O.G. Inspiration

This past weekend I was at the Spring Superior trail races which include a 50K, 25K, and a new 12.5K distance on the rugged and remote Superior Hiking Trail. This race has a special place in my heart as it was one of my best performing trail races after I transitioned from roads in 2015. I finished the race with my legs covered in mud, and loving every second of it.

Ever since those early races I’ve become more and more involved in this amazing trail running community in the Upper Midwest. One key aspect of this community is that you can’t go very far without running in to one of these four O.G.’s; Brian Landstrom, Harry Sloan, Dan Doty, and Jeff Goldstein. These guys are the originals. They have dozens of 100 mile, 50 mile, and 50K races under their belts spanning decades.

When I say that they’re the originals, that’s not an understatement. Harry Sloan was running Western States back in 1983, and was the first race director of the Superior 100 trail race, which has grown in to one of the biggest and best 100 mile races in the world. Brian, Dan, and Jeff have all been on the scene of the earliest Minnesota races, including the Voyageur 50 where legend Scott Jurek still holds the overall course record. In short, these guys have been around.

I’ve had the privilege of sharing miles with Jeff on multiple occasions, as we both run at Elm Creek Park. He’s an inspiration, and a tremendous trail mentor. If there’s something you need to know about trail running, he’s one of the best to ask. I’ve personally learned a tremendous amount from him, even on just a handful of runs together over the years. I’ve also had the honor of pacing Brian for a few miles at the Hitchcock 100. He’s not the kind of guy who usually needs a pacer, but when I was standing around after my runner came up injured, he let me drop in with him for a while.

The amazing thing about these four guys is that they’re often found together. After decades of running trail together, spending hours and hours in each other’s presence, they still manage to not get sick of each other. They’re trail people through and through, and they manage to continue to get the job done, year after year. This year was no exception with each of them completing the Spring Superior 50K, welcoming each other across the finish line.

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It’s guys like this that I want to be like when I grow up. To be able to continue to do the thing I love for as long as these guys have been doing it, is a life goal of mine. As someone who came to this sport just over 3 years ago, I’ve got a long way to go. But, with amazing guys like this to look up to for inspiration, I feel like I might just have a shot to make it there.

Why can’t Google make up their mind?

I’m a big user of Google Services. I’ve loved Google Docs since it first launched, and use it all the time for both personal and professional things. I’ve also been a long time user of Google’s instant messaging ecosystem including GTalk, Hangouts, and Allo (briefly). On top of all of that I also use Google Play Music as our family music subscription service.

Anyone who’s familiar with Google’s product history knows that they often try things, and then change their mind and move on to something else. Google+ was supposed to be the new Facebook competitor. Hangouts was the new GTalk. Docs became Drive, and so on and so on. Google’s IM application history is a convoluted story, and a complete mess that still isn’t resolved. Right now we’re all waiting in anticipation for their new “Chat” app that will come pretty close to being an iMessage clone for Android, as well as the ability to use it on the web.

The big news of today though is their music subscription service. Google has now launched YouTube Music, which is targeted directly at players like Spotify. It’s a music subscription service that allows you to play music on demand, as well as take advantage of deep playlists to help you find new music. It’s basically a small enhancement of their existing Google Play Music service. But instead of just improving Google Play Music, they’ve created yet another new product that directly competes with their older product.

Thankfully, existing Google Play Music subscribers get a free subscription to YouTube Music, but it begs the question, “How long till Google kills Play Music?” There’s not a lot of point in Google having two music subscription services, so eventually they’ll most likely go down to one. Since YouTube is the hot new kid on the block, it probably means that eventually all of us Google Play Music people will just end up having to change which app we’re using and move over to YouTube Music. That’s not the end of the world, but it’s annoying.

Google just can’t seem to keep it’s eye on any one thing for a long time. It’s like a kid with Asperger’s who has a new favorite TV show that they’re TOTALLY in to every week. Something new and shiny comes along and they decide to change everything, sometimes for what seems like the sake of change. It’s this type of stuff that makes me wonder why I bother trying Google services. Maybe I should have just gone to Spotify or Amazon and be done with it. Thankfully I don’t need to make any decisions right away, but come on Google, let’s get it together.

Reducing the meats

Something that I’ve known for a long time is that in general, American’s eat more meat than they need to, and not enough veggies. For the past few months I’ve been trying to drop a few pounds and it just won’t budge. At the same time I’ve come across a few different books and videos that have talked about eating a more plant focused diet to be healthier. Therefore, I’ve decided to try and drastically reduce my meat consumption, while increasing my plant intake.

