Monday, April 28, 2014

Liebstered again

Leana Liebstered me! This happened to me several times, several whiles ago, but that's ok. New questions and all, plus Leana is such a sweetie it's hard to refuse her anything.

She asked:
What is one piece of gear you own (not shoe or technology related) that you wear all the time? 
Pants are a good start, and given who I am, a shirt and hat is a good idea too. Much of the time I'll wear a Road ID so that if I collapse in a ditch somewhere, Linda doesn't have to go looking for me. Sunscreen if it's sunny. Sunglasses. I do without socks occasionally. Lots of times I'll run without any gear at all, though I'll usually have my phone with me, even if I don't turn on the GPS thingie.

Do you wear different shoes for different workouts, or do you wear the same shoes all the time?
I am slowly evolving on this. I used to wear shoes until they were long past beat to death. Now I understand shoes can still look pretty good, and be beat to death internally. I'm a big guy, and even though I run fairly lightly, all that poundage adds up to a shoe pounding. I just bought new shoes with lots of cushion for longer runs and they feel great. The older shoes still have some miles in them, so I'll wear them for shorter tempo workouts.
What is your favourite post workout snack? 
Chocolate of course, in cookies, or with peanut butter.

Do you listen to music when you run?  Why or why not? 
Tried once just for an experiment through my ear glasses, and it made me crazy. I'm used to silence when I run, at least silence from outside. The voices in my head are something entirely different. I like doing trial scenes for my book while I run. I watch the characters try different things, then I write about it when I get home. Except for Ronnie, she's a bit bossy when it comes to giving advice, and occasionally tries to tell me what to do for a workout.

Do you prefer to run in a loop or run an out and back?
Over the last few years I've often done loops. That way if my legs get all cranky I can bail out and take a shortcut home. If I run 5 K to the reservoir and my legs poop out, it's a long walk back and no real alternatives.

Why do you blog?
Because I love writing. I love sharing my opinions. Occasionally I amuse people. Sometimes I'll experiment with writing. When I was being coached, my coach liked to read my blog. It's a way of keeping me honest about workouts. There's many times I've thought a workout was crappy, till I went to write about it and realized it wasn't so bad after all.
What is your number one goal for this year?
Surviving the half marathon, and getting properly trained for a fall marathon.
Tell me about your favourite race medal. 
Easy, IMC 2010. It's the one I worked the hardest for, by far.

What motivates you to get outside and train on cold/snowy/rainy days?
Mostly because I enjoy doing it. Intellectually, I know it's good for me, and I'll feel better afterward. Until this last winter I didn't have any problem with running when it's cold. It was on my schedule so I did it. I wasn't going to let a bit of weather get in the way. Plus it's always nice to post a frosty tusk photo. People love those.
What is your most memorable run?
I'm assuming memorable in a good way, and not the times I nearly got heatstroke, or pounded with hail. I'm guessing the first Calgary 70.3 would be it. I got off the bike on a smoking hot day, and actually felt like running. That only lasted 5 or 6 K, but then I realized I could walk a bit, then run more. I could manage the heat and keep going. Plus some memorable pace booty, but we won't get into that.

So part of this deal is that I'm supposed to tag other people to answer questions. But many of the big time pro-bloggers that I follow are beyond such shallow attempts to get them to write.

So how about this? Read the following 10 questions. If you like them, and are intrigued, feel free to consider yourself tagged and let me know you've answered. But really, the people I'm tagging here are the ones that have never been tagged in this game. Yes, you, the quiet one in the back row.

So here's my questions.

How did you come up with your blog title?
Is there a person that inspired you to become interested in fitness? Who and how? Have you told them this?
How do you feel about racing? No really, do you love it, or just do it because it supports a bigger goal?
What is one reasonably common fitness activity that you would never, ever do, and why?
Do you ever secretly compete with the person on the machine next to you?
Have you ever told your boss, or your spouse, or your children, "no I can't, I'm going for a run/swim/bike/whatever workout, and I'll deal with it when I get back."
The gender you're interested in, hot and sweaty just finishing a workout. Hawt or not?
Why was that workout the hardest one you've ever done?
What do you think about during a workout?
If your day job let you work whatever hours you wanted for a full time job, how would you arrange your work, workout, family, and social time?

