Sitting on my butt

I am so seemingly unmotivated lately. You see, I am in the process of moving out as part of a divorce (mutually agreed upon), but have been trying to figure out what the heck to take, where to put it, and how to get it there. I have a new apartment that comes with a full gym and indoor lap pool, open from very early in the morning (4:30) until late each evening (10:30) – seven days a week. I will no longer have an excuse for not making it to the gym, once I am actually sleeping in my new apartment.

Yesterday, I figured out that I have no place to put my workout gear without moving the shelf that I currently use in my laundry room to the new place. The problem is that either it is too small for my stuff or I have too much workout gear (say it isn’t so!). I am also moving my bike up there either today or tomorrow, trying to figure out where to put that as well. I have to be careful of not getting dirt on the new carpet, so will need to put something under the wheels.

The one thing that I am both looking forward to yet fearing is swimming. I know that swimming laps is great exercise – zero impact, go at my own pace kind of exercise. With that, I am not looking forward to figuring out exactly how poorly my form is. I never really learned to swim other than to keep from drowning. I can definitely swim some, just not with any form. So, I will get in the water and simply try to figure it out. Maybe some fit person will see me flailing around and offer a word or two of advice. After a while, I will try to find someone to work with to improve my form. But for now, it’s just up to me to get myself into the pool a few times.

Who knows, maybe a sprint Tri is on the future agenda?!?

Making the switch to fitbit!

I have used my Nike FuelBands for about 18 months now. I say Fuelbands because during those 18 months, Nike has replaced the band twice. I purchased my fitbit flex at Costco for $95, so the cost was significantly less than the original FuelBand ($149).

One of the reasons to switch to a Fitbit is the number of integration points with other apps. For example, the MyFitnessPal integrates beautifully with my stats from fitbit. The new fitbit app for my iPhone also works with the GPS integrated into the iPhone to provide closer approximation to where you walked when outside. I have yet to try this since it is a recent update, but will try it over the upcoming 3-day weekend.

Another reason to switch is that it was reported this spring that Nike will exit the wearable tech business. As a lifelong technologist, there is just no reason to stay tied to a company where there will be no further development on the platform you use. The closed technology environment and lack of integration with other platforms always bothered me and I failed to listen to my own gut for staying away. I’m just sorry I talked my youngest into the same platform, although she is more aware of her activity and can use that in time display mode to get away with wearing it at work (watches only are allowed, no other jewelry).

Among my friends, many more have fitbits than Fuelbands, so it’s way easier to challenge people I know. Among my co-workers, almost none had even heard of a Fuelband – and many know about fitbit. And finally, among people living in my part of Connecticut, it’s a no-brainer – fitbit is king (at least between Nike and fitbit).

So I’ve made my switch and will track metrics for a while. So far, I don’t really understand the lights but do use my iPhone to turn on and off sleep mode (for tracking sleep) and for managing the silent alarms that buzz the fitbit on my wrist so I can get up without waking up anyone else.

For a review and images of the Fitbit Flex, click here!

5K at work

This week, I ran the fourth 5K at work. Our company is a very strong proponent of a healthy lifestyle, not surprisingly since my company is a major insurance company. The first two years, we ran the 5K out of our Connecticut office. Then, it was on a Saturday and had an entry fee to support both tee shirts and a United Way donation. After two years of donating practically no money to the United Way after tee shirt purchases and paying multiple police officers to manage traffic and security, it was determined that this model was not sustainable.

In the second iteration of the 5K, the company determined that a healthy lifestyle was the real goal. So the race would be focused on health, no tee shirts, and held during the work week. Both the CT and MA campuses would have their own events, and would be based on timing of campus construction. The first 5K for our Massachusetts office was held during the fall (so was the Connecticut office’s race), but was moved to the spring this year due to construction scheduled for the fall. The advantage of having a huge campus is that we can run the entire race within the fence that surrounds our buildings with only one spot that is repeated to get the full 5K.

We had beautiful weather and a well organized event – plus over 300 participants in the event this week! This shows the real effort that people are making to live a healthier lifestyle, and most of the participants ran (or were at least listed as a runner, not a walker). My time wasn’t fast (31:11) but kept to just about a 10 minute mile pace. Again, not fast, but respectable considering how little I’ve actually run outside this year. For the first race of the year, I’ll take it.


First organized ride of the year

Today, I am joining my first MeetUp organized ride of the year. The first one was last Saturday, but I was already in Orlando when the ride started. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and really testing out my new Specialized Roubaix bike. I purchased the bike in March, after bonuses were distributed. This was more expensive than I originally thought I’d spend, but fell in love with the bike during a couple of test rides.

I’ve ridden about 8 miles on one ride, but never as far as this, and not this far outside since last fall. The weather should be gorgeous with a high of 70 today so in the 50s and 60s for the ride. It’ll be sunny all day, at least once the rest of the fog burns off. I will need to get the bike adjusted once I have a few more rides under my belt, but needed to wait until the weather was better. The roads are still a mess, but cleanup has started and big potholes should be filled soon. The deep freeze this winter did a number on the roads, causing the moisture way under the roadways to freeze, ultimately pushing up through the roads. Today should be interesting with a large (30+) group finding and avoiding the potholes.

