26 July 2007

Performance -- Training the Body


Our photo this week features "The Lads" -- in order... Mat, Denny, John, Brandon, Jeff. As their alter-egos... The Intern, The Lizard, Salsa, Rico Suave, Dr. J.

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Alan's written an excellent piece for this week's Alternative Perspectives. At the top of the AP-Blog, I wrote a disclaimer that you shouldn't assume that the articles represent my views. However, this piece represents the views of my new company, exactly.

The challenge to Alan... to you... to me... is to apply that protocol. The acquisition of knowledge is far easier than the application.

Early in my coaching career, I was much more prone to adjusting my views under pressure from my athletes. As I've gained experience, I've tried to model myself (more and more) along the Hellemans-Model, as I observe it...

...accept that athletes have the right to follow their own plans
...offer clear, direct advice when asked for an opinion
...minimize energy spent on athletes that ask for your opinion then ignore it

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Q -- Where does running performance come from?
A -- An enjoyment of consistent, long term, appropriate mileage.

Working backwards...

Mileage -- walking, running, jogging, hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, cycling, waiting tables, standing -- it's all good. What counts? Everything that involves your legs counts.

Appropriate -- Alan and I are going to review Daniels' Running Formula in the weeks to come. The #1 point that I take out of that book is... If you want to train faster then prove it by racing faster.

It is far more important "to train" than to train "fast". Athletes that chase power/pace nearly always underperform on race day. I've seen that around me for my entire athletic career. Guys that can totally kick my butt in training end up miles behind me on race day.

One more quote that I like (from Dr. J) -- Prove that you can operate below your limits before seeking to outperform them.

Appropriate could mean anything from 5 to 150 miles per week. There are no fixed rules -- you'll have to figure it out for yourself. With my own experience -- it took me years to get to the point where I could tolerate a 'normal' running week that you might read in a magazine. I spent 1993-1998 'training' in a very general sense.

Long term -- from a standing start, it is going to take 10-15 years to see what's possible. If you are looking for the 10-15 week program for excellence, you are fooling yourself.

For those of you familiar with Daniels' v-dot tables. My v-dots by year...
mid-90s -- 33
1997 -- 45
1998 -- 47
1999 -- 50
2000 -- 51
2001 -- 54
2002 -- 57
2003 -- 60
2004 -- 62
2005 -- 60
2006 -- 60
2007 -- 65

There's a lot of training _and_ a lot more than training that moves an athlete from a v-dot of 33 to 65. In 1997, I was "fast" within my training circle. There are many definitions of fast -- as athletes find when they move to Boulder, Christchurch or other centers of athletic excellence.

Consistent -- As a triathlete, I currently run about 225x per annum. That level of volume was impossible for me when I started. I started by walking, hiking and lifting weights. I didn't jump-start my athletic career by signing up for an Ironman.

Enjoyment -- 225 runs per annum across, say, eight years... 1,800 runs. If you're going to invest that level of time then you'd better be enjoying yourself. Athletes that see their sport as "work" rarely succeed on the deepest levels.

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Here's a summary of the toughest week of running that I'll do this summer. It was the program for last week and broke many of the "rules" that I apply as a coach.

Elite Tri -- Specific Prep -- Run Program
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Monday -- off running; swim/gym

Tuesday -- swim/bike (four hours) and run two hours off the bike holding 7:30 per mile pace

Wednesday -- high altitude, hilly run of 15 miles with Tim (6 miles in 50 minutes then 9 miles in 50 minutes); swim/bike with evening five miler slower than 8 min per mile

Thursday -- morning five-miler slower than 8 min per mile; ride four hours easy with depressed heart rate (I wonder why?)

Friday -- off running; swim only

Saturday -- little under six hours worth of tough swim/bike with mixed tempo run off the bike (8 miles)

Sunday -- swim an easy 2400 meters (to wake up legs) then 23 miler with Tim and evening four-miler

= 76 miles at ~7:36 per mile

I've had 3:15 (off the bike) marathoners tell me that they are unable to run slower than seven-minute miles.

I've also had Clas shake his head at how I run sub-2:50 by spending much of my time cruising around at eight-minute pace.

It's the pace changes that make life interesting in gWorld. :-)

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Coming Soon -- Training the Mind & True Limiters

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20 July 2007

Consulting Business Models


Our photo this week is a shot of me dragging a tire after a 21-mile run at the Boulder Reservoir. My technique needs improvement for next time.

