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Sunday, November 30, 2008

VERY Slow Running

I waited until mid day to go out and run. The temps were in the low 60's and there was little or no wind. Almost perfect conditions for a slow (very slow) 60 minute jog. I kept my HR down in the low 130's most of the way. The price of still running after 41 years is VERY slow running.

My 7:06 from yesterday shouldn't really be a surprise. I train at a 10 minute pace these days. When I ran at a 6:30 to 7 minute pace, I could run the mile in the 4:30's. So none of this should be a surprise.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

7:06 in a low key

This is the track, isn't it????

I finally got back to the track of a time trial. It's been about 17-18 months and in the interlude I lost my momentum. I had run a 6:18, 1600 meter and a 13:13, 3200 meter. I was on the verge of breaking the 13 minute barrier.

That was a year and half ago. 3 pulled calf muscles ago.

I knew that starting up again would not be pretty but like the proverbial journey it has to begin someplace.

I ran a very easy 25 minutes over to and around De Anza. Then I did a couple of striders.

My goal was to run somewhere in the range between 7 and 7:15. I ran the first two laps in 3:45 and then picked up the last 800 running 7:06.I ran another 13 minutes back home.

I am at least a minute away from where I need to be to have a chance at breaking 13 minutes.

Dimitri and I have decided to start doing our weekly trial runs in January.

I will do something like this.

Set date initial goal for 3200

1600 20 seconds faster than pace
2400 @date pace
3200 Date pace

Set new goal pace

Friday, November 28, 2008

Who Am I Trying To Convince

I was listening to myself this past week (or two). I have said a hundred times that I went back inside (work) to get benefits. I have said it so many times that it seems that I am trying to convince myself that that is the reason I went back in. Now I understand why Dena and Steve looked at me strangely and absently so many years ago. Work is so interwoven into my way of thinking that I can't shake it loose.

The past 3 months have shown what a slave I am to work even though I have played at not being a slave. I am my master's most favorite servant.

I am not against work. Don't read that into what I am writing here.

I am against being a slave to it.

Last night I listened to John talk about work even though he no longer works at all. But it's his son's work or my son's work. He drones on and one about it. John is a good guy. More than that he is generous and true if you are in a bind. But 40 years of over identifying with companies has done him in. I did this with running.

I was a runner. Got that? I WAS A RUNNER!

Now I am a jogger of the lowest ilk. I don't identify myself with being a runner anymore or at least not hardly.

I believe I have just replaced one master with another and forgot that the self mastery is the key.

Things I am going to stop doing

Telling folks I went back in for the benefits. It is partially true but it's not the whole story.

Telling people I don't really need to work.

The truth is work is random for me. I do it because I can and want to (at times). My best guess about my random self is that I will stop working when I decide that I no longer want to (or people stop calling me).

I don't need to be superior or needy about explaining this to anyone.

Yes, if I had 5 million in the bank I might not work. I am not sure. I don't know myself that well. I don't want to know myself that well.

I just want to stop boring myself and others.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Low Grade Tempo

Thanksgiving morning. The club 7.22 mile run. It was just tough for me to get the heck up and drive myself over there. I am so unused to doing this. I had not planned to do the actual run but had decided to go do a low grade tempo workout on the track that would, with my warm up and warm down, take about 60 minutes.

It worked to a "T". I ran for a very easy 15 minutes and then ran 6 x 800 keeping my HR in the 150-154 range during the 800 and jogging a very slow 200 meters in between. If I thought about the workout there is no question that the 800's felt like the first mile of a race used to. The 800-200 section took 34:15 which is woefully slow but it is what it is! Afterward, I ran another 11 minutes to hit 60 minutes. I was just finishing as the runners started to finish during the 7.22.

Things I am willing to do

Run every other day
Double now and then
Run tempo efforts
Time Trials
Run 60-70 minutes

Things I am not willing to do

Run every day
Run long
Run before 7 am in the morning
Raise my mileage

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Double Day (Not Abner)

I ran a double day. In the morning I did 30 minutes and STOP! Then at lunch I ran 35 minutes and STOP! I kept my HR in the 135-145 range. I am having to work a bit to keep my HR under 145 during the latter part of the run. This running slow to running fast is counter intuitive.

