Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swim camp

Once upon a time I thought I could swim pretty well. Thinking back, I was young and strong, and was powering through the water. Then I didn't swim for a long time. Then I started again. It took a long time to come back. Then November 2009 I got a chance to get my swim stroke video taped at a Mercury Rising swim camp. Here's the story. Part 1. Part 2. Followup. Then January 2011 there was another camp. That blog has some video of the bike session.

I am completely serious in saying these camps were key to my swimming faster. Sara, Clint, and Carrie put on a super camp, and I highly recommend it if you want to improve your swim. Something about actually seeing your stroke, warts and all, has an enormously motivating effect. Here's a link to check out the details.

We're waiting for the snow here. Rain, turning to freezing rain, followed by 10 cm of snow, winds gusting to 70Kph tonight and tomorrow morning. The drive into work ought to be entertaining, crossed with terror.

While waiting for the snow I got on the bike.
30 minute warm up, with some speed work and technique focus.
45 minutes 2.0 watts per goal Kg at 88 rpm. Standing every now and then to give my butt a break. Sweating like a stuck pig, breathing pretty good, heart rate about 132 to 135 bpm. Toward the end it was getting harder, and really had to focus to maintain the output, but I ended strong, with the last 3 minutes picking up the rpm, and for the last minute going one gear harder and picking up the rpm. It felt really good.
15 minutes cool down and easy spin. Stretched a bit after.

I think I'm at a place where I need to stay for a little while, pushing these watts till it gets a bit more comfortable and I can go a bit longer. Then up it a bit. Some of the sets will be more intense, to start getting my legs ready for it. Really pleased with the bike progress.

Monday, November 28, 2011

peaceful swim groove

Once again it was a quiet Monday at the pool. Maybe because people were busy picking up after the windstorm yesterday that qualifies as a hurricane. The LRT wasn't running through downtown, which turns the whole LRT system into something that starts with cluster and rhythms with truck. It is very, very good at doing this, much better than moving people, which is the ostensible purpose of the system.

Meanwhile, I was having a peaceful swim. I wasn't thinking about time or pace or stroke count or any of that. I was thinking about renewing my friendship with the water. Learning to feel it again. Working on my body position, and trying to get streamlined again. Trying to make my flip turns elegant and tight, rather than a frothing sloshy sloppy mess. It all went pretty well. Warmed up. Did some dolphin kick with fins, and did lots of pull. This really helped get the feel of my stroke back. I think I've been letting my legs droop a bit. Only a half hour.

Much as I'd like to go for an hour or so, I'm not quite there yet. Soon. Maybe. Which is something I'd better work on, if I want to start swimming at Talisman. That's much more convenient to downtown, but as always, there's a problem. I always swim in the fast lane at Renfrew, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the regulars that swim faster than me. That will sooooo not be the case at Talisman.

That darned Facebook! One of my buddies posted a video of my favourite band, which I hadn't seen, so I had to watch it. And then a few more, then some faves from the late 70's, and a few more from fairly recently. They're still so good. I wish I'd gone to see their Sgt. Pepper show in Vegas when it was on. I am speaking of Cheap Trick, of course.

Once I got that out of my system, for now, I went down for a brief, but intense core session. Included plank and pushups and other stuff. I decline to state how long, or how many. Let's just say that some of my lower core muscles weren't quite with the program the way I'd like them to be. And sadly, that's not because I ate too much over the weekend. It's because I've been a slacker.





Sunday, November 27, 2011

Genetic consequences

Balancing personal and collective rights has never been easy, and it's about to get a lot harder. Up till now we've struggled with the limits of free speech against hate/slanderous/rebellious speech. Religious freedom vs freedom from religion. Privacy vs sharing information to plan social spending. It goes on and on.

Recently we cracked the human genome, though we're still working on actually understanding exactly how much of a role genes have in determining what diseases we will get, our lifespan, our intelligence, and even our behaviours. Costs for sequencing a genome are falling at a rate that makes Moore's Law look like a slowpoke. Even now, anybody that really wants it can get their DNA sequenced. There are some useful things they can learn from this. Soon, I suspect every newborn will have their DNA sequenced at birth. (Child support laws will never be the same.)

We already suspect that we might be able to prevent the onset of some diseases, and may be able to mitigate or delay the effects of others, and we'll only get better at it. We will be able to better match tissue sample for organ transplants, and we are on the verge of growing new organs on demand. It may be that a full understanding of our genetic code may dramatically increase our lifespan.

However, there is a downside. Lets look at alcoholism for example. There is much research trying to determine of much our genetic heritage contributes to alcoholism, how it contributes to the vulnerability of of our organs to alcoholism, and how much is learned behaviour from our parents or other adults. So far, research indicates there is no one "alcoholic gene", but rather a complex mix of genetic factors that appear to be contributing to the disease.

Let's imagine for a moment that researchers figure it out, and come to understand that a particular genetic make up contributes in a certain way to a person becoming an alcoholic. Maybe not with certainty, but a strong understanding. Now what do we do with that information? From sequencing a newborn's genome we find out that they have this genetic vulnerability. Do we tell them or their parents? I would assume so, but then how much control do we put on that kid when they become a teenager and want to start drinking, just like their buddies?

One alcoholic told me he became an alcoholic the afternoon he took his first drink. One drink. He couldn't stop. If someone knew they had say, a 75% chance of becoming an alcoholic on that first drink, based on a genetic test, would they take that drink? (Yeah, I know. Teenagers. Duh.) Given the consequences of alcoholism to themselves and their families, to say nothing of the innocent people in the oncoming car, do we have the right to stop them from taking that first drink? And if so, how?

Now that you've digested that, lets go onto a hard one. Lets assume that the cost of sequencing DNA becomes so cheap that it's a routine test as part of an annual physical. You and your sweetie want to get married and have children. Some research tech somewhere takes a look at both your DNA structures, and starts testing for genetic defects in the combinations of your DNA. (It's only computer time, after all, and if we don't set computers to tasks like this they start thinking about taking over the world.) Then they find that your children will almost certainly have a genetic disorder. Maybe it's something trivial, like colour blindness. Or maybe it's something much more serious, like Hemophilia, or Sickle-Cell disease. Maybe it's something quickly fatal, like Tay-Sachs disease.

