If I could get only one thing right, it would be…

…staying in the moment.  This moment.  Right now.

There was a time not too long ago when I would be driving to work in the morning, talking on a conference call and eating a breakfast of yogurt and granola.  Literally taking granola out of a plastic baggie and putting it into a cup of yogurt.  I’d be steering with my knee.

I haven’t done that in a while.  But every day I still do things like:

  • Read while I brush my teeth.  I figure reading helps extend the time I spend brushing my teeth, thereby making my teeth healthier.
  • Listen to podcasts or watch TV while I stretch
  • After dinner but before we put the kids to bed, I wander around my iPad aimlessly, reading blog posts or web sites and eating handfuls of junk food
  • Watch TV while I “work.”  I usually have no idea what I just watched, and I don’t get any work done either.
  • Spend 3-4 hours longer on something work-related because I am busy surfing the internet or wandering around my house or reading something.

These are just the simple cases.

Not being present in the moment has a huge impact on every aspect of my life.

If I were to just focus on being present in the moment, every moment, I would probably gain back about 3 hours in my day.  I’d drop a few bad habits (and more than a few pounds).  I’d know what my legs feel like when I’m stretching on a good day as compared to a bad day.  I’d fall asleep faster.  I’d notice little things about my kids that make me smile.  I’d enjoy the air outside on a cool, breezy spring day.  I’d work out easier on my easy days and harder on my tough days.  I’d write more and better blog posts.

I would carry much less stress around.

A couple of months ago I bought a book called A Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Workbook.  I read the first 6 or so chapters, and everything I’ve read so far has resonated with me.  I did a few of the exercises.  About a week ago I tried the “full body scan” right before I went to bed.  It took me about 24 seconds to fall asleep.

While everything has resonated with me, I haven’t put most of the recommendations into practice.  It isn’t easy to perform some of the exercises.  It entails slowing things down to a pace that I’m not used to.  It requires me to acknowledge my emotions and just let them sit.  To not do anything with them.  It requires me to just eat a meal without reading or watching TV.  Just taste the food.

I think I’m also afraid of what I might unearth.  So I make excuses about not having time to do the exercises, or I just “forget.”

Starting now, I’m going to see how often I can just be mindful.  Put the recommendations in that book into practice.  Just focus on one thing and finish it.  Acknowledge my emotions but let them be.  Don’t judge them.  Just let them sit.

I think this is going to be really hard.  Which means it’s probably right.  I don’t expect to succeed very often to start.  But eventually I will get better at it.

I’m curious to see what happens.


Week in Review: April 9-15, 2012

This was a different sort of week for me, a self-imposed rest week.  Or rest weekend.  After two straight high volume weeks, I decided to take a long weekend off.

It started with my decision to take a day off from running.  That felt good, so I decided to take two more off.  Those decisions were partly based on recognizing commitments and obligations beyond fitness and partly based on the need to simply disconnect from fitness.  I think that’s good every once in a while.  My performance had been slipping, so I’m hoping the rest will give me the opportunity to come back stronger.

I felt sluggish all week.  Not sure why, but one suspect is that I donated blood last Friday.  I don’t know how that affects fitness.  Perhaps it doesn’t affect fitness, but it temporarily affects performance.  How temporarily, I don’t know.

One other consideration – I am in process of transitioning to a higher volume approach to fitness.  More running, more riding.  In the past, I would run or ride only 5 days a week, and it was common for me to take 2 days (the weekend) off.  In that context, taking three days off really is not all that strange.

And I did actually manage to still get in a pretty good bit of volume, even in four days.

  • Runs:  2 for 30 miles, 4 hours 18 minutes
  • Rides:  2 for 80 miles, 5 hours
  • No strength work this week.  I will start to regret that if I don’t do it
  • Sleep:  Close to 7 hours average per night, almost 1 hour more than past weeks…so I did get some “rest”

9+ hours of workout time in a “down” week is nothing to sneeze at.

The other reason why I took the weekend off was a quick peek ahead in the calendar.

Looking ahead, I’ve got two fairly open weeks followed by a week of travel.  So the plan is to go big volume for the two upcoming weeks, making for two big volume (the past two), one down (this week), two more big volume (next two).

Oh, and I don’t feel pain in my right foot.  How about that.

Making my way through Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  It’s been more difficult than I anticipated.

Details are below.

