Monday, December 28, 2009

The Comfort Run

The one you know like the back of your hand

The Comfort Run, like comfort food is a known quantity that serves the purpose intended. This run is the one you know well - you know every rise, every bend and every landmark. You run it at whatever pace you like. Comfort food fills you up and makes you feel good, a comfort run works you out and makes you feel good.

This I would guess gets to the point of the post, running can bring comfort - especially once you have a locale that you are familiar with. Lets look at three types of comfort running brings


Yes I know, running can physically strain your body, but exertion can become very comforting and does - as the muscles warm up, the heart rate stabilizes and the breathing hits a rhythm comfort begins when you adjust your stride and feel you can run forever. Settling into a run is always one of my favorite times


Reaching goals is a battle with the brain - I constantly hear my inner voice making excuses, learning to shut them up increases your mental focus. Self discipline is a powerful tool for those that harness it. With each goal you achieve reaching the next becomes easier. The comfort run builds confidence - knowing the run well allows you to exceed your normal self and use the run as a benchmark to try new techniques.


The comfort run excels at providing a forum for meditation whether you are contemplating God, nothingness, or your navel. you get to the rhythm and you can be "in the moment". Joseph Campell called this achievement "Bliss". Much like Church, I find myself in touch with my creator when I run and especially so when I am in a familiar place.

Whether you run for physical, mental or spiritual benefits or all three, you will benefit more than you imagine.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Running after Feasting

If this entry were a Star Wars sequel it would be entitled
"The Belly Strikes Back"

The day after Christmas and all through the trail
My gear was fitting so snuggly, the drawstrings might fail
Christmas feasting had settled, expanding my waist
suspending any thoughts of running with great haste
When after a mile on the trail i did find
my endurance was waning rather early in this grind
Nonplussed by exhaustion I kept up my pace
any faster than 12 minute miles and I might fall on my face!
Onward I plodded further along in the run
gasping for air and wishing I was done.

When up ahead at mile 4 I did see
my wife walking the dog - and going slowly
I caught up to her and walked for a while
until my heart settled down from it's post-Christmas trial
On again, on again, I was spurred to flee
the running ended with a mileage of 5.3

Seriously, any runners out there feeling a bit "overloaded"? Wow, I'm hoping my next runs are not as grueling. I did get a bunch of new running gear (Thanks to my daughter <3)>

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Be Careful What You Post In Your Blog

A Great Day to Run!

So last update I had finished my post wondering what's next, this run turned into what I was talking about. The temps on this Saturdayy morning were in the mid 40's, a light wind out of the north and a fine foggy mist enveloped the Auburn-Kent valley. Since I had already bumped my top speed by two tenths ( 5.9 to 6.1mph) I decided to turn it down a bit and just work on staying in target heart range of 140 to 145. I backed off speed when I got settled into the run - 5.5mph was the speed that my heart decided was good ~10% off my "race pace" and very comfortable.

As I headed out I noticed a knot in my left calf that stayed with me the entire run. but again, the pace was so comfortable I had no issue overlooking it. When I arrived at my normal halfway point my heart rate was still in the mid 140s and the pace just felt right.

Expanding Horizons

3/4s of the way back I thought "Lets make this a 10 miler" and continued on past 37th street heading to 15th NW. I passed under 15th and was eyeing my Garmin... 7 miles... I kept heading out and hit 7.5 and thought "It's only 1.5 miles to 9 and I can turn around and make it a half marathon" The knot in my calf was still there but I was feeling fatigue, I could feel that I was going to be sore when I made it back. and a new issue popped up, I could feel an expanding hole in my sock! The toe next to my big toe on my right foot felt the fabric pulled taught across it and no amount of wiggling would release the tension (arrg!) but I kept going until I made it to 15th St SW and had to turn around due to 15th being a huge road to cross :(

Coming up Short at 15th St SW

My garmin read 8.2 miles - well short of my 9 mile requirement to make the run thirteen miles in total. I pushed on wondering if I'd have the oomph to make up the distance after getting back to the truck. when I got back to the truck I was at 11.44 miles =( oh noes! push on Sam, with one toe hanging out and now both calves mooing for their mommas and my groin yelling at me too. I ran .8 miles out and turned around - I even tried to pick up the pace a bit, but that wasn't happening. I was wondering if my calculations were correct and hoping that when I got back to the truck Garmin would tick the lucky 13 - my math skills did not let me down I ticked 13 on the other side of the truck completing a half marathon!


As I cooled off walking in circles near my truck I noticed that my legs were not walking normally, my gate was kind of like a half-hearted lipizon stallion. After my heart rate settled down into the 120's a started stretching... and although it hurt it hurt SOOO good. I jumped into my truck gingerly and could tell that sitting for any length of time would cause my muscles to scream trying to get up. They did scream, I looked like Red Foxx's grandfather goosestepping heading up to the door of my house.

IIIIbuprofen - I Bu Pro fen
(Sung to the tune of the Haleluja Chorus)

Thank goodness for modern over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, 800 mgs of teh stuff every four hours... hopefullyy I will be able to move tomorrow!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

10K meters - what seemed like 10K people!

9:50am Saturday Morning December 12th 2009
Kent WA
Clear and 28 degrees
Kent Christmas Rush 10k

New lessons learned while running with a whole bunch of people I don't know

Lesson number 1


I was at the race with 15 minutes until start time, unfortunately I was driving around in my truck looking for a parking spot. EVERYONE in Kent WA must have been at this race. So I did what many folks did - made a parking spot, in the grass in front of a boarded up business (woohoo thank you recession!) I ended up running a half mile to the race course not knowing if I needed to check in or what.. apparently not, as the clock struck fifty seconds to the start of the race as I arrived (whew!) OK.. I need to pin on the bib, get my sunglasses on and get my earbuds in, get the tunes cranked up, and get my gloves on. the jeopardy theme song would have been very apropos here.

