Archive for April, 2010

March, 2010:

This month’s book club selection was the book “Committed,” which we all hated for various reasons, but which sparked a lot of conversation, probably more so than any other book we’ve read. The main theme of the book is basically “Why bother to get married if you’re already in a long term, committed relationship?”

(Obligatory side note about how it’s nice to have the option)

This thread of conversation – which is of far too much length to be of any interest here — resulted in one of my good friends asking me if I had heard about “The Husband Project.” My loose understanding is that it’s basically an effort to do one nice thing a day for your spouse, for the purposes of preventing your marriage from descending into interactions more befitting two roommates than two life partners. (Apparently, there’s more to it, but frankly neither one of us is willing to shell out actual money for marital bliss, so we’re going with the abstract version posted on the website.)

Anyway, the concept seems simple enough, and there was a five day “Mini Project” on the website that was available for free, so we decided to try it out and see how it went. What the hell, right?

Day One: “Maybe This Isn’t For Us”

Ok, so, here’s the list of our daily projects:

  1. Create 30 minutes of free time for your husband when we gets home
  2. Initiate an activity that your husband used to love. Whether it’s his favorite hobby, sport, or pastime, it’s time for you to get involved – be his buddy today.
  3. Say something nice about your husband to someone else. Make sure you tell him what you said, and to whom.
  4. Get a food treat for your husband that he’s not required to share with you or any other family member.
  5. Send a flirty text or e-mail to your husband.

Review of the projects lead to the following conversation:

Me: “Ok, I’m mostly kidding when I say this, but project #4 I like to call: “Every single time I grocery shop, which is by the way every week”

Her: “Too funny. I was just thinking I do #1 almost every damn day. Maybe this isn’t for us”

That should have been an indication that we are so not the type of people who should undertake this type of thing, but, you know,  it’s not like the projects were particularly tasking, so: off we went. Day 1: 30 minutes, free time. On it.

Texts messages that night between the two of us showed that she had picked up her daughter from day care, enabling her husband to keep working, and I had walked the dog and started dinner while he vegged in front of the World’s Most Annoying TV Show.

This type of behavior is otherwise known as “Your Typical Monday.”


May, 2010:

Flash forward two months: I’d like to tell you that we finished the five day mini project, but we totally did not. We were both happy on Day 1 to think of doing something nice for our spouses, and most of the other projects were easy enough to accomplish and fun, but we totally had to bail on the “Do an activity he used to like before you were married.” (I briefly contemplating offering to go to a bar and pick up chicks with him, but thought that might end poorly, so instead we went for a run together. Which is cheating, in that we do that anyways, but, hell, I don’t make the rules, right?) I suppose this makes us slight failures, at least we were able to take it in the spirit it was intended, which I understand to be, basically: “Remember to not be a jerk all the time, and all will be well”

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Not to get all bogged down in the plight of women in the workplace, but I read an article today that seemed an appropriate compliment to my last post, and wanted to share.

NPR recently reviewed the latest offering from The History Channel: “America: The Story of Us,” and the reviewer shared her general disgust in the lack female participation. To quote:

There are fourteen people seen in that first hour commenting on history and its meaning, and on how the United States came to be, and about what kinds of people the early Americans were, and so forth — and only one of them, author and Rutgers professor Annette Gordon-Reed, was a woman.

That is…surprising, but what really caught my eye in this article was her last point:

It’s not about perfect statistical representation. You can’t possibly hope to achieve some sort of perfect microcosm. If it were 60/40 [men/women] in the opener, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed — 60/40 is what you’re numb to; 60/40 is the size of the callus you develop for these things.

I just… love this. Maybe I’m not so upset about the lack of women in my workplace because I just can’t be bothered, not if I’m going to continue to do my job. My understanding that there is problem, and my being upset that there is a problem, exist in almost separate spheres of my brain.

Maybe I just think the 75 cents to the dollar I get for my salary, and the two other women I see in a meeting of 30 people, is just as much as I can accept as Ok; it’s the callus I’ve developed for the way things are, so that I can continue on, the way I am.

And, just to tie into my previous post again, I don’t think that’s as much to do with women being conditioned to be polite, but more with women being conditioned to keep going. It’s the callus you develop for these kinds of things.

