Some good news is that I’m feeling better than I was last week. That’s thanks to a pretty good week where I ate well and managed to work out 4 times (huzzah!). Plus, I have something new to focus on that will help with my exercise, and that’s invigorating. I can’t fully divulge what I’m up to, as it involves a big, exciting announcement that I’m not allowed to announce yet, but it involves running, and I have a lot to say today about running.
The last time I wrote about my exercise, a few days ago, I had to give myself a pep talk and remind myself that working out five times a week instead of six was just fine.
Well, here’s the update: It’s now Sunday, the start of a new week, so I can look back at the week that just ended and say, quite definitively, that I did not work out five times last week.
I worked out four times.
And skipping that one additional workout this past week makes me feel like I’m off my game and that I should stop working out altogether for a while. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. Getting that fourth workout in was a struggle, too. But I did it, and I’m not even sure how.
There’s a giant outlet center about an hour outside of town, and the other day, I did a little shopping there. At the top of my list was finding a new pair of shoes, but I ended up going in more than 20 stores and looking at all kinds of stuff (and trying a lot of it on). I didn’t want to spend more than 2 hours shopping, but it ended up being closer to 4. Exhausting.
And I saw something there that really pissed me off.
I’ve been a fan of “Jeopardy!” for as long as I can remember. I’ve even taken the test to be a contestant three times (but never passed it - it’s hard!). I learned the word “potpourri” from “Jeopardy!” I knew it as a word that means ‘a little of this and that’ (it’s the catch-all category on “Jeopardy!” that features
questions answers on anything and everything) long before I knew it was a collection of dried flowers, fruits, and twigs that grandmothers put in their bathrooms so they smell nice.
I got a bunch of topics to cover in this post, so welcome to Wednesday Potpourri! Let’s get started, shall we?
My next fitness challenge is only six days away. Next Monday (Memorial Day!), I’ll be in Boulder, Colorado, running with my sister Sarah in the BolderBOULDER, a ginormous 10K race that attracts runners from all over the world.
Because of my back-to-back stair climb challenges, I wasn’t able to start focusing on 10K training until about two weeks ago, after finishing my 163-Story Burj Khalifa Challenge. When the time came to step away from the StairMaster (finally), and get into a running mood, I wasn’t very excited. I hadn’t run in a couple months, and, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it.
Then I had a couple really wonderful runs in New York City last weekend (including one across the Queensboro Bridge and back), and since getting back from the Big Apple, I’ve had a couple more really wonderful runs.
In total, I’ve run four times in the eight days since getting back from New York:
Someone tried to kill me yesterday. And it was one of my closest friends! Here’s what went down:
You’ve read about my friend Tavi before on this blog. He’s mentioned on this blog way too much as it is, and now, with this post, his head might quite literally explode. But just to refresh any foggy memories: I’ve known Tavi since high school, he’s an aerialist and dancer, he lives nearby, he’s one of my closest friends. Over a year ago, Tavi and I hiked in Fryman Canyon, a beautiful nearby park. Tavi took me on a gorgeous winding trail – check out pictures here. During the hike, Tavi casually mentioned that he usually runs this trail, which flabbergasted me, because I had difficulty walking it – there are parts that are very steep, and the trail is very narrow.
Earlier this week, Tavi says to me, “Are you ready to run Fryman with me?” I laughed, and replied that I’d never be ready to run Fryman. Tavi thought otherwise, and for the next day or so, I gave it serious thought. I always tend to underestimate my physical abilities. I never used to think I could ever run a 10K, but I’ve done it. Climbing nearly 100 stories without stopping seems impossible to wrap my mind around, but I did it just the other day. I could run Fryman, couldn’t I?
I decided that I could. And that’s how, yesterday afternoon, I found myself walking with Tavi towards the Fryman Canyon trail head.
The previous hike with Tavi wasn’t my first time in Fryman – I’d been there with Jen and Tiffany for a hike (possibly two) at the asscrack of dawn, and also hiked there with Chris. Even though the routes varied, there’s one constant: it’s steep. Fryman Canyon is located in the Hollywood Hills, and you enter at the bottom and can hike all the way up to Mulholland Drive, the road at the tippy-top.
