All posts by jank

A Perfect Mile?

Forgive me, please.

I used to be a golfer. Kinda.

I was born an Air Force Brat, so, I think teaching me to golf was something that my dad had to do as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Growing up down south, the town I was in had a robust set of municipal courses, and was dirt cheap for high schoolers. So, I spent a lot of Saturdays with a buddy looking to get picked up as a fourth with some of the older golfers. Some of it was a love of the game; a lot of it was old white dudes like to feel cool by sneaking young white dudes cold brewskies.

Anyway, one of the things that’s stuck with me from my golfing days is the concept of the perfect shot. The shot that makes you sing in your loins.

Yeah.

So, the conceit is that at least once each loop you’ll hit a perfect shot.

The perfect shot is instantly understood – everything feels smooth, the sound of the club connecting with the ball resonates, and even before you finish the follow through and raise your head to the heavens to watch the ball arc through the sky, you know the ball is going exactly where you wanted it to go.

A good golfer gets a couple of perfect shots a round. A pro might get one per hole and make a career out of it. But even a duffer, even a beginner, even a middle class white teenager buzzed off of two Michelob Lights sweating in the late morning summer sun in the South, is going to get at least one per loop.

And that’s enough to get you to come back the for the next round. Maybe enough to get you to go to the driving range in the middle of the week to work on the swing.
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I think there might be a similar thing with running, and I think I hit it tonight.

It’s not the fabled “runner’s high”, which is, itself real – that hits towards the end of a long run, when occasionally the body will choose delirium instead of quitting, and it is glorious.

Instead, it’s a mile that just goes right. It doesn’t not hurt, it doesn’t feel effortless, it’s not necessarily easy.

But it’s a mile that just kind of floats by, exactly like it should.

I think I had a couple of perfect miles tonight after the sun had set behind Jamestown. I was moving, not pushing, but feeling the effort. I was aware of the wind, the crunch of the gravel beneath my feet. I made eye contact with rabbits, and tried to will them to stay still as I ran past, then felt kinship with them as they hopped away from the trail.

It was unexpected – I was pretty wiped from work today, and had pretty much planned on phoning in a mile on the treadmill and calling it another day on the streak. But, as I went to get changed out, the air just felt right, and I decided I may as well make it a real run.

I’m glad I did – there was at least one perfect mile, and it makes me want to chase the next one.

Movember Moment

I think that #rwrunstreak is beginning to catch up with me after 18 days. I knew I was a little tapped out today, but jumped on the treadmill after work to stay on task. Did 1.1 miles at about 11 minute pace, which, were I rested, should barely get my heart rate above Zone 1; instead, the average for the run was in the upper half of my Zone 2. It didn’t hurt, so I got it done, but definitely will not be staying up late tonite.

After logging the mile, I jumped on Zwift to actually make some progress on their Movember challenge. It’s not really a huge challenge – 9.9 hours of some sort of exercise during the month of November, but it still kind of amazes me that I’ll actually log fitness to get some sort of virtual swag, as opposed to logging fitness because it’s actually, well, good for me…

Whatevs. The cat kept me company – she’s been being more social lately, which is kind of odd.

OK, got this done, so let’s actually write for something worthwhile.

What am I running from?

So, I’ve been blogging again. And running consistiently again. Being a pessimist at heart, I’ve got to wonder “what am I running from?” These are some of the thoughts that went through my head while looking out over the Mystic River at the Naik Family YMCA (Seriously, the renovated gym really does look out at the sunset below, and the treadmills and bikes are all in front of a giant window).

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End. Less summer.

Part is NaNoWriMo – I think this is the first year in a while I haven’t even contemplated being a novel writer. But, I do still feel compelled to hammer out text. Which, as of late, has been going too much into Twitter. Not that I don’t treasure the twitter comerades that I have; I do. But it’s starting to feel like the Gen X version of Fox News. Not enough truly deep thought.

