Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Weekly Wednesday Update #17

Goal Update
Last week was a light week (every 4th week) for running and biking, but my mental workout was overloaded. Took that wonderful Professional Engineering Exam last Friday and survived to talk about it. Now its time to wait for the results. In the meantime, I found trail running is fun, but can be dangerous (I fell, scraped up my hand a little bit; all is good.) What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Also, tacos make you stronger. Trust me.

Weekly update
Miles Swam: 0 [2.89]
Miles Run: 20.49 [382.69] ← need 17.3 more before Monday to hit 400 in 4 months!
Tacos Ate: 15 [334]
Miles Biked: 26.17 [635.5] ← when you nearly run as much as you bike… #judgement

Things I worked on

Took that test and then got my brain functioning again. 8 hours of intense engineering problems is exhausting. I think I got some stuff done; I’ll let you be the judge.

Waste board bolted down
Painted Rubix Cube Coasters 
Carving a new project
More to come this weekend; have several things on the list because I will be out of town for the next 3 weekends! Look forward to a blog post, some Instagram pictures and potentially a product on Etsy!
Favorite Podcast of the Week
I recommend that you have a pen and notepad near by during this one. Lots of great information - “you are what you eat!”
Diet-induced inflammation is responsible for the majority of all health-related diseases in the United States. Eating unhealthy foods does more than just make you fat and clog your arteries with plaque, it also negatively affects every major organ in the body, including the brain. Dave welcomes Dr. Bill Sears onto Bulletproof Radio to talk about what types of foods cause the most inflammation, and the simple diet and exercise tips and tricks that can be taken to undo the damage and prolong life.

Favorite Quote(s) of the Week

"Every time someone tells me their dream just doesn’t fit the reality they live in, I get all fired up. Of course it doesn’t. That’s why it’s a dream that you have to MAKE a reality. Giving up on your dream just because no one has ever done it before is what everyone else does." - Lewis Howes

“It seems innocent enough — but 15 minutes per day for 365 days = 1 week OF YOUR LIFE.”  - Noah Kagen

Random of the Week

If you haven’t noticed, I may be considered a cronic self-learner. I get interested in something, then go figure out how it works/how to do it/what it means/how to improve it/etc. That's probably why I became an engineer. Over the last 1.5 years, as I have been spending the 48 minute commute back and forth to work each day listening to podcasts instead of the radio or music, I have realized how little I actually know.

Seriously, it is amazing. Today, there are experts in absolutely everything; seriously, there is an expert in how to become an expert at something. Yes, that is ridiculous, but I think it makes a strong point. The one resource we are actually limited on is time. So instead of trying to teach yourself everything, why not utilize an expert in some area you want to improve in and become an expert? For example, let's say you want to lose weight. Well, you could read a billion hours of literature and then dissect it to find your perfect diet. Or you could hire someone who has already done that and trust there expert advice to lead you in the right direction. Congratulations, you now have a billion hours that you can spend doing something you enjoy.

End rant. Where did this randomness come from you may ask? Well, this is the random section of the blog, but honestly, I am realizing I want to be an expert engineer (hence the PE exam), an expert maker (I spend a lot of time and money to make something that I could buy off the shelf for pennies on the dollar), an expert runner (Boston Marathon), an expert triathlete (still working on this one, but $3k on a bike for fun… right) among other things. I am finding my time is always stretched thin. Simple proof - I know I should be getting 8+ hours of sleep with the training I do, yet I struggle to get 7 a night.

So, I think it’s time to listen to the experts and high performers and take advantage of an expert. I have been listening to the strength running podcast and honestly trust Matt. The training plans from a guy who took 100 minutes off a marathon time to qualify for boston, a collection of various training plans, strength programs, nutrition plans, live web Q&A coaching sessions and 500+ members trying to do the accomplish the same thing as me, qualify for boston? Yea, I just paid the $157 to become a lifetime member of the “Run your BQ” team.

What area(s) in your life can you outsource and get help in? What do you want to be an expert in, and what do you really want to be THE EXPERT in?

Time to write post: 24 minutes

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Weekly Wednesday Update #16

Goal Update
Allergies aren’t too bad; but that’s no excuse for the lack of miles (over 1000 Zach powered miles for the year). After Marathon Monday (Boston Marathon #121 was run on 4/17), I have the fever again. Sweeping declaration, BQ 2018 for me! Swimming is lacking, brain is getting a hell of a workout, and I am using running and biking to refresh myself. This week is a much needed week of R&R, but I will probably hit it hard Friday night/Saturday after taking the PE exam for 8 hours on Friday to keep my sanity. In other more exciting news, I hit 300 tacos this week!