In other new I water ran with Katie for about 20 minutes. Then into the pool for a very nice but short swim, 500 m in 9:15 or so. Long stretch afterward. Good session of stretching and core when I got home.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I admit to some disappointment

There we were, bright and early at the aid station to cheer on our buddy Michelle. She had even sent us a photo of her great costume. I had made a sign to cheer on Brenda, a buddy of my blog buddy Janet in Nova Scotia.

With both me and Sophia looking, we didn't spot Michelle. We still can't figure out how. We knew what she was wearing, and we knew to within a few minutes when she would be by. I didn't get to rattle the cow bells, or shake my thermos suggestively. (It had coffee in it, and it was a cool morning, not whatever you guys were thinking!)

Neither did Brenda make herself known to us. Maybe she was busy dodging the people changing lanes without signaling and didn't notice in the excitement. Although I did get a tweet later saying hello, so I'm guessing that Brenda is a Twitter buddy of Michelle. Funny how that works sometimes.

After getting home and puttering a bit I changed and headed out for a run. I have been very something-or-other about this run. My leg is feeling funny, and no other way to describe it. Something isn't right, but it isn't a pain, it's more of a deep ache. At any random time depending on what I'm doing I could get a twinge anywhere from the top of my knee, to the top of my hip.

Plus I'm just over that short bout of sniffles, but I wasn't sure how my lungs would feel about running.   I'm feeling heavy and slow in general, but trying not to be all excuse-ey. Sophia was looking for a run buddy for 18 K today, and I knew I couldn't do that. I'd been thinking 10 or so, but even that seemed like a long way to commit, and I'd hate to bail out early.

In the end I limbered up and headed out. My leg didn't feel strong, but it chugged along regardless, a few twinges along the way. My lungs were fine. I didn't pay any attention to pace, only ran what I felt like running, and decided to call it at 5 K, 36 minutes. Long and thorough stretch afterward. It was ok, nothing special, and not particularly a confidence builder for an upcoming half marathon. At least it wasn't snowing.

While eating lunch I was thinking about my run training this year so far, and if I had a coach marking it, I'm pretty sure I'd get a failing grade. There has been no consistency at all. Even the swimming has been erratic at best. I'd like to get 3 swims a week, and I've been lucky to get 2, and usually it's one. Other than the weekend runs with buddies, the runs have sucked. They either don't happen, or are very blah. This year I had zero enthusiasm for running in the cold. Even now that it's nice out going for a run seems to be a bit of a chore, and these nagging injuries or whatever, are getting on my nerves. Maybe thinking about this was the lead up to what happened next.

I had a really strange experience, not quite asleep, but I wasn't quite awake either. Suddenly it was like I was overwhelmed with things to think about. Normally I'm pretty good about dealing with things one at a time, but this was like a flock of big birds swirling around me, each demanding I pay attention to it. A complicated data issue at work, back yard reno issues, some furniture followup issues, my running issues which brought along his bigger buddy fitness issues in general and his yet bigger buddy overall life health issues, retirement thoughts and issues, travel desires, the various hobbies I'd like to try, and several others.

My heart was going pitter-patter, I was breathing hard but felt short of breath (and there was no cat sitting on my chest), and the room was beginning to swirl around in time with the bird-issues. Or maybe it was going the other way to make it look like the speeds of all involved were increasing. Every time I tried to come to grip with one of them, another came in to peck at me and demand my attention. I was feeling very disoriented. Eventually they all flapped off when I got up to get some water. I'm still not feeling quite myself.

Linda found these dry ball thingies. No idea if they work for that, but I've read that they are really good to roll under your feet. They feel different than the usual ball. I think it will be good for a change up.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Transplant Trot

I know a few people that have been transplant recipients or donors. One of the most remarkable stories I know of is my buddy Sophia. It turns out that when she needed a kidney, her husband was an eligible donor. Imagine the odds! That was 8 years ago now. Her life has changed in so many ways I can barely enumerate them, but they start with life itself. She might not still be here without that transplant.

Today was the first run event for transplants, and since she took up running a while ago, it's no surprise she wanted to take part. So what if it was snowing? There she is in the middle of the pack.