As we approached the start of our run, the steepness loomed large in my mind, and I made a mental goal: Complete the run without stopping, and if I can’t manage to run, than don’t walk for more than 10 seconds. I wanted to keep moving. I knew that if I walked too long, it would be difficult to get back into running.
We started running at the base of the mountain, and thankfully, one of the steepest parts was at the beginning. I say thankfully because 1) it got a tough part out of the way early on, while I was still fresh, and 2) I knew that if I could conquer this part, I could conquer every other part of the trail.
The run was tough. Tough. After the first few minutes of steep uphill running, I felt ready to crawl under the brush and pass out. Having Tavi in front of me was a good motivator – and he was a good sport, stopping every so often and doing jumping jacks or lunges until I caught up with him.
The nice part about the run was that it’s probably the prettiest run I’ve ever done. There’s all sorts of great views in Fryman, which is loaded with ravines, ridges, and switchbacks, and with the narrow trails, high grasses, and encroaching bushes, there were times when a machete would’ve been helpful to clear the way. The downside is that it’s hard to take in the views because the trail is uneven, undulating, and rocky – if you don’t pay attention to your feet, you could easily twist an ankle or worse. And by worse, I mean stumble and fall down a 30-80 foot near-vertical hillside, which are all over the place.
At one point, you have to traverse a fallen tree to get over a ravine. Here I am not-so-gracefully dismounting from the tree:
But I hit the ground and started running again immediately:
After the tree came the second major uphill part, which seemed, at the time, to be as vertical as a ladder, and it was here that it first occurred to me that I very well might die. Tavi was trying to kill me. He was doing a good job of it, too – my heart was pounding, my legs and core were burning, and I was on the verge of tears. That second uphill part was the last terrible part, though, and the rest of the run was downhill or flat.
The run ended with a final descent down a steep embankment, where Tavi got this picture of me picking my nose:
I’m not picking my nose, I’m pushing my glasses up!
The final stretch was along a fire road that led to the street that we parked on, and we finished at a gate that I collapsed onto:
I finished the run in 41 minutes. Add in the walking to and from the trail head, plus a few minutes of catching my breath at that gate, and we were away from our cars for a little over an hour. Last time we walked this route in two hours. It felt great to cut that time in half!
My theory that Tavi tried to kill me evaporated pretty quickly once my heart rate fell back into a reasonable range. And I’m proud that I accomplished my goals: I never stopped, and the only time I walked more than 10 seconds was during the most strenuous uphill stretches, which were more climbing than walking anyway.
As we walked back to the car, Tavi mentioned “the next time we do this…” and I thought, next time? Isn’t doing it once enough? Just like stand-up paddleboarding and ice skating, I’m glad to have tried running Fryman, but whether I run it again is TBD. We shall see. I’m not going to be rushing back tomorrow to do it again, that’s for sure. Only time will tell if I do it again. Doing it once is enough for me to proudly say…
Keep it up, David!
I have a run to add to my Running Chart. The other day, I took my car to the shop to have some work done. Most of it was routine – oil change, tire rotation, and the like. But I also needed them to take a look at my trunk. Something funky was going on. My trunk was going through periods where it wouldn’t open at all. Other times it would only open when I pulled up on it while hitting the trunk button on my keychain. It was getting to be a pain in the ass. I’ve been piling groceries in the backseat for months, afraid that if I put them in the trunk, I’d never get them out again, and the produce would rot into a smelly disgusting mess.
My service advisor is a wonderful woman named Fiona whom I really like and trust. She knows me, knows my car, and takes my calls and puts up with my dumb questions even though she got promoted last year to a big cheese, head honcho management position that doesn’t require her to interact with customers. So when Fiona came back and told me I needed a new trunk actuator, which is the gizmo that actually unlatches the trunk, I bought a new trunk actuator. I wasn’t keen on spending a couple hundred more bucks than I was intending, but I was keen on having a trunk that operated properly.