It was supposed to rain today but with the exception of gray threatening skies nothing really happened. The wind was minimal and the the weather was on the cool side. It was just about perfect conditions.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Recovery Day

I woke up around 6:45 AM with every intention of going for an early morning run but the coffee nailed me in place (on the comfy couch). I finally sauntered out the door with the ever faithful "America's Dog" Amber at around 9:30. I blew away the morning surfing the web, staying away from the TV set and the Niners-Dallas game. How right I was. After seizing a commanding 6-0 lead they got blown away 35-22. They scored zero in the second quarter while the Cowgirls put up 22 points. Game over.

I went out and finally ran an easy 35 minutes staying under 145 for most of the run. Now and then I saw the HRM hit 146 and I did the two step slow down until it dropped back down. My legs felt fine after running 65 minutes yesterday.

The weather was cool, crisp and sunny. Very little wind.

No complaints.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Math

I have been running under the assumption that my max heart rate was still in the 192-195 range but I am beginning to realize that it is probably much lower. The few times I have run an AT effort 170-172 feels exactly like 180-181 used to feel like. I find that trying to push my HR up to the high 170's and low 180'ds is a race-like effort.

Over the first 8 months of the year I missed 50% of the time because of three calf pulls.

I am aging. Wow, what a concept.

My max probably dropped due to de-conditioning, stress and aging. Eventually it catches up to you.

HR training, if done right, bring about a response. Over time you get quicker at specific heart rates. That's how it worked for me back when i first starting doing it in late 1990. My best guess is that my old AT heart rate is no longer valid. I haven't done anything approaching a max test in years but I can make a pretty fair educated guess. The new math says back it off. When my max was just over 200 I used 195 to be on the safe side and it worked. It took roughly 6 months of slow running and monthly AT test runs to see the benefits. So now maybe I am 190 (maybe) so using the new math I will back off my calculated max to 185 for the time being. We'll see if that brings about a training response.

New Math

Heart Rate Percentages
% of Max & Heart Rate

100% 185
95% 179
90% 172
85% 165
80% 158
75% 152
70% 145
65% 138
60% 131
55% 125
50% 118

I went out for an early afternoon run today. Sunny, cool, almost no wind. Perfect. I ran for 65 minutes at 130-135 HR.


Email thread from my Save Our Assets (SOA) Group.....

To me this is disappointing but then again this is a Black Swan event. Totally unexpected in its magnitude so trying to deconstruct this is almost impossible. It's a bit like Pearl Harbor. The USA knew the Japanese were going to do something just not Pearl Harbor.

It bothered me a great deal because as soon as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae happened I wanted to shift to all cash RIGHT THEN but got talked out of it by various people (to remain unnamed). So when he next shoe fell we got whacked to the tune of 100K or more. Then I did shift. I stopped listening and asking. I did what I originally wanted to do.
While I was asking my broker to move our money it dropped 15K in about 5 minutes!

So using the Pearl Harbor scenario I had to decide whether I was a battleship of a fast carrier. I had to adjust.

First I took and stayed in a full time contract job longer than I wanted to just to keep cash flow coming in. After that I went back to work for a former client of mine as an employee. It was in reality a contract job but I was willing to come in at salary much lower than my hourly billing rate to get benefits. They were up for it. It saved me money and more importantly gave me a decent medical plan to bridge the next 18 months until we are eligible for medicare. The plain fact was that between premiums and out of pocket costs, Sue and I were getting hosed to the tune of 30K a year. To pay for that I had to tie up about 600,000 dollars at 5% ROI just to pay for sub standard medical insurance.

After I leave this job I will have cut that in half. Right now my insurance costs are about 10% of what they were. That will change when I leave and go on Cobra. But 50% is mich better than before. Heck 15,000 big ones to spend on something else.

So I would implore all of you to use guerrilla tactics in this period. We did SOA for 15 years but we all got Pearl Harbored by a Black Swan event. We should all realize that the rules we knew have gone out of the window for a time.

I decided to go back to work for a time to cut my insurance costs.

