My mostly unplanned training

I’ve been up and down with my running lately.  Starting, stopping, starting again, not getting enough sleep so running is harder than it needs to be…  I know I start Couch to 5K again, but the stubborn part of me wants to figure this out myself.  So, instead of following a specific plan, I’m winging it.  The goal: complete a half marathon in 3.27 hours.  That’s about a 15 minute mile.  Right now I can do a 5k at an average speed of 11:30 min/mile with a combo of walking and running.  I just need to translate that to longer and longer distances.

I think I can handle running for 3 minutes and walking for 1 minute at a time.  I’ll do that during my training and plan to do it during my races too.

I’m only willing to run 3 days each week, so that’s what I’ll do.  My non-running days will be spent walking, doing strength training, hiking, or resting.  Maybe I’ll do some yoga too.

Each week I’ll increase my distance by 0.5 miles.  If I’m not up to an increase or if I do poorly one week, I’ll just repeat the previous week’s training.

My neighborhood is all hills… well, except for the street I’m on and the (very) busy street my apartment backs up to.  Even though hills are great for building muscle and training your body to work a little harder in a run, I’ll have to research different trails to drive my happy little butt too for some running.

Here’s to training to run 13.1 miles in Disneyland in January!

I broke the dog :(

Yesterday, I took my brother’s dog (Niner) for a run with me.  I’d planned on running along the shoreline for 2 miles, and then turning around and running back to complete 4 miles total.  I didn’t take into account that poor Niner is overweight, out of shape, and completely unused to moving around on anything rougher than hardwood floors… and the trail along the shoreline is gravel.

She did pretty well for about the first 1.5 miles.  Then around mile 2 I noticed she wasn’t keeping up.  And she was favoring one of her paws.  I stopped to check her out and saw a little bit of damage on the pad of each paw.  The paw she was favoring had the worst damage.  I felt so terrible – I’d unintentionally abused her through negligence and ignorance.  I tried to carry her, but she’s easily 80-100 pounds.  Even with her as docile as could be, I couldn’t carry her very far.

We eventually made it back to the car.  I cleaned off her paws.  Luckily there was no blood.  She didn’t cry or whimper.  I took her home and called my brother.  He called the vet and described the damage.  The vet said that it’s the equivalent of the blisters we get when we walk in ill-fitting shoes or do yard work without gloves.  We’re supposed to keep her paws clean and watch for infection, but they should heal on their own.

I still feel awful.  The poor dog was just doing as I asked.  I figured she’d be tired by the end of it, but I didn’t think about the gravel on her paws.  I know better for next time.  I won’t repeat that mistake again.

My brother says that once Niner’s paws are healed he’ll work on toughening them up with longer walks in the neighborhood, and then working their way along less paved trails in the hills.  The movement will do them both good.  And I’ll hopefully be able to join them along the way.


It’s another “Mom Friday” which means that I’m taking care of Mom right now… until about 1pm.  Today’s a little longer than normal so that my Sister can have time to work on my niece’s birthday quilt.  She’s almost done piecing the top together.

So… until my sister gets home, I’m here waiting.  Anxious.  Ready to run.

I looked again at the course that I’ll be running in January.  My first half marathon (if I don’t magically do one before then).  My excuse to go to Disneyland in just a few months.  RunDisney has the course mapped out, with mile markers in place.  I counted… all 13.  Can you believe it?

Now I’m nervous.  What makes me think I can run 13 miles all at once?  If I think about it too much, I’ll probably make myself sick.

I have a training plan.  It’s a doable plan.  But still… 13 miles?  Wow.

But today I only have to do 4 miles.  I can do that today.  I’ve done it by accident once, I can do it on purpose today.  And, because I’ll be on a pretty secluded trail, I’ll dognap my brother’s dog.  I’m so ready to run right now… I hope she can keep up!


Switch (Click the cover to buy the book)

My library system recently hired a new Deputy County Librarian.  One of the first things she’s done is lead a focused training for managers that’s based on the book Switch by Chip Heath & Dan Heath.  I think the idea behind this training is that we’ll need to make changes system-wide if we’re to avoid making incredibly painful cuts.  Since making change is often very difficult, we need to be able to lead our staff when the time to act comes.

