Friday, February 29, 2008

Here we go again

Next winter, I am planning to really focus my winter on teaching skiing. I am a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). PSIA has three levels of certification for ski instructors and I'm currently certified at the second level. Getting a level III certification is much more difficult than level I or level II, as it should be. It is my goal to get that level III certification at some point, but I really need a winter where my focus is on skiing and teaching and not so much on training for ultras. After I got accepted into Western States for this year, I decided to reduce my focus on skiing this winter and focus on the race instead.

In a typical ski season, I ski about 50 days. This winter, I probably won't ski 40 days, and I haven't taken a single day off work to ski this winter. Next winter, I hope to ski 60 or more days as I focus on my level III skiing exam.

So, what's all of this got to do with the subject line above?

We currently have a winter storm warning posted for overnight. We are going to get another 6"-10" of snow by Sunday morning, with more likely in the mountains. We are expecting another big storm on Tuesday night or Wednesday.

It seems like I picked the wrong winter to run more and ski less. Right now, I have more snow in my yard than at any other time in the 10 winters I've now spent in Vermont. This winter would have been perfect to focus on skiing rather than running. If the month of March is anything like March of 2001, I will have snow halfway up the windows on the ground floor of my house soon.

But, if I could choose between a finish at Western States and getting my level III PSIA certification, I'd take the Western States finish. I love both sports and both goals are difficult, but the running is a bit more important. So, I'll gladly ski when I can this winter and hope that next winter is just as snowy as this one.

I often wonder what I would do if I had to choose between skiing and ultrarunning. I have suffered two knee injuries while skiing that have affected my running, including one in 2002 that caused me to undergo surgery and miss Western States that year. Hopefully, I'll never have to make the choice to pick one sport over the other, and I'll participate in both for many more years.

For now, I'll plan on running a bit this evening and then really enjoying the snow this weekend.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Taking it easy?

I think I'm taking it easy. I feel less than 100% right now, so I'm trying to only do one workout per day instead of two, and I'm trying to make them easier than normal.

Last night, I set the treadmill at 3.8mph and at a grade of 5% and started walking. In the third mile, I gradually increased the grade to 15%, and I then stopped after 3 miles.

This morning, I did my scheduled lifting workout, but I dropped the weights on all lifts by about 20%. I typically add a few bodyweight exercises to my scheduled lifting program, but I decided to skip that today as well.

Tonight, I've got another meeting, so I'll skip running completely today. I usually run twice on Fridays, but I'm going to shoot for just once tomorrow.

My poor son, who has been sick a lot this school year, with pneumonia and the flu, among other things, seems to have a cold right now. He's had a tough winter. I can't seem to convince him that his sleep habits and dietary choices are possible factors in his getting sick. He's 14 and doesn't hear very well, it seems. If he's going to pace me the last 6.7 miles at WS, he's got a lot of training to do. He has been planning on going out for the track team this spring, but I'm guessing he'll try to weasel out of it somehow. Practice starts two weeks from Monday.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Maybe I'm not just having allergy issues after all. I was beat this morning and slept in before I went outside to clear the snow from the driveway. I feel like I might be getting sick. If it has to happen, the timing isn't bad right now, when I wanted a short recovery period anyway.

We got about 10" of snow last night with a few more expected today, but overall, the storm seemed to be less significant than I thought it would be. The kids even had school today.

I really want to take a nap right now, but I'm swamped at work, preparing for some classes I'll be teaching in the next few weeks, along with my normal job stuff as well. And, I have two meetings after work tonight. But, I'll still be in bed early tonight.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Time for a recovery week

I've been gradually increasing my workload since the first of the year. Sunday's run was the end of almost 8 weeks of increasing running mileage. This week, we are going to get hit by a major snowstorm that has just started. I've also got 5 town government meetings this week.

It seems like a good time to take a rest week and then resume my mileage build-up next week. It seems like I've been surrounded by sick people for weeks and right after a marathon, even at less than 100% effort, I'm sure I'm at higher risk for getting sick right now.

