It’s been that long?

IMG_1626[1]

Lots of time has past since the last post

 

I could not believe it’s been since February that I last posted here. I knew it had been a while, but I figured it hadn’t been that long.

What have I been doing since then?

Fitness

I’ll start with fitness, since that’s what I write about most here.

1.) Piling up miles

When I committed to the Quad Rock 50, I decided to explore a training approach that included higher volume. I’ve done that in 2014…I’ve done some sort of run or ride on over 200 days this year. That’s about as many workouts (running/riding) as I’ve had in a whole year in the past.

Adding it all up, in 2014 I’ve:

  • Run just under 2500 miles (2478 by my count)
  • Rode 1600+ miles (1610 by my count)

I’m not entirely convinced that a high volume approach is right for me. I’ll have more to say on this in the future.

2.) Raced (once so far) – Quad Rock 50

At some point I might write more extensively about my experience at the Quad Rock 50. For now, I will say that it was a tremendous experience. I finished in just over 11 hours (11:02:25) – not as good as I was hoping for. I suffered from a lack of fitness and some issues with my nutrition. But I learned a lot about ultra distance racing.

And it didn’t stop me from taking another step forward into the ultra distance.

3.) Signed up for my first 100 mile race – Oil Creek 100

The Oil Creek 100 is on October 11.

Coming off the Quad Rock 50, I knew I wanted to do another ultra distance race in 2014. I spent some time going back and forth between another 50 miler and jumping up to 100 miles. I decided to move up to 100 miles. I’ll explain the reasons in a subsequent post, but it was about more than just wanting to complete the distance.

There is something about the journey, about the process and discipline of training, that I needed. More later on this too.

4.) I still have not mastered my eating habits

This is an ongoing struggle for me and something I need to continue working on.

I’m convinced that this has more to do with what’s going on in the rest of my life (non fitness) than anything else. I’m eating almost as a way to pass time or numb some things that may not be quite right in other aspects of my life.

Maybe this is an excuse and I should be able to just have the discipline to eat better. But to me there is something else at play here. There is a disconnect somewhere else that I have yet to resolve, and eating is a way of distracting myself from dealing with that disconnect. If I could ever resolve that disconnect, I have a feeling that my eating habits would fall into line, almost effortlessly. I’m still trying to explore these things to see if I can make some progress here.

Non fitness

The other major thing I’ve explored a time or two on this blog is things like addiction, depression. Things haven’t been right for me in a while. I’ve gotten some insights about this over the past 6-8 months that I hope to explore more fully. I think writing about them might actually help bring more clarity to them. I’m actually feeling half decent right now, which is more than I could say for the better part of the last few years.

The other aspect that I’m constantly thinking about is career and how that plays into everything else. I believe I’ve figured out some things there as well. Now it’s just a matter of putting some plans into motion. This is where I encounter the most “Resistance” (a Steven Pressfield term), and I think it’s a major influence on other aspects of my life (eating habits and everything else).

Things really cannot be separated

In this post, I’ve neatly separated things into “fitness” and “non fitness.” What I’ve discovered is that for me, these two things cannot be separated. I need to be in nature and moving –runs and rides are not simply about getting ready for the next race or improving my health. There is something more to it than that. It gets into the nature of soul and spirit – I’ve been reading a lot about this recently and gained a ton of insight. I’m looking forward to sharing some of that here as well.

Finally, there has been the usual chaos and fun of being a husband and father. I don’t spend much time on that here…but I try to spend as much time as possible in those spaces and find it a constant learning experience.

Getting to a regular schedule for posting here on this blog is an important new goal for me. It’s one of the next steps I need to take to move things forward.  It feels good to be back at it.

 


Why I plan to be more selfish

For a while now, especially the last 2+ years, I’ve felt something was “off” in my life.  I’ve felt like most days were a grind, that there was something missing from my life, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  Most days I’m somewhere between happy and sad; more like numb.  I can’t go back to one specific incident that changed things either.  It’s been more of a slow, gradual deterioration.  I’ve felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into a morass, the shape and form of which I cannot clearly identify.

Reading The Fountainhead may have helped give me some insight into what’s been happening.

