The end of unemployment

I am rejoining the workforce tomorrow!

I got a freelancer gig at an agency that I've liked for a long time. Since it's a freelancer position it's not permanent (I'm contracted for four weeks, give or take based on the workload), but there is a chance the position could turn permanent. And even if this place doesn't work out for the long-term, I have two other interviews in the works for permanent positions.

That's the good word for now. If only my chicken-shit brother-in-law wasn't wussing out of his semester aboard in China life would be much better.


Unemployment: Day Eighteen

I guess nobody wondered why my last post was titled "Bloody Sunday." I was going to write about my long run last Sunday, but didn't have enough time. While I did delete what I started writing in the body, I completely forgot to change the title.

So now here is what happened on this past "Bloody Sunday."

I headed out for my 15 mile long run on a familiar course: cross the Queensboro Bridge and then do 12 miles in Central Park. Seeing that it was a humid day I made sure to use Body Glide on my man parts to avoid the painful chaffing that normally occurs in such weather. However, a mile into the run, with the wind kicking and the sweat already rolling down my chest I realized I forgot to put Body Glide or bandages or anything on my nipples. I could already feel them rubbing against my t-shirt so I panicked, but I also remembered the numerous times I've been out without nipple protection and have returned home fine. Knowing that I really couldn't stop and buy bandages I kept on trucking.

Miles one through seven went pretty well. There was no significant increase in pain in the nipple region. I glanced down once during mile four and didn't see any sign of bleeding. So I cruised along as if the worst was behind me.

After mile seven I noticed a change not in any physical sense but in that ever runner I crossed looked at me. I've always described New York City runners as stoic, blind to the world, etc.. Essentially the only two things that will grab a runner's attention is a cyclist cutting him off or a maimed and bloody body. I looked down at my t-shirt since I knew for sure I wasn't the former.

Sure enough two dark red circles the size of oblong silver dollars had formed on my t-shirt right over my nipples. I knew I needed to stop but the nearest bathroom was over a mile away, so I stopped at the benches at the runner's gate (which were less than half a mile away).

At the benches I lifted up my t-shirt and saw a horrible sight. My t-shirt had completely rubbed away the top layer of skin from my nipples and deep red drops of blood were coming out of each nipple.

After the initial freak-out I wiped away the blood with my hands. The drops came back. I took off my t-shirt and held it up to my chest to absorb the blood, which seemed to stop the bleeding.

Now I had a problem. I wasn't far along enough to scrap the run. I also couldn't finish the run with the t-shirt on: the bleeding had stopped but would start again--or get worse-- if I put it on. Running topless (as any other recovering fat kid will tell you) had never ever crossed my mind, particularly in Central Park where only the cockiest and fittest guys run without a shirt, but it quickly became the only option.

I bundled up my t-shirt in my hand, grabbed my water bottle in the other hand, looked down the long stretch of East Park Drive, and started running...shirtless.

At first it was awkward. Things were jiggling and gyrating all over the place--the inner workings I don't normally care about because it's all sheathed by a t-shirt. I corrected my posture and lengthened my stride because if I was going to make a fool of myself I was at least going to do it in good form.

Oddly enough, parents did not shield their children's eyes and dogs did not start barking. Actually, you would never know anything was unusual. After a few minutes I completely forgot that I was sans t-shirt.

The rest of the run went beautifully: I finished 17 seconds under my goal pace and any trace of blood had dried up. When I unrolled the t-shirt at the end of the run the blodd stains had gone, most likely washed away by the sweat. I slipped on the t-shirt (ouch!) and hopped on the subway to go home.


On the unemployment front there have been developments. But that'll be for another post this weekend.


Unemployment: Day Fourteen--bloody Sunday

I wanted to answer Biscuitman's two questions on my training calendar.

First, The two consecutive rest days are forced. See, I like starting the week with a Tempo run--which means I need to have at least one rest day between the weekend and the Tempo run (I also don't like running on Mondays). Then, since I alternate long runs between Saturday and Sunday based on life happenings, I need one of the rest days to be on the weekend. This means the calendar looks like I have two consecutive rest days, even though that doesn't always happen.

But now it looks like I'll be changing that. This past week I decided to swap the Tempo and the Easy runs since I was having difficultly doing Tempo runs as the first runs of the week--probably due to the slower long run pace I'm using for this training. It worked out really well since the Easy run let me transistion back to the shorter distance. If I make this change permanently I can start running on Mondays, push back the Wednesday run to Tuesday, and have Wednesday as my oasis rest day int he middle of the week.

Second, the Yassos the week of the Marathon are a bit odd (I definitely thought twice about it). The only rationale I have is that I was carrying through the pattern of Thursday workouts--but a last week speed session has never hurt me before.

Today I have an interview for some freelance work in the afternoon. The project is for about a month and there is a possibility the position could go permanent--but I take that with a grain of salt. I haven't heard back from the interview from last week, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Unemployment: Day Ten--the big reveal

Every time I start a training cycle I spend hours creating my training plan, or the grid as The Laminator calls it. I reflect back on the previous training cycle, consider what my weaknesses were during the last race, reread old blog posts, and consider any note-worthy training advice from Runner's World and bloggy peoples (like yourselves). Then I start filling out the grid. I keep in mind what worked and didn't work, and what I looked forward to and what I didn't.