Where do you draw the line? Is a 25% chance of your child having Tay-Sachs enough to prevent you from having children altogether? Should society prevent you? Is a 50% chance that they will carry the genes to potentially pass to your grandchildren enough? Who decides? Does it matter if the family is wealthy and lives in the USA where you can have all the health care you can pay for? Does it matter if the family lives in a socialized medical system where we all share the costs? Does that give the rest of us a say in what genetic conditions are brought into the world?

Suppose we find the medical techniques to prevent or cure Tay-Sachs, is it then right to cure all those with the condition? A few years ago I would have said yes, without question, but then I discovered Deaf Culture, and the debate about Cochlear Implants. I was astonished to learn that some parents of deaf children saw that implant as an assault on their culture, and did not allow the operation. It taught me that things are more complicated than we think.

That hypothetical cure for Tay-Sachs, what if that knowledge also enabled us to "cure" other genetic "disorders". Who gets to define which genetic issues are "disorders" and get treated. Suppose that that person or committee has a thing for blue eyes, and decides that everyone should have blue eyes? Or that red hair is the mark of Satan? Or that everybody should be 1.75 m tall, plus or minus a few cm?

Who would have thought that sound waves would have led to a huge population imbalance? I'm talking about ultrasound. A medical technique designed for any number of legitimate purposes is now often used to determine gender. In some parts of the world that leads to daughters being aborted. I can't imagine what they think they are doing; if everybody is wanting sons, who are those boys going to marry and how will you have grandchildren? If we knew this would happen, should we have restricted the medical technology to places where it would be used for a benign purposes? Alas, that genie is out of the bottle.

What will it do for human society if we can fairly easily learn that having children with one particular partner leads to them having a shorter lifespan than having them with a different partner? What happens when the insurance companies get their money mongering paws on your genetic information, and know more about what diseases you'll get than you do? What if part of getting life insurance involves submitting a genetic sample? What happens to the whole concept of medical insurance?

Many people think that having more information is better than having less. Maybe so, in some cases, but until we learn how to evaluate that flood of information, it's a mixed blessing at best. A little while ago I listened to a breast cancer specialist talking about preventing breast cancer. For years they thought that better images was the solution. Then they realized that better images gave them more information than they could cope with. Those two tumors that are almost, but not quite identical have very different pathologies, but it takes an expert to determine which is which. And there are all the new things the image finds, someone has to determine if those tiny irregularities are cancerous or what. With more detail it takes longer to make an assessment. Meanwhile, some poor woman who felt a lump is walking around wondering when they will call her with the results. Very recently, medical associations have announced that at least some of the screening that is happening now shouldn't be done anymore, and the screaming about this has only begun.

Our growth in knowledge is outstripping our ability to cope with it. Any doctor working full time, and they count themselves lucky if that's all they work, simply cannot keep up with advances in their field. Yet someone with Multiple Sclerosis goes to see them and wants that surgery they heard about. Odds are the doctor may have heard of Dr. Zamboni, since he's been in the news, but probably doesn't know the details. Multiply that by the advances in the research on innumerable diseases and conditions.

It's certainly clear to me that our medical system cannot go on the way it is now. I've no real idea what it needs to look like, but one thing I do know for certain. Hang onto your hats, it's going to be a wild ride. I hope within my lifetime to read the headline, "Everything we know about medicine is wrong."

Would you get your DNA sequenced, why, and what would you do with that knowledge?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

movie and good bike

Actually, the movie isn't of a good bike ride. When I got up the dawn was looking really nice so I set up my phone for a time lapse. This one isn't what you'd call dramatic, though the colours of the sunrise are pretty good. The clouds are ok, but there is lots of other stuff happening. The shadow of the streetlamp makes a great hour glass. There are interesting reflections, some of which I understand, and some I don't. There is snow melting, and people walking by. At one point a city truck pulls up, and a couple people cover over some graffiti on the street lamps. Enjoy




While it was going I was on my bike, pedaling hard. This was one of the best bike workouts I've ever had. You have no idea how good this feels after the many crappy workouts last year. Here's the highlights:
45 minutes at 1.8 w per goal kg, at 85 rpm. Breathing good and steady. Mid zone 3 or so.
15 minutes at 2.0 wat 83 rpm. This is working a little harder, but still aerobic. I'm not sure how much more I could have gone.
5 minutes at 2.3 w at 90 rpm. This is getting into zone 4 and I was beginning to feel the burn a little.

In between all that was some speed work and focus on smoothing out the jiggles at 120 rpm. Total of 2.5 hrs.

I've looked at the video a couple of times more. I really should wash the outside of that window, and tilt the camera up and face a bit more south.

Now, before the sunlight goes entirely, it's BBQ time! And wine, though not sure which one.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I think that's single longest blogging break for me

Monday since I last blogged. That's a long time for me. On average, over 1489 days, I've blogged every 1.4 days. Well, 1.41271347 days, if you want to get picky. Don't make me go to hours, minutes, and seconds. I've got a calculator and know how to use it.

Tuesday was a wipe out. I came home. I ate. I went to bed. I snored, or so I'm told. I am dubious.

Wednesday was yoga, and I was looking forward to it. Often we are dragging our tails before class, but we go because we've paid in advance, and we know we'll feel better after. And we usually do. About half way through class I totally lost focus. It was right in the middle of this long asana. Not hard, but it just went on forever. Personally, I think our teacher put an extra loop in there. I went from doing yoga, and working the poses, to just looking like I was doing the poses. If you've done yoga for a while you know what I mean.

