April 19, 2018 - Sven Huisman

About running, improving and my new job

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
A nice quote I can relate to. Not only to my professional career, but also to my effort of getting faster at running.

(A similar quote is “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”, but I think the first one is more fitting to my little story). 😀

I’m very excited to write about the company I will be joining, starting May 1st. But first, to give you an impression of how I think about setting goals, putting in the effort and why I need to challenge myself to improve and keep me motivated, I start with a brief history of my running experiences. (And to impress you with my running results ;-), you can follow me on Strava).

I can call myself a runner for about 6 years now. I started running because I wanted to be fit, healthy and lose some weight. After running on and off for half a year, maybe one, sometimes two times a week, I needed an extra motivation to keep on running. So I decided to sign up for a half marathon. 6 months later, in October 2013, I ran my first half marathon. I finished in 1:38:42, not bad for a first half marathon. At that time I thought I maybe could improve this time, but not with more than 5 minutes or so.
One year later I ran my second half marathon. This time I was better prepared, trained three times a week and was ready to improve my personal best (PB). I started the race too fast, had no energy left at 12K but still managed to finish the race in a time of 1:34:10.

So what’s next I thought? I could probably improve my PB on the half marathon with a couple of minutes, or I could step out of my comfort zone and sign up for the full marathon. I decided it was time to go for it, and so I started training for the marathon. To be able to finish a marathon I needed to change my running-schedule. I went from three to four times a week of running and added interval-training and tempo-runs to my schedule. In the meantime, I improved my half marathon PB to 1:29:16.

In October 2015 I ran my first marathon. I started the race knowing that everybody told me to enjoy it and that my goal should be to just finish the marathon. But I like to set the bar high so I aimed for 3:15 and I was very happy to finish in 3:12:54! It was only a couple of hours after finishing my first marathon when I was already thinking about my next goal. For an amateur marathon runner, a finish time under 3 hours (sub3) is a magical number. Why wouldn’t I be capable of doing that? So I decided that a sub3 marathon should be my next goal. Unfortunately, I got injured, but I came back stronger. I increased my frequency of runs per week to five and a year later (2016) I ran my second marathon in 2:58:51! Mission accomplished!

Marathon Amsterdam 2016

I kept on running, wanted to improve my PB on the marathon but I failed due to hot weather conditions at race-day (attempted in April 2017). I started to run shorter races and I ran personal bests on various distances between 5K and 21K.

In October 2017 I reached the age of 40. A good moment to look back what I achieved and to set new goals. As most people told me I would get slower after 40, I decided I wanted to improve all my running personal records. Within 4 months, I did just that (except for the marathon, which is still on my to-do list):
5K: 18:03 -> 17:50
10K: 39:00 -> 37:43
15K: 59:20 -> 56:54
10M: 1:03:14 -> 59:54
21.1K (13.1M): 1:23:54 -> 1:19:54

Not bad for a 40-year old IT-consultant, right? And a nice side effect of all this running is losing 20kg (44lbs) along the way :-).

The conclusion of my running “career” so far: I like to challenge myself (step out of my comfort zone), I want to keep improving myself, and I need to keep changing my training schedule to get faster and to keep me motivated. In the (near) future I will not get any faster anymore (an annoying side effect of getting older). So by then, I will have to find a new challenge. Maybe run a foreign marathon like Boston or New York. Maybe run a more challenging marathon, like the Great Wall marathon or the ice marathon in Antarctica. Or what about an ultra run, 60K, 100K or maybe 100 miles of non-stop running? I don’t know yet, but for now, I still have a marathon PB to beat (as I failed again two weeks ago due to hot weather conditions – 3:02:25).

Great Wall Marathon

© Licensed to London News Pictures. Photo credit: Mike King/LNP

So what’s all this running has to do with my professional career? First of all, running keeps me healthy and gives me energy (which most employers would encourage). But I can also compare my running-history to my professional career.
In 2005 I had my first experiences with virtualization (professionally, that is). It was something new and a technology to be excited about to be working with. I can compare my first experiences with virtualization to me starting with running. In 2008 I started blogging because I wanted to share my experiences with virtualization and end-user computing. As I got more visibility in the virtualization-community, I got awarded as vExpert (compared to running my first half marathon) and got offered a job at PQR, a leading company in virtualization in the Netherlands. I can compare joining PQR with running my first marathon (stepping out of my comfort zone), it took my career to the next level.
In the 8 years I worked at PQR, I worked with great colleagues, worked on challenging projects and worked on a lot of “community projects”, like Project Virtual Reality Check, help writing Smackdown whitepapers (VDI, UEM), (co-)develop the PQR Experience Center and presenting at various events. If I would compare all these experiences to my running-history, I guess I could say joining PQR is compared to changing my running schedule from two to five times a week and improving all my personal bests. 🙂

As I mentioned at the start of this blog post, I’m changing jobs. I’m ready for a new challenge, for the next step in my career. For a while, I was thinking what it would be like to work for a vendor and when I saw this opportunity I thought it was the perfect match for me.
So I’m proud to announce that I will be joining the Nutanix family as a Solutions Architect EUC, starting May 1st.

In this role my responsibilities will be (among others):
• Work with Pre-Sales and Post-Sales engineers to resolve technical issues regarding EUC solutions on Nutanix (initially with the focus on VMware EUC)
• Run and optimize popular benchmarks and load tests EUC software products
• Install, configure, and validate key commercial software products on lab equipment
• Debug performance issues and suggest code/design improvements to the core data path engineering team
• Create performance best practices and reference architectures

I’m really looking forward to getting started at Nutanix and if I would compare this next step in my career to my running goals, it will probably be like running a 100 mile ultra run on the Great Wall which has been moved to Antarctica.:-) But as I said before, I like to set the bar high and I’m up for the challenge!
And as I started with a quote, I like to finish with one as well. The great runner Emil Zátopek once said:

“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.”

I guess I can say I will experience a different life, starting May 1st!


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