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Thursday, April 30, 2009

STS Week 9 In Review

After 3 weeks of upper body workouts that were well over 60 minutes each, it was different to have all 3 workouts this week be under 50 minutes.  We did drop sets for upper body (and stuck with the tri sets for lower), and as a result, there weren't the long 60 second breaks between every single set.  These workouts just flew by.  I admit, though, that while I like drop sets for how fast they are, I don't feel like I was getting quite as good of a workout as I was with some of the other methods this month.  Maybe I'm just getting stronger?  Who knows.

I'm up to 80% of my 1 Rep Max on weights, which is pretty incredible.  I'm lifting 35-40 pounds on many exercises (such as chest press), which makes it tough for me to lift the bar.  So, I'm strongly considering purchasing Cathe's Power Tower, but that's not really going to help me out with anything until late in the year.  Dammit!

Tuesday morning when I did legs, I felt super-strong, so I'm really hoping that all of this lifting is going to make for a wonderful race on Sunday.  Sadly, I have to work Friday night until very early Saturday morning, so that is going to put a little kink in my pre-race preparation.  I'm dreading Friday night like a root canal - not because I dislike working or I'm not willing to be there, just that I feel like I should be resting on Friday night in order to have a great race on Sunday.

Here's a weird thing:  I have a race on Sunday, and I always take the week following a major race off from running.  So, no running until May 9.  This week is also the end of mesocycle 2, and Cathe requires a week off from weight training between mesocycles..........  So, I have NOTHING TO DO next week.  What do I do?  I can't really do NOTHING, as I'd blow up like a balloon, but I think I'll take the week to do some walking workouts on the treadmill (and maybe outside) and also do some step workouts and such.  It's killing me that I can't go to the pool and start swimming until the end of May.  This time next month I'll be in the pool, though, so I can count on having that for my break after mesocycle 3.

That's What She Said!!!

Overheard in the last 15 minutes or so outside my cubicle at work:

  • "But I'm going to pull it out the same way that you put it in."
  • "Are you even trying?"
  • "But, it's really  hard!"
  • "You should be riding this thing by now."
  • "Let's make a pyramid."
  • "But, I'm trying to pound this."
  • "Is this why they call it a grease monkey?"
  • "You're going to get that on your pants!"
  • "But, she doesn't like sand in her panties!"

No, I will not provide context.

Note: I'm still updating this list.  The shenanigans are still happening!

TIART: Finding the Time

This week's Take it and Run Thursday theme is ... Time and Balance.  One of the continuing challenges we hear from runners is finding the time to run and balance running with all the other priorities in our lives.  How do you do it?  What are one or two things you have found that help you find time or make time for your runs.  What do you struggle with in balancing what you want to do with your running with all you "need" to do? 

It is true, running is time-consuming.  It can be hard to fit everything in, but if you make running a priority, you will find that you do have the time.  Here are some simple rules to follow to be sure that you can always find time to run.

Rule #1: Running Comes First
For weekday runs, I am happiest if running is the very first thing that I do in the morning.  You will find that if you get that run finished before work, things are so much happier for the rest of the day.  If not, though, do the next best thing - make sure running is the first thing that you do when you walk in the door from work.  If I can't get a run finished in the morning, I definitely have to do it first thing when I get home.  The longer you wait, the more excuses you can make to back out of it.

What about long runs?  Well, again, I like to get them finished first thing - early Saturday morning.  Then, it's over and done with and you can get on with the rest of your weekend.  The longer I wait on a Saturday to get in a run, or the longer I wait in the weekend, well, that's bad.

Rule #2: You Have The Time
Trust me, you have the time.  Think about all of the time you waste each day - sitting and watching television or surfing the internet.  Think about the extra 15 minutes that you didn't need to sleep today.   Think about all of the little bits and pieces during your day where you do nothing...  You can certainly find 45-60 minutes in which to run.  I know you can.

Rule #3: Commit to What You Can Handle
The longer the race, the more of a time commitment you're going to have to train for it.  So, don't sign up to run a marathon if you think you can't find the time to do a 4-6 hour long run a couple times in the months leading up to it.  Seems like a no-brainer, but as a group leader, you'd be surprised how often people drop out of the program because of other commitments that they'd signed up for before signing up for training.  Of course, if they'd followed Rule #1, it wouldn't be a problem, now would it? :)

Rule #4: Find a Group Or Buddy
How does this sound - get up at 6:30am or so on a Saturday to drive 40 minutes to the trail to run 10 miles in 15 degree temperatures.  Horrible???  Well, there's nothing that makes me more likely to actually follow through and do it than if I have a few people meeting me there.  If you have someone who is depending on you to show up for your run, you will go.  Just find a group, and all of the other problems will disappear!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

OMG OMG!

I had this dream.  THIS DREAM!

I had this dream a few weeks ago.  I was in school.  It was in the computer science building at UMBC (well, the way the computer science building was circa 2000).  I hadn't been to class.  I didn't know what was going on.  It was a math class.  There was an exam coming.  I didn't know what was going on because I hadn't been attending class.  I went to my next class, which was English and there was an exam THAT DAY and I hadn't read the book.  I was freaking out.  Then, I walked across campus all weirded out and went to my dorm room in Chesapeake.  I felt like everyone else knew what was going on.  I think Wacky Neighbor was in my math class and Mary and Cheryl were in the English Class.  It was weird.

Anyway, that comic just made me think of that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring Gardening

We spent this past weekend doing a ton of yardwork and got a lot done.  I planted my plants in pots and Todd worked on a deck project.

Todd is excited about gardening.
From Random Photos 2009


Dianthus
From Random Photos 2009
I had ordered a bunch of Cascadia Petunias online (I'll review the nursery at another time).  They didn't exactly come as I expected, but I think they'll perk up quite a bit as time goes on. They're supposed to turn out something like these, but I don't know if I bought enough to get that effect.  I'll have to keep them maintained and we'll see what we get.  I'll post photos of the petunias later, they are definitely not impressive right now.  

