Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Look over there!

So, I've decided to re-launch my blog . . . writing, specifically, for healthy stuff just wasn't cutting it . . . so, yeah, I'm closing this down. Well, I'll keep it open for awhile, but I'm going to start posting at The Adventures of Daddy Runs a Lot now.

Thanks for checking in here, though

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Damn setbacks

It's 33 days until my marathon, and wouldn't you know that life just throws all of the curveballs that I can at me? Last week, I had a horrible stomach flu. I just wasn't feeling right as I walked my dogs in the morning, then I made it to my 6am videoteleconference, and then I made it to my other office. It was one of those things where I kept on feeling like I should be feeling better, but I felt worse throughout the morning, until the entire contents of my stomach started finding their way out of me. I'll be as polite as that.

So, that had me out of commission Monday & Tuesday...I could barely stand for periods of time, didn't go to work, really didn't do anything. Wednesday, I made it back to the office but running was far from my radar...Thursday, too, though I managed to actually feel like myself for a little bit. Friday saw me run for the first time all week, 4.5 miles without pushing myself - it felt good to be back.

My plans were to run a half-marathon on Saturday, and then run 2-3 miles on Sunday, just to get my legs back under me. I just got my Vibram Bikilas, I had just been sick, I didn't want to push myself too much, bring myself back too quickly (and I've conditioned myself well enough that 13 miles really isn't a "big thing" for me . . . my plan is to get that number to 25 so that I could run a marathon with minimal training, but I'm nowhere near that right now).

Alas, plans got in the way, and I only had 90 minutes to run, and try as I might, that's not enough time for me to get 13.1 miles out. But, I did run 9 miles . . . and gave myself a tremendous blister. No running Sunday - in fact, now, Tuesday, it's just starting to feel closer to back to normal, but it's still uncomfortable.

My schedule keeps me from running Monday & Tuesday, so I'll be running tomorrow with moleskin on my foot. Training setbacks are to be anticipated, but I really hoped to have completed a 22 mile run by this point . . . I'm not worried about the marathon just yet - but why can't bad shit happen in the middle of the winter, when I don't have the "big thing" on the horizon?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vegetables in Soceity

We had a "goodbye" lunch for a developer yesterday...and, as most any "we have no idea how many people will be attending"-type event is, we worked our way to a Chinese buffet. If you've ever been to a buffet with me, you know I see a buffet as a personal challenge. "There is all of this food here, and they're not going to stop you from eating," (cue John Pinette's "Chinese Buffet" bit) so I just keep on going. Of course, not eating meat, it makes my selections somewhat limited...a huge pile of vegetables grilled on the hibachi, a great big heaping pile of "mixed vegetables," and if I'm feeling really saucy, maybe a vegetable egg roll.

I looked at two of my coworkers, and our plates couldn't be more different. Well, they were both absolutely brimming with food, but there was nothing but meat on their plates. Seriously, just a stack of meat. We joked around for a little bit, but the end result was as simple as they "didn't like vegetables."

Seriously, they didn't eat vegetables because they didn't like them.

I'm brought back to my first fiancée, who didn't eat vegetables. When I was in college, I was a bit of a porker, but LOVED ordering Chinese with her, because she's order beef & broccoli, and I'd eat all of her broccoli. To this day, I'm told that my ex still doesn't eat vegetables, and has to play the "do as mommy says, not as mommy does" with the kid.

But, seriously, how do you live life not liking vegetables? I know vegetarianism isn't for everybody . . . but anti-vegetarianism? I don't get it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm Stylish, Dammit

So the Mad Woman Behind the Blog finds me stylish. Surely, you know of the Mad Woman, don't you? You don't? Well, go the fuck over to her place - she's funny, and smart, and hot, and, you know, actually fucking updates her blog on a regular basis. Really, she's among the best bloggers around and deserves your attention. And, she's pregnant, so if you don't go to visit her, she may just eat you.

Ok, where was I? Yeah, she finds me "stylish" and gave me an award. Obviously, she knows of the cold days where I've chosen to run in three layered sweatshirts and my Guitar Hero flannel pajama pants. Running, in the dead cold so that icicles formed in my beard so it looks like I just gave a truly sloppy blowjob. I mean, look at me, ain't I stylish?

Ok, enough snark. Thank you momma, for the award - which brings with it several conditions - first, seven things which you may not know about me.