Last night, I went to the gym, and spent an hour stretching and using my foam roller to massage some tired muscles from Sunday's run.

This morning, I lifted at the gym, but I deliberately dropped the weight on every lift from a week ago. I'll do a walk/run on the treadmill tonight for 45 minutes or so. After that, I'll fit in whatever easy workouts I can manage for the rest of the week.

For some reason, I seem to be fighting some allergy problems right now. I have no idea what could be causing the problems, but it's definitely allergies and not a cold. I've been sneezing a lot and some OTC Claritin has helped.

The snowstorm that has just started looks like it will be our biggest of the season so far. Skiing will be great this weekend, but it's going to be a long time before our trails are runnable here in VT on anything but snowshoes.

Monday, February 25, 2008

23 consecutive years of marathons and ultras

I ran the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club Mid-Winter marathon yesterday. This was my 6th time running this marathon in the last 10 years, but my first since 2004, when I ran 4:09:30. Yesterday, I ran 4:06:32. My finish yesterday made 2008 the 23rd consecutive year in which I've finished at least one marathon or ultra. My first marathon was run in August of 1986 in the Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine. I'm very happy with this streak, simply because it shows that I've managed to persist in my running for fully half of my life right now.

In my six times running this race, I've run as fast as 3:52 in 2001 and as slowly as 4:49 in 2002. Yesterday was my second fastest of my six runs at this race. Fifteen years ago, I would have been embarrassed to run over 4 hours in the marathon, but I'm quite happy with yesterday's result. I have been running at 10mpm pace or slower on the treadmill most of the time, and I've only done two longs runs since October - a pair of slow 20 milers in January. I felt really strong for the whole race and ran a very negative split. Here are my 5 mile splits:

5 : 47:59 - nice easy start
10: 49:35 - still easy, but an extended Port-a-Potty stop
15: 46:30 - feeling good, started to push a bit
20: 48:02 - felt like I was running faster than this
25: 44:02 - still felt strong at 20 and started to work more
1.2: 10:24 - strong finish.

My 1/2 marathon splits were approximately 2:06:30 and 2:00:00.

Considering that I lifted twice last week, did speedwork on Tuesday night, and skied on Saturday, I'm very happy with this marathon result.

My 4:09:30 in 2004 was done the year I finished Hardrock. My 3:52 came the year I finished my first 100 miler. I use this race as a long training run and a mid-winter fitness check, and I'm happy with where I am right now.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Not much to say

I did an easy 4 before a committee meeting last night. Then, an easy 5 before work today. Saw my chiropractor this morning.

I'll ski tomorrow and if we have enough coaches for Sunday, I'll run a marathon on Sunday. Otherwise, I'll ski Sunday and call this a recovery week.

After Sunday, my next long run day will be 3/4, when I have the day off work and I only have a 2-hour town meeting to attend.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Diet this month

I've commented a few times that my main focus this month was on my diet and on counting and restricting calories. I haven't mentioned at all how I've been doing this. To be truthful, it's been a difficult 3 weeks so far and I can't wait for my current eating protocol to change.

Basically, I've been living on protein shakes and one solid meal per day for the past 3 weeks. Right after a workout, I use a protein shake that has some carbs in it. During the course of a typical day, I will work out, have a shake with carbs, then have two low-carb shakes during the day, work out again, and then have one more shake with carbs.

Then, I have one meal in the evening - typcially a big salad, a veggie, and a lean protein source. Mid-way through the month, I planned a single cheat meal - a high carb meal of whatever sounded good at the time.

I thought this diet would get easier over time, but the past few days have been tough.

All of this has been based on something called the Velocity Diet, published on the web-site. Be warned that the site has some pictures that might not be safe for work. It's dedicated primarily to bodybuilders (T-Nation is a shortcut for Testosterone Nation), and there are numerous photos of female bodybuilder and figure competitors.

