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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Life

It was early one morning,
Playa del Carmen,
That’s when I first met Jose.
He had a 12 foot Schooner,
A 3 foot cooler,
Full of the catch of the day.
And he was wrinkled from grinning,
From all of the sun he had been in.
He was barefoot, cerveza in hand.
He said “Gracias senor”, when I paid him too much for,
All of the Snapper he had.
Now I told him my friend it ain’t nothin’,
In the best broken Spanish I knew,
I said I make a good livin’,
Back home where I’m from.
He smiled and said, "Amigo, me too."

He said, "I fish and I play my guitar.
I laugh at the bar with my friends.
I go home to my wife,
And pray every night,
I can do it all over again."

Somewhere over Texas,
I thought of my Lexus,
And all the stuff I work so hard for.
And all the things that I’ve gathered,
From climbing that ladder,
Didn’t make much sense anymore.
They say my nest egg ain’t ready to hatch yet,
They keep holding my feet to the fire.
They call it paying the price,
So that one day in life,
I’ll have what I need to retire.

And just fish,
And play my guitar,
And laugh at the bar with my friends,
And go home to my wife,
And pray every night,
I can do it all over again.

And to think that I thought for a while there that I had it made...
When the truth is I’m really just dying, to live like Jose.

And just fish,
Play my guitar,
Laugh at the bar with my friends,
Go home to my wife,
And pray every night,
I can do it all over again.

Wouldn’t that be the life?
Wouldn’t that be the life?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Private: So, Now We Know.

So Now We Know. 

Note: This is a post that is on my private blog, open only to those whom I know and love.  If you want access, please email me .  Thanks!

STS System Week 4 in Review

WHEW!  This was a tough week.  I've had a lot to do and I've been mostly unable to get myself out of bed for the morning workouts, so I worked out in the evenings every day this week.  That has cut into my time to do other things, but at least I got it done.  Baby steps.

This week, weights were increased again.  Where week 1 I did 60% of our 1 Rep Max and Weeks 2 and 3 I did 65%, this week I'm up to 70%.  This is a real challenge, and I really felt it on Sunday with Disc 10 (Shoulders, Chest and Biceps).  There were exercises where I would get partway through and then my arm just wouldn't lift the weight anymore.  It wasn't like I was struggling or shaking, it just wouldn't even try at all, no budging whatsoever.  I made it through though, and even had to rewind the video a couple times where I was still trying to complete the reps and Cathe had moved on into another exercise.  I admit, it was a little frustrating, but I got it done.

Back and Triceps on Tuesday was easier.  I managed to get through the vast majority of the workout without having to rewind the video too much.  I'm really getting up there in weight on the lat rows, and it's really getting tough.  I'm getting to the point where at the end of each video I am so happy to be done!  Proud, and glad I did it, but happy it's over!  

As for legs, they are always tough.  I am actually fearing legs in mesocycle 2, as I hear that they get harder.  Still, I do feel stronger in my legs, which is always good.

And so, this ends mesocycle 1.  This mesocycle was all about endurance, so high reps at 60-70% of 1 rep max.  My understanding is that mesocycle 2 is going to mean 70-80% of my 1 rep max - yikes!  Mesocycle 2 is hypertrophy - muscle building and definition.  It will shake things up as far as upper body goes, and the mix will be different.  Leg workouts will move to the middle of the week (a good thing for me as far as scheduling goes).  I'm so used to mesocycle 1 at this point that I'm very curious about how mesocycle 2 is going to work.  I start mesocycle 2 on April 6.

In the meantime, after mesocycle 1, we are supposed to take a week off for active recovery.  So, for the next week I won't be doing any weight workouts at all, and I'll be focused on cardio and relaxation.  Cathe's instructions were that we can do as much cardio as we want, but no weights, and we shouldn't overdo anything.  No problem for me, I expect to be doing quite a bit of swimming.

Results?  Well, I didn't take measurements before I started, which is a shame.  I always find measurements to be horribly inaccurate, though.  I feel stronger, my body feels better.  I feel like I can do more, and I feel like my running has gotten faster and more efficient.  In fact, if you look at my running logs from March of 2008 and compare them to March of 2009, I'm about a minute per mile faster now.  As for my weight, it's stayed about the same since I started - maybe a pound or two lower.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

TIART: Speed Hints

This Week's Take it and Run Thursday - Tips to satisfy the need for speed!... We have heard from many of you that you would like to get faster this spring and this running season.   And we know an equal amount of runners who have found some great ideas on how to work on getting faster.   Tell us about a tip, technique, training idea or magical potion you use to help you become or stay fast(er).

At first I thought I wouldn't participate in this one.  I know I'm not fast.  I've run four marathons, all of them over 6 hours.  My fastest mile time is 10 minutes.  I get where I'm going, but I get there slowly.  What possibly could I have to say to anyone about getting faster?  Still, I thought maybe I could say a few words for those people out there who are like me - slow, but determined.

Lose Weight
The absolute biggest factor for me so far in my speed has been my weight.  I speed up the more weight I lose.  It makes total sense - I mean, if I'm running with 15-20 more pounds on me, well, I'm probably going to run slower.  So, this would be first and foremost on any plan to get faster - if you are overweight, lose the weight.  This is frequently overlooked by magazines like Runner's World, because I think it's expected that runners are going to be naturally thin people.  The fact of the matter is, I can be very in shape and have a lot of endurance.  I can run many miles a week, and run marathons.  That does NOT mean that I'm thin.  In fact, when I trained for my first marathon, I gained 25 pounds.

For 2009, my running goal is to run a marathon in under 6 hours. To do this, I think I need  to at least maintain my weight, but I really need to get another 10-15 pounds off.  The great news is that I find this to be pretty great motivation for losing weight, and makes it a lot easier to justify my weight loss to others.  Most of the time, if you're just losing weight for looks or whatever, you get a lot of people who want to give you the "but it's what's inside that matters" BS talk, but they shut up when it's about running.  When it comes down to it, I want to be faster more than I want to be thinner, so I need the extra motivation.

