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What a Day September 4, 2016

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First, I can’t believe it has been an entire year since my last post…

The boys and I had a run, the Labor Day Milford Festival of Races… the 10K for me and the  6K for them. I was a bit nervous about how my run would go. I haven’t really run on it since playing soccer last Sunday and I had a major knee into my calf. During the game, my leg cramped up into my hamstring and I debated on whether I would be able to run at all. I rested it and iced it for the last three days, including this morning.

But back to today… I woke up at 5am and decided not to tried to go back to sleep. I stretched and hung out until the boys got up and ready. The weather was perfect 65 to 70 degrees and clear skies. My race started at 8:30 and I eased into a comfortable pace. I was afraid to push too hard so I just locked into a 8:50 pace. I found a group of other runners that seemed to be at the same pace and managed to keep it up. I found that I was able to run the hills well, up and down. On the flats I ran with the others, but up and down, I advanced. As the race went on, I stayed strong and with each hill, I seemed to pull away. It is a relatively hilly course on a dirt road in the second half and it felt great to have that strength to keep going.

Unfortunately, the Nike Running app was just upgraded in the last week and it truly failed me today. It started out in the first mile okay, but after that it seemed to lose GPS. It had me running 13 to 14 minute miles until it stopped the voice notifications in the last mile and a half. But, or maybe because of this lack of feedback, I was able to run my race and it went better than I was expecting. I finished in the official race time of 54:04, though the clock showed 53:55 and my phone read 54:30.

While I was running, the boys started their race at 8:45am. They ran an even more hilly 6K. It starts on a completely up hill first mile before getting to the same hilly dirt road. I know Alec has felt self-conscience about his speed, but Ian has an unending confidence and went into the race with the goal of beating his older brother. I am so proud of the story that unfolded after that… I got back from my happy race to hear that Alec paced Ian through the first mile, he was going out too fast and Alec got him to settle into around an 8 minute first mile. They were apparently in 3rd and forth place among the kids, but after that, Alec told Ian to go ahead. Ian quickly picked of the first other boy and than gradually took over first. Alec kept a good pace and passed both boys, including the second in the last hundred yards.

I am so proud that they both finished first in their age groups, under 10 and 10-14. And Ian actually finished in 6th place overall. So impressed! They both earned glass mugs for their age group wins.

After the race, the boys headed out with Kim and went to her mom’s to check on her after her foot/ankle surgery. And to watch the U of M football game, which turned out to not be much of a game. I think the final score ended up being 63-3.  I watched from home,  relaxing and getting my laundry and home stuff done.

And I finished off the day, after spending an hour weeding the yard, by taking the kayak for a quick paddle down the Huron. I thought I would try taking off from Island Lake. It was a good change. The river is very similar to the section south of the dam from Central Park, but less issue with low water levels. I ending up covering about 5.5 miles in an hour, 45 minutes. It is the first time I have taken the kayak out since early in the summer, I think actually since I started at CGI – though we went out with the Kearns while we were in PA for a much more causal paddle around the lake near their house.

All in all, a pretty good day, I have to say. A day worth documenting for all eternity.


(Audio)book review: The Long Run by Matt Long March 14, 2011

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People run for many reasons. It is a very personal sport or hobby for those who participate. I consider myself a runner, even though I often go a few weeks (or rarely) months without running. So, I have taken to listening to various books about running lately. But I have to say this book wasn’t as much about running as it was about life. It was about what a person can do when faced with adversity. In this case, the word “adversity” does not even begin to describe what Matt Long went through. On the morning of December 22, 2005, this New York City firefighter was cycling to work (due to the illegal transit strike) when he was struck by and sucked under a charter bus making an illegal turn (chartered by a large well-known financial institution).

Long goes into excruciating detail about the injuries he suffered, the heroic efforts that doctors performed and his painful recovery. Long received amazing support from his fellow firefighters, New Yorkers and of course his whole family and friends. It was a moving story of pain and obstacles overcome. It is one of those stories that I say I hope I would be able to be that strong if I was ever faced with such a horrific accident. Long had a goal of completing an Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) which is a difficult challenge for even the healthiest of people. That goal was the driving force of his recovery.

