Thursday, March 29, 2012

My old friend 169

Nice to see you again yesterday and this morning, staring up at me at 7:00A.  Your tail doesn't wag like Leopold's but I am just as happy to see you.  We've got to end this though - the on and off affair just isn't working. How many times has it been now?  30?  Maybe more.  Nothing personal but I would rather not see you again - ever.  Just this one last time on the way down and then our relationship can end.  OK? You might just have met your match with this 'No S' diet.  No snacks, no sweets, no seconds.  Except sometimes on Saturdays and Sundays.  Not to overplay the 's' deal but it seems to be working! 

Just as well that the upcoming Texas Independence Relay will come on a Saturday and Sunday when all bets are off.  Four mini-races over the span of less than 48 hrs will definitely involve some snacking!  Gotta keep those glycogen levels up.  But come Monday it is going to be 'au revoir' my old flame 169 - I am trolling for a date with 168!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How close were we to 'the end' in Sept 2008?

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke is presenting a 4-lecture course on the central bank at George Washington University.  This is how MarketWatch’s ‘Political Watch’ summarized one portion of his most recent lecture:

‘Failure of AIG would have been "the end," Bernanke says. They were connected to everyone. "It was interacting with so many different firms, it was so interconnected with both the U.S. and the European financial systems, global banks, we were quite concerned that if AIG went bankrupt that we would not be able to control the crisis any further," he said.  I don't think Bernanke has ever been so specific or used the word "the end" before. Yikes.’

The 'No S Diet'

This makes a lot of sense to me; found it by searching for 'no snacking' which has always been my weakness, together with candy/cookies/chocolate etc (aka 'sweets) and portion size (which are like seconds if they are too big).  This really simple 'diet' - all of 14 words - is all about moderation and self-discipline, but without all the hassles of counting calories, specifying or excluding certain/any food groups or types, and it is flexible to allow for some weekend indulgence.

"There are just three rules and one exception:
  • No Snacks
  • No Sweets
  • No Seconds
Except (sometimes) on days that start with "S"
That's it."

Clearly the path I have been on for the last few years is not the right one.  I'm just barely managing to keep my weight at or just over 170lbs, running and working out as much as I do there should be a downward trends. But there isn't.  Cue snacking (mid morning and mid-afternoon 'mini-meals'), sweets and seconds.  

So:  back to 3 meals per day with nothing except tea & water in-between - and we will see how it goes.
PS:  Days that start with 'S' also include 'Special Days' such as celebrations, birthdays, holidays etc.

Next up: Texas Independence Relay

Starting late next Saturday morning our team of 12 runners - the West Side Occasionals - in two vehicles will be tackling 204 miles from near Bastrop TX all the way to the San Jacinto Monument east of Texas running nearly 40 legs in total, non-stop.  Two vans with 6 persons each switch off every 4 hours or so.  You grab some food and sleep where you can, otherwise it is all running all the time!  Sounds like fun, right!  It is, trust me.  This will be my second TIR, having participated in the inaugural event in 2008.  Which unfortunately resulted in achilles tendinitis and forced me to postpone running the Boston Marathon until the next year.  I'm not qualified for Boston this year so no worries on that front.  I will be taking a small camera so except a few pics to show up here by next Monday or so.

Running and working out have been coming along nicely despite some ongoing plantar fasciitis issue (left foot).

Here is a recap on the last week's running and gym sessions:

Monday - Bendwood Park route 3 mi 00:30 10:00 pace
Really nice recovery run, legs still a little bit sore from Sunday (left calf mostly) but feeling pretty strong. Begin mini-taper for this weekend's 204-mile Texas Independence Relay.

Weigh-in day. Body fat percentage down to 17%, otherwise unremarkable. Still a long way from finding my long-lost abs, last seen in public c. 1979. Today it was mostly shoulders, biceps, some abs, pecs and lats.

Sunday - Bendwood loop 3 mi 00:29 09:39 pace
Easy recovery run with the Boxers; lots of fun with a whole bunch of little kids keen to meet with them at the park. They were on their best behaviour!

Saturday - New Ulm hills 20 mi 03:20 10:00 pace
Easy first half, tough coming back to New Ulm when you can actually see the hills... My left foot took a pounding. Happy it is done!

Lots of shoulders, weighted step-ups, elevated push-ups, ab crunches, triceps and pecs.

Very easy run, first 3 with Kath and the dogs, last 2 just us. Nice and cool. Legs a little bit fatigued but nothing serious

Wednesday - Bendwood Park loop 3 mi 00:30 10:00 pace
Really nice run, the dogs almost behaved. Stopped to talk to some city workers installing a new lift station in our neighborhood. Huge job which will take several more weeks; they have to build it to 500-year floodplain requirements; the lift station (basically a pumping assembly for sewage) will protrude 7 feet above street level.

Easy 6 miles, first three with the dogs. It is amazing what a little cool weather can do for the legs!

Tuesday Rice track and Rice trail 5 mi 00:49 09:48 pace
Much nicer weather than a week ago! Mostly easy run around Rice, then a couple of miles on the track, a little faster, but no real speed work.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

500 and counting

As in 500 miles run, year to date. Miraculously the body (legs!) are still functioning pretty well.  As well as they can after just about 6 decades of work.  Not too much for the first 18 years, but steadily since then - and a lot more lately.  Actually I think my legs are getting used to the steady pounding - some steady foam-rolling must be helping.