Run faster
It seems like common sense, but somehow I missed the "If you want to run faster, you have to run faster" thing for a while.  You can't run a half marathon and expect that to mean that you can really fly through a 5k.  They are two totally different races.  In order to get faster, you have to work on getting faster at a shorter distance, and you need to incorporate speed training.  Now, my fellow running group friends have a low tolerance for track workouts, and I have a low tolerance of any workout that doesn't involve my running group friends.  I've come up with a couple of ways to incorporate speed training into my workouts without them.

First, I do run alone on weekdays.  I've found that Cardio Coach workouts have really helped me to incorporate sprints into my workouts.  Many of the workouts incorporate sprints - some very fast and some uphill, and these have really helped me to get faster.  See my past post about Cardio Coach.

Second, I am slipping some speed training secretly into the program this year.  Leapfrogs - have the group run in a line.  The back person has to pass the pack and become the lead person.  Then the next person in the back becomes the lead.  This will incorporate some sprints without my running group having to do the track workouts that they pretty much refuse to do.

So, there you go, some speed tips from a slow runner! :) 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

WTF, Man???

Someone got to my blog by googling "cliffs notes for new moon by stephanie meyer". WHY are you looking for Cliff's notes on that????? What POSSIBLE reason? Is it TOO DIFFICULT for you? Did some teacher assign it??

I've got to imagine that it's a guy trying to impress a girl without reading the whole book. Dude, my summary is good enough, trust me.

Edited (3/23) to add: I am actuallly fully aware that I have regularly spelled Stephenie Meyer's name wrong.  This is for several reasons:  1) I don't care.  2) It keeps the Twilight freaky-people away.  3) I knew her name was spelled differently, but couldn't remember differently how and couldn't be bothered to look it up.  4) People who have different spellings to their names annoy me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

STS System Week 3 in Review

After only 3 weeks on this program, I am feeling stronger, faster and more in shape than ever. My weight is not necessarily going down as fast as I had hoped, but every other indicator that I have is showing me that things are just, well, awesome.

I started on Monday with Chest, Shoulders & Biceps. At first, it almost seemed like my weights were too easy, but I think that had more to do with the fact that I'd had 4 full days of rest for my upper body. As I got more into the workout, things got more difficult. The same was true for the push ups - you see, the chest workouts contain what any normal person would classify as an insane amount of pushups. It's a weakness for me and I end up doing them on my knees. However, this time, I was thinking that I could be doing them on my toes in no time! That is just when Cathe said, "ok, now let's bang out 30 pushups!" after already doing a ton. No way, man! I'm still on my knees for a while.

I'm still not getting the DOMS that I would have expected for my upper body, but I do feel like I'm a lot stronger. I did Back and Triceps yesterday, and just like the pushups, there are an insane amount of chinups/pullups in that workout. Now, I don't do real chinups, because I don't have a chinup bar. My chinups and pullups are done on the weight machine wtih as much weight as I can manage (right now, 50 pounds). They're basically lat pulldowns. It's about the same.

The only bad thing is that I'm seriously dreading the leg workouts. Don't get me wrong, they are working and I feel like they're making me a better runner. They are so hard. I get DOMS very bad and feel pretty worn out after. You'd think with all of the running, my legs would be in better shape! I'm working on it.

Can you believe I only have one more week of mesocycle 1? Crazy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

TIART: Spring Training Tips

This week's Take it and Run Thursday is about Spring Training Tips.  So, here are mine.

  • If you haven't been running in the off season, take it slow getting back into it.  
  • If you've been running on the treadmill exclusively, start with one outdoor run for a couple of weeks, then increase it to two and then three, etc.
  • Pick a race!  Start planning the rest of your year and it will help you get back out there.  It's great to have goals.
  • Sign up with a training group.  I would  not be where I am today if it were not for my friends that I run with. I can't imagine running without them.
  • Go slower than you think you can on your long runs.  Even if you have been doing tons of cross training and short runs in your off season, that doesn't mean that you can suddenly go out and push both pace and distance at the same time.  I've seen so many folks go out and run the first race of the year TOO FAST - they set a PR and did great, but end up injured then or soon after, and that is the only race they run that year.

That's about it.  Honestly, my "off season" isn't all that much different from the rest of the year, except that I run shorter and make decisions on my own rather than with a group.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Review; New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

I tried, guys. I really did. I mean, I read Twilight thinking that it had horrible flaws and had a bad plot, but in general I thought it was ok. It was a page turner. It kept me interested. It was good enough to give me faith that the second book in the series would be better, and that I would enjoy it more.

No, it was worse than the first book. It took all of the aspects that I hated in the first book - the immaturity, the whining about teenage love - it was tripled in this book. I know that there are people that love this series - adults that love this series. I just don't see it. Please, come on and defend it. Tell me what awesome thing I am missing about this book. I wanted to like it, I really did. I did not.

******************************* SPOILERS ************************************

I go on now to just spoil the whole thing because if you're gonna love the Twilight series, then you've read them already and if you aren't going to enjoy it, you won't care if I spoil them.

When we last left Bella and Edward, they were blissfully in love and everything was just perfect with them. So, when the book opens, it's several months later and everything still is just great. Edward throws Bella a birthday party, and all of the vampires are really excited about it because they never get to celebrate birthdays of their own. It all goes horribly wrong though, and Bella basically is nearly eaten by members of Edward's family (yum!). Edward then decides that the best thing to do is to leave Bella, tell her he doesn't love her, and disappear out of her life forever.

