Sunday, August 29, 2010

Beating myself up over missing a running opportunity

Thursday was one of those rare summer days when you could go for a run early, midday or late and not notice much different temperature wise. and I blew it.

I didn't go for a run before work, even though I did wake up on time -- thanks in part to SigOther's cat. I didn't go during lunchtime because we had a crisis at work and I needed to be nearby. And I couldn't go after work because I had invited some friends over for a low key cookout and needed to get things ready.

Over the course of an 18 week program, missing a run or two will not impact your marathon results. Even missing consecutive runs shouldn't substanially derail your training. However not starting your weekly running until Thursday, I can personally attest, will make Marathon Day a lousy experience.

It is that first marathon experience that has taught me to not skip runs unless I have to and to get them over with sooner than later when the opportunity is there. Nevermind that it usually takes me two months into training season to wake up early enough to beat the heat.

The good news is that I had a decent LR on Saturday. The bad news is that according to the weather forecast, it will be a while before there is another day like Thursday. I was supposed to do a 9 mile tempo run and I could not have asked for a better day weather-wise, which the Running Gods delivered. I cannot ask for a make up day and will just have to accept whatever Mother Nature throws my way for the rest of the season.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Real Estate Market Keeps US All Dreaming

I've been watching the Real Estate market since the fall of 2008 when I first thought about purchasing a home as prices were coming down. There was one particular house that has just about everything I could want and thus I refer to it as my dream house.

It is only a few blocks from the Jefferson park Blue Line station and the Copernicus Center, so I'd have my transportation requirements taken care of and be near my Polish peeps. It has a big backyard with a great deck and a two car garage. A finished basement and a modern kitchen. New windows, roof and water heater means that all we'd have to do is move in and paint the place.

In March of 2009, I called a realtor from Zip Realty who made an appointment so I could see it even though we both knew their asking price of $539,000 was way out of my price range. It looked even better in person, especially after finding out it also has an attic that could be expanded into a kick-ass master suite later in life.  On the downside, the basement was a little limited, it would be more of a children's play area than a ManCave, but I'd have to take a longer look if I ever had a realistic chance of getting this place.  Which I didn't.  In fact, no one really did.

The owner, who was expecting another child in July, had told me that if she didn't get an offer in a month or so, she was going to take it off the market because she didn't want to deal with a closing and a birth around the same time. I asked my standard "why are you selling such a great house" question and they responded that the husband had just got a job out of state. She also added that he could do the traveling thing if they couldn't sell the home.

I thought, well when the second child arrives that's gonna get old real fast.

My dream house was quietly taken off the market in Sept 2009. Thanks to the Internet you can learn so much about a house. I learned that the owners had a mortgage and a HELOC which combined put them at about $475K owed on the house, so they didn't have a lot of wiggle room.

On a whim, I emailed the owner the other week. Feigning ignorance, I politely asked 'Just curious if this home was still for sale and what is your current asking price."

It was over a week when i got this response:

"Hi. Thanks for asking. Its not officially on the market, but we would still consider selling for the right price... Nothing below our original asking price.  [Emphasis mine.]


The problem with this house is it's asking price. Anyone who can afford the asking price doesn’t want to live there and anyone who wants to live there cannot afford the asking price. They wanted almost $540K for it. And while it might have been worth that price at the height of the market, those days are gone for good.

I looked online and it appears they only have one mortgage now for $375K. I guess they were able to quickly pay off the HELOC and refinance. So while they have more wiggle room, they apparently want to recover all their renovation expenses.

And I cannot blame them for wanting to come away with something for all their hard work.  But there was just something about the sentence Nothing below our original asking price that irked me.  As if anything less was a personal insult.  It is no doubt this inflexibility on their part that caused them to take their place off the market.  It makes me wonder what they would say if someone offered them, say $525K, would they counter offer or just say no thank you.

I think it's fair to say that they are dreaming if they think they can get their price in this market.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Price of a Run

I often post on Facebook my success -- or more often my lack thereof -- in getting up in the morning to go for a run before work.  In all fairness, it's harder than you think, especially when you are training for a marathon.   For the record, I'm not the only runner who faces this challenge.  Many of my running friends have to walk the line between sacrificing sleep and getting in their required run.

To figure out if it's even worth putting on your running clothes, you have to work backwards. Let's say you start work at 9am and your average door-to-door commute is one hour. Let's say you also take 30 minutes to shower, dress and otherwise get ready for work.

If you run a 9MM (Minute Mile) and want to get in a 5 mile run before work, you have to be up and out the door, hopefully in your running clothes by 6:45am. As an 8MM, I can sleep about 5 minutes longer. I also can get ready for work in less than 20 minutes providing it isn't a Shave Day.  On the other hand, I tend to hit the snooze a few times so that quickly negates any extra time.

Keep in mind that you probably should factor in some cushion time into your pre-work run.  You cannot assume you'll finish your 5 mile run at whatever pace you normally run.  It might even take you longer to shower and get ready since you're a little tired from running 5 miles. And woe is the day when all of this plus issues with your commute make you extra late for work.

Trying to sneak a run in during lunch is even tougher because while you may not have to worry about the travel time, you probably cannot fudge much beyond the 1 hour lunch and you definitely should shower. So somehow you have to change clothes (twice), run and shower all in an hour. Not realistic unless you can run really, fast or have a flexible boss/work environment.

It works the same in the evening. You leave work as early as possible but you cannot control how long it takes to get home. You donn your running clothes before you talk yourself out of it and head out. Let's assume leaving work at 5, get home at 6 and have your act together enough to get back out the door by 6:15pm. You finish your run by 7 and then a quick shower gets you ready for whatever is left of your evening by 7:30 ish.

Which brings up the next point. This is based on a relatively fast runner. If your running pace isn't what might be considered Speedy Gonzalez territory, then you either have to get up earlier or run fewer miles. Most avid runners agree that it isn't worth the effort of donning running clothes to run anything short of 3 miles and if you are training for a marathon, your daily mileage shoots past that fairly soon.

So if you are lucky enough to have a flexible work schedule, take advantage of it and run when you can.  Otherwise, make the effort to get up in the morning and catch up on sleep by going to bed earlier, so deal with the fact that your evening is gonna be shorter than you'd like because you are making up mileage.