Why do I drag a tire around? I could give you reasons based on human physiology but the truth has to do with human psychology – I see value in doing things that other people aren’t willing to do.

I’ll probably be the only athlete on the Ironman Canada start line with ten weeks of tire pulls under his belt.

I love stuff like that.

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We've got Baron Part Two over on Alternative Perspectives. Next week we will have Lydiard Part Two -- Alan's done a great follow-up article that I think is worth your time.


In the meantime, Alan wrote up his action plan from the USAT Coaches Clinic. If I remember then we'll follow-up with him in a few months on how implementation progressed. Personally, I find change implementation a greater challenge than issue identification.

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On November 2nd and 3rd, I’ll be hosting a USAT Clinic on Building Your Coaching Business. We’ll start Friday (after lunch) and run through Saturday. The program will include case studies; practical tools for increasing revenues; financial planning tips/tools; branding/marketing tips/strategies as well as the opportunity to share ideas with each other.

Location will be the Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs. We have a great panel coming together and more details will follow once they are confirmed.

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My most recent book is Ubiquity, Why Catastrophes Happen. It's a worthwhile read. If you pick up a copy then consider two elements of the author's hypothesis:

Fingers of instability -- when I think about the challenges of terrorism as well as the structure of the Middle East conflict; I see deep fingers of instability. The implications of a small further stress on (any one of) these fissures, is very difficult to predict. If you are a worrier, then this book will give you plenty of fodder. I spent a lot of time thinking about the likelihood of WMD being employed.

Critical State -- whether the subject matter is earthquakes, financial markets, human conflict or iron atoms, the author talks about the conditions where one small action is a trigger for further subsequent results. This had me wondering about the critical state within the human brain -- the ability of a single neuron to impact the entire brain.

Extending that neuron consideration to what (little) I know about quantum mechanics. The ability of a single neuron, within the observer, to change the reality of what's observed. At that point my head started to swim... the author did warn against taking physical science concepts into the social sciences.

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In the last two weeks, three smart people have shared ideas with me about growing their businesses. While their current positions vary in terms of scale, the challenges that they face are similar. So here are some thoughts on coping with growth. The specifics pertain to the coaching/consulting industry but, I think, they are widely applicable.

Branding – in many consulting businesses the founder is the brand and your team is a reflection of you. When you are growing rapidly then, clearly, you are doing something “right”. It’s worth considering what that “thing” is. In a small consultancy practice, often the magic-ingredient is you. Your time, your knowledge, your personality, your efforts – this matters because…

…if you take on people to service your clients then it takes more time (initially) to train them. Do you have that time? Do you want that job? If not then you’ll need to recruit, then train, the trainer. After you've trained the trainers and coaches -- you've effectively trained your future competition.

…if you refer clients then there is an element of endorsement and you’ll want to ensure that your brand/reputation is protected. There are very few coaches that I’ll endorse via a referral.

Reputation takes years to build – protect it with everything that you do, everything you say, everything you write, everyone you endorse/employ… I take this to a an extreme and extend it right through to suppliers; clients; sponsors; coaches; mentors. There are companies/people that I would love to work with (and could teach me lots) but I’ve been unable to become comfortable with their ethics – so I’ve had to pass.

The theme of saying “no” to attractive opportunities is a recurring one. You need to be willing to turn down attractive offers in order to sustain your brand. Financial stability goes a long way towards building ethical integrity – more on that in a future letter on success factors.

Quality Control – I have considered building an international network of consultants (to the point of drafting a business plan). However, I wasn’t able to get comfortable that:

…remote coaches would be able to represent my brand appropriately. For this reason, everyone in our company (Alan, Mat, Monica, me) works “here” in Boulder. We spend a lot of time together.

…remote coaches would gain enough from “HQ” to justify a mutually beneficial long term relationship. We’d have to work extremely hard on retention for minimum return on our efforts.

Retention – How do you keep your best people? Even working with friends, I haven’t (yet) come up with a business model that is sticky enough to keep "remote" coaches/consultants together for the long term. The effort required at HQ is greater than the return that we could fairly charge the remote offices.

When I ran the numbers on the “take” that would be required for an attractive return on investment – it didn’t stack up (for the investors, the coaches, or me). My return on effort/capital was far greater by giving away our intellectual property, selling high value services and operating in a managerial capacity.

