Tuesday, July 16, 2013
As mentioned in my feed and on my Spark Page, I'm going on a permanent (or semi-permanent if I randomly decide to return) hiatus from SparkPeople. I'm not deleting my page or removing teams or friends, just in case I do return for any reason, but I've found I don't use any of the tools any more.
SparkPeople served the basic purpose I needed at the time I started, which originally was just food tracking and adding a bit of walking, with a goal of ending a decade or so of deliberately gaining weight to hide, to be invisible. I started at 250.5 pounds and over the course of 16 to 18 months lost up to 80, my all-time low in probably 15 years was 166.5 pounds.
Unfortunately, as I got down to that point, I was losing balance. Instead of excesses in food, I had traded in excesses in exercise and an obsessiveness on weight loss. I would follow the daily range recommended, plus a little, only to end up seriously hungry and eating more for a day or two.
I'd never been a yo-yo dieter in the past or dealt with anything along the line of binges, and here I was actually close to my general goal ... only to be losing touch with lifestyle and obsessing with weight loss. I was eating and exercising in ways that were beginning to look unhealthy and nonsustainable.
I would buy a jar of peanut butter for sandwiches, and it would be gone in two days. I tracked it all, but was mad at myself for even getting INTO that kind of behavior pattern. At one point in there, I would buy candy bars, not the little one or two serving size, but the massive ones "because it costs less for the large ones" then eating it over the course a day or two.
I had gone from 15 minute walks of less than a mile in September 2011 to some days walking from a train to work (12 minutes), a longer route in the evening (29 minutes), doing an hour of cardio at the gym, then walking home from the gym (25 minutes). I wasn't just doing it on days I wanted to walk. I was doing it to build up my numbers - more minutes of activity, more calories burned. Those had become the entire reason I was walking so much. I also got to where I would eat a huge candy bar, but convince myself it was okay because lo, and behold, if I could eat less of everything else and exercise enough, I could make the Calories In Calories Out say I had a deficit.
What woke me out of that was making a shift in how I handle my finances. I'm much more in control of long-term predictable expenses now and even building up for the (*scowl*) required medical coverage or penalties for failure to be forced to be an insurance company's source of profit. (*avoids ranting by a hair*) I now have a separate account into which I set aside weekly portions toward expenses, then pay those when due. I've wanted to escape my "paycheck to paycheck" mentality for a long time, and this was the big step.
The more carefully I tracked and managed and arranged, the less I could put up with being careless with my health. I couldn't continue down that path, but realized that SP's tools and information didn't provide what I needed. Too often even here on SP the message of a lifestyle change gets diluted. (The new book might be about making a long-term change, but what is the big selling point? It's a "complete two week diet program".)
I stopped and actually looked at the Start Page.
What's the important number when we enter our food? Calories. Sure, we can track other nutrients, but Calories is the big number that shows up on the Start Page. (It can't even tell us how many fruits and veggies we had ...)
What's the important number when we enter our activity? Again, minutes and miles and steps show up, but Calories is the big number on the Start Page.
There it was every day -- nutrition (Calories), activity (Calories) and weight.
I finally managed to stabilize my thinking back to food as nutrition and activity for health. During the transitions I made, I did regain some weight - notably because I adjusted my activity down (from over 7000 calories burned a week to almost half that) without reducing my eating.
Oh, and "awful confession" time. Because at some point in I think March I said something about setting 180 as my cap while I transitioned, there was a point that I passed it ... and stopped reporting my weight honestly on SP or in my publicly available spreadsheet. (I've corrected the spreadsheet.) I kept track of the real weight in two places that were just for me, where I could make genuine decisions from the information, but didn't want to deal with anyone offering help or support, so I kept it away from others. At the very most, it was 10 pounds off from the real weight. Until a couple days ago, it was coming closer together. Yesterday's weight is real, as is today's - which will be the last I post.
