I’ve done quite well, with regards to my outward appearance, since the new year. And with this comes a lot of questions about working out & what people should do. Once we get past the obligatory “how did you do it?” question, I seem to field a lot of “what machine will let me burn the most calories?” questions. Simply, the harder you work, the more calories you burn . . . the number that a given machine might display doesn’t really mean a whole lot. But the geek in me wants to explain just what’s going on.
So, first off, what does it mean to burn a calorie (for my own sake, I’m going to use kcal for “calorie,” just because it’s less typing – but what you see as “1 calorie” in your Diet Coke is 1kcal for these mathematical formulas)? When we refer to “burning a calorie,” we are forcing our body to consume oxygen in order to allow the body to do whatever the heck it was trying to do. Even a patient in a coma is going to “burn calories,” because it takes energy to keep your lungs breathing and your heart pumping. The bigger you are, the more energy (consumed in the form of food) it takes to just keep your body going.
If you want to gain weight, you need to take in more kcals than you expend. If you want to lose weight, you need to expend more kcals than you take in, as you need your body to use its energy stores to convert that oxygen.
It gets tricky, though, in determining just how many calories you need. If you log into a site like Fooducate or My Fitness Pal, they’ll ask about your current weight, and your current height, and your activity level (working out should never factor into that activity level if you’re logging workouts — if you’re like me where you work out more than most people, but have a job where you find yourself still most all of the time, choose the option that has the least activity associated with it) and come up with some number. This is a rough-approximation of the number of calories needed to keep you right where you are. Why is this a rough approximation? Because the fitter you are, the more calories it takes to keep you running. Easily, this is the biggest benefit to why you should be working out. It’s why you should take up running, or cycling, or tennis. It’s why you should be lifting weights. The more muscle you have, the more your body needs just to maintain its current state.
So, why does that calorie readout mean nothing? Well, it has to make a lot of assumptions about you. The only way to, truly & accurately, measure how many calories you burn, during a given workout, is to work out, every time, with complex machinery to determine just how much oxygen you’re consuming. And that’s not really feasible (unless your name is Ivan Drago). But, we can try to use our heart rate to determine just what is going on (you’ll have to forgive me for using my own metrics for these variables in what follows, but those are the numbers that are most familiar to me).
The first thing we need to determine is our VO2 max – or the maximum amount of oxygen that our body can consume in time. The Uth-Sørensen-Overgaard-Pedersen formula tells us that we can approximate VO2 max by taking our maximum heart rate (mine is 186) divided by our resting heart rate (mine was 45, taken when I last donated blood), times 15. For me: (186/45)*15 = 62mL/kg/min. So, for every kilogram of mass I have, I consume 62 milliliters of oxygen per minute, when I, simply, can’t go any harder. And, the reason I’m writing this post now is, well, I weigh, almost precisely, 100kg, so it makes the math a bit easier. I consume 6.2 liters of oxygen, per minute, when I risk losing control of my body functions by going any harder.
Obviously, when we work out, we don’t work out “as hard as we can go,” but we can use our heart rate to determine just what percentage of that “balls to the wall” effort we’re using. If I’m running 9 minute miles, I’ve measured my heart rate around 135 beats per minute, which is approximately 73% of my maximum heart rate . . . does this mean that I’m consuming 73% of the oxygen that I’d be consuming at my maximum effort? No. First off, it’s not a linear formula, but that’s missing a bigger, but easily corrected factor. We need to take my resting heart rate into account – my heart is going to beat, whether I’m running or not, so we need to take the change in what my heart is used to doing. (135-45)/(186-45) = 63%. Still, this formula isn’t linear, but this is close enough to work with, because this will always be an approximation if I’m not working out in the lab. If my heart rate is running at 135 beats per minute, I can say that I’m consuming 63% of the maximum of the 6.2 liters of oxygen per minute that I can consume, or 3.95 liters of oxygen per minute.
If we accept that, for every liter of oxygen consumed, you “burn” 5kcals1, I can say that I’m burning 19.75 kcal per minute when I run at nine-minutes per mile.
If my heart rate goes faster? I burn more calories per minute. If my heart rate drops? I burn fewer calories per minute. And this is just as true for me as it is for anyone else. If you get on the elliptical machine but your heart rate doesn’t really elevate, it doesn’t matter what that readout says. You know how hard you’re working. Traditionally, I “trust” that calorie readout only if I’m very used to that specific machine, and I was too busy catching up with Words-With-Friends to keep careful measure of my heart rate as I went — if the calorie readout tells me more than I was expecting, I throw the number away. There is no “special machine” that is better, or worse for you. If your heart gets pumping, you’re good.