What keeps people in a network?

***Success – friendship is great but nothing builds teams like sustained, meaningful achievement. I want everyone around me (clients, athletes, friends and training buddies) to succeed. Talking about this with Jeff this morning, I noted my success obsession (to go with my controlling obsession).

***Fairness – there needs to be a fair exchange of efforts. What’s fair? I don’t think that there is a fixed answer and fairness changes over time.

***Value – if you take anything from someone (revenue, product, goods, time, thought…) then there needs to be adequate compensation to them. Personally, I work hard to make sure that everyone close to me receives a little bit more than I think is fair. That doesn’t always mean that they see it that way but it has been an effective strategy for me.

People within my circle that don’t operate in a similar manner tend to move away over time. It’s an interesting paradox that when everyone gives a little extra to another, there is more for all.

***Challenge – probably related to success. Challenge is the ability to actively participate in success; learn and apply that knowledge. “Winning” is fun but “meaning” derives from active participation in the daily process of success.

Where does all this leave me? Yet another list of goals!

Help people – I’ve set a target of 1 million athletes over the next thirty years – sounds like a lot but I estimate that I’m well on the way there (over 25,000 copies of Going Long have been sold).

High return per hour invested – “return” defined in terms of personal satisfaction, rather than dollars (but they do help).

Learn through teaching – our new lab will greatly improve my knowledge, that’s fun for me

Improve communication skills – more public speaking

Grow our reach – we will be launching podcasting (slowly) after IMC; vodcasting will, likely, follow that.

Build the brand – I lead my family’s financial leadership and my personal brand is our safety net.

Within our new business, Endurance Corner, we are building:

A central hub of excellence (coaching, training, testing, consulting, sports medicine, rehabilitation);

Knowledge sharing via camps, clinics and our on-line presence;

Single location to enhance mutual learning; maintain quality; enhance communication; build personal ties; and have fun together.

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One specific question that I had – that triggered this article:

Q – What is a normal share of revenue for me to earn on a coaching referral?

A – Instead of thinking about the “take” – consider… the value that you add to the client (and coach); also consider if you have the time/desire to manage the relationship. If I refer an athlete outside of our network then that is a favor (to the athlete because I am careful where I point people // and // to the coach because it is a potential order). If I refer an athlete within our network then we need to ensure that our brand is protected and value is delivered to the client.

Overall compensation – within our business the basic package includes items that are important to us (health care; retirement savings; training; certification; education) – monetary compensation depends on a mixture of the value added (not merely revenue added) to the coach’s main client as well as the individual’s capacity to work effectively.

We provide infrastructure with opportunity.

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10 July 2007

Personal Planning, July 2007


This week I'll write about a few techniques that I use to enhance my personal effectiveness. Should make a change from the training discussion of the last few posts.

I've written before about longer term Personal Planning (see 5 September 2006) -- that is the template that I use for a 1-5 year time horizon. Looking over the medium term is a useful exercise for setting strategic direction. However, it is merely an initial step because it lacks immediacy as well as a concrete plan for daily action.

Personal excellence (for me) is driven by the creation of habitual (daily) actions towards ethical & challenging goals.

The photo this week is my white board. Up until a few weeks ago, I was using it for a To Do list for Alan, Mat and myself. However, it struck me that my greatest value added to the team isn't keeping lists for the Lads! In fact, if team members can't self-manage and meet their own deadlines then the team will be stronger without them. So my "management" was holding us back.

I considered how best to use the board to remind myself, and my team, the key elements of my personal game plan.

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Left Column -- winning Ironman Canada is a near-term, achievable, highly challenging goal. Two years ago, that item was raise equity & debt funding for our Scottish property venture. Four years agao, that item may have been "run a sub-3 hour marathon off-the-bike". The exact nature of the item isn't all that important (in a larger sense) but having a near-term, challenging goal that requires daily focus... that helps me manage my time, focus and daily actions. You could call it the short-term expression of my Ultimate Vision.

Not To Do -- below that item (in red) are the three items that I've identified that tend to create disharmony. However, I've rephrased them into positive statements.

Don't seek to control the world becomes... Assist Without Owning
Avoid over-scheduling becomes... Limit New Commitments & Keep Schedule Simple

Those two points are my #1 self-sustained stress factors.