For the past couple weeks I’ve been consciously avoiding meat based foods. I’m not experimenting with veganism, as I just love cheese too much, but I’m trying to not go crazy with replacing meet with cheese. I’m not a big dairy guy (I don’t drink milk straight), but I do enjoy cheese, sour cream, and ice cream. In two weeks I’m down 6 pounds in weight, and I haven’t felt hungry, or that I’m starving myself in any way. I’m enjoying many of the same foods I’ve eaten before, just without meat content. This means I’m eating a lot of Mexican and asian dishes, as it’s very easy to make those without meat, and with extra veggies.

I’ve also been doing some basic stir-fry dishes at home which consist of just rice, or rice noodles, and some frozen stir-fry veggies from Target. Toss in a bunch of asian sauces and you have a good meal, pretty darn quick, without much work. We’re also trying out a few different dishes from some meatless cookbooks that we have around the house. I believe tonight is spring roll night.

This isn’t to say I never eat meat at all. Maybe 2-3 times over the past two weeks I’ve had something with meat in it. But it’s a fun challenge to try and avoid it as much as possible, and see how creative I can get with my eating. I’m not big on “mock” foods such as fake chicken and veggie patties, so I’m trying to avoid just replacing meat based foods with knock-offs. However, it is nice that most places will do a veggie burger as a fall-back.

I much prefer what the restaurant Happy Gnome (down on Selby in Saint Paul) does. They have a veggie Jucy-Lucy, but it’s nothing like a traditional meat Jucy-Lucy. It’s a bunch of stacked veggies with a slab of mozzarella in the middle. They then bread it all and deep fry it. Holy crap was that tasty. Or the always tasty wild rice burger from Great Water’s Brewing in Downtown Saint Paul. It doesn’t pretend to be meat, but it’s delicious in it’s own right.

I’m curious to see what the next few months will hold for me as I continue on this diet. It’s feeling very natural and easy to do, and I’m liking the results, both in my weight and general feeling of health. I’ll make sure to post some periodic updates on how things are going, and what type of progress I see overall.

Craziness of life

It’s been a crazy week with the new job, and getting adjusted. Schedules are different, I’m back to learning, and I’m back to being the low man on the totem pole. All in all it’s been a wild ride, both from a time perspective as well as an emotional one. Just getting used to a change like this takes mental energy, and so I’m feeling like I’m going to need some solid recovery time this weekend. It doesn’t help that at the end of the week I much had ate something wrong and my stomach has been rebelling a bit.

In addition to the job change, we also came to some decisions about our living situation. Recently, we’ve been going back and forth about if we are moving. It’s been another emotional roller coaster as we’ve looked at houses, brought in a stager to evaluate our house, and even gotten to the point of almost putting in an offer on another place (all while I’m starting a new job). As a part of this we had to start getting our current house fixed up and so our summer has now become a summer of house remodeling.

IMG_2587.jpgIn the end we’ve decided to stay where we’re at for a few more years, but we want to continue to make some changes to make it feel more like home. One of the first changes we made was to re-tile the entryway floor. It was completed earlier this week and came out great. We’re both incredibly happy with it and it gets us motivated to keep doing more projects. One of the bigger ones coming up is tearing down our basement drop ceiling. We don’t have a plan for what to replace it with, but for now we just want to get rid of the ugly fiberglass tiles. More on our house remodel in later posts…

For now, I’m just looking forward to getting through a very busy summer and not going crazy. I’m excited about every change that’s happening and all the things we’re doing. I just need to remember that the crazy won’t last forever. Good thing I have running and beer to help distract me.

 

Moving on up… to Capitol hill

For the past three years I’ve worked at the Metropolitan Council. This is a regional (seven county) governmental organization that manages the area’s public transit, wastewater treatment, housing development, park planning, and other regional needs. I have been an IT Manager there running large scale infrastructure.

Tomorrow, I start a new job, at the Minnesota Judicial Center (Supreme Court) of Minnesota. I’ll still be an IT Manager over there, but I’ll be managing a much smaller team than I was last week. I was previously managing 13 different engineers, and in my new position I’ll be managing 4. That will hopefully remove a lot of stress from my life, which is a good thing right now.

My previous boss is a great guy, but he was concerned that I wasn’t advancing my career much with this move. He firmly believes I should be trying for Director and CIO level positions. However, I feel like I have a lot of things in my life, and my job is just one of them. I’d rather be less stressed at work if it means that I can handle the rest of my life easier. I’ll accept that, perhaps, that’s the cost of not moving myself into higher level positions that I know I’m capable of.

Tomorrow starts one of many new adventures coming up this summer. For all my Saint Paul friends, I’ll still be around, just up on Capitol Hill instead of downtown. I’ll still be visiting all my old haunts, just not wandering the skyways quite as much.

Onward to new experiences!