I have adjusted to the fact that my nest egg is less that it was.

I will go to work in Orchard Supply Hardware if need be to keep cash flow. A good friend of mine who worked in Silicon Valley and thought he was retired is now working shifts at REI. he is keeping things together.

The truth is there are no rules except those we make ourselves.

I wouldn't be seeking the truth from others including me. September of 2008 was supposed to be the beginning of retirement for me. I thought when Alex graduated, got a job and paid for his own medical that I was home free. Well it didn't quite work out that way. I am 63 but in reality I am playing the game of a 53 year old with the exception that I still have some go to hell money in the bank.

It's strange but I found that once things began to happen I knew exactly what was going on. How? All those years hanging around you guys in SOA. This was the 1995 bust that Craig talked so much about. I didn't quite move as quickly as i wanted to but I still moved. In may not have always seemed to be on topic when we met and poured over statistics and numbers but I got the drift of how things worked. It rubbed off.

What surprised me at first was how other didn't see what was going on. I stopped listening to the experts after the first couple of weeks.

Gung Ho!


Dear all,

I agree with what you are all saying. It is just so difficult to see the money
disappearing day after day. All the professional people that I relied on for
information have been wrong. I just don't know what to believe anymore. I am
hearing the people I thought were way off the edge now saying that they have
been right. My confidence has been badly shaken. It is great hearing from all of


> When you run out of sellers we will find the bottom. I fear though that
short sellers are pushing it down lower than it what represents reality. Plus
now it’s cheaper for more people to play the short game.

> Tom

Thursday, November 20, 2008

4:33 AM

My friend sent me an email at 4:33 AM. I asked him what he was doing awake at that time of the morning.

Yeah couldn't sleep. Worried about the market and future.

I wrote back.

Ran into a friend of mine. She has 2 kids (single mom) and "retired" about 10 years back with a nice nest egg. She made money buying and selling stocks and did quite well. This last period of time (September to present) has hit her hard. She told me that this was very different from the bust because the effect has been more far reaching. I asked her if she was contemplating going back to work. She has been thinking about it but still has enough money socked away for the next few years.

But it has been an adjustment.

I guess if we all pondered this too much the meta message might be that we're too tied to things and possessions and that when the market fails, we get sucked in big time. The very thing that gave us wealth now turns on us and bites us in the ass. Our ego's are built around having wealth and a certain lifestyle versus really being free to live life. I am glued to it as much as any one. I know years back I was not and when things like this happened I just went on with my cheap little lifestyle.

We all have to pay our way but when I think of Lawrence (of Arabia) I remember that he sought a simplified lifestyle to avoid entanglements. But the World War Two hadn't happened yet. Had he lived, Churchill would have drawn him back in. Position and responsibility means complexity and complexity means the need for "other" things. Things which we can lose at a drop of a hat. Inanimate things (not living things) that we come to care way too much about.

________________Running News___________________________

I ran two up and back's this morning with Jake over at Forbes Mill. We were pushing the second one when Jake took a header on our way back down and ripped up the heel of his hand. Instinctively I hit the timer button on my stop watch as he began to tip over. I froze the time at just over 14 minutes. I wasn't even aware that I had done that until I looked back down at the watch after I knew he was OK.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Never Got There

I ran 36 minutes this morning and another 38 at lunch. Great weather but I am really in the tank. I tried to run an AT effort for 3 miles and dropped at the end of a mile. My heart and my body are simply not in this. I wish I could just catch some of the magic from early and mid last 2007 when I ran a 13:13, 3200 meter time trial on my way down to the twelves again. I never got there.

I went back and looked at what I was doing 16-18 month ago.

Slow easy runs.

Sometimes I would do some 100's

I was NOT doing weekly hard up and backs at Forbes. I believe I have buried myself for a good long time. Age? Sure. But also heaping dirt on top of me by the shovel full.

How do I get back my mojo?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

70 minutes Of The Truth

Whenever I wear the HRM, I may not like how it forces me to slow down but one thing I know from past experience.

It is the truth.

For 70 minutes I ran the truth. 36 minutes in the morning and another 34 minutes in the afternoon. It was not a cool day. Not for mid November. In fact it was Indian summer with the afternoon temps in the high 70's.

