A strange thing happened on the journey through Week 5: it transformed into a week surprises, small victories, and multiple personal records.Significant progress. At last!
Monday started off with a bang. Not one, but three workouts. Lifting in the morning (which actually SUCKED because my brain wasn't all the way up to speed and the workout was half-ass, at best.) Then 18.5 miles on the trainer. And finally, some magical, amazing 200m sprints. Not sure whose legs were bolted onto my waist, but my sprints have never (EVER!) felt so strong or fluid. Knees rising. Breathing well. Arms pumping. Right pace. Right timing. Everything just clicked and the average was somewhere south of 39 seconds each. A new personal record.
Tuesday was a long run. Nearly 10K. 54 minutes and change. Foggy and humid, it required several stops just to clean my damn glasses. But Peggy said she couldn't keep up. Rachel said it was great pacing me. And Nancy said she'd never seen me go so strong. Ended up last across the threshold, but mine was the longest run. But still an excellent workout. Lots of strength throughout.
Wednesday haunted me all day. The workout was supposed to be: 5 rounds of 100 double unders + 20 burpees. To me, not being able to do double unders (where the rope passes under you twice each jump) means you have to double the count, to 200. Coach Sara said otherwise. If you cannot do double unders, you TRIPLE the count. So my workout would be 5 rounds of 300 jumps + 20 burpees. My previous record on jumps was one round of 200. Thinking of 5 x 300 wasn't good. But Sarah said to do it. And it was done! Over 44 minutes from beginning to end! And 1500 jumps along with 100 burpees leaves an explosion of sweat on the floor. Once again, the impossible became my new reality.
Thursday had 17.5 miles on the bike. And helped one of the newbies with swimming. Don't miss the days when more than one unbroken lap was impossible. But do enjoy watching people improve. And pleased to know that people are finding a new appreciation of all my efforts across recent years. Saying you can do this is definitely not the same as doing it.
Friday was a rest day. Feel asleep late Thursday night, and then a massive thunderstorm at three in the morning wrecked me for all of Friday. But some rest was deserved.
Saturday was biking in Pass Christian. 19.6 miles. Except it was all spent sweeping the newbies in the rear, so that nobody got lost. Enjoyed helping folks and encouraging them. But it was not much of a workout for me. Thankfully the seat didn't destroy me.
Sunday. Wow. SUNDAY was so full of awesome that it could be a post all to itself. Started with a decent 1200 meter swim and concluded with an epic 15K run. Broke my previous training 5K record with a sub-27min run. Broke my previous 10K (of any kind) record with a sub-54min run. And likely completed my fastest 15K ever and fast pace ever at 9:18/mile for nine miles. The spirit was upon me that night! Never felt so strong or fast or full of energy.
Hopefully all of this is a good sign. Midway through the program my mind is changing about it. Didn't have much (if ANY!) faith in it before. Starting to become a believer, though.
Tim Ferris may end up getting a written apology from me on here...
Week Six will be weird because of family events and the Seaside Half Marathon, but it still won't be easy. Never is!
Week Four was great with only one notable exception. (More on that later.) The workouts remain fairly quick and clean. Few significant surprises.
Been sleeping so well that it borders on unbelievable. In fact Saturday's workout exhausted me to the point of getting 10 hours of sleep that night. Something that hasn't happen in many years.
Eating like a bear but losing weight! Pants fitting differently. Shirts fitting differently. Waistline dropping back down. All around: significant levels of happiness!
If it hasn't been said previously, please allow me to stress: DO NOT TRY THIS UNSUPERVISED! Your interpretation of the 4HB Challenge may differ from mine, but my reading gives me the impression that anyone should be able to do it on their own. That's so far from the truth that suggesting it pushes the book towards the fantasy genre. Your Humble Narrator is fortunate enough to be wed to a highly trained medical professional. My power lifting is directly supervised by a trained professional. And all of my workouts are done in a controlled, professional environment. It continues to be my opinion that only people in excellent physical condition should attempt these workouts. At a minimum, each workout should be personally adjusted to your specific abilities, rarely taken at face value. Some of them are significantly beyond my abilities and have to be throttle back to more reasonable limits. Your mileage may vary, but consider yourself warned.
How about the specific workouts for Week Four? Here are the highlights:
Monday - Front squats, one on the minute for 5 minutes, then deadlifts on the minute for 8 minutes. Really wild because my legs and back were terrible when starting the workout but felt 900% better by the end of it. Very doped up on adrenaline and awesome sauce after this one.
Tuesday - 7 Rounds of 7 hang cleans + 7 handstand pushups. Brutal and sweaty and very barbaric. Wanted to crush my enemies before me after finishing.
Wednesday - OH NOES! Totally craptacular run. Worst in many moons. Supposed to do 5 miles and could barely do 3. Very depressing and had to eat mac and cheese to cheer up.
Thursday - 1200 meter swim. Hate to say this but swimming is nearly effortless, now. Perhaps my pace needs to increase? Not sure but did 24 laps without getting winded. Supposed to do Tabata Runs on the treadmill, but skipped it after the terrible performance Weds.
Friday - 6 rounds of 5 power snatch + 200m rows. Quick and sweaty. Actually enjoy rowing!
Saturday - Ladder! Deadlifts then cleans then floor presses. 1 round x 10, 1 round x 9, 1 round x 8, all the way down to 1. Took 22:48 and felt like two hours. One of the longest workouts yet!
Being a middle aged Super Nerd is not conducive to power lifting. Squats do NOT come naturally to me. My coach politely yells at me all the time. But it is getting better. And the mechanics are slowly becoming natural. There's literally a complex, very specific science to it. Thrust with the hips, shrug the shoulders, pull up but close to your body, don't pull too soon, don't pull to far out, just as your momentum stops... ...slip UNDER the bar, land with your knees out, land on your heels, land with your butt out, land with your chest up... and all of this takes place in a split second. If you have not grown up with it, it isn't pretty and it isn't easy.
Week 3 went far better than Week 2! Despite recovering from a half marathon, eight different workouts still landed on my schedule!
Monday - Recovery super set of Kettlebells, dumb bell press, and chin-ups. 3 sets x 15 reps. But nothing crazy on the weights.
Tuesday - 10 x 200m sprints (which were brutal) and 2 Good Mornings on the minute for 10 minutes.
