Friday, July 31, 2015

Piles o' Miles

Coming into 2015, I wrote of my goal  to go under 4 hours for the marathon.  I went after it and, boom, had an injury.  What to do??   I met up with a good local doc and got back on the road again by mid March. 

This shifted my target races from spring events to fall runs, however.  So, right now, I have three events which have timing and courses that may allow a sub-4 effort.    I've been training hard, as you can see in the chart below.  July was a solid mileage month, close to the month I had last October when I ran the 50 mile ultra.  

The plan is shaping up like this.  My first quest for the sub 4 will be in three weeks, on August 22 at the Wausau Marathon in Wausau, Wisconsin.  Hoping for a cool, dry northern Wisconsin late summer morning that day.

The second will come at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 7.  Hoping there for a not-yet-freezing late fall day.

If neither of those work, then I'll head south for the Rocket City Marathon in scenic Huntsville, Alabama on December 6.   Again, a flat course with the hope for good weather.

Right now, I'm piling on miles and following Hal Higdon's Intermediate 2 plan.  Will it work??? Dunno...but we're going to find out.



Thursday, July 30, 2015


In a weird way, running in an Indiana summer is a lot like running in an Indiana winter.  Stay with me here for a moment.

In both seasons, we are hit with very extreme weather; July and August, January and February.  It is so hot/humid, cold/windy; both will nearly take your breath away.  Both certainly tax one's motivation to go out the door.  Both diminish running speed.  

And both demand a shift in attitude;  rather than speed, you just get in the miles.  That's it...just get in the miles.  You can't predict much from your training times.  BUT, and it's a big but, you CAN count those miles.  And by counting the miles, you are far better off for the spring and fall races that count.  

Persevere.  Whatever the season.  


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Attention Span

Of all our limitations, our ability to pay attention, to ANYTHING, is perhaps our most striking.  And something we speak of little.  

Example:  Over the weekend, I stumbled onto some very old messages to me inside LinkedIn.  Several people had sent me serious notes asking for leads or input on key job searches.  Important matters to each of them.  

Yet, I don't look for messages on LinkedIn.  It's all I can do to pay attention to both my personal and my business email accounts plus cell phone text list.  So I missed it.  

Which tells me something.  When I want to connect with someone, I need to first ask "To what does she pay attention?"  

Because spans are limited.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

DNA is digitally perfect

On several early morning runs this past week, I've noticed the familiar call of the mourning dove.  It took me back to my only serious bird-watching of my life, in 5th and 6th grade a very long time ago.  I remember little of that time except for the call of this bird.  And, some 50+ years later and 600 miles from where I was raised, the call remained identical.

It struck me how amazing the genetic material is.  Over gazillions of birds, thousands of generations and huge distances, this species' call is identical to that I recall from my youth.  Indeed, it's identical for centuries.  

It's amazing to me and made for much reflection.  

WITAWIR (What I think about while I run).

Persevere.  The mourning doves sure have.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"Let baseball sell baseball"

Middle son Nathan sent me a very interesting article on the demise of the MLB Fan Cave, the "dream summer locale" for guys who really loved baseball.  It's a good read for baseball fans. 

It also contains good insight into a far-reaching issue; if you measure the wrong thing, you inevitably draw the wrong conclusions.  

And, if you are measuring the wrong thing, you are likely asking the wrong question to begin with.  

Major League Baseball adroitly realized they were asking the wrong question and, thus, quit throwing good money after bad.  

Nice example.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015


It's wierd when the urge to finish off a noxious project hits but I've learned to usually not resist it.

Such was the case last weekend when, in the midst of awful heat and humidity, after mowing the lawn, I decided to remove some dead branches from a pine tree on the side of our yard.  

Once I got cutting, hauling the old branches to the curb, I saw more and more deadwood.   Finishing the tree, the volunteer honeysuckle plants became more evident.  I started lopping them back.  Eventually, I had a huge pile on the curb and a remarkably clean side yard.  

Should have done this five years ago.  But I did it today.  

Man, it felt good.  

Sometimes you have to clear out the dead wood.  And just get it done.  



Sunday, July 19, 2015


So Greece got another lifeline.  I hope it works for all of them.  One clever phrase which grasps the situation realistically though is "Extend and Pretend" .

But what is debt?  And why is it relevant?  

Debt is owing something to another party who has extended something to you.  Greece owes the IMF and other creditors because they loaned Euros to Greece.  Puerto Rico owes its creditors because they loaned dollars to Puerto Rico.

But what about Great Britain? They opted out of the Euro, keeping the pound sterling as their currency.  When they print more pound sterling to inject into their economy, from whom have they borrowed?  Themselves.  It is merely an accounting entry to issue more pounds.  Can they default?  No.  

And this is the distinction.  

An illustration of two people at a football game helps explain.  

The scoreboard operator at the football game puts points on the board as teams score.  Who loans those points to him?  Who does he owe for the points?  Can he even run out of points?  Such questions are nonsensical...points just appear, as needed.  

Compare that with a hotdog vendor at the same football game.  He buys his hotdogs at a central concession stand, using funds from his savings or takes a loan from someone to buy the 'dogs.  He then sells them for hopefully more than he paid.  He can take that money back to buy more, which drives him back into debt perhaps, then he sells them again.  The test comes late in the game, when he chooses when to stop selling hotdogs. 

