90 in 90 – To Be Continued…

On Thursday (or day 60), I was able to log two more miles at a pace of 8:25/mile toward my personal challenge of running 90 miles in 90 days. This two mile run had put the number of miles completed at 61. I was ahead of schedule again!

And then this happened: Hello foot, have you met the couch leg? Allow me to introduce you. 

Yep. Inadvertently slammed my left foot – my 4th & 5th toes to be exact – into one of the legs of our couch. I’m no stranger to stubbing my toes, but this time was different. It was all over pretty quick, with me hobbling over to an open spot on the floor, laying down, and thinking (and saying) some rather unpleasant things. The worst part was that I was pretty sure I heard something snap or crack when it all happened. Last night’s treatment of said injury consisted of taping my toes together (“buddy taping” or “buddy splint”), elevated my foot and applied some ice, and then went to sleep hoping that it would be fine the next morning - nothing more than a little sore and bruised.

Nope – not so much.

Remember that snap or crack sound I though I heard? Well, I definitely fractured (broke) my little toe, which has become my first ever broken bone in 30 years, 11 months, and 23 days of life. For those of you playing at home, that’s just a week short of my 31st birthday. Ugh.

What does this mean for my 90 in 90? Well, it means that the remaining 29 days and any miles I would have accumulated during them will have to be postponed for about 8-10 weeks. No running until closer to the end of August. I’m very bummed out about this, especially since I was in a position to get a comfortable lead of miles over days.

So for now, and with only 29 miles and 29 days left, I’ll just hit the pause button, save my progress, and come back to conquer the end of my 90 in 90 challenge another day.

90 Miles in 90 Days: Update 2

With my upcoming wedding to Tammi now only 33 days away and since I haven’t updated in a while, I figured it would be a good time to post an update on my personal challenge of running 90 miles in 90 days.

Since the last update, I was able to stay on pace fairly well. Every day or every other day, I’d get out there and run maybe 2 miles at minimum just to stay on pace. However, then I took a personal vacation across the country and while I fully intended to run during this time, I slacked. I dropped off pace and it’s been a gradual up-hill climb to cut down the, at one time, almost 10 miles that I was off pace.

So, here’s the update: I’m officially back on pace.

Tonight, I completed a two mile run that puts me at 57 miles over 57 days (or 63% complete). My average distance is hovering around 2.5 to 3 miles per run, with my average pace per is right around 9:45/mile. Running a little further per run as of late and just a hint faster on average. I’d say that’s progress, even if it’s slow going.

Keep in mind, I had said the following in my last update:

“…this goal could be completed by running one mile, every day, for 90 days. Personally, I would much rather get ahead and stay ahead.”

So yeah, I dropped off pace and fell behind, but I’m right back in it and set to get ahead again. Lesson here? Simple. Just because you fall behind, doesn’t mean your goal is out of reachit just means playing catch up will suck. And catching up DOES suck, but it’s not impossible.

Going for 90 miles in 90 days might not be the biggest goal in the world, but it’s MY goal. And with just over 30 days left to go, I can’t wait to crush it in the next few weeks.

Sidenote / reminder: if you need motivation to start running or to keep running, get on Twitter (or Instagram) and search #nikeplus and keep up with my journey to 90 by searching #90in90. 

90 Miles in 90 Days: Update #1

Two weeks ago, as a result of being inspired – or kind of freaked out – by being 3 months out from my upcoming wedding and not really in the shape I want to be, I set a personal goal to complete 90 miles in 90 days. That’s it. Whatever else comes with it – changes in diet, workout routine, etc – is secondary. I’ve made many attempts over the last year or so to re-establish my running routine and this (so far) is working. With that said, and since today is 14 days in, I thought it would be a good time for an initial progress update.

Keep in mind, this goal could be completed by running one mile, every day, for 90 days. Personally, I would much rather get ahead and stay ahead.

