Meetings. “None of us is as dumb as all of us.”

Best quote ever from www.despair.com. And how true it is.

There are several kinds of meetings and there are many variations thereof. If you are lucky, you get an agenda in advance and some type of objective/reason you are meeting. If you are very lucky, the agenda goes as planned. If you are very very lucky, you actually achieve the objective you wanted to achieve, assuming there was an objective in the first place.

What typically happens, you are attending a meeting with a regular vague agenda; one that requires everyone to provide an update on their projects, tasks, etc.. These are typically a waste of time since no one really understands the detail of the content unless they really need to so. The people that do understand what you are talking about are already close to the subject at hand and do not need the general group update.

I understand the need for people to come together and meet. As human beings, we have to come together and make decisions or discuss things. However, where it starts to fail is with the actual execution of a meeting. Even if you aren’t in the corporate world, I am sure you can relate to this:

Where do you want to eat?
I don’t know, where do you want to eat?
Wherever you want.
Do you have a taste for anything?
No, do you?

And so on. This is between 2 friends trying to figure out something simple like where to eat dinner. Imagine a group of 10 people that are most likely not friends (and may not even like each other at all), trying to solve a complex issue. It starts to sound more like this:

There is a big problem that we have to discuss as a group.
We need your help since we cannot make this type of decision on our own.
We are going to recommend some options and we intend to come up with a solution!
But before that, I will be sharing 55 Power Point slides with the background.
(On slide 1, debate ensues)
Well, we had discussed that in our last meeting but you weren’t there.
Well I don’t agree with the facts.
So that makes our recommended solution useless at this point.

End of meeting. Typically these last an hour or more. This is time out of people’s lives that they will never get back. Keep in mind, that getting ready for this meeting involved countless hours upon hours of preparation with many people from all functions of the company. These “decision-making” meetings typically result in the leadership team sending the working team back to do more analysis. Better yet, more analysis with a complete change in scope. They usually have an acronym with “LT” in them (i.e., leadership team),

In addition to these common corporate “decision-making” meetings, my other favorite kind of meeting is the “Town Hall” meeting. Most corporations act like they care about your opinion and hold “Town Hall” meetings. This typically consists of several high-powered executives getting up in front of a large audience with Power Point presentations detailing old financial information (since nothing current can be revealed due to regulatory restrictions) and what we will do to resolve any “gaps to plan”. This also usually involves charts with so much information that no one can read. They usually state that as well, “Now, you can’t read this, but…..”. Again, none of this is at all relevant since the data is 3 months old.

An entertaining part of these types of meetings are the “Q and A” portions. I love when people (typically from the outside of the corporate office, a.k.a., “the field”) ask questions that will never be honestly answered such as, “Will our location close?” or “Are our jobs safe?”. Seriously these happen all the time.

But I still have to comment about regular project team meetings. My calendar is filled with them. Actually, most of them, I schedule and lead but I am still aghast at how much time is wasted. I follow all the rules; I put out an agenda in advance of the meeting, I solicit participation, I “go around the horn” and have everyone speak up at the end and I always publish notes with actions and due dates. But it doesn’t really matter. People forget the context and most likely weren’t paying attention anyway so none of it actually entered their brains. I literally have to tell people to stop typing and multi-tasking if there is something I want them to actually absorb.

To be fair, I catch myself doing the same things.  I ask the same question every week and sometimes repeat things that have already been said earlier in the meeting.  Weeks after a decision was made I question the reasoning and take us back to explain for the tenth time why the decision was made.  I know I am a guilty party.  I am on my iPhone and checking emails during meetings like everyone else.

How to solve this dilemma? If I had the answer, I wouldn’t be sitting in a cubicle after work hours writing this blog post making fun of our corporate world. I believe we have to laugh at the craziness around us to survive. People that take themselves too seriously are the ones to stay away from, in my opinion.  But then what do I know?  Maybe we need a meeting to discuss…..

It is spelled T-O-B-E-Y.

When thinking about naming your baby, there are many things to think about.  My name is Tobey.  I now love my name and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Perhaps the irritation and embarrassment during my formative years made me a stronger person, but you really never know.

Per www.babycenter.com, there are 8 pitfalls to watch when you name your baby.