If I want anything from my running outside of the plods and beat up legs I will have to go back to late 1990 when I made it the rule to wear the darn thing every day that I ran. I trained alone or with really, really slow runners because ti forced me all the way down to a 10 pace which seemed catastrophic back in those days. Of course back then I couldn't break 40 minutes for 10K and six months later I was running them in the 35's.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I could get going again but it would all be very different. Galloway would tell me to run 3 days a week, accept the slower times (like I have choice) and make recovery my prime directive.

Run one day of intervals with some gliders in there to get warmed up; run a fun day of 40-45 minutes and on the weekend rotate a longer run with either a race or tempo run.

On 3 other days I would do something else like walk. One day would be complete rest.

It would all be very little but I wonder what mileage does for me these days anyway. Probably little or nothing.

Mostly nothing.

Yes, nothing.

It would keep me in the running game but I would be a 7-9 or 6-10 team at best. That's what I am now so who's kidding who.

Old Horse

I met up with Jake at Forbes Mill this morning. We did a 25 minute warm up and then went and ran an up and back at effort. Jake caved pretty quickly and dropped. Not his day nor mine either. I hung in and ran 22:50 under control but not at my best. I really did not feel energetic. Certainly not as good as several weeks back.

Running is a chore these days. I have come to accept this fact. I no longer flow along with power. Instead I pull myself along like a rickety wagon attached to an old horse. I could stop running and not miss it much. There are many more of these types of days then "good" days. I am working full time and that itself is a chore so it is harder to balance work and other things effectively. I like my job. That is a bonus. I can still go in harms way but I am the Bonhomme Richard, not the Ranger.

Better to have an old ship than none at all?

First negative at work. My co-worker has told me over and over that she wants to learn from me so today I taught and she pushed back, hard. I figured out that she wants to learn but her way and that is fair enough. Still, an unpleasant experience. I will just back away slowly. She is bringing way too much of her home life into work and talking loudly on the phone. We're in cubes so I hear it all. She has three kids and spends a great deal of time parenting and bossing around her ex via the phone.

On the other hand she has good instincts about what makes sense for the business and what does not. She reads people well but is rough around the edges on how she delivers messages. She has drawn a very thick black and white line on issues and doesn't do well in the gray areas. I was trying (ineffectively) to show her how to navigate that grayness but she was having none of it. So I backed down and told her to do it her way.

I intend to keep a slight distance. When she needs strategic help she can come to me. I will be very specific in finding out what she wants before I share anything. No more teaching. That has to be out. There is a mine field around her. She is a very mixed bag. Honesty with a very sharp edge.

I guess I can't escape this. My version of Howard Roark and the idea of the Dean. With me it is the payroll manager at Guidewire, the high school girl that I coached several years back, my colleague at this job, the CEO at the start up and Andrew and PLM. I am not a good teacher. Better for me to set my own standard and let them follow if they are interested. The way I did it at Sun.

You would think I would learn.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wet Running Stuff

Ran today at lunch. I did 60 minutes keeping my HR in the 140 range. God, I am slow. I did big loops in Sunnyvale Baylands Park. Weather was cool and breezy and not too bad. After I dried off and changed I drove back to the office leaving my wet running stuff in the parking lot in a one of those plastic bags they give you at the supermarket. I wonder if it will still be there tomorrow?

Black Shorts
Grey Nike T
1 plastic bag

May be $50.00 worth of stuff brand new.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

55 minutes

I ran Saturday afternoon ahead of another mild rain storm. I did 55 minutes with some striders on the track.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Harms Way

I am now an employee. Never say never.

Medical benefits in place. A more than decent salary for my level. Good team around me. Work I actually enjoy doing. No expectation of long term employment. Like my days at Sun I will go in harms way but I will stay ensconced in a contractor's mindset. It can't be about me. Whatever needs doing I will do. I will help wherever and whenever it is needed. This will give me the freedom to go do other things that matter to the company.

I actually don't mind going to work at all. I look forward to it.

