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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stats as of 31 March 2010

March 2009
46.4 miles
10 hours, 3 minutes
Avg Pace: 13:00/mile
Shamrock 5K 2009: 34:49 (11:12 per mile)

March 2010
61.2 miles -- 14.8 miles longer than in 2009
12 hours, 51 minutes -- 2:48 longer than in 2009
Avg Pace: 12:36/mile -- 24 seconds faster than in 2009
Shamrock 5K 2010: 32:12 (10:23 per mile)

Still an increase in mileage from 2009. Things are going well. There isn't a whole lot to say, I'm doing my typical spring training, which is a little bit easier on the running front than my fall training is. I have about 3 weeks left before the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon. For that race, I have no expectations. I am going to go out and do my best, and if I were to match my PR that I set in Philadelphia in September, that would be exceeding my expectations by a landslide.

I'm so thrilled about my new 5K PR that I set this month. My average pace for the Shamrock 5K was better than my magic mile time that I set in 2008. That is saying a lot. I feel like things are coming along, and I'm well on my way to not classifying myself as "slow." It's not that I need to feel fast, I just need to feel average.

I'm looking forward to how things will go later this year. The fall Galloway program starts in May, and this time we're going to be doing a lot of speed work. My goal is to really push people this season, and to really do it. I'm excited for the work that we'll be putting in. :)

Part of me is still thinking of doing a full marathon in 2010 (something that I know Todd doesn't want to hear me say). I almost can't decide, so I'm also thinking about just entering the lottery for the New York City Marathon and let fate say whether or not I'll run one. It doesn't truly fit into my race schedule, but...

So, onward to another month and another major race. April brings my sixth half marathon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recipe: Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

I went to a baby shower on Saturday. Well, sort of. The baby had already been born. Basically, we were planning to have a little shower for my friend who was due March 7. The original plan was to have the shower at a restaurant (simple, simple) on February 6. A blizzard hit us that weekend, and we were unable to have the shower. So, we rescheduled for February 27. The baby came early in the morning on February 27, so we finally got together with mommy and baby this past Saturday.

My contribution was to bring cupcakes. This is because my other friend was bringing her two boys, and the mommy already has a boy of her own. I figured cupcakes are more manageable for kids to eat (at least in my childless brain), and everyone loves cupcakes, right? I thought about getting them from Snickerdoodles, but to be honest, I was never impressed with Snickerdoodles' cupcakes (I think they do better with whole cakes), and since I hemmed and hawed about it for days, I failed to order them in time anyway, which meant I'd probably be faced with cupcakes decorated for NCAA and/or birthdays. Not quite what I was after. So, I decided to make them.

What kind of cupcake says "baby shower?" And what kind of cupcake would mommy like? I perused the Cakespy website, and decided on the Homemade Funfetti Ones. This recipe was a cinch to make, and the cupcakes turned out delicious! I followed what one of the commenters suggested and used flower sprinkles instead of regular rainbow sprinkles. This was more pastel and the Weis Market really only had Christmas colors of sprinkles anyway. I guess there hasn't been a big market for cake decorating supplies this time of year.

I went out and bought a cake decorating set, with the bag that you fill with icing and put the tips on. It was some usual Kim shenanigans, with getting pink colored icing all over the place. Plus, the cupcakes did not look like the photo above at all. They looked like they had pink worms crawling on them. Oh well, close enough, and they tasted good. I'm going to try for prettier ones next time. I wish I'd taken a photo.

Anyway, you can follow the link above to Cakespy, or see the original post at iheartcuppycakes.

Image Credit:

Monday, March 29, 2010

MBE: Blogging

Since TIART seems to have gone away, there's a new one: Monday Brain Exchange, sponsored by Jill, who blogs at Finishing Is Winning. So, let's get started on the first week!

Question: What/Who influenced you to start a blog? Where did you get your blog title? How long have you been blogging?

You know, it's hard to even remember who influenced me. I think that my college friend, Brendan, was the first blog that I really read. I'm not even sure why I started, besides the fact that I really enjoy talking about myself. When I first started blogging in November of 2004, I didn't have a really good idea of what I wanted to blog about. I talked mostly about myself and what I did each day. The things I used to blog about were far too personal, and I ended up moving my old blog over to my private blog in early 2007. I've ported a few older posts over.

As time has passed, I've gotten more focused in what I write about, keeping it to mostly scuba diving and running, as well as some posts on cooking and gardening. So, the hobbies that I enjoy are the ones that I write about. I keep the personal stuff to the personal blog and I've developed a couple of rules that I try to stick to:

First off, I try to avoid political commentary, with the exception of some discussion of animal rights and saving the world's oceans -- and occasionally global warming. Even then, I try to keep it nice and fair. I always feel like no one cares about some of that stuff except me, and people need to know that you really shouldn't eat Grouper, for example (or Orange Roughy, or Chilean Sea Bass). I've been challenged with the health care debate, since I really do have some strong opinions on that front, but I've kept my mouth shut (at least on the blog).

Second, I don't announce other people's news. If so and so has a baby, then so and so should be talking about that on her blog. If someone gets engaged, then they should be discussing it, it is not my business to post about it (note: I have not always followed this advice, I started in about 2007). If I do post about someones baby or wedding or something, it is in the context of me and how I was involved, because this is my blog and this blog is about what I do. I don't know, it just seems wrong to post other people's business here.

