Monday, August 31, 2009

How many miles?

W00t! another milestone achieved!

Tonight I celebrate a literal "mile"stone, I ran 4 miles today which is the furthest I have ever gone without stopping in these 45 years. It was a good running day - I had a good breeze for most of the run. I also had great distractions.

In the middle of this track was a soccer field and a group of about 8 boys between 8 and 12 years old were practicing. There were no adults around supervising, just kids trying and doing an admirable job of being organized - sure there were moments of individual chaos, but those were short lived as the olders made the youngers toe the line. there were whoops and hollers, teasing and cajoling, cheering and jeering. All in a raucous preadolescence that was wonderful to witness.

At about the 12'th lap a father and son wandered out on to the track from a yard that adjoins the school property. I'm thinking the dad had recently helped his son discover the rudiments of two wheel travel, and the little boy - maybe 5-6 - was exuberantly pedaling around the track, finally rid of those dratted training wheels, he was free! He passed me in a flurry of activity and determination, then a pit stop where dad adjusted the seat and he was off again.

At the 14th lap (3.5 miles) I was through convincing myself that I should stop and I was actually in a "zone" where my mind was not as concerned with my legs and breath- I was more focused on my average MPH which was 5.0 at the moment, but I was running 4.6. I picked it up a bit - up to 5.5-5.7 and my heart rate started spiking into the 160s, but I was not straining, I was comfortable as my heart was pumping all the blood I needed. so during the last quarter lap I stretched out my stride and grunted across the line to stop at 4 miles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Describe a quiet Lake

Placid serenity, interrupted by a sweaty old guy.

No one was out today - the weather turned overcast and while warm, had a feel of fall to it. Before I left for the workout, I received an IM from my friend John - not the "Stair Master", this John is the "Aviator" and was hoping to meet me out here but was unable to. I offered to do stairs for him.

As I arrive, one car was parked on the boat ramp road - a white haired lady is sitting at a lone picnic table looking after her rather portly beagle-mix dog tottering through the field. I stretch my calfs and shins as the dog wonders about intermittently interested and disinterested with his surroundings. Hitting the "start" button on my Garmin I began my run. After taking notice of me, the dog makes a half-hearted chase, but although I was something new, I was quickly placed in the "not that interesting" category. Wrapping around to the south and started back along the trail to the waters edge, I notice the lady had packed her dog into her minivan and began to leave. I was alone.

Past the boat launch, the wooden floating walkway thumps loudly with my foot falls. I'm usually concerned that I might be scaring away fish, but no one is here. The ducks sunning themselves in the overcast on the walkway do not approve and appear exasperated as they hustle into the lagoon to the left - Lilly pads abound and a Great Blue Heron is often seen standing on the branch of a semi-submerged fallen tree. To the right the Lilly pads give way to Lake Fenwick proper which looks particularly dark green and calm today.

A little further on I am back on a trail - this one is not dirt, but mostly gravel. So far the path is level but I know that a more strenuous portion is just ahead. Arriving at the field in front of the park's main lot, the brown grass crunches dryly underfoot as I run uphill for 50 yards. My heart rate is not ramping up anywhere near as quickly as yesterday. *note to self: eating 3 or more hours before exercise is best. Once across, the trail returns and I am engulfed in a tunnel of forest, more gravel trail, but it is slowly giving way to normal trail dirt. as it does the terrain becomes much more varied with hills and slopes. Still running, I adapt my pace to the differing path.

