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Nov 21 14

Where I present five random facts about myself #oldschoolblogging

by John
  • If you asked me, until the time I was about 11, what I wanted to be, while there was a chance I might have responded “fireman” or “policeman” or “doctor,” more than likely, I’d have answered “mad scientist.” To be honest, Doctor Horrible is kind-of my hero.
  • No question stresses me out more than “what is your favorite song?”
  • Whenever I visit somewhere where the sports scene is different than what I’m used to in the US, I make it my mission to understand the intricacies of a new sport. When last I visited Canada, I happened to be there over the Curling World Championships, and feel that I understand curling as well as a spectator might. When last I visited the United Kingdom, the Cricket World Cup happened to be played. I have no freaking idea what the hell I watched, and couldn’t have told you who was winning or losing or, really, anything about the game. I think I could officiate a game of Calvinball better than I could explain cricket.
  • I learned to cook because my mom was in a horrible car accident. After she got home from the wreck, she couldn’t cook. So I would help her (or blindly do whatever the heck she said, because I had no idea what I was doing). I seem to remember Christmas cookies (especially ricotta cheese cookies) and pepperoni bread being among my very first lessons. I love to cook, now, in part because I feel that I’m half-decent at it. And because I love food. Like, I really love food.
  • I first encountered the Inkheart effect (where you can recall vivid details about a vacation by thinking of a book you were reading on said vacation) in Norway, reading Interstellar Pig (a required book for summer reading) while on a cruise with my grandfather.
Nov 20 14

Where I chronicle an exceptionally busy day

by John
Benji cuddles

My alarm goes off at 5am.

Yesterday, however, my day started just before 4am.

Benji was outside, barking. Duffy went downstairs to bring him back in — but, after he came in, there was still noise being made, because Pip, our lovely cat, was caterwauling. Duffy came upstairs as the loud meows continued.

“She’s stuck in a tree,” I heard, my eyes still closed as I hadn’t given up, entirely, on the hopes of falling back to sleep.

I stood, put on shoes (exciting Benji, as he believed this was his cue for the start of a walk), put on my jacket (further exciting Benji, who really wanted his walk), walked outside, stood on the railing to our deck (which, had it not been hours before the buttcrack of dawn super early in the morning, or if I held the ability to think, I would not have done), extracted our cat from her frozen/scared state, escorted her to the basement (where dogs cannot visit), and went to lie back down.

Before I knew it, my alarm went off.

So I walked Benji. Then I fed both dogs (Snick, still, will not get out of bed to walk, especially in the cold. It’s funny, though, because Benji comes back from his walk and heads upstairs specifically to wake Snickelfritz up so that they can have breakfast together . . . this, I think, more comes from Benji’s enjoyment of food than for a real comraderie with Snick, however), then I talked myself into working out.

Then I did half of my eye-opener workout:

  • 7 pull-ups1
  • 10 parallel bar dips
  • 5 pistol squats (each leg)
  • 7 pull-ups
  • 5 pistol squats (each leg)

Then my alarm went off again, so it was upstairs to dress my still-asleep children (which, honestly, is just as much of a workout as what I had just completed) and then brush The La’s hair.

With each child in clothing (The La is going through a “girly” phase, so she ALWAYS wears tights and a dress, always . . . the first dress I put on her was, well, one that she had grown out of, so I had to fight the sparkly purple dress (her favorite) off of her, because I’m *that dad* and my daughter will dress modestly while I have still say over things).

Then it was downstairs to start the coffee (a process which makes me look like Captain OCD, but, as I’ve yet to actually have any coffee, a strict routine is the only thing that works:

  • Fill & place four mason jars of tap water in the microwave
  • Turn on microwave
  • Grind beans for Duffy’s latte
  • Pour water into percolator for Duffy’s latte
  • Put ground coffee in percolator for Duffy’s latte, assemble percolator, turn on burner
  • Grind beans
  • Add chia seeds to the top side of the filter in the French press
  • Add ground beans to the French press carafe
  • Add to blender:
    • 2 Tablespoons Ghee
    • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
    • 2 Tablespoons Maca powder
    • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Pull tart cherry juice, eggs, and skim milk from the fridge
  • Start milk frothing for Duffy’s latte
  • Add to blender:
    • 1 Tablespoon tart cherry juice
    • 2 eggs
  • Put milk, tart cherry juice, eggs back in fridge
  • Put a Splena in Duffy’s travel mug
  • Pour half of the now-percolated coffee into Duffy’s travel mug for her latte
  • Pour other half of the now-percolated coffee over measuring spoons in the blender so that I don’t waste any of those ingredients
  • Pour hot water from microwave into very large French press, place filter on
  • Add 1 scoop of whey protein isolate powder to the blender
  • Add frothed milk to Duffy’s travel mug, close lid on that latte

As my coffee was still brewing, I helped-to-get and saw my children out of the door before heading downstairs to complete my eye-opener workout (same as before – another 14 pull-ups, 10 dips, 10 pistols on each leg).