With that said, I’ve completed 18 miles over the last two weeks, which means I’m 20% of the way to my goal and 4 miles ahead of schedule. What helps make that stat even better is that I’ve only run 8 times over 14 days with an average distance of 2.25 miles/run with an average pace of 9:50/mile. Any run around 2 miles has been completed in under 20 minutes, and any run around 3 miles right at the 30 minute mark. All good things that can only get better.

Thank you to those who have cheered me on in person or online. It’s always great to get that cheering noise from the Nike+ app! In addition to tracking via Nike & RunKeeper, I also upload progress after every run to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram - usually with the standard “#dropNgimme20″ that I borrowed from the amazing Malinda Matney as well as from my wife-to-be, Tammi.

Sidenote: if you need motivation to start running or to keep running, get on Twitter (or Instagram) and search #nikeplus. There is an amazing community of runners out there. 

I’m not going to be winning any 5K’s any time soon. However, I am rebuilding my endurance and running on a more regular basis. While it would be great to crank out a sub-20 minute 3 mile like I used to, that’s not the primary goal.

The goal is 90 in 90 – and I’m on my way.

Kappa Kappa Psi SED Convention – Convention Recap #1

With the Southwest District Convention of Kappa Kappa Psi happening this weekend in Texas (no, I’m not there), I figured it’s time to share my reflections on the Southeast District (SED, from here on out) Convention that I attended March 21-23 in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve had more than enough time to process and reflect on the experience! What follows is the first in a three-part series of convention recaps posts covering two fraternity conventions, one professional conference, and assorted experiences in between.

This being my first time attending an SED Convention, I will say that I was very impressed with how the host chapters from Georgia Tech and district leadership worked together to present a well organized and enjoyable event. While there were many great take aways I could talk about, my recap of SED 2014 will touch on two main points:

  1. planning for the future (strategic planning)
  2. re-evaluating traditions

Planning for the Future (Strategic Planning)

Kelly Nellis, Kappa Kappa Psi National Vice President for Student Affairs, delivered a great presentation to a packed house on how chapters might approach chapter goal setting sessions in the future, but with the ultimate goal of helping chapters run more efficiently and effectively. It was interesting to hear why students chose to attend this particular presentation:

  • “Our chapter is a mess”
  • “The chapter needs to improve”
  • “We need to clarify our goals”

The list continues, but those seemed to be the underlying issues. Many of the students who chimed in, as well as a VAST majority of others in the room, indicated that they have chapter meetings that go for an HOUR or more. Suffice to say that those are (probably) not the most productive, nor pleasant, chapter meetings to sit in. Ugh. A few issues might contribute to this: 1) no clear-cut plan of attack for the meeting (an agenda) and/or 2) allowing for free-for-all conversation/commentary throughout the meeting. Rectifying these issues will help chapters move towards achieving their overall goals.

However, our chapters need to know who they are before they simply lay down a list of goals. One way to do this is to conduct a chapter SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. By doing so, chapters can learn what they do well, what they could do better, where there are opportunities for success, and what might hold the group back. It is important though that this process be a full chapter project, not just something done by the executive board. By incorporating the entire chapter, it helps to paint a more accurate representation of the organization.

Once a chapter has a basic idea of who they are, then it is time to start looking at goals. What is it that the chapter wants to achieve? What would the chapter strive for if there were no limits on what was possible? Start with a large end goal and then work backward – this will help define what needs to happen along the way in order to make the large goal come to fruition.Regardless of the goals, chapters should ensure that the goals are SMART. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. Following this format, chapters will lay down a framework for how the goals will be achieved, any deadlines, and how they will assess if they make sense to even pursue.

Re-Evaluating “Traditions”

After a chapter identifies its strengths, weaknesses, and so on and then establishes their goals, the next challenge may come in the form of chapter traditions. Christine Beason (current KKPsi National President), Kelly Nellis, Dr. Kirk Randazzo, and Dr. Malinda Matney (past KKPsi National Presidents) engaged the fraternity delegation in a candid discussion on how members might work to re-evaluate their chapter traditions. But where should a chapter start? With the leadership.

