Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cyberworld (Good or Bad)

I kind of fell into technology over 20 years ago. I liked breaking the internals of the computer configuration and see if I could fix it; which then led to a real job working as a Director of Computer Operations where I could let other people break the computers and I would make them better, plus learned more. My career spun off in great directions, I was riding the technology wave as everything developed.  It was fun!!!  I too didn't get a cell phone until I had to because I traveled for work and people needed to get a hold of me.  I remember when they were trying to talk all of us into wearing beepers and building a 24/7 support operation.  I didn’t like that one bit, well things spun off wickedly fast since then, and cell phones are the means to the end for technology. 

It was in 2004, when I got my first cell phone, but used it very rarely. Even today, I still restrict my phone use.  The main reason is because it irritates me that people can't hold a conversation without having their phone buzz with a message or phone call. Even on the train, people can’t sit quietly and read, or do work or whatever, they have to be talking loud on a cell phone.  I find it funny how we were all able to walk the streets just fine without a phone 20 some years ago and beyond.  It seems younger people; 18-27 always need to have that cell phone in their ear talking with someone.  It’s like a security blanket.  It's strange to me.  There are so many times when I want to walk in silence and think.  Don’t people do that anymore?

I, then, was given the opportunity to test Social Networking (SN), and this was only because it was introduced to me (almost forced) by several incidences: first my daughter was on MySpace and Facebook (FB) (once they added High School students to the mix).  The reason I was on it was to regulate, given my concern about the nasty things I heard about child predators on the internet; second, my PhD advisor was an expert in SN and I took a class that introduced over 20 SN tools. (This was when FB was just that, not used widely by the public only some students in college); and third, I was asked to be a guest speaker talking about my experiences with SN, which forced me to dive in and try out test scenarios. (Active and applied research has always been the way I learn).  

I very recently went back through my emails, on gmail, to clean things up since I was on Gmail account (Gmail finally added a folders option on their system to organize, yeah, I like organizing!!).  While going through this “organizing Gmail” exercise, I realized how many people (if they weren't on FB, LinkedIn, Sisterhood, or some other widely used SN) got lost in the shuffle.  

During this past year, when I was taking time off, doing things for me, traveling to meet my 1/2 marathon in 25 states goal, writing, spending time with my husband, etc; I was introduced to so many people along the way. I think without SN I don't think I would have gotten to know any of you. And I am grateful for SN for that one reason.

Although, now I have to make a conscious effort to break from the habit of going on FB every few minutes during the day, I find it takes away from my other things. I am working hard to put a concrete schedule for me to focus on other things during the day, to stay out of cyberworld. I am grateful, but it also is a problem. I'm working through it.

  • There is a certain level of "raw" honesty that goes behind meeting someone virtually. No doubt, meeting someone in person, face-to-face is wonderful, but people reveal more to one another when their faces are hidden. Their insecurities are flushed out by a computer screen. They can say what they want. They can also lie, however, when you do find a friend online, it can go either way ---good or bad. You just have to use your inner judgment and sixth sense, if you will.  More and more people are falling in love with the persona of people, not necessarily the outer shell, and that's a good thing. You sometimes get to know the real person through words. Like many people say, writing a letter is more revealing than speaking your mind. People come out more in "text"---whether by pen or by keys.  (Deb Pasquella)
Thank you again, for sharing your thoughts; this is exactly where I am at with Cyberspace in my world. (Beginner, Expert, Savvy, intermediate, unknown, expert, etc etc etc, working in Cyberspace is a never ending cycle) Be okay with sitting quiet in a room, and keep on running!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Great Discipline Experiment Redux (GDE Redux )

Thanks to Susan Piver, who inspired me to think about this, the GDE Redux. "The theme of this GDE Redux is the same as the last one: Take all the things you say you should do everyday (or most days) and do them. Now, these things aren’t earth shattering. They’re simple and should be within my ability to accomplish. Write. Meditate. Study. Exercise. Drink water. Take vitamins. It’s so embarrassing how simple those things sound." (Susan Piver)  

So, I decided to put my schedule on paper. Although, I seem to follow a schedule daily, it's been more difficult now that my daughter arrived home from being in Spain all last year. She is living with us for her last semester. It's been interesting, at best, and has really thrown my productivity out the window. I think writing out my schedule will help make me more disciplined.  Also, when I decided to transform my career, part of the reason was to allow the flexibility to incorporate all of the things in my life that I love to do.

So, I am writing my schedule here: (it's a bit more flexible because of my marathon training, but this is how it works for me) 
  • *4-10 am train (run, bike, cross train for marathon, ironman, 1/2 marathon) (2 hours of working out) 
  • *** 6-7:30 am meditate, writing exercise 
  • * 10:30-12:30 pm spend quality time with Leon (my hubby), includes lunch 
  • * 2:00-6:00 pm work (book, consulting, writing)  
  • *** 3:00-4:30 pm write  
  • *** 4:30-5:00 pm meditate  
  • *** 2:00-6:00 pm read and rest (1 hr+ within that timeframe)
  • *** 4:00-9:00 pm playtime  
*note: each day is different depending on when my daughter wants to spend time with me, so this isn't as concrete as a typical schedule.  

The key for me is to continue to incorporate writing and mediation in my routine.  
It helps and thanks for the motivation.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Latebird Triathlon

I got up this morning energized, ready to hit the road to do the sprint distance triathlon that I signed up for over 6 months ago. (500m swim, 14 m bike, 5K run) I intended to do the springfling tri; but, the day before the tri I did a half marathon, in May, and I was pretty worn out after the 13.1 mile run.  I called the race director, Cheri, to tell her I couldn't do the tri. Luckily, Cheri offered to move my entry into the fall race.  This worked out well for me, because I am in the last few weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon, on Oct 11 (only 2 weeks away), and used this latebird tri as a cross training workout. 