Monday (April 9)

I had planned a longer ride today, but things at work got a little tight.  So I opted for a shorter ride, which ended up a good thing.  Classic spring day in the form of a rough wind…to the tune of 25+ miles an hour.  I would not have enjoyed a longer bike ride.  Riding straight into the wind felt like I was on a trainer.  No forward motion.  It was interesting to see what happened as I came into open fields (there are lots of those around my house with all the farms)—my bike was almost knocked over.  I felt sluggish on this ride, like I could not find my form.  Not sure if it was the wind or why, but I felt off.  35 miles, 2 hrs, 11 minutes.  Really off from a performance standpoint.

Tuesday (April 10)

Another step towards increasing the intensity.  Just getting slowly back into it.  On the flat crushed gravel of the Columbia Trail, I did 8 x half mile, with a quarter mile recovery.  These felt awful.  Like I couldn’t get going.  Times reflected that, ranging from 3:30 per to 3:39 per.  Including warm-up and cool-down, the total was 12 miles in 1 hr, 40 minutes.

After this run I spent a lot of time thinking about what I really needed to perform well at Pikes Peak.  I’m going to elaborate on this in future posts, but I was happy (maybe delusional) to conclude that raw speed wasn’t super important.  I don’t have much of that right now.  In the future, it will be more important to develop strength and endurance than raw speed.  So if I can only run an 8 minute mile now, it’s OK because when I run up the hill I will be running much slower than that.  More on this in the future.

Wednesday (April 11)

Back into the rocky trail at Schooley’s Mountain Park.  I almost feel like my training mantra should be “hills and trails never fails.”  When in doubt, I should just run a hill or a trail.  Hills for the strength, trails for the technical skills.  I really need to just plan for hills and trails each week.

Four loops on the 3.5 mile trail, MAF intensity.  Felt sluggish again, but at least this time I did not fall.  I did roll my right foot/ankle though.  Not sure if this was the pain I felt on Thursday.  18 miles, 2 hrs, 38 minutes (3 minutes slower than the same route last week).  Average HR 144.  The positive out of this run was that I did four loops, two in each direction.  For each pair of loops, the second was as fast as the first.  I hope that’s a positive…I need something positive.

Thursday (April 12)

Riding again today.  Thankfully, less wind.  45 miles, 2 hours 50 minutes.  Again, super slow compared to what I’ve been doing.  Just not feeling strong like past weeks.  It was a beautiful day and the ride was good for the soul.

Another positive about this ride—I have a real reason for wanting to get into the neighborhood of 3 hours for a bike ride.  I’m anticipating that 3 hours is about how long it will take me to run up Pikes Peak.  So any time I can get 3 hours of workout in, I feel like I’m approaching what I might do on Pikes Peak.  I believe this will help me build enough aerobic fitness to feel like 3 hours is not such a big deal.

Friday (April 13)

No workout today, as I described in this post.

So what did we do?  I took the two girls out Friday afternoon for an awesome day…we

  • Watched softball
  • Hiked through the woods to retrieve softballs
  • Invented some sort of game in the bleachers of the football field
  • Walked around a bit and watched some baseball

No question, the girls got more exercise than if Caitryn had been running track.  And they had more fun too.

Saturday (April 14)

Another family commitment for mid-morning.  I could have woken up early to get out for a couple hours riding, but I decided against it.  Just wanting a rest.

Instead, we went fishing.  Three or four fish (blue gills) in 3-4 hours of time, probably 2 hours of fishing.  If they keep wanting to go, I’ll keep taking them.

After we got home from fishing, I tried to burn a bunch of wood in the outside fire pit but stopped.  Too dangerous with dry conditions and a pretty stiff wind.

Dinner outside on the back porch tonight.  Need to do more of that.  It was nice.

Sunday (April 15)

Day off.  Spent the day with the girls and just reading.  Needing a mental break.

Why I plan to be more selfish

For a while now, especially the last 2+ years, I’ve felt something was “off” in my life.  I’ve felt like most days were a grind, that there was something missing from my life, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  Most days I’m somewhere between happy and sad; more like numb.  I can’t go back to one specific incident that changed things either.  It’s been more of a slow, gradual deterioration.  I’ve felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into a morass, the shape and form of which I cannot clearly identify.

Reading The Fountainhead may have helped give me some insight into what’s been happening.

One big part of my life was tied up into my job, the one I lost about a year ago.  Prior to losing it, I had become increasingly frustrated there.  Why?  It felt like I was pushing a string up hill.  The culture at the place I used to work was well known for two specific themes:  passive-aggressiveness combined with the need for consensus.  In a company where we all knew job cuts were coming, most everybody was running for cover.  I never fit in there.  These words of The Fountainhead took me back to my old job:

“…there is no substitute for competence.