It will be interesting to see how I measure up in the Texas Independence Relay starting on 31 March.  Our team of 12 - the West Side Occasionals - will be running 200+ miles from around Bastrop TX to just east of Houston, where the race will end Sunday afternoon in the shadow of the San Jacinto Monument.

 My brother who lives in Pretoria (South Africa) sends me some interesting photographs and cartoons from time to time.  I really enjoyed these:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Racking up the miles

This year to date I have logged 450 miles which works out to an average of 42 miles per week.  I don't run on Friday.  There was a time a few years ago when this many miles cumulatively and too many weeks of 50+ miles tipped me into over-training. Why not now?  My nutrition is a lot better which helps me recover from workouts more efficiently, but most importantly I don't run hard all the time.  Keeping your heart rate relatively low for the duration of all of your long runs is key:  it prevents staleness from setting in and it allows you to have something in reserve for track workouts, tempo runs and races.  

Ran the Bayou City Classic 10K last Saturday in just under 50 minutes. Could probably have pushed a little harder but conditions were putrid with nearly constant rain/drizzle and wind! Had something in reserve at the end and finished well, about the only highlight of the day. Afterwards our little running group was huddled under the Striders tent like wet chickens, many of us in a near hypothermic state. 

On Sunday I helped Kathleen with her Boston training and clocked 17 miles in the process - she did 20 - but it was a struggle.  First we did 3 miles with the dogs and got drenched.  Came back to the house, waited an hour or so and then went out again for 5 miles, making it back just before a huge thunderstorm came through.  Took a nap (I did) and finished off the day's proceedings with a solid if slow 9 miles along the Terry Hershey Trail.  Such is the life of a long distance runner.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lots of racing coming up

We’ve been enjoying Chamber of Commerce type weather here in Houston lately! Sunny, cool, hardly a breeze - makes running a pleasure! Went out for a mostly easy run this morning before work, first 3 miles with the dogs, then another 4 including 7 short hill repeats. It feels like my speed is finally coming back, and some more hill repeats and perhaps some 400’s at the track tomorrow and over the next few weeks, should help. 

I’ve become allergic to talking about weight loss – I think it would be better to just report about.  So here is the report on weigh-in day (Monday):  back to 170 lbs, down a couple of pounds from last week.  What is working?  Kathleen going totally vegan is definitely helpful as it encourages me to pay closer attention to my diet as well.  It has helped her – very quickly – to lower her blood pressure. 

Several races coming up this month and every pound I drop will help to propel my mass slightly more rapidly than otherwise, over a distance of 5 to 10k.  Next Saturday is the Bayou City Classic (10K), on the 24th March we will tackle the Houston Law Week 8K and then the very next day is the 3rd running of the Run for Wellness 5K.  My short term goal is to shoot for 22 minutes that day.  A pace of about 07:05.  Definitely do-able. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stride for Stroke 5K

Two mile warm-up and then Stride for Stroke 5K race this morning, flat but not particularly fast course (too many turns, some quite sharp). Felt pretty strong, time around 22:35 - ran mostly just by heart-rate, kept it upward of 155 all the time, in the mid to high 160's the last mile. Faded a little bit the last mile but less so than recently. Nice day despite the wind which was gusting well over 20 mph at times.  Decent turn-out but with many more – hundreds more! – walkers instead of runners.  Somehow I don’t quite see the point of paying $25 to walk 3.1 miles, but if it gets people thinking about a healthier lifestyle, then I am fine with it. 

Subsequently I found out that I had won my age group - haven't done that in a while!  Nice incentive to drop a few more pounds!  Clearly the high mileage and lots of leg and core workouts are starting to work.  Just have to keep the injuries at bay!

After the run, a ‘Pre-Olympics' workout/competition at Fast Results Fitness, with everyone doing 5 minutes of dips, squats, pushups, and burpees. Killer. Plus some abs.  I might have to take a nap or have a beer or something after all that!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells...

Here we were last Thursday in Vietnam Coast, a (duh) Vietnamese restaurant on Hillcroft, just south of Gessner. Pretty good place, their special tofu and lo mein with noodles are fantastic. And not wildly over-priced either.  So at one stage I notice that the special tofu order did not have the required lemon dipping sauce. Raising my right hand I try to get the attention of our wait-person who is at the other end of the dining room.

She does not see me, or at least pretends not to see me waving.  Wait-staff seem to acquire a special visual filter which makes them unable to spot any patron that needs attention, don't you think?  Anyway, a little girl - maybe 3 years old - at a table about 10 meters away does see me waving.  And waves back with a big smile.  Clearly not destined to be a wait-person when she grows up.  I smile back.  What can you do.  And wave some more in response to her enthusiastic waving.

Our waiter eventually turns up a few minutes later with the sauce and we turn to important matters at hand such as dunking the lovely light pieces of fried tofu into the lemon sauce.  Suddenly from the other side of the room I hear a tiny little voice going 'Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells.." in that familiar melody. No! Surely not?  Yes!  As I glance at my wife I can see a big grin spreading over her face. I force myself to look over to the little girl at the other table.  She is staring straight at me while repeating the phrase.  "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh" Alas.  My very  white 'most interesting man in the world' beard has accidentally turned me into Santa Claus!  Ack.  Very funny I am sure.  Thanks little girl in the Vietnamese restaurant.