Blogs tagged with "geek"

Enjoying the third day of the off-season surfing in Maui

It's been a while since I had a real off-season, but the planets have aligned this year to provide me with a little post-season, holiday, do-nothing block of time. Even though I ran the New York City Marathon two weeks ago, my post season off-time began the day after Ironman Kona. It started with a trip to Maui and ends right about now, in my kitchen, in front of my computer.

Why now, you ask? Because six weeks is enough! I've realized that there is still nothing interesting to watch on TV. I've fallen victim to the Halloween-candy-at-the-office five-pound weight gain (which, at my advanced age's metabolic slowdown, will no doubt take the next six months to eradicate). And I'm ready to stop looking at the past and now look at the future - a.k.a., my 2012 triathlon season.

To go forward, though, I feel the need to contemplate the past so that I can learn from it. The first mistake I ALWAYS make in reviewing the past is the one I'm going to try to avoid this time: remembering only the failures. In looking at years past, I usually only remember the things I want to change, like my poor performances. That's all well and good if I logically analyze what caused the poor performances. But I always forget to review what went right.

Why do we do that? Maybe the question should be: am I the only one who does that? Why does the negative emotional impact of my bad races outweigh the positive impact of my good ones? In other words: why do we dwell?

I don't have the answer to that. (All the psychologists of the world just breathed a collective sigh of relief.)

So, to focus on a positive review of last season, I will not mention the disasters that were two of my biggest races of the year: the USAT National Championship and Ironman Hawaii. Instead, I will review what went right:

  • I won my age group in Ironman St. George by more than an hour, came in tenth overall and fifth amateur. (Who cares if it was with an embarrassingly-slow marathon?)
  • I won my age group and set the age group course record in Ironman Lake Placid.
  • I won my age group in Ironman 70.3 Muncie.
  • I became the 2011 world champ in my age group at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas.
  • I ran two marathons - Walt Disney World and New York City - just for fun, both with respectable times (and won my age group at Disney).
Punks, me and Ron in Vegas
Unlike last year, I am able to make that list this year because one of the other great things that happened in 2011 was to develop a great friendship with Ron, aka Punk Rock Tri Guy and @PunkRockRunner, who felt compelled to write me a motivational list before Kona - to remind me of the things I should remember about myself. He has been on a mission to turn my thinking around from dwelling on the disasters. Between Ron and my husband Jim (who has been on that same mission since I began running marathons in 1991), it might finally be setting in.
In addition to athletic endeavors, there were other positives in my life this year. I was able to get out of a dead-end job where I lived daily with fear and stress - and started a new job at a world-class institution, The Cleveland Museum of Art, doing something I love (web application development). It's amazing to me that a simple change has done so much for my attitude. I am now surrounded by positive and hard-working people who understand my training (many of whom have athletic lifestyles - and even run marathons). Several of the technical gurus I work for and with are women that I have developed a deep admiration for. Most importantly, people's eyes no longer glaze over when I go all technical (i.e., "geeky"). My favorite conversation of the last week was with our designers who were trying to create a model of our floor based on the terminology from Star Trek. Yep. Geeks. My people.
Elking around in up-state New York
Working at the museum also re-exposed me to the art world, something I didn't realize I missed until I was back in it. I was even bold enough to enter one of my prints in the staff art show. (This is huge if you know that every time in the past I had "chickened out" at the last minute - even after I had framed my art and had it all ready to go.) It appears I am letting go of some of my insecurities. I hope to be working more on my art in the near future because of the daily inspiration I get at work.
Thus, with a new mental foundation, and some successes in 2011, I am inspired to work hard(er) next year to build on the positive attitude and be able to capitalize in big races. If I'm fortunate enough to get another Kona slot, I will take what I have learned this year and apply it throughout training to eliminate more chances of something going wrong again.
Here are the things I've learned from my 2011 season, in no particular order: 
  • Training with power is what works for my biking (thanks to the CompuTrainer). I don't think I can afford a power meter on the bike, so I will stick with the trainer for power workouts, and work hard during the winter months when I can't ride outside.
  • I still need to figure out what is going on with my nutrition in the heat. Apparently, more sodium isn't enough and maybe it should be "lots more, even more than you think after you've taken more" sodium. I will be consulting a trusted nutritionist. I will also look into having these things (like sweat rate and sweat composition) tested. This is where I think my money will be best spent.
  • My swim training this year reached a sort of plateau, but I'm confident I can get through this one because I managed to do the same time in my three Ironman races this year no matter how hard or how easy I trained for the swim. I broke a rib and lost two weeks leading up to Lake Placid and still did a 1:02. I trained mostly two days a week, sometimes three - so, if I consistently get that third day in, I have high hopes to break that one-hour barrier again. I know I'm capable of going well under it, but so much depends on what happens in the race (i.e., if I get clobbered).
  • If I want to race well in short distances, I should not train for Ironman. ('nuff said.)
  • Sleeping the night before a race fully depends on how confident I am that I can sleep before a race. It has nothing to do with how confident I am in my training. (I am NOT making this up.)
  • More on nutrition: the paleo diet works (and I don't even follow it religiously)
  • Even more on nutrition: despite what the guy from Infinit Nutrition told me in Kona, I do believe that protein is detrimental for me during a race. Once I switched to products without a complete protein ( Closing the book on 2011, in Kona
    I'm sure there are many more lessons I will dig up in the next few months as I review my training from last year to revamp my training for this year. I still have not been able to justify getting a coach because of the expense and also because I feel like I know myself very well and I've been able to coach myself pretty well. I am considering it now because my one issue is knowing when enough is enough and learning to take it easy to let the hard work pay off. I read a great article about self coaching in Lava Magazine recently: The Self Coaching Conundrum featuring recommendations from pro triathletes Amanda Lovato and James Cunnama.
    Thus, there is a lot to consider. But first things first. Get back into training. Build that base. Avoid the pitfalls of eating too much at Thanksgiving. Yikes, that's THIS WEEK! Y'all have a great one!

