I’m Here to Help You

  • Be clear.
  • Be specific.
  • Reduce uncertainty.
  • Speak to the most pressing need.
  • Keep running. You still have a long way to go.

No, I did not just come down off the mountain of some Tony Robbins motivational speech. No, I did not use the featureless timescape of shelter-in-place to read all of the self-help books heretofore exerting their gravitational force on my office’s shelves. Instead, I am recalling one long night in June of 2019.

Some of you know I dabble in the sport of ultramarathon. These are (usually) trail races that exceed a distance of 26.2 miles. The sport’s Super Bowl is the Western States Endurance Run. One hundred miles on foot, from Squaw Valley to Auburn, CA, mostly following the trail of the historic Tevis Cup horse ride. This might be a good place to remind readers that horses are generally not as bright as humans, but back to the story. You might be surprised to know that there are so many applicants for entry each year that, for most, a lottery provides the only remote shot at toeing the start line.

Like with many things in life, there are exceptions. Since it takes even trained ultra runners almost, if not more than, 24 hours to cover 100 rugged miles, let’s say you volunteer to pull an overnight shift at one of the aid stations that service the course? You might then be eligible for one of the few spots reserved for and assigned to aid station captains, to dole out at their discretion. Now, when I say “aid station” I don’t mean a folding table lined with cups of warm Gatorade. At “States,” we’re talking huge productions with food, medical, HAM radio operators, spectators and pacers. One, in particular and to which I had access through my running club, Tamalpa Runners, sits at “Rucky Chucky.” Here, at just under Mile 80, runners traverse the American River, sometimes by wading via guide rope or, in high-water years like 2019, they are shuttled across on rafts.

So it was that I found myself on “the Far Side.” There, on its sandy and overgrown bank, we would help runners out of the rafts, undo their life vests, and send most of them on their way up into the darkness of the summer night via headlamp. It was a surreal scene. At one point shortly after midnight, I found myself working alongside another volunteer. This individual, a young man who clearly had some first responder experience, stood prominently at the front of the line and enthusiastically directed the runners in a clear, loud voice as they clambered off the rafts in various states of exhaustion and quasi-delirium. Here’s a paraphrased smattering of what was hitting their ears:

  • “Runner 146, I am here for you. You are doing great. Come directly up and I will help you take off your life jacket!”
  • “Runner 318, I have been waiting for you. Keep up the great work! Look right at me. I will take care of everything for you.”
  • “You are looking great, Runner 212. I will assist you from here. Proceed to me, watch your step and don’t worry about anything else.”

I could not believe what I was hearing and experiencing. The comfort I — the guy who was NOT running — felt each time he directed an athlete in this manner was palpable. Ah, the sweet relief of not having to make another decision in my tired state! The reassurance the runners must have experienced in the dead of that night may have touched them for just an instant, but isn’t that what execution of all imposing tasks requires? They are almost always a series of individual moments where doubt must be quashed and the spark to continue must be ignited yet again, and again, and again.

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The 2020 Western States Endurance Run has been canceled due to COVID-19. There will be no race this June, no Rucky Chucky support crew, and my own dream to someday run will have to be postponed. But upon hearing the news of the cancellation, I recalled my experience volunteering. In this uncertain, weary, stressful time, I was encouraged to revisit my communication strategy with my clients and referral partners. Am I clear? Do I project certainty, optimism and offer a beacon of help? Do I help eliminate the stress of unnecessary choices and do I help get them on their way to their own success, even if my role will not necessarily be remembered in the chaos of all else going on? We, in many of our professional roles, are ultimately in a service business. How we go about assisting others in the toughest of times, in the dark of night, when we least feel like doing it, says the most about what we’re made of and who we really are. And that…that can never be canceled.

One day, 100 miles,

 

Rob Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Lock Watch for the Week of 2/11/2019

Volatility-O-Meter:

Amid a backdrop of economic slowdown abroad, the US kicks off the week quietly but then things ought to heat up. And let’s not forget the threat of another government shutdown (Nightmare on Elm St. Part II).