If this display of immaturity and decision making on Edward's part was enough, there is more! I mean, in a true adult relationship, Edward and Bella could have talked about things and possibly worked them out. Deception would not have been necessary. However, Edward's maturity level is apparently still 17, even though he's much older than that, really. Bella ends up displaying her own childish traits by becoming nearly catatonic. She doesn't speak to anyone, abandons her friends, and just goes through the motions of life, unable to truly "live" without Edward. She does this for - I kid you not - MONTHS. MONTHS. You know, because that is what we want to be telling our teenage girls - life is nothing without your man!

So, she befriends Jacob Black, who really likes her. She does this because she realizes that when she does truly dangerous things, she can "hear" Edward. She wants Jacob to help her fix up some motorcycles so that she can be a daredevil (and hear Edward) and does increasingly dangerous things in order to hear his voice. All the while, she leads Jacob on and only comes out of her post-Edward funk because of him. This is all because, once again, a girl is not complete without her man. Bella still wanders around like in the first book, with no ambition that doesn't revolve around Edward, and with no real hobbies. If you ask me, Jacob is better for her anyway.

But, I digress. Jacob avoids Bella for a while, and Bella is again distraught. Then - get this - the coincidence of all coincidences - we find out that Jacob has been avoiding Bella because... wait for it... he's a WEREWOLF!!!! OMG. It's better than the sparkling vampires. Get this, too - werewolves HATE vampires. They're mortal enemies of each other! LOL LOL LOL LOL! The ridiculousness of this doesn't end. (And let's not forget that I love Harry Potter, so I hope you see that there is a difference in plot and characters and just everything).

So, after all of this, Bella decides to hear Edward again by jumping off a cliff. Edward's sister thinks she killed herself (as she can see what's going on - that's her "power"), and Edward ends up trying to kill himself, too. It's oh-so-Romeo and Juliet, and Meyer goes so far as to plainly show us this because Bella realizes it herself. I mean, Meyer thinks we don't get it, so she makes it obvious. Did I mention the poor writing? It's all nonsense.

You know what, I don't even feel like summarizing the rest. Suffice it to say that Bella goes and stops Edward, while still putting everybody in danger, and Edward realizes he can't live without her, and Jacob and Edward hate each other, and blah blah blah.

I didn't want to summarize because once I got to that part of the book, it was too much and I just couldn't do it anymore. The book sat on my nightstand for weeks with the bookmark in the Epilogue, and I still couldn't drag myself to just finish the damn thing. It was horrible.

I will not be reading the rest of the series. Somebody help me out and let me borrow copies of that other vampire series.

*** Edited to Add:  Todd brought something up with me that has made me curious.  What happens when Bella is on her period?  Any thoughts?  Is this addressed in a later book?  If not, let's discuss.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hill Training Tonight

Because I have to get some hills in.  Going from home to the nearby double hill (which Todd and I refer to as "Devil's Fork").  Go up and down each of the 2 big hills twice.  Run home again.  Elevation profile:

Hopefully if I run this once a week between now and Frederick, I will be hill-prepared!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The New Facebook

Ok, I don't hate the new Facebook.  I don't like it either.  Count me in as someone who is totally indifferent to it.  It seems to me that all of the things I want to do are there, I just can't get to them as easily.  I want to see my friends' status updates.  I have to click on the "Friends" tab, when before it was just there.  I want to go to Voomaxer to record my runs.  There's a link on the screen that does it, hidden at the bottom as an icon.  It's not where I came to expect it, but it's there.

So, I am getting used to it.  But, I can see that others are not, so I expect it to go the way of Facebook's Terms of Service, which for me were something for me to get more upset about.

It's just the same old BS I'm used to from free websites.

Shamrock 5k 2009

It's amazing that this was my fourth time running this race, especially because I believe I've said on multiple occasions that I would never run it again (also said for the Race for Our Kids, which I have run 3 times now).  This was probably the worst weather of the four times, as it was about 45 degrees or so, with either rain or drizzle for the whole day.  I noticed less spectators this time, which wasn't too surprising.  My own spectator (Todd) ended up staying home also.

I was supposed to meet Kristy and her sister under the Washington Monument at 12:30.  However, I was late getting ready and then I forgot my coupon for $5 parking, and then I was 5 minutes down the road and had to go back for my watch (which I didn't even end up using, but no matter).  So, at 12:30, I was still on 83 trying to get into town.  

I made it to the Pier V parking garage where I'd normally park (and where I had a coupon for), and the guy closed the lot immediately after I entered.  I thought that was a bad sign.  Sure enough, no spaces.  Still, I had to wind all the way to the top of the garage and back down again, waiting for idiots in the process.  At this point, I was thinking that I might not make the start of the race at all.  I went across President Street to another garage and grabbed up my parking ticket, cell phone, race number (not yet attached to me), and a $20 bill and headed out.  It was 12:50pm.  The race was supposed to start at 1:15 and I was no where near the starting line.

I got a good warm up walking to the starting line, sometimes I was even doing a little bit of running.  Plenty of other folks seemed to be late too.  I was nearly hit by a car, thinking that the roads were closed, and a cop was not happy with me.  Then, right at 1:15, I found Kristy and her sister.  The gun went off about a minute later.

The race itself was mostly the same as usual.  That first downhill is awesome, and allows us to go really fast when we're not being trampled or slowed down by other runners.  We ran the first mile in about 10:20, which is an excellent time for me.  I was expecting Kristy to leave me, but she never did, and we did haphazard intervals because she seemed unwilling to do the 45 and 30 second intervals I'd set up, and her own watch was set for the bizarre 2:2 interval time.  We kind of just ran whenever.  

I wasn't trying for a PR, but when we were on Pratt Street in mile 3, I knew it was a possibility.  I wasn't totally sure what our time was, but I knew we were close.  I told Kristy I wanted to run it in, and we did.  We crossed the finish line at the same time, but it wasn't until I got home that I really knew what our time was.

