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Placeholder Saturday

Saturday, January 07, 2012

As noted in yesterday's blog, today is a non-running day to give my left thigh another day to recover. That makes today something of a placeholder in the exercise scheme. It's also a day to eat toward the bottom end of my calorie range, because I'm not getting as much exercise as usual. Yes, I got my 10K steps on a 2.25 mile walk plus more shopping than I wanted to do; but most of them were cheap steps.

Today was the second day of cooking steel cut oats, and I decided to experiment with possible ways to reduce the labor of cooking and/or cleanup. I learned some things, at the cost of spending more labor on both the cooking and the cleanup today. In the process, I ruined two batches of oats and had the opportunity to clean my stove top.

Today was also the day I got around to pulling all the size XL tee shirts out of the closet to be donated. It may be some time before the bag of tees makes it to Volunteers of America; but I have more space in my closet for the running wardrobe now.

The oddest thing today was the food scale episode. As I was preparing lunch, my food scale appeared to die. It timed out, like it does to conserve battery life. Then it didn't come back on when I pushed the button. Okay, it's a half year old. Change the batteries. No joy. I got one flicker of life, then it was dark. Either it's dead, or the on/tare switch is faulty. in 20-20 hindsight, I recall that it hasn't always turned on the first time I press that switch; this has been going on for months.

After deciding I can live with estimating 30 grams of chicken for my salad (everything else having been weighed before the scale quit), I eat lunch then go buy a new food scale. I recall that I had a bathroom scale that ran on AA batteries, and it was flaky; but the replacement with a lithium battery is better. So I bought a replacement food scale with a lithium battery instead of the same model I have that takes AAA batteries. It was cheaper, too.

Came home, and setting up the new scale is straightforward. It works right, it takes less counter space, and all the dishes I usually weigh things in fit on it and let me see the readout. The switch seems to work properly. We have a winner.

So what to do with the old dead scale? Put it on the table. Press the dead switch yet again. Surprise! It springs to life just like nothing was ever wrong with it! That's weird. So now I have two working food scales, unless the old one quits again. Hmm. Put the old one on a shelf to be backup. The only thing it does better than the new one (assuming it works) is that it has a higher weight capacity. That weight capacity is what talked me into this model last July; but now I know I'm not going to exceed the new one's weight capacity. I weigh stuff in grams, not in pounds or kilos.

With the day's events going like this, it's just as well I didn't run. I can live without knowing what weird thing was going to happen in the middle of the run I didn't do.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONEKIDSMOM 1/8/2012 8:10AM

    LOL! So, you have to learn some lessons (about steel-cut oats and the ways of cooking them) the hard way (as I did, too)... like remembering to turn the heat down at the right time. I still love 'em, but on days when I sleep in until breakfast time (like today), the old standard rolled oats are a fine change up.

By the way, I did try microwaving the rolled oats, and to be honest, it's a hassle, compared to what I'm used to with my little pan on the stove. It's all about what works for YOU, so go with what fits in YOUR life!

I've got tired legs today, thanks to the trainer yesterday. But I also have an appointment to run with son. So, I shall see how lightly I can run, slow and with attention to form, not speed. So far it looks like the 20% chance of precip has held off. And the predicted high of 43 bodes well for a noonish run.

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KRISZTA11 1/8/2012 5:31AM

    Weird day... It's good you didn't do anything dangerous, like cutting wood or rock climbing : )

The oats gave you a hard time!
I heard steel cut oats are superior to rolled oats, and microwaving oats is inferior to cooking, but I like my microwaved rolled oats a lot, it takes only 5 minutes to make them, and they dirty only one bowl and 2 spoons.

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  I would've told you to either try a non-rechargeable AAA battery, or recharge the one that was in there and see if that's the issue first :)

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Today is a non-running day. Good thing, because my left thigh is bothering me quite a bit today. The odd thing is, it's not sore in the same place that it was yesterday.

Near as I can tell, having the sore muscle yesterday affected how I walked, and resulted in overusing some of the minor stabilizing muscles in the thigh. Anyway, the thigh complained most of the times I tried to move it. It was fine whenever I was still.

Got out for a walk at lunch, because I won't let a little thing like this totally kill my activity. Walked over to take a look at part of the uphill stretch of the half marathon route. The early part of that stretch is a very mild uphill. I had to turn off the route to come back before I got to the interesting part of the hill.

Later in the walk, the thigh complained less. I was able to walk at a more normal pace coming back than I was going out. Mapped it out, and it came out to an average 3.5 mph pace. That was slow for me before SP, and it's incredibly slow for me now. And I was walking at close to normal speed toward the end.

