Tweets, College Football, & Zenith Televisions

Well, it’s the first blog post of 2012. Anna, Dad, and any other stranger who unfortunately stumbles upon this blog, I’m sorry that you haven’t had much reading material from me since, well, I began this blog. I’m a blogging failure – I admit it. An idea came to mind this past week through two specific events; I thought I’d make an attempt at sounding intelligent.

The first event…

Unless you live in a cave, you know Super Bowl 46 is being held in Indianapolis next weekend. (Even though I live outside of the city, I’ll probably use terms as “I” and “we” in reference to hosting SB46. I’m a proud fan, deal with it!) I love the city of Indianapolis and think it’s a great venue. Sure, we’re no Miami or New Orleans, we don’t have beaches or warm weather; but, I guarantee we have people working just as hard to make SB46 just as successful as any of its predecessors. One of the ways Indy is making SB46 unique is through a Social Media initiative, Social 46 as well as a Social Media Command Center location at Raidious. I don’t know all the details to Social 46, but I think I can give you a good summary. The Super Bowl planning committee selected 46 individuals, dubbed the Social 46, who are seen as highly influential and/or well-connected through Social Media, to help promote and spread the word of events leading up to and surrounding the Super Bowl. Makes sense, right? The group ranges from Marketing and PR professionals such as Meggie Dials, Kyle Lacy, and Chuck Gose to financial planner Pete Dunn to Scott Wise, a successful restaurant owner. There were obviously many more individuals on this committee, but these are people who I either know personally or that I have a great deal of respect for and follow closely on Twitter. I don’t know all the methods that went into selecting these individuals, but their Klout score, which basically measures your social influence, was one factor. Jay Baer, one of the Social 46, wrote a great article on the selection process for Social 46, the pros, the cons, and the ultimate purpose: to support and promote the city of Indianapolis and its Super Bowl activities.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, if you read Jay’s article, and the subsequent comments and discussion, you can see that some were upset or disturbed with how the Social 46 was formed. The selected individuals seem to be very hard-working, competent people, at least in the Social Media world, and therefore earned their spot on this committee. You wouldn’t hire Peyton Manning to play short stop for the Yankees, and you wouldn’t hire a sub-par blogger (like myself) or a hit-and-miss “tweeter” to promote the city of Indianapolis, especially at a time when all eyes are or will be on us. They wanted quality. They got quality. I’m sure there are many well-connected and hard-working individuals out there promoting the city, themselves, their companies, connecting with others, etc. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for everyone to have their cake and eat it too.

The second event…

Last Saturday, January 21, the world lost two men (I’m sure there were more, but I’ll be referencing two). The first, Joe “Joe Pa” Paterno (December 21, 1926 – January 21, 2012). If you didn’t know Joe Pa before early November, you probably do now because of how his career at Penn State came to a very unfortunate and public end (I am not taking sides on the issue – it’s just an unfortunate situation for all involved). Most people know Joe Pa as one of the greatest college football coaches ever. He served the Nittany Lions football program for 46 years. I’m assuming he’s one of few individuals to have held the same job for that length of time. To his family, friends, colleagues, and all that may have known him, I am sorry for your loss. The other man we lost last Saturday was Roy Arthur DeHaven (May 18, 1914 – January 21, 2012). If you do the math, Roy lived a few days past 97.8 years; another impressive length of time. Roy wasn’t a famous football coach. He wasn’t a famous “anybody.” However, he was my grandfather; he was my “Grandpa Roy” (we couldn’t say “DeHaven” when we were young, or maybe we were just too lazy?). Grandpa Roy’s funeral was yesterday (Friday, January 27), and the viewing the night before. We didn’t have quite the numbers that Joe Pa did at his viewing or funeral, but we weren’t expecting that either. I did have a thought at one time, “What if Grandpa Roy was some sort of former CIA or FBI undercover agent and a ton of former colleagues turned-up that we never even knew about. How awesome would that be???” Turns out, he was a Freemason, and that entitled him to a pretty cool ceremony. My grandparents spent most of their lives, at least as a married couple, in Albany, IN. Albany is a classic example of a small, Midwestern town. It’s nothing fancy, at all. But, it’s also one of those places where if you need anything from a cup of sugar to a spare tire, you could turn to your neighbor in confidence. As kids, we frequented the Dairy Dream, a classic, walk-up ice cream joint. And, when a McDonald’s franchise finally made its way to Albany, the town thought they had died and gone to heaven. Grandpa Roy had his own repair shop, working mostly with televisions and radios. He worked hard, for his family and community. I’m pretty sure he was never hoisted on anyone’s shoulders or had Gatorade dumped on him after repairing someone’s Zenith. He passed on life lessons, though, and loved his family. He made a lasting impact on many as was proved true at the viewing and funeral service.