We hung out for a while, I had a couple of beers.  I don't normally do that after a race, but I was in a happy mood with my possible PR and it's always nice to hang with Kristy.  Finally, I headed home to see... a PR!  My previous time was 35:29, set last year at the Shamrock 5k.  This year's time?  An awesome 34:49, finally getting me under the 35 minute mark.

I think I can thank Sean O'Malley for this :)  Is it really any shocker that I'd do well in an Irish race, having a trainer with such an Irish name??  ...  Race Results

Saturday, March 14, 2009

STS System Week 2 in Review

WHEW! I really enjoyed the first week. However, it was more difficult to enjoy week 2 because I knew what was coming. And it was TOUGH! The weird thing is that the time change this year really screwed me up. I ended up doing all of the weight workouts at night, although I still did my runs in the morning.

There isn't a lot more that I can add, just that my legs are really getting a great workout and I can't wait to start seeing some more results!!! :)

Cardio Coach

For those of you who have not heard me rave about Cardio Coach, I want to let everyone know about this terrific workout series.

What you do is download the workouts from  They are in mp3 format, so put them on your iPod and listen to them while you work out.  You can use them on any stationary exercise equipment - so,  elliptical, bike, treadmill, etc.  As you run, your Cardio Coach, Sean O'Malley, tells you to increase your pace or resistance in measured increments.  It is all based on perceived exertion - which means that you can set the levels to anything that works for you.  Levels are:
  • Level 1 (Blue Zone) - For me, this is a walk.  It's a level that would be considered a warm up or a recovery.
  • Level 2 (Green Zone) - This is a light jog for me.  You should be able to work out at this level for  30-60 minutes or more without feeling too tired or winded.  No heavy breathing.
  • Level 3 (Orange Zone) - This is considered a sprint, or a level at which you are working pretty hard.  However, it's not as hard as you can possibly work, and is not anaerobic.
  • Level 4 (Red Zone) - Pushes your anaerobic threshold, this is an all-out sprint or hill climb.  Very tough!
The music is pretty good and inspiring for running and I've found that I cannot step on a treadmill without doing one of these workouts.  Sean does a great job at motivating you to keep going and even though he's not "really" there, I find myself never wanting to let him down.  I work as hard as I can and I know that I get a far better workout using Cardio Coach than I ever would just running along on the treadmill without it.  They are an absolutely necessary part of my training.

Lots of folks have asked me what workouts I recommend.  First off, it is difficult for me to recommend any one over any other.  I like 4, 5 and 6 for their length - I find that 1, 2 and 3 are too short to do for an entire workout and end up repeating some or all of the challenges, and I find that 7 and 8 are too long and I end up cutting them short for any of my reasonable 45 minute workouts.  The workouts get progressively more difficult - so 1 is the easiest and therefore a great place to start.  I think the music is best in 6, 7 and 8, although I love a lot of the music in the rest of the series (5 is more African / tribal, and I always get excited for the gospel music at the end of Volume 1).  Volumes 7 and 8 have a big focus on endurance, as they have very long challenges (I go 21 minutes in Volume 7 without walking, and Volume 8 contains a challenge with two 8 minute hills).  I really love them all.

Right now, Sean is running a special where he is selling the workouts for a super-affordable $4.95 a piece.  Honestly, I'd just buy them all.  This is a terrific deal and certainly the lowest price I've ever seen the workouts going for.  Give them a try, you are sure to love them!

Friday, March 13, 2009


It's the time of year (February through May) when I tend to go back to my old blog posts and see how far I've come with certain things (namely, running and personal relationships).  I came across this gem from 2006, which made me smile at how far I've come with both running itself and being social while running.  :)

Note:  many of my past posts now only appear on my private blog, which you can gain access to if you ask nicely.  That is why there are only a few posts per month pre-2007.  In early 2007, I chose to kind of restart my blog, and moved everything over to the private one.  Occasionally, I will bring a post or two back over to this one, so this is an example of that.  It just so happened that I started getting a lot more readers and felt more comfortable removing some of the more highly personal posts and putting them under password.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

TIART: Only In Running...

This week's Take It And Run Thursday (TIART):
Have you ever noticed that you definition of "acceptable" changes when it comes to your running? Your standards of public dislays of bodily functions lower, you find it acceptable to give bear hugs to sweaty complete strangers who you bonded with in the last mile of a tough race, you easily pay $100+ for a pair of shoes you may wear a few months, and on and on. Share your take of the interesting and peculiar things running brings into our lives.

For me, it's the clothes. I remember my very first run, on a treadmill at a friend's apartment complex gym. I wore a pair of sweatpants and a cotton t-shirt. After all, it horrified me to think that someone might see the fat on my legs jiggle. Let's be honest - I'm not exactly the thin body type that one usually thinks of when picturing a runner or marathoner. Even over four years of running later, I still have quite the jiggle in my thighs. These days, though, and only in running, I wear a singlet and short shorts... Comfort in the summer heat has taken precidence over looking good or hiding the jiggling thighs and arms. Something about running 26.2 multiple times makes me not really feel ashamed of every little body flaw. And, frankly, I've learned that people just don't care.

I've also learned to be totally cool with people who need to use the restroom just about anywhere. Sometimes, there's a real toilet, and sometimes it's just a port-o-potty. A lot of times, it's just a squat in the woods -- and that's ok, I'm here for you! I'm happy to wait or block the road so that passing drivers won't see you!

Finally, very little is off limits. We're a group of people that spend hours together doing nothing but running on a trail. I think I now know my running friends better than anyone else, and I miss them when I don't see them (like this past weekend, when I had to run alone). We talk about everything and anything - from sex to men to bodily functions to running to kids to ... everything, seriously. And what happens on the trial stays on the trail.

That's how it is and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Last Day of My Life

By Phil Vassar

I just left Bobby's house,
The service was today.
Got me thinking about how fragile life is,
As I drove away.
You know, Amy was his only love,
In a moment she was gone, long gone.
It could have been me or you.
Oh baby, there's no time to lose.

