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.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Doubling down....

When in the course of human events....

it becomes necessary to change one's tack in exercise - I achieved a goal of 4 mph, and without running the whole thing including the dratted stairs I do not see the return on investment increasing the speed. I'd actually be shortening my workouts. Today I'm going to slow down a bit - instead of looking at avg speed, I'm going to focus on heart rate and double the course, 5 miles in total and two times up and down the stairs. I'm going to keep my heart at the target range of 140 but I will try to avoid (for now) the 160+ range, except on the stairs. This is to ward off any "plateau" from stopping progress.

I am enthused with my progress so far, I haven't really weighed myself, I've been using a different determinant - how my rings fit. My wedding ring had to be resized 3 years ago and started to be tight enough to be concerning. My wife also gave me a ring for our 25th anniversary, that while it fit, I knew it was not going to come off without a lot of work. Both rings now slide easily from my fingers. I will know when my plan is fully changing me when the rings fall off. That is now sometime off in the future, but I am on my way.

Another reason to change the focus is not to burn myself out. I want to make this a life-change, not a fad or mood. to do this I need to focus on attainable fitness goals and ones that support the main goal of reducing.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sabbath: a literal take

Today is a down day, at least for the next 40 minutes or so. Normally Sundays are a pretty busy day for me. I use it as a day of rest for workouts, but Church has me busy both in the morning and afternoon. One Sunday a month I get the morning off and I rest; Actually I play WoW and wander about the house in an unkempt state.

In a few minutes I'll head to church for the afternoon service where I run sound and serve as a general purpose roady. The praise leader, the other sound man, and I have known each other for over many years and I find the afternoons talking with them while setting up the equipment to be both juvenile and therapeutic. There will be a dinner tonight so we will have good attendance. I try to do a good job but sometimes mess up - forgetting to patch the piano into the main system, running a line for the sax player etc. All in all though it sounds pretty good. Most of the group are professionals including a bass player that is freakishly good (having played bass for many years I am in awe of his skills).

Yesterday was a packed weekend day: although I did a personal best workout, I also re-installed 6 of the PCs at church. This was a pretty involved task, and took me around four hours. I haven't been officially named the Church's admin, but they call me, so I heed the call (It's kinda like a heaven-based 401k)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Personal Best!

I hit the trail this morning early, the sun was up but it was still cool out. The park's parking lot where I normally start out from was closed - City of Kent sleeping in! I drove to the other entrance to the park - the one right off of Reith Road - and pulled off to side of the road at the parks North entrance. I was rather circumspect about changing up my hike - this was a big shift, going up the stairs first was definitely a different feel. Well, nothing ventured... I noted that my initial jog felt different, not as draining as normal, this was goodness. This was also my first time doing this in the morning, so where the sun normally was there was shade - made for easy running on the boardwalk. After about 1/3 mile I noticed my pulse rate getting up into the mid 160s and busted back to a fast walk. Not a quick step, more along the lines of longer strides.

I'm checking my Garmin for average speed which since I started out at a good jog, was up into the mid 5mph range. As I slowed it dropped and was at 4.6 by the time I hit the stairs *the velocity suck." After grinding to the top my average was 3.8, not bad.. I can make this up! I head to the right at the stairs , reach into the foliage and grab my prepositioned "web-wacker" ( a two foot long tree branch) and proceed around the deer-trail loop flailing the stick in a not altogether unsuccessful war against the morning's spiderwebs strung between the path's foliage.

By the time I get done with the loop (and dutifully return the web wacker) I'm still sitting at 3.8. I've got my breath back from the stairs, so I take it up to a jog until I get down the "pallet stairs" stuck on the trail on the hill next to Lake Fenwick. The "pallets" are a sort of trail stair and in order to run them you need to adopt a different metre "step-step-step, step" with the last step bringing both feet down very close together. Repeat 4 or 5 times and you are at the bottom . After this run I and at 4.0, my heart rate is at 168 and I slow back to a fast walk. I know it's a fast walk because my heart rate is reticent to come down.

I get to the half-way point, seeing my avg at 4.0 is mind blowing - my previos best of 3.8 was for the whole course and I just did the hardest half first! Iknow that I will not be able to maintain a run back up the hill. but I don't want to knock my average, so I follow my pulse: I run if my pulse gets into the 150s and walk if it hits 170. I power walk up for the most part but there is a good section of jogging. when I get to the "trail steps" I walk, but I walk fast, and just by walking my pulse taps 170 at the top of the hill. That's OK, I'm on level ground now and the rest is mostly down hill.

I still have the 4.0 avg going on. I complete the deer-trail loop and head back down the stairs, I can go down the stairs fairly fast. but not 4 mph, and when I get to the bottom the average reads 3.8. Time to kick butt and chew bubblegum, unfortunately, I'm all out of bubblegum. I jog on the trail after the staircase, it's downhill and makes for good speed without a lot of exertion. I stop when the trail wanders up hill a bit but I've added a 10th to my average. Finding another slight downhill,I jog - even though the heart rate is still mid 160s - and head down the big dip in the trail about 1/2 mile from the finish line, ding! I'm at 4.0 but my heart is in the mid 160s and I need to walk! so I do, I'm still tasting the goal and walk with long strides to maintain the average.