Third, I try to keep photos of my friends and family mostly on my private blog, unless it's specifically related to running, racing or scuba diving. And I try to bear in mind other people's preferences about posting their photo or name online.

Let's see, the blog title. At first, my blog was called Deep and Slightly Random Thoughts, and that was just because I needed a name and that's what I thought of. In about 2008, I changed it to Somewhere in the Sun, which is a title of a Kenny Chesney song. The things I do, love and write about usually take place with a fair amount of sunshine (or are better with added sunshine!).

Also, I should mention: If you like reading my blog and would like to follow me on facebook, please do so by going here and joining the group.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Ride

Lookie! I hit the trail today for my very first bike ride. This was a tad crazy because I ran 6.3 miles yesterday - and hills at that - and then ran again this morning (since Jeff Galloway was in town and it's always fun to run with him -- more on that later). Plus, I did upper body weights today, too. So, the bike ride was just more stuff. Todd was at the quarry doing an open water checkout, so I was free to go off and see what I could do. It was best for me to have some time alone with the bike, anyway, as I am embarrassed at my lack of skill. By the way, should I name her? Is it a she? Because, I think the bike might be male. But, then again, me saying I'm out riding [guy's name] sounds kind of dirty...

So, I went to the NCR Trail. I intended to head north, but there was this large family hanging out around the bathrooms and they would not leave. I felt to shy to get on right in front of them, since for all I knew I'd fall off immediately. So, I walked my bike across the road and headed south.

It went well. I practiced shifting quite a bit, since that is something I am totally new at doing. I didn't hit anything, and that is always a good thing. For once *I* was the one yelling "on your left!" and making runners move. It is easier to get on and off when I'm not wearing work clothes. Friday, I went to REI and bought a pair of biking capris. They worked well, and I am glad I had them. My butt isn't even really sore!

I rode down to Sparks, and figured I better turn around. That made for a total of 6 miles, and I had to admit, I was huffing and puffing at the end, trying to find the right gear to be in (I guess that takes practice - it's either too easy and I feel like peddling does nothing, or I feel like peddling makes me want to die it's so hard... I'm working on it). Since the seat is too low (because of my inability to get on and off), it was hurting my legs just a tad. I told Todd that I want to raise it up a little, but maybe not all the way to the point it's supposed to be.

So, in general, it felt good, and I am excited to get out and do it again. I've definitely never traveled from Monkton to Sparks so fast. :)

** Note: Todd told me the bike should be named Jake, since it's a Jake the Snake. I guess he's right. So, Jake it is?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Walt Disney Marathon 2010 Photos

I really hesitated on buying these, mostly because my race photos always suck, but then they're just so expensive. I thought I'd wait for a sale, but I wasn't ready to purchase them when they went on sale for Valentines Day because I was determined to search through the entire 18,000 photo Lost and Found collection, and I wasn't done yet. I got tired of waiting, so here are some photos from my race.

The starting line, looking awfully cold. When this was going on, Misty and I were still away from the start, trying to get down there.

My favorite photo from the race, this is about mile 11, coming through the Magic Kingdom (about to pass through the Castle, where I didn't get a photo because of stupid people that LINE UP THERE and take up the photographer's time so that photographers aren't taking photos of people who are ACTUALLY RUNNING and can't stop for the line because they actually give a crap about their finish time) Anyway, I like this photo a lot.

I think this is at about the half point, and my body guard with the funny hat had just joined me.

Animal Kingdom, about mile 18

Also in Animal Kingdom, I LOVE my funny-hatted bodyguard following me in this one.

About Mile 20, I was done with caring about the Photographers.

Hollywood Studios. The chick just behind me had a broken watch and was running off of our intervals.

Coming down the final stretch towards the finish.

Another one of the final stretch:

Finish line (final time was 5:52)

Yay, a medal! (and some seriously messy hair - it was windy and I got ready at 3am.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's Like Riding a....

Oh boy. So, I bought a bike. I've been contemplating buying one for about 3 years, and every year, I come up with some reason (usually financial) why I shouldn't get one. And, finally, this year, I decided to take the leap.

First, let's talk about me and bikes. My first bike was a cute pink Huffy. I got it for Christmas, in the first grade or kindergarten or some time around that age. I was thrilled, and went out and biked all around, training wheels on. Then, my dad decided it was time to take the training wheels off. I didn't want to, but he insisted that I had to. He was sure I could do it. He took the training wheels off, and like he said, I could do it! I was so excited! I was on the bike and keeping it balanced all on my own! In my excitement, I looked down and watched my feet peddling. I failed to watch where I was going, hit the curb, and flew off the bike. I ended up with a really bad cut on my leg, and I refused to get on the bike again for at least 6 months, but I think it was closer to a year. That's when a girl named Carmen moved in down the street, asked me to ride bikes with her. I told her no, I don't know how. She was like, "of course you do, just get on and ride!" And I did. And I was fine from then on. (Bless that Carmen!)

The problem is, I never got a new bike. I rode the Huffy until my knees were hitting the handlebars. I was far too big for it when I stopped riding it. After that, I had a few yard sale bikes, and my sister's old bike, which had been hit by a car at one point. I never really rode a bike again past middle school, and even in middle school, it was pretty rare.

Oh, I went to spin class in 2006 when I had to go 6-8 weeks with no running because I had a stress fracture. Other than that, my adult experiences riding a bike have been a brief ride on a rented bike from Monkton on the NCR trail (I would have laughed had I known I'd one day run there) in maybe 2002, and biking around on old bikes on Little Cayman.