I didn't have enough plants to fill all of the pots.  I did two pots like the one above - with a spike and a vinca vine and Dianthus.  This is my first year with dianthus, so we'll see how they turn out.  

My corner garden
From Random Photos 2009

From Random Photos 2009

The photo above the fruit of my hard labor in the fall.  I planted mums and pansies in the fall and then around the mums, placed tulip bulbs.  The mums bloomed until we got to winter.  A few weeks ago, the pansies perked up (except one right in the front), and the tulips came up!  They look awesome and beautiful and it's made it very nice to drive up to the house, as it's the first thing you see.  I'll be pulling the pansies out within the next couple of weeks and putting in a summer annual.  The mums are already coming up in the middle of the tulips.

Trojan the Rubber Plant
From Random Photos 2009

I did some indoor plant maintenance, repotting Trojan the Rubber Plant (if you click that link, you can see how small he was just a year ago).  Thus far, The Bug hasn't taken any interest in Trojan (although he's brutally attacked Seamus twice).  Just in case, I covered his soil with polished river stones, as you can see in the photo.  That will hopefully keep The Bug from digging around in the pot.  I also hope he won't knock the whole thing over.  Regardless, both Trojan and Seamus are safely locked away and The Bug only has access to them when he is supervised.

The Bug is on high alert
From Random Photos 2009


Speaking of The Bug, he has really been enjoying the warm weather and spent a lot of time observing us on our chores.

From Random Photos 2009

From Random Photos 2009
So, what was Todd up to while I was planting?  Well, he was digging out the area below the deck and covering it with a layer of pebbles.  It really makes a HUGE difference and looks awesome.  We're thinking of placing some pots in the ground in the stones and planting Hostas or another shade plant.    Here's a question - would you bury the pots and plant the Hostas or would you set the pots on the ground?  Would you plant Hostas or something else?

I'd like to get some hanging planters and find somewhere to hang them as well.  We have some other big plans for the yard this year, but I think right now it's coming along nicely.

Monday, April 27, 2009

STS Week 8 In Review

I can't believe I only have one more week of Mesocycle 2!  This week for upper body, Cathe had me do "back off sets," for which there is a lengthy explanation, but to me it just seemed like we did a ton of sets of each exercise - 6 on each.  

There isn't a whole lot of new things to add about this week.  DOMS were about average, and things are feeling good.  I can feel a difference in my arms, but I can't say that I can really see a difference at this point.  My running is going well, though.

I've been thinking ahead to what I am going to do once I'm done with STS.  I'll be finishing up the last week of mesocycle 3 around June 6 or 7, and then I will be taking a week off (because it's required), so technically I'll be finished around the 14th of June.  I've been thinking of taking a few weeks after that of light "maintenance" weight training on my upper and lower body, and then after I return from Little Cayman (in July), I will start up STS again.  However, I will only do upper body.  I'll still weight train my lower body, but on a much lighter basis than what I'm doing now.  Who knows, though, I might end up doing the lower body also - that would get me into October or so and then I'll definitely have to back off before the Disney marathon.

Pool time is coming!  I have been impatiently waiting for our pool membership to start.  It doesn't start until the end of May, but there are only a few more weeks!

I'm also in my taper for the Frederick Half Marathon, which is very cool.  And Galloway training is starting up again!  Awesome, I love summer.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another Trip Down Memory Lane

This is the post that I wrote after my very first visit to Fleet Feet.  It's frickin' hilarious!

Looking back, it was pretty impressive that I went to this event at Fleet Feet where I knew basically no one.  I had never stepped into that store before.  I was terrified of it!  I think I spent a whole lot of time just hanging around, not really talking to anyone.  I had to wait to get fitted for the bra, and the person who fitted me had quit working there by the time I really got to know folks at the store.  

I also remember seeing Davida for the first time, and if you have met Davida, you know that she is unforgettable.  Davida and others were all gathering around, talking about marathon training.  Marathon training?!  Who DOES THAT?  It seemed like a huge, major commitment, and I was both jealous and not interested all at once!  LOL.

Anyway, read on.

Monday, April 20, 2009

STS Week 7 In Review

This was a really low motivation week for me.  So, I did the first upper body workout on Monday.  Awesome.  I decided to do the legs workout on Tuesday, since I'd been so sore the previous week and I had a long run scheduled for Saturday.  Fine.

I was supposed to run Wednesday and Thursday and do my second upper body workout on Friday, but I ended up taking Wednesday and Friday off and running hills on Thursday.  I ran 13 miles on Saturday and finally got the upper body workout in on Sunday, but I know putting more than 7 days between my weight workouts for each body part is a mistake.  Still, whatever I can do to get them in when I'm feeling like that.

I know that the solution is to workout in the mornings, so I am trying to get that in line.  I got up early this morning and ran 3 1/2 miles before work.  I am feeling pretty good about that.  There's only 4 days left in the work week, lol!

About the workouts themselves - well, there were less DOMS this week, although I still felt it.  We increased weights to 75% of my 1 Rep Max, which was easier than I would have expected it to be.  The only bad thing was that I dropped my barbell on my pelvis after I finished a set of chest press.  It hit on my left side, and was loaded with 35 pounds.  It was not too  bad though, I must have caught it better than I thought.  Clearly, I was truly at total failure!!  

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Old Man in the Starbucks

The morning of the Jeff Galloway Running School, a weird thing happened.  A couple of us went down to Starbucks to get something to eat since the school wasn't serving breakfast.  We walked in and an older gentleman yelled over to us, "Hey, what is that class going on down there?"

WTF?

First of all, I don't know how he even knew there was a class going on.  Secondly, I don't know this guy.  Third, it's not even 7am on a Saturday and I really don't feel like having a conversation with a stranger. I replied that it was about running, and since I didn't want the conversation to continue, I became immediately absorbed in deciding on what type of breakfast item I would be purchasing.  I ended up getting a yogurt parfait.  Then, I waited for my friend.

