Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hey Party People

I have gotten away from blogging and I actually really do miss it, but it's a busy season for me. A few things:
  • I just got back some fresh data at the COB, and this is my first project that is all on my own. Since I started here I've been working on projects that the other intern hadn't finished yet, so I feel like this one is kind of my baby, and I am really excited about it. It's just really cool to be tapping into the pulse of the church, you know?
  • I was feeling entirely overwhelmed yesterday and stayed up until way-too
    -late-o'clock last night, but somehow today I feel rejuvenated. It's nice to feel empowered, and I know that I have higher powers at work to thank for that.
Two nights ago Amy and I went to Salt Lake and ate here:

It was very tasty, very affordable, and very quaint. Then we went and saw this:

This is fast becoming my favorite Halloween activity, besides the blood and guts and dressing up of Halloween itself. The show is always so fun, it's in an awesome theater, and it is just really entertaining. Worth the price of admission. We would have gone here following the show (probably my favorite little bakery in the world) with some friends, but then winter happened.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Round-Up

A couple of awesome things from around the web:
  • Check this out. A student Rick Rolls his professor by hiding the lyrics of the Rick Astley classic along the entire left side of his paper.
  • And this from an old Bill Simmons' article where he creates a vengeance scale.
    In 1988, Harden knocked out two of Largent's teeth with an illegal hit and put him on the IR for a bunch of games. The next time Seattle played Denver, Harden picked off a pass intended for Brian Blades and looked like he was going to score, but Largent scorched his way across the field and just destroyed Harden with a devastating and perfect-form tackle. Largent hit him so hard that the ball came loose and Largent recovered it. The hit was so nasty that it was a part of NFL telecast montages for years afterwards. Later, Largent called it the favorite play of his career. And this guy is in the Hall of Fame. Whenever sports vengeance is mentioned, that hit stands out for me. Totally legal and totally bloodless.

The hit comes at about 0:09 and the replay where you get the full feel of the impact comes at 1:14. My favorite part is that Largent was so focused on destroying Harden that it takes him a second to notice that he jarred the ball loose, and then he gets up after the play is dead and stares him down. Just so awesome.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Bane...

A guy I know virtually stalk, posted his thesis hideaway:

I guess every grad program has its own type of grueling test to overcome. Lawyers have the bar. Accountants have their CPA exams. Medical school itself is its own beast, although I heard the actual certifying exams have a really high passing rate, but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that those people are already in med school anyway, so it's not like they're people who let themselves fall behind.

Mine is the thesis. Thesis this year. Dissertation next year. And I hate it.

I hate it hate it hate it.

I tried telling Amy about this the other night, just how much it weighs on me, this constant dark cloud that makes it hard for me to sleep at night when I know I'm not progressing like I should, that forces me to kick and scream and run and hide whenever I actually have to start working on it. I feel like I can keep up with everything else, except for this most major part of my program. I just hate it.

I've become pretty good friends with this other girl I work with and we were talking about our thesis work yesterday. She had a meeting with her advisor about it and her goal was to make it through the meeting without crying in front of him. The funny thing is, she's totally smart and capable, but like just about everyone else I know, her thesis makes her whimper and crumble too.

She came back to our chat declaring "unsuccessful!" And I could only laugh at her plight. I typically don't release my emotions in that way, but it certainly takes its toll on me in other ways.

To try and find some sympathy, I took to the interwebs to find a forum of like-minded individuals who also hate their theses/dissertations and I happened upon this site - PhinisheD. Know how I found it? I searched "thesis support groups." And I kind of love this site. There are thousands of members, and they have threads on just about everything you can think of. The thing I like most about it will probably be the different goal setting groups and other people to hold yourself accountable to (because apparently myself and my committee chair aren't enough).

Anyway, I just love it, and I think it'll be a tremendous resource.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Can't Wait

Last night I kind of unloaded on Amy all of the things that I had been feeling burdened by recently - school and my calling, mostly - and it was just nice to have someone listen. It's a busy season in my life, and while I know that there will be breaks here and there, I kind of think that it's only going to get more busy and more crowded with things to do so I better just learn how to get it all together now while it's still not so bad.