Here is my cheering partner today. There were bells. There were matching pom-poms. To say nothing of coffee and cameras. Go here to see the matching one of me and many others, should you be so inclined. 

Here is Sophia booking it to the finish. If the camera had fired a fraction of a second sooner, she would have both feet off the ground for sure. Michelle has video, not sure where it's been posted. Maybe later.

It was a wet and soggy day out there. One girl came in with the entire back half of her pants covered in mud. Sophia just had a tasteful amount of splashing. I didn't get a photo, but many people had a cute little patch of snow on their hats or hair just at the centre of their forehead.

You can't really see how muddy her shoes are. As we were driving home we could see where some of the run path was, and I'm glad I wasn't there.

We sat and chatted after the race, having a wonderful time! At one point Michelle was talking about the various issues with cameras, and that one of them wouldn't even turn on. There they are laid out, and just as I gook the picture the one camera turned on and pushed up the lens after having sat there quite some time.

 I've signed some paperwork in my wallet about organ donation, but that doesn't seem to be good enough anymore. The Alberta government has a new website up to register. I took a quick look, and plan to go back and get properly registered. I urge you to consider it as well.

Which leads to another thought. I fail to understand why we need the registry in the first place. It ought to be the standard practice upon death to use whatever material can be salvaged. After all, they're dead and don't need it anymore. If you don't want that to happen, then you should be the one going through the hoops to prevent it. A living registry makes sense, I guess, in that it's a way to match up a willing donor to someone in need.

In other news I'm feeling much better. My cold is gone, yay! Sophia wants to run 18 K with me after the Police half tomorrow, but I don't know. My quad and knee are still feeling a bit funny after some of the furniture moving on Wednesday. I think I'll head downstairs to do some stretching.

Yes, it's a spring snowstorm out there, which is kind of typical here. Lots of people complain, but I don't really mind. It's all moisture into the ground, and Alberta tends to be a dry place. When it isn't flooding.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ektorp armchair assembly vs the cats

Let me start with saying I've been a cat servant most of my life, and mostly it's good. There are few things nicer than having a cat purring in your lap while drinking coffee and eating chocolate cookies.

I like (mostly) that cats have a take or leave it attitude towards humans. There is a bright and lively intelligence under the fur, and it's fascinating to watch them explore the world. Curtis is working hard on trying to figure out the operation of the front door so he can go out. He just might do it too, so we keep it locked.

This leads to the recent great furniture delivery and assembly adventure. They were fascinated by the whole thing, and wanted to help. Boy did they ever. However, no cats were harmed in the assembly of the armchairs.

When we did the renovations 10 years ago we picked out the Ektorp armchairs mainly because they were the right size and we liked how they looked. They were comfortable, and I stopped thinking about it after that. Now, 10 years later let me remind you, they are looking a little battered and the cushions have lost their cush.

Time for new. We looked at getting similar leather furniture, but holy cow is that expensive! In the end we decided to re-up for the Ektorp. How can you go wrong? Turns out now you need to assemble it, and Linda panicked briefly. I'm not sure why. This turned out to be the easiest IKEA thing ever to assemble. Putting the cushions into the slipcovers is the most difficult and time consuming part of it. That and overcoming the aid of the cats. And dealing with a nose that's running like a tap.

So here's the photos and some commentary in case you should be looking for inexpensive, durable, and classy looking armchairs. (Just so you know, I'm totally channeling those people that video themselves unboxing new Apple products.)

To start with, here's the old love seat sofa bed on the left, and the new with the spiffy leather cover that is almost $5000 less than the competition. Sturdy and very heavy. No idea how comfortable the mattress is, but I don't plan on sleeping on it much. Comfy for watching the big screen. The old one is going downstairs to replace a futon "sofa" in the library. Minor repairs are desirable, but not essential.

Slightly out of sequence, here is Curtis inspecting bolt tightness.

Start with a big box, really good quality cardboard, well wrapped. Lay it flat to open, either side.

This is what you see.

Cushions are stuffed in to help with padding and support. Take them out and set them aside where the cats can't get at them.

The back is hinged. Really sturdy hinges.

Flip up the back, note the slot in the side.