Lesson Number 2


In preparation for the race I tested out many tunes to help with pace management, I wanted to maintain as close to the magic "180" pace and keep it there. I found the perfect tune called "Buzz" by Four 80 East. unfortunately in my haste earlier this week at work I mistakenly put "Sonhar" by Praful which is about a 5% increase in tempo. I kept up with it, but Buzz would have been much more natural.

Lesson Number 3


Pass on the left! otherwise keep to the right! this is the Fat Albert Thesis "Hey hey hey, get outa my way!"

Lesson Number 4


a 10k is 6.24 miles. At the 2.25 mile mark I saw the person in first place on his way back. Wow, he was MOVING! Many folks around me cheered and applauded while they were running - for the majority the race is not about being first, it's about being there!

Lesson Number 5


Along the way, at the mile markers there were race workers calling out times, ut at about the 3 mile mark there was this lady clapping and smiling - Manheim Steamroller Christmas tunes blaring from speaker on her front porch. there was one group of race workers shortly afterwards that stood there and clapped and cheered and smiled. What a joy for those of us concentrating on breathing!

Lesson Number 6


When the pack breaks up after the start you realize that you are not running this race to be faster than others, you are trying to be faster than yourself. Setting that pace for a 6mph average I cut 5 minutes off my best 10K time - 8.3% faster - that's awesome and I may have been way back in the pack, but I'm chalking this up as a huge WIN.

Lesson Number 7


When I started getting physically active last June I had seen myself in a picture on my 25th wedding anniversary trip and hated what I saw. Further motivation came from an old friend that was always as skinny as a rail, but last I saw him shocked me with his rotundness - I saw myself and knew that if I allow myself to continue I am just waiting to die. I did not want to run, running is hard! I wanted to get in shape by hiking and walking. I bought my Garmin and started hiking a 2 mile trail, after a time this became easy, so I started doing the stairs multiple times. That became too easy as well, so I extended it the hike to 3.5 miles. After a couple of weeks of that I started running the first half mile of the hike. I started track running started to buy into my life changes and invested in myself - running shoes, running gear. The rain forced me off the dirt trail at Lake Fenwick and onto the asphalt of Interurban soon 5 miles became my daily run, then when I had some left on one of the runs I extended it to a 10K.

Lesson 8


Where am I going with this? What is the goal? Looking back over the last 6 months my abilities have changed so much that I am scared to say whats next - after finishing a 10k the next step is a half marathon. A HALF FRIKKING MARATHON . This is so foreign to me, this is too new and in a way scary. I'm not sure it may stop here, I may continue to extend my horizons but the change is definately entrenched, I feel differently about myself and my body. Although my weight loss has stalled at 220, I'm thinking that as long as it doesn't go up during the holidays it's a win for me! Notbeing sure about the future, I guess I'll just keep blogging and we can find out together.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why are you doing this?

A most important question!

In ten days I run my first race, the Kent Christmas Rush. I was going through the timesheets from the previous year's race and found my current ability lacking - I wanted to be in the middle of the pack for my age group, but all the 45-49 year old entrants finished a good 5 minutes ahead of my current 10K pace.

Warning: positive self-talk ahead!

I felt crest-fallen, until I realized I've been running for only 3 months. The ability to FINISH a 10K should be the celebration. On reflection I must pose the same question McCoy posed to Spock in the movie Star Trek: "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?!!" I'm a former heavy smoker, I quit that and put on a lot of weight. I'm working that off now and have made changes in my life to become more healthy. I've ran over 5 miles repetitively in driving rain and wind, I've ran two solo 10K runs already. A quick tally of the Garmin shows that I've ran 97.87 miles and since I started this change I've logged 296.75 miles in total. I have nothing to feel badly about, I have everything to be thankful for. This race is a positive affirmation of the new me. I am changing myself. I can be more than I am if I work at it and keep my expectations realistically high.

OK, enough "yay me" posting, now lets move on to "yay spouse" posting! My wife started coming with me, she walks while I run. I am so happy for her, I know the power of exercise and change really do great things for people. On Thanksgiving she came with me and we did Interurban, then on Sunday after church, the Aviator and his wife met us at Interurban. Although she currently has a blister I am hoping the Mrs. will catch the bug and accompany me more!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stride, Pace, Speed

Running for another 10K today I was vexed by my stride. I was running well, but my stride needed adjustment throughout the course of the run. Eric from The Balanced Athlete told me that to run as a way of life requires that I re-learn how to run. I'm slowly altering my pace to incorporate his tips:
  • Increase your rate (faster steps)
  • don't reach with your foot, place it underneath you
  • Pull yourself - don't strike the front foot down hard
  • Stand up straight - ears over shoulders
  • Move elbows back
Eric showed me from the treadmill that following these steps decreases the impact to joints and keeps your neck and back from tightening from bad posture. I saw him run, I heard the treadmill hum a constant tone. My time on the treadmill punctuated each stride with a change in the machine's pitch quite notably. When I first attempted to put this lessen into practice I didn't do so well - I followed his directions and shot to 8mph with my heart rate flirting with the top side of VO2max.

The past few days I've been slowly attempting to include the techniques to my workouts. I haven't got it completely down yet, but when I notice I am either slowing or my heart rate is climbing I switch to this mode I pick up speed and my heart rate slows - but my legs get tired quickly as it's not a "natural" gait. I'm thinking that I should be able to move over to this new mode over time.

