Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 SoCal Ragnar

April 4-5, 2014 I ran the SoCal Ragnar.  This was my 9th 200-mile relay with my daughter, Danielle, and my third 200-mile relay with my son, Derek.  It’s so fun doing these with family and friends. 

Van 1 consisted of Me, Dave Greding, Wade Altom, Victor Eggleston, John Stewart and Tom Omer.  All of us have done multiple Ragnar’s together, but we have never all been in the same van at once.  Usually, we’ve had wife’s or other friends that joined us and required that we split up between the two vans.

Van 2 consisted of Danielle, Derek, Dallin (Danielle’s boyfriend), Tiffany, Jen and Kambria (Tiffany’s daughter). 
Dallin, Danielle, Kambria, Tiff, Jen, and Derek

I think everyone had a great time and I’m happy for that.  I chose not to be the team captain this time.  I grew tired of people taking forever to pay me their race registration fee.  Sometimes it took a year to get my money back.  It was always kind of annoying.

Dave Greding.  Batman.
We called Van 1 “The man van” because initially van 2 started out being all women, until later we added Derek and Dallin.  Our van was a lot of fun.  Dave and Wade coordinated similar to last year.  They wore superhero boxers to run in and they both did something with their hair.  Dave shaved the side of his head and spiked his hair up to a 5-6 inch Mohawk.  Wade simply shaved his head.  Last year they dyed their hair as well.  They both ran without shirts and with their superhero boxers.  They attracted a lot of attention.  They enjoyed it.  The rest of us were rather boring.  We didn’t dress up.  We just ran.  I’m thinking I might need to do something for this next Ragnar.

Dallin traveled the furthest.  He caught a bus from Great Falls Montana to SLC.  He rode all night and Danielle picked him up Thursday morning.  Soon after he arrived, Christine, Derek, Danielle, Dallin and I went to IHOP for a big breakfast before all of us, save Christine, drove from Utah to Moorpark.  We made it in time to have a pasta dinner together as a team Thursday night.

Friday morning, Van 1 left about 6am to get to Huntington Beach in time for our 9:15am start.

The entire race we had near perfect running weather.  Temperatures in the 50s’ with this highest of mid-60’s on Satuday afternoon while Van 2 was finishing their race. 

After Van 1 completed our first legs, we headed to my cousin's house--Greg & Dana Dyment.  It was fun catching up with both of them and their youngest daughter KD.  I should have taken a picture.  I'm horrible for forgetting.

Overall, I had a decent race.  Wade remains the fastest with Dave close behind.  Both ran average paces of somewhere in the low 7:00’s.  John and I ran in the high 7:00.  My average was a 7:48 over 15.8 miles, which included a 2 mile consistent 500 ft climb in Torrey Pines.  The first year we ran this course, Laura Wright cried after that run was complete.  It was pretty tough on her and she was still relatively new two running.  We were proud of her effort.  Two years ago, AnneMarie ran this same run up Torrey Pines.  She did great.  I just tried to make her proud.  I wanted to stay under 8:00 minutes miles, but I just couldn’t.  Didn’t have it in me.  My pace for that run was 8:25, which brought my over all pace down a bit.  My three runs were 8.8 miles Friday afternoon at an average pace of 7:48 in Irvine, 2.6 miles at night at an average pace of 7:11 in Oceanside, and 4.3 miles Saturday morning at an average pace of 8:20 in Torrey Pines.

This marks the first Ragnar that Danielle ran more miles than I did.  She ran 16.9 miles while I ran 15.8.  So proud of her.  It’s always a struggle with Dave, Wade and I vying for the longest and hardest legs at Ragnar.  Dave and Wade won out this year in distance and speed.  Happy for them.

Me and Victory!
Victor did well.  He’s a good friend and fun to be around.  We’re doing Zion Trail Ragnar at the end of the month.  Looking forward to that.  He did awesome.  He ran about exactly on his estimated pace.

John actually beat me in average speed by 00:01.  Happy for him.  I’m bummed I let it be so close.  Haha  We used John’s Tahoe which was perfect.  We put our sleeping gear on the top, cooler on a hitch, and just our running and essential stuff in the car.  It worked out perfectly.  If we had women, it might not have worked out so well.  We usually just bring what we absolutely need.  Women tend to bring way more.  John drove a lot of the race.  I drove some and I think Dave drove a little.  As far as I recall, we were the only three that drove.

