Taking it to the streets

For the last several months, I’ve limited my runs to the treadmill for several reasons.

First, I wanted to find my pace, a pace that I could run continuously for the mile, two miles, 5k, without turning into a floundering, gasping fish out of water.

Second, I also wasn’t quite sure how my joints, ankles, knees, and feet would take to running on cement. I started this somewhat overweight. I don’t think my body would have handled the 220 pound pounding on unforgiving concrete.

So I took the the treadmill, working on my running style, my pace, and my weight.

Last night, I decided to give the streets a shot and I set out running around my neighborhood. I didn’t have a mapped course, I just ran this way and that, along side streets and main streets, through the park, until I finally came home.

The one advantage I found to street running is that you can moderate your pace. Sure, you can do that on the treadmill, increasing or decreasing your speed in 0.1 mph increments, but I also noticed that sometimes, when using a preset program, the tread would increase or decrease, but the computer keeping track of things wouldn’t.  So although I’d change my pace from say 6 mph to 5.4 mph, and although the tread would physically slow down, the readout on the treadmill sometimes would stay at 6 mph.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, pace moderation. So if I did find myself gasping for breath, it was a simple matter of slowing down. When I caught my breath, I could speed up. I could also vary my running stride. Going for short, faster strides or long, slower strides. I could vary from heel strike to midfoot strike.

It was exhilarating to be outside for the first time in at least a decade. It was more interesting having the scenery change instead of staring at a wall or the TV.  It felt good to be able to run for a goodly amount of time. And I don’t think I could have done it straight up without treadmilling first.

I used the Runtastic app to keep track of my run. I ended up running 2.75 miles in 32:31 minutes at an average pace of 11:46 minutes per mile, an average speed of 5.1 mph and a maximum speed of 8.2 mph. It even said I made one of my miles in a little over 10 minutes, which I don’t think I’ve ever achieved on the treadmill.

The only problem? My headphones. The cord kept tangling up and yanking the earbuds out of my ears. The reason is I was holding the phone in my hand. I need one of two things to fix that. Either wireless bluetooth earbuds or an arm band that will hold the phone.

I was very pleased and look forward to my next outside run.


Inclined to run

If you’ve been following this blog lately, you know that the last few months I’ve been running, slowly increasing pace and distance until I’ve reached 5k in 36 minutes, about a steady 5 mph pace.

I also alternate slow, 4.5 mph pace, with a fast, 6 to 6.5 mph pace. I also end the run with an 8mph pace for the last tenth  or two tenths mile.

But I’ve hardly used the incline function.

I decided to try it last night. I used one of the preset interval incline programs. I set my speed at what I thought would be a manageable 4.5 mph pace.

The program started out at 4.2 mph with an incline of 4. I’ll call it percent until I check the manual.

It seemed manageable. Then the next interval it jumped up to 8% and the speed increased to the preprogrammed 4.5 mph.

Already. My. Legs. Were. Burning. And. I. Was. Struggling. To. Breathe.

The program went to Recovery, two intervals of 4% incline at 4.5 mph.

But I wasn’t recovering. I was gasping for breathe and my heart rate was between 157 and 162.

The program jumped back to  8% incline and at this point I’m thinking, “It’s going to kill me. I’m going to die.”

When it finally went back to Recovery, I think I was only 7 or 8 minutes into the 20 minute time I had set. I’d had enough. So I punched the pace down to about 3.8 mph, which for me translates into a very fast walk.

I kept it that speed until the next Recovery when I increased the pace to 4.2 mph and after that I alternated slow 3.8 when it was 8% incline and a little faster when it was at 4% incline.

When the run finally ended, I was drenched in as much sweat doing those 20 minutes for a total of 1.41 miles as I ever was running my 5ks.

And my heart rate never dropped out of the 150s. In comparison, I can keep my heart rate in the 140s when I run without any incline.

So lesson learned? Incline kicks my ass and I’ll be making at least one workout each week an incline run.

Go. Run. Try new things.


