Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Running towards...another run.

There have been a lot of biggest, best, and firsts for me this year with running.

I am getting closer to running my first marathon. Now practically every long run that I do is a new longest run for me. I just had my best month ever. I've been running off and on now for the past 12 years and I've never surpassed 70 miles in a month. I came close in May by getting to 68, but I missed a run and didn't make it. My long runs for June worked out in such a way that I was only at 62, plus I missed another run. However, for July I have bested the 70 milestone and the 80 milestone at the same time. I ended up with 82.8. I'm about to run my first half marathon in a few years. This is the first time that I have a legitimate shot at finishing in 2:30 or less.

And yet, none of these have been destinations for me. They are all just milestones that I accomplish with an end goal only of running more, faster, and easier. I've never been much of an "It's the Journey" type of person, but with my running this year I've spent a lot of time thinking about the marathon. This has been the end goal of my 12 years of running. I started years ago with the single goal of running a marathon. It would prove to my PE teacher, Coach Cann, that I could live a healthy lifestyle even without participating in PE at school. I would do something outside of school that I never could do because of school. I would run 26.2 miles. Now the goal is in sight, it's less than 10 miles further than my longest run, it's only another 2 hours, I can make it.

I keep asking, But then what? Is my life as a runner over because I've finally eclipsed the one and only goal that I set out to accomplish. As a very goal oriented person does that mean that I'll fall apart without a further goal? I can set hundreds of running goals, but will push me to do more better than I have done trying to reach this one. Then it hit me, the same as it probably hits everyone when they finally realize that it is the journey. On October 21st I'm going to run 26.2 miles. It's going to be a great personal achievement. It's going to be just one day's run in the past 12 years. I have hundreds of memories from those runs of things that I've gone through. I've been chased by dogs and cows, I've been confronted by a red fox and sent deer scattering at the sound of my footsteps pounding down the road. I've run in 105 degree heat, and gotten up as early as 3:30 AM to run. I've run my first mile, collapsed in despair and did it again. I've run speed drills, fartlek, track sessions, and just gone out and run without an end in mind. There are so many visions of thins that flit back through my mind, and many conversations fill my head with images of things that I've seen or experienced while running. When I run the marathon on October 21st, it will be a great achievement of that journey. It will be a celebration of more than 12 year preparation. And it will be another step of the journey of my running life. A journey with no destination, just simply a journey.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

An electric plane

Sonex Aircraft and AeroConversions Show Electric Propulsion System for Sport Aircraft

This is very cool. The company Sonex Aircraft is working on making an electric plane. Granted this plane will not be used for passengers (just a pilot) and won't be hauling anything. Their stated goal is simply to make a plane that can be used to set electric flight records, but there are some very interesting technologies discussed in here. I think this is good. It's another outlet for engineers to biuld and test electric motors. Everytime someone does this the chances for a breakthrough that can move us closer to an electric car society happen. That is awesome.

I hope they succeed in their tests and that they are able to contribute something new to the overall electric car race that is going on.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What's your soap box?

Have you ever been talking to someone when your blood starts pumping, your adrenaline flowing, and then wham, your in the middle of an hour long tirade about a topic that you absolutely love to discuss?

Everyone has something that they are really passionate about. It's that one topic that gets you excited. This is what you are passionate about. Think about it, find out what topic you could just go on and on and on about never getting tired of.

My passion is and has been "thinking for yourself" and "lifelong learning". I can get really pumped up about these and rattle on for hours on end. I don't think that everyone needs to be in the same profession or needs to take the same path in life, but I believe that everyone should be able to think enough for themselves to say yes or no to a situation with a sound argument behind their thought, and people should constantly be trying to improve.

Thinking for yourself is philosophy, religion, politics, logic. These are some of the topics that are considered taboo for discussion in order to prevent people from getting worked up. I don't have a problem with that. I don't even mind a heated argument, so long as the reasoning is sound. My only complaint is that someone does something because that's the way it's always been. As part of thinking for yourself you need to constantly push the boundaries. Ask, probe, study, find an answer and come to a conclusion.