I'll end with a general summary
Where I am as of today, 16 July 2013
I have a workout routine I enjoy. I can skip an occasional day as needed. I don't "count calories". (To generally keep track, I record them as 800 for days I do an hour of cardio, 400 for days I do weight training, 200 for days I walk briskly for an hour, and 0 if I skip. Those give me a very quick comparison of activity day to day by which I can adjust food or understand broader weight shifts.
I have made my primary workout motivation a desire to not lose any progress. While I'm very careful not to overtrain (one reason I do allow myself to skip when I feel physically not up to it), I hate missing a couple days and then feeling like my normal challenge level has become much harder to accomplish. If I'm using resistance level 9 as my starting point and suddenly I'm dropping that to 7 because I slacked off for a week, dang right I'm back in there building back up to 9 and aiming for 10 with a renewed determination.
When I do cardio, I am mostly concerned with how my heart is beating, how my lungs are handling the oxygen demands, and how my joints and body in general are taking the activity. That's it. As long as my heart is beating within the basic range needed, the calories take care of themselves. As long as I throw in alternate activities such as ice-skating or a long trail walk, and making little challenges to go faster, push harder, so I'm never stagnating, my fitness improves.
For a while there I had to just close my mind to the calories in. As I said, I did regain some (I was almost up to 190 and am back down to 184-185). It took weeks to settle into what I wanted my routine workouts to be week to week. I even dropped tracking at all for a few weeks (March-April period). Once I got back to it, my main concerns were keeping sodium sensible and protein well-provided. Every other number could be ignored as long as it wasn't an extreme need or dangerous excess.
What I learned and mentioned in another blog is that my metabolism is most definitely fast. I kind of knew that, but with holding a deficit, I didn't ever get a clear idea of how much faster.
With my height 5'7.75" and weight at 187, a workout routine that means approximately 4000 calories burned a week or less, the BMR calculation says I should be eating around 2470 calories to maintain. In the month of May I found I was eating an average of 3440 a day but mostly bouncing up and down, gaining a pound or two at most. That's right ... with what SP and BMR Calculators would consider a 1000 calorie surplus daily, I was burning most of it naturally.
I'm pulling that down very gradually with minor adjustments -- primarily things that when I look at I scratch my head and wonder why. Two sticks of string cheese at a time instead of one? When did that slip in? A triple serving of granola in a big bowl instead of one and a half in a smaller bowl? If I'm that hungry, I'm making eggs and boosting my protein intake.
I love spreadsheets, and use GoogleDocs a lot.
One spreadsheet I use to log what I eat - having added very simple information over three months. It only calculates calories and protein, based on the quantities. When I get home in the evening, I fill it into my recipe software and get all the nutrition data, clearing the log spreadsheet for a new day. It's a very fast, sometimes a tiny bit off, look at where I am through the day, easily accessible and usable on my phone in a way SP's mobile app just never managed to be.
Another spreadsheet is the Fitness log I have had linked in my signature:
It is based on a spreadsheet I'd seen 4A-HEALTHY-BMI link to with her own tracking, a few tinkers to my information and what I wanted to see.
I have a second similar one that only has the more basic information and then three columns for brief journal-like notes about the day. Those let me note why I skip a day at the gym or that I ate out with DDa, so I don't just have a number but a reason.
APPEARANCE / CLOTHING
I haven't quite outgrown any of the new clothes, but I'm at that too-snug, she should really wear the next size up point. Thankfully, I'm on the way down so the next problem will be when I hit the "whoops, these got too stretched out and need replacing" point.
I've noticed I'm less and less happy with the excess weight around my middle. I've got all this great muscle underneath - not just the middle, but arms, buttocks, calves - and it's squishy and padded. That, and the body fat % number on my scale, have been bugging me.
I don't usually like to think with appearance, because the usual point is what others think of it. But I'm finally at a point where it is my OWN attention to it that matters. That is hugely important. I want to look better for me. It's like the difference between eating for nutrition and eating for the number of calories in the way my mind approaches things.