The connection between these two events, at least to me, has to do with perceived self-worth. In the case of the Social 46, feelings were hurt and maybe egos damaged because they were not selected to “officially” promote Indianapolis. Could it be because they have too much personal investment in how they are perceived in the Social Media world? I can’t answer that with certainty, but I think that could be a factor. I know there are times when I love if I’m RT’d (re-tweeted) or mentioned by someone I admire or that has significant influence. Conversely, I have found myself disappointed if not responded to or included in Twitter conversations, Facebook posts, etc. In hindsight, that’s foolish. One – it’s selfish of me to put expectations on others, especially on Twitter or Facebook where I may not personally know them. Two – my personal worth, how I view and value myself – should not be determined by my Social Media interactions. How I lead my life – how I treat others, how I love my wife, friends, family, and strangers should be the measuring stick – not the number of mentions I receive on Twitter. In the case of Joe Pa and my grandfather, both were men that are no longer with us. They were humans, who made mistakes and had great successes in their own lives. Grandapa Roy probably couldn’t have coached a college football team to 409 victories and 2 National Championships. On the flip-side, Joe Pa may not have been able to hot-wire a motel TV so that he wouldn’t have to pay extra for his wife and children to enjoy an episode of Bonanza.

What I’m getting at is this: our worth is not determined by others. Our jobs, status, and scope of influence don’t determine our lives. Yes, those things may provide opportunities where we can greatly impact others. It’s about taking advantage of those opportunities, though, no matter how big or small, that pay greater dividends than any amount of Twitter followers, football games won, or televisions repaired ever will.

To the Social 46 – thanks for what you’re doing to support and promote Indianapolis during this awesome time. If we end-up hosting the Super Bowl again, I hope you’ll be tapped as a resource. To Joe Pa and Grandpa Roy – thanks for sharing your lives with the rest of the world. You made a difference in the lives of many. Rest in peace.

Thanks for reading this post.

Cheers,

Collin

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Giving Thanks…

Apparently, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I thought it was Christmas given the amount of Christmas-related goods on the shelves at Costco. Don’t be fooled by “the man.” It’s still November.

I don’t have a lot to say in this post, but I wanted to put down a few things that I’m thankful for, and hear from you as well. Each year I tick-off a few repeats – my wife, family, friends, grace, forgiveness, fountain sodas, Speedy Rewards points (I’m up to 44,134 now…boo yah). I’m thankful that I can have a blog where I post once a quarter and no one chastises me, ha.

Two things came to mind this year, though, that I thought I’d share. First, the ability to run. As you may or may not know, I was in a serious “bicycle vs car” accident when I was 12-years-old. It could have ended my life; I was very fortunate to make it out alive let alone with the ability to still walk. I now love running. It’s hard to explain, and I don’t often try, but it’s something that I’ve found solace, confidence, and peace in doing. I’ll run the 2012 Boston Marathon, which is a dream come true. Hopefully I’ll continue to run for many years to come. I know time and age will play a role, but I’ll keep putting one leg in front of the other for as long as I can.

My second “item of thanks” is a little more broad and potentially vague. I can’t really put a label on it, and maybe that’s OK, but I’m extremely thankful for the life I have. Sure, there’s always wants, desires, and improvements to be made. I saw a movie last week for “Invisible Children,” though, and it totally rocked my world. It reminded me of how much injustice is still in our world, and how minimal some of my “problems” really are. Yes, we each experience difficult times in life, and each one of those experiences is unique to the individual. However, at least for myself, many of the difficulties I face/have faced pale in comparison to what large groups of people face on a daily basis. Whether it’s homelessness, hunger, racial and gender inequalities, dictatorship, etc, there’s some serious issues still existing in this world.

So, if you’re fortunate enough to gather tomorrow with family or friends, be sure to give thanks for the many blessings we experience on a daily basis. If you will not be gathering with anyone, know that I am thankful for you, even if I don’t know you. We all bring something of value to this world, and you are not exempt.

I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for. I find it encouraging and inspiring to read what others value in their lives. Happy Thanksgiving, friends. God bless.

Cheers,

Collin

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Running Form

I wrote this recent post on running form for a good friend and Physical Therapist, Joel Novak.  We did somewhat of a question-and-answer discussion, so this post is slightly different.  You can follow Joel on Twitter @JoelNovakPT or check out his blog here.  Joel’s a great resource for both dealing with and preventing injuries.  

Before I begin, let me say I am by no means an expert. The following is simply based on my experience and is therefore my opinion. If you like what I have to say, great. If you disagree or think I’m a fool, I’ll have to live with that! Trust people like Joel and other professionals who day-in and day-out work with clients from all populations and also have an extensive educational background in these fields.

I’ve been exploring the idea of “improving my running form” for slightly over a year now. To give you a little history on my “story,” I began running five years ago when I entered the 2006 Indianapolis Mini Marathon, or simply the “Indy Mini,” the country’s largest half marathon. Prior to this, I was an active individual, played soccer for many years, enjoyed exercising and weight training, but wasn’t a consistent runner. Since that first half marathon, I have completed seven “official” half marathons and two full marathons. My PRs (personal records) occurred this past Spring. I completed the Indy Mini in 1:24:56, finishing 287th overall. I completed the Carmel Marathon in 3:01:26, finishing 9th overall, and also qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I’ve always had a hard time considering myself a “runner” since I never ran competitively. I’ve come to the realization, though, that it’s not about speed, time, competing with others, etc. It’s about taking those first (and not always enjoyable) steps, making the effort, improving your physical fitness and overall quality of life.