I approach the North parking lot and run around the perimeter taking advantage of the asphalt to increase the distance of my run by 1/10th of a mile - now comes the hill. The wide gravel path, one long switchback, winds it's way south along the other side of the lake and up we go. My heart rate is elevating nicely now in the 150s and my breathing cadence which was 3/4 time now is cut time. the switchback levels a bit and I am pleased to note that my pulse slows by ten BPM while still running. At the end of the switchback, the trail elevation raises very quickly and my lower pulse respite is only a memory as I am now flirting with the mid 160s. I will not slow and my legs move with purpose through the trail-steps, a few of these require a significant effort to traverse. I could run around them but they are put there to test me and I must defeat them! I could stop at the last stair - as I've done before, but I will not be tamed and I run until I reach the bench placed at the corner for lesser being to rest after their ordeal. The lake is now to my back and as I walk to Hell's Stairway I still have not seen another soul on the trail.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Peanut Butter - The downfall

I guess if you are going to be slow, you might as well have fun

Monday's workout was slow - meaning not a lot of running. the 3.4mph average is far off in the distance. It all started at work... today was a busy day, too busy for me to grab a bite to eat. I usually like to grab something small during the day and usually it's a small bag of Planter's Peanuts. Well Monday was especially hectic so by the time I went to grab a bag, it was 3:00pm - time to go home. I thought "meh, I'll save them until tomorrow" and went home. by the time I got home I was HUNGRY and thought "I don't suppose a spoonfull of peanut butter would affect my workout."

I get to Fenwick and start my run, feeling a bit out of energy, but able to keep jogging. Then the first stop - The Stair Master is out on the dock stretching.
"How many times John?" I ask, not entirely frustrated at having to stop my run.
"Only once today, I did six yesterday, but tonight I'm in a hurry - I'll try for six again tomorrow" The Stair Master is a machine!
"I've settled on four, three on the way out and one on the way back." I reply, the Stair Master is not impressed...
"You should try six" he says matter-of-factly.
"I may get there eventually" and I'm off again. I run for about another 200 yards and slow to a walk. normally, I would not be even half way done with the first portion of the run, but I am out of steam my heart rate is pinging 160 and I stop "Damn peanut butter" I think to myself.

The Code of the Trail

During my time working out at Lake Fenwick, I've noticed a code of behavior among fellow hikers, much like the code of motorcyclists. When you pass each other you offer a perfunctory salutation "Good afternoon" or some such. However this is not uniform amongst the trails inhabitants. Older folks (I am including myself in this group, but only just) will always return a hello, young adults will too, teenagers who normally travel in packs, just look at you and think "eww, sweaty old guy" may offer a muffled "hi" or be silent as they try their best to not make eye-contact attempting to master the "cool and aloof" look. Since the hike covers a good variety of areas, you will come across people fishing, or picnicking or not really hiking, just out for a walk. I've found regardless of race, creed or color all adults will return a salutation.

Meanwhile, back at the Stairs

So I walk and jog until I get to the trail step hill - pallet like devices that simulate steps placed on the trail every twenty feet or so. Then I'm on it - I run. Now this is a pretty good hill to run up but I am managing 6 mph which is pretty dang zippy. my pulse at the start was in the 120s once at the top I'm hitting mid 160s all in about a 40 yard run. I walk to the stairs panting and a little more rubber legged than normal.
I start down the stairs working my lungs to lower my pulse rate - a trick Garmin taught me. When your heart rate is up your body is trying to do two things, take oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. once your system realizes that the levels are looking better, the pulse slows, I breath like bellows going down the stairs, not loudly, but complete "belly breaths" this drops my pulse down quickly 160s at the top of the stairs, 120s at the bottom. Rinse and repeat three times and I'm ready to continue on.

Blast from the past

Right after the stairs is a downward slope that I usually run, using the slope I can get going pretty dang fast, this time is no exception. I start down the slope and am running at around 8 mph, a quick run, about 40 yards into the stretch the slope increases and as usual, I let gravity add to my speed usually cranking out 9-10 mph which for me is flying. At this point I feel a mushy-ness to my legs as if they are going to give out on me - I look down at my watch - 11.8 mph! Holy moly! I can't slow down for another 20' or so, and I'm hoping my legs stay under me. This was quite a different feel from my previous blog entry and was, for a short period of seconds, rather disconcerting. Still, I felt same feeling before as a child, when you are going so fast that your legs start to fail you. The fact that I was going faster than I had previously gone I believe, was definitely attributable to the fact that my body was using energy to digest the lump of peanut butter that was now sitting in my stomach, and my legs did not have the energy to control the speed. I came precariously close to ending up in a heap in the middle of the trail - all because of a spoonful of peanut butter.