Anyway, the true Velocity Diet allows you to have only one solid meal per week, not one per day. I will admit that I don't think I could do that, but I felt I could follow the one-meal-per-day variation.

My 4 shakes during the day total 900 calories on a day where I lift and run for my two workouts, and 750 calories on a day where I run twice. Then, my evening meal is typically 800-900 total calories.

Starting this weekend, I'm going to start transitioning off this diet. I will eat 2 solid meals per day this weekend. Next week, during the work week, I'll have two meals some days and one meal some other days.

It looks right now like I will have lost about 10 pounds by the end of this month. The tape measure and the mirror and my clothes and my belt all confirm the weight loss.

As I get into March, the most important thing will be to follow a reasonable diet and not re-gain any weight. I will then have a few months where I hope to drop another 5 pounds or so before Western States, but I will have lost most of the weight I need to lose before my running mileage really peaks.

I don't know if I'd recommend this diet to others or not. I think it has been effective, but it's been mentally tough. I thought it would be expensive, but in reality, the supplements that I've used haven't really cost any more than the food I've skipped. It might have even saved me some money.

It hasn't been fun at times. But, it will all be worth it on June 29th.

Even more sore

On Tuesday morning, when lifting, my squats at 135 pounds felt easier than they had recently. Rather than adding more weight to the bar, I decided to focus on my form, getting really low at the bottom of each squat. Then, I did speed work that night. I was sore yesterday, especially my glutes and upper hamstrings, but figured I'd feel fine by today. But, this morning, it was even worse

I lifted again today and Bulgarian split squats and Romanian deadlifts were especially tough because they hit the glutes that are aching so much right now.

I'll run an easy 4 tonight before a meeting and then 6 tomorrow morning. After that, I hope things work out so that I can run the marathon on Sunday. The weather for the marathon looks perfect - sunny with a high near 32F. If I run this race, it will be my 6th time running it, which will make it my most frequently run marathon. Right now, I've run the Cal International Marathon 5 times and the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club Winter Marathon 5 times each.

With Vermont's Town Meeting Day just around the corner (March 4th), town business is really taking up a lot of time. I had 3 evening meetings this week and I have 4 scheduled for next week. The following week, I have meetings scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, although if I lose my election, that Wednesday's meeting will be my last for a while.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sore today

After lifting yesterday morning, I had only about 45 minutes to run at night before a Select Board meeting. Because of my rest day on Monday, I felt pretty good as I warmed up on the treadmill. I decided to try some interval work, but started it with no fixed plan.

I decided to try some 90 seconds on/90 seconds off intervals for a while, increasing the speed until I hit the pace where I didn't feel like I could or should go any faster. I started with 2 repeats at 7.5mph (8mpm). They felt easy, as I would hope they would. Then, two at 8mph. Still easy. Two at 8.5 mph (about a 7mpm pace). Still not too bad. Then, two at 9mph. I didn't feel maxed out yet at 6:40 pace. Two at 9.5 mph and I finished with two at 10.0 mph - a 6:00 mpm pace.

I don't think I'd done any running under a 6:40 pace in a long time and I was surprised at how good I felt for those four faster repeats.

This morning, between the lifting yesterday, which included squats, and the interval work, I'm kind of sore. But, I got in an easy 5 miler this morning and it felt OK.

Today is the 20th consecutive day that I've been paying close attention to my calorie intake. It looks like I'm going to get down to 185 pounds by the end of the month. At that point, I'll probably change my diet a bit and hope to gradually drop 5 or so pounds over the next couple months.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Would you vote for this guy?

This is the sum of my campaign for my Select Board seat. This ad will run in our town weekly (yes, we only have a weekly newspaper) for two weeks before our election on March 4th. The total cost of my campaign will be $103. I have not applied for federal matching funds.