This is annoying. I begin to wonder if the half marathon is a stupid idea. I begin to think about how many calories I'll need to cut out of my diet because I can't run. And then I go and read my blogs from when I had the strained calf during 5K training.

The strained calf was very frustrating, and there was some doubt for two days whether I'd be able to get in 10K steps. One day, I had to do 10 and 15 minute walks because that was all I could handle.

Okay, I've had it worse. Executive decision: Tomorrow is another non-running day. I'll walk and get in my steps, and if the weather is as nice as forecast (41 F and partly cloudy) I might see whether getting the bike out feels okay with the thigh.

Single days off from running haven't fixed this. It's time to take two days off and see how much improvement there is. Then on Sunday I can make a decision as to whether I need a third day off, or how long I can run if I don't need a third day off.

Okay, there's a plan. Give the legs some rest, and let them get better. Meanwhile, I think I'd better eat toward the low end of the range until my left thigh feels more normal.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TALVARADO6 1/7/2012 11:00AM

    I think a couple days off is probably exactly what you need. Isn't it great that we can go back and read old blogs posts? It reminds us of where we came from and how we got through it. For an athlete, is is important to take days off for recovery every once in awhile if you've been doing it for awhile. It gives your muscles time to repair, so that they can become stronger. I think you will find that when you are able to get back to normal, you'll be able to work even harder than before because you got some rest and it will make up for the "loss" you had while you took a break.

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KRISZTA11 1/7/2012 9:49AM

    Good plan!
I'm sorry your thigh troubles you : (
Get well soon!

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RG_DFW 1/7/2012 8:54AM

    Good luck, we're pulling for you!

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DEBRITA01 1/7/2012 8:34AM

    Hope the thigh feels better. Your plan to listen to your body is wise...and the body knows best. Your commitment to fitness is inspiring! emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/6/2012 8:46PM

    Wise decision, brother. Listen to the body. Sometimes walking slowly during recovery helps it, but rest is a good thing, too. The walking slowly to keep from "freezing up".

We can do this... meaning, be active and healthy. And a half marathon is just a tool in the arsenal... oh, by the way, there were times during training to walk it last year when I wondered whether I'd bit off more than I could chew. I was really worried I wouldnt' be able to keep pace with Deanna. But just take it one day and one outing at a time. You'll get where you're meant to go!


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Moving the Bar

Thursday, January 05, 2012

I've been blogging a lot lately about the details of my running. That's fine, as long as I need to think about the details and what I'm doing next; but today I'd like to focus on perspective.

First, the condensed version of today's run: I ran 3.5 miles at lunch in 25:08, for a 7:11 pace per mile. It was nice weather, 31 F and just a few flakes in the air with not much wind and mostly good footing. My left quad was bothering me a bit, more walking than running, and more walking when carrying weight than walking without carrying anything. Tomorrow is a non-running day, and I'll have to evaluate on Saturday whether I need two non-running days in a row for adequate recovery. My competitive nature is a little disappointed at having to back off.

After I got done with work, I read my Spark Mail. ON2VICTORY (leader of the half marathon team) pointed me at a great blog by CHRISTINA791 on taking success for granted:

If you haven't already read that one, it's worth a glance. There are some pretty good comments on it, too.

That blog was very timely for me. It whupped me upside the head with the fact that I've moved the bar on myself. It's not so much moving the bar on what I want to do, as moving the bar on how I expect to do it.

I have a goal of running a half marathon on April 29, 2012. I've paid my entry fee, and I need to train for it. The route has two miles of continual upgrade. ("Uphill" might be too strong a word for the entire stretch, though there are certainly parts that could fairly be called uphill.) I want to be able to run the entire course. That's a formal goal. I haven't set a formal time goal, but my competitive nature notes that if I can maintain a 7:30 pace per mile I should be competitive in the 55 to 59 year old males age group.

If I think about it, that's a pretty high bar to clear. And it's pretty amazing that I can convince myself it's a reasonable goal, considering how far up that bar has moved.

Last August (yes, less than 5 months ago) I was out walking and felt like running a little. I decided to train to run 5K to see if I could do it. My first personal goal was to be able to run for 30 continual minutes. I thought that if I could just keep running that long, I'd be able to run the complete course (3.5 miles) of the Chase Corporate Challenge.

Things proceeded according to plan, with a 9 day delay for a strained calf. I became able to run 30 continual minutes, which covered more than 3.5 miles. So the bar got raised. In order to run 3.5 miles for the Chase Corporate Challenge, I had to be in that kind of shape at the end of May, 2012. The next goal was to keep running through the winter, to try to maintain my fitness level.

That goal got me to schedule runs on my own after completing the SP 5K Your Way running program. I entered a 5K that was promoted through work email, coming in first in my age group. That was satisfying, but not goal-changing.