  1. I was disqualified from a Pinewood Derby. My first try at the Pinewood Derby was pretty typical - 3rd grader gets the kit and wants to spend more time painting it than, you know, carving it. The result was that I had a wooden block that went down the track, and it didn't do too well. The next year, I designed the car with my dad. We came up with this sleek car, all weight taken by removing wood added as lead pellets to the rear of the vehicle. It was fast, it won a whole lot of races, to the point where I went onto the regional level. We moved the wheels further apart at the regionals, though, because that should have made for a faster vehicle on the track. It also violated the rules. Whoops. Read the rulebook first. Heh.
  2. I've been fortunate enough to consider myself a traveler. My grandfather started things - he went all over the world when he was a working man, but as I've learned myself, you really can't visit a place that you travel to while you work. So, he made a list of his favorite places and took his grandchildren with him while he actually got to see them. Between trips with him, and trips with school, and with my family, I've visited (in order, with most countries getting multiple visits) Mexico, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, Greece, and Great Britain. I love traveling, and I've been quite fortunate enough to get to do it as often as I have.
  3. My beard (which is more or less permanent) started on a whim. I was working for a company that had a strict "use it or lose it" policy with vacation. December came and I had been saving vacation on the chance that we'd get a last minute call about an adoption situation, so I had something like 7 days of vacation to use up. When you start throwing in holidays & weekends, well, I wasn't at work for two straight weeks. And, heaven knows I'm not about to shave when I don't need to. The result was that my beard had just moved from the "scruffy" to the "barely acceptable," and now it feels like it's a part of me.
  4. I am an absolute horror movie freak. If I need to put on something just to "have something on," I always prefer a B-Horror film...the faker the effects, the over-acted the happier I am. I've seen some truly silly films, and some truly deranged, but it's a little scary how much I enjoy them. That said, my favorite movie is a horror film that was quite subtle, Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In).
  5. I am fascinated by Christopher McCandless. No, I'm not about to pick up and spend a winter in Alaska without provisions, but damn if it's cool to say "I want to do that, I don't care if you think it's crazy, and I'm going to do it all by myself." I spend all day, every day, around a computer, and even if I'm not at a computer, it's not difficult to get a hold of me. Up & "unplugging" for an extended period of time has a real Siren's call. I think I can satiate the call with weekend & week-long camping trips, but the Wild, she calls to me.
  6. If I wasn't working in IT, I really think I'd find my calling as a health care professional - most likely in hospice care. Well, I'll always hold out hope of being a professional author, or playright, or composer, or recipe designer, or musician - I mean, it'd be really cool to make enough money via creative endeavors to get to the point where I can claim "independent wealth," but I really think I'd excel "helping people." I love meeting new people, getting to know someone, helping someone out. The dying, in our society, are kind of swept under the carpet. I don't know, but I just think it would be quite rewarding to know I was providing comfort to someone uncomfortable and scared.
  7. I have a single tattoo, and a single piercing, but I have plans for many more. Well, maybe not "many," but I certainly have plans for more. I think body art is a bit over-done these days. Nothing irks me more when you ask somebody about a tattoo on display to hear "I thought it looked cool." That said, it's the ultimate form of tribute - a piece of your skin devoted entirely to a memory/thought/person/event/idea. As long as they're personal & meaningful, I love body art. My current tattoo is on my right leg, a bicycle chain wrapping around & cutting into my skin . . . it's a reminder that, if I'm not doing something active, and I can be doing something active . . . well, maybe I should be. My next tattoo will be a sleeve on my left arm, filled with little bits & pieces (with holes left for the future) of symbols of my children.

Winning this award also dictates that I nominate seven other bloggers for the award...in no particular order:

  1. Rachel of Happy, Healthy, Homemade because she can cook some really healthy stuff has bionic boobs.
  2. Eleanor of Lelly's Musings because she keeps me motivated. Every day, I struggle to work out - Lelly cheers me on while I can swear I feel the smile emanating from her own post-workout tweets.
  3. Ken from Fat Kid Suit because it's a little uncanny how much alike we are. He's had weight issues, I've had weight issues. We've both had some serious attempts at changing our lives for the better that just didn't quite work out and we can't pinpoint why . . . sometimes, it's just better to know you're not going on a journey alone
  4. Chrissa from A Little Wicked & Lori from Oh Shit, She's Awake (yeah, two for the one because it's totally impossible to pay attention to one without the other, and their own friendship makes you like them as a whole even more) because they're witty, silly, beautiful, provocative, and currently churning out some of the best blog writing I've ever witnessed in their own 50-50 challenge.
  5. Dana of Amid Life's Crises because she's wickedly smart, tremendously sweet, has a great meme with her Sunday Secrets and if she keeps up her workout regimen, she's going to make me seem like I live life standing still.
  6. Allie from So I Had Cancer... because if you ever confuse my words for inspiring, you haven't read Allie.
  7. Pop from Go, Pop, Go! because, quite frankly, the future years of fatherhood scare the everliving shit out of me, and reading what Pop has gone through makes me think that I might just survive with my sense of humor intact...sometimes.

So, bloggers - go forth, spread the award, but most importantly, write!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I love sleep, and weather is an asshole

I had such grand plans. I truly did. I was going to run on Wednesday, rest on Thursday, run on Friday morning, wake up early to run on Saturday. Wake up early to run on Sunday. Rest on Monday. None of that happened. Even the days that I planned to rest? I really didn't rest.

Wednesday was raining. Like, really raining. I don't mind the rain - my first 5k was in a rain storm. My first, successful 100k bike ride was in a monsoon. But, as we're in that part of the year where winter turns to spring, my allergies go on high alert. And with my allergies on high alert, it doesn't take much to get me into "I have a cold" territory - and running in the rain seems to tempt fate. So, I didn't run. I, in fact, chose to spin (my thinking being that it's better to do something than nothing). So, I start up Super Troopers and my phone rings. "Hmmm, it sure is funny to have my phone ring at 5 in the morning on a Wednesday" I think to myself...it's work. There's a major issue.