Thursday I did a bit of stretching and got on my bike.
30 minutes warmup with some fast spin, and focus pedaling drill.
30 minutes at 1.9 w @88 rpm, quite steady, focussing on smooth and steady pedaling, trying to keep my upper body still, and my breathing quiet. It mostly worked, though towards the end I was starting to breath harder. It was never out of control although I was sweating like mad. There was a steady drip off my face.
10 minutes easy and some fast spin
5 minutes at 2.1 w @85 rpm, and that was starting to get out of hand right at the very end, so I picked it up for the last 15 seconds.
15 minutes cool down and easy spin. Stretched after.

I'm really happy with that. Since I got the power meter I've been a lot more focussed about the effort I'm putting in, and I think I've made some improvement even in the short time I've had it.

Not that I talk about work much, but holy cow. It's really hitting the fan. The end of the year is coming fast. Many people that have been head down shoveling for all they are worth for a while now are beginning to surface. (I'm one of them. I actually had time today to tidy my desk, in anticipation of another flurry of stuff.) Others have made some terrible discoveries, and I hope it all works out ok.

And speaking of terrible discoveries, I found out today there are still people so rude and ignorant as to smoke a cigar on a public street. I got a lung full and nearly spewed right then and there. Cigarette smoke and smokers are bad, but this was horrible.

I didn't hear all of it, but CBC sent a 17 year old girl into various convenience stores to buy cigarettes. At 5 out of 10 places they didn't even checked her ID, and at another 2 places checked her ID (her real ID), and then sold her the cigarettes anyways. Grrrr!!!!!!

The only way we are going to stop this scourge is to prevent kids from starting. I'd like to see it made uneconomic to sell tobacco products in anything but a specialty store. This should be easy with business tax regulation. Want to sell tobacco? Pay the current tax. Want to sell any of the other many other products and services on the market? Pay the current business taxes. Want to sell tobacco AND any of the other non-tobacco related stuff? Pay double, or more. Make the specialty store check the ages of purchasers. Register purchasers with the government and tie our health care benefits to smoking or the lack thereof.

I see no reason why it shouldn't be made a restricted product, and made considerably harder to get. In fact, the same rules about selling booze should apply to selling cigarettes. After an educational period to publicize the rules, whacking huge fines should go into effect, for both the clerk and the store owner.

I worked in a Mac's Milk store when I was in high school, and remember a pack of cigarettes costing much less than a dollar. People used to say they'd quit if they got to a dollar, then 2 dollars. I've no real idea what they cost now, but there are still lots of people smoking. I suspect the price has already weeded out everyone that it's going to weed out.

I'm not sure why people start smoking. Maybe it's the cool, or rebellious thing to do. Or they do it because their parents do it. There needs to be a campaign to tell kids not just that it's stupid to smoke, but THEY are stupid to be smoking. People need to point and laugh at smokers. Just like they sometimes put a smashed up bloody car in front of the high school to warn about the dangers of drunk driving, they ought to be plopping a cancer ridden lung on the desk for the kids to look at. Show them video of medical operations dealing with cancerous growths. If the kids aren't throwing up, we need to find more graphic videos. I'd like to see the little camera in the fiber optic cable going down the airway of these kids, and showing them the difference between the kid that doesn't smoke, and the one that has just started.

Land that will grow tobacco can probably grow other crops. I wonder what incentives would be required to encourage land owners to plant those other crops? That has to be cheaper than medical care for all the smokers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ineffectual fluke waving

That was me in the pool today. I'm glad it was almost empty, so nobody could see how slow I was swimming. If that's what you want to call it. Or how little of it I did before hitting the hot tub. That's what I get for not swimming for almost two months. Still, the first time is always the hardest. I love the hot tub at Renfrew.

Spin this evening for 1.5 hrs. Mainly working on 90 rpm or so, trying for a reasonable watt output, but not trying to kill my legs. Stretched after, and did a little bit of core.

I was a total slacker yesterday, with IMAZ on in the background I mainly read and surfed all day. After sleeping in, and before going to bed early.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It was easier to keep going

Some of you may have noticed my comments are looking a bit different. I had always liked how Wordpress did comments, with the ability to reply. Then Leana found Disqus. There was a brief moment of panic during installation, in that I thought my existing comments had all gone to Never-Never Land. But all was well.

Mostly I'm liking it, especially being able to reply to comments. Most of the time the indenting shows which is a reply. When I reply on the computer, I show as Keithcartmell since that's what I gave as my ID. But when I reply on my iPad, even if I'm logged in, I have to use my email address, so I show up as keith. Or as Disqus. I have to put in my name and password for each comment. I'll have to work on that a bit more. Maybe Disqus isn't as iPad friendly as it could be.

There have been a couple of times where the indenting hasn't worked, but that could have been my bad in replying. It offers lots of choices about comment controls, profile management, and letting you know who is commenting. There's probably other things it will do that I haven't discovered yet.

I was feeling a little bit creaky this morning. Not sure why I didn't sleep well. We had a lazy Saturday morning, though it was a bit frosty getting the morning papers. I wasn't sure what I was going to do for a spin session, even as I was getting on the bike.

It turned out to be:
20 minutes warmup, including one leg drill and a bit of speed work
10 minutes 1.7+ w @ 85 rpm, getting a nice sweat and completing my warmup
3 minutes easy
25 minutes 1.9 w @ 85 rpm. This was one gear harder, and I got totally into the groove.
7 minutes easy, mopping off all the sweat
5 minutes 2.2 to 2.3 w @ 85, one gear harder.
5 minutes easy
15 minutes 1.8 to 1.9 w at 90 rpm
15 easy spin and cool down.

That 25 minute segment? It went by in a flash. I've had this swimming, where I'm in the groove, and it's easier to keep going than to stop. That's what it was like here. I didn't know how long I could maintain that power output, but was hoping for 10 to 15 minutes. But at that point I was wondering why I should stop, so I didn't. This is a first for being on the bike. Sweating hard, standing every now and then, breathing good. Legs felt great. Progress is happening. Love it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

First tusk pic of the winter

Here's the weather page when I started my run.

I would have thought it a bit warmer than that, but ended up dressing just about right, or maybe slightly on the warm side. There was just a skiff of snow on the ground, not even 1 cm. Very little wind.