My friendship with an old colleague is over. A casualty of the last election. He is on the Republican right and I am a moderate liberal with a strong independent streak. We argued over politics. He took it personally. Can't say I blame him (if I were him). He decided that I had crossed some real or imagined line. I reached out to restore our friendship but he came back, as I sort of expected, with a list of demands. That is not friendship. Had I acquiesced, I would have been on the B list waiting to see if I was let back into Club 54.

Some things can't be negotiated.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Survival Strategies in the Work

Play a hi-lo game. Focus on "the work" versus pay, title and rates (if you are consulting). In my consulting world, I have been an interim VP, Director and recruiter. My strength is organizational change but I do other roles if they are interesting and challenging. This doesn't mean that I don't seek titles and compensation strategically but it is not linear. My career is portable and therefore defies being linear.

Have many different skills. Get deep in as many as you can. It helps that I can be an executive, a mid level manager or just a individual contributor. That I have skills in compensation, organizational assessment and change, recruiting, benefits or strategic planning. I can and have stepped in anywhere. When the job market tightens, I still often find work because I can and am willing to do so many things.

Don't get hung up on offices versus cubes or how important you are. It is more important that you are compelling and that you have people's trust than that you are seen as someone important based on rank and pay.

Don't get sucked into meetings as way of showing status. Meetings are usually just a place to fill time, show your plumage, be seen and wonder why it is running so long. They can be informational and should be used to share basics on what is going on.

It is better to deal with people one on one when trying to make something happen. A hundred one on one meetings are better than a dozen power meetings attended by many people.

Influence is better than power. It takes longer but is more lasting.

If done right influence is power.

Have one year's take home salary in the bank. This is over and above any other investments you might have. No new car, kitchen remodel or status symbol is worth NOT having this. It financially makes you free.

Defocusing on titles, pay, meetings and pay also make you free.

The more I defocus on this sort of stuff the more they come to me anyway.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Return to Sunnyvale Baylands

I am back in the thick of things. I am actually enjoying going into work and this after only two days. My job is mostly tactical but in a strategic way. I am not pinned down with multi offer letters, data input and the full service HR model that I could not overturn in my last gig. Of course there I was mostly alone and here I am surrounded by a decent HR team. I have a job to do but also I have room to roam. I am sort of a HR free safety. The chances are that I may not be here long. Maybe 6-9 months but I can do some good work while I am here and it bridges a period when many of my colleagues are out of work.

Big lesson: Don't be just one type of HR person. There are recruiters falling out of the sky these days. Just like 2001 and 2002. It was bloody back then and it looks like it will be bloody this time around too. We're headed into a downturn and to survive you either have to have multiple skills and throw away the ideas of rates, pay and titles or you have to have enough dough stashed away to just hunker down and wait until things come back.

I was hoping I wouldn't see another of these while I was still in the game but since I am still in the game I will have to play it through.


I ran twice today. 45 minutes from home in the early morning and another 45 minutes during lunch in and around the Sunnyvale Baylands. It was sunny and there was a slight but persistent breeze. The wind slowed me down coming back into the park but no real complaints. It was good just to be out there. There were even a few mildly familiar faces from almost 3 years ago.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Never Say Never

Once more into the breach. Never say never. I am about to become an employee again.

I am going back in to work for a former client starting tomorrow. This is by choice and like Lawrence I have specifically chosen a position of modest rank. It keeps me away from those extra things that a manager has to do. Hopefully I can do the job I am being hired for (and more) while having room to maneuver. 13 weeks ago I was going into a interim director of HR role that best resembled that of a clerk. Now I am going in as a recruiter but the job could resemble that of a director.

Election News!!!!!!!!!!

By the way, in case I didn't mention it, Obama won. It wasn't even close. It was over so fast that the major news networks declared the victory as soon as the West Coast voting booths closed.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I got out relatively early and did an easy 69 minutes wearing the HRM. I stayed in the low 140's most of the way and finished feeling good. It was overcast and cool. More rain coming in this afternoon.