Wednesday - Rowing in the morning. In the evening: 5min of jump ropes, 5min of Turkish Getups, then 100 Hand Stand Pushups, separated every two minutes by 5 x Pendley Rows and 5 Hanging Power Cleans.
Thursday - More ROWING! in the morning. And a 2000m swim in the evening.
Saturday - Deadlifts & Hand Stand Pushups: 21, 15, 9.
Sunday was an Off Day, thankfully. Greatly needed it. With only ONE a week, they're like a Godsend when you finally get there.
The workouts are still mostly quick and (once you are used to them) not very complex. Being a middle-aged, frumpy nerd, my output isn't the same as a 20-something. But there is still a tremendous effort.
Feeling stronger. Maybe feeling faster. (Springing is getting easier.) Hungry all the time. Popping Ibuprofen like candy. But sleeping better than ever.
Nearly 1/3rd the way into the program, as Week 4 beckons!
Perhaps this secret has been shared previously. If so, here it is again: cold & hot, cold & hot.One of my favorite secrets to rapid recovery involves alternating long exposure between the cold dip and the hot tub. The dip is between 40 - 50 degrees. The tub is around 100 degrees.
Exposure to cold makes your blood seek refuge in your core and major muscle groups, going as deeply as possible to remain warm. Exposure to prolonged heat makes your blood go to your extremities and where your skin is the thinnest so that it can radiate the heat and protect your sensitive organs from thermal overload. Alternating between the two causes lots of awesome blood flow to your major organs and muscle groups, helping with oxygenation, repair, and helping get rid of inflammation.
Here's my current routine: Twelve minutes cold. Twelve minutes hot. Within six minutes of being in the cold, you're numb to it. "Legs? What legs?" Within three of four minutes in the hot, your muscles will unwind and there will be lots of pins and needles as the blood circulates through.
Challenging couple of days with strength & conditioning. Especially on the heels of a half marathon. Recovery workout Monday. Two sessions yesterday, including 10 x 200m sprints. Two more sessions today. Including something completely new to me: Turkish Get Ups.
Start on your back, face up. Hold a 28lbs (or heavier) kettle bell in one hand. Do not let it down as you do the following: Sit up. Come to one knee. Stand up. Kneel back down. Sit down. Lean back to get completely prone. Then switch hands. Repeat. Over and over. For five minutes. That's Turkish Get Ups.
Haven't really shaved since NoShaveVember. Three months? Longest streak, thus far. Cindy said she liked it. Though she wanted more gray. (?!) That certainly isn't going to be allowed to happen. Not interested in "salt & pepper." Or "looking distinguished." Though, Cindy reminded me a couple of times a week that she liked it. So I kept it through December. And January.
Anyway, three months was enough. For me. Felt like Cookie Monster. Or a geeky wanna-be Duck Dynasty reject. So it all came off tonight.
Feels good to be cleaned up. Maybe it will help with my swim times? Or run times!
Week 2 of the 4HB Challenge fell on bad times. Between irritating work projects and aberrant weather (ice in South Mississippi?!?) only 4 out of 6 workouts made it onto the corpse of my schedule. The workouts that did make it were great! Like the first week, they were over quickly (rarely more than 15min each,) and very exhausting.
The lone bonus workout this past week was a half marathon. No small task!
Week 3 promises to be significantly more challenging. Tune in next week for details and feedback.
See the white snow-like substance covering my car and most of the ground? Yeah, totally not snow. Solid ice. As in: multiple layers of wicked-hard frozen rain. From the over-night rain storm that swallowed several hundred miles of the South Eastern United States. Including, of course, us rednecks.
Due to my unfortunate lack of deep ice experience, today's technique of car cleansing involved a rubber mallet. And the precise application of force at clever angles. Which, surprisingly, worked well. The roads, however, were never cleared (since South Mississippi has exactly ZERO salt or sand trucks) and my car hasn't moved since Sunday.
And thus, Ye Ol' McDougal Family spent another day together. Television. iPad. Computer. And some DVR. Though we did have some relief as Cindy braved the elements after lunch and crept over to her mother's house for several hours. Otherwise nothing blew up, there was no bloodshed, nobody was hurt, our supplies of pizza & leftover Subway fed us as planned, and the house didn't burn to the ground. That is a significant victory by anyone's measure.
For your viewing purposes, on the left, Molly is modelling the latest winter wear for small McFurryButts. And above is a long distance shot of Meg walking said-dog. In capris, and sandals.. While the temperature hovers just below freezing. That's how we McDougals roll during a crippling ice event in Southern Mississippi!
The plans for tomorrow include: Cindy returning to work, kids returning to school, and Your Humble Narrator returning to training. At least until the next climate-controlled adventure.
One of the perks of living on the MS Gulf Coast is the ultra rare incursion of winter snow or ice. Since our return (in 2005) we've only seen ice once. And it has not snowed south of I-10 in more than a decade. The local governments have no ability to manage such weather events. No snow plows. No salt for the roads. And most folks, including myself, do not have ANY "cold weather gear." As a result, the entire three county area grinds to a complete halt even under the faintest SUGGESTION of such inclement conditions.
The predictions for today ranged from "less than an inch of snow," as reported by Impact Weather, to "as much as five inches of snow," by The Weather Channel. Which elicited several emergency responses including: 1) Schools were closed, 2) Government services were halted, 3) Cindy's job canceled all appointments for two days, and 4) my job sent us nerds home to work remotely until Thursday. And the rest of the citizenry of South Mississippi made preparations to huddle in their homes with their animals and plants and Internet-addicted children.
Did Cindy use the phrase, "Stir crazy," at least once an hour? Yup. Did snow appear? Nary a flake. Did ice appear? Yeah, pretty much. Especially that odd sleet-like stuff. Did every Southern Fried Redneck on Facebook mistake the mounds of tiny ice balls for snow and post pictures of icicles clinging to the mud trucks? Absolutely! Twenty first century in Mississippi, yo!
On a potentially grim note, we're supposed to have more of the same tomorrow. Temperatures dropping as low as 22 degrees by five in the morning. Then slowly climbing to a high of 34 by noon . Couple of hours of maybe thawing the frost, and back below freezing until Thursday. The truly scary part is the specter of spending another day with Cindy chanting "stir crazy," intermingled with, "I need a drink," because we're all home at the same time on any day other than the weekend and it skews her mojo. Thank you, Winter Storm Leon, AKA The Big Chill of 2014!