The other downside to getting a new trunk actuator, besides the cash money, was that I had a few extra hours to kill without a car. My plan for the day had been to go to the gym after leaving the dealership, but having to wait a few extra hours while they installed the actuator messed up my day. The good news was that I was already in my gym clothes. So I made a spur of the moment decision to take advantage of my waiting around time and go for a run.
It’s been a while since I’ve run during the day – most of the time I prefer running at night. The streets are quieter and I don’t have to deal with the hot California sun. But at 11am, with my wallet and phone locked away in Fiona’s desk, I headed out onto the streets and started running. My route, which I made up as I went along:
I look at that route and I think, only if I kept running east on Magnolia for a few more blocks, I’d have a route map in the shape of the state of Oklahoma!
Which, naturally, gets me thinking about what other state shapes I could replicate as running routes. There’d be lots of states that would be easy to recreate: Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico… but states like Maryland, West Virginia, Alaska, and my home state of Michigan would be a little trickier.
And if you ever needed more proof that I’m a big ol’ nerd, there it is. You’re welcome.
That route totaled 3.9 miles, and I completed it in 41 minutes. I really wanted to go 45 minutes, but the sun was blindingly bright and hot, and I had to stop. I was sweaty and exhausted, and it didn’t bother me at all that I fell 4 minutes short. I tacked on an extra-long cool-down walk, and was out on the sidewalks for an hour total. Then I returned to the waiting room, drank a liter of water, and watched the local noon news until my car was ready to go.
I just did the math, and figured out that I averaged 5.7 mph on that run, which is pretty good, considering the sun and all. I just added this run to my Running Chart, which you can see here.
Keep it up, David!
A lot of you read my last post about my favorite pants – hopefully you liked it! I ended the post with a plan for my newly-mended pants: I would wear them around the house, and once confident they weren’t going to rip again, I would venture out of the house and wear them in public.
Last night, I tossed the plan out the window. Screw the plan! I wore the pants out of the house. Without a trial run. I went with my friend Kristy to a party. Kristy’s come up on this blog before – she’s one of my best friends, and an amazing singer/songwriter (check out her website) who has even written a song inspired by this blog. The party was for our friend Haviland’s birthday. Haviland is a really talented actress and singer – she’s been in a Lifetime movie and in big Broadway musicals, and she’s a sweetheart (check out her website).
The pants worked out great. They didn’t rip, they were comfy, it was awesome. Here I am, in the pants, with Kristy (on the left), and Haviland:
I think we’re each looking at something different! I’m also wearing a gingham shirt from H&M, the swazer I bought on my trip to Seattle last summer, and some new kickass shoes that were a Christmas present from my sister. I think I looked pretty good!
I decided to go for a run last night. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was in the mood for a run, because I don’t think that’s true. It was more like I realized that I hadn’t been running in a few weeks, so I should probably go running. Running isn’t my favorite form of exercise in the world (although my first 10K was a completely wonderful experience), but it’s a good form of exercise, and I like having it in my arsenal for days when I don’t feel like going to the gym, and when I’m places where I don’t have access to a gym.
It’s been a month since I’ve updated my Running Chart, although I have gone running once since then: it was on the final morning of my cruise, when I ran a 5K around the track on the ship. But that run was interrupted by a short but torrential downpour (during which I did lunges and jumping jacks under an overhang), and because of the interruption, I wasn’t able to gather all the stats I need for the Running Chart, so I couldn’t add it.
Last night’s run, however, has already been added to the Running Chart. It was a good run – I ran, without stopping, for 47 minutes, and went 4.4 miles during that time. I felt pretty strong, although a touch sluggish (which my average speed of 5.6 MPH confirmed), but that didn’t bother me.
I learned two new things about my neighborhood on this run:
- Where the closest police station is located! I’ve lived in my place for over two years, and while I frequently see police cruisers patrolling the streets around me, it’s never occurred to me where the precinct was. Now I know! It’s only a couple miles away. The fire station, by the way, is about a block away, right on my street. So I feel pretty safe when I play with all those matches and greasy rags.