With all that is going on in this world today, I was moved even more by this story for a very different reason. Long was a fit runner (having completed the New York City Marathon) two months before the accident in an impressive (and Boston qualifying) 3 hours 13 minutes. He was also preparing to complete his first Ironman triathlon. Even with this, when Long arrived at the hospital, the doctors initially gave him a 5% chance of surviving. While his training may have caused the accident, his fitness gave his body the extra chance to survive, it was the drive that he held to compete athletically that gave him the power to more than just survive.

But (and I am sure this could be misintrepted, so keep reading…) I think the thing that gave Long the greatest advantage was his position as a public service employee. We have recently had incredible public debate about healthcare reform in this country. And many states are debating the “merits” of the cost vs benefits of tax payer funded public employee benefits. I have a couple of points here, so please bear with me. When the rescue team arrived at the scene, there was a need to save a person trapped under a bus. When that person became a firefighter, one of their own, everything changed. I am not a doctor and I was certainly not there, but it seemed in listening to this story, that the doctors went beyond what they normally would have done for an average person. But that isn’t even the point. In listening to this story, I do not recall more than once that Long described money as an object. He went through 40 surgeries and spend months of time in the hospital and rehabilitation. Long is a business owner and a fireman. He is a working class man. Financial strains of medical problems much less than this one have destroyed people of much more wealth. Of course, I do not know if there was any sort of financial settlement was made by the city, bus company or any other party. My main point is this… Every person in America should have the opportunities that Matt Long had. It is clear though, the Long’s determination is unmatched.

This book is inspiring – plain and simple. Matt’s goal was about running and competing, but the point is more that set one and made a decision to achieve it. It was a magnificent story listening to him work to that end. I highly recommend.

Intro to Running Shoe Categories Versus Barefoot Running October 26, 2010

Posted by shwaldman in Fitness, Technology.
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Received this email at work from our Wellness Committee Chair as part of our fitness program that promotes activity and gets people moving – a hard thing to do in work environments – if it doesn’t promote the job, it shouldn’t be done at work, or so goes the logic. But this is good program, because it tries to get people to recognize that little, incremental steps can make a difference in your day to day life and fitness.

Since I have only been running in my Vibram KSOs for a couple of months, I am by no means an expert, but I am quite impressed by my rather eloquent, off the top of my head, response found below his email, if I do say so myself.

Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 2:44 PM
Subject: Fall into Step Week 4 Stats and Random Recognition!

Hi Friends – please share with your teammates! : )

Below please find the week 4 Stats and welcome to week 5! Time flies when you are having fun exercising! 🙂 LOL Well, at least for me.

So what kind of enlightening advice can I offer this week? How about you let me know what you would like to hear about for week 6? Today, I will touch upon: SHOES!

If you have several pairs of sports shoes, odds are that when you bought them, comfort and style were your main selection criteria. However, about 25 percent of runners need some type of specialized shoe that is matched to their foot type. You may benefit from knowing your foot type before you buy your next pair of sport shoes. Feet come in all shapes and sizes, but their structure tends to get grouped into the following categories.

· Flat Feet
Your foot is flat if you have no visible arch and your footprint is completely visible with no inward curve between the big toe and heel. (Footprint #3)
· High Arches
High arches are easy to spot. There is a clear arch between the heel and the ball of the foot. If your footprint has a large curve with a skinny outer edge, or perhaps an actual gap between the ball and the heel, you have a high arch. (Footprint #0 and #1)
· Neutral Foot Type
A neutral foot type is neither flat-footed or high-arched. Your footprint will have a small inward curve of no more than an inch. (Footprint #2)
· Overpronators
Overpronators tend to roll inward from heel strike to take off during every stride. Those who pronate often need more stable running shoes.
· Supinators
Supinators tend to roll outward from heel strike to take off during every stride and need a flexible, cushioned shoe to absorb road shock while running.

