Monday, February 25, 2013

Make it difficult to do the wrong thing.

The other day my kids were watching my wife's cousin give a techie talk on YouTube or some other webcasty type of thing. I wasn't paying much attention to his talk but I overhead him comment that a goal of his "stuff" was to make it difficult for users to do the wrong thing. That short sound bite got me thinking.

Deep down and somewhat in real life I am a techie. My family keeps forgetting that I actually knew (note the tense) some things and I often have to remind the folks that work for me that I used to be smart. Normally this results in an eye roll or even a laugh/snort but I've given talks like his talk in the dark ages before every talk's video was immortalized via digital archiving. It is frightening that I would have to pay to get copies of some of the technical articles I wrote back in the day (assuming I would want them) but at least the patents that I've gotten more recently are still freely searchable. Why do I write all this? Perhaps I think my thinking about sound bites could be profound. Yup, that was an eye roll. I realized that I didn't want to write about this in terms of technology since that could cause me to go down a path of regularly writing about technology. That would have more detriments than benefits so I'll put this into an endurance sports slant.

Back on topic: the statement "make it difficult to do the wrong thing." I thought if the corollary "make it easy to to do the right thing" was valid or perhaps even more impactful of a thought. I realized that idea was valid but wasn't more impactful. Then I thought if it was hard to do the right thing and/or easy to do the wrong thing, what would happen. That, I thought, was the cause of many endurance training failures. The right thing to do seemed too damned hard. Perhaps not physically. Perhaps mentally. Perhaps with life balance. Perhaps with everything else that goes on in ones life. Some times the right thing to do does seem hard. But is it?

Compare it against the wrong thing to do. Is it harder to do or not do a workout? Scheduling the right thing and the wrong thing takes the same effort.  The choices one makes while scheduling (the workout or something else) might be though. If you are doing the workout, you can do it right or you can do it wrong. I often try to make mental excuses as to why I can't do something then all of a sudden, I've done it.

Where am I going with this? The more I think about it the more I realize that if I make it difficult to do the wrong thing I will be more successful at what I'm doing.

Success, my friends, is the right thing.

Defining success is a topic for another day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Broken new scale

As we were walking through the mall my wife mentioned that she wanted to get a new bathroom scale. We had a Tanita but she recently got these Fitbit things and there is a scale that synchs to the pedometer and such. Since I wasn't emotionally attached to the scale (and wanted to bank some good will for when I want to buy something new), I said go for it.

She was configuring the scale last night (yes it requires configuring) and said it was ready to go. This morning before I got dressed I got on it and then got on the old one. The new scale reads 3.4 lbs heavier than the old.

The new scale must be broken. The old one can't be. I know the old scale was 5 pounds lighter than the official weight watchers scale but I rationalized that as the weight of clothes. I asked my wife and she noticed it too.

At some point I'll have to bite the bullet,use the new scale, and track my weight with it going forward. Why couldn't it have read lighter? Would have made me feel much differently.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First trimester of iron

Nine months from today is Ironman Arizona. I realized that as I was procrastinating rather than doing my scheduled bike workout looking at events that would act as training sessions for the rest of the year. When most people think of things that take nine months they normally do not think of Ironman preparation but of a pregnancy.

How is ironman training like a pregnancy? Full disclosure, I have never personally been pregnant (even though I have had times where I may have looked like it). I first thought that there was no way that ironman training was similar to being pregnant. I need to lose weight, not gain weight. Then I thought a little more. I need to watch what I eat. I need to take care of my body. There will be times where I don't feel so good. There will be other times when I feel great. I need to listen to my doctor (and coach). I'll need my rest. My family will be pulling for me. Some times I'll not be making so much sense but people will humor me. Near the end I'll just want to get it over. November 17 is the date I'll go into my final labor. I'm hoping the labor is less than 17 hours.

Today is the beginning of my first trimester of iron. Time to get on that trainer and do that bike workout.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The WW Weigh in Ritual

  •  Make sure no watch is on. 
  • Move the phone and wallet to coat. 
  • Keys can't be in a pocket.
  • Don't want to weigh that belt.
  • Make sure that you remembered to go to the bathroom beforehand.
  • Shoes off.
  • When the formerly fat person working the desk says you may step on the scale, you do. 
  • Make sure there is no air in your lungs because Physics told you that air weighs something when you were in 12th grade (perhaps the only thing you remember about AP Physics except shooting the laser at people across the quad).
  • Breathe a sigh of relief when they tell you that you lost 5 lbs.
  • Now comes the true irony. They say you should consider exercising some or a little more. You scream to yourself "I'M TRAINING FOR AN IRONMAN" then you demurely explain that exercise isn't your problem. They look at you confused.
  • Later go home and don't wimp out on your bike trainer workout since you have to do the weigh in ritual again next week.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fat intervention

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin

My weight has been out of control recently. I've noticed. Other people have noticed. I thought of the quote above and thought it applicable to life in addition to my races. The reality of the situation is that life is more important.

