16 Days To Go

October 25, 2007

With 16 days, 10 hours, 32 minutes to go before the marathon, I’ve reached a point where I feel like I’m in fairly good shape – for a half marathon.  On my long runs I’ve typically been feeling strong through 10, then things start to wear down around 12-13, then fatigue hits hard in the mid-teens.  Most training programs, including the one that I’ve been (loosely) following, provide for getting at least one 20-miler in before the big day.  My longest has been 16.  With only 2 training weeks left, there’s not enough recovery time left to get one in now.  Oh well.  At least I won’t have to worry about being overtrained.       

One foot in front of the other….

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It Finally Froze Over

October 23, 2007

This is our newest addition. see.jpg

The cat, not the boy.

I’m still coming to grips with it. I’ve always been a dog person, and a big dog person at that.  There was a dachsund in there along with the golden retriever, Irish setter, and labrador, but she thought she was a big dog.

So why the change of heart?

Look at the boy.

We named her Charlotte Daisy.  Seemed like a fine name, until the vet told us that we should have named her him Charley instead.

Charley it is. 


Moving On

October 18, 2007

This has been a challenging year, work-wise.  Leadership changes prompted by the departure of my boss and a significant corporate reorganization above his level have prompted a rather seismic shift in our corporate culture. 

The result has meant more of many things.  There has been more work on my plate, for one thing.  The size of the territory that I oversee has nearly tripled.  I’d like to say that this was the result of a promotion, but it was simply a matter of coverage – divide 50 states by 4 people, weigh it so the more experienced folks have a bigger load, and presto – I’m covering 22 states.

There has been an increase in travel.  This goes hand-in-hand with the expanded territory.   

There has been an increase in revenue expectations.  Suffice it to say that slow and steady will no longer win the race.

There have been decreases as well.  There has been a marked decrease in information as we operate in a “need to know” environment.  Doors that were formerly open are often closed.  This includes mine, I’ll admit.     

There has been less collegiality.  As our division has grown larger, it has been restructured into smaller sub-groups, each with different leadership, market focus, and procedures.  Apart from water cooler conversation about plans for the weekend, members of the various sub-groups have little interaction.

There has been less autonomy.  The view from a few levels up the corporate food chain used to be that since we could be counted on to make our numbers every year, we should be left alone.  With no shortage of things that needed fixing in the corporate machine,  there was no sense in messing with what wasn’t broken.  We were therefore spared a great deal of bureaucratic oversight and interference, and most of our group thrived in being able to operate under the corporate radar.  However, we no longer work under the radar – we are under the spotlight.

We are closing in on a year with all of these changes.  In the end, I believe that the result of all of this will be a highly efficient and dynamic organization that can be counted on to produce annual double-digit revenue growth, and which will propel some rising stars to eventually assume senior leadership positions in the company.  Either that, or the thing will implode and the whole house of cards will come crashing down.    

Either way, I’ll be watching from a distance.  I’ve opted for quality of life, and will start a new career with a non-profit publishing outfit in December.

I can’t wait.   


16 Miles

October 6, 2007

I ran 16 miles today.  At around mile 13-14, I started thinking that maybe I have been underestimating the magnitude of the act of running 26.2 miles.  A little late for that realization, unfortunately.  One thing I know for sure is that when I got done with 16, I certainly didn’t feel like I had another 10.2 in me.  Not today, anyway.

I felt better about my run when I got back home and plugged my time into my running log and realized that the marathon time extrapolation that I had been doing in my head during the last few miles of today’s run was off by over an hour. Not a good idea to do math in your head when you are exhausted and most of your faculties are devoted to running in a straight line out of oncoming traffic.

Anyway, I’m taking solace in the following 5 things:

1) My run for today is history and tomorrow is a rest day.

2) The OBX course is flat.

3) The weather for the marathon will probably be cooler.

4) I will be aided by race-day adrenaline.

5) I still have 34 training days left.


The Next Best Thing To Being There

October 2, 2007

Sorry, I’m not quite ready to shelve the whitewater theme just yet.  Bear with me.

After spending way too much time on YouTube viewing rafting videos, I have found a 3-part series that comes closer than most to showing what it’s actually like to raft the Upper Gauley.  Most commercial rafting trips are accompanied by a kayak videographer who paddles ahead of the rafts, then pulls onshore at various points and films the rafts as they navigate the rapids.  As entertaining as these videos can be, they really don’t give much of a flavor of what it’s like in the raft.  These three videos, however, combine footage from three sources – the kayak videographer’s footage, plus footage from a rafter’s helmet cam and footage from a rear-facing camera mounted on the front of the boat.  The end result is probably the next best thing to being there. 

The first clip has an intro and then footage of the first major rapid, “Insignificant”. 

It’s not, by the way. 

The second clip features my favorite rapid, “Pillow Rock”.  You run Pillow Rock by charging as hard as you can straight for the giant namesake rock, then at the last moment you shoot up and then veer past it on the right, slapping it with your paddle as you go by.  Sometimes you get it, sometimes it gets you. 

This clip also includes “Lost Paddle”, which is the longest and probably the most dangerous rapid on the Gauley.  I particularly like this clip because you can hear the guide’s urgent commands and the rafters’ grunts and groans as they press on through this very long rapid. 

The third clip shows “Iron Ring”, and finally, “Sweets Falls”.  Sweets is a spectator favorite due to the many rafts which wind up flipping in the Box Canyon below the falls.  There’s a Roman Coliseum-like atmosphere as the crowd waits expectantly for rafting carnage to ensue.

Many thanks to mwstoll, who put these videos together. Good stuff.