I had a nice run, going one hour, covering 8.85 K. Started really easy, took about 15 minutes to warm up, ran 2 parts quite a bit quicker, really working on turnover and trying to stretch out my stride a bit. Ran the last bit easy to cool down a little. It was a super nice night for a run, just as the sun was setting.

Cool down is tricky at these temperatures. This isn't particularly cold, but when you're wet and it's dry out, it's easy to get a chill. Stretched afterward, and did the feet in the air thing for quite a while.

Linda had made a wonderful lamb stew, with yams in it. (Control yourself Julie!) That and a glass of wine, followed by some cookies were a great post run meal.

This was the first cool/brisk run of the winter, and I hope it's the first of many more. Oh, and I almost forgot. Here's the obligatory tusk picture. I've had better.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hastyzzzzzz

A quickie tonight. First, last night. So much fun with these people.



No need to name names. If you know their names, you know who they are, and if you don't, telling you their names won't help. At least 4 of them are famous. You are looking at about 2 dozen Ironman race finishes here. Sorry about the poor quality, I'd forgotten to turn the flash on, and had to play with the photo a bit. We were at the Highwood for dinner. So yummy!

I was nicely full after. Rack of Lamb was pretty good, but I can do better on my own BBQ. The other courses were super. Duck foi gras. mmmmmm. There was so much chitchat and laughing and having a good time. Slept like a rock once I got home.

Tonight I'd planned to get on the bike, but we were late getting home. Plus it was so weird. My office recently has been just the right temperature, or even slightly warmer. Nice. Today mid afternoon, I started feeling cold. I wrapped my scarf around my neck, and was thinking about putting on a sweater. I was feeling a bit headachy, and just wanted to end the day.

So when I finally did get home, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to spin, and I didn't. I had some comfort food, tried to give our cat a lap and WAS SPURNED by the rotten mammal. Washed dishes and knowing my faithful audience was waiting eagerly for me, pounded out this blog. It's about 8:10, and in about 10 minutes I'm going to be in bed.

Calgary is going into the deep freeze for the first time this winter. Check out THIS forecast you temperature weenies! -20 C is -4 F. And that's the HIGH.



I'm planning to run tomorrow. I'll post a photo of the 'mo tusks, if they develop properly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I've missed the ice and snow

I like running in the snow. There. I've said it out loud in front of everyone. Why? Because if there's snow it's cool out, so overheating typically isn't a problem. Plus, the possibility of ice hiding under the snow that your neighbour's haven't shoveled off the sidewalk means you have to run well.

I like snow anyways. Not so much the idiot drivers that can't cope, but I don't blame snow for that. Sunny but cool days (say 0 to -10 C) are perfect for so many outdoor things in the winter. I'm going to try to get outside for more of them this year. Snowshoeing for sure, though I've been saying that for a couple of years.

If you run by sticking your leg way out in front, or with great long loping strides by pushing off with your toes, you're going to have a problem with ice. The trick to it is to land with your foot squarely under your centre of balance, and pick it up as your centre of balance moves forward. You have to be aware of your balance and posture. You have to be controlled, but relaxed and ready for anything. In short, you have to pay attention.

Tonight I went out for an easy run, the equivalent of an easy spin on the bike. I wanted to keep my turnover fast, and my feet light. I kept my breathing easy, and wasn't working too hard. Because of the possibility of icy sidewalks and crosswalks in the dark, I was running like every step was on ice.

There was some stretching and joint warmup, then 45 minutes easy running, and a few minutes walking to cool down. A little more stretching after. It was nice out, maybe -8 C (18 F) with very little wind. Long sleeved tech shirt and a light jacket, toque, and gloves.

No yoga tomorrow night. I'm going to play with some of the buttons at the bottom of the blog to see what happens.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fate

The snow finally arrived. Well, sort of. I missed it falling, though I heard about it from co-workers. Not much snow, all things considered, a cm max on the driveway. So little that I didn't even count shoveling it as part of the workout.

I got on the bike a little bit later than anticipated, side tracked by blogs, and writing a really long, really creative comment. Blogger and the stupid character limit on comments totally broke the flow and made me post it in two parts. So if I don't win, I'll blame Blogger for breaking the mood.

One the bike. 20 minute warm up. 2x10 min at 1.9 watts, with 5 minutes easy in between. 15 minute cool down. Felt great!

I've been thinking about the life map metaphor I brought up a few blogs ago. We go through life blithely making decisions as best we can on incomplete knowledge. Some of them we recognize as big decisions at the time, and some not. Sometimes small things have big consequences that we only understand in hindsight. Once you get to a certain age you start thinking about the what ifs'. You might be perfectly satisfied with how things have turned out, and still wonder about those paths you didn't take.

Life is so fragile. There are so many ways we can die, and that's in modern day North America, which is one of the safest societies ever to exist. Sometimes, even worse, is almost dying. Lingering on in a coma, or after a bad stroke, to become mentally incapacitated in any number of ways, to become a prisoner of the medical system seems almost worse than dying. I earnestly hope when my time comes that it's quick and painless.

The medieval Norse society had a strong belief in fate, that our destiny was decided by forces beyond our control. Twist and turn as you might, you couldn't escape your fate. Oddly enough, this did not lead to a passive acceptance. They took the attitude that if you're going to bite something, bite deep. This led to great ferocity in battle, under the assumption that if it was your time, it would happen, and if not it didn't matter what risks you took.

I sometimes wonder about this. Are there other possible worlds where people very like me are living lives perhaps very like mine, or perhaps very different? Are there worlds where different decisions led to different lives, or do we share the same fate? I think about that poor woman who was killed under the wheels of a truck while riding her bike. What would have happened had she driven; would she have been run down walking from the car park to the store? Or walked the entire way; would she have had a heart attack or some other fatal accident? What about the driver of that truck? If it hadn't been her, would it have been someone else? It's a certainty they didn't plan to kill someone. Their life must be hell right now.