Package of hardware. There are times IKEA hardware is, well, lets just say not the best quality metal. This is good quality steel.

Thread in the short threaded end into the arms. They all went in really easy to finger tight, meaning there was no guck in the threads.

Same on the side of the arm, only with a plastic washer. You'll need to make sure you use the right hole so the arms go on left and right with the bolt sliding into the slot.

You can see an arm sliding into place here. I had to wiggle the back a couple times.

Flip it onto it's back, and you can see the bolts poking through. If I was a pro, or not sick, I'd have the cute little arrows pointing to them, but I'm sure you get the idea. Thread on the nuts with washers, finger tight, then hand tight with the wrench, moving from bolt to bolt as it snugs up. I'll check again in a few weeks to snug any up as the furniture settles.

The little felt thingies go onto the legs. They are not provided, you have to buy them yourself. Essential if you have hardwood.

Thread in the feet and stand up. Now the fabric. The overall slipcover was easy to slide on, and fits really well.

Now the cushions. Turns out there is a right way, and a wrong way for the seat cover.

The one thing we didn't like about the old chairs is that the zipper hardware was cheap. We blew up several sets of covers when the zipper failed. We like that the slip covers are washable, but it's a bit of an exercise getting them on and off. Do NOT dry them! There are some slipcovers from another company that looks like a "relaxed fit" for these chairs. We will probably order a set and see what we think. These zippers are pretty good.

Curtis doing a final QA on the assembled chair. Celina was involved too, and seemed to be particularly interested in the clearance between the floor and the bottom of the chair. I never did get a photo of her assistance.

From beginning to end, taking my time, with pauses to blow my nose and deal with cat "assistance", each chair took about 40 minutes. This includes tossing stuff out into the garage and generally tidying as I went. I can't get over the amount of cardboard in these boxes! One box alone covered most of the area of our single car garage, and two would do it for sure. The old chairs are out in the garage. If you want them email now. You have till May 3, when a buddy of mine comes with a truck.

With any luck, these will last another 10 years. That would be nice.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Exciting times

We've been busy. Domesticating a new TV and various input devices. New furniture.

Starting with a lovely swim yesterday. I had a 50 m lane to myself. 500 m swim, then another 500 m trying out the new fins alternating with pull. These ones do not float, not even close. Now I need to remember to pick up a pull buoy on the way to the pool. Then 200 m hand paddles. 100 hard! 100 slow swim then 100 backstroke. The water felt lovely.

To Apple to get the little TV box. I hadn't fully realized just how tiny they were. Costco for another set of HDMI cables. Source for digital optical cable. Lunch. Installation. I am not a fan of the little Apple remote for doing passwords, and there was a bit of cursing involved. Then some fiddling around to get airplay happening on the iPad. I'm still not sure I've got everything there is to have there. But it works! In the evening I did some stretching before bed.

My legs and back felt great! Then a day of sitting at work, and my hams and back feel terrible. I might have to talk to them about a different chair.

Then we got a new love seat sofa delivered. I don't think the 3 guys have done this much. I, on the other hand, as a feckless youth spent some time working for a moving company. I knew it would go, and how to do it, but they took a while to figure it out.

Who knew that those little felt pads lose their stick after a long while? I thought so. I certainly hadn't, meaning a trip out to get some. There are 6 more boxes of stuff, but not tonight.

Yesterday was so nice. It's clear that Celina thought so too. Under that languid supervisory eye, I felt no need to do yard work.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The squirrel paparazzi

There was a minor flurry of traffic on Twitter this morning about the run today and #coffeechat. There's a bit more of an overlap than I thought; several people were planning to head out for their run after coffee. 

I was running with two buddies on a super beautiful day. We got met up ok, and headed down toward Fish Creek. Michelle and I have done this route several times, usually when it's minus WTF out, but today was warm and sunny, starting about 5 C (41 F). I wore shorts, as you'll see. 

Both Michelle and I took photos, but I'm too lazy to arrange them in order. So you'll have to put the story together yourselves. Some of you may have seen this. Last year the floods washed away part of the path. There is a well worn detour off to the right side of the photo. It wasn't even terribly mucky on my new shoes.

