Race Predictor

I’ve worn my new watch for a whopping total of two runs since I received it the other day and I found an interesting item under the menu of the computer that I am now wearing, a race predictor. Here’s the photo of what I am currently calling my “inherent ability”:

IMG_0277

I have a little more than a year to improve on those numbers with some concentrated and specific marathon training in my attempt to turn back the clock 15 years.

The fascinating thing to me about those numbers is that they were derived from my pace, heart rate, and running cadence, all of which the watch constantly measures. In the past I used to have to run time trials or races, competing with all the anxiety that those things bring with them (like a person who has test-taking anxiety). Then, after those time trials, I would come back to my computer and plug my numbers into a spreadsheet to come up with a predicted time at each distance. But I had to put in the work to justify running at those predicted paces.

I am under no illusion that I could run a 21-minute 5k right now. In fact I have a 5k race coming up next weekend (my first time trial) that I am not really ready for, and if anyone asks me what my expected time is I am going to say something like, “I hope to be done with this race before my lungs know what hit them.”

However, I do have a pretty good aerobic base built up over the past year since I finally conquered my chronic achilles tendonitis, so we shall see what we shall see. I have no anxiety about the race, but nonetheless I do want the best time I can achieve.

The Fancy Watch Community

I took my running watch off my arm last autumn. Then I received a FitBit for a present last December and my competitive spirits were reignited by way of “connecting” to my friends who also have(had) a FitBit.

I remembered this morning one of the reasons I took the old fancy Garmin GPS Heart Rate Monitor off my arm; the little copper connections that help the watch sync to the lovely web-based data collector were working when they wanted to instead of every time I connected the watch. I have cleaned them and done everything in my power to make them better again short of sending the thing back to Garmin for repair. So today I bought a new fancy running watch. Here is the snapshot:

garmin235

I’m looking forward to using this watch. My current Garmin, which is obsolete by today’s standards, is still sitting in my southern-exposure window trying to find the satellites, which is why I am typing this right now instead of being out on the road getting my miles in. The old watch does not have much in the way of battery life either.

The drama in this whole scenario is not that I am going back and forth between watches. It is that the new and old connections that I have made due to various devices all of my friends are wearing will cause confusion and inevitable questions. My sister left her FitBit and is now on Apple iWatch to log whatever she is doing; her FitBit status has shown as “inactive” since she got the iWatch. My old Garmin Connect buddies will think that I somehow rose from the ashes when the new watch arrives. My current FitBit pals, some of whom have already left because they upgraded to something else, will assume correctly that I have given up one watch for another.

When I show up at the next 5k or group social run (which is equally about beer as much as it is about running) a friend is certain to ask, “When did you get that?” as they point to the watch, or perhaps say something like, “I thought maybe you died. Your status shows as inactive.” Oh I’m active, baby, and very much alive, thank you very much.

In the end, I still “connect” with runners, walkers, and others the old-fashioned way, by enjoying runs, walks, or doing something else together instead of, or along with, the connection on the internet.

Happy trails.

FitBit 100,000

Jeff and Jack, beer in hand walking the later miles

Jeff and Jack, beer in hand, walking the later miles

I repeated this quote to myself several times during the 22.5 hours it took to accomplish the goal:

It’s at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys.
Emil Zatopek

FitBit100000 evidence . fitbit100kOlympianSandal

It was suitable to me to learn when we finished that the ultimate badge in the FitBit application is the “olympian sandal.” I had no idea going into this challenge that that would be the reward, if you can call it that, but it is fitting because I thought of Emil Zatopek a lot during my travels yesterday. He is far and away my favorite olympic athlete of all time, and I only wish I had lived in his day so that I could have seen him run. One more quote and then the story:

Men, today we die a little.
– Emil Zatopek, at the start of the Olympic Marathon, 1952

Zatopek had never run the marathon when he toed the line for that race, and he set an olympic record in route to winning. While I am very experienced in the art of sleep deprivation to pursue endurance challenges, I did not know what to expect with the effort to log 100,000 FitBit steps in a 24 hour period. Now I know.

The route to 100,000 FitBit steps. 50.89 miles!

The route to 100,000 FitBit steps. 50.89 miles!

The FitBit resets for a new day at midnight so that was our starting time. My friend Jeff and I each worked a full day on Friday. Without communicating our pre-race plans to each other, we found out when we met at Jeff’s house that we both tried to nap, unsuccessfully, in the evening leading up to midnight. Perhaps I got an hour and half worth of sleep, and then I showered at 10:30pm. I was at Jeff’s house sitting on the couch across from Jeff and his wife Charlene as we awaited the starting gun.

I knew going into this event that the toughest part of staying awake is the 02:00am to 04:00am hours. People who keep normal hours are in bed and there are very few cars on the road. In those early hours we endured the excitement and adrenaline rush from finally starting, a few swarms of mosquitos that came to life and attacked in the middle of the night, and the scare of trying to keep voluntary muscles from becoming involuntary as I desperately needed a bathroom at 04:00am. Once we got past those things, the boredom and monotony of the task started to set in.