Sometimes I feel like I'm on top of everything when it comes to my calling, and then there are other times like this last Sunday when I feel like I'm dropping balls left and right. We need to be doing more formal PPIs. I need to visit these new members in the ward. These girls haven't been home taught in months, so what's it going to take to get her home teachers out to see them? There is FHE on Monday, home teaching set up for Tuesday, institute on Wednesday, ward temple night on Thursday, and the stake retreat on Saturday, and then visits and meetings on Sunday. But you know what? I'm in a very active singles ward, and for the time being, I don't have to worry about the real problems that leaders face in family wards. No families are going through a divorce. If someone loses his/her job, it's much easier to handle because it's not a whole group of individuals who are dependent upon one person. Nobody is dying. Nobody is really sick. Nobody has any serious problems. So I should enjoy this time while it lasts, right?

I don't know if school will ever really feel better. I was reading a friend's blog, and she mentioned her husband was working an 80 hour week that week. I'm having to do this without three kids, a mortgage, and a host of other real responsibilities. Sometimes it's just about perspective.

But you know what? I'm so grateful that I can get up each day and have another chance to get it right. I died as to the person I was yesterday and the events that unfolded then, and I can get up, say a prayer that I can get it right today, and I can have another chance to try and catch up a little bit on everything that I didn't get right the day before. I died as to that person, and I'm reborn as to this new one who can try and set it straight today. I just love that symbolism.

You know what else I'm grateful for? 80s music. I have a playlist with over 300 80s songs, about 2 GB worth, and it just makes me happy. This is my most recent fave.

Okay, let's try and get it right today. Go!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Live Broadly

Last night I had some training with our Stake leadership and they had us do some reading on some remarks by Elder Bednar. The piece was actually the transcript of a "conversation" with Elder Bednar, and he covered some topics of leadership, and at the end he opened it up to questions. Probably the neatest thing about the article was just how real he was about everything. He was just really frank, and not so full of the niceties that are so common in the church.

A few of the points that I especially liked:
  • "If you haven't been rebuked by the Holy Ghost in your personal prayers lately, I'd recommend you improve the meaningfulness of your personal prayers. To be rebuked is to be corrected and counseled."
  • "When we fail to give needed correction or counsel, it's because we're thinking of ourselves. We normally think, 'Well, you know, I don't want to hurt this person's feelings.' No, that's really not true; you just want to be liked. And the reason I'm not going to tell you what really needs to be said is because I don't want to be viewed negatively or fall into disfavor. It is far more loving to appropriately provide correction and counsel than it is to duck the issue."
  • This was actually from Elder Richard L. Evans, "It's good to be faithful, but it's better to be faithful and competent."
And this one was my favorite point:
Questioner: When viewed by the outside world we seem very different. We think differently, we dress differently, we speak differently. So much of that difference is about us trying to do the Lord's work and build the Lord's kingdom, and not bring in the world, so we want to continue "being different" to move the work forward. Yet the Lord's put a lot of truth and a lot of good things into the world. So as a leader, when you think about using all the good things the world has to offer, how can one pick out the best of the world and use that towards building a more collaborative culture - see the goodness in the world and help that goodness to build the kingdom?

Elder Bednar - Well, the thought that comes to my mind is prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. I think we need to be looking broadly. Some of us have regular opportunities to travel broadly. And from that you see things that can be brought to bear in building the Lord's kingdom.
I just really liked this idea of living broadly. There are so many ways in which we live narrowly. Some examples:
  • Reading - off the top of my head I can think of a dozen different girls who read only the teen fiction types of books. It's Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and nothing else. And other people, just not at all. And guys have their niches too.
  • Eating - some people are just meat and potatoes. They eat the same thing at the same restaurants every time they go out.
  • Traveling - some people just never go anywhere. Some people rarely go beyond the confines of their own homes. Do you have siblings or friends that live in different states or countries and have never visited them? Have you ever been to the east coast? Out of the United States?
  • Living - we do the same things every weekend, with the same people, at the same places.
I know that there are a good number of people who don't share these same kinds of philosophies, but I can see how from a leadership perspective, when we live narrowly and keep our experiences limited to a small number of things, we have less range in the kinds of people that we can relate to. When we have a small number of experiences and interests, then we also become really limited in the types of friends that we can have. And I think that's when the real tragedy occurs - just not being able to reach as many people as we might be able to otherwise, right? People bring richness to our lives.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I can't believe it's taken so long to get my inaugural October/Halloween post up. I must apologize for that.

