Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Snow Shovel Workout

Feb. 27, 2013

Today I'm 196 pounds and change of rolling thunder. Change because I weighed with my clothes on so who really knows what the weight is. All I know is it's not heading down the way I had hoped.

And while I'm rationalizing things, I think I'm going to call an hour of snow shoveling my workout for the day. I see the headline now, "World's Slowest Man Slows Down Even More; But His Driveway Is Clean (sort of)."

I'm sure it's a headline that will sweep the nation if not the world. But after 20-plus inches of snow in less than a week I'm going a little stir crazy riding my stationary bike and watching Jeopardy.

Sure I've ventured out a couple of times, but running in the street against traffic isn't my favorite thing. If that sounds like a lot of wah, wah, wah it is. I'm crying that I haven't been able to hit the streets for my normal run. I miss the pounding, the deep breathing and the satisfied tired feeling you get from a nice long job.

Spinning the bike is good, but it's not the same. I lose focus somewhere around a half hour, and I can't always discipline myself to keep up the intensity required to break a good sweat. But it gets the body moving, and it's way better than watching the Jodi Arias trial on HLN or sitting in front of the computer blogging (wait, I like blogging, so scratch that).

But after three or four days of snow shoveling various friends and neighbors driveways, I'm counting today's outside work as my workout for the day. There was lifting. There was stretching. There was limited huffing and puffing. And my feet were cold, which is a real bonus.

So mock me if you will, but with a ton of snow crowding the streets and sidewalks in my neighborhood, I'm calling this my daily workout -- unless I guilt myself into a run later on.

Friday, February 22, 2013

No Business Like Snow Business

Feb. 22, 2013

Today I am 194.4 pounds of rolling thunder.

I've got to say that it was a day better suited for mushers in the Iditarod dogsled race than stomping around my neighborhood, but riding that stationary bike in the basement was getting pretty darn old.

Besides, somebody once said that if you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done -- at least nothing worthwhile. So I bundled up and took advantage of a snowy but otherwise sunny day.

Unfortunately, my excitement to get back out on the road was not met with the same vigor by homeowners who were yet to clear the 12 inches of snow off their sidewalks, or the additional pileups provided by the snowplows who had swept the roads relatively clean.

Overwhelmed by the promise from sunny skies and light winds, I decided to chance it and get back out on the streets, only this time it literally was the streets because hardly any sidewalks were visible, let alone navigable. So I ran in the road, which normally I don't like doing, but stuck closely to the side of the lane facing traffic.

It was nice getting back out in the open, even if it met mixing it up with people trapped inside those motorized metal boxes. Most were polite and gave me a wide path, even quite often changing lanes to make way for the world's slowest human.

And while it wasn't a great run -- I could feel those tight muscles in my back, drawn taut like piano wire by two days of snow shoveling -- it was a good run. So good, in fact, that I didn't beat myself up over my periodic bouts of walking.

There's definitely no business like snow business, and if you wait for the perfect day in the winter to go for a run, walk or ride, you'll be well into March or April before you get outside. Sometimes, you've just got to put on your boots and make do.

So if you see me out on the snowy roads -- thank you Storm Q -- just give me a wave and wide berth if I'm running in the streets again.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Winter Storm Q Kicked My Butt

Feb. 21, 2013

Today I'm 192.4 pounds of frozen thunder.

That's right, frozen thunder. Winter Storm Q actually delivered, and we've got at least 12 inches of snow on the ground. It hasn't snowed like this since, who knows when.

The storm started with a mix of freezing rain and snow, and quickly switched over to all snow all the time. And while getting this much snow after months of little rain or snow, it's left the roads unsuitable for driving.
More importantly they are also unnavigable for running.

So today's workout was less about aerobics and more about brute force, freezing cold and getting the neighborhood driveways cleaned. Silly me, I went outside to shovel a path to the cars -- not that we could get out to go anywhere -- but the snow was no longer falling and cabin fever had set in.

But once you're outside and cold -- or suffering from a frozen brain -- you might as well get some work done. That, and I had the crazy thought that the neighbor offered to let us use her snow blower.

Now I'm a novice snow blower, but I'm pretty sure 12 inches of snow needs something with a little more oomph than this model. It felt a lot like using a Bissell push sweeper on a sand dune. The motor whined, but the little blower that could keep on going.

Three or four driveways later, I had the snow blower system pretty well down pat. So I headed inside. Bad move. My plan to completely clear our driveway tomorrow was met with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

So back on went the jeans, jacket and shoes, and out we went to finish the driveway. Let's just say that this was a deep, heavy snow and certain muscles were taxed that hadn't been visited in some time. Tonight, might just be an Advil night.

After all the shoveling and snow blowing Winter Storm Q kicked my backside. At least it was Q and not Nemo. I'd hate to be slow and beaten down by Nemo.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Beige

Feb. 19, 2013

Today I am 194.0 pounds of rolling thunder.

And it's really not easy eating green when most of your favorite meals are beige.

Beige meals are the chunky man's friend. You know, brown meat, with brown potatoes and a brown piece of bread. It's the monochromatic taste palette handed down from the days of the caveman. It's our inalienable right to eat meat with a side of meat. It's beef, and it's what's for dinner.

And there's nothing better than a whole plate of carbohydrates right out of the beige book. Let's see, bread -- check. Cookies, check. Cereal, check and double check. Cake, color it any way you want but down deep it's still beige at heart. So check, check and check. Guys love them all.

Beige is cool. Beige is fun. Hipsters eat beige. #Millennials eat #Beige. Beige is young and #sexy. It's in our DNA to mix mashed potatoes and gravy with homemade egg noodles. I'm pretty sure it's in the Constitution.