Then my phone rang.

Due to a tricky scheduling situation in the afternoon, I had flirted with the idea of working from home. But, now there was an 7:30 meeting that I needed to attend, and would have to serve as presenter . . . I needed to either rush out the door to get to the office in time (praying that there wouldn’t be traffic) or work from home. So I chose to work from home . . . I went upstairs, noticed that I could actually see defined abs (so I took a mostly safe-for-work selfie . . . because, hi, I’m vain, but that’s not news to you), got my computer, grabbing a basket full of dirty laundry on my way down, set up my computer, logged into the VPN, and actually took the time to think through what I would be presenting before blending (I wash any dirty dish I can find as the blender runs . . . because there are enough solids in the mixture that, well, the more time I give things to blend, the less time I spend chewing th concoction) then enjoying the monstrosity that is my morning coffee.

Because Abs!

I presented. It went well.

Immediately after the presentation, I ended up on a conference call (no computer sharing), and I started a load of laundry and folded the laundry in the dryer while participating on a detailed process call.

When I was off the phone, I started playing horror movies for background noise (I had just finished the audiobook of If Chins Could Kill, Bruce Campbell‘s autobiography, so I was quite tempted to watch the Evil Dead movies, and that’s just what I did) as I built & modified Java Server Pages.

The dryer ding went off just before my next conference call, and, again, I spent a call folding laundry, throwing the wet load in the dryer, and putting the now-folded laundry away (except for Duffy’s stuff — I don’t entirely know what goes where, we are best left to leaving each others’ clothes for the other to put away).

Then it was just about lunch time, and I was going to head downstairs for yet another workout (I do the eye opener every day — then on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays, I try to do a full-body routine, with Tuesday & Thursdays as days for stretching & yoga), but something Duffy said that morning stuck in my head: “it’s cold out there, but at least the windows weren’t frosted.

Our garage has turned into…a dumping area. Now, my truck doesn’t actually fit in the garage, so having one side of the garage as “large, random storage” isn’t all that bad a thing. But, the “large random storage” had taken up both bays of the two-car garage, and Duffy has been parking in the driveway. For the most part, this isn’t that big a deal — but, well, look at the morning schedule, I don’t have time to scrape windshields (I, myself, have just enough leeway in my schedule to start my car before I dress, and therefore deal with a frozen-over windshield). So, instead of a second workout, I cleared out the one bay of the garage, throwing out a bunch of stuff, moving other stuff around so that it’ll be a real pain to get out & ride a bicycle2.

By now, it was time for yet another conference call. I ate the last of the first back of noodle jars for lunch, and then made the next batch of six jars, then folded & put-away another load of laundry, all while discussing programming best practices.

Shrimp Pad Thai noodle jar

Then it was time to present, once again, so I went back to my computer. And presented details of how we take measurements against Quality Inspection Plan documents.

By now, it was almost 3, and I was still in my pajamas, so I threw on some clothes and went to pick up the kids, taking them to the grocery store before heading back home.

I started Jake and the Neverland Pirates on the TV for The La (CJ, through a series of bad choices the day before, had lost the ability to play video games) while creating a Unix daemon process on a server back at the office before I decided that “the work day was over,” which, coincidentally, coincided with the ending of Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

By now, it was CJ’s turn to pick something to watch on TV, and he wanted the Star Wars where “Anakin turns into Darth Vader,” so I put on Episode III and started dinner as The La painted with her water colors.

Dinner was a simple affair:

  • slather a little olive oil on chicken drumsticks before tossing in some spices
  • toss a little olive oil on a bunch cauliflower florets
  • poke a bunch of fork holes in some washed sweet potatoes
  • cook all that shit at 400 for an hour (turning at 30)

Roasted Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Cauliflower

As dinner baked, Leila & I played some complicated game of house, involving her Littlest Pet Shop figurines.

Then we noticed that CJ had fallen asleep. So The La wanted to watch more Jake & the Neverland Pirates, so I put that on, put away dry dishes, and cleaned the dishes from making lunches.

