Friday, May 28, 2010

Resting

I had grand plans for today. I'm four miles away from running a marathon over five days (4 on Monday, 7 on Tuesday, 4 on Wednesday, 7 on Thursday), which would be kind-of cool. It's a great day to bike into work. I really wanted to watch another episode of Dexter, and that would have involved an intimate date with my spinning bike.

Alas, as I walked the dogs at 5AM, I only had one through on my mind - rest. My ankle has been chiming in, since yesterday's run, that it's not really happy with me. My eyes, when I close them, let out a sigh of relief. Between the workouts, and work, and rehearsals, and trying to mow the lawn, I needed just a little bit of extra shut-eye this morning. I refuse to feel guilty about it.

It's a Friday at the office, meaning that I have a series of conference calls with vendors that I've been pushing off all week. I'll continue my silly little "10 pushups every time I close or open my office door" routine, and I'll finish mowing my lawn (allergies & hunger got in the way after I had completed half of the lawn) if the weather cooperates when I get home. But that's it - I'm going to give my legs a day off. However, as it's a holiday weekend, I'll be out & about as much as I can.

Saturday is my godson's first birthday, and I'll live it up there. Maybe a short run or bicycle ride in the morning. Maybe I'll end up mowing the lawn, but the primary activity will be hugging babies, family members, & old friends.

Sunday, well, now we get fun. There's a picnic some afternoon, but that's really it, and the weather is supposed to be beautiful. I'm going to try to get myself up & about by 9 and bike for three hours over Waggoner's & Doubling Gaps. I haven't done any hill work so far this year.

Monday is completely open -- I'll finish up anything at the house that needs to be done, and then I'll figure things out. I want to head up King's Gap, because it's pretty . . . and, of course, spend time with my little guy, but I'm tempted to take my running show on the road. We'll see how things play out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I think my iPhone is dying

This morning started out a bit iffy. CJ woke up early -- right around 4AM. I got up, changed him (little brat starts laughing as soon as he recognizes me, like he was yelling but just really wanted to see his daddy), took him back over to the bedroom for feeding. It's now just past four o'clock in the morning - but since daddy got out of bed, it means that it's time for the puppies to start their own thing. I did not sleep between bringing CJ back from the crib & the alarm going off just after five.

So I get up, put the weight-vest on, take the puppies for their walk, feed the puppies, and head out for a run. So far, things are mostly normal (just with reduced sleep), but I happen to notice, 3 miles into what would become a 7 mile run, that my audiobook just stops. By the time I've managed to wrestle my iPhone from my pocket, it's started back up again . . . but then it goes into double time. And, it just continues: stop, normal, doubletime, normal, stop....

I thought maybe it was just that file, so I tried it with straight-up music, and the same happened. And then proceeded to get worse (it would switch, at first, every 30-60 seconds, and then every 5). I'll take a look this afternoon to see if anybody else has reported the same and/or fixed this issue. But, part of me is thinking that I've dropped this damn thing too many times, banged it once too often, stuck it in my pocket with my car keys . . . dead from abuse.

If it is the end, it's been a fun ride -- I've had some good MP3 players, but the MP3 player that I don't need to worry about hearing the phone during long bike rides. See, if I'm out, not really caring about the world - sometimes the world cares about me. Most notably, an urgent call from the wife, or my mom . . . the iPhone is really good about letting me know that somebody is trying to call through. See, my phone is almost always set to silent, so it's rare for me to know that somebody is calling through. If this is the end, I'll be getting a new iPhone - but I really wanted to wait for the new release to come out. We shall see.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Biggest Loser / Weight Does Not Equal Health

Last night was the finale of The Biggest Loser Season 9. This is a show that I'm relatively disappointed in myself for watching, but the same thing happens every season:

  1. NBC announces the contestants, I try to ignore things
  2. Flipping through channels some random Tuesday night, I stumble upon the show and watch for 5-10 minutes, turning things off when excessive crying and/or excessive in-show-advertising gets to me
  3. Every week from that point forward, I tune in to more & more of the show.
  4. Eventually, I find myself rooting for individuals, and nearly tearing up when the contestants turn on the water works.

