- At one time, I thought I was busy — then I became a parent. However, over the busiest weekend I ever remember having, I barely saw my own kids. Friday, I worked & played a show. Saturday, I woke, ran a Zombie 5k, played an alumni concert with my college jazz band, played a show, went to a birthday party. Sunday, I woke, ran a half marathon (and set a personal record!), went to a board meeting with my symphony, finally saw the kids, bathed the kids, fell asleep.
- My daughter is three, so “just crying” is a common thing, especially when she’s tired. However, the best way to get her to stop crying when she’s in a “just because” moment? Give her the television remote.
- Just after the Super Bowl, I got rid of cable — I was barely keeping up with stuff we had DVR’d, and everything I watched was on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon. So, we took the monthly cable bill and subscribed to those three services — I did not think through the greatest time of the sports year, however, which is right now — the baseball postseason, the height of the football season, and the dawn of the basketball season. I need an over-the-air antenna.
- I am tempted, quite often, to ditch work & head to the movies (paying a single admission and then trying to sneak my way through showings of every movie that I want to catch that happens to be playing). The main reason I don’t do this now is because I can’t talk myself into justifying that much time away from work/gym/kids.
- I have been making an honest attempt to log every bite of food & every drop of drink that I’ve consumed for this entire year. As such, I weigh 45 pounds less than I did at the beginning of the year, and I feel better about myself. But I am still tired — I’m always tired.
- I think I’ve actually made NEGATIVE progress on my musical during this year.
- I worry that my son may be growing painfully addicted to the X-Box, but it’s just so easy to use the X-Box as a reward for getting himself dressed, and then as a substitute parent as I go about getting Leila dressed and starting the day.
- On that same token, I really hope that CJ never figures out that there is a full-version of all of the games that I have loaded demos of, provided we just pay for them.
- I will fall well short of my goals of 1000 miles run and 2500 miles biked — I, simply, have been spending more time lifting weights where I used to run/cycle. Because of the new focus, however, I’m not going to be disappointed in the failure.
- I still want to get myself swimming more.
- I need to vlog myself making my morning coffee, but I’ve been making myself a blended coffee drink containing french-pressed coffee, protein powder, honey, ghee, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, maca root — it’s a very strange mixture, but it’s tasty & works as a good breakfast replacement.
- Few pants makers make 30×36 pants — which is my size now. I believe this is just more reason for me not to wear pants, ever.
Every now & then, I forget my screen name . . . Daddy Runs a Lot because, you see, when left to my own devices, I run. A lot. And I’ve actually been running a fair bit, lately . . . though, to be honest, because my name isn’t “daddy write a lot,” I haven’t been telling you about it. A little while ago, I ran the Bird-In-Hand Fireman’s Challenge, and it was amazing.
Because I can’t ever say no to my sister, I agreed to run a half marathon in a quaint Amish village. However, on the event website, they made it clear that you needed to pick up your packet the day before the event1 — and that event was well over an hour from my house. I wasn’t happy about having to head all that way until I saw that there was an option for a 5k the night before. Now, I haven’t been running quite as much as I once did – but I was still under the impression that I could “pull a half marathon out of my ass,” and a Friday night run, well, if I had to be there, anyway, great.
So I went to the farm that marked the start/end point, grabbed my packet, walked around the village, toured the farmer’s market, met up with a friend, and ran a 5k.
As I said, I haven’t been running as much as I once had – but, I have run both the 5k & half-marathon distance a whole lot. I didn’t expect to break any personal records, especially not knowing the course, but I did have times in mind — 25 minutes for the 5k, 2 hours for the half.
The 5k was beautiful – they started blowing up hot air balloons just before the start (the weekend split booking between a race weekend and a balloon festival weekend), and before I knew it, I was running.
Traditionally, for most any event, I hang around with the slower runners at the start, especially if the event is “chip timed” so that, in the highly unlikely event that I actually would qualify for a prize because of my time, it only would matter how quickly I ran, not necessarily what the clock read as I crossed the finish. However, I’m really starting to second guess this approach when it comes to well-attended 5k races.