The man was not to be deterred.  He stood up and came over to me and tapped me on my shoulder.  "Running class?  That is ridiculous!  Who needs a class for running?  That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of!"

Now, let's keep in mind that I didn't pay for the running school.  I was, in fact, quite skeptical of the idea of a running school and what Jeff could possibly be teaching me, but since it was free, I thought I'd take advantage.  However, why in the world would this stranger, whom I had never seen before, come up to me and start lecturing me on the advantages and disadvantages of what I was doing with my time?  The only thing he knew, presumably, was that there was a running school.  No other details.

So, I asked if he was a runner.  "YES!" he responded.  No way this guy was a runner.  He went on a rant again, telling me how much of a waste of time running school is.  I was, quite frankly, flabbergasted.  

I realized that speaking further to him was a waste of time, and I really had no desire to either defend myself or argue with him.  I was late getting back to the store already and this guy was clearly not only rude, but also argumentative for no reason.  So, I told him, "Well, thank you for your commentary.  I certainly wanted to know how you felt about it."

He grumbled some more about my stupidity and headed towards the back of the Starbucks, presumably to the men's room.  That's when I made my escape.

Is that not the weirdest thing ever?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jeff's Lessons

Last weekend, I attended a couple of sessions with Olympian Jeff Galloway (who also is the creator of the Galloway Training Program, in which I am a group leader).  I've met Jeff before - several times, in fact.  Still, it is always nice to hear him speak.  He has a lot of helpful tips for his runners, and he always has a few uplifting and inspiring stories to share.

Friday evening, we had a meet and greet with Jeff, where we he talked about the training program and what is involved.  This was followed by a Saturday morning "Running School," which was a more intense session where Jeff went over a lot of tips and pointers for running.

Here are a few takeaways from both sessions:

Speed on Your Long Runs
You can never go too slow on your long runs.  People seem to never, ever, ever, listen to me when it comes to this rule, so let me say it again - you can never go too slow on your long runs.  What is a long run?  Any run that is longer than you've run at any other time in the last 2 weeks.  Did you run 18 miles last week?  Then, your 10 mile run this week isn't considered a "long run."  Did you run 12 miles last week and 7 miles the next?  Then yes, your 15 mile run this week is a long run and you shouldn't push the pace.

It is SO FRUSTRATING to be a group leader and have people complain to me that we aren't going fast enough.  How do you know what your pace should be?  Run a magic mile.  Once you do that, plug it into Jeff's calculator.  Let's use an example.  Let's say you do a 10 minute magic mile.  You should be able to do a 12:00 pace for a half marathon and a 13:00 pace for a full marathon.  Ok?  Now, what should your training pace be?  You should train at 2 minutes slower than your race pace.  So, if you are doing a long run and you are training for a half marathon at a 12:00 pace, you should be training at 14 minutes per mile.  Do you hear that, running group??  And that is only under ideal conditions.

Guess what?  I've been running my group at a 14 minute pace.  They don't like it.  There are other groups, go run with them.  14 minutes is even actually too slow a lot of the time, as we should also be running 30 seconds slower per mile for every 5 degrees over 60.  So, those 85 degree days?  We should be almost walking our long runs.  (I tend to keep it no slower than 15:30, it can be pretty tough to go slower than that)

If you are pushing pace and distance on any run at the same time...  you are asking for injury.  Plain and simple.  Don't believe me?  Just wait.

Intervals
I started training in 2006 at a 2:1 interval and in 2008 I switched to a 1:30 & 1.  Here are Jeff's intervals:
8 min/mi—run 4 min/walk 35 seconds
9 min/mi— 4 min run-1 min walk
10 min/mi—-3:1
11 min/mi—2:30-1
12 min/mi—-2:1
13 min/mi—-1:1
14 min/mi—30 sec run/30 sec walk
15 min/mi—30 sec/45 sec
16 min/mi—30 sec/60 sec
What does this mean?  That means that based on your projected pace that day, that is the interval you should be running.  If you are planning to run a 14 minute pace, you should be doing 30:30s.  I am willing to do this if my group is for it, or to switch to 1:1s, but I know my group, and I know they're not going to go for it.  Never fear, fair group, I will be switching down to 1:1s at some point this year, trust me.

What about Speed though?
You should be working on your speed training on your short (weekday) runs and on your non-long run weekends.  Track work.  Repeats.  Hills.  You know the drill.  If I could only get my group interested...  I was thinking of doing some speed sessions on a bi-weekly basis during the week and seeing if my group would meet me for this.

Not So Much
There are a couple of places where Jeff and I disagree.  Most of it revolves around nutrition and what to eat on your runs.  For example, I disagree with Jeff's ideas about limiting salt.  I think salt is very important to athletes and unless you have a history of hypertension, you should not worry so much about your salt intake.  When you sweat, you lose salt.  So, this year, I intend to try "doing the salt" and take salt packets before and during the run.  This is less in line with Jeff's recommendation, and more in line with the Running Doc.    However, this doesn't mean loading up on salt as part of your regular diet, just as part of your pre-race meal.  Although for the record, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to my salt intake.

Jeff talked some about what to eat after a run.  In doing so, he stated you should eat something that is 80% carb and 20% protein right after a run.  Someone asked for an example.  He suggested a couple of name brand products.  When he was asked for examples of something else besides these products (like, um, real food), he said don't bother, eat these other products.  It makes me wonder about his sponsors...  Come on, Jeff!  Runner's world has suggested chocolate milk.  That sounds pretty good to me?

Jeff and I also disagree on weight training.  When I was new to running, I did not weight train my lower body and I totally agree that new runners should stay away from lower body weight training for their first 2-3 years.  After that, though, I think lower body weight training can be an important part of your training.  It will make you stronger, more confident and help reduce injury, provided you don't overdo it and you cut down the weight training when you're in your running season.  This is my first year really trying it, so we will see how it goes.

