Friday, December 30, 2011

One More Day…

Don’t worry. Today is a scheduled rest day, so you’ll get a day off from reading my blog tomorrow. Until then though….

With my body actively rebelling two days of hilly workouts, I decided that I would stick to the flatlands, and opted to get my workout on the paved trails of the Back Bay in Newport Beach.

Sometimes I’m surprised when people tell me the animals they are afraid of. Want to know what scares me?


Yes. You can yell and scare coyotes. You can hear a rattlesnake. But surprise a skunk? Oh man. I know people who’ve had that experience.

There’s a little for everyone around the bay. There is beauty for those who just want to enjoy life:


There are cars for the Housewives of Orange County:


There are beautiful sunsets:


Hills for those so inclined:


And mega mansions:


But, the coolest thing last night was the fog:

I got to my turnaround point just as it was getting dark. I put together this little video showing off my mad headlamp running skillz:

Now, please take this time to rest and relax. I’ll be back next week after my long (?) weekend run.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Plan Said 5!

Okay. You can pick yourself up off the floor. Three days in a row. Get your coats out. Hell is about to freeze over.

I made it out in the late afternoon for some more hill traipsing. My plan (yes I have one) said 5 miles. My body was still rebelling from Tuesday afternoon. But, who am I to listen to my body. I headed up to Newport Ridge to get in some miles in Laguna Coast.

I parked and looked at my watch. 4PM. Let’s see, 5 miles at 4 mph (hills and such) should put me back to my car a little after 5:00. The sun should just be setting, and the winds should be blowing off the ocean. I filled a handheld, donned an Underarmour, dialed in the iPod, and went off into the wilds of coastal Orange County.


Being one who gets bored pretty easily, I decided to be adventurous and hang a left onto an unmapped single track.


I had been this way before, but it had been a few months (Who am I kidding? It’s been months since I’ve done any serious training).

Up up and away I went on this magnificent single track. The views toward the ocean were amazing.


There are some cool things to see. I can just imagine the wildlife that must congregate at this watering hole – just a few steps off the beaten path. Water is a precious commodity in these normally dry hills.


Eventually though, what goes up, must come down. The problem with these single tracks is that the mountain bikes have found them too. One thing that big knobby tires have a tendency to do is to tear the crap out of trails. Then, when The Running Fat Guy gets his mighty mass hurtling downhill, it’s easy to step in the wrong place and turn an ankle. “Jog” is reduced to “walk” in the interest of safety and injury prevention.


Ever so slowly, I worked my way down into a wonderful meadow (meaning an old cattle corral area when this used to be a working ranch) where I could once again break out into a 14 minute per mile dash.


The only problem is I had spent the last two miles crawling along at a sub 20:00 pace. I had just worked my way down 800 vertical feet in a mile. Which meant that I had to climb back out of this canyon and make my way back to the car. I was glad that I had my sleeves on, as it was beginning to get chilly.

I worked my way up the hill in front of me, taking frequent gasp/wheeze stops (have I really let myself get this out of shape?). I crested the hill and got to Bommer Ridge just in time for a spectacular sunset.


I turned around and noticed that I had quite a view to my north as well. The only problem? It was a view of lights. Hmmm.


That pretty much meant that I was going to have to get back to my car in the dark. The sun had set and all I had was some water. No headlamp. Hmmm. This could be interesting.

Trail running in the dark comes with a different set of dangers. Most would be worried about animals like coyotes and mountain lions. But the #1 danger on trails after dark, are the trails themselves. In fact, here is how I would rank after dark trail running dangers:

  1. Trails: Most trails are uneven, rutted, and filled with obstacles like rocks and ridges (just take a look at the photo above). Stick your foot into a rut or a hole and you could end up with a turned or broken ankle, a knee injury, or at worst, a concussion from smacking your head on a rock or hard surface. For this reason alone, I walked back to the car.
  2. Snakes: Here in California during certain times of the year (like when the temperatures are in the 70’s like they have been this week), snakes will often pull themselves out of hiding and stretch out lengthwise on fire roads or flat rocks. They do this to capture the heat dissipating from surfaces that have been in the sun all day. In the dark, a snake would look like a long stick. Or with an iPod blaring, you may not even notice a coiled snake until….  Wait! What’s that?!?!?! It looks like a coiled snake! Oh wait a minute….IMG_1261
  3. Which brings me to trail danger #3: Steaming piles of coyote poo! Yes. They look pretty innocuous. Like a rock in the middle of the trail. Step in it and you’ll never know until you climb in your car at the end of your trek. “Ooooo! What’s that smell?” Don’t ask me why, but for some reason, animals love to poo on trails. Maybe it’s because it’s the only place they can squat without putting a thorn in their butts.