This is on the way back, M and S running ahead.

And there she is in action! The squirrel paparazzi! It was so much fun to see M having fun on the run today. She stopped to take photos, and skipped along in places. The pace graph has these huge spikes in it for our pauses, BUT WHO CARES! (Channeling Ruby Rhod)

This is Sophia just finishing up her 16 K run. Look at that happy smile! She is going to totally rock her race!

This is one of M's. She was trying to get a reflection shot of us, but I think we're too far away.

We stopped about K 12 or so to play with some photos trying to get one of each of us running with both feet off the ground at the same time. I don't here, of course. Almost. At least my back is straight and my butt isn't poking out.

M is so talented, she took this actually running at the same time. That smile says it all about our day!

We were still playing with the position of the phone here. What do you think, is that an actual muscle in my left leg?

Two shots just as we met up at Anderson and 37th, me showing off my pasty white legs. (Yes, I know, you were hoping it was one of the others showing off their legs. Such is life.)

I like this shot of us. It's typical for me, in that I've got a drink in my hand, you can't see my eyes, and I'm leaning to the right, but this time it's me and not the camera person. You can speculate what Sophia is doing with her hand. It looks like we're holding hands, but we're not. Anyone else I'd suspect she was trying to pinch my butt so I'd have a funny expression on camera. But Sophia would never do such a thing.

This certainly one of the best runs so far this year! Did I say it was warm and sunny? We ran, and chatted, and did photos, and waved to a big Running Room group out of Shawnessy,  and generally had a really good time. We weren't in a rush, nobody was fussed about a particular pace. My new shoes felt great. I put the graphs down below for those that like such things.

My legs felt pretty good throughout, with a few minor squeaks towards the end. Lots of stretching after, and as I'm writing this I've got a wine bag of cold water on my lap, while sitting on the vibrating heating pad. Drinking coffee. That will please the #coffeechat crowd. I may pay for this in a sleepless night and if so I will be back on twitter in the wee hours.

Wonderful chicken dinner after the run! And cookies. And banana bread. Then another trip to IKEA, where we saved yet more money. I figure between the two trips we have saved $16,000! Can't complain about that. We made out like bandits, with a harried manager approving a sale price on things that (technically) were not included in the sale.

Even walking a bit creaky because of the run today, I'm still walking faster than most of the people in the store. It's good I was still in a good mood. There's a path through the maze painted on the floor. Some people don't understand that this path is for motion. Either way is good, though keep right still applies. There is a ton of space to stand off to the side to consider how some item will clutter up your life. But NO! They have to stand at natural choke points. I don't know why.

I watched one couple squabbling at the delivery counter, giving the guy a hard time about the delivery costs for some big packages. Duh! The price is right up there on the wall. First it was reverse the purchase. Then it was rearrange plans to take the stuff home themselves. Even as they were doing that, one of the guys was saying it was better to pay the delivery fee. I'm not sure how it ended up. We got our stuff added into the existing delivery, for only a little extra.

I made a point out of being really nice to the guy arranging delivery, to balance out the jerk. I do not understand why people are so unpleasant to people that could be helpful. Mostly they want to be helpful, and will do so given half a chance. It's not like you have to kiss their ass or anything. Say hello, please, and thank you. Smile. Give them a moment to get that last experience put away and have a chance to focus on you. Have the paperwork handy. State what they need to know without going around the mulberry bush three times on non-essentials. Let them go through the computer or paperwork without yapping at them. Understand they have many rules to follow, and they don't know why something is a certain price.

Here's the data from Runkeeper. I'm a bit surprised, it seems to have kept track of the stopped time. The spikes in pace are mostly where we stopped for photos. When we ran we were really consistent. Such a great run for all involved!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

New foot thingies

The day started with me stalking the photo-stalker. I got this shot, while she was working on hers. Total surprise for her! OEB is an awesome way to start the day! No food pics though, you would all go mad with envy.

A little later on in the day this happened. You can see Linda way off in the lead, me struggling pathetically trying to keep up. I was feeling quite disoriented up on the second floor. The vibrations in the floor were making me feel a bit queasy.

We were looking elsewhere too, and brought home these leather swatches. As you can see the cats are quite impressed. Which do you think goes with the cats?