Today, after months of pre-training, Your Humble Narrator started the 4 Hour Body "5K to 50K" program!
The good news? Once you understand the Crossfit shorthand, they are easy to understand. They're usually very simple exercises. And, best of all, the workouts are VERY quick.
The bad news? While easy to digest, the workouts are HARD! The idea that anyone is going to become "effortlessly superhuman," as Tim Ferriss promises you, borders on the offensive when you're on the floor, panting like a dog and drenched in sweat.
What was the week like?
Monday: AM - Good mornings. Only took five minutes. Seriously. FIVE MINUTES. But, for the unfamiliar, good mornings are something of an advanced movement and need to be performed properly. PM - Double Unders & Sit-ups. Most people cannot do double unders. Let alone an unbroken set of 50 of them! To compensate, double the number and single jumps. So my second workout was: 100 singles, 50 sit-ups, 80 singles, 40 sit-ups, 60 singles, 30 sit-ups, 40 singles, 20 sit-ups, 20 singles, and 10 sit-ups. No rest between! This evening workout wasn't quick or easy. But 300 jumps and 150 sit-ups take a while when you're an old, frumpy computer dork.
Tuesday: AM - Push press + chin-ups. 21, 15, then 9. This workout took less than ten minutes, but it was brutal. My shirt was soaked afterwards. PM - 8 x 200m sprints on the 2 minute mark. After Monday's 300 jumps, this workout HURT! Starting each sprint felt like wearing lead sweat pants. The sprint would take roughly 45 seconds, and then 75 seconds before starting the next one. Total time: 16 minutes. Lots of sweat here.
Wednesday - Only one workout! So thankful to give my legs something of a rest. But that doesn't mean it was pleasant. First a 1500m row to warmup. Then 30 power cleans. Focused on form with the cleans. By the 30th, they sucked.
Thursday - 5K run. Nothing special here. Was doing 5K runs anyway. 27 minutes and change.
Friday - Ice storm! Couldn't drive to the gym or the track. Had to skip a workout.
Saturday - Bench press, but only at 50%-60% max. Quick and easy. Followed with my new nemesis: Tabata rows. 20 seconds full speed, 10 seconds of slow rows to catch your breath. Repeat 8 times. That's four minutes. But try it. It was brutal. Anyone that can hop of the sofa and do those with any significant success deserves a medal. Much panting and sweating resulted.
Bonus: Threw in a 2000m swim. 40 laps.
Sunday - Thrusters and box jumps. Yuck. The program recommends 110lbs on the Thrusters. Nope. Not happening. The average person is not going to be able to do three dozen thrusters with that much weight. Don't see it happening. You have to adjust and be able to pace yourself.
Bonus: Threw in a 9 mile trail run. Mostly run. By 7 miles my arches were hurting and there wasn't as much running after that.
And that was Week 1. Enjoyed the majority of it. Total workout time was surprisingly low. Nothing outrageous body breaking. Soreness wasn't TOO bad. Even with a couple of bonus activities. Just hoping it proves beneficial to my 70.3 in May.
After a briefly exciting round of powerlifting this morning, Luke talked me into a trail down the quiet Tuxachanie. Thankfully the weather was extremely cooperative. High fifties. Low sixties? Just enough sunlight to warm us up. Not enough to overheat, or sunburn, us.
Turned out to be a decent crowd. Especially for such short notice. Luke said it was Tugboat pace. Inside joke. Tugboats are his term for folks (like me!) that train a good bit but will never be on the podium. Pretty much: normal people! But non-obsessive people, Luke would likely say. Not obsessive cavemen.
Anyway. Informal group met after lunch. Warmed up. Checked our supplies. Put in the earbuds. And hit the trail.
Fairly easy pace. But Your Humble Narrator gradually fell behind. And by the three mile mark he was all by his lonesome. Never fear, loyal readers, he was fine. By four and a half miles, it was time to turn around. The rest of the crowd had likely reached the end. With their pace, they would likely catch me on the return trip.
By the seventh mile, my arches were starting to hurt. Wasn't much "running" on the trail after that. A little. But mostly walking. As the second hour approached, so did the entrance.
All in all, a great little excursion. Something different than the normal. And challenging. With some friends and fellow Tugboats. We'll have to do that more often. Until the sun and mosquitoes spoil it for us.
On the heels of last night's ice & woe, we had a lazy day at Chateaus McDougal today. Cindy & Meg went to the Edgewater Mall for an adventure with The Builder's Club. A while ago, Meg had written several skits and performances. Then the club spent several weeks practicing. They did the live performance today. In front of a crowd of shoppers, parents, and a local camera crew from WLOX. No idea how long the link will last, but here is the broadcast. Meg's in the back of the photo I grabbed. And in the actual video she does a fashion walk. They did a great job for a great cause and I'm super proud of her efforts. And her contribution to the community.
Meanwhile, us lads slinked off to my favorite pub for some burgers and brews.A lone cider and Buffalo Chicken sammich for me. A coke and a huge burger for Liam. Of course he didn't want to go, at first. Would rather stay at the house. But once we were seated and started grubbing, he sang a different song. "We need to do this more often," he said between bites. Little does he know my plans to have him playing music there when he's 18 and his profits will go towards my bar tab!
Pisser of a day. Non-stop adventures from the get-go at the office. Co-worker out of town. Far too sober. And as the daylight starts to fade, South Mississippi finds itself iced over. For whatever freak act of science and nature, the freeze affects mainly our bridges. Probably something to do with construction materials? At any rate, the quickest road to my gym requires a trip across a four lane bridge. Seen to the right, it was backed up for miles. The slow road to my gym requires a trip across a two lane bridge, which was completely shut down. So no training for Your Humble Narrator today.
Meanwhile, in outlying areas, there's a 25 car pileup at the MS/LA border. And just one county north of here, an accident on some takes the lives of three people.
We're hunkering down for the night. But preparing for even worse conditions early next week. Stay tuned for THOSE adventures.
My athletic experience approaching the 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program came from training as a triathlete for the past three years and recently completely the Augusta 70.3 Ironman. My fitness levels were to a point where an hour swimming or two hours running or three hours on the bike were common place. My previous regiments also included strength training and advanced yoga practice. And all my metabolic conditions (for my age and background) were considered excellent by my personal physician who had seen me go from 220lbs down to as low as 175lbs, the week before Augusta.