So, I'm gonna bring home a dozen roses,
And pour us a glass of wine,
And I'm gonna put on a little music,
And turn down the lights,
And I'm gonna wrap my arms around you,
And rock you all through the night,
And I'm gonna love you,
Like it's the last day of my life.

I drive off when the sun comes up,
I get back when it's gone down.
So much I want to do with you,
But I can't be around.
Well, time has been just like a thief,
It's stolen so much from us,
And once it's gone, we can't make it up,
So tonight, let's get back in touch.

I'm gonna bring home a dozen roses,
And pour us a glass of wine,
And I'm gonna put on a little music,
And turn down the lights,
And I'm gonna wrap my arms around you,
And rock you all through the night,
And I'm gonna love you,
Like it's the last day of my -
Life is a rainbow, it's the spring snow,
It's the morning dew,
And I don't want to waste another minute without you.

So, I'm gonna bring home a dozen roses,
And pour us a glass of wine,
And I'm gonna put on a little music,
And turn down the lights,
And I'm gonna wrap my arms around you,
And rock you all through the night,
And I'm gonna love you,
Like it's the last day of my life.
I'm gonna love you,
Like it's the last day of my life.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cathe's STS System Week 1 in Review

This week, I did the first week of Cathe's STS System. So far, so good. Last weekend, I did my 1 Rep Max for each exercise and discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was. The big problem that I have with 1 Rep Max is that sometimes for legs, I can't lift the weights over my head in order to attempt to find the 1RM. In other words, I either need to use a squat rack or increase my upper body strength enough to be able to lift the weights.

The weights problem wasn't too bad though, because this week I did many of the legs exercises with no weight at all. A lot of the legs exercises worked out only one leg at a time, or used body weight in order to be more safe but still be really, really hard. In fact, doing legs yesterday really kicked my ass.

As for the other two workouts? Well, they were divided into one video for chest, shoulders & biceps and the other for back & triceps. They were both tough and it felt good to hear Todd say that it was the first time he'd really, really seen me work at weights. Indeed, I've been cheating myself out of a good weight workout for years.

DOMS weren't quite as bad as I expected for upper body.  Legs, though....  OUCH.  For the first few hours, I felt it a little, but then during the night last night, I turned over in the bed and I barely could move!  So sore.  But, it's a good sore that means I'm working hard.  

For those that know the workouts, instead of paper plates, I used furniture movers.  For the exercises where I had to get all the way to the floor to pick up and put down weights...  Well, that didn't happen.  I couldn't get down deep enough at all.  For some of them, I held the weights the whole time and for others I didn't use weight.

This was the first week of mesocycle 1, which basically means 4 weeks with a particular focus. Mesocycle one is focused on muscle endurance. Three more weeks, and then I get to take a week off before starting mesocycle 2.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

We're Famous!

If you go here and watch the photo at the top of the screen, you will see Todd & me on the dive boat heading out to dive. I believe it was taken the day before Thanksgiving. You might need to reload a few times to get us to show up - there is a random image that shows each time you reload.

The Top 7 Most Klutz-Like Things I've Ever Done

  1. In Little Cayman in July, 2007, I'd had a couple gin & tonics when I decided to go to the bathroom (which was in its own building nearby).  Stumbling there in the dark, I missed the small cactus that was in the way and ended up kicking it with my right foot.  I went back to the dinner table to show todd my leg, which had cactus spines sticking out of it from my toes up to my knee.
  2. In middle school, I was pretty much on the phone non-stop.  One day while talking for hours with a friend, I was messing with some play-dough, molding it into the phone receiver.  It all got stuck inside and she couldn't hear me anymore.  My thought was that if I dried out the play dough, it would shrink and I could simply shake it out of the phone.  So, I sat the receiver on top of the halogen lamp in my room (you know, the kind that was later recalled for fire hazard).  I turned my back and the light started dimming, and when I turned back around, flames were coming from the lamp.  I grabbed the receiver, now totally engulfed in flames, and ran into the bathroom to run it under water.  It was charred and melted, but I'm fairly certain that the play dough dried out.
  3. At UMBC, we would do this thing called "Flipping our beds" which basically flipped the head and foot boards of the bed so that the bed would be high off the ground (which allowed you to store things underneath).  My bed was flipped sophomore year when my alarm went off, and I reached down to the floor to turn it off.  I fell out of bed onto the concrete floor and landed flat on my big toe, fracturing it.  My doctor told me he'd never seen anyone break a bone falling out of bed, but X-Rays don't lie.
  4. At my tenth birthday party, we went to a mini golf course.  Somewhere during the game, I decided to wash off my ball in a little fountain that spilled into a pond.  The sides of the pond were slippery and I slipped and fell in.  The pond was DISGUSTING - filled with dirt and algae, and I was covered in green and brown gook from head to toe for the rest of the party.
  5. In Bonaire in May, 2007, I decided to test my theory about diving with hair wet from fresh water keeping the salt from penetrating the hairs.  I turned on the water and filled a glass so that I could just pour it over my head (not wanting to take a full shower).  The water heated up to very hot very fast and I failed to notice, so it was SCALDING when I poured it on my head.  I screamed and succeeded in burning my scalp.
  6. In the eighth grade, I had been listening to music in my room and decided to head downstairs.  I was still singing to myself and dancing when I missed the top step and slid down the entire flight of stairs on my back.  I injured my tailbone and had trouble sitting for weeks.
  7. In the fourth grade on a trip to Dallas, my parents took me through a drive through zoo.  The zoo gave us pellets to feed the animals, and it was a lot of fun, but the monkeys were caged and wouldn't eat the pellets, but seemed to be begging for food.  In their infinite wisdom, my parents gave them packets of jelly that my mom had stashed in her purse for some unknown reason (if it was free, we took it!).  The monkeys fought over the jellies and eventually we ran out and my parents started giving them sticks of gum.  I realize this whole thing is horrible, but seemed ok at the time.  Well, the monkeys got mean and started fighting over the gum.  My parents started fighting in the front seat over the whole monkey-feeding gum process.  Suddenly, one monkey grew impatient and grabbed me by my hair (through the bars of the cage) and pulled my head into the car door.  I screamed and started crying.  This was all caught on video - me crying and saying "A monkey pulled my hair!"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Review: Wii Fit

I purchased a Wii Fit a few weeks ago and thought I'd post a review for those of you who might be interested in purchasing one for yourself. Overall, I like it a lot, but I don't think it is for everyone.