However, I have a real love/hate relationship with this show. As somebody who has struggled with his weight all of his adult life, I know that weight does not equal health. I've likely weighed more than 320 pounds at two points in my life (before my senior year of college & two-years after graduating college). I've weighed as "little" as 170 pounds (about 4 months after getting married). Anytime I know what my weight is, I obsess about it. I've written about not wanting to know my weight before, and I'm sure that I'll write about it again.

I can tell you that I'm healthier right now, with a bit of a middle about me, than I was at my lowest weight. Weight does not equal health - my blood pressure is lower these days. I have more stamina in just about everything. I'm not obsessing about calorie count & I think I'm in a better place, mentally. Still, though, at the beginning of The Biggest Loser, reducing weight is certainly the most important thing toward the general health of the contestants.

So, I watch the show, I tell myself that everybody is way too obsessed about weight, marvel at what the trainers are able to get out of the contestants (they're best friends, witch doctors, interrogators, and torturers all in one), wish that they'd start a "moderate loser" because I'd totally kick ass on that show (you put me on "the ranch" for a month, away from work, and I'll come back ripped), and get angry at the end when the biggest person who started ends up winning. See, the weight-loss is truly remarkable for everybody -- but, there are people who simply don't have much fat to lose at the end of the game. I really feel badly for them - because try as you might, if you don't have fat to lose, you can't lose weight & be healthy about it. Organs weigh what they weigh. Bones weigh what they weigh (and, if you lose bone weight, you're either an amputee or you're undergoing osteoporosis). If you don't have excess fat, good on you - but they should make a contingency in the competition for anybody who gets down to x% body fat, give those people a big-ass check, allow them to continue getting TV time, but get them out of the competition. I'd much rather see calculations of VO2MAX for people once they get to that place, rather than just a scale reading.

With all of that said, this season's winner lost the equivalent of what I think I weigh, which is pretty fucking impressive. To lose the equivalent weight of a tall, overweight, runner/cyclist? That's a jaw-dropping achievement.

Speaking of scales, the scale on Biggest Loser pisses me the fuck off. I know it's there to create drama, but grrrrrrrr....

So, in conclusion, I really think they should do more to encourage health by putting less focus on weight on The Biggest Loser (yes, I know it takes a very simple formula and makes it complicated), but they suck me in every season, and they certainly do more good than harm for the individual competitors. Though, as this season proved, when you're not on "the ranch", living day-to-day and being healthy is a lot more difficult. I really hope they'll have a full season of just "follow-up" visits to previous contestants . . . I think it's important for people who struggle with weight/health issues to see familiar faces & the issues those people are dealing with. I was incredibly fat and I lost a lot of weight, to the point where I was incredibly skinny. Trying to maintain, I put in a lot of weight . . . that "loser" part is only the start to a healthy lifestyle. Let's concentrate on the "living" part, too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Getting out of bed & out of the house

I managed a seven mile run this morning. I very nearly went back to bed, instead, though. Un/fortunately, I have an epic alarm system in the house. Not only is my alarm clock incredibly loud, but it's on the other side of the room. This means that I need to physically get out of bed in order to turn it off -- and "go back to bed" is a bit easier to overcome than "stay in bed for just a little while longer".

Of course, once I'm up, going back to bed is really not an option -- I've got these three little workout buddies who don't take "no" for an answer too often, and one must deal with these three once the alarm goes off.

The blond dog is Hobbes, a rescued Cairn terrier and oldest of the pack. He enjoys the morning walk more than either of the other dogs, but if it weren't for the other dogs, I'm pretty sure I'd be able to sleep in for a bit. On a lazy Saturday (though these are pretty rare these days), he'll hang out in bed will past 8 or 9. Of course, at some point, if he realizes that it's nice outside, there is no pacifying him without a walk.