Oh yeah, after a rest day yesterday, I lifted this morning and felt good. Tonight, I'll get in an easy 5 miler before a Select Board meeting.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rest Day

After doing at least one workout of some type for 54 consecutive days, I decided to take a rest day today. Saturday night, I ran after skiing all day and I was just beat. Yesterday, I was so tired after skiing that I fell asleep for the entire car ride home (no, I wasn't driving).

So, this morning, I turned off my alarm clock and slept in. No workout at all this morning. None after work either. I slept almost 11 hours last night.

Last week, I ran 51 miles, lifted 2x and skied 2x - pretty much right on target.

This week will either be an easy week or a hard week, depending on how busy the ski mountain is next weekend at the end of a holiday week. There is a marathon in Albany, NY, on the University of Albany campus that I've run 5 of the last 9 years. That race is next Sunday. I know that we have a few ski instructors heading to CO today for a trip, so the program where I teach might be short-staffed next weekend. But, many of the kids that I teach are also going out west to ski, so I won't have many kids there next weekend.

So, I'm going to do a mini-taper this week. My boss and I will decide on Saturday if we have enough coaches for me to sneak out of work for one day to run the marathon next Sunday. The race is very low key and inexpensive, with race morning registration available.

If he needs me to work next Sunday, I'll get in some running miles on Saturday night after skiing and I'll run about 35 miles this week. If I can sneak out for the marathon, I'll get in about 50 miles this week. A lower mileage week probably wouldn't hurt me much right now after 7 weeks of gradually increasing mileage. And, if I get to run the marathon, that will give me a feel for where my conditioning is right now, and I can take an easier week next week instead.

Today, it's warm and raining in VT. It was 52F and windy and raining at the ski mountain an hour ago. I'm glad I'm not teaching skiing today. Everything outside is a huge mess today. My driveway was about 6" of densely packed rain-soaked snow this morning and we struggled to get out of the driveway with AWD and 4 studded snow tires.

On the nutrition front, my calories have been very restricted since the first of the month. I've been under 2000 calories every day of the month but one. My weight seems to have stabilized a bit right now, but I can see the difference in the mirror.

On Friday night, I pulled out a measuring tape and my cheap body fat calipers. With the calipers, using a 7-site test, 4 of the 7 measures have decreased. One went up though, indicating to me that my last measurement might have been bad.

The tape measure showed real progress though. Of 8 different measures, 6 dropped significantly and two (my bicep girth and calf girth) stayed the same. I dropped at least an inch in the other six measurements, and more than 2" each from my waist and hip measurements. I'm not surprised at the two measures that stayed the same, because my calf and upper arms are fairly lean already.

Maybe I'll have the guts to post some photos from last spring before Massanutten, last summer before VT100, and now to show the changes in my body composition. There's still more work to be done, but I've made great progress in the past 9 months.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lifting Progress

I told my brother about NROL while we were on vacation last summer. He's fought some serious tendonitis type problems in his right elbow for years. He was a very competitive tennis player for a long time and the elbow problems have really curtailed his tennis, although he still plays some and he plays left-handed at times.

Anyway, in the fall, he bought NROL and started doing the workouts. He is 3 years younger than I am, but I've been amazed at his progress so far. His weights in squats are way higher than mine. My deadlifts are a bit higher, but not by much.

He suggested that the endurance work is likely impeding my progress when it comes to lifting more weight, and I think there is something in NROL about that being the case. He does some cardio and some high intensity interval training (I think), but mostly he lifts.

We're both doing the Fat Loss 2 program right now from NROL - my second time and his first. I've got a head start of 5 or so months, and yet, he's making more progress.

It's great for him, but I'm really kind of curious if it's just a natural difference between us, whether it's age (46 vs 43 - is it that big a difference), my running, or something else.

Just keep running...

I did six last night after work. Then, I cooked and ate dinner, and then fell asleep while trying to read a magazine. With both my wife and I working on getting into better shape and trying to lose some weight, it was a pretty boring Valentine's Day.