The biggest misconception about this "game" is that it is going to help everyone lose tons of weight. In general, I don't really think this is the case. But before I talk about why, I'm going to go over each part of the software and what I think of it:

  • The Fit Test. First, and at its simplest, it will weigh you and test your balance. Reporting is done in terms of BMI, although you can view actual weight as well. You can add a new Wii Channel just to take the Fit test without having to have the Wii Fit CD in the Wii, which I think is the best part of this. It's a great, easy way to keep track of your weight and one of the best features about the entire Wii Fit package. You can view a graph of your weight and BMI, as well as set goals. The major downside of this is that it insists on saying "You're overweight!" every single time that it weighs me, even if I've lost a bunch. I find this highly irritating. Some people have told me that they hate how it makes your Mii fat based on your weight, but for whatever reason, I don't have a problem with that one. It's just a cartoon. The only other downside that I have of this is that if you gain weight (even a little), it will ask you some dumb questions about why. "I have my period" or "I'm weighing in right after a big dinner" is not an option. If you want to proceed further into the fit test, it will test your balance in a number of different activities, which I don't find as useful, but can be very fun. At the end, it will give you your "Wii Fit Age," based off of the test, and you can also track this. There are folks that I know that have purchased the Wii Fit only for the Fit Test Feature, and it's a great one!
  • Yoga. Wii Fit contains a bunch of Yoga moves, which you do along with a "trainer." The trainer will lead you through the move, demo it, and offer you feedback. As you progress through the moves, it will unlock options for more difficult moves and variations. This is one of the main things that I bought the Wii Fit for, and so far have been enjoying it. The trainer can get irritating, but not excessively so. The downside is that it can be hard for the game to really know how you are doing. Sometimes, I am struggling, but it really doesn't know because of the limits of the Wii Balance Board. Still, it can be a nice way to get some yoga in or learn yoga.
  • Strength Training. I admit, I haven't done a whole lot of the strength exercises so far. What I can tell you is that the moves are very similar to what you find in Yoga, in that you follow with a trainer and receive feedback. The moves are more difficult than yoga. While I think there are some moves that might train and improve some muscles and core, if you are looking for a real strength building exercise, this isn't it. Videos with weights would be a much better investment. However, if you are just starting out or very out of shape, this is an excellent way to start, assuming you can keep up with doing it consistently.
  • Cardio Exercises. This is a series of games (the trainer is not involved) that are designed to get your heart pumping. With the exception of the running segment (running in place, of course), I haven't found them to be intense enough for me, but still are a lot of fun for something extra to do. I've gotten a slight obsession with Super Hula Hoop and do that one a lot. Basically, you just stand on the balance board and move your hips in a circle to hula hoop. There is a boxing segment that uses the nun chuck, and a step aerobics part, which is slow and kind of boring. As for the running? Well, it is certainly not a replacement for regular running, but is a nice way to start. If you can keep up with this and are not in shape, this is another excellent way to get started with exercise. However, it might be difficult to keep with it because the exercises are, quite frankly, boring (except Super Hula Hoop). In shape folks may find them fun in an off day, and at least it's better than sitting on the couch.
  • Balance Games. Like cardio, this is a series of games where the trainer is not involved. It is a bunch of things to test and work your balance, including skiing games, tightrope walking, and others. Todd and I have been competing at this and I find some of them to be really hard. I think they're pretty fun and it's nice to try and get a high score. I'm not sure if I am really seeing any kind of benefit from doing them or if my balance is really improving, though. While they are fun, I just don't know what I get out of it besides pride at being better than Todd at ski jumping.
  • Wii Fit Points. As you work on the Wii Fit, it keeps track of the minutes that you spend actually doing an activity. These translate into Wii Fit Points, and can be used to unlock new games, yoga poses, and strength exercises. It's nice to see how they really add up, and this can be a motivation factor.

I think this is a good purchase for those of us who are in shape, provided you think you might want the Wii Fit for either its weight tracking capabilities or its yoga and balance tests and exercises. It will definitely not substitute for any intense cardio or weight training session, and would only serve as something fun to supplement your current workout routine. This is what I'm using it for, anyway. I have a hard time finding value in the balance workouts, but do enjoy doing them anyway, and the yoga is nice.

To those who are not currently exercising or are not in shape, I think it really depends on your goal. If you think you would be motivated to use the Wii Fit because it is a game, it might be good for you. However, if you are not necessarily into video games or working out in front of the TV, I would skip it. It's not a magic pill and what you do with the Wii Fit is still going to require effort. However, I can see that the feedback that it gives and the tracking of Fit Points might be good motivation. Definitely, if your goal is to lose weight, you will have to do a LOT of the cardio exercises (which, like I said, can get very boring), and you will have to really work on your diet as well. So, like every other fitness purchase, it's only going to work if you actually use it and also eat sensibly. I can certainly see that people are buying a Wii Fit and never using it, so the motivation has to be there in the first place.

I'm happy with the Wii Fit and will continue to use it. If it sounds like it will fit your needs, definitely check it out, as it is not bad to have!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

TIART: Common Mistakes and Cardinal Sins of Running

The topic for Today's Take It And Run Thursday (TIART)* is "Common mistakes and cardinal sins of running."