Somewhere, a phenomenon has started where “race walkers” work their way to the far-left of the street and start walking as they throw out their elbows. Now, I’m far bigger than most everyone else on the road (I’d guess the average runner weighs between 130 and 160 pounds . . . if I am anywhere close to 200 pounds, I’m “too skinny”), but, when I hang around at the start, I’m also a good bit faster than most of the other runners. So I spend too much energy weaving my way about the crowd, trying to “find my pace.” And, as a non-British driver, I expect the faster lanes to open up to the left . . . but then you run into once of these race walkers, throwing their elbows about, almost daring the crowd to bump them. I take my “bigger than normal” size seriously – I know, if I bump into most anyone on the race, I’m going to win the collision, and someone else is likely going to be hurt . . . but, seriously, there is no reason for a slower runner/walker to set up shop on the far-left of a road, in a crowded race, throwing their elbows about. Most every 5k I run, I find people who do this — it makes me angry.
Anyway, after a mile, I had cleared the pack and was well on my way — I will admit that it was neat running through Amish land & having people in Amish clothing: dress pants, suspenders, and dress shirts for guys, dresses for women – keep up with and/or pass me. I finished just shy of 25 minutes, within the time that I had set for myself . . . but, more importantly, I was really eager for the next day’s run.
I spent the night at my sister’s place that night, as she lived a good bit closer to the event – and we got to the start line by 6am the next day. After walking about, watching the hot air balloons inflate, it was time to run.
wannabe musician – music plays a very important part of my life. But the thing is, I seldom listen to music when I’m running (heck, I didn’t bother listening to anything during the 5k because my earbuds wouldn’t stay in my ears). Music can push to run faster like the promise of hot sex at the finishline few other things, but I can grow tired of songs and then everything will just backfire. When I run, I traditionally listen to audiobooks — but, months ago, I created a playlist of two hours of music that I’d use if I ever needed to remind myself to keep calm. “Start slow & taper off” is the mantra of many a distance runner — and, in a crowded field, good advice for myself.
The gun fired at 7:30. Each song was unexpected. The temperatures were cool, the breeze was light, the sun was glaring. It was a beautiful day.
I was light on my feet, despite being bigger than most everyone else on the course.
Speaking to others after the race, they said it looked like I was gliding.
The first mile was crowded, and I weaved in & out, trying to find a stream where I could run at my own pace.
I finished just shy of two hours – but I spent very little time worrying about my pace or my time. Simply, I’d gaze at my phone at each mile marker to wonder, approximately, how long I’d been on the road.
Having made the play list months prior, I had little clue what might be coming next. Each song made me smile.
I hit “the high” prior to mile three, and it stuck with me until well past the tenth mile.
If you’re not a distance runner, “the high” is difficult to explain. You see, at the beginning of every run, be it a race or “just a run,” there is a voice in the back of my head that says “stop this, this is stupid.” I need to make myself continue. Every step is purposeful.
But, at some point, that voice goes away. You’re just going. That’s the runner’s high, and it’s an amazing experience.
Normally, I “force” myself to run my first 5k, and it’s mile marker 8 or 9 that the voice creeps back in. This race, I shut the voice up sometime between the first & third mile marker, and it stayed silent until past the tenth marker.
I was taken out of the high not because my body said so, but because, for a half mile stretch, the road was in poor repair and the path climbed. I run in Vibrams, so I had to be purposeful with every step.
The loss of the runner’s high was aided by a cute 20-something running alongside me — She & I had been playing chicken for awhile – she would pass me on every downhill, and I’d then pass on the next uphill. She was jubilant about seeing her kid at the finish line, and that she was convinced that she was going to break two hours for the first time in a half marathon.
I did have to push myself after the course returned to well-paved streets. But, there’s something about a run as the distance winds down. When you’re running a half marathon – you only really need to hit mile marker 10, because, from there, it’s “just a 5k”.
This run, the weather really felt like it was conspiring to make lifelong runners of the field. When a breeze blew, it seemed to always blow against my back — or into my face as I ran downhill, helping to keep me dry.
I spoke to several, at the finish line, who had just completed their first half marathon. I wanted to remind them that not every run is this beautiful – but didn’t want to ruin the moment for them. It’s difficult to hurt too much when you’ve accomplished something you’ve set out to do & the sun is smiling on you.
Now, the race wasn’t all rainbows & glitter.
Soon after I lost the high, there was a water station set up. I worked my way to the far left to get a cup of water when someone came across my line of momentum at a perpendicular. Seriously, it was like he was running on the far right, just noticed the water station, and made a right-angle-left-turn to get there in the closest path possible.