  1. The nickname trap
  2. Embarrassing initials
  3. A lifetime of corrections
  4. Overpopularity
  5. Problematic name pairings
  6. Humiliating email handles
  7. Names not to live up to
  8. So-so meanings

The one I am specifially referring to is #3, the constant spelling and explaining your name.  This is a daily occurrence for me:

It is spelled T-O-B-E-Y.

Yes it is a girls name.

No it isn’t short for anything.

You really don’t realize how many times you have to state your name, but it happens often.  I also know that Toby is a very common cat or dog name, since many people feel compelled to mention that after I tell them my name.  Thankfully for them, I like animals.

How rare is my name?  In 2011, per www.babycenter.com, there were 3 girls named Tobey out of 1 million babies born.  That is pretty unique.  Spelled as Toby (traditionally the “boy” spelling), there were 3 other girls given this name.  Now what about a more common name, Jennifer?  In 2012, 50 babies out of 1 million were named Jennifer.  Sound too low?  Well, that is because that is for the boys named Jennifer.  So people name their boys Jennifer almost 17x more than people name girls with my name, Tobey.  Seriously.

On the site www.babynames.com, the top 10 name list for boys and girls (20 total names) really contains 28 total names, with all of the different spellings.  For example, Aiden is a popular boys name, but it can be spelled 3 different ways.

Poor Ayden will be really screwed and will probably hate his parents for some time during his childhood.  If Ayden is a super-cool popular kid, he may surpass the teasing, but that is not likely.  Every kid gets teased and you will not avoid that, but putting the errant “y” in names is simply annoying in my opinion.

Thankfully, I was not a heavy girl, or else I would have been nicknamed, “Tubby” until the end of time.  My parents didn’t know this.  They also didn’t know about the TV mini-series, “Roots” that plagued me annually, in which a slave said his name was Toby (as he was being whipped and asked, “What is your name?”).  Perhaps they did not cross paths with any of the countless cat ladies that named their beloved tabby cat, Toby.

I don’t blame them for not knowing any of these things, especially since the speed at which they obtained information in 1971 was a little slow; I mean they only had 3 TV channels to watch.  Also, they were young and relatively inexperienced with the ways of the world.  That all being said, I think they did a tremendous job.

However, YOU have 100’s of TV channels, the internet, with Facebook, Twitter, etc., at your disposal for research and consultation.  You had better make sure your kid is going to be OK living with an odd/different name.  Here is how I would go about it:

  1. Mention it to a few people first.
  2. See what their reaction is.
  3. Assess that reaction.

If they say, “What?”, or “How do you spell that?”, you may want to reconsider naming your beautiful baby boy Kayden (that errant “y” and Kardashian “K” is just way too much).  Stop the madness, please!

P.S., As an added blog bonus, you have to go to www.babynames.com/Jennifer-Moss/  and read the letters to the Founder and CEO of BabyNames.com, where she “answers your questions about names and naming”.    They are hilarious.  Some are a little pathetic, e.g., “I am not a mother yet, but plan on being one in a few years….”.  She goes on to explain her “problem” with liking ethnic names but not looking “ethnic”.  Seriously?

Or how about this one, “I am 3 months along and trying to pick out baby names… If it’s a girl I like Emmalin…Do you think this is an appropriate name or too out there? Also, would I spell it Emmalin, Emmalynn, Emmalyn or otherwise?”.  Wow.

And by the way, do you notice her name?  “Jennifer” is your expert on naming babies.  How is she qualified to answer questions on “Emmalyn or Emmalin?”  By the way, the expert answer was “How about Emmaline or Emmalina (to rhyme with [the mother’s] name)?”.  Jesus.  All that woman needs is another 2 choices.

OK I am done, although I could read those letters all day.  What an added bonus!

1/2 Marathon Training – only 6 more days!

OK.  Less than 1 week to go.  Last weekend ran farthest ever AGAIN, 12.3 miles.  Ran a bit slower than I would have liked but the heat has been oppressive.  And I did not walk at all, just enough to drink a 20 oz Gatorade at about my 7 mile mark on our beautiful Chicago lake front.

Last long run this week.  Plan to run as close to 13 miles as I can with the focus of staying healthy and injury-free.  I still have to better pinpoint how much liquid and sodium I need over the race to feel good during and after the race.  This is still a problem I am having, particularly after a long run.

