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Living Like There’s A Tomorrow… A Funny Look At Semantics

Imagine that, the sun is about to rise and we’re not floating off into space…

Seeing as the Mayan Calendar ends today and many have placed their faith in the Mayan’s ability to guess when the world will end, I thought about living yesterday like there was no tomorrow.  Fortunately for my guys I only thought about it – instead I chose to live life like there is a tomorrow…  I went into the office after taking a 3 hour nap (what can I say, I stayed up to watch Hurt Locker – it was so good I watched it again and didn’t get to sleep til 1 am) so I could get my payroll out to my guys before Christmas.  I also worked on getting a couple of more jobs, just on the off-chance that the Mayans messed up, so that my guys would have work to come back to after Christmas break.  In fact, I’m getting at it today as well so I can get some work done so I can enjoy next week off.

I also took a day off of the bike yesterday, something I never would do if I were living like there were no tomorrow.  The dogs were feeling a little sore and tired – more than they should anyway.  I may or may not take another day off today, depending on how painting the kitchen goes – one more task that would never be done if there were truly no tomorrow.  I also ate a relatively sensible dinner last evening – let’s face it, if there were no tomorrow who would worry about calories?

This afternoon however, I’ll be letting my hair down after just having it cut and…er, living like there will be a tomorrow, celebrating the fact that the world didn’t end by heading out to the firing range with my mentor where we will blow off some steam and light some targets up like a Christmas tree.  I’m also going to be checking into picking up a new pistol, something with some pop to it…  I’d call that a Christmas present, but I’m no fool – why risk eternal damnation for picking up a gun to celebrate Jesus’ birthday?  No, I’ll be calling that one a holiday present.  That should do, yes?  I will also, then, have to live like there’s a tomorrow and clean my pistols so they stay in good working order…  In case I do run into the end of the world and need them functioning (if I don’t make the cut).

After that will be a much-needed dinner with my lovely wife and children – as you’d imagine, that’s a pretty hefty day, gotta have the fuel because I’m up for another 12 mile run on Saturday so I can maintain my fitness like there is a tomorrow.

How To Outrun A Diet – By Trial And Error

I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers yesterday that just broke my heart… Specifically this line: “I am still struggling with weight, even after all of this training”.

I don’t really write too often about what it’s taken me to outrun my diet – to be fair with the definitions, I eat around 2,800 calories – exactly perfect for my height, weight and activity level and I do this naturally without counting calories – in other words, my definition of a “bad diet” really isn’t all that bad. I am a sucker for sweets every now and again but I can make a bag of Better Made licorice last for a week, but I’ve almost completely kicked a gnarly four to five 2-Liter of Coke per week habit (do the math, it’s more than a pound’s worth of sugar a week). I do drink Gatorade like it’s going out of style, but I need the electrolytes (I can feel it when I’m dipping into the reservoir). With the definition of my diet out of the way, at least vaguely so, I can get into the meat and potatoes.

I’m exercising five days a week (30 minutes – 2 hours each day) and that’s during the off-season (late, late fall to early spring). For the on season, I’m going six to seven days a week at least an hour a day and 2-5 hours on Saturdays, both running and cycling. I exercise so much (and so hard) that I have no choice but to supplement my diet with some fast food to keep my caloric intake up… I haven’t worried about my physical appearance in going on a year now and I can tell you, it’s a glorious feeling to be able to look down at your legs and laugh because they’re so muscularly perfect. It’s awesome to be able to not have your gut hanging over your belt when you’re sitting down (or to not have to lean back to hide that little bastard of a gut).

To get there took forever and a day though – more than ten years of running, and once I started cycling daily, it still took another entire year. That last year was spent tweaking my diet and shedding the Coke habit. Now I don’t know if the way I went about things helped or hurt – I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground when I started running more than a decade ago, I was lucky to find it with both hands. The one thing that I did right though, is that I didn’t quit – no matter what. I suppose, after the first year of running I was at a fairly reasonable 170 lbs – at 6′ tall, but I still wasn’t all that happy with a little bit of “old man fat” that I had around by belly. Only in the last year did I lose enough of the stubborn fat to be comfortable (around 155-157). I make no bones about the fact that I’m half nuts for sticking with exercise this long, but long about the second year I grew to need the release I got from setting the endorphins free, and that’s really what kept me going.