The brown dog is Snickelfritz, a border terrier, and he's easily the most difficult of the three to deal with in the morning. He's the most food-driven dog I've ever known . . . once he thinks it might be time to start the day, he gets super cuddly & whiny, just waiting for breakfast. The morning walk is simply the price of admission to a bowl of kibble.

Cosmo, the black dog (a yorkie-poo), is the wildcard in the bunch. Hobbes, we can convince to lie down & wait. Snickelfritz takes some more prodding, but I can get him to lie back down and fall asleep most of the time. Cosmo, though - he marches to his own beat. Not only will he wake you up at 3 in the morning in order to lift the covers because he's cold, but he'll also tackle either dog as we try to remain asleep, knowing that he'll get what he wants (attention).

This morning, the alarm actually went off -- normally either CJ starts fussing or the dogs irritate me that I'm up before the buzzer. So, I get up, deal with an overexcited Snickelfritz (he knows that breakfast is right around the corner, so he starts barking - maybe it will make it come faster?), head downstairs, put my 20 pound weight vest on, and I'm out the door. 1.5 miles later, the dogs were fed . . . and I very nearly went back to bed.

The only reason that I managed to get out for the run was because I was already up. I convinced myself that I wouldn't actually fall back asleep for the next hour - so why not run. Somehow, that logic worked (John at 5:30 in the morning is easily convinced of most things) . . . I'm just surprised I was "with it" enough in order to come up with the argument in the first place.

As far as the distance - this is the furthest that I've ever run during a pre-work run. It's 10 times around the .7 mile track (that math is easy enough for me to handle), and I managed it in just under an hour. Of course, I couldn't be bothered to put on the heart rate monitor & stopwatch at that time, so I don't know if my ending pace was anywhere near my early pace, but I felt pretty strong the entire time.

Of course, I'm especially hungry this morning -- I've had a grapefruit, banana, and a bunch of blueberries -- and I'm trying really, really hard to ignore the fact that somebody brought in doughnuts.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spinach/Avocado/Feta Black Bean Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

When I started writing here, I didn't intend to write too many recipes, but I've had a fair amount of feedback from the detail/picture of this meal that I decided to put things up here (in all honestly, I'm waiting for the last episode of Lost to start, so I just need something to keep me busy until then).

This evening started out pretty typically:

Me: What do you want for dinner?
The Rib: I don't know.
Me: Chinese?
The Rib: No, not feeling it tonight.
long pause
The Rib: I'll figure things out, do whatever you want.

This sounds like an ominous statement, but it's really typical in our marriage. My idea of "comfort food" is very different than The Rib's idea of "comfort food", so when we're not feeling anything, and we just want to relax - we end up making our own dinners. And me, I wanted burgers - but, well, I've given up all meat but seafood.

So, it was black bean burgers for me -- I offered to make these for the Rib, but she really wanted a "more typical" sub (and who am I to talk a pregnant woman out of a craving?). So, I called in a turkey sub at our local pizza place, picked up the ingredients, picked up the sub for the Rib, and got back home.

Sweet Potato Fries

  • One large sweet potato
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Powder

Peel sweet potato and slice into the fry shape of your choice, place in large mixing bowl. Add just enough olive oil to lightly (but fully) coat all of the fries -- for this, it was just over a teaspoon. Add a bunch of garlic powder, mix everything together, and bake at 425o for 35 minutes.

I started with the sweet potato fries, which are really, really easy (see sidebar, right), but take a little bit of time to bake. As these were baking, I went through with the bulk of the meal.

Spinach/Avocado/Feta Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 vidalia onion
  • handful of baby spinach
  • 1 avocado
  • Feta cheese
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil

Finely chop the onion & sautee in a small amount of olive oil. As that is cooking, finely chop the spinach (this is the worst part of the whole thing - I hate chopping fresh spinach) and red bell pepper. Peel & shred the carrots. Half & slice the avocado. Drain the black beans.

