Friday, December 30, 2005

Party all the time, party all the time...

Another day, another party. Last night was fun, with lots of people and lots of food. Here's a sampling.


Party crowd:


(More) Donuts:

Grab Bag Gifts (Useful, and uh, not so useful.):

Oh yeah, I've also done some exercising! I swam yesterday and today. Still working on the first few drills from Total Immersion, but I think I'm getting somewhere. I can definitely get across the pool with less strokes. I still need to work on my breathing, but I haven't even gotten to those drills yet. Next week.

I also cycled today. I used the "random" setting which was kind of cool. It made me deal with changes in resistance, both up and down. I cycled for 30 minutes, and got just over 9 miles. (With the cooldown I hit 10.) I think I lost a few pounds from sweat alone. I felt pretty good after that workout, except for the pain in my a.., uh sitting parts. That's still annoying, but less so than before.

I think this is probably my last post for the year. (I don't post on Saturday during the day, and tomorrow night I'm going to see the Leafs take on the Devils.) So anyway, I'm going to take this opportunity to wish all of you the very best of years in 2006!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I can float

I started on the drills today from Total Immersion. Drill 1 basically has you floating on your back, just kicking. There's a few things there about positioning your head and body, and it seemed to help. I practiced this for about 20 minutes. I did a few laps of regular swimming before leaving; not too many since I was in the pool yesterday, and plan to go back tomorrow. Using some of the things I've picked up from the book so far, it seemed slightly easier. I did get short of breath after 4 laps, but I wasn't struggling while swimming. I did 2 sets of 2 laps (50 yards) each, and I seemed more in control than before. On to the second drill tomorrow.

I also ran on the treadmill today before swimming. I was planning on running 2 miles, but I wasn't feeling so perrfect so I ran 3 miles, pretty fast. Huh? Well I figured that if I wanted to get in 4 or 5 this weekend, and I was starting to feel my shins now, I should probably skip running until Sunday. So I switched from 2 today and 2 Friday, to 3 today, and really tough. Probably not the smartest thing in the world, but I got a good workout and felt pretty good afterwards. My shins (or knee!) don't really bother me. My achilles tendons are a bit tight, but I'm trying to stretch them out. I've been neglecting to stretch them, mostly just because I forgot!

Another Chanukah (how do you spell Hanukkah anyway?) party tonight, this time in my local community. Not much of a party, but of course I did go crazy on the donuts. Absolutely no self control.

I have another party tomorrow, which should be pretty crowded. It's been a good one in past years, and I'm definitely going to that one. (I've already bought and wrapped my grab-bag gift!) Saturday night is a combined New Years and Chanukah party which is probably too big and crazy for me. I'm thinking of skipping. I've also got an evite for a Sunday night party, with 600 people invited for this party in somebody's apartment. I'm not sure I'll go to that one either.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

At least I look like a swimmer

After an hour an a half at UPS (they suck!) I got my goggles today. So now even though I still can't swim, I'm really starting to look like I can!

Actually, it was a little easier today. I managed 350 yards, but was able to do more groups of 2 laps. It could be because I swam before cycling today, but it could also be because of the goggles. I didn't feel the need to keep lifting my head out of the water, and that let me breathe a little more comfortably. Not comfortably enough, mind you, but better than before. I picked up a copy of Total Immersion today, so I'm going to start working on some of the drills mentioned inside. I'll let you know how that goes.

I cycled afterward. I used the manual setting to see how far I was going. I'm not sure it's really accurate, but after 20 minutes I had less than 6 miles. It's possible I went slower than last time since I had already swam, but I think that my previous distances have been overestimates. I ended up with 7 miles in about 25 minutes today. My arms were dripping with sweat. Or maybe that was chlorine...

On my way out the gym there was a big crowd. It turns out that this was the annual Menorah "lighting" ceremony for the community, and so the local politicians were there. It wasn't exactly a massive scene, but the local media was there.

I was in Brooklyn the past two nights. (Home of kosher Dunkin Donuts!) While driving there I could see the Empire State Building. Last night its lights were red and green, but tonight I guess Christmas is officially over and so it's lights were blue and white, for Hannukah I presume. On my way back I stopped by downtown Brooklyn at a promenade I used to go to a lot. There's a really nice view of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from there. (You can see the ESB just to the right of center in this picture.)