Avoid injuries and select the right shoe for you! Also, consider having professional inserts made for your shoes. Inserts can relieve some back, hip and knee pain.
Information from About.Com: Sports Medicine

I feel obligated to comment on your topic of shoes. Recently there has been a big push in the running and fitness world for barefoot (or close to it) running. While many people do have structural inconsistencies that suggest a need for additional support for shoes within the different categories you note, the barefoot movement in part contends that the shoes may be part of the cause.

By providing the necessary support for comfort, the shoes may be causing weaknesses that result in further structural instabilities in the foot, legs, hips and back. The foot’s arch is designed to provide an important function of shock resistance – as the foot hits the ground, the arch should flex and absorb the impact that would otherwise reverberate through the leg up into the back. Shoes with a large amount of heal cushioning provide a false sense of security that this shock absorption is being done.

Shifting from heal planting to forefoot landing area requires an obvious change in technique to experience the natural shock absorption. And I must point out, that like any exercise routine, the body must get used to changing how it moves. The body is doing more work and muscles are more engaged. Shifting to this new technique requires significant training and time, but I can speak from experience that it is worth it.

Milford Stay Dry Tri 2010 October 6, 2010

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I realized that someone came across last year’s blog entry on this race, so I am kind of rushing this entry out. Plus, they just posted the official results on the website today, so I validated my results.

What a fun time! The weather was much better this year. Of course, waiting for the canoe start in 45 degree weather was a little cold, but as soon as we got going, it was great. Having done it last year, I was well prepared clothing-wise. I took off my fleece zip-up prior to our heat starting and with two shirts and a fleece vest, I was comfy.

At the start of our heat #6, we pulled right into 2 second place – a vast difference from last year when I couldn’t steer the boat straight until the last mile or so. Eric had us in a perfect line and I just rowed as hard as I could. At the first questionable curve in the river, the lead team was indecisive and got turned around. We took advantage and took the lead for the entire canoe, with that team and another breathing down our necks the entire 3.5 miles. We even past two teams and closed a big gap on three others from heat #5. It is amazing that we almost made up the five minute lead on five different teams.

Once we landed, we opted to trek the .25 mi to the canoe drop off. It was certainly not worth the 15 minute penalty to drop it on the beach. It is harder than it looks, though with that 75 lbs canoe bouncing on your head and neck. Once into the transition area, I untied my jacket from my waist and debated on switching gloves, since they were now soaked once we turned the canoe onto our heads and all the water dumped down the sides. Next, I decided to get my nylon pants off before the bike. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to loosen the ankles and I struggled to get them over my shoes. I finally sat down and got them off, but by that time, my partner had a one minute lead on me. You can see on the Garmin graph, it was the only time my heart rate dropped below 140 bpm for the whole two hours.

Once on the bike, things went well. Last year, it was lightly raining, so traction was questionable. But with rain the prior day, it was actually better than it being completely hard and dry. In the beginning, there was not a whole lot of other people, but I seemed to catch a few people and other faster people from my heat got up to me. I did not have any falls, but certainly slipped off the pedals a few times and have bruises on the front and back of my ankles to prove it.

Back into the transition area, I had to get my helmet, gloves, Camelback and fleece vest off. That went pretty fast and I was in my run. I started out super (read: too) fast, and gradually eased back into a more comfortable pace. I picked up some water/energy drink before the turn and almost immediately picked up a cramp/side-stitch. I keep plugging away and in the end was amazed at my time, just over 26 minutes. I barely broke 26:00 in a 5K alone over the summer. That was really a great time for me.

The Final Result was 6 minutes faster on the canoe and 2 minutes faster on each the bike and run as compared to last year. We placed 9th out of 18 in the Male 80 and Under teams. And I placed 34th out of 86 entrants doing the full event (not relay). There is certainly room for improvement, but I was very happy with our time.