After posting a time of 1:27:15 in the 2010 Indy Mini, I began to take myself more seriously as a “runner.” I began to think about form and mechanics much more than I ever had. My old mantra was basically, “Go out and run for as long and as fast as you can!” While this may not be all bad, making adjustments to improve your efficiency as a runner can be helpful as well. I was asking myself questions like, “Is my stride too long? Am I wasting energy in my arm swing? Am I in the right shoes?” This also coincided with the time I began reading Christopher McDougall’s controversial book Born To Run. This book isn’t controversial in the sense that it’s sparked religious or political debates, but it has sparked a lot of conversations and disputes over running form, and whether or not “minimalist running” is the best for all populations. Regardless of your views or opinions on running form, or just running in general, it’s a great book and I highly recommend it. If you’ve read Joel’s previous posts, or any of the countless articles about minimalist running, you have an idea of what it’s all about. Whether you choose to run barefoot, with a pair of Vibram’s Five Fingers, a pair of Nike Free or any other minimalist shoes, it’s a trend sweeping across the running community.

The first attempt at improving my form included incorporating barefoot running into my workouts. I got a lot of odd looks for running while holding a pair of shoes in my hands, but I would do this for no more than 1/4 – 1/2 miles at the end of runs. I also did this on grass, not pavement. I did experience muscle soreness in the lower part of my calves and ankles at first, but nothing severe. I think the smaller, lesser-used muscle fibers in those areas had been caused to work harder than normal, hence the soreness. I also purchased a pair of Nike Free shoes for shorter runs and also to wear when weight training. Just as running barefoot or with minimalist shoes causes you to recruit new or lesser-used muscle fibers, the same can be said for weight training exercises when you’re on your feet. Try it for yourself: do a squat, with just your bodyweight, wearing the shoes you normally wear and then do it barefoot. I think you’ll notice a difference. I will admit that I tried-on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, but my toes just didn’t jive with the “fingers.” One size was too small, and the other too big, resulting in a very uncomfortable feel. I couldn’t imagine even walking in them, let alone running. The blisters would have been outrageous. A lot of runners and walkers are wearing them, and even some ultra-runners, so I can’t say they’re “bad” shoes. They simply weren’t for me.

The second attempt, which I think had a much better ROI, was attending a “Good Form Running Clinic” at the Runner’s Forum in Carmel, IN. In a nutshell, these clinics focus on four components of running: Posture, Midfoot, Lean, and Cadence. In my opinion, these components are very similar to minimalist or Chi running, if not the same. I can’t say that I walked away from this clinic as the “perfect runner,” but I do feel that my efficiency as a runner improved and I’ve also experienced less injury. One specific area that has improved is the tightness and soreness in my right hamstring. I’m not sure if it stemmed from my soccer-playing days, but my right leg always seemed to dominate my stride, like it was working much harder than my left. Focusing on my steps-per-minute, and trying to stay in the 170-180 range, has helped me bring balance to my stride, focusing on smaller, quicker strides. I do experience soreness from time-to-time, but not near as severe as it used to be. I also switched to Newton Running Shoes. I was skeptical of these at first as I thought they were a part of the “minimalist fad.” After hearing positive, first-hand accounts from my brother-in-law, Jeremy, a personal trainer and excellent du-athlete, as well as his good friend, Mat, who’s a tri-athlete and coach, I thought I’d give them a try. I compared these with other brands of shoes and was fitted for the right pair; I didn’t order them online but purchased them from a specialty running store. One of the most noticeable distinctions about Newtons is the four “lugs” that run under the midfoot. Theses are in place to help you land on your midfoot, and not your heel, and also to help propel you forward with each step. There’s a science and technology behind the design; read-up if you have a few minutes. Just as my brief barefoot runs and workouts in my Nike Free shoes caused soreness in my lower legs, the calves specifically, the Newtons were no different. I took the advice from the runners (employees) at the Runner’s Forum as well as the Newton website and eased my way into the shoe.

As Joel mentioned in his previous post, focusing on and/or changing your running form could be good, or it could be bad. For me, I experienced a positive change. Granted, I did not experience drastic change with a coach watching each of my workouts. I did implement smaller changes, though, in hopes that it would improve my efficiency as well as prevent or decrease the risk of injury. Based on my two previous race times, I think the changes I’ve made as well as the mileage I’ve put-in have improved me as a runner. I could argue that the changes I made in my form allowed me to endure the heavier mileage, and therefore better race times. That’s a hypothesis, though, and I can’t necessarily prove that. If you’re looking to make improvements, I would first encourage you to go to a specialty running store, have them watch or film you run, and then get fitted for proper shoes. Minimalist shoes with next-to-nothing soles may not be great for everyone, and conversely, neither are the latest pair of shoes with 2-inch heel cushioning. Find the right fit for you, recommended by someone who has experience with running, not an uneducated employee (in terms of running) at a general sports outfitting store.

Whatever kind of changes you do (or don’t) implement, I applaud you for getting out there and exercising! Whether it be a slow jog or a tempo run, I’m a big proponent of exercising and living a healthy lifestyle! Good luck as you strive to figure-out what works best for you. Thanks for your time. Happy running!