That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers.  They have no concern for facts, ideas, work.  They’re concerned only with people.  They don’t ask:  ‘Is this true?’  They ask:  ‘Is this what others think is true?’  Not to judge, but to repeat.  Not to do, but give the impression of doing.  Not creation, but show.  Not ability, but friendship.  Not merit, but pull.  What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce?  Those are the egotists.  You don’t think through another’s brain and you don’t work through another’s hands…

…That’s what stopped me whenever I faced a committee.  Men without an ego.  Opinion without a rational process.  Motion without brakes or motor.  Power without responsibility.  The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person.  It’s everywhere and nowhere and you can’t reason with him.  He’s not open to reason.  You can’t speak to him–he can’t hear.  You’re tried by an empty bench…”

I can’t say how many times I felt frustrated at my old job…that I couldn’t get my ideas across, that nobody was listening.

I think part of my slow deterioration, specifically related to the job, was a resignation of my individual sense of self to the collective.    I stopped fighting the fight.  I’ve always thought that losing that job was the best thing that could have happened to me, but I could never quite figure out why.  Perhaps it’s more clear now.

Another thing that contributed to my funk, ironically, was this blog.  When I started this thing, I was so focused on writing things that other people would want to read.  I essentially got away from writing what I liked (or what was inside me) in favor of trying to impress others.  This part of The Fountainhead resonated:

“Look at everyone around us.  You’ve wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it…He’d see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men.  He’s not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander’s delusion–prestige.  A stamp of approval, not his own.  He can find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded.  He can’t say about a single thing:  ‘This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me.’  Then he wonders why he’s unhappy.”

The point is, I compromised my own sense of self for prestige, for a stamp of approval from others.

At home, it was the same sort of thing.  I started to worry more and more about what I thought my wife and kids wanted or needed.  To seek opportunities to make their lives easier, at the expense of my own life.  This despite the fact that they never asked for that kind of help, nor did they need it.

Where am I going with all this?

As I read The Fountainhead, I started to understand that for the past few years I had started to live like a second-hander.  I had sacrificed my wants and desires for things that were outside of me.  I had placed too much of my sense of self outside of my control.  It wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t for any ill-conceived purpose, I wasn’t even really aware that it was happening.  But the net result was that I had lost the joy that comes from living a life that meets my needs, first and foremost.

And so I plan to be more selfish.

Selfish in the sense of The Fountainhead–that I am a creator, an achiever.  My first duty is to myself, to create things that fully express my talents and abilities.  I am bound to nothing else.  I cannot be affected, positively or negatively, by what anyone thinks of me.  The prime concern is living in a way that’s congruent with my best self.  That’s it.

If anything, this will improve my relationships at home and everywhere else.  Why?  Because I won’t be seeking approval from those relationships.  My self-esteem won’t be on the line.  I’m no longer concerned what anyone thinks of me.  The only thing that matters is what I think of myself.

“In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone…Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange.  If they do not desire it, they are not forced to deal with each other.  They seek further.”

I expect that I will slim down my relationships, focusing only on those that fulfill the quote above.

I’m not sure I fully grasp some of the concepts that I’m writing about here.

But I do have a strong feeling that the “morass” I described at the beginning of this post, that pit that I’ve been sinking deeper into, has a source in my evaporating self-esteem.  Or perhaps more precisely, my increasing willingness to sacrifice my own sense of self and self-respect for something that was outside of me.

“This country…was based on a man’s right to the pursuit of happiness.  His own happiness.  Not anyone else’s.  A private, personal, selfish motive.”

Count me in.

Week in review: March 19-26, 2012

Last week was up and down…a bit frustrating.

First, the moment of the week…my 7-year-old caught her first fish ever.  From what we can gather, it’s a sunnie/blue gill.  Caught in a pond that was about 5 minutes driving from our house.

I’ve never really fished.  I only got into fishing recently when my daughter expressed an interest in it.  My philosophy on parenting includes the idea that you expose your kids to as much as possible when they’re young, then you let them gravitate towards areas of interest, then you support them.  Well, my little one was interested in fishing.  So she got a fishing rod as a birthday present from her uncle, and off we went fishing.  We went once last year, and this was the first attempt this year.  It’s not easy for me–I’m terrible with the hooks, I get grossed out by putting the worm on the hook and I really don’t like taking the fish off there.  But she was thrilled.  So we are eagerly anticipating the start of fishing season on April 7th.  Our area is perfect for fishing–there are a million places to go all within close proximity.  So, fishing it is.

