Thursday, August 23, 2012

Knuckledraggers like poetry too

 I like to wear flannel and jeans and look like a hick.It is a tactic I use to get others to underestimate who they are dealing with. Old habits die hard.When I went through the Special Forces qualification course we were given instruction on "cross cultural" communication. In a nutshell you need to learn to blend in to your surroundings and not stand out. Be the grey man, the average joe. I play up the fact that I am a blue collar guy,however I do enjoy alot of things that don't involve guns,sports or fart noises, Here are some of my favorite cultural items.

My favorite poem:

My favorite opera:

My favorite painting

My favorite sculpture

My favorite Native American drum group

My favorite thing to listen to while drinking German Coffee

What I like to do when I am not working,shooting,running,blogging or farting:

I guess that sums it up

Sunday, August 12, 2012

St Jude's Sweet Corn Festival 10K

I haven't run this race in a few years but since I go to this church it used to be one of my go to races. Things have happened in the last few years like work commitments etc.. that kept me from participating. Since the last time I ran the race, they had moved the race location from its former location to the local Catholic High School. This was a wise move as parking at the other location was horrible and the route was filled with traffic. I was happy to be able to participate this year. I registered for the 10K but since I am in the middle of training for another ultramarathon I knew I would have to make up some miles.

Bright and early race morning I donned my camelbak and headed out on the 7.5 miles from my house to the start of the race. I took it nice and easy just warming up prior to the race. It was nice to run down one of the busiest streets in town before the sun came up.

I made to the high school about 30 minutes prior to the 0730 start and I used the facilities, picked up my timing chip and milled around. I saw my friends Brian and Kris and they let me stash my camelbak in their car for the race itself. Eventually we all moved towards the start where the national anthem was song and an invocation was given. A color guard was provided by the Knights of Columbus which was cool.

The 10 K route followed the 5K route and then we did another loop before finishing. At the start we headed out the school parking lot and took a left for about 200 meters then another left to follow a residential street for about 1.5 miles. We then took a right and headed uphill for another mile or so through a business park eventually turning right through a large parking lot. This is where the one aid station was located. We then took another right and headed back downhill for a little over a mile. I really tried to let it go on the downhill as I was feeling pretty good during the race and wanted to give a good effort. At the bottom of the hill we 10K participants had to repeat this loop. I  passed the 4 mile mark in under 30 minutes. As we headed downhill on the second loop we had to veer off into a neighborhood for about .4 miles to make up the 6.2 mile distance. They had thrown a little mental surprise in for us and this little jog off route was mostly back uphill. No big deal though as eventually it was back down the hill and a right into the parking lot to the finish. I finished in 44:47 which is a 7:13 minute mile average and my fastest 10K for the year.

 I hung around after the race a bit and cheered my friends on. Brian set a 10K PR and Kris came in second in her age group, excellent work. I talked to them for awhile then I grabbed my camelbak and ran the 7.5 miles home then added about 3 miles of trail running in Beverly Park to finish off for a total of 24 miles for the morning. I really liked what they have done with this race and will run it again next year.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ultrarunning as a Leadership Tool

I have been leading and mentoring others since I was 19 years old. I even have a degree in the subject. However I wasn't always very good at it. When I was 19 I was a do as I say because I said so kind of leader. Any one who has ever been a leader knows this technique never works. This is the technique of the weak and inexperienced leader. This is the technique of the "manager" or the "boss" not of a leader. Hopefully I have improved somewhat in the last 30 years but I will leave that judgement up to others. What I do know is I have learned a lot about the subject and I have a strong opinion on what a good leader should do.

Another subject I have learned a lot about is ultra distance or ultramarathon running. Ultramarathon distances vary from the 50KM to multiple day stage races that cover hundreds of miles. Basically an ultramarathon is anything farther than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles.In the last few years the sport has become my passion and my favorite way to pass the time. I often spend the weekends on long training runs as I prepare for my next race. I have a lot of time to think on these runs and during one of them it occurred to me the planning and preparation for an ultramarathon mirrors the necessary planning and preparation that is conducted by a good leader.

1. You Need To Have a Goal- In ultrarunning your goal might be completing a certain distance, conquering a certain race or beating a certain time. As a leader your goal may be to build a cohesive team, lower your overtime percentage or decrease turnover. Whatever your goal is a good leader has one. Goals provide focus for training and give your team something to work towards. Goals are never static however because once a goal is achieved it ceases to become a goal and must be replaced with another goal. Organizations that fail to reevaluate their goals become stagnant.

2. You Need To Make a Plan- In preparing for an ultra the runner must develop a training plan. This is done by conducting research, evaluating priorities, making choices and deciding on a particular plan. Perhaps the runner also needs to do a cost benefit analysis to juggle his/her training plan with an already busy schedule and or family life. Leaders need to do the same. What do successful companies in their industry do? What are the priorities of actions and what is the intent to be accomplished? What are the resources necessary to put the plan in place. Leaders must develop a good solid plan to achieve the stated goal.

3. You Need To Execute the Plan- One of my favorite sayings is that "the training schedule doesn't care." What I mean by that is that in ultrarunning you need to stick with the plan. You need to stick to the plan no matter what adjustments need to be made. You might have to switch your long run to Friday when you normally do it on Sunday. However the intent of an ultratraining plan is to build up the base miles and execute the required mileage for the week so the body can handle the stresses of the ultra distance. Although adjustments may need to be made the intent remains the same. The same can be said for a good leader. Adjustments need to be made but the intent remains the same.When I was in the military we had a METL or Mission Essential Task List. This list was exactly what it sounded like a list of essential tasks needed to complete the plan. A good leader will identify the small list of essential things that need to be accomplished for the plan to be a success. Some of these things may be individual tasks or they may be group activities. A good leader will be the guiding hand to keep everyone on track and constantly direct the team towards the stated goal utilizing theses tasks.

4. You Need to Accomplish the Goal- This may seem like a no brainer but accomplishing the goal what the entire leadership experience is about. In ultrarunning there is a acronym called DNF. Simply this stands for Did Not Finish. Most runners that have attempted multiple ultramarathons have at least one DNF under their belt. Sometimes not accomplishing the goal allows us to readjust our plan and use lessons learned from earlier failures. A good leader uses the knowledge gained from setbacks to move forward. Relentless forward progress is another ultra term that applies to leadership. Leaders must keep their eyes on the goal, make adjustments and always move forward even if incrementally. Smaller in progress goals may be set that complement the larger goal.

5. You Need to Reward Success- Ultra runners are often rewarded with a medal or belt buckle or some other bauble when the reach their goal. A good leader also rewards his team when they accomplish their goals. The reward doesn't have to be big but it does have to be thoughtful and tangible. Often the reward is a symbol of the hard road required to reach the goal. As a symbol the reward will become a source of pride that is much bigger than the actual physical reward.

A good leader is like a good runner. Careful,well trained and flexible.