Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dont' Panic

There are many wise words printed on the pages of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but none more so than the words printed in large, friendly letters on the front cover, “Don’t Panic”. And these are words that I would have been wise to heed in recent months. Last week, I posted about how I was disappointed with my training for the Cherry Blossom, that I wasn’t in the weight room enough, that my times weren’t where I wanted them to be, that I wouldn’t set a PR. Don’t Panic. This week, I ran my best times yet. On Tuesday, I ran 4.5 miles at an 8:35 pace, a pace that projected over 10 miles would shatter my PR in the 10 mile. The next day, I came close again. Now, there’s still a long way to go, and a lot can happen, but the lesson is clear. Don’t Panic.

I also posted about a month ago about an English Bitter that I was brewing for a Super Bowl party. I was excited about it. It was a recipe that I had wanted to brew for a long time. I blew my Christmas gift card purchasing the ingredients. It was going to be served to a large crowd at a Super Bowl party. It was our first time entertaining many of these people. And I blew it, or so I thought. I missed the target gravity by a mile. And I panicked. I thought I was going to end up with a watered down beer, and a disappointed crowd. But I should have listened to the Hitchhiker’s Guide or at the very least, to Charlie Papazian, who coined a similarly useful phrase, “Relax. Don’t Worry. Have a homebrew.” The beer actually turned out quite well. In fact, well enough that those lucky enough to have drank it, rate it along side my Clementine Hefeweizen (best beer ever according to my wife). Not bad for a miss.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two Good Weeks Undone

Training for a race is hard work. It’s commitment. And for two weeks, I was committed. I ran, I cross-trained, I lifted weights. And my training times showed positive results. I was running faster than I ever had before – and I felt great! But all that came undone when the little things that get in every runner’s way got in my way. For the last two weeks my training has suffered and I’m just not getting in the reps that I did for the first two weeks. Yes, my miles are up. Last week, I ran 19.8 miles, the most I’ve run in any one week since training started for this race. I also ran my farthest distance, an 8 mile run in the cold, wind and snow. But, my legs are more tired after training and I’m not running nearly as fast as I was. I haven’t lifted weights or cross-trained in two weeks and I’ve started to miss work outs. I need to rededicate myself and find ways to get in the reps. In my head, I’m still there, far ahead of where I've ever been in training and poised for another PR come April 1st. I just hope I can sustain it for another six weeks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Larry Downes and the Hoo Ha over Best Buy

One of the hottest stories in the business press right now is the fate of my former employer, Best Buy. Recently, a noted columnist wrote about how Best Buy is going out of business gradually, which sparked an immense outcry from people both agreeing and disagreeing with the proposition. In all, the story generated over 3 million page views at and numerous op ed pieces appearing in Forbes and other publications. Responses to the article even included one from the Best Buy CEO himself. Now, I’m not here to pile on one way or the other. These topics have been debated for years both inside and outside the four walls of Best Buy and in my view, we won’t really know what happens until it happens (thank you, Yogi Bera). And yet, we continue to debate.

What I find most fascinating about the story is that it has generated this much response at all. It is a rather mundane story of a struggling retailer during tough economic times. Why then should we continue to debate the merits of Larry Downes’ article? Is it true or is it not? I really don’t think that matters. My best guess is that it’s because we care. At least I do. Best Buy used to be a cool brand. It was the place we all went to get the cool stuff, maybe where we got our first CD, or if you’re old like me, your first LP. It’s the place we used to go and ogle the cool new TVs and drool over the latest PCs or video games. So it’s a brand that holds a place for us, even if we never quite loved the service. It’s a brand that we’d like to see succeed, and yet it seems like now it won’t (maybe). And if you’re younger, it’s a brand that you always wanted to be as good as an Amazon, but maybe never quite was. So whatever the reason, there is a passion out there about Best Buy. It just might not be enough to help it carry on.