Plodding along, ready for Spring

So here it is, Fat Tuesday. It sounds so appropriate because it’s so easy to get down on myself for the lower level of activity this winter. But truth be told, I am only a few pounds from my lowest weight in years. I’ve been somewhat stationary for the last couple of weeks due to my annual sinus infection, but trying to work through it. For now, I am just hoping that I can make it through each morning’s workouts!

My 100MPH bike trainer ride

I purchased a little-used stationary bike trainer from a co-worker this fall. While I had no idea if this would work with my current bike, I know that it will work with my soon-to-be-purchased new road bike. I took the trainer out once to look at it, but quickly put it back in the box until I had more time. Since I’m still on vacation, I decided that yesterday was the day to set it up.

The trainer is a Kinetic by Kurt Road Machine model. My co-worker included a Kinetic Turntable Riser Ring to allow for a more level ride, with some ability to simulate a slight incline. After dragging the trainer to the basement and printing the manual, I put it together and figured out how to attach my bike. I replaced the rear axle (what I now know is called the skewer) with a new one purchased from Amazon for about $10.

When looking back on the metrics from my ride, the numbers are way off. 37 MPH average – I don’t think so. 100+ MPH max speed – not even on a motorcycle. At least the time was right – 46 minutes of solid effort. For that, my butt was sore and my legs almost numb immediately after I got off the bike. It does prove that I need to stretch more (consistent problem) and ride more. Hopefully, I will do many more rides like this over the winter and be in solid shape to be outside on my bike come spring.

Sixty in December

On the first day of winter, the temperature in Connecticut reached a remarkable 60 degrees. This is, to say the least, quite uncommon. Last Monday, for example, it had a low of 6 with a high somewhere in the mid-teens. This is quite a change, although certain to not last more than a day or two. I’m heading for an outside run and will return after that run.

A couple of weeks ago, I determined that my existing treadmill-only shoes were long overdue to be replaced. Using Dailymile, I track the mileage and saw the mileage over 450 miles on those shoes. Since 350-500 miles is the recommended replacement distance, I knew it was time. So off to Fleet Feet in West Hartford for another pair of Brooks. While there, I tried on a few other brands but went back to the comfort of the Ghost series of shoes used many times in the past. The Ghost shoes are neutral, cushioned shoes and feel great on my feet. My outdoor shoes are Ghost5 so moving to a Ghost6 for the treadmill worked.

While at Fleet Feet, I also spotted a new flavor Gu – salted caramel (with caffeine). I can only hope that it’s as delicious as other salted caramel items I’ve tasted in the past – with the Dunkin’ Donuts Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate coming quickly to mind. Yum. Filled with both calories and flavor, it’s great during a long early morning drive when coffee just won’t do.

So I went running outside Sunday for the first time in a long while. While the temps were high, the snow was not all melted so the trails through the park were sloppy and wet. I didn’t mind the cold, but after three miles of running through slop, it was enough and I was done. Too much time on the treadmill has made me soft, I suppose. SInce I was on vacation, I opted to run inside on Monday, but only got in two miles before needing to leave and head to a doctor’s appointment with my daughter. So it was a slow, low mileage week but I’m on vacation for the next 11 days or so, so expect to get back into my routine on Thursday (tomorrow is Christmas Day), and for all of next week. I just don’t need to pull myself out of bed at 4:45 in the morning to do it.

A week of vacation

It’s been a while since I last posted but only a week since any real activity. I was actually very consistent with running and lifting over the past month or two, but took the past week off since I was on vacation until this morning. As I write this, I am awaiting a call telling me that my wife is finished with her colonoscopy. Since she did her prep yesterday and was in no condition to join me, I started the day at our YMCA on the treadmill. December has started and there will be enough interruptions due to the holidays that I needed to get in a run first thing. I only ran a 5K, but decided that it was enough to get my blood flowing and brain working as I head back to work. I also determined that I really need to replace my treadmill shoes before covering too many more miles. They have 450+ miles on them, but that is all inside on the treadmill. Needless to say, it will be cheaper to replace them than to pay for a few doctors visits when I screw up my legs continuing to run on them.

Last Friday, I drove 500+ miles to Virginia to spend time with the guys on an annual fishing trip in Deltaville. I have missed this for the past few years, but decided that I had both the time and need to see the boys. On Saturday, we played two sets of tennis outside (and it was cold). I played in my “normal” walking shoes – old and cheap. The tennis was fun but my calfs were both screaming at me for days after the activity. I attribute the pain to lack of use in a back and forth motion, since running doesn’t have the same sort of lateral movement associated with tennis. It had been over five years since I even held a racket, so was pleased with a few of my shots and not overly disappointed in my overall playing. I took my time coming back to Connecticut, visiting with a few friends on my way home. It was relaxing to spend time away from work and not worry about working out, eating right, but enough is enough. One good thing is that when I stepped on the scale this morning, I was right where I was when my slack off week started (give or take a pound).