On this whole topic, though, I’d like to point out the “fat burn zone.” Many machines list this — if you’re serious about your health, and you’re used to working out, ignore that zone. Obviously, if you’re just starting, you need to be careful, and whatever you can do to keep yourself from passing-out/puking/peeing-yourself (if you’re new to working out, you may have a very limited VO2 max and your body, simply, doesn’t know how to respond to your requests for the intake of a huge amount of oxygen, so it will push back by doing things that will make you stop; but, if you’re new to working out, be prepared for significant increases in fitness, quickly). The “fat burn zone” is a guess of the heart-rate where the maximum number of calories are pulled from fat stores, at that time, in order to keep the body going. The problem with staying in that zone, just because it’s “the fat burn zone,” is because, when you’re done with your workout, your body balances itself out. At the end of the day, the only numbers that matter, for weight loss/gain, are the number of calories you ingest and the number of calories you burn. Ignore the “Fat Burn Zone” and go above it, if you’re serious about burning fat.
Of course, to further complicate things, as your general fitness level improves, your maximum heart rate may increase, and your resting heart rate will certainly fall . . . a measure of VO2 max, to be truly accurate, would need to be calibrated for every work out . . . and, well, after writing all of this out, I’m exhausted — and that hasn’t even taken a workout into consideration. I’m not about to do that. I just do a sanity check whenever I see a “calories burned” number, and remember that it’s all an approximation.
- I remember, in the 8th grade, my English teacher mentioning that she always found it funny when kids said that they were “too busy” to do their homework. It wasn’t that kids didn’t get busy, she contended, but that truly busy people figured out how to get everything done. I’m finding that I’m spending a fair amount of time thinking about those words when I think upon this coming weekend:
- 6pm: choir rehearsal
- 7:30pm: Greek Orthodox Good Friday services begin
- 10:30pm: Greek Orthodox Good Friday services end
- 11:15pm: Home and to sleep
- 5am: Wake & consider running / cycling / swimming
- 8am: Get out of bed
- 9am: Symphony dress rehearsal
- 11:15am: Symphony family concert (it’s free if you’re around and can make your way to Carlisle, PA!)
- 12pm: Lunch with my mom & family
- 2pm: Yard work (weather permitting)
- 4:30pm: Leave for gig with Landslide
- 5:30pm: Set up stage
- 6:30pm: Sound check
- 7:15pm: Play gig
- 12am: Finish gig, leave band-members to clean up
- 12:45am: Get to church, play mass
- 3:00am: Mass completes
- 3:45am: Home and to sleep
- 5:00am: Ignore kids/dogs/pigs/chicken/things around me and try to sleep
- noon: get out of bed and shower, put on tux
- 2pm: Get to concert, in tux, for symphony concert
- 3pm: Play symphony concert
- 4:30pm: Symphony concert done, pack up Lenore and head to family
- 5:00pm: Wolf down meat in the Greek celebration of Easter. Get a lot of ribbing for not being there at the height of the festivities
- 6:30pm: Home and to sleep.
- 4am: Awake and start making my way to work….
- And to think, I thought weekends were those times that I’d get to spend time with my kids.
- CJ started martial arts lessons last night. At the recreation center, there is an instructor (bless her) who is has a class open for 3-5 year olds. CJ was among the youngest of the group. He enjoyed his “ninja lessons,” but damn, the boy does not stand still. Or pay attention to much of anything. Hopefully, that will change in his time in this class.
- However, watching CJ in martial arts made me a bit nostalgic for my time with Kung Fu, which I miss. The other day, my kids discovered my heavy bag — watching Leila punch the bag with every ounce of herself, while wearing a tutu, might be one of my all-time favorite moments.
- I slept funny from Sunday into Monday and it still hurts to turn my head to the left. This “growing old” thing sucks.
- I’ve been blending my morning coffee with two tablespoons of grass-fed butter and a tablespoon of flax oil . . . the theory being that eating a lot of “healthy fats” in the morning will help pang hunger cravings throughout the day. So far, I have to admit, it’s been working.
- I have not been able to spend any time working on my musical, but I can share this, which is a compilation of two songs, one that I’ve written for each of my children . . . the sheet music for these will be featured on my left-arm-sleeve tattoo, whenever I get around to actually getting said tattoo.
I am….troubled by the news out of Boston. Is that the right word? Troubled? Saddened? Shocked? Sickened? Worried? I’ll stick with troubled. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is on the mind of any runner, no matter their level.
They say you start running for individual reasons, which are far too numerous to try to list. You run your first marathon to prove that you can do it. You run your next marathon to prove that you can better your time. You continue running marathons to qualify for Boston, the only major, non-championship marathon that requires qualification. I, personally, am nowhere near qualifying — my first marathon was in the 5:30 range, and I’ve yet to complete a marathon in under four hours (though I believe I could). But, now, well, I’m tempted, more than I’ve ever been, to chop minutes per mile off of my time. I believe I could average 9 minutes per mile over 26.2 miles….I’d need to average 6. We’ll see if I can make my legs do it.