But, everyone says "It's just like riding a bike!" It should be fine, right? I really wanted one, I was so jealous of the bikes on the trail on my run on Saturday...

So, I met Dannielle at Race Pace tonight. I had forgotten to pack other clothes and shoes, so I was still wearing work clothes. I tested out some bikes. I fell off. I fell off. I am having trouble getting on and off of the bike. What I was most afraid of - shifting - turned out to be not a big deal. But, I want to be on the seat when I start, but I can't and it's so much different than I anticipated.

Here's what I got:

It's a Kona Jake the Snake. It's a cyclocross bike (as opposed to a hybrid), which will allow me to ride on roads or on trails. However, it has the handlebars that are similar to a road bike, which will be more comfortable for long rides. It's lighter than a hybrid, and the wheels can be switched out to allow for road bike wheels instead. It's bad ass. I mean, bad ass. I've got a computer on it, and water bottles and all kinds of goodies.

And I'm TERRIFIED. I feel just like I felt with the Huffy after I fell off of it. It's out in the car and I need to go get it. It scares me. What if I fell off? What if I can't get on and off safely? What if I don't get used to it?

Oh, and the clipless thing. I did not get clipless pedals, which is a no brainer since I can't seem to get on and off with regular pedals. I had this cocky idea that I'd start with clipless so that I could learn everything all at once. OH, LOL on that. No way, man!

And I don't see any triathlons in my future.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Befores

So, I thought I'd show the photos that I have are from before I ever started losing weight or running.

Let's recap though. My full running story is here. Before I was a runner, I was a Cathlete (I'm still a Cathlete, which is someone who works out using Cathe Friedrich's exercise videos). Before I was a Cathlete, I was a Firmie (or, someone who works out using The Firm). Before The Firm, I was a Lifetime Weight Watchers member. Before that, I was this person:

These were taken in December 1997, when my ex (the guy that I cropped out, there's no reason to get him involved in this) graduated from college.

Please tell me there is a difference between me now and me then. I know I've still got a double chin, I know I am not the skinniest thing in the world... and these photos don't show the part of me that has truly changed the most (my legs).

I was 200 pounds here. I had never truly tried to lose weight, and didn't know how. I didn't run, ever. I hated running, in fact I mean, a serious hatred. I was fearful of going to a gym. I didn't know how to swim. I had done some aerobics at some point, but that was about it.

Here I am, in a couple of photos taken last July, about a week after I got married.

I'm looking at them, and, well, I don't know if I really, truly can see the dramatic changes that others see when they look at before and after photos. Granted, I'm 31 now and I was 19 in the first set of photos. I definitely feel different. I definitely am different, whether others know it or not, I suppose.

And, since I feel like I need to include a running photo, here is me at the Frederick Half Marathon 2008. Running is, after all, what has really gotten me here and kept me here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

As if Runners Don't Have Enough Hazards...

Wild 'boxing kangaroo' knocks Australian jogger unconscious after assault

His only injury seemed to be some cuts and bruises, a black eye and a wounded ego with his colleagues making fun of his misfortune and giving him a new nickname – “Skippy”.
"The main thing they've been asking is whether I got one (punch) back on the roo,” he told the Australian Associated Press.
"I can't even say that, because one punch and it put me to the floor.

I can't say that anything like that has ever happened to me, but there are some loose dogs near my house when I run in the mornings. I hate that.

Image Credit: Will Cowan

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lookie! A Shirt!

This winter, if you came and ran with the group for a total of 20 Tuesday and Thursday runs, you would get a shirt! I should have had mine weeks ago, but since many of us missed a bunch of runs thanks to Mother Nature this beautiful winter, I finally reached 20 runs tonight!

But, the winter crapiness is in the past because this week has been beautiful. Both nights this week we ran the summer route, which is hilly but so much prettier and nicer than the winter route. Plus, I've totally been rocking those hills.

Good times.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Cardio Core Circuit

Cardio Core Circuit is part of Cathe's STS Shock Cardio series, which I am focused on this while taking my week off from the STS Strength Series. I did it tonight, and WOW. It's very, very tough. From beginning to end, even through the warmup, my heart was really pumping.

Let's start with the good. This video uses no equipment except an exercise mat, and if you workout on carpet, you don't even need that. Exercises are jumps, jacks, runs, hops, and more. The video is laid out such that you do three sets of cardio drills twice, then repeat the three sets. This is followed by a core set. There are five "rounds" of three cardio sets and a core set, then a stretch. The cardio really gets your heart rate up.

The cardio segments are also pretty simple in form, so if you have trouble with choreography, this is a great workout for you. I wasn't bored and the workout flew by. At 51 minutes, it's also fairly manageable for people who may be on a tight schedule. Certainly, with this much intensity, you're going to make excellent use of your time.

To me, the core segments were too difficult. I was hoping for at least one section of standard crunches, that type of thing. Like a couple of other segments of other Cathe videos, when things get too hard, it is actually a negative because I get frustrated and feel like I can't attempt it at all. I felt like things needed to be toned down just a little, and as a result, I don't really feel like I gained much from the core segments. This video just didn't work the core quite as much as I'd expected.

For the most part, though, this is a great video. It's challenging yet simple, and was a great workout in a relatively short amount of time.

Kumquats! YUM!

Woa! I had no idea! I picked up some kumquats in Trader Joe's because the sign said "Best straight out of the hand... rind and all!" I though, eh, what the heck. And, yum! I like Kumquats! Who knew?

