Thursday, February 21, 2013
Covetous....yes, I am covetous. I have suffered much, drowning in a sea of envy, a deep, gaping hole in my soul yearning for.....
....a new iPhone!
It's a long and somewhat complicated story, one that strikes me at the core of my being.....a love of gadgets!
As many of my Spark buds know, I love working out....and I love gadgets & gizmos; Polar heart rate monitors, Bodymedia armbands, Garmin GPS watches, yadd-yadda-yadda.
When I work out, I am instrumented up like shuttle astronaut
I love to get read outs on all sorts of things, then to come back home, slice it, dice it, plot it...and feast my gaze upon endless charts....yeah, I'm a geek and proud of it!
Well I had a smartphone tragedy 2 weeks ago. I'd had an Otterbox, ultra-protective case on my iPhone 4 for about 2 years, and, on a whim, decided to go for a smaller, thinner shell case.
Bad move....4 weeks after the switch, I dropped the damn thing on my concrete driveway during a particularly blustery morning. CRACK!
So I did some research, hearing the rumors about impending iPhone 5S production lines this summer. I've hung out like a pimply teen at the AT&T store playing at their iPhone 5 display, wondering if I should buy one now or wait.
Then I took a spin class today....and determined....I MUST HAVE ONE!
There I was on my usual bike, pedaling away, when I glanced over at the guy on the bike next to me setting up his iPhone on the handlebars. He nonchalantly pulled up an app that started synching with his heart rate monitor, displaying an instantaneous read out of all his vitals.
Imagine my shock, my horror, my utter humiliation as I stared down at my puny, inadequate polar watch display, quickly covering my cracked iPhone with a sweaty towel (I still kicked this guys' ass in class.....he petered out by the third hill climb 20 minutes into class; "Damn your superior technology!"....have I mentioned I'm a little competitive?)
But I couldn't bear having to go through this technological humiliation again, so I buddied up to him afterwards.
"Hey dude, whatchya got going over there with your display?"
"Oh, this is the Digifit app. It synchs up my iPhone with my Polar Bluetooth HRM"
At this point the humiliation is almost total.....I have 4 Heart Rate Monitors, none of them are Bluetooth!
"Really? Bluetooth huh, and it just synchs up with your iPhone? What's that app again, Digi-what?"
"Digifit. It can synch up with all sorts of devices, but the Polar Bluetooth can synch with your iPhone 5 and the displays on most gym equipment"
Now I'm starting to feel physically ill....I thought about kicking his ass for real!
"iPhone 5 huh? Does it synch up with the 4 at all?"......Throw me a lifeline or something here!
"I don't think so, but you can check Polar's website"
"I think I will, thanks!"
I skulked back to the locker room, my head hanging down in shame as I desperately googled Polar's website on my pathetic excuse for a cell phone. Sure as hell, I'm one generation behind....a Neanderthal in a world of racy, hi-tech Cro-Magnon phones!
So that's that....can there really be any question as to what I must do next? Do I sit and suffer, pedaling away like some extinct ape as less physically capable hominids run circles around me with their technology? Remember, Neanderthals were physically much stronger than us, but we used brains and opposable thumbs to build the tools that drove them the way of the Dodo
It's settled then....my next blog gets posted from a 4G LTE, iPhone 5!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, February 18, 2013
So last week was a tough week....nothing really bad, but I was under the weather with some crazy rhino-virus that messed with my head. It wasn't enough to knock me out, but it slowed me down just enough to make simple things difficult. That and I just kept sneezing and blowing my nose all week.
I felt OK doing cardio, but skipped 2 days of ST mostly because my brain wasn't in it. I relaxed most of this weekend and took a leisurely bike ride Sunday.
Skipping 2 days of ST last week made going in to today's heavy legs & back day even tougher. I knew it was going to be a struggle....and I didn't feel like struggling....I was looking for a reason not to go, looking for reasons to ease up and not make it so tough. I wasn't sure I could push through it.
Well push I did and let me tell you....I probably had the best heavy legs & back day I have had in a long, long time!
I set a couple of PRs on squats & deadlifts (300 lbs on the deads!) and as for my arch-nemesis, pullups & chinups, I did 3 sets of 4 pullups (overhand grip), followed by 3 sets of 5 chin-ups (underhand grip)!
At the end of the day, I was still going pretty strong, but petering out a little. My Stasi trained trainer decided to end the day with bicep curls, but instead of going with heavy weights, he took a plate off for the last 2 sets and said, "just keep going to failure"
I really, really hate this guy when he says "just keep going to failure". When he says "just keep going to failure", there is no numerical goal to shoot for, there's no relief thinking that just one or 2 more reps will end the agony. No, there is just white hot pain as I pull and tighten and keep going until he says, "that's good you're done"
Yeah, he'll assist with the bar, providing some leverage to help me get past a stall, but I'll be damned if I'll stop before he makes the "that's good you're done" call. He's good, he knows his business. He'll provide just the bare minimum of assistance to keep the bar moving, but he won't let me slack off either. And somehow, his definition of muscle failure is always just 1 or 2 levels of pain higher than I think I can withstand.