It hurts now to read about bike crashes, or bike collisions with cars. People have talked about getting a flat, or hitting a patch of bad pavement, or losing their concentration for a moment, with a variety of outcomes. Riders have done everything right and still been killed or injured. I've been faster than 90 Kph (56 mph) several times on my bike, and it's a complete exhilarating rush. It's also likely to be fatal, or at least extremely painful if anything goes wrong. I just make sure my bike is as mechanically sound as I can make it, and that I'm totally focussed on the task at hand.

There are many fictional stories about people being told of an outcome of an action, taking action to avoid it, and yet still succumbing. Perhaps the most famous example is A Death in Samarkand. We don't choose our lives really, we essentially make them up as we go along. And would we make better choices if we could see the future better? I don't know. Would I really get on a bike, knowing I was going to crash no matter how careful I was, and maybe also knowing I'd meet my one twue wuve (per the bishop in Princess Bride)  during physiotherapy? What if I was already married? Or would you get on the bike knowing that the training would take you to the age group podium at Kona (or the Boston Marathon, or whatever) but you die young alone and childless because you didn't go for a walk instead of the bike ride, and therefore never met that right person who would take of you?

So many choices. Maybe it's better we make them blind, and don't know about the other choices turn out. All I know is that my choices so far have led me to a life that I'm enjoying. And appreciating my good fortune, because there are sure some times it was that and not good management on my part. I've done some very stupid things in my life, but that's another blog.

What are your thoughts about fate, or Fate? Have you been lucky and you know it? Whats the story there?


Saturday, November 12, 2011

A brief moment of panic

The much anticipated snow never arrived. It was a actually a nice morning, though it clouded over during my spin session. I was down into the basement in good time, after coffee, newspaper, and breakfast.

Easy warmup for 20 minutes. I've pretty well got myself calibrated on watts, and this was to test it out. The watt numbers are watts per Kg for my goal weight.
20 minutes at 1.7. Breathing easy, legs liking it, heart rate low 120's, light sweat. The limiter here is how long my butt will hold out. 5 minutes easy pedal.
15 minutes at 1.8 Working harder, heart rate high 120's, moderate sweat. Could have gone longer. 5 minutes easy.
10 minutes at 1.9. Working hard, not quite maintaining 1.9, breathing fairly hard, legs feeling it, sweating a lot. 5 minutes easy
10 minutes at 1.8, having to concentrate on staying up to the mark, then 5 easy
10 minutes at 1.7, feeling relaxed, legs feeling tired.
15 minutes easy spin cool down.

That should be 2 hours of good solid bike workout. You have no idea how happy I am about this, after so many crappy painful bike workouts last year.

I've noticed it doesn't take much variation in cadence to produce a bit of a swing in the watt numbers. Keeps me honest. My plans now will have the warmup building up to 1.5 watts or so, with the last bit at 1.7. Then get stuck into learning to put out 1.8 watts consistently, with some time at 1.8 and 2.0 to build intensity.

I really appreciate reader comments, and have been responding to them more by commenting myself. However, the original blogger format just sucks for that. Leana (note the new URL) found Disqus, which is essentially a comment engine that plugs into many blog platforms. It looked neat so I installed it. The brief moment of panic was when it looked like all my comments had been eaten, but there is an import feature that took about 15 minutes to run. So you can look for me to respond to all comments now.

Thanks for the comments on my foot question, if you haven't commented yet, feel free to do so.

It looks like I had to open up comments to everyone to have it work properly, so I may have to start filtering out the spam again. I think I've got it set that people can flag suspected spam, and it sends me an email.

Oh, and here's a recent sunrise, just because.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Feet. Toes. A question.

I consider myself fairly body aware, in terms of how I'm feeling during a workout. I can usually tell my heart rate within a few bpm, and I'll know a run time to less than a minute either way. But every now and then, something sneaks up on me.

When I bought the most recent pair of shoes I noticed that the middle pad of my left foot seemed a bit tender. I just assumed it was getting used to new padding in the shoe, or that the padding was a fraction thicker than in the old shoe. My shoes are quiet loosely laced. Since then I've noticed my left toes do not like being curled down towards the sole of my foot. I nearly shrieked one night at yoga when we were doing the roll the toes under the foot thing because I hadn't expected it to hurt that much.

It doesn't bother me to bike or run. I can put all my weight on that foot, even raising my heel and standing on the balls of my feet, though if I go high enough the left starts to complain about it. I can poke quite hard at various places on the middle pad of my foot, and I would describe the sensation as uncomfortable or tender, but not as shooting pain.

Before my run today I spent a bit of time warming up my ankle and foot, exploring what ached, and the limits of motion. I found it hurts more on the top of my foot, right here.



Sorry if I've set off anyone with a foot fetish there. That toe and the next smaller one are very sensitive right there. There's a few sensitive spots further up the foot as well. Has anyone ever had this sort of thing? Any suggestions as to what it might be? I figured as long as I could run and bike, and there wasn't any actual pain, it couldn't be anything too serious. I thought maybe I'd strained something. But it's been a while without improvement, so I think the time has come to start doing something about it.

As I said, before my run I warmed up my ankles and feet much more than usual, and stretched a bit. I started easy and fell into the groove fairly quickly. It was nice out for running, maybe 4 or 5 C (40 F) and I ran my C shaped route out to Anderson and Wood something. It's 5.5 K. Running easy, mid zone 3 or so, but not working too hard, it was 34 minutes out, and 36 minutes back, running a bit easier as I got sloppier. Lots of thinking about form during the last part of the run. I'd get into the groove for a little bit, and fall out again. Much of the time my feet and legs felt light and happy.

All that was after a busy morning. My brother and I had arranged a FaceTime chat since he just got a new iPad. That part worked just fine. Our friend Vicky showed up during the call to drive out to the Millarville Art Market with Linda. My phone rang during the chat, and I ignored it, but it turned out to be the furnace guy. We asked them to come over to check out some fan vibration. He was phoning to see if he could come earlier, and he ended up arriving at the same time as Vicky. So I ended up cutting my call with my brother short. We'll have to try that again.