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So yesterday I read a post regarding the lack of female entrepreneurs in the NYC tech scene. I agree that the startup world is likely male dominated, but then, that’s with a lot of places; I spend a lot of my working day as the only female in the meeting, so it’s not like I’m clutching my pearls over the lack of female representation in industry. Sometimes, that’s just the way it is, and it hasn’t always been a negative.

For the most part, I agree with the post. The final point of the article was a good one:

If you’re a woman and unhappy that the tech scene looks the way it does, go start your own company. Put up or shut up.

And you know, I think that’s a great piece of advice. Absolutely agree. Be the change you want to see in the world, etc etc.



Notable pause.

Before you get to that great point, that wonderful “Make the world the place you want to be” point, you have to wade through this:

I think one reason for this is that women are socialized to be more cautious about risk taking. And setting up the average startup is usually a lot more risk intensive than starting a blog and putting up some Google ad sense links. It’s being responsible for a weekly payroll, dealing with crap like benefits administration and renegotiating your leases, managing investor expectations while doing additional fundraising, and so on.

I read this and bristled. My exact reaction – which of course I had to take to twitter because God forbid I have a thought that I don’t share – was this:

“Gee, starting a company is “more risk intensive than starting a blog and putting up some Google ad sense link” I’m glad someone pointed that out to me, I never would have known otherwise. Silly girls!”

It was then pointed out to me that the blog post was written by a woman, suggesting, I guess, that the implication that women don’t start companies because they think it would just be too darn hard isn’t offensive if another woman says it, which… well, I’m going to choose to find the condescending statement condescending anyway, gender solidarity be damned.

I think there is merit to the idea that women – generally– get caught in a non-confrontational-need-to-be-polite zone that impacts their (our) ability negotiate salaries, pursue a promotion, or, I don’t know, sure: start a company. To be sure, my dad had to tell me explicitly to negotiate my first salary, and I felt like an ass doing it, and I was uncomfortable (but I still still did it. And am glad I did.) But I don’t believe for a second that is the only thing that impacts the lack of female tech entrepreneurs, and saying so in conjunction with the idea that women just need to get over their silly little qualms about “risk” and “effort” and “put up or shut up.”

I was lucky enough to work for a very small start up in my early twenties, where we lived and died by every invoice that came in.  My brother lived on my couch when he started his first company, and when I was a few months old my dad left the IBM corporate world to start his own business, and remains an entrepreneur to this day. I say this because when I say that recently I debated leaving my corporate job to be the third person in a new start up, the things that crossed my  mind weren’t necessarily the risk of the unknown, or uncertainty that I could do it, or non-familiarity with the start up world, but rather the business plan of the company, my desire to do that type of work, the CBA of leaving a job that I’m still learning in and, of course, the unavoidable realities of the fact that my current job offers amazing maternity leave benefits, my husband has equally demanding career and stresses, my stepdaughter needs to go to camp this summer…and all the family oritented considerations that I owe it to myself to contemplate. To read an article suggesting that women aren’t joining start ups because they are worried it’ll be harder than throwing a few ads on a blog strikes me as horrifically dismissive of, you know, reality.

Perhaps this is unique to women. Certainly my husband could start a company and not sweat loosing maternity leave. And at some point, I won’t care about maternity leave anymore, and maybe I’ll feel like I’ve learned everything I can from where I am, and the risk will be worth taking. But I’m kind of sad to learn that my hesitation is viewed as a systemic “women are meek” issue. My wanting a paid maternity has nothing to do with my ability to be as arrogant an asshole as the next guy (as suggested here); it has everything to do with the reality of being a woman with a career and a family and a desire to have more children, all at the same damn time.

I don’t expect that any male thinking to start a company has any less angst or considerations. The only difference is that I don’t see anyone suggesting that the qualms men may have about the risks involved are due to inherent personality weakness.

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Ha! Just kidding. This post is also about training. Fooled you!

