Monday, November 28, 2011

Only 3 different kinds of problems?

One of the books that I am currently reading is "The Checklist Manifesto" by Atul Gawande. It is non-fiction (the only kind of book i read), and pretty much tries to convince the reader that everything can be broken down into a checklist, and this will make tasks more efficient, safe, etc. etc.
I won't bore you with the details; I am actually not far enough into the book to give it a fair review. I do, however, want to share a few ideas with you that are presented early in the book.
Gawande proposes that there are really only 3 different kinds of problems which we face: simple, complicated, and complex.
  • Simple problems are those akin to baking a cake from a mix. Simple and few steps, pretty much guaranteed success if you follow the recipe.
  • Complicated problems can be likened to launching a rocket to the moon. It can be broken down into several simple problems, and once success is achieved, you can pretty much follow the same steps with other rockets and expect success.
  • Complex problems are ones like raising a child: "Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child". Outcomes remain highly uncertain.

Think about the problems that you face in your life. Can they be grouped into these categories? Can the more difficult ones be broken down into smaller problems?
If your problems are like mine, most of them can be hacked into smaller pieces. I will be looking to find which ones have the highest possibilites of success, and do at least ONE THING every day to move toward resolution.
I invite you to do the same.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Worst Parade EVER!"

That was one of my favourite signs seen during my first ever marathon. Last Sunday, me and 10,000 of my closest friends ran the Philadelphia Marathon. One of those people was Colleen, from The Fit Bee. You can read her report here. As she said, a big special THANK YOU shout out to ARCTIC EASE for helping to make this possible. They are a major sponsor of the event, as well as a big supporter of me and my running craziness. Their product played a BIG roll in my training and recovery from the event.
Imma start right off by saying that it was a great, wonderful, emotional experience. Sounds cliche, for sure, but for those of you who have been there, you'll understand. Sadly, my wife and kids weren't able to make the trip with me, but I am glad to have had some friends in attendance. One really cool thing is that I got to run into some family friends who I haven't seen in over 10 years. Talk about a small world!
The beginning of the race flew by; I was able to stay between 9-945 pace, which is what i had planned. My intent was to go for slightly negative splits over the second half, so if i had any chance of doing that, i had to go a little slower in the beginning. Good thing i did, too....
My main concern going into the event were my feet. One pair of sneakers makes my RIGHT foot hurt after 8 ish miles, while the other makes my LEFT foot hurt after only about 6 miles. I chose the former, and taped my left foot just in case. I was fine until near mile 10 when the right foot started to ache right where i thought it would. So far, though, the left was fine. The crouds were amazing; i did my best to pump them up as our little group passed them by. It was pretty cool to hear them come to life after i was raising my arms up in the air NFL style.
Around mile 15, i noticed that every time my left foot swung forward it felt like there was water sloshing around my foot. Strange. So of course i kept running, and around mile 17 (i think?) i finally stopped and took off my sneaker. My sock was soaked with sweat, and then i realized what the sloshing was; the tape had gotten pretty tight after my foot started to swell, and there was fluid trapped around the end of my foot. I quickly took the tape off, rubbed my foot a bit, put my sock and shoe on, and got back into the race.
Ah. sweet relief. for my left, but not right. the right continued to bother me the entire race, and by the end it was nearly impossible to run on. I knew that the funcitionality hadn't been compromised, so i pushed through the pain as much as i could. The real show-slower for me was the cramps in my left quad, specifically my VMO, indicated in this picture:

What was it doing? well, it was doing its own thing, actually. Sometimes, when i planted my foot, it would ball up, other times it wouldn't. Sometimes when i lifted my leg, it would flatten out completely; disappearing under my skin. Odd. So i stopped a few times to stretch it out, but then my hamstrings started to cramp, so i just interjected more walking into my pace. I watched sadly as the 4:30 pace group passed me and then disappeared out of sight. Strange.....I tried to drink some watered down gatorade, but almost puked it up, so i decided NOT to do that anymore and just gut it out. The last 3 miles were horrifically slow for me, but hey! I was moving forward and not passed out under blankets like a few people I saw off to the side.
As i climbed the last hill to the finish chute, people were cheering for us like banshees! It was great to see that many people still out there cheering, so late into the morning. The finish area was pure organized chaos. I've never seen a finish chute so long. the thing HAD to be 3 blocks long. well, maybe. i dunno. i ducked out early and headed to meet my pals.
The Expo was big, and fun, but not quite as big as I had expected. I met up with some other bloggers, albeit briefly, and that was pretty cool. What an intense group of young ladies I met!

