Saturday, September 10, 2016

What were the most significant days in your life?

On this upcoming 15th anniversary of 9/11/01, my mind was wandering around the concept of the top days of one's life. The context is often when people being interviewed say something along the lines of "after the day of the birth of my children, today is the mos important day in my life. Some people keep a top 10 day of life list. Some are days that something good happened, some days something bad. I decided to give it a try:

1) The day I married my wife. (GOOD)
2-3) The days that my two children were born. (GOOD)
4) 9/11/01 - I had a 10am meeting in WTC, I never made it. My professional career changed significantly. (BAD)
5) 11/5/11 - the day I completed my first and only(so far) ironman. (GOOD)
6) 7/25/92 - Christmas in July. The day my then girlfriend agreed to become my wife-to-be by saying yes. (GOOD)
7) 9/15/08 - The death of Lehman Brothers. (BAD)
8) 9/8/09 - The day I lost a bike vs. car collision . (BAD)
9) A private bad day so bad that I won't discuss and will never on social media. (BAD)
10) 2/15/1990 - the day of my back surgery. (GOOD and BAD)

There are more good than bad but I think my quest needs to be to replace the existing bad with better goods.

Do you keep a list?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What Type of Eyes Do You Have?

Last weekend I got up early (for me) to go for my "sweat-once-a-day" walk before the current heatwave made my day too uncomfortable. Rather than go to a track or a trail or some other  "official" running venue, I decided a better route would be to wander around the few roads of my neighborhood. I left my house at 6am.

Let me describe the geography a bit to put some of this into context. I live on a dead end street. It dead-ends into a county park which focuses on a 1800s era restoration village. They recently added a museum. There are only three streets in my neighborhood with a total of about 30 houses.

This county park was hosting a Tough Mudder last weekend (why a restoration village was hosting a Tough Mudder was fodder for many of the local newspapers so I won't go into that here). There was no athlete parking at the facility, instead the athlete's parked a few miles away with bus transport to the race site. Several enterprising athletes (and their support teams) decided a better option was to park as close as possible to the venue and walk it in. Since the closest place to park was my street, at 6am there was a traffic jam on my block with some athletes trying to park and others heading to the site. I decided to join those athletes and walk to the site as my daily walk.

Surrounded by athletes on their way to the race site, I initially felt a little like a poseur. I looked at the folks walking with me. I noticed and recognized the look in their eyes.

A guy who worked with me once said that people had one of two types of eyes and you can tell a lot about their personality based on which type of eyes they had. The first type of eyes are typical of raptors, they are focused ahead, on prey, and are ready to be aggressive. The animals with these type of eyes are ready to attack. The second type of eyes are the opposite. This second type of eyes is typical of bunny rabbits, large, constantly looking behind them, passive, yet ready to flee. Animals with these eyes are defensive.

Many of the athletes had raptor eyes, A few had bunny eyes. I used to have raptor eyes. Now, I don't know.

This reminded me of Rocky III and the "Eye of the Tiger." Apollo's speech (edited a bit) was:

"You lost your edge. All right, you were all messed up in but the truth is you didn’t look hungry. You had that eye of the tiger, man, the edge. And now you gotta get it back, and the way to get it back is to go back to the beginning. You know what I mean?"

I know what he means.

What kind of eyes do you have?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sweat once a day.

Earlier this week, Ironman announced a 70.3 will be held at the iconic Lake Placid Ironman venue. The 70.3 would route the athletes through one lap of each of the full's 2 lap per discipline's course, a true Half. I've never raced Placid but have been there for a few structured and unstructured training camps. Sign ups for the half are this September with the race a year later in September 2017. This announcement intrigued me.

I realized that, even at one lap, this course is the wrong course for me and even more so, I am so out of shape that there would be no hope for my success in 2017. Many of the triathletes in the Long Island area are excited for this race. I'm guessing that many would be looking for training groups and if I could latch onto a group, even if I didn't succeed at training for LP70.3, I would improve to the point where maybe a 2018 HIM would be a realistic goal. That may of may not be Placid but I called my former coach for his view.

He agreed. "If  you want to climb a hill, don't start with Everest." I asked how would I know if I was ready to begin training. We talked a bit and agreed upon a training structure of "sweat once a day."

This means every day I should either bike easily for an hour, walk easily for >20 minutes, or swim >30 minutes. He asked to post the workouts and he would respond with occasional snide comments.