Overall my goal with the 12 Week Program was to improve the speed and quality of my running. But immediately, from the first sentence, the program was trouble. As mentioned previously, it is written in a cryptic shorthand, with no readily available translation. Before making a serious commitment to the program, Your Humble Narrator had to first figure out it was based on Crossfit workouts, and then find a Crossfit instructor to break it down into digestible pieces. Easier said than done.
Perhaps some aggressive Googling could have helped me make sense of it, but the easy road is rarely fun. Instead, after checking out three different gyms, never hearing back from the first (after MULTIPLE attempts,) getting nothing but the cold shoulder from a visit, an email, voicemail, & texts to the second gym, the third gym (CrossFit Portside!) turned out to be an excellent fit with my schedule and daily commute.
Sara Carter, owner and instructor, looked over the plan with me. Without any hesitation, she politely, yet firmly let me know that it would be COMPLETELY INSANE for me to try to do this one my own. Ironman or not! Sara smiled and suggested the very first couple of days would "crush me." And if power lifting wasn't already on my list of skills, the result would be painful, long lasting damage. She suggested at least one month, if not more, of getting a good grip on the fundamentals of Crossfit, finding my existing limits, then adapting the program to more reasonable exercises while still using the majority of the plan.
Which is what has been happening for the past two and a half months: lifting and sweating and all but puking multiple times a week at Crossfit Portside. After working closely with Sara, it only strengthened my belief in her opinions of the 4HB program and helped me see that it was actually very advanced and very difficult. So while Tim Ferriss might suggest "anyone can do it," it has taken me about 10 weeks of Crossfit (on top of 3 years of triathlons) to get to the point where the program is doable.
And in 12 weeks, we shall all know see the results of this challenge.
It is important for folks to know why Tim Ferriss' "5K to 50K" training program is mostly impossible for the average reader.Or virtually any reader.
First, the program is (by my estimate) about 60% Crossfit, 30% running drills, and 10% long runs. Anyone who is not familiar with Crossfit will not even be able to decipher the program, let alone attempt it. Here is an example of one workout: "Tabata row 20:10 x 8," which translates into "Hop on a rowing machine, row full speed for 20 seconds, then row easy for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times." Another example: "Box Back Squat: 10 x 2 on min w/ 80% 1RM" which means, "Do 10 sets of 2 reps on Back Squats, hitting a box, using 80% of your 1 Rep Max weight." And the program is 12 pages of Crossfit shorthand which is never directly explained.
Second, the program assumes you have access to not only a serious gym which includes squat racks, rowing machines, chin-up frames, jump ropes, boxes, and plenty of weights, but also a track or some place you can perform sprint drills. You are also expected to have fairly excellent working knowledge on a multitude of complex power lifting moves, which few people understand, let alone have perfected. Some examples include: good mornings, dead lifts, front squats, back squats, power cleans, presses, push presses, and kettle bell swings. If you have never done these exercises, they are not likely to come naturally. And practicing bad form with them is likely to do more harm than good. Seriously. Like, pulling or tearing muscles. Damaging your spine. These are not simple exercises, but Tim thinks you should be able to hop up and start cranking them out.
Third, the program assumes you are in PHENOMENAL condition already. It expects you to be able to do 150 double-unders on the jump rope (where the rope passes under you twice with each jump) on Day One. The program expects you to do 45 kipping pull-ups on Day Two. It expects you to do three dozen Thrusters with 115lbs over your head by the end of Week One. And that is where you START. Not the final week, but the very first week of the program.
After discussions with a dozen very athletic friends, exactly NONE of them can do one double-under with a jump rope, let alone the 150 suggested on Day One. Exactly NONE of them can do more than half a dozen pull-ups, let alone the 45 suggested on Day Two. Exactly ONE of them knew what a kipping pull-up was. And exactly NONE of them knew what a Thruster was or would be likely to do three dozen of them. And these are very athletic folks that compete as hard as they train and have years (if not decades) of experience each. But the 4HB program suggests (and Tim himself has said in interviews) that "anyone" can do it, becoming "effortlessly superhuman."
In short, NO ONE other than a very avid Crossfit enthusiast is going to have the vocabulary, skills, or strength to even attempt Tim Ferriss' program.
To think that the typical reader can go from doing little, if any exercise, to completing each of the workouts for twelve weeks is the height of egotistic aloofness and shows a complete detachment from anything even remotely resembling reality.
And yet, Your Humble Narrator is going to attempt it...
One of my sillier ideas: attempt Tim Ferris' program that (he claims) will get you ready to run 50K in 12 weeks. And Tim's assuring his readers that anyone can do it. Anyone can go from zero, to an ultrathon in about three months.
First, let me say: NO WAY! Absolutely no way. Don't believe it at all.
Second: Ferriss himself has not completed an ultrathon and does not know from experience if it will work or not. He has promised to post here when he does complete such an event. As of 01/20/14, he has not updated the site. Try it for yourself. You'll find, "Coming soon."
Third: Aside from lots of articles referencing Tim's program, there appears to be very few (if any) articles from people who have successfully completed the training and done an ultrathon. At least nothing of note appears on the first couple of Google pages of my searches.
Fourth: There is no ultrathon in my future. But there is a 70.3 Ironman. This may be wrong but it seems to me that if the training can prepare a person for a 50K run, it should also prepare me for a 21K (half marathon) at the end of a 70.3 event.
So in order to prove it, Your Humble Narrator is going to DO THE PROGRAM, proving updates along the way, and conclude at The Gulf Coast Triathlon in early May.
Here's a very simple secret to keep in mind if you wanna be healthier: EAT REAL FOOD!
Here's my weekly grocery haul, almost directly from a farm in Pearl River County to my kitchen with a brief stop at the Biloxi Farmer's Market. A half gallon of whole white milk, a gallon of whole chocolate milk, an 8oz of butter, 12 or so ounces of tomato basil cheddar, and a pound of ground beef. All of which comes from grass-fed, local cattle. None of which are given hormones or steroids.