Turns out the brand new furnace has a fan that is out of balance and they have to replace it. The first time it fired up with the guy there he was shaking his head, saying it was noisier than it should be, and I was telling him this was quiet. So that has to get done when the part comes in next week.

Since I'd already had to set up FaceTime I spent part of the afternoon going in and updating software, and playing with settings to better reflect what I'm doing with my iStuff. I'm trying to fix a problem with Mail logging out on my main computer whenever I check my mail on the iPad or iPhone.

Dinner was a simple affair, pasta and wine. Yes. We are settled in for the evening, waiting for it to start snowing. Tomorrow we don't have to go anywhere.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sleep sweet sleep

I was more than a little cranky on Tuesday because of work. Still, I had a really nice run, and headed off to bed at a reasonable hour. I was up a couple hours later, thinking about work. A couple things with work. One of which was really annoying me, and another that I couldn't figure out what I was going to do about it, and another thing that is out of my control but affects me.

At least I gave a cat a lap for hours, as I read and surfed the internet. About 4 I turned the light off and snoozed in the chair, only to be woken up at 5 by a puking cat. It was a really long day at work, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Good coffee, and a really good home made carrot cake made me feel better.

Still, the day lasted a really long time. I wasn't really in the mood to go to Yoga, but we did anyways. I was a total slacker through it. I fell asleep sitting up during the meditation, then again during Savasana. Linda says I snored gently, but she wasn't sure it was me. I won't deny it, but at least nobody else complained. I went to bed nearly instantly after getting home, and slept like a rock.

Thursday was a slow start because I was still sleepy. I could have rolled over and slept more. At least it was a quiet day at work. And so warm out! I was putting on my scarf and jacket when someone told me it was 12 C (53 F)out, and I'd look like a wimp walking down the street as if it was winter or something. It supposed to be warm tomorrow as well, so I might be able to run in shorts and a tech shirt. In mid November people! What's not to like about Calgary?

Once home I nibbled a little bit, put on a DVD, and hopped on my bike. I'd been feeling a little creaky so I did a good warmup gradually building. Then into a 25 minute set at a steady cadence and watt output, with only one short break standing to stretch my legs a bit. Then some easy spin and cool down, for a 1.25 hr ride. Stretched a little bit after.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First run in the dark in a long time

Except it wasn't really dark at all. There's a nearly full moon in a cloudless sky. But I still dug out my reflective vest, and wore a white toque. I was trying to think of the last time I ran in the dark. It might have been March 2010, but was probably January 2009. I've missed it. Running in the moonlight is peaceful and calming. It's quiet. There aren't many people around, and fewer dogs. It's all good.

The only other runner I saw had a headlamp, but was dressed completely in black. I think they're missing a bet. I'd far rather have other people able to see me from lots of reflective stuff, than rely on one little light.

Plus it was nice and warm, right on 0 C. (I hope I don't have to tell anyone that's 32 F.) I started easy, trying to convince my lungs to open up and breathe. My back is kind of cranky today; I've been hunching over at work, which I do when I'm really concentrating on stuff. Crunch time is coming.

Once I got going, the going got good. I ran down into Fish Creek, where it really came together from the bottom of the 37 St hill, to the bottom of the 24 St hill. That felt smooth and effortless, breathing well, and it seemed like I was running really fast. It ended up averaging 7 minute per K pace, which seems about right.

The point was to run easy and get the creakies out, so mission accomplished.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Short and sweet

Easy spin, 45 minutes. Just enough to sweat lightly. Concentrating on round and round.

Then some good stretching and core stuff. No plank or pushups so don't get too excited. One has to work up to these things. All in good time.

The carrot cake Linda made is really good.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

JL is back!!!

Yes I am excited about that. You would be too.

My book at the moment is The Cat's Table, by Michael Ondaatje. When I decided to read it I found it for two very, very different prices. $25 something via the e-Google bookstore, and $9 something from Amazon/Kindle. Guess which I bought. No need for a question mark on that sentence. This is the first real reading experience on the iPad, and I'm liking it. I can't really read it standing up on the train the way I see people with Kindle's or Nooks, or the other readers. I'm enjoying the book.

One of the things he said when talking about a painting, is a reference to a map of a person's life, seen before they lived it. This concept quite struck me, being phrased that way. It is common to speculate about the future of a person, or the road they've traveled, but I had never really thought of expressing a person's life journey as a map. What landmarks would be on it? What unexpected twists and turns would there be? What little incidents would be marked that seem like nothing at the time, but turn out to be important later?

This is one of the reasons I like reading so much. I like to be exposed to different world-views and different viewpoints. Another reason is that nobody can live long enough, or possibly survive all the mistakes that can be made, so reading about the mistakes of others can enable one to avoid them. Some writers have a way with dialogue and words that makes your brain happy when you read them.

I was up early this morning, and was reading while it was still dark out. This probably led to a more meditative frame of mind than usual. I got thinking about what the map of my life so far might look like, and what's to come. I don't regret the choices I've made, but there are a couple of points where things could have gone very differently, and I sometimes wonder how they would have turned out.

As it started to get brighter out I looked out, and ran outside with the phone for these two photos. They are even better than seeing it for real, what with the camera seeing things a little differently than a human eye. Again, totally untouched from the camera to your eyes.



Shortly after I stretched and dressed for a run in -10 C (14 F) weather. It's clear and cool, so a nice day for a run. My feet felt a bit heavy at first, and it seemed my lungs were working harder than I expected. Mostly I chugged along, enjoying being outside. Toward the end my legs felt better and wanted to run faster. For a little bit I tried to stretch out by leaning forward. It was ok, but I ran out of lungs way too quickly. Walked to cool down, and stretched after. Only 35 minutes running, though as I'm writing this my legs want to go for another run.

