The Organized Runner

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Budget Tips for your Wedding

Budget Tips for your Wedding

I’m a planner and a saver, so planning my wedding a few years ago was the typical mix of exhilarating and stressful when you consider the wedding premium placed on everyday party objects. The wedding premium is when the price automatically increases just by being […]

The Curse of Mississippi

The Curse of Mississippi

Mississippi is the worst state. Let me give you anecdotal evidence to scientifically prove my point. Every time my team went to Mississippi in college, something bad happened. In January 2010, we came back to Berry a few days before the semester started, so we […]

Women’s Elite Field for Boston 2018

Women’s Elite Field for Boston 2018

I encountered a Twitter storm Monday afternoon as the Boston Athletic Association announced the elite field for the 2018 Boston Marathon. My (biased) opinion is that US women marathoners are the most exciting segment of distance running right now, so I wanted to take a closer look at just how stacked this field is.

Shalane Flanagan 

Fresh off her first major marathon win in New York, Flanagan decided she wasn’t quite ready to retire yet and is making a run for another major title. The Boston native has always had her eyes on a win in the hometown marathon and would certainly be the cherry on top of a successful career before retirement.

Fun fact: “Every single one of her training partners — 11 women in total — has made it to the Olympics while training with her, an extraordinary feat. Call it the Shalane Effect: You serve as a rocket booster for the careers of the women who work alongside you, while catapulting forward yourself.” Read more here.

PR: 2:21:14

 

Sara Hall 

Hall is also fresh off a win. With a solo effort for the vast majority of the race, Hall dominated the field at the USATF Marathon Championships earlier this month, running just a few seconds off a PR that she set five weeks prior. Coached by her husband, American Marathon Record-holder Ryan Hall, Sara is definitely coming into form for the marathon after moving up to the distance a few years ago.

PR: 2:27:21

 

Desi Linden

Desi holds the best finish at a past Boston Marathon when she was 2nd in 2011. Linden is one of my favorite marathoners to watch as she is a complete metronome. During the 2016 US Marathon Trials, her consistency awarded her a 2nd place finish after she didn’t chase the breakaway that Flanagan and Cragg made earlier in the race.

PR: 2:22:38

 

Molly Huddle

Molly is the American Record-holder in the 10k from the 2016 Olympics (which I cried while watching) where her breakout performance was redemption from her missing out on a medal at the World Championships the year prior.

The marathon is relatively new to Huddle as Boston will be her second marathon after her debut last November. She’s no stranger to success on the roads, and I’m excited to watch her make the transition into the longer distance.

PR: 2:28:13

 

Jordan Hasay

Jordan is the most exciting new(ish) addition to the American women marathoners. Hassay’s Boston debut last year was the fastest marathon debut of any American woman by nearly 3 minutes. She followed up on that performance with a blazing 2:20:57 at Chicago this fall, putting her at #2 on the list of American female marathoners.

From watching Hassay run the 1500 meter Olympic trials as a high schooler to competing for the dominant Oregon Ducks in college to having some injury struggles post-college, it’s satisfying to watch her find her stride again in the longer distances.

PR: 2:20:57

 

Serena Burla

Full disclosure, I didn’t know anything about Serena Burla except recognizing her name as an elite runner. As it turns out, she has an incredible story! She’s a cancer survivor, and a surgery in 2011 to remove the cancer also took half of her hamstring. She underwent surgery again in August after finding another malignant tumor in her leg.

PR: 2:26:53

 

Kellyn Taylor

Kellyn Taylor was another name that was familiar, but I had to look up some details on her. She’s a total badass – pro runner, firefighter, mom, etc. Taylor came excruciatingly close to qualifying for the Olympic team in 2016, finishing 6th at the marathon trials and then 4th in the 10,000 meters.

PR: 2:28:40

 

Deena Kastor

I saved the queen for last. Kastor is the American record holder in the marathon, half marathon among other accolades. She has an Olympic bronze in the marathon from 2004 and broke the Master’s marathon record by nearly a minute in 2015, running 2:27:47. She’ll be 45 at the 2018 Boston Marathon and will still be running away from much of the competition.

