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It’s Really Easy to Write A Book. It’s really hard to write a book.

I’ve worked on and off on material for a book on running. I’m generally not a fan of writing a book to write a book. I decided to write one knowing I have and follow a unique approach to running that others don’t teach, and that can serve runners in ways that other approaches do not or cannot. So I know I can write a book of value.

Before life changed and got crazy this year, I intended to finish at least the raw manuscript this year. Alas, I ran into pressing work and life needs that became more important than pounding out pages. Work on the book frequently got pushed aside during the past few months. Only in this past month did I seriously resume work on the project. I still plan to finish a manuscript, but probably more like early next year than before the end of this year.

Nowadays, technically, it’s actually very easy to publish a book. Gone are the days you had to submit a product to a publisher and hope they gave you a chance. Now, literally everyone with internet access can publish a book direct. Once you complete a manuscript and design a cover, you can e-publish the book on Amazon or other channels right now. You could even host a PDF of the book directly on a website of your own, and charge whatever you want for it using a paywall. Nowadays, the hard part of writing a book is the writer’s own lack of a work ethic.

… or, as I’ve discovered, finding the time. Writing a book is a deep work task. You can’t multitask, or fit it in while washing the dishes or running other errands. To work on it at any time requires a dedicated focus.

That, more than anything, kept me from working on the book. I know my subject matter. Even given the vast scope of the topic, I can at least write on everything (leaving editing and revision to sort it out later). The only writer’s block I had was other pressing matters: Moving out of Chicago, sorting out a change in career, the logistics of all of the above, not to mention any training I’ve needed to do and maintain.

Only now, with more time on my hands in Las Vegas, do I see the importance of available time and bandwidth in writing a book. As long as you have consistent writing habits, the actual process of writing the book should be the easy part.

So, you’re probably asking… what IS the book that I’m writing?

Well, let me actually write it first!

Quick update: Moved on, returned home

I’m going to drift off topic for a bit and discuss my work situation, which I abruptly ended last week.

I took a traveling position in August, and traveled to Michigan for my first assignment. As challenging as it made running and working out, I was reportedly doing good work, and I felt okay about the situation… until everything came to a head during last week. By last Wednesday night I was convinced that I could not continue. After a few conversations, I resigned at the end of the week and returned home to Vegas. It was purely my decision. It’s for the best.

So I’m home. More below the jump:

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Bulking up in Vegas

After a somewhat surprising three weeks in Vegas (my employer and I expected to deploy me sooner, but fate intervened)… I fly out tomorrow on assignment to Michigan for a few weeks.

Much of the last three weeks were spent waiting for the other shoe to drop, so I didn’t really settle into a desired routine, knowing it would be completely disrupted once I was deployed.

Instead, I ended up inadvertently settling into a “routine” of eating a lot of good home cooked food, and sitting around when not at the gym cross training or outside at 6am for a hot desert, brief-out-of-necessity run.

I gained a somewhat astonishing 10 pounds. Granted, the stress of my move led to losing a few pounds right before I left Chicago, so I had some weight to gain back. But I rocketed past my previous 167-168 pound baseline within days, and spent much of my Vegas time in the 173-174 pound range. This despite a couple hours in the gym doing various moderate aerobic cross training and strength exercises most days of the week.

I imagine some of this is water weight from the new food, plus restocked muscle and glycogen lost during the Chicago move. But calorie wise it hasn’t been all that different from living in Chicago. But consider the dramatic (expected) shift in my lifestyle once I arrived in Vegas:

In Chicago (according to my Fitbit data) I averaged anywhere from 650-900 minutes per week of tracked physical activity (anything from 10+ minutes of walking on up), plus about 3000-3500 calories burned per day. Rarely did I finish a day having burned fewer than 3000 calories. Often I burned in excess of 3400-3500.

In Vegas I’ve averaged 500-550 minutes of trackable exercise activity per week, and maybe 2600-2700 calories burned per day. I’ve had perhaps 3 days total where I burned more than 3000 calories since arriving on August 26. That’s a substantial drop in burned calories.

The difference as expected was the amount of walking. Chicago required no less than several minutes of walking to get basically anywhere. In Vegas, you need to drive doorstep to doorstep since very little of the city is walkable in general, not just from sprawl but the extreme summer heat.

I’ve technically exercised more here in Vegas than I did in Chicago. The big difference that produced my weight gain has been the vastly diminished everyday activity.