The high point of my day is finding out that my massage therapist JL is back till next May! Well, not back in Calgary, but in Drayton Valley. She is planning to come down to Calgary every month or so and do a bunch of massages. I will eagerly accommodate her schedule. I'm very happy with how she works on me. There was lots of creaky and sore bits today, and it feels great afterward. I had first thought that she was just back for a short visit, but no, her life has changed a bit, so it will be 6 months here, and 6 back home. Now, I just need to figure out what to do for massage next summer, but at least now I have lots of time to think about it. Her phone number? Eh? What's that you say? I can't hear you.

While she was working on me, the most amazing smells were percolating into the room. Linda had baked cookies, was working on a carrot cake, and had popped dinner into the oven. Just before I started writing I took the pottery dish out of the oven. I won't tell you what's in there right now, otherwise we'd have a lot more people for dinner. You'll have to tune into tomorrow's blog.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

This. That. Resonance. Sympathetic vibrations.

Several photos for your enjoyment, one of them the problem (this) and one being the solution (that). I thought I'd let you guys decide which is which in the comments. On the way home Friday we stopped by the Superstore to buy the only things we buy there. Dark chocolate chunks, and hazelnuts. So here's all the photos from the last couple days.








The morning started well, not rushing the get out of bed thing. I slept in till about 7, which is very late for me. From there I was moderately brisk about doing some stretches and getting on the bike. A few Facebook friends noticed and I got a couple nice comments there. Thanks guys!

30 minute warmup, gradually increasing spin speed and effort, and including (gasp) one leg drill.
then 3 sets:
15 minutes at 1.7 to 1.8 watts per goal kg,
10 minutes at 1.8 to 1.9
and 20 minutes at 1.7 or so.
These felt strong, with my breathing easy, heart rate a bit higher than expected, and legs feeling good. Sweating a bucket, as you can see in the one photo. In between was some easy pedal, some standing, and some fast spin. My old bike computer topped out at 199 cadence, and I was sure I was going faster than that, and sure enough, I can! Briefly. Yay me. Finished up with 10 minutes easy spin to cool down and stopped at 2 hours. I thought of going longer, but decided not.

My legs felt a little clunky to start, not sure why. It seemed like the left crank was longer than the right one. I've been noticing that I've got a rough spot right around 120 rpm. The bike shakes a bit and there's something about the resonance that gets the little bit of back fat I have jiggling. It used to be front fat, leg fat, calf fat, arm fat that all jiggled, so there's been some improvement. I spent some time there working to smooth it out. Spent lots of time during the main sets trying to go round and round.

Overall this was a good solid spin session. Stretched a bit after, and walked the scenic route to the 7-11 for the morning papers. I was thinking about going for a run, but will probably do that tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to a massage tomorrow, since JL is back from New Brunswick on a visit!

We had one of those energy audit's done a little while ago. You have to do this to qualify for the rebates. Good thing we'd already planned to replacing the furnace, since that was the single biggest thing we could have done. The furnace is all installed and passed the City inspection on Friday. We're going to be looking at replacing the outside doors next, to get something that looks a little nicer and seals a little better. Anybody have any recent experience with getting doors installed in Calgary? Who did you use?

One of the issues is that the vapour barrier in the basement just sucks, and has since the house was built. Several cats that liked to leap up there didn't help. Paying someone to do this is expensive since it's fussy work. I bought some of the vapour barrier material, and a few other supplies, and got started today. It's a bit more of an adventure than I thought it would be, but there were no injuries. I think I'm going to take it slow and steady, try to get several done every weekend and gradually work my way through them. Some of them are going to be very difficult to get at because of all the crap we have piled up down in the basement.

You can see the first couple that I did. Not as neat as I'd like, but I"ll get better. With any luck the ones visible to anyone going downstairs will be much better. Not that any one will look at that, when there is wine and books to be looked at.

So, which photo is the problem, and which is the solution?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Well, that went off the rails but produced a new word

Thursday after work was my ART therapy appointment. My knee is feeling rock solid these days, but I like to get it checked every now and then just to be sure I haven't done anything to it as I build effort and training time. So far so good. There were some minor clicks in my knees and ankles as he worked on them.

His appointment usually also includes a bit of adjustment for my back and hips, since there is some tightness and stuff that contributed to the knee injury. I have trouble relaxing for this, which makes it harder, and leads into a spiral that doesn't go anywhere good. What he does typically leaves me not wanting to run, or do anything afterward. Which is ok.

Friday was a bit of a slackasserization though. Let's see what happened. Thursday at work was actually pretty productive, as was Friday morning. The big secret was bailing on a bunch of meetings, and getting stuck into some process diagrams and documents. Then Friday afternoon was working (playing) with SJ to set up a SharePoint site for our team. I know the process, and she knows SharePoint better than I do. So we've been putting it together, and we're in geek heaven as we try to bend SharePoint to our will. I actually stayed at work longer than I intended because it was so much fun. (Yes, I know, you don't have to say it.)

Here, let me get you a cold compress and a nice cup of tea to recover from the shock.

Then I come home to a dinner of duck breast on a bed of wild rice with a sauce of something that would make cardboard edible. And wine, let's not forget that. Then when I settled into my chair to finish my glass of wine, our cat hopped into my lap and settled in. Plus I had my iPad to hand, and next thing I know it's almost bedtime, and the important thing not done.

I refer to blogging, of course. Much of my steam has been robbed by a one MG as he posted a provocative thing on Facebook about the medical system. I got the wind up and barfed out a bunch of stuff. It isn't up to my usual standard, but I think I'll post it here, completely sans context, though I'm not sure it qualifies as a rant.

I have ideas about the medical system. Some have been on my blog. The biggest single thing is to stop the doctors from being the choke point to the system. We need to have someone like a registered nurse, but not exactly, set up in strip malls everywhere, more common than 7-11 and Subway combined. Every adult that wants to get medical services registers to one convenient to their work or home. At regular intervals, say monthly or bi monthly, a person drops in. They get weighed, blood pressure done, look in eyes ears and throat. Breasts and balls (depending on which you have) palpitated. A sample of blood is taken and sent for analysis of lab tests appropriate for that person. The intent is to build a history of what is normal for that person, and to catch changes early. Really early. When something changes that person is the gatekeeper to see the appropriate specialist. The key of the whole system is to prevent disease from happening, to treat it while it's small. In a truly connected world, it wouldn't matter which one you went to, your medical records would follow you everywhere. Make an appointment, or drop in.