Add black beans, chopped red bell pepper, shredded carrot, chopped spinach, sliced avocado, and feta to a mixing bowl. Pulverize the black beans (mixing in whatever you can of the other ingredients as this goes on), and then mix all ingredients. Add just enough breadcrumbs so that you'll be able to form this pulp into burgers (I can't stress this enough - less is more here). You should be able to form four large burgers or six normal sized burgers from the mix.

Grill over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, turning often. Serve on buns.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bicycle Commuting Q&A

Since I became a father, I don't bike to work nearly as much as I used to (or, really, as much as I'd like to do), but I still get a ton of questions about commuting. As today is Bike-to-Work Day, I thought I'd enumerate them. While I'm both the questioner & the answerer here, I can honestly say that I've gotten these questions in some way, shape, or form in the past couple of years.

How far a commute is it for you?
20 miles
20, miles - don't only crazy people bike 20 miles a day?
Actually, it's 20 miles each way (40 miles / day). I may, however, be crazy.
Aren't you absolutely knackered when you get to work?
If I push myself at all during the commute, it's only on the way home. I see the entire trip in as a moderate-workout that just so happens to end immediately when I get to work. So, no - I'm not tired.
Aren't you all smelly & gross for the day?
While I build up a decent sweat on the way into work (I'm not Chris Traeger from Parks & Recreation), I've found that sweat only really stinks if it goes untended for awhile. I don't have shower facilities at work, so I get in, towel off, wash my face, apply deodorant, get dressed. If my odor is offensive, nobody has said anything about it.
I know you work in a business professional establishment, how do you get your clothes in?
My laptop bag doubles as a garment bag, so I pack the day's business clothes before I leave in the morning. I leave shoes at the office, as I rarely have occasion to wear brown dress shoes outside of the office, and saving a few pounds of gear for the commute is a good thing.
Have you ever forgotten to pack your clothes?
I keep an emergency set of clothes at the office, for just such an occasion, but I've only had to resort to that clothing set while driving (I was rear ended, with no damage done to my truck. However, I was taking a sip of coffee at the time). I have, however, forgotten to pack underwear.
Why do you need to remember to pack underwear?
My silly silly bicycle pants are essentially a wrestling singlet with a whole lot of padding in the crotch. If I were to wear underwear with it, friction would be introduced in a very unpleasant manner. So, I need to remember to bring in underwear -- if I forget, commando I go.
Commando, ewwwww!
That's not a question.
What's the terrain like on your commute?
I'd define the twenty miles as flat with rolling hills - you can see a readout of today's commute at my TrailGuru page (though I have no idea why we lost my route randomly near the end).
Don't your naughty bits hurt while you ride?
I'll have another post, for another time, about naughty-bit tingling (and of having to reach in & physically retract "the boys"), but no - I'm quite comfortable when I ride. I have an unpadded, leather saddle that is just absolutely wonderful - once you're biking more than a dozen miles or so, the less padding you have on the saddle, the better.
Should I commute by bicycle to work?
The short answer is yes - though I would make sure that I've traveled a similar, if not identical route on a weekend, just to ensure you're up for it.
If I wanted to buy a bicycle, where should I start?
Your local bike shop. You can find good deals online (especially on Craig's List), but I'd really only recommend buying from such a place if you really know what you're doing. Any decent bike shop will be able to talk you through the different options you'll face with a bicycle & (this is the big thing) professionally fit the bicycle to your body before you leave. If everything is set right for you, riding is pleasant . . . if something is "out of wack", riding will become incredibly uncomfortable, quickly.
Do you commute during bad weather?
I always look at the weather report for the day before I head out. If they're calling for a chance of rain on a day that I was planning to commute by bike, I'll head out. If they're calling for torrential thunderstorms, I'll drive.
What do you do in the winter?
In short, I don't commute, though the cold wouldn't be the reason why. I have cold-weather gear, and I have biked in the cold on several occasions (the trick is to just be warm enough when you start, therefore you won't overheat during the ride). I happen to live in Central PA, which is an area with very little traffic. But I work near several major corporate offices, and the evening rush hour is a bit of a mess. Adding the dark to the mix might not be a fun idea.
Do you have any issues with cars?
For the most part, no. I'm a great big bearded, tattooed guy, wearing a bright orange or yellow t-shirt with reflective strips with lights blaring both in front of and behind me (a Down Low Glow may be installed at some point). People see me coming. Sometimes, somebody will pass the "stop" line at a stop sign by a large amount, and that will force me to slam on my breaks. The only real issue is at a traffic light. If I see that nobody is making a right-hand turn, I'll sometimes ignore more sound advice and sneak up the right hand shoulder. The problem is that, if somebody is making a left-hand turn, sometimes somebody going straight will swerve around that left-hand turner. Haven't come close to getting hit here, but I've made eye contact with drivers in this situation before we figured out what was going on.
Have you ever had a close call?
Only once - I was on my way home, on an open road. As I normally do, I was hugging the white line of the shoulder (I don't actually ride on the shoulder, as that is where you find a lot of road debris & broken glass, and stuff like that tends to be bad for a bicycle) when somebody drove past me and then made a right-hand turn. I slammed on my breaks, my rear tire actually left the ground (though it was far from flipping me over) and I ended up about an inch from the person who turned in front of me. I shouted at her, she shouted at me, I leaned to the side to take a look at her license plate & she sped off. I waited a few minutes for my heart rate to return to a normal range, and then I continued on my way home.
Doesn't commuting by bicycle take a ton of extra time?
Not really, though it typically does take longer than driving. As I stated previously, rush hour where I work is a madhouse -- I'm able to bike by most everything. Each way, I'd say it takes an additional half hour.
Your legs must be like sculpture.
That's not a question, but I will say that I do have nice legs. However, since I've started running, I've been working out muscles that I haven't used all that much previously. So, now, while my legs are probably the strongest they've ever been, they don't look as defined as they do when I'm primarily only cycling.
For as much as you bike, why are you fat?
"Fat", perhaps, is a relative term -- but I certainly have more of me around the midsection than I'd like. The simple answer is that I enjoy eating more than just about anything else. If I woke up tomorrow and found that wine, beer, and cheese were no longer found on Earth, I'd be skinny in no time flat. Unfortunately, I allow myself a few too many rewards for the workouts I do.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