Last weekend, Amy and I went to the Haunted Forest over in American Fork. Last year I went to Nightmare on 13th, which I thought was really good, but I think that this one was actually better. They had an opening little indoor haunted house, and then a huge waiting area, and then another outside one that is really long. The whole thing took about an hour and a half, with only about a half or so waiting in line. I hadn't been to this one in years...2003, methinks. There were a lot of good cheap scares. My favorite ones are always the ones where they divert your attention with one thing, and then surprise you with another. There was this one area where there was this circling light placed at about eye level, and then it went dark, and I had just assumed that it turned off. Instead, some shrouded monster type guy came right at us and he totally caught me off guard. Another good one was when two monster-guys were working together. You were so focused on the one that when the other surprised you, there was just no chance.

I really do love all things Halloween. What makes life even more grand is that Amy is totally into it too. We finally came up with our couples costume last night. That's actually been hard because not only have we been wanting to come up with something that is unique, but also well known enough that it's that something that most people can recognize. On top of that, her costume philosophy involves characters that she can act out and that are funny, and mine tends to the more scary variety. Well, we found a compromise and I'm pretty pleased about it. And no one else will find out until after we've donned our costumes. Sadly, it doesn't feature any makeup, but I'm kind of thinking that I need a second costume anyway, right? So maybe I can still come up with something else.

Still ahead on our itinerary: Heeber Creeper, Thriller by the Odyssey Dance Company, Scary Movies, Halloween get togethers, and so forth. Will keep you posted.

Stay scared!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Last Year v. This Year

I'd like you to observe the difference between last year in Long Beach and this year in St. George.

Not wanting to die, mostly. Plus, you have no idea how good that protein chocolate milk was. This might become a yearly photograph now.

Bit O' Honey

You know what's weird? I just noticed that someone that invited me to be her friend on Facebook ended up defriending me. And she sent that invitation not long after she had invited Amy and I over for dinner one night. We haven't had any kind of negative interaction since then, but I have noticed a cooling on her part towards me. I thought I was just reading into it, but then I noticed that today and it just surprised me, you know? People are weird.

Hockey season starts today. The baseball postseason started yesterday. It's strange being so removed from the baseball playoffs. Usually I really look forward to this time of year, as the Angels are usually contenders, but they faltered badly this season. Their signings didn't work out.

Kent, you were right, and I was wrong. They should have resigned Vladdy. Hideki wasn't a good option, but if you look at his numbers, he actually wasn't bad either. It's just that no one noticed it with them playing so poorly. Losing Kendry was a huge blow in the early to middle part of the season. Their starting pitching was good though. Their bullpen was terrible. Lots of room to grow. You know why I'm really optimistic though? Because Arte Moreno is our owner. They'll bounce back. In the meantime, I'm rooting for the Braves and Rays.

BYU football is terrible. I don't care if I don't watch another game this whole season, that is, unless I get invited to the Cougar Club again. Mike?

And you know why I can't allow myself to care about BYU football? Because the Raiders are 1-3. I can't be a diehard for multiple losing football teams. My heart just can't take it.

I haven't exercised once this week and I love it.

I love several shows right now - Modern Family (like everyone else in the whole world, and rightfully so), Community, Running Wilde...and there are some others that I really like. But I watch those ones pretty religiously. Outsourced may have some potential.

How are world affairs? Okay, I guess. There is no end to dumb stuff that people and countries will do. Yale welcomed with open arms the President of Iran. I wish I could communicate how idiotic that is. The midterm elections are forthcoming and the beauty of our two-party system will reveal itself as the country will swing back to the middle.

You know what else? I'm dating the sweetest girl in the whole world. My roommates are awesome. I have wonderful friends. And it's October, which may be my favorite month in the whole year. A friend of mine pointed out on her blog that there are 5 Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays this month. How great is that?