One big part of my life was tied up into my job, the one I lost about a year ago.  Prior to losing it, I had become increasingly frustrated there.  Why?  It felt like I was pushing a string up hill.  The culture at the place I used to work was well known for two specific themes:  passive-aggressiveness combined with the need for consensus.  In a company where we all knew job cuts were coming, most everybody was running for cover.  I never fit in there.  These words of The Fountainhead took me back to my old job:

“…there is no substitute for competence.

That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers.  They have no concern for facts, ideas, work.  They’re concerned only with people.  They don’t ask:  ‘Is this true?’  They ask:  ‘Is this what others think is true?’  Not to judge, but to repeat.  Not to do, but give the impression of doing.  Not creation, but show.  Not ability, but friendship.  Not merit, but pull.  What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce?  Those are the egotists.  You don’t think through another’s brain and you don’t work through another’s hands…

…That’s what stopped me whenever I faced a committee.  Men without an ego.  Opinion without a rational process.  Motion without brakes or motor.  Power without responsibility.  The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person.  It’s everywhere and nowhere and you can’t reason with him.  He’s not open to reason.  You can’t speak to him–he can’t hear.  You’re tried by an empty bench…”

I can’t say how many times I felt frustrated at my old job…that I couldn’t get my ideas across, that nobody was listening.

I think part of my slow deterioration, specifically related to the job, was a resignation of my individual sense of self to the collective.    I stopped fighting the fight.  I’ve always thought that losing that job was the best thing that could have happened to me, but I could never quite figure out why.  Perhaps it’s more clear now.

Another thing that contributed to my funk, ironically, was this blog.  When I started this thing, I was so focused on writing things that other people would want to read.  I essentially got away from writing what I liked (or what was inside me) in favor of trying to impress others.  This part of The Fountainhead resonated:

“Look at everyone around us.  You’ve wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it…He’d see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men.  He’s not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander’s delusion–prestige.  A stamp of approval, not his own.  He can find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded.  He can’t say about a single thing:  ‘This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me.’  Then he wonders why he’s unhappy.”

The point is, I compromised my own sense of self for prestige, for a stamp of approval from others.

At home, it was the same sort of thing.  I started to worry more and more about what I thought my wife and kids wanted or needed.  To seek opportunities to make their lives easier, at the expense of my own life.  This despite the fact that they never asked for that kind of help, nor did they need it.

Where am I going with all this?

As I read The Fountainhead, I started to understand that for the past few years I had started to live like a second-hander.  I had sacrificed my wants and desires for things that were outside of me.  I had placed too much of my sense of self outside of my control.  It wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t for any ill-conceived purpose, I wasn’t even really aware that it was happening.  But the net result was that I had lost the joy that comes from living a life that meets my needs, first and foremost.

And so I plan to be more selfish.

Selfish in the sense of The Fountainhead–that I am a creator, an achiever.  My first duty is to myself, to create things that fully express my talents and abilities.  I am bound to nothing else.  I cannot be affected, positively or negatively, by what anyone thinks of me.  The prime concern is living in a way that’s congruent with my best self.  That’s it.

If anything, this will improve my relationships at home and everywhere else.  Why?  Because I won’t be seeking approval from those relationships.  My self-esteem won’t be on the line.  I’m no longer concerned what anyone thinks of me.  The only thing that matters is what I think of myself.

“In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone…Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange.  If they do not desire it, they are not forced to deal with each other.  They seek further.”

I expect that I will slim down my relationships, focusing only on those that fulfill the quote above.

I’m not sure I fully grasp some of the concepts that I’m writing about here.

But I do have a strong feeling that the “morass” I described at the beginning of this post, that pit that I’ve been sinking deeper into, has a source in my evaporating self-esteem.  Or perhaps more precisely, my increasing willingness to sacrifice my own sense of self and self-respect for something that was outside of me.

“This country…was based on a man’s right to the pursuit of happiness.  His own happiness.  Not anyone else’s.  A private, personal, selfish motive.”

Count me in.


Week in review: March 19-26, 2012

Last week was up and down…a bit frustrating.