Here is the link to the Garmin Connect Event

Another Run with @JillianMichaels April 21, 2010

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After my run last week, I decided to back off on the running for a few days. My back did not feel great and clicking in the low back seemed to be progressing. I definitely notice it more while laying in bed. So, I have been focusing on core exercises and some light upper body work. Since I feel very weak in these areas and can not get many reps done, this is not a bad idea no matter what.

So today’s run was back to the normal path in the park. I am consistently running this route in about 38 minutes. Hopefully by the end of the summer, I will have magically lowered this time into the 35-36 time range. I am not exactly sure how I am going to pull that off, but we’ll see. Maybe the extra core and upper body strength will give me some advantages.

The second half of today’s run got a little hairy. It was only about 65 degrees, but my sweat combined with itchy allergy eyes and runny nose made it difficult to see and run. I had to stop a few times on the return section. I felt pretty good otherwise, so wish I had a way to keep the sweat out of my eyes. I think I might break out the visor again and see if that works this Spring. I used it last summer and liked it for the most part.

But during today’s podcast, I listened to another Jillian Michaels podcast from her 2008 talk show on WKFI. As usual, she takes calls from people and has a couple of developed segments. Two of her segments struck me as interesting this time. In one, she had a dog trainer on that was there to talk about exercising with dogs. Jillian brought her recent adopted dogs and how well they behaved with their trainer and how poorly they behaved with her. I found it very interesting that she was so unaware of her role in their behavior. Having see her episode on Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer, I think she probably has learned her lesson. Even still, as someone who clearly taps into human’s behavior and triggers, it really goes to show how even the best can miss the signals.

The second valuable segment for me was one on will power. She did not really talk about anything new or overly enlightening. But the thing that struck a cord in me was when she said something like “Envision what you want and start making steps toward it.” Ironically, last night I decided what it is I want to accomplish by this summer. As confident I am in my body and proud of my exercise routine, I am inwardly self-conscience of the little inner tube I have running around my waist. Since I starting listening to her podcasts, I feel it is possible for me to rid myself of this extra fat. So, my goal for the end of June (before our family trip) is to lose it. I am not sure if it will mean much weight loss, which I think will make it hard to measure, but mean I will be able to see the difference on my waist line. (My second goal is to continue to lower my Milford 5K time in August. I hope to be under 26 minutes.)

Today’s Run – A New Way with @gdgt April 16, 2010

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This is my ninth posting for the week. Wow! I am closing in on 200 blog posts. If only I was getting that many hits! But it is fun nonetheless and people are definitely finding my writings interesting (I think). Thanks for everyone that keeps coming back and welcome to first timers.

This afternoon’s lunch run was a new route. Instead of heading to the local park, I opted to circle the County Administrative campus. Having run into an employee over there that is a fellow runner, I thought it would be interesting to see what types of options he has available to him. It was also good to get out there exploring and try something new. The run itself was good up until the end. As the graph below shows, I had to stop at the end for a short bathroom break before adding another 1/2 miles. It was good to get over 5 miles again.

During today’s run, I started with Dvorak’s Tech 5 – a five minute daily summary of technology new stories. I think I am pretty over this one. I like his other show with is a weekly round table to discuss the big topics. But in this summary show, he does no research and often provides mis-information. For example, recently he mentioned Netflix coming to Wii as being able to rent games from the movie delivery service. As seen in my last post, this is obviously just plain wrong.

But the majority of the run was with Peter Rojas and Ryan Block at GDGT.com. This is another gadget podcast much like Engadget that covers recent new stories and trends in the world of tech and gadgets. They talked a bit about a new feature on their site that allows for easier cross posting of information to discuss multiple tech toys. It is definitely a required feature for such a complex and robust site like their’s. Their talk also turned to the announcement from Microsoft that they are coming out with branded phones with the Danger (think Sidekick) platform. Of course, this is in addition to the Windows Phone 7 OS that should be out by year end. Add to that the conversation going to Palm’s recent poor financial recents and the rumors that they are looking for a buyer, potentially HTC.