Another bit of shopping at two different stores. The 11 year old plasma? Gone. Such an efficient place. You don't even have to get out of your car. Way back then I thought it was light. Now I think it's heavy.

Not far away is the Strides store. It was really crowded and at first I thought I'd come at a really busy time, but no. People were just back from the Saturday run and were socializing. My feet are strange. Last time size 11.5 was perfect. Today all of them felt tight so I went up to a 12. Perfect.

There was a woman trying on a pair of shoes even before I started. I tried and eliminated 4 pairs. Then got two more possible pairs, and I alternated between them before picking out the ones you can see. They are the something or other brand, model blahblahblah. Some of you might see them tomorrow. Even after I paid and was on the way out the door, she was still dithering.

On the right you can see the old fins with the broken heel strap. I've had them since well before doing IMC, so I guess they don't owe me anything. The new ones are there. The colour in the photo is odd though. The new fins are black, not navy blue.

Once home the busy day continued. We now have a clean BBQ. This used to take a long time with windex and paper towel. Now a putty knife and these micro-fibre e-clothes make it fast and easy.

I had meant to go to the library today and rent a Blu-Ray movie disc. But I didn't. However the renos there are complete. It sounds strange because it opened about the same time we built this house, and I still think of it being new, but I guess not. It's one of the busiest public library branches in North America. The library world has changed enormously in 30 years so it's no surprise the building needs to change.

Even in our house we've had two major renovations over the years, doing essentially the entire main floor, and adding some things to the basement. The back yard is getting done this year, and we are considering holding a 30th birthday party for the house this fall. Would you come to such an event? Have you ever been to a birthday party for a house?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The evil lurking in the heart of bathroom fans

So it's Friday afternoon. Where did the week go?

Wed was a strong yoga class. I loved it, but it went by too fast. I was just getting into a pose, and the class would be moving on. I didn't swim in the morning.

Thursday I swam. I was in the mood. 1K, 19:30 or so. Then water ran another 20 minutes. The pool was peaceful and quiet. Unlike the bathroom fan.

Thursday we signed the deal for back yard landscaping. It needs it. Our neighbor will be both happy (since he's been bugging us about it for years, none of his business that it is), and unhappy, since we're going to rip down the fence that is just on our side of the property line. The 30 year old fence thats leaning over and going rotten, that he thinks is fine because it will probably last his lifetime. They will take off his gate and reinstall it. He is a yard neat freak, so the slightest thing happening to his yard is liable to set his wife off. I may learn more Cantonese swear words. Here, see for yourself, now that most of the snow is gone.

Stretching in the evening.

Katie had tried to talk me into a 5 or 10 K swim for this morning, but no way I'm up for that. I was thinking about running, even with the light snow happening this morning. Then I went outside into the dank, damp, humid, muggy, cold bleah. So I didn't run, but did get on my bike for a nice mostly easy spin to get the legs going, then a nice stretch and core session.

I wanted to putter about today and get some stuff done around the house. First was some retail therapy, though it turns out that 1.5 inch belt might not fit through the belt loops of the black pants I wear most often. The sleeve for the laptop is tempting me, as do a few other things at Saddleback leather.

The fan. Yes, I know, you're burning to know about the rattly fan. It's been bugging me for a while and today was the day. I got it out of the cage and recoiled in horror. This is the clean side.

There were radial guck icicles on the downstream side. I had though it was rattling because the guck had unbalanced it, then I realized the fan itself was out of round and rubbing against the housing. The internet said there were some of the same at a nearby store so I went out, only to find out I had been lied to. Sigh.

I didn't get any of the others because I wasn't sure if they would fit, and they wouldn't have. But the guy at one store said you could often pull the fan along the spindle a bit, and that should stop the rubbing. While the guck wouldn't just vacuum off, it's not stuck on very well, and a little screwdriver is the perfect tool to loosen it so the vacuum does work. Now it hums silently, and I think I've earned by glass of wine for the day.

Next yucky thing is the BBQ spring cleaning...