The 10K race is fast approaching, ( December 12th!) and although today's 10K run was not as fast as I would like, I do have some hope to putting in a better time, today's run was after a couple of hours of working in the yard. I'm hoping that with diet and a couple of days down-time before the race I'll do much better than a 1:08 10K run.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cardio and you!

I've been hearing a lot of buzz words dealing with heart rate and exercise terms like VO2max, Target rate, aerobic, anaerobic, etc. The terms are vague and ominous sounding, but without a decoder I was not understanding them beyond knowing that target rate is best for fat burning. In this post I hope to remedy that. Click on the chart below, find your age across the top and directly below will be your heart rates associated with the various "buzzword" zones

Lets take it from the top down VO2Max this is where your body can no longer provide the muscles with the required oxygen to metabolize nutrients that provide energy. You can keep this rate for a while, but you will be feeling it in a day or two!

Next up is the almost as hardcore, but infinitely more sustainable Anaerobic zone - you still are running an oxygen deficit but you can keep this up for quite some time. While in the anaerobic range don't plan on holding long drawn out conversations or singing - your lungs have better things to do - you will also be feeling this the next day, but it's not too bad, once you get used to it.

I will combine aerobic and weight control zones into the same description - this is where your body burns fat most efficiently. it is also where you can actually hold conversations and concentration on running is not as essential.

The last zone Moderate I can only think that you can get here via walking to the fridge for pumpkin pie - to increase the burn of that workout pile the whipped cream high!

I spend most of my workouts in the anaerobic range. I rarely hit VO2max except when doing stairs or running while listening to Pantera. All this information and more can be found on wikipedia, I just thought I'd save the reader (and myself) additional hassle by posting it here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Into the wind

"In the main Puget Sound area and lower Chehalis Valley, a Wind Advisory is up again with potential gusts to 40-45 mph, maybe a few to 50 mph this evening."

- Snipped from KOMONEWS.COM's forecast

I run a 2.6 mile north/south course in the Auburn/Kent valley. Todays run came as a low pressure system was moving across Washington. Correspondingly the wind was out of the south and strong there was no rain besides a spritz at the end but the wind really affected my time!

Note the drop off in speed around the half way mark - yet my heart rate actually went up. Wind resistance made for a great return leg workout and although many times I sunk below 5mph I was working it!

The Storms Just Keep Coming!

4 "storms" in 5 days is quite unusual for Washington. Now northwest storms are not usually thought of as especially impressive in terms of wide spread physical destruction. Our mountain ranges help to break up systems for the most part and systems tend to move through quickly. That said we do have lots of power outages, fallen trees and chaos. usually the morning after you'll notice debris strewn about in the streets - mostly leaves, branches, pine needles.

Previously, I would spend my time inside during the storms and play video games or watch movies, which I still do, but now I also grab my gear, head out into it and go running. Running in storms is a mixed bag - wind can be a friend or foe, rain is the same story. Running with the wind to your back can impart a feeling of being pushed along, but I have found that cooling suffers. I'm sure this is not scientific, but I feel running into the wind is better at cooling. Running into the wind does feel like more work, but mix some rain up with it and it's very refreshing.

That's my plan for today, I'm hoping to hit interurban around 3:15-3:30 and do either 5.2 or 6.3 miles - not sure which, all depends on how the legs feel. I do know that the choice of music will help dictate how long of a run. I'm thinking I'll be listening to the World of Warcraft soundtrack as the music is made to accompany long journeys. I have my gear in the truck - I'll change before I leave work to save daylight.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Saw the Domain, had to grab it!

10k in the rear-view!

Besides the new domain, much has been happening in my life of running. The rain continues to fall although last Saturday was cold and partly cloudy when I started the run the temps were just above freezing - luckily I have long "Tech" pants and a long "Tech" shirt - which I layered a "tech" T-shirt over the top.

I'm not quite sure why folks call them "Tech gear" but I guess there is still a stigma attached to the word "Polyester". Polyester does a great job of wicking away moisture where cotton soaks it up and stays wet

Running in the rain is easy, running in the cold take a little getting used to. I convinced my nose about two miles into my run that it really did not need to run as well. Around the same time my hands started warming up as well. the run felt great and I set a personal best distance of 6.47 miles - over a 10K (6.24m) which was one of my goals now achieved! Since I was all puffed up about reaching 10 Km I registered for the "Kent Christmas Rush 10K" my goal is to finish, not sure if it will be last or not, but finishing will be a win in my book!

No run Monday, Metal Tuesday

Business kept me from running Monday, I really look forward to rain-running now and Monday would have been perfect - warm temperatures in front of a system blowing through and pretty good rainfall. Yesterday the temps dropped to 45 degrees and the precipitation waited until about half-way through the run. I recently found that my Blackberry 8310's headfone jack is not meant for a typical celphone headphone but for media player ear buds. Yesterday I packed my 1G microSD card with all the music it could fit. and decided to listen to different music. I chose Pantera for the workout. Normally I'm one for jazz/blues but in my past have been known to head-bang on occasion (Actually attended a Pantera concert in the mid 90's) Upon reflection I should not have been suprised at the affect it had on my workout my heart rate and speed were both up and I completed the 5.2 miles at a best average speed of 6mph . When I was about a quarter mile from finishing the run the skies broke loose. the rain was coming down - a squall line was passing overhead and it was dumping. Even with the temps in the mid 40s I was not cold at all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rerunning in the Rain

If I was hot and female, I would have looked somewhat like this while running in the rain. Unfortunately for you I'm an overweight and balding old guy. :D