Is the Farmer's Market more expensive than Walmart? Having never shopped for such food there, your guess is as good as mine. Though Cindy would likely say everything is a dollar less if you're willing to donate your paycheck to the Walton family. However, Your Humble Narrator would gladly point out that money spent at the Farmer's Market stays in the community. And any report you're likely to dig up on the subject will demonstrate that the nutritional content of grass-fed meat and dairy products is exponentially higher than hyper-industrialized products.
Shopping at the Farmer's Market is a win-win-win situation. Better nutrition. Superior taste & quality. And the money goes to your local farmers. Oh yeah, and no waiting in line at Walmart! Bonus!
There's an unending stream of technology empowering and consuming my semi-simple life. It is so pervasive it only gets noticed when it is broken or absent. Take work. Of course being a Super Nerd requires immersion in such things, but my day goes from crawling around inside a robotic tape library to spinning up cloned virtual servers and adding them to the Citrix Xenapp farm without any user downtime to proving to vendors that they don't know the difference between a firewall, a switch, and a packet shaper.
Later, once the office is left behind, technology is at the heart of my fitness. From the elaborate indoor training cycles to the music the instructor users to the tracking software that records every sweaty mile under my aching feet.
Shift to the homestead. Or carousing time. And once again little happens that doesn't have some digital element. My triathlon team operates almost exclusively on Facebook. My email archive dates back nearly a decade (July of 2004) and it is constantly available on everything around me (phone, tablet, PC.) Messages fly constantly: Google Talk, FB Messenger, corporate email, SMS, and more. Reminders. To Dos. My calendar. My alarms.
Your Humble Narrator sometimes prays for an EMP to bring it all to a screeching halt. And then the fun would begin.
Inaugural run of the Icy Pints Athletic team from its new Gulfport chapter at Irish Coast Pub. Got there early. Brought running shorts AND pants, in case of weather. Brought a big ol' jug of water to hydrate. Pre-fueled the rocket with some Xyience. Then discovered a complete lack of running shoes. Which promptly cranked my usually repressed levels of anger from 2 to 11. And the profanity began...
Eventually, the rage was re-repressed by copious amounts of cider and pleasant company. Turned out to be a pleasant night. Despite my lack of training or sweating or cardiovascular conditioning.
Your Humble Narrator will like return for additional Icy visits. It's the usual Tuesday run with the usual Tuesday people on the usual Tuesday route outside the usual Tuesday pub. Just new management. Same ol sweat. And same ol' Jon still attempting to be an athlete.
So, welcome Icy Pint. Gulfport is glad to have you!
On my 10th day of issues. Primarily isolated to the lungs. Left upper lobe, methinks. Physically strong. Physically energetic. But cannot run the engine in the red for very long until breathing becomes an issue. Mostly a matter of taking things VERY slow. Not getting winded. But, you know, THAT SUCKS! If it weren't for the whole lack of oxygen thing going on, the engine would be firing on all cylinders. Curse you, lungs!
Swam yesterday. Lifted today. Bit of a power test. Back squat maxed out around 205lbs. Push press maxed out around 95lbs. And deadlift maxed out around 245lbs. May have been able to do a few pounds more on each, but not many. Not without risking injury. And injury ain't cool at this age.
Still getting stronger. Still developing better form. Cleaner technique. But still much room for improvement.
Hoping to finalize on the 12 week training program in the next day or two, then start on the 20th. Follow the 12 week general program with a 6 - 8 week focused Ironman program. And see what happens from there...
The Gulf Coast Triathlon looms on a distant horizon. Another 70.3 event. Team members converging en masse. My brain going sideways with thoughts on training. Wanna focus on the run. Wanna make sure to train several open Gulf swims. Don't want to over-train. (Easy to do.) Don't want to under-train. (Easier to do!) Thinking about incorporating Crossfit. Thinking about buying a new watch. (Actually my first watch!) Thinking about new goggles.
Meanwhile, on a different frequency, Traditions approaches. With a multitude of folks asking me for guidance, support, help, suggestions, and/or material aid. Problem is, Traditions is a sprint, and it is two weeks before Gulf Coast. So any training spent with folks prep'ing them for Traditions is going to be significantly less than the training plan for Gulf Coast. The tri team is planning to offer another round of The Road To Traditions. And Your Humble Narrator would like to help. But there are so many thoughts and machinations bouncing through his head, he's not able to think straight, let alone train straight.
But the plan will be finalized this week. Gotta get the calendar fixed and finalized. One way or another.
Constantly spinning between perspectives as people move through my life. Each in their own gyre. Accelerating or slowing, To their own internal soundtrack.
A vendor took us to lunch yesterday. Six months ago she was hit, and very nearly killed, by a car while casually bicycling through her neighborhood. Barely remembers the two weeks after that. Especially the time in the ICU. Has a list of multiple surgeries to schedule, when possible, in her immediate future. Including partial facial reconstruction. And she walks only thanks to the support of crutches. On the other hand, she doesn't want to talk about all her woes, she wants to hear my plans for the coming triathlon season. While my internal dialog is conflicted about mentioning my complete hatred of running because she isn't able to get around without any mechanical support. Just walking upright, unassisted, is her next milestone. But Your Humble Narrator laments not being ready for the Rock N Roll Marathon in New Orleans in a couple of weeks.
A friend further north lives paycheck to paycheck. In a hotel. For a year. With two kids. Subsisting on Ramen & Bunny Bread. While an absentee-spouse spends every available penny on Oxy. Mid-life. Nearly rock bottom. No Christmas. No holidays. Too scared of the other hotel guests to let the kids do anything other than play a dying X-box or watch TV behind constantly locked doors. But it's a hassle that my weekends are entirely booked through May and the biggest challenge ahead is deciding which condo to rent at the next big race.
Another friend rebuilding a personal life, again. Had previously tried to get into triathlons. One successful race. Then the world went sideways.Unexpected ailment after ailment. Some minor. Some not. Some still not resolved. Compounded by a mis-represented inter-personal relationship that took a lot of time and effort to go nowhere. How do you pour all your heart and energy and hope into somebody, just to turn around and be forced to create a peaceful way to watch it all get flushed into oblivion? Starting all that over. Maybe the third time in two years. With uncertainty looming behind every one of the many blind curves ahead. Wanting help. Not wanting to ask for it. Fear of rejection. Or yet another loss if you let somebody else get close.