Second is momentary avoidance of the work I should be doing for grad school. This quarter is actually going pretty well – I am going to finish all my assignments on time, and be able to pass my first comp, but I’m not truly throwing myself into it. I do tend to make better progress on days when I write here though. Maybe the gears just need to be loostened.

I’m also running away from the guy who it would be so easy to settle into. I’ve always struggled with my weight, but over the last couple of years, it really has started to get away from me. I’m still not obviously fat, but I’m not necessarily obviously thin. Age is starting to catch up – there are many days when it would be so easy (and accepted) to stop struggling against gimpy joints, chafing, time constraints, whatever, and leave the shoes in the closet and the bikes hanging on the walls. To pop on another video, open another beer, and just … rest.

but mostly I don’t think I’m really running away. Mostly, I think i’m running towards:

  • Towards my lovely Boston qualifying wife. I don’t think I’ll ever get there, mostly because I’m not willing to sacrifice food like she has, but darned if I’m not going to make sure I can keep up with her on the bike.
  • Towards the me that I know I can uncover again. As long as i can keep moving, I have the potential to dig the skinny me out again.
  • Towards life after the kids leave the house, and after I no longer have to work full time. Sure as heck don’t want to spend all those years on the couch.
  • Towards setting an example for my kids.

Generally, I’m not a fan of the “life is a journey” metaphor. Journeys have a destination, and the only thing we’re guaranteed to reach is the grave. Screw that.

Maybe life’s more an exploration. With things to run towards, and things to run from. With new things to find, and with places to which you want to return. People you want to travel closely with, people you’re happy to stop awhile with, folks you want to wave for, and folks to avoid.

Whatever. All I know is that I banged out my 3 miles on the treadmill this evening because Nike told me to. And, somehow, I wasn’t in the same spot I started.

 

One Whole Hour

#rwrunstreak

It’s officially on. Actually, it’s always been officially on, I just finally got around to reading this month’s Runners’ World (I know they put the apostrophe in the singular place, but they shouldn’t. It should be inclusive).

Also, do you read SMBC? If not, you should.

www.smbc-comics.com/comic/hey

I will be happy when Siri can make sure I don’t buy the Haribo StarMix when I check out using my phone. “I’m sorry, cashier, but Bill needs help avoiding stress eating…”

Anyway, today’s run was outstanding. Nike+ said to do 6, so I did 6.

A couple of years ago, I kind of gave up on planning workouts and really stressing about training plans and so on. Part of that was getting Lyme disease, part of that was a change in work, etc. Whatever. Instead, I fire up the Nike Run Club application (formerly Nike+), pick the race I want to train for (or one of the 4 or 8 week training programs), and do what the machine tells me to do.

Today’s program was 6 miles. Since I’m historically slow, I knew that would be a little over an hour, so I popped on one of the guided runs in the app. It’s kinda silly, but having Coach Bennett in my ear helped the miles glide past.

It also helped that the day was about as perfect a running day as they come. Sure, it was right at freezing when I headed out about 930, but the air was still, the sun was shining. Strolled down to River Road (where i should have taken pictures but didn’t). Got to the midpoint of the run, then pushed a little bit past to run to the IH-95 bridge, because I knew that if I did that, I could walk back up the hill the house is on when I got back to the neighborhood.

And everything went according to plan. The sun shone, the breeze blew, and the sneakers slapped down on the ground.

Streak intact.

#rwrunstreak

Pretended I’m a runner and I looped it

So, the pre-streak is still alive after seven whole days. I’m actually kind of excited about that. So, what I’m trying to do is get a jump on the Runners’ World Run Streak for 2019. Easy rules: at least a mile a day, every day between now and the New Year.

Why?

Why not.

No, mostly it’s to celebrate no longer having a gimp ankle, to mourn being overweight and slow, and to rage, rage, against the dying of the (day) light (savings time). (Have I mentioned before how New England really should be in the Atlantic time zone? Sunset at 16:30 is BOOOOOGUS).