Lifelong learning is self-evident. I believe that no matter where we are in our lives there is always more that we can add to the world if we continue to learn. I don't just mean that you should constantly be learning how to be better at your job. People should learn how to be better people. They should learn about technology, crafts, art, history, philosophy, parenting, athletics. These are all things that can add to the fullness of your life and to the influence that you may have on others. Knowing more about these topics can make you better parents and friends. You may not be passionate about history, but when you come across someone who is, then you'll be able to have a great conversation with him about it. You may not care much for art, but being able to discuss it with someone who is can open up a new world to you. Knowing about something is a great start to meeting new people and finding people who are passionate about that.

Lately there have been other topics that I've become more passionate about. Things that I want to start discussing with others. I have been interested in energy and eco-friendly energy for a long time. The internet has been a great place for me to learn more about this. I read more about wind farms and hybrid cars and wave farms, and solar panels every day, I'm constantly in touch with this topic.

I have read the book "Getting Things Done" and gone to the one day seminar to listen to the author talk. Reading the book was awesome and I have made a lot of changes to things in my life in the past year because of it. Going to the seminar was even more amazing. I had read the book and listened to his seminar on CD, but just being there with him was electric. This is what he is passionate about and I wanted to catch more of it. I want to run around converting people to the GTD way of life, but most people don't care. They don't see a need for it and don't want to do it. I read about GTD every day online as well.

Fitness is the last topic that I'm becoming more passionate about. Like everyone I've always known that I should try to be fit, but as I'm becoming healthier and getting closer to accomplishing my goal of running a marathon, there are so many things that I wish I could do to help others through the same journey that I've taken. I have been active on SparkPeople for the past 7 months and love being there. I chat with other people who are trying to lose weight, or who have lost it and are working to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day. I've met a great group of runners ranging from someone just starting about every week, to some people who have run many marathons. These people all have great stories and are very supportive of each other. The entire community is great. I want to share everything that I've enjoyed with anyone and everyone that I meet.

I've carried on enough about my passions, what are you passionate about? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

There needn't be a spoiler alert, I won't ruin it for anyone. But the book showed up at 9 AM this morning when the mailman dropped it at my front door. Now all extraneous activities in life come to a halt until this 759 page tome is read. This is the book that all minutes of free time get spent on. Standing at the stove cooking dinner, read the book, take the kids to the water park, read the book, skip sleeping, read the book.

I won't post a review when I'm done with it, because there are so many others like me that want to really enjoy the experience of reading the book, and having the ending given away may take some of that pleasure away. Well, back to reading, only 700 more pages to go.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Got change for a 5?

I don't know why it's such a big deal, but it annoys me that vending machines only take $1 bills. I don't carry much in the way of cash, but when I do, I rarely have a 1, I have a 5, 10, or 20. If I ever want anything from a vending machine I have to beg to borrow change for whatever bill I do have, or I have to borrow a dollar.

The US Government wants to get more $1 coins into circulation. I don't see why they don't just work out some kind of deal with the vending machine companies to allow payments of up to $20 and have the machine dispense $1 coins in change. The Stamp machines at the post office will do that. The hardware to accept the larger bills and dispense the $1 coins is already in use, it's just a matter of getting existing vending machines updated.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Power 90 week 1 review

Day 1 Friday June 29th.
The first day of the workout. It was a good workout. I can't finish the pushups. That's a bit frustrating since I can actually do 50 pushups, but I don't regularly do the narrow or wide pushups in the video. The narrow ones are what is stopping me right now.

Day 2 Monday July 2nd.

Overall the video works the triceps a lot more than what I have typically worked my triceps. I have always wanted my arms to get bigger in the bicep without having to have huge triceps. This program works the triceps separately, plus they are used in all of the pushup and shoulder moves.

I have only done the Circuit training for it for two days, but it is already working. I don't mean that I look better or stronger, I mean that I am feeling a good burn in my muscles from a good workout. I'll keep track of how I feel and how I do with this program and post monthly updates.

Day 3 Wednesday July 4th
Another good workout. I still dropped to my knees for girl pushups on the final set of close pushups to be able to finish them. Other than that I was able to finish everything. It's amazing that I can run 10 miles straight, but my heart pounds more from this 30 minutes of working out more than it does after the run.