Friday I ran the 5 1/4 mile Interurban Trail course, the weather was as wet as I had ever seen while running. The wind was out of the south at 5 to 15 miles per hour with occasional gusts higher. The rain was coming down like a sideways soaker hose. With the wind from the South my back received a good dousing on the way out. The temps were in the mid to upper fifties so it was still comfortable if you keep moving.
At around the 2 mile mark the rain let up briefly and a rainbow appeared - one of thos "double rainbows" with two separate arcs. the first arc glowed brilliantly - it scintillated. The second arc was more subdued, but still quite visible. As the rain resumed I was concerned that my electronics might be damaged - as I jog, I am a veritable nexus of electronic regalia - Blackberry, Garmin, and Zune. well no worries, my back is to the rain. At about the 2.5 mile point I realized that that would not be the case for the last half of the run (dur!)
I turned at the 2.6 mile point at Willis Street in Kent and was met by a wash of rain to the face - not the large pelting drops that hit with a "thwock" but a full and gentle wall of droplets that soaked you, but did so in a most civil manner. I began to theorize on the amount of current that the headphone were carrying and considering the shock hazard , but the two electrodes would need to arc across a large vacuum so I deemed myself safe. my electronics for the most part was covered by my shirt and in either a holster (Blackberry) or pocket (Zune) but my Garmin bore the brunt of natures wrath sitting, like a mighty bulwark upon my wrist.
The wind from the south which for the first half had been pushing me along ever so gently, had become a fierce adversary pushing back at my progress. It also served to keep me cooled down and I completed the rest of the run with good pace.

The weekend was spent chilling at home and church (Saturday is my sabbath as Sunday is a very busy day!)

Monday I repeated the run, but had procurred new running shorts - no room for Zune! The weather was cloudy and the rain was minor and spotty. Now I am settling in to the whole "5 miles is normal" routine and feeling quite happy with myself. my pace is adequate at 5.5 mph. I'm sore after the run it's a "good" sore, and no injuries yet (knock on wood!)

I found out that my wife is going to need some help Wednesday unloading hay, so I move my next run up to Tuesday - I've been trying to get my church friends to join me on a run and the Aviator agrees and makes it out. Although the pace is slower, I like having a partner to run with - conversation while running is difficult, but it helps build endurance. No rain Tuesday at all during the run, it's a bit brisk though. Today (Wednesday am) I'm feeling a cold coming on so I'm going to take it easy for a couple of days and let this run through. I'll have World of Warcraft and a new level 80 to keep me busy while I get well!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Running in the rain

If you want to blog at least blog about goals.

The past few weeks I've been dealing with foot pain - particularly on the outstep of my left foot. After doing my first 5 mile run, my foot ached enough to cause limping. I went to the running shoe store owner, he got me on the treadmill and said YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG! and told me to change up my running style completely I tried what he said, but it was uncomfortable and my heart rate was near max the whole time. Then as luck would have it my wife was thrown from her horse ( I'm a funny guy!) I took her to the doctor and while we were discussing the wifes broken thumb in the Xray I asked him about my predicament. He said in essence "YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!" and told me that the way I run is ok - for now. I should expect some pain as my foot gets used to being in the proper geometry in these most expensive shoes,. I originally bought the shoes to help with Achilles tendon pain and the releif was instant. The Doc said "Sam, you have to expect that those portions of your foot that are being used for the first time may be a bit tender, but they will get in shape in time.

So Monday I did a 3 mile run and felt awesome - my zune was dead so I had to entertain myself - I whistled the tune "Take me to the River" (8 weeks at number 1 on the Christian rock charts back in the mid 90s) now my pulse was in the 150-160 range, but the run was very do-able.

Today I made it almost 5 1/4 miles non-stop. I ran the way I normally do, maybe a bit better posture but not any big change. My zune was fully charged and I chose to run with Diana Krall (The Girl in the Other Room and Live in Paris)
This is the farthest I have ever ran in my life, and although it's a monumental occasion I could have kept going! I'm hoping to do my first race in December - a 10k and although I have no illusions about finishing in the top 10 (or 20, 30 etc) I am very confident that I will finish it, and that will be a win for me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumn is Setting In

Leaves are falling all around, Its time I was on my way. Thanks to you, I'm much obliged For such a pleasant stay. But now its time for me to go, The autumn moon lights my way. For now I smell the rain, And with it pain, And its headed my way. Ah, sometimes I grow so tired, But I know Ive got one thing I got to do

My beloved Lake Fenwick will be wet for the foreseeable future as the rains moved in last night. The trail isn't bad, but the boardwalk is treacherous when wet. So I think I'm going to start track running, although I may do some neighborhood runs, I really dislike breathing exhaust from vehicles while running.

Yesterday's run
saw my fastest sprint time on the boardwalk - 14.8 MPH which if I could keep it up would be a 4:02 minute mile - how anyone could run a mile at that pace is beyond my comprehension, after 1/10th I was at the end of my rope.

A Hike During The Break

Last Friday my church's Music Director and I went hiking up in the cascades to a little place called Snow Lake. The locale was some of the most beautiful real estate in Washington. Approximately 4000 feet up in the Snoqualmie Pass area - just above Alpental Ski Area. The terrain was not too intense lots of forest with old growth, lots of boulder strewn hillsides. and most often a pretty good rise in altitude. The weather reports called for morning clouds until around 11:00 am so we thought that the hike would be nice and cool - we were surprised to find blue sky from sunrise on and the hike was warm - cool breezes were interspersed along the ever upward switchbacks and we made excellent progress. I was so thankful for the stairs at Fenwick, if it were not for those I might have had a bit of an issue with hike. Maybe the altitude was a factor, but wow, those switchbacks were a killer!

Lunch at the lake consisted of some energy bars and a package of beef jerky - a true hiking lunch if ever there was one!