Well, "major issue" means different things to different people - and the issue was not "major," but I don't do well with "there's an issue, just let it be" when you interrupt my plans . . . so I did not even spin. I did, however, manage to run that afternoon. I was home, so I might as well do something, and CJ was napping, but Leila was fussy - so into the jogging stroller she went. I'm not sure if she was awake or asleep, but she was quiet, and when I finished and got her out of ths stroller, she had a great big smile on her face.

So, Thursdays are Duffy's days to run, so Duffy ran on Thursday morning, and I took a rare "no band" Thursday night off. The next few days made me rethink that decision.

Friday morning, I woke up with a sore throat (this has progressed into a "productive cough," which is as fun as it sounds when you Google it, but, really, is not all that uncommon for me) and took things lightly. Then my world took me into King of Prussia for the afternoon, which turned into dinner with friends, which meant that I got home at 10pm . . . so there was no work out.

You know what I love? Sleep. Saturday was going to be a big day for me - I had to take all three of my pets to the vet for a yearly checkup, and then one of my best friends had an all-day bachelor party planned. So, if I wanted to run, it had to be at like 5am. And it was Saturday, and I love sleep. Didn't happen, and I still don't feel all that guilty about it. I slept, I parented, I took the animals to the vet, I bought liquor, I went to the party.

I got home from the party at about 1 in the morning...so running at 5AM on Sunday? Yeah, wasn't going to happen. The kids slept horribly, and the dogs were in their "hey, are you awake yet?" mode as soon as both of my little darlings were asleep, so I went to take them for a walk. But, alas, it was raining again. I managed 30 minutes of spinning until it was time for me to get myself ready for church.

Mondays are my "early day" at work, where I'm in at 6. So, if I want, I can run Tuesday afternoon, or get back on my schedule on Wednesday.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm still quite on track - it will be two weeks between "big runs" come a Saturday run, but I think it's quite possible (I'm thinking about going back to my first "big run" location, just for nostalgia sake), but that May 1 marathon is approaching. Despite the fact that clothes are fitting me better, I'm nervous. But, despite bachelor party snacks by the fistful, I'm eating well, and I'm hardly a bump on the log. I got this.

Monday, February 28, 2011

18 Mile Thoughts

I had to make my big decision before I went to bed. I had a commitment in the mid-morning (dress rehearsal for my symphony concert), so would I wake up early & run a smallish run, or would I wait until after rehearsal to see what kind of run I might be able to fit in.

The early morning had its draw - I mean, I'm used the early morning runs. Since I had some extra time, I'd be able to a little more than my standard 4-6 miles. I'd be able to get a 10 mile run in, head to rehearsal, and then play the rest of the day however I felt like it. But an afternoon run, well, I might be able to test just how "on target" I was for the May 1 marathon.

The kids were up early, and that kind of settled things. Duffy tried to deal with a persnickety CJ for awhile, but something clicked in my mind, and Leila decided that she wanted to play - so I relieved my wife in the kid-watching department. After getting them dressed and fed and keeping them entertained . . . well, it was to head to the dress rehearsal. That's ok, though, I really wanted the afternoon run.

Following the dress rehearsal and lovely family brunch, it was back home. Duffy wanted to run, so I got myself ready as I watched the kids and my wife ran. Then, she was home, and I went out.

My goal was 18 miles - this is the pretty standard "ready for a marathon" run, the theory being that adrenaline is enough to keep somebody going for 8.2 miles . . . although, damn, 8.2 miles is a long way to run on fumes. It was actually a nice-ish day - some cloud cover as the temperature neared the 50's. I left at 3:30, and if I could manage eighteen 10:00 miles, well, that fits neatly into three hours (and puts me well on pace for a 4:30 marathon).

Now, when I'm really running a long distance, I just try to keep things even. I don't want to be "too fast" so that I'm truly sucking wind mid-way through. At the same time, there is nothing worse than sprinting the last mile of a long run and feeling like you still had a lot left in the tank, that you took things way too easy at first.

I'm not even a mile into the run (I have Runkeeper set to chime in with my splits every mile, which is the only reason why I know the approximate distances throughout the run) when I hear something behind me. It's another runner, and he flies right by me. I know I'm not fast, but I have really fucking long legs - to feel like I'm walking as Usain Bolt sprints past? Well, it sucks.

So, I try to process being left in the dust. I knew I was taking it easy, and, ultimately, I'm running my run, he's running his run, so some random runner being faster than me makes absolutely no difference. I absolutely refuse to pick up my pace, even as he gets smaller against the horizon. In fact, I intentionally slow down....and then I hit the first mile mark, which I've hit in 9:02. I was convinced that I was running a 13:00 mile, so that's something.

I continue running in & out of the neighborhood, and then in & out of my own neighborhood, and then in & out of another neighborhood, consistently marking times between 9:00 and 10:12 / mile. I'm feeling good, but then I hit the golf course.

Somehwat near me is the Army Heritage museum, which is a really great little place. It's a walking trail that takes you through US military history - from Revolutionary War forts to Cold War tanks to Vietnam-Era helicopters, to World War II bunkers. It's also adjacent to the Carlisle Barracks golf course, which has a 2 mile jogging trail around it. I hit this right around the 10 mile mark, and my goal was to run everything three times and then work my way back home.

I'm used to running this, though, in bone dry conditions. It's packed pebbles, which aren't too bad to run on when dry, but in melted snow, wearing Vibram Five Fingers? It's pretty icky. Still, though - this was my plan, so I run the jogging trail, and then through the walking path, and then through the jogging trail, and then the walking path when it started to get dark.

