Friday, June 29, 2007



Running Update

I haven't run in three days. I've felt crappy each morning and let myself just go back to sleep instead of getting up for a workout. I need to get back to running, though, since I think it might actually make me feel better. I've just some summer cold. It just comes on strong in the evening, wearing me out, and leaves me feeling groggy and exhausted each morning.

I won't hit my goal of a 50+ mile week before the end of June, but I can still try and crank one out next week. This stretch of rest days might actually be a good thing for me in the end. Let the aches and pains go away, get some more sleep, and kick this cold. Then, I can begin the climb to a 65 mile week or more.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Experimentation with Whole Grains

For a long time, I wasn't eating very much in the way of carbohydrates. It was an attempt to lose weight and it worked, particularly coupled with a reduction in fat consumption and increased exercise. But, then, I got into running. And, you just can't run a lot without carbs. You can jog and you can probably do a decent amount of mileage, but you can't rack up the miles on a weekly basis if you don't eat enough fuel in the form of carbohydrates. I learned this in a rather uncontrolled manner last year. As I trained for a marathon, I found that I just couldn't stop eating. I had cravings every night, particularly for sweets like cookies and cake. And, I ate it all. This has never really stopped, although I am slowly trying to shift my carb intake to healthier carbs as much as possible. Hence, this post about whole grains. I am not that crazy about eating rice or pasta, but those are good foundations for lots of meals. And, my wife and son like them both. So, I can't avoid them. But, as a family, we can avoid refined sugars and overly processed wheat and still get plenty of carbs and plenty of flavor by buying and cooking whole grain. So, we've started experimenting and trying out some recipes. So far, we've had quinoa, wheatberry, and some crazy seven grain pilaf thing. I guess it had lots of different things including wheatberry, bulger, and a few others. Of those that we've eaten so far, I have been very pleased.

Quinoa - strange looking and needs a bit of prep in that you have to soak it. But, it has a very nice texture, works well with a variety of flavors, and can be used in a lot of dishes. It is similar to couscous, in my opinion.

Wheatberry - very tasty, but not as accessible as some other grains. Hard outer coat and I'm afraid of what would happen if we cooked it too long. It is cheap, though. And, it does have a nice texture that can provide a good complement to some kinds of food.

Buckwheat - we've eaten buckwheat as part of a kasha dish. Kasha Varnishkas is wonderful, but I don't know what else we'd do with buckwheat. I like the funky shape of the grain and the fact that it is chewy. All it really needs is a bit of onion and some salt and it can be very enjoyable.

Bulger - have had this in some traditional stuff, but we haven't cooked with it yet. It is sitting on the shelf waiting for its moment to shine.

Spelt - we've never tried this one, but I just picked up a box today. It looks a lot like wheatberry.

I'll add more notes as we continue down this road.

Best Interview Ever

This is an email from back in March 2005. I wrote it right after this happened...

I've been looking for a new job lately. My current employer is being acquired and my manager has resigned, so it is time for me to move on. And, for those who are wondering, this will constitute the sixth job I’ve had since college, none lasting more than 30 months.

I had an interview this morning that lasted for over four hours. I assume that it will turn out to be positive, but I honestly don’t know. The setup for the interview is that I’ve got one long interview in which I am going to be meeting with multiple people. First one was with a senior executive in the company and seemed to go very well. He was easy to talk to, I had relatively coherent answers to his questions, and I got the sense that he liked me. On to the next interview, this time with the executive who oversees the group I would be joining. Much older guy than I normally meet; probably in his sixties, but could just be that he drinks too much and spends a lot of time in the sun. He starts the interview by saying that the whole interview is going to be me asking him questions. I wasn’t sure if it was a sign that he is simply an overaggressive type who wants to challenge me or if he just has no idea what to ask me. I paused for a moment since I really wasn’t sure how to proceed and then I start asking him questions. First question I ask, his response is “Oh, that is a very good question…a very good question” leading me to believe that this guy just doesn’t know what to ask me. We go back and forth, me asking the questions and him responding with generalities and non-answers. He wasn’t being vague for the purpose of secrecy; I think he just couldn’t formulate a thoughtful, professional response to anything I asked him.

At one point, the tables turn and he is actually asking me the questions. I am talking a fair amount and when I finish answering what seems to be his last question to me, I ask if I can continue to interview him. He pauses and just looks at me for several seconds. His face seems pained and a little red, but it wasn’t that different than how he had looked for the majority of the interview. Then he says:

“Hmmm. I’ve gotta piss real bad.”