I'm dressing up more, taking care of my hair and skin more. I'm not going girly, but dang did I buy myself some sexy heels that I wore to a July 4th BBQ and love the feel of walking in them. There's other little things, but when I am dressing and seeing these cute or sexy clothes, I want to make my body more fit rather than continue to half-abuse it just because I'm not "obese", I'm just "overweight".
All of that, and I don't give a fig when someone external to me comments because I know I'm doing it to please myself alone.
I think this is where I've finally had to decide I'm fully on hiatus from SP. For a long time I wasn't as happy with the tools, but they did the job, and they came with an absolutely incredible community. I loved supporting others, whether it was little surprise SparkGoodies or comments on blogs, pages, or pictures, or responses to threads. But that gets time-consuming (any forum or website does) and once I lost the other reasons for being here by replacingthe tools ... I faded away.
I've been broadening my social activities locally, adding a couple of groups I meet up with, as well as writing a lot more in various pieces of fiction. I have a novel to get back to writing so I can revise it (at 55,000 words now).
All adding up to ... for all that I really care about quite a few people here, that alone isn't enough reason to log in. (And it feels terrible to say, but if the only reason for caring was the shared need to eat healthier and be more active, there's not as much there as building a potential friendship with a wider variety of shared interests. I need to connect more directly with people, something I've avoided for many many years. Online friendships are so much easier to disconnect. It's time to actually get to know people locally more than "Oh, I see you at the gym."
This OUTLAW is riding off into the sunset.
May you all find your own paths and enjoy as much of your life journey as you can!
You will be missed, but in one corner of my mind I will always remember good times and good online friends!
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
This is just to archive what I had on my SparkPage, since some of it makes less sense with going on a permanent hiatus.
** For anyone who winds up on my SparkPage for any reason ... Greetings and Salutations. If you would like to add me as a Spark Friend, please do and you will find I add you back in return. For all that I mention being intensely private and will sometimes call myself "non-social", I do make a point of keeping up with friend statuses, blogs, and other news and making comments. (Gotta have somewhere for all my surplus of words to go. =P ) **
Seemed like it was about time to change my avatar image. I've been hiding behind the hair for a long time.
Fitness (and, within that, weight training) has become a big part of my progress.
Tracking is the other big part of my progress. I haven't missed a day of tracking my food - every meal, every bite (even if some was guesswork) - and it really lets me see the connection between calories in and calories out.
I talk more about myself in my blogs and Team forums and comments to others. Since this blog is public (as in visible even to search engines), I tend to not put quite as many truly personal details. I'm intensely private about some things and keenly aware of who can see and read and learn what about me.
I'm one of many many Jennifers in the world. In fact, one Jr. High School class there were four of us in the class, and three of us with the same last initial, it's such a common name. I go by Jennifer or include my middle name with it - avoiding, when possible, all shortened versions.
I have three children - one that I gave up for adoption (DDb - 22 yrs), and two with my EX (DS - 20 yrs - and DDa - 19 yrs.) By my birthday, none of them will be teens even. Time sure flies.
I'm a little unusual here on SparkPeople in that much of my weight gain was through quite conscious and deliberate actions. I built my body shield from large amounts of sweets combined with eating all of the servings rather than one that I cooked. Throughout that time, I always walked - something I love doing - so I'm probably more fit than usual ... but have a very long way to go to be FIT the way I want.
I started my journey at a high weight of 250.5 pounds on 16 September 2011. While I do set a monthly weight goal and eventually hope to be at a healthy weight, my real goal is healthy habits and improved physical fitness. The two go hand in hand, but I consider the loss of weight to be a mere side-effect (good as it is) to getting healthy and fit.
My motto, if I have one, is "Do only those things that I will still want to do in ten or twenty years." I'm verbose (... no kidding?), obstinate, stubborn, have a crazy good memory for things, non-social (neither shy nor anti-social) and an eternally optimistic realist (I see it how it is and with the capacity to get better).