Well, it was getting dark, and while I wanted to hit 18 miles, that number was just an "out of the air" number, and didn't really hold any significance. I'd work my way back home maybe run around my own neighborhood once or twice if the mileage isn't just where I want it.

As I ran through the muck, my times started to slow, but I really thought I attributed things to the icky conditions. I was stepping much more carefully, so 10:30, 11:00, even 12:00 miles weren't all that bad. Slipping and falling would be disastrous.

But, when I got back on the road, there was simply no picking up my pace. I could sprint if I needed to, but my "go" simply was turned down a few nothces. I made it back home, hitting the 17 mile mark at the very top of the biggest climb during the entire run. It was dark, and I was rapidly approaching three hours on the road. I decided to skip my 18 mile requirement and sprint my way back home.

17.25 miles in three hours. I was tired. But, I was able to lift my kids and climb the stairs and do all of those things that you're afraid to even try to do at the end of a run.

The Gettysburg marathon is in 60 days, and I'm feeling pretty good. Due to a blister on my right foot (a small hole opened up in the rubber coating the shoe, and I suspect a small stone snuck in - good excuse to buy a new pair of shoes), I took Sunday completely off, and I have early morning work commitments on Mondays, and Duffy runs on Tuesdays, so it will be Wednesday, at the earliest before I get to run again, but I may actually spin, instead, waiting for my new shoes to arrive (although I guess I could run in regular sneakers, but Super Troopers isn't going to watch itself, meow).

My favorite part, after a long weekend run, is how I feel a day or two later. My legs are mostly recovered, but they want to go. My hamstrings aren't quite tight, but I can feel them, as if they were springs ready to be spring. It actually takes restraint to sit at my desk and not just do jumping jacks or sprint to the end of the hall. I absolutely love this feeling - where your body is still in the recovery phase, but, at the same time, it wants more. It's nearly as addictive as logging that next mile.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Work Gets in the Way

So it's been a little while since I've posted, again. This really needs to stop happening. No excueses, remember? The issue is that I simply don't have the time in the day to do everything that I'd like to do.

I wake up before 4:30 every weekday, which sucks just as much as it sounds. I have a video teleconference with my offshore team in Manila at 6am on Mondays, so I'm out the door as soon as possible. Tuesdays & Thursdays are my wife's days to run, so I could get some writing done as she's out doing her thing. I could. But, I choose to get a little bit more sleep.

Then, Wednesdays and Fridays, I run in the mornings before work. Sure, I could sacrifice this time for writing, but I have this marathon in May, and, dammit, I'm gonna beat my Harrisburg marathon time. Plus, as we all know, I feel so much better throughout the day when I manage exercise in the mornings.

So, before work - no blogging.

After work - well, have I mentioned my kids lately? They're 15 months & 8 months and they're handfuls. Actually, all things considered, they're not too bad to take care of - but, two kids under a year & a half old . . . yeah, there's not a lot of "free time" that I can spend at a computer.

That leaves work itself. And, unfortunately, I'm quite busy at the new job (don't snicker, I actually am). I can spend a few minutes writing here or there, but that would cut into the few minutes I spend following bloggers. Seriously, I can't miss new pieces from A Diary of a Mad Woman or Pretty All True or Fat Kid Suit or A Little Wicked or Oh Shit, She's Awake or Momma Kiss or Have We Met? or Amid Life's Crises or Funny or Snot or The Kitten that Dates or Mental Poo or City Midwife or my first blogging crush Jen's Voices? I spend what time I have checking in on these writers, commenting where I can, and between work & stuff, well, that's the end of the day for me.

The thing is, there are certain activities that I simply feel better when I make time for them every day - exercise, meditatate, perform, and write (yes, perverts, you can add something else to this list, too). I need to find time to write - be it here or for myself...take the crazy that lives between my ears & let it out for little bits at a time.

About that blog roll, though? Read through them - as you read, if you're not drawn to be a better writer, yourself, well, you're simply not subject to whimsy.

Ok - so that sums up why I haven't been here as often as I should...how is everything else going? Well, it's a rollercoaster. I live in Pennsylvania and this winter has included a fair amount of snow & ice. This means that I haven't been able to run like I want to. As weekends are perfect times for road trips, my long runs don't always happen on schedule. However, I really think I'm ready, today, for a marathon, if I absolutely had to (becuase, you know, there are armed gunmen standing outside that will make me run 26.2 miles because, dammit, if someone doesn't run a marathon right now, the bunny gets shot). Considering I have a full two months left before my next big adventure in making myself tired, I'm well on track.

This morning, it was 7F outside, with a significant breeze - I did not run. I did, however, watch Super Troopers as I spend some time on my spinning bike & with my free weights. Meow.

Eating - well, I have a fun story which, on the surface, appears to have nothing to do with eating. As I was making my way to my father's 65th birthday party last weekend, I stopped to get gas. It was a beautiful, though very windy day. I pull out my debit card (because I'm trying to keep myself from ever getting into major financial dire straights, I only ever carry the debit card) and get startled. The card, I kid you not, catches the breeze and takes off. Whoosh. I couldn't find it.