Tom Omer at Angel Stadium.
Tom Omer had a great time too.  Dave and Wade tend to tease him a lot, but he’s a happy, fun and great guy.  He ran into the California Angels (Anaheim) Stadium parking lot at the end of his first run.  He was pretty excited about taking a picture of that for his son, who’s a big Angels fan.  For Tom’s last run, it was brutal.  We thought he might take more time that his estimate so we hung out at the exchange, but just in the Tahoe for a while.  Unfortunately, by the time we walked to the exchange, he had already been waiting for about 10-15 minutes.  We felt bad.  He was pretty disappointed.  He totally killed the hills he had to run, but we weren’t there to celebrate in his accomplishment in time. 

Dallin ended up running way more than anyone on the entire team.  First of all, he was projected to run 22.7 miles, but because he missed a turn or something, he ended up running an extra four miles.  26.7 miles.  Ouch!  He did great though.  Ragnar took some photos of most of us and quite honestly, Dallin is a beautiful runner.  He looks so smooth and his gait is perfect on the pictures.  I’m totally jealous.  He’s dating Danielle and the more I get to know him, the more I really like him.

After Van 1 completed our second legs, we slept out on a golf course fairway next to TaylorMade's headquarters.  I brought a huge tarp to put below us and my intent was to have it on top of us too.  I figured someone else would also bring a tarp, but they didn't.  Only me, John and Victor were covered top and bottom.  It worked out great for the three of us, because it rained.  The other guys got totally soaked.  haha

After we finished our 3rd legs, we went to Kira Neuenswander's house in San Diego to shower before heading to the finish line.  I did some Facebook staking to find a place to shower.  I first searched all of my FB friends in the San Diego area.  No one came up that I felt comfortable asking.  Then I did a search for Friends of Friends in the San Diego area.  I saw Deborah Neuenswander's name come up and I sent her a FB message asking if she wouldn't mind asking her sister-in-law if she would be open to having six guys shower at her place.  Fortunately, she responded quickly and said Kira was open to allowing it.  I made contact with Kira and the rest is history.  She was gracious while we interrupted her General Conference watching Saturday morning.  We knew her family while we lived in Ohio, so it wasn't totally random.  Also, Christine worked with Deborah for several years while we lived in Ohio.  I love Ohio people.  They are simply awesome.

Danielle did awesome.  

Below is my running summary.

Runner6James Sloan
LegDiffDiff RatingDistRdistEst PaceAct PaceRel PaceTime

Dallin the beautiful runner.

Look how relaxed he looks.

Exchange 6.  Most of the team.  Dallin was running at this point.

Night time.  Exchange 12.  Danielle just completed her 6.7 mile run.

Exchange 30.  Derek and Danielle

La familia

Nine 200 mile relays in the books with Danielle.  She's such a stud.

At the end of my nine mile run.  I hate my gait.  Leg is too far back.

At the end of my 9 mile run.

Yes, I passed that guy, bad gait and all.  Haha

Bye Bye

Sunday, March 23, 2014

5 Countries, 5 Days, a 5K in Each

This past week I traveled to Southeast Asia for work.  I made a goal to run at least a 5K in each country despite only having a few hours of sleep in each.  I knew it would be tough, but I still made the goal.

Thailand was fun, because I was able to eat some real authentic Thai food.  One of my favorites. I ordered in Thai and the people were super impressed I knew what I was talking about.  Yum!!!  It was so good.  People are nice, but Thailand is so unsafe and very dirty.  Yucky!  We arrived after midnight and were being picked up by 9:30am so I didn’t have a lot of time to sleep and be able to run, iron clothes, repack and be ready, but I did it.  I asked the concierge for a suggested running route.  The first two people said it just wasn’t safe to run outside.  I went to the front desk to get another opinion.  I received conflicting opinions from the multiple people at the front desk.  Some said it would be safe, while the others confirmed the consierge's opinion.  I ran outside anyway.  ha ha  I stayed on the main roads.  It was about 7am, rush hour and it was just getting to be light outside.  I ran up the road 1.5 miles and back just over that to make the 5K.  I never felt unsafe.  I saw a lot of street vendors selling food, I saw a lot of trash and I saw people rushing to their jobs and kids rushing to their bus stops.  Nothing too exciting.  First run down—check.

Malaysia is not much of a step up from Thailand.  A little more modern, a little more clean, but not much.  I saw the famous Malaysian twin towers that were the tallest buildings in the world just a few years ago.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in Malaysia as far as safety, but I never felt unsafe there either.  I was able to find a park to run to and run within.  It was a nice park with a nice lake.  Several areas were filled with Malay’s doing their Tai ch’i or walking.  Most were elderly.  I heard horrible things about Malay food.  Fortunately, rain was in the forecast, so they weren’t able to take us to their favorite Malay restaurant. We went to a Chinese restaurant instead.  It was decent.  Mostly dumpling stuff.