And that is the biggest realization I have made about strength training.....yeah it can be tough, but our bodies are capable of much, much more than our minds can tolerate. It is a challenging exercise regimen, but the rewards are commensurate with the work. Today, I like what I see in the mirror before I get in the shower. I like walking by a mirror and realizing that I've got a flat belly without having to suck it in.
I am constantly amazed at the improvements I have made by not giving in just because I am tired or under strain. I realized again today to not fear the struggle, to accept it, to just keep going, and to trust that muscle pain is temporary even when my brain just wants it all to stop.
And I like to be able to end night's like tonight saying, "Man, that wasn't easy, but man was that worth it!"
Have a great night Spark friends!
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Well today I was humbled....then I got over it!
I've been fighting some cruddy rhino-virus since Monday night; it's been kicking my ass. Well today I decided to just go sweat it all off at the gym in one of my favorite lunchtime spin classes.
Our local gym is still suffering from the January effect....tons of people still packing in every class, packing the weight room, packing it in on the cardio machines. Yes I am happy so many want to be so fit....it just means I need to get there early for class and ask to work in a lot in the weight room....it's a good thing, I get it.
Luckily, a buddy saved me a bike 'cause I was running late. I love the spin bikes in our gym, they are these very cool looking Keisers. They synch up to a heart rate monitor, they have great digital readouts of cadence and gear settings, and the fit on the bike is great.
I am used to specific gear settings for most of the workouts that curvilicious instructor gal puts us through, usually in the high double digit settings.
Well imagine my surprise when I start warming up to find that I'm struggling on settings of 5, 6, & 7! I am working like a dog to keep a 70-80 cadence at a setting of 10! I am normally cooling down on a 10!
I figure this friggin rhino-virus has stolen all my mojo, because my heart rate is up at normal 80-95% levels at these settings.
I feel like a wuss!
But I plod along, hoping none of the regulars steal glances at my girly-man settings, because I am giving it all I've got at settings I think should be for used for first time spinners.
Add to that, curvilicious instructor is hitting my all time favorite tunes and I'm keeping up, but wondering if I've lost all my credibility with my peers.
Anyway, I had a great workout. And that's why I like wearing a HRM because my heart rate was up exactly where I wanted it the whole time, even approaching my max.
So I finish up, shoot the breeze with a few folks, shower, change, and go back to the office. My twenty-something front office assistant, who was also in the class, is chowing down a big salad. As I walk by him I say, "Well that was a pretty good class, glad I went. I'm finally getting over this dumb cold, but I think I sweated off the worst of it."
"Yeah," he says. "It was great and I was working my ass off....and I got stuck with one of those cruddy bikes, the ones that have the readings all jacked up. I was on settings of 4, 5, & 6 almost the whole time"
"You're shi**ing me! There are broken bikes in there?!?! I was kicking my own ass for being a wuss. I barely moved the dial above 8!"
"Yeah," he says. "Some of the bikes are notoriously bad on the calibration. You didn't know that?"
"Listen to my voice, monkey boy, does it sound like I knew that?!"
He looked down and just stared at his salad.
"It's all good'" I told him. "Thanks for saving me the bike"
So yet another reason not to get too hung up on numbers....which for me is a tough thing because I am a numbers geek. I say I don't care about the numbers on the scale, but I sort of do. I say it's not important how much weight I can squat, but it's really pretty cool to see the numbers go up. I say I don't care about the settings on the bike.....wait a minute, I never said that, HELL YES I CARE.
So next time I go into class with a big red permanent marker.....and put a big X on any bike that's badly calibrated!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Soon after we moved to Florida, SWMBO and I "adopted" a nearby Assisted Living Facility. The place is chock fill of mostly widows (a few guys live there too) and we decided long ago that we would do our part for the local community by volunteering to help out this outfit.
So for the last few years we, and a few of our close friends, go there on Christmas, New Years, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc to help out. For Valentine's Day, us guys put on ours tuxes and we wine, dine, & dance with the ladies for a couple of hours.
The cool part is that they start around 5:00 PM and by 7:00, they're done, tuckered out and going back to their rooms! And I get date night credit with SWMBO!
It's actually pretty cool. The ladies get all fancied up, putting on their brightest, reddest outfits, do up their hair, and get out their best dancing shoes. They've got a DJ that plays everything from Maurice Chevalier ("Thank Heaven for Little Girls") to Dean Martin ("That's Amore") to Lou Bega ("Mambo #5").
The problem is, I'm not much of a dancer....as a matter of fact, I suck.
That's where SWMBO comes in. She's the diva of the dance floor in the family and is perfectly happy getting out there and sashaying herself around with whatever retiree is out there. While she dances for the two of us on the dance floor, I work the tables, sitting and chatting up the ones that can't walk or get around.