Day 4 Friday July 6th. I had to switch my runs around and have a very long run on Saturday, so instead of working out Friday I skipped it to rest my legs.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A long day of softball

Last Saturday my niece had a softball game. I knew it was a tournament, but her team was pretty bad the last time we saw them play and the tournament was single elimination, I figured one game and we'd be gone. But there was no way that I would miss a game of hers in our town less than a mile from my house if she was going to be there playing. She lives over 30 minutes away and it's only the 2nd time I've gotten to see her play.

Amazingly, they won the first game. I kept thinking that the other team was more fundamentally sound and could hit better. But they had a problem with throwing strikes, and that mad all the difference.

Two hours later we were back for game two. The first batter up was the smallest girl I had seen at the tournament. I even laughed about how short she was. She could barely hold the bat up. Expectedly she walked. But then the team didn't do much. In the bottom half of the first they came out to the field and the shortest girl on the team was the pitcher. I was dumfounded. She had good mechanics, mostly, but she couldn't quite find the strike zone. Another game was won with lots of walks. So again, we would head off for food and come back for another game.

Two hours later we were back for the championship. The team that I hadn't expected to win a game could finish no worse than 2nd. It was a huge accomplishment. Strange that over the course of a single day I felt as if I had grown to know some of these kids. Even though I only know their first or last name, I got a sense of them. The urge to coach came back to me. I wanted to get out there and help them, try to teach them new things that can help them improve. Alas, there is no time for that in a championship game, that all has to come before, in practice. Still, I longed to be involved and I am curious if there is a way that I can be involved in a Clinton team next year.

The championship game was great. It wasn't like the earlier games of walks. Both teams were playing defense. It started with the coin toss where we won and chose to be home for the third time of the day. Why stop what's working? Out into the field we went and the opposing team came up. Unlike the miniatures from the last game, these girls were giants. At least 4 of them were taller than our tallest girl and more than half of our team was smaller than there smallest. However, with some luck they went three up and three down. We came up to bat and got a walk, but then the next three went down in order. The 2nd inning was about the same, one runner reached for the opponents, and none for us. This was not just that batters were swinging poorly, good defensive plays were being made. The 3rd inning some runs were scored against us, and we got a few runners on, but couldn't quite score. Again in the 4th a few more runs were scored, as we came up in the bottom of the 4th we were down 4 to 0. The leadoff hitter got on base and the other pitcher had a mental breakdown. She didn't go crazy, but you could see the sudden frustration she felt. She walked another batter then started giving up hits. We scored 3 and finally gave up our 3rd out with the bases still loaded. The ump called "last inning" and the teams came out for the 5th. Two quick outs and we were excited, but then it fell apart. Mallory couldn't throw a strike and walked a couple of batters, then gave up a big hit. Coming up to bat in the bottom of the 5th we were down by 3. We weren't amazing in our chance to come back and win. With two out we had runners on first and 2nd, but an easy grounder to the first basemen ended the game without much of a threat from us to score. The final game was the shortest one of the day and by far the most exciting and best played. Both teams deserved all the praise and glory that they felt from being where they were.

After the game the coach gave a much deserved rah-rah speech to the team that included reminded them that the first time these two teams played this year they lost 26-7. 6-3 was a huge improvement. Good job girls. Here is your 2nd place trophy, enjoy it, you have earned it.

A good plan is only a plan.

Happy 4th of July, my celebration was brief. It included 20 minutes of really bad fireworks and almost 30 seconds of a grand finale. It was probably the worst fireworks display I've ever seen.

I had planned to get a lot of things done today, but it became mostly a lazy day. I picked up a lot of toys, did the dishes, cleaned all the clothes, and hung up 3 pictures that have been waiting to be hung for about a week. It was quick work. Here's a picture of how great they look hanging between the kitchen and the dining room.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Power 90 workout

I am going to do the Power 90 Beach Body program. After having looked at and being excited by the Power 90 X workout I decided that I really wanted to do this. My plan was to save money for a few months then buy the program with the free exercise band, as if the 6 that I have aren't enough. However, while talking about my plan a friend offered to loan me her copy of the program.