Singapore is amazing.  In the 1960s, the governor had some disagreements with the Malaysian government on how to proceed socially and economically as a country.  He negotiated to break away from Malaysia and created his own country in 1965.  It’s an island with no natural resources and I’m certain Malaysia laughed as they broke away, fully expecting them to return with hands outstretched asking to rejoin resource-rich Malaysia with open hands.  That couldn’t have been further from the truth.  Quickly, Singapore outlined a plan to attract business with low tax rates and being business friendly.

It all started with trying to create a financial hub similar to Hong Kong.  It worked.  Businesses flocked to the country.  All tax revenue was immediately reinvested into the country to build infrastructure to make movement of people, goods, money, and communications as smooth as possible.  Singapore continues to grow and they continue to reinvest.  I remember when Dole sold our Asian operations to a Japanese company.  We decided to locate our new Dole Asia headquarters in Singapore.  The government was very helpful and accommodating to make it happen.  Even after we had been there for a year, the tax auditors came in to meet with management to say, we think we can lower your tax rate if you do this, this and that.  What government does that?  It was amazing.  Being business friendly has benefited everyone.  The standard of living in Singapore for foreigners and locals is one of the highest in the world.  We arrived late, but my colleague and I went to California Pizza Kitchen to have a little bit of home.  Very metropolitan city.  I really loved it. The hotel concierge was very helpful the morning by giving me a preprinted running map.  I ran through neighborhoods.  It was very pretty and super safe.  It was nice, but hot like Thailand so just like the day before, I arrived back to the hotel literally dripping in sweat.  I had to wash my running clothes in the sink and use a hair dryer to try to dry them at least a little before I had to pack them into my suitcase.

Hong Kong.  We arrived late again.  Essentially missed dinner, but whatever.  Hong Kong wasn’t as nice and clean as I remembered it.  China is having more and more influence on Hong Kong since the century-old independence treaty expired in 1997.  My last business trip here was with Dole in 2009 or 2010.  China promised to let it continue to function as it has before, but they haven’t.  Investment hasn’t happened and mainland Chinese people continue to migrate into Hong Kong making it even more crowded than it was before.  It’s becoming even more crowded and dirty, which is sad.  I loved my prior visits to Hong Kong.  I ran to and within Victoria Park, which is right on the harbor.  It was a nice park that was absolutely full of elderly Chinese people doing everything from tai ch’i to western-style aerobics with a giant boom box.  Lots of walkers and a few joggers (or better said, shufflers ha ha). It was nice seeing so many active people in the morning.  I washed my clothes again in the sink with some soap, used the hair dryer and it was mostly dry before I packed up again.  My work day was productive and we caught an evening flight to my last stop—Taiwan.

Taiwan is a step up from Hong Kong, but still below Singapore.  I enjoyed Taiwan.  Taiwan is an island off the coast of mainland China whereas Hong Kong is really just a peninsula with a few nearby islands.  Taiwan claims independence from China, but China considers it part of its empire.  It’s always been a sticky situation for Taiwan.  As we arrived at our hotel, we saw a lot of protestors.  We found out that the Taiwan government is currently debating immigration and economic reform to allow more integration with China.  The people do not want that to happen.  The local thinking is that the elected officials are most likely expected to get (or currently getting) bribe money or other kickbacks from China to push through this type of legislation.  A group of protestors were literally right outside my window.  I was on the 6th floor, but I could hear them the entire time I was there—even at night.  In the morning, I just went running to see what I could see.  I felt safe despite the angry voices of the protestors.  They were orderly and didn’t mind that I ran through the various crowds.  They had several large gathering areas with different people voicing their respective views.  I ran through and around all of them.  They had portable bathrooms, trash brigades, etc.  They were very well organized.  One guy was even nice enough to hand me an unopened bottle of water to me as a ran by.  This contrasted with another area I ran through…it was a temple/memorial/garden area.  So serene and beautiful.  It was a slow run, because of the crowds, but it was my favorite of the week.  Finally, after a full week of hopping from country to country and in a new hotel each night, I was able to sleep in the same bed two nights in a row.  It would have been even more glorious if didn’t have to listen to the protesters all night.  I sleep fine though.

Funny story.  First, when I arrived in Malaysia, the immigration officer almost didn’t let me in the country, because she said I didn’t look like my picture.  I thought that was odd.  The only real difference I see is that I had a buzz cut in my passport photo and I’ve been letting my hair grow a little longer over these last few months.  Anyway, I followed that little incident up with a conversation I had with our head of finance in Singapore the next day when she said, “I saw your picture on the company website and I expect you to be taller, but instead you’re Asian size.”  Ha ha.  Asian size.  Yep, that’s me.  Asian size.