It's like eating Orange Marmalade, kind of. The rind is similar to an orange rind, but more edible. The middle is tangy and a little salty. They're lemony and orangey, but also different all on their own. I'm totally taken with them.

I had a handful for dinner last night - 5 total. About 80 calories, 6 grams of fiber, 73% Vitamin C. They have lots of other vitamins and minerals. too. Yum! And, they're easy to eat slowly and make a nice dessert.

I have no idea what to do with them as far as cooking goes, though. I think you'd almost need to make a jam.

Image Credit: Daveybot

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sea Things #36: Collector Urchins

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

I'm a little behind in my Sea Things posts, so there will be several coming up soon. I will ask this though - many of my posts have to do with running, and I get a lot of running readers. Not so much the scuba divers. These Sea Things posts were meant to be interesting things for divers and others that are maybe interested in diving or underwater adventures. I'm going to keep them up, but I'm wondering if people are enjoying them? Are you reading? Do you like finding out interesting information about underwater creatures and things, and my adventures in finding them? Please comment and let me know.

Anyway, on to today's Sea Thing. The photo above is a Collector Urchin (Tripneustes gratilla). They're all over the place in Hawaii (as you can see in the next photo down). They're pretty much found all over the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea.

Basically, what these guys do is collect things (hence, the name). They get little shells and pieces of coral and sand or whatever they find around, and pull it on top of themselves in order to disguise themselves during the day. I guess the thought is that whatever predator may be swimming above will be fooled and think that this is not an urchin or food, but in fact debris on the bottom. I guess this strategy has worked for them, since natural selection seems to have created this behavior, but I have to admit, I was never once fooled by a collector urchin. I've seen far better examples of camouflage underwater before.

I admit, it's hard to think of these little things even moving. I guess they move at a slow rate, I certainly have never seen one in motion, or look like anything other than a pin cushion. They eat algae and sea grass, and they hurt if you touch them.

The urchins will even collect things other than seashells, as shown below with this little guy. We saw him on the reef with a woman's hair band on top of him. Again, not fooling anybody. It did look like a cute little halo, though.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

Monday, March 15, 2010

STS Check-in Week 8

It's been 8 weeks since I started Cathe's STS 6-Month Rotation. Things are going well. I feel stronger and better, like I am really getting a workout.

The past 4 weeks have been a little bit more chaotic than the first four. With the blizzards, etc, I totally started having trouble with my sleep schedule and it became more and more difficult to get up early. I still manage to do it most of the time, but there have been several workouts now that I've had to do in the evenings. The last two weeks, Todd has been out late on Tuesdays for his open water observation for DiveCon Certification. I've waited up for him both weeks, staying up until 1 or 2am, and it's meant that I can't get up to do my STS Upper Body workout on Wednesday morning. This past week, I didn't do the Wednesday workout until Saturday, since Wednesday evening I was at DiveCon class myself. Last week was just a crazy week, in general.

I'm not going to post a chart, just because I am lazy and also because my weight has been pretty unexciting for the last four weeks. From an average weight perspective, I've lost a tenth of a pound, and from an actual weight prospective, I've lost two tenths. Not particularly exciting. What is interesting is that right around four or five weeks ago was when I started taking my thyroid medication. When I picked up the meds, it had stickers all over it, as well as multiple notes with it stating "This is not a weight loss medication!" and "Do not take this for weight loss!" Ha. I was losing weight up until I started taking it. Regardless, weight loss isn't really my true goal, just a nice to have, so I'm not overly concerned. I'm still watching my calorie intake, and doing what I need to do, but if no more weight loss comes, that is fine.

I have lost inches, though. Since my last measurements four weeks ago, I've lost about half an inch almost everywhere, making it a total body loss of somewhere around 5 inches in 8 weeks. I don't think that's too shabby.

What's Next?
With 8 weeks down, I have at long last reached the end of mesocycle one. This week, I'm taking a week off from weight training, and instead I am trying out some more of the STS Shock Cardio Series. This morning, I did "MMA: Kickbox," which was actually pretty fun. I don't usually go for Kickbox videos, but I admit I had a good time with this and the time flew by. It may even be simple enough with the choreography that Todd will give it a try.

Once I'm done with my "active recovery" week, I head into eight weeks of mesocycle two, which is all about Hypertrophy. Read more about my experience with mesocycle 2 here, on my writeup of STS Week 6 from last year when I was doing the 3-month rotation.

The best part of mesocycle 2? The fact that legs will move from Fridays to Wednesdays, meaning that I will no longer be doing legs the day before my long run. Since I am hitting 12 miles this weekend, the extra time off will be welcome.

Recipe: Chicken Mole

I don't remember how I came across the recipe, but on Friday, I saw Casual Kitchen's Chicken with Mole Sauce and decided to give it a try this weekend.

It smelled spicy from the start. Todd was getting more and more excited as the minutes ticked by, as he loves spicy things. I was intrigued by the addition of chocolate. I've had mole sauce before, but I haven't actually ever made it myself. I thought it was good, but not the best thing I've ever had. I think it comes down to preference about mole sauce and its unique taste. The recipe was indeed super easy, though.