And one more. This time somebody pretty close. I train with them as much as possible. Draw strength and inspiration and motivation. Gets bad news about a recent pain that isn't as simple or easily corrected as everyone hoped. Maybe it won't be career ending. But it could be. Talking about somebody who ate, drank, slept, and breathed fitness. A self-made person. Little, if any, outside support. Few, if any, family nearby. A fragile, if not irreparable, relationship that rarely, if ever, gets discussed because of the gut-wrenching implications. And several long term plans that may or may not get completely erased, based on the outcome of a recovery program which has no certainty of success.
Puts my life into a different perspective. A very thankful and appreciative perspective.
The pool at eFitness has been informally closed for a couple of weeks. Informally meaning that the heater was broken and the temperature dropped south of 68 degrees but they still kept it open so nobody would request refunds. When they did finally fix it, a plague before your Humble Narrator. So tonight was my first swim of the New Year.
After maybe ten clumsy, half-flailing laps, my chest managed to dislodge the final lung goblins which had been clinging inside me for several hundred meters. Then the old familiar rhythm: reach, pull, breath. Focus on covering space. Minimize drag. Steam streamlined. Reach, pull, breath. Don't lose count. Reach, pull, breath. Twist. Sight. Reach, pull, breath. Crap, I may have lost count. Reach, pull, breath.
And somewhere close to 1800 meters was covered in that fashion.
A fine return and a good sign of things to come. A mile without difficulty. And 21 weeks to go before my next 70.3. Another minor victory.
Doing Crossfit with a diminished lung capacity was not smart. Felt nearly recovered. At first. But just starting the warm-up routine was taxing. Did a couple of snatches. Worked on my form. Then went on a express elevator to the pain cave. 22 wall balls (started with 20# and went down to 14#.) 16 burpees. 10 one-handed kettlebell clean & press. Rinse and repeat. Five times. End of the third round: couldn't catch my breath. End of the forth: sweating non-stop. End of the fifth and final round: half a gasp from puking. Actually walked outside, just in case, arms above my head. Praying nobody saw or heard anything.
Wanted to stop after three rounds. Just tap out and admit defeat. Didn't. Fought through it. Without puking, crying, or dying. One minor victory. More to come. Many more.
Whatever assaulted Your Humble Narrator was a devious beast. No clue what it was. Where it came from. But it appears to be on the retreat.Far less coughing. No chills. Minimal sinus issues. Mostly lingering pain in the major muscle groups. Back. Calves. Thighs.
Forty eight hours to fight it off. Without prescription meds. Only sacrificed the bulk of a weekend to it. Still managed to catch a movie and spend time with the kids.
And Monday draws close. The dragons array themselves on battle lines. Motioning me to come forth. Once again.
Finally wrestled with my lone XMas present: hard drives! OCZ Vertex 4 solid state drive for the Operating System, and a Western Digital 2TB Black drive for everything else. (Quite an upgrade from the petite 250Gb drive originally in the box!)
Installed the little drive. Cloned the old C: drive onto it. Rebooted. OS came up clean on the new drive. Installed the second drive. Re-slaved the original. (Can't just waste that space...) Cleaned up dust bunnies. Re-routed cables. And thanked my dark computer gods that nothing died or fried and nobody cried.
Speaking of crying, still feel TERRIBLE. Definitely fighting off a major bug. But at least I was still able to get all geeked up.
After work, just over 24hrs ago, it was Kettlebell Swings, Box Jumps, and Knees To Elbows. By eight o'clock something foul took up residence in my belly. (New Year's Ham, Greg says!) And by eleven o'clock a torrent of ichor was flowing into my lung. Your Wayward Narrator was fully under assault!
Barely crawled out of bed. Moving like a frozen corpse. Late to the office. Hurting in my joints. And my chest. And my face. No fever, thankfully. Local Doc In A Box doesn't carry flu tests. But the NP suggested a couple of OTC concoctions to try.
All amped up to begin training in earnest, then ten thousand angry bees take up residence in my sinuses. Praying for sleep. Praying for relief. In 2014.
Looking back, one of the worst parts of 2013 was the rapid decline of Great Grandma. (Who is actually my Grandmother, but my kids call her Great Gradma and my niece Morgan calls her G.G.)
A bad combination of medications gave her bleeding ulcers. The blood loss made her weak. The weakness put her in the hospital in September and didn't get out until late November, or even early December. . And she spiraled almost out of control, briefly landing in the ICU with severe pneumonia. For a few weeks she was in rehab to regain her strength. Then back into the hospital. Then rehab again. And finally, after six or eight weeks, back home.
But she's frail on the best of days. Easily fatigued due to several heart conditions. And her short term memory is shot.
My mother pretty much spent four or six straight days trying to watch over Great Grandma. But couldn't do it alone. An around the clock effort was too much work. And neither of Mom's siblings would contribute enough of their time to make a difference. And ultimately they decided to put Great Grandma in a local assisted living facility.
Great Grandma has always been in my life. We were pretty much raised by my grandparents. She has always been strong. Always been supportive. There for any of us when we needed her.
Not used to seeing her so weak. Or forgetful. My stomach rolls at the thought of her alone, in some foreign facility. How often does she come out of her fog and wonder, "Where am I?" How often is she lonely? Or afraid? Not sure when, if ever, such notions will sit well in my head. But they have to be accepted. The outcome isn't optional. Or avoidable.
In the meanwhile, I see her on the weekends. Tell her that I love her. Hold her hand. Remember all the wonderful years I had with her.
I hope we can somehow make her remaining days as happy as she made us.
Rested instead of running. Instead of drinking. Tall pints of icy adult beverages calling. Thunderstorms rolling behind my eyes. Uninspired at work. Uninspired at play. Restless. Anxious. Want something, but no idea what. Just something else. At least the aches from Crossfit are better. Measuring my life through a series of small victories.
May have over-done it, tonight. The over-head squats didn't feel right. Then the run felt wrong. Now, several hours later, I'm feeling an old wound (that kept me out of River Roux) threaten to flair up again. Scalding shower. Ibuprofen. Some extra rest. Hoping it fends off any potential damage. Otherwise I'll be sidelined for two weeks. Leaving only six weeks before the Long Beach Half Marathon. Ugh!
Sunday.Again. Weekend never long enough. Ever. Almost always regret not doing enough On one level or another. Need at least three days in order to unwind and get organized. But that rarely happens.