My biggest mistake and misconception that I've made since starting running was to take in the false belief that I could eat whatever I want when I'm training for a distance race.  When I first started training for a marathon in 2006, I was going through a personal crisis and had taken several weeks off prior to the start of training.  I assumed that I could eat what I wanted during that period because certainly those pounds would just fly off of me once I started training for a marathon!  

So not true.

At the end of a long run, I would come home and do two things for the rest of the day - sleep and eat.  I felt like I'd run 20 miles, so I could do whatever my body wanted me to do, and my body wanted me to eat a full pan of brownies!  The five pounds that I gained during the few weeks of break time before marathon training turned into 25 pounds of added weight by the time Marine Corps came along.  That first marathon is still my PR, but I am certain that I would have had a better time if I had not chosen such poor eating choices.

Since then, I've learned what to eat and how to control my eating.  Still, though, I have trouble once those long runs get longer than about 15 miles, when the hunger sets in.  Half marathons are certainly easier for controlling weight, but for my next marathon, I will not make those same mistakes again.

*I'm going to try participating in this, since I've been having trouble coming up with blog topics on my own, lol.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Snug-Rail!

My work is directly across the street from the Light Rail.  As I am sure you can imagine, this produces some interesting characters.  This morning, as I rolled into my work parking lot, I spotted a guy walking to the light rail.  What was unusual about him?  He was wearing a snuggie .  It could have been a slanket or something else .  It might have even just have been some sort of cape-like thing.  It was red.  He was carrying a laptop bag, and he looked like he might frequent renaissance festivals, so maybe it was a wizard's cape.  I wish I had gotten a photo, and the work folks are now mocking me for not making use of my TwitPic account.  Hopefully, I will see him again.  Fingers crossed for a photo next time!  

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cathe's STS System

On Thursday, I ordered Cathe's STS System. I've been working out and doing weights, but I have been having difficulty choosing my weights. When I used to do a lot of weight workouts (circa 2005), it didn't matter too much to me whether or not I was choosing the right weights - I wore a heart rate monitor each day and burning calories was really my overall goal. Now, though, I no longer wear the monitor, I want to get more toned and see visible results, and I want to gain strength for running. More and more, Cathe's DVDs have not been helping me out as my goals have changed.

So, I picked up a book. It's called The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Running. I put together a workout scheme, but I know I have issues with this type of strength training. Mainly, if I am not following a video or class, I have trouble staying motivated. I really need someone there right with me, helping me count, encouraging me, etc.

Todd's suggestion was a personal trainer. And yeah, I've thought about a million times about getting a personal trainer, but I honestly cannot justify the cost. I'd be looking at the neighborhood of $60-90 per session and I'd need to do 1-3 sessions per week. That is just so expensive, and is money that would be better spent on some other service, like a maid. So, I refused.

The next best thing, I decided, was to give the STS System a try. What is it? Well, it's an intense workout program that uses the 1 Rep Max system to help me to select a weight that is right for me for each exercise. It uses a different video each day, 3 days per week, for 3 1/2 months. It's a total of 40 DVDs. It's a lot, but I think it will be worth it.

I spent the weekend trying to find my 1 Rep Max for each exercise, and I'm ready to get started when my kit arrives. Tuesday is the day! I'll be done around mid-June, which will be just in time for our trip to Little Cayman...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Biggest Loser Marathon LIE

This absolutely infuriates me... 'Biggest Loser' issues a marathon apology for misleading viewers

Ok, so basically, at the end of the show last week, when Dane was voted off, they showed him and his wife completing a marathon. His time? 3:53.

Keep in mind, that is faster than Oprah, Todd, Davida, and many many other marathoners who are much more experienced than this guy, and he did it at 300 pounds. Impressive? Well, sort of UNBELIEVABLE.

So, as it turns out, a lot of folks started posting on the internet that they were at that particular marathon, and he didn't really finish. And now, NBC issued an apology for misleading viewers, stating that Dane ran 17 miles, then was given a 3 mile ride in a van, then ran the rest in, crossing the finish line at the 3:53 mark. He said he was worried about crossing in the 6 hour timelimit:

I always intended to run the full marathon. At the 17th mile, I knew I would not make it in time to cross the finish line before it closed at 6 hours, so I then received a ride from the field producer, who wanted to show me crossing the finish line. He drove me for three miles, and then I ran the rest of the way. After all the filming was done I went back and finished the last 3 miles later that day with my wife and cousin Blaine. I apologize for stating that I ran the entire marathon before I actually ran the whole 26 miles. I am proud of the feat of just running 26 miles in one day.
Whatever, dude. The show showed you saying how excited you were to have completed an entire marathon...
"It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life to run side by side with my wife for an entire marathon."
You said that ON CAMERA, KNOWING that you HAD NOT completed a marathon. Maybe I should have known just by the lack of a medal around your neck (Edited to add: He DID have a medal around his neck, I was just distracted and missed it. In fact, he is now saying how much he will cherish that medal... That he got by cheating. That isn't his, and that he should give back, quite frankly).

I am very disappointed. When you don't finish a marathon, whether due to injury or fatigue or hitting the wall or time limit, you don't cross the finish line. DO NOT CROSS THE FINISH LINE if you didn't run the whole thing. What a disgrace.

Even better, though, apparently the finish line clock actually said 5:53. Which makes sense, because even if you're driven 3 miles, that 3 miles won't get you from "I can't get under 6 hours" to "I did a sub-four hour race, and am getting close to qualifying for Boston." LIES! You're going to tell me that all of this was just an honest mistake and not a deliberate lie? Bullshit.

So, Dane. Here is some advice. If you know your pace and you're 300 pounds and running your first marathon, don't register for a race that apparently is in blazing sun in the middle of a desert and has a 6 hour time limit. Use your head. Register for Disney, or Rock n' Roll Arizona, or something that is a course that you can complete within the time limit without telling lies about your time.