It made 5 servings, and so we have a lot of leftovers. I was thinking of using them to make burritos or enchiladas. I served it with Goya Yellow Rice and black beans. Calories came out to about 242 per serving, with 6g fat, 23 carb, 32g protein, 6g fiber.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shamrock 5K 2010

And so, my 2010 race season begins, after only about 8 weeks off from the Disney Marathon. This is my fifth year running the Kelly St. Patrick's Day Shamrock 5K in Baltimore. Todd joined me this year, and we parked at Pier V and walked up to the start from there. At the start, we met up with friends Kristy, Holly, Pat, Nina and Gary. We waited for a bit and then off we went.

This race is pretty crowded the whole way, and the first mile is almost completely downhill. I didn't start my interval watch until I was down at the bottom of the big hill, and then I turned it on, set for 1 minute of running and 30 seconds of walking. I've had a migraine since Friday night, so I wasn't sure how that was going to go. My head was hurting some, but not so bad that it was affecting my running. I didn't take my Imitrex before the race started because it makes me drowsy.

Anyway, I ran the first mile in 9:38, which is a personal record right there. After that, the course has a very very slight upward grade, but is for the most part flat. Maybe it feels more like an upward grade after the big downhill. Turn around, and then I passed the mile 2 marker. I forget what my split for mile 2 was, and my watch is upstairs, but it was decent. Around this point, my migraine was POUNDING and my head was really hurting, but I kept telling myself that I only needed to make it for about a half hour, and that I had Imitrex in the car.

Not much else to say. The course went back past the science center, then past Harborplace, and onto Pratt Street. I kept up with my intervals right up until just before hitting the mile 3 marker and ran it in (if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, I'm not a "run it in" kind of girl). Good times, though.

My official time was 32:12, beating my personal record by 2 minutes and 37 seconds (a lot for a 5K). It was a 10:23 average pace, and I am not quite feeling so slow anymore...

After the race, Holly, Kristy, Todd and I (as well as Holly's son) hung around for beers at Power Plant Live. My headache had gone away for a while, but then it was back after about an hour and half. I still have it, but it's mild...

Good race. Good start to the season. Next up: Lehigh Valley Half Marathon on April 25.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Last Night

  • Husband
  • Cat
  • Bottle of wine (Pinot Noir)
  • Movie (Up in the Air)
  • Pizza (from Genova's)
  • Popcorn
  • M&M's
  • Cuddling
It was a good night!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Private: WTF?!?!


Note: This is a private post on my private blog. You can email me for access if you like, but I've become very, very picky about who I let in to see my private stuff. Just so you know.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dive Control Specialist Training

Since about December, Todd and I have been working towards our Dive Control Specialist Certification. I've mentioned it now and again. Last night, we finished our final classroom session for the class. I am breathing a sigh of relief, and yet there is still so much more to do.

I have to admit, this particular program is and has been as much work as some college classes. We've had four three hour classroom sessions and one three hour pool session so far. I think we have at least two or three more pool sessions, plus a couple of days of open water training. Then, we have to observe an Open Water Diver Course (Todd is currently in the midst of his, mine isn't until May). That's kind of like student teaching, where we come in and are present for the course (12-18 hours) and the open water certification dives (2 days). Beyond that, we have to watch pretty much the entire SSI training video collection. We've really gotten to know the stars of the SSI videos. We've done three projects, plus plenty of homework. I think there is more to do after that, I just don't know what.

From what I've heard, the final exam for this class is brutal. A lot of the tests for scuba that I've taken so far (Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Stress & Rescue, Nitrox), have been fairly easy, with little study required. However, the DiveCon Course is inclusive of all of those classes, and we need to know everything in detail. All of the scientists, all of the various gas laws, table calculations with no mistakes, all of the various symptoms of various diving maladies (blue lips = hypoxia).

With all of this work left to do, we think we'll be certified by the middle to the end of the summer.

And then what? Well, we'll be both Assistant Instructors and DiveMasters. What that means is that we will be able to lead divers on dives and plan trips. We'll be working for our local dive shop in doing so. As assistant instructors, we'll be assisting mostly with Open Water Diver and Advanced Open Water Diver classes, helping out the instructors as they teach the course. In addition, we'll be able to teach Snorkeling and Scuba Skills Update classes all by ourselves. Pretty cool, huh? Sign on up for a course and we'll be there!

Image Credit: Todd Krebs (I know, Troll Hair. Can't be helped)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: Run Less, Run Faster

Davida recommended that I read Runner's World Run Less, Run Faster as part of our discussions about my running goals and what I want to do with my running. I read it over the course of a week or so, and here are my thoughts.

A little bit of a summary: This book is a training program developed by the Furman Institute of Running & Scientific Training (FIRST). The premise of the book is that you can run your optimal race time for a specific race simply by running only three days per week. The idea behind it is to basically make certain that you are never running "Junk Miles" -- miles that serve no purpose other than to rack up your weekly mileage total. Each run listed in the FIRST training plan has a purpose. Each run works on either speed or endurance, and all of the runs have specific goals. The book contains many, many (almost too many) testimonials from many runners who have tried the program. It also contains a lot of text regarding the science behind the training method, and why it works. Of course, much of the book is devoted to explaining the plan, and describing what should be done for the different types of runs. There is a chapter for each of nutrition, cross training, injuries and strength training, as well.

Speed and Pace Gripe
First, I have to start with a major gripe that I have with this book. The book goes into analysis of what types of goal paces are recommended. The goal pace is chosen based upon a race time (much like how Jeff Galloway does a race prediction based upon Magic Miles). When I reached this section of the book, I happily turned the page to find my 5K time on the chart. Let's see... my 5K Personal Record is 34:49... Let's find that on the chart... Oh, the chart only goes up to 30 minutes. Hm. Ok, well, my half marathon best is 2:37. Let's find that on the chart... Oh, the chart only goes up to 2:19. Of course. Let's try full marathon PR (5:52). Oh, the chart only goes to 4:51. So, using this book, I had no way to determine my predicted race time.