Getting The La juice, however, I noticed something green in the fridge . . . upon investigation, it was cheese. So I went through everything in the fridge, chucking anything that either had obviously gone bad or was a leftover where I could not remember the original serving. In this cleanup, I ran across some pumpkin that I had, previously, baked and set aside . . . it was still good, but I knew it wouldn’t be good for much longer. So, I started making my plantain pumpkin pies, in cupcake containers:

  • 3 cups roasted pumpkin flesh
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons milk
  • 6 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix all that shit together, slice three plaintains, line cupcake tin with sliced plantain so that they, kind-of, look like pie crusts, pour in solution, bake at 425 for 15 minutes before reducing heat to 350 and backing for another 30 minutes.

I took my dinner out just as I had the cupcake tins ready to go in, so I enjoyed my dinner while The La ate watermelon and pasta and watched TV and CJ slept.

Then CJ woke, but he was really, really grumpy.

So I tried to get him to eat something, but he was having none of that, so I declared that it was bath time. And a bath we had.

However, the still-grumpy CJ simply was *done* with things after I had washed the children (normally, bath is where he’ll sit and play with his guys3 until the water is cold), so he & I left Leila to play with Littlest Pet Shop creatures while we put on his PJ’s. By now, he was hungry, so we got The La out of the tub, put some pajamas on her, and I went downstairs as short-order cook: watermelon and pasta for CJ, a hot dog for The La as the twosome watched Justin Time on the TV.

In preparing the kids’ dinners (second dinner for The La . . . it’s surprising how much she takes after me), I noticed two severely overripe bananas on the counter . . . these was nearing the “rotten and not even usuable in banana bread” stage. I noted this for later action.

I delivered the kids’ food to them on the bed, because, well, I’m a pushover as a parent, and I let my kids eat while on my bed — there are, simply, bigger fish to fry, in my life.

With the kids eating on the bed, I pulled Benji off the bed, lest we get a situation where a child, too focused on the TV show, doesn’t notice the mutt eating whatever was in his/her hand. Benji took this as me saying “let’s play,” so he went to jump and wrestle.

I moved.

His paw caught the “happy early christmas because there was a really good deal on a Smart TV” present that Duffy & I got for each other.

The TV toppled to the ground.

Sound continued, but the picture? Didn’t.

Cracked TV

Fortunately (because television is a crutch that I absolutely leverage in parenting, and “each kid getting to pick a show to watch before we read books before bedtime” is a routine that works incredibly well), I still had the old, heavy TV & the old Roku around . . . so I set that up. In just a few minutes, all was right in the world again.

We brushed teeth & watched Justin Time.

Benji cuddled.

Benji cuddles

We turned off the TV and read books.

Duffy got home from conferences as I was lying down with the kids.

I went downstairs and made banana bread:

  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 Tablespoons ghee
  • 4 Tablespoons honey

Mix that shit together, pour into two mini-bread-loaf pans, bake a 350 until done (35-40 minutes in my oven).

I cleaned the dishes from dinner as that baked. After removing the bread, I went back upstairs, watched some TV with my wife (while laughing at the inane items that CJ will find to complain about in order to keep himself awake when he’s had a late nap) and promptly fell asleep.


1 I start every morning with a limited number of pulls, presses, and legs. My goal is to have everything done before too much time elapses, but I really want to get myself doing 20 pull-ups in a single set, so my sessions focus more on pulls than anything else. I start the week at x pull-ups per set (this week, it was 5) and I add one pull-up per set per day until I fail (today, I failed on my 8th, so I did 7 per each set — if I don’t fail, I’ll continue to the number prescribed: 5 on Monday, 6 on Tuesday, 7 on Wednesday, etc…, next week, I’ll start with 6 on Monday).
2 Temperatures have been well below freezing, and this winter is shaping up as an especially brutal event . . . I won’t be riding my bicycle until there are leaves on the trees once again.
3 Star Wars & DC comic figurines
Nov 17 14

Where my #symphonynight selfies take on a life of their own

by John

Nov 17 14

Where I try to get all fancy with my lunches

by John
Ginger Beef Noodle Jar

Yes, the title is “Daddy Runs a Lot,” but I don’t run all that much, to be honest with you. When I do run, it’s typically for long distances, and I enjoy running — but, I don’t run like I once used to (I just don’t have enough time). I do try to keep myself fit, however . . . which is a necessity for someone who thinks about sex food all day long.

From the moment I wake, until the moment I pass out from exhaustion go to bed, I’m thinking about sex food1. That said, I’m fucking busy — week days, I’m up at 5. On an “easy day” I might get home after sunset from karate with CJ, and will throw together something quickly for dinner . . . other days? I get home just in time to head back to bed. This means, if I want to plan ahead & choose to eat healthy throughout the week, weekends are my only opportunity.