I easily doubled this man’s weight. I ended up dancing my way around him, and walking for three or four steps to ensure that I didn’t hit the ground. But, no harm, no foul. And I was able to get myself right back up to somewhere between “starting slow” and “tapering off” without having to take a step through the rest of the race.
There were also Amish kids who thought they were helping cool people off by running a light-pressure hose into the race path . . . but, alas, Amish kids don’t necessarily understand that I’m running with electronics, so I can forgive them, and I was always able to make my way out of the water stream.
As we got closer to the end, more & more children were lining the streets – and almost all of them were wearing finishers medals from the kids’ 1 mile race the day before.
You know you’re nearing the end of a race, when you’re not an elite racer, when you start seeing people wearing bibs either walking or running back toward you. I kind of hate the ones who are running back along the course, as if the finish wasn’t far enough for them.
Heck, though, I’m sometimes one of those runners — I knew, after mile 10, that I was going to be Done after 13.1 . . . . but, if I had a full marathon on the horizon, I could easily see 13.1 just being the long part of a longer run.
And there really is nothing like seeing the streets lined with people as you actually start to approach the finish line.
I, um, may have worked off a fair bit of energy trying to rouse a crowd that had been cheering for half an hour to cheer even louder as I approached the finish.
I knew I was maintaining a pretty consistent pace . . . I knew I was running, about, 9 minute miles. I knew at least a minute had passed between when the gun went off and when I stepped over the start line. But, I knew that I was pushing myself at the end. So when you see that the “gun time” is less than the time you were hoping for, well, it’s a pretty cool feeling.
The clock said 1:58 and change. I ran hard to the finish. I got a very heavy medal . . . I’ll admit I had to step carefully after putting it around my neck to ensure that I wouldn’t topple over. I drank water. I ate Amish baked goods. I waited for my sister. I was happy.
(I’ve peppered random lines from every song of my playlist in here . . . pat yourself on the back if you know all of the songs)
I knew this day would come. There was no avoiding it – but, still, it seems like it was JUST yesterday that we brought CJ home or that Leila took her first step. Alas, today, CJ & Leila started preschool.
We started the preparation last night — Duffy got home soon after I finished getting the kids to bed, and we got everything ready that we needed: a comforting “something” for them to have for the day (for Leila, a stuffed unicorn; for CJ, a superhero cape, his “Robin” cape, as it’s the same cape that I wore when I dressed as Robin for Halloween), a change of clothes (for a “just in case” scenario) apiece, their individualized buckets (because, for three-year-olds, zippers on backpacks are hard).
Duffy woke & was out of the house soon after 5 . . . I slept in with my two minions until 6:30, when I got up and got some work done. The kids dressed themselves as I took conference calls. They helped me make my coffee. CJ played Xbox and Leila entertained herself with episodes of Strawberry Shortcake while I finished up some work calls, drank some coffee, submitted some reports, & we waited to leave.
We got in my truck & went to “that church” (which is different than “church” because “that church” is where they go for preschool).
CJ, always slow to a social situation, was tentative at first, and I had to carry him up the stairs. Leila, well, she’s got too much of me in her, she found another girl, introduced herself, and asked if that girl wanted to play.
They placed their buckets on their mats. I helped them find the laminated cards with their names on them & put them on the board. CJ found some toy & started playing. Leila found Play-Doh at the craft table. “Look dad, it not brown!” she exclaimed as I lamented the sad state of the Play-Doh at home.
I prepared myself.
CJ, sensing something amiss, asked me if I would be staying — I answered “no,” and he huffed . . . but did not cry.
I pointed to The La & said “I need a hug.”
She walked over to me & hugged me, returning to her playing.
CJ hugged me without prompting, but, again, did not cry.
“Love you buddy,” I whispered.
“Love you, dad,” he said back.
“Love you, La,” I said, preparing to leave the room.
“Love you too” she responded, not looking up.
And now, I officially have preschoolers.
I used to be a much better blogger. Not only did I actually post somewhat regularly, but I thought about what I wanted to post & when I’d post. When I went on vacation, I’d line guest posts from a list of my favorite bloggers to keep my regular readers1 entertained.
I went on vacation in July . . . . not only did I not post about going on vacation, or line up any guest posts, but I also didn’t post when I was back. This is unlike me – but my life, well, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans or something like that. My plans for my blog, they’ve been drowned out by life.