Before I proceed though, let me be clear - my definition of leadership (picked up while working in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke) is that leadership is actionnot position. Leadership is when a group of people who are able (and willing) come together to influence positive change. These are those chapter members who motivate, take on the tasks that aren’t popular, hold themselves accountable, and influence others responsibly to execute a shared vision.

  • “…but this is how we’ve always done it.” Nope, I call bullshit.

As a leader, your primary objective is to help inspire the group towards achieving the shared vision and goals that were just established. Where does the existing “tradition” fit in? If the answer is that “it doesn’t”, then it might be time to re-evaluate that tradition. If your chapter’s goal is to win best organization on campus, then some of the more questionable traditions might need to get the boot. Remember: just because you have traditions doesn’t mean they aren’t incredibly stupid.

  • How do we navigate re-evaluating / changing our traditions?

First and foremost – and this cannot be stressed enough – start small. You have an idea of what should be based on your organization’s vision/goals/etc. Share this vision with other members, particularly those who are of a similar mindset. This will help to develop buy-in later as the idea progresses to the whole chapter. Also, remember that changing a tradition takes time and will likely not happen overnight. Your fellow members (hopefully) want the best for the organization, regardless of how they feel about certain traditions.

  • Okay, we’ve made some changes, but our alumni aren’t as thrilled about them…help!

Your alumni are an important link to the past of the organization. They have great stories about their own individual experiences as well as of the organization as a whole. They may have participated in some of the traditions that you’ve recently re-evaluated/change and they some alumni might be okay with the changes, some might be upset, and some may not even care. What is important to remember here is that their time as an active member has come and gone. The local chapter was, in most cases, founded before they were even born, evolved multiple times before they even joined, and will continue to do so long after the current members join the ranks of alumni. What might have been relevant to an active member in 1985, might not be to an active member in 2025. The current organization should reassure alumni members that they, as individuals, have a place and are always welcome back. However, they should also be made aware that visions and goals change over time, and some traditions may just need to go.

The Take-Aways

Planning for the Future / Strategic Planning

  1. Meetings that go an hour or more are no fun. Establish an agenda or some other plan of attack and stick to it.
  2. Allow each person who wishes to speak have their chance before allowing repeat speakers.
  3. ALSO, keep a running list of interested speakers. When someone wants to talk, acknowledge & add them to the list, and then have them put their hands down – it’ll keep the focus on the current speaker.
  4. Figure out what makes your chapter tick - conduct a SWOT analysis.
  5. Establish the END goal first when goal planning then figure out the smaller tasks to get you there.
  6. Make your goals SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound

Re-Evaluating Traditions

  1. Leadership is action, not position. Leaders influence positive change in the organization.
  2. Line up your traditions with your vision and goals. “This is how we’ve always done it” shouldn’t be the justification.
  3. Establish buy-in. Get a few other members on board, then a few more, and THEN go for the large group.
  4. Alumni aren’t active anymore – you are. The organization needs to reflect the people who are in it NOW.

Leaving ATL

As stated before, the 2014 SED Convention was a fantastic event. The content of presentations was incredibly relevant and seemed to flow nicely together, especially the two sessions that I chose to review. These sessions made sense and hopefully these take aways made it back to the local chapters.

As always, it was great to visit with friends from all over the region/country that I haven’t seen in some time. Between enjoying a humorous brunch at Babs’ and getting to visit the World of Coca-Cola, I would say this was a successful trip to Atlanta – a city that I would normally avoid simply for the traffic woes alone. It’s actually a great city to visit and I look forward to visiting again.

90 Miles – 90 Days

This past weekend officially marked 3 months, or 90 days, until Tammi and I get married.

Holy crap. It feels like just yesterday we were in Cleveland getting engaged.

Don’t get me wrong though – it’s not the wedding planning logistics that has me concerned – we’re actually ahead of schedule in a lot of ways. It is, however, the personal wellness part of the equation on my part that has me feeling much more like Grumpy Cat. Early last fall, I had hit a fantastic milestone – I had dropped approximately 20 pounds and was back in a good place with my running and workout routine. That was then. Today, I’m back up those 20 pounds and pretty much lost all the progress I had made throughout 2013 on my running.