Several months ago, after making a comment about blogging graphs and diagrams, I was challenged by one of my good friends to come up with a Venn diagram and use it in a blog. Until yesterday, I had forgotten that promise - but, as all great friends are obligated to do, she called me out on Facebook yesterday: "Once upon a time, you promised me a Venn Diagram. Oh why hath thou art forsaken such an attribute." Now, she may kill me for putting her (nick)name in the title, but, afterall, she IS the reason I obsessed for several hours yesterday to come up with a good enough Venn in hopes of impressing her (or, at the very least, not looking like an idiot).

Most good ideas usually start with research, so I went to "The Google Image Search" and typed in "Venn diagram." I was instantly bombarded with hundreds of circles and colors and the first thing that came to mind was that commercial for the Bing search engine where people are spouting off random facts about everything under the sun.

After clicking on the ones that looked interesting or funny, what I found were the unfortunate truths:

  • all the really clever Venn diagrams are already taken
  • Venn diagrams can be anything from two joined circles to some unbelievable combination of circles, ellipses and any other shapes that have rounded corners

Here are some of my favorites:

The Social Media Venn Diagram
from PicoCool
The "Things that are Bad" Venn diagram from Burning Door
(many of my friends will ROTFL at this, or at least find it mildly amusing)
The Venn Diagram about Venn Diagrams
This accompanies one of the most hilarious articles I read about Venn diagrams,
from Miss Cellania at Mental Floss

The Charles Dickens Venn Diagram
from GraphJam

Something I've always been dying to know (having been called several of these),
"The Difference between Nerd, Dork, and Geek Explained by a Venn Diagram"
from Great White Snark 
For Letty Lulu and the rest of my English friends,
there's even a "Great British Venn Diagram"
for the people who don't get it.
I set out to define a Venn diagram for myself that would explain something about my life or my personality and be somewhat comedic. Note that defining my personality in amusing terms is easy for other people but never for me. Although I DO laugh about it.
I gave it some serious thought. I wanted three circles. Three circles seems reasonable and do-able in a short amount of time. And it's a little more challenging and creative than two circles (besides, I didn't want the narrowness of two circles to explain me). More than three circles hurts to think about (see above, or do what I did and type "Venn diagram" into Google).
Having decided on the all-powerful three circle mode of Venn-diagramming, I answered the question "what are some of the trichotomies in my life?" (is trichotomy even a word?):
  • Duh! Swim, Bike, Run - this one is just BORING and I'm sure it's been done 50 billion times before
  • Home, Sports, Work - hmmmm, this one has potential, but lately, I've been determined to keep any of those things from overlapping
  • The J-Team (Julie, Jim, Jeanne) - more potential there because Jim and Julie share many characteristics as do Julie and me and Jim and me... 
  • Jim, Jeanne, Hopper (our cat) - determining the overlap characteristics was fun, but not "funny" in the comedic sense
I pulled up Adobe Illustrator and drew three circles. I thought about the geeky Venn diagrams I had seen. I thought about my personality. I recalled something my friend and orthopedic doctor, Sam Patterson, once said: "I wouldn't believe this could be, but you have both compulsive and impulsive characteristics." I though about the things I do for a living and in my free time.

I wrote "Athlete" in one circle. I wrote "Artist" in another circle (because I do, afterall, have one of my college degrees in that). I struggled to come up with what to write in the third circle. It has to be something to do with work. I wrote "Web Developer." Too narrow. I decided on "Geek" - something I've often been called at work. And at play. (and my other college degree is a B.S. in engineering - and that has to count for something, right?) In retrospect, I probably should have written "Mad Scientist" from my blog title.

So, there it was, I accomplished first step to the Disaster Magnet Venn Diagram - the three circles. Next I had to determine what goes in the overlapping areas. I looked to the personality traits I bring to those three things. The centerpiece, then, would be what I think is my true personality disorder, the one thing I take with me everywhere.
And I was done. And here it is:
The Disaster Magnet Personality Disorder Venn Diagram.

Well, it was SUPPOSED to be funny.

Several months ago, after making a comment about blogging graphs and diagrams, I was challenged by one of my good friends to come up with a Venn diagram and use it in a blog.

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