Fitness wise it was another frustrating week.  At the start of the week, I was just getting over being sick.  Mid-week was better, but by Friday I was back feeling sick.  Same stuff–chills, feeling like I got hit by a truck, fatigue, coughing, the whole nine yards.  Although I feel better today, I’m going to the doctor.  I’ve got to get this figured out.

All tolled, I got in:

  • 3 runs for a measley 17 miles, in just under 2 hrs, 45 minutes
  • 2 rides for 90 miles, 5 hrs 38 minutes

I feel like I’m taking two steps backward for every step forward.  Between the foot injury and the sickness, I’m not able to get into any kind of groove.  Pikes peak is 143 days from today, and if I don’t get into a groove soon I’ll have to start re-thinking my goals. 

I’m itching to run today, but I don’t want to push it.  I’d rather take an extra day off to make sure I close out this sickness.  Today is hopefully one final day off with a trip to the doctor.  Then I can get cranked up again tomorrow.

Gory details are below…

Monday (March 19)

Still unsure whether I was fully recovered from the weekend’s sickness, and having an early start for work this morning, I decided to try a short but hard strength workout.  I aimed mostly at the upper body, since I hoped to get a run in later in the day (once I arrived at my destination).  Came up with this:  squat thrusts (10 reps), 10 minutes of wood splitting, chin-ups (overhand and underhand).  All of these were done as intensely as possible.  Just over 20 minutes of this (two sets) left me breathing heavy and sweating like mad.  And I only did about 10 chinups total (including both sets overhand and underhand).  Wow is that weak.

In Philadelphia this week.  Back to my home town.

As the day ended, I had a decision to make:  attempt a quick workout or get to bed early and go a bit longer tomorrow morning.  I elected to get to bed early.  If the fitness center in my hotel had a step machine, I might have thought differently.  But no go.

Good start to the week of eating:

  • 7 am:  yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
  • 1 pm:  small caesar salad with grilled chicken, apple
  • 9 pm:  salad (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onion, snap peas), sardines

I felt good about this eating day.  I could have easily caved at lunch and dinner, and also in the hotel where there were awesome-looking Philly soft pretzels freely available.  One of my favorite things!  For dinner, I decided to forgo the company dinner (and the handful of soft pretzels) for a trip to the grocery store.  I love it when there is a fridge in the hotel room…I was able to buy breakfast for the next couple days as well.

Tuesday (March 20)

Today I learned something about hotels and fitness centers.  After an hour on the treadmill, the thing basically just stopped.  I guess they limit the time people have on the hotel treadmill to make sure nobody abuses it while other guests wait.  Still pretty weak.  I could have just jumped on another treadmill (or restarted mine), but it was getting close to when I had to leave anyway.  Being new at work, I didn’t want to be late for a client meeting, so I elected to stop there instead of getting another 10-15 minutes in.  Total in the morning:  Just over 5 miles, including 4 miles at grades 7-9%.  HR average 143

In the afternoon, we got lost on the way from our client meeting to the hotel, which ate up about 20 minutes of time I would have spent on a second run.  Ended up still going out, only for about 35 minutes.  Just over 4 miles.  My heart rate monitor wasn’t cooperating, so I ended up just running.  It was probably harder than I should have been running, but it wasn’t super-hard.  I did manage to hold back from what I wanted to do–given the frustrations of the treadmill then getting lost, I really wanted to run all out for a set of intervals.  But I was worried about the potential for injury, so I just took it relatively easy.

Total on the day was about 10 miles and about 1 hr, 35 minutes.  Some good treadmill incline in there.

Eating was good until I went off the rails late in the day.

  • 6 am:   greek yogurt, kiwi, grapefruit
  • 3 pm:  salad with chicken, and veggies
  • 5 pm:  protein bar
  • 9 pm:   lots of bread, rack of ribs, french fries, a few chicken wings
  • 11 pm:  2 cookies

Wednesday (March 21)

These early meetings are hard on the fitness schedule.  Today was “getaway” day from the hotel, so I did a strength workout.  The strength workout is coming together.  I’ll probably stick with something like this for the time being.  The workout looked like this:

  • Warmup (Lunge Matrix, Myrtl)
  • Fast Abs core workout
  • Body weight legs (jumprope, step-ups, squats)
  • Cooldown (cannonball)


