan. A lot of it was small talk, some questions and talk about the race itself, and from time to time I would discuss things having nothing to do with the present moment, just to give us both a mental break. I also gave him plenty of encouragement, as during this lap he was in third place, and he was focusing on catching up to second. I noticed he was touching is right leg, and when I asked he informed me it was getting tighter and tighter (Hm. I work on my own IT bands...). So I had him imagine it relaxing.

Mile 9

After we crossed the last river around mile 9 I was beginning to have difficulty keeping up with Ryan. I was afraid I was going to pay for this later. There was a funny (or something) little moment when I was on my way up a hill in deep mud when I almost lost my shoe--I caught it just in time, although I did have to stop and retie it, then catch up to Ryan. Luckily, we walked up all of the steep hills; otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do it.

I also encouraged Ryan to keep up a good pace, and I could feel it every time he accelerated. I told him that I promised I'd run with him... every time he'd run 120 miles first. That makes us fairly evenly matched for a while. Am I really this old?

I don't dare make myself sound heroic in this blog, since I was running 1/15th the distance of Ryan, yet in my condition I will say I was getting to the point of running on sheer guts and determination. My legs hurt and I was running out of gas. I told Ryan in the last mile that I was going to leave after this lap. I didn't see much sense in staying since there was no way in HELL I would going to be able to do more running (or even walking), and cheering him on for 5 seconds between laps made no sense. He was also scheduled to finish around 11 or later, and it just didn't make sense. He was OK with that.

On the way up the last hill before the straightaway to the finish I told him to go get #2 and have a great race. When we high the straightaway he put on a burst of speed as two things happened, I think: he saw the finish line (for that lap) and all the folks there, and he also saw #2 ahead of him. I forget the guys name, but he looked like he was having difficulty. At this point, I was done. Perhaps I could have gone for some adrenaline and kept up with Ryan, but there was really no point, and I would have been damaging my body worse that I already had. So I finished the last hundred yards and crossed the finish line outside the actual finish area, which I believe was customary.

Completion of the McNaughton 10

It didn't seem all that significant at the time, and I realized later that I think that was probably the longest I'd ever run. I can't remember if we ever ran 10 miles in a cross country practice when I was in high school. Hey--I'd just run 10 miles! That's a pretty good accomplishment!

I think Ryan stopped and got some food and drink, and Randy had his headlamp on in preparation for the oncoming darkness. Ryan changed some clothes and off they went.

I went for food and sat by the fire. My pants were still wet, as were my feet, and I had no intention of being any more uncomfortable than I already was. I sat next to a young fellow who wasn't wearing much considering the conditions, and was shaking. I asked how he was doing, and he said OK: just having a hard time with his core temperature. He'd finished the 50-miler earlier. I got him some soup; I was concerned that he was headed toward hypothermia. Sure enough, a few minutes later the shaking became more pronounced. I got a blanket and put it around him, talking to him (to ensure he was lucid). He stopped shaking after a while. I consider that my second good deed for the day.

I hadn't taken many pictures, and left the camera with instructions with Mike, so that he could take pictures later. I changed into dry clothes (oh my, how nice!), had a bit more food (hey, I can eat whatever the hell I WANT after that!), got in my car and left. I ran Ryan's miles 120-130, and he had 20 miles left. We discussed that while we were running, and we decided that he could do anything two more times.

At Mike's suggestion I stopped after driving about 30 minutes to go to the bathroom and stretch. The only problem was it was cold in the rest stop--what's the point of stretching in the cold? None. So I got in the car and drove on.

I listened to four hours of Grammar Girl. I guess I'm a huge grammar geek, yet I loved it! I did stop once to get gas, and just drove. I love driving at night. It's so nice to have the solitary time and not be able to do anything else--as though I need an excuse to relax. However, something about that setting allows my mind to truly relax.

I got out of the car when I got home around 10:30 and could barely walk. It was painful--especially my left knee and hip. Josh came over and we sat in the hot tub for a while (something is wrong with the pump--sigh) and went to bed.

Epilogue: Half-Marathon Anyone?

I was in fairly serious pain, although Advil helped a lot. I felt much better pretty quickly, and was giving something a great deal of thought: If I can run in that **** for 10 miles, a half-marathon (13.1 miles) on flat road would be a piece of cake! So I signed up for the Madison Half Marathon on 5/25, the Sunday before Memorial Day. My coworker Libby and her two friends (who are also friends of Josh's) are also going to be running it. Josh will be at the finish taking pictures. Oh, and I believe the race registration was the first time I listed him as my emergency contact. :-)

I found a training schedule for half-marathons, and while I'm starting too late, I've created yet another Google calendar (I now have 10 that I've created, along with the 10 I have included) in which I've placed the training schedule. Hell, even if I didn't do anything beyond the running I'm already doing, I'm sure I'd be fine. However, I'm excited about this endeavor! I'm sure I'll be blogging more about it, so stay tuned.

As always, comments are appreciated.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Wisconsin Film Festival So Far

This is Rachel writing in our "Analog Database" of reviews during lunch on Saturday - she suggested that we keep a single notebook of our reviews and write them separately. She tends to summarize the movie and give a few impressions, where I go solely with impressions and opinions.

Here we are at the Majestic before seeing Garbage Warriors. They started the wrong movie (something Italian with subtitles), so the movie started 30 minutes late. We had time to snarf down a sandwich at Michelangelo's, where I Jotted the last blog entry.

This was our reaction to the wrong movie starting...

This is the final image of the intro that they play before each film. Such great music and great graphics! They are so incredibly creative with all of this stuff. One of the sayings they have on the back of the shirts is:

Keeping You in the Dark for 10 Years.

How funny is THAT?

We have five more films to see tomorrow. All kidding aside, sitting through 15 films (16 for me) is a bit physically grueling, especially with some of the aweful chairs in some of these theatres. Good thing we're hardcore...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday during the Film Fest

Rachel and I have seen 3 films so far. The first one was Wisconsin shorts the second was The Girls Rock, which was awesome. The 3rd one was Garbage Warrior, which we both enjoyed a lot. Right now we are grabbing a couple of Sandwiches on State Street before going to number 4. We are having a good day, although sitting is getting a bit tough and the chairs are not comfortable, but we are hardcore enough to stick it out. We are having fun. listen

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Wisconsin Film Festival - Hardcore!

Rachel and I have already been to the first three films that we're going to see at the Wisconsin Film Festival. We are now standing outside Orpheum Theater in order to see film number four. We can't wait. It's our last film for the night and we start again tomorrow, when we will see six films, more later. Listen to this Jott

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