Cheers,

Collin

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Taking My Talents to South Beach…

OK, so maybe I’m not taking my talents to South Beach.  The phrase came to mind when I thought about writing a new post, though, and it made me laugh.  It’s one of those phrases that will probably be infamously quoted for a long time.  It’s kind of like “Don’t Mess With Texas,” a phrase popularized by our 43rd US President, George W. Bush.  Here we have a man holding one of, if not the most prestigious positions in the world using a phrase that sounds like a Toby Keith song.  In Lebron’s case, we have this sports “hero-turned-villain” alerting the world that he’s had enough of the lake effect and uses a phrase that sounds like a Will Smith song to announce his move to the Miami Heat.  I’m not moving, but I am bringing the blog out of retirement, and for the remainder of the NBA season I’ll be wearing the #45 jersey.

The jury’s still out for me when it comes to “blogging.”  On one hand, I really enjoy writing, putting my thoughts to paper…err…an Apple keyboard.  For me, like many, it’s therapeutic.  On the other hand, though, I continually think, “Who gives a rip about what I have to say?”  I know God does, but I don’t think the internet’s made it to Heaven yet.  They’re waiting on Bill Gates to kick-it before they make a decision on what operating system to use and what browser to install (rumor has it they’re tossing around the idea of using Netscape).  Anna’s been hounding me about updating my blog.  I think she just wants me to have an outlet for my lame and sometimes inappropriate comments so she doesn’t have to pretend to think I’m funny.  I’m sure I’ll thank her for this one day…

Anna and I were discussing the fact that March is almost over; that’s crazy! Hey, 2011, slow down.  This has led me to think about my goal(s) for 2011, though, and how I’ve been doing.  I’ve never been one to set goals at the turn of the year as I, like most, fail at following through.  We did set one goal this year:  when we dine out, we will try new restaurants and do our best to eat local.  I know it seems weak, but it’s manageable for us.  I had already registered for a half and full marathon, and things like sky-diving or mastering the art of the Bonsai Tree didn’t seem practical.  And, with restaurants like Scotty’s Brewhouse, Pizzology, Brugge Brasserie, Cafe Patachou, Oakley’s Bistro (and the list goes on), why not set a goal like this?  So far, it’s been a success.  We haven’t been disappointed with any of our restaurant choices and we still have a long list of eateries to try.

How are your 2011 goals progressing?  Did you set any goals?  Maybe you decided to save your goals for Lent.  I’d love to hear how the first quarter of 2011 has been for you.  Enjoy these last few days of March, and these first few days of Spring!

Thanks for stopping-by.

~CT

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The Ugly Stepsister…

I’ve failed to dedicate my previous posts like I had set out to do, so I’m trying to right the ship.  I’m dedicating this post to my sister-in-law, Erin.  She’s following her dream, something we, or at least I, often forget how to do…

If you’re reading this, chances are you know me (I don’t think I’ve broken into the community of awesome bloggers yet who are read by strangers around the world – maybe next week).  Therefore, you probably know my wife, Anna, and know of she and her family’s love of all things Disney, especially Disney World.  I wouldn’t say they’re the type of fanatics that have covered their homes from floor to ceiling with Disney paraphernalia, nor have they ever found themselves in a court of law being handed restraining orders from Hollywood Studios (MGM Studios if you’re a true fan).  Disney World holds a special place in their hearts, though, and is more than just a destination or vacation.

Anna has seven siblings.  Yes, that’s a total of eight children.  They’re a blended family, but at the end of the day, they’re brothers and sisters, and a very much loving family at that.  When the children were young, the brave, slightly crazy parents (who wouldn’t be slightly crazy with eight dependents?) invested early in the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), which is essentially a timeshare in Disney World with various benefits.  Since the DVC was fairly young at this point, one of the benefits as a member were free park-hopper passes for the entire family.  Somehow, they were able to hornswagle the DVC for several (seven, I think) years of free park-hopper passes.  Now I don’t know the exact numbers, but if you know anything about Disney, you know it’s not always the “cheapest option.”  In my opinion, it’s worth every dollar; but, it’s still expensive.  So, class, I’ll let you do the math:  10 family members + free park-hopper passes for seven years = GREAT DEAL.  As you can probably imagine, the family took quite a few trips to Disney World.  Sure, there were travel costs, but this was at a time when airline tickets didn’t cost as much as a monthly car payment for a Bentley (I’ll let you determine which Bentley you can afford 😉 ).  While many of us spent our summers swimming at local pools or giving Wonder Bread to ducks at the local park, Anna’s family was swimming at Typhoon Lagoon, slappin’ fives with Goofy, and giving leftover ice cream cones to Donald Duck.  And who can blame them, my family was probably paying more in membership costs to the Dolphin Club than they were to Disney World!

When these annually, semi-annually, monthly, or weekly trips to Disney World began, Anna and her sisters were all very young.  Naturally, they were in love with the Disney princesses, as many young girls are.  Each sister found one to identify with; Anna – Snow White, Jenn – Belle, Aly – Jasmine, Erin – Ariel, and Mollie – Cinderella.  From my understanding, these were not randomly assigned nor were they forced to “pick-a-princess and stick with it,” it just turned out that way.