Running School?
Because I'm a group leader, I didn't pay for the school.  Do I recommend it?  Honestly, not for the price.  Those that did pay, paid between $49 and $99 for the school and I don't think that was enough for listening to Jeff talk.  Save your pennies and buy one of his books, but then actually READ IT and you will get the same result.  If you are new to running or a group leader, or if you really feel like you want to HEAR Jeff talk, then I would say, go for it and sign up for the running school.  Had I paid $99, I would not have felt that I got my moneys worth.

A Couple of Stories
Jeff talked about meeting a Kenyan who is training for the Olympics.  When questioned about his training, the Kenyan said that he runs his longest (26+ miles) runs at a 10 minute pace.  That is DOUBLE what he would run in an actual marathon.  The lesson?  Take it from the Kenyans, run slower on your long runs.  You cannot run too slow!! (I can't say that often enough)

Another story Jeff told on Saturday was about a guy who found himself injured.  He had been training for a sub-4 hour goal, and his doctor had told him that he wouldn't be able to run for several weeks.  He was allowed to walk as much as he wanted, but no running.  The man contacted Jeff, who recommended that he give up on the sub-4 goal, but walk his runs.  The man walked his 15, 17, 19, and 23 mile runs and then was recovered and ran his 26 miler.  His time?  3:59.  No kidding!  YOU CAN'T GO TOO SLOW!  SO STOP BITCHING AT ME!

The end.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cruise Ships Are Bad

The interesting thing about our most recent trip to Bonaire is that it was the first time that Todd and I had visited the island while there were cruise ships in port. Bonaire has been welcoming cruise ships to the island since 2006, but only November through May. I'm not sure if the cruise ships set the times they will come, or if that is up to Bonaire.

There were 3 days during our stay where cruise ships were in port, two each on Wednesday and Friday and one on Thursday. I had been dreading it, but as it turned out, our vacation was not really affected, except on Friday when we were shopping for jewelry in town and found the area to be very crowded. However, cruise ships were a huge point of discussion with many people on our trip.

Cruise ships bring between 1500 and 3000 people to Bonaire on each ship. This amount of people results in congestion in downtown Kralendijk, and annoyances to those who live on the island. Those of us who come to Bonaire for a quiet vacation "away from it all," suddenly find that "it all" has arrived right in the center of town for the day! In all, cruise ships are a deterrent to those who want to book land-based vacations on the island. The reason why our vacation was not affected was because we were underwater and because I planned to avoid town the days cruise ships were in port, but given the choice, I would avoid booking another Bonaire vacation on a week when there are cruise ships coming.

A cruise ship tourist is a totally different type of tourist from the ones that usually come to Bonaire. Bonaire is known as "diver's paradise" for a reason - divers - and hard-core ones, visit the island. Most cruise ship passengers do not fit into this category, and are looking for a place similar to Cozumel - bars, big resorts, beaches. There are few beaches in Bonaire, no big resorts, and a minimum of bars. This is a sleepy little island, and I don't know how it is appealing to passengers. Of course, we heard many folks say that the cruise ship passengers don't usually even get off the ship, and that is possible. One person on a discussion forum suggested, "Send the ships to Aruba instead and tell people it's Bonaire, they won't notice the difference!" and this is sadly probably true.

There are cruise ship folks who come to Bonaire, and get off the ship, and then go diving or snorkeling. My issue with this? Bonaire is a Marine Park. These "single day" folks pay a reduced marine park fee, and often are not aware of their impact on the corals and fish in Bonaire. They don't dive often (maybe a day or two of diving per year, tops?), and it shows. Their bouyancy control is not what it should be, and they damage the reef. When they're done, they pile back onto their ship and leave. This is a tough pill for many people in Bonaire to take, and I think it was my biggest gripe with the cruise ships.

Even the ships themselves have an impact on diving. We were diving at Windsock at 8am on Wednesday morning, just when the cruise ships for that day were docking. The sound of the cruise ship engines underwater was deafening. I would love to see a study about what impact the sound of ship engines have on the life on the reef. As a diver, I found it highly irritating, and I was still quite a ways from port. Imagine what it would have sounded like if I was diving at a site further north - Yellow Submarine, perhaps.

Cruise ships in general tend to be bad for the world's oceans. Ballast water can spread non-native species around the world. Cruise ships use an awful lot of fuel, although I was unable to get a clear answer from my online searches about how much it really is. If someone wants to investigate further, please do. Fuel isn't the only thing though, and I was able to find some clearer stats on the Carbon Footprint of cruise ships.  There is also an interesting list of cruise ship citations and fines for environmental violations. Most of these were in Alaska and Hawaii, because I think Caribbean ports tend to turn more of a blind eye to what is going on. Some reports show cruise ships outright dumping trash into the ocean. Ick. In fact, the Freewinds was recently banned from Bonaire due to the fact that it was dumping waste water.  Norwegian cruise line was fined for dumping oily waste water and sometimes raw sewage into the waters of Miami for many years.

An interesting thing that has happened in Bonaire recently has been that the cruise ships are sitting in port all day, and the supply ships are unable to come in and dock in order to get their supplies off the ship. In fact, on the Friday of our visit, a supply ship came to Bonaire, and headed towards port. As it approached, it suddenly turned around and left. Two cruise ships were in port and I'm assuming that's what the deal was. As a result of this, restaurants are running out of food and supplies aren't making it into supermarkets. This seemed to be the single biggest complaint of those that we spoke to on the island. Personally, I think this argument will backfire because what will end up happening is that the cruise lines will offer to subsidize a separate cruise ship pier, which will mean that cruise ships will be coming in indefinitely.  Certainly someone benefits, but who is it?  A recent report stated:
In 2003 the Port of Portland, Maine, is faced with spending U.S.$1.2 million in waterfront improvements, most of which is necessary because of wear and tear from cruise ships.  This expense compares to U.S.$295,000 income in 2002 from cruise ship docking fees.
So, ok, cruise ships are bad. Certainly there are people benefiting from this, right? Increased revenue for people who own shops or restaurants? Something?