It used to be that I’d throw: chicken, spices, & chicken broth; pork, spices, & pork broth, beef, spices, & beef broth; or chicken, spices, chicken broth, coconut milk, & tomato paste in the crock pot over night Sunday or Monday evening, and pack everything up for the week, for a low-fat, high-protein, relatively low-calorie, and mostly-healthy lunch. But, that didn’t include much in the way of vegetables.

So, Sunday, before church, I started wrapping sweet potatoes in aluminum foil, let them cook while I’m off playing with my organ serving as church organist, so that I had sweet potatoes for a veggie, and then cook meat overnight, Sunday night, and wrap it all up in the morning, before dressing the kids, on Monday morning.

But, I really like to work out first second thing in the morning2.

So, the other day, my friend Cameron posted about her adventures with “noodle lunch in a jar” answer to the Serious Eats “just add hot water lunch” project. And, boy, did that look yummy. So I had to try it, myself . . . primarily because it could be prepared in MINUTES (the crock pot doesn’t require a whole lot of “on” time, but it does mean that I need to plan out when to put everything in the pot, and when to get everything out of the pot. This, I only needed to space out a single time.

Ginger Beef Noodle Jar

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 tablespoon Better than Bullion, beef flavor
  • 6 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 6 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 bag of frozen, chopped broccoli
  • 1 bag of frozen snow peas
  • 1 bag of frozen, sliced carrots
  • 1 package beef jerky, cut into small bits
  • 8oz flat rice noodles
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil
  2. As water is boiling, split the Beef stock starter, ginger paste, & garlic among 6 mason jars
  3. Split the vegetables among those mason jars
  4. Split the beef jerky among those mason jars
  5. By now, the water should be boiling, if not, wait for water to boil
  6. Place rice noodles in boiling water, cook for 3 minutes
  7. Drain and shock noodles with cold water
  8. Toss noodles with sesame oil
  9. Split the noodles among the mason jars
  10. Cover & close jars, store in fridge for up to a week.

When you’re ready to eat, fill jar with boiling water, shake, let sit for a few minutes, eat/drink.


Making six of these means that I have lunches set through Wednesday, when, through some fluke of my schedule, I’ll actually be home all night, so I’ll make another set for the latter part of the week.

Shrimp Pad Thai Noodle Jar

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 tablespoon Better than Bullion, vegetable flavor
  • 3 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 1 bag of frozen snow peas
  • 2 heads of bok choy, chopped
  • 8 oz pre-cooked, frozen “salad” shrimp
  • 8oz flat rice noodles
  • 1 can bean sprouts
  • 4oz dry roasted, chopped peanuts
  • 1 bunch scallions

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil
  2. As water is boiling, split the stock starter, peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil among 6 mason jars
  3. Split the vegetables among those mason jars
  4. Split the shrimp among those mason jars
  5. By now, the water should be boiling, if not, wait for water to boil
  6. Place rice noodles in boiling water, cook for 3 minutes
  7. Drain and shock noodles with cold water
  8. Toss noodles with sesame oil
  9. Split the noodles among the mason jars
  10. Split the bean sprouts, peanuts, scallions among the mason jars
  11. Cover & close jars, store in fridge for up to a week.

Again, when ready to eat, fill with boiling water, shake, and allow to sit for a few minutes


The important things to note are that you can’t really count on the addition of boiling water to cook anything (there is talk about bacon being thin enough to cook in the hot water, but I’m not sure I’m going to trust that . . . that said, I’m thinking of using bacon jerky) . . . veggies that you put in, you need to either pre-cook or enjoy them raw. The meat needs to be pre-cooked – smoked meats actually work well, because they absorb the water, remaining “firm” without being “chewy.” The noodles need to be “ready to eat”.

In future weeks, assuming I’m not too tired of these by then, I plan to really experiment with different flavor combinations (lox & bacon & avocado to feature prominently in my plans, though, perhaps, not all at once). I’ll try to report back on what works & what doesn’t.

To eat, I plan to use chopsticks, and then drink whatever is left of the broth.


1 Yes, I’m thinking about sex, too. I consider discussing recipes as an advanced form of “talking dirty”.
2 Benji demands his walk once my alarm goes off . . . wind, cold, sleet, snow, rain . . . doesn’t matter, he wants his walk. So I have little choice but to walk first thing, every morning . . . but, after I’m done with that, before I dress the kids, I much prefer working out than packing up a week’s worth of lunches, as doing so just means more cleanup before coffee . . . and that’s no fun at all.
Nov 10 14

Where accomplished & discouraged intersect

by John

Saturday, I mostly rested. Saturday night, I prepared my breakfast as I made dinner, went to bed early, & mostly slept well. For the day before a marathon, I was far-better prepared than I’ve ever been, previously.

I got to City Island, got my bib, prepared myself.

The horn went off, and I started running.