As time passed and the girls grew up, their love and identifications with the princesses remained.  I should say this wasn’t and has never been bizarre or what others might look at as “weird.”  Anna didn’t dress-up like Snow White for our wedding.  Nevertheless, their childlike wonder and awe has never ceased.  Not only did the girls’ love of the princesses remain, but the entire family’s love of Disney remained.  Disney World has remained a place to relive old memories and create new ones, especially as the eight siblings have grown and are no longer under the same roof.  It’s served as a few family vacations since I joined the family.  Anna’s brother, Jon, proposed to his fiance, Mindy, at Epcot.  And, the idea of running through the parks of Disney World even lured Anna in to running her first half-marathon this past January (that’s another story altogether).

Though the Disney love is still strong throughout the family, one members’ affection for Disney has always stood out.  If you’re familiar with any of the Disney princesses and their stories, you know the common theme is dreaming big, marrying the prince, moving up and out of their current predicament, etc.  In the most recent Disney film involving a princess, “The Princess and the Frog,” Tiana is a wonderful cook and dreams of opening her a restaurant of her own.

Erin, as you recall, identified with Ariel, a mermaid who dreamed of living as a human above the water.  This is a tall order, even for more modern thinkers; we all know mermaids and humans don’t get along 😉  Erin, despite realizing that humans and mermaids could never coexist, dreamed of working at or for Disney, even as a young girl.  She first saw this come to fruition as she came across an opportunity to work with the Disney College Program.   Despite this being a solo pursuit, Erin explored and soon found herself in the Disney College Program in the Spring semester of 2009.  What once was a dream was becoming a reality, even if just for a few months.  While the employment opportunities in this program vary from cashiers to custodians, Erin found herself as various costumed characters, something not many first-time employees have the chance to do.  She quickly mastered Goofy’s signature (even while wearing those massive gloves) and impressively aped Carl’s walker-assisted strut.

Erin returned from Disney World at the end of the semester, but maintained her status as an employee by working a day or two at a time over the following summer, breaks from school, etc.  Just a few weeks ago, on one of these trips to work and maintain her status, she auditioned as one of The Ugly Stepsisters from “Cinderella.”  This role would be a “face character” in one of the parades, meaning her face would be exposed, not covered up with a Mickey or Goofy head.  To us outsiders, this may not seem like a big deal.  In the Disney circuit, though, it’s a huge deal.  Many employees work many years before becoming a face character.  Without much time passing, they offered a full-time position to Erin as an  Ugly Stepsister, and they wanted her to start within two weeks.  Erin obviously wanted to accept but had to look at all the logistics that come with a new job and moving, taking a break from school, etc.  The following days involved a lot of phone calls, tense moments, discussions, and prayers to figure out how to make this happen.  This was her dream unfolding, perhaps in a more realistic way than before, and she was determined to turn her dream into a reality.

You can probably imagine how this story ends:  Erin accepted the position at Disney World and is beginning a new journey, following her dream.  What I’ve skimmed over, and for many reasons, are the sacrifices and stresses that have come along with following this dream.  I’ve left those details out, though, because I feel like it’s the details that often hinder us from following our dreams.  We talk ourselves in and out of decisions so quickly because of the details, the “what ifs?”, the consequences or potential consequences.  I’m not suggesting we should ignore these details or write them off.  It’s these details that keep us in-check, grounded.  I think there’s a fine line between being grounded or anchored in the realities of our dreams, and being restrained by them.  Last night, Anna and I were driving to meet some of her family to celebrate Jasmine’s…ehh…I mean Aly’s birthday.  I had my iPod on shuffle and Jack Johnson’s “Dreams Be Dreams” came on.  I’ve always liked the song and even know the lyrics fairly well.  The song is fairly short and the lyrics are simple, so don’t be too impressed.  It’s not like I memorized the guitar solo to Free Bird.  In the song, he repeats the phrase “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.”  Last night, I heard that phrase in a new way: “Don’t let your dreams [just] be dreams.”  Erin has figured out a way to not let her dreams just be dreams.  I hope I can figure that out for myself, and I hope you can too.  If you already have, kudos to you.  As Will Ferrell so eloquently said in “Wedding Crashers” despite living with his mother, eating meatloaf, and threatening others with nunchucks, you’re just “living the dream.”

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Races, Graduations, Birthdays, iPads, Barefoot Running, and the World Cup…

To all my faithful readers, well, to my wife, Anna, I apologize for the time that has passed since my last post. The last month and a half have flown by. It’s apparent that I’m not an awesome, daily blogger. I’d like my content to have a little “meat,” though, and I fear a daily post may not be much to write home about. So, where to start…I’ll do my best to give a quick run-down and highlight reel.