When plans get in the way

I woke up a little before 5 because the kid was crying, then at 5 the alarm went off . . . I put my FiveFingers on, then my sweat pants (yeah, when I'm tired I'll put my shoes on before my pants), then a T-Shirt, then my heavy sweatshirt. Eventually I put on the puppy belt and left the house with the three dogs in tow. Only, once I actually started walking, I realized that I didn't need my sweats.

So, I took off my heavy sweatshirt and proceeded to take off my sweatpants before realizing that I wasn't wearing shorts underneath (though I usually do). The dogs & I walked for a few miles - not nearly as long a walk as Hobbes wanted, but since Snickelfritz views a walk as a simple distraction in the way of breakfast, he wasn't too eager to take a second trip around the park.

After feeding my fine furry friends, I ran upstairs to hop in the shower - it would have been a great day to bike into work -- but then I remembered that we might be having dinner with my mom. Home to work is 20 miles. Work to my mom's is 30 miles -- and I need to go right by work in order to get to my mom's. In other words, biking into work would have meant biking to my mom's after work and then biking the 50 miles back home, leaving between 7 & 8, arriving between 9 & 11. I don't mind biking long, long distances - and I have lights with a long-lasting battery so that I can bike as safely as possible in the dark -- but biking relatively unknown roads, when I have to work the next day? Methinks not.