No, not really. Cruises include food, so it's rare to see passengers out and about eating in restaurants. Indeed, when we were downtown while the ships were in port, the restaurants were no more crowded than usual. The cruise folks will do a minor amount of shopping, but only near the pier. When we asked the jewelry store clerk if she was seeing an increase of sales due to cruise ships, she said no. These cruises are 10 and 12 days long and visit far more glamorous ports for buying jewelry. At best, maybe the cruise ship folks are picking up a couple of T-shirts. Bonaire recently moved the KFC from the town pier area and replaced it with a t-shirt shop. The KFC is far from the cruise ships now (but still awesome!). Any business owner that we spoke to - restaurant owners, store owners, dive shop operators - all said that the cruise ships are not bringing in enough revenue to make any sort of serious impact to their bottom lines, and some even said the cruise ships are hurting them.  

Basically, when you book a shore excursion through a cruise line, there is a markup on it.  The cruise ship collects often as much as double the amount that the tour or excursion actually costs.  So, that $50 that you spent to go snorkel on Klein Bonaire?  The tour operator only got $25.  But, you're expecting an experience worth $50, aren't you?

So, what am I saying here? Am I saying that no one should take cruises? No, of course not. I have taken cruises in the past and love them. They are a very affordable way to travel. I also happen to know that I do a lot of things that increase my own carbon footprint - just taking planes to Bonaire does terrible things to the environment. I think my main point is that you should always realize that what you do has consequences for a lot of folks. Stepping off a cruise ship on a quiet Caribbean island to look around and then get back on may have left an impact on that quiet Caribbean island that you totally don't understand. Cruise lines don't have to go to Bonaire. They can stick to places like Cozumel, St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, etc - places that are more suited to the ships and frankly have already been destroyed by cruise ships.

Do I want to see cruise ships out of Bonaire? I don't think it's horrible to have them, no. I think strict enforcement of environmental laws need to be made. Cruise ships should not be doing anything that would endanger the reef. If they do, they should be severely fined or banned from the island. The money taken from cruise ships should be used for infrastructure.

What kind of infrastructure? Well, Bonaire really needs a better way to treat waste. This is not just a cruise ship issue, as the resorts are guilty also. Waste treatment in Bonaire is done thusly:

Method 1: Septic tanks are drilled, and then pumped and taken via truck to a dump site in the center of the island (presumably near Harbour Village, as I have smelled it before). This is what the cruise ships do. Freewinds was banned for sending too much waste to the dump site, more than it should have (basically using Bonaire as a place to dump shit and then leaving).

Method 2: The septic tanks of some resorts have four chambers. Waste water is moved from chamber to chamber, and the more solid stuff stays in the first chamber, then the second, so by the time it gets to the fourth chamber, the water is toxic, but doesn't contain as much stuff, and is mostly clear. Then, it is pumped out onto the reef. Yep, I said it's pumped out on to the reef. Since it is pumped in front of the resort, the waste sits on the reef and creates algae. A better solution would be to run the fluid to the other side of the island, where currents would disperse the waste rather than having it sitting on the reef, but that takes money. The estimate is that 50,000 gallons of waste water goes onto the reef each day.

Basically, what I'm saying is that if the money that somebody must be getting from the cruise ships coming in would go towards creating a solution to the waste problem that obviously exists in Bonaire, then I would not have an issue with it. As it is, though, I think someones pockets are getting lined, and the people of Bonaire (and the visitors who love it) are getting the shaft. And the reefs? Well, they are always suffering.

A side note:  It was told to us that our liveaboard dive boat, the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II, used 500 gallons of fuel the week that we were on board.  This equals 25 gallons per passenger, or 19 gallons per person including the crew.  Personally, I didn't find this excessive, but it might be when you consider the fuel used to get those passengers to Turks and Caicos in the first place.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

STS Week 6 in Review

This was my first week of mesocycle 2. This mesocycle is "hypertrophy," which is muscle building. I wasn't expecting it to be that much different from mesocycle 1, but it really is. First of all, while in meso 1 we would move from muscle group to muscle group - first a set of chest, then a set of biceps, then a set of shoulders, etc, in meso 2 we complete all of the sets for the muscle group before moving on. So ALL of the chest, then ALL of the shoulders, then ALL of the triceps.

Secondly, the muscle groups are mixed up differently than in meso 1. The two upper body workouts each week in meso 1 were chest, shoulders and biceps and then triceps and back. In meso 2, chest and shoulders are paired with triceps and back is paired with biceps. Just a small change.

Third, the breaks between sets are longer. Meso 2 is definitely slower paced than meso 1. For chest, I did 3 sets of bench press - 12 reps, then 10 reps, then 8 reps, with 60 seconds of rest in between. There was quite a bit of standing around, stretching, sipping water, writing down notes. It worked for me, and I felt like I was really able to focus on each body part. Plus, the camera moving to each exerciser to see what they're up to made me feel like I was really working out with a group. Cathe also provided some tips between each set. I liked not feeling rushed getting my weights together.

For some exercises, we worked all the way to Total Failure. It was interesting to see how far I could go before I reached Total Failure, and also really interesting to see how far CATHE could go!

Legs were also a little different for meso 2. This week, we did "tri sets" which is three exercises (example: Squats, then static lunges, then deadlifts) three times, with no breaks between each of the exercises but then a 60 second break at the end of each set of 3 exercises. I thought it was slightly easier than legs in meso 1, but I was feeling some major DOMS the next day!! I could barely stand. The toughest part of the legs workout was the very end where we did 3 sets of 20 calf raises. My calves were cramping by the end! Ouch!

I was having a really rough time getting it together to workout this week, after being on vacation. Still, I managed to get my two weekday runs and three weight workouts in, although I did skip a day of working out on Friday. This week, I'm going to try to get back into getting up early and working out before work (at least sometimes).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Let's Play a Game!