I stopped by this used book store that I remembered being down there. It's gotten even better with tons and tons of books jammed in there. I picked up The Complete Book of Swimming for 8 bucks. I could have spent hours there, but it was late and they were almost closed. I'll have to go back sometime.

As you can see, I've gone picture crazy. I'm trying to carry my camera around more these days. It's a bit of a pain, but when I don't have it there's always things I want to take pictures of. For now I can just stick it in my big winter coat, so I'll try to keep it with me. (At least it makes this blog a little more interesting.)

Finally, a bunch of people have started listing their resolutions or goals for the coming year. I've thought about this a bit. I definitely have some goals I'd like to reach in my personal life. As for my athletic life, I think a lot will depend on how things go with my job. I'd like to run another marathon, and as some of you have realized, I'm toying with the triathlon idea as well. We'll see.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays!!

Although Hannukah doesn't really start until tonight, it's still pretty cool how both Christmas and Hannukah ended up on the same day this year. So if you're celebrating one or the other today, I hope you're enjoying. (The video in the sidebar is my present to you guys!)

On a good note, I ran 4 miles this morning. I was up pretty late being busy with my usual Christmas Eve ritual - poker. But I had made up to meet another running partner (for the first time) at 7:15 this morning. Out of the 4 miles I'd say we ran about, oh 0.01 miles together, but I guess it did get me out there this morning. I felt okay during the run, and though my knees felt a little stiff when I stopped, I think I'm okay now. So that's pretty good. There's a 5 miler in 2 weeks, and I'd like to be able to run that. Not necessarily to "race" it, but at least to be out there with a number on my shirt again. It will also count as a qualifier for NYC 2007, should I decide to go that route again.

Not much else planned for the day. First I'm going to read (i.e. nap) a little. Candle lighting is around 5pm. Although I have parties scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, the first night is not a big party night. I've been invited to a friend's family get together, and I may head out there.

Once again, I wish you all happy holidays!!

Friday, December 23, 2005

More gym stuff

Although I missed yesterday, I did go to the gym Wednesday and today. Wednesday I biked another 20 minutes. Although I changed the settings slightly, at 10 minutes I was exactly at 3.6 miles. This was exactly on target to reach 7.2 miles in 20 minutes, which I had accomplished my last time on the bike. Over the next 10 minutes I realized that no matter how much faster or slower I went I still stayed at exactly the same pace. Hmmm... Obviously, the distance was being calculated (not measured), and was totally inaccurate. I guess I wasn't shocked, since I had been surprised how far I'd previously cycled after so few times on a bike. In any case, I still can't get beyond looking at the numbers, and so I pushed on a little after 20 minutes, to make it an even 8 miles. My little pain issues are somewhat better, but I still have the urge every now and then to stand up out of the saddle - which doesn't really work on these bikes. I saw one of those gel cushions in the store, which you can put on top of the bike's seat in the gym. Anybody have any thoughts on them? (There were bunch of different types!)

Today was a pool day. I can't go to the gym just to swim, since I can't swim long enough to make my trip worthwhile. So I'm always doing something beforehand, like today where I was on the treadmill. I only ran 20 minutes, but I used the hill setting on the machine. I couldn't help but think that this was only pseudo-hill training. (Hey baby, are those hills real?) Anyway, it was short, but a decent workout. I think I'll use higher settings next time.

After that I hit the pool. Maybe I'm using up some of my energy before my swimming, but it's not like I'm out of breath when I start. Two laps later though, and I need a break. I pushed myself, and with a lot of breaks, I finished up with 10 laps, or 250 yards. There was a lady there who was at least twice my age, and at least twice my size, who looks like she could have gone all day. One easy lap after the other. She wasn't fast, but she just kept going. I tried a few laps concentrating on going slower, and it was a bit easier. The bottom line is that I really nead to work on my technique. I looked at some books in Barnes & Noble this week. One book which looks interesting is Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin. I didn't buy it in the end, because I wanted to do a little more research before I invest in learning a "new technique". Does anybody have any experience with the "TI method"?