Now, for the first time ever, I'm posting my grid. It actually took me a while to figure it out because the document is so friggin big--if I printed it out it would probably span three pages. But over the weekend I craftily took screen shots of the Excel document and overlaid them to make one large seamless picture.

So for your perusal, here is the grid (click for the larger version):

I've made this document super easy to understand so that several weeks in I can easily see the rationale behind it all. First, across the top is are the days of the week and the corresponding activity for that day (tempo, long run, rest, etc.), then the total mileage for that week, and finally a yellow progress bar that is extended down once that week is complete.

Along the left hand side are first the stages of training (base, ramp up, peak, and taper). These are organizational tags that don't really mean anything but make the chart look neat and orderly--the original purpose was to demarcate lengths and paces of certain runs, but I've basically moved past that. The next column over marks each week, followed by three sub-headers for each week: plan (what I'm supposed to do), mileage (the total mileage for that planned run, not including warm up or cool down--these numbers sum to the right in the total mileage column), and actual (which is what I actually did that day...which doesn't always match the plan).

From there, it's essentially a calendar that I fill in daily. Let's take the first week as an example. Monday was a rest day, so I put in "rest" for the actual workout that day. Then Tuesday was a five mile tempo run at a Tempo I pace, which was 8:00/mile (I have a separate chart that lists what my goal paces are). In the actual row you can see that I did the five miles a little bit faster at 7:57/mile. Wednesday was an easy recovery run with some pull-ups, push-ups, and crunches at the park. Thursday was a hill workout--although Thursdays are workshop days with a rotation of hills, 1600m repeats, and Yasso 800s. The first week I was still trying to figure out how to do hill repeats and how many I should be doing, so I only did three 400m repeats at about a 7:10 pace. Friday was a five mile run at marathon pace (MP), which is 8:24. Fridays alternate between MP and regular run, according to the Hal Higdon Intermediate I training plan, which I also used to for the long run schedule. Saturday was the scheduled day for the long run (at a long slow distance [LSD] pace of 9:15/mile), but I was on a road trip that morning, so I pushed the long run to Sunday, which is normally down as a rest day. (Even Saturday is the set day for long runs, about half the time I end up doing the long run on Sunday due to weather, travel, or just life happenings.)

Most days have the plan and mileage row filled in blue, but if they are filled in orange that designates a holiday (Independence Day, Labor Day) or event (birthday, anniversary). This helps me anticipate life events that I'll have to work the schedule around.

You'll also notice that I'm not too consistent with how I record runs in the actual row. I pretty much just try to get the time in there and I'll for sure include the distance if it's any different from what was planned that day. I figure I shouldn't be too concerned about how I record the actual runs (unless I deviate from the plan) since I have Fenny.

And that is the wonder of my grid.

On the unemployment front things are in a lull these days. I'm waiting to hear back from Tuesday's interview (they had a couple other candidates for the position and aren't having second rounds until next week). I'm also following up with a couple people today to see if any new leads have popped up.

Also, I'm starting an unemployment reading list starting with Pride and Prejudice. There are a bunch of classic books that I felt I never read in high school that I'm going to take time to read now since I have the largest public library in the world at my disposal. Also on the list: 100 Years of Solitude, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Where the Red Fern Grows, and King Lear. I doubt Don Quixote will get on the list nor will anything Russian since I would like to make progress on this reading list and not get stuck on one book for six months.


Unemployment: Day Nine

So I made a bit of a mistake in yesterday's post. I had started writing it on Monday night...but didn't finish it until Tuesday morning. While I thought I had changed all the references to "tomorrow" to "today" it looks like I missed the first (and most major one). This means that I had my interview yesterday, not today.

It went really well--so I think. The position is perfect: the agency is awesome and is actually having a good year, the location is perfect, the client is brand new to the agency so they are still in the honeymoon period, and--here's the big selling point for me--they allow dogs in the office. Wifey and I don't have a dog, mostly because our landlord doesn't allow them. BUT, if the dog is with me all day then there shouldn't be any yipping or barking during the day for neighbors to get annoyed. So I'm in love with this place right now.

The drawbacks? Well, there is the issue that the cap salary for the position is $5k less than what I made at my old agency. Which sucks, but it's not the worst of things. The other issue, which might become a sticking point, is that I'm pretty senior for this position. I have the right title, but I've done so much at this level that I'm on the cusp of being promoted. And since my immediate supervisor at this place was just promoted there is no growth room for the time being.

I'm hoping this position works out, but I'm still looking furiously for something else.


Unemployment: Day Eight

Good news people: I have a job interview set up for tomorrow! This unemployment bit might be shorter than I expected. The agency is one I have admired for a long time and been trying to get into pretty much since I graduated from college. The account, as far as I can tell, seems interesting. The catch? I'd have to take a small pay cut. Blah.