Plus on the way home it started to snow. Really snow, as in restricting visibility. An hour later and it's starting to build up on the road. We have breakfast plans for tomorrow, so we might have to leave a few minutes early.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Self-Conscious, for once

Middle aged men are just about the most invisible creatures on earth. Nobody notices them. In addition, most of us don't care about what we look like. Which might be cause or effect, now that I think of it. Normally I don't care much about how I look when I'm doing something.

But tonight was weird. There I was running, and very self conscious about it. Wondering how it looked. It felt clunky at first, and gradually got better, but it was never smooth. Overall the time was good, just a hair under 35 minutes for a 5 K run, which is ball park for a moderate pace, not breathing too hard. Just towards the end my legs were beginning to feel it a bit. I don't believe the last few seconds of the pace graph. There's no way I was running that fast.

At least the snow held off till after the run. Yay! Lots of stretching after, and sitting with a bag of cold water on my quad.

If this had been a swim, I'd have said I didn't have the water feel. Is there such a thing as run feel? Do you ever get self conscious about what your run looks like? Or anything else you do?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The downgrade

I finally did it. Realized the truth. Came, mostly, to terms with the inevitable. On the weekend I changed my registration from a marathon to a half marathon on June 1. Even that had me wondering, but then I realized there was no way I would be ready to try to run 10 K fast either. And what's the point of racing 10K just to finish? So (fingers crossed) with some consistent training (which I've really struggled with this year) I ought to be able to run the entire thing. I hope.

Another thing we're coming to terms with is clutter. There is an old plasma TV to be recycled. A VCR and some tapes to be tossed out. (If you want a functional VCR with tapes of Miss Marple, speak fast!) An assortment of other odds and ends to be tossed out. A water damaged phone (who knew plastic would degrade and crack by itself?), several old leaky irons, an old coffee maker, and I'm not sure what else all.

Even though all this stuff is essentially non-functional, I still have a pang throwing it out. The VCR, for example. There is a story there. Once upon a time, I was helping my dad's family clean out my Grandma's room at the lodge. Her funeral was the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing; we were watching the coverage as we were getting ready for the funeral. 19 years ago in a few days.

My uncle picks up a small TV, turns to me, and says, "Your dad got this for mom, so I guess it's yours now." (My dad had died a few years earlier.) I had turned to run, but there was no escape. It was reasonably well known in my family that I don't watch TV much. I carried it out to our car; Linda nearly left me behind when she saw what I was carrying.

So we took it home, and a few days later we went out to find the cheapest possible VCR player. I toyed with the salesman's hopes, then crushed him mercilessly. "The cheapest", I said, "that plays and rewinds VCR tapes." He started with the extended warranty spiel, but I gave him the look and he stopped part way through.

We mostly rented VCR's, but bought the Miss Marple ones because they are so good. (Joan Hickson was born to play Miss Marple.) We played a few DVD's on the computer, but lasted till Boxing day 2002 when we bought the plasma and a DVD player. So that VCR player is 19 years old in a few days. Hard to imagine. I'm not sure why we kept it. Mostly because it was sitting there inoffensively hooked up, I guess. Gathering dust. I'm not even sure if it can be hooked up to the Blu-Ray, and I don't propose to find out.

I can remember when VCR tapes and players were a novelty. An expensive one. Anyone remember the VCR and Betamax wars? Once could join a video club for a fairly steep membership fee, and it was $20 or so to rent a tape. Buying them could be 3 figures. Imagine!

Now DVD's and Blu-ray are nearly dead. More and more content will come from the internet. Maybe 20 years from now I'll be writing a blog about these shiny plastic discs and an impossibly coarse ancient technology called HDTV. (We used to have to put bolts into the wall for a mounting bracket! They were several inches thick! And if you looked close you could actually see the pixels!)

So even though the VCR was under $200, I think about how long I had to work, back then, to buy it. (Not that long, now that I think about it.) Still, my Granny went through the depression, and as a child I remember her being extremely careful with money. There was a strong element of "make do, or do without" there. Things were expensive, and you were expected to take care of them.

Now our things turn into clutter. It would probably cost me more effort than buying it, to find a home for the VCR player. Much easier to throw it out. And no, they say you can't even recycle them. The City website says to throw them (household quantities) into our black bin, which is garbage. Tuesday evening, unless someone speaks up, claiming it or the tapes. The countdown has begun.