Crossing a marathon finish line is a joyous feeling – a “holy shit, I did it” combined with a “I am going to be able to sit down in just a little bit.” There is fear on a marathon course, “what if I don’t make it? What if I get injured?” thoughts plague. But the finish is pure elation. And soreness. But elation. But now, fear & solemnity enter the mix. But enough about horrible events (as I write this, little is known about who or what motivated the attack, but I have full confidence that those responsible will be found and brought to justice), as I have cute kids.
- Scheduling changes have turned “lunch with the family” day from Thursdays to Monday. Yesterday, CJ arrived at the restaurant asleep and proceeded to sleep through the entire lunch.
- Leila will throw absolute hissy-fits if I put the wrong-color sippy cup lid on the wrong sippy-cup.
- Last weekend we went to visit family in rural PA. During the trip, CJ became obsessed with camping (he really, really wanted to stay in a tent) and Harry Potter. My heart grew three sizes with the reveal.
- Typically, the kids fall asleep in their own beds, but find their way over to the master bed at some point during the night. I’m used to waking up to find CJ’s curly hair tickling my nose. Leila has “her spot” on Duffy‘s other side. In the middle of the night, last night, however, I woke to find my daughter climbing all over me. When I asked what she wanted, I got her grumpy voice saying “daddy cuddles.” So she got Daddy cuddles.
- Both of my children have started trying to do reverse-crunches to “do exercise like daddy.” This is great, but when they want to help me with my push-ups by climbing on my back, well . . . kids get heavier and they haven’t learned to sit still yet.
- Horsies say “yee-haw.”
- Having two kids who are, approximately, the same age, mean that they can give each other horsie rides. Horsie rides by a sibling, however, pale in comparison to horsie rides from a bigger person.
- CJ really doesn’t like it when I shave my head. He used to have a fascination with my hair-trimmer . . . then he saw what it does and wants nothing to do with it. Personally, I love his curls.
- Leila only likes corn if it’s corn on the cob.
- Little is more frustrating than hearing your toddler son get out of bed and explain “I need to tell you something” in an attempt to explain why he doesn’t need to go to bed.
- Your heart melts when that “something” is the words “I love you, too.”
- The biggest challenge of being a parent is to not laugh or fall for “the cute” when “the cute” is being used to get them something they want but should not have.
The weight-loss challenge is over. And, unless something truly unforeseen happens between now & Wednesday, the scale is going to read some number less than my goal weight when I log in on Wednesday morning. While it’s difficult for me to admit, sometimes I actually like the reflection in the mirror. I still have work to do, that’s for sure, but I feel like I’m well on the way to leading a healthier lifestyle.
And, if I don’t lose a single pound from this point forward, I can be quite happy, as long as I maintain my current regimen. So, here’s how I did it & what I plan to keep doing:
- Log every bite. You need to be honest with yourself. When you’re making yourself a meal, weigh and/or measure every ingredient. Know, precisely, what you’re putting in your body. It’s only natural to want to come in “under” your target calorie intake at the end of the day, but resist the urge to cheat — you’re only hurting yourself when you do it.
- When you go over, do so proudly and don’t be ashamed. My biggest issue, previously, when trying to lose weight, was that, if I gave in to temptation during the day, I gave the day away as “wasted” and stopped thinking about what I was eating for the rest of the day, with the promise that “I’d be better tomorrow.” Now, I’ll go over — but I’ll know how far I went over, and that forces me to remain true to what I’m eating, even on days that I blow my target calorie intake by several thousand calories (e.g. Super Bowl Sunday).
- There is not a magical machine at the gym for burning more calories. The cycle isn’t better than the elliptical isn’t better than the Arc trainer isn’t better than the treadmill isn’t better than the rowing machine1. Simply, the harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn. Ignore that stupid “fat burn zone.”2 Go as hard as you can, for as long as you can. At the gym, I typically work in one-minute segments . . . when I’m “on,” I’m nonstop motion, pushing myself. Then I rest. Then I start right back up again.
- The exception to the prior bullet point is when I head out to run/cycle — there, I always head out with a specific distance in mind, and I aim for consistency in my splits — based on how far I’m going, I really try to gauge how much I have “in the tank” to head out at a maximum pace that I’d be able to maintain throughout the entire event. At the end of a run, or when I get off of the cycle, I want to barely be able to walk. Alas, it’s a trail & error approach to getting to this point.