  • 6 am:  salad (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onions)
  • 8 am:  greek yogurt, blueberries
  • 1 pm:  sardines, blueberries, kiwi
  • 6 pm:  steak, green beans, broccoli, soda, some bread
  • 10 pm:  M&Ms, chocolate chips, cookies, sugar cereal, peanuts

Thursday (March 22)

Doulble workout today!

am:  Riding 36 miles.  This felt awkward at first, probably because I haven’t ridden in a while.  The awkwardness went away as the ride went on, and I got stronger as time went by.  I was disappointed when this ended.  2 hrs, 11 minutes

pm:  Run 7 miles.  Tried a trail that’s close to my house and my gym–Round Valley Reservoir.  It was really convenient to be able to use the gym’s facilities to change before and shower / change after the run.  The trail was great.  I will definitely be back to this trail.  Although I might wait to hear the outcome of this first.

I didn’t feel great, and I didn’t push it.  1 hr, 5 minutes HR average 144

  • 10 am:  leftover chicken, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers (think this was supposed to be heated up, but I had to take it in the car cold), leftover roasted veggies (zucchini, onion, cauliflower, tomato)
  • 1 pm:  yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
  • 6 pm:  peanuts, pollock, roasted veggies (zucchini, onion, cauliflower, tomato), salad, asparagus
  • 8 pm:  M&Ms, sugar cereal, ice cream, chocolate chips, 4 powerbar recovery bars

Friday (March 23)

Woke up with a lot of stiffness and soreness, especially in my calves.  Wondering if I was suffering from some sort of delayed onset soreness from that body weight workout I did on Wednesday.   Decided to go for a bike ride, which ended up being great.  54 miles, on a route that I haven’t done in a while.  I started out feeling great, but ended up feeling really bad.  The last hour felt like it was 100% into the wind.  Not sure if it’s loss of endurance (I haven’t been out for this long in a while) or something else.

  • noon:  yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
  • 2-4 pm:  6 or 8 powerbar recovery bars (lost track), handfuls of peanuts, sugar cereal
  • 7 pm:  Eggs, grapefruit

Feeling sick again.  Chills, fatigue, aches, coughing, congestion.  Perhaps the stiffness and soreness I woke up with was actually this damn “cold?”

Saturday (March 24)

Woke up feeling like crap.  Day off.  Towards the end of the day, I felt good enough to go outside and try splitting wood for a few minutes.  Not the greatest idea.  By evening I was not interested in anything but sleep.

  • 8 am:  Yogurt with protein powder, banana,  orange
  • 2 pm:  4 powerbar recovery bars, handful of nuts

Sunday (March 25)

Still feeling like crap.  Another day off.

  • 9 am:  4 egg veggie omelet (onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes), orange, leftover roasted veggies (zucchini, cauliflower, tomato, onion)
  • noon:  smoothie (frozen banana, carrots, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, yogurt, OJ, lime juice), popcorn, nuts, sugar cereal, M&Ms, cookies
  • 6 pm:  leftover roast turkey, salad (asparagus, tomato, onion), salad (romaine, tomatoes)
  • 7 pm:  ice cream, cookies

Re-reading one of my favorite all-time books

Today was one of those runs where my mind just wandered.  I love when this happens.  Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do is fill my mind up with thoughts and ideas, then go for a run and just let them bounce around.  A lot of times, ideas will pop up out of nowhere.

A few years ago, an old boss used to call me every Friday and lay out a series of ideas, knowing that I had a long run planned for the weekend.  Then he’d eagerly anticipate the following Monday morning when I’d come in with a handful of thoughts based on the ideas he’d laid out.  It worked beautifully.

Today was a shorter run, only 10 miles in distance.  But my mind was drifting.  Most of the time was spent thinking about my new job and role.  How would I introduce myself to clients / customers?  What could I say about my background?  How could I articulate my philosophy on certain things?  I was coming up with answers that were really good; the kind of things I frantically scribble down when I return from running, just so I don’t forget them.

I had rounded the last corner and was heading for my house, when something popped into my mind.  I knew immediately it was the right thing to do.

The Fountainhead

Time to re-read that classic.

I can still vividly remember the conversation where I first became aware of Ayn Rand.  It was the mid-90s and I was in my cubicle complaining to a colleague about how I always had to bail project teams out of messes.  That I was sick of my company putting people to work on things they weren’t qualified to do.  Then he said “You should read Atlas Shrugged, you would really get something out of it.”

That night I went home and looked up Atlas Shrugged.  It definitely sounded interesting.  But most of my research also suggested that I should read The Fountainhead first.  That it provided a great context for Atlas Shrugged.  That night, I ordered both books.