Our first reading assignment was to read the first 98 pages.  This section of the book focuses on surprising information about change, and “directing the rider.”  For those not in the know: the prevailing metaphor in this book is the idea of an elephant, a rider, and a path.  The elephant represents our emotional side, the rider is the intellectual side, and the path is the path they’re on.  The rider can control the elephant for a while, but he cannot keep it up indefinitely.  And really, if the elephant truly wants to do something, the rider cannot really stop him.  So, to effect change, you must appeal to both the rider and the elephant while shaping the path that they’re on.

Sounds simple enough, right?  I can see how simple it is.  I can also see how it might be difficult to do.

OK, so think about the times when you’ve successfully made changes in your life.  One of the biggest changes in my life has to do with my health.  You’re all familiar with the story that my mom had a really bad stroke in November 2008.  That was also the month that the County hosted a health fair, where employees could get cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, BMI screenings and more.  I was already devastated by my mom’s stroke.  I could see myself heading down that same path.  I didn’t know where to start to make the changes necessary, but I figured the health fair was a good place to get an idea.  The people at the health fair said that my numbers were all really good except for my BMI.  All I really had to do was improve my BMI and then I’d be the picture of health.  That was my switch.

  • Elephant – Scared of being like mom, scared of being unhealthy, really wants to do something to fix it
  • Rider – Initially paralyzed by too many options, but later given a doable goal (healthy BMI)
  • Path – Keep good numbers –> lose weight –> avoid being like mom

So far it’s been pretty good.  Of course there are ups and downs, but the switch has worked well overall.

Other things from the section I’ve read so far:

  • Laziness is often exhaustion – the rider has focused so hard on controlling the elephant that they can’t do it any more.
  • Resistance is often due to a lack of clarity – Be specific about what you’re changing and why the change is necessary
  • Focus on the bright spots (successful efforts worth emulating) and find out why it’s working there.  Replicate it elsewhere.
  • Big problems don’t need big solutions
  • Make a template for needed activities; script the critical moves
  • Too many choices create decision paralysis – people will almost always retreat to the most familiar habit
  • Focus on what you CAN change with the resources available – all other problems are TBU (true, but useless)
  • People want to fit in with each other – behavior is contagious; change the behavior change the people
  • Script the beginning and the end; the middle will shape itself
  • Create a “destination postcard” – a vivid picture of the goal for the near-future

I don’t really have a specific reason for writing this post.  I think it’s acting more as a brain dump for me.  These kinds of books are often interesting but I don’t tend to read them unless someone “makes” me.

Do you have any “must reads” for change management and/or self improvement?  Why do you like those particular titles so much?

Exercise Update 2/21/11

I bit the bullet and signed up for a 5k.  It’s not like I can run the whole thing (more like half), but you don’t have to run the whole 5k to have completed it, right?  So, on March 13th I’ll be running the City of Dublin’s 13th annual 5k Shamrock Fun Run/Walk.

When I told DH that I was going to sign up for it, he said “You better get to running!”  Then he set up the treadmill for me while I changed out of jeans and a t-shirt.  I set the incline to 1% and got started.

A 5k is 3.1 miles and I wanted to see if I could complete it in under 45 minutes.  I did!  I went 3.11 miles in a little under 44 minutes.  Yay!  All I have to do is keep working on the time (and my ability to jog continuously) by training 3 or 4 times a week.   At least one of the jogs will be outside in my neighborhood, since the race will be outside in a hilly-ish locale.

So, yeah…  I jogged and walked and completed a 5k on my treadmill.  Go me!

Project Management Training

Yesterday I completed the project management training that work sent me to.  The class was pretty small – only 8 people total.  And 5 of those 8 were library employees.

I’d been wanting some kind of project management training for awhile.  It’s a subject/skill set that I felt a bit weak in but it was also a skill that potential future employers would like to see.  You can imagine how excited I was to get the email telling me that our Executive Committee wanted me to attend this training.  My supervisor wasn’t too thrilled though.  I can understand where she was coming from.  After all, I had 2 new clerks starting on Monday and I’m already going to be away from work for 4 days next week to attend the California Library Association conference.  Attending this training meant that I would not be at work for 8 days out of the month.  But, what the Executive Committee wants, they get, so I went.

