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Tag: running

Getting to the starting line is sometimes the biggest challenge

I ran in my second half marathon last Saturday in Newport, Rhode Island. I was 86th in a field of 817 runners. They awarded medals to the top 3 in each age group. I was in 4th place for my age group. But that’s not the focus of this blog post.

The race started at 8:00. I woke up at 4:15, which totally surprised our cats. They felt like failures as I left the bed ahead of them. An hour later I was in my truck for the 1.5 hour drive to the parking lot. The last shuttle to the start was leaving at 7:00. My risk management plan included time to pull off the highway in case my hydrating resulted in the need to … you get the idea. I arrived at the lot at 6:35 and boarded the shuttle. I picked up my packet, stowed my warm clothes in a pack and checked them with the organizers. I walked around, took pictures and posted them on Instagram and Facebook. Eventually they called the racers to the start.

My plan was to finish under 8 minutes per mile (or 1:45 for the whole race) and not walk at all. I didn’t get caught up in racing other people. I raced myself. My training plan and my race plan worked. I finished at 1:42.

The day before the race I was talking to a colleague who runs marathons. He said that the hardest part of race day is getting to the start line. He wasn’t lying. I think this applies to many of our goals in life.

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My list of excuses

I have a list of excuses not to run. I’m tired, it’s cold, it’s raining, I don’t have the time, I’d rather read a book, it’s boring, my favorite jacket is in the laundry. It’s easy to find one at a moment’s notice.

I also have the antidote for excuses. It’s having a goal that I can’t ignore. Like a race. I used to do lots of 5 kilometer races. Then it became boring. Why drive somewhere, stand around waiting for the race to start, then for the
finishers, then drive home so I could run for 20 minutes? It didn’t make sense.

Last year I signed up for my first half marathon. I downloaded a 12 week training plan, and stuck to it. Okay, I missed a week of it, but I still kept to it. I ran in cold rain and in sweltering heat. I destroyed my iPod Nano, a Garmin 305 GPS, and a pair of running shoes. There wasn’t any room for excuses.

After the race I slacked off. I ran a few times, and pulled out my list of excuses, removing the dust and using them again. Then my wife said “why don’t you do another half marathon”? Because I swore them off. I had no intention of doing one again. Never. Again.

While attending a neighborhood Christmas party, an avid runner told me that I’d change my mind. I’d run another half marathon. A couple days later I decided I’d plan on doing three of them in 2017. I signed up for a half marathon in Newport, Rhode Island on April 15th.

Goals are the best way to overcome your excuses. Pick them carefully and then focus on them. Excuses are for other people.


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Conditions may vary

Project management is all about taking a team from Point A to Point B to deliver an outcome. It’s a journey that often follows the same path. Organizations that execute the same project types multiple times are the paved roads of project management. If you can’t manage ambiguity, then seek this type of a project management role. Keep in mind that you’ll likely be the first project managers replaced by artificial intelligence.

Most of the roles I’ve filled in project management align with the definition of a project. Each one is unique. Even when the outcome we want is the same, how we get there will vary based on the conditions we encounter along the way. This requires us to embrace the current situation, reset expectations, and moderate our speed.

I was reminded of this as I ran our beach for about the 200th time this morning. The first 1.5 miles are predictable. It starts on pavement and continues into a tidal marsh. The conditions are predictable. When I reach the creek and turn toward the bay, all bets are off. The tides and storms constantly change the running conditions. I’m often forced to apply rolling wave planning, picking the best line on the mixed stones and sugar sand to get as far down the beach as I can. Sometimes as little as 20 feet. Then I repeat my short term planning. On these days I embrace the fact that I need to pace myself to make it to the finish without running out of energy.

What’s your preference for project management? Do you prefer paved roads, or is the thrill of the beach that energizes you?

Get my almost best selling book Haiku for Project Managers so you can enjoy the beaches more.

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Life lessons from running

I originally published this on Medium a few years ago…

I run in local races for the t-shirts, not to be competitive. This means I accomplished my goal just by registering, and frees my mind up for more important things – like finding life lessons. Here’s what I’ve managed to learn in the course of several years of running.
Don’t be out front at the start — Being in the lead means that you’ll be everyone’s target. They’ll all try to catch and beat you. It’s better to be following until it makes sense to lead.
Put in your best efforts when the going is hard– I generally hold my pace on flat ground, and when I come to an uphill, that’s when I let the dogs out. Anyone can excel when things are easy. It’s excelling when things are tough that make us winners. Few runners will try to keep up on a climb, but many will run you to the ground on the flats.
Follow your own inner voice — In April of 2009 I ran in zero drop shoes for the first time. Being willing to go against the norm, and stand up to strange glances and skeptical expensive-shoe runners has enabled me to decrease my per mile time by over 1 minute.
Avoid negativity— Stay away from heavy breathers, gaspers, and foot slappers, and anyone else complaining too much. Just being in close proximity to someone not enjoying themselves will suck the will out of you.
Never outpace your smile — Find something else to do if you can’t enjoy the experience
Take in the sights — I get bored within a half mile of the start and start to look around. My honey does the same thing. After a race we talk about landscape ideas, nice paint color combinations on houses we see, and birds spotted along the course. Life’s too short to stare at the back of the person in front of you.
Encourage others — It’s common to see spectators on the sidelines clap and shout encouragement to the runners. I often do this from the course for competitors I see struggling. It lifts them up as it lifts me.
It’s not all about you — A few years ago I was in the lead group in a 5 miler. Someone up front stopped running, and bent over, gasping for air. I changed direction and went to him. I found out he had asthma. He assured me he was okay and said he had his inhaler. He thanked me for stopping and I resumed the race. About 20 runners passed him without a glance. My time overall wasn’t impacted in the longer 5 miles of the race and I already had my t-shirt.
Know who your competition is — As I near the end of the race I apply my keen eye to the runners ahead of me. I am looking for others who appear to be in my age group. If I see any, I do all I can to get ahead of them before the end. If I only have younger or older runners in front, my final sprint will be defensive to keep people my age from passing me. I’m racing people who are scored with me. I’m not racing the whole field.

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