- There’s a street I ran down that I never been on before – not on foot, and not even in my car. It seemed like a pleasant enough residential street, but I’m not going to run down it again at night, because there aren’t street lights, and I quickly grew paranoid that I was going to trip on a piece of sidewalk pushed up by tree roots, like I did that one time when I nearly died during a run.
My run was also notable because I jogged past a ton of fast food establishments. Wanna know how many? Me too. Let’s count.
- Del Taco
- Baskin Robbins
- Donut shop (don’t know the name, but it might just be “Donuts” – or “Donuts & Croissants”)
- Carl’s Jr.
- Denny’s (I know, it’s a diner, not fast food, but I’m including it just because they once had, on their menu, a Mac ‘N Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt, which has 1,690 calories and 99 grams of fat)
- In-N-Out Burger
- Taco Bell
- another Subway
- Yum Yum Donuts
- Burger King
- El Pollo Loco (“The Crazy Chicken” if you no habla espanol)
- Jack In The Box
- Last but not least, three different 7-11s.
That’s an 19-item list right there. A lot of potential temptation! But not for me.
Keep it up, David!
I’ve landed in the Great Lakes State – my home state – and I’ll be here through the day after Christmas. Then it’s off to a whole different part of the world… but that’s an announcement for a whole ‘nother day!
My flights today were great. I had a short layover in Phoenix, and, during the Burbank-Phoenix leg, I had a window seat… except that, as you can see in the picture, I got gypped out of a window! From Phoenix-Detroit, I had an aisle seat, which I like because I can stretch a leg into the aisle. Added bonus today: the middle seat next to me was empty, so I could stretch my other leg in that direction!
Tomorrow morning I’m heading to a local gym – the same gym I frequented when I was here in September – and seeing what kind of deal they can cut me for a week. In September, they charged me $25 for 2 weeks, so their 1-week rate must be less than that, right?
I’m hoping the change of fitness-related scenery will provide me a little boost. I’ve been struggling lately to motivate myself to work out. Last week, when I was terribly ill with a cold and/or flu, I ended up missing four days of exercise in a row. I’m not complaining – just an observation. It’s the longest stretch of non-exercise I think I’ve had all year. Plus, two days prior to that little stretch, I had a planned rest day, so, in total, I worked out twice that week, instead of an ideal six times.
Normally when circumstances prohibit me from exercising for a day or two, I start feeling antsy to get back in the gym. Apparently when circumstances prohibit me from exercising for four days straight, I lose all interest in the gym altogether, because that’s how I felt when I got healthy and strong enough to resume exercising. My motivation had disappeared quicker than Santa up the chimney! My first workout back after recuperating was a run. I hadn’t gone running since Thanksgiving Day (when I ran my first 5K with my sister), and at first I felt great. About 15 minutes in, though, my tune had changed, and I couldn’t wait to finish. I had pre-determined my route, so I was nowhere near home by that point, so I kept running, and banned myself from checking the time. All told, I spent 41 minutes on the sidewalks of North Hollywood, and went exactly 4 miles. My route:
I calculated my speed at 5.8 mph (and, yep, I’ve added it to my running chart!). Even though I was fairly miserable by the run’s end, I was happy and proud I stuck it out.
The next day (Monday), I hit the gym for the first time in a week, and had a good workout – 40 minutes of weightlifting and 16 minutes on a bike, plus a little warm-up on the treadmill. Today was a looong travel day – I left my house in California at 5am and walked in my parents’ door at 6pm – so no workout. Tomorrow, it’s gym time. I can’t miss many more workouts – not with all the holiday goodies around!
Keep it up, David!
PS – Wondering why I didn’t weigh myself this morning? It’s because I vowed to not weigh myself again until 2012, as a way to combat a developing obsession with my scale. I found a new hiding spot for my scale, and it’s working like a charm! Find out where it is here.
PPS – Remember the micro red amaranth I purchased last week? A few days ago, I included it in a big kale salad I brought to a dinner party:
The salad was simple and easy (pre-chopped and washed kale, tomatoes, persian cucumbers, micro red amaranth, and bottled nonfat balsamic vinaigrette), and it was a big hit. I thought the amaranth tasted a little like lawn cuttings (in a wheatgrass sorta way, not an off-putting sorta way), but a couple of my friends thought they tasted like beets. Or maybe it was just the color that reminded them of beets!