Thank goodness Jeff Galloway has a prediction chart. But, still, over and over, every chart in the book, from determining paces for tempo runs to repeat pace times, the charts never went high enough for me to find my target pace. Ever. In the whole book.

At first, I was like "Ok, well, I'm slow. I know that." But, then I just kept getting more and more irritated by it. Why couldn't they have just shown a few more lines? Don't people like me read these books, too? Wouldn't I be an ideal candidate of someone who'd want to "Run Less and Run Faster??" I thought I'd give them a pass if I could get the data on their website. In their defense, they did have the higher 5K numbers for the training paces charts on the website, but the Race Pace Predictor was still too fast for me. I mean, really, why wouldn't it at least be on the website?

Honestly, that's a big deal to me, and it frustrates and angers me. They could have left out one or two runner testimonials and included this information. It almost renders the book useless, except that I have so many other resources to get it from (see the McMillan Running Calculator, for example). This made me want to return the book. After all, it clearly wasn't meant for me.

But, barring the uselessness that the included tables and charts, lets talk about the merits of the book.

What I Like About the Plan
I definitely love the idea that I can run less and still get faster. This book is suited for those of us who don't have hours upon hours to devote to running. If you want to focus more on overall fitness, cross training, or even just on your job or family, this is a plan for you. The best part, though, is that according to the science and results that others have seen, you can focus on these other things without sacrificing your PRs and pace. In fact, you can still improve. That's great news!

I mean, I've always kind of felt that just running for the hell (junk miles) is just wasting your time. With a goal in mind, every run should reflect that goal. I've been doing this since early 2008 anyway, just not with the kind of structure and discipline that this plan uses. I'll use Cardio Coach, or do some hill training, track work, or just sprints here and there, but I don't always follow a "training plan" per se. One reason for this, though, is because I am a Galloway Runner, and Galloway runners tend to not focus on speed (as speed is not what Galloway is about). If you read Jeff's book, Running: A Year Round Plan, he does have some speed work built in, but I've always kind of felt that his speed work (composed of Cadence Drills and Acceleration Gliders, mostly) are, well, lame. Jeff puts his repeats mostly on the weekends, which interferes with what I need to do with my group for long runs. I like the idea of doing "real" speed work with Tempo Runs and track work on a weekly basis, during the week. I'd love to get my group hyped up about this and meet them at a track (although going to tracks sometimes intimidate me).

What I Do Not Like About the Plan
My dislikes about the plan come mostly from my own personal experiences and how I have to mix this plan with my Galloway Training Program that I remain pretty committed to. First off, the book insists that you should do your long runs at a pace that is very close to your training pace. This isn't doable for me because I am a Galloway Group Leader, and tends to be contrary to the whole "Run Injury Free" motto that Jeff Galloway follows. My question would be, can I still do the tempo/track work during the week, but leave my Saturday schedule as it is? I guess I can try.

My other issue is that sometimes I want junk miles. Sometimes I want to hang with my friends and enjoy a run. I run at my running store every Tuesday and Thursday, and I'd have to give up one of those days in favor of track work with the FIRST plan. Not so fun.

The idea of going to a track every single week is bothersome and inconvenient, so I'd wonder if there were non-track workouts that I could substitute. I wonder if I could do a track workout every other week instead, and maybe do hill repeats every other week. This would work better for me. Like so many training plans that I read, this book stuck so closely to the plan that they didn't really leave any wiggle room for substituting things or offer guidance of how to do so.

So, what did I think?
In general, I liked the book, and I think I'm going to borrow some of the advice and modify it to meet my training needs this summer/fall. However, I am still aggravated and bothered by the lack of slower pace times in the charts and flexibility in the plan.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Can Anybody Read Elevation Charts?

I'm horrible at deciding if a race is hilly or not based on an elevation chart. I keep looking at the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon chart to decide if it's hilly or not. It's not that I mind running a hilly race, I don't. It's that I want to manage my expectations about what I can hope to achieve at this race. There was this little race that I ran in September called the Philadelphia Distance Run where I set a PR at a pace that I never thought I could keep in 13.1 miles. And I didn't even think it was difficult to do so. Now, I'm so worried that it will be an insane amount of time before I can beat that time... or that I'll kill myself trying. I want to enjoy my races, but also feel good about my time. So, I've been studying elevation charts and comparing.

Let's start with the Philadelphia Distance Run. Looking back on that race, I felt that it was pretty much flat. I would describe it as a flat, easy course, with only a slight upward grade during mile 13. Here is the elevation chart for that one:
Indeed, my memory seems pretty accurate on that one. That big bump down in mile 5 is where we headed down into the riverfront area, and then we headed back up out of it during mile 13. I have no recollection of any of those extra small bumps elsewhere in the course.

Let's look at another one. This is the elevation chart for the Frederick Half Marathon, a race that I consider to be "rolling hills." Again, I had no issue completing this one, and set a PR both times I ran it (ok, the first time it was my first half marathon ever, but still). I do feel like a major hill is missing on this elevation chart, as it seems to mysteriously end at about 12.5 miles, and the largest hill is actually just before the finish line. But, close enough.