Weekly update
Miles Swam: 0 [2.89]
Miles Run: 21.41 [362.2]
Tacos Ate: 21 [319]
Miles Biked: 68.59 [790.24]

Things I worked on

Mechanical engineering problems. More engineering problems. Preparing exam references, purchasing a backup calculator (nerd alert!) and some exam snacks.
Professional Engineering Box of Knowledge
When I wasn’t preparing for the exam or outside on my bike or feet, I did manage to finish screwing down the T-track and cutting the MDF skins. Next step is to fasten the MDF skins down and build my stand-up desk version 2 (over the weekend). Looking forward to running the Z-carve with my newfound free time that I will somehow obtain by removing studying, increasing mileage, recovery and reading the stack of books I want to… Some may say  I need to re-evaluate.
T-Track with 0.75in MDF Skins
T-Track with screws every 3 in

Favorite Podcast of the Week

This may be my favorite podcast episode I have listened to. And with over listening to over 39 days of podcasts, that is saying a lot. Seriously, listen to this; it will change your life. Jerzy’s book “The Happy Body” is the first book I am reading after the exam. Any questions?

Favorite Quote(s) of the Week

“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” – Jerzy Gregorek

"Upgrade your belief to match your vision" – Lewis Howes

Random of the Week

This is going to be short and sweet as I need to get my act together for the 8-hour professional engineering exam I am taking Friday. My sleep has been lacking for the past week, but that stops tonight; sorry guys - I’ll make up for it next week. Some things that I have found interesting this week:
  • h2o PS - hop sparkling water
  • CNC flat pack furniture
  • Boston Marathon - Officially a goal of mine. Sub 3-hour marathon is as well. From marathon #1 to #2, I cut off over 30 minutes, so another 15ish is nothing. Also, sub3 is only 5 minutes faster than the BQ time for my age group (3:05:43 - 7:05/mile), which I need to run ~1.75 minutes faster (3:03:32 - 7:00/mile) than to have a good chance of getting into the race. So 3.5 minutes over 26 miles means a 6:50/mile will be my goal marathon pace for a 2:59:10 marathon; probably should make it an even 6:45/mile for some wiggle room and a 2:57 marathon. #iwasonlyhalfcrazy
Have a great week everyone! Do something crazy!

Time to write post: 23 minutes

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Weekly Wednesday Update #15

Goal Update
For some reason when the snow all melts and it becomes warm enough for me to run outside, I feel nothing but joy. And then the allergies hit me smack in the face and cause me to be dysfunctional at best for a week or two. So yay for warm weather and allergies! Luckily, I will be over the allergies soon and I can blindly struggle through biking (on my trainer) and running trails without my contacts in to make it more of an adventure race for the next week.

Weekly update
Miles Swam: 0 [2.89]
Miles Run: 18.32 [340.79]
Tacos Ate: 17 [298]
Miles Biked: 53.24 [721.65]

Things I worked on

The CNC control box was mounted, then removed in order to install the T-track and skins. Not sure what I did this past weekend, but I didn’t quite get it ready to go. While calibrating the machine, I did end up breaking one of my custom acrylic GT3 belt clips (bummer) so I had to engineer a solution (duct tape) to hold until I can cut out a new one out of a little more ductile material.
Z-Carve with T-Track [halfway] installed

I also began designing new structural plates for my disassembled original X-carve. From all the upgrades I did, I can basically make a second CNC machine using the remaining parts and buying a new control board. Call it poor planning on version 1? I call it blind luck as I will soon have two machines for the price of one! (don’t quote me or do the math). I plan on purchasing a Smoothieboard and then making a sick control box where I can swap between a CNC/laser engraver/cutter and a 3D printer. Eventually when I make enough money with the machines to pay for themselves I will buy yet another control board to have 3+ independent systems. Don’t judge.
A lot of my time was spent studying for the PE exam I will be taking a week from Friday. Next week will be slow as well, but then I should be free to make some awesome stuff! Stay tuned.

Favorite Podcast of the Week

If you have been following my blog for the past 15 weeks (wow this is going quick!), you have probably read a few rants about diet. I am always trying to adjust my diet to help me get to that next level of performance mentally and physically. Everyone that knows I train a lot believes I can pretty much eat anything I want to replace the nearly 1,000 calories I burnt running, biking and/or swimming that day. While this is true (my weight has fluctuated only +/- 10lbs from my Junior year of high school - today I am 5 lbs lighter than I graduated), I have found that a ‘bad run’ correlates directly with a ‘bad diet’ day. This podcast (and book that I will read after the PE exam) confirms my findings - diet can derail anybody’s running. Take a listen, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Favorite Quote(s) of the Week

"You should take the approach that you're wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong" - Elon Musk

“Don't create new products, solve problems.” - Numerous

Random of the Week

For some reason I have been in a big running mood this week. Maybe it has been because I have had several runs outside, maybe its because I am crazy/have a problem/[insert your excuse why you don’t run]. While relaxing or getting ready to call it a night I have found myself reading numerous articles on running training plans, running nutrition plans, running shoes, running gadgets, races to run, etc. At the end of last year when I made those sweeping goals to run 1000 miles, eat 1000 tacos and bike 2017 miles (swimming is still a battle - I’ll get there), I also thought, wouldn’t it be fun to qualify for Boston. Training on the treadmill has me in possibly the best shape I have ever been in April - I feel great and ready to push myself to that next level.