So, yesterday I decided to go for a run. While I was out I decided to set a short-term personal goal to make some positive change in my own wellness. That goal?

Complete (at least) 90 miles in 90 days. That’s it.

The plan is just to run – or as Tammi and I often say – “get dem miles”. I’ll use the  Nike+ (during runs) and RunKeeper apps to track my mileage, duration, and so on. While the primary objective is 90 in 90, I’ll also keep track of food intake via the LoseIt! app to track any changes in weight.

 

That’s my goal – what’s yours?

Update: As of today, I’m at 4 miles.

Phil and Maynard

The last week of March / first week of April is not really a great time of the year for me and could best be described as an emotional rollercoaster – complete with the highs, lows, loop-de-loops, sharp turns, and stomach turning moments. But before I touch on that, you might need some back story to bring you up to speed.

***

In September of 2002, I was broadsided with some pretty awful news. Only a few short weeks after I had began my first year of college, I got a phone call from one of my father’s co-workers informing me that he (my father) had been exhibiting some rather odd and erratic behaviors – from as simple as spacing out for long periods of time to as complex as forgetting the combination to the store safe, a combination that had not changed in 28 years. To make a longer story a little shorter, after a number of hospital visits, I was informed that my father had brain cancer, probably the most aggressive type he could have. Doctors did everything they could (which was a LOT) and our family rallied to be as supportive as possible. However, about a year and a half later on March 29, 2004, my father lost his battle.

In 2007, the family found out news of a similar nature, only this time about my grandfather (dad’s dad). He had been experiencing some odd lower abdominal pains, thankfully though not super severe. Unfortunately, this led to one of many doctor appointments which revealed a type of pancreatic cancer. It spread quickly, but you couldn’t really tell because he just kept on going as if it was just another day. This continued until April 2, 2008, when he went peacefully.

***

This year, March 29th and April 2nd marked the 10th and 6th anniversaries of their respective passings. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long. What is more surprising is how that week has actually went - emotionally, that is. I thought for sure, and feared, that I would be a complete mess. However, I find myself in a good place this time around. I kept plenty busy – attending Kappa Kappa Psi North Central District Convention, getting to see my students at Aurora High School perform their way to a 3rd place state finish, attended the ACPA conference in Indianapolis, and even got to meet a first cousin for the very first time after 30 years. Needless to say, there was a lot happening in a span of only a few days, but dad and grandpa were (and still are) heavy on my mind.

So, I suppose there are two significant take-aways from this post. First, being able to take the time to reflect and remember two men who had such a significant impact and influence on who I am today. The other seems cliché, but it does bear repeating and that is a reminder to take advantage of every opportunity you have with someone because the next opportunity isn’t promised.

I miss my dad and I miss my grandpa, but I hope that with each passing day I am doing the things that would have made them proud.

Three Generations – Maynard, Preston, & Philip Ramsey (2001).

Convention Recaps

It’s March and that means convention / conference season for many people. And yes, there are actually other things happening in the world right now besides college basketball – though you wouldn’t be able to tell based on my location (Dayton & Indianapolis). But I digress…

March is prime conference season and this means attending professional development conferences such as ACPA – where I am now in Indy – as well as attending regional conventions of Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma – where I was this past weekend in Dayton and two weeks ago in Atlanta. Busy to say the least, but definitely learning a great deal throughout.

What I hope to do is recap some of the information I’ve gained as a result of attending all of these events over the last few weeks. As an alumnus of Kappa Kappa Psi, I still find that I learn more and more about my organization and how I can help it grow. As a student affairs professional seeking that next gig, I’m building on my existing knowledge base and figuring out how that will allow me to better serve students.

So I hope that you’ll stay tuned over the next week or so as I clean up my notes, put thought-to-keyboard, and re-live some of the highs (and hopefully not many of the lows) of the convention season.