So, this is a "hilly" course, but doable. If I were doing Frederick again, I would think I could get *close* to my PR, but probably couldn't set a new one. Not this year, anyway.

Next... behold the elevation chart for the Baltimore Half Marathon:
This one was a hard, TOUGH race. Remember that I also completed it in a year when the temperature was abnormally high, so that didn't do me any favors. Still, I found this one to be pretty difficult, and I think the elevation chart shows it.

The Maryland Half Marathon:

The race for the insane. I didn't run this one, but I know people who did, and I admire them for it. It was a hot, miserable day that started with pouring rain and ended with 80 degree temperatures, and a finish line on a sand horse track. Awful, and this is generally considered one of the more difficult half marathons around. Maybe THE most difficult in Maryland (there's only been one so far, in 2009). That small bump ending at Mile Marker 11? Brutal, apparently. Steep and evil. That's a tough course. I can tell that by the elevation chart.

So, what about my race? Lehigh Half Marathon:

I don't know... I mean, that is a lot of small bumps, which worries me. But, in the end might not be as bad as the Frederick Half... I think I'll just go in with no expectations and see what happens.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Recipe: Classic Roast Chicken with Gravy

I first tried roasting a chicken back in January with the Roast Chicken with Two Lemons recipe. That one was very good, but I liked this one more. It was delicious. An ongoing issue that I have, though, is that when roasting a chicken I have found that my oven will smoke. In January, I thought it was because my oven was dirty after the Monkey Bread nonsense, but we cleaned the oven a few weeks ago, so I knew it wasn't the case this time. I did some research and found that my oven is too hot. I have a convection oven, and I use it on the Convection Roast setting (because otherwise, why even have it?). This makes the temperature of the juices at the bottom of the pan above their smoke point, and they start to smoke. I have to keep the oven temperature cooler on the convection setting in order to keep it from smoking. And, as it turns out, it will still cook in the same amount of time.

More experimenting on roasting a chicken later, as I'm certain that I want to make this one again. It was that good! I served it with stuffing and steamed green beans. Yum!

Photo Credit: Lee Harrelson, Cooking Light

Friday, March 5, 2010

Should Orcas Be in Captivity?

Orcas are beautiful animals. We call them killer whales and they are - they're vicious meat eaters, who fight with Great White Sharks. They travel and migrate, and can be found all over the world (although they're more frequently found in the northeast Pacific, Iceland, Norway and Antarctica). Yet, for some reason, humans have found it necessary and right to keep these creatures in pools the equivalent size of a bathtub (to the whale anyway). Why?

When the Killer Whale Tilikum killed Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau in February, one of my co-workers knew I'd have an opinion and came over to ask what I thought. My simple answer is, no, Killer Whales (and Dolphins for that matter) should not be in captivity. His argument was that the only reason that anyone cared about Killer Whales is because they're easily seen in places like Sea World, and so shouldn't some be held there?

So, I mulled it over. Gave it some thought. My answer is still no.

Sea World is a business. They are defending keeping Orcas in captivity by saying that they are educational, but what exactly are we learning? Orcas do not do tricks for human entertainment when they are in the wild. They do not interact with humans in the wild. These shows are entertainment, not education. Sea World will continue to defend them because nearly 70% of the revenue from Sea World is generated by the Orca shows. So - no Killer Whales, no Sea World.

Let's look at Humpback and Blue Whales. They're not found in captivity, they're too large. Yet, somehow, life goes on for them. We know they exist, we care about them, we want to see the species continue. So, really, is it necessary to have Orcas in captivity in order to "care" about them? Isn't this why we have Animal Planet and National Geographic? Isn't this why we have whale watching expeditions? I mean, Discovery Channel has a whole week devoted to sharks, and there is a lot of hype surrounding the Great White, and yet there aren't really Great White Sharks in captivity (there have been 5 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, all only held for a short period of time). I'm not buying that you need to have a few Orcas in captivity to torture them and teach them tricks in order to learn about them.

Some facts (courtesy of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society):
  • Wild Orcas have lifespans of 35 years for males and 50 years for females. Most Orcas in captivity do not live past age 30.
  • 136 Orcas have been captured from the wild, and 123 of them are now dead. Their average life span in captivity has been 4.5 years.
  • Orcas born in captivity live to be an average of 8.5 years old before they die.
  • Orcas can and do dive to 60 meters.
  • The maximum depth of Shamu Stadium is 10.7 meters. This is one of the largest Orca pools in the world.
  • Orcas have highly developed brains, and live in the wild in social groups and closely-knit pods.
  • Four captive Orcas live completely alone.
Let's just stop this. Please avoid Sea World. Don't give them your money. There is no reason to be keeping these animals in captivity.

For more information on other marine mammal injustices, please see the Oscar Nominated Documentary, The Cove.

Captive Orcas: Dying to Entertain You, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

All Time Favorite Commercials

When I saw the Kia Sorrento commercial in the superbowl, I knew that I'd found a new favorite commercial. So, I thought I'd share my 10 favorite of all time... all though I might be forgetting some. They kind of are all "cute," I suppose. That's just me. Oh, and sorry there are so many disney ones. I'm biased.
  1. Kia Sorrento 2010 (Kia)
  2. Mister Barky Von Schnauser (Petsmart)
  3. Energizer Bunny (Energizer)
  4. The Sun (Jimmy Dean)
  5. Meteor (Discovery Channel)
  6. Gimme Back That Filet O Fish (McDonald's)
  7. Beauty & The Beast (Lilo & Stitch)
  8. Car Movers (Mentos)
  9. 50th Anniversary (Disney)
  10. Year of a Million Dreams (Disney)

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Risks of Diving

As part of my ongoing Dive training, I regularly read up on Scuba Diving accidents and incidents. The website Scubaboard has a forum devoted to talking about and researching these accidents. Is this morbid? Not really. Most of the time, it's used as a reminder of what can happen diving, and how this is a serious sport which has some very serious risks involved.