What a dick.

By the way, here is a full account taken from's site:

Dane's wife is a liar. A cheater AND a liar. I just read Melancholy Smile's page but let me clarify a bit. Here's the entire story I detailed soon after the race. This was given to the timing company and the RD who DQ'd the couple.

Desert Classic is an out-and-back run entirely on the eight foot wide or less shoulder of West Bell Road from Riverboat Village. It's also a teeny tiny marathon so you not only see everybody at least once and know where you're positioned, but if you're a regular on the circuit you know a lot of those people. I knew over half of the field. I opted for early start and finally we started in the dark.

Within three miles I fell in the road. The pain from that, coupled with my boredom of the course, made me give up at mile 9. Especially when the sun came up and all I could see was the same mountain range on either side, and cone after cone after cone. From that point on I ran 5 minutes and then walked to the next mile marker. Long day but hey, if you can move you can finish. Even if that finish is bad.

I hit the turnaround at 13.1 and knew I had a lock on DFL because all early starters were ahead of me, but to verify this lock I began counting the people and noting how far behind me they were as they made their way to the turnaround on the out as I ran the back. At 13.5 or so I saw a big guy and a little itty bitty woman in black Biggest Loser shirts. I thought two things: 1) "Hmmm, those shirts look like the real deal" and 2) "That guy looks familiar". I figured, given how tiny the woman was, that they'd signed up online for the show's nationwide challenge and that I'd seen the guy on the road somewhere. Including these 2 people, there were exactly 6 people behind me. One woman later passed me. No one else did. (The results, after I subtract the early starters, verify my count as correct.)

During mile 23 I was battling insanity from boredom and when I saw two black shirts in the distance I thought, "No, that can't be them ... they never passed me and were behind on the out as I was on the back." But again, it was a small race, so you knew everybody if only by clothing and they had been the only people in black (later confirmed by fellow runners). Curious, I struggled to catch up with them.

Imagine my surprise when I caught them at the mile 24 marker and they were looking rested. And it WAS them. At first I was confused but then I knew they had cheated. And I was so flabbergasted at how blatant their cheating was that I looked at them and directly asked if they'd gotten a ride. Because if they really were there legitimately, they would have had a 2:25 half split and then were at M24 at 5:07-ish. I was going really slow but my splits had been consistent after I started walking. No way they could be there, WITHOUT PASSING ME, because to have fallen that off pace at the end they would have had to have flown past me. Plus dude was big. Would have noticed that, too, and I also would have said hi to them just as I'd done with each and every person that passed me throughout the race. The woman also admitted they'd stopped "for a while" for a break.

So yes, I flat out asked them if they'd gotten a ride. The man joked that they'd slid past me. I told him no, that was impossible on this course. "Dude, you and I both know you didn't get to this point on your own power. You only cheated yourself. But trust me, from experience, it means a lot when you actually finish a marathon after covering the WHOLE distance." I then left them behind to finish and end the day.

I asked an aid station volunteer if there was any other way this could have happened. She said only if they were relay people running legs 2 and 4 with faster people running legs 1 and 3, but this wasn't the case. I finished to a sea of black t-shirts with the team name on them. When I saw the camera crew (either from the show of the local network, I'm not sure) I knew it was the real deal. All of a sudden it struck me ... oh my god, that cheater is a contestant on the black team on the current show! This is the team my husband and I are - well, now, WERE - currently rooting for on the show despite their shadiness. One guy later said he'd saw them get dropped off at mile 20 by a white van. No one who finished within an hour before me recalled getting passed by them ("You know what? No, they DIDN'T pass me!") But all recalled passing the black team.

Postrace I made sure the team supporters, including Blaine who didn't run, knew that they had cheated, and I told some race officials. One of their entourage offered the excuse of them having to make the cutoff. "What do they do then?" Well, lady, they do what everybody else has ever done and take a DNF. Duh.

I said to the camera crew, "I hope you don't intend on using that footage of cheaters on the show", which they'd taken as he and she crossed the finish line and took their medals. The camera guy, with a very pissed off look on his face, asked me, "Why do you care? What does it matter to anyone?" which makes me think dude's from the show.

I said, after the day from hell I'd had, "It matters to me because I've earned every medal I've received and some days, like today, I didn't quit when I really felt like doing so. And I'm sure it matters to the people STILL OUT ON THE COURSE WHO COVERED THE WHOLE DISTANCE." A few more runners nodded in agreement before I left the finish area.

This really irks me. Especially because I know people who need to be on that show yet have been turned down, and because the fundamental message of that show is "Hard work, not shortcuts." I mean, really, what would Jillian and Bob say?

The race timer later sent out an email stating results were posted. I replied with an abbreviated version of the above. He responded that their results were removed, DQ'd, which the RD confirmed. I've seen a lot of things at races. People cutting courses short, by "missing" turns and such. While I knew they were cheating, their explanation was somewhat plausible so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. But there is no doubt here. They could not have gotten ahead of me without passing me on an out and back course. I still can't believe someone would do that, especially with nothing but pride and personal achievement on the line.

The show still could have put a spin on it to say "yes, he didn't finish but look how far he got, with such a short amount of preparation time" and then done a follow up story the next year for even bigger PR. But what really pissed me off? When I told the guy I knew he'd cheated he laughed. I would think someone who was under pressure to "make the story" would be a bit frazzled from that pressure, but he just laughed. I don't know who drove the van. I saw the pair chatting with people in it at mile 22, but I don't know if it was TV crew or one of their supporters. I do know that there were no TV people on the course (they were only at the finish line). Though I don't know if he had a cell or whatever to chat with whomever.

So yeah, I told anyone who would listen at that finish line after cheater had accepted his medal that he had cheated. I then got in my car and drove away.
OMG, I would have been so pissed.

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