Note to self - when running at 3:00-4:00, make sure that you don't eat after 2:00!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sabotage! The case of the Boz Burger

My plan to sabotage myself has backfired!


I did not work out Friday - I wanted to be ready for a 25man Naxx raid - it was fun, we got through many bosses. It started off my weekend very wonderfully. Blizzard does a good job at the game and the encounters are entertaining. I spent a bunch of in-game currency buying the "dual-spec" ability so I can DPS as well as heal. Anyhoo...

Saturday I get up and hit the trail. I am pretty happy with this run, I have now added the part from the beginning to the top of the hill before the stairs as a run. It is for the most part uphill and really gets my heart going. I managed to grind out 3.3 mph on the run. I also now run the first part of the return leg - while I'm on the boardwalk. That part is actually level to slightly downslope so I can open it up a bit - I usually hit between 7-8mph in that stretch. on coming home I make myself my usual strawberry smoothy and then hit the shower. My brother needs some help with his computer so I head over to his place for about 10 minutes. When I get back I jump into WoW for a bit and my wife calls "I've been to busy to go shopping, I'm at Burger Express, do you want me to pick you up a burger?"

"Yes" is such a dangerous word

"Yes" I say, knowing that the awesome goodness of this family owned independent restaurant that makes without a doubt THE best hamburgers in the known universe will come with consequence of capricious calories.
"Well, do you want a 'Boz Burger'?" she asks.
I grimace, "Sure."
"Strawberry shake and fries too?"
In for a penny in for a pound "Yes, please."

Hey there Mr. Self Control, how's it going? The Boz Burger is 1/2pound (cooked) it has bacon, mushrooms, ham, cheese, onions, ketchup, mayo, and mustard. They don't make a box big enough for it, so they wrap it in aluminum foil. As one of the reviews says "The only thing it's missing is angioplasty" The strawberry shake is a "best in breed" no mere milk shake here, this is cream and ice cream and strawberries. The fries are cut in the restaurant - no flash frozen fries here - these are the hot grease magnets of the 50's and 60s. After this meal I am so beyond full that I can not move in what I can only gestimate as a 2500 to 3000 calorie meal I am not completely guilt free, but I do know that the workouts in the near future will be chipping away at this burger for some time.

Sabbath? Not for you Mr. BurgerBelly!

Sunday is a full court church day for me - morning and evening services. In between these two services is a period of around 4 hours - Evi usually makes breakfast and I sit on my butt - She is the best omelet maker in the entire world. Not this time though, I need to burn some calories! Evi didn't have time for shopping on Saturday so there were slim pickings to eat anyway.

Hitting the trail I worried that the huge meal from Saturday would slow me down, apparently I was mistaken I managed a new personal high average mph of 3.4 which was awesome but I wonder what I could have done without the burger shake and fries weighing me down.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What's Shaking?

The road to YUM!

In my past diet modifications I've tried to cut out carbs, which worked until I could not stand it anymore and then committed pasta-cide. As my only foray into the diet craze Atkins worked for the purpose intended, but it wasn't sustainable.
Now I have focused on calories in/out. My diet is much like my personality - if I find something that fits I use it, all the time, locking me into a pattern. I am a habitual creature, and habits are their own addiction. Being able to stick to a schedule and having a plan make my day boring, but easily navigable. Hence when I find something to eat which is easy to make, I tend to fixate on it as a habit. Anything that is reasonably cheap, somewhat palatable, and quickly prepared can be a source of daily nutrition.