Now, I have noted several time my displeasure with the cell phone industry. During this podcast, I was able to solidify what I want from the market. Now, the Kin products are being marketed to tweens (15-25 yr olds) that want to focus on social networking like Twitter and Facebook, but not apps and productivity tools. These phones are coming to Verizon (my current service company) and clearly these are things that are going have them require data plans, but the question remains if it will require the $10 or the $30 plan.

For me, I still fall into a different category. I love my ipod Touch and have it with me most of the time. It obviously has no phone features (but 100s of thousands of apps available), so I have to carry my basic cell phone. I can access the web through my Touch on wireless or pay the fees to use my cell phone. I rarely have a true NEED to get to the Internet when wireless is not available. So, for me, what I want Verizon to do is stop forcing people onto the data plan when all they want is wireless. My dream is for Apple to come to Verizon this summer with this option… I did say it was a dream!

Nike+ Feedback April 15, 2010

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It occurred to me that I was not specific enough in my review of the Nike+ sensor, app, and website. I need to clear my brain of these thoughts, so here is a list things Nike and Apple need to fix with this gadget interface.

Firstly, I must say that setup for this gadget was amazingly simple. The App downloaded and sync’d to my foot sensor without any issues. So much so that I forget how it worked and hope that I don’t have to resync or change any of that setup. I say this because the interface is equally simple and I have not been able to find any of the setup now that I am off and running with it. These are the three basic screens:

Despite this simplicity, there are some basic functions that do not work. The app allows you to define a custom workout (timed run with a given playlist, for example), but it does not allow you to use smart playlists – it always selects another playlist. And the once created, the workout does not show any details about the configuration despite there being plenty of room for it. See center pic above.

The primary function of the app is to record foot steps once the workout is started. It does force you to quickly sync to the foot pod which works fine. The problem is sometimes, randomly, you can start a workout and it somehow lost track of the sensor and if you aren’t watching, the timer runs, but zero distance is recorded. I have learned to check it once I get a few minutes into the workout. On a couple of early runs, it was recording some movement, but even running at 9min/mi (6.5 MPH), it recorded something like 1 MPH.

As I said in my first review, one of coolest functions of the Nike+ community is the challenges. To me, this should be something that they could build into the app. There should be a tab for challenges that shows where you are (if only at the time of your last sync) on any given sync. It should also provide a way to see and sign up for new challenges. The challenges can only be seen on the all flash website – which means you can not do it from the iPhone OS at all! That is ridiculous to me. This is a joint relationship from Apple and Nike and yet Apple feud with Adobe is cutting off the head of this app.

Now for the website. It looks super slick and clean – but it is slow – thus the reason Apple won’t let you run flash on their phones. However, some basic features do not work. First, on several occasions I have had trouble finding configuration things for my profile. It is not always intuitive. Also, the member search does not work. I have tried to use email and user name and neither work. For a social community site, this should be a required functionality to have working.

Now, since I have only been on the site for a few months (nearly 3 now), I am not completely sure how the challenges are working. I don’t think very well so far. In a recently one that ended last week, I came in second. The challenge was named “First to reach level Green” and the description read: Im taking this challenge so I can advance to level green. Feel free to do the same or just individually run to 122 miles. Now, the winner ran 123+ miles and I only ran 86+ miles, but he didn’t turn green yet. What is up with that? (I did turn green less than a week later.) I think I need to create a challenge for myself and see how that really works, but I am guessing the only criteria that the winner can be evaluated is the distance completed or fasted time not whatever the creator wants. So, when I create my challenge to reach Level Blue, it will be 460 Miles from now, but someone who is halfway there will turn blue in say 200 miles. It is all very confusing, but fun nonetheless and somewhat motivating, which is all that matters really.

I hope in future releases, Apple and Nike work out these kinks so that I can feel more satisfied with this nifty little workout gadget.

I turned Green today – JUST DO IT! April 15, 2010

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I have now completed 158 miles with my Nike+ and ipod Touch. That puts me into the Green Level… only 463 miles until I move onto Blue.