Sitting at the lake, surrounded by the beauty really was the most relaxing time of my entire two week vacation. There were other people about but the lake seemed to emanate a peace force field that suppressed anything but a palpable sense of well-being and serenity. It was nice to see ground squirrels - not the large grey ones, but the little brown ones - showing up in goodly numbers along the trail.

A full day of hiking, we met at the church at 10:00am and returned at 4:30pm. I really thank Dean for the time and look forward to more exploration of the beauty this state holds.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A question of distance

First week of vacation is down - lets have a status check

  1. Achieved a workout goal
  2. Relaxed
  3. Went to breakfast with the "guys"
  4. Obtain illicit substances! (?)

Last Monday was a personal best workout - 13 miles at Lake Fenwick in 4 hours. I did four reps of the park at 3.3 miles per rep. I was a machine, but not without side effects, by the end of the hike my hands had swollen considerably, this was easily fixed by a good dosing of Ibuprofen when I arrived home. My muscles were sore, particularly groin area and hamstrings. I'm not sure why - the trail was dry so I had no balance issues. well, the soreness only lasted a day - and I took a down day afterwards so all is good.

Wednesday I cut my workout short, only 2.5 miles. I misjudged time and had to cut it short to be able to grab breakfast with friends from church. I had a great time, they are truly good men, and time with friends is something to treasure.

I spent much of the rest of the week playing video games and bought a new hard drive - 1.5 TB should be enough to keep my out of disk space issues for some time!

Saturday I hit the trail, it was early and it had rained the night before the trail was moist, but not slippery. The boardwalk was quite slick and I exercised caution traversing that hazard. On the way back I got to the boat launch and looked down, there was a baggy of pot - quite a goodly quantity of it too. Now having grown up in a permissive generation I had a quickly quenched tinge of temptation before calling 911
"No, this is not an emergency. I've found a large bag of marijuana and don't want to throw it in the trash"
I provide my name, location etc
"We are sending a patrol car to pick it up" the dispatcher's voice is emotionless
I move back to my truck. My inner teenager is shaking his head "wow this is the first time in your life you've found a large bag of pot and you are actually turning it in?"
The question kind of rang in my head and it was rather refreshing to snap back to him saying "Well ya, you dumb shit".

As I was waiting for the police to arrive, a blue "ricer" car with a big fin on the back pulls in to the boat ramp road and parks. three guys get out. They are not wearing jogging outfites, they have no fishing gear and they are looking down and walking towards the general area where I found the bag. Whoops! "Well boys, if you would have gotten here 10 minutes ago you would not have to look for such a long time." The police cruiser arrives about 15 minutes later and I pass him the bag. I don't say anything about the ricer car guys - they've had enough bad luck for one day.

So last week I had a great vacation - achieving goals, enjoying friendships, thwarting criminals and disciplining teenagers.

Week two looks just as promising.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fall - Autumn, Fall - Down, Fall - Rain

The peace and serenity of a thousand gnomes with bubble-wrap

The weather for today's workout was overcast, but in the woods the rain fell from leaf to leaf. The forest has assumed the demeanor of fall, and with a temperature of 52 f, it felt like a fall morning . One lone soul had ventured out in his boat on the lake at around 8:30am. Fenwick is an "electric motor only" lake and from the other side, he was silent. I noticed as I started my workout that one of the maples had lost a large branch - a good 1 1/2' diameter branch came down in yesterday's gusty rains.

I thought the grass in the field would be slick, but my shoes kept me well in line. as I hit the first board walk I found that it was a bit slippery - but very manageable at a jog. Silence. Early mornings seem to be a wonderful time for a run. No one is out on the trail yet and I can be lost in a zen-like jog. I notice as I run down the trail that the indigenous creatures of the forest are scurrying about more - like they are trying to get their morning activities done and I am encroaching on their time. "Not to worry, I'll be quickly past and you can continue your morning activities".

The stairs are wet, the handrails wet and cold. The spiders know that I am the first one here. Pulling the morning's web production off my face and arms I head down the stairs. When cold, the air may be thicker, but it seems not to help too much during the climb of the stairs, although I am recovering from the exertion quickly. I start to run at the bottom, but check my speed as the trail is wet and I don't want to end up in a heap. Not to fear, the traction seems to be good, just wet earth, not slippery muck.

The boardwalk at the other end of the run is a completely different story, what is my fastest area, normally managing 8 mph. This is now a deliberate act of concentration and foot placement. No jogging will happen here, and so my speed is limited to 2 mph or under. The park entrance at Reith Road opens up and I notice the clouds starting to give way to blue sky - in the woods the rain still falls from tree to tree, but the day promises to become more summer like.

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.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Exercising in over 100 degree weather - Garmin keeps me safe

It was a first yesterday, Seattle WA hit 103. The impact of that sentence is lessened if you do not know that Seattle has only once, previously in recorded history dating back to 1891, hit the century mark. Being someone who has been born and raised in the cool green damp of the Pacific Northwest I found myself laughing at the enormity of the heat when leaving the air-conditioned environs of work or my truck. Heat, yes Heat with a capital H.