Obama and tRump have something in common

I grew up in the 1960s. The pastoral 60s. Until… everything exploded. Kennedy was assassinated. Civil unrest. Race riots. Martial law and curfews. Civil unrest. Civil disobedience. Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X. Black Panthers. Black Power. Red Power. Kent State. Sit-ins. It spilled into the 1970s. Women’s Liberation. Burning bras. Burning flags. Busing. Watergate.

And then things seemed to calm down. Laws were passed for equality. Affirmative Action. Laws against discrimination, in the workplace,  when buying housing. 

Sure, it wasn’t perfect. We still had a long way to go, but many of us thought the days of the Klu Klux Klan,  burning crosses, lynchings, separate drinking fountains for whites and blacks, moving to the back of the bus, all thatnignirance and hatred had died back in those turbulent times in the ’60s.

In fact, when Barrack Obama ran for, and was elected, President, many of us thought it was the pinnacle of race equality. “See? We’ve come so far, a black man can reach the highest office in the land!”

We thought we’d finally become that shining beacon of light on the hill.

Except that the shining beacon illuminated the dark rocks and caves and showed us the ugliness that was still there. It had just been hiding and seeing a black man in “their” house brought them crawling and mewling into the light, where they started to spew their hatred anew. Hatred we thought we had vanquished decades ago.

And then, from the bowels of Hell,  a new abomination rose to lead thise hate-filled minions against the forces of light.

tRump, slithered into the fray, giving his slimy minions new hope that their racism, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia could once again rule the hearts and minds of Man.

We thought this kind of vile behavior, these types of despicable thoughts had died out like the dinosaur, but Obama and tRump have shown us we were wrong.

For many of us, its a terrifying shock to find out that not only do the racist hateful bigots yet live,  they survive in greater numbers than we ever suspected. Like sleeper agents, they had remained in hiding until called, and now the United States faces it’s greatest challenge to its survival. (And yes, I admit it was partially our naive whiteness that blinded us into thinking we had become a color blind society — so for us, its an even greater shock.)

This coming election isn’t just about Hillary against tRump, no, it’s about the forces of good and light against the forces of evil, hatred, and intolerance for the very soul of our country.

If tRump wins, the United States will lose every progressive step forward it has made in over 100 years. Prejudice will become acceptable. Minorities will again be openly discrimated against. Workers will again be ruled by the iron fists of the robber barons.

We can’t let that happen. We must put aside all our differences and the bitter disappointment we might feel from this nomination process and stand together against the evil that threatens our land. To quote an oft used cliche: United we stand, divided we fall.

Vote against tRump. Vote. Against. tRump. Don’t sit home and not vote. Not voting is a vote FOR tRump. Don’t vote third party. The only message that sends is that you voted for tRump. 

This isn’t about you and your feelings. This is about conspiracies any longer. Forget all that came before. Thus is about our future,  the future of our children, the future of the United States.

Many times in the past you’ve heard people say, “This is the most important election in your lifetime.” This time, it’s true. This is the most important election in all our lifetimes.

tRump must be defeated. Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist, or whatever you are, you must vote against tRump. He isn’t good for any party.  He doesn’t adhere to any political philosophy. He represents only himself and he is filled with hate against everyone who isn’t like him.

We must unite and, even if it’s distasteful to many of you, vote for Hillary.

Only a vote for Hillary will defeat the evil that rises up to destroy our land with its fear and hatred.

Obama and tRump do have something in common, they’ve shown us that ignorance and fear and hatred and bigotry are still a threat to our great nation. They’ve opened our eyes to the danger.

We haven’t made the strides toward to enlightenment we thought we had. The ignorance was just hiding and now it’s in the open for all to see like a festering puss-filled ugly sore.

A vote for Hillary won’t heal that wound, but at least it will keep it from spreading. And maybe now that we all know it’s there, we can start treating it.


Raging fun but no run

Over the last few months I’ve gradually increased my distance and speed running.

I was up to 2 miles in about 21 minutes, about a 10.5 mile per hour pace.

Then I took last week off. Not for any reason other than a family vacation. Still, I packed my running shoes with the intention of running and the hotel did have treadmills, but I didn’t run.


Because at the end of each day I was too exhausted.

Let me explain.

We went to the Wisconsin Dells, the “Waterpark capital of the world.” We stayed at the Mt. Olympus waterpark and resort and we waterparked our butts off.