Watch Stars Wars in 3 minutes through the timeless art of construction paper stop action filming here:

And this movie really intrigues me:

But I'm a little sad because I guess it's going to be a pirate movie and I haven't seen one of those in almost a year.

And with that, I'm back to work. Have a great day, dear ones!

Monday, October 4, 2010

St. George Marathon

Here it comes. The first post that I actually have been excited to write in months. This is a long one, so scroll to the second to last paragraph if you just want to know my time. Here goes…

I don’t know how clear it came across in the last post, but I had been feeling pretty down on marathon running for a little while now. The training for this one felt much harder than the previous two. I never had any really great runs that felt like I was really making some progress. I didn’t get in any of the speed training that I was hoping for, and I didn’t have the kind of consistency that would allow for a better race than my previous two. Or so I thought.

We arrived Friday evening in St. George. After putting some of our stuff away we visited the Expo to pick up my packet and take a gander at the different booths that were setup to attract the runners. The Expo itself wasn’t that impressive, about the same size as Long Beach. I wish anyone else could have seen Chicago and how big it was and how many different things were setup. I just loved that one. What was really nice, however, was how organized the packet pickup was. We could have been in and out of there in about 2 minutes if we wanted to, and that’s pretty impressive given that 7400 were running this race all showing up on that one day. The race shirt is a pretty nice long-sleeve shirt, which I’m pretty pleased with. That’s two weeks in a row with decent shirts at races. I would pay an extra few bucks to have more than just a screen-printed white cotton tee.

That night I got a good sized meal at The Pizza Factory, which nobody really seemed to appreciate, but at least I got my carbs in, and then it was off to bed at a somewhat decent hour (10:30). I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping much anyway that night, so I wasn’t too concerned about it. I got up at 4am to head over to the buses by 4:30 (thanks, Amy). And this is where the fun began…

I met up with Tyler, a friend from home, and who has since become my most enthusiastic disciple. We rode the buses up to the beginning of the course. It was crazy seeing how much of a descent there was throughout the entire course, but something that would be really welcomed later. This was my first time running a marathon where the start and finish weren’t in about the same spot, instead going from up north of St. George down into the downtown area of the city. The course descends almost 2600 feet, and that has to be one of the main reasons that so many people use it as their race attempt at qualifying for Boston. I’m sure it helped contribute to my finish time.

I knew going into the race that I knew of several other people running it, but it turned out there were a few more. The one that I was most excited about was my first young men’s leader, Greg King. I’m pretty sure it had been more than 10 years since I had seen him. I saw Charlotte up in the starting area. I saw Matt Paul in the finisher’s area. I saw another kid from a class that I teach. While running I passed up a girl in my ward who was retreating to a port-o-potty. It was so nice to run into everyone, but especially Tyler. I think that he and I will be running many more marathons in the future. We rode up on the buses together and talked the whole way about our training, how we were feeling, how we slept the night before, what time we were hoping to reach, and what marathons we’re looking at in the future. I can’t help but get all excited when I get around him. It’s infectious.

We arrived up there at about 5:20 or so. We stood around and warmed up around the fires they had up there for the runners. When it finally got to about time to start getting ready to go, we placed ourselves just slightly behind the pace group for 3:30. We started out in the dark, and it wasn’t long before the sun started creeping up over the mountains on our left. I have to say, it’s just so exciting starting out in those races with everyone brimming with anticipation. People are always so unbelievably friendly and supportive of one another. It’s a similar dynamic to how when a group of strangers is going through something together, something they may or may not enjoy, and they start interacting and building bonds because of the simple fact that we’re all going through the exact same thing. We’re all feeling a little jittery; we hope that can run the race well and that we don’t have any injuries; we all hope that we can get to the end still smiling. It’s really cool. Before the race started I started chatting with this older gentleman who was running in his 20th or so marathon, with more than ten of those being at St. George. He was running because his friend was running his 200th, and although he hadn’t run a marathon in almost ten years, he felt like he should be there for his buddy. He told me that if I could make it through the first 13 miles with some energy that it would be possible to have a negative split on the second half. That point in particular was something I was really hopeful for because my first two experiences running these I have had some significant drop-offs in time at the end, slowing more than a minute per mile in my pacing the last few miles. I really wanted to avoid that this time around.