I say, “Okay, I’ll wait.”

He then continues to simply sit in his chair, directly across from me. I have no idea what is going on, but I keep wondering why he isn’t just getting up and going to the freaking bathroom. While I am waiting, he continues to make strange faces and look down at his crotch. Every few seconds, he grunts or moans or makes a faint noise that suggests displeasure with himself. Then he says:

“I’m sorry, dude. I pissed my pants.”

I’m dumbfounded. Be sure, this is not a joke. This shit absolutely, positively happened to me. So, this guy sits there with his wet pants on, apologizing to me about the whole deal. I suggest he use his jacket to cover himself so he can get to the bathroom with some dignity. In his attempts to deal with this situation, he says things like “It’s my prostate” and “This happened to me on an airplane once and that was really horrible”. I try to make him feel better and say “It’s cool, man. I know what its like.”

Of course, I have no fucking clue what it’s like to piss your pants in public, let alone in the workplace while conducting an interview. I’ve certainly laid some unbelievably foul farts at work, but that never stained my pants.

Then, he stands up, shows me the damage by highlighting it with his hands, takes his jacket, and goes to the bathroom. I just sit there, fumbling to try and deal with what just happened. All I can think is that my interview is shot because this dude will never be able to think of me without thinking about the fact that he wet himself. And, he can’t let me get hired because I am the only witness to this little episode.

He comes back, puts his jacket on the chair, and again shows me the wet spot, which is now larger for some reason. He sits down and we continue the interview - no lie. At the end, he again makes an apology.

To which I say “At least you’ll remember this interview.”

He then responds with “It’s not like you made me piss my pants. This had nothing to do with you.”

The end result of this encounter is that I am seated next to him in my last interview of the day, an unexpected opportunity to talk to the CEO of the company. Mr. LooseBladder, who went home to change his pants, is basically acting like my best friend in front of the CEO, patting me on the back, praising my interview with him, and all sorts of extra friendly behavior. He ends up escorting me out of the office, shakes my hand a number of different times, tells me I did a great job, and apologizes one last time.

I’ll let you all know what happens next if anything. If they hire me, this has to be one of the greatest coworker stories of all time. Assuming he is still there when I join them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mid-Week Musings

First off, the cake is damn near gone. We've eaten just about all of it and I've enjoyed every bite. I am coming around on the icing actually. I think it just needed to be more evenly mixed. Maybe a tad less cheese and a bit more sugar too. I think the kicker was leaving it in the fridge for more than day. The second piece was much better than the first.

In other news, I ran my second track workout today. I prefer these track workouts to the hill repeats. I ran 400 meters at around 7:00/mi pace and did it six times. I think the last few were more like 6:45/mi, but I'm not keeping too specific a dataset of my times yet. I did time one of the 400s and came it at 1:36. So, if I extrapolate that out conservatively, I think it would mean about a 3:20-3:25 for an 800 meter run. If the logic behind Yasso 800s is true, then I should be in shape to do a marathon at that kind of a time by the end of the summer.

I'm feeling rather sore this week, but I'm still going to crank out 47 miles before I'm finished. Then, next week is the push for crossing the 5o mile mark. I'll be ahead of last year's schedule and I'm not likely going to bother with a marathon this year. I won't be in shape to qualify for Boston this year, so I don't see the point in doing a marathon. I think I'll be better off by doing speedwork and increasing my base by a fair amount and sprinkling in races of various distances. If I can spend a few weeks at 65mpw or more, I think that will put me in great shape for a BQ attempt. I have a feeling I'll actually go higher, 70-80mpw, at some point. Maybe ramp down a bit in the winter, around holiday season or so, and then run through a hardcore training program from Pfitzinger for a marathon in the early part of 2008. I could do the Wirefly National Marathon or maybe Frederick, but it is too early to make that decision.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Carrot Cake #2

So, I have the greatest wife on the planet. In an effort to make me happy, she has embarked on a quest to make the tastiest carrot cake I've ever eaten. This requires making these cakes until she hits the mark, so I get to eat lots of good cakes on the road to the best cake ever. Pretty sweet deal for me, no pun intended.