I wish I could tell you tales of accomplishment & how I “kicked asphalt” all along the way. But I can’t.

It was cold, but not too cold right at the start. I felt extraordinarily good. I was light on my feet.

I found myself, from miles 1-4, hanging out with the 3:45 crowd. I was hoping to break 4-hours1, but, again, I felt good, and never thought about slowing down.

I knew I had been neglecting my long runs . . . it was intentional: my plan was to make my body stronger, make myself leaner, not burn myself out running on the road. I had hoped to be strong through mile 18, when things started to get hilly. I planned to be running at mile 20, when things got flat once again. From there, I planned to ignore the pain and “just run a 10k”.

I got more discouraged than I had anticipated when I saw the faster runners working their way back from the HACC campus to Wildwood Park.

I knew I’d slow down over the hills – it was all in my plan. And I did slow down on the hills. But, speeding back up didn’t happen.

When I exited Wildwood Park, I sipped some Gatorade. Both of my hamstrings were twitching. I tried to move faster. I thought I was moving faster . . . but looking back on my splits, I was not.

The Gatorade sat, fitfully, in my stomach. I started spitting more than usual2.

But I continued running.

I started thinking about punching any spectator who was telling me that I was “almost to the end.” But chose against it because punching someone would have taken a lot of effort, and I didn’t trust myself to start running again, if I allowed myself to stop.

I accidentally unplugged my headphones, so I took them out.

My shirt started to hurt against my skin, so I took it off.

I started running along the river for the last time.

And then I knew I had an issue — something was going to come up & out of my stomach, whether I wanted it to, or not. Stopping held little interest. Again, I didn’t trust myself to get started, if I stopped. But trusting that I’d be clear of a runner if I puked while running? Well, I can ensure that I don’t spit or blow a snot-rocket on someone . . . but I wasn’t sure what might happen here.

I puked into the Susquehanna

My hamstrings, upon being allowed to break, rejoiced.

I started to try to run. It didn’t happen.

All told, I think I walked for about two, maybe three-tenths of a mile, before I urged my legs into a trot, once again.

I climbed the hill to the bridge, and gave everything I had for the last two-tenths of a mile.

I finished.

My time was 6 minutes, 11 seconds more than my target time.

I’m proud of myself . . . I went out & ran a marathon. I bested my best time, at the distance, by over 40-seconds-per-mile. I bested my best time for this event by over a minute-per-mile. I didn’t allow getting sick to stop me.

But I wanted to break that 4 hour barrier, and I didn’t.

I’m signed up for a marathon in the spring — life got in the way of my plans3, this year . . . I had hoped to win the “Road Apple” award between the Garden Spot Village Marathon & Bird-In-Hand Half-Marathon4, but didn’t run the latter . . . so, I’m trying for the same, again, in 2015, but I was giving serious consideration to retiring my attempts at the full-marathon distance. I’m so far away from qualifying for Boston that I can, honestly, call such a goal little more than a pipe dream5. I can “pull a half-marathon out of my ass,” to this day, but the full — well, yesterday told me that I’m still far away from considering a marathon “just another run.”

Last night was a rough, rough night. I believe my “this shirt is bothering the fuck out of me” and stomach issues were a direct result of dehydration. I started consuming fluids, as quickly as possible, after the run . . . and I’m wondering if I may have over-hydrated (while I didn’t have a LOT of wine, I’m sure the wine that I did have didn’t help). Last night, I put myself to bed far too early, waking up almost every hour, on the hour, to pee and/or retch. Regulating my body temperature was…difficult, to say the least. All in all, I was in bad shape (I’m feeling far better today . . . my knees aren’t exactly fans of taking the stairs, sitting down, or standing from a sitting position; I have chafe marks & blisters on some of my more sensitive areas, but all of that, I anticipate, will be remedied by tomorrow).

Despite the suck, though, I’m not done. I’ll be back on the course. Next year, I’m breaking 4 hours.


1 15 minutes, over a 26.2 mile race, might not seem like a huge time differential, but, trust me, it is.
2 Yeah, I spit as I run, especially during long distances. I’ve been known to blow a snot rocket or two. And fart. Don’t you want to run with me?
3 A close family friend got married . . . so I went to the wedding, rather than run the race. Because family always wins.
4 Both of these runs head through Amish country, meaning that there are a good number of horses on the road, and with horses on the road, there is horse poop on the road, so runners are best served avoiding these “road apples.” If you run both races, in the same year? You get the “Road Apple” plaque, which is a plaque with petrified horse poop shellacked onto it.
5 I say that, yet I have improved my marathon time by over three-minutes-per-mile from my first marathon (though it’s hardly been a linear progression), when I hit 40, the times for Boston Qualifying start to turn to my favor . . . so I can say that qualifying for Boston isn’t a goal of mine, and it isn’t . . . but the damn idea is in my head.
Nov 7 14

Where I think to Sunday’s Marathon

by John

This Sunday, I’m running.