Six more this morning. I'll do six more tonight. Then ski tomorrow. I'll probably run or snowshoe an easy 4 after skiing tomorrow to get over 50 miles for the week. I'll skip a party tomorrow night that will involve unhealthy food and lots of beer.

Nice, steady progress. I'm racking up the miles, doing my lifting, putting in my ski days, and gradually losing weight. As of tomorrow, it's only 19 weeks until Western States and only six weeks until my first race of the year. From that race until I start my taper, the intensity of training will certainly increase.

So far, everything seems to be right on track, but there's a lot of work remaining to be done.

It's all kind of boring right now, but it's the numerous boring choices I make each day that will make the difference at the race.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tempo (sort of) and Lifting

Last night, I had a meeting after work, so I didn't have as much time to run as I would have liked. I got to the gym and hopped on the treadmill and set it for 4 miles. I walked for a couple minutes and then switched to running. I increased the pace gradually and settled in at 9mpm. That's faster than I've been running and I've been deliberately keeping my pace slower while cutting calories the past couple weeks. After 1 mile, I decided to see how I'd feel going faster, so I increased to 8:30 pace. After mile 2, I went to 8:00 pace and after mile 3, I went to 7:30 pace. I still felt good, so from 3.5 miles to the finish, I gradually pushed the pace to 7mpm. It was the first time since the 4th of January that I did a run at anything other than a cruise-control pace and it felt good.

This morning, I remembered why I hate a particular workout from New Rules of Lifting. I'd last done this workout in October, but it was time again today. I increased the weights from the last time I did this workout, and it was painful. Most of my workouts have one or two easier lifts in the six different lifts that make up the core of the workout. This workout has T-pushups as the only relatively easy thing and the rest of the lifts are hard. After the main workout, I finished the morning with a number of sets of Farmer's Walks, doing 1 minute each with 60# DBs, then 50, 40, 30, 20, 25, 30, and 35. When I do FWs, I start at a higher weight and drop by 10 pounds per DB after each minute. I do that until a weight feels easy. Then, I start back up, by 5# per repeat, until I can't complete a minute. I hit that at 35# today.

I'll run an easy 6 miles tonight and then wrap up the work week with 12 or so miles tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning, it will have been two weeks since I started working consciously to cut calories, so it will be time to hop on the scale again.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One other thing

On the first of the year, I switched from lifting 3x per week to 2x. So far, my strength has continued to improve, but I noticed a few changes in the last week or two. Squats and deadlifts are making me more sore than I've been in the recent past. Maybe it's increased weight on the deadlifts, but my squats have not increased. I was very sore from both of my last two weight workouts.

I have read somewhere that lifting 2x per week is for maintenance and 3x or more is needed for improvement. Maybe I'm still trying to improve but not lifting enough. After I'm done teaching skiing for the winter, I'll probably go back to 3x per week, at least for a little while, to see how things go. My third day might be easier than the other two, but I do miss that third day of lifting each week.

This date in (personal) history

I was looking through my training logs for the past few years. I just happened to look at my total running mileage as of this date for the past few years. Here is what I found:

2004: 377
2005: 111
2006: 78
2007: 248
2008: 275

In 2004, I was working with a coach, Kevin Setnes, who believed in high mileage. I was also training in anticipation of the Hardrock lottery for that year, and I was picked in the lottery that year, which intensified my mileage focus even more.

In 2005, I was working with a different coach who had a very different training philosophy than Kevin. All in all, it simply didn't work for me - not enough miles. I ended up being pulled from WS at mile 93 that year after missing the time cut-off. I think that racing the tough Squaw Peak 50 three weeks before WS was a big mistake that year, especially given my lack of total training miles that season.

In 2006, I was fighting an illness for a lot of January and I was also focused on a ski instructor examination. I barely ran at all in January of that year, but I passed my skiing test.

Last year, I was off to a good start, but I got sick right about this time and my mileage went downhill quickly after mid-February.

In both 2006 and 2007, despite illnesses in the winter, I ran 100 mile PRs at the VT100.