We'll checkpoint in a month or so.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What makes a good day?

I've been trying to come up with some sort of rubric to define a good day vs. a bad day to make it more objective than subjective. Here is what I'm going to use for a while (until I need to adjust):

- Calories as measured by livestrong. Under 2000=pass, 2000-2500=push, over 2500 fail.
- Carbs as measured by Livestrong - Under 100g=pass, 101-150=push, over 151=fail.

- Stretching. 2 sessions=pass, 1 session=push, 0 sessions=fail.
- Workout. > 1 per day=pass, 0=fail.
-Fitbit Steps. 0-5000=fail, >5001=pass.

Will measure the next week and see what this translates into. As of now for today I have 2 pass, 1 push, and 2 fails but have some time before I go to bed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fake running with a little reality thrown in

This morning, as the next step on my road to recovery, I tried to go for a walk. Except I did everything that one would do while going for a run, with the plan of doing it a lot slower and shorter. Let me explain.

One of the more difficult things I had to do to prepare for this excursion was to find everything that I "needed" to run and by everything I don't mean sneakers (aka running shoes) but all of the necessary "accessories." I found my trusty Garmin 910xt, that I later found had not been used since August 2015, and plugged it in to charge. I found two of my ancient ipod shuffles, charged one and sort of remembered that one was dying back then but forgot what that meant and which one it was. I never got around to putting music on my iPhone 6+ which is too big to carry while running so that raised a phone problem to solve in the future - in the meantime I'll carry that brick around. I found my Rudy Project glasses stashed in the center console of my car (a miracle in that it was were it was supposed to be). Got dressed - the running shorts still fit, the shirts not so much because of my being fat. Threw on a triathlon hat - chose Timberman 70.3 since it matched my non-running Big Dog cotton t-shirt and drove to the local trail.

I was going to start at about the 3.5 mile marker and head north on the trail. I knew there was a cross street at about 4.25. I was originally thinking I could make it to that cross street then turn around getting in 1.5 miles but quickly realized that my last attempt at walking, I mean fake running, was 0.25 miles on the dreadmill and was an abysmal failure. I reset my objectives to make it to the 4.0 and next time, if this experiment was successful, try for the cross street. I hit start on the Garmin and off I went.

My ipod shuffle died during it's second song, 0.18 miles in, but I kept going. The 3.75 mile marker wore away (these are seemingly home made markers) but my back was only beginning to yip at about the 4.0. I turned around, headed back to the car and finished with 1.15 miles in 23.11 for a not so blistering pace of 20:18/mile.

In my so-called glory days, my goal was to walk faster than 17:00/mile so there is work to do. But I view today as progress.

Who knows, maybe one day fake running might turn into real running. If it does, I'll at least look the part.

Friday, April 29, 2016

No Fitbit found.

So I had a Fitbit one and I've had it for a while. I've gone through periods where I lost it then later found it. Most of the time there was laundry and washing machines involved with fitbit disappearing but I normally found it after a while. Then last week happened.

I was in Raleigh visiting my eldest at Duke and setting up my youngest at Chapel Hill (actually buying most of the clothing in the book store), when, while driving in a crappy Jeep Cherokee rental car, I reached into my pocket to take out my cell phone. That same pocket is where my Fitbit usually lives. My fitbit fell out and landed on the floor of the car. When I later stopped, I reached down to get my fitbit and all that was there was it's case. No fitbit found.

I looked under the seat. No fitbit found. Looked in the back seat. No fitbit found. I decided to wait until the next day for the sun light.

The next day I looked again. No fitbit found. Then in a moment of technology genius, I synched it with my phone. The phone found fitbit!

So it was in the car but I couldn't find it. I felt a very small hole in the carpet under the rail for the seat and all I can assume is that fitbit, while trying to run away, fell into that hole. I looked for it for a few days. The phone taunted me everytime it synched with my fitbit. I never found my fitbit.

When I returned the car I asked if they could continue my search for my fitbit. They said if they found it they would put it in the lost+found box at Hertz in RDU. I think deep down they were laughing at me.

Little do they know but I'll be back at RDU in a few weeks. I looked at a garmin tracker and the Apple watch but ordered a new watch-like fitbit, a Curve, as a replacement for my One. It won't live in my pocket. Maybe I won't lose it as much and if I do, I hope will be easier to find.

Now, where are my sunglasses?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The journey starts with a single step

The initial goal of my retirement is to heal my body. Simple to say, difficult to do.