I call and make the customary "cancel" call, but I'm now on the road with only the cash in my pocket. I beg, borrow, and steal the cash to get myself back home, but I'm still a few days from getting a replacement card. I hold onto any cash I get just in case I need to head somewhere unexpected and need a gallon of gas.

What does all this mean? Well, I'm packing my breakfast and lunch (I always mean to do this, but if I don't do this now, I starve). I'm eating healthier and yummier frugalier than I ever have. I need to keep this up after I get my replacement card.

Anyway, so that's all of what I've been up to as I haven't been here. I'm really going to try to invent the 30 hour day simply for my own blogging.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Day in the life

While I have my eyes on the future, an event on the first day of May seems impossibly far away, so finding shorter-term motivation is a necessity. Let me run through what a typical morning workout is.

  • 4:25, wake up to the alarm clock. Swear. Curse. Get really pissed off when one of the dogs decides that he'd rather sleep in than go for a walk.
  • 4:50, return from walk & feed the dogs. Fight off tears of jealousy as the dogs get to go back to bed.
  • 4:55, start drinking water.
  • 5:00, go outside. Remark that it wasn't this cold just a few minutes ago. Start audiobook and runkeeper on my iPhone.
  • 5:01, take mental note that, perhaps, running gloves will be a wise investment.
  • Sometime before 5:10, cross the one busy street that I must cross
  • 5:10, Runkeeper chimes in that I ran a 10:20 mile and that my current pace (as I climb a hill) is 13:20. Try to see if I can bring my time down to 10:00 / mile.
  • Sometime before 5:20, have the internal conversation:
    • "is that Douglas Ave?"
    • "I need to make a right onto Douglas Ave or I'll get lost in this neighborhood."
    • "Why the fuck do I run so early when it's dark and so cold that my eyeballs don't work right?"
    • "Oh, the street sign is on that corner."
    • "No, not Douglas Ave."
  • One minute later, make right onto Douglas Ave.
  • 5:20, hit two miles of running, hear that my pace is now at 10:02 and that I'm running a 9:40 mile.
  • Sometime before 5:30, "Is that Mary Drive?..."
  • 5:30, hit three miles of running, time per mile down to 9:59, ask self "For how long do I think I can keep this pace up?" Immediately realize that I only have time to log another mile. Kick up the tempo.
  • 5:31, realize that there's a reason that the mile isn't considered a sprint, continue pushing myself without going "balls to the wall."
  • Sometime before 5:40, with the single busy road busy, say to self "shit, this is going to affect my timing," think about sprinting across street with a car coming that would probably leave me, remind self that, while I'm certainly not a small object, I'd lose against a car.
  • Seconds later, cross street safely. Pick up pace.
  • 5:40, hit the 4 mile mark and note that my time is down to 9:50 / mile. Begin "balls to the wall" sprint.
  • 5:42, end run.

Without this little running commentary (and without Runkeeper chiming in every mile to tell me how I'm doing), I'd really fear the run just being ordinary...I need to find that thing that will allow me to push myself.

Of course, today's run was on a Friday, and Fridays require special handling. As it's the day that my wife works at the library, we need to both take morning showers & get the kids ready & all that stuff. Well, I get upstairs and my wife is, obviously, not feeling all that great . . . so let her sleep in while I get in the shower while recovering from the run.

Did I mention it was cold out?

Trying to find the right shower temperature, I used my hands, which were numb with cold. But, as my body starts to warm, my extremities get downright hot. So, stick hand in stream of water "way too hot," turn the temp down. "Still too hot," turn the temp down. "Still too hot," but maybe I can bear it. Step into stream of water, shriek as it's downright cold. Turn water back up to a reasonable temperature, realize that showering while you can't really feel your hands is really difficult.

The best part about this run was that I pushed myself, but it's not affecting my legs right now . . . they feel absolutely great. I'm really hoping that I get home at a decent time tonight (after playing a Battle of the Bands) and the weather cooperates enough to allow run another 13-15 on Saturday before my wife leaves for the Library, because I really don't want to wake up early on Super Bowl Sunday to run such a run.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Workout Entertainment

I truly prefer to work out outside. I simply don't trust myself to do what I say I'm doing when I do something inside. Yes, I might spin or row for an hour . . . but did I really push myself? Just what did I manage to accomplish? The answer is that i don't know - when I'm outside, I know I managed to go so far. It may be a good workout, it may not be, but I know I went so many miles in such an amount of time, and this compares, directly, to previous workouts. It's easy to map progress.

Inside? Not so much.

As somebody who was born in the technological age, though, I'm someone who needs near constant entertainment. When I'm outside I, obviously, can't be watching anything, so it's been audiobooks - lately, I've been in a bit of a "young adult" kick...the entire Harry Potter saga (for the umpteenth time), the Hunger Games, and now the Artemis Fowl saga for a second time. Soon enough, if my kids are anything like me, I physically won't be able to read enough to satisfy their desire to be read to...so audiobooks it will be.

Audiobooks are good because they keep my mind engaged. I can absolutely lose myself in music, and then you have no idea where the heck you've gone to. For an actual event, music is the way to go (assuming they allow music on the course), just because it's quite rude to ignore somebody that strikes up conversation..."wait, hold on, Wormtail just killed Cederic" is not a best first line when making new friends.