So, anyway, I went on vacation — fun was had by all. We went to the beach with several dozen of our Framily (friends & family mixed to the point where you kind-of forget that you’re not blood-related to some of the people you’re vacationing with). The weather was just about near perfect, the kids mostly behaved, the wine flowed. And I took just a little bit of time to find myself.
I am not a religious person. When push comes to shove, I think the world would be a far better place if we lived our lives according to the tenets of any of the large religions. But, on that same tone, I believe more harm has been done to this world in the name of religion than anything else . . . and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I list my religion, on Facebook, as Pastafarian . . . because, well, when I go into the great beyond, I want there to be a beer volcano & a stripper factory.
But to say that I am not religious seems a bit disingenuous. On vacation, I woke before 5 most every morning2. I got on my bicycle & cycled to the beach at Assateague National Wildlife Refuge. I parked my bike and started to run away from any hint of civilization. I ran until it was the right time. I cooled myself in the ocean. I faced the sun as it broke the horizon, letting the first light of the day reach me as I
did yoga stretched & maneuvered & contorted my body. I breathed. I existed. I found peace.
That feeling — I wish there were a way to bottle it. When I’m stuck, in the middle of the day, wondering why I’m doing what I’m doing & just hoping that things will stop . . . during those times where I hope for numb, because that’s a whole lot better than whatever I’m feeling right at that moment, I wish I could reference that peace.
Religion, as it’s typically defined — it’s not for me. But an ocean breeze against my sweating body as I synchronize my breathing to match the crashing waves . . . well, that’s the very definition of “a religious experience” for me.
Just a quickie while I sneak a few minutes between work issues…
The other day, it was just me & the kids at home. I was in the middle of
ignoring the little ones making dinner, so they decided to bring their games into the kitchen. It was loud, as is often the case when the kids are in the kitchen and I’m not actively playing with them.
In a quest for increased attention, kids started trying to stand closer & closer to me. I knew it was time to intervene, but those onions, simply, were not going to chop themselves.
So Leila punched CJ when he wouldn’t let her grab onto my leg.
Leila’s punching, actually, feels funny. I like it when she punches me . . . . but, well, as an authoritative parent, you can’t actually tolerate this
light, tickling sensation violent behavior. So I put Leila in timeout & made sure CJ was ok.
He was fine – completely uninjured, but angry.
So Leila comes out of timeout & I state that she should apologize to CJ, but before she could apologize, CJ asked her why he hit him.
So Leila wound up and punched him again.
“CJ, I no hit you. I punch you.”
She went back in timeout.
I giggled through dinner.
So, I miss things around here. Blogging is far more than an electronic journal for me – it’s a community. I post, but I also read – and with that reading, I comment, and I start up conversations, and that gives me more ideas for what to post. When blogging is at its best, it’s a zero-effort exercise – it may be online, and it may involve a lot of typing, but it’s just a great big cocktail party on the Interwebs. And, at any good cocktail party, every now & then, it’s your turn to tell a story . . . and that’s what these posts are.
Only, well, life has gotten in the way of attending said party, lately. And that’s no fun – but it’s not all bad, either.
And yes, I chose the word “cocktail” because it makes me giggle.
So, what’s been going on?
- The babies are getting bigger – like, far too fucking big. They’re kids, they’re not babies. It’s bullshit.
- I’ve cut my workouts way back from where they were – but I have a newfound focus. I’m running & cycling less, but lifting more, and, when I lift, I’m lifting heavier. Until my shoulder injury (see next bullet), I was committed to the Strong Lifts program — I’m still logging every bite of food I eat, but my weight has regulated and, well, my body is getting better.
- Just before heading out to my cousin’s wedding, my right shoulder started hurting — I can’t point to any specific incident, but I’m a fucking human jungle gym, so there are several dozen points during the day where I can be injured. Anyway, I thought I just slept funny. But a 10 hour road trip didn’t help. And, in the hotel pool, I found that I couldn’t extend my arm to swim. And then, putting on a suit jacket actually hurt. And then 10 hour road trip back left my arm still “hurty.” And then I went to the doctor — and we decided that a cortisone injection was warranted — but, when the injection started, the steroid wouldn’t enter the joint — there’s too much scar tissue in there. So, I’m on a diet of high-dose ibuprofen and ice, and looking at a likely orthopedic consult some time in the very near future.
- The biggest issue with the shoulder is that I’m no longer doing push-ups every day — I was having fun, finding a few minutes here & there, to push out a couple of sets in empty conference rooms, while at the office.