To compound the problem, at least as I see it, you’ve now got this “fat burning” zone 2. Call me crazy, but I ride and run for fun too and tooling about at 15-16 mph on a road bike just isn’t that fun – I’ve always been the kind of guy that “if you can talk, you’re not running/riding fast enough. According to the best knowledge I’ve got, this is in the vicinity of zone 3 – the carb burning zone. The truth is, because I like going faster I could have slowed my fat burning potential.

In the end, I really don’t care about much of the zones and heart rates (at least until I wan to get serious and improve on my overall speed to keep up with the Tuesday night group). I’m all about getting my sweat on. The point is, my friends, I had to stick with it until I found out what worked for me. Of course, I could have hired a coach and made life a lot easier, but then I’d have been stuck with a plan that I didn’t like and bored the hell out of me…

UPDATE: Joseph Lampen made a few excellent points in the comments section that were missing from this post:

“…that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The gain in self confidence, lower cholesterol, and increase in energy can’t be measured or valued. But, the other reason to ride is because I’d rather manage that than take on some peas and alfalfa diet. I ride to eat :)”

Only 40% Of Guns Are Sold Without A Background Check… Fun With Facts

I read a post last night that posed an interesting set of points – points that I generally agreed with, save one:  When it comes to gun control, why can’t we all just get along?  Why is it when reasonable people get together, does ‘gun control’ mean confiscation to gun owners? Why can’t we come up with reasonable gun control laws that will prevent things like what happened in Connecticut from happening?

Well, the first problem is that this is a State problem because Congress can’t infringe on the right to bear arms.  After all, a well-regulated group of citizen soldiers is an imperative of a free State, but let’s really look at this a little deeper.

The answer is that the anti-gun lobby will stop at nothing to get all guns banned, there is no low that they won’t stoop to and no distortion they aren’t willing to tell to get public opinion to sway their way – no matter how dishonest.

The new comment of the day to get the uninformed to back anti-gun legislation goes like this: 40% of firearms sold in the US don’t require a background check. Unless you know how these arguments are phrased, you could mistakenly jump to the conclusion that almost half of the people who buy guns don’t go through a background check. How could that be?  Background checks make sense! How could almost half of guns sold be done so without a check?!

I own one pistol that I had a background check to get.  It is a very nice pistol. Does it make sense to run another check on me or require me to go through a waiting period when I purchase another?  How about a third?  There’s part of your 40% of all guns (if I remember correctly, in my state, a purchase permit must be submitted to the State through the Sherrif’s office for every purchase).

In addition (for the rest), some gun owners are licensed to carry concealed firearms in most States and one of the benefits to having this license is no need for further checks while the four-year renewable license is in effect.  Now I know concealed carry laws in every State that I’ve ever visited – but I only know the requirements to get a license in my State so I’ll stick to what I know… To obtain such a license in my State, a person must prove that they’ve passed a training course that requires the participant to show beyond doubt that they are capable of handling their firearm safely. Additionally, a much more rigorous FBI background check is required. To top that off, each licensee must submit a special set of fingerprints to the FBI – and this must all be done and paid for before the State will even think about giving an applicant the license…  Does it make sense to run another check before they have to go through the same steps to renew their license that they went through to obtain it in the first place?

Of course not, what this really does is save our government (the County and State) resources from making unnecessary, duplicate or triplicate checks.

The reality is the loser who committed the atrocity in Connecticut couldn’t have passed even the less stringent local police background check to simply purchase a firearm – he had to kill his mother to gain access so if you’re wondering what must be done additionally to prevent someone like that from purchasing a firearm, the real answer is nothing other than make mom’s with nut-cases for sons lock up their stinking guns so they can’t get at them – but that’s not exactly rocket science now is it?

The point is that we’re asked to be a part of an open honest debate with anti-gun nuts that is neither open or honest – 40%of firearms may very well be sold without a point of sale background check, but they’re all sold after some kind of background check.

The discussion smacks of the “90% of firearms confiscated from Mexican drug smugglers can be traced back to the US” distortion.  About four years ago the argument was made by both Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama himself that 90% (or something close to that, I don’t remember the actual figure) of all firearms confiscated in Mexico could be traced back to the US.  The reality behind the numbers broke like this:    Of the weapons that were confiscated in Mexico and sent to the ATF to be traced (11,000), only 6,000 could be traced.  Of those 6,000, 90% came from the US.  The problem is that the Mexican government confiscated 29,000 weapons in that year…  So less than 6,000 of those 29,000 firearms could be traced back to the US.  Now in all fairness, because that’s what the discussion supposedly requires, figure that the Mexican government sent 11,000 of the 29,000 firearms to be checked because they were American made but the serial numbers were filed on 5,000…  On the high side, 11,000 of the 29,000 firearms that Mexico could have come from the US – or roughly 35%, not 90%, but as low as 20%.