So I’m back from vacation and internal life crisis and am back in the swing of things. Despite the increase in hunger and nap-needing, this has been a good week, training wise. The training is getting more “normalized” in that it’s ramping up, I’m recognizing the intent of the workouts more so, and I’m starting to see how they’ll relate to the actual race (this has a lot to do with the increase in length, funny how that works).

This week so far:

Sunday: 15k run, at 8:50 pace.

I actually failed this one pretty hard, doing just under 9ish miles at 9:13 pace. But that’s ok; I’m giving myself a *slight* break due to the heat, allergies, and snapping back into things-ness. I’m glad to be off a treadmill getting some longer distance in. I was very sore after this run, however, and I’m thinking my foam roller and I need to get reacquainted.

Monday: Crossfit/Swim

Hit up my morning crossfit group at 6am, where we were doing a 20 minute AMRAP (“as many rounds as possible”) of: 7 Wall Ball/25 jump rope (repeat).

Ok, a word about this: I cannot jump rope. Cannot. For me to be a good jump roper, I would have to dedicate an embarrassing amount of time to the art of jump roping, and while I may just do that, it’s … it’s just pathetic. And for this workout, you had to do 25 *unbroken* jumps — or 12 unbroken double unders, which I just cannot do so i wasn’t going to kill myself trying. Add this into wall ball, in which you basically take a 20lb beach ball, throw it up 10 feet, catch it, squat, repeat (QUADS OUCH!), and basically, it just sucks.

This is one of the Crossfit workouts that you look at and think “Eh, how bad can that be?” and then you hear a cackling in the distance that is your coach going “Just wait.” Which is all my way of saying this SHREDDED my legs and I was walking funny for DAYS after it.

Was able to get the pool that night — which is miracle in logistics, btw – and knock out 2x500yard time trials, plus a lot of drill work. It ended up being about 25 minutes in the pool total, but effort wise of getting there made it feel about three hours long.

Tuesday: Bike

Short AM bike ride: Warm up 10 minutes, then 10 miles as 20 seconds REALLY HARD, 10 second eh not so much. After the wall ball on Monday and the run on Sunday, my legs were toast – every time I stood up from my desk it would take three steps for my legs to remember how to bend at the knee. It was very attractive.

Debated hitting up the gym Tuesday night to lift, opted to nap instead. It was worth it.

Wednesday: Crossfit/Run (5×1 mile repeats on 3 minutes rest, @ 7:40min/mile)

Due to my work schedule, I couldn’t make the 6am Crossfit class – I had to get into the office earlier than I would have been able to. So I flipped it and did the run earlier in the AM. Due to the early hour (5am), I hit the treadmill for this, which I kind of think is cheating for repeats, but also makes it SO logistically easy that I also kind of don’t care.

Mile 1: 8min
Mile 2: 8 min
Mile 3: 7:59 (woo! heh)
Mile 4: 7:53
Mile 5: 7:47 (I was bored and wanted to be done, already)

So, not quite the prescribed pace, but I feel good about it nonetheless.

I swear I had every good intention of getting the Crossfit workout done in the evening, but well…well, let’s just move on to Thursday, shall we?

Thursday: Swim: 50 minute time trial./ Bike TBD

2900 yards total, in 51ish minutes. This is the longest I’ve swum since the Ironman. In 2008. Right. So I took it more as a “Just get the time in and don’t die” kind of swim, dealing in (mental) sets of 1000 yards, trying to increase pace each 1000. You’d think I would have rounded out the whole set to be 3000 even, but I swear it didn’t even occur to me in until JUST NOW. Apparently I was all “Oooh, look at me, doing 1 minute extra, gold star! gold star!” Dinkus.

Swimming is very “what have you done for me lately” kind of sport, and I haven’t done shit for it lately, so it was nice to get back into a groove for an extended length of time. Swim has always been my strongest of the three sports, and therefore I tend to blow it off more in training, which… I’m gonna try to stop doing, obviously.

Another Bike tonight, if I can stop playing on my blog and get it in.