For those of you who have made it to the end of the post, thanks. I know it's pretty tough. Since I'm not really training for anything (yet), it kind of makes my blogging boring. I ran this many miles, I biked this many miles, I swam this many miles, blah blah blah. If only the rest of my life was more interesting...

To be honest, I'm probably starting a new job in the new year, and my blogging time will definitely go down. So maybe it will all work out. But for now, I'll try and keep you entertained with things like this sign I saw on the street near the gym. (Click on the pictures to see the details enlarged.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My eyes, my eyes

I went to the gym again today. Three days in a row! This combination of not working and having paid for the gym is really working wonders...

I started with 2 miles on the treadmill. That felt okay, but I'm still wondering when I'll ever be able to get past these short distances.

Afterwards, I hit the pool. With a lot of resting, I was able to push myself to 8 laps. Since the pool is 25 yards, that gives me a grand total of 200 yards. I'd need to swim more than 8 times as much to get to a mile! (It's actually closer to 9, but 8 times as much would get me through the swim leg of an olympic distance triathlon.) Considering that I was nearly dying out there, it seems hard to imagine. The only thing I can tell myself, is that once upon a time I couldn't run 1 mile. And now I can run 26.2. (Well not now, but recently.) The only thing is that running just required time and effort. I feel like in swimming, having correct and efficient form is much more important. I'm going to try and read up about it, but when it comes down to it, I really think I need somebody to watch me and point out where I'm going wrong. I'm jealous of all these people who have coaches. (Where do these coaches come from? And who pays for them??) I looked into the lessons at the community center here, but the timing won't work out. Since there's a good chance I'll be looking for a place in a different neighborhood soon, hopefully I can take some lessons there. I just hope I'll have the time.

One problem with my inefficient swimming is that my body has become like an extra filtration system for the pool. The amount of chlorinated water entering my mouth and my eyes is way too high. My eyes were burning for the rest of the afternoon, and it kind of ruined my day. (I couldn't even blog!) I ordered the prescription goggles and paid extra to have them send it by UPS. They said I'd have them by Friday, but I'll be happy to have them for next week.

Sorry about the boring post. I'll make it up to you by linking to a video of this woman. I can't hear the word "UPS" these days without thinking of her.

Back on the bike

Quick rush to the gym so I would feel (as) guilty at "all you can eat" tonight. I didn't really have any leg issues after the bike yesterday, so I figured I'd give it another shot today. I set the thing for cardio and 20 minutes. Initially I had my HR set for 155, but later upped it to 160, so I was really working. I managed 7.2 miles in the 20 minutes, with another mile in the cooldown. (The annoying thing about these machines is seeing that "calories burned" number. I think it was about 150 or so. I think dinner was about 15,000 or so. Not a perfect situation.) Anyway, I worked pretty hard, and felt pretty good. (I did notice my anatomical issues again, but maybe because the bike was adjusted differently, I was able to ignore them a little more.) I did some stretching afterwards, and then some weights.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and go back to the pool. I looked into lessons, and the timing is not going to work out for me. I may have to do that in the future. In the meantime, I'm going to keep splashing about.

I'd also like to get a short run in tomorrow as well. I may do these at different times, but we'll see.

Finally, although I don't usually put these things in here, I saw King Kong tonight. It was pretty awesome, and the effects are stunning. I would have been happier if I didn't ruin a pair of pants because some jerk thought the top of the seat was a good place to put his gum. But it was still a great movie.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

One more thing

I almost forgot. I was totally shocked to see my name in this post. I'm not sure what to say about it, only that I think that there are a lot of real superstars in the RBF. I'm thankful that their blogs are there for me to read. When it comes to my blog, I'm just thankful that there are readers out there for me to blather on to.

I'm supposed to continue the game and list 3 other runners that rock. As it is, I really don't like tagging other people. And especially in this particular instance, I really didn't feel comfortable choosing only 3 runners. There are so many runners/bloggers out there that "rock" and that inspire me. Most of them are listed on my sidebar. Basically, if you see me commenting on your blog - you rock!