At the end of a marathon, it’s going to hurt whether you’re speeding up or slowing down. You may as well push.

– Summer Sanders

I’m running 26.2 miles.

Marathon running, like golf, is a game for players, not winners. That is why Callaway sells golf clubs and Nike sells running shoes. But running is unique in that the world’s best racers are on the same course, at the same time, as amateurs, who have as much chance of winning as your average weekend warrior would scoring a touchdown in the NFL.

– Hunter Thompson

In some ways, I’m better prepared than I’ve ever been, for a run. I’m stronger and leaner than I’ve ever been in my life. I know the course well. I’ve set-out, and, in my mind, have conquered the trickiest portion of the route.

When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time.

– Haile Gebrselassie

There is less of me to drag around the course. And the me that remains is better-suited to do it. I stand in good shape.

The marathon can humble you.

– Bill Rodgers

But the fact that I have been running far less than I ever have, since I started getting into running, has me a bit worried.

I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.

– Bill Hanc

And that I’m getting over a cold has me doubly worried.

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

– Lance Armstrong

Still, I plan to finish strong.

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.

– Steve Prefontaine

The race will start on a closed road, with high hopes, anxious energy, and loud music.

Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.

– Doug Larson

I’ll run through the streets of downtown Harrisburg, keeping in mind that this is my race, and I will try my damndest to keep from spending too much energy trying to run past slower runners, or being bothered by anyone passing me.

Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.

– Tim Noakes

The spectators will grow sparse and the roads will turn lonely. I’ll get my first glimpse of those runners who run far faster than me. I’ll keep my head held high.

The feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.

– Sarah Condor

The crowds will return, street bands will play, I’ll keep myself from getting too excited.

The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals

– Hal Highdon

Again, the crowds will leave as I run along the river. I will find solace in the beauty.

The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy…It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed.

– Jacqueline Gareau

I’ll weave my way through residential housing, waving to those, warm, enjoying a cup of coffee from their porch, watching those of us who are out there, willing ourselves further.

Few things in life match the thrill of a marathon.

– Fred Lebow

The crowds will return, I’ll refrain from getting too excited, keeping my stride in tow.

Marathoning is just another form of insanity.

– John J. Kelly

I’ll catch another glimpse of those who will be finishing before me. Those who will be in comfortable clothing, and comfortable shoes, and off their feet. I’ll refrain from trying to sneak across the path to skip a portion of the race.

No doubt a brain and some shoes are essential for marathon success, although if it comes down to a choice, pick the shoes. More people finish marathons with no brains than with no shoes.

– Don Kardong

The hills will hit. I’ve run them before. I’ll plow through.

In the first half of the race, don’t be an idiot. In the second half, don’t be a wimp!

– Scott Douglass

I’ll be able to taste the finish. I’ll will my legs to keep going. Back through residences, back to the river.

That’s the beauty and the horror of the marathon, that it has that sense of, ‘Am I going too fast? Could I blow up? Am I gonna hit the wall?’ And there’s something about overcoming that.

– Ryan Lamppa

I’ll appreciate the beauty of the river, and I’ll use the solitude to focus on the cheering crowds at the end.

Finish: Even if you run a slower than expected time, you succeed in any marathon when you finish

– Hal Highdon

The hill to the last bridge will not destroy me.

Do, or do not. There is no try.

– Yoda

I will pull out my earbuds (possibly having to remove my earmuffs, first, though something tells me I’ll be throwing those in my pocket well before the end, if they even make it to the start) and sprint my way through the bridge.

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

– T.S. Eliot

I will cross the finish line with my head held high, a smile on my face, ignoring the pain in my body.

Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles.

– Lori Culnane

Nov 5 14

Where I vlog about getting into running

by John

Nov 4 14

Where I think of the number five

by John
daddy cuddles

Five.

My son is five years old today.

Heck, I still have issues coming to terms with the fact that I’m a parent (yeah, yeah, I know, you’re at “Daddy Runs a Lot,” you expect the dude creating content to be a parent, but, well, being a parent means that I’m supposed to be responsible & shit, and I feel anything but responsible, often), nevermind the parent to a Five Year Old. But, that’s what today brings.

Five fingers, five golden rings, Johnny Number 5 is alive1, Johnny Bench & Joe DiMaggio, Abraham Lincoln’s face, James Monroe, V.