But when the doctor says your cholesterol number looks like the over and under of an NBA basketball game, it's time to put the beige food down, which won't be easy given that I'm allergic to eating green. Oh, not really allergic, I just have not taste for the leafy stuff. Yard clippings have a better flavor when they hit my taste buds than the average lettuce salad.

That whole eating from a trough filled with many colors is going to be rough. Now fruits I can handle, but those pesky veggies are going to be a problem. I have worked for years to refine my beige menu, and I don't adjust well to changes.

But here's the deal, I might not become a vegetarian overnight, but I can easily scoot away some of the unnecessary late-night beige bites, aka cookies. And bread won't be missed. It's just finding a way to sneak in better food.

And getting out and moving is the key. This time of year with the weather ups and downs it can be difficult hitting the streets. And somehow, finding the wheel of your indoor bike can be a grind. But now's the time.

So Kermit, here we go, my new motto is it's not easy being less beige. I think it's got a real ring to it, don't you?

Going to try and get out on the road today, but the weather's got a real bite to it. If you see me out there my fellow bundled up runner, give me a wave ... a great, big beige wave.

Friday, February 15, 2013

7 Habits of all Mediocre Runners

Feb. 15, 2013

I trust you all survived Valentine's Day, and I am assured that any candy, cake or other treat eaten standing up has no calories.

So I got this blog post in my email box today, or was in posted on LinkedIn? Either way, LMAO funny.

The title is "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective MediocrePeople," and it didn't take long to figure out that these are the same highly practiced habits of most of the runners I know. 

Now with a tip of the hat to author By James Altucher who penned this blog, I have to admit he's nailed most of us runners right on the head with his blog post.

1. Procrastinate - Runners and couch slugs alike can appreciate this one. Why go out for a run when there's an "NCIS" marathon airing on the USA Network? That Tony, he's always mixing things up with Zeva. And are you a Kate person of a Zeva person.

I think there's even a Gibb's rule that requires procrastination.

2. Zero Task - Let's not confuse zero-tasking with no-tasking. Everyone these days is tied up in the multitasking craze. Who just runs anymore when you can run, chase yourself on Zombie Run on your smart phone, follow along your wrist-mounted GPS and listen to your iPod?

I say get back to either one- or two tasking. Run. Or run and listen to some music. Enough with making your relaxation time into a rolling office party. There will be time enough for all those things.

3. Fail - Gosh, if you read enough issues of Runner's World you figure almost everyone who laces up shoes runs a marathon and a good portion of those are Boston qualifiers.

I think we all learn a lot through failure, although most coaches will tell you there's nothing to be gained by his or her team falling down. Sometimes I fail because I just can't get up and out the door to get my running time in.

4. Be Unoriginal - I think runners and bikers are all creatures of habit. We like our traditional loops and routes. We enjoy knowing when the hard work is coming up or the long-steady hill is just around the corner. So on the originality scale we rank pretty low.

5. Exercise Poor Networking Skills - Hey, you want to run on Tuesday after work. Sure. I'll email you. And yet, the email never comes. How many times has that happened to you?

6. Do Anything To Get a Yes - Guilt is my primary motivator to get a yes out of myself when it comes to running. Let's say it's a Saturday afternoon and you’re driving down the street and the sun is shining brightly as you see smiling runners pass by.

The guilt gremlin will not take no for an answer, so you cave on your rest day and are back out on the road passing by other people in cars who are on their "off" days.

7. Be A Poor Judge Of People- I do most of my running on my own, so this one doesn't apply very often, although I have to say I am far too trusting of motorists. My rule of thumb is that our neighborhood is filled with old people who can't see runners and bikers and young drivers who don't want to see runners and bikers.

Cellphone talkers are the worst. I truly believe these devices are the spawn of the great Satan when it comes to motorists. Drivers just can't seem to put down their phones to control their 2,000-pound automobiles.

Maybe it makes me a good judge of poorly behaved people, but I always make contact with motorists at intersections and when crossing a street. 

Well, here's to running mediocrity at its best. When you're the world's slowest human it is, after all, all about failing to meet expectations.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Run, but don't forget to bring home chocolate

Feb. 14, 2013 -- Happy Valentine's Day

Today I am 195.2 pounds of loveable rolling thunder.

I usually caution my children not to use Wikipedia as a reliable source for their research, but what the heck, it's Valentine's Day, and I need to make some time for a run.

Our friends at Wikipedia who have chosen to enlighten us on the topic say that St. Valentine's Day owes its origins to a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Hmmm. One or more, eh?

So they go on to say that the favorite story of martyrology involving the saint claims that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were not allow to marry, and, of course, ministering to Christians.

So how did we get to the chocolate-covered greeting card high holy day that we now celebrate? The Wikis tell us that the holiday was first associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer. Dang, I knew I should have paid more attention in Lit class in high school.

Sending flowers, cards and of course candy on this day goes back to the 15th century, so Wikipedia tells us. And the handwritten sentiments gave way to mass-produced cards by the 1800s. Soon to give way to the Billy Bass Christmas singing mounted fish, I'm sure (Wikipedia didn't have that; I'm just adding my own facts for dramatic effect).

So what does this all have to do with running? Squat.

But I figured if you were going to sneak in a run after work and before dinner with your sweetheart, you better come bearing the facts about the holiday while you suffer the grief of leaving her or him alone for an hour.

 I say enjoy the day. It looks like another fine one for running. And with any luck, you'll see the world's slowest human out there with you, so give me a wave ... and don't forget to bring home the chocolate.