I love tracking and spreadsheets, so I have been tracking my food and other stats since I started. I even share it for those curious what I eat. (I am 5'7.75" and big-boned, so with my activity level I have a current range of 1660-2020, though that will drop as soon as I adjust for lower activity while letting two injuries recover.)
I've bulked up to hide from relationships for the last dozen years. Now that I have my "empty nest", it's time to undo the damage before I actually have health issues from being obese.
I'm intensely private - and trying very hard to overcome that - but can't promise I'll dive completely into the Spark community for some time to come.
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Time for reviewing June goals and making July ones.
== June goals ==
1) Average calories under 3000.
Didn't make this one, though I didn't blow it terribly either. My average for the month was 3111 calories per day. (More discussion of this below.) I did bring the average down from May and ended June well with an average of 2972 for the last week.
2) Push up my cardio intensity
I've been doing this in steps, but definitely feel good about it. I upped the resistance level that I start with on my regular machine (recumbent bike) and have thrown a couple other machines (ellipticals) back into the mix with higher settings than in the past. I have also been paying more attention to hitting the higher side of my % of MaxHR (for me that is 138-145).
3) Short story or poem for submission
Didn't get the clear information on what the story should be until close to the end of the month, but I have started writing. Might have to take that one back to the drawing board, as it isn't as short as I'll need. Definitely back into writing, though, and that was the important part.
4) Financial planning
I opened a special checking account that earns interest into which I set aside weekly the amounts that will be needed for budgeted items. I have a spreadsheet set up and have been tracking what portions of each week's set-aside go toward which item. This way I'm "paying" an amount each week for things and have the money ready when I go to spend it. (Rent, monthly bus pass, annual taxes, biannual gym dues, website costs, etc.) Very happy with that.
MORE TALK ON CALORIES IN JUNE
My worst couple days were 4750 and 4090 respectively.
I just discovered this morning that at least one food in my tracking software didn't have values entered. That means every day I had that food (one of the two juices I use in my smoothies), I would have eaten around 150 calories more than I had recorded. It's going to be a little time-consuming, but I'm going to try to check each food item and then update my spreadsheet to see what the actual numbers are. So my average will probably go up, though hopefully not too significantly.
During June I dealt with a couple weeks of an ear infection. It was actually hard to chew for a couple days, so there's three days around 2600, then almost a week of 3000-3500. Movies and dinner with DDa and dark chocolate almonds didn't help either. (The latter were easy to eat in handfuls at the slightest hint of hunger, and were behind the two highest days.)
All that taken into account, I didn't gain. In fact, I'm on a downtrend. I knew I had a pretty fast metabolism, but now I have a clearer idea of that. Maintenance for me at close to 180 pounds seems to be approximately 3200 calories daily. That's with routine walking, nothing special or pushing, and my regular workouts (4 days of weights with 20m cardio and 3 days of 60m cardio). There were even a few days skipped for various reasons. It will be somewhat less at 155, but it certainly says something when I maintain at 3200 when the formulas come up with closer to 2400 at my activity level.
This is really what I've been doing since last year, in fits and starts. My workouts are enjoyable and sustainable with a focus on fitness. I'm not walking as much as I can every day to "burn more calories", instead choosing to walk when I want to because I love being outside and enjoying the climate. I'm eating mostly healthy and keeping track of that to be sure I get all my needed nutrition. I do love my dark chocolate a little much (always will, but I'm learning to be very picky about quality). Other things like jars of peanut butter are no longer an issue because I'm not constantly thinking about how I shouldn't eat more.
For whatever reason, my mentality cannot be "weight loss" or even "fat loss". It truly has to be how I live, a focus on nutrition and physical fitness for a long and comfortable future. My semi-break from SP, while I'm missing all the interaction, has really made a difference in not being as scale- and calorie-centered.
