Saturday, June 27, 2015

24 is the number

No, not 2 dozen beer, though that would have tasted really good today. (hint.)

No, not a TV show.

Not a distance, or a time.

It seems lately the flyers are full of giant barbecues. Huge things, with a BTU rating about the same as the furnace in our house. Correspondingly expensive. Ours isn't big but get's the job done. While I was having a shady coffee this morning, I was wondering if Linda was suffering barbecue envy and was trying to encourage ours to grow.

The first lily is out. I just love this colour!

The trick to doing a long ride here is to hit the window between freezing cold and baking hot. By 8:30 today I realized I'd missed it. I still wanted to get a workout done, so running was it.

It was 24 when I started running today. At least that hot. 27 when I got back an hour later. For Calgary that is quite hot, and it's going to be hotter tomorrow. I think I will hide in the basement and do wine stuff. Mostly. The pool will feel good in the morning.

I used to turn into a puddle once the temperature got above 20 C. Then I started getting more active and gradually learned to enjoy getting sweaty. Not that there weren't some near breakdowns along the way.

Here's me fresh as a daisy at the start, and not quite so fresh afterward.

My thinking was in this heat if I did 8K I'd be pretty happy, and I sure hoped for at least 5. I turned the sound down on my phone so I wouldn't hear the pace numbers. I wanted to run what felt right. Like the swim yesterday I started tight, and gradually relaxed. By the time I was going past the Safeway on 24th, I was feeling relaxed and reasonably smooth. Going through Fish Creek was nice, but I gave myself permission to walk up the hill on the way out. Last time I could chug up the hill with my breathing pretty well at max, and recover at the top. My breathing was nearly there at the bottom of the hill, and it's in full sunlight with no breeze.

Once I was on top and heading home it was starting to fall apart. I was slowing down and I wasn't on top of my breathing anymore. At about 6.7 K I looked at my phone, and decided to call it at 7. There's no need to beat myself up on this. I'm not training for a run, and for me, there isn't much room between an easy run, a run that needs a bit of recovery, and a run that beats me up and leaves me bagged for a week. Even though I'm better in the heat, I still need to respect it. Today I landed just between those first two, which is perfect, but another K could well have put me deep into that third group.

The run ended up being 7K, 51:38. The first 4 K (1 up, 3 down) were great, running about a 7 min/K pace. Today that was just faster than a chatchatchat pace. Slowed down on 5, 6, and 7, and was breathing harder. I'm really pleased about it, and glad I wasn't going any further. I drank an entire bike water bottle during the run, and another within an hour of finishing. Glad I took it with me.

Since my run was mostly taking care of itself today, I was thinking about what condition my condition was in. (yes, for some of you that will cue a song in your head. Sorry about that.) Recently my low back has been feeling stiff and creaky. It comes and goes. Sitting too long doesn't help. Lately I've been standing at my work desk, and taking longer to warm up for workouts. It's been feeling like something in my hips or back would click if I could just stretch or twist right. I was almost there after my run. Rolling my butt over the softball helped, producing some interesting crunching noises, but no clicks.

Throughout my entire fitness odyssey I've had creaks and aches and pains, but once I got over the initial hump, running hasn't really hurt, unless I really pushed too hard. Biking has hurt, and I'm not talking about my crash. Several times various people have said take it easy on the run, but bike your brains out. I had to tell Dr Dale that running didn't hurt my knees, but biking did, and I don't think he believed me.

Lately I've been wondering how strong my butt is. Some of what I've been reading lately indicates that weak glutes are the root cause of lots of issues facing runners and bikers. There's lots of exercises I could do to help that, but I'm not really in a core workout kind of mind frame these days.

There's a very funny show called Coupling (the BBC version) in which one of the characters is obsessed with the size of her butt. She's convinced it grows whenever stops thinking about it. Many women seem worried about the size or shape of their butt, and the magazines are full of exercises to work on it. Which is an excuse to run a photo of a perky butt in booty shorts. Not so much for guys.

Plus there's the age thing. I know it's hard for some of you to believe, but I'm getting on a bit. Physically, anyways. (Mentally, I still wonder what I'm going to do when I grow up.) The research says it's harder to build and maintain muscle mass as you get older.  I'm certainly having trouble trying to get rid of the gut mass that I'd love to convert to muscle. One of the kindest things anyone ever said to me was that I did have a six pack, it was just insulated.

I was talking with one of my buddies about changing habits. Her husband has diabetes and has to check his blood sugar. For a while he was really good, and then he started slipping. Maintaining a habit is hard, especially when it's hard work. I enjoy getting out for a run, and even though intellectually I know doing the core work would help me run better, I blow hot and cold on it. I'll be good for a while, then it seems like something will come up. Again and again. Then I'm back to square one again. I've tried a planking streak several times, and I think the longest it's gone is a week or so. This is something that only takes me a minute, or 2 maximum, and I can't see to find time.

Don't get the idea I'm down on myself. Not at all. I know I'm in great shape for my age, and would like to be in yet better shape. Lots of the people about my age that I know can't do any of what I do. So I suppose if I compare myself to them, I look good. Once, however, I made the mistake of comparing my half iron times to my age group in Boulder 70.3. Holy crap. I'd be pack of the pack there. Even further back of the pack than I am here.

Then again, when I look at the two dominant mammals of the house, I'm doing it totally wrong.


  1. Excellent piece, Keith - and not just because of the great pics. :-) You're right that we need to keep things in perspective. We may not be as fit and strong as we'd like to be, but we're doing pretty darn well for people of our ages and occupations - not to mention proclivities. Hope you get to the bottom of why cycling is causing issues soon. It does seem odd. Also hope you get a bit of a break in the weather. We'd be happy to have some warm temps here so feel free to send them along. Cheers!

  2. My hairy residents have done nothing but lie around this week, on their fronts, on their backs, occasionally with all 4 paws waving around. I'm pretty sure they have things figured out better than we do.

    You're active, you're enjoying it - I call that winning. It seems there's always something else we should be doing!


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