Working out inside, though, brings a whole new level of distraction. It used to be that, during the height of football season, I'd pedal on a stationary bike while playing Madden...but, well, daddyhood has gotten in the way there. If I actually manage to watch football, it's the actual game, and not a video game. So, I watch movies. And I'm attracted to B-Horror films like flies are attracted to those electronic bug zappers. I know they're bad for me, but I can't help myself. I swear, between April Fool's Day & Sleepaway Camp, I could entertain myself for days. Anyway, I just went through a string of three impressive movies (even if they're impressive in the amount that they're depraved):

  • Human Centipede (the First Sequence)
  • Machete
  • The Last Exorcism

I should be watching things that engage my mind, make me think...but, no, I'd rather see people get chopped into little bits and horrible makeup.

The winter is actually really great for this little obsession of mine. There is no shortage of truly horrible Christmas-related horror films...and considering my body's fighting of the change in temperature as you go from "chilly" to "freezing," I end up spending a lot of time in late December indoors (especially if we get early snows).

Anyway, just thought I'd share here . . . I have a more-fun post set for tomorrow :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Events on the horizon

I was talking on Twitter the other day about running strategy. I've come across an absolute treasure-trove of runners, from the truly competitive to the "just doing this to get myself into shape." Some people run a mile at a time, and some run one-hundred miles in a day. Why some of these people look to me for running advice, well, I haven't a clue (though I kind of think whenever anybody decides to do a LOT of something, they become a bit of an expert).

Staying motivated is, easily, the biggest hurdle to any plan - especially when you don't have an endgame in sight. My goal is to be healthy, which is entirely undefined...yet, I've been paving this road for awhile.

In a conversation with a person who could easily run circles around me as she trains for a March marathon (and, oh how I'd love to be in an area right now that you could actually schedule a marathon in March...too much of a risk for snow/ice here), she asked what I was training for. And, I was able to spit out a whole list of things..this runner came back to me, applauding me for working ahead. I realized, at that moment, that it's how I stay motivated. I like to think I'm not like the Mad Woman's Ex Fiance, ignoring those things that are important to me for the next event . . . but I need something to look forward to, lest I grow stagnant.

So far, I have:

  • Gettysburg North/South Marathon, which is the very first running, and I think it's pretty damn cool to know that I'll run the very first running of this event.
  • The Central Pennsylvania Tour de Cure which is my big charity event every year. It's a 100km bike ride to benefit diabetes research, and just a very beautiful ride that I look forward to each & every year.
  • The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), which (as the name might lead you to believe) is a bike ride across the great state of Iowa (is Iowa a great state? I don't know . . . my sole memory is of a very, very cold afternoon in downtown Des Moines, a stinky & obese cab driver, and a walk through the woods).
  • The Boiling Springs Sprint Triathlon, which will be my first ever triathlon (though it shouldn't be a surprise to any of you that I plan to run an iron man at home point)
  • The Hershey Half-Marathon, which is the single event that I'd expect other runners with. The Tour de Cure is an absolutely LOVELY bike ride, through some of the prettiest scenery . . . but a 13 mile stroll through the chocolate capital of the world? Well, let's just say that I'm not anticipating doing this by myself.
  • The Three Creek Century, which is one of the most understated bike rides - it's absolutely beautiful, usually occurs in the very peak of fall (my favorite time of year)...a one-hundred mile bike ride benefiting a domestic-abuse shelter. Really, this event should be much larger than it is.
  • The Harrisburg Marathon, where I'll tackle the course for the second time . . . hopefully, with all of the good and none of the bad from the last running.

Of course, I'll have some 5k/10k runs in there, just to ensure that I keep my eyes looking forward. And, there is the Cannonman Half-Ironman in the back of m mind. I'd need to train, and train seriously for it. Even now, while I'm not in the best shape, I'm confident that I can complete each of the branches: 1.2 mile swim, 55 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run. Well, the swim I'm not entirely sure about, but I'm pretty sure I could . . . the issue is, would I be done for the day? I think I need to sign up at a pool, and quickly, if I want to manage. I can just see my training, though:

  • 4:00 am: wake up, walk & feed dogs
  • 4:30 am: out the door to the pool
  • 4:45 am: swim swim swim
  • 6:00 am: change into bike gear, bike to work
  • 7:15 am: arrive at Planet Fitness & shower
  • 7:30 am: work
  • noon: change & run
  • 12:45 pm: back to Planet Fitness to shower the run stink off of me
  • 1:00 pm: back to work
  • 4:30 pm: bike back home
  • 6:00 pm: assume daddy duties
  • 8:30 pm: hope that I can outlast the kids for bedtime

What scares me about that schedule? I'm tired thinking about it . . . and, I'm seriously considering trying to live it. Hold me?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Vanity & The Biggest Loser

I've been talking about The Biggest Loser a lot lately. This is the first season that I've actually started watching from day one of the season, because I got completely caught up in Rulon Gardner's Olympic saga in 2000 and to know that his weight has more than doubled, well, it's something else. I wanted to see how somebody who was a marvel of health (and, no, he wasn't exactly svelte, but a champion wrestler? Well, his body was built specifically for action, not necessarily for the cameras) ended up sliding so badly.

