It’s late May, so perfect time for a mid-year (if a bit early) review for 2017. I’ve broken this topic into two themes:

  • Life Got in the Way
  • One Foot in Front of the Other

Based on what I want to share in this post, these themes are related, and they serve as the title of this post!

Life Got in the Way

This theme covers the goals I had for the year that didn’t quite turn out as expected. Looking back on the first 5+ months of 2017, there are a few things that stand out to me:

My Blog

I had a goal to write at least one post each month for 2017. Well, I blew it for April (I think I blew it prior to April, but we won’t go there…). A couple of things prevented me from devoting some time to writing a post last month:

  • My kids are incredibly busy: They each are involved in sports, band, and chorus. Throw in a couple of musicals, and I spent the better part of my after-work hours driving them to/from practices and rehearsals, taking them shopping to replace worn-out sports equipment, attending performances, etc.
  • Grad school: If I wasn’t running around with my kids, then I was immersed in the work for my Spring 2017 class. This class turned out to be incredibly challenging, which is a good thing. However, once we got beyond the simple, “beginner” stuff, I quickly learned that I was way over my head in trying to do any of the intermediate stuff, let alone the cool, advanced stuff. I relied a lot on help from my professor, fellow students, and the online community for the wiki tool I was learning (TiddlyWiki). The class was taught as an undergrad/grad online combo class (the undergrads had the benefit of meeting twice a week in a studio setting with our professor). Our professor said that a coding background wasn’t required for this course, but that experience certainly wouldn’t hurt. I learned that it hurt me not having such experience. Nevertheless, I persevered at the projects, learned some neat things along the way, and helped others where I could. The class wrapped up at the end of April, so April was a very busy month!
  • Me: I’ll admit it, I blew it off. I felt that playing my guitar, channel-surfing, or playing mindless games on my phone were much better uses of my oh-so-limited free time.

Running

For the most part, Winter 2017 was pretty tame. For runners, that’s good news. Since I was in my “off-season,” I didn’t run as much or as often as I normally would, but still managed to get out there at least twice a week, and got one 5K in, too. But I was focused more on resting up for my spring half marathon training, which was set to commence in early March. The 2017 Buffalo Half Marathon (5/28) was the target race, my 16th half marathon overall.

For the 2016 race, I had a phenomenal training period. Virtually every run went well, and I successfully added in a variety of workouts: distance, speed work, tempo runs, pace runs, and hills – all to get me ready to beat the two-hour mark at Buffalo (2016 was my second attempt at this race). Race Day was ridiculously hot and muggy. We hadn’t had heat and humidity like that all spring. Despite the early start time (6:30 AM), long stretches of shade along the fairly flat course, and lots of on-course support (water, electrolytes, hoses/sprinklers, ice, etc.), I realized by the 10K mark that I had entered “survival mode” – it was too hot and muggy to push hard, so just keep at a comfortable pace and finish the race in one piece. I’d try again in 2017.

March 2017 started with me in Florida enjoying some excellent weather and getting a few runs in. My training officially kicked off the week I returned to Rochester, NY. However, when I came home, Mother Nature had other plans. On March 8th, Western NY was hit hard by powerful hurricane-force winds; the greater Rochester area saw wind gusts in excess of 80 mph that toppled trees, snapped power lines, split utility poles, and tore countless shingles off roofs.  Over 100,000 homes and businesses in the six-county Rochester region were without power, and it took a Herculean effort by RG&E and several other utility providers from all over the Northeast and Canada to restore power as soon as possible. With downed trees and power lines littering the roads, it simply was not safe to run outside. The school was closed, too, so I was unable to use the treadmills in the fitness center. No problem. Let the crews restore power. My training could wait a few days.

Mother Nature apparently was just getting started. Less than a week after the windstorm, Winter Storm Stella was on its way to pummel us with 11-22 inches of snow. Stella did not disappoint! With the blowing and drifting, I had at least 13 inches of snow in parts of my driveway.

stella1

Fortunately, I learned from the error of my ways the previous year and got a snowblower. Still, roads and conditions prevented any type of outdoor running for several more days, and the school was again closed due to the conditions.

When the weather had finally settled down and conditions were favorable, it was late-March. I was ready to finally start training for Buffalo! Or so I thought. I came down with whatever virus had been going around and I was knocked out of commission for the final 7-10 days of the month.

I made the most of April and May, but my pace and overall conditioning are not where I want them to be. The Buffalo Half Marathon is less than a week away. I’m in good-enough shape to run and finish it, but beating the two-hour mark may not be possible. Perhaps another year or another race…

Spectrum 2017

Spectrum is the annual conference hosted by the Rochester chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). I presented at this conference in 2009 and 2010. My Summer 2016 class, Seminar in Emerging Technologies, presented a great topic for Spectrum 2017. In the Fall of 2017, I answered the Call for Papers and was accepted! The conference wasn’t until March, but I immediately started working on converting my project into a presentation because I knew I would need as much time as I could have to get my topic ready for sharing. A week before the conference, I held a dry-run of my presentation with my colleagues at work, and they thought it was excellent. They provided some solid feedback, which I incorporated. I felt ready to return as a presenter! I also wrote a post here to serve as a white paper for my presentation.

Funny how things work out. That cold that sidelined me from running at the end of March? The coughing alone was so bad that it robbed me of my voice the day before the conference!! I had no choice but to back out due to illness. Having to miss the conference upset me tremendously. Although those feelings have subsided a bit, I still wonder “what if?” about my topic.

One Foot in Front of the Other

I’ve learned in my 45+ years of life to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back at it. That’s what this theme focuses on.

My kids are still uber-busy, but the school year is just about over, so things will settle down for a while. My oldest will start learning to drive, so I’ll devote time to that, and my Summer 2017 grad class is just starting (today, as a matter of fact!), but I plan on making an effort to resume blogging at least once a month. The Summer 2017 class focuses on digital nostalgia. I’m currently reading Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, by Douglas Rushkoff, for that class. So, I’m sure the class and book will provide some good ideas for blog topics. I still need to write that blog about playing the guitar, too…

After the Buffalo Half Marathon, I’ll take a week off to let my old bones rest up because training for the Black Diamond Express trail half marathon kicks off in early June. That race is in late August. Fingers crossed that I have 12 weeks of good weather to train. Black Diamond is a flat race that runs along the well-groomed Lehigh Valley Trail.  Those who have run it say it’s a very easy, gentle course with stunning scenery. I’ve run parts of this trail, and I can attest that it is beautiful! The finisher’s medal is also very cool:

blackdiamond

Image credit: http://www.blackdiamondexpressraces.org/

How can I not have a train medal??

And that presentation? Well, it turns out that the company I work for has Lunch & Learn meetings every three weeks. The focus is of a technical nature geared toward our product family. My manager and a co-worker strongly suggested I approach the person who organizes the Lunch & Learns about presenting my topic (in fact, my co-worker sent me an email with feedback from the dry-run and her suggestion; the Lunch & Learn coordinator was copied on that email!). I was happy to pitch the topic, which was accepted. I’ve since re-tooled my slides a bit and will deliver the presentation later this week.

Funny how things work out.

Here’s to the second half of 2017! May it be filled with as many crazy twists and turns as the first half was! Just hold off on the 80 mph winds, 11-22 inches of snow, and crippling colds, and I’ll be happy. 🙂

 

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