It really seems like it’s been an impossibly long time . . . but, then again, it seems like just yesterday that we got “the call”. They always talk about tragic events in bringing about the mundane details of any given day . . . but I think I can list what happened on November 4, 2009 better than I can recall the moments of September 11, 2003. The phone calls of “it might be today,” to the phone calls to “it’s time.” Leaving the office. My secretary calling, asking if she should put anything in my out-of-office message, my leaving the tailgate of my truck open & my “it might take awhile for paperwork to clear” suitcase falling out (and the kind fellow who flashed his high beams, made me pull-over, and delivered what I surely would have missed), seemingly countless phone calls from the social worker as we drove through the rural roads of Delaware, feeling more nervous than I ever have prior to a date or performance as we walked up to the hospital room, entering and hearing “there are your parents,” giving him his first bottle (he was SO VERY TINY), wondering what color his eyes might be (he didn’t really open his eyes for weeks after being born), counting his fingers and toes, holding him as I watched the final outs of the 2009 World Series (a Yankee win over the Phillies), a late night trip to Friendly’s, because that was the only place would could find that was open and serving food. I can recall all of that, as if it happened this morning.

Heck, I can recall all of that better than I can recall events of this actual morning.

To my video-game-playing, ninja-class-taking, silly, goofy, star-wars-loving, ice-cream-addicted son, I love you. Happy Birthday.

batman

Clink Clink

color run

crumbface

daddy cuddles

ghostbuster

Hershey Park

ice cream

Legos!

matching shirts

motorcycle

ninja punch

sibling cuddles

silly

snuggling Hobbes

Super CJ

tattoo

war games


1 Note to self, introduce Short Circuit to the regular movie watching. Little dude is going to love it.
Oct 30 14

Where I run for chocolate (despite despising the stuff)

by John

I seldom travel for races. I can count, on one hand, the number of times that I’ve slept in a bed, other than my own, the night before any given race. It’s not that I don’t like to travel — it’s just that a run becomes a priority, so it takes a considerable amount of time away from visiting a given place. Disney? Was great, but I ended up going to bed at, like 8:00 the night before the run, and spent race day in a sore fog, walking all about the park.

So, without traveling much, I know the local races about me quite well. The inaugural year of the Hershey Half Marathon was the first year that I got into running, but the race sold out before I had a chance to register. The next year, I signed up as soon as registration opened, and I have run the race every year since.

So, while I don’t generally travel for races, I love playing host . . . and, this year, I convinced a friend to travel from Canada to stay with me for the running of the Hershey Half Marathon. This meant spending the day before a half-marathon, again, at Hershey Park. Which, again, might not be the smartest idea — but it sure was fun.

Race day meant waking brutally early1 to walk Benji, before dressing and heading out to the start, where it was cold.

Really.

Fucking.

Cold.

When I was a bit…fluffier than I am these days, I was seldom cold. I mean, I’d be able to go most anywhere in shorts & a t-shirt, and, if I wasn’t wet (and therefore had water freezing against me), I’d be fine. These days, that is no longer the case.

Hershey Half Marathon, Pre-Race

The temperature was actually dropping from the relative warm that I met with the dog walk. That dog walk convinced me to wear shorts . . . fortunately, I packed pajama pants and a sweatshirt in my truck, just in case . . . I put them on.

I was still cold.

Eventually, the race started. I went my best wishes to the friends around me and took off.

And here is where I start thinking really good things about the Harrisburg Marathon (10 days from the day I’m pressing publish on this post). See, well, I don’t remember a whole lot about this race.

I accidentally pulled my headphones out of my iPhone, so I had to manually restart my music at one point. I ended up being surprised by the start (I was expecting a few extra minutes to move into a faster corral), so I had to deal with more crowds than I would have liked, right from the start. But, I hit my pace right after mile marker one.

I can, honestly, say that I didn’t even notice most of the mile marker signs.

I was able to say “thank you” to most any volunteer that I saw.

High-fives to any child/student along the course who would stick out their hand were delivered.

The hills, or lack-thereof, didn’t bother me.

The cold, once I started going, was of no consequence.

I did manage to see a friend running the other way during a small portion where runners approaching the 8 mile marker, and those just leaving the 9 mile marker, run past one another on the same road.

In short, I hit the “runner’s high” around mile 1, and it continued until the end.

Crossing the Finish

I finished just shy of 1:50 . . . slower than the ultra-flat Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half-Marathon, but a good 30-seconds-per mile faster than I’ve previously run this race.

This was a warm-up for the Harrisburg Marathon. I have to say, for a warm-up run, it felt really damn good.