I looked at my weight on this date for each of those years. In each of those other years, my weight on this date was 190-196. This year, it's 188 and I've added about 10 pounds of muscle in the past year. My bodyfat percentage is currently the lowest it's been since I toed the line at Hardrock in 2004.

So, it's a good start, but it will all mean nothing unless I sustain things through the coming months.

I filled out my race app today for a 50K the weekend after I pace at Massanutten. That race should complete my spring racing schedule, with a 50K in March, another in May, three events in May (one pacing) and then training on my own and a taper in June.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Snow and more snow

The snow keeps piling up here in Vermont. We had one big storm last week and a couple minor snow "events". Yesterday, it snowed all day while I was skiing. Around lunchtime, the winds picked up and we had a total whiteout for a while.

We may get more than a foot of snow tomorrow night into Wednesday. Then, on Saturday, a big storm is supposed to hit. My mailbox seems to be gone. It's just buried in a snowbank. Every time we use the snow blower, the driveway seems to be just a bit more narrow than it was the day before. Intersections are getting dangerous because the snow banks are so high that people have to creep into the intersection to see if it's safe to pull out. I don't know where the town is going to put the snow from these next two storms; they may have to start trucking it out of town.

The skiing is great, but my wife told me this morning that she's sick of the snow blower.

The snow likely means that I won't be able to do any real trail running in Vermont until May. The high mountain trails probably won't be clear of snow until late May or early June. In some ways, this will probably be perfect training for Western States, where we'll probably have a lot of snow this year as well.

So, for now, I'll enjoy the skiing and continue to spend lots of time on the treadmill. As the days get longer, I'll be able to spend more time on my snowshoes as well.

On another note, this morning, I switched weight workouts. I completed one cycle from the New Rules of Lifting book on Thursday, and then started another this morning. It's similar to the last cycle, but a bit tougher. Losing some weight has certainly helped with a number of bodyweight exercises, especially pull-ups and chin-ups.

Tonight, I'll run for about 90 minutes before a local government meeting. I only got in 43 miles last week instead of 50, so I hope to do more miles this week. I wanted to run after skiing on Saturday, but I was just beat, so I came home and relaxed for the evening instead.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Rest Days

I just noticed when I was updating my running log that my last rest day was Christmas Day. I haven't felt the need for a rest day, but it seems that 6+ weeks without a rest day might not be a good idea. I'll have to see if I can fit in a rest day soon. But, part of the reason that I haven't taken a rest day in so long is that I've felt strong and felt no need to take a day off.

However, I'm not as young as I used to be...

Tough workout last night

Thanks to the poor start to my day yesterday, I decided to lift and then do a short run at night. I very rarely lift and run in the same training session, but I only had time to work out once yesterday. Here were my lifts and the weights. All were 3x10s, done in 3 supersets:

Deadlift - 205
Incline DB Presses - 45

Bulgarian Split Squat - 2x25
Mixed Grip Lat Pulldown - unsure of weight - I just know the number on the machine (11)

Romanian Deadlift - 155
Rope-grip Cable Woodchop - "9" on the machine

Five of those six lifts were new highs for the amount of weight lifted when going for that many reps. I've done more weight for some of them as a single rep or a set of 5, but never for more than 5 reps. All of them are approximately double where I was last June, with perhaps the least progress on lat pulldowns.

Then, I hopped on the treadmill. I walked the first mile at 4mph, and then slowly ran 3 more. I was a bit sore this morning in my glutes and upper hamstrings, most likely from the Romanian DLs. I did another easy 6 on the treadmill this morning and I'll run again tonight.

After a lot of snow this week, we are going to have an amazing ski weekend. I'm going to do some snowboarding as well this weekend - something I do a couple times per year with the children I teach. They really enjoy snowboarding and most of them are better at it than I am, which they also enjoy. It's hard to believe that I'll be done teaching skiing for another winter in just 6 weeks.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Oh yeah...