So the race began, and Tyler and I stayed together the first few miles. Unfortunately for him, he had just gotten a cold that week so breathing was hard for him right from the start. He had to slow up a little bit, and whereas before the race I thought we would be running together, I now found myself alone. I continued on my pace, soon catching up with the 3:30 group. I had no idea at that point if I could keep up with them for the duration of the race, but I thought I would just stay with them as long as I could and hope for the best. By mile 5 or 6 I felt good enough to break off on my own, but I also knew that I was having some stomach problems. I wanted to create enough space between myself and them so that when I did feel like I would have to evacuate, I could finish in time that I could catch back up with them. At mile 9 I couldn’t wait anymore, so I went, finished my business, and came out about one or two minutes later, finding myself just behind the group.

I was so immensely grateful for that because the pace leader was a marathon vet, having run in a few dozen other marathons, having won a few himself. Tommy, from New York, was a talker, and he told stories from the time that I started running with them until when I finally left them. I couldn’t believe the amount of stories that he had, and it served as such a wonderful distraction. He would tell one story and by the time he was done, he would point out which mile marker we had passed and that he had managed to keep us distracted for that entire eight minute interval. One tip that he shared with someone that I think proved instrumental for me was not relying on Gatorade so much because that additional sugar leads to cramping. In my first two marathons, and with just about all of my long runs, I always have some pretty severe cramping that is pretty debilitating, so from about mile 12 and on, I only drank water. I didn’t have any of the same kind of cramping problems that I normally have.

At mile 20 or 21, he told our group that if anyone was still feeling pretty good, now was the time to take off, so I went for it. I picked up my pace, getting myself far enough removed that I could no longer here Tommy’s constant stream of consciousness. The crazy thing was, I was feeling great. Although I hadn’t really put in the miles or done any training to improve my pace, I was keeping up a faster pace than I had run all summer. The fastest I had gone on any long run was 8:11, and that was over only 16 miles. At mile 22 in this race, I had a real shot at coming in ahead of 3:30, which is an 8:00 minute/mile pace.

At 21, I thought I’d see Amy. I didn’t, but at 23 there she was, hooting and hollering and making me feel so good about myself. People really don’t know how much that means unless they have actually been through this experience. When I was at mile 20, and I thought i was at 19, some older black guy ran up by me and said, “you’re looking really good, keep it up, only 6 more miles to go.” That blew my mind, not only because I had a mile less than i was thinking I had, but just because he was so encouraging when he himself was doing the same thing I was. There’s always one or two of those kinds of things in these marathons that gives me exactly what I need.

Mile 23 also happens to be when you can start to really see the city of St. George and you’re still descending and you can look up and see about where the finish line was. At mile 24 I felt like I was starting to slow down, and sure enough, that was about when I started to hear Tommy gaining on me. His loud, east coast speech propelled me forward those last few miles.

There’s nothing like making what you know is the last turn of the race. This one happened to be on 2nd or 3rd North, heading east, with the finish line sitting on 4th east. Although the race is a closed course for the most part, there are plenty of people who are lining up the most difficult and most important part of the race – those last few miles.

I couldn’t keep a good, strong, steady pace until the end, but I was feeling good enough that I could put forth pretty significant bursts that got me close enough to see the official marathon clock ticking at 3:29 about a hundred yards or so away.

Apparently, my race supporters were all there to witness it, but I didn’t even notice them, although I reacted as though I did. I was just so happy to beat the clock to 3:30 that I didn’t really think about much else. I was wobbly at the finish line, but I didn’t need to sit down right away.

I really, really loved the post-race treats. In my other experiences, they are always serving beer after the race, and Tommy even mentioned that there is never a better time for a beer than after finishing a marathon. Previous to Saturday, I always thought that was such a dumb idea, but when the Coke truck was serving water and soda, I coolly asked for the Coke over the H2O. My favorite, favorite thing, though, was the chocolate and vanilla fudgesicle. I couldn’t believe how good that thing was.