Several weeks ago, I found out that this guy in high school that I was in love with...  well, you know, high school in love with...  well, he is gay.  I spent hours of my time thinking about this guy, he was THE ONE!  I even had a huge fallout with my best friend that involved him (although he doesn't know this).  My best friend and I never had the same relationship again.  I won't go into details, but since he is gay, you know neither of us actually got him...  LOL.   Stupidity.  

Looking back, I guess it makes sense that he's gay.  I can kinda see it now, and he was always really nice to me.  I think about those memories now with an entirely different perspective - it's like watching The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects for the second time.

Anyway, what I've discovered is that Facebook has brought me in touch with all sorts of former flames.  So, I decided to post a little game.  Given a description of the guys that I dated (all 1996 and before) or had a crush on in high school, match them to what they're doing now.  Just for fun!

The Guys
  1. The one who got in a big fight with me at Homecoming
  2. President of the SGA
  3. Alter Boy at Church
  4. The artist
  5. The Republican Long-time Love
  6. Loved computer animation
  7. Band leader
  8. Loved japanese animation

What They're Doing Now
  1. Traveling the world
  2. Lives in Wisconsin
  3. Became an Evangelical Christian
  4. In the Ravens Marching Band.
  5. Plans weddings and events.
  6. Works in local politics.
  7. Became a cop.
  8. Lead developer at Microsoft

Also -- notice that there are no jocks on the list...  Not my type.  Who'd have thought I'd end up with a lacrosse playing frat boy?

TIART: Online Running Tools

This week's theme is ... Running Technology Tips.  Calling all Garmin, Nike plus, iPod, iPhone and all other running gadget junkies.   Share your tips for selecting, buying, and using your favorite running toys that also make your running more enjoyable.

It's funny because my co-workers and I have recently gotten into Geocaching.  As a result, I just bought a hand-held GPS and some folks were floored that I didn't buy a Garmin Forerunner.  Thing is, I am really not that into the GPS's for running.  I don't need to know every single detail of my runs and I find that running simply - just getting your shoes on and hitting the pavement - is the best way to go.  My watch beeps for intervals and keeps track of chrono, but that is about it.

I do use some online running tools though.  I log every single run in Voomaxer.  I found it as a Facebook application, and I think it's great to see what my friends are doing.  It helps me to know how many miles each of my pairs of shoes has on them, and keeps me motivated to speed up.  Note, though, that Voomaxer is missing a crucial feature: EXPORT.  I have a year and a half of runs in there and I can't get them out.  I have found another app, LogYourRun.com, which I think is better than Voomaxer, but I feel committed to Voomaxer because I can't export.  One of these days, I will have to sit and enter all of my runs one  by one into LogYourRun.com.  Sigh.

The other website that I use is Gmap Pedometer.  Since I don't have a GPS, I keep track of my runs by entering them into this simple website.  I've found it to be the most accurate, since I compared Gmap Pedometer with MapMyRun.com and driving the route in my car one day.  I found that Gmap Pedometer and my car were right equal with each other.  MapMyRun, however, was terribly off in its calculations, saying I went much farther than I did.  The difference, supposedly, comes from differences in altitude during the run (my home course is very hilly).  Perhaps, but for me the difference for MapMyRun was enough that I will not use that website.  Now that Gmap Pedometer has the ability to map the route by automatically following roads, it makes things a lot easier!  Simple is better.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Big Line of SUVs

If I don't get out of my house early enough in the morning, I get stuck behind this one school bus that goes along all of the back roads on my way to work.  It stops at, oh, pretty much every single house along the road.  I never knew how many houses along there had elementary school aged children!

What annoys me about this scenario isn't that my commute is longer, and I don't begrudge the bus at all.  In fact, I've made friends with the kid who usually sits in the back seat.  What annoys me is that many of the parents drive their kids to the bus stop every day.

I'm not talking about a bus stop that is several miles away.  The bus picks the kids up at the end of their driveway!  Or, at most, maybe a block away from their house.  Yet, the parents pile the kids into their SUV or minivan and sit at the end of the driveway, with the motor running, until the bus comes.  If I pass a community instead of a single house, there is a line of SUVs with the motors running, waiting for the bus.  Isn't this wasteful?  Isn't this just sheer laziness??  The kid can't walk to the end of the driveway?  YOU, the parent, can't walk to the end of the driveway?  We're talking maybe 100 or 200 yards here.

This happens even in my own community.  I regularly run this community, so I know distances, and I am fully aware that the street that produces the most children at the bus stop where I life is about a half mile long.  That means, at most, the kid and parent would be walking a quarter mile to get to the bus stop.  A quarter mile!  One loop around the track.  Come on, folks.

I understand that it is cold outside, but parents are doing this regardless of the temperature.  Even so, if it's 50 degrees or below the kids are dressed like they live on Hoth anyway, so I'd figure the inside of the car is pretty hot for them.  Trust me, the outdoors is nice, you will like it.  Why don't you try walking to the bus stop with your kids, getting some fresh air and exercise, and stop teaching your kids to be lazy.  We have a real problem in this country with obesity and our lifestyle is far too sedentary. 

I mean, am I crazy?  Am I the weird one?  If I had somewhere to go that is only a few blocks away, I'd walk.  It makes sense to me.  Live simply.  Walk.

Monday, April 6, 2009

STS System Week 5 in Review

LOL, Week 5 is "Active Recovery." I was in a hurry to start week 1 at the beginning of March so that I could be sure that my week 5 fell while I was on vacation. I did a lot of lifting and such (scuba tanks, etc). Shore diving isn't really all that easy, so I did get some exercise. I still gained 5 pounds, but a co-worker of mine pointed out that he feels bad if he doesn't gain at least 5 pounds on vacation.