Oh, and water ran this morning with Katie for a while, as she filled me in on her Maui trip, and adventures with her rental bike, dubbed Two Ton Tessie. Ran a bit more after she left, then slipped into the pool for a quick 600 m. For once the competition pool was warm.

The idea is to run tomorrow. It could well be snowing. I'm not kidding. I'm weeding a flower bed today in the warmth and sunshine as chicken cooks in the BBQ. Shoveling the driveway tomorrow. Spring, you are depressing. I hope for nice weather this weekend to clean out the garage and fix the BBQ.

What do you have in your house that you really should throw away?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The dawn run

And no, I don't mean the run to the bathroom first thing, before settling back in for a snooze. I mean a real run, outdoors and everything, just at dawn, or shortly after. I had agreed to meet Michelle at 7 to match up with her plans for a long run, and Sophia came along too.

This is my first time in a McDonalds since before August 1980. And I must say I'm not impressed, or tempted to go back any time soon. I'll spare you the picture I could have taken just outside the door. I thought it the natural end result of eating anything there, but Michelle pointed out it could have been a last call patron from the bar next door. But you'd think someone from McD's would at least use a bucket to rinse it into the parking lot along with all the gravel and other nastiness.

The run was good. We ran up into Mayfair to see if I could find the hole in the sound barrier. I'm thinking about running home from work when it gets a bit warmer. With the Sandy Beach bridge out I'll have to stay on Elbow for longer, and wanted to run through the nice neighbourhood rather than the Glenmore Gulch. It started cool and windy, and my legs were taken a bit by surprise, but it all turned out well. Even though Runkeeper didn't find the GPS and get distances, it was 6.8 K in just under 50 minutes.

I find it difficult to dress for temperatures just below zero. Much colder and I'm fine. Warmer and I'm fine. But trying to figure out cool, especially when there is a wind is difficult. In the end I opted for what I wore earlier during much colder runs. I figured I could unzip if necessary. There was quite a wind, and I knew we'd be running near the reservoir, so no shelter to speak of. I'm glad. Here we are after, you can see how the wind affected our faces.

It took 3 tries to get it right, I kept aiming so the photo only had half Sopia's face, which is not acceptable! She and Michelle met up with other people and ran more. I figured that just under 7 was good for today. Good stretch and roll after. After she was done, Sophia came to visit Linda and the cats. I was using the yellow ribbon to distract Curtis from Sophia opening the door to leave. He wasn't thrilled.

Contrary to your expectations, I did not head into the media room to watch the new TV. I had a nap for a little while. Very refreshing. Then a lazy Sunday, with more rolling and stretching later in the day. It's too cool to sit outside, though nice if you were doing, say, yard work. As if.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

TV, before and after

Did I mention the plasma TV had died after more than 11 years?

But first there was a cat. It's spring, so Curtis is shedding. This was just a few strokes with the comb, after I had combed him yesterday.

Celina, of course, with her plush coat doesn't shed as much.

So here's the before, of the old plasma. And some clutter.

Here's the during, working on the wiring. It worked out fairly well, though I wish I'd got a 2 m HDMI cable instead of 6 feet. The power cable is barely long enough. I guess that's one way of saving money.

And the after. I've got the DVD player going, easy peasy. Internet connection was just as easy. I even managed to link the iPad to the TV and can at least partially control the TV that way. Isn't technology nice sometimes.

In the best stroke of luck I've had in years, I managed to reuse the rack to mount it on the wall. The machine screws that go in this TV are different than the ones in the old, but believe it or not, I found the right size in the mess that is my workshop downstairs. No washers though, I still had to go out and get those. Let's not talk about running the gauntlet of the Walmart parking lot. Better than buying the machine screws. It all mounted on the wall very nicely. We still have an old VCR though that we haven't used in many years. If you want it, just leave a comment. I can't see us playing any of the VCR's we have, since we have them on DVD.

So far the picture quality is what I had hoped for, for some of the movies. I guess DVD's come in varying levels of information quality. The 5th Element looks amazing. El Mariachi, not so much. I've been skipping through some of the other DVD's as well, but I can't stay up late. I have a run first thing in the morning.