Today was Father's Day and the second attempt at a carrot cake. It was the first true attempt from scratch, but we did recently eat a mediocre cake from a box mix that had homemade icing on it. That icing was weird and it was my fault because I bought low fat cream cheese for the icing and it just came out too smooth and soft. In any case, today's cake was entirely homemade and was very, very nice. The taste of the cake itself was right on the money, but we agreed that it might have been a bit too chunky. I think it needs a bit less in the way of nuts and they should be chopped a bit finer, but Audrey thinks it might need more shredded coconut. With some minor tweaks, the cake will be absolutely perfect. The icing still doesn't seem right to me. This was closer, but I still feel like the sourness of the cream cheese is too strong and we both agreed that the texture wasn't right. Good carrot cake icing should be thicker and not as smooth, I think.

So, these are just my tasting notes on this cake. I'll be providing reviews of every cake from now until the end of this process, at which point I will be too busy eating cake to bother typing.

Unofficial 5K PR!

So, I was hoping to do a local 5k this past Saturday morning. A low key race that I could just register for the day of the race, so I wasn't committed ahead of time. But, I still wanted to do it. However, life sometimes has other plans and I didn't make it. Noah came home early from school on Friday with a fever and was still dealing with the effects the next day. In fact, he got up at 5:30AM and asked me to hang out with him in the family room watching TV. I tried to get him to go back to bed, but to no avail, so we headed downstairs to watch. I thought I might have an outside chance of still making it to the race, but he was clearly feeling needy and I didn't want him to get upset, which would no doubt have happened if I had left the house. In any case, I tried to catch up on sleep on the couch. Later that day, when he had finally gone down for his nap, I was able to fit a run in. My initial goal was to just run 6 miles or so at a decent pace. I wanted to run around 7:30/mi since that is about where I should be for a tempo run, I believe. But, a funny thing happened. I could tell that I had speed in my legs, so I just let it rip. I started off at 7:30/mi, but I get inching up the pace as I ran. When I realized I had a good shot at running a personal best for a 5K, I figured I should just go for it and I did. So, without a race course or any competition, I destroyed my own record in a 5K. My previous time in a 5K was 25:24, but I've now done that distance in 21:50, which is a 7:04/mi pace. This is huge for me and a great sign that my speedwork this year is working. I then took it easy for the last 3 miles and jogged on home, a big grin across my face.

Now, I've only run one 5K before and it was the first race I ever ran. And, I had only been running for a few months when I did it, so it makes sense that I would have made some real improvement. Nevertheless, I didn't think I had improved this much yet. With some more speedwork, some actual rest, and real race conditions, I think I can do a 5K in sub 7:00/mi pace. This also means that I've got the speed to do a sub 3:30 marathon (around 3:27), assuming I do the appropriate distance training. That gets me much closer to my goal of qualifying for Boston, but I still need more speed for a 3:10.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Momentary Depressions

I want to write something, but I don't know where to start or how to put this into writing. I feel like there is nobody to talk to about Eva other than Audrey. And, I fear that if I always go back to her with these thoughts, I'll just make her feel as bad as I do sometimes.

In any case, today has been one of those days when I just feel rolled over by everything that has happened. I just don't want to do anything at all other than sink into a dark corner and close my eyes. I don't know how the hell I'm even functioning some days. I can put all this stuff out of my head and go on with the daily effort of modern life, but my heart just checks out and I'm like an emotionless robot. I just sit and click on a keyboard, sending out emails and looking at numbers in spreadsheets. But, the drone of work is sometimes just not loud enough to choke out the thoughts in my head.

I keep asking myself questions that I already know the answers to or that have no answers at all. I feel like the likely outcome of these exercises is either suicide, alcoholism, or a lifetime of reserved pain.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Greatest Thing I Ever Heard...Ever

This morning, I took Noah to preschool. He wanted me to carry him as we walked across the parking lot, so I picked him up and told him that he would soon be too big to carry him. He said that someday he'd be so big that he would carry me. And then he said this:

"Daddy, I want to be you when I grow up"

Jesus Christ. I don't think anyone has ever said anything to me that felt like that did. I can't imagine there is a combination of words that a father would rather hear than that. From the mouth of my own three year old son...I still can't hardly believe it.

They Say it Takes Two Years

On average, anyways, to get over the loss of a child. I don't know, man. I feel alright for a bit and then I have a patch where I miss Eva like hell. For some reason, the past few days have found me thinking of her more often. I started to get rather upset during a run the other day and had to push the emotions off so I could finish. I found myself almost crying in the car today, something that hasn't happened since the first few weeks after her death.

Maybe it is because I officially requested the final autopsy report last week. Maybe it is because we have such joy with Noah and Naomi that I can't help and feel the loss and the sting of her passing.

It still feels avoidable. I still can't quite believe this has happened. I still feel like I should be going to the hospital every day.