Sitting here, typing this out, I realized that I'm missing something on listening. So I just added... Hear People Clearly. When I get excited, I can spend more time thinking about what I will say next -- than listening.

My "not to do's" are essential because they are habits that I have developed that bring stress to me and limit my effectiveness. I love my flaws as much as I love my strengths, even productive change is challenging.

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Central Column -- these are the items that I need to action daily in order to rapidly and effectively move towards my goals. I'll walk you through them because (for me) there is a powerful simplicity.

Love Monica -- concrete daily actions that demonstrate that M's important to me. These actions (in themselves) may not be all that important but their effect is the most powerful collective action that I can take each day. Some examples: garbage, composting, heavy lifting, empty the dishwasher, charge iPod, watering flowers, sit on couch, eat baking and chat.

Elite performance comes from the cumulative effect of many small decisions -- my marriage seems to mirror my sport. This is a radical shift in perspective for me. I have a blind spot for the connection between actions and love. Seems pretty clear when I type it out, though!

Train Daily -- this week's Alternative Perspectives is written by my good buddy, Sam Doolittle. He says it far better than me.

Wake-up Early -- the most important thing that I do each day is get out of bed. Sounds simple? Watch what happens when you don't "have" to get up in the morning. Personal productivity plummets -- when you have all the time in the world to achieve something, it often fails to get done. Deadlines & forced daily commitments are essential for "novice" achievers to get moving.

No Booze -- one hangover every 7-14 days knocks 10-15% off my annual productivity. In the fields that I seek to compete (triathlon/finance), I can't afford to give that kind of edge to my competition.

Media-Lite -- the amount of "signal" contained in the Western media is tiny compared to the noise and bias. In order to think clearly, I've greatly reduced my access to media. I still get a ton and am constantly tempted to return to my old ways. Here's the stuff that currently gets through my filter...

Slate.Com -- politics: I could easily do without
Economist.Com -- main source of media info: I read 30-50% of the on-line edition
CNN.Com, WSJ.Com and FT.Com (headlines)
Doonesbury.Com -- daily cartoon
CoachKP.Com -- help my buddy and find out what he's _really_ doing
XTri.Com & Ironman.Com -- keep an eye on my coaching & athletic competition
Weather.Com -- don't want to get caught at 10,000 feet in a hail storm!
Athlete Blogs -- find out how the Lads are doing through a different filter

That's a lot of stuff to review and I could easily pare it down a further 75% with zero impact on my ability to achieve my goals.

Email Mondays -- This is an on-going experiment for me. I've greatly increased personal energy and chopped my email traffic by 65% in one month. We'll see if once a week will work for the long term.

In order to maintain my client contacts, this new policy had an unintended consequences... in the early days, one of the clients asked how to get in touch with Monica if I died! He may have been trying to tell me something...

I took the hint and now work the telephone with my clients. Telephone is draining for me because it is my least effective medium of communication. Next year, I will shift to video conferencing and that should help a bit. The telephone cuts through a ton of the back-and-forth that results over the Internet and that makes it worth the effort.

Quick email messages may seem convenient but their existence provides disruption and interrupts the flow and quality of thought. Ultimately, my greatest value added flows through the quality of my thought.

I've asked Mat and Alan to check emails at Noon and 4pm when they are working. My gut feel was that we would get the greatest benefit from going off-the-grid on "office days" but I decided to try a more moderate trial.

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Below my daily action points are my weekly action points: write this blog (weekly) and read good books. These come back to quality of thought -- practice expressing myself in writing and let good ideas flow into my head.

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The right column contains short hand for key projects within my business life. In a sense, each item is a "client" of mine. I tend to view any business-related activity/person/project as a client. I keep a mix of established, venture and development "clients" within my personal portfolio.

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I combine my white board with a single-sheet of paper for each week. Each Sunday, I write out my schedule for the entire week as well as my key "to do" items and telephone calls.

Since leaving Hong Kong in 2000, I've seen my (relative) personal productivity plummet. However, my global reach, personal freedom and direct effectiveness have soared. From the outside, I've been told that I do a tremendous amount. It doesn't feel that way to me. I used to "do" far, far more working 60-hour weeks while training for triathlon. The difference now is that _what_ I do is much more powerful and reaches many more people -- I've traded efficiency for effectiveness.

We all create clutter and dead time in our lives -- I am the same.