My reasons:
1. I really like the Power 90 X commercial and still want to be able to accomplish it, but I'm not in good enough shape.
2. I need to build muscle while continuing to lose weight.
3. I wanted a program that told me exactly what to do. The less options I have the better. (more on this later)

I decided after not being able to meet the minimum requirements for P90X that I needed to do something to help me get to that level of fitness. I could have tried to go it alone by just trying to work on different things. However, I wanted a program that was specific. Something that would push me to work out at a certain pace and push me to be as good as I could be. I didn't want a cardio program, I wanted a weight training program. I have looked online many times and there are not many Muscle building videos out there. Almost every video is for abs or cardio. Almost all muscle building programs are a book with hundreds of exercises where you are told to pick out what you want to do.

My fear is that the reason I haven't made the progress that I really want is that I have not picked out the right exercises in the past. I own several of these books and have lifted weights off and on for years, yet I'm tiny and not nearly as strong as I want to be. One of the best programs that I did was the Body for Life program. Bill Phillips has a great program, but it still has a pick and choose attitude when it comes to lifting weights. Power 90 has you run through the exercises quickly with the video.

Cardio is going to be an issue for me. I am in the middle of training for a marathon and don't plan on stopping. I also don't plan on completely killing myself with 3 cardio videos a week as well as running 3 times a week. My runs are as long or longer than the cardio videos are, so I get at least as much cardio work as the program expects. However, I may still try to squeeze one day a week of the Power 90 Cardio in along with my 3 runs a week. The extra exercise may be good for me to lose weight.

I think that this program will work. It's not a magical program, it can still be short-circuited with bad eating, but sticking to it will work. Even though I'm training for a marathon, I basically only exercise those 3 days a week. This program is 30-40 minutes of exercise 6 days a week. The extra exercise will help to burn enough calories and build enough muscle that my mostly healthy eating should be enough for me to lose more weight and look better.

This program is not for beginners. If you have never lifted at all before, this is not where you want to start. I feel for you, because there isn't much out there for true beginners, but this program will be a waste of your money if you have never been in shape and are a couch potato. Start with something easier. I keep waiting for someone to release a "from Spud to Stud 2 year program" to get people from absolutely nothing into great shape, without cranking up the intensity so much at the beginning that people want to quit. It's not until a great program like this, that is a lot of fun is finally released that a large portion of Americans will be able to finally get to the better bodies that they desire. As it is now, every program out there sells solely on the quick fix 30 days to look better. The reality is that it's almost never that way and too many people spend their hard earned money on crappy products that were a sham to start with. Fitness is not an overnight thing, it's a life long commitment. It's hard and tiring. There will be days that you don't want to do it. However, it's the act of exercising when you don't want to exercise and pushing yourself when you'd rather sleep, that will ultimately get you to where you want to be.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Being the Cheese

Being a dad is great. Lately the kids have been awesome. Every day I come home and as soon as I walk in the house they start screaming "Daddy", then they come running and give me a huge hug.

The other day, as I was giving Erin a hug Ady came over and said she wanted in the middle. The kids love it when they are being squeezed in the middle of the hug. We picked her up and started hugging and she said "Mommy, I'm your cheese" We started laughing so hard that we nearly dropped her.

That's my little girl over there, she's the cheese.

Are Microsoft users dumb?

One of the emails I get from Microsoft had this in it.
Featured tip for Windows XP

Set your desktop PC background to a solid color
Tired of making decisions? If you're not interested in choosing a background picture that "reflects" you, don't put yourself through it--just pick a color for your background. Colors are easy.

1. Right-click the desktop and click Properties.
2. Click the Desktop tab in the dialog box and click None for your background.
3. Pick a color from the Color button to the right and click OK.

Featured tip is courtesy of the book Windows XP Killer Tips by Kleber Stephenson.

Do they really think that their users are so dumb or indecisive that they can't decide on a background picture that reflects who they are? Granted I don't use a background picture all the time, but it has nothing to do with me being indecisive, it has to do with the fact that the desktop icons are easier to find with nothing in their way. This has become less of an issue now that I use the quick launch bar, the Desktop sidebar, and slickrun. But still, a better suggestion would have been to make it easier to find your icons use a plain background, rather than insulting the largest base of computer users. What idiot editor let this out?

Still addicted to blogging

I thought it was interesting that I ran across an Addicted to blogging quiz. After my post last week I was interested to know how addicted I really am. As it turns out. I'm about as bad as it gets. Maybe I should be getting paid to do this full time. Hrm... Now there's an idea.

74%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?