Saturday, January 11, 2014

Balancing Act

Just over six months ago, I accepted a new job. Before I even started, I had everything planned out for how I would manage a long commute + long hours + high mileage. But then I actually started the job and realized that it wasn't always that simple.

Working from home once a week doesn't happen very often, leaving the office early enough to take the HOV lanes is hit or miss, and the hours are longer than expected. All that being said, I couldn't be happier with where I am in my career-- I don't regret my decision one bit. I love the challenge and the level of responsibility that this position provides. I just have to figure out where and when I can run on a day-to-day basis. I do have a schedule that I try to stick to, but I need to be flexible with it in case something comes up at work that changes things. Factoring in the icy/snowy weather is another variable to consider as well.

Here is what I try to have happen each week:

Monday: Leave my house at 5:20am to meet my friend Allison in Arlington for a 6:00 run. She lives just two blocks from my office, so we have been meeting up and running anywhere from 6-8 miles on Mondays. I don't have any traffic on the way to work, and my commute home just depends on when I can get out of there. Regardless of what time I leave, there is still plenty of work to do when I get home.

Tuesday: This one is easy: intervals with my coach/team. The track is just two miles away from my office, so I leave the house at around 5:30 and don't hit any traffic. It takes about 30-35 minutes to get there and my commute home can be as fast as 45 minutes or as long as 75 minutes, depending on traffic and when I leave.

Wednesday: Rest day, usually. I still wake up early and get into the office at around 7:15 to avoid traffic.
Thursday's tempo run. Feeling strong!

Thursday: Ideally, I would work from home. In reality, I either leave my house really early and do a tempo run on the track in Arlington, or I do the tempo run around my neighborhood, and arrive to work at 9:30, taking the HOV when it opens up at 9:00. The tricky thing is that even with the HOV, there is still a lot of traffic on Thursday mornings, so I could end up spending an hour commuting.

Friday: Easy run at home, leave the house at 8:30 and get into work at 9:15ish. There isn't as much traffic on Friday as there is during the rest of the week so I don't have the problems I have on Thursday.

With this schedule, it all fits in nicely. But it's stressful being on such a tight time table, and having to pack a bag every night and shower in the office locker rooms. Oftentimes I won't get home until after 7:00, at which point I unpack my gym back, repack it, have dinner, answer some emails, eat dinner and go to bed at 9:00ish. There's just not much time to relax or catch my breath. I have to plan out my outfits/jewelry/makeup the night before which doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's not what I want to do when I get home from a long day.

All of this being said- this is a typical schedule and I often have to switch workouts and times and places, depending on my work schedule, the weather, or other factors. Since starting the job, I have yet to run over 45 miles per week. Part of that is because I started the job injured, trained a little for Chicago, recovered from Chicago, ran New York, recovered from New York, and then haven't gotten my mileage up that high since. Running 35-40 miles per week in this framework is completely manageable. I hope that 50+ is manageable too.

Greg has been very supportive. He understands that when I come home from work I still have more work to do, but he misses running with me in the mornings like we used to. I haven't been able to read blogs as much as I would like, or even maintain my own blog to the extent I used to. But I'm okay with it-- I get more satisfaction out of my job than any previous job, so it's totally worth it.

I'll be running the Shamrock half marathon in March followed by the Cherry Blossom in April, and then an early May marathon. I've had some great speed workouts lately but I would like to get the mileage up and start building my endurance again.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

In Memory of James Reily, 100 Miles Strong

On the way home from my Ringing In Hope 10K on New Year's Eve, I received a very disturbing email from my former boss, informing me that that my former colleague and friend, James Reily, had passed away of cancer.

I worked closely with James for about a year at my previous company before leaving in July. He led the inside sales team and I led the marketing programs team. Together, we were responsible for filling the sales pipeline with new opportunities that would grow the business. We had a great mutual respect for each other and held each other accountable for our roles. I committed to generating "x" amount of leads, and he committed to having his team follow up on them within a defined timeframe, so that we would function as a well-oiled machine. We created dashboards to track our progress and we were both data junkies.

I've worked with many sales people throughout my career and he was definitely one of the most passionate and hard-working ones I have encountered. In many organizations, sales and marketing have a somewhat adverse relationship. But at my previous company, James and I were fully aligned and it made for a positive working environment.

My endorsement of James on LinkedIn

In addition to being an inspiring leader and sharp businessman, James was also a highly accomplished runner. Most recently, he completed a 100-mile race, where I tracked his progress on Facebook through the posts his family was making. He also had countless marathons under his belt and at age 39, was still getting faster and stronger.  Last spring, we both decided to run the Chicago marathon because the
James at an aid station during a 100-mile race
inside sales team was located there, and I figured I would make a business trip out of it. We registered at the same time, both experiencing the registration glitches that arose from a high demand of limited slots. We kept IMing back and forth to each other: "Are you in?" "Not yet, still getting this error message".  Eventually we both got into the race and were very much looking forward to it.

"What corral are you in?" I asked. "Corral F," he replied. "Why all the way back there? You should be up in B or something!" I exclaimed over IM. "I figure with Corral F I won't go out too fast," he explained. I thought it was admirable that he was trying something new in an effort to improve. Most runners, myself included, want to be in the fastest corral possible to ensure they don't get stuck behind a bunch of slow people. But not James. He was perfectly fine chilling in corral F and working his way up once he started running. He was also planning on running it with his identical twin brother, Matthew, so that probably played into his decision as well.

I left the company in July but maintained communication with James over Facebook. As the race got closer, he asked me how my training was going. I said it was okay, but I wasn't expecting a great race because I had been injured for 4+ weeks during training. He mentioned that he was just going to take it easy too, and focus on enjoying it. I didn't ask him why-- I just figured that maybe he had gotten injured or maybe didn't have enough time to train as much as he wanted. Chicago came and went and I noticed that James didn't run it. I really wish I had communicated with him about this, but I just assumed he was injured. I had no idea that he had cancer or that anything was wrong with him.  He wished me a happy birthday on Facebook in November and I thanked him and wished him well. That was the last communication I had with him.

Needless to say, I was shocked to learn that he died of cancer so suddenly. He wasn't diagnosed until after I left the company, and I guess he wasn't the type of person to post his struggles on Facebook.

James was 39 years old, and is survived by his wife and two beautiful daughters.

I have decided that I will run the "Ringing In Hope" 10K in honor of him next New Year's eve, and every New Year's eve after that. The race benefits a variety of charities, and I will make a donation each year to a cancer charity in his memory.

To make a donation to benefit Sarcoma Research, visit this site.

James Reily, 1974-2013