So, I guess that's good :)

Mesocycle 2 is Hypertrophy and begins this week.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bonaire: Spring 2009

This vacation was originally supposed to be to Honduras. We planned and selected, but because I only just recently started a new job, I needed to wait a while before we could book. Then, when the time came... the resort was running a special so great that they were full and we couldn't get a reservation the week we wanted. So, we thought and thought and ended up deciding to go back to Bonaire. We wanted warm water, we wanted to feel at home, and when I was in Bonaire 6 months ago, it was not long enough to really make me happy.

We left on Friday, March 27th from Baltimore, and flew to Houston. Like our last trip, we were taking the red eye to Bonaire, but unlike last time, we were in coach. I did manage to snag us an exit row, though. The flight was uneventful, and I got a tiny bit of sleep, but not much. While we had more legroom, we couldn't recline our seats.

Our Hotel
We arrived in Bonaire on Saturday, March 28th at about 5:30am. We picked up the rental truck and headed to our hotel, the Bellafonte. Previously, we had stayed at Harbour Village Beach Resort, but there were a number of reasons that we chose the Bellafonte this time:
  1. First and foremost, the Bellafonte is cheaper. HV is known as being the most expensive in Bonaire. Although, some research showed me that the Plaza Resort is almost as expensive as HV.
  2. We had a full kitchen and therefore were able to take home leftovers, and eat breakfast and lunch in the room.
  3. We had a LARGER room!
  4. We were overlooking the ocean, which was wonderful.
  5. The house dive at the Bellafonte was SO much better than the house dive at HV.
  6. Harbour Village is a little like a "compound" where I felt locked up inside. At the Bellafonte, I felt like we were able to interact with the island and get out a little more.
The Bellafonte was beautiful. I loved our room and our kitchen was really nice. We had full maid service, so it was that perfect balance between condo and hotel.

Some photos of the Bellafonte, outside and inside:
From Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside

From Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside

From Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside

From Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside


Restaurants/Food
Even though we had a kitchen, we ate out quite a bit. Having the full kitchen was nice because we ate almost all of our breakfasts in our room overlooking the ocean. We had eggs (need to remember to bring salt and pepper next time, and to buy oil or butter to grease the pan) and toast or cereal.
  • Cultimara - We went shopping at the supermarket called Cultimara, despite the fact that it's known to be the more expensive market. Still, they have excellent breads and baked goods and a decent selection of fruits and vegetables. The deli case was interesting - it was like potluck. I wanted turkey, but everything was in dutch. I ended up buying something labeled kipfilet, which ended up being chicken breast (close enough). Hooray! I also found some HFCS-free coke for my co-worker.
  • City Cafe - This was our first meal on the island. We ate breakfast there while we waited for the office at the Bellafonte to open. We had eggs and toast and they were... well, runny. I can't say we were overly impressed, but it was good enough. The orange juice was delicious, but expensive. $30 for breakfast for two is too much money. All of our other breakfasts were in the room.
  • Wil's Tropical Grill - I love Wil's. Sadly, he didn't have any fresh tuna to make the ceviche that I was craving, but we still had two wonderful meals there (our first and last dinners on the island). Todd did get his smoked marlin salad that he loves and we both enjoyed the delicious BBQ ribs. So good! Now, we're going to have to plan yet another trip to Bonaire in order to get the ceviche!!!!
  • Casablanca - I always give Casablanca a "just ok." We didn't eat there last time, so this was my second time having the mixed grill. It does give us way too much food, which was why we went early in the trip (Sunday night), so that we could have leftovers. We enjoyed the leftovers for two lunches - Monday and Tuesday. Awesome!
  • Mona Lisa - Still my favorite. I love this restaurant. We were sad to find that our favorite waiter, Rudy, is ill. We wished him a speedy recovery and hope to see him next time we're on the island. Still, we got to see Monique and talk to her. We had the fish and shrimp platter - Wahoo, Drado, and Tuna. The appetizer of tuna sashimi was so good that we couldn't share - we had to order two. AND - the desserts were so good that we ended up coming back later in the week for dessert.
  • Cactus Blue - Always good. The appetizers (Todd had arepitas and I had pumpkin & plantain fritters) were just OK, but the entrees and dessert were delicious. I had chicken curry and Todd had Jerk chicken. So delicious, and we picked up t-shirts to take home.
  • Richard's - This was the site of what was one of the best and most memorable meals in my life in 2007. Then, Todd had made reservations at the single pier table and we'd spent 3 1/2 hours sharing a meal and bottles of wine, watching the sunset and chatting. It was absolutely perfect. Two years later, Richard's pier was destroyed in Hurricane Omar and is not yet fully rebuilt. We had dinner oceanside and enjoyed delicious food. However, the ambiance was just - ruined. We were looking for a romantic meal, but didn't get it. Richard was blaring horrible music - motown and country. "Achy Breaky Heart" played three times while were there, along with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and a number of other motown hits that were totally inappropriate for a romantic evening. We were disappointed - so much so that I didn't even order dessert. And I always order dessert. We left and went into town to have dessert again at Mona Lisa. Much better!
  • Rum Runners - We had a lovely lunch with friends at Rum Runners, which is located at Captain Don's Habitat. It was very nice. Great service, great food, highly recommended. Monday night, we also attended the Captain's Rhum Punch Party at Rum Runners. There, we met up with the same friends and got to meet Captain Don. What a character he is! Plus, we were sitting at a bar with Captain Don - who has a PEG LEG! - and across the bar? A guy with an eye patch, I kid you not.
  • Bobbejan's BBQ - We had lunch here on Sunday. Very delicious local BBQ, perfect for your surface interval. We were between dives and thought that the food was spectacular. The ribs were not quite as good as Wil's, but were still delicious (and I thought they were better than Casablanca). I was on quite the meat kick this trip.
  • Paradise Moon - This used to be Papaya Moon, but has renamed itself and changed locations to the marina at Harbour Village. It was delicious tex mex, and one of our best meals on the island. Our waitress was friendly and fun, and the food was great. I had fish tacos made from fresh Wahoo.
Diving
From Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside - Todd is a badass.