Don't fret, though - I did have an active morning . . . instead of biking into work, I took the hour & 20 minutes to run. Of course, this is now 5:30 in the morning and I'm not exactly thinking straight, so I lost track of the number of laps I ran around the park. I think it's safe to say that I ran between 6 & 9 miles in the 60-75 minutes that I was running - all the while listening to The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.

The way to work this morning was relatively traffic-free. I've only had one conference call. I managed a great walk to pick up a salad for lunch without injuring myself! Of course, dinner with my mom was canceled this evening, but I'm still in a very, very good mood. I'll get home, get a quick bike ride in before teaching bass lessons (I would have canceled lessons had my mom expected me for dinner), then as tomorrow is Bike to Work Day, I'll follow my holiday - the weather looks great & I've got nothing scheduled that I need to plan around.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Entertainment

This week has really sucked for working out the way I like to work out. First, fussy baby. Second, cold temperatures. Third, rain. I'm hopeful that the weather will clear up for the rest of the week (the forecasts appear clear - but I distrust weathermen), but my great plans for this week have been altered.

Fortunately, this means that I get new ways to entertain myself as I work out. See, I need something to distract me while I test my endurance limits. Without something, I start concentrating on my breathing, then my pace, then I start thinking about work or something else -- and suddenly I'm making excuses to start doing that other thing, rather than continue working out.

As I've been doing things indoors, I have television in my entertainment arsenal. When I'm on the road (and, therefore, looking at something other than the road would probably be a bad thing), audiobooks typically capture me (though I'll switch to music every now & then). The last two mornings? Dexter. It's a show that I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of, then just stopped watching. There wasn't a real reason - I just never started up with the 3rd season. With everybody & their mother telling me that the last season of Dexter was absolutely brilliant, I've started back up; 30 minutes on the spinning bike, 15 minutes of ab work, 15 minutes to cool down & check email.

Working out while watching something is a very, very different experience - I much prefer working out outdoors -- even though I'm not very fast, I'm at least going somewhere. But, I'll admit that I'm really, really eager to see what happens with Dexter if he becomes a father...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Sunday Brunch

This is an absolute horrible start to "bike to work week". I had grand plans -- run on Monday & Wednesday, bike Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday -- and then bike the 67 mile "Tour de Cure" on Sunday after my symphony concert (as I won't be able to ride during the actual event, due to the fact that I have my first major concert with my band). So, instead of talking about biking, I'll talk about food.

I had an awesome brunch on Sunday. Normally, my Sundays are pretty structured - wake up early, take care of the dogs, try to convince the Mrs. that she should take the first shower so that I can sleep in, finally get ready for church, and then fight with the organ for a few hours. By the time I'm back home, I'm ready for a nap. However, as the Greek Festival took place this weekend, there was no choir, meaning that I had the "day off".

After a little bit of sleeping in, I had the dogs & CJ on the road by 9AM, and we went for a good 3 mile walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day (as opposed to the dreariness that we're experiencing now), and it was just a fun time -- plus, it allowed Duffy to sleep in a little. After the walk, I came back to the house & decided to make myself a salad.

John's Super-Awesome Salad

  • Spring Mix
  • 1 Rome Apple (sliced, with skin
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced & "mushed"
  • 1 handful of baby carrots, chopped
  • pinch of slivered almonds
  • handful of croutons
  • handful of snow peas
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • Sweet vidalia onion salad dressing

I got the idea, as I get most of my ideas for running, from "Born to Run", where the author talks about eating salad for breakfast (as opposed to more traditional breakfast foods). The thought it pretty straight-forward: salads have a lot of water, so hydration isn't really a worry; you can eat as much as you want without worrying too much about calorie intake (though I'm not sure anybody who says "eat as much as you want" ever has my ideas of food intake in mind); they're tasty. Well, it turns out that my salad was super-tasty. I enjoyed my great big salad before embarking on a 4 mile run.