Posing with my medal


1 My friend was up earlier because of an alarm issue2.

2 I consider myself far my knowledgeable about Canada than most of my fellow citizens, but this particular friend was from Nova Scotia, which is in the Atlantic time zone, which is a time-zone that I thought avoided land, in the northern hemisphere.
Oct 23 14

Where I write about things that have bothered me this week.

by John

The other day, I came upon this article: Science Says You Should Start Your Workouts With Cardio at the My Fitness Pal blog. Now, I <3 My Fitness Pal -- if there is a tool that I can credit for why I believe I'm healthier, now, than I've ever been in my life, My Fitness Pal is that tool. But, there is so much about this article that pisses me off. First, it's a blog1, and, much like the haters in the whole #GamerGate sucktitude, because you have the ability to post means you have a voice — and that sucks sometimes.

First, the premise for the “best” workout seems to be what “increases your heartrate the least.” Now, if you’re a newbie to working out, this isn’t horrible advice, because you don’t know how hard to push your body – so, in theory, you can push yourself too hard, to the point of injury. And that would be horrible, especially for the fact that early injury might mean that you stop working out, altogether. But, well, I’m a believer that the more your heart rate elevates, the harder you’re pushing yourself, the more calories you’re burning doing the exercise, and the more calories you’ll burn while recovering from the exercise. Basically, as long as you don’t injure yourself, you should aim for the greatest increase in average heart rate during a workout.

Next is an item of actual safety. Lifting heavy is beneficial — it’s how you make yourself stronger, the fastest. Every time I lift2, I’m keenly aware of what I achieved the last time I worked out. If I my best set was a 275 pound squat for 5 reps, I’ll be thinking about that through my warm-ups, up until my heaviest set. Let’s assume, for the sake of simplicity, that you have a finite amount of strength in each muscle — well, if you do cardio first, you use up some of that strength — so, it’s entirely possible that I’m D-O-N-E after 4 sets at 275, just because of a run at the beginning of the workout. But, in the back of my head, I’m thinking “I did five the other day,” so I’ll try for one more . . . and introduce the possibility of injury by pushing myself too hard. I like to think that I know my body well-enough to avoid this, but, well, I can be stubborn when I’m asking of my own body.

So, in short, be cautious as to the source of an article — here, I simply don’t know what My Fitness Pal was trying to get across, unless they think everyone should be pushing themselves as little as possible, which seems beyond backward.


So, away from the My Fitness Pal blog & onto the application. The other day, I ended up in a lunch meeting. At the start of the meeting, I opened the app & logged everything that I was about to eat. This gathered some odd looks & a “why would you do that?”. Well, I do this to ensure that I’m keeping my eating in track. If I don’t consciously stop & think about what I think I’ll be eating, I’m likely to allow my eating to get out of control. While I think I’m disciplined enough to follow my body, I really don’t want to test the hypothesis. I log what I eat, every bite. Where possible, I log every bite before I eat it.

“What if you’re going to go over your calories?”

Well, at that point, I log, end up over my caloric budget for the day, and move on. I don’t stress over it. And then I showed the person a day where, despite “earning” 2000+ calories from exercise, I still went over my 3000 calorie budget, by an additional 2000 calories. In short, I ate like a pig for a day. The person, simply, didn’t understand why I’d log if I was going over.

My only answer was “if I don’t log when I’m going over, what’s the point of logging in the first place?”

Oh well, I’ll admit that logging is a pain in the ass, at times, but, well, I need something that keeps my eating in check. And this is what works for me.


Lastly, there seems to be a small, but vocal, minority of people who see their diet choices are superior to others. I don’t get this . . . everyone is on their own plan, with their own goals & methods. A snarky facebook post about the amount of sugar in a Pumpkin Spice Latte or the ilk — well, I don’t get it. I’ll fully admit that, since I’ve reduced the amount of refined sugars/flours in my diet, I seem to be making progress toward the body that I want, but, if anything, I feel stupid for this. The act of making dinner requires way more thought than the act of making food should require. I have to bring in my lunch, every day. I miss snacking. Choosing to eat one way or the other doesn’t make you superior to anyone. Now, if you bring in your lunches and then donate the money you’re saving to a food shelter? Well, maybe then, you actually do stand on a moral high ground. But, chicken breast & broccoli, while delicious, does not a good person make.


1 Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, this is a blog, too . . . but, I would be bothered to find anyone coming here for honest-to-goodness fitness advice. I write about what I have tried in my “quest for fit.” I write about what has worked for me. I write about what I plan to do. I write thinly-veiled dick jokes. But I don’t say “you should do this…” and this blog article, well, it seems to be saying “you should do this,” without backing up any of it.
2 I may do, primarily, bodyweight exercises right now, so “lifting” usually involves me getting my chin up & over a bar so many times.