JULY GOAL TIME
Okay, time to set these.
== July goals ==
1) Average calories under 3000. Same goal, but I actually expect to achieve this, and possibly be closer to my 2750-2800 range the majority of the month.
2) Short story or poem written and submitted. Rework novel, even if that's only going through and editing my atrocious verb tense shifting. All total, try to write at least 10,000 words of fiction - whether one story or several.
3) Clear out stuff in storage that I can break down. I keep putting this off and the rent went up on the space. I'm tired of paying and hope to clear it out before July ends. Failing that, my absolute deadline is end of August, and bribes to DS and DDa to help -- since I can obviously afford to give them the money I'd have otherwise paid for the space.
4) Maintain my social balance. I've got at least three social events planned during July. Enjoy those, but also make sure I keep the quiet me times so I don't burn out. Be open to meeting new people and do not get cranky about compliments or attention.
5) Enjoy summer! Fit in at least two summery activities - picnic, BBQ, swim, something.
6) Measurements and fitness test. I let these slip out mostly and want to get them back in. Time to update my fitness testing. I want to move my measurements to a spreadsheet and make them more accurate. (Stuff like waist I need to remember where I measured it. Ideally get DDa to help me take them so the tape isn't slipping and changing by the time I read it.)
I might add some by fall or by 2014 goals later, but lunch is over so back to the grind with me.
Monday, June 03, 2013
Oh my, oh my. Another month bites the dust, and another month gone, etc.
Where did I get to with regards to my goals?
1) Track eating daily
I'm a teensy bit behind right this moment as I went clubbing last night, got up early to go to a social gathering, then hit the gym. But once I finish this blog post, that's next on my task list. Otherwise I have tracked every day since I restarted doing so near the beginning of the month.
2) Avg calories to 2050
Definitely did not put much effort into this. My actual average for May was 3400. Yeah, whoops! I'm higher than I want to be, for sure. I actually touched my upper limit of 180 one day (day before TOM started), but I'm tickling just below. BUT, and this is the part that kept me from getting strict with myself about daily calories, I only gained 0.5 pounds over the entire month. For a month in which I walked to and from work less often, had a couple of days when social activities interfered with my gym schedule, and dog walks dwindled to pretty much non-existent (they're moving out very soon) and eating nearly 1000 more calories daily than the BMR calculation says I'd need to maintain, that tells me chopping to 2050 might not be reasonable so I'm re-evaluating that.
3) Simplify workout tracking
Didn't spend much time working on this. I did try to make a couple groupings on SP, but that just does NOT work the way I want. Mostly I've been entering it here for the calories burned number. What I've been watching in May is the typical numbers I burn -- which tend to be 400 on days I do strength training or trail-walking and 800 on days I do an hour of gym cardio. My average in May was 550 calories daily. My plan to simplify the tracking is actually to stop tracking calories burned at all and just track workout information using the JEFit app. (Hence the squiggly mouth as I didn't simplify it in May, but the smile as May led to this plan for simplifying.)
4) Write, write, and write
I have been writing more, but have not gotten back to my novel started for Nanowrimo. Recently I uncovered one reason I'm having trouble with it and have been letting that percolate while I write other things. I do have several goals set for June in the writing arena, and actually did accomplish one thing in May related to writing which is kind of amusing -- I decided on a "pen name" and set up a couple of accounts using it. I have also done one other thing, purely mental, and that is to recognize my negative self-talk in that arena and start battling it with positive self-talk. I ~AM~ a writer. I spell well, have a strong vocabulary, and can write better than quite a few self-published books out there. I can and will be a published author.
5) Socialize and recharge in balance
As I mentioned in one of my status updates, I've been getting a bit more socialized than recharged. These first few days of June have continued that trend, but my obligations taper off in about a week and I hope to get a needed breather. I have been recharging enough to not get stressed, but not enough to seek out more socializing such as here.
