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!
Sunday, February 03, 2013
So in my never-ending quest to balance diet, strength training, and cardio, I came upon an interesting fitness realization.
I've been doing variations of HIIT (Hi-Intensity Interval Training) for a while now, but somehow in the back of my mind, I've felt guilty about not doing longer, slower cardio to burn off more calories.
But the other day, reading some articles by Mark Rippetoe (most famous for his well-written "Starting Strength" book) it hit me.....sprinters have more muscle than marathoners
Now I've done my fair share of marathons and enjoyed the experience of training on long, slow runs, getting ready for the big 26.2. And believe me, even though I slimmed down in my running days, I was never an ectomorph.
Since switching to cycling and getting serious about strength training, I've seen the value of adding muscle while losing fat. Now, as I look to drop these last pesky 10 lbs, I want them all to be fat pounds, not muscle pounds.
As I planned out my February/March riding (I just ordered new tires and will be dropping my bike to the shop for a well-deserved tune-up and re-cabling), I debated about training for a century (100 mile ride) this spring, figuring it would do nothing but help me drop those 10 lbs of fat.
Well not so fast, or rather, yes, I need to train fast....and hard.....but for shorter durations.
Maybe I need to train for some time trials!
(Not really....when I priced out a time trial bike, that idea went out the window!)
Intensity matters.....it just makes for a much tougher workout, albeit for a shorter period of time....but those short periods of time do seem like an eternity.
But what better way to prepare for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse! Would you rather be fast & strong, or lean with lots of endurance/
Who do you want to be when the undead rise, hungry and looking for brains?!?!?!
(Hint, you'll need some upper body strength to wield that 9-iron into the soft spot of their frontal lobes!)
Have a great night Spark friends!
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
So my first meeting today started at 7:30 AM. They were actually a series of working meetings, which I much prefer to the "sit back and listen to this presentation" type. Still, we were at it pretty hardcore for the next 9 hours.
Then a bunch of my colleagues wanted to hit this BBQ joint for dinner. I told them OK, but I had to hit the gym first, so we agreed to dinner at 7:30.
I lifted yesterday after landing, so today was cardio. I found a lone spin bike in the over-crowded gym here. It had an interesting set-up, with a big video screen that you could adjust to show you either a) bucolic scenes of winding roads, b) an effeminate male instructor urging you to "pedal faster", and c) A readout of all your vitals (heart rate, cadence, calories, etc)
I went with C!
For the last few weeks, I have been tweaking my "Hard Interval Cardio" playlist. It's not an HIIT workout (i.e. short bursts of all out sprinting interspersed with 60-90 second breaks), instead I wanted something that I could sustain for about an hour that has alternating hard hill climbs and sustained sprints.
I downloaded a pretty cool library of kitschy workout music free from Amazon (see blog: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5197809 ) and I've been messing with my playlist to the point where I've finally got warmup, hard climbs, flat road sprints, and rest breaks all alternatingly built in just right for a good 60 minutes.
And today it paid off! I really like having audio cues to kick in that guide the workout. It helps not having to keep looking at my watch. When a particular tune comes on, I kick it up a notch or relax as needed. Hey, it works for me.
I then tackled the Nike Training Club's "Ab Burner" workout, the one that kicked my ass last week. www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
Well, I can't say yet that I kicked its ass, but after adding abs back into my routine (I've done this 15-minute ab workout 4 times since the 20th), it was decidedly easier. If there is any consolation to this tale it's that we can get back in shape quickly once we've built a good foundation. But those first few tries are rough!
The last piece of trivial knowledge I feel compelled to share with my SP friends is the coolest so far!
Don't know if any of you is troubled by your gym gear getting a little "stale" after repeated use to the point where even after a good washing they're never quite as good as new.
Well I do, and I have some favorite shirts that need constant washing and SWMBO is on the point of revolting, threatening to stop doing my laundry! Yes I know I could go buy some more, but I REALLY LIKE THESE SHIRTS!
So last weekend this buddy of mine was telling me of his deer hunting adventures (he has totally bad luck out there, but every now and then he bags me a few lbs of fresh venison)
He starts telling me how he washed all his clothes the night before in some Gucci new deer hunting detergent to get rid of the human smell (deer have very sensitive noses) and that leaves no UV reflecting light (they also have great eyesight into the UV range)
I ask him to tell me more about this magic elixer and he claims that it is super-charged stuff that gets rid of every possible trace of human scent...."even a bloodhound couldn't track you!" he tells me (not sure what he meant by that, but I tried not to take it personally)
It's called....wait for it.....Scent-A-Way!
Intrigued, I called up the local Bass Pro Shop and sure enough they had some in stock. So before flying up to Virginia this weekend, I gathered up everything in my workout clothes drawer (yes I have a "workout clothes drawer") and emptied about a half gallon of this stuff into the washer.
So far so good! So far pretty incredibly good! My fave shirt has survived 2 solid workouts this trip and is in perfectly clean smelling shape for a 3rd one tomorrow before I fly back home.
More to follow....now if I can just find something to get that cat smell out of the catbox!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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