When I go back to work, I will probably go back to doubling several days a week, running short in the morning and slightly longer at lunch. It rhythmic when it gets working right. I could not get into that place during my last assignment but if things go right, I should be able to stabilize things going forward. One never really knows how it will work out but I have been on this playing field before and was able to balance running and work. I expect that to be the case again.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Quarry

In The Fountainhead, Howard Roark, his career seemingly on the rocks, asks his friend Mike to help him get a job. He ends up working in a quarry for a time until a client calls him to come back and design and build a structure for him. Roark doesn't consider the quarry demeaning at all. He understands the meaning of the Quarry. It is honest work. He does not compromise his principles. He also knows in time he will again do what he loves which is to be an architect. Most people don't care to struggle with this. It is way too tough. It requires the very best in yourself.

This from a blog I stumbled on written by Pedro Timóteo in 2005.

« Saying No
People and their stated goals »
Hypocrisy, granite quarries and “the real world”
Pedro Timóteo
on October 17, 2005
in absolutes, choices, definitions, honesty, ideals and work
. Tags: absolutes, choices, definitions, honesty, ideals, work.

I’ve written here, in the past, about the general dishonesty and corruption at my workplace - and, unlike some, I don’t think I’m in an especially “bad” place. From experience, both mine (it’s my 7th job or so) and others’, this place isn’t really so bad, compared to other companies.

Yet, the level of hypocrisy I have to maintain… disgusts me.

And, no matter how much I try to avoid it, I always think of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”’s Howard Roark, and how he ended up working in a granite quarry, because he refused to compromise on his principles.

Of course, Rand’s books are exaggerated - they’re books of extremes, of “black and white”, without shades of gray. I have responsibilities, I have a house to maintain, cats to feed, and debts to pay. I have dreams, which, while not directly related to material possessions, include some material possessions in them. So I can’t - right? - leave my job because of a “normal” level of hypocrisy, of intrigue, of “rewarding the bad workers and punishing the good”. Besides, most places are as bad as this one. And working on my own is still a bit far away.


I sometimes wonder if I’m not really sacrificing myself - what really matters, such as my integrity, my sense of honesty, and my self-respect, for something that, while important, isn’t that important.

Because I certainly don’t like myself as I say “good morning” to the department head, when I have absolutely no reason to respect him, know he’s incompetent and a liar, and wish him the worst morning in the world.

As for me: I don't architect buildings. I work with people. That seems to be my sweet spot so work for me is a way for me to get paid using my skills.

I never have small rules about finding jobs. I have BIG rules.

1. I never stop networking. As long as I think I have to work I stayed connected with people who both are employed or are looking for work. They all need my help and I need the connectivity. It is a daily and weekly process. No job is so important that it keeps me from this task.

2. I try to think out of the box. I feast off guys like you who have trouble doing at least 5 connections a day. Meaning I can and have done 10-15 a day if things are tough (like now). This means email, phone, breakfast, lunch, coffee or dinner.

3. I don't stop networking until I get job offers that interest me. And even when I am working I keep networking because I understand, after being laid off 4 times, that I will be out there again.

4. My career is not boxed. I will do higher level or lower level jobs if need be. No job is "the job". In consulting I have done 3-4 HR Exec jobs succeeded by recruiter gigs. It doesn't bother me at all. I found that thinking that I had to be a manager or director or VP cut my ability to maneuver. The best job I ever had "inside" was at Sun as a low level manager after having been an HR Director at my previous 3 jobs.

5. I have at least a years take home cash in the bank. That way no single job owns me. So if I have to cut my living style to get that freedom (cash) I will not hesitate to do so.

6. I will take an interim job outside my industry if need be to get along for a time. If I have to work at Costco to bring in extra cash I will do so. I did this more years back. After being a VP of Property Management, I was a waiter in restaurants and a shift manager at Stanford in the cafeteria. I also worked in the post office.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

First Rain

The first real rainstorm hit last night and continued into today. I waited until early afternoon to go running. I had almost decided to head over to De Anza and run that 8 pace workout I did last week in the heat but when I got over there I could see that a football game was on so I could easily see that the track would be closed. So I went to my favorite backup workout.

Run as slow as you can for an hour!

Actually it turned out to be 64 minutes. I made it without anything more than a drizzle most of the way. I was just coming back home when it really started to coem down so I ducked into the house and called it a day.