We made our way south through neighborhoods along the coast of Old Clearwater Bay, and then we stumbled into the Clearwater Marina to see the fishing fleet come to life in preparation for their day. It was after having some coffee and breakfast at a diner in the marina that we felt rejuvenated and ready to keep going. We were approximately 22 miles into our journey as we made our way further south along the beach communities with the heat of the day beginning to bear down on us.

As we were making our way over the Bellair Beach Causeway we stopped to watch a pod of dolphins chasing smaller fish just north of the bridge. We took our time at this break in our action to take in the scenery. Our eyes panned down to see a kayaker fishing just about 30 yards away from the dolphins and directly underneath us at our position on the bridge. Then Jeff says, just as I noticed what he was about to ask, “Is that guy naked?” I responded as I threw my head back up and down the road that we still had to travel, “Okay, I’ve seen enough. Let’s walk.”

The next part of the day was the worst from a combined standpoint of heat, feeling like the 100k mark was not possible at this time of year, and feet problems beginning to set in, and it was only 10:00am. The next few roads offered no shade so we started traveling underneath the awnings of strip malls instead of staying on the sidewalk. I changed my socks and felt good again, and then we made our way to a gas station to look for our first beer at 10:30am.

Beer? Are you crazy? Perhaps, but we needed a laugh and we could not pass up the deal. The station had a special of 2-for-1 25oz cans of Miller Lite, Rolling Rock and a few other brands, for the price of $2.50. If you’re keeping score, that’s 50 ounces of beer for $2.50. What a deal. We emptied the remaining water from our water pouches to make room for the beer and our mood instantly improved after the first few sips from the nipple of the water pouch.

Jeff and I started guessing the ages of people who would pass us as we walked back north on the Pinellas Trail. We were about to cross a street when I noticed a very old man turning onto the trail from that street. We stopped him and chatted for a few minutes. His name is Charlie Lasley and he is going to be 95 in December. I told him that I want to live to be greater than 100 years old and he had some simple advice that he said I needed to follow in order to get there. “Five things,” he said, “1) No red meat, or at least confine it to having a burger once a month, but no cheese, 2) Eat fresh, raw vegetables, 3) Keep moving, i.e. – walk or run often 4) Stay lean and flexible, perhaps Yoga, and 5) Enjoy sex as often as you like.” Charlie told me that he was a retired cardiologist, so it’s “Dr. Charlie” and I think I should follow his advice. Dr. Charlie was walking 6 miles on this day, following his own advice as he is a mere five and half years away from the century mark.

Dr. Charlie Pasley (retired) and Jack on the Pinellas Trail.

Dr. Charlie Lasley (retired) and Jack on the Pinellas Trail.

As we got closer to town we started communicating with the support staff, our friends, who knew what we were up against and planned to spend their evening walking with us for the later miles. Charlene picked us up off the trail and took us to lunch, then dropped us back onto the trail after lunch (where we left) and we were right back at it. More friends joined us when we arrived into our usual stomping grounds, Dunedin, FL, and we enjoyed the benefit of Charlene running back and forth to convenience stores and burger joints (Sorry, Dr. Charlie) to keep us nourished as we kept moving toward the 100,000 step goal.

Jeff, Jack & Charlene mug for the camera as shadows get long

Jeff, Jack & Charlene on the road as shadows get long

We had a few challenges as the day drew to a close. Though I considered it a mistake to go back to the barn (Jeff & Charlene’s house) while we still had an unfinished goal, it worked out for the best as Jeff needed to puncture four blisters on his feet and we soaked our legs in their pool before logging the last 15,000 steps. We both developed a rash near our ankles that Charlene said looked like some capillaries had burst, though as I write this mine has subsided and so has the itching that accompanied the rash. We crossed the 100k milestone at approximately 10:30pm and celebrated with, you guessed it, a beer and a soak in the pool.

I consumed 3,755 calories on the day, 1,152 of which was beer.
101,490 steps taken.
50.89 miles walked, with some running occasionally to loosen up the legs.

Lessons:
1) It helps to do something outrageous like this with someone else. You can talk yourself out of a lot of things, especially when the shit hits the fan (blisters), but when you have someone else relying on you or supporting you, the sense of obligation is one of the keys to keeping you moving.
2) Never, ever, ever go back to the barn until the job is done. Even when someone is with you, getting that horse back out of the barn (even if that horse is you) is very hard to do.
3) As my buddy Brian says, “Proclaim it and then do it.” Telling people what you are going to do, no matter how outrageous the adventure, gives you another sense of obligation that you can draw on to keep you moving. I imagined having to tell my friends, “Well, it didn’t go so well. We had to bail out and fell short of the goal.” I did not want to have that conversation.
4) Have awesome friends like we have, perhaps in addition to a willing spouse or partner. Jeff’s wife, Charlene, was very encouraging and never once mentioned what a pain in the ass this must have been for her, even when I woke her up crashing into her bathroom at 04:00am. Our other friends, Bill, Susan and Laura made us feel like heroes for something as meaningless as walking for 22.5 hours. We all laughed and enjoyed ourselves afterward.