The first problem that I'm working has to do with my gastroenterological system. I had my gall bladder removed last December. I had some "plumbing" problems before that I haven't solved yet. I think a lot of this has to do with too much medication interacting in undesirable ways mixed in with some diet woes. This is moving along.

More of an issue for me is my back. Over 25 years ago, in what seems to be a different lifetime, I had surgery on my back. An L5/S1 discectomy. The issue then, and as it recurred, involved weakness in my right leg with sciatic pain to my toes. I had good days and bad days after the surgery but had a recurrence that we tried a then experimental process of epidural steroid injections into my back. I did three of these shots and they helped me recover and be OK for a while.

Over the past few months my left hip and leg started hurting. I thought this might be a hip or some other type of issue happening and first saw a chiropractor. He immediately said go see a real orthopedic doctor. I found the doctor who did my surgery a gazillion years ago. He was still practicing, sent me for PT and said to come back if I wasn't cured. I tried that PT, it didn't fix me, then went for an MRI which showed I have almost everything that could be wrong with my back is wrong with my back. My main issue is spinal stenosis. I also have herniated discs, nerve damage, scar tissue, degenerative disc disease and other stuff I've forgotten.

Meanwhile, I can't stand for more that a minute at a time nor walk more than 100 yards.

We decided the try the now non experimental shots again. They hurt a lot more than I remember. The first one didn't lead to any relief. I just did round 2 last Thursday. I'll find out if it works in about a week after it kicks in.

This injury is odd in that rest doesn't help. I need to be active but being active triggers pain. Dr.Internet says to get a cane or a walker or anything just to get more active. David Wright of the NY Mets has the same issue and they say he needs to workout and stretch for up to 3 hours a day just to be able to play. I started today with 5 minutes on the 'mill and some stretching. This was an improvement from the one minute limit of last week so I'm going to try to do this a few times a day, mix in some swimming this week, and see where it leads.

I know that losing weight can only help. If I don't fix this with this approach, the next surgery would include screws and titanium rods in my back to fuse discs to together. That, my friends, is something I want to avoid.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pre-colonoscopy conversation

One of the many downsides of getting old is that most doctors recommend that patients to get a screening colonoscopy after they celebrate surviving past the age of 50. I celebrated my 50th by training and completing an ironman and kept "forgetting" to prioritize this other way to celebrate.

As part of my preparing for retirement, I am taking care of all the medical issues that have been pending for a while. Next up on this lengthy list, see a gastroenterologist to schedule this colonoscopy and take care of some of the fallout from my recent surgery (I didn't blog about it but it was decided for my gall bladder and I to part ways recently. Don't want to go into defining the fallout as that could turn into TMI).

We scheduled my colonoscopy for early May. He said in the meantime I needed to start exercising since I am obviously very out of shape. My back injuries (another thing that I'm taking care of soon) are preventing me from running or walking so he asked if I ever tried swimming.

I summarized this conversation on twitter but I decided to try hopping in the pool later today and see what happens.

Wish me luck.

Monday, February 29, 2016


I announced my intention to retire from my job the other day. When I told my boss he asked if I was thinking about it or did I already decide and was going to do it. I said I already decided and was going to do it.

We announced it to my peers and later to my management team. I told them I'm going to stay home for a while and heal my body and mind, take a vacation with the Mrs., figure out what retirement means to me and then see if it will stick. Almost everyone believes I'll be back in the rat race soon. I want to prove them wrong.

It will take a while to wind down but I expect more blog posts. After all, what else am I going to do with my time?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Reversing a trend.

Last year I wrote a post about how I got fat. Here it is A Sad Story of how I got fat I'm still fat and it wasn't the holidays that got me fat. I've been fat a while.

The good news is that a trend turned My weight on Jan 1, 2016 was less that my weight on Jan 1, 2015. 10 pounds less. Not a lot and getting sick late in the year helped this along but all-in-all better than gaining again.

A miracle?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Why did I publish that blog post the other day?

There could be a bunch of reasons:

1) I had to pay my domain registration fee and wanted to make sure that it still worked.

2) I have been rarely looking at blogs these days but remember there was a time where they were very motivational. There are people that I met through the blog world but have crossed over to the real world.

3) I'm looking at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too much. I seem more like a voyeur on those other social media platforms though and a 2016 resolution is to cut down the time I waste on them.

4) all of the above.