First, the moment of the week…my 7-year-old caught her first fish ever.  From what we can gather, it’s a sunnie/blue gill.  Caught in a pond that was about 5 minutes driving from our house.

I’ve never really fished.  I only got into fishing recently when my daughter expressed an interest in it.  My philosophy on parenting includes the idea that you expose your kids to as much as possible when they’re young, then you let them gravitate towards areas of interest, then you support them.  Well, my little one was interested in fishing.  So she got a fishing rod as a birthday present from her uncle, and off we went fishing.  We went once last year, and this was the first attempt this year.  It’s not easy for me–I’m terrible with the hooks, I get grossed out by putting the worm on the hook and I really don’t like taking the fish off there.  But she was thrilled.  So we are eagerly anticipating the start of fishing season on April 7th.  Our area is perfect for fishing–there are a million places to go all within close proximity.  So, fishing it is.

Fitness wise it was another frustrating week.  At the start of the week, I was just getting over being sick.  Mid-week was better, but by Friday I was back feeling sick.  Same stuff–chills, feeling like I got hit by a truck, fatigue, coughing, the whole nine yards.  Although I feel better today, I’m going to the doctor.  I’ve got to get this figured out.

All tolled, I got in:

  • 3 runs for a measley 17 miles, in just under 2 hrs, 45 minutes
  • 2 rides for 90 miles, 5 hrs 38 minutes

I feel like I’m taking two steps backward for every step forward.  Between the foot injury and the sickness, I’m not able to get into any kind of groove.  Pikes peak is 143 days from today, and if I don’t get into a groove soon I’ll have to start re-thinking my goals. 

I’m itching to run today, but I don’t want to push it.  I’d rather take an extra day off to make sure I close out this sickness.  Today is hopefully one final day off with a trip to the doctor.  Then I can get cranked up again tomorrow.

Gory details are below…

Monday (March 19)

Still unsure whether I was fully recovered from the weekend’s sickness, and having an early start for work this morning, I decided to try a short but hard strength workout.  I aimed mostly at the upper body, since I hoped to get a run in later in the day (once I arrived at my destination).  Came up with this:  squat thrusts (10 reps), 10 minutes of wood splitting, chin-ups (overhand and underhand).  All of these were done as intensely as possible.  Just over 20 minutes of this (two sets) left me breathing heavy and sweating like mad.  And I only did about 10 chinups total (including both sets overhand and underhand).  Wow is that weak.

In Philadelphia this week.  Back to my home town.

As the day ended, I had a decision to make:  attempt a quick workout or get to bed early and go a bit longer tomorrow morning.  I elected to get to bed early.  If the fitness center in my hotel had a step machine, I might have thought differently.  But no go.

Good start to the week of eating:

  • 7 am:  yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
  • 1 pm:  small caesar salad with grilled chicken, apple
  • 9 pm:  salad (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onion, snap peas), sardines

I felt good about this eating day.  I could have easily caved at lunch and dinner, and also in the hotel where there were awesome-looking Philly soft pretzels freely available.  One of my favorite things!  For dinner, I decided to forgo the company dinner (and the handful of soft pretzels) for a trip to the grocery store.  I love it when there is a fridge in the hotel room…I was able to buy breakfast for the next couple days as well.

Tuesday (March 20)

Today I learned something about hotels and fitness centers.  After an hour on the treadmill, the thing basically just stopped.  I guess they limit the time people have on the hotel treadmill to make sure nobody abuses it while other guests wait.  Still pretty weak.  I could have just jumped on another treadmill (or restarted mine), but it was getting close to when I had to leave anyway.  Being new at work, I didn’t want to be late for a client meeting, so I elected to stop there instead of getting another 10-15 minutes in.  Total in the morning:  Just over 5 miles, including 4 miles at grades 7-9%.  HR average 143

In the afternoon, we got lost on the way from our client meeting to the hotel, which ate up about 20 minutes of time I would have spent on a second run.  Ended up still going out, only for about 35 minutes.  Just over 4 miles.  My heart rate monitor wasn’t cooperating, so I ended up just running.  It was probably harder than I should have been running, but it wasn’t super-hard.  I did manage to hold back from what I wanted to do–given the frustrations of the treadmill then getting lost, I really wanted to run all out for a set of intervals.  But I was worried about the potential for injury, so I just took it relatively easy.