I have been warned about working out in high temperatures but I really wanted to keep my workout going. How can I keep myself safe, and accomplish the mission of completing my daily workout. The answer is somewhat apparent - Water and electrolytes - but there was a missing ingredient. Heart rate.
When you work out your body uses energy - one of the byproducts of this is heat. Normally perspiration is very effective at cooling the body, but as temperatures rise the efficiency of that cooling mechanism decreases. A response to the inability to cool one's self is a faster heart rate. a faster heart rate moves the blood around the body and much like a radiator carrying that heat to the surface of the skin where it radiates away - what happens when the outside temperature is warmer than the core temperature in your body? Well it's not that simple because sweat along with a breeze will cool you to below ambient, but the tolerance for heat buildup lowers when you throw physical exertion in to the mix. That's where my Garmin Forerunner came in - As my workout progressed if I was on flat ground (non-stair portion of the workout) I would limit my heart rate to the mid 140s. When your heart rate is at that level, you really notice heat's limiting effect on your activity, the slightest incline would send my heart rate soaring, unless I slowed down. Which I did. A lot.
I did the stairs towards the beginning of the workout - 3 sets - which really showed my body's ability to generate heat - the first trip up I was cruising, probably faster than my normal rate - my heart rate hit 155 ( a far cry from the 178 from my initial run 3 weeks ago) my next two sets I hit 157, but I had slowed to keep from heating up too much. the rest of the first half of the walk proceeded normally - although it was hot - so hot that the boardwalk had that "sauna wood" smell. On the way back I found that the woods felt cool compared to the blast furnace of the boardwalk. A small breeze blew by as I first entered and the relative coolness was delicious. I noticed though that my heart rate was becoming harder to control - walking fast on level ground would send it climbing and to slow it, I would have to slow down tremendously, all but stopping. and then came the stairs - the last time for the day - the stairs stood between me and my car. As there is a slight incline approaching the stairs, I walked in slow circles around the landing, waiting for my heart to slow into the upper 120's to start heading up. I hit the stairs at 125 and my heart rose slowly, I was basicly hitting a rhythm that would be a fast "Canon in D" by Pacabel. I must have looked like a sloth, each step carefully placed upward and onward, never stopping. after reaching the top, I was probably a bit on the conservative side - my heart rate was 151. The walk concluded with the trip down the hill to the car. I was so elated that I forgot to turn off the Garmin but from the activity, you can see when the car ride starts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shade and a breeze

Two things that are not happening in Seattle today

Yesterday's workout was better than Monday's - I actually completed the stairs 4 times. The Garmin provides a sense of reassurance that I'm pressing hard by achieving target heart rate, but not pressing too hard by too easily overshooting heart rate. I am not new to exercise in hot weather - the master at my TKD school did not have AC and considered fans a luxury. But now that I'm older and may not have a few days to recuperate, I want to make sure my workouts are safe and effective. The 305's heart meter does just that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summertime, and the livin is easy....

It's easy to sweat!

My truck's thermometer hit 96 on the way home yesterday. For us Washingtonians 96 degrees is equivalent to Dante's Inferno. Today and tomorrow we may eclipse the century mark. This is not normal, but if given a chance, I'll use it!

I work in AC all day long, and I had not been out of the office since 9:00am. Heading out after work the heat hit you in the face and said "Hi, my name is HOT, how do you do" heading home the temp spiked in the mid 90s but when I got to the lake it was a cool 87. Today I wore shorts for the hike and also a white baseball cap - most the walk is in the shade but with thinning hair Sun = Hat. The first thing I noticed was that my heart gets to target rate much easier. I actually had to slow down . I also found out the importance of hydration and SALT salt helps your body regulate temperature and when its hot and you are working, you go through it quickly. I met the stairmaster at the lake and we was a stair SLACKER! I can't fault him though, I only did them 3 times.
Today I'm going to try to do the stairs four times, but I'm going to load up on water and salt during the day!

Summertime, it's dang hot, but with the winter we had, I'm not complaining - check back on Thursday for an update though.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When you think you can't... Think again.

Yesterday's walk started with continued soreness, my calves were still mooing. As I progressed they started to feel better.
As I hit the dock portion of the Fenwick walk I see him, in his '80s golf shirt, white hair and shorts, sitting and stretching out on the dock. It's the StairMaster.

"Hi John, how's it going?" I ask cordially, slowing but not stopping.
"Hello, pretty good, how many are you doing today?" He asks after me, I wince inwardly.
Feeling like the loser I am, I stop long enough to say "Oh, I'm only going to do them once, my calves are still killing me, from the 6 reps on Monday"

I think to myself "Good gravy, I'm walking and I'm doing the stairs what more do you want sheesh!" Then I realize that he's not the one I'm dissapointing, he is the StairMaster and will not suffer disappointment from FOOLS! I reflect back to my IM session with my friend Dean.
"I'm headed out to Fenwick, you want to come along?" I asked.
"No, I'll pass this time but do the stairs twice for me" Oh that Dean....
"Actually I was only going to do them once, but I'll donate that to you" My lame attempt at snappy rejoinders falls somewhat flat, but it'll do.
Back at the dock, I've moved on. I'm doing some soul searching, "Are you doing this to not hurt? Are you doing this to get in shape? Are you doing this to be comfortable? There's a reclining loveseat with a backlit keyboard, wireless mouse and 100" screen for your fat arse back at home that wants you to fail" my inner demon/angel taunts.
I clear my head and move along, thinking that in this heat 3 miles should be good enough. The spiderwebs from my previous walk help me to decide to bypass the loop, and I head down the stairs. Having just finished the first hill a ways back, my pulse is dropping and drops fairly quickly as I head down the stairs.
"Maybe just twice" I decide, as I notice my calves aren't near as sore as they were just 10 minutes ago. I start to head up the stairs. "Slow down Sam, watch the heart rate" I'm thinking because I don't want to spike the rate early and have to slow down or stop before i reach the top. As I check my heartrate I notice that 1/2 way up the stairs it's still in the 130s, it should be blazing into the 150s by now on it's way up to 170. By the time I get to the top, I'm panting, but my pulse is still in the 150's. Nice! I head back down my pulse drops, not to the low 110s previously, but high 120s I'm quite happy with, so I turn and head back up, I'm reminded of the immortal words of Han Solo "That's great kid, now don't get cocky" As I top the stairs a second time my heart rate is in the low 160s, the pain in my calves is a distant memory, but the rubbery legs kick in on the way down the stairs and I avail myself of the handrails.
Continuing on through the forest I'm not really looking to go fast or keep my heart rate up, I'm more into just going and enjoying. I make it to the North entrance of the park and walk a big circle to start heading back. I don't feel like jogging on the boardwalk so I fast walk, heart rate stays around 130, so I'm still in the +/- 10% of target heart range.
As I leave the boardwalk the coolness of the forest spurs me on, My heart rate is now in the high 130's flirting with 140. Who do I see on the trail? None other than the StairMaster, on his way back from his exercise. I hold up two fingers, not a peace sign - a count. The StairMaster nods.

