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The Perfect Weather To Test The Resolve

I’m pretty funny about running, particularly about ‘what’ I will run in. For starters, I would rather chew off my arm and beat myself over the head with it than run on a tread mill. Other than the treadmill, I’ll run in almost anything except freezing rain and anything colder than -10 F (-23 C), or more than 3″ of snow if the snow trucks haven’t gone through… Of course if it’s nasty out, I won’t necessarily be happy about running but I’ll do it.

Today was one of those ‘tweeners’. Snow on the ground, roads in rough shape, and cold, but not bad enough to call it. I hemmed and hawed, back and forth between staying in and spinning, or going out to the running club. The hard thing about being in great shape (at least for me) is not skipping on the ‘tweeners’… I didn’t need to run today, heck I’m exactly where I want to be right now, I’ve worked hard, and one day off won’t really hurt anything.

There’s only one problem. I got here by not quitting when the going got a little tough – I pushed through that.

So I suited up, showed up, and rocked out a great seven miles. Starting out was a little worse than you would figure. The roads for the first quarter mile were completely iced over in the subdivision. Other than that it was cold (25 F or -4 C), ‘hurty’ and it took about a mile before I could think about being comfortable. To make things worse, the roads were a little sketchy, lots of ice. With taking it easy for that first quarter I still managed an 8:25 for the first mile and an 8:39 for the second… Then it got nasty, I turned down a dirt road, technically it was more ice on top of dirt – 8:50 for that one and that was not a safe speed. The fourth mile was even worse, 9:01 was the best I could do and that felt like a 7:40 pace. Miles five, six and seven were in the 8:30-8:50 range and I was done… I had thought about running 9 or 10, but those extra two miles are all hilly dirt roads, way too dangerous considering mile 3.

It wasn’t a miserable run but it sure was close for that first mile and a half… But then something beautiful happened – same thing always happens on a cold run. The legs loosened up, the gloves came off (even with the temps below freezing) and finally the hat. I was warmed up and other than having to worry about falling on my ass, I had a great run.

It was a perfect day to see what I was made of.

How Do You Feel? How’s The Heart?

I read a great post on a friend of mine’s site that looked at the importance of checking the morning heart rate to judge adequate recovery after exercise… Now it was no surprise that my heart rate was a little elevated over the last few days, I’ve been exceptionally busy, haven’t slept well and kept my spinning schedule. The surprise was how elevated it was.

From the post: “How to use this data:
Keep an eye on your resting morning heart rate in the two or three days after a hard workout. If it’s significantly elevated from its normal average (7 or more beats per minute), that’s a sign that you’re not fully recovered from the workout. Remember, there is going to be some variability in your daily heart rate regardless of your recovery level, do don’t be concerned if you’re 3 to 4 bpm over your normal average on a given day. In my experience, it takes a reading that’s 7 bpm higher than normal to signify excessive training fatigue.

My average morning heart rate is in the low 50’s, call it 52. Over the last several days I was up around the low to mid 60’s. I took a couple of much needed recovery days off, got some fantastic sleep last night (upwards of seven hours and actually slept in till 5!). This morning, after a cup of coffee and a few moments of trying to figure out what I would write about, feeling like a hundred dollars, my heart rate was 48.

I’ve been keeping track of my heart rate (sparsely) for well over a year now and I’ve never been under 52. So, I have some improvement mixed in with a decent recovery, albeit a slow one. The improvement is quite surprising considering I wound down my season a month ago. If I had to guess, the increase my Saturday run from 5-6 miles to 10-13 plus the spinning intervals once or twice a week on the trainer is responsible.

I’m not going to spend too much time trying to figure it out, it’s my time to celebrate the Christmas season with my favorite movie while the wife (who hates it) and kids sleep…

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

World’s Tallest Dog

I used to have a German Short-haired Pointer/Great Dane mix named Moose.  Fortunately the mixes live a lot longer than the purebreds because even though he wasn’t quite as tall as a full Dane, he was close – and he lived twice as long.  He was my all time favorite dog – I miss him terribly even though I would often have to rent a fork lift to clean up the yard after him.

Here’s the world’s tallest:

guinness_world_records_tallest_dog_zeus

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?