Total on the day was about 10 miles and about 1 hr, 35 minutes.  Some good treadmill incline in there.

Eating was good until I went off the rails late in the day.

  • 6 am:   greek yogurt, kiwi, grapefruit
  • 3 pm:  salad with chicken, and veggies
  • 5 pm:  protein bar
  • 9 pm:   lots of bread, rack of ribs, french fries, a few chicken wings
  • 11 pm:  2 cookies

Wednesday (March 21)

These early meetings are hard on the fitness schedule.  Today was “getaway” day from the hotel, so I did a strength workout.  The strength workout is coming together.  I’ll probably stick with something like this for the time being.  The workout looked like this:

  • Warmup (Lunge Matrix, Myrtl)
  • Fast Abs core workout
  • Body weight legs (jumprope, step-ups, squats)
  • Cooldown (cannonball)

Eating:

  • 6 am:  salad (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onions)
  • 8 am:  greek yogurt, blueberries
  • 1 pm:  sardines, blueberries, kiwi
  • 6 pm:  steak, green beans, broccoli, soda, some bread
  • 10 pm:  M&Ms, chocolate chips, cookies, sugar cereal, peanuts

Thursday (March 22)

Doulble workout today!

am:  Riding 36 miles.  This felt awkward at first, probably because I haven’t ridden in a while.  The awkwardness went away as the ride went on, and I got stronger as time went by.  I was disappointed when this ended.  2 hrs, 11 minutes

pm:  Run 7 miles.  Tried a trail that’s close to my house and my gym–Round Valley Reservoir.  It was really convenient to be able to use the gym’s facilities to change before and shower / change after the run.  The trail was great.  I will definitely be back to this trail.  Although I might wait to hear the outcome of this first.

I didn’t feel great, and I didn’t push it.  1 hr, 5 minutes HR average 144

  • 10 am:  leftover chicken, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers (think this was supposed to be heated up, but I had to take it in the car cold), leftover roasted veggies (zucchini, onion, cauliflower, tomato)
  • 1 pm:  yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
  • 6 pm:  peanuts, pollock, roasted veggies (zucchini, onion, cauliflower, tomato), salad, asparagus
  • 8 pm:  M&Ms, sugar cereal, ice cream, chocolate chips, 4 powerbar recovery bars

Friday (March 23)

Woke up with a lot of stiffness and soreness, especially in my calves.  Wondering if I was suffering from some sort of delayed onset soreness from that body weight workout I did on Wednesday.   Decided to go for a bike ride, which ended up being great.  54 miles, on a route that I haven’t done in a while.  I started out feeling great, but ended up feeling really bad.  The last hour felt like it was 100% into the wind.  Not sure if it’s loss of endurance (I haven’t been out for this long in a while) or something else.

  • noon:  yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
  • 2-4 pm:  6 or 8 powerbar recovery bars (lost track), handfuls of peanuts, sugar cereal
  • 7 pm:  Eggs, grapefruit

Feeling sick again.  Chills, fatigue, aches, coughing, congestion.  Perhaps the stiffness and soreness I woke up with was actually this damn “cold?”

Saturday (March 24)

Woke up feeling like crap.  Day off.  Towards the end of the day, I felt good enough to go outside and try splitting wood for a few minutes.  Not the greatest idea.  By evening I was not interested in anything but sleep.

  • 8 am:  Yogurt with protein powder, banana,  orange
  • 2 pm:  4 powerbar recovery bars, handful of nuts

Sunday (March 25)

Still feeling like crap.  Another day off.

  • 9 am:  4 egg veggie omelet (onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes), orange, leftover roasted veggies (zucchini, cauliflower, tomato, onion)
  • noon:  smoothie (frozen banana, carrots, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, yogurt, OJ, lime juice), popcorn, nuts, sugar cereal, M&Ms, cookies
  • 6 pm:  leftover roast turkey, salad (asparagus, tomato, onion), salad (romaine, tomatoes)
  • 7 pm:  ice cream, cookies

Sick

On Tuesday I flew to Indianapolis, Indiana.  I remember the terrible feeling in my head as the plane descended.  It was like my head was exploding.  But that feeling dissipated when I was in the airport.  I ended up doing pretty well in Indianapolis…I didn’t really feel anything beyond that strange feeling in my head.