The point is, how can you have an open debate with a group of people who are either completely ignorant or dishonest?  And that, in a nutshell, is why the controversy is always such a big deal.

Oh, and the real question that needs to be asked of those who want to limit my ability to protect myself and my family is this:  How will making it more difficult for me to buy a firearm make me safer?  I will follow the law, whatever it ends up being, but there are tens of thousands who won’t, who will buy firearms on the black market – so how does removing my firearm from the equation make me safer?

Good luck trying to make that argument without being laughed out of the room.

It Never Ceases To Amaze…

My kid’s school closed for Thursday and Friday…because if the paranoia surrounding the end of the world on Friday – the second such panic in just 12 years.

Of course this one’s different this time. This one isn’t even a computer glitch that they figured out a year earlier, an ancient civilization simply didn’t have a computer to write a calendar that doesn’t end so they need a new one. In other words, it’s even less troublesome this time around.

Isn’t there one Mayan out there who can make a new calendar? Just one so we can wake up on Saturday and go running?

Sadly, this is a little deeper and I actually agree with the school administration’s decision based on what I know but will not put to print. Let’s just say it helps me to understand better why politics is an ugly business.

Actually, if we go by the previous paragraph, can’t we just fake it?

You May Not Be Able To Outrun A Bad Diet, But…

My thinking has evolved a little bit on the topic of not being able to outrun a bad diet. I would concede, taking into account varying degrees of the definition of “bad” of course, that you cannot outrun bad diet – God knows I’d tried.  Even so, I still won’t accept as Gospel the notion that the ratio of diet to exercise is 80%-20%.

This being the Holidays (I don’t know about you but they start at Thanksgiving and end just after the first of the year for me), historically I should be somewhere around 165-170 by now, based on the level of slacking that’s normal for my holiday season – I usually shut down after Thanksgiving though I did change that considerably last year.  This year, while days off have increased, I’m running farther on Saturdays than I ever have and my daily half hour spinning sessions at the office have been a lot more lively.  Therefore, I’ve only gained about a pound and a half since Thanksgiving – and my diet hasn’t exactly been what anyone could call “good”.  While I have managed to keep somewhat of a lid on the junk food, let’s face it, I’m a sucker just like the next for a treat.  In those terms I practice moderation, rarely abstinence.

Now that I’m through the worst, and with January 1st coming up in a hurry, I’m starting to look at goals for 2013 – and my diet, weight and decent stretch of distance running of late are going to play a big factor in my choices for next season…  A few things will stay the same, the Ride for Recovery on April 28th in Ypsilanti (100k) is a definite, as will be the Tour des Lacs in Fenton (Century) and the Assenmacher 100 in August.  I’m looking at adding the ride across Michigan (145 miles) the day before Assenmacher’s though – and after speaking with Mrs. Bgddy, if I can keep my running up to where I can get comfortable with the half marathon distance, I’m going to go for a half Ironman as well.  The 70.3 will depend on my ability and desire to keep up with my running though.  Last season I had so much fun on my bike, running took a back seat – in fact last year was my lightest spring/summer/fall in more than ten years.  I’ll have to keep a lid on that and actually run on Saturdays next season.  I had planned on doing one this year but I wasn’t where I needed to be with my running distance so I ended up actually having to train for the event.  I made it about two weeks into the actual “training” and found out that I hated it – something about the structure of it didn’t agree with me.  I’ve trained for running races and half marathons throughout the years, but something about the idea of “ride this far, at this pace, with “x” heart rate” was just too, restrictive.  Say what you will, if I’m exercising it’s gotta be for the fun of it or it becomes work, and I’ve got enough of that with my day job.  That said, if I can make it into the spring used to a half marathon, then all I have to add in is a little bike ride and a dip in the lake to get the half Ironman in, and that seems manageable.

Also, in a post earlier this year I kicked around the idea of riding in the DALMAC (a four-day, 400+ mile ride from Lansing to Mackinaw) but after talking with the misses about that one, I think I’ll leave that for another year.  It would be fun but a little unrealistic as far as family, timing and work goes.  I’m quite certain I’ll keep my 200k solo ride on the Pere-Marquette rail trail and throw in a couple of other centuries for fun (the 4th of July 80 miler will be in as well).  Other than that, we’ve got vacation to look forward to again in early July and we’re heading back down to the mountains in Georgia again (YES!!!).