Overall, I liked Singapore the best. It’s super clean, modern and just has a pretty good vibe.  Another overall observation.  Chinese people are aggressive and rude.  Not fun experiences with Chinese people on this trip.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Goal progress

It's March 4th and I'm tracking well with my goals.  I'm 19% complete with my 500 mile per year goal at 93.5 miles so far.  Mathmatically, I should be at 17%, so I'm ahead so far and plan to stay there.
I am fairly consistent with my mileage at 47.7 miles in January and 40.4 in February.  5.4 so far in March.  I traveled quite a bit in February and have some travels planned in March.  That tends to hamper my running a little bit compared to being at home.
I've run on two continents so far: North America and Australia.  New Zealand isn't quite a continent, but I ran there too.  That's three countries and two states so far.  Yeah.

Places run so far.
Beverly Hills, CA
American Fork, UT
Highland, UT
Pleasant Grove, UT
Lehi, UT
Adelaide, Australia
Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand
Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand (sort of)
Beverly Hills Run

Snow Canyon Run

Adelaide, Australia run with Christine

Sunrise run/hike up Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand with Christine.

Morning run near my home in Utah.

Running to Frodo's party in the Shire.  Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand.

Snow Canyon with Christine.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Fitness Goals

Finally getting around to posting my 2014 fitness goals.  I'm excited about them.
2014 Goals
1) Road Ragnar
2) Trail Ragnar
3) Tough Mudder/Dirty Dash or Similar
4) 70.3 Triathlon (half ironman)
5) Run 500 miles
6) Run at each place I travel 
7) Climb at least one of the five peaks in the Wasatch Mountain Range

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Annual Goal Review

I created four fitness goals for 2013.  The following is my report to myself.  While 2013 is not yet complete, I'm done with all of my goals.  Wahoo!!
  1. Run 500 miles - Complete!
  2. One triathlon-1st Annual SmellyPapa Triathlon or as Derek suggest we call it, "The Triple D Tri".  With all our various activities, this was the first time Danielle and I were able to do a triathlon together, so we created our own.  ½ mile swim, 6 mile bike, 5K run on Christmas eve.  Derek joined me and Danielle.  It was a lot of fun competing with my kids.  Derek did awesome on the bike too.  He finished ahead of me.  Good for him!
  3. Two Road Ragnars and one Trail Ragnar - Done!  I ran SoCal, Wasatch Back, and Tahoe Trail. Consistent with prior Ragnars, I ran all of them with friends and family.  Family members that joined me included, Danielle (All of them!!!) and Derek (Wasatch Back).
  4. Run at each place I travel.  I had a goal of running on two continents, but I actually ran in four!!  North America, South America, Asia, Europe.  Specifically, I ran in the following places internationally:  Asia: Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan.  Europe: Brussels, Belgium and Dublin, Ireland. South America: Santiago & Valdivia, Chile and San Jose, Costa Rica.  Domestically, I ran in four states: California, Florida, Illinois and Utah.
International Running Map
Domestic Running Map
Here's the detailed list.
Four continents, seven countries, and four US states
Seoul, Korea
Tokyo, Japan
Brussels, Belgium
Dublin, Ireland
South America
Santiago, Chile
Valdivia, Chile
San Jose, Costa Rica
North America
Anahiem, CA
Marina del Ray, CA
Moorpark, CA
Pacific Grove, CA
Pebble Beach, CA
Temecula, CA
San Diego, CA
Westlake Village, CA
Venice Beach, CA
Chicago, IL
Winter Haven, FL
Alpine, UT
American Fork, UT
Avon Pass, UT
Cedar Hills, UT
Highland, UT
Jordanelle Reservior, UT
Lehi, UT
Morgan, UT
Pleasant Grove, UT

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Being a Bishop

Today, I’m going to veer from the primary focus of my blog thus far.  I initially started this blog to document my path of recovery from major Achilles issues that prevented me from running.  However, the focus of this entry is how I feel after being released as a Bishop in the LDS Church.  For those not familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a lay ministry.  Leaders are not paid, but regular members are asked (based on inspiration from the Lord) by their leaders to serve in different capacities from teaching primary kids, Sunday school, or to be Bishop of a ward (congregation).

I have been serving as a Bishop in California of the Monterey 2nd Ward.  Our ward covered areas of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Pebble Beach.  Today I was “released” as Bishop and a very good friend was “called” to be the new Bishop.  My release was required because my work took me out of state.