If you’ve never been, what a waterpark consists of are many times of water activities, from lazy rivers where you can float along in complete zen-like bliss under the scroching sun to giant water slides several stories tall where you can slide down on your back or in an inner tube plunging into a pool at the end.

They also have wave pools that recreate breaking waves like you’d find at a tempest-blown ocean shore. You spend your time battling those waves either in an inner tube or trying to swim against them. The waves generated probably get several feet tall and they are incessant. Fighting them gives a pretty decent workout that’s a lot of fun doing it.

Then there is Poseidon’s Rage. A much larger wave pool that generates one giant nine foot wave every 90 seconds. It is the third tallest surf wave in the world after a 9.8 foot wave in the Unites Arab Emirates and also in Spain, and a 10.8 foot wave in Scotland! It makes the Tidal Pool seem tame in comparison.

It’s like Poseidon himself is brushing his arm through the water trying to knock all the puny humans down.

We spend all day in that one, eight or nine hours battling these monstrous waves. Three days trying to swim against it, or dive under it, or jump up as high as you can only to be dashed down and thrown helplessly forward doing somersaults or spins tangling up with other human beings until the wave finally petered out leaving you in the shallows tired and laughing your ass off.

Great fun and probably a lot of exercise and the reason all I wanted to do was lay down and rest once we got back to our room. In that regard, I don’t feel I missed anything not running.

Last night I finally did run and broke my Rule about gradually increasing my runs. I ran 5k (3.1 miles) in 34 minutes alternating between 4.5 mph pace and a 6 mph pace. My previous longest distance on the treadmill was 2.25 miles. This was nearly a mile more.

It kicked my ass. I almost didn’t finish and kept wanting to hit Stop on the treadmill. I was gasping for breath the way I did when I first took up running and I imagine it’s because I took a week off from aerobics even though I did technically exercise.

But now I did it. I broke the 5k barrier. I’ll do it again next but I’ll lower the speed slightly so I can catch my breath.

Have fun. Go run.


The death of Hostess Suzy Q’s

As an older human, there are many disappointments in life. Many of them are economic. For instance, take Cracker Jacks. Oh, sure, the candy coated popcorn with peanuts still tastes as good as I recall, but the prize inside is just shit now. We used to get real toys. Toys you could play with. Not just crappy stickers or body tattoos.

Or look at other candy bars. They’ve shrunk over the years, fooling us with the cardboard inserts. Coffee used to come in one pound bags, but gradually, as the price has risen, the size of the bags has gotten smaller until now it’s served in 11 or 12 ounce bags.

My latest disappointment? Hostess and it’s supposed return. “The sweetest comeback in history.”

Today, I found they’ve finally rereleased Suzy Q’s, which were my one and only Hostess weakness.

I saw them in the store today and I was very, very happy. And I immediately bought a box and brought them home.

But then I opened the box and took out one of the Suzy Q’s. I could tell right away, this was NOT the Suzy Q that I knew and loved. It was smaller. Nearly half has wide as it used to be. And they used to pack so much cream filling into a Suzy Q, that it would ooze out and smear against the wrapper.

These new ones hardly have any filling at all. Maybe a dab. Certainly not the thick spilling over the sides amount they used to give us. This was not even enough to reach the edges.

And the cake used to be very moist. Biting into a Suzy Q was an experience of epic proportions.

Now? It was like biting into a dried out, tasteless slab of blech.

This was my biggest disappointment in a life filled with disappointments.

Hostess has broken my heart and it can never be repaired.

2016-06-23 15.54.13

The new DISAPPOINTING crap version of the Suzy Q.

Fuck you, Hostess. You’re dead to me.


Writing on the run

One of the fallacies about running is that it’s boring. Non-runners seem to be under the impression that because there is nothing to do while running that it is inherently dull.

Other activities, like weight lifting, happen for short bursts and offer variety between exercises as you work different muscle groups. While many stationary exercises, like biking, rowing, ellipticals and such often provide a place to rest a book, tablet, or other device so you can read or watch videos.

Running however, unless you work on a treadmill, doesn’t provide that sort of convenience. Granted, with MP3 players and smartphones, a runner can listen to audio books, old time Radio programs, music, and other audible distractions.