- Be skeptical about “calories burned” readouts. There is science behind them, but, unless you’re hooked up to a machine that is actually determining the amount of oxygen that you’re consuming, it’s all just a big guess. There are some machines that I typically trust, and some where I completely ignore the number. Remember, the harder you work, the more calories you burn — stick with the activities that you enjoy.
- Always focus on form – be it while lifting weights or sitting in your chair.
- Teach your body to be hungry. It’s easy to fall into a rut of eating you’re bored. I’m not saying that you should starve yourself, but choose random days where you can, and deprive yourself of food – learn what “hungry” means — because, well, in our world, it’s too easy to just reach for food when you can.
- Do not focus entirely on cardio at the gym. Every time I’ve lost weight, I got stuck up on this. The composition of your body matters. A lot. The more muscle you have, the more calories you need to simply maintain your current state. When you add muscle, you’ll find fat loss to be much easier to achieve. If you don’t have a gym, do push-ups.
- Take before pics. There will be days that you get discouraged. When they happen, look at the pictures that you took before & realize the progress you’ve made.
Growing up, the routine was always the same. Mother’s Day, we’d go to church, head out to buy plants & vegetables, plant what was purchased, and then head out for dinner. After my parents’ divorce, the routine stayed much the same – I’d give my mom my services on Mother’s Day – weed her garden, plant what needed to be planted, and then head out for dinner (she, alas, would typically buy her own plants & seeds ahead of time). Through this tradition, I have become a decent gardener . . . but I typically lack the discipline to keep up with it after the original effort.
I hate that I lack that self-discipline. And since the wonderful Jessica reads this blog, I feel the need to turn things around. When we bought our house, there was a raised bed. Every year, I weed it and plant it . . . but, as you know, gardening requires upkeep. With the raised bed being quite a distance from the house, I need to fill watering cans and bring them down . . . and then summer hits and the yard requires so much up-keep that the vegetable garden goes by the wayside. We get some veggies, each year, but not nearly in the number that I’d like. So we’re changing things this year.
While the raised bed continues for plants that I’ve never had any success with, we rented a rototiller from a local rental agency, with the intention to rip up a good portion of my fenced-in back yard and create a garden. If it’s inside the fence, we limit the number of pests that can get to it (and those pests that do get to it must brave the scents of the dogs & a cat & a boy & a girl), and the hose reaches the area nicely.
We woke early on Saturday morning, got ready to work out, went to the rental supply place, got the rototiller, brought said tiller back to our place, went to the gym, worked out while the kids sat in the child-watch room, went back to the house, and started things up. The tiller motor started without incident – but it, simply, wouldn’t go when I tried to get it to eat up grass. So I took it back . . . and half an hour later, I was taking that same tiller back home, only this time it was actually tilling. Apparently, the last renter had broken a pin in it.
So I tilled.
This was far more of a workout than I was anticipating. Seriously, I was regretting the push-ups I had done that morning as I fought to keep the heavy machine in-place. But I got things done – where there was, previously, an area of poorly-maintained grass, now there was an area of loose dirt. Honestly, it may have been an improvement – and that was before anything was planted.
Then we loaded the tiller back into my truck & dropped it off. I paid for a full day’s rental, but I only actually used the tool for a little over an hour. Still, though, I’ll claim it was worth it — I can only imagine how sore I’d have been if I were doing the same with a spade and a rake.
After drop-off, we went to the nursery and we picked out plants: broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. We got corn, cantaloupe, watermelon, zucchini, and green bean seeds. We got some herbs. We got a bulb of garlic.
Originally, I had intended to keep things indoors, with sun, for a little while — we were planting in freshly-broken ground and we can’t guarantee that we’re past frost stage. But, well, the next couple of months will not allow us the time to spend setting things up as we did. And we should be in the clear from frost (or, we can cross our fingers, at least). So we planted.
- CJ is very concerned that the carrots are not ready right now. The fact that we planted carrots but he didn’t get to eat one of those carrots was very distressing to him.
- Toddlers sure are eager to help with most any task – though the subtle difference between pulling a plant out of a plastic container with soil & the roots intact and mutilating a plant is lost among that crowd.
- Leila does not like knowing that she didn’t do something right. And will give an evil stare for quite some time after she’s been made aware that she did something wrong (like mutilate a cucumber plant).
- Convincing toddlers to not walk on plants is far more futile than attempting to herd cats.
- Do not throw clumps of grass over a fence around a toddler boy. CJ saw this and wanted to be the designated grass-chucker. But he commonly missed getting the grass over the fence. Or not in the face of one of his parents.
- Leila will fret over the fact that the plants got dirty. Again and again and again.
- It appears that CJ is allergic to grass – he had a miserable runny nose & teary eyes all day Sunday.