I had to get some new suits since my old suits didn't fit well and I had some events where I needed to "suit up". When I buy suits I normally spend a lot of money to get something similar to the classic Brooks Brothers type of cut, often from Brooks Brothers or even custom made. The problem with custom made is that you don't know your size. I went to Brooks Brothers and while the largest suit there was too small, the selection was smaller than usual.  I then went to another store and they had suits that fit but the size scared me a little. Even though they fit me, they didn't fit me well. I was into fat sizes though. Since I'm tall I buy my shirts at the tall and fat. I went there and got two, cheap, basic suits. I didn't spend a lot of money since I hope to fix my weight problem quickly.

I've lost weight (and gained it back) many times. One of the guys at work asked me if I've ever considered stomach surgery. He had it done and now seems to be an evangelist. I'm going to find out the facts.

In the meantime, I went back to weight watchers last Friday. If I can't fix myself with diet, I need to consider more radical methods.  I'm at the mindset where my life will be shortened due to my weight. Gaining weight while training is something unexplainable as well. A fat intervention was declared. By me. For me. As a priority.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Scratching an itch.

A few weeks ago I got a rash on my right calf. It quickly spread to my left calf, then both shins, my stomach, and then finally in the part of my back between the shoulder blades that cannot be reached by conventional means. The itching was driving me crazy.

I realized that my wife started using fancy detergent, Tide pods, that are cleaner to use (for her) while washing. I guessed that I might be allergic to this so asked her to return to old school Tide. She did. The itching kept driving me crazy.

I was seeing my doctor for a follow up from my plague and such and showed him the rash explaining that I thought it an allergy. He didn't think it was an allergy so recommended for me to see a dermatologist. I saw the dermatologist and he said I was suffering from dry skin. He recommended some cream to get from the drug store to solve the dry skin and a prescription cream to stop the itching. The local CVS had neither in stock so had to order some. Been disappointed with CVS lately as the folks working there seem to be getting less smart (aka stupid) and they never have what I need.

I kept thinking of this stuff as "the cream and the clear" from BALCO or potentially a "balm" from the Maestro. I picked up my creams last night fighting the crowds preparing for the snow storm and started applying liberally. I'm still itching but hope this will be cured soon.

PS: Everyone in the house seems relatively healthy these day having gone over our various illnesses. Thanks for all the emails.

PPS: The only thing worse than 2x20s on the bike trainer is 3x20. Guess what is on the plan for while the snow comes down? Yup, 3x20. Maybe I'll get an itch for more training.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

When you think you can plan....

Last night, while I was reviewing some essays that my older daughter was crafting to get into some nerd summer program, my younger daughter called from her school activity saying that the barfies had shown up. She was requesting a pick up as she was the one channeling the barf. I gave my wife the choice of fetching or editing. She chose fetching as the essays were due yesterday.

I was debating either running this morning or seeing my kids perform but after six overnight barfs my younger daughter was in no shape to perform. We decided that my wife would go to the concert and I would stay home with our plague petri dish.

We had about 30 people scheduled to come over to watch the game later Sunday. Since we felt that we didn't want to give all our guests the now fully incubated plague, we decided to cancel our super bowl party. I was able to cancel some of the food we ordered (so that was good) but we have plenty of chips and beer. I have a call into Roger Goodell to reschedule the game but somehow I'm not getting through on his cell. Maybe I have the wrong number or maybe the Saints were able to get his phone service suspended while in New Orleans. I'm sure someone there tried.

The net of this is that even though I had grandiose plans, I'll be watching this game with a sick teenager cuddled up net to me at best. I hope to still get in some sort of workout during the pre game show.  I'll still be rooting against the Ravens though.

PS: We'll hear about this summer program sometime in April. She has a few other programs that she has already applied to as well that we'll hear about the same time. Next year she'll be writing college entrance essays. Joy. Joy. Joy.