Economicalendar (all times are Pacific):

  • Mon, 2/11:   Quiet.
  • Tues, 2/12:   JOLTS (7am).
  • Weds, 2/13:   CPI (5:30am). Treasury Budget (11am).
  • Thurs, 2/14:  Jobless Claims, PPI, Retail Sales (5:30am). Business Inventories (10am).
  • Fri, 2/15:    Empire State Mfg Survey and Import/Export Prices (5:30am). Consumer Sentiment (7am).

10-Year Treasury History

  • 2.66%   Market Open
  • 2.72%   One Week Ago
  • 2.71%   One Month Ago
  • 2.86%   One Year Ago

Coastal Trails Golden Gate 50K

On Saturday I ran my first “ultramarathon.” The Coastal Trails Golden Gate 50K (that’s 31 miles for us non-metric folk and 33.6 miles for us looking-at-my-Garmin-Fenix5-running-watch-stats folks) was, to cut to the ‘being chased’, a tale of suffering the likes of which I have not felt in some time. Even though I would consider myself a “seasoned” endurance athlete as a result of 14 Ironman triathlon finishes and countless other long distance competitions, not much could have prepared me for the exquisite combination of distance, climbs and descents, cold rain and mud that I experienced on this glorious day. Now, granted, hardcore ultramarathoners will consider my journey here, and 50K itself, a dance among the daffodils, but when career and parenting conspire to allow you to run only 15 to 20 miles a week in training, giving a fat 30 miles a go elevates the term ‘Weekend Warrior’ to a whole ‘nother level.

Anyway, let’s get dirty. The race started at Rodeo Beach and despite the rainy forecast, the day could only muster breaking clear and cold. From sea level, there is nowhere to go but up and that’s exactly what we did, climbing the Coastal Trail past Battery Townsley and up over the ridge to then descend into Tennessee Valley — another awesome place for a nice hike. But again, today was not that day. From TV, we headed up the Fox Trail and then descended into the Pirate’s Cove loop, which is Marin coastal scenery at its best. The weather held nicely and the muddy, uneven steps out of the loop were manageable. By the time we were back on the valley floor we were about 10 miles into our day and ready to tackle the long, steady Marincello ascent towards Wolfback Ridge. I was hanging in on the descent to the Golden Gate Bridge but somewhere along the subsequent climb alongside Conzelman Road I started to feel the fatigue of 16+ miles setting in. But still, not even halfway there.

The Persians have a saying, “The drowning man is not disturbed by the rain,” and oh, did this prove to be true. On the long descent back to Rodeo Beach, the rain set in, the skies grew dark and it got cold. The two, short and steep insulting stretches along the Coastal Trail at the bottom of the descent were mud-choked runnels of Slip-and-Slide fun. And so it was that I returned to the start area again and headed back up the hill for loop two. But not after a very kind volunteer helped me pull a fleece hat out of my running vest and send me off with words of encouragement. One thing I learned while racing long ago? Don’t linger at transition points that come through any start/finish area. The temptation to bail is too great and it makes succumbing to such temptation much easier. In fact, don’t even look at the festivities. Keep moving.

I somehow managed to top out without too much pain. I even descended consistently and with gratitude, as for this loop we did not need to retrace the Pirate’s Cove section. Instead, we turned right back up Marincello and repeated the half marathon loop. It was on that descent that I realized my training-deficient legs had the endurance to run only about 24 miles and that the remainder of this day, if I was to complete it, would be a mixed bag of hiking the ascents quickly, running downhill gingerly on my shattered quads and then playing a game of mental poker comprised of the phantasmogoric next hands of psychological milestones I could soon reach before throwing in the proverbial sponge.

Just shy of 6 hours, I brought her in. My wife and son were there in the rain to greet me. Despite the self-inflicted hardships and what the author of this post might otherwise have you believe, this was a profoundly moving experience. And it was also an important step on the path to a larger goal. Like most such endeavors, it didn’t go exactly to plan and it was way bigger than myself. Part of what excites me now is the prospect of figuring out how to do it better. What seems daunting at this moment, will be the skill and ability I will possess later. And I will be better for having stuck with it.

Get there when you get there,

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283