While we don’t have a whole lot of time these days, we’re hopeful to find 10-15 minutes every day to head out, get rid of any of the more-egregious of weeds, and water our new garden for the next several months (and, considering that we took up grass in order to put the vegetables in, I’m thinking that we’ll need that time just to keep the grass from re-encroaching).
My main goal with this, however, besides having lots yummy vegetables during the height of the summer, is to hopefully plant a want to do this within the kids. Last weekend, they really got into it. I’m crossing my fingers that we start hearing “when do we plant the garden?” every year, once we start seeing the snow melt.
90 days. They say 21 days is how long it takes to turn something into a habit . . . so, at 90 days, I’m looking at a habit that is more than 4-times ingrained in me.
I did not follow a specific diet. I did not follow a specific workout regimen. Simply, I logged every bite of food I ate – even if I knew I was going to obliterate my calorie allowance for the day, I continued logging (this was a huge downfall for me, previously — I’d basically “give up on the day” with the slightest moment of weakness). I worked out as much as I could — some days, this meant next to nothing. Most days, it meant 45-90 minutes of cardio in the morning (at the expense of sleep) and 45 minutes of weight-lifting and/or cardio over lunch. Some days, it meant an extra hour (sometimes two) before dinner before symphony.
I’ve given up artificial sweeteners, and I’ve made a concerted effort to eat breakfast regularly.
When I eat, which is often, I try to eat healthily. I try to maximize protein while minimizing simple carbohydrates. But, I don’t eat anything that I don’t enjoy eating (with the lone exception of the celery/kale/carrot/broccoli/spinach juice that I gulped down one morning – that was a mistake). I don’t make a concerted effort to eat less, more often – or to eat more, less often. I do try to only eat when I’m hungry (but old habits die hard, and dammit, I’m not about to skip dinner when I’m trying to make my own kids eat their dinner).
I try to limit alcohol, but I don’t deprive myself of anything.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t “stick with things” in the beginning, so I didn’t take measurements of my body. And for that, I’m disappointed in myself.
In the end, pants that were tight on me before I started the challenge now fall off of me. I need a new belt. I’ve gone from barely being able to do a single push-up to being able to eek out 47 in a single sitting. I’m 34.6 pounds lighter than I was when I started.
I have more work to do, but I’m well on my way.
I did not win the challenge (though there is no prize), though I lost more weight than anyone else. But, I wasn’t in it to win it . . . I was in it to make changes for myself. And I did just that.
Fridays are good days at casa de batzer. First off, it’s the end of the work week . . . I, typically, need to work very early in the morning every Sunday, so I have the ability to take time off Friday afternoon to compensate (meaning extra gym time). This is Duffy‘s full day at the library, and we get together for #DateLunch most every Friday. After working out, I pick the kids up from my mother-in-law and then we head home for a relaxed dinner and movie night (our bedtime rules aren’t incredibly strict, but they’re downright lenient on Friday nights).
But, in all of this, with the two people who can actually operate an oven being at work all day, dinner gets complicated. And, well, when you’re trying to keep yourself healthy, take-out really isn’t in the cards (especially if you’re doing take-out for lunch earlier that day). So, we deploy our slow-cooker. There are two meals, lately, that have been especially good.
- 3 pounds(ish) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 finger of fresh-grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- juice of 2 limes
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 tomatoes, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- pinch of sugar
- Mix everything but the chicken together, very thoroughly
- Place chicken in the crockpot
- Place mix over chicken
- Cook on Low for 10 hours
- Garnish with chopped peanuts and fresh-chopped cilantro
When complete, I served this over jasmine rice.
You can save calories by using light coconut milk instead of regular, and by using chicken breasts instead of thighs, if cutting calories is a priority for you – though I really like the way dark-meat cooks in the slow cooker . . . too often, I end up with dried-out chicken breasts if I have to rely on my slow cooker’s “keep warm” feature.
- 4-5 pounds, boneless pork butt or shoulder (I believe these are the same actual cut, but are named different based on your butcher and/or geographic region)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper powder
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 sweet onions, sliced thin
- 1 cup of beef broth
- 1 bottle of BBQ sauce (your choice)
- Combine salt, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, and garlic powder thoroughly.
- Thoroughly dry pork with paper towels and rub salt mix into said pork
- Place sliced onions on the bottom of the crock pot
- Place rubbed pork over the onions
- Pour beef broth over pork
- Cook for 10 hours on LOW
- With two forks, shred pork, return to crock pot.
- Add BBQ sauce, mix thoroughly, and cook on HIGH for 1 hour
I served this on buns, with a slaw that I was making as the BBQ sauce cooked into the pork.