My weight was 189.4 this morning, the lowest value I've seen in a year, and the last time I was that light was before I got more serious about lifting. If my use of calipers is correct, I'm down to about 13.5% body fat.

In a couple more weeks, I'll get out the calipers again and see if any weight changes have affected lean body mass, or just fat.

My pants are definitely getting too big right now.


I wanted to write a long, whiny post this morning. I got up at 5:00 this morning to run the snowblower through the driveway. Doing it that early would allow me to lift weights before work. But, between the time I finished clearing the driveway and when I hopped in the car, the plow truck came by, and I didn't hear it. As I was leaving the house, I slowed at the top of the driveway to look for traffic, and suddenly saw the huge amount of snow left behind by the plow. My car got stuck - bottomed out on hard-packed snow.

My wife and I spent an hour working to dig the car out with no luck. Finally, a neighbor towed me the rest of the way out. By this time, I had to skip my workout and I came straight to work. The shower was out of order. No workout, no shower. I was pissed.

But, after finding an alternate shower to use, and coming back in the building, I heard our CEO and another senior manager talking about the tornadoes yesterday and how some people died with no warning at all. Just like that - entire families were dead.

Quickly, I felt like an a**hole for turning such a minor set of incidents into a big deal. I'm healthy enough to invest huge amounts of time in an essentially meaningless sport. I have enough money to travel to races. My family is healthy. I have a nice house, two cars that run, a family that I love, and I get all PO'd about a morning that doesn't go perfectly.

We probably all need to occasionally take a look around to see what's more important than our own little worlds.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Local Politics again

Vermont has a long tradition with its Town Meeting Day on the first Tuesday in March. National media frequently picks up stories related to these town meetings, such as the current brouhaha about Brattleboro wanting to issue arrest warrants for Bush and Cheney, should they ever visit the town. We have nothing anywhere close to that controversial on our agenda, although we do have a re-vote on the future of our town office buildings.

The late date of our town meeting, which is also the date for our Presidential primary, and the size of the state tend to make Vermont irrelevant in the Presidential primary. Four years ago, Vermont gave Howard Dean his only primary win, well after he'd dropped from the race.

This year, it now appears that Vermont will matter to some extent, at least on the Democratic side. So, what does that have to do with local politics? I am probably best described as a socially liberal, fiscal conservative, with some Libertarian leanings. I think government should respect its citizens and their income, yet I think there are certain things governments should do. I'm registered as a Democrat. My opponent in our local election in 4 weeks is a Republican. However, our parties won't even be listed on the ballots - another quirk of VT law. But, my opponent is a well-known anti-tax conservative. One of the keys for me to win is turnout. My opponent has a core constituency that will show up to vote for him, but Democratic turnout will be important for me to win. With our Presidential primary suddenly mattering somewhat, I'm hopeful this will bring out more Democrats, and I'm also hopeful that they'll support me over my opponent.

I hope that conservatives will support me as well. I've spent my time in my current seat being very tight with town money, at least in my opinion. I've suggested a number of actions that have saved the town money and it's something I'll continue to do.

I guess I'm going to have to do some campaigning. It should be easy to find the time to do that, when I'm not running or lifting or working my day job or teaching skiing on the weekends or working on my consulting contract or attending government meetings.

Sleep is overrated, right?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Training on reduced calories

On Friday, I made a conscious effort to cut my daily calories and to measure my daily intake. My goal was to stay below 2000 calories per day for 3 weeks and see what happens. My secondary goal is to do as many of my scheduled workouts as I feel I can do in those three weeks. I've been expecting to "hit the wall" any moment now.

On Friday, I ran twice, for an hour each time. But, it was the first day, so I got through things OK. Saturday and Sunday were ski days, and I was tired by the end of the day, but not unusually so. My turns weren't getting sloppy or less precise due to tiredness. (Some might argue that my turns lack precision on a regular basis, but any lack of precision on Sunday was not due to a calorie deficit).