Friday: Crossfit/Bike [TBD]

Hmm. Checking the CF website says we’ve got deadlifts and pullups on tap for tomorrow. I still am not sure what time I need to be in at work so I *might* have to swap this with Saturday’s run and go to the Saturday CF class, which is a workout of: 3x (400m run/21 KB swings/30 box jumps) for time. That one actually sounds like more fun so I might try to go anyway, just depends on how I can get my weekend squared away. Also will get in the bike if I don’t do it tonight (Thursday)

Saturday/Sunday: Long run (1:30) and a long bike of some kind. Still evaluating weather and scheduling options for when these will get done.

Anyway, for those that asked: that’s what this week’s IM training looks/looked like. I’m in post-swim high as I write this, looking at mounds of laundry that need to get done, but feeling great and looking forward to the training on tap for this weekend. Cheers!

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Sorry for the lack of updates. I had a brief existential crisis last week prompted by the five year anniversary of my consulting career, a crisis I dealt with by reading all nine Sookie Stackhouse books in a five day window. Better than stress eating, yes? Yes.

Anyway, IM training is ramping up, like, for real. Not a moment too soon, as a I have a half Ironman in a few weeks that apparently I need to like, be ready for. (I’m also taking a minute to laugh that a half IM used to be a singular goal for a whole season, and now I’m all “Oh right, I’m doing that in a few Sundays, hmm, hope I have enough Gu.”)

I think the best way to describe what a ramp up in IM training feels like is to share with you a quote from my training log:

I need to do laundry (again), grocery shop, and I’d cut a bitch to take a nap.

Sigh. I was totally serious, too. Between the Boss and I both working full time and training, we are going through insane amounts of food, laundry, periods of bitching mightily at our alarm clocks,  and general whining. But that’s ok; we do this cause we love it, right? Right.

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You know, we might as well just assume that between now and June 27th this entire blog is going to be one big Ironman Training Update, at which point it will descend in the following manner:

  • Posts detailing the post race high (or low, depending on how the race goes, I guess)
  • Posts regarding the amazing feeling of accomplishing some thing awesome (um, or not, depending on how the race goes, I guess)
  • “Wow, I love having free time again! How silly to have a sport that monopolizes your schedule like that!”
  • “OMG I achieved my goal and now I’m depressed and have no purpose”
  • “Wow I miss having athletic activity as part of my life”
  • “Le sigh, I am gaining weight”
  • “But there’s nothing selfish about working out because it keeps me so centered!
  • “Oh look, I registered for another race! It feels so GOOD and so RIGHT to have this type of goal again!”

I mean, not to get all spoilery on you, but that’s pretty much what this summer’s posting schedule will look like. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Anyway, what? Oh, right: Vacation edition. Intense IM training while on vacation is …hard, but I’ve been able to eek out a few sessions here and there. I’m without bike, which sucks, and is NOT ideal for this portion of training but spring break waits for no man. Regardless, I was able to get in a few good run workouts; in the interest of better explaining CrossFit Endurance workouts, here are some of my favorites:

Run Workout One:

  • 1 mile warm up
  • 4x 800m @7:40 min/mile pace (1 minute rest between 800s)
  • 2x1000m @7:30 min/mile pace (2 minute rest between 1000s)
  • 1 mile cool down

So, this is not a long workout — about 35 minutes, including the warm up and cool down miles. But damn. I was destroyed after this. That last 1000 meters were just so, so painful.

What I notice after workouts like these, however, is that my “cool down” mile is almost always much, much faster than the warm up mile. I can really tell an improvement in overall sustainable speed after these workouts; my feet just seem to want to turn over faster, and it takes much less (perceived) effort to get them to do so.

Run Workout Two:

  • 1 mile warm up
  • 10 x 20:10 @ 10% incline, 8:20 min/mile pace
  • 1 mile cool down

Ok, so what this means is: set the treadmill at 10% incline and set the pace at 8:20 min/mile. Then hop on the belt and run for 20 seconds. At the end of 20 seconds, hop off the belt (feet on the side rails) and wait 10 seconds. Repeat 10x, which works out to be exactly 5 minutes.  (And YES, Haley, I KNOW that tabatas are only 8 rounds, but I like round numbers and 10 just seemed better 🙂 )

Again, this is a super short workout. Like, if I hadn’t done the cool down mile, this would have been 15 minutes, tops, and that’s only because I started at the 10 minute mark to make the timing as stupid proof as possible. But still: destroyed afterward.