"My calves aren't nearly as sore as when I first started out today" I say, in passing.
The StairMaster has patience, "You know," the Stairmaster stops, forcing me to stop.
"My legs never bothered me" he observed, "But the stairs made my lower back ache at first, just once, but never my legs."
I wonder what wise thing to say in the presence of the StairMaster. "My doctor told me that low back pain is caused by placing more weight on the heels, than on the balls of the feet" I have requited myself nicely, "I'm going to do two more on the way back" I add.
"Good for you, I only did them once today." the StairMaster quips.
"See you tomorrow" I say as I turn and continue my walk.
"The StairMaster... only did the stairs... once???" I think to myself, dismayed.
Resolute I proclaim to myself " Then I WILL do the stairs twice on the way back, but I do them for THE STAIRMASTER!"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heat, Pain and Stairs!

ow ow ow ow ow ow

Yes, I walked yesterday in the near 90 degree heat - 3.2 miles on the trail, did the stairs once, my calves did not want me to do the stairs once, my calves wanted to stay home (tender as veal they were!) But I need to keep this going. I found that 3 miles takes me under an hour and I can keep my heart rate around target for the entire time, so I've moved my starting point to the boat launch and then do a complete walk around the park.

The full tour (courtesy of Garmin)

Not much to see on the trail during the walk - a lot of Americana was happening around the lake though. Folks flipping burgers on BBQs kids yelling and laughing in the lake. It struck me as a very peaceful cacophony, almost sacred. Seeing people relax and enjoy life was much the same as looking at a painting and connecting with feeling the artist was trying to portray. You do an inner cheer for them saying "Yes, this IS what it's all about, please continue!" but then again it could have just been the heat :D

Monday, July 20, 2009

Repetition repeats repetitively

The StairMaster has a name!

After having a great day at work - not too busy but not too slack. I'm still buzzing from the good report from the health check up - everything except for BMI is right where it should be and the Nurse could tell from the various readings that I was exercising properly. This is the first time I've had a entirely positive experience with a medical prognosis ( previously I smoked, or was not too active, so one thing or another was working against me,) but the nurse actually "poo-pood" my 30.5 BMI saying that I'm on the perfect track to an acceptable lower 20's BMI. I know I've been on this for over a month now and I'm still working, I'm not too worried about how much I eat, but that is coming down too, it's also a matter of what I eat. Fruits and veggies, Tuna, Chicken, not much processed grains. Like today, I woke up, got to work and had my normal "Black Coffee and Stomach Acid" for breakfast, for lunch around 12:30 I had a bag of planters peanuts (it's easy to eat small at work if you are busy) The peanuts I eat after noon because I want to hit the workout with at least some energy, but nothing that would stuff me. After the workout I have my reward: 10-12 strawberries, one banana, a 1/4 cup of cream (soon to be 1 cup strawberry yogurt) a scoop of protein powder and water, blended. It makes a utterly awesome smoothy. and I also had a good sized tunafish salad.

Meanwhile back at the workout - I took the StairMaster's advice to heart to day, I sent John, Dorsey and JJ an IM saying that I'm hitting the trail and proceded to head out. I waited a bit at the trailhead but I really wanted to get working and I figured they'd catch up. I got to the stairs and went down to the bottom then started my way up- first time was not too bad as my heart was pounding, but much slower than when I normally hit it. I turned and headed back down, I was breathing hard, but by the time I got to the bottom I was ready to test the theory, I go up to the top and was winded, but no more than usual so down I go again, I get to the bottom and as I head back up, I hear my friends making their way down from the top. They are impressed, I am impressed, the lady that was coming up my first time had come back and SHE was impressed lol. so I pass them on the way up and they start doing the stairs too (except the lady, she said she would try multiples tomorrow) I get to the top and my friends aren't far behind, John packing JJ in the back pack - JJ is into this exercise stuff and cheers dad on! We head down and do it again. I'm at my fifth time up! and on the way down we all start get wobbly rubber-band knees we continue the hike to the end of the lower trail and back. On the return leg we run into the StairMaster, I tell him that his advice is awesome, I did more stairs than I thought possible! He laughs and says its all a matter of doing it, just keep going. I thank him again and as we are heading back I say " I'm sorry I don't know your name, I'm Sam. The StairMaster said "I'm John" - we hit the stairs and I talk them into doing the loop. After that it was heading back down to the cars and home. All in all a great day of work and friends and now a more indepth knowledge of "The StairMaster"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

7 miles! My Feets Hurt!