When I returned to New Jersey on Wednesday, I felt the same terrible feeling as the plane was descending.  This time it didn’t go away until the next morning.  Then I started feeling symptoms of a cold–the scratchy throat, coughing.

Today the full blown flu seems to be coming on.  The aches, chills/fever, the whole 9 yards.  I’m supposed to go to my 7-year old’s track practice later today (I help coach when I can).  I’ll be sleeping or taking it easy for most of the day.  Hopefully I will feel better.

No workouts yesterday or today.  Maybe nothing tomorrow.  I want to get rid of this instead of getting in a crappy workout and extending the sickness.


Finally back

I just looked at my last post.  It was from November 20th, about 3 weeks ago.  Argh.  I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Things have been a bit hectic since then.

I finished NaNoWriMo (winner!) and then went on a vacation to Disney World with the family.  I like Disney.  The kids love it and it’s relatively easy on the parents.

I got 3 runs in while I was in Disney.  It’s not great running down there.  I find the parking lots to be useful though.  They’re well lit, large and fairly empty.  Not super exciting but good for a variety of runs.  Parking lots can be good for almost any kind of run but long runs.

My 2012 plans are coming into clear focus now.  That’s if I actually get my motivation right.  I’ll spare the details now since it’ll be a waste of time if I can’t make the training happen.

Right now my focus is on re-building the aerobic system (via longer easy runs and bike rides) and real speed work.  I’ve been listening to the “Ask the Ultrarunner” podcast on EndurancePlanet.com.  It’s been really insightful.  I’m definitely adapting my training based on what I’m learning there.  And yes, “Ask the Ultrarunner” might be a clue as to what I’m thinking about in 2012.

Today I did a 17 mile run.  Used the heart rate monitor for the first time in probably 18 months.  Tried to keep the heart rate right around 140.  It was very useful—I discovered that I needed to lower the intensity to get into the heart rate zone that will build my aerobic system.

Especially lately, I’ve been running in a bad place.  The one where you get all the issues associated with hard running but none of the benefits.  I need to get out of that place.  Either run harder or with less intensity.  I also haven’t been getting out on my bike as much.  I’m guessing here, but I think the majority of my aerobic fitness in the past has come from my cycling work.  Since I haven’t done much of that recently, my aerobic fitness has deteriorated.

Legs are not feeling good right now, but that’s expected.  The last month or two has been inconsistent, and I’m sure I’ve lost some strength in my legs.  Hoping to find some consistency here in the next few months.

I’ve got some good ideas on new workouts that I think will help me make good progress.  Those and controlling my nutrition should help.

 


Random thoughts November 3rd

Easy 11 miler today.

Lately I’ve been experiencing something that doesn’t seem to make sense.  When I run after a taking a day or two off, I feel bad.  It feels like my legs have forgotten how to work.  It feels like I have to focus to get them moving properly.  On the other hand, I feel much better on the second or third straight day of running.  Today was a great example.  I felt better today than I did yesterday.  And yesterday I felt better than I did the day before (which was my first run after a few days off).  I guess there’s some logic behind that.  I just don’t know what it is.

Right now I’m enjoying the easy paced, longer runs.  Will keep doing them until they get boring or I start itching for something faster.

Beautiful days since the crazy snowstorm.  Most of the snow has melted.  The only remnants of the storm now are the snow piles left by plows or snowblowers.  And the down trees.  I still hear the drone of generators as I pass by some areas.

Two businesses the storm may have helped?

  • Starbucks:  The only place in town that offered the two modern day human needs—hot coffee and wifi.
  • Gas companies:  Most generators run on gas.  Lines at gas stations have been ridiculous, and I saw people buying multiple huge gas cans as late as yesterday.

The NBA Network has resorted to showing Hoosiers tonight.  Great movie, but I’m sure the big wigs would rather be showing live basketball.

I abandoned the nutrition experiment a few days ago.

Then I read this.