Seriously though – other than leaving my headlamp behind, it was a magical night on the trails of the Laguna Coast. I mean, where else could you snap a picture like this without having to wear 5 layers of clothing and risking hypothermia this time of year:


Run safe!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Three Days in a Row?

So now I know you’re beginning to wonder. If I start following again is he just going to break my heart in a couple months when he falls off the deep end? I guess that’s for me to know and you to find out, because I’m in control!

On a serious note though – I did make it out the door. I headed into the hills  and put in about 4 miles at a pace that resembled a less than brisk walk. It’s been so long since I had seriously attacked hills (real ones) that going up was really really tough. I’m not going to lie – I am woefully out of shape. And carrying an extra 30 pounds doesn’t help either.

I started out a Ridge Park and ran down (please note the proximity of these two words) into Deer Canyon in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park/Crystal Cove State Park.  It’s been a while since I’ve been down in the canyon. It was interesting to see that the State has been putting some of their outrageous parking fees (Lauren can appreciate this) to work:



Being down in the canyon meant that I had to climb out next. At least I didn’t have to worry about mountain lions or anything. My huffing, puffing and wheezing going up the hill certainly scared away anything afraid of humans:

Running Deer Canyon-El Moro 12-27-2011, Elevation

When I got to the top,  I was rewarded by another view that those of us who live in Southern California get to enjoy in December while we complain about the 55 degree weather:


Then I realized I wasn’t really at the top at all, but just the first of two more climbs to the car. At least I didn’t have to worry about mountain lions or anything. The stream of obscenities I was muttering certainly scared away anything afraid of humans.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

So–Where Did We Leave Off Yesterday?

Oh yeah. 2011.

I, for one, will be happy to get 2011 behind me. So many things on a personal level didn’t quite go right. I seemed to always be on the defensive. I subconsciously started controlling the things I could – and what easier to control than exercise? I cannot tell you how easy it is to decide that it would be better to work out tomorrow. Sigh.

On the flip side though I really get to rub it in now. While you all are going to be stressing over miles to run, races to register for, and distances to PR, my goal for 2012 is easy:

“Be in control”

Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it. But then so does running a 4:00 marathon. The difficulty lies in execution. Those who make the 4:00 marathon are willing to commit physically and mentally to the task of training for the marathon.

Life isn’t all that much different. It’s just most of us are too lazy to figure out what to commit to. Face it – when you’re training for a big race, someone gives you a training plan. You commit. You execute. The only difference with life? No one’s there to hand you a training plan. Which really means that we need to work a little harder to figure out what we’re committing to.

For me, I am going to re-commit to some core values:

  • Self Renewal: I will do things that lead to a long term effective lifestyle so I can have the energy to tackle each day.
  • Independence: I will be proactive in my approach to life. I will put things on my task list as they crop up. I will not let them languish. Especially if they are unpleasant. I will put first things first instead of doing what is easy because its easy.

That’s it. Pretty simple on the surface. As long as I have physical health and energy and deal with life’s ups and downs in a proactive manner, I will be way ahead of 2011.

Now comes the hard part. Execution. I find it’s real easy to fool myself and to convince others that I am justified. So, this year I am going to work hard to surround myself with positive people who have more than just their own interests are heart. Sometimes it nothing more than a “Good morning, What’s on tap today?” tweet.  Nothing like having to focus on today’s task list while on my first cup of coffee to help me prioritize my day.

So there you go. Let the countdown to 2012 start!

But first – it’s a beautiful day here in Southern California. I think I’m going for a walk….

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011–A Year in Review

This pretty much sums up 2011:


Things started slow. And they never really picked up.

On the positive side, I think I’ve defined the Bell Curve:

Total distance

I also found this function that defines my waist size:



Heck. I even started with 371 items in Google Reader this morning.

Yup. Those are the lows of 2011.

Which will bring me to where I go from here. But, my readership numbers are in the dumps too, so I need to save that for tomorrow’s post.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Trying to Become Regular

And doing it without Metamucil!

Two posts in two days. Can it be true?

Yesterday was a bad weather day here in Southern California. A cold winter wind was whipping about making life miserable. There were lots of complaints on Twitter from those living around here. I documented it in this little video. Just so the rest of you digging out from under snow, cold, and ice know that it’s not peachy keen here:

Merry Christmas all! I’ll be catching up on my reading this weekend.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

So Much to Do….

Sorry I’ve been absent from these pages. I’m needing to hit the reset button yet again. Seems like blogging has taken a temporary backseat.

I’m hoping to get caught up on reading this weekend, and get a post or two in the coming week.