Finally, we’re almost done with our remodel – we painted our bedroom over the weekend, the bathroom Monday and yesterday evening (and put the cabinets back on the wall)…  Next up is the kitchen followed by the laundry room and then all that’s left is the new flooring in the kitchen/laundry room and replacing the flooring in the bathroom which we should be able to get through before I come back to work after the new year (assuming of course that the world doesn’t end on Friday).

How True It Is…

Received as a “P.S.” to an email I received from a customer last week:

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.  Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.”

Cycle After Running… Fix The Hurt

I’ve written about a few things that have helped keep me running, a bite splint that I wear at night that keeps me from grinding my teeth (it helps a lot more than you’d think) to active recovery rides (some people enjoy an active recovery run the next day).  Over the last couple of years I’ve started honing my after run active recovery routine down to where I’m recovering from a long run in a couple of days, depending on how soon I can get on a bike after I’ve run.

Specifically here’s the deal…  After a long run, if I can get my butt on a bike within 3 hours of finishing, all I have to do is a simple recovery ride:  10-12 miles @ 17 – 17.5 mph with a cadence between 90 & 100 RPM.  If I feel like going a little further, that’s all good just as long as I keep the speed reasonable.  Where I run into trouble is when, for one reason or another, I can’t get out for a ride after a long run within 12 hours or so.  Saturday, for example, I went out on a 12 mile run but had things to do afterward that kept me busy for the rest of the weekend.  I wasn’t exactly “pain” but I sure didn’t feel like myself so for my daily spin on the trainer I kept the cadence high and the speed low but I rode mostly in the drops.  Riding in the drops, with my nose as close as I can get it to the stem (keeping my feet as flat as possible) stretches my hamstrings, the main source of most of my problems.  I was right as rain before I finished.

I’m experiencing another problem, hamstring related, that I’m hoping this will help as well.  As is usual, this will sound familiar to anyone who has followed this blog for more than a few months, I bumped up my Saturday running mileage too fast (I went from 5-1/2-6 miles two a half marathon in two weeks) and I’m right on the edge of developing Plantar Fasciitis.  This is a typical injury for me if I increase running mileage to fast.  My hamstrings tighten up, pull on my calf muscles and that works all the way down to the arches of my feet.  There were a few times I actually thought about turning back on Saturday rather than risk full-blown PF, but in the end I decided that I’d suck it up and run through it.  Time will tell as to the brilliance of this.  So far I’m OK though.  In any event, I’ll be doing everything I can over the next few days to stretch the hamstrings out.

Fit Recovery’s 1 Year Anniversary…

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around it:  One year, 711 posts.  I started this blog with the hope that a couple of my friends would share in the blogging duties but it just didn’t work out that way so I took to it myself.  It’s been a fantastically rewarding year and thankfully I’ve rarely run low on topics to write about.

I celebrated on Saturday with a 12 mile run followed by a family trip to Home Depot to pick out paint for our remodel project and a nice dinner.  Yesterday evening while driving home after bowling I was listening to Peter’s Principles on the radio and I heard a phrase that I’ve often repeated myself, but this time it meant something different:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  Normally when I use this phrase, and it was used in the same context last night, I’m referring to something in my life that I deem unacceptable that must be changed.  With fitness, and recovery as well, I’ve been doing a few things over and over again simply because I wanted results.  A year and a half ago, after running anywhere between two and four times a week for near a decade, I got into training for triathlons.  At the time, I was pleased with my physique but I wasn’t happy.  It is quite possible that I was being hyper-critical by average standards but that didn’t change the fact that I still thought I could (should?) be in better shape than I was.  To train for my first Olympic Length Triathlon, I ran and rode the equivalent (or close to it) every Saturday and started riding my bike on other non-running days.  Before I knew it I was riding a bike or running (or both) almost every day of the week…  Fast forward to December 17th, 2012…  I’ve been more active in the last year and a half, more physically fit, than at any time in my life (including my teenage years) – and I am happy, finally, with how I look.  All because I kept doing the same thing, over and over and over again.