Back when I started running, those devices didn’t exist unless you wanted to drag around a heavy Sony Walkman or transistor radio.

“What is there to do but think?” they said (and still say), as if thinking itself is boring.

Maybe for some people it is. Maybe some people have dull thoughts. Maybe they’re accountants. Who knows?

But thinking in itself can be relaxing. Running for some becomes a time for meditation, a time free from stress and the day-to-day thoughts that assail us.

For me, it has been a time of active thought. I’m a runner who writes, or a writer who runs.

Running therefore, gives my mind the opportunity to work on whatever story I’m writing at the time.

While my conscious self concentrates on the mechanics of running, tracks the various signals my body sends to my brain, the writer part is freed to think about plots, scenes, story ideas, character development, and how to get myself out of the corner I wrote myself into, among other things.

Endorphins are great for kicking the writer’s mind into overdrive and helping to eliminate writer’s block.

Sitting at a desk staring at a sheet of paper or computer screen can often be stressful as you try to force your imagination to come up with ideas and solutions.

And some writers have other ways of relaxing, such as making a cup of tea, going for a drive, taking a nap, shopping, binge watching a favorite show and so on.

For me, I find running does the trick. And I’ve missed it. Returning to running also coincides with a return to writing.

For me, running serves two important purposes. It creates a stronger, healthier body, while at the same time it builds a more resilient, and active mind.

Run. Think. Write.


Samsung Edge disappoints

I’ve had my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for little over a week now and I can tell you this: it sucks.

I know what you’re thinking. “How can that be? Everyone is raving about it. I’ve read the reviews!”

Sure, the Edge gorgeous. It’s got that cool curved edge on the screen with scrolling notifications. And the camera is fantastic. It’s the best phone camera I’ve owned.

“Well then what’s the problem?”

It’s the receiver. This phone has the worst receiver of any phone I’ve ever owned with the possible exception of the crappy free noname Sprint phone we got back in 1995.

As you know, I work in a Faraday Cage-like building. But I know that and really don’t expect much in the way of Internet access. I do, however, expect to be able to receive calls at my desk–like every other cellphone I’ve owned.

Not this one. It rings, I answer, it drops the call.

I’m also aware that the mall I walk in on breaks when the weather is inclement (and this is Wisconsin, so the weather is always inclement) is called the Black Hole by the cellphone stores inside it.

But I’ve also been walking it for 6 years.  Six years and 5 phones. I know all the areas where there is weak reception and avoid the one dead spot.

The receiver on the Edge is so piss poor, the entire mall is one big dead spot! Even though it says it has a couple bars of 4G LTE, it still chugs away before giving me the notice “Try again when you’re online.”

I am online, asshole!

And you’d think going outside would clear things up, but no. Even in the open the Edge finds the dead spots.

“Post will appear when you’re online” is Facebook’s standard response to my attempts to post from this phone. It really chaps my ass.

It’s sad that I have to carry my little Jetpack mobile Hotspot with me so I can get online with this phone, but that’s the situation.

Yet even its reception of Wi-Fi sucks. We have home Wi-Fi and all our phones and devices can pick it up throughout the house and in the yard.

Not the Edge. I go outside and it complains there is no Wi-Fi signal. But instead of switching to the 4G network, it just sits in Limbo, unable to make up its mind what to do. Leaving me without any Internet, wondering if I should just drop it into the grill and be done with it.

In the time it’s taken me to write this I’ve watched my Edge say “connected to Wi-Fi,” “Lost Wi-Fi,” “connected to Wi-Fi,” “Lost Wi-Fi,” countless times.

So, in summary, if you plan on using the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for anything other than a fairly decent camera, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

And the “beast of a battery” some reviews claim is pure bullshit. Maybe it’s an improvement over the S6, but compared to my last phone, the Droid Turbo, it’s like it doesn’t even have a battery. I have to charge it two or three times a day.

For a supposed state-of-the-art phone the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a monstrous disappointment.

Makes me wonder if Samsung isn’t engaging in a little payola to get those glowing reviews for this POS.

I wonder if Verizon will let me swap for the latest LG?