Next up for me and everyone involved in yesterday’s craziness is to prepare for our next marathon. More good times, more goals to accomplish, and more laughs with friends.

Angel Hair

An old man sits on his favorite bar​ stool at his favorite outdoor bar. He calls it his watering hole. It is the same every time he goes, just frequently enough that the servers all know what he drinks. He walks into the bar and the server says, “drink order,” as she plugs the order into the computer. The bar is filled with locals, and though there is banter among the usual customers, this usual customer is usually left alone to stare off into the distance as he enjoys his beer.

He glances over at his server as she enters another order into the computer. The sun is setting on this coastal town and it is screaming into the bar with an intense glare, making it difficult for anyone wanting to play on their smart phones. The old man focuses on her arm as she is about to walk away from the computer. He noticed something that takes him back to his youth.

The hairs on the server’s forearm were glowing like leaves on an aspen tree flickering in the warmth of the setting sun. The old man’s mind flashed back to Cathy. She was from Canada. Both were vacationing with family at the same Florida beach hotel. They introduced themselves and quickly became sweethearts over the week they shared in this beach town.

One day as they played in the surf together, the sun setting behind them, he caught a glimpse of Cathy’s arm just before she hugged him. She had goose pimples because it was chilly as the sun dropped into the ocean, and the hair on her arms reflected the glow of the sunset.

The image was gone as fast as it appeared, and the old man was left with another memory of what could have been.

He Didn’t See it Coming

He was cruising home on his usual running route, four miles into a six-miler, when he noticed an out of control car coming his way. He was adamant with friends about running on the opposite side of the road just for instances like this, so that you could see the trouble ahead of you and have a chance to react.

The car swerved right and then left. He reacted. The female driver began to lose control by going over into opposing traffic, and then she corrected herself and swerved back to the right. She overcorrected, and now she was heading right for the runner. He had seen the chaos and actually began to run as far off the path as possible, to his left and away from the runaway car. But it was almost as if the car wanted that runner dead; it seemed as if they were destined to collide. This was no collision. The car ran over the runner.

The woman got out of the car, not a scratch on her. The front bumper of the car had the runner’s blood on it. He was lying in the grass, gasping for air. One of his lungs was punctured, and he was bleeding from a gash on the right side of his throat. The driver came over to the runner as he lay in the grass, in what looked for all passersby like she was trying to help. He was quickly dying as his blood drained from his body.

The driver stuck a finger in the neck wound of the runner as if to stop the bleeding. The runner looked up at her as if to say, “Don’t let me die.”

“Don’t worry,” said the driver, “I was in control the entire time. Breathe easy. You’ll be dead soon.”

Fun to Watch, Bad for Your Streak

Check out the box score for the top of the order of the road team from the 13-inning game between the Nationals and the Cubs yesterday. The Nats were the road team:

harper

Bryce Harper is fun to watch and he is obviously getting the respect that he deserves from the other teams; i.e. – they’re not pitching to him. He was pitched around and/or intentionally walked six times yesterday.

If you are choosing him for your streak, something I did back in April, he is effectively getting perhaps 1, maybe 2 at-bats per game. Yesterday’s box score shows that he had no at-bats because of the walks, which does not hurt a streak if someone chooses him. The potential bad news in choosing a hitter who is this feared is that instead of only needing to bat 0.250 in a game (1 for 4) or even as lows as 0.200 (1 for 5), Harper may need to be a perfect 1 for 1 or perhaps 1 for 2 during those few times he will get a good look at a ball to hit in games this year.

I do not mind looking for a 0.300 hitter to go 0.250 during a game, but asking a 0.300 hitter to bat 1.000 or 0.500 is asking a lot just for keeping your streak alive.

Choose singles hitters, not King Kong Bryce Harper.

Volunteer Veggies

Last week I started adding more veggies to my diet, and I am using the term ‘more’ very loosely. I have not eaten many veggies in my life. As I was cutting up the red and orange peppers that would go into my salad I noticed that I was about to throw the guts of the peppers into the trash. I stopped. I asked myself,

“Is that what I’m supposed to do with these? That can’t be right.”

So instead of tossing them into a landfill to fertilize all the plastic we are putting into those, I thought maybe I could add them right back to Mother Earth myself. This past week as I was gazing ever so lovingly at my Bamboo plant, some pepper sprouts started appearing into what I will now call “the transition pot.”

IMG_0241

It looks like I just bought myself another part-time gig to go with all the other bags that I am carrying around. So why not. I now have to build a plant box and work up some kind of additional hydration system and see where all of this planting is going to take me. It is a good thing that my little enclosed balcony has southern exposure. I wonder if I need to have an opening in the screen for the bees to get in, for whatever it is that is their job to do.