Snow-Pea & Avocado Slaw
- A shitton of snow peas (roughly one pound), sliced thinly, length-wise (I was typically able to make 3-4 slices per each snow pea)
- 1 cucumber, sliced into narrow 3″ strips
- 2 stalks of celery, sliced into narrow 3″ strips
- 1 cup of walnuts, toasted
- 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
- the juice of one lemon
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- Toast walnuts as you’re slicing snow-peas, celery, & cumumber
- Combine snow peas, cucumber, celery, olive oil, lemon juice, & walnuts and mix thoroughly
- Add avocado slices and mix carefully
- Serve with the pulled pork on sandwich buns
- How the fuck is it April already? Seriously, I think there are still some Christmas presents for the kids that I haven’t taken out of the box yet.
- Life is better when baseball is being played.
- I’ve been thinking about how much I swear, and then there was this comment exchange with Kristin, and should I be using “douchecanoe1” more than “fuck?” So I hereby resolve to start saying “fucking douchecanoe” more often . . . except that my family reads my blog (seriously, Hi Aunt Laura!), and some day soon, my kids will probably read this blog. So, I shouldn’t, probably, even pull out “douchecanoe.” Meh.
- I ran over 20 miles in two days last week, and my legs are begging for more.
- I have a very odd bruise on my right bicep, but I don’t remember delivering a clothesline to a herd of stampeding wildebeests.
- I really thought the plural of “wildebeest” would be “wildebeest.”
- Words really don’t describe just how much I’m looking forward to heading to the beach this summer. Though I’m really, really afraid of the propensity of my workplace to call whenever my input might be handy — I can see myself after several alcoholic drinks, telling someone to format their hard drive, just to see if they were really listening to what I was saying. Such thoughts would not be good for my career.
- I’ve been thinking, a lot, about my father’s father lately (he would not be a fan of the number of times that I dropped the f-bomb in this post). Most recently, reading this post from the estimable Julie, I was brought back to a random summer day with my grandfather. He had to change the date of a meeting at his apartment complex, and this was before the days of email, and he didn’t have the time to send out letters to everyone – so we wrote letters and put them in envelopes, and then hand-delivered them to every door within the complex (well, I did most of the climbing up the stairs & delivering & stuff). Toward the end, he looked at one of the envelopes and he mentioned that he was certain that the recipient would die soon. I asked him how he knew. He answered me “because he used to be one of the funniest people I knew, and I haven’t heard him laugh in the last six months.” I’m truly glad to see that sense of humor, Julie.
- I have said “Kaizen” more than any human should be allowed to. It stops being fun when you’re using it in proper context.
- CJ will soon start martial arts — I don’t know if I’m ready for my three year old to start kicking my ass, though. If he’s not super into things after the first class, I’ll mention that he needs those lessons to become a Ninja Turtle.
- People keep endorsing me for random skills in LinkedIn. I do not know why.
- I hate how vain I’ve become. First, I actually cared about my time/place in the color run. Now, I’m focusing far less on cardiovascular workouts, and focusing more on push-ups and core exercises because, well, I’m looking forward to the beach (see previous bullet points). I know some amount of vanity isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t like the way that it’s manifesting itself with me.
- I should be posting the “and it’s over” pictures from the weight-loss challenge tomorrow. You’ll have to excuse me if I need a drink or two to work up the courage to do so….
If you’ve been stalking my Runkeeper Profile, you might have noticed that I haven’t been running all that much — it’s not for lack of want, it’s just a combination of lack of time and a real dislike of frozen-foot-syndrome. Basically, if I have the opportunity to get all sweaty inside, I’ll do that rather than let my feet grow numb by running outside. And I don’t do treadmills.
But, just because it’s been colder than frozen yeti piss outside doesn’t mean that I won’t pass up on a run . . . so last Saturday, I ran. Just randomly, I typed “Carlisle Color Run” into my freindly Googlething a couple of months ago, to see if one of these newfangled “color runs” might be working their way close to me sometime soon . . . and it just so happened that Harvest Health had just opened registration for their inaugural color run (it happens that they’ve started a whole race series, but I had no idea about that at the time). Excitedly, I signed up . . . despite the fact that I haven’t been running, I’ve been working out like a fiend, so being able to complete a 5k wouldn’t be a big worry – heck, the last nice weekend we had, I pulled a half-marathon from out of my ass.
Now, typically, race day is a very early morning. I’m used to a run starting at 7, which means I’m looking to pick my packet up and pin my number on at 5 . . . but, this run started at 11, and I picked my number up early. So I had some time. Around 9:30 the morning of the run, I dressed1, left my house, and went for coffee before working my way to the Carlisle hospital (the location for the run). Once there, I sipped my coffee while trying to keep warm . . . but the race-time temperature was 36°F (2°C or 275Kelvin) with a biting wind. Before long, I was out of coffee.