I love strawberries, they are the most yummy of all berries. I have loved them all my life. Even as a child when my grandma would take the whole family to the fields outside of Salem Oregon (Kaiser, actually) the owners joked that they would need to weigh me coming in and leaving and charge my parents for the difference.


I have found that my love of strawberries has not dimmed with age, and I started making "shakes" during atkins I would make "protien shakes" and not worry about calories - the protien was strawberry-flavored throw in heavycream and ice and boom a shake that resembles strawberry but packs massive calories.
Since Atkins was not a long term solution to my issues with mass. I decided to work on the calorie balance, this is where strawberries shine. A cup of frozen strawberries contains 50 calories, thats not a lot for such a sweet food! I do like big shakes and my mug that I usually drink water from is 32 oz - so how can we get that full of strawberry goodness without breaking the caloric bank? well, a quart of strawberries is 200 calories (a 1/10th of my suggested intake) but if we can't use a whole quart in the shake so lets say 1.5 pints leaving 8 oz for water, additional flavors, and protein powder. The protien powder that I use is 100 calories per serving, so now we are at 250 calories My wife introduced me to the wonderful world of "sugar-free espresso flavors" and with no calories you can sweeten to taste without guilt. even adding a banana for 100 (reduce strawberries by a cup) pumps it up to 300 calories for a thick, rich quart - yes a QUART of strawberry goodness. My mouth is watering even now as we speak! So here's the recipe:

[Light Smoothy of Much Gut Busting] <--notice "epic" WoW reference

15 large frozen strawberries
1/2 cup sugar free espresso flavors (straw, ras, or kiwi, etc)
1/2 cup of water
1 scoop protein powder (whey is my fav)
*optional sub 1 medium banana for 1 cup strawberries

Add ingredients to blender and puree (I never thought I would use that word in a blog!)
Makes 1 really large quart serving (burp!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I used to walk a mile for a camel....

Now I've done 100 miles for a whale (well, I was getting kinda big!)

Thanks to my Garmin 305 I have been able to track my progress since I began the hiking at Lake Fenwick, and last nights workout saw milepost 100 slide into the rear-view mirror. I should be getting all reflective but I'm more apprehensive - I want to keep going and not lose this drive. Right now it's warm and dry - hiking is easy, once fall sets in and the rains start will I be as committed to my routine? It's easy to say YES now, but the time will come when I'm grumbling and grumpy - I need to keep my eyes on the prize - which I am slowly realizing is not a point in time or a goal on the scale - it's a realization that I have changed, that I am no longer the person I was. A tall order coming from a computer geek bent on self destruction through gastronomic abuse and physical negligence.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hike Hike Hike Hike.

Last night was awesome -I was right to the limit when I came home - 574 calories and 3.24 miles my pulse stayed up there and the stairs felt like a workout - although I'm finding myself speeding up a bit on the stairs. This would be a good thing except for the whole "breathing" thing. By the time I'm at the last 2 flights of stairs my heart is heading to the mid 160s and my quads are complaining vociferously. I still manage to get the reps done, so maybe I should just accept my body's need to push me further. I'm also starting to note certain aches and pains that ebb and flow throughout the workout. My hike tonight should feel a bit more normal as the temps will be in the 80s - sweating is becoming comfortable, as long as i can keep it out of my eyes!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Morning Woods

HA HA! couldn't resist!

I have a busy day today, and with work the way it is I really needed to work out - I didi not get a chance yesterday as I was busy until after 5:00pm So bright and early this morning I head out to the trail. Today was a slow day - only managed 2.8 mph average, but I did the stairs 4 times. I would have posted 2.9 except the blackberries were ripe and I stopped to munch before the end of my walk. Time to mow the lawn now!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Surf and Turf? No, Track and Trail!

Awesome run - but a bit muggy!