Yesterday morning, lifting was tough, but I got through it. I figured last night on the treadmill would be when it hit me. So, I walked for a while - 35 minutes at 4mph, 2% grade. I got bored and sped up until I got to 6 miles. It was somewhat hard, but I survived.

This morning, I had a great 7 miler on the treadmill, which surprised me very much.

Maybe it's the fact that I base my running efforts this time of year on Phil Maffetone's work, and I run very slowly during base building. The theory is that running very slowly uses a higher percentage of fat for energy than faster running, which uses blood glycogen (carbs) for energy. So right now, despite being in a somewhat carb-depleted state, maybe I can continue to do Maffetone-like mileage. Or maybe it will all fall to pieces any day now.

But, my weight is coming down, I'm getting into the routine of the lower calories, I'm not feeling too hungry, and I'm still working out. So, I'd have to say I'm off to a decent start. But, I'm only on day 5 of this planned 21-day experiment.

Thursday will be another weight workout, which will be a challenge.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Let's try posting my weight loss graph

Low calories - what fun!

For the past 3 days, I've stayed under 2000 calories per day. On Friday, I ran twice for a total of about 11 miles, and then I skied Saturday and Sunday. On both ski days, I was tired by mid-afternoon. My weight workout this morning was more difficult than usual, but I maintained the weights that I lifted, and even went up on one lift - dumbbell push presses.

I expected this would happen when I dropped the calories so quickly. But, the scale shows a change as well, so I'm going to stick with counting and limiting calories for a while. My current calorie experiment is scheduled to go 3 weeks, until the 21st of this month.

From there, I'll see where my weight and body fat percentage stand, and figure out what to do next. I cannot simply go along in life, hoping that body fat will disappear just because of hard work. The food part of the equation needs control if I'm going to have a good race at Western States.

I made hotel reservations in Truckee for the two nights before the race, so I think my travel plans are complete. Now, I need my scheduled pacer to get healthy or I might need to find an alternate pacer. My pacer seems to be making progress with some foot problems, but she has run very little since last fall. I was going to pace her at Umstead (again) this year, but there's no way she can be ready for that race.

Oh yeah, for people who don't get flu shots - I suggest you really think about them in the future. Neither of my children got flu shots this year, but my wife and I did. My son was diagnosed with a confirmed case of the flu this past week and he's been feeling sick for about 10 total days. My daughter was sick for part of last week as well, but not sick enough for a trip to the doctor. So far, my wife and I have been fine.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Plans for February

I've still got just over 4 months until I start my taper for Western States. I started the year with a good training month and I lost a few pounds. However, the biggest impediment for me having a good race at Western States remains my weight.

So, this month is going to be focused very heavily on weight reduction. While I try to be careful about what foods I eat, I don't focus enough on the quantity of those foods or the total number of calories that I eat. This month, I'm going to count calories on a daily basis, at least for a few weeks, and work hard at limiting the number of calories. I'll let my daily workouts dictate the number of calories somewhat, but I will diligently focus on calories in and calories out.

While running a caloric deficit, I'm guessing that running will be a bit more difficult at times. But, at this time of year, I am focusing on simply accumulating miles, so I've got no problem going very slowly if I'm tired. I may even mix in some walking workouts this month - something like 3.5 to 4.0 mph on the treadmill, with an incline.

I'll still try to get to 200 miles this month, and keep up with my lifting and skiing, but I need to drop some weight. I really want to be training at a lighter weight by the end of March, when I'm done teaching skiing for the year.

On another note, we are going to get slammed by a nasty storm today. It's going to start as snow and then change over to accumulating sleet and then accumulating ice. Getting to the mountain to ski tomorrow morning could be very dicey. Skiing could be really tough tomorrow, even if I can get there. Actually, just getting home from work today is likely to be scary. My commute to work on Wednesday morning was terrifying; my road was a solid sheet of ice and it's all downhill to work. Getting home tonight could be just as bad.