Anyway, today’s run was, well, pretty good. 4 miles is what Nike+ recommended, 4.2 miles is what I did. I even put in a tough effort for a half mile towards the end. Navy installations play “Taps” every night at local sunset. I’d set off knowing I would be ending about Taps, and when I heard First Call sounded, I put the hammer down for the five minutes between first call and Taps, and ended up with the last full mile at below 10 minute pace. Not historically fast for me, but I’ll take it.

New Roads

One of the amazing things about New England is that things just don’t change around here. Kinda soothing – routes remain the same, roads deteriorate and eventually get repaved, houses get built and fall down at about the same rate. But the roads and trails were largely laid out 200 years ago, and operate at a human scale.

New Gravel Jamestown

Went to run the loop on Jamestown after work again today. A dirt track I’ve run probably 100 times has been widened and graded. Not sure if it’s a full new road, or just an extension of a hike or bike trail. But, a change in a place that doesn’t change.

Legs were super good, at least for where I am now. The evening was crazy beautiful, cool but not cold. No traffic, but Jamestown is generally good for that.

The sun set as I made it to East Shore Road and headed back towards the soccer field where I’d parked. Since the wind was still, strains of taps phased across the water from NAVSTA Norfolk. Jogged into the parking lot as twilight began to set in, and drove home as the colors in the sky played out.

Not Tarzan Brown 2019

Beautiful run this morning. 40 degrees, mostly calm winds, sunny. Still enough leaves on the trees to make shady spots on the road – cold in the shadows until I got a mile into my legs.

I won’t lie – this has been a year of peaks and valleys. Came into the year feeling STRONG, then had my ankle give out on me. Didn’t ride my bike much this summer, but got close to 3 weeks in Colorado hiking with my youngest and another awesome week at a professional conference. Made some good connections. Was skinner after the backpacking trip than I’d been in 3 years, then put it back on (plus a pound or so) stressed out over school and work.

But I’m healthier now. I’m almost on top of school and work. I’ve descoped some of my commitments to others to a manageable load.

This morning felt good. Slow, and short by historical standards, but good, regardless. I felt like a runner.

One week of strong

So, I think that one of the really positive outtakes from “Muscle over 40” for me has been just a little more desire to be active. And this week’s “Fitness and Freshness” shows a pretty strong uptick:

I’m finally back to where I was at the beginning of April, when I stopped running for a while due to a gimp ankle. The ankle’s feeling much better.

Today was a day off. Originally, I thought I was going to study, but there’s some local drama going around, so my sleep game has been off. Plus, the kids went off to work and school, and Mrs J looked at me and said “Wanna go?”

“Yuh.” ;)

“OK”, she said, and tossed my running shoes at me. Let’s go.

Le. Sigh.

The run was strangely, strangely good. Which either means I’m about to break again, or that I may actually be getting better. Short run, just a couple miles.

After the run, it was on the bike again, down River Road, soaking in the light and air, and just kind of being joyous. It was weird being on River Road during the part of the day when most folks are working – most Saturdays and Sundays, it’s tons of “Always Wave at your fellow cyclists who you see out there on the road“. But this time, not so much. Like two other cyclists. On the other hand, the fishermen under the IH-95 bridge seemed pretty friendly, though Narragansett tallboys at 8 AM will do that for you.

Workout at the YMCA was humbling. Lessons learned:

    DOMS* is most definitely a thing
    60 year old ladies can kick my butt
    I have the upper body of a cyclist and the midsection of a football fan
  • RE: DOMS – I think it’s mostly the body saying “OK, I gave you the one day, but you really want to keep doing this?” But it had set in for certain this morning, mostly in the quads and glutes after doing the trap bar deadlifts on Wednesday. The run did a pretty good job of shaking it out, but still.
  • Re: 60 year old ladies – Today’s workout was mostly arms, but it also included a set on the squat machine. In which, when I got there, there was a fit 60 something woman saying “Just one more set”. Fine, I said, as I didn’t necessarily mind the recovery.
  • When she was done, I fiddled around trying to figure out the machine, thinking I would need to add some weight. Turns out, I didn’t have to to add an ounce. Woman was crushing it, and much like Mrs. Jank, could easily take me in a fair fight.
  • Re: My upper body – for the flys and the other arm exercises, I used a pathetic amount of weight as judged by the portion of the stack that I moved. Luckily, the woman from earlier was finished after the squat machine, so she didn’t stick around to kick sand in my face.
  • Oldest kid works at the Y. He’d been up at 4 and out of the house at 4:30 in order to open the pool for the 5 AM swimmers. So, as I was finishing up, he was getting off, so we headed downtown for coffee and bagels. Really proud of the guy he’s growing into; happy to have him home for the summer.
  • On the way out, I realized that I’d carried my new camera like 50 miles at this point without snapping any snaps. So, I parked the bike outside Harp and Hound.
  • Probably should have stayed there for 3 hours.
  • Muscle after 40, Week 1, Day 2

    Cut out of work early today. Beautiful day, so instead of just stoping at the gym on my way home, I went home first, and rode the bike to the Y.

    What a time to be alive! The ride was awesome, but it usually is – down hill from the house, then a cruise down River Road, through downtown, and stop at the Y. The Mystic Y is about 6 months redone, and it is amazeballs. Lots of natural light, and, a decent number of people. Felt good to be using something other than the pool.

    Regardless, today’s activity was harder than Day 1. Not sure if it was residual tired from Monday, or if I used weights that were too heavy, but I’m pretty sure that it really was some muscle groups I don’t usually hit. Doesn’t matter, because I got ‘er done.

    Rode home up the other side of the river, stopped at Kelley’s Pace for another ankle brace. I think the leg is mostly good now, but i’m going to keep using the brace as a prophylactic probably through the end of the calendar year.

    Pshew. Run tomorrow and Friday, rest Saturday, and then do the flyaway leg of the Vermont City Marathon on Sunday. Life is hard.

    Muscle After 40 – Week 1, Day 1

    One of the glories of being a reasonably successful and financially secure professional is that I can indulge in buying bad books that generally sit on the bedside table collecting cat hair.

    Latest case in point might end up being Muscle After 40: Build Your Best Body Ever in Your 40s and Beyond. It came in over the weekend while I was on the bike, and I did the first workout on Monday. Initial impressions:

    1. I dig the book. There’s 5 whole pages of introduction, and then it’s into the first set of workouts. Good layout, spiral bound so it’s easy to use in the gym.
    2. The illustrations are awesome. Each workout has a pretty good illustration of the exercises to do, and a space RIGHT THERE to write your reps.
    3. Bryan Krahn’s instructions are top notch – no real technical words, pretty much just “pick a weight you can lift for a complete set” with guides as to when you’ll tire easily, and when you can probably lift more than you think.
    4. He doesn’t really repeat himself much. I’ve thought for a while that most fitness and business books were a 10 page paper repeated 20 times to pad out a book that will have the first and last chapters read after someone buys it in the airport. Muscle after 40 fits this description, except it doesn’t repeat and doesn’t waste the pages in the middle, instead providing a useful log.

    The 12 week program is divided into 3 parts: First, it’s “Full Body”, which I think is mostly getting slugs like me into the bodybuilding parts of the gym. Second is Upper/Lower, where the workouts will either focus on the upper body or the lower body. Finally, it’s “Push-Pull”, which focuses on the whole body again, ‘cept better.

    First workout was in the books. I kinda screwed up and did it as a circuit instead of straight sets – still sweated. My guess is that I’m probably best just resting today and then going to the second day.

    Workout was good. Eating was not good – little bit of stress snacking in the AM. Weight is down slightly from where I’m redrawing my peak, but still 20 lbs above where I consider myself fat but healthy.