So much diving! We ended up doing 3 dives a day, except for one day where we dove 4 times. We did 6 daytime boat dives with Dive Friends Bonaire, and an additional night dive on Tuesday night. The rest of our dives were shore dives, including a couple of dives in the northern part of the island with friends that we met on Bonaire Talk.

Highlights?
  • Margate Bay was beautiful as always. The southern dive sites are so pretty, with tons of Gorgonians. We always have spectacular dives here, and at other sites nearby such as Red Beryl. I took a spill at Margate that left my legs bruised and cut up for the rest of the trip, but it was all fine. Battle scars!!
  • On Klein Bonaire, we separated from the group on a boat dive to spend about 35 minutes alone, just the two of us, in the shallows with a turtle. He was having lunch and being very generous about letting Todd photograph him.
  • We met Bonaire Talk friends Bill and Cathy to dive at Candyland, which is an unmarked site north of BOPEC. This was a challenging exit and entry, with some large surf, but I did it and it was truly spectacular.
  • Bill and Cathy also took us to try LaDania's Leap, which is a drift dive where you have to make an 8-10 foot jump into the ocean from a cliff in order to enter the water. I admit, I was scared and shaking before I made the jump, but I really didn't want to embarrass myself by chickening out in front of new friends. It was beautiful, but I am not sure that I will be doing it again. Yep, I was that scared. Did I mention that I've been in the water with 8-10 foot Caribbean Reef Sharks? They didn't scare me like that.
  • Another boat dive off of Klein Bonaire, we saw a lone squid at about 70 feet that also let Todd take plenty of photos. I love the cephalopods!
  • Speaking of cephalopods, we saw an octopus right behind our hotel diving at dusk off of the pier at the Bellafonte. He was tucked up in some coral rubble, and of COURSE, Todd didn't have his camera on that dive.
  • On Monday Night at Captain Don's, we ran into Alfonso, who was our divemaster at Harbour Village. We shared a joke with him where I said, "Hey, Alfonso!! Todd brought back the SAME GIRL THREE TIMES!" - this being a big joke because Todd came to Bonaire for the first time with someone else the year before we went down for the first time. He congratulated me on my success. Anyway, he also told us where we could find a frogfish, so Wednesday morning we went looking for him at Windsock. We ended up finding him, but he was hostile and swam off of the sponge he was sitting on to try and attack both Todd and me. Very strange, as frogfish don't usually move.
  • We did a night dive off of Klein Bonaire that was truly spectacular. We saw basket stars, brittle stars, shrimp, and a beautiful orange seahorse. It is always also really nice to surface on a night dive to see that black sky filled with stars.
We spent some time on our last day (Friday) driving around the island taking photos. We saw a beautiful sunset and really got a lovely tour of the island.

This is me at my favorite part of the island, down south:
From 2009 Bonaire - Best of Topside Resized


From Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside


From 2009 Bonaire - Best of Topside Resized


NOTE: There are NO laws against drinking & driving in Bonaire!!!
From Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside

Want to see more photos?? See Todd's post over here that shows his topside photos and our underwater photos.

There were so many things to take in on this trip. I almost think it was our best trip to Bonaire yet. It was too short, and a good time.
From Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside


More photos:
Kim's Topside Photos:
Bonaire 2009 - Kim Topside


Todd's Underwater Photos:
2009 Bonaire - Best of Resized


Todd's Topside Photos:
2009 Bonaire - Best of Topside Resized

Thursday, April 2, 2009

TIART: Shoe Talk

This week's Take it and Run Thursday (TIART) ... Ode to My Running Shoes. Runners are crazy about their running shoes. We know your friends and family stopped being interested in hearing you talk about your running shoes about six pairs ago, but your fellow runners just can't get enough. Tell us about your favorite running shoes, why you bought them, why you love them and what they do for your running. Only one catch - you need to do it in the same number of words as the dollars it took to buy them.

I'm not so sure about the "write in the same number of words as the dollars it took to buy them" part, but I'll talk about my shoes, sure.

I started out with Asics, but now I wear a pair of New Balance 768s. There isn't anything special about them. I have 3 pairs of them, though... One, I wear out on the trail. They have close to 500 miles on them and I'll be retiring them soon. The second pair (identical to the first), I wear on the treadmill exclusively so that the treadmill doesn't get all dirty and muddy and nasty. It also keeps my nearby aerobics floor clean, since I often lay down on the floor there. The treadmill shoes have about 175 miles on them, and they will become my trail running shoes as soon as I retire my current outdoor shoes. The third pair is new. I haven't worn them yet and they're all set to become my new treadmill shoes when I retire the outdoor shoes.

I've stopped getting refitted for new shoes all the time, and I don't spend the money on shoes that I once did. There isn't anything wrong with the 768s, and when I bought the new pair, I paid 50% of the price that I paid for the first pair, since they're older shoes. Once I can't find 768s, I'll get refitted and switch shoes. In this economy, I really can't spend too much on shoes all the time... I've also learned that I can get a lot more out of a pair of shoes than I previously thought. I would have retired my outdoor shoes months ago if I didn't start logging how many miles my shoes have on them. Now, I know exactly what mileage my shoes have on them and when they are ready to be retired.

All of that money savings gave me some extra cash to spend on Breath Thermo this winter! :)

(That was a lot longer than what I paid for my shoes. Oh well)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's April Fools Day!

This is the day that I normally post something ridiculous and have at least one person believe me.  Pregnancy, for example, is one of my favorite topics.

HOWEVER, this year I am out of town, in the lovely Caribbean.  Right about now, I'm probably up watching the sunrise, enjoying a cup of hot tea and some sort of tasty breakfast.  Today, I will do a few dives out on the reef, have lunch under a palm tree, and watch a sunset with a beer in my hand.  Tonight, Todd and I will go to dinner and spend time with friends old and new.  How about some fresh grilled fish?  Sounds good to me!

So, you can see, I don't really feel like playing any jokes on people.  I can assure you that I'm not pregnant.  Enjoy your April Fools Day and I will be thinking of you!
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