Last week, I came across the information about EG, who died on the Galapagos Aggressor II on February 12. One of her fellow divers recounted the incident on his blog (read it here). He went into great detail. His wife is Kimberly, and the deceased buddy is Denise. The divemaster on the dive was named Patricio.
As soon as I was in, I located Kimberly and we gave each other the "OK" sign. I cleared my mask and rearranged my hood which was causing water to leak into my mask. Patricio and others were +/- 20 feet below and moving away. I am usually slower than most to equalize on early dives, so Kimberly and I were behind most of the group from the start but were descending much quicker than my usual in order to stay with the group being lead by Patricio. I do not know where E.G. was at that time. I was focused on descending safely and keeping close to my buddy, Kimberly.
On the descent, Patricio was always lower and further out from the island than Kimberly and me. I was surprised when Patricio led us past 90 feet due to Jamie's previous instruction. At some point I remember struggling greatly against the current. My best estimate is that it was around the 3-5 minute mark based my computer's information. I was near hyper-ventilating and had to consciously slow myself down. I could see from Kimberly's body language that she was struggling as well. At about the nine minute mark, Patricio was closer to the island and was signaling to us to grab hold of the sloping bottom and hand over hand move up against the current. Kimberly and I were struggling against the current and neither of us had gotten comfortable in the water yet.
Kimberly said that during the time she was struggling, at the 3-7 minute mark, was the last time she saw E.G. who had been just behind her, toward deeper water. Neither of us remember seeing E.G. or Denise grabbing onto the sloping bottom. It is Kimberly's recollection that Denise was in front of her and me, while E.G. was behind Kimberly.
When Kimberly and I got control by hanging onto the rocks and moderating our breathing (about 10-15 minute mark based upon my dive computer), I started looking around to see where everyone else was. I didn't see E.G. Kimberly and I were well under 2000 psi of air at this point, which is a lot of air to have used so quickly.
Read the full account if you are interested, it is quite a scary tale.

What really gets me about this story is how similar it seems to the experience that Todd and I had in Kona at Never Never Land. Neither of us panicked, although we were both stressed. We did, however, end up in a current that we were not prepared for, and we were separated.

In the end, EG was found much later, four hours after descending. She was on the bottom in 168 feet of water, with no mask, regulator out of her mouth and 2000 PSI left in her tank. No one will really know what exactly happened, but one can speculate that she panicked for some reason (missing mask is a sign of panic). She might even have panicked because she lost her mask. The current was strong, and she was not prepared.

It's difficult to say what might have helped EG to survive this. The original author seems to point towards the divemaster not giving a specific enough briefing or not paying enough attention, or something else at fault with the Aggressor. I tend to disagree. Some ideas of mine:
  • EG hadn't dove in about 10 months (as stated here by Keith). While most organizations recommend only taking a scuba refresher course after 12 months of not diving, I would figure that you'd want to do a few dives in a much shorter period of time if you are going to somewhere as advanced as the Galapagos (Bonaire or somewhere more calm would be a much different story).
  • Denise (EG's buddy), stated here that EG was using a brand new Dive computer, and had to ask someone else on the boat for assistance in figuring out how to use it. With new equipment, you should always know how to use it before you get into open water with it. They come with instruction manuals, and you can dive in a local pool to test it out. I can't imagine going to the Galapagos with a new dive computer not knowing how to use it. Talk about unprepared.
  • Denise also stated that EG was trailing behind her, that she was uncomfortable with this, and talked to EG about it. EG still continued to trail behind. I have to admit, Todd and I have spoken about this after Kona, and we have an agreement that we will hold hands or lock arms in a strong current. At a minimum, we would be side by side.
  • Panic is a horrible thing. Even at 168 feet, it is reasonable to think that EG should not have died, as long as she had air in her tank. She had plenty of air. She might have gotten narc'd or pushed down in a down current, but who knows. It is so important to not panic, and that is something that you can get from experience and from preparing better for your dives.
I'm not sure that 50 dives is enough to be prepared for the Galapagos, but that also depends a lot on where you've been diving for those 50 dives. If they were all in Bonaire and Little Cayman (as my first 50 dives were), then probably not. However, if they were in the Atlantic or Pacific or more advanced dives, then maybe.

The thing with the Galapagos is that it is colder than other places, requiring what is pretty thick wetsuit to most (7mm). This creates a weighting difficulty for those who may not regularly dive in a 7mm. Frankly, diving a 7mm wetsuit is uncomfortable and bulky, but it keeps you warm. I dive with 20 pounds of weight in a 7mm, when I only dive with 8 pounds in my 1mm suit. These two scenarios feel totally different.

In the end, this was a horrible lesson for lots of divers thinking of getting in over their head with a more challenging diving experience. This same thing could have happened to hundreds of other divers, and they all might have surfaced safely, but clearly something different happened here with EG. It is a shame that it happened and my condolences go out to her family. What a tradgedy.

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