I arrived an hour early for the tri and found they were running ahead of schedule.  This turned out well since I was positioned to start in a late heat. And I like to "get it over with".

I picked up my packet and was marked with my number.  I positioned my bike on the race rack. I went to watch the swimmers in the pool. This is a time for me to prepare mentally for the race.  I always get nervous doing the triathlons because I'm afraid of swimming.  I'm proud that I actually do it. I swim breaststroke; it may not be fast but it allows me to keep me relaxed.  I tend to tense then breath when I'm not supposed to, sucking water when I breathe.  The less water I drink while swimming these races, the better! 

I talked with Joan, as I stood waiting to check in 10 minutes before my heat.  Joan is a good friend, has been a college & USS swim coach for decades, and is a very seasoned swimming expert.  I shared my fears of swimming.  I mentioned that it took me several times to pass beginners swimming when I was 4 years old. She gave some suggestions on perfection; you don't have to have a perfect stroke to swim. I talked with her about my goal to do an Ironman.  I told Joan that I decided to dive in and learn more about the Ironman (time it takes for preparation, training, eating, and the actual race), by doing my first 1/2 Ironman 3 weeks ago and volunteering for the Madison Ironman.  The 1/2 Ironman went surprisingly well, I was 'very' strong in the run, but needed work in both the swim and bike.  I handed out water at both the bike and running aid stations, during the Ironman, and was able to get a better understanding how much effort I will need to put in to prepare for the Ironman, and I realize I am not ready.  l told Joan that I need to work on my swim and bike techniques.  Joan offered to help me learn swim techniques and offered to meet me a few times a week to help me out.  She said many times you need to learn to relax while swimming. If a person is tense in the water they don't swim very well. I was relieved and took her up on the offer.

I excused myself to hit the bathroom one more time, before my swim, and then headed over to check in for my heat.

I sat on the side of the pool waiting with my group to be called to approach the pool. I was the 3rd in my heat, which I wasn't too sure about. Last time I was first, which allowed me the freedom to go at a good pace.  My time is very slow, but wasn't sure how things would work out. The official led the three of us to lane 1 and told us the rules. He gave us permission to get in the water. In a few seconds, he gave each of us a ten second difference to start our swim. I kicked off the edge.  Breaststroke!  I know it's a slower stroke, but I'm comfortable with it, can set cadence to my breathing and able to see where I'm swimming.  I heard Gina cheering for me on the deck. This helped me calm down, knowing someone was there to help me along the way. After a few laps I lost count of my number, I was supposed to swim 20 lengths or 10 laps. I stopped by the end of the lane to ask the guys, who were recording my laps, what number I was on. I was a little confused with their response, because I was counting in laps and they told me the lengths. I tensed with worry. They said 6 and I thought I was on 8, which means I was really on 12 lengths, farther along than I thought. I kept swimming and passed both swimmers. Eventually, the 1st swimmer tried to catch up and kept hitting me in the feet as I swam. This was another distraction during the swim. I finally saw the red flag, which meant only 1 more lap to go, at the end of the pool. I kept a smooth cadence the last lap. I got out of the pool and headed to the transition area to get ready for the 14 mile bike.

I took my time in the transition area, dried off, put on my socks, shoes and helmet.  I drank my powdered protein drink. (I love that stuff, it tastes really good!) I walked my bike out of the transition area to start my ride. I knew the course since I've done this race 2 times prior to this race, so I felt pretty confident, I was going over 20 mph the first few miles. I hit the turn 4 miles in and the wind hit me with tremendous force, and that threw my planned average mph off.  I was going a slower speed than planned. I worked hard to keep the average that I planned, going under some times, but stay determined the whole length, wind hitting me strong. I kept my average bike pace, only going below when I hit some hills and wind at the same time during mile 11-12. I made it in and took my time during transition.

Drank some more powdered protein drink, changed into my running shirt and cap and walked to the run start. I started running where my chip got activated and felt really strong. I ran really well. I passed the first two runners and ran up the trail hill. The soft ground in the wildlife reserve felt so good to run on!!! The first mile had a pretty good hill, but I run this course for training, so I was pretty strong running the hill. I passed my next 2 runners, on the sidewalk for a short stint, and then turned back on the reserve trail, which again was so great to run on. They had a table with cups filled with water; I grabbed some water and kept going. I ran more and passed another runner and hit the 1/2 mile bridge that runs along the marshy area of the reserve. I thought to myself, wow, I'm really feeling strong during the run, and it feels great. Keep going with it. I ran through the woods for the next mile and then hit the field which was the mark for one more mile to go. I ran around the field corner, picked up a water cup, and saw two runners walking. I kept running my pace, passing the first guy and then was up to the next guy, who mumbled something. I said what? And he said, "Where did you come from?" It took me a while to respond, pausing I said, "I just keep chugging along". Then passed him and turned to run up the hill along the residential area of the field. I saw someone in a red shirt in front of me about 500 yards, and I just kept running. Eventually, I caught up with her and passed her the last 100 of the race. I ran down the hill and saw the finish line up the sidewalk. I ran to the finish very strong.

I wasn't sure about my time, because of the bike and the strong wind, but it was an awesome cross training workout!!!! I took a shower and went out to see what my results were. I came in at my regular swim time (slow but finished), 2 minutes slower on the bike and 2 minutes faster on the run.

I was very proud to have accomplished this training race today.

Perfect weather and challenging conditions.

Well worth the trip!!! =)