On Thanksgiving, my daughter and I headed to our local turkey trot a just under 5-mile race named the Manchester Road Race. She has been having hip pain for a few years now since her body is totally out of alignment. She was a sport, trying to run a few times but mostly giving up to walking the majority of the route. Since it was purely father/daughter time, I stayed with her the entire time. We nearly froze at the start since it was in the upper 20s with a wicked wind blowing through the streets. Since we both planned on running, we were both wearing at least one layer too few on our tops and both fingers and toes were feeling the cold enough to ache. We were very thankful to have the starting gun go off at 11, although the feet were so cold it was hard to feel them as we started. One really cool thing about this race is the number of celebrity runners that it attracts. Amby Burfoot (former Boston Marathon winner and 51 times finisher of this race) and Desiree Davila from the women’s side both ran in the 77th running of this Thanksgiving day tradition. This year there were 15,000 participants. It’s amazing that this small town race gets such a huge draw of big names each year – especially with it being held on Thanksgiving day!

43 miles

Yesterday, I went on my second organized bike ride of the year with the Casual Bikers East meetup group. There were almost 25 of us in all, and most were what I believe regulars with the group. There was to be a faster and slower group that would naturally form as the ride progressed. The two organizers are married and provided a cue sheet that proved to be both accurate and helpful. Since I don’t have a cue sheet holder, I simply stuffed my printed sheet into a sandwich ziploc bag and put that under the belt of my iFitness phone holder. It was sufficient, although not overly efficient since I almost dropped the sheet twice.

We took off from the parking lot of the elementary school nearest my home. I rode there since attaching the bike rack to the car would have taken me longer than just riding to the lot. I wasn’t quite sure how to dress since it started in the low 40s and was supposed to climb into the upper 50s when the ride concluded. So bike shorts without leg warmers, a short sleeved bike jersey, and arm warmers were the key. I should have swapped out my summer riding gloves for my winter ones, but decided that I could get my hands warm easily if they were freezing. After a few miles of riding, the hands were fine and I was one of the few not overdressed for the ride.

One thing that I don’t have is a pack that can take extras. If I had started with my leg warmers, I would have stripped them off with no place to stash them. This needs to be one of the items I need to get next. The fuel that I took for the ride proved to be insufficient for the energy used on the ride. I had just one gu packet and another Bulu nutrition packet that came in last month’s box. It was specifically for women, but mid-way through the ride with no other choice, I downed it with joy. I also have just a single water bottle holder on my bike so had juSt a single bottle of water. I had dropped a couple of Nun tablets into it before leaving, so was at least replacing some of the electrolytes I was losing in the effort.

As the ride progressed, I was riding with a coworker who lives in town and we became the slower group. Jeff, one of the organizers, rides in the back while his wife Sharon rides in the front, fast group. We had miles of great conversation and I came away with a contact to replace my propane fireplace. When all was said and done, we rode about 43 miles and averaged about 13.5 MPH – at the upper end of the 12-14 MPH pace we were targeting. I was sore a bit, but mostly just wiped out from the effort. I was also proud of the effort I put forth on the ride and, especially, on the hills. When I replace my heavy hybrid bike next year, I will be able to make this distance without a much effort and just may end up in the faster group before too much time passes!



Organized bike ride

Yesterday, I went on my first organized bike ride of the year. The local Parks & Rec department organizes a couple of these each year in coordination with a local bike shop. There were actually two rides – a longer, 40+ mile ride at a fast pace and a shorter 20-ish mile ride at a moderate to slow pace. Given that this was my first ride in months, I wisely opted for the shorter ride. Before leaving, I almost decided to go out on my own because I felt very unsure of what to wear (the weather was in between hot and cold) and felt a bit weirded out by the fact that I would know no one. However, an acquaintance of mine told me that I needed to meet others doing the things I enjoy. I’m glad that I listened and went on the ride.

We met at The Bike Shop in town around 9:30 for a 10 AM departure. We were scheduled to hit the farmer’s market near my house as one of the last stops, so I just rode to the bike store and would head home from there. Traffic from my house to the bike store isn’t conducive to riding (without a long detour), so thought it was the best route. There were a handful of riders at the store when I arrived and many more showed up as time progressed. There was a chance to meet others before departing and I felt much more comfortable with the wide range of experience in the group. At 10, we departed.

We made a few stops along the way. First stop was a small cupcake shop (that I didn’t know existed) for a bathroom break and to regroup. We restarted a few minutes later for a long stretch that included the long up and back part of the Hartford Marathon course through South Windsor. The Hartford Marathon is next weekend. It’s still on my bucket list but, as I’ve posted previously, is not on my agenda for this year.

So we ended up with about 15 miles of riding in all before I headed home, so about 17 in all for me. While not a long or fast ride, I met some nice people and learned about a group called Casual Bikers which will afford me the opportunity for more rides in the future.

Now if I could just get my left hamstring to quit screaming at me…