Friday, December 16, 2011

Tell Me Again Why I Made THAT Commitment...

So somewhere in the course of my life I developed this half-baked belief that if you really want to accomplish somethings, you have to set goals.  And for a goal to be "real," you have to write it down.  The day after Thanksgiving I came up with this crazy goal, and I vocalized it to several people, including my lovely wife, to help keep me on track, but I'm finally getting around to putting the goal into print for all to see.  My goal is:

I will run 100 miles between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

That's 100 cumulative miles, not 100 miles in one single run.  Because while the first is only slightly nutty, the latter would be just plain crazy.

In my own defense, this goal didn't just pop up out of the blue.  See, I'm a geek.  A geek who runs.  Because of that I keep a record of all my runs in an Excel workbook that shows the distances for my runs, broken down by segments, and calculates my pace for each section as well as the average for the entire run.  I started doing this in 2008, so I have almost three years of data to review and track my progress--or lack thereof.

Because of my geekness (geekdom? geekhood?) I have a record of all my runs while living in Thailand, and at the end of our time there I added the distance for all my runs.  In the course of two years I ran 967 kilometers.  While the American in me says, "Hey, that's 601 miles, pretty good there, sport!" there's the other part of me--the part of me that lives and breathes metric--that said it was 33 kilometers short of 1,000 kilometers for our time in Southeast Asia.  Thirty-three kilometers--that's just 20.5 miles.  If I had decided to run on just five more days out of the 730 we lived in Thailand, I would have had one thousand kilometers.  Five lousy days!

As if that weren't enough, after we'd been back in the States for two months I added up my mileage since leaving Thailand and saw that it was a rather pathetic 44 miles.  Two months and not even 50 miles?  Pathetic.  So pathetic that I sat down on the couch and consoled myself with a large bowl of ice cream, drowned in delicious caramel topping.

Fast-forward to Thanksgiving weekend, and I checked my Excel workbook and saw that my cumulative mileage had reached 108 miles.  And that's when the crazy notion hit me--I could set a goal to run 200 cumulative miles between leaving Bangkok and 2012.  And then I thought, what's another measly eight miles, and bumped my goal to an even 100 miles between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Ever the diligent geek, I looked at a calendar, added up the days I would probably run, leaving out days I was confident that I wouldn't run (Tuesdays and Saturdays, because that's when I play basketball, and Sundays, of course) and calculated that if I ran four miles each of those days, I'd hit my goal spot-on.

Naturally, events can and will conspire to keep me from my goal.  Work gets busy and somedays I can't do a mid-day run.  Early mornings are out because of seminary.  I got sucked into *Born to Run.  Some days it rains--I have a really hard time motivating myself to run in the rain in America (running while it's raining in Thailand's a totally different story).  And I really don't like running in the dark, especially in the evenings (I should blog on that some night--maybe I'll go for another nighttime run and then blog about it).  Long story short (too late, as always), my latest calculation indicates that I have to fun five miles each day that I run between now and New Year's Day.  I'll probably have to do a couple of longer ones, because I can guarantee that I'll miss a day or two in there somewhere.

And for the record, that part of me that lives and breathes metric, is my spleen.

*Inspired by my fitness goal, I picked up Born to Run on a trip to the library with my son.  Several of my friends who know of my particular running preferences had recommended this book, and I was totally inspired.  The book was so engrossing, the story so well formulated and interesting that I finished it in four days.  I was so sucked in that I neglected to prepare a lesson for my early-morning seminary class (they probably didn't notice).  Oh, and I was so into it that I actually didn't run for a couple of days--I believe that would be a textbook definition of "ironic."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Well, Hello There, November!

I was going to title this entry "Obligatory Thanksgiving Post" but I did that back in 2009.  It's okay, I know you really want to check and see if I really did.  Go ahead, search for it using the handy-dandy archive on the right-hand side of your screen.  One hint: it's not in November.

Anywho, I figured I should take a few minutes and jot something so utterly profound that anyone reading this blog would immediately think about changing jobs, going back to school, or at least considering a different method for arranging their sock drawer.  To have such an impact, however, would require that more than three people read my blog.  So I'll just fall back on the ever reliable, always consistent, and seasonally appropriate outpouring of thanks.

I'm grateful to be back in the United States.  We had such an amazing experience in Thailand, and we're looking forward to our next overseas assignment (whenever that is), but I really, really love living in America.  Potable tap water, (mostly) predictable traffic, and distinct seasons are but a few of the things that I've been very happy to reacquaint myself with since returning.  I'm also happy to have more than one running route, and topographic variation that make running much more interesting.

Those pale in comparison with how thankful I am for my family.  I have an amazing wife, full of patience, love, and compassion.  And she's a great kisser to boot.  My children continually impress me with their creativity, their inspiration, and their boundless energy.  My children also continually frustrate me with their creativity, their inspiration, and their boundless energy.  They are healthy, they're (mostly) happy, and so far they're all shorter than me.  What more could a man ask for?

I'm grateful for my parents, their love and inspiration.  They've put up with me longer than anyone else, and for that they deserve a medal.  Likewise I'm grateful for my mother- and father-in-law, for their sacrifice and service, the example they give to their children and grandchildren.

Lastly, I'm grateful I get to teach early morning seminary.  No, seriously, I really am thankful for the opportunity.  I'm so impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm those high school kids bring every morning.  Sure, it can be tiring, but let's be honest--do I have anything better to do at 6 a.m.?

Okay, time to go to bed.  Six a.m. comes really early.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Crisp Autumn Morning

We had the first snowfall of the season yesterday.  None of it stuck, but it was pretty cool to be driving around for a bit in the snow--we had to drive, Five Guys doesn't do home delivery.  It's also a helpful reminder that our kids needed new gloves to keep their hands dry and warm this winter.  In that light, a surprising fact: REI had much higher quality gloves than Sears (okay, that's really not a surprise) for only two or three dollars more.  My kids will thank me later when, after an epic snowball fight, their hands aren't numb.

The mercury dipped below freezing overnight, and we woke up to frost on the ground for the first time in a couple of years (I'm pretty sure there was no frost on the ground last year at this time when we took a week's vacation to China).  Our cars also had some amazingly beautiful frost:

This is actually our neighbor's car.  Not sure why his car had the cool swirled patterns, but not really going to complain, because it looks pretty darn awesome.

The roof of my car actually had a little snow leftover from the day before.

Between stuff like this and the amazing color of the changing leaves, I'm once again reminded of why it is that I love living here.  Sure, we had a great time in Thailand, and we even hope to go back again someday, but I also love living where we have four seasons and the jaw-dropping beauty of nature's annual transitions.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I was sad because I had no shoes until I met a man that had no feet

I was feeling pretty bummed about the heavy rain that made for slow commute times today, both morning and evening.  And then I stopped wallowing in my own self-pity and remembered that the place from which my family and I recently relocated is experiencing the worst flooding in 50 years.