Then I wanted to run a 5K on Thanksgiving. There wasn't one close enough to home for my taste. There was a 4.4 mile run, which seemed a good distance; but the field was huge and I didn't like the probable pre- and post-event traffic. So I entered a 10K with better parking facilities and a smaller field, never having run a 10K before.

My goal for the 10K was to run the complete course. I did, and once again came in first in my age group. This was a bigger surprise, because my time wouldn't have been good enough for that in last year's field.

December came along, and none of the organized races were scheduled at good times for me. So I just ran on my own, usually 4 times a week. In December, running 10K on a Saturday became routine. Somewhere in there, I thought it would be nice to see if I could run a half marathon. That was kind of a scary distance, so I actually sought medical clearance like I was supposed to do before attempting even the first 5K. Clearance achieved, I paid my entry fee and set out to stretch the weekly long run.

Sometime between receiving clearance to train for a half or full marathon and now, the goal shifted. It's no longer to keep running through the winter and run the entire Chase Corporate Challenge. Now, running through the winter and running the entire Chase Corporate Challenge are assumed. These things will happen on schedule. I'd like to finish the 3.5 mile Corporate Challenge in 24 minutes, and I even believe this is possible.

But the major goal is to run the entire course of a half marathon. For that, I need to be able to run 13.1 miles. If I can run it at the pace I'd like to, that means being able to run for 100 minutes continually. Call it train to run for 2 hours continually, to have a base of fitness that will let me run the first part of the race faster than I should and still keep running for 100 minutes.

That adds up to a significant upward relocation of the bar between early November and early January. The physical aspect isn't such a big deal. The big deal is, I'm assuming that I will be able to train in spite of a) winter weather, b) paid work that is expected to be busy in the first half of 2012, and c) 8 hours per week of volunteer work from mid January to mid April.

Three months ago, if someone had suggested I could run a half marathon by the end of April, I'd have thought they were nuts. Now, I'm planning to do it and I think it's quite possible. Much of the time, I think it's no big deal and I just need to attend to the appropriate details.

But today, I'd like to pause and reflect on how far I've come. The physical ability to run has developed quite a bit, but my attitude toward what is possible and what is normal has changed immensely. Then, running 30 continual minutes covering 3.5 miles was a goal to work toward. Now, running 3.5 miles is a 25 minute run and no big deal. A half marathon is a goal to work toward, and should be achievable in spite of time constraints during tax season.

That's one heck of a success, and a massive improvement from where I was a year ago. I think I'll spend some time appreciating that while I back off a bit to let my left quad recover. I've moved the bar quite a ways upward over the past two months, and I should appreciate that I *could* move it that far rather than being worried that I might not clear it easily.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAKAPES 1/6/2012 5:37PM

    You really came a long way. I observed a similar transformation in 2011 - the horizons of what is possible just got enlarged. I started to run in May, and now, it's part of my life. So funny! Go on Man!

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HEALTHIER_K 1/6/2012 11:01AM

    Wow, your progress is really impressive!

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KRISZTA11 1/6/2012 7:46AM

    You have come a long way,
and changed into an athlete in front of our eyes!

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/6/2012 6:57AM

    Ah, yes, the ever-rising bar and the myth of continuous improvement. Could it be I am addressing a "maximizer"? Congrats on how far you've come, good luck finding your asymptotic limits and approaching them. And take good care of those quads!

You are an amazing guy, always have been!

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FROGGGY13 1/6/2012 1:46AM

    Yes, you should definitely spend a little time thinking about the enormous successes you've had and feel pride. Is there any way you could reward yourself that wouldn't feel phony? I have a hard time with that, myself - I berate myself rather harshly for slip-ups, but take successes for granted, raising the bar regularly. This brings praise from others, but sometimes I don't allow myself to feel the happiness and pride. This might not be your case at all, I realize, I went off on a tangent here.

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TALVARADO6 1/6/2012 12:00AM

    I think that's a great perspective to take and not letting your recovery time be a hindrance, but a time for reflection. I enjoyed reading about your journey, since I have just joined SP, it's cool to hear about how you have progressed. You are definitely an inspiring person that I look up to. Keep working hard and take care of your body, it'll take you further than you can imagine!

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Better Weather, Easier Schedule

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Life is full of surprises. Sometimes the surprises are good news.

Today started out even colder than yesterday, at 7 F (-14 C). The forecast was for a high near 30 F, but forecasts aren't always dead on. So I packed a variety of running clothes in the gym bag for a lunch run.

Lesson from past forecast inaccuracies: Pack clothes you don't expect to use. It's better to haul unused clothing back home than to not have the item you need.