6) Active on SparkTeams and with SparkFriends within reason
Yeah, this one fell somewhat astray due to the lack of complete recharging. I did pop into one of the teams I lead several times through the month, but it's been real quiet and losing people here and there. (I'm actually in a quandary on that team as I don't know if I'll get back to the point of giving as much time and energy as I once did, but I hate to give up on it.
Not as well as I might have liked, but getting the tracking back in has been good and I'm moving in the right direction as June gets under way. So, time for some June goals:
1) Average calories under 3000.
The biggest reason is that during May I averaged 3400 calories in but only gained half a pound over that whole period (which would equate to about 100 calories excess per day). As long as my activity remains consistent, 3000 would swing the needle back to the losing side in a gradual manner. I can again evaluate at the end of June based on weight trend whether I need to lower it further.
2) Push up my cardio intensity
I've been doing this sporadically, but really want to make fitness and health the big focus of my cardio workouts. (This ties into not tracking it on SP any more, in fact. I won't be wasting attention on getting a number of minutes and calories burned - instead focusing on how my heart rate and breathing during the workout are as I push harder and faster.)
3) Short story or poem for submission
One of the other members of our writer's group is doing a project. It involves getting a bunch of writers to volunteer content, publishing them as a book (in online format only at first), and then donating all proceeds to a chosen charity.
4) Financial planning
I've been tracking and budgeting for quite some time now, but this is different from a budget. A budget gives a limit, of sorts, and an idea of how much to expect to spend, but doesn't really show cash available day to day and predict whether a future need might be more than I have available. Years ago I had a spreadsheet that tracked what my available balance would be based on all my expected expenses, so I could see that spending $30 on clothes today could lead to being overdrawn when I paid rent in two months unless I cut some other expense. What I'm leaning toward now is actually an "expense account" - a separate account into which I move the weekly amount needed for all expected expenses (as in 1/4 of rent, 1/12 of expected fed and state taxes). That would leave only discretionary income in the easily accessible account for expenses like clothing or entertainment.
I think I'll stick with just these four goals and a plan to meet all of them in June.
Yes, I left out the recharging and the activity on SparkPeople. I don't plan to go poof, and I do hope to be more active on a couple teams and with specific friends, but making any particular commitment for June is something I want to avoid so that I can avoid burning out with feeling I "should" be doing something rather than doing it because I really want to.
Friday, May 17, 2013
It would have been 608 days with Thursday's spin. Instead, at the time I chose to make my spin, just as it finished and went to submit, SP took a critical dump. Next thing I knew, the status page was saying it would be around 4 hours for them to get it back up. Didn't check before leaving work, didn't check from my phone, and didn't get home until after midnight ... resulting in no Thursday spin.
End of SparkStreak ... and really what I feel is a sense of relief.
The SparkStreak is broken, through no real fault of my own. I was logged on. I did hit Spin. Now that it is broken, I have no need or desire to start it back up again. In fact, I'm perfectly content to let the water tracking one die off as well. (Mind you, I ~ALWAYS~ drink 8-16 glasses of water. The streak isn't really whether I drank them -- it's whether I tracked that I drank them. And it doesn't block going back days and tracking to get the streak back.)
I'm free of feeling like I ~need~ to click Spin every day.
Then again, I've already been migrating away from SP in a number of ways. Somehow keeping that SparkStreak and the water one going had become more a ritual than a "healthy habit". I generally stay logged on both at work and home. In fact, SP tends to log me off more often than I've ever logged myself off. In fact, I think I only ever logged off once ... when some goofup with cookies resulted in my being logged into someone else's account.
But the online time spent on SP easily starts to take over. And underlying that takeover was a very simple obsession with keeping a pointless (to me, at this time) SparkStreak alive. I don't need SparkPoints. I realized that a while back, after months of working hours daily to get 100+ points. (It's not as hard as you'd think. I don't have to actually make a recipe to get the points, just click a button. I don't have to read an article, just click a button. The quizzes probably took me the longest.) Even after I recognized that I really didn't need to spend that time that way, I still spun that wheel daily because I couldn't pick a good point to say "No more."