I work on building the habit of identifying (then removing) people, projects and opportunities that distract me. It is often unpleasant at the front end to clear away "clutter" -- I can find myself wondering about getting rid of old clothing!

To be clear, the most challenging items to clear away are those that are attractive. I say "no" to a tremendous amount to things that would be an effective (and fun) use of my time. Learning to do that with compassion is a focus for me.

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My main point is that planning is most useful when combined with a system of daily action. Above are a couple of systems that I use to help keep myself rolling.

Hope this helps,
gordo

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01 July 2007

de Castella & July


Our picture this week is Brandon and Scott post-run at Epic Camp New Zealand. We are accepting applications for our 2008 camps (New Zealand and Italy). If you are interested then head over to the Epic Web Site and send your details to Johno. As of today, we have spaces left in both camps.

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These individuals have riches just as we say that we "have a fever," when really the fever has us. -- Seneca
I pulled the above quote from The 4-Hour Workweek, which I've now finished. You can substitute different words for "riches" -- fitness; knowledge; beauty; success...

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Jeff "Dr. J" Shilt has written our next article over on Alternative Perspectives. Jeff's taken the time to medically interpret the dreaded "GI-Shutdown" that occurs to many athletes during competition.

One of the characteristics of an effective coach is the ability to share knowledge in different formats. Technical discussions are not my forte -- Jeff points out that while I get the "gist" correct, my terminology can often "need improvement".

He's kindly agreed to share his technical knowledge on a range of subjects and I'll be posting his articles in the future.

You'll also find an article by my good friend, Clas Bjorling. Clas has agreed to write a series of articles that take us from his high school years to an 8:15 Ironman time (and beyond). This is certainly an Alternative Perspective because (as you'll read) Clas and I achieved Ironman success from very different backgrounds.

Like me, Clas believes that the best remains to come!

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Finally, if you are looking for Alternative Perspectives of what it is like to train directly with me then head to John Shilt's Blog -- he's documenting his summer as one of The Lads. If you scroll down then you'll find a listing of all The Lads as well as their Blog links.

Before you feel too sorry for John's self-detonation yesterday I'll share a quote following the "nothing special ride" that we had scheduled on Tuesday (after his track session)...

"G, you would have been proud of me I was really disciplined there, kept the heart rate to 162 bpm".
As an ultra-endurance athlete, the most dangerous aspect of "letting" yourself do hard training is that it resets your internal perception of effort. Very few athletes have a limiter of going "too easy" in their races.

At the time that John felt that we were being controlled we were going 30-40 miles per hour.

I was sitting on 145 bpm and knew that I was engaged in some impromptu tempo! I'd also done a track session and was amazed at how "easy" it felt. This is likely the mechanism that screws up our early bike perception (when we swim too fast).

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de Castella on Running

I am in a BIG training week right now so I'm going to hit this in point form. Hopefully, you'll be able to pull some useful info out of here.

#1 -- the most interesting thing to me (as a high-volume guy) is the author's ability to maximize his genetic potential with a training program that was 11-15 hours of training per week. This was in a deep, highly competitive sport. For a period of time, he was the best marathoner in the world.

#2 -- there was total commitment of his inner circle to HIS success. His inner circle consisted of his wife; his training buddies and his work. His consistency was amazing with up to 1,000 day running streaks.

As an aside, last week a friend asked me how he could get a person to care more about their career (the underlying point, possibly, being that if this person improved their career then he could focus more on his non-career goals).

Some points...


a -- if I could only get my wife to support me more... // consider if you are worthy of support! If you want someone to support you then they need to believe in you and deeply desire to help you. In other words, the support that we receive from our inner circle is directly proportional to the support we give back. True leadership is earned and must be personified/renewed daily. If you are seeking leadership so that you can kick back and cruise on the efforts of others -- your team will see through you, immediately.


b -- placing the burden of our achievement on another person -- these are fear-based excuses. True leadership comes from creating our own circumstances for success.


c -- Every morning ask yourself, what are the actions that I can take (today) that will directly impact my ability to achieve my goals? Most people spend their time on items that have ZERO bearing on what they are seeking to achieve. Does constantly surfing the internet directly support the most important items in your life? These habits are tough to break -- I know because I'm working on it too!