I swam, I biked, I ran

Today I got serious about my crosstraining. I looked into a local place nearby and signed up for a month membership. This place is really perfect for me. It's like a community center rather than a gym. (Which means I don't have to feel like I'm the only person there with a neck.) It also has a swimming pool as well as a basketball / paddleball court. It's far from fancy, but it should be ok for now. I kind of feel stupid having lived around the corner from this place for years. It looks like a little nothing from the outside, and I never gave it much thought. Only now that I'm probably leaving in the next month or two, do I realize how big it is on the inside. Typical...

Anyway, I haven't done any significant swimming or biking in... ever. So I figured I wouldn't do much of either and that I'd get that "first time" over with in both of them. I started on the bike. After 3 minutes it was already hurting. But not from lack of cardiovascular conditioning. It was more of a, uh, anatomical problem. Maybe I need special shorts or something, but it's not like everybody on a bike has them. Since it's bothering me in minutes I can't really figure out how they do it. Maybe they all have some sort of surgical procedure in preparation... In any case, I managed to persevere for a little more than 10 minutes. I upped the resistance a little so I would actually feel it. Which I did. My HR made it up to 148 by the end, compared with the 160's during running. According to the machine I biked 3 miles, before cooling down a bit.

Next up, the pool. The whole bathing suit thing requires so much more effort. (Especially when you can't swim that much, the preparation to exercise ratio is really ridiculous.) You have to change into a bathing suit. You have to have a whole gym bag with compartments and plastic bags and a towel. You have to walk around without glasses and not seeing a darn thing. (I'll probably get those aquagoggles.) It seems like a good thing to do in that it's so different, but there's a lot of work involved. (And I haven't even thought about what I'm going to do with my pager and cellphone...)

I finally made it to the pool. (Apparently I also need a swim cap, but he let me go this time only.) It was a 25m pool split down its length in half: one side for horsing around, and one for laps. At first I was too intimidated to head into the "serious" side, and swam one lap on the other side. It didn't seem too appropriate, and looking over to the other side it didn't seem too bad. So I slipped under the rope thingy and started out. It went something like this: 2 laps, rest, 1 lap, rest, 1 lap, rest, 1 lap, out of the pool and rest in a chair. It took me 15 minutes to catch my breath st this point. It was a little tough in the pool, but I didn't notice it that much until I was sitting in that chair huffing and puffing. (The lifeguard asked me if I had asthma.) I eventually recovered enough to get up and go home.

I was thinking of skipping my planned run at this time. I've been trying to get a few people from my community to go out running as a group. With all of our crazy schedules it's been hard to set up a time. Well while I was sitting in that chair by the pool I had gotten a voicemail that they were heading out shortly. I wasn't sure we'd run into each other (we didn't) but it was a good incentive to go out and run, rather than push it off until later. By the time I changed (again!) and made it out to the running path, I felt okay. I had hoped to push my new long distance to 3 miles, but my knee was bothering me after 2. I finished it out at 2.5 miles, and was happy with that. My knee bothered me a little, but now it's a few hours later, and it feels fine.

All in all, a pretty good day for training. I think I'm going to go out to eat now and negate the whole day...


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Might as well get this over with

Well, I've tried to avoid this. But after being tagged twice (thanks a lot A. Maria and Rachel!) I guess I should stop being a poor sport. So here ya go.

Five random things about me:

1) I have dual citizenship - Canadian and American. I'm often embarrassed by Canadian politics, but can't help cheering for Team Canada in Hockey. (Long suffering Toronto Maple Leafs fan as well...)

2) I worked for IBM right after college. It was boring.

3) I have a treadmill in my apartment, but my landlord donesn't let me use it. (He lives below me and his chandelier shakes every time I run.)

4) The laws of physics do not apply to me. Ok fine, they do. But I love this essay.

5) I hate being tagged. (Which is why I won't tag anyone else.)

I guess in the end, I'm still a bad sport.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's cold out there

It's 21 degrees, but it feels like 10. (Almost makes me look forward to 45 and rainy on Friday!)

