From the Lens - Numbers

    Water drops blurring the view of my numbers at the end of a rainy run (Nevada, IA)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Number

    From the Lens - Air Travel

    Traveling above the clouds is an enjoyable way to travel. In fact, it is a great way to give you different vantage points on thing (Somewhere from AZ to MN over the mountains, May 2019)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Transport

    From the Lens - Ancient Sewer

    Stone sewers built by Roman engineers in Cologne Germany
    Walking through the stone sewers built by Roman engineers (February 2018, Under the Grossed Budengasse street, Cologne, Germany)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Portal

    From the Lens - Jump

    Jumping into the New Year and Decade (July 2018, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Retrospective

    Mini Sabbatical

    A couple weeks ago I was on what I called a mini sabbatical but in reality, it was just a week off of work before I started a new job. During that week I fully appreciate and understand why rest is important. I think the overall concept of time away from work is something more companies should figure out how to offer. I know some companies have programs like actual sabbaticals after putting in a number of years at companies. I think the idea is great and I think it could be something done on a smaller scale too. I think the most important aspect is to figure out how to allow people to have some time away from where they can really disconnect.

    Disconnecting is what you hear about all the time now and after a week of being fully disconnected, I know there are benefits there. I have always taken time away to spend time with family and I would say I was “disconnecting” from work. However, I was never truly disconnected. I was still getting work emails on my phone and more often than not I carried my work laptop with me to where I was going. So in theory as much as I was saying I was “disconnected” I was still connected by checking and making sure nothing went wrong back at work while I was away. Even if I wasn’t responding to anything, I was still glancing through things to make sure nothing big was going on and filling stuff away in order to make it easier for when I got back to work.

    *Eerie looking sky leaving work by myself late on a Friday for the last time (November 2019, MTS Systems, Eden Prairie, MN)*

    However, on this “break” I didn’t have email or work issues that came up or even could be brought my attention. When I left work on my final day, my email and connection to that job disappeared as well. I was unemployed as I was in between jobs and it was great. I was hoping that my wife and I could have escaped somewhere fun for a couple of days but seeing how this wasn’t planned very far in advance. So my wife still had to work and the kids still had school and their normal after-school activities.

    However, that was honestly perfect for me as it allowed me to do more with the kids before and after school as I was still there. However, it also gave me a chance to just do random things during the day from 9am - 4pm when my kids were at school. I took the dog to the dog park where she was just in heaven as there wasn’t anyone there and she could just run around as fast as possible.

    *I might be spoiling the dog this week as we have been to the dog park twice already (November 2019, Flying Cloud Dog Park, Eden Prairie, MN)*

    I spent the week doing things I enjoyed but honestly, I could have had another week to get even more stuff done as I had planned on taking the time to read a book (yep never happened). I did make sure to sneak in a couple of long runs, multiple runs per day, as well as a fun park that was a lot of hill running but worth the views.

    *Running the sloped trails to enjoy the scenery in and around the park was a great way to spend a day off (November 2019, Richard T Anderson Conservatory, Eden Prairie, MN)*

    In fact, I even met up with my cousin for a run one of the days I was off. It was good to get outside as well as catch up with her.

    *Had a great time enjoying the beautiful weather running around Lake Harriet and catching up with my cousin yesterday (November 2019, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN)*

    Finally, I took my wife out on a couple of lunch dates where we could take our time eating and just enjoy each other’s company with nothing big to rush to the next event or worry we are paying some babysitter to allow our kids to watch TV at home :).

    I am sad that my time away from work is over as I am now three weeks into my new job. However, I am going to think of ways going forward that I can take a week off and just be at home as disconnected as I can. Another thought is to just take some random days off here and there where I can just do my own thing without other priorities or reasons for taking the day off. I believe that would allow me to be refocused and refreshed going back to work the next day.

    Have any of you ever just completely disconnected from work? If so what did you think of it and was it helpful?