Started the run today up at Totem Junior High - a lot closer than FWHS, and close to the trail too. I did 1 mile at almost 6 mph then decided to hit the trail, no stairs today though I figure trail and a mile is equivalent.
I did experience what muggy can be - It rained heavily last night, a good soaking rain that the area needed badly. As I began my workout, the sun started to make an appearance and warm things up, the impression I felt varied during the workout. Up on the track, which is a open area with a nice breeze going on, I felt run of the mill thick muggy air. When I went to do the trail portion I found that my environment turned into what could best be described as one step below a steam room. Thick air is not easy to run in. Thick air is not easy to do stairs in. Persist I must though and cranked out 4 miles - I think I may skip today though, I'm sore and want to recuperate.

And BTW - Tuesday afternoon I did hit the FWHS track and did 3 miles non-stop - I would have done more but nature was calling (dang bladder!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's beginning to rain, it's beginning to pour!

Ahhhhhh! Sweet delicious rain!

After a long drought, the rain is coming down, heavily. I'm hoping that it will remind us to be careful on the roads today and then be gone. Refreshing as it is, the rain had overstayed it's welcome last winter, and the summer does not have permission to leave just yet.

The beginning of this system was just arriving yesterday during my workout and all I received was an occasional spritz of mist as the trees above me seemed to suck all the moisture out of the clouds. The rain was such a novelty that as I was running, I turned my baseball cap around to feel the cool wet on my face, but since it was late in the workout when the rain started, it all flashed to steam on touching my skin!

Speaking of working out - the shoes are awesome! I now can jog from the start to all the way to the top of the trail steps without stopping (4/5ths of a mile, mostly uphill) and while joggin in certain sections my heart rate actually went DOWN. This is progress, and I think I'm up for another few laps around a track to see what I can do. So the rain has given me an excuse to abandon the trail for today. I would like to see if the trail is doable in "fall" conditions, and I will head out to the trail tomorrow, but tonight I have practice so I'll be singing at seven.

New tune Tuesday, maybe...

What a wonderful time, Dean passes out what is sometimes properly constructed charts, other times it's just a set of lyrics with chords and various doodles - then we make up our own parts. Both are great challenges, I STILL can't read treble clef (curse my bass playing roots!) and I often need Evi's (the Mrs.) help with parts.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rearranging Body Parts

Pardon me Sam, but how's the jogging with the new shoes?

I was on call this weekend and had to go into work for Saturday and Sunday for a couple of hours. After the on-call time dropped at 5:00pm I headed out for the trail sporting my new Brooks Addiction 8 running shoes. Was there still pain? Yup, just a bit in the tendon, but it was much more localized and temporary, I also noted that my right leg's anterior cruciate was sore - this also went away too. I'm thinking this is all just my leg's attempt to redistribute to weight and stress that is now properly situated. Although the GPS indicated the trip was shorter, I ran the same course and I was able to run more of it. without the painful soreness of my Achilles. The "spot" pain was easy to ignore.
I'm thinking that with this issue out of the way I should be able to concentrate on building endurance and that I may need to head to the track to test out my new legs. I would like to see if I've made progress with my endurance - after so many flights of stairs and quite a few miles I'm hoping to find a maintainable pace that I can stretch into at least 3 miles. Just 12 laps around the track..

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Good prices - very helpful folks

and BONUS! the shoes killed the Achilles pain right out of the box!

So after work I stop off at The Balanced Athlete and there was one lady in the shop helping another customer, I did not have to wait even a moment before she asked if she could help me - the previous customer was just leaving. I explained my workouts and the pain I was experiencing. She listened attentively and then told me to take off my shoes and socks, roll up my pantlegs and get on the treadmill. A camera was set about 8 ' off the ground behind the treadmill pointing at the belt, she started it up and set the speed at 3 mph after about 20 paces she told me she had seen enough and then walked me through 2 complete strides showing what was called a rather significant "pronation" or an inward pointing geometry of the foot ankle and leg. She also let me in on a teh reason why my right foot points out slightly in my stride - it is caused from the habit of driving, your right foot is always pointed out right to depress the accelerator, while still being able to pivot left and actuate the brake. She said that it could cause some issues but that I should continue what I'm doing (consciously point the foot inward when I run and it will become a subconscious habit )