It turned out to be 24 F and sunny when I got out for the lunch run. I was psychologically geared for it to be colder, because it had been colder in the morning but it turned out to be decent weather. I ran on sidewalks downtown, choosing the route as opportunities to cross streets in stride presented themselves. Fairly early, the stoplights turned me away from the river trail. I didn't mind so much because I expected the river trail to have packed snow, and I was wearing my regular running shoes. I did find a few spots packed snow on the sidewalks from erratic snow removal, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with.

The run turned out to be 3.45 miles in 25:10, for a 7:18 pace per mile. It felt good. My legs actually felt better after the run than before, go figure.

Then after work, I went off to do tax training. There were not as many people signed up for the class as anticipated, so two classes were merged. That left us with more intstructors and assistants than were needed for the class size; I drew a short straw and came home early. Hence, I have time to write this blog. I also get tomorrow evening off.

Better weather and a less tight schedule make it a lot easier to fit the planned runs in. The current plan is another lunch run tomorrow, Friday off from running, a very light run Saturday, and shift the long run to Sunday. After I see how that goes, I'll figure out what the schedule should look like next week.

I'm glad I made the effort to get the run in today. I'd have been upset with myself if I'd skipped it because of the schedule and then the schedule opened up like it did.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 1/5/2012 3:28AM

    What a lucky and lovely day!


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ONEKIDSMOM 1/4/2012 9:44PM

    You would really rock our weather here at lunch tomorrow!

Today was PT weight routine #2. I feel like a bit of a wimp the nights I'm surrounded by beefy guys lifting "real" iron, while I'm doing mostly body weight and bands, with only one machine lift.

Still, it's what I need to be doing. I'm not a beefy guy, nor do I aspire to be. I'm a little old lady in training!

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ERIKGN 1/4/2012 8:51PM

  nice, i like running too!

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Tuesday with a wind chill

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

After an unseasonably mild November and December, winter has arrived in upstate New York. I had forgotten what a time suck winter weather can be. This morning reminded me. I was up early, a benefit of being a synthetic morning person; and I spent the entire amount of extra time shoveling my driveway and making sure I got on the road a bit early to beat traffic.

The good news is that the current snow event turned out to be a typical overforecast of lake effect snow. I had a half inch to clear off my driveway this morning, and was blessed with a clear driveway still when I got home from work.

The bad news is that the temperature forecast was right on target. Today hung around the low teens for most of the day. It was 13 F (-11 C) when I went for my lunch walk. That would have been pleasant with sunshine and minimal wind; as it happened, there was a strong enough wind from the west to get me to change my walking route because I didn't have a face cover.

I was walking today because I ran yesterday. I ran yesterday, instead of taking two days off after the long run, in part because of the weather forecast for today. I'm not afraid to run in 13 weather with wind; but that weather means a little more time dressing to walk, then changing to dress to run, then dressing to walk again after cool down and shower. Without actually going through that drill, I'm guessing it could steal 5 minutes of running time from me.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be up near freezing at mid day, perhaps 27 F when I run. That's a more livable temperature for getting between the office and the gym. The open question is what the footing will be like, with minor lake effect snow more likely downtown than where I live. I've got my gym bag packed for running at that temperature, with the standard running shoes rather than the screw shoes. It will be a little bit of an adventure figuring out where to run, as I don't expect enough uncleared areas to justify the screw shoes but I know that my favorite running path will be uncleared.

Tomorrow and Thursday are also very long days with evening tax training, so it's likely I won't be blogging. The open question is whether I end up canceling a planned run due to the intersection of weather, work, and volunteer work.

This will be the first serious test of fitting running into the winter schedule. It was easy to run in bad weather when I had time off from work. It remains to be seen how easy it will be when I have to work the run into a normal schedule and also deal with bad weather.

Hmm. If I wake up early enough, it might be better to run before work at 13 than to try to fit it in at lunch at 27. I'll have to think about that.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 1/4/2012 3:31AM

    Cold +wind + time constraints... That's hard!
But with your experience, good running clothes and careful planning I'm sure you will be able to do most of your scheduled runs, even if weather tries to stop you.

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RG_DFW 1/3/2012 10:23PM

    It reminds me a little of grad school up 'nawth' ... I could always tell when it was below 20F, my mustache would freeze because of the breath. It was nothing to play frisbee outside back then, but I'm not that young anymore (or maybe crazy).

You're doing great

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COMPUCATHY 1/3/2012 10:07PM

    Life does happen...and so does weather. It's great that you are searching out the plan B's to make your workout happen. You're very determined. That's awesome! Keep up the good work! Thanks for the encouragement! Spark on! emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/3/2012 8:27PM

    Flexibility: rolling with life's punches! Look forward to hearing how it all worked out when next you find time to blog all about it.


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