Hitting the boardwalk I'm in the final stretch. one third of a mile to go - pulse is down to 155 so I hit it... jog about 2 10ths and hit 166 then power walk down to 155 and hit it again, this time I keep it going until the end and when I hit the stop button, the garmin reads 4.1. My pulse taps 170, I am euphoric! I am triumphant! I am gasping for air! This was a good workout!

<--- Bike n00b! But still focused on the journey

Lesson learned, to the path I've returned

Well, I'm thinking I just bought a lesson, rather than a bike. I did five miles, five painful, not so fun miles. The bike is not very stable and the way I fit it is all wrong. I'm going to take it to the bike shop and see if there's anything they can do. but I think I'm sticking to hiking in the meantime. Anywho, It's not quite 7:00am and I since the day is going to be a busy one I thought I'd get the work out in first. The trail is such a wonderful place of peace, although I do end up out of breath, the quiet and serenity of the woods provides energy and focus. I find myself very "centered" in that place of deep green and brown. After a 50 hour work week (even with the 4 hours off) this is a needed respite between the weekly chaos.

I have my Garmin on and sitting here typing I'm rocking 85 BPM. It's a bit higher than I want while sitting, but that's another reason for the workouts. Stuff is fitting looser now, I need to keep the focus. If I don't have enough funds for new clothes, I'll sport the "baggy" look for a while. It's all about priorities and getting myself closer to where I need to be is primary.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Test your mettle whilst you peddle

Craigslist FTW, this is my first bike in 30 years. Back then Girls wore spandex, and dweebs wore helmets. The law is the law and I'm going to go get a helmet tomorrow. The last time I road a bike I crashed multiple times (My son was there and involved in at least one of them, all we got was a bad case of laughs as our front tires locked and we tumbled. The bike is a Giant Rincon 21 speed, although it does look used, all the mechanicals are in good condition everything works so far as I can tell. Now we shall see if Biking is for me. The Garmin will come along with and plot the course. Hopefully it will keep me peddling miles and losing flab.

Tools to Rebuild

How shall I rebuild this bag of mostly water?

The Garmin Forerunner 305

A marathoner at work told me about the Garmin Forerunner series of GPS enabled watches, The way it breaks down your workouts - knowing at what level I need to be to produce the maximum effect without overworking has really helped me. At my age my target heart rate is 140, so if I'm cranking out 170 I'm going to want to stop and wheeze a bit, If I keep it between 150 and 160 I don't need to stop, unless my legs give out - being a video gaming couch potato my leg muscles need time to build up. I want to give them enough exercise to strengthen them as quickly as possible, so long runs become possible. I do use the watch for mile marking, and speed too, but mostly as a heart monitor

Lake Fenwick Park - Kent, WA

Another tool is a place, a place of resting and testing - the forge where I can refine and shape myself. Most of the walk/run is dense forest, the paths are dirt - no ruts or roots, so it's easy to concetrate on your cadence.
It begins with an 1/3 mile upward slope leading to stairs (more on the stairs later.)

With the added fun of elevation change it really works aerobically while strengthening the legs. The environment maintains a much cooler temp on hot days and the scenery is much better than running around a track. After a month of using this trail, I grow more accustomed to the elevation changes and turns and general features - the board walk on the north side before the entrance on Reith Road, the quick dip about half way through that drops down ~20 feet and pops back up 10. Although it is close in (30 minutes out of downtown Seattle) the park has kept it's forest feel.

The Stairs

The Stairs of Lake Fenwick are it's best and worst feature - A true love/hate relationship has developed. 256 beautiful, painful, euphoria producing/agony inducing steps lead the way down into/up out of the thick forest valley. At first my goal with these was to make it all the way to the top without stopping. Now I do not stop when I get to the top (Progress!) The day before yesterday, I was passed by a kid on the trail, and I thought to myself "If he runs up those stairs, I know he's a spawn of Satan sent to dishearten me." I get up to the stairs and I see him about halfway up, chugging away at a jog up the stairs... "You go ahead Satan, If I do get thee behind me, the least you could do is push!"

Upon reflection "Lachesis Jr." motivated me to keep going, and that was the first day I did not stop at the top. Oh I wanted to, but I wanted to keep going more to prove to myself that I could do it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ever been there?

At some time in your life,(for me starting around 45,) you notice that you have relatively little control over what goes on outside your self. So you look for introspective changes you can make to experience the illusion of control. The one area where you are freely able to exercise change is "self". Some changes are are easy to make - shall I have an Ultimate Cheeseburger? Shall I smoke? Shall I drink excessively? Shall I spend a large percentage of my life in a world that exists solely on a large computer screen? Going down that road is easy, the benefits are simple and quick, but "easy" never produces good results long term.
On the other hand, the changes that do affect you in a positive, long term manner are almost never easy, but the rewards of these changes can be suprising. You set a goal and by striving to achieve it you notice other tangible benefits that were not in your plan. About 5 years ago, I quit smoking. I still think "You don't understand, I QUIT SMOKING!" The first part of that change was hard - keeping the commitment is pretty easy now, but in the beginning it took some real grit and determination - now it takes not being stupid, (which can be just as challenging sometimes.)

Now I move on - a few years of drink and food, but getting the nico-monkey off my back was so worth it. All this complacency used to gather strength to keep the smoke-free commitment was visible - 60 pounds of fat. Eating to generate the endorphins that sooth my synapses was a short term fix - the side effects are increased joint pain, lowered endurance, self esteem, depression blah blah blah. Time to make a change, not just a "lose the weight" change, a life change - attitude, honesty, respect, self control.