Sadly, I can only remember Amanda (third from left). She has a better recap over on her blog. Their conversation started to turn to getting carded, etc., and I was all, "I've been OVER 21 longer than i was UNDER 21, so, yea. Nice to meet you, have a great race!" and I went back to my middle aged pals and probably talked about bunions, AARP memberships, and early-bird specials at Cracker-Barrel.
My (not middle aged) friend Colleen snapped this photo of me after the race. I am very greatful to have been able to participate in the event. As usual, my wife was UBER supportive, tolerand, and encouraging. ArcticEase was accomodating and helpful, too. Colleen,  Dan (@cubicledad), and others from twitter and IRL were helpful in keeping me going and keeping my head on straight. I greatly appreciate all that they did and continue to do for me. I've set my sights pretty high for 2012, but hey. That's what we do, right?
2011 Philadelphia Marathon 4:40:56

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oops, I did it again....-Spears-

Once, on travel to Hawai'i, I had rented a Suzuki Samurai. It seemed like a good, fun idea at the time. Of course, since I'd never driven in one, I wanted to go topless. Every morning, before I drove around to get coffee (this is also prior to my recent days as a runner), I would put the top down and hit the streets. One morning, my then new bride (not Tracey....and yes, she knows....) decided to come along with me. We parked in front of a coffee shop that had an elevated porch, and went in to get our goodies. Upon exiting, I climbed up into the driver's seat, but noticed that she had remained on the porch. At first I thought that she was just admiring me from afar, but when she didn't move in my direction, I said something like, "c'mon, let's get going!" Because, you see, I am very demanding always in a hurry to get to the next adventure. She didn't budge. I put the key in the ignition, but it wouldn't turn. I cursed the rental company, and tried again. I even checked to see that I had actually put the vehicle in PARK. Yep. All set there. Still no action on the porch, and the car wasn't starting, either.
Finally she said, "our Samurai is over THERE..." and indicated a twin vehicle 3 spots down, with the top off. The one I was in had the top UP. I am very much an attention to detail person, but considering that I probably had a large coffee and SEVERAL sweet treats in my sticky paws, I really didn't notice....
I hopped out of the wrong Samurai, got into the right one, and we drove off. That incident has always been a source of a smile for me.....

Then, just last week, something ELSE strange happened to me....(i know, SHOCKER.)

I went to the bank as part of my saturday morning chore ritual. No biggie. I parked, went inside, stood in line for about 2.5 seconds, handed over all kindsa cash from my stripper business checks and stuff (stuff? like what, exactly, do they take at banks that qualifies as 'stuff'? get over it....), then I went back outside.
I opened the car door, and  as I sat down, I noticed the peculiar absence of a penny from the floor that has been there for months. penny. WAIT!!! WHAT THE???? NO FLOOR MATS??? WHO THE....HOW THE..? Just WHO STEALS RUBBER MATS??? I quickly looked over at the passenger's floor as my blood pressure begain to sky-rocket. WHAT....??? BOTH MATS ARE GONE?
From the bank parking lot? WHO DOES THIS???? I reached into my pocket to retrieve my  
keys, and out of the corner of my eye i noticed blue gloves on the seat next to me.
Oops, I did it again.I had gotten into the WRONG car. I jumped out, looked around, and said, "SORRY!" then walked over to my car, got in (after double checking for mats), and swiftly drove away. Some of you may have seen the tweet that I sent out soon after this happened...Why not share my adventures, right? When I got home, I told Tracey about it, and of course she, in turn, told Bryce. Do you think that little stinker would let me off the hook? Not for a second. Later that day, he said, "Better check the license plate before we get in that car, Dad...."
Touche little man, touche...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I found this on a facebook page. It is from the "Strong is the New Skinny" site. I printed it out and have it taped to the wall next to my desk. Please forgive the coarse language, but I believe that it helps make the point.
Over the course of the next two weeks I have to really focus on getting through the Philadelphia Marathon. It will be my first marathon, but not my last. I have not given as much time to training for this event as it deserves; it was easier to eat the pizza than to run on the treadmill.
Not any more. I have goals. I will achieve them. Pizza will no longer stand in my way. Either will chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or french fries (unless they are baked, then all bets are off.....).
After Philly, I will be gunning toward new goals which will be determined between now and then, and then ruminated on for most of 26.2 miles. Look out, 2012. I'm coming for YOU.