Quick edit!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, or whatever your version of the Holidays may be. My you and your family enjoy a happy and safe Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Now That We Have Our Ducks in Order…

Once I caught on and got my ducks in order, I was finally able to effectively network and job hunt. The good news is that in the last two months I have had 4 or 5 opportunities come across my desk. Nothing has really solidified yet into something concrete (or even into something more solid than the wet cement that comes out of a truck), but things are pointing in the right direction. The only problem is that it’s taken me several months to get here.

Which brings me to a few suggestions:

  1. Think about hiring a career coach. Yes they are expensive. No they won’t do the work for you. But they provide expertise and will hold you accountable. If these are problems, it might be something you consider.
  2. Sign up for any webinars dealing with how to use LinkedIn. There are little tricks that you can use to get yourself elevated in search results. (If you are in Orange County, consider attending the Career Coaching Ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest).
  3. Get ready for a roller coaster. I’ve been around a lot of years and have been through my fair share of trials and tribulations. I still wasn’t ready for the emotional swings of a modern job search. Just remember – when you are turned down, or worse yet, hear nothing from a position that you feel you are perfect for, it’s nothing personal. Instead look inward to see if you can figure out why you may have been passed up. Then take corrective action.
  4. Finally, you might want to consider going into business on your own. This takes a special type of personality willing to risk it all – but in times like these there may be opportunities for project related work in your field!

Once again – as Miss Zippy said – it’s a full time job!

Which brings me to a sore spot. My running has been relegated to even less than part time these days. I need to get on the stick here soon if I have a dream of making my goal race a reality. Last week didn’t go so well. I’ll try again this week. I need to start running. After all – I want to start eating!

  • Monday: Scheduled rest.
  • Tuesday: 3 easy miles.
  • Wednesday: 4 easy miles.
  • Thursday: 3 easy miles.
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 8 to 10 on the trails.
  • Sunday: Rest.
  • Total planned: 18 – 20 miles.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Well, That Really Blows…

You know what? I have a rare opportunity today to talk about both my job search and my training. What do they have in common? They are both really blowing.

That’s right. From a training perspective, we had a “significant meteorological event” this week. You folks in Colorado are probably familiar with the Chinooks or Boras. We have a similar scenario here in Southern California called the Santa Ana winds. Well – we had them this week. Tuesday and Wednesday. Yesterday they were blowing 20 – 30 mph down here along the coast. We got off pretty light. The damage was devastating in other parts of Los Angeles, where sustained winds of 50 mph and gusts in the 70 to 90 mph range were clocked.

The effect that it had on me was that my four miler on Wednesday turned into a frigid 3 miler, and yesterday turned into zero as I was not about to brave the 20 mph winds and the blowing sand, dust, leaves and litter. I know. What a wimp.

So then you ask – how does the job search blow? Well, in my last post I talked about putting together a complete networking strategy. And I thought that that was the holy grail. That the job interviews and offers would come trickling in. But alas. Meeting people is just step 1 of a multi-faceted gem. Remember when you meet people, you are telling a story. Make sure that your story is consistent. What does that mean? Here are some of the details:

  • Have a resume handy at all times. The resume you’ll need for networking is probably different than the resume that you’ll have for your job interviews (more on that in a different post). Focus on things that will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd.
  • Business cards: Have them ready. And no – not your cards from the company you used to work for (unless you want people to call you at your place of business, or worse yet, call you somewhere that you are no longer at). And no – not the ones with the Vista Print logo on them (the free ones).
  • Elevator pitch: If someone asks you what you do, be ready to tell them. In 30 seconds. And not what you did. But what you do.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Be able to tell someone everything they need to know about you that would make them want to develop a relationship with you in two minutes or less.
  • Have your “close” ready: If you feel that this is someone you want to have coffee or lunch with, ask for the appointment. Have your calendar ready and set the date.
  • Know what your looking for: If someone asks – “What are you looking for?” be able to answer the question. Once again – not what you did, but what you want to do.
  • Don’t be bashful: If this is someone you really don’t want to develop a further relationship with, don’t be bashful.Tell them so. You wasted five minutes with introductions and your story. Get on to someone who can help you.
  • LinkedIn: This is not an option. You simply must have presence on LinkedIn. And the story you are telling there must be consistent with the story that you are telling your connections. The first thing that HR organization who is interested in you is going to do is to look you up on LinkedIn.
  • And while we’re at it - Facebook and Twitter: Yes. They’re going to look there too. Don’t give someone a reason to deny you before you even get out of the gate.

Learn from my mistakes and have your ducks in a row when you start. I learned how to network, and *then* I had to take another month to get the rest of these things in order.

I think Miss Zippy put it best in a comment she left here the other day – “Most people don't realize that job hunting is a job in and of itself.” Nothing is more truthful than this…..