Here is what I have learned from our Gatorade scientists from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) in Barrington, IL.  To determine how much water you lose during a workout, you weigh yourself before and after.  That is your “sweat rate” and you can measure it in oz/hr.  Ideally you would want to be replenishing it during exercise but before works also; it all depends on you and your tummy.  

Here is an example using my sweat rate:  I weighed myself before and after an hour long cardio workout, I consumed 20 oz of Gatorade during my workout and I lost about 1 lb, or about 16 oz.  That meant that for that hour I exercised, I lost 36 oz. of water in my body. (Note – this figure may vary in a different environment so you should do this multiple times.) The Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) recommends replacing closer to 20 oz for every 16 oz or 1 lb lost – this is because we will probably lose some through urination after exercise and we want to account for enough fluid to replace all sweat losses.  Therefore, I should replenish that liquid afterwards at the very least so I am not dehydrated after the activity.

Another issue that endurance athletes (or people exercising for more than an hour) have is the risk of Hyponatremia, which refers to a lower-than-normal level of sodium in the blood. Sodium is essential for many body functions including the maintenance of fluid balance, regulation of blood pressure and normal function of the nervous system. Hyponatremia has sometimes been referred to as “water intoxication,” especially when it is due to the consumption of excess water, for example during strenuous exercise, without adequate replacement of sodium. 

So we have that going for us. 

According to MedicineNet.com, The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) recommends the following hydration guidelines for exercise:

  1. Two to three hours pre-exercise: 17 to 20 fluid ounces of water or sports drink.
  2. Ten to 20 minutes pre-exercise: 7 to 10 ounces of water or sports drink.
  3. During exercise: Fluid replacement should approximate sweat and urine losses and at least maintain hydration at less than 2% body weight reduction. This generally requires 7 to 10 ounces of water or sports drink every 10 to 20 minutes. Include carbohydrates in the beverage if the exercise is intense or lasts more then 45-50 minutes. Water alone will suffice, and save calories, if the exercise is moderate or less than 45-50 minutes.
  4. Post-exercise: Athletes should weigh themselves nude before and after workouts to learn how much weight is lost from sweat (water and salt) and then ingest fluid equal to 150% of the weight loss, ideally within two hours, and no more than four to six hours after the event. Including sodium in the drink allows fluid volume to be better conserved and increases the drive to drink, and carbohydrate in the drink will improve the rate of intestinal absorption of the fluid as well as replenish glycogen stores in the muscles and liver.

This is really enough to make my head spin.  Not that I can’t figure out how to solve the problem, it is really the physical logistics involved in ingesting that much at the proper intervals, while I am running 13.1 miles. 

And we haven’t even talked about carbs and energy yet.  NATA states to “include carbs…if exercise lasts more than 45-50 min”.  Definitely if you are exercising for more than an hour you need carbs.  GSSI recommends “up to 90 g” of carbs for every hour you are exercising.  Your body physically cannot store the carbs you need for a very long workout or activity, like, for example, a marathon.  Your body does have enough fat to last more than an Ironman competition that takes 10-14 hours (yes, even those with disgustingly low body fat). 

The key I am learning is the balance.  Per my GSSI scientist colleagues (go to their website to learn more, I am paraphrasing to explain things the way I understand them – http://www.gssiweb.com/), you don’t want to necessarily overload on fluid before as you might end up with GI (i.e., tummy) issues and/or uncomfortable sloshing.  Depending on the endurance activity (biking vs. running), you may be able to tolerate more pre-drinking before biking as you don’t have as much jostling as running.  An issue can be the urge to go to the bathroom during exercise based on when you had the pre-fluid.  If you are running a race, or if you have an aversion to port-a-potty’s (like me), you want to ensure this doesn’t happen.  Some recommended fixes are to drink closer to start time, or far enough before for the excess to make it through your system.  Adding electrolytes could help you retain more of the fluid and allow you to pre-drink a little excess. 

Then they told me, “The best thing to do is try it in training first.”. 

Hmm.  Sounds reasonable but I only have 6 days to go so I have one more time to try it out in training, then on to the real thing. 