The Fountainhead was a hard read, but it really resonated with me.  I was fascinated with Roark, but I saw a lot of Keating in myself as well.  I remember concluding that most of us have a little of all the characters in us.

The most memorable aspect of my first read of The Fountainhead, however, was actually Roark’s skill as an architect and designer.  Being an architect (in technology) as my job, I’m fascinated by all aspects of architecture, from Christopher Alexander to city planning to Howard Roark.  The thing I’ll remember most from my first read of The Fountainhead was how Roark’s designs were so good.  They achieved two fundamental goals of architecture:

  1. Achieve the user’s intended purpose
  2. Fit the context

Given that no two contexts are the same, no two designs are ever the same.  The Fountainhead was the first place I learned that.  And I try to apply it to my work to this day.  For a while, colleagues from work used to ask me what they should read if they wanted to be a good architect.  My first recommendation was always The Fountainhead.

I’m excited to re-read The Fountainhead because I think there is much more for me to gain this time around.  I’m especially interested in Roark the individual and Roark’s relationships with others.

For a long time I’ve felt like a square peg in a round hole.

I’ve held two jobs before this latest one, and in each job I felt like I had to adjust, to twist my natural instincts, to conform to the way the company did things.  Both companies I worked for in the past had strong cultures.  And that’s not a bad thing.  It’s the reason they were both really successful.  But when you don’t fit into the culture, even if your ideas are good, it’s really hard to get heard.  That gets frustrating, so I tried to tune some stuff to adjust to the culture.  But that was even worse—I was no longer myself.  For this latest job, I’ve tried to find something that will allow me to be myself, to be that square peg.

The square peg, round hold thing is true to a lesser extent outside of work.  It mostly comes in the form of odd looks when I describe what I do before 7 am most mornings, or what my next fitness goal is.  Sometimes it’s even more subtle than that.  But I’ve definitely made some adjustments that feel un-natural so that I didn’t seem like a complete weirdo to our friends and neighbors, and the parents of my daughters’ friends.

Howard Roark, he didn’t much care about fitting into a certain mental model that others might have.  His aversion to that affected him and it affected his relationships with those people.

I’m anxious to see that unfold again, to figure out how it applies to me now, nearly twenty years removed from the first time I read The Fountainhead.  I’m different now.  Maybe not different; maybe I just know myself better.

How will The Fountainhead inspire me?  I can’t wait to find out.

Crayola Factory and National Canal Museum

No workout today…awoke with some thoughts of getting out super-early but decided to get some more sleep.  Had a long day ahead.

Spent most of the day with the girls at the Crayola Factory and the National Canal Museum in Easton, PA.  Strange combination to be in the same building.  It’s a great day trip, only about 30 miles driving each way.

The kids love the stuff at Crayola, but we spent even more time today at the Canal Museum.  They’ve got some very good hands-on activities in there and some good stuff for learning.

But it was a long day; napped hard when I got home.

One week in to NaNoWriMo

11 miles yesterday.  Today was strength building in the form of yard work.  Moving heavy rocks and big tree limbs.  Enough to tire me out.

Plus, I’ve been backing off the workouts so I can write my “novel” (quotes used because while it will be a novel, it won’t be a good one).

A week into NaNoWriMo and I’m hanging in there.  I’m behind my target pace but within striking distance.  It’s been fascinating to experience the process.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • It feels like I’m not really thinking up what I’m writing.  Instead, it feels like I’m just unearthing it from somewhere and capturing it on paper.  I just try to create the conditions for the novel to come out and try to get it down.
  • When I’m writing, the characters seem real.  I can see them, hear them, watch them move around.
  • Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s nearly impossible.
  • I really enjoy the process…it’s hard but it’s almost like stepping into another world.

I don’t know exactly where the thing is going.  That’s part of the fun—I want to keep going to see what happens next.

As of now I’ve got 8,000 words.  I need to hit 50,000 words by November 30th at 11:59 pm.  So I’m about 15% of the way through.  I just realized that I’m still in the early phases, still setting up the background and context for the story.

My ace in the hole is the November race.  I’ll be out of town for the better part of 5 days towards the end of November.  If I’m behind, I can use the time to catch up.  If I’m on track, I can make a final push to finish.  I’d like to get to 50,000 words early so I can either add more or make the story better.

But right now it’s about getting the work in every day.  I have to show up.

I guess for a runner, everything can be related to running in some way.  This writing thing is no different.