- I went camping with the family and found that peanut oil will congeal in very cold temperatures. And that my kids are absolutely not afraid of snakes.
- My when-I-was-a-child babysitter’s daughter is suffering from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, and I’m going “home” over the weekend to attend a benefit party) with the kids. Part of me is very afraid to really travel with the kids (I’m going somewhere, voluntarily, where they outnumber me!), and part of me is excited for the adventure. Just like part of me is afraid to see old high school friends that I haven’t seen in years — but a bigger part of me is excited to catch up.
- Choir just wrapped up for the summer, meaning that I may actually be able to start sleeping in on Sundays. Or, I may actually be able to put in a little bit of extra time doing yard work. I wish I was better at sleeping.
- I ran a half-marathon before work last Wednesday, and I’m thinking about trying to maintain the practice, once a week, every week. While I’ve cut back on the amount of time I spend working out, there is nothing that allows me to collect my thoughts like a good, hard run.
- We’re entering the time of year where there are races left & right, and it’s really, really hard to not sign up for everything.
- I’m wickedly excited for my vacation at the beach. In the two weeks prior, I have tech week for 9-5 , where I’m playing bass in the pit (meaning rehearsals every night), a weekend of performances of 9-5, a “Pops” concert with the West Shore Symphony Orchestra, and then practice & a gig with Landslide, my classic rock band. All of this, of course, is on top of my work schedule & being a father to two rather rambunctious kids. By the time I get to the beach house, I’m going to drop. But I’ll be in the sun with a beer in my hand, so all will be just fine.
I was the lone adult, home with both kids. Leila couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 months old — that when when I realized just how much trouble I was in. Two children, six-months apart in age make for some unique challenges — the specific one, here, was a very mobile child who wanted to be everywhere at once, getting into everything, while the other was a potted plant. CJ was all over the place, nearly walking, sometimes even taking a step, when Leila was quite content to just be.
On this day, CJ would just not let his sister be, so I took Leila, put her in her Bumbo chair, and put the chair inside the pack-and-play. Sometimes, you need to put someone in solitary confinement not because the that person has committed some offense, but because you need to ensure that person’s safety. CJ, the barely-walking ball of destruction was a constant threat. Leila, though, was content to just play by herself.
It was at least twenty minutes that passed – CJ was in what some might call a “tricky stage,” and required near-constant supervision/attention. It was at least 20 minutes that passed before she wailed — I came running. Nothing was wrong, she just wanted to make sure that I knew she was still there. As soon as she saw me, she smiled – content.
That — that very moment, is when I realized just how much trouble I was in.
Part of me never really thought I’d have a “girly-girl.” But that should simply tell me to never expect what I think will happen. Leila seldom leaves the house without a tutu. There was a two-week period that she would only ever respond to “princess,” ignoring the more prevalent “Leila” or “La”1. Her ice cream must be pink – though she prefers the taste of chocolate, pink is far more pleasing to her. Hearing her brother & cousins call out their favorite super-hero names (“Hulk” or “Superman” or “Spiderman” or “Batman” so that everyone else knows just who that kid is imitating) when the enter a fracas, she screams out “Princess.” Formal occasions not only call for tutus, but also fairy wings. She’s learning that I have the ability to completely ignore tantrums, but my resolve breaks for silent tears.
I pray that she never chooses to play poker, because my daughter seemingly cannot hide her emotions. There is no greater joy than when Leila is happy. There is nothing more devastating than when Leila is sad. She cannot play “hide and seek” without giggling & revealing her position.
If you asked her, right now, how old she is, she’d say six . . . see, she makes Monty Python’s King Arthur’s counting look downright normal: one-two-six-nine-two-ten-six-nine-twelve.
She shows a level of compassion that makes my heart smile. She cannot see someone sad without wanting to fix it. While she’s very eager to have “her turn” in any activity, she isn’t content until everyone has had an equal turn (well, maybe she wants an extra one, after everyone else has gone…). She’ll seek out a baby to play peek-a-boo, whether she knows the kid or not.
She exhibits absolutely no fear — be it a new person, a new place, a snake, or a steep slide, she’ll approach without a second thought. This makes me insanely proud, and insanely scared.
Today, she’s three. And, still, during a sleepy morning, she’ll wake up and look at me – once we’ve made eye contact, she’ll just smile, just like she did years ago. And I still know just how much trouble I’m in.
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.