The biggest thing that bothers me about the show is the humiliation that the contestants need to go through. I'm not exactly shy about my body...but I'd feel quite exposed walking around amongst my friends & family in my underwear. Here, you have the most obese of the obese, and they're essentially in their underwear, and they're on television for millions of people. You're seeing them cry, puke, pass out. In a perfect world, these would be private moments. But, keeping those private doesn't necessarily make good TV.

I'm left wondering at what level you take away the "for the common good" and start investigating "for the best of the individual." I, honestly, believe that The Biggest Loser is good for the nation as a whole. There isn't an office that I know of that hasn't done some sort of "Biggest Loser" competition (and, while we can talk about whether weight loss should be the focus when you're dealing with health, most people, if they want to be healthier, need to lose weight...the only hope is that the weight loss is done in way that's as productive as possible for the body...I should note that weight programs are a significant portion of the Biggest Loser workout, and if weight loss were the only goal, they'd be near completely ignored). The Pound for Pound Challenge that they've initiated is a phenomenal idea. The show is taking a serious problem, finding obvious examples, and putting a harsh mirror onto the american public.

I'd look like a freaking supermodel on the show, and I'd balk at having cameras follow my workout & tape me in my underwear as I stepped on a scale. I guess it's obvious to anybody who signs up that they know what they're getting into. They're getting a certain amount of time with world class trainers & dietitians at the cost of having to check their humility, a certain amount of pride, and their privacy at the door.

I have to imagine, for the best of the contestants, it would be to provide the "Biggest Loser" experience, but to leave the cameras out. Put people who are having real & legitimate issues with their relationship with food at a place where they can concentrate only on themselves. Enable them to make the best decisions about food. Guide their workouts. Keep some element of competition so that people know that sliding will not be tolerated. But, for the love of god, allow people to preserve their dignity. I guess the question is, will that really do any good for anyone beyond the people in the room? Does that stripping of dignity empower more to take inspiration and work for themselves? I, of course, don't know the answers here. I just worry about psychological damage. But, is that damage any worse than going about your daily life thinking that every person you pass thinks you're repulsive (I don't think I'd think "that person is repulsive" if I passed the average contestant on the street, but I know I've certainly thought that people must think that way about me as I've been heavy)?

With all that said, I'd kick absolute ass at "The Moderate Loser," provided I didn't balk every single time a camera found me. I'm actually feeling pretty good about "me" these days. I've been allowing my food plan to slide a bit . . . I broke down and had a doughnut the other day, and I've had the random snack of chips. I've chosen french fries over a salad on several occasions. I've had second helpings when I didn't absolutely need them. With all that said, though, I'm not doing poorly. I'm still running, and I'm aware that the food decisions that I'm making are, perhaps not the best decisions. It's when I stop noticing that I'm making those decisions that I start getting in trouble. Right now, I'm in a golf-shirt that's just the tiniest bit tight around my biceps, which makes me feel all sorts of weird...my "guns" are, maybe .22's, hardly .45's...the shirt was obviously cut weird, but I'll take the ego boost. I actually haven't been doing much in the weight training department because of my elbow, which I'm having looked at next Wednesday...keep your fingers crossed that the pain I've had is just an abnormal & adverse reaction to winter and not something worse.

This morning, I did manage to run for a little bit. Last night was a cranky night from Leila. I had the alarm set for 4:30, but I set it for 5 after waking up between 3:30 and 4:00 with her. In all honesty, I'm not really sure who woke up, or what was going on, but I was out of bed, so I reset the alarm. After a quick dog walk, I managed a 30-something minute run. I actually pushed my pace below 10 minutes/mile (which is something, considering that I'm in several layers of clothing, some of which are trying their damndest to fall of my body).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

(Slightly Off Topic) Why I Didn't Work Out This Morning

I know, in my last post, that I went out of my way to say "no more excuses." Well, I have an excuse, and I think you'll forgive me this time.

The big news as Tuesday turned into Wednesday was snow. We were pretty sure we were getting something, but no idea how much. It was possible that we'd get a rainy/snowy mix that wouldn't amount to anything. It was possible that we'd get 16+ inches of the white stuff. I love those types of winter storms. I actually think the grocery stores are in cahoots with the weathermen to ensure that storm predictions make people crazy.

Anyway, snow. I woke up at 4:30 (because I'm a masochist) to walk the dogs, and it was obvious that there had been some form of wet precipitation the night before. While it was flurrying, there really wasn't anything to talk about.

However, as we walked, the snow started hitting us harder, and I noticed that I was slipping slight amounts. "Better safe than sorry," I thought as I cut the dogs' walk short & decided to not head out to run (but, instead, to spin).

After getting inside, I feed the dogs & Hobbes (the elder, cairn terrier) asks to go outside. Since I cut the walk short, I didn't think twice about letting him out, and of course Snickelfritz (the younger, border terrier) runs out after him. Seconds after they hit the yard, there was a very violent series of barking, and then nothing.

I walk outside to try to see what they've gotten into, and neither will come to me. Eventually, Hobbes comes by, poops, and I'm able to convince him to head through the door. But Snickelfritz stays under the porch. I can see him, I tempt him with a puppy treat, but nothing. I should note that he's all of the way under the porch and there's no way that I can easily go to retrieve him. I walk around to the other side of the porch, to better see what's going on, but it's too dark, and he simply won't come.