I ran the trails on the local park. It was a nice day and I managed to push the pace a little bit with a couple of surges. But after about 20 minutes, I started to feel a bit tired and empty.

Today’s listen was yet another Jillian Michaels radio show from a couple of years ago – they really are timeless. There was nothing specific about this podcast that I want to remember, but one thing occurred to me after. She talks a lot about BMR and calories in versus out, intensity of workouts and changing it up to keep the body working harder to adapt. Blah blah blah. What it really comes down to is just doing the work and making the change.

If you want to accomplish something, you have to start somewhere. And you keep going until you get there. If you give up before you have accomplished your goals, you have to evaluate how important those goals are to you. Lately, I have not had major goals to shot for from professional and personal levels. This has gotten me down a bit and level me with a lack to direction. Having recently recognized this, I am trying to figure out what I want and give me something to work toward.

We all WANT a lot of things and we NEED other things. The question is, after you have fulfilled your needs, how to do prioritize your wants and then lay them out in a way that you can be successful in accomplishing them. I think the problem many of us have is that there is no one way to achieve a goal. This is why I think you have to start moving toward the goal, if you don’t know what the step after that will be. Sometimes progress is progress and you can make adjustments along the way.

What do you think?

Shoe Review: New Balance 810 April 14, 2010

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I picked these shoes up last summer on clearance from a local shoe shop. Their prices are often a little high, so I was excited to find shoes I liked and in my size on sale. These shoes are hard to find, but I think the original retail price was around $95. It is a pretty good deal that I got these for $70, but looking back, I should have passed.

It is not that I do not like these shoes, because I really do. I have always like the styling of NB trail shoes. They have a sturdy, yet light feel and they stay really clean. The sole is a little wider than the shoe which gives the shoe a good grip for the dirt roads and trails that I typically take these shoes.

I have had street NB trainers when I was running my first marathon (many moons ago). I found that they broke down really fast. I was training and putting in a lot of miles, but still they were truly worn out by the time I got to the race. These shoes have held up a bit better. I have put on about 200 miles and the tread is still nearly perfect. The shoe upper is still clean and in great shape. I do have to say that the cushioning is broken down a bit and it feels like my foot has sunk down into the shoe. It makes it feel like my foot is wrapped inside the sole, which is great for traction, but not great for a comfort ride.

All in all, this is a really good shoe. For the price, I think it is a little expensive, even though I got it in on clearance. Comparing to other shoes, I think I would have been more satisfied if I paid under $60. I am still looking for a durable shoe where the sole, upper and cushioning can last more than 400 miles.

Shoe Review: Saucony Grid Ignition April 14, 2010

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I picked up these Saucony shoes from DSW Shoes. They retail for $65, but at DSW, you can get them for $50. I usually check the clearance racks, but did not find anything I liked in my size. But for the Ignition, I was able to get a size 11.5 that fit well. In past purchases of the Saucony, I have found they feel kind of hard. I think the Grid technology gives the shoes a solid strength, but while it makes it last, I feel like the hardness reverberates up my legs. Many years ago, Pre-Grid, I had my favorite Saucony shoe, the Procyon, that had a slipper like feel, but I was not able to put as many miles on them. It is a trade-off, I suppose.

So, these Grid Ignition are pretty good in between the two issues. The majority of my training with these shoes has been on the treadmill. With the weather turning nicer, I will likely take them outside a little more now. I am working on shifting my landing position further forward in my foot and so the Grid comes less into play. And with this shoe, the forefoot cushioning is comfortable and appropriate. I did find that doing any lateral movements made the shoe slide under my foot and risk turning my ankle. I do not think this will be a problem on uneven surfaces since in the forward movement, the shoe stays well under the foot. I will update here if I find otherwise.

Overall, I like this shoe and would get it again. The price is good and the quality is solid. And for my foot, which is fairly regular, I suppose, I am happy with the fit. I think this shoe will work for a large variety of foot planting/gait styles. Please comment here if you tried this shoe. Thanks for reading.