The system shouldn't have to seek permissions for organ donations. If a person meets some standard criteria for brain death, whatever organs can be salvaged for transplant should be harvested and used. That person doesn't need them anymore. I don't accept that religious objections should prevent saving someone's life.

There ought to be major tax breaks to encourage people to be healthy. Say, oh, I don't know, completing an Ironman before the cutoff should be good for taking $1,000 off your taxes for that year. Every person should get a medical statement every year, showing what they used in medical services, compared to the average.

I'm not sure I accept that the elderly are the biggest driver of health care costs. After all, there aren't that many of them. But there are a lot of people in their 40's and 50's with expensive diseases like diabetes and cancer. I'd want to see the numbers. At some point we have to draw the line and say we aren't going to do massive intervention to save lives. The focus should become managing pain and dying with at least some shreds of dignity.

Another thing driving the medical system, (no pun intended) is automobile collisions. There are no accidents. None. There is only driver error, for all intents and purposes. The exceptions are a trivial number. We should be treating these collisions like airplane crashes, to determine exactly why, lay blame, and assess costs. Some people should be insuranced out of driving because they are bad drivers and a hazard to the rest of us. This distracted driving law is nonsense. Really, they should just say that if the cell phone records show you were driving while using the cell phone the insurance companies need not cover you, and you become fully liable for all costs of any accident you caused, even if technically it's the other person's fault. Everybody ought to be getting a drivers test every 5 years. Defensive driving refresher courses ought to be mandatory every 10 years. Let's use this computer simulation technology.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hard ride followup

As you will recall I pushed the spin a bit yesterday, working pretty hard for a short ride. It took a little while to drop off to sleep, but then I was out like a light. This morning I could feel it in my hip flexors, and oddly enough, in the ball of my left foot. That foot has been a bit stiff and tight lately.

I discovered this during yoga a couple weeks ago when we did the pose where you stand on one foot, and slowly roll your toes under the other foot and lift up so the stretch curls your toes under. That actually almost hurt. Which means I should do it more.

After work (another brutal day, in case you were wondering, and thanks for asking) I was almost thinking about going for a run, but restrained myself. I could still feel those hip flexors, and hoped that yoga class would have something for that. It did.

Our regular teacher was off doing whatever it is that yoga teachers do when they skip class. Our sub teacher had us doing some different stuff, which was very refreshing, including one good stretch for the hip flexors. Very good.

You may note some new people in my blogroll. So far I haven't trimmed many people off the bottom of the list, but it is getting long, and at some point, one has to assume that they've given up on blogging. I'm thinking about some changes to the blog, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Slutty Girls!

I realize that title is the kiss of death for many blogs, but I'm running a wholesome family blog here, right? Right? Ah, guys, wholesome family rated blog, yes? Ah Sheesh. No way I can compete with SUAR in the poop department, and I KNOW you aren't coming here for my good looks. Maybe it's the rants.

Last night was All Hallow's Eve, so I was busy dealing with the little trick or treaters. There was one group that put a little song and dance routine for their trick or treat. I liked them. We had 70 kids overall, and we gave away 3 Kilo's of candy from a big plastic bucket. That's 42.85 grams per kid, but I know that a couple of kids got more and it wasn't even to the slutty girls that you perverts think would appeal to me. As I've said, to my astonishment, there weren't any of those unlike the last couple years. I'm sure that one girl was going to pick up more than candy. But there were some very cute costumes, and I rewarded them with more candy.

The kids started at 6:30 and the last were 8:30. The most popular outfits were the Scream mask, and related reaper costumes. A few kids were essentially in no costume at all, and they got hardly anything. As a workout, I'm going to count as core all the bounding to my feet to get the door. That, and trying to reassure Amelia the Cat. She spent most of the evening in the basement.

I didn't have one single piece of candy. No candy at all, not the day before, not for sampling purposes to make sure it's ok for the kids. Not the day after, since there wasn't even a lot of candy to say no to at work. The other thing there wasn't was coffee for a morning meeting. I don't know who screwed up, but there was a full SAP implementation team meeting first thing in the morning. They actually had real food there, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and hash browns in addition to the normal muffins and fruit. But they didn't have coffee. None, not till the meeting was well underway. So I don't have any idea at all what was happening then, and probably just as well.

Things went downhill after that. Yes, I know for some of you that it's inconceivable after a no coffee meeting start, but it did. So I was thoroughly grumpy when I got home, an hour later than usual. Oddly enough, this made me more determined than ever to get on my bike.

Warmup 15 minutes.
Fairly hard steady state at 1.7 to 1.8 watts x goal weight for 20 minutes. My lungs were fine, my legs were starting to get tired, and my butt was getting sore.
Easy 5 minutes
Hard 2.5 watts x goal weight for 5 minutes and working hard, relying on the tunes to pull through.
Variety easy spin and cool down 20 minutes.
Stretched a little bit. All of it felt great! And I'm in a much better mood.

Now that I've blogged, I can go cruise other blogs, and leave comments. Speaking of which, I'm announcing a new blog comment policy. My blog stats have been thoroughly fubarred by the spam bots hitting the main page dozens, even hundreds of times per day, which leaves a link in the traffic sources, hoping I'll click on it. Don't. But now I don't have even the least of ideas how many people are actually reading my blog, or any idea of what posts are popular. Not that I'm fussed about that, since I'm writing this for me, and I'm pleased it amuses other people.

So I'm really happy when people leave comments. To encourage that I will now try to respond to comments. Wordpress is better at that, but oh well. I don't promise to be immediate, and I'm sure not going to write another blog in the comments. But now you have a reason to look at the comments again, because I might be talking to YOU!

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