Running Plan

Last week, I think I reached my goal of running further than I drove in a given week. I can’t categorically prove it; I didn’t track how far it took to drive to and from the grocery store. But I can’t believe that it was more than four kilometres. But let’s look at the facts. I drove approximately 20km, because I barely left my condo. I ran approximately 23.5km. This doesn’t feel like a victory. I didn’t do much of either. Victory is mine, but it is a bitter taste.
So, today I’m going to run 50km. Well, that is the plan. I wanted to do that three weeks ago when I got my ankle injury. It might be better if I let my ankle heal a bit more, but I’m three weeks behind schedule and I need to be Death Race ready.
My plan is to go down Millcreek ravine, cross the river, head towards River Valley Road, cross into Hawrelak Park, continue on past Fort Edmonton Park, Terwillegar Park, and then across the Anthony Henday Bridge. Then up to Cameron Heights, and follow the suburbs on the north side of the river until Laurier park and then back to Hawrelak park. At that point I’ll play it by ear to get up to the 50km. I’m going to have to avoid some of the steep or narrow trails that I want to do so I don’t risk my ankle. Plus Edmonton is rather wet, so let’s stick to pavement as much as possible.
If all goes well, I’ll be back well before four o’clock and I’ll post that I’m home.

The Seattle situation

I nearly moved to Seattle. I suppose it still might happen, but not today.
I had been putting my resume out on job boards and, out of the blue, I got phoned by a contracting firm. They had a position in Seattle for a major company that they thought I was a good fit for. I didn’t think much of it, until a week later they wanted me to come down for an interview.
The thing is, I had never heard of this contracting firm. And I was supposed to pay my own way to Seattle. I was more suspicious than excited. I didn’t accept right away and instead tried to get in contact with the big company to confirm that this was legitimate. It all checked out, so I spent $700 to buy a plane ticket to go down to Seattle for the day.
I flew down on a Thursday before the crack of dawn. I got into my rental car and drove to the interview. The campus was large and it felt like a fun place. Not really an office building. The contracting firm told me to sound excited, and that was easy. I tried to sound excited for everything, even if I didn’t always feel it.
I had two interviews. The first one was where I was given some programming problems and had to write pseudo-code on a whiteboard to solve them. It was actually fun, and I did learn a bit. The second interview had me go over an existing interface and I had to describe all the ways I would create a tool to help test it. That didn’t go as smoothly, but I still did my best. I got the impression that this is what I would be paid to do if I got the job.
Afterwards I briefly saw a friend and then jetted back to home.
On Monday, I was given the job offer for an eight month contract. This was an amazing opportunity to work at a big firm and get solid experience with a popular language. So I verbally said yes, still sounding excited. I started the paperwork, but I never signed anything. That same day I got an interview request for a local firm. I had that meeting the next day because I had told them I had an offer in hand. That job really did sound interesting.
I was feeling sick about the idea of going to Seattle. A couple of days later, I sent an email expressing my doubts. I was trying to be nice and polite and not burn any bridges, so I told them I needed time to think about the job. Really, I was stalling for time to see if the local offer would pan out. But that job kept me waiting. They didn’t seem to really want to make a decision quickly.
By the next week, the contracting firm was starting to wonder. And on Tuesday I let them know I wasn’t interested. They didn’t take “No” for an answer. I once again got phone calls.
I eventually figured out several reasons why I shouldn’t take the job. The chief one was that the job, as described, didn’t sound like what I wanted to do. I would be writing testing automation infrastructure; I would be writing something that no one would enjoy using. I want to like what I write. I want to make things as easy as possible for the end user and that, although they may not want to use the software (because it is work), they would not mind using it. It makes their lives easier. Testing infrastructure just makes a test script easier to write. It is an important job, but not one I would like to do for eight months. And on top of that, pay rent in a foreign country away from all my friends and family.
I explained this to the contracting company, and they understood. They would contact the big company and see if that is what I’ll actually be doing. That was last monday, and I haven’t heard anything since.
Guess I’m staying.