I’m not terribly worried about losing the weight back. Once I’m on the ground in Michigan, have to walk facility floors for work everyday, and get more chances to run (the Michigan suburbs have decent sidewalks, plus the warm humidity, is far better for daytime running than the extremely hot Vegas desert)… my excess fat and water weight should peel right off. Plus, without home cooking, I’ll regain full control of my diet and be eating cleaner.

Was it okay to bulk up like that? Of course. Especially considering that the summer basically became my offseason. I’ve decided I prefer winter and spring running, and my primary goal race for 2020 is at the end of spring anyway. It wasn’t imperative that I begin training before January. I’ve remained however active I could.

The key is that I restored some lost glycogen and muscle mass. The latter is very important as you age, and having trained as a runner regularly for the last few years I haven’t really given my muscles a chance to regain much lost mass. This was probably the first serious chance I’ve had to do so. Plus I’ve gotten to do more strength training than I could in Chicago: Along with more available time, the gyms in Vegas are bigger and strength machines aren’t busy all the time as they were in Chicago.

Even though I haven’t run as much, I’ve maintained much of my aerobic conditioning with several hours of easy to moderate cross training each week, using not just the ARC Trainer but the new gym’s rowing machines, plus Joe LoGalbo’s Anabolic aerobic approach on the spin bike to get more bang for the buck out of the typically too-easy stationary bike. Occasionally, I’ve used the treadmill, though since the recent hamstring injury I’ve been careful about doing that too much.

So, I’m looking forward to not just the new job assignment but a chance to run regularly in a new place. More to come on that.

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Checking in from Las Vegas

Hello from Las Vegas.

I’m here for at least another week while my company finalizes arrangements with my next assignment, which will fortunately be a few hours from home instead of half a country away. I imagine latter assignments will come in time, but having the first one close enough to spend a weekend or two back in Vegas is nice.

The drive technically took two full days, with a day long break in Denver/Boulder. Colorado to Vegas took a lot less time than I expected and I arrived a day early.

I considered running during the road trip, but everything else ultimately made it impractical. Having my entire life either in my car or a hotel room also limited my bandwidth for running. I did sneak into the hotel fitness room and use the spin bike for a bit. I did also hike with my friend Sam in Eldorado Canyon, and walked quite a bit through Downtown Denver while in town.

The 105+ degree daytime heat limits my options in the short run. Like virtually everyone else in Vegas, I need to run early in the morning if I want to run outside at all. The good news is (thanks in part to time zone shifts) getting up before 6am is really easy for me, and I’ve been able to run at 6am several mornings. Of course, the sun builds heat quickly, and temps exceed 85 degrees by 7am. The one extended run I’ve taken got pretty difficult towards the end. So I may need to keep runs short until the temps drop in fall, or I get out of town to somewhere cooler.

I also have black card access to the Planet Fitness near my home, and they have a lot more resources and space than my previous Chicago gym, plus the lack of humidity means the air conditioning there works a lot better. I’m not visiting everyday like I did in Chicago, but I’ve gone for some strength and cross training work a couple times.

have a bit more time to settle than I expected, and it’s nice after weeks of near-constant work to pack and sort out for my move to not have that constant pressure hanging over anymore. Yes, I’m about to hit the road and that will change everything all over again. But at least I won’t be carrying my entire life with me or need to sort all that out before traveling. Packing lighter will make re-figuring things out a lot easier. It’s in a way a good thing I had to go through all that this past couple months, because everything going forward will seem a lot easier in comparison.

Until things cool down (in more ways than one), the only running goal I have for now is to resume a normal, consistent training schedule and aim for adding a speed workout and a longer run back to that schedule. I don’t have a race planned before the next Vancouver Marathon next May, and so I have no pressing need to seriously train before January.

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Currently quiet here, and definitely not quiet in the rest of my life

For what I hope are understandable reasons, it’s been more quiet here than usual. Let me go into the various details:

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Life changes, and then it changes again

Last month I announced that I’m moving from Chicago back to Las Vegas at the end of August. I talked at length about the changes, benefits and challenges of moving from a runner-friendly city back to a suburban-style desert.

Well, looks like Life’s relief pitcher threw me yet another curveball, though this is a hanging one that I can smack into the outfield.

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Exodus.