Fortunately, the race volunteers were out of the local YMCA, and there was a Zumba instructor on hand . . . so, before race time, I was keeping warm by shaking my money-maker. It should be said that I have the grace of a one-legged antelope, so I’m pretty sure that onlookers might have worried that there was big guy having a conniption, but I was keeping myself warm (so warm, in fact, that I was able to take off the earmuffs before run time). After Zumba, and a trip to the portapotty (never fun to race with a full bladder), I chatted with a few Twitter friends before working my way to the start.
Now, as I said before, I haven’t been running. And I really had no idea how to start the race. I knew this was a “loop” track — three loops, each about a mile in length, but I didn’t know the terrain and whether or not I’d experience any hills (the race wasn’t completely flat, but it was pretty darn close — like Kate Hudson). Not knowing how the color stations were going to work (I was afraid that there might be queues formed), I went out just a little bit faster than my typical “going out for a run pace.”
It turned out that I didn’t have any reason to worry about the color stations — bunches of volunteers were armed with colored-dust, and they threw it at you as you passed — there was no fear of having to slow down . . . but I maintained my slightly-faster-than-normal pace throughout the first lap because, well, it felt good. And I remained pretty consistent until the end of the third lap, where I turned on whatever I had left in my tank and sprinted to the finish-line.
Back at that very first color station, the dust covered my iPhone screen, so I couldn’t see my time throughout the entire race. And there was no great big clock to tell me my time at the finish line, so I was quite surprised when I saw a time of 22:11 on my iPhone . . . each loop was closer to .9 miles than a full mile, so this wasn’t quite a 5k, but I was running 8-minute miles. My previous best mile, ever, which was run on a treadmill, for precisely one mile, was 8:24 . . . so I blew that out of the water, and that was kind of cool.
And, because I ran well, I decided to check the overall standings . . . there were prizes being awarded for the top three males & females, and, well, you never know. I did not finish “in the prize,” but I did finish tenth overall (and the 5th male), and that was kind of cool.
Of course, there were some things that I would have really liked to see differently:
- Registration was cut-off due to participation. Basically, the event reached maximum capacity, and I had friends who were looking to run that couldn’t get in. I hear that next year’s event won’t have a maximum number of entries, so hopefully this is a one-year-only thing.
- Loop races are pretty boring – but they’re a bit dangerous when you’re including runners and walkers, like this one. Typically, you have to keep “on your toes” at the beginning of any race, while people look to find their own pace, but after the first half-mile, you can run your own race. That wasn’t true here — early on, things were pretty easy (I started near the very front of the pack), but I ended up weaving my way between walkers and slower runners through the final two laps.
- This wasn’t chip timed (and it shouldn’t have been — I think too many races, where the entry fees, ultimately, benefit charities, spend too much of the money that should go toward the charity to the company handling the timing), but they were collecting the little tab at the bottom of your number to determine place. This meant that you had to stop and wait for someone to collect that little tab . . . but I didn’t realize that this was what they were doing. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight since the beginning of the year, but I was in a dead sprint, and I’m still well over 200 pounds . . . so I had to stop quickly to prevent a crash. If they had told me that we needed to turn in our tabs, and stop in the “finish line area,” I wouldn’t have
nearly trampled a family of four to deathrun with reckless abandon at the very end of the race.
- I specifically wore a plain, white, cotton t-shirt . . . but at the end of the race, it looked like I was wearing a plain, white, cotton t-shirt. I don’t know if the cold temperature meant that I was sweating less and, henceforth, the colored dust didn’t stick, or if cheap colored dust was used, or if I was just running so amazingly quickly that the dust never had a chance to stick . . . but I wasn’t very colorful at the end.
Overall, it was a great time, even if I wasn’t quite technicolor in the end. Apparently, Harvest Health is starting a whole race series . . . the next one I’m looking at will be a “Trick or Trot” right around Halloween . . . which should be fun. I really think that’s the secret to smaller races – keep them fun . . . let the long runs let the distance dictate what they are — you run a marathon because you want to run a marathon. For a 5k or 10k, make it something you want to do while running — I want to run through a mud pit or breath fire or get painted like a rainbow or wear fairy wings or fight zombies…while running.
I’m in a funk — I don’t know why I’m in a funk, but I am . . . and writing, well, it becomes a chore when I’m in a funk. So today, you get bullet points from my draft folder.
The new Yahoo! CEO put the kibosh on working from home. For an internet company. And this seems like it’s backward process. The argument seems to be that working from home affects worker timeliness and productivity. Obviously, for any company, these are two key pillars for success. But, I’d question why those are potential employee pratfalls.