The scoreboard operator issues his own currency.  The hot dog vendor gets a loan, from himself or someone else.  They are fundamentally different. 

Greek debt is like mortgage debt or student loan debt.  US or UK or Canadian debt is an accounting entry.  This distinction is crucial.  

And something I think about while I'm running.  

Persevere...and do stay out of debt. 


Saturday, July 18, 2015


In a recent meeting at work, a scientist explained a plan for a demanding technical project.  A senior executive said at the conclusion "I have faith you can get it done."

The exec did not understand the details of the technology.  But the exec did understand the track record of the impeccable history of solid project work.  

Why did he have "faith" ?  What did he use that word?  Because he saw evidence the individual could deliver.  



Friday, July 17, 2015


Never in my life have I fixed a smoothie but that changed this morning. 
With the miles I'm running right now, I wondered if I needed more protein in my breakfast, rather than just the complex carbs I got from the bowl of oatmeal I've had every morning for the last 10 years or so. 
I finally found a simple smoothie recipe to try (why are so many of them so complex??).  A cup of milk, one banana, 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, a pinch of cinnamon and a handful of ice cubes.  I also had to learn how to assemble and operate our blender...a new skill which I botched and completely trashed the first attempt. 
Finally got it to work and I was pleased.  Two glasses of a thick, frothy concoction.  We'll see how I feel all day. 
Beware, old dog....

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Give and you shall receive

At 6:00am this morning, I walked into a local breakfast spot to meet a good friend for a bagel.  Running in front of the entrance were two young women, obviously out for a training run.

"How many miles you going this morning?"  I asked.  The smiled "Four solid miles!"  They seemed pleased someone knew what to ask.  

This evening, I went out to get in the mid-week 10 mile run Hal Higdon said I needed.  Just past mid-way, near the Purdue campus, a young couple was walking along the same path.  "How many miles you done this evening?" one of them asked.  I smiled and responded warmly "Six so far!" 

Nice bookends of running encouragement today. 

Persevere.  And ask runner just how far she's going.  


The Gut-Brain Axis

What a cool term..the Gut-Brain Axis.  It was coined by researchers who have found a strong link between good bacteria in our digestive tracts and our feelings and thinking ability. 
NPR had a good piece on the topic this's the link:
This is why we often talk  about "going with our gut" or "that was a gut check" or "she made a gutsy move" or "I have butterflies in my stomach".   Our vocabulary describes what we instinctively knew but now seems proven scientifically. 
Trust your gut as you persevere.

Monday, July 13, 2015

So just how humid was it?

As I finished Sunday morning's 12 miler, I knew I was sopping wet from the sweat in the humid morning.  When I walked up to the house, I noticed my shorts were dripping onto my legs.  I walked in, did not sit or touch anything and in the shower, I literally wrung out at least a cup of sweat.  


Persevere, no matter the humidity.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Donald Trump

A columnist describes Donald Trump:

He puts individuals and groups down in a mean and careless way. He has poor impulse control and is never above the fray. He likes to start fights. That's a weakness. Eventually he'll lose one.*

And it bothers me that people seem to enjoy watching him rather than devoting themselves to more productive uses of their political insights and time. 

What I think about while I run....WITAWIR

Persevere.  And take care of your hair.  

*Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2015


Saturday, July 11, 2015

1 Water Stop = 100 Feet Lost

Engineers love numbers.  Runners love numbers.  Since I am both an engineer and a runner, the effect is multiplied.  Or maybe raised to the second power.  Or maybe matrixed.  

To wit:

I'm strongly pursuing a sub 4 hour marathon this year.  My training plan today called for 6 miles at marathon pace.  So, I utilized my Garmin 305's "virtual runner" feature, in which the screen compared my position with respect to a mythical runner at a perfectly even pace.  It then tells me how many feet ahead or behind I am of Myron, the Mythical Runner.  

Of course, in a race, you never run a perfectly even pace.  And my sub 4 plan calls for steady running but walking through all water stops.  So what's the impact on my overall pace to walk through a water stop?

100 feet per stop.

I simulated several water stops this morning, getting two cups of water, taking four gulps and dumping the rest on my head, while walking.  In every case, it cost me right at 100 feet with respect to Myron.  

I ultimately beat Myron by about 600 feet but he didn't seem to feel too badly.  He did quip though "Man, I was catching you at those water tables but couldn't get by you."  He'll be ok.



Friday, July 10, 2015

Talkin' up Hizzoner

During a recent evening run on our towns excellent running/walking paths, I came up behind a guy out walking his dog.  It struck me he looked a lot like our mayor.  Alas, it was.

I joined him in walking and asked him "Does anyone ever say 'thank you' for these wonderful 20+ miles of walking paths?"

He laughed and said "No, I only hear the complaints when one of them has a crack in the asphalt!"  We had a nice chat and he seemed to appreciate it.  

It's cool to live in a town small enough to know and chat with the the mayor.  It's also almost always good to encourage and pay a compliment.  



Thursday, July 09, 2015

What I think about when I run

WITAWIR...I may well start a series of short posts.  I think a lot while I run.  Does it make sense to anyone else??  Not sure.  But I'm going to put these here on the blog.  They will be short.