#3 -- "I kept believing that I could win" -- one of the secrets of success is deeply knowing that you can win. That doesn't mean that it is certain -- it simply means that if you keep doing your absolute best then you have a shot. Many of the self-sabotaging actions that I witness in athletics result from the athlete lacking self belief.

#4 -- "Train below your threshold." -- Training is a method to achieve "fitness". Fitness being the components necessary for effective competition. (paraphrase...) "I had to make compromises because I knew that I had to train the next day." By threshold, de Castella refers to our maximum limit, not a physiological point of intensity.

***Most athletes train until they can train no more. Early in his career, de Castella did this as well. However, he learned from that and rarely repeated his mistakes. In my own program, my training partners very, very, very rarely see my best.

#5 -- "Strength" -- the capacity to muster speed when exhausted. His program was built around the creation of race strength. If this works for a "short" event like a marathon then consider how appropriate it is for a "long" event like most triathlons.

#6 -- Pace merely provides feedback -- training is based on effort.

#7 -- The fastest time comes from building effort. Run evenly, finish strong.

While, de Castella writes that he doesn't "believe in" periodization. He did believe in phasing his year to build the various components of race performance (fitness). My "working athlete" approach fits very well into his Basic Week with variation based on the competitive and natural seasons.

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July
I thought that I'd share my most common summer training mistakes with you. By writing them down here, I hope to avoid them over the next seven weeks.

These warnings apply to all sports and are most appropriate as your fitness grows. The closer you get to maximum fitness, the closer you get to blowing it all.

No doubt, some of you will think that I am writing directly to you... as I told the Lads last week. If you feel something when you read my writing then consider who is doing the feeling!

#1 -- PB Training -- when things are going very well in training, slow down and pat yourself on the back. As you experience life best training performance, relax and accept the increased fitness. Resist the urge to "go hard" on every session. Learn to operate slightly below your limits.

#2 -- Nutrition -- as your key sessions become more demanding, you will need to increase your focus on nutrition. There is no faster way to end your season than long/intense training that is done in a depleted state. Depletion and dehydration training will not bring success.

#3 -- Weight -- you can improve your body composition // or // you can pursue life best training. You can't do both. Nutritional stress must be low when training stress is high. This point will make a lot more sense after you've blown it, believe me!

#4 -- Bonus Intensity -- nearly all the decent athletes that I train with will use their increased fitness to train "one-level-up" on all their sessions. Know your physiological zones and stick to your plan. Most athletes are unable to execute their plans in a group situation. There is huge race day upside from training yourself to execute on your own terms.

#5 -- Group Training -- you never know how hard your training partners are working. The guys that are dropping you on Tuesday may be taking most of the week off. Let your training partners be strong -- it will make it more fun when you crush them at your next A-race.

#6 -- Benchmarking -- Don't benchmark yourself off anyone that fails to do every _meter_ of your weekly program (especially your running). Be wary of keying off athletes that consistently race below their training performances -- use them but don't emulate them.

#7 -- Recovery -- nearly all highly motivated athletes will not recover until they are physically unable to train. The bulk of your competition are completely unable to sort their recovery... you can give yourself a huge advantage by planning (then executing) your unloading periods.

#8 -- Specific Preparation -- no matter what you try to tell yourself -- riding the wattage roller coaster on the wheel of a fast ironman guy is not an express ticket to success. Use the "crazy" aspects of the group for your fast training, and use it sparingly.

#9 -- Big Dog Riding -- if you are one of the stronger guys in your group then try this... ride 20 meters off the back of the group for the first 90-120 minutes of the ride (a strategic early ride pee is good for this). You'll get gapped for a bit. Once you roll back up to the group (first dip in team motivation) -- pull the lads for 30-60 minutes. Each time someone comes around you -- let the gap open up to 10 meters and wait until they come back. Pull for some more until another guy takes off.

In June, the lads never came back to me (!). It was lonely but great training! As my fitness increases, I'm able to hang in for longer. Of course, now that The Lads are reading this... I fully expect a concerted effort to work me.

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Yesterday was our second wedding anniversary. After an eight-hour training day, we headed out to dinner at a local restaurant. After a bit of prodding, I managed to get Mrs. Byrn to offer up my key point for Year Three -- asking how she is doing more often.

From the beginning of our relationship, my #1 goal has been to help Monica feel love(d). In fact, that's been top of my list for a while now.

With that in place everything else falls into line.

Cheers,
gordo

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