Like most crossfit workouts, this doesn’t look like very much to brag about on paper. After so many years of long endurance stuff, I had very little respect for short workouts. What I hadn’t realized is that 5 minutes of intense pain sucks SO MUCH MORE than 1 hour of moderate effort.

Strength Workout

In between these two run workouts, I did a day of lifting with the Boss. His “fitness background,” if you will, is based in weightlifting, and he’s a great lifting partner. On this particular session, we did:

  • Back squats (5 rounds: 5 5 5 3 3 — 5 reps, 5 reps 5 reps, 3 reps 3 reps), upping the weight on each set. This is not “traditional” weight lifting progression, but it’s what I’ve been doing at CF, and I like it, so there.
  • Some push press and bench press stuff that I suck at but do because the Boss loves it

The Point:

How does this tie into IM training? I mean, an Ironman is long, certainly much longer than 30 minute runs here and there. The way I understand it – and I might be wrong, or articulating it incorrectly – is that these two run workouts and one strength workout emphasize two missing elements from previous training attempts: strength and speed. Endurance is not – and has never been – my problem; at this point I’m trying to go faster with less effort. Strength and speedwork, coupled with longer endurance based workouts, will get me there.

(Jen, pretty please chime in if I’m hugely screwing up the point.)

Again, this is just the vacation edition. I don’t have great access to a lap pool, or any access at all to my bike, so this is just a bare bones sampling of workouts on a given week.  And now if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to vacationing…

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I probably should have mentioned in my last post that the reason I finished “The Blind Side” in 24 hours is that I’m on spring break. Well, I’m on my stepdaughter’s spring break, and since 13 year olds don’t need supervision so much as companionship, I’ve been blessed with many, many hours of looking out at the water, kicking my feet up, and enjoying a good book.

And possibly a gin and tonic. Or two.

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So, while I understand how football is scored generally (I mean, I know a touchdown is 6 points and then you get an extra one for kicking), for the most part the specifics of football are completely uninteresting to me. My dad did the best he could to teach me, and I have very pleasant memories of going to see a college football game with him at his alma mater, and thinking “oh, this is kind of cool,” but, I mean, autumn in Minnesota gets REALLY cold, and I never had much interest in sitting around on metal bleachers in November to watch a football game.

Given this, I can honestly say that football as something more than just a passing (ha!) interest didn’t actually occur until I watched the first episode of “Friday Night Lights.” You guys, that show is so wonderful. I care not at ALL about football, and by the end of that pilot episode I extremely intense about the strategy of a football game. It really wasn’t until this TV show that I had ever considered football to be any sort of intellectual undertaking, but all the sudden I was starting to understand the mass amount  of thought and strategy that goes on down on the field.

And then. THEN! I picked up the book “The Blind Side”

I haven’t seen the movie (though I want to), but I had read an article about this book several months ago, and had been wanting to check it out. Within the first 50 pages, I was in love. The entire first chapter is a second by second detailing of the sack that broke Joe Theisman’s leg. I can honestly say that before this book, I did not know who Joe Theisman was, or that his leg had been broken, or why that mattered at all, but ten minutes into reading the book, and I can recite chapter and verse about left side tackle, how this position came to importance due to the West Coast offense (dude. There is a west coast offense. And I know what that means. AND I CARE.) and how all these things came together in the perfect storm of NFL wants, needs and recruiting to change the life of one Michael Oher.

I’m told the movie focuses on Michael Oher’s story. That makes sense; it’s an incredible story. But the book only uses that story as a backdrop to the changing nature of the NFL, and it works perfectly. If 36 hours ago you had told me to read a book that details the way strategy in the NFL passing game has influenced it’s recruiting policy, I would have tuned you out immediately and gone about my day. But with the lead up of Friday Night Lights and my love for Matt Saracen paving the way for my conceding that football might be somewhat interesting, I stumbled upon one of the best non fiction books I’ve read this year, possibly ever.

Of course, then I spent a good five minutes discussing “The West Coast Offensive” with the Boss. Sigh. So we’re two steps forward, one step back in my basic football knowledge, but at least we’re getting there, right?

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