    From the Lens - Foggy

    Golden Gate Bridge
    Fog covering the top of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge (San Fransisco, August 2010)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Mist

    From the Lens - November Trail

    Running the sloped trails to enjoy the scenery in and around the park was a great way to spend a day off (November 2019, Richard T Anderson Conservatory, Eden Prairie, MN)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Slope

    From the Lens - Grand Canyon

    Grand Canyon
    Peering over the edge and looking down into the steep Grand canyon walls (June 2015, Rim Trail, Grand Canyon Village)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Steep

    From The Lens - Farm Country Sunset

    Farm Country Sunset
    Sunset with a picturesque farm in the background (Wayne Brothers Farm, Ellendale, MN, August 2019)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Sunset

    From the Lens - Kölner Dom

    Kölner Dom, Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany
    A morning I won't forget anytime soon as I was the first to the top of the 533 steps of the Kölner Dom (February 2018, Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany)
    Kölner Dom, Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany
    The Kölner Dom with its twin spires and Gothic Architecture is just amazing (February 2018, Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Back Catalog

    Thanks to the pictures in the post Perched On A Roof In Milan where her amazing photos of the Milan Cathedral inspired me to dig into my archive and find another great photo I took from the Cologne Cathedral (i.e., Kölner Dom).

    From the Lens - Many Parks Curve

    Great spot to stop and look back over Rocky Mountain National Park. It never gets old looking at those mountains (July 2018, Many Parks Curve Overlook, Estes Park, CO)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Tourism

    From the Lens - Market

    While traveling in Peru to get to our destinations, I enjoyed seeing and wandering around the small towns and markets (Dec 2019, Pukara Peru)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Groceries

    5K a day for 365 days

    I ran a 5K a day for 365 Days in a row and counting… Most people will think that is crazy and pointless. I have run well over 1131.5 miles over the course of the past year (check out the data analysis of all my runs or give a listen to the Off the Couch podcast I was on talking about it). On September 17th, 2018 I started this journey but I didn’t have the goal of a 5K a day in my mind. Or certainly, my intention was not to do it for an entire year.


    I have always been a runner, or so I say I have always been a runner. There was a time I distanced myself from running in my later college years up until about 4 years ago. I actually wrote about it a couple of times ok maybe more than a couple but I wrote about it when I got Back into Running and when I was using Running to Refocus.

    There is something great about running as it is just PURE. You can only move as fast as YOU can, as far as YOU want, and as long as YOU can. However, it is all up to YOU to determine what YOU “can” do and what you get out of it.

    However, last fall I finally decided to run with my neighbor who has always run more miles than my typical 2-2.5 mile run about 2-3x per week. That day we went for 4 miles on a Saturday morning and it was great. Not to mention I felt really good. For the next week, I decided to keep with my 2-3 times a week but stretched myself to hit 3+ miles of which one was 6 miles. I kept that up for a couple of weeks when I then decided I wanted more. I wasn’t sure I had more time to run more miles in a given day, so the next best thing was to try to run a 5K (3.1 miles) every single day for a week. It didn’t seem as hard as I thought it was going to be keeping that up for a week so then I thought I would go for 2 weeks, then a full month. After, the month I figured I should do it for 3 months as that put me in January and I figured it would be too cold then. However, once January came along it was so ingrained into my daily habit that a 5K a day was just the normal. It became so normal in fact that I would just start planning my day around it. It was almost a non-negotiable item, no matter if I had to wake up at 5:00 AM to get an early morning run in or if I was doing it at 10:30 PM at night, I was going to get a run in.

    Planning is Key

    Honestly, this is the biggest takeaway I learned over the past year was planning. If you want to make something a priority you need to plan time for it in order for it to be a priority. For me in order to make running a priority in my life, I had to make sure to keep it a priority, and sometimes I had to get creative. I would look at my schedule on a day to day or even a week out and figure out when I planned to run. This sounds a little crazy that on a Sunday night I was already planning on when I was going to run the following Saturday but honestly I had to do it. Not just for when it would make sense to me, like running in the morning, but for my family and other work priorities. I found myself running early in the morning, late at night, and sometimes squeezing it in while my son was at a birthday party. Then there was the weather. That would always through a wrench in it if I would have let it. However, after my habit was formed I just told myself it didn’t matter the weather, rain or shine, snow or ice, 100 degrees and humid or 0 degrees with a negative windchill, I would make sure to get my run in.