Indianapolis Mini-Marathon…

I ran the May 8th Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. Despite the bitterly cold temperatures and fierce winds, I ran a PR of 87 min, 15 sec and finished 409 overall (according to the results on their website). I had two goals in mind for this years race: finish in the top 500 and break 90 minutes. Much to my surprise, because of the weather, I achieved both goals. I told myself this would be the last year I ran the Indy Mini if I achieved both goals. This was my 5th Mini, and you can only run the same course so many times but pay more money each year and receive the same amount of satisfaction. With my time and place from this year, though, I’m tempted to see if I can do any better. If this barefoot running pays off, I may improve. I’ll get to that later…

Graduations…

The same day as the Mini, my sister-in-law (I have 5 altogether) Jenn graduated from Anderson University. She finished in 4 years, which seems to be an ever-growing accomplishment these days. She also graduated Summa Cum Laude. This is impressive for anyone, but considering Jenn spent a good majority of her college weekends on the road with The Revolve Tour, it’s extremely impressive. Jenn’s moved on to greener pastures: Nashville, TN. We already miss her around these parts but we also know she’s following her heart and her dreams…hard to argue with that. I’d recommend following Jenn on Twitter for inspiring and uplifting quotes and thoughts. The following Saturday, May 15, my youngest sis-in-law, Mollie, graduated from Deer Creek High School in Edmond, OK. Without divulging too much, this graduation represented much more than just a graduation from High School. Mollie is one of the greatest people I know. I’m continually humbled by Mollie, proud of her, and thankful to call her a “sister” and friend.

Birthdays…

Let me just give you a run-down of the birthdays, between family and friends, that I have to keep track of in May: Jack (cousin-in-law), Aaron (friend), Campbell (Aaron’s new baby), Donnie (brother-in-law), Matt (friend), Cate (niece), Becca (friend), both of my grandfathers (on the same day), Keith (dad – day after grandfathers birthdays), Pete (friend), Pam (friend), Lenny (uncle), Kyle (friend), Marcia (grandmother), Romi (friend), Travis (friend), Anna (my wife) and yes, even my birthday. Shew…I may have even forgotten a few. As you can see, May is busy! Thank God for Facebook and their birthday reminders!

iPads…

My wife is an unapologetic “early adopter.” I wouldn’t go as far to say that she’s a card-carrying member of Best Buy’s Geek Squad, but she definitely loves new technology, especially when it comes to the goodies Apple delivers. With the help of some large investment firms, a.k.a. siblings, parents, and in-laws, we were able to present Anna with the esteemed title of “iPad Owner” for her birthday. Due to the large demand, I was not able to get my hands on one in time for her birthday. All I had to show was a document confirming that in 7-10 business days, she would be touring Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory..err…I mean owning and iPad. If you would have been listening just outside our house that Saturday morning, you would have thought I had just proposed. Now that I think about it, had I known 5 1/2 years ago that the iPads would be coming out, I would have just held out on the engagement ring…

Barefoot Running…

I recently began reading the book “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall. I’m sorry if this is disappointing news, but this book is not an homage to The Boss. McDougall is an avid runner, one that’s injury-plagued, though, as he stands 6 foot 4 inches and weighs 230 lbs (at least he does at the beginning of the book). In an effort to contradict multiple physician’s recommendations of forfeiting running altogether, McDougall sets out on a journey to track down the Tarahumara tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico who are well-known for their ability to run, for miles and miles, without injury. The real kicker is that the Tarahumara people do not run in the latest Nike Pegasus, Mizuno Wave-Riders, Asics Gel-Kayanos, or any other type of technically sound running shoe. They wear minimal, homemade sandals.

Though I’ve not completed the book, the theme of “minimalism,” specifically as it relates to the running shoes most wear compared to the sandals worn by the Tarahumara, is one that is ever-present. McDougall’s argument is that as we’ve attempted to make running easier and more comfortable with new and improved running shoes year after year, we’ve actually created more injuries for ourselves. Running can have a nasty, painful impact on the body, especially the knees. Knee injuries can be a result of continuous impact and shock when your heel strikes the ground. When running barefoot, or in the case of the Tarahumara and their minimalistic sandals, you’re forced to run on the balls of your feet, lessening the impact on your knees and strengthening the stabilizing muscles in your feet and lower legs. Barefoot running also causes you to take smaller, quicker strides as you’re more careful and aware of each step. Juxtapose this to heavy, clunky steps you may be taking in normal shoes and you can obviously see the benefit.

I’ve incorporated barefoot running into three workouts now. I’ve ended my runs with somewhere between a .25 – .5 miles of barefoot running. I’ve read it’s best to ease into running barefoot as it is with any new type of workout; your body has to adjust and adapt since it’s recruiting new and/or unused muscles. I can’t confirm or deny that barefoot running is the best thing since sliced-bread. It hasn’t hurt me yet, though, and the belief/logic/science/craziness behind it seems to make sense. I’d like to try a pair of Vibram’s Five Fingers once I build up my “barefoot mileage.” The streets of Fishers are laden with broken bottles, razor blades, and other enemies of the foot. I’m not sure I’m as brave as Barefoot Ted or others who run marathons on more donning nothing but their own two Flintstone feet. Check Barefoot Ted out on Twitter here.

World Cup 2010…

Unless you’ve been in a hole for a few days now, you know the 2010 World Cup began this past Friday. The World Cup, held in South Africa this year, is in my opinion, the greatest sporting event…ever. Granted, I’m biased as football (soccer) is my favorite sport to watch. I would put the World Cup on par with the Olympics, but since I enjoy soccer much more than gymnastics and curling, it takes the cake.