So here is my plan:

I lose about 36 oz of fluid per hour and I plan to run the 1/2 marathon in about 130-140 mins, or 2 hrs and 10-20 min.  Therefore, I will lose 36 oz x 2.25 hrs = 81 oz total.  My plan is to have a 32oz Gatorade during the hour before the race.  That will give me 400 mg of sodium and about 53 g of carbs, (I will need at least that much every hour).  So, during the race, I will need about 49 more oz of fluid, which I really don’t know how to ingest.  I can pretty much get the carbs I need during the race with Gatorade chews (24g of carbs per pack of 4) but the liquid is the tough part for me.  At every station during the race, I will have to take 2 cups of Gatorade; I would guess there is about 4 oz in each of the cups they provide at races. 

I am also learning that thinking too much about the hydration and the especially logistics involved is not my thing.  In addition, all of this has to occur at 6:30AM, which is really not my thing.  Therefore, right now I am thinking this will be it, maybe one race a year, but nothing longer.  But we will see after Sunday!

The other part of my training was my “wine detox”, which, in full disclosure, I am not keeping up with (in particular last Sat.) but definitely have reduced my intake to assist in my hydration.  Will try to completely abstain this week.  Again, we will see.

Any other words of widsom from runners/athletes?  Of course, comments are welcomed from anyone, even couch potatoes.  After the race on Sunday, I will be joining you as I recover on my couch, very potato-like, watching TV with J and my dogs.  They probably won’t even notice I was gone, since I will be home by 9AM. 

Wish me luck!!!

1/2 marathon training – 6 weeks to go

I am preparing for my first 1/2 marathon on July 22.  Up to this point, I have officially run a 15K (9.36 mi) and a few 5K and 10K races.  Even with this running behind me, I am finding out there is always something new to learn.

My current issue: running in the hot weather with the sun beating down on me.  To further expand on that issue, I am getting overheated (headache and dizzy) and (ahem) getting an upset tummy, which I shouldn’t have to tell you is not pleasant when you are outside with not a port-a-potty in sight.

My training schedule has me running 2-3x per week with cross-training.  I did not choose to do the training plan that calls for running 5x per week, that is really too much for me. I am very concerned about getting injured so I am a big proponent of cross-training.   I do kick-boxing and boot camp classes 1x per week in addition to running.  I do a shorter run during the week and a longer run on the weekend.  It started with 2 miles as the shorter run and 5 miles as the longer run.  The shorter run hovers at 2, 3, or 4 miles; the longer run increased to 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.1 (1/2 marathon) – make sense?

Last week I had my 1st outside long run (10 miles) to prepare for the 1/2 marathon in July in Chicago.  It will hot, even at the ungodly hour in the morning in which the race will be run.  Here are some important things I learned during this run:

  • You really have to be hydrated and prepped for a long run, especially in the heat.
  • Water is not enough.  You need Gatorade for electrolytes and hydration.
  • You need this during the run and these things are difficult to carry during a run.
  • Public water fountains are disgusting.  (My dogs drink out of these fountains.  And those are the cleaner species that utilize these contraptions).
  • Carrying a credit card is good to buy Gatorade and to possibly take a cab home if needed (although, thankfully, I did not need to do this).

I went on a medium run during the week (7 miles or so) and it was so hot I had to stop and walk for a bit and felt very nauseous.  Not good.  Then over the weekend, I went on my  long run and it was not pretty.  Let’s just say that if I didn’t find a bathroom on our lovely Chicago lakefront, there would have been a clean-up required on aisle 9.  Thankfully I did find one; I owe my dignity to the Burnham Harbor boat area public bathrooms.

This weekend I will be attempting another long run, my longest so far – about 12 miles.  I wish I had a better plan than just trying it again.  I will be hydrating much more before my run as well as ensuring I eat a good carb-filled meal the night before.  Hope this helps!

On the positive side, I have my route all mapped out on www.mapmyrun.com, which is awesome.  I like to use it to map out the run to determine the distance then I send it to my iPhone (there is an app for that, of course!).  Most of the time, though, I don’t want to lug my phone with me so I use my little iPod shuffle with the Nike Plus “Fitness” feature that has a GPS and I can upload it to Nike Plus and then MapMyRun to track my training.

Sorry if my tummy thing was TMI (too much information) but I was hoping to get some comments or feedback on any advice since this seems to be a unique issue (or maybe no one around me wants to admit it).  In any case, wish me luck, I will need it, as it will be about 95 degrees out on Saturday!  I will be drinking a lot of Gatorade for sure.  Also I will be mapping my route where there are plenty of convenience stores and public bathrooms……