    Around the Neighborhood

    Something that I have enjoyed over the past 4 years of running is exploring my surroundings. In my neighborhood, I have found so many small parks, trails, and green spaces that I didn’t know existed in the first 6 years we lived there. Mostly because I would just drive by and not give it a second look. However, by increasing my mileage as well as the frequency of runs, I found myself exploring more places because I needed more routes and I was going farther.

    Also, in my town and some of the surrounding areas, I went to other parks not near my house in order to find a new and interesting place to run. Some of which I then took my family back to so would could all explore at a later time to really take in the scenery.

    Enjoying the new scenery on an early evening run that was a lot harder than I anticipated (June 2019, Richard T. Anderson Conservatory, Eden Prairie)

    Trail running is always my favorite but I enjoyed the company on this Father’s day run even more. I might need to get her a better bike if we keep this up. (June 2019, Eden Prairie)

    Nothing beats a blue sky, ice melting off the pond, and no snow on the trail for a birthday run (March 2019, Eden Prairie)

    Finding new trails to run on in my extended area allowed me to find interesting places (June 2019, Bredesen Park, Edina, MN)

    Beautiful afternoon running around the lake (May 2019, Rice Marsh Lake, Eden Prairie, MN)

    Exploring New Places

    Not only did I find some amazing places in my town, but since I travel for work from time to time, I found some even more interesting places while running in various cities. Not only did I explore near my hotel but in some cases, I would drive to find a trail to run on.
    Quiet morning run in the streets of Shanghai (May 2019, Shanghai, China)

    Fun time exploring Amsterdam this afternoon as I ran along a bunch of canals. Might have gotten a little lost and felt out of place as it doesn’t seem like the streets and sidewalks are geared for runners (September 2009, Amsterdam, Netherlands).

    Found an observation deck on my run this morning by the lake… Not a bad view from the top but windy… (April 2019, Observation Deck at Erie Basin Marina, Buffalo, NY)

    Running along the Skywalker trail in the early morning hours (May 2019, Skywalker Trail, Sedona, AZ)

    What’s Next

    Besides breaking in my new Asics pair of shoes as I feel I have gone through quite a few this past year. I might try to take a different approach for this next year. My goal is to get some longer runs in but feel I need to back off on the times per week in order to make that happen. Some of it is because of the time commitment which is partially due to my own schedule but also with the lack of daylight we have right it does add to the challenge. I am guessing it will be a slow transition as I have conditioned my body to run daily it is not super easy to just stop. Trust me I have tried. Till the next update get outside and start exploring your neighborhood.

    Shoes, Shoes, Shoes… Amazing how many running shoes you can go through in a given year…

    ### Your Turn What is the last thing you have tried to do on a daily basis and were you successful? If so how has it changed you and if not what did you learn about yourself?

    From the Lens - Stone Stairs

    Stone Steps to start the journey up Cadillac Mountain from the North Ridge Trailhead (July 2004, Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, ME)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Stone

    From the Lens - City

    Always interesting to see how much your home town has changed during an early morning run when the streets are empty (November 2018, Nevada, IA)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - City

    From the Lens - Foggy Tracks

    Foggy tracks that seem to disappear in the distance... (August 2019, Pleasant Hill, Iowa)

    From the Lens - Country Road

    There is always miles of road ahead when running in the country (July, 2019, Ollie, Iowa)

    From the Lens - Rice Lake

    MVIMG 20190711 101831 01 01 *One of my favorite local parks that has hilly hiking trail. There is a bench at the top of one trail that gives you this wonderful view of Rice Lake and the Minnesota River (Richard T. Anderson Conservatory, July 2019)*
    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Hill

    From the Lens - Great Wall

    **Looking towards Tower 23 in the far distance at the Mutianyu Great Wall before the steep climb to come with no one in sight. (May 2019, Mutianyu Great Wall, Beijing China)**
    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Wall - What better photo of mine to post for a Wall challenge than a picture of the Great Wall of China. Also, for another photo look back to where this picture was taken check out a previous post of mine.

    From the Lens - Grand Lake

    Peaceful afternoon Kayaking on Grand Lake with the Rocky Mountains in the background (July 2018, Grand Lake, Colorado)

    Tuesday Photo Challenge - Outdoors

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