So, I walk back into the house, keeping Hobbes at bay (because he desperately wants to go outside again) to get a flash-light. With a flashlight, I walk all of the way around the porch (I need to head out to the steps, then all of the way around in order to get to this area, I'd draw a map, but my artistic skills suck) to see Snickelfritz coming out from under the deck. Dragging a possum corpse.

There are a plethora of emotions that run through your mind when you see a large, dead rodent. Complex, primal emotions: fight, flight, protect, flee, rescue, murder...they're all there. My first thought was "dear god, the fight lasted for seconds, if that, and this thing is larger than Snickelfritz...if the dogs killed it, it was diseased." Then, "what if it got a good bite in beforehand and Hobbes is currently trailing blood throughout the house?" Then, "how the fuck am I going to get rid of this thing?"

My most immediate concern was for my dogs. Hobbes walked into the house without aid, seemingly uninjured. Sure, there might be something wrong, but it's nothing to worry about right at that moment. Snickelfritz, though, well, he was dragging a rodent by the scruff of its neck, so of course he'd be moving funny. And now, here I am, near hysterical with fear. I'm sure there was a "oh, hi dad, aren't you proud of me?"-level emotion running through his head that immediately got confused. This dog knows my emotions better than I know them, myself. He looked up at me and immediately dropped the possum. In a firm voice, I said "drop it, leave it," and directed him into the house. Fortunately, I was able to convince him to go without actually forcing him to move, and I could see that he wasn't actually walking funny.

So, I round both dogs into the kitchen (because, in the family room, there are kids toys and stuff, and I didn't know if I'd be treating wounds), put up the gates, and check them out. Neither dog appears to be injured in the least. Hobbes, honestly, appears no different. There's the smallest amount of blood on Snick's muzzle, but that's it. My brain goes back to the "diseased" route.

Then I remember that I'm dealing with a possum...maybe it's, well, simply "playing possum." I head back upstairs to check with Duffy whether or not I have the right animal (it's not yet 5:00 in the morning, I haven't had any coffee, and therefore I have no idea if I'm capable of thinking straight) and then inform her of what happened, and that I was going to take the animal to the compost pile.

My thoughts here were twofold. First, make sure that Duffy knows what's going on, just in case the dogs start acting crazy, but don't tell her that our dogs just killed a diseased possum in our yard, because that was going to require significant cleanup and vet trips and a lot of stuff that's better thought of when a situation is fully evaluated. Next, give the possum time to move on it's own if it was faking, and leave it in the compost pile if we need to do tests for rabies

So, I grab a snow shovel and head back outside. The possum has not moved one iota. "Shit," I whisper under my breath and start to scoop it into the shovel. I manage to get it into the air and then work my way to the compost pile. As soon as I put the rodent down, it stands up, looks at me as if to say "thanks for the lift," and then walks away. No limp. No scurry. Walks, like it's a cat. I follow it for a little while, flabbergasted, until it looks back and hisses, and then I let it be. Damn possum played possum.

I head back inside, check the dogs for injuries one last time, put ice cubes in the water bowl to force Snickelfritz to drink water (he can't see an ice cube and not drink it) washing the blood from his muzzle, head back upstairs to give Duffy the update, and then head back down to spin.

Only, well, by the time I get on the spinning bike, my legs aren't quite working right. Yuck.

Anyway, that was my ordeal this morning . . . I'll eat right all day & might even try the bike again tonight. Or, just wait until tomorrow and walk the dogs & see what happens from there.

Monday, January 24, 2011

On the road again

I think I've let my marathon post say up there for long enough. I wanted to give it time, step back from this blog and just revel in the fact that I ran a marathon. It's really cool, and something I never actually thought I'd be able to. But, now it's time to start getting back to what I wanted . . . writing about my health.

I'm still running like a fiend. I really am - I have the Gettysburg North-South Marathon on May 1. There appear to be two camps of people, those who run a marathon to say they did it, and then never go back . . . and me. I'm not sure I actually have 'the marathon bug,' but I know I can do better than my previous soirée, and I do better when I have a goal in mind. So, right now, I have just over 3 months to continue my training. I got this. I've basically started both running & walking (over lunch) 2-3 days a work week, and then taking a day from the weekend to run a half-marathon. This past weekend has left me with a very sore left heel, but I think that's because I must have stepped on something, didn't feel it because my feet were frozen, so I just kept on going. In short, this weekend's run was very fucking cold.

Other areas of "health," however, I'm lacking with. I switched jobs at the end of the December, and with that, I no longer have an office. For the most part, this isn't that big an issue, but I was holding true to my "pushups every time I close or open my office door" rule, and now the rule is moot. Boo. So, I need to start getting more serious with my strength training. Pushups & situps - they're all I need to go with everything else I'm doing, so I just need to stop making excuses.

Speaking of making excuses, I need to stop making them for some mental-health issues. I've been battling a "come & go" funk for the longest time. Sometimes, I just feel a little blue. Sometimes, it takes all of my effort to keep from breaking into tears when I exhale. The thing about this is that I have no idea why I'm feeling this way. So, I need to find somebody who is completely removed from bias from my life to help me sort out my head. When I'm "good," I'm damn good. Most of the time, I'm "pretty ok," but those low points have been popping up, lower, deeper, and lasting longer each time. I can't live like that. Any advice here is beyond welcome (feel free to email if you don't want to comment).