The class itself was a project management class which used Microsoft Project to apply some of the fundamentals.  We tend to perform many of the steps covered in this class when we plan a program or project at work.  If you look at it from the perspective of “I’m already doing this, why are they making me attend this class?” you won’t get as much out of it as you could.  The class showed us how to formally come up with the specific pieces of the project plan.  We were forced to think realistically and objectively when we looked at how to “sell” our project idea, and then do it again later when we came up with the amount of money needed for contingencies during the risk management phase.  We learned a common language that we can use with other (non-library) project personnel.  We also learned quite a bit about Microsoft Project while we were doing this.

I learned a little bit about myself as well.  I noticed that I tended to hang back a little bit during our breakaway group’s discussion of the project initially.  Later on, when we needed to name the activities needed to complete our project and the time they would need to complete, I spoke up a lot more.  During the risk management phase I also spoke up quite a bit.  I found myself becoming frustrated with my group when they wouldn’t listen to my input, even though I’ve recently dealt directly with the kinds of activities, vendors, and risks that we identified.

And, when one group member spoke in a condescending tone towards me, I just bit my tongue and said “That’s outside of the scope of our project.”  I also realized how easy it can be to expand the scope of your project without meaning to.  If even one team leader can’t see the boundaries of the project, it becomes so much easier for them to push the scope out far enough to make the project do more, take longer and cost more than it was ever intended.

The class was definitely a valuable learning experience.  Even though I don’t see myself undertaking a major project immediately, I know I will be within the next little while.  Having this foundation in project management will be helpful when  it becomes time to plan and oversee a future project.

Couch to 5k – Week 3 Day 3

For more information on the Couch to 5K training program, visit

Well, I just finished my 3rd week of running, which means I’m 1/3 of the way through this program!  Go me!

Today’s jog was a 5 minute warmup followed by 90 seconds of jogging, 90 seconds of walking, 3 minutes jogging, 3 minutes walking.  Repeat jogging/walking cycles once.

Today’s playlist:

  • Boot Scootin’ Boogie (Brooks & Dunn)
  • Daddy Sang Bass (Johnny Cash)
  • Dixie Lullaby (Bruce Hornsby)
  • Don’t Take Your Guns to Town (Johnny Cash)
  • Drops of Jupiter (Train)
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady (Aerosmith)
  • Dueling Banjos (Eric Weissberg)

Strangely enough I started out with my knee hurting and it got better as the jog went on.  I felt a little pop, like when you crack your knuckle, and then my knee didn’t hurt as bad.  I’m still icing it to make sure any swelling stays down, though.

I also didn’t get any side stitches this time around.  Maybe I’m getting better at running?  Who knows?

So, I started looking at 5K runs nearby and there are a couple in January.  Gotta decide which to do.  There’s one early in the month in Castro Valley at Lake Chabot, and another late in the month at Coyote Hills in Fremont.  Both are hilly runs, but they’re not terrible hills.  Whichever I choose, I’ll have to train for them… maybe jog on those particular trails once a week after I’m done with C25K?  Any other ideas?

First days

As many of you may know, I was recently promoted to Library Circulation Supervisor. (Monday was my first day!) This is my first managerial position, so there’s a lot of push to make sure that I know the “County way” of doing things and don’t fall into any bad habits.  As a result, I spent the last two days in Library Administration learning who the people are, what they do, and what they expect of me.  You’d think that after 5 years, I’d know some of these people, but there were quite a few that I’d only met once (if that).  I really appreciated the chance to sit down with them for a while.  Next week I get to do more…  then I have sexual harassment training and more orientation the week after that.  Then a couple weeks later there’s more training.  It’s a lot of work, but I’m glad that they’re offering these chances.


My first couple of days were spent at the branch getting my bearings, setting up my desk, computer, phone, and learning who everyone is.  I feel bad because there are a few names that I keep forgetting.  That usually happens when two people are introduced to me at the same time, or if they have really similar names, or if they look very similar.  I know I’ll learn them in time, but it would help if they all wore name tags.  So far my staff seems very nice and welcoming, let’s hope it all continues!

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