PR: 2:19:36

 

Boston 2018 – I can’t wait to watch! Could this be the first year since 1985 that an American takes home the crown?

One Year at Praxis

One Year at Praxis

A little over a year ago today. Isaac Morehouse turned my life upside down by sending me an email: “Got ten minutes for a quick phone call?” That quick phone call led to me giving notice at my job – my first job out of […]

Breaking Out of a Broken System Review: Part 2

Breaking Out of a Broken System Review: Part 2

Recap: The book is split in half – the first half on black paper/white text from Seth’s perspective and the second half on white paper/black text from Chandler’s perspective. I reviewed Seth’s half here.   PROS: Considering the long break between my reading the first […]

Just Google It: Panel Graphs in Excel

Just Google It: Panel Graphs in Excel

I got a data task last week. I love my data. At my last job I once got lost writing a report on our evaluation data and didn’t look up from my computer until my stomach growled and I realized I stayed an hour later than I usually go home.

Anyway, I had the task of plotting some pretty disparate numbers. Things like website traffic (maximum at tens of thousands) per week as well as acceptances (maximum under 10) per week…plus some numbers in between. I thought this would be easily solvable with a secondary Y axis but after plotting the data that way, I realized it wasn’t the best solution. I either needed to blow up the graph to billboard size or have a third or fourth Y axis to make it work.

Then I tried taking out website traffic as a whole since it was the outlier, but then my next biggest variable became a problem since it was an outlier compared to the rest of my data. My next solution was to plot all of the variables separtely. Since the data is all plotted by week, I just had to stack them on top of each other, and the trends (spikes and dips) would still show even though it wouldn’t be as visually appealing. I made all 5 graphs before realizing that was a dumb idea. Frustrated, I told myself that there are entire professions based around data analysis and visualization, and there has to be a way to display these numbers in the same graph.

I then turned to my best friend, Google. I can remember taking a computer applications class in middle school where we learned the “proper” way to search – using keywords, plus signs, etc. That is never the way I search, though. I’m a fan of typing full sentences or phrases of my stream of consciousness. In the pre-Shazam or Siri days, I found many a song title and artist by typing in the lyrics of songs I heard on the radio.

This is what I typed in, and I felt it like destiny that someone else had used the same phrase that I had. The forum led me here which is where I found my answer.

The feeling of fate continued as I read the post. The writer laid out all of the ways people attempt to display data like this, which mirrored the attempts I had just made.

  • You can plot everything on the same graph with one Y axis, but that leads to everything but your outlier looking like a flat line.
  • You can plot a second Y axis, but then you have to remember which lines go with which axis (and still wasn’t enough in my case)
  • You can plot all of the data on separate charts and try to line up the X axis

Or you can make a panel graph! I copied the format of the data and the formulas in the step by step instructions (accounting for the fact that I needed 5 panels rather than 3). Since the example data is so small compared to mine, I had to write down a list of conversions (example E9 = my G44) to get the formulas right after quite a few mistakes that had my graph looking wonky. But then I had it! Five variables worth of data aligned along the same X axis each with its own Y axis for scale.

The point of all of this is that it’s very unlikely that the problem you’re experiencing is something only you will encounter. The internet is a wonderful place that can help you with many problems from fixing your blender (boil the blade kit to get it unstuck) or helping you make a panel graph for the first time.

 

Breaking Out of a Broken System Review: Part 1

Breaking Out of a Broken System Review: Part 1

I learned about the band NEEDTOBREATHE my first summer working at Strong Rock Camp when my co-counselor would play their music to wake our girls up in the morning. I had the opportunity to see them play live at a Braves game this summer which […]

Decide, Commit, Step Forward: How to Break Free from FOMO and Organize your Ambition

Decide, Commit, Step Forward: How to Break Free from FOMO and Organize your Ambition

When I first started at Praxis, I learned that it is something I’ll always have to explain to people. The follow up question is usually about our participants who I like to describe as “exhaustingly inspiring.” Our community is constantly pinging with notifications about new […]

Why I Keep Training

Why I Keep Training

Running – or training to be precise – can sometimes feel like an unbalanced or unfair relationship. You do your work every day, putting your time and effort and sweat into making your relationship with running better, and then race day comes, and running doesn’t seem to hold up its end of the deal. If you were dating someone and constantly worked on your relationship and did nice things for them, and they didn’t reciprocate, you would probably dump them. So why do I keep training?