But I'm still positive because I met with two recruiters today and already have two job leads coming out of those meetings. So I might not have to compromise on the salary.

Anywho, on the running front, I had a 14-mile long run this weekend during Heatwave 2009--as the local news likes to call it. I met up with a friend and his friend who I hadn't met before to cruise down Park Ave (thanks to Summer Streets), over the Brooklyn Bridge (yeah those knees are goners), back up Park Ave, and then a final loop in Central Park. It was a sweaty and muggy run--made even more sweaty and muggy because we went at an 8:30 pace instead of the leisurely 9:15 I've been doing during this training cycle. While it was fun, there was so much chafing afterward, which resulted in the most painful shower ever. Well, second most painful shower ever--there was that shower after the half-marathon in Philly when I learned why guys put bandages on their nipples.


Unemployment: Day Four--who needs knees?

First, thank you to every one for your support. Unemployment continues to suck, but mostly because I have nothing to do. I'll spend about four-five hours a day doing job search related stuff, but then I'm bored out of mind for the other 20 hours. Fortunately, I have lots of people that are helping me out and passing my resume every which way. I'm really hoping that I'll have a couple interviews lined up by next week so that I can relax a bit and enjoy the time off.

Meanwhile, training for the NYCM is coming along. Last week in South "flat as a pancake" Florida messed me up a bit. No hills meant I temporarily lost all the climbing strength in my legs. Then, with the oppressive heat and humidity I allowed myself to slow down by 10 seconds on each run. I don't know if that made the runs easier but I did end up drinking far less water than anticipated.

You can imagine the hard time I had doing my fast tempo run in hilly Astoria Park.

However, now with ample time to properly execute all my weekday runs I made it a point to correct my lazy legs. For yesterday's hill repeats I went to the Queensboro Bridge, which I thought would be a great setting because it's the hill at Mile 16 of the NYCM--and it's the only uninterrupted 400m stretch of uphill nearby. But instead of taking the subway there I had the brilliant idea to do a "warm-up" two mile jog to the Bridge. It sounded like a good idea at the time.

The repeats went really well and I managed to cut my 400m uphill sprint time from 1:57 to 1:41. Save for the occasional biker who would wander into the pedestrian lane, the repeats were pretty uneventful...but then I had to return home.

I accidentally left my MetroCard at home so I had to repeat that two mile jog back to the apartment. Halfway through I started getting heart burn, but at the same time it started raining, so I would cycle through running until the heart burn would flare up and then walking until I could take the rain any more. Ugh.

Today, I followed up that hill workout with a hilly Marathon pace run. I took the same route to the Queensboro Bridge, then ran over it into Manhattan to finish up with a three mile loop in Central Park. I.e., hills, hills, and more hills. My knees were not happy at all when I was done--but I did get my climbing legs back!

Now to work on speed.


Unemployment: Day One

That big project that I was working on all those weekends in July? Well, we were defending our biggest piece of business. It didn't work out so well and we lost the business. And in these economic times losing business means lay-offs.

Honestly, I thought I was safe. I had been told that my job was secure because of how little work my department received from this client. Well, two weeks after losing the business (and my first day back from vacation) HR called me up to their office where my President was waiting to deliver the news.

I suspected that this might happen, but it still sucks. It sucks because of how much hard work I put in during July. It sucks because there didn't seem to be a business reason to let me go. It sucks because they are releasing me into the worst possible job market in the past 40 years.

I took today easy. I woke up with Wifey and went out late for a very difficult tempo run. Then I watched The Price is Right (Drew Carey is no Bob Barker) and went to the park for a bit before coming home and hitting the ol' job search regiment. There are some prospects, but for now it's pretty sad looking out there.


Sweat and tears

The past week basically boiled down to two things: sweat from running and tears from baby Dominic. Well, truth be told, Dominic didn't really shed any tears while I was there, but I liked the title for the post.

Running in South Florida the past week was hot and sweaty. Every night I told myself I'd be running at 6:30am before the sun went up and every morning the earliest I could wake up was 7:30. By the time I would be on the street the sun was over the trees, immediately kicking the temperature into the low 90s.

But it wasn't the heat, it was the friggin humidity that got me. Every single run was an exercise not in running, but in bodily secretion management. You should have seen my clothes after the 12 mile long run I had last Saturday: every square inch was soaking wet, so wet that I could hear my shorts sloshing during the last four miles of the run. And I won't even begin to describe the chafing that went on down there.

You South Florida runners have my highest respect.

Now, onto the other part of the trip: the new baby. I swear, you are never more documented than when you're a newborn baby. Five minutes didn't go by without someone whipping out the camera and snapping pictures. Which I really don't understand because honestly you don't do anything as a 15 day old. But nonetheless, here are some fantastic pictures of Dominic from the past week.



Wifey and I are in sunny (i.e., hot and humid) South Florida this week to, among other things, meet our new nephew Dominic:

I know newborns are cute, but he's exceptionally cute. I mean look at the shirt he's wearing, it even says "cute" right across his chest. He doesn't do much except eat, sleep, and poop, but man is that enough to keep my sister and brother-in-law busy. Look forward to more pictures later this week.