Speaking of running, I had hoped to run this morning if the weather didn't cooperate in allowing me to bike to work (and, it turned out, the weather did not cooperate). My thinking was as such: I ran in the "Race for the Cure" in an absolute downpour - so how would getting a little wet change anything? Well, temperatures were at least comfortable during the "Race for the Cure". This morning? Downright frigid. So, I don't mind running in the rain. And I don't mind running in the cold. But, running in the cold, while it's raining? Not my cup of tea.

And speaking of tea -- I'm going no coffee for today, so, yes, I'm off to make myself a cuppa...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Injuries are Annoying

I think I can safely say that I've become a runner. No - that gives the impression that I move fast, and I don't. Maybe I can safely say that I'm a jogger? Still, no - "jogging" has a connotation of moving swiftly . . . I can safely say that I'm a meanderer? I move about. I think, by the definition of the word "run", when it comes to speed-walking, that I'm actually running as there are times that both of my feet are not touching the ground (a qualifier for disqualification in a speedwalking competition if my "watching the Olympics while eating potato chips" education means anything).

Yes, I can safely say that I've become a meanderer, though my body tells me that I'm "running" during these meandering sessions (turns out that working out and writing really aren't any different for me). But, qualifying whatever the hell I'm doing isn't the purpose of this post (there's a purpose?). I hate injuries.

A few weeks ago, I made my first bicycle commute into the office. My schedule these days is a bit more complex than it was at one point -- I have symphony rehearsals on Mondays, teach bass lessons on Tuesdays, have band practice on Wednesdays . . . oh, and I have an infant son with a newborn daughter expected to join us before the summer really turns up the heat. So, I haven't gotten to bike into work much -- and the one fateful May Thursday was awesome. While my times were truly horrendous, it was just great to get biking again -- and I told myself that it was going to become a weekly occurrence. Then Friday hit. I went for a walk around the office -- wasn't really paying attention & stepped funny on the sidewalk. My left ankle "popped", but I kept on going with some discomfort.

That night, I got home, took off my shoe, and said "oh, dear", as my ankle was quite swollen (though not entirely painful, yet). The next day, I could barely walk, and I could barely walk on the damn joint for almost 2 weeks. Just as I was starting to hit my stride with my workout regimen, getting to enjoy the old (cycling) and the new (meandering), I had to put the brakes on.

The ankle took forever to heal - after a week, I made myself go to the doctor, just to ensure that there wasn't something seriously wrong (it never felt too bad, but a full week without any recognizable improvement lead me to worry). After some poking & prodding, I had the doctor stumped. See, I could walk on it, which generally means that nothing was broken. But, it was really, really swollen, and the epicenter of the pain said "this might be a bone issue". I mean, the doctor actually pulled out a plastic model of the foot bone structure - not to demonstrate what I had done to myself, but to try to figure out what was done. After some x-rays, it was confirmed that there wasn't anything really wrong - I was just being a baby with a really swollen joint. The final diagnosis is that I sprained the joint, but sprained it in an area that nobody ever sprains their ankle.

So, I went several weeks with barely working out. I did start a new rule -- as I've been overcome with conference calls at work, and I close my door for every conference call (so as to not irritate anybody in hailing distance to my office), I force myself to do pushups when I close and then open my office door. I also cleaned off the cat stuff from my weight bench & started lifting a bit -- I was simply going stir-crazy without being able to do much in the way of aerobic exercise.

Well, the ankle swelling is nearly gone now. Every now & then, I'll notice a little twinge, and apparently I still have a bit of a limp, though I've gotten back into running. I managed four miles on Friday after spending much of the day driving, four more on Sunday before heading out for an all-afternoon band practice, and then four more this morning before work. No real complaints (aside from a bit of soreness) from the joint, so I don't think I'm doing too much harm.

So, the rest of this week will hopefully see me fully back on track with the plan, though the dog-walking has already started in full-force once again. Eating, I've actually been pretty good throughout the injury recovery -- fruit + yogurt for breakfasts, salads or leftovers for lunch, snacks of fruit throughout the day. As this is national "bike to work week", I am hoping for three commutes (Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday - which is "bike to work day").