It turns out I will not be running the 2019 Chicago Marathon, because I will not be living in Chicago any more! After 4.5 years in Chicago, I am moving away in August to live with family in Las Vegas. A combination of brewing circumstances have now forced my hand.

I’ve been financially treading water, and my family in Las Vegas has always left the door open to come live with them at a low overhead. My sisters and parents each have a spare room I could live in. Plus, most importantly, a number of key family events in Vegas would have required me to fly in several times at cost over the next year, which made staying in Chicago financially unworkable.

With my apartment lease expiring at the end of August, with the new 2020 Illinois budget having raised various personal costs, with growing unrest in the city itself, and with no remaining serious personal ties to the city outside of my current day job… the time was right to cut the cord anyway.

Now is a good time to go and recharge a bit, while spending quality time with a family I haven’t seen more than twice a year over the last several years.

I don’t want to leave my job (I asked about continuing to work remotely, and that’s a possibility with some breaks), and I am despite all the city’s difficulties sad to finally leave Chicago.

But along with the time being right to go, there’s a lot of opportunity to the move.

– I mentioned the financial side, and the chance to spend a lot more time with family.
– Because the overhead is a lot lower, it’s not as big a deal to take a lesser salary at a new role if needed (plus Nevada has no income tax!), opening up my work options quite a bit.
– I would have had to fly in three times over the next year for holidays and upcoming family events. Now that I’d be right there, there’s no need to pay for airfare or take time off from work.
– While Vegas summers are brutal, the winters are of course super mild and great for running. Temps average around 50°F (10°C) and the weather is rarely anything other than sunny and clear. And of course, because it’s a desert, the air is super dry so humidity doesn’t ever complicate the conditions.
– Because of the mild winter conditions, training for Vancouver becomes a lot easier because I can run outdoors with no trouble pretty much every day (though now I just need to remember to use the sunscreen a lot more often).
– Flying to the PNW becomes cheaper and a lot less complicated from Las Vegas than from Chicago. I also have a lot more direct options than I did in Chicago. Vancouver in particular becomes a much easier flight to book.
– While Vegas has its crime and share of local unrest… I’d still be harassed much, much less than I am in Chicago every day, especially where my family lives along the more remote edge of town.
– Since I won’t live in a tiny studio apartment anymore, I actually will have kitchen counter space, which opens up my food prep options. Plus my family will have additional cooking supplies I don’t have. I’ll also have an in-unit washer and dryer to use for laundry, which makes doing that cheaper and a lot easier (currently I’m washing $10 in large loads every couple weeks).
– And, of course, since I’ll be near my family all the time, we’ll be able to do more stuff together more often.

Sure, there are tradeoffs.

– I’ll no longer walk to get everywhere, so my day to day natural physical activity will go down. Every run will require a conscious effort and time set aside. Even going for a simple walk to get some air won’t be as easy, as Vegas is not a particularly walkable city even aside from the heat.
– From mid-spring to fall, it’s unworkably hot outside (as I write this it’s 100°F (38°C), and that’s mild compared to typical 110°F (43°C) summer temps). Outdoor runs longer than a few miles and outside the early morning hours will be impossible. I’ll have treadmills available, but any run longer than a few miles will be very tough to do from March to October.
– Having to drive everywhere, I’ll spend far more money on auto fuel. Auto insurance will be a lot more expensive. While I won’t pay much for rent and utilities, I’ll pay a lot more to get around.
– Going to the store to get food will be more of a chore because I have to drive. Plus, since I’m sharing space with family and they of course have their own food, food storage space will be limited. I can’t buy a ton of meat and produce and expect to store it. I have to plan ahead more for food. They will have food available, sure, but our diets are different.

In any case, this is a move I can make now but might not be able to make later. Also, if I were to stay in Chicago and suffer any setbacks during the next year, it would be a lot harder to overcome. Plus, of course, I mentioned all the travel I’d have to do this next year to Vegas, and it makes far more sense to just be in Vegas full time instead. This is along with everything else about breaking a cycle and putting myself in a better position for the years to come.

But, because of that, it changes my racing plans for the rest of the year. It makes no sense to train for a marathon amidst such a big transition. I was looking training-wise to step back for a little while and train for shorter distances… and this now presents a good extended opportunity to do that before training for Vancouver 2020.

As for now, I hit the brakes on training for Chicago, right as I was starting. Not necessarily a bad thing!

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