I briefly pondered that today. It was a level and logical question – not an emotional one as I’ve been before. I wasn’t upset at myself for wondering, just thought about it as I had an off day today. I rarely take weekdays off, but I finished up my track season last night and am feeling a little beat up from it. Plus, I haven’t had an extended break besides my usual down weeks once a month since January, so this is instrumental in me making it through all of 2017 healthy.

Back to the question of why I keep at it. I’ve thought before that I could back way off on training and still be semi-competitive. I could probably run 20 minute 5ks and maybe bust out a 19:30 on a good day or a fast course. Depending on the level of competition, I could win some age group awards or maybe even the whole female division. I could spend less time on training, not be as tired, and still scratch that running itch.

But I want more.

I don’t want college to be my peak. I don’t want to just PR in the 5k, I want to take a whopping 24 seconds off and one day break 18 minutes. I want to PR in every event from the 400 to the marathon. And all of that takes a lot of work. Until I stop wanting more, it’ll be worth it to inch ever closer to those goals.

I realized with a smile today that these thoughts closely parallel one of my favorite sections of Once a Runner which is the best book written about competitive distance running. The backstory starts with the main character Cassidy (an elite miler) explaining to his girlfriend Andrea how track is different from other sports since the comparisons across time aren’t subjective.

“In track it’s all there in black and white. Lot of people can’t take that kind of pressure; the ego withers in the face of the evidence. We all carry our little credentials around with us; that’s why the numbers are so important to us, why we’re always talking about them.

“…the point is that we know not only whether we are good, bad, or mediocre, but whether we’re first, third, or a hundred and ninety seventh at any given point…assuming we make the lists. That’s right. Sometimes it is possible, despite your best efforts and a hundred miles a week to not even exist. That, my dear, breaks my heart.”

Disclaimer: I am and never was in the same ballpark as Cassidy (a fictional runner but still). I would be one of those people who didn’t make the lists. I describe myself best as a serious runner and/or a competitive runner. Running is a high priority for me, and I typically race around 75% of age graded results, so that’s good enough for me to say competitive. For me, not being at an elite level doesn’t change the fact that I am training toward goals – the same way someone who is trying to run a whole 5k without walking is.

“But you can beat most of the people around, we know that, right? Isn’t that good, isn’t that what you want?”

Here Andrea echos that voice in my head that sometimes tries to convince me that I don’t need to run 50+ miles a week or lift weights or foam roll. If I can do decently well in local road races, isn’t that enough? For people like Cassidy and me, it’s not. His response gets me amped up every time I read it, and typing it tonight was no exception.

“It’s a simple choice: We can all be good boys and wear our letter sweaters around and get our little degrees and find some nice girl to settle, you know, down with…”

“Or what? What is the alternative?

Andrea doesn’t know what’s coming next.

“Or we can blaze! Become legends in our own time, strike fear in the heart of mediocre talent everywhere! We can scald dogs, put records out of reach! Make the stands gasp as we blow into an unearthly kick from three hundred yards out! We can become God’s own messengers delivering the dreaded scrolls! We can race dark Satan himself till he wheezes fiery cinders down the back straightaway! They’ll speak our names in hushed tones, ‘Those guys are animals’ they’ll say! We can lay it on the line, bust a gut, show them a clean pair of heels. We can sprint the turn on a spring breeze and feel the winter leave our feet! We can, by God, let our demons loose and just wail on!”

So that’s why I keep training. I have goals that demand more than mediocrity of me, and I have enough fire in me to put my head down and grit my way through a final kick or another interval rep around the track. Finish times might be black and white, but records are meant to be broken, so while I am in this stage of life – settled, few responsibilities (aka no kiddos), and healthy – I’m going to keep chasing them.

 

Someone on the Internet was Wrong!

Someone on the Internet was Wrong!

Normally I ignore and archive the news-related emails from LinkedIn, but last week an article caught my eye since it was about the sharing economy in China. I was surprised that type of business would thrive in China – a country that isn’t known for […]