It’s not just the entertainment and competitiveness of football that draws me in: it is in fact “the beautiful game.” If you’ve ever seen Lionel Messi split through all 11 members of the opposing team, or Cristiano Ronaldo deliver a free-kick resulting in a cross-eyed, dumbstruck goalkeeper, or Ronaldhino maneuver a ball like a yo-yo, then you know what I’m talking about. I’m also intrigued and inspired by the culture of football. It’s so much more than a sport to most around the world. It’s a part of their culture, their communities, their heritage, and yes even intertwined with their governments in some countries. You can argue whether this is good or bad, but how many accused steroid-using baseball players have we seen before the U.S. Congress? Yes, “hooliganism”exists, and harmful events have resulted due to passionate fans. I’m not condoning these actions or saying I understand them. What I appreciate, though, is that football, and the World Cup, is something the world can share and take part in. It’s unifying, and that’s refreshing to see in a world torn by political, religious, and economical differences. Joga bontioeven when you’re blindfolded.

Here’s a quick run-down of the 2010 WC matches thus far…

South Africa 1 − 1 Mexico: This was a toss-up. Going in to the match I thought Mexico was the better side, but South Africa had the momentum of home-field advantage, literally.

Uruguay 0 − 0 France: This was a surprise. Yes, Uruguay won the very first World Cup in 1930. Yes, Diego Forlan is a solid player. Seriously, though, France has a lot more “star” players and should have won the match.

South Korea 2 − 0 Greece: Greece, since winning the 2004 European Championship, has proved themselves worthy. The pace of South Korea is hard to compete with, though. This was a deserved “W” for SK.

Argentina 1 − 0 Nigeria: The only surprise here is that Argentina did not put a few more balls in the back of the net. With strikers like Messi, Tevez, and Higuain, don’t be surprised to see a workshop on scoring. It will be interesting to see how Diego Maradona bodes as the coach of the Argentines, though. He was a great player, but can he coach a team to a WC title? If you’re not familiar with his antics, he’s a combination of Mark Cuban, Super Mario (yes, from the video game), and Don Vito Corleone (because he’s always smoking cigars).

England 1 − 1 United States: Yes, Robert Green made a bonehead mistake and gifted a goal to the U.S. The fact that the Yanks were able to contain Wayne Rooney, arguably the best player in the tournament behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, is a huge success. Yes, it would have been great for the U.S. to defeat the Brits. A draw is a victory, and England should be thankful they didn’t lose. I’m sure the folks back home would have been pretty disappointed and the naysayers would have been a lot louder than any of those vuvuzelas. I’m guessing Beckham’s just glad it was Robert Green, and not he, bringing the disappointment this time around…

Algeria 0 − 1 Slovenia: I honestly know very little about either of these teams. I know A) they’re in the Group C with England and the U.S. and B) neither one of them should make it out of group play (only two teams make it out). However, the fact that Slovenia is now atop the group due to the England-U.S. draw makes it interesting for the other three teams.

Serbia 0 − 1 Ghana: I saw this victory coming until I realized Michael Essien was injured and not participating in the WC.

Germany 4 − 0 Australia: I saw this victory coming as well, though not to this extent. Germany’s captain, Michael Ballack is injured and not in the WC squad. They’re also fielding quite a few young players. Australia got off to a bad start before the tournament even began by losing 2-0 to the U.S. in a friendly/warm-up on June 5th. The loss of Tim Cahill in the next match due to an unnecessary red card is bound to have a negative impact as well. The Aussies showed-up and surprised everyone in 2006; I wouldn’t expect the same this time around.

*Netherlands 2 − 0 Denmark: This victory came as no surprise. I expected the Orange Army to walk away with a “W”. They didn’t even field one of their best players, Arjen Robben, as he’s nursing a hamstring injury. They should make it out of group play. As far as Denmark is concerned, though they’ve been credited as the “happiest country” or something along those lines, I don’t think they have much hope. Nicklas Bendtner is a good striker, but he’s only 20, and nursing an injury.

*How did the Netherlands get so lucky (click on “lucky,” it’s awesome) with all three names: Netherlands, Holland, and the Dutch? I’m jealous…

Japan 1 − 0 Cameroon: I was a bit surprised by this outcome. I expected Cameroon to at least put one goal in the net, especially with Samuel Eto’o in the lineup.

Italy takes-on Paraguay this afternoon. As the defending champs, Italy has a lot on their shoulders. I expect them to walk away with a victory, though.

That’s all for now, folks. I’ll do my best to update this more often. At the least, expect to see some more rantings relating to the World Cup. A friend of mine, Craig, who’s played soccer his whole life and is now making a career out of coaching and directing for a local youth soccer organization, has and had a supportive dad when it came to his soccer and other sport-playing days. At matches, his dad would bring a green flag with a soccer ball. I never understood the flag; it didn’t have anything to do with Craig, the team, the team colors, etc. I guess he was just a fan of the ball itself. For the next month, I’ll be waving a figurative green flag with a soccer ball on it. Yes, I’d love to see the U.S. do well. I just love the World Cup, though, no matter who’s playing.

Posted in I'm back..., Running..., Technology, World Cup 2010 | 2 Comments

Rejection or Reward?

To all my friends out there facing rejection, this one’s for you…cheers.