In my job, I have the opportunity to work from home, on a very liberal policy. However, it’s rare that I do work from home – not because I feel that I’d be less productive, but because my kids just don’t understand “daddy is working, so his not playing with you doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you.” Typically, when I work from home, I feel much more productive – partly because I’m working when I would be commuting, and I don’t have a parade of people who stop by my desk (allowing me to get more of my own work done, rather than assisting others with their own tasks — it’s far easier to stop by my desk to see if I might know something about something else, rather than sending an email). But, more than anything family or work related, when I work from home, I have a pantry full of food that, if I find that I am waiting for a meeting to start, well, my willpower might be lacking.
Anyway, I can admit that there have been a time or two, while they’re few & far between, that I work from home, take off my pants, put on a movie, and then pay more attention to the movie than work. And that’s bad – like, really bad. But, I’d argue that my productivity is greater during those days that most of my coworkers on Monday mornings during fantasy football season, or any day at the beginning of the NCAA Championship games. There are times that work isn’t a top priority, whether you’re at the office or not. But, I’d argue that most people, just to prove that they’re being productive, will not allow things to ever slide when they’re working from home. For the most part, I’m ultra-diligent. I don’t want to be called out for “being that guy who doesn’t work when he’s working from home.”
But all of this just brings something else up — if I’m not to work from home, does that mean I can leave my job at the office? I have a laptop. I have a VPN fob. I have a cell phone. Almost every night, I’m logging on, to check my work email and get to anything that I couldn’t get to before the end of the work day. Any time something goes wrong, I’m called (be it in the middle of the day during a vacation day, or the middle of the night). If I’m not to work from home, does this mean that I can actually leave my job at the office? Because, if so, I’ll gladly work for Yahoo!
Lance Armstrong. Wow. Now, the title around here might be Daddy Runs a lot, but, truth be told, I prefer cycling to running. Heck, when I rode #RAGBRAI, I finished the one leg that Lance rode, before Lance1. So, what to make of this…well, on one hand, I knew. I think I’ve always known – in a sport that doping was so prevalent, when it seemed that there were few people who could testify to his “being clean,” I think we all knew. But we didn’t want to know. We want our heroes pure — and Lance was a hero. But he was also a dick.
Anyway, Lance came clean and nobody was truly shocked – but lots of people were hurt & surprised. And I include myself among those. Part of me really, really wants to say “screw it,” and just let professional athletes do whatever the fuck they want to do to themselves. But kids emulate their heroes. So it’s not as simple as that. Then you add in my competitive streak, and I’m taken back to the early days of organized sports. As you may, or may not know, I’m a tall individual. And I’ve been tall for all of my life. This meant, in the early days of basketball, I was quite good. Well, no, I wasn’t — but I was tall, and that made me part of any team, automagically. And I tried hard, even if I was uncoordinated. Anyway, I remember, in 6th or 7th or 8th grade, playing another team, and our team was not the team with the most points. And we, as a team were pretty dejected. The coach, in the locker room, gave a pretty simple pep talk. “Guys, I’m proud of you. When you take an L, you either lose or you’re beat. Ain’t no shame in being beat – when you try your best, and you don’t wind up on top, good for the other guys. It’s when you lose – that’s when you hang your head.” To this day, I still take that little pep talk to heart – if I try my best, and someone tops me, good for them. But damn, do I get pissed when someone else does something untoward to put themselves ahead of me. When you see better assignments being passed to brown-nosers, for the simple fact that someone is an effective brown-noser . . . well, it makes you want to stop concentrating on just doing good work, and wanting to just kissing the right ass. I can see an athlete realizing that “I can’t win if I don’t dope, because someone who does dope is going to win,” and that being the only reason for which they do cheat . . .
I don’t really have an answer here . . . people are always going to cheat, when cheating opportunity exists. Always. But, at the same time, how do we adequately verify/reward a non-cheater? I don’t know.
- My son has started asking me how work was. How do I make him stop growing up?
- Since I’ve replaced a brush & comb with a Bic, I now put hand-lotion on my scalp. Yet every time I do this, I’m convinced that I’ve left a portion not rubbed in, and then I wonder what others think about someone who has a strange white blob on the top of their head.
- This year, I’ve made concentrated efforts on running more, drinking less wine, drinking less beer, drinking less coffee, drinking less caffeine, ingesting less artificial sweetener, eating fewer processed foods. So far, I can honestly say that I’m eating fewer processed foods and I’ve nearly kicked artificial sweetener from my diet . . . but the rest has gone by the wayside2
1 I started the 108 mile bike ride several hours before Lance hit the road, but we’re splitting hairs here — I crossed the finish line before Lance Armstrong.2 I might be running more if it weren’t for such cold mornings – I am quite hopeful to be running 6-10 miles every morning come warmer weather, and I think the cardio I have been doing in the morning would suffice for training . . . but you never really know if you can do something until you do it. Which is why I want to do an Iron Man.