She asks me to have a seat and hands me a pair of footies - I don them and she places my feet in the caliper of DEATH! I find that I'm a size 13 and that D is basically the only width running shoes are made in. She heads back to grab a couple of boxes (Mizumo and Brookes)She fitted the brookes first. The shoes fit nice! they were snug but not tight. The most unlikely thing happened as soon as I took a step in them - the pain that was just in my achilles was gone *boom* just gone - the shoes adjusted my pronation taking the stress off the tendons and from the after video completely correcting my gait. The Mrs and I had an appointment in the evening so I could not work out today, but I am so looking forward to tomorrow and seeing just what the shoe will do for my running.

I seriously recommend The Balanced Athlete for any running shoe needs. even if you have shoes - if you are having pain or just want to check your stride - their prices are not as high as you would think given the experienced, helpful and considerate staff that takes the time to focus on you.

The Balanced Athlete

Take the "oh" out of go!

When I ran my mile test - two miles at FWHS, I was sidelined for a couple of days due to leg pain - not quite Achilles but close. I was told that it's probably my running shoes - that happen to be my lawn mowing shoes - just a beat up pair of budget Nikes. This place I found via a Google search and they look like just the place to go - I'm going to head there after work and see what they can do.

The Balanced Athlete looks like not just a shoe store but a store created by runners for runners, offering classes and consultation. I'm hoping that they will set me up with a pair of shoes that will instantaneously have me running marathons without sweating. I will settle though for running without pain in the ankle/Achilles area.

I will update later with a report from the scene!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The effect of running really really fast downhill

I've been picking up the pace a bit in my workouts. Once I do the stairs 3 times I head down the trail to the turning point at Reith Road in Kent. After heading downstairs on the third time, my heart rate usually settles into the high 130s by the time I reach the landing. There is a short uphill portion - maybe 15 yards followed by a gentle downward slope for about a 1/10th of a mile. I usually start jogging there, and as the slope increases I pick up speed - towards the end comes a most enjoyable and reminiscent experience: I RUN, not just run, not just sprint, but RUN! I'm beatin feet! The speed makes you smile, induced by the slope you are going so fast that you feel yourself a different person, almost animalistic as your entire body is working perfectly and your strides are so fluid that you almost feel you are floating above this chaos of activity that is your legs. ZOOOOM! And then all too quickly it is over. My heart rate is pounding into the 160s and I'm sucking wind hard - but for a brief moment, I was twelve again, running barefoot through Park Orchard woods, just running because that's what kids do - ahhh bliss! I hope that I can extend those brief intervals to more then a handful of seconds, but that will take time. In the mean time I will take what I can get weeeeeeeeeeee!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A return from the break

Three days of busy-ness and I need to hit the trail!

Thursday I didn't work out, Friday I didn't work out, Saturday I didn't work out. Sunday I needed to hit it again. This time I took to the trial in cool of the morning. Starting out to get my heart rate going I jogged the first 1/2 mile and then jogged again up the trail steps. I was waffling on whether to do the stairs 4 times but the past two guilt stricken days chastised me and I did my usual three times and then continue the walk to get the final time on the way back.

The route in the morning is different - what was shady is sunny and what was sunny is shady but although that was disconcerting in a most subliminal manner I still wanted to see if I could up my average pace - when I added the 4 stair component to my workout, my pace dropped precipitously. From a high of 4 MPH down to the mid 2's I'm thinking that over time I may build it back up but 4MPH and 4 stairs is a ways out there. This Sunday morning I at least split the difference hitting 3.1 mph average. my heart rate spiked nicely from the start, I will incorporate running the initial 1/2 mile into my normal workout and then hopefully running the trail steps too. that really added a lot to my workout and I can see the impact in my average heart rate.