Was supposed to see Thor, with Liam. If you can imagine, he wouldn't get off the computer in time, couldn't find his glasses, and we had to skip it. Rolled to Nana's, instead. Helped Dad tweak his new PC. Went and picked up Grandma. Hung out with her and Nana and the dogs for a while. If she were not physically weak, G'Ma would be fine. Her grip strength is still there. He wits ares still there. She's very cognizant and mentally alert. But her body continues to wind down, despite the strength of her spirit.
After some time with them, went to pick up Meg from Uncle D's house. She & Alex had spent the afternoon decorating the driveway with My Little Ponies and decorations.Great work by both girls who never cease to amaze us with their creativity, beauty, and awesomeness. If only they'd stay 11 forever!
Spent the majority of today thinking about food, shopping for food, or preparing food. But in the end it wasn't worth my time, effort, or money. And it was all my fault.
Started with the collards from Thursday's Biloxi Farmer's Market. Couldn't get them tender enough. Couldn't cook out enough of the bitterness. Couldn't get any flavor into them. Nothing worse than an unfulfilled craving despite efforts to fill it!
Second fail was the Paleo Chicken Francese. Made it before. Was much better. Burned it this time. The crust was too thick and not very tasty. But it was very disappointing. And yet another unfulfilled craving at the expense of significant effort.
Zucchini & squash noodles are easy. Actually managed to get them right. But they're hard to get wrong. A minor success but the cheapest and easiest creation in the meal.
Only other dish that worked was a break from my Paleo regimen: mac n cheese! But it was only a limited success. Tried a country recipe with some surprising ingredients including dry mustard, sour cream, and worcestershire sauce. But it wasn't decadent or breath taking. And while it didn't get thrown out, it didn't live up to expectations nor was it worth the cards.
Better luck next time, Caveman. You cannot win 'em all.
NoShaveVember. Let it grow! Day 15. Haven't shaved this month. And it is starting to get scratchtastic. Not too bad if you don't mind looking like a nerdy 1970s G.I. Joe action figure, without the muscles or kung fu grip. But Decemeber can't come soon enough.
Hit up Crossfit after work. One of the things that keeps me motivated is thinking, "That's impossible!" then doing it!
Case in point: hand stand pushups. Never done a single one in my life. But did more than thirty of them tonight! The actual meat of the workout included five rounds of this:
5 Hand stand pushups
12 alternating kettlebell swings
12 butterfly situps
60 single unders on the jump rope
Nobody else was able to do all of the hand stands. (Probably did 15 just warming up!) And went home feeling fantastic. Though the "butterfly" situps were brutal and (for some unknown reason) my rounds included 15 of them, instead of just twelve. Gonna be sore tomorrow. Looking forward to it.
He wants to be your Savior.
If he is not read Romans 10:13.
Have a good day."
After a long, entertaining adventure in Bay St Louis, this note found me in a gas station restroom.
My first Icy Pints event.Mockingbird Cafe. Jaci asked me to join them. Running through unfamiliar territory. Pacing Cheri. Peggy. Dark, unlit streets. Decent breeze on the beach leg. Girls tricked me, though. Only did 2 miles. Good pace. Just short.
Couple of beers later, we're splitting burgers and the ASPCA girls stop handing out their fliers and decide to hang with us. So many conversations melding across half a dozen people. Dogs and running and more food and veggie burger and that girl's name is Megan while my daughter's name is Meg and we should all do NOLA but still haven't found a room for Seaside and the band is playing her favorite song and WHOOP WHOOP and put away the trash and out of the damn blue, "Jaci lost her keys." Which resulted in an unproductive hour-long manhunt for keys. Her frantically texting people who had left. We're combing the parking lot. She's calling her estranged-husband who is watching their kids. We're searching everyone's table and pockets and tailgates. She's crying. Her coworkers still looking. Cheri ordering another round. Peggy trying to call her down. And I get on the phone with Charles, "I'll take her home, Charles. I have to leave. Please, you stay home with the kids, I'll drop her off. It is on my way." What's he going to do, decline? So she cries her way to my car, leaving hers behind. We navigate back to her house, not too west of mine, talking about work and training and plans and woes and getting too old too fast in this sad crazy world where we discover ourselves too too late.
Then Jaci is gone. Just me. And the moon. And a nearly empty gas tank. Fortunately there is a station. With a clean restroom for my surprisingly full bladder. And it is no accident that I find that note. God loves me. And I love God, back.
Aside from a complete inability to lift my arms, due to overwhelming soreness, Saturday turned out to be quite an adventure.
Started with a prolonged trip to Long Beach. Neg & Molly in town. Pictures of that girl NEVER do her hair any justice. It's the most beautiful shade of red I've ever seen in person. If there were such a thing as a hair model, she's be a world-traveling fashionista as hers is without equal. If only in my eyes:?
First stop, the Farmer's Market. Picked up some grass fed pot roast, local sweet potatoes, milk, butter, a homemade soda (CHEATDAY!) and some hand-made hot tamales (for Mom.)
Next leg of the show? Best Buy. Pick up a replacement computer and speakers for Dad. Little Dell unit. And Logitech audio. And (shudder) Walmart for sundries that I couldn't find at the Farmer's Market. Carrots, garlic, beef broth, an onion, and ibuprofen. Unfortunately Dad's new computer had a VDI port for video and he was using a DVI cable for the old one. Didn't have a replacement cable or an adapter, so it is off to a different Walmart (sigh) in Pass Christian. After that, setup was quick and easy. Had Dad online again within an hour. Hopefully Mom won't crap this one up with spy/spam/malware. Though she is quite gifted at it.
Concluded the day by prep'ing my veggies for some Crock Pot, Pot Roast tomorrow, then watching UFC. Though just moving and cutting everything was a challenge. Terrrrrribly sore from Crossfit yesterday. Definitely need two days to recover. Maybe even three.
Mood improves and health takes a bad turn. Fighting off some kind of cold. Usual symptoms: sore throat, sneezing excessively, and elevated temperature. Wanted to stay in bed. Sleep until noon. Avoid daylight and duties. But that ain't happening. Work and woes, my best friends. Neither fever nor snot can keep them at bay. Hopefully (HOPEFULLY!) Your Humble Narrator can pull through quickly. Usually do. Benefits of being healthy. Or as healthy as a full time, middle-aged computer dork can be.