I'm doing my food tracking in Living Cookbook - which is a recipe, ingredient, inventory, menu planner, and tracker software all in one. I track my weights workouts with JEFit Pro, which is an app on my Android phone. I track my cardio there as well, but SP has been my fallback to get total calorie burn .... so I manually copy over data every day. Finding an alternative has been on my mind, and one option I keep coming back to is a spreadsheet in Google Docs. Simple enough and I could access it on my phone at the gym.
Which basically brings me to the fact that the ONLY reason I'm still here on SP, trying to be active at all, is ... you fellow Sparkers. Community is what really makes the difference. All the rest, the information, the trackers, the streaks, the points, the goodies ... they're just icing on the cake that is a community of individuals who generally have a common purpose:
Living a healthier life (and losing weight and getting fit in the process)
I'm still going to be showing up for now. I'm just not going to spin that wheel or track my water. Because I don't need those streaks to say 600+ to know I'm active and healthy and maintaining some good habits. And I don't need those streaks to say:
Let's do it s!
Edit to add
The Rave Run was fun, but being the first time they'd done it, there were issues. They filled up completely for the Saturday run and created a Friday one for the spillover (which is why I got the Friday thing confused for a while).
There were 20,000 registered runners. Many of us were unable to get to the packet pickups on earlier days due to location and time, so the line was horrendous to do so. In fact, it and other things added up to the starting time being delayed, and delayed, and delayed. Over half an hour.
Here was an early look at the crowd with the starting gate in the distance. This was over an hour before the scheduled start time, and most people were spread out in an area behind me or still working on getting their packets.
An hour later, as the starting time approached then passed, I took multiple pictures turning a bit each time trying to capture the sheer mass of people, but bear in mind this is night and everyone is wearing lights. (Only uploading three of the six or seven.)
I did like this picture. It looks like a carnival ride.
What is it? A lit up hula hoop being held up by someone very close to me.
Once they finally got people going, their corral system pretty predictably collapsed. (They started with the fastest corral, but everyone was so eager to go that the fencing between got pushed sideways and people just crammed in and ahead.)
Even worse ... imagine 20,000 people, even very spread out over the whole length of the course, finishing here:
That's right ... a Rave tunnel, at best allowing about 10 wide, probably less, that most people stopped to take pictures in. MAJOR traffic jam.
To top that off, once we got out of that, the actual rave was in a build that required we cross the route through those still running. To leave requires crossing the route through those still running.
I'm sure they'll do better next year. It WAS a very cool concept. It WAS obviously very popular, even if a good percentage were more about the rave than the run.
Oh, the only other thing I didn't mention -- the "track". Most of this was run on a dirt track through the fields that are part of our county fairgrounds. A short portion at the end brought us onto the paved main area. This was run at night, in the dark, with mostly rave style lighting. Forget running for best time. The important thing was stepping carefully to avoid twisting an ankle on a loose clod. (Any running / jogging meant going around people, which often meant getting into the less flattened grass.)
I thought I started my watch at the start, only to discover at the end that it only went into "Pending" mode and never started. So I have no idea how long I took. I'm going to look for a race that is timed and smooth. (I'm thinking the Packard Summer Scamper ... the one that takes me over an hour to get to, but runs through Stanford University.) Right now I don't know what my 5k time is like. I did throw in periodic jogging and felt I could have done more if I'd trusted my footing more.
Ending with two final pictures. These are just random shots taken with my phone.
It was a wet winter, so the cacti in front of a nearby business have been gorgeously covered with blooms.
On Google+ there are groups that do photography themes. I took this one of the stairs at work to post, and really liked the result. Shrunk like this, it's easy to mistake for the keys on a piano keyboard.
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