After my running success the other day, I went shopping for new winter running clothes yesterday. Whatever it takes to keep the momentum going. I got a new compression type shirt, as well as some new running pants. One pair was more like a wind pants type, while the other one was more the compression type material. (Without being like tights. Not that there's anything wrong with that, Brent. I'm just not ready yet.) I also got a new running jacket. I'm like a walking (running) billboard for Champion C9 clothes!

(You know, looking up these links makes me realize I've overpaid for these items! Maybe I should return them and order everything online. Anyway... )

I wore the new jacket, a hat, and gloves. (I see a lot of people take self portraits like this. I think my arms are too short to get a whole body shot in. But you get the picture.) And it was still cold. I did warm up a little over time, but 2 miles (20 minutes) isn't really a lot of time to warm up.

Ok, I recognize this isn't Canada or Cleveland for that matter. But it's certainly not Hawaii and it's pretty cold outside. I'm always amazed that no matter how bad it is out there, there is always some other lunatic running. As I was thinking about how cold it is, I passed by a guy running in a warmup suit. No jacket, no hat, and no gloves. No problem. Amazing...

Thankfully, the run was essentially pain free. By that I mean that my knee didn't bother me. I did feel parts of me freezing, and little twinges from my shin, but nothing that's a real problem.

However, my right big toe has been bothering me as of late. I feel it all the time, and running didn't seem to make a difference. I don't remember dropping anything on it (a la Flatman), or banging it anywhere, it just feels that way. I examined it a little more closely today, and when I push down on the toenail it really hurts exquisitely. It doesn't look any different. (Just so I can call this an "offical"" running blog, I've posted the obligatory foot shot. I did resize the image so that if you click on it you don't get huge toes in your face. Gross.) So this pain's a little strange. For now I plan to treat it like I treat all of my other little aches and pains: with tincture of time.

Well anyway, there you have it. From head to toe. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Monday, December 12, 2005


Two pain free miles today. (I feel like I should have gotten another medal at the end!)

As I was fiddling around with the header and my new profile picture, I felt a little guilty about my lack of actual running. Okay, a lot guilty. So before it got too dark, I got all geared up again and headed out. (I'm glad I went out when I did. It's like 10 degrees colder out there now, and into "psychotic" territory!

Anyway, I ran my usual route near home. I felt pretty good in the first mile, and was waiting for the usual pain to come at the end, but it never came. I walked home without any limping, stretched, and then iced. To be completely truthful, I felt a tiny twinge in my knee walking back to the freezer to put away my icepacks, but it was gone by the time I got out of the shower.

So I'm pretty excited about this. I'm not going to fall into the trap of trying again tomorrow. (Besides, it's going to be freezing!) But hopefully Wednesday. If I'm going to live up to the new title of this blog, I'll have to actually start training sometime.

But not yet. ;-)

The Banner Bandwagon

I've joined the party and created a new banner as well.

(This is the first draft.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

NYC Blogger Lunch

Derek, Uptown Girl, NYflygirl, me, and Brooklyn.

I'm working on some other stuff, but I'll post that tomorrow. I'm off to another engagement party that's not my own...


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I thought I was, but I wasn't

Yesterday, after a week off, I went out for a run. Yes, it was freezing cold, but that seemed easier than going to a new gym for a trial period. So I put on my compression tech shirt that I had bought for the winter. As I stepped out the door I still felt too cold, so I put on an old jacket on top of it. (Probably a good thing, as I felt a little self conscious wearing such tight clothing.) I was still cold out there, but I managed to gt a mile in without any problems. I walked home without any limping, and felt pretty good about myself.

The original plan had been to try again tomorrow. But this morning, I was asked if I could take call tomorrow. So I figured I'd try another short run today, and rest tomorrow.

Once again, I got all geared up. It's 31 degrees here, which doesn't sound so low, but it's pretty freaking cold out there. I noticed that one direction was worse than the other, so I think the wind plays a big part as well. Either way, it's hard to believe it was in the single digits last year, and will probably still get closer to that this year.