Second week of Crossfit. Getting cleaner on the power lifting techniques. Good run to start things off. And my mood is better. A smidge better.
Today's Workout Of the Day (WOD) concluded with: 12 Shoulder To Overheads (getting the weight from your shoulders, up over your head, anyway you can) then 9 box dips, and finally 6 wall ball squats. Five sets of those, as quickly as possible. I came in third: 9:54.
Not bad for an old geek. Especially such a newbie to Crossfit.
Maybe the change of weather. Maybe the time shifting. Maybe the lack of sunlight. Maybe the lack of any serious goals. Don't effing know what has taken hold. But I'm a mental train wreck.
No desire or drive. Completely NOT in the mood to train. Only in the mood to drink large volumes of adult beverages. Which I don't do. So I'm constantly craving it. Not sure what I'm going to do. Or what I really CAN do. Other than push through and force myself to resume training. Nothing else is remotely acceptable.
On top of my dark mood, I think I blew an audition for a talent show at work. Tried something new: stand up comedy. Didn't feel right. My timing wasn't right. And I blanked out one of the bits. Even if I did pass the audition, I'll probably bow out. I was only standing in front of a couple of judges doing my thing. What happens when I'm live in front of hundreds? I don't want to make a fool of myself.
Probably notch it up as a learning lesson. Another check mark on the bucket list. And on to other opportunities begging for my attention.
Never a dull moment in these parts. I certainly live in interesting times.
Liam sick this morning. Stayed home, without any electronics. Took a nap on the sofa. Him and Molly Dog snoozing on a cool Autumn Monday.
A pair of drives in a RAID 5 array die, taking a bit of data with them. Of course finding the actual problem (versus the symptoms) took a while. Fixing it took even longer. You'd think the folks who get paid to work on SQL would be able to offer advice on fixing problems. You'd have thought wrong. It was pretty much a tag team shotgun fight with me & KV versus SQL & the array.
Pulled my right hamstring while reaching down for a napkin. Bothered me for hours. Hoping it won't interfere with my training tomorrow. Whole bunch of hurt, just for a napkin.
Cindy's neck acting up. God Willing she graduates in like 49 days.
Meg officially the busiest 11yr old on Earth with music and art and theater claiming parts of her days.
GH flying home from an interesting trip. AE still struggling just to make ends meet while just one paycheck from the street. AG starting a new relationship. Lightning alone. All these relationships spinning madly through the ether. Never slowing. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad. Sometimes both. Sometimes neither.
A project unexpectedly gains traction. Perhaps the worm has turned and my perseverance and mostly-charity-work will pay off in the long run. One way or another, I'm eager to know.
Last minute reboot of the Citrix systems before I wander to bed.
Storm clouds on the horizon as Meg & Liam started their BVMS Chamber performance at Dallard's this afternoon. Halloween night and everyone gathers for some light string music.
Cindy & Kim. Nana. Jason, Morgan & Sara. And, just passing through, Work Wife Greg all made appearances.
Due to their musical placement in the chamber, it was a bit of a strain to get one picture with them both in it. Meg is a violinist, on the far left. Liam on the double bass. Far right. Liam's back in my skeleton pullover. Meg in an homage to My Little Pony. Clicking the image will enlarge it. They're circled. But barely in focus.
Afterwards, Meg & Cindy went to Gigi's for Trick Or Treating. Liam & I went home. He had to write a paper for Journalism and I had to wait on the one knock at our door.
But the highlight of our night was the Chamber performance with two Young McDougals. Proud of them both. Each beautiful. And unique. Two separate, incredible kids. Rapidly approaching adulthood. Different paces. Different paths. Different pieces of me. Of their mother. And we're all blessed to have them in our lives. Even on Halloween.
Up at 0500. New sweatshop at 0600.But if I'm going to have a serious 2014 season, I have to seriously improve. And get well outside of my comfort zone. So, I have a new trainer: Sara Carter. Certified Crossfit Trainer. Former collegiate women's basketball coach. And now: IronNerd Coach.
Fantastic workout. Just awkward techniques, on my part. Not used to jutting my ass out. Not used to landing on my heels. Or keeping such a rigid stance. Sara kept repeating the instructions. I kept trying. Sometimes I'd get it almost right. Most of the time I got it wrong. But we both kept at it.
My first session started with some interesting warmups: K. Farris Jumping Jacks, wall spiders, PNF squat stretches, and Burgener Warm-Ups. Then (don't laugh) snatch drills. Followed by the main event, As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) supersets of: 3 power cleans, 6 burpees, and 9 air squats inside of three minutes. Five times. With one minute rest between each go.
Pushed through 11 total supersets. 33 power cleans, 66 burpees, and 99 air squats. In 19 minutes. Wish I had snapped a picture of the puddle of sweat.
Didn't feel it, until after lunch. Interested to see how I do in the morning. And then there is next time.
Another graduating class at work today. Yearly event. 50 brave souls getting doused in Diversity. I asked to give an introduction to the commencement speaker. Brought my own broken board. From 2010. Told them the bad news: their euphoria eventually wears off, they could eventually slip back into their old manners and roles and moods. But there's good news: they could break more boards. Different ones. At work. In their community. At home. With friends. With family. Or just personal boards. I showed them my latest one: an Ironman Finisher's Medal. And I challenged them to come back one day,to show me their own broken board.
I hope they do it. I hope they challenge themselves. Expand their horizons and try to help reconnect the frayed threads of this crazy world of ours. I barely recognize Jon From 2010. Would he recognize me?
And the distance keeps on growing. Hopefully it grows for them. For all of us. Diverse. But united. Out of many, one.
Nearly Friday. Cindy playing Taxi Cab Mom for Meg's second day of performances. "It's getting easier," says Red. Meanwhile, Liam's voice cracking. The fine blonde hair on his legs turning dark. And course. He had a rough day at school, he says. I didn't pry for details. Bank account dipped into the red unexpectedly. Four lives on mostly one check extracts a hard toll. Hard not to get mad. But it is what it is.Lifted at the gym to compensate. Still trying to find a Crossfit coach. Still trying to find a running coach. Planning 2014. And 2015.
I could burn a week of vacation and still not tie up all my loose ends.
"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want." -Bill Watterson