It’s a time consuming and difficult responsibility to serve as a Bishop.  1 Timothy verses 2-7 in the New Testament of the Holy Bible outlines the qualifications or expectations of Bishops as follows:

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

I’m an imperfect man, but I do try to be worthy of the Lord’s blessings and to be the man He would expect me to be.  I didn’t seek the calling of a Bishop.  In fact, I never wanted the calling of a Bishop.  I previously served as a counselor to a few Bishops and felt I knew how hard it would be.  I now know it is more difficult than I had thought.  However, when the calling was extended, I accepted without hesitation and did my very best to be worthy of the Holy Spirit to direct my life and I sought to serve those over whom I had stewardship.  I may not have done everything perfectly, but I certainly tried.

Being a Bishop is hard and lonely.  It’s time consuming and often times spiritually and physically draining.  It was my responsibility to hear confessions and to allow that burden to be shifted from the sinner to me and then I would place it with the Lord who suffered all.  It is a heavy burden to carry, but I always felt the Lord shouldering it with me.  Nevertheless it was lonely.  Much of my thoughts and the things I had to hear had to stay with me and never be shared.

It was my responsibility also to seek out those who needed spiritual, emotional and physical support.  Some are more open about their needs, so I found I had to be open to the promptings of the Spirit to discern people’s needs.  I found my mind was constantly filled with names of members of my ward.

I had a supportive wife that never complained when I had to leave at moments notice to help someone or when I would be gone far longer than we had initially planned.  I couldn’t have done what I did without her help, support and sustainment.  Nor could I have done it without the help of the Lord by whom I ultimately was called to serve and represent.

As that burden has been lifted, I feel lighter, but I also feel an emptiness that I cannot describe.  It’s sadness and a relief.  Sadness that some of the people I was trying to help have not completed their journey and I won’t be able to see the conclusion.  Sadness that people that I have come to love in a unique way will no longer be a constant in my life.  I feel sadness that I won’t be able to be there as the youth of my Ward mature in life and spiritual things.  I love the youth of the church.  I love their vitality; I love their freshness and their pure faith.

As I met with our Stake President (Church authority over multiple wards) when he “released” me from my calling as Bishop, he asked me what I learned.  I responded with some of what I have written below, but now that I have had more time to think, I think there is more.

I learned that the atonement of Jesus Christ is far more than just about salvation from sin.  It’s about salvation from all that prevents us from being happy and having a fullness of joy.  He felt our pains in a very real way.  Pain of loneliness, sadness, disappointment, etc.  Not just the pain from sin.

I learned that there is far more grace to the atonement of Jesus Christ then I ever realized.

I learned the love that comes from having the mantle of the bishop is indescribable to anyone that hasn’t held that calling.  Some of the things I have had to listen to and hear about would have disgusted me and caused me to feel disdain outside of the bishop’s office, but instead all I could feel was love.

I learned that people need to feel loved and wanted.

I learned that there is a pathway and recovery from sin, no matter how bad.

I learned that some of the quiet people are often the most impressive.

I learned that ministering was far more important and impactful than administering.  I found that I had to constantly remind myself of this.  I’m a very organized person and I always wanted to have things organized and tidy, but that wasn’t my mission.  My mission was to minister to those who needed to feel the love of Christ.

I had a lot of respect for all Bishops previously, but now my respect has increased many fold.

Now it is my opportunity to serve in a different way and always look for ways to lighten the burden of the Bishop.

I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I know that He suffered and died for me.   I know that He loves me.  I know that it is my opportunity and my responsibility to help others know that for themselves.

I dedicate this post to all of my former Bishops, to my dear wife who makes me a better man and has always been my support, strength and best friend and to my children whom I adore.


Monday, June 24, 2013

I just want to run without it feeling like a chore

It's been a while…I had started a training plan to increase my speed and it was working.  I was getting faster.  I really pushed myself and I was often exhausted, which felt good.  However, after three plus weeks I abruptly stopped.  Running became a task and not a joy.  I didn't like that.  I have too many tasks in my life with work, my calling as a Bishop in the LDS church, and the many other things that seem to fill my days to capacity.  Running should not be a chore.  At least for me.  I run, because I love it and because it makes me feel good.  When it started to feel like a chore it wasn't fun anymore.  At this point, I like being fast, but I am not willing to risk loosing my love of running.   It's just that simple.  I don't want a training plan.  I don't want to feel like I HAVE to do it.  I'll do slow runs, long runs, intervals, etc when I feel like it.  That's all I've got to say about that...