At the same time, I've been meaning to take my car in for months to get this brake light looked at. I just never had time to leave my car at the shop. So today, I planned to drive to the shop, and run back home. Turns out, the whole problem was that I was low on brake fluid, and the problem was fixed in 2 minutes. (Kind of surprising, since I got suckered into a $200 bill at Jiffy Lube just a few months ago. "Top off all your fluids" my butt!!) Anyway, my mechanic didn't charge me, but now I had to drive home. I knew if I went inside there was a good chance the heat inside would exert it's gravitational pull on me and I wouldn't make it back outside to run. (What? You never heard of the Law of Exercise in the Winter: Heat = Gravity!!) So I pocketed my car keys, and headed straight out to my usual running path.

For the first mile and a half I was so excited, thinking how the time off had cured everything, and I was all better. Then at mile 1.7 my knee sent me a little reminder that it was still there. I probably should have just stopped, but it was so cold, and I wanted to get back already. I finished up the remaining few minutes and walked home. It hurt a little, but not as bad as it has in the past. And now that I'm home, after icing and stretching, I still feel it when I walk, but not that much.

So I think I'm getting better, but I'm not there yet.

I think I'll rest the next few days again, and maybe try again Sunday. I think Audrey had a good idea, with sticking to short runs. I considered 2 miles short in the past, but if 1 is the most I can run comfortably, than maybe I should stop there. For now.

I still have to work on the crosstraining thing. I'm doing the weightlifting, and the stretching when I remember. But some more cardio stuff would probably help for later.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Another Tuesday, another rundown...

As I think back to the last time I did this, I can't believe how much has happened in that time. I feel like I've gotten to know so many fellow bloggers, and having your support throughout has been very meaningful. I've been a little slow to get back on my feet again, but just having you guys out there gives me a responsibility to get back to training. Thanks.

Okay then.

The big race this past weekend was the (New) Las Vegas Marathon. Several members of the RBF planned to meet up down there. (They even made themselves matching shirts!!) You can read a nice report of this RBF gathering over at Jeff's site.

During the race, I actually found myself tracking the runners at the live "blogcast" over at Scott's blog. Some pretty impressive running going on. It's still a little too early to get the race reports, but I look forward to reading more detailed reports at Scott's site, Drew's site, and at PartyRunner's site. (See her sidebar for even more runners!)

There were of course some other races this weekend. Brent and Rachel (people I've actually met!) both ran the half marathon in Memphis this weekend. Both had great times and set new PR's. Rachel has a great recap with pictures here.

Buckeye Runner has a nice post on her race this weekend. Check out the pictures - it looks pretty freaking cold over there! (Also be sure to check out her 2005 race summary. Quite impressive!)

Quite a few people dealing with the winter weather these days. Check out Susie's proof that she's a hardcore runner.

For those of you that come here on a regular basis you know that I've had trouble getting back to running after my marathon. It's inspiring to see Alejandra back out there getting set for her next one. Brooklyn is also getting set for his next one. (Nice spreadsheets!)

Brent had his 30th birthday this week. He seemed to be stressing about this in the past, but all in all he's doing pretty well. He ran his first marathon this past year, and seems to be having some success in other parts of his life as well. (I can't link those posts though since they don't last long. You have to be a "loyal reader"!)

This coming weekend is the Honolulu Marathon. (Now there's somewhere I'd really like to go!) Leta is one of the people who will be out there at 5 am! She's kind of flipping out as it gets closer, so go on over and wish her well. I've got a cousin who's running this race as well. He's a grandfather and this is his first marathon, so that's kind of cool. Alas, he's not a blogger. Good luck to him anyway.

That's it for this edition. I feel like it's a bit short, given that there are so many great blogs out there. As I looked through the blogosphere trying to put this together, I realized that much of what I enjoy about other people's blogs is the camaraderie that we've achieved with each other. It's not just the interesting posts that can be hyperlinked into a rundown for other people. It's the sharing of common experiences over time.

For those of you who are uninitiated, and wonder what the heck the RBF is, it's the Running Blog Family. Look over this wonderful list, maintained by Mark and Aaron. There are now over 500 blogs listed, and some really great reads there.

I also want to mention Phedippidations. This is a weekly podcast on running that I listen to, usually while running. There's a different topic each week, some more educational than others. One constant is that it's always entertaining, and I look forward to each episode. Check it out.

Until next time...