I ended up finishing the race in 3:28:05. That’s a full nine minutes faster than my previous best. Without any real rigorous training, (well, I guess besides the whole marathon training part) I have been able to shave off 15 minutes from my marathon time. Now I’m 18 minutes from a Boston qualifying time, and now I’m all kinds of inspired to see if I can do it. I don’t know when that will be, but the motivation that I lacked before Saturday is suddenly back in full force. Also, I did end up having a negative split. I covered the first 13 in 1:46 and the last half in 1:42. That’s the thing that’s most surprising to me about all of this because finishing off a marathon is the one thing I haven’t been able to do before.

As always, emotions always get so close to the surface in these extreme physical circumstances, and the feeling that always rises to the top for me is gratitude. I am always so immensely grateful for my friends who come out to support, and for every person who volunteers their time to help a few thousand morons beat themselves into the ground trying to cover a pretty lengthy amount of distance. So thank you to Dave, Caitlin, and Mason. Thank you to that black man who told me I was looking good. Thanks to the girl who rubbed Icy/Hot on my calf at mile 22. Thanks to the organizers for putting port-o-pottys at every aid station. Thanks to Tommy who’s jibber-jabberin’ kept me going for about two and half hours of the race, and that was loud enough to keep me going through the very end. Thanks to all of the water-hander-outters. Thanks to Tyler and Greg and Charlotte and Matt and Paul and Melissa just for being there. Thanks, Elisha, for suggesting chia seeds. I really do think those made a difference in helping me maintain that push through the end. And most of all, thanks to my sweet, sweet girlfriend, Amy, for letting me say good night early on the nights I had to go to bed early and leave me alone to do my training. It looks like there is going to be some more of this.


Friday, October 1, 2010


I am a little surprised at how little I have written about marathons and running and marathon training in the last few months. It's obviously different now than it was the first couple of times, but it's still something that encompasses so much of my time and attention while I'm doing it.

This time around was much harder for me, training-wise. Maybe it's just being in a dating relationship, but I have been so resistant to running and spending as much time in the past to run this time around. As a result, I have no expectations when it comes to my time tomorrow because I really just don't know. I have had an incredible range in how I've felt on each of my long runs, and how I've been able to run that I really can't tell what this time will be like. Couple all of that with the different type of running course and I really can't say whether I'll be faster or slower, or feel better or worse when I cross that finish line tomorrow. The only thing I'd really like to have happen would be to finish faster than my PR of 3:37. If I can top that, then I think I should be pleased with myself, given that I've done absolutely no speed training this time around like I was hoping I would.

I do have under my belt three runs of about 20+ miles, and I have no injury concerns. Everything on my body feels just fine, and I went for a short run the other night and I have to admit, I feel really fresh. The taper is such a wonderful thing. It makes you feel like you lose all of the fitness between the time you have your last long run and the day of the race, but as it turns out, you feel renewed. That mud run last week was much harder than I expected it to be, but at least all of that soreness is gone now. I've even been able to get some decent amounts of rest the last few days, although that has been sprinkled with my early SLC days when I get kind of no sleep. I dunno. We'll see, I guess.

Like I said before, this time around is very different. When I finished Long Beach last year, I already had planned on trying another one this year, but this time I don't have similar aspirations. True, there are still some marathons I'd like to try out - New York, Arizona - but it's not the same kind of drive as I've had before. I think I need to do something different. That doesn't mean I won't be running, but I need an alteration in my approach or something. Again, we'll see what that means.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow though. Last year was my first marathon with someone I knew. This time I can think of four people off the top of my head that I know who are running St. George, so that's kind of fun. One of them, I'll be meeting up with tonight and we'll have our pre-game talk about everything. He's the same guy I ran Long Beach with last year. He's become my little protege, of sorts. We text about running all the time, and I kind of love him for it.

I won't be running with any music, as is my marathon custom, but this song will be playing in my head at various stages of the race. I wish I could just have an edited clip of Rocky quotes on an MP3 file:

Going in one more round when you don't think you can - that's what makes all the difference in your life.

Here goes nothin'.