And did I mention I still get credit for date night....and dancing....and Valentine's Day all in one!
Actually we both have a blast. She got a pair of 90 year olds out there dancing tonight who were just as lively as anyone could hope to be in their 90s! I floated between a few tables where some of the ladies had had some recent operations (hips replaced, knees replaced, etc), patted their hands, asked about their grandchildren (one had grandchildren older than me!), brought them some red velvet cake and chocolate-covered strawberries and made a festive night of it.
Overall we all had a good time and as SWMBO and I drove back, we both realized that no matter how rough we might ever think we have it, life is actually pretty darn good and we're in pretty good shape (although I did tell her that she's just building up some goodwill and karma, waiting to knock me off so she can go live there herself.....that got me an elbow in ribs!)
So a good reminder for me....this living healthy thing isn't just a temporary thing.....got to do it for the long haul....I'd like to think I can make it to my 90s and be just as fun, lucid, and active as some of the ladies I saw tonight!
Have a great night Spark friends
Sunday, February 10, 2013
So I must confess; I haven't ridden my bike since September.
No it wasn't the weather (winter is always like a perpetual spring here in the Florida panhandle), it's not like I was too busy (I am, but I've never let that keep me from working out), and it's not that I don't like cycling, I love it.
But I hate flats....with a passion, I...hate....getting....flats!
Last fall, I averaged 1 to 2 flats per ride! It sucked big time. They've got these stupid prickle bushes that bloom around August and they just attacked my tires with a vengeance.
So I sat out these last few months, lifting weights at the gym and doing my cardio in spin classes and on stationary bikes. But I've been itching to get going again....and besides SWMBO gave me a kick in the pants.
Here's how my brain tackled the problem.
"Hmmm, it's a pain in the ass to get the road bike out there, I keep getting flats and it's ruining my mojo. Hey, I like spinning on some of these stationary bikes at the gym, maybe I'll buy me one. Hmmmm, the one I like is about $1800.....sure I can get that. No, SWMBO will kill me, it's more than the love seat she bought that I gave her a hard time about"
"Hey maybe, I can get that trainer I researched a while back! I can put it on the back patio and spin like crazy watching the dolphins and pelicans!"
Here's how my conversation with SWMBO went last weekend:
ME: Hey I'm going to get this really cool magnetic trainer so I can get back into riding
SWMBO: Magnetic what? Why?
ME: It's pretty cool....AND MUCH CHEAPER THAN THAT SPIN BIKE I WANTED (wink, wink!)
SWMBO: Why do you need this again?
ME: It's pretty cool, I can put it on the back patio, mount the rear wheel of my bike on it, and I can spin like crazy on my own bike! AND ITS MUCH CHEAPER THAN THAT SPIN BIKE I WANTED (wink, wink!)
SWMBO: How much is this thing again?
ME: It's pretty cool.....about $340 on Amazon.....free delivery!
SWMBO: 340 buck so you can ride your bike on the patio? Why don't you just get new tires and ride your bike on the road......LIKE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO!
ME: Ummm.....well.....yeah but this way I could ride even if it's raining out.
SWMBO: How much are new tires?
ME: About $80....for a pair of good ones.
At this point SWMBO goes silent and just gives me that look signifying, "Do we really need to be having this conversation?"
So I ordered me up a pair of Kevlar reinforced Continental Gatorskins, hardened with a synthetic diamond coating (not really, I made that up). I had a pair of these before, but I've ridden them hard for about 3 years, so yeah, it was time to replace them. They came in last Thursday, I put them on yesterday, then cleaned and tightened up my sweet, sweet Trek 2200
I decided to test out how my spin playlist translates onto a real ride on a real bike.....not so good, it's about fifty/fifty. The fast songs are good on the flats, but I can't always time the hill climbs to real hills here....besides, this is Ft Walton Beach, FL....I am at sea level on the sea.....hardly a hill to be had for miles.
I have noticed, however, that 6 months of squats & deadlifts have done wonders for my riding. I'm trying to find my new sweet spot between cadence vs speed. I had some very good stretches where I was able to sustain 18-20 MPH at 90 RPM on a flat road for a good long while. My goal is to be able to sustain that pace and cadence for about an hour comfortably.
The only bad thing was the wind....it was blowing up a storm here today. And I'm pretty convinced that, contrary to popular Spanish folklore, the name Florida is not derived from Juan Ponce de Leon's exclamation of how "Flowery" this land was. No, I'm pretty convinced that Florida is an old Indian Seminole word for "Wind Always Blows in your Face!"
It didn't matter what direction I was going in, I had a headwind at every turn!
But, it's February, and while my mom is snowed in in Boston, I have an opportunity to ride my bike outdoors.....can't be all that bad! And besides, I rode for 90 minutes without a flat!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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