I suppose if I had to split hairs, I didn’t do the same thing expecting different results, I just expected results.  That’s probably an important distinction.  The point is, I absolutely had to work to stick with this – the results that I was looking for took more than a year.  I don’t think there’s any doubt that I could have done it faster, I know I could have – but that’s not the point…

To everyone who has joined me for the ride, thank you.  Here’s to, as long as the world doesn’t end on Friday (snicker), another year…

Quotable Quotes

I never realized how much business I had until I started minding my own…

I heard this one about 19-1/2 years ago (and heard it repeatedly for another year or two because I used to blame everyone else for my shortcomings – imagine that) and it’s stuck with me ever since.  Every once in a while when I get to thinking I have it tough I like to dust this one off and kick the tires again to see if it still rolls – it does.

We’ve been in the middle of a major home remodel lately and it seems like I ran out of time to pick my nose, let alone have any time for fun.  On the good side of that though, it’s nice to be busy.  I have been so busy these last couple of weeks that I’ve been semi-neglecting my blog and absolutely neglecting those whose blogs I follow.  I just wanted to drop all of you a quick line to apologize for not reading posts lately, but I simply don’t have any time right now.

Construction should be buttoned up before Christmas and I always take the week between Christmas and New Years off so I’ll be back shortly.

The Glorious Epiphany

I’m blessed with having an epiphany every now and again and I love them.  The sun shines just a little brighter, there’s just a hint of a skip in my step and laughter is just a little easier to come by.  The epiphany can be a beautiful thing if I just remember that I had it for two or three weeks in a row.  If I do, as I did with one two summers ago, they can lead to an absolute and positive change in how I view the gift that is my life.  If I don’t, if I don’t concentrate on my new insight, I’ll slip back into my old way of doing things and the inspiration is lost.  I had such an epiphany this morning and it centered around the new possible cause for concern that I wrote about the other day…  My mother’s discovery of a pre-cancerous polyp which translates to the possibility of having to go through a test to see where I’m at.

It should come as no surprise that once I shared this information with friends, several of them had stories relating – stories of people they know/knew who received similar information then found out they had full-blown stage four cancer once they got checked out…  Oh how happy I was to hear these stories (not really, you should understand that the sentence is dripping with sarcasm).  I reacted, in the immediacy of the moment, as most people do – every little mole I’ve got might to be pre-cancerous…  “Is my spleen hurting, or is that my kidney, or my stomach, or may back – because I have ‘The Big C'”?  Well my back hurt because I slept funny, I’ve been up on my check-ups and the few moles I do have are all just fine…  The reaction is fairly normal I think.  Then comes the desire to “not die”, followed by a whole host of other emotions – yesterday was my day for them and I was fairly discombooberated all day.  Then I woke up this morning, and that’s where my day of nervousness became useful

I did a quick inventory of my life.  How do I act toward others, what do I bring, rather than what do I take?  Am I really being the best husband and father I can be?  Am I living up to the ideal that I know I should, for God?  If any of those crazy thoughts from yesterday were actually true, would I be ready?  That’s where I had my epiphany, driving down the expressway two miles per hour below the speed limit, cruise locked in, 20 miles from my office.  I realized there is room for improvement.  This was not, however, a doomsday “Oh my God, I’m hit…  I’ve got to reshape my whole life so I can get into heaven” epiphany.  This was a happy version.  This was a “I’ve got a great, healthy, sober life, fantastic wife, smart and respectful kids, a good career and I do my best in all of those…  But there is room for improvement.  Again, and I wish I could put this to words better, this was more of a relief than cause for deep concern because while there is room for improvement, at the same time I know I can do better.  The one thing I can liken it to is that it’s like riding a century – I’m at mile 90, I’ve been hurting for 20 miles, but I know I can make it that last 10 miles with a smile on my face, I just have to dig a little deeper and I’m there.  I had the same thing happen on my half marathon last week…  I was at 10 miles and hurting pretty good, I wanted to slow down even further and take it easy, but I knew if I gave it just a little more I could finish strong and do better than I ever had – I finished 10 minutes under my previous personal best, from ten years ago (I was 32).  Yes I had to dig deep to keep from slowing down and yes it hurt a little bit, but I had it in me and I did it.

So immediately after having my epiphany I set about shedding the few fleas I have (or at least the few I know about today) by calling my mentor and discussing it with him, this afternoon I’ll speak with my wife about it and I’ll probably call a couple of other close friends to let them in on it because they’ll all help me stay honest and keep my desire to do better fresh.  I am really looking forward to taking this next step, the last time I came up on something like this resulted in the best summer of my life (2011).  Maybe I can make this one last even longer.

There is a glaringly important point here:  Being excited about this morning and looking at this as an opportunity rather than a burden was a choice.