OK – I’m off. Because of the holidays, my posting schedule may be a little erratic, but I’ll be keeping it up, and so should you!
In my last post, I wrote about my Thanksgiving Day exercise – the Louisville Turkey Trot 5K. In this post, I’m going to catch you all up on my Thanksgiving eating.
I established two rules to help guide me through the big Thanksgiving meal, because I was determined to not let the holiday be an excuse for reckless, uncontrolled eating. Like I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Day post, those two rules were:
- NO SECONDS. I will indulge in a reasonable portion of whatever food I want, but I will not go back for more.
- I WILL PHOTOGRAPH EVERYTHING I EAT DURING THANKSGIVING DINNER. Those pictures will end up on this blog. This means that you all are going to help me maintain accountability.
How did I do? Well, I technically broke both rules in minor ways, but I’m very proud of my eating. Here are the pictures that I took, in accordance with Rule #2.
First Course – Oyster Soup:
My brother-in-law Justin did the lion’s share of the Thanksgiving cooking, as Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday. It’s a tradition in his family to start Thanksgiving with oyster soup, and now it’s my tradition, too, since I’ve been eating Justin’s Thanksgiving meals for 7 or 8 years now. The soup is not healthy, in any way, shape, or form – it’s basically butter, cream, oysters, and seasoning. It’s really good (with those ingredients, how could it not be?), and I asked for a mini-portion, and only ate about two-thirds of it. Bread was passed around for dunking purposes, but I didn’t take any. Oh, and the nametag leaf was a joint project between me, my sister Laura, and our 3-year-old niece (and goddaughter) Allison. Cute, right?
Most of your Thanksgiving standards: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (Justin added pork sausage and dried cranberries to it, and it was amazing), green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes (my sisters made it, and they cut about half the sugar from the recipe). My contribution to the meal was the asparagus, which I sauteed in a little salt, pepper, lemon, and PAM. I limited portions of everything to between around 1/2 – 3/4 cup, ate slowly, and enjoyed everything.
Then I broke Rule #1, and went back for more asparagus, but I’m okay with that, because it was the healthiest option on the table. Round #2 of asparagus:
Third Course – Dessert:
My mom, my sisters and I teamed up and made three pies: 1 apple, and 2 pumpkin. My contribution to the apple pie was carving a little turkey into the upper crust as a steam escape route, and I made the filling for the pumpkin pies. Despite the sweat equity, when we had dessert a few hours later, I decided to skip the pie and eat fruit instead: a banana and an apple. I did have one bite of my sister’s piece of pumpkin pie (and it was delicious), but I didn’t photograph it.
It was a guilt-free day, and thanks to my rules, it wasn’t a stressful one, either! And there was no food coma afterward, no loosening of the belt or struggling to get off the couch because of overwhelming fullness. A successful day!
How was your Thanksgiving? Did you keep your eating under control? Did you exercise?
I woke up on Friday jonesin’ for a workout, so I went for a run. I normally don’t like doing the same workout two days in a row (I had run the day prior in the Turkey Trot 5K), but since I was away from home and without my usual resources, running fit the bill. I ended up doing a big loop around my sister’s neighborhood. My route:
That’s 3.8 miles that I ran in 37.5 minutes, which works out to just a hair over 6 MPH. My quads were really sore towards the end, and it was chilly outside, but it was a good run, and I enjoyed the new scenery. Time to update my Running Chart!
Lastly, after over a week, I’ve think I’m finally at the tail end of whatever it was that caused my sore throat. It’s still itchy and a little painful when I swallow, but I feel 80-90% better and am looking forward to it not being an issue any more. There were a few days, early on, where I was too sick to work out, but my workouts over the past few days have been a huge help, because for those hours, I didn’t think about my throat at all. I only thought about pushing myself in other ways, and that shift in focus proved to be beneficial and a relief.
Keep it up, David!