During one of my kindergarten years, first or second, the two classes at 10th Street Elementary School had a sleepover.  OK, before I proceed, is it odd that I was in kindergarten for two years?  Is that normal?  I’ve always been a bit older than my friends; hmm.  Anyways…Towards the end of one of these kindergarten years, the two kindergarten classes combined for a fun-filled night of sweatpant-wearing, hide-and-seek-playing, pizza-eating, soda-drinking, PG movie-watching, off-brand  ice cream sandwich-eating, and little-to-no sleeping.  I’m sure our mothers were thankful for all these activities, especially the lack of sleep and crankiness that ensued the next 24-48 hours.  I’m sure I had many goals in mind that night:  eat as much pizza as possible; hide out in the girls bathroom; drink as much soda as possible, maybe even pass a kidney stone; fight the tired-eyes and refuse to sleep.  [From this point on, for anonymity’s sake, I will not use the actual names involved in the following story]  One ultimate goal I had in mind, though, was to score at least one kiss from Ashley Smith.  Ashley and I had had a checkered past up to this point.  We had experienced our share of love and hate.  We were basically the Kelly Kapowski and Zach Morris of the 10th Street Elementary School kindergarten classes.  I knew, though, that this being a sleepover, at some point our teacher’s and chaperone’s resiliency to stay awake would wane and I would be able to, at the least, sneak a peck on the cheek under the dim gymnasium lights and glow from “The Little Mermaid” on the dingy projector.  My plan had gone smoothly for most of the evening.  I think I let Ashley “tag” me once during hide-and-seek, and I may have even given her the last of the RC Cola (don’t quote me on that one, though, I needed the caffeine if I were going to succeed…).  Things were going well until we gathered in the gym with our pillows and sleeping bags to wind down with Disney’s depiction of “A Fish Called Wanda,” a.k.a. “The Little Mermaid.” A friend, who we’ll call AC, because he really was like AC Slater and our relationship really was similar to that of he and Zach’s, hijacked the only open spot on the floor next to Ashley.  Even though we hadn’t verbally discussed my plan for the night, he very well knew what I was up to.  Was it jealousy that drove him to spite me?  A competitive edge?  Who knows.  I do know that I was irate, at least for 30-45 seconds.  Then, thinking like the playa that I was, I found another dame to pursue, and all was right in the world.

I’m pretty sure I never got a kiss that night, and I’m pretty sure AC didn’t get one either.  What I laugh about now, and actually admire, was my ability to bounce back from the missed opportunity to “make a move” on Ashley.  Sure, AC had beat me to the punch and landed a spot next to her.  Had she truly wanted to sit by me, though, she could have easily given AC the “keys to the street.”  I was faced with rejection, and I took it like a champ.  I sulked in pity, very briefly, but then I picked my head up and looked for the next opportunity.  I, like many, am on the search for a full-time job.  I have been for a few months, and as you can probably gather, I’ve faced some rejection in the forms of “Thank you for your time, but we’ve decided to pursue other options” or, “Thank you, but we’ve selected another candidate.”  There’s a lot of great people out there looking for jobs, and kudos to the ones that have received the positions I’ve applied for and essentially been competing with.  Not that it’s necessarily a dog-eat-dog world, but hey, the employers can only select one person for a given position. Nonetheless, it still stings a bit to hear a “no,” especially more than once…or twice.

Being on the receiving end of these rejections can have its rewards, though, and I experienced just that yesterday at a Job Hunters Workshop here in Indianapolis.  Peter Dunn, a.k.a. Pete the Planner, organized and hosted the event which featured guest speakers Gerry Dick (Inside Indiana Business), Chuck Gose (Director of Business Development and Social Media at MediaTile), Scott Jones (Founder of ChaCha, GraceNote, the guy invented voicemail for crying out loud!), Abdul Hakim-Shabazz (attorney, radio personality) Kathleen McDonald (President & CEO of Career Investments, LLC) and Peter Dunn (radio talk show host, financial planner, money analyst).  You can probably imagine, just from this list, that this was a well-spent $10 and two hours of a morning.  All of these individuals shared tips and advice, from their own personal and professional experiences, on job searching, positioning and branding yourself, financial planning, and more.

Now, had I already landed a job prior to hearing about this event, I probably wouldn’t have attended.  I probably would have never even heard about it in the first place.  Because of my circumstance…cough…unemployment, though, I had the good fortune of attending this event, learning A LOT, and meeting some great people.  During Chuck’s speech, I tweeted how much I was enjoying hearing from him and within minutes we were connected on LinkedIn, Twitter, and even met after the workshop.

So, was I at this workshop due to rejection?  Yes.  Was it rewarding?  Very much so.  Maybe it’s a “glass half empty or glass half full” scenario.  It definitely has something to do with perspective and attitude, though.  If you’re reading this and facing rejection but still feel like your glass if half full, right on!  That’s not always the easiest outlook to have.  If you’re feeling like it’s half empty, perhaps it’s just because you’ve taken a few sips, a few chances on opportunities, and they haven’t panned out they way you thought they should have.  I say, keep on keepin’ on, know you’re not alone, and if the glass starts feeling a little more empty, add a few ice cubes and they’ll eventually melt and add more liquid to the contents of your glass… 😉

CT

Posted in Thoughts on life... | 3 Comments