Back in training

I decided to do some stair training today.
Yesterday I had gone on the treadmill for ten minutes. My ankle actually looked better after the run than before. There is still a little pain, and it is swollen at times. But I have to get back into training. There isn’t much time left before the big race.
So I did 16 sets of a staircase into the river valley known for having 100 steps. (And there is a small escarpment I have to go over on the way back that has seven steps.) I noticed a few things about it.
The ninth set is one of the easiest, because that is the first one after the halfway mark. You feel better because you know that every step you do now is one you won’t have to do again. (The logic is very shaky, but then your brain isn’t really working at that point.) The hardest set is the tenth as you realize you still have a long way to go.
I actually noticed that the trips down started to get harder than the trips up. You have to brake constantly, but it might also be imagination is making you dread what is coming up worse than it actually is.
Anyway, my legs feel like rubber.

Why must you thwart me?

It’s like something doesn’t want me to run the Death Race.
Or really make any of my running goals…
Let’s recap my Death Race travails.

  • Doing it alone. My friends have better things to do. (Like having children.) Fine. I’ll show them.
  • I hurt my knee. Thought to be a torn meniscus, but possibly only bruised. I got better.
  • My hotel reservation is cancelled. Okay, I’ll go with Tent City. Not nearly as nice, but approximately 14% of the price.
  • Possible job in another country: Will they even let me run the race?

Well, we get to add another item to the list: Twisted ankle.
I was running today, along a route I’ve run dozens of times. I stepped on something incorrectly and a lot of pain. A LOT OF PAIN. I hobbled a couple of kilometres to my friend’s place and was able to get a ride back home after they finished the run I was supposed to accompany them on. My plan to run 50km today was cut down to 9km. My ankle is very visibly swollen. I have faith it will heal quickly. But all these setbacks are getting discouraging.
In other running information, I drove all of 60km in Canada last week. I ran approximately 85km. But I also took a flight to Seattle and drove 50.8 miles. And I don’t see me doing better this week. I’m staying off my ankle as much as possible.

Stairs removed for safety reasons

Scona road has been shut down. So far, I’ve been enjoying this.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like Scona road. It is my route of choice if I am returning from downtown. But since it has been closed for construction, there is a lot less traffic on Saskatchewan drive. It is so easy to cross it now when I’m out for a run.
If I want to run that route though, I figured I could take the secret path down to the running trails. Then there is nothing stopping me from enjoying the fully operational river valley. I wanted to do that today. With the fact that I was sleeping most of the day, I wanted to cap off my total laziness with a 20km run. I would go down to the river valley and then head west. But I had a lot of trouble finding the secret path today, so I had to use a street instead. It removed a bit of distance, so I had to make it up later.
But, I would take the secret path back. It is impossible to miss from below. So, after 18km, I went up the muddy trail and started climbing the stairs back to Saskatchewan drive. Wait a minute. Where are those stairs.
They were gone. All that remained were some piles to prove that they had been there. So, with some death defying stunts, I clambered over the railing and back up to Saskatchewan drive, next to a sign I had missed earlier. “Stairs removed for safety reasons.”
What safety reasons?! I nearly got myself killed because you decided to remove them! I certainly didn’t feel safer.
Who authorized the removal of a running trail in Edmonton? That’s a hanging offence!


My opinion of driving in America has been somewhat tainted by Los Angeles. I assume it will take forever, and be confusing, to drive within a US city. But Seattle was nicely laid out and I didn’t have too much of an issue. I drove 50.8 miles though, so I don’t think I will reach my running goal this week. If I tracked from Wednesday to Wednesday I would totally have it made, but that would be unethical.
There were two interviews. I think the first one went well. It was actually fun; I was given a programming problem and had to find a solution. The second interview didn’t go as well. I didn’t flub it, but it was dealing with an area I wasn’t too familiar with. Could have gone better.
In any case it was a nice experience. The company had a wonderful layout and an impressive building. Interesting art too. It would be nice to work there.
Yesterday, when I should have been studying for the interview, I was dealing with another interview test with a different company. I thought I had provided a good answer, but I just received an email saying “No, thanks for trying.” I’m hoping I can get from them a reason why; where did my program fail. It worked on my machine.
So I’m feeling a bit down right now. I’d like to believe I’m intelligent, and employable, but evidence is starting to mount otherwise. Are my skills out of date?

On My Way

I’m not in Seattle yet. But the Vancouver airport appears to have free wireless.
I’m nervous and I didn’t get enough sleep. I should be studying a bit for the interviews, or I could take a nap.