For those who have heard of the race predictor on Garmin products, there are varying reviews, but I believe there is no reason I can’t hit those goals. Honestly, the only reason I can think of why I haven’t run much faster than 7 minute miles for any extended period of time is fear. For some reason I set 7 minute miles as an arbitrary maximum pace for nearly anything from a 5k to a marathon. While I do need to run 7:05/mile to qualify for Boston (and effectively enter the 90th percentile of marathon runners), there is no reason I shouldn’t be running a 5k way faster than that. My immediate goal is to push myself and run a 5k at a 6:00/mile average (which my race predictor says should be my half marathon pace). Next will be a 10k in under 40 mins, then a half marathon in under 1:25, and finally a sub 3 hour marathon. Enough rant; time to run!

Predicted pace for each distance: 5K - 5:35, 10K - 5:47, 13.1 - 6:04, 26.2 - 6:21
What are you going to push yourself to do tomorrow? in the next week? the next month?

Time to write post: 45 minutes

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Weekly Wednesday Update #14

Goal Update
Another week of grinding it out. Need to get to the pool more often, but I am getting much more efficient swimming. My sets are getting longer, breaks shorter and most importantly I don’t feel like I am going to die. Got outside to run on Saturday, followed by a nice 12 miles on the dreadmill Monday... (insert Been steadily biking; may take the bike out for the maiden voyage on the road Sunday (highs near 70!) after it snows tomorrow… Classic Michigan…

Weekly update
Miles Swam: 1.25 [2.89]
Miles Run: 26.01 [322.47]
Tacos Ate: 22 [281]
Miles Biked: 48.36 [668.41]

Things I worked on

This week I did a little finishing work on the CNC control box; switching the motor halt switch from a normally opened button to a normally closed button so it would actually work (all other end stops are normally closed - TinyG requires them to all be the same), then I designed, painted and installed some hangers for the control box to attach to the table (to do this weekend). I plan to install the t-track and waste board over the weekend so that I can start making things again!
In the meantime, I installed a smart thermostat that I can control with my home automation platform (Smartthings - I should write up a review on that sometime), did some spring cleaning around the house, cleaned out my garage for future projects and spent a lot of time studying/doing problems for the PE exam coming up in just over 2 weeks. This section should get a bit busier once I get that exam off my plate.
Oh yea, almost forgot. I have been meaning to set up retropie on one of my raspberry pis and I finally did it! Pretty much followed this guide step by step and then added some ROMs, and then played Super Mario Brothers for a few hours… Oops.

Favorite Podcast of the Week

This podcast spoke to me; a lot of people chalk up their success to hard work, or those who feel cheated say others were lucky. This podcast gave me a refreshed outlook on luck and how if we work hard, more luck will seem to find us. Have a listen, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Favorite Quote(s) of the Week

"Preparation + skill + perseverance equals luck." - Jason Flom

“I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.” - Coleman Cox

Random of the Week

For those of you who have heard of SpaceX, did you see what they did last week? If you haven’t heard of SpaceX, stop reading and watch this video:

Okay now that we are on the same page, last week (3/30/2017) SpaceX launched and landed the first ever re-used rocket.

Why you may ask?
The answer is to make space flight economical.

Why would we want that?
For the same reason you backup your computer hard drive (if you don’t seriously, spend $20 to get an external hard drive and copy your important files to it monthly so you aren’t dead in the water when your hard drive decides to die).

But Zach, seriously how does making space travel economical equate to backing up your hard drive?
Simply put, by making space travel economical, we can make sure the human race does not suffer the fate of numerous life forms that have lived on earth and been wiped out through a massive extinction event.
Blue circle: People who can afford to go to Mars. Yellow circle: People who want to go to Mars. Green intersection: At least a million people
Copied from

Where did I get this idea?
Well there is an amazing blog called “” (seriously awesome domain name), created by Tim Urban, that explores various questions from a 4 part series on Elon Musk aka the real life Iron Man (Telsa, SpaceX, and everything else - a long, nerdy read, but AWESOME), to Why Cryonics Makes Sense, to Why you secretly hate cool bars. His blog posts are full of entertaining thoughts and details, which I tend to resonate with. If you have some free time and want to better yourself or be able to have weird nerdy conversations with me, please take a look at Tim’s blog.

Time to write post: 28 minutes