Another 1st for me - although I think I'll take it a bit easier for a while

The Garmin is pushing me, pushing me further and further! I did fairly well, I stopped at the truck at the 3.5 mile mark to pound a bottle of water, but that took all of 30 seconds. I wasn't actually going for speed, I was more focused on heartrate and maintaining it at the 140 target, while keeping it low enough that I wouldn't burn out. Mission Accomplished! On the walk I noticed a guy who must have been around 55-60, who I've seen on many previous days, he says "hello" and I say "Good afternoon" and we pass each other. It happened this way as well today but since I was doing the trail twice I passed him again - at the stairs. He was climbing the stairs multiple times. He told me it was a "Mind game" as you are very winded when you arrive at the top, but as you head back down you get to recuperate. having hit over five miles at that point I said "I'll try that another time." and proceeded on to the turn around point and came back - this guy was still doing stairs! I told him "You either are committed or you should be." I think I might try that Monday. And when I see him again, I'll ask his name - for now he shall be known as "The Stairmaster"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday's abbreviated aerobics and slackage at work

I had an appointment at 5:00pm so i could not do 2 laps :/ oh well one lap will have to suffice for now. Not too busy today at work, I like it a bit more challenging. I got an email this morning saying that things will definately pick up next week. I'm happy for the down week as it was MS Patch Tuesday and I had the time to create and load a newly patched image to my thumbdrive. I also took the time to reload my development machine to speed it up a bit, but I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get some more memory I'm trying to keep the development work to a minimum to focus my energies on the customer. The last few weeks the customer has needed the focus, but this week I've had a bit of a break.

in other news my World of Warcraft Guild suffered an exodus, these things do happen but a bunch of really nice folks will be missed. It seems to happen every once in a while in MMORPGs but it does suck.

Friends on the Trail

When a workout isn't work

I met some friends who wanted to check out the trail yesterday after work. We actually expanded the walk to the entirety of Lake Fenwick Park this added another half mile to the round trip. I'm thinking it will now become a regular route. John, Dorsey, and JJ are awesome folks to share the walk with. I had sort of written off the walk thinking that well, they are packing JJ, I might need to hold back and just enjoy the company. NOT! These guys hit the trail at a really nice pace and John while packing JJ did the stairs at a clip that I was hard-pressed to keep up with! JJ, (the piano-man) Is a hard working tyke and halfway through the walk took time to explore his surroundings. The picture is from the end of the walk, and reinforces the point that sometimes you have to stop and smell the flowers.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday Night Rejuvenation

For such is the kingdom

Being a 40'something and having a family, I have found that sometimes I miss the times when my kids were little cute things that were doing the endearing little things that when they were older you reflected on so that you wouldn't throttle them. At choir practice last night, our resident choir toddler was fulfilling that requirement. JJ is an awesome little guy who parents could not love any more (it's actually been scientifically proven.) He is a very inquisitive, bold and rambunctious little urchin who has a propensity to be cute. I'm thinking he will be a musician of some talent. Today after work I will hopefully be walking with him and his family at the trail.

I have been singing in this group for many, many years. Through singing I have found very deep spiritual places. I have had much laughter and even been sophomoric at times. Our group is much more than a choir, we have all been singing together a long time, we are much like a family - we share whats going on with each other, we pray for each other. It's a great part of my life. I do however at times feel insufficient for the task. I can sing well, from bass to tenor, but I tend to sing well with repetition and assistance (learning parts.) Sometimes it feels as if I may be holding the group back, but then other folks need help with parts too, so I may be overly sensitive on that note.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Of Atkins bars and active ingredients: LESSON LEARNED!

I was so up for a repeat performance today, but on the way back from dropping off some stuff for a coworker, I stopped into the health food store and saw a box of 130 calorie carmel chocolate peanut butter bars... I buy the box and grind on one (yum) I figure Hey, the bag of peanuts I usually have for lunch has 330 calories, I can gnosh a couple more. (YUM)

About an hour later *gurgle* I'm sitting at my desk at work *gurgle* and I'm feeling some digestive processes running amok *GURGLE* Well lets take care of this, time for some quality blackberry surfing time anyway.

Back at the desk, I'm figuring out an issue with VPNs and my laptop *gurgle* I try to ignore the noise, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking "GOOD GRAVY! WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!" *gurgle* Well, lets go see if I can get very far with brickbreaker on the old blackberry. fast forward an hour - I'm leaving a bit early to take my wife to a doctors appointment and my backup arrives *gurgle* Better visit the little technician's room before I hit the road! OH NOES!!!

I get to my truck and look at the box, it says "People who are sensitive to the sugar alcohol should limit ingestion to one serving per 24 hour period to avoid the potential laxative effects" DOH!!!!

I get home *gurgle* Luckily my daughter is able to take my wife to the the appointment. I make a bee line to the bathroom - at least here I have my netbook for full page surfing! It's time to leave for choir practice, phew! I'm feeling much better now.


5 Miles +

Self taunting for the uninitiated

What a hike! An hour and a half spent for 750 calories, and an average heart rate of 142 - This was a not as much of a challenge as I thought it was going to be - it was actually a fun workout.

I found myself able to look around and take more notice of my surroundings, including an especially happy and barkiferous little scotty-dog that met me on the northside of the walk at a fenced in area directly off the boardwalk. He was trying to be ferocious, but I could see the smile on his face. bounce-bark-run-bark-bounce-pant!

The workout was not without a tragic injury though... I got "nettle finger" :( while web-wacking in the first time around the deer trail. I do not appreciate nettles! They sting and itch! It's all better now though.

The half-way mark I went through some "self-taunting" pointing out the proximity of the truck and that I could quit and sit and rest my poor tired self. I gave myself the finger and proceeded on (It's not easy to give yourself the finger, try it sometime!) The second lap was actually easier than the first. well for the most part - the second time up the stairs was work, but I still did not stop. The amount of sweat generated by this workout was a marked increase over the previous single loop. I think this may become my standard workout now.