Friday, April 30, 2010

Trying to find some consistency

I had a good lifting session on Tuesday. On Wednesday, work was too crazy and I never got to the gym or out for a run.

Yesterday was even worse. Our CEO has been looking at cash flow numbers and they aren't pretty. So, he furloughed a very new employee. This means I am once again the entire IT department and I have a huge and complex deadline at the end of May. The next few weeks are going to be tough.

But, rather than just giving in to my urges last night (going home and just drinking beer was my first instinct after the sudden staffing change at work), when I got home, my wife and I took the dogs out for a 40 minute run. Then, I cooked a healthy dinner for us as well. I will admit I had some beer while watching the NHL playoffs, but a reasonable amount.

Today, after work, my time is tight, but I think I can squeeze in 45 minutes at the gym. Tomorrow morning, my son takes his SATs, and I think my wife and I are going to drop him off and do a long-ish slow run while he takes the test.

We'll see about Sunday.

But, if I run twice and lift twice this week, as bad as that is, it will be one of my better weeks recently. Now, I just have to find a way to get through May.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wow - almost two weeks with no posts

I use this blog thingie as much to talk to myself as anyone else, I suppose. I continue to be swamped at work, and I've apparently been too busy to even write anything saying I was too busy to write anything.

Two weekends ago, I worked most of the weekend, but we had a nice celebration for my daughter and mother-in-law for their birthdays. The adults shared a bottle of 1993 Lafite Rothschild - a rare treat of a wine, even if it wasn't from the greatest vintage.

Then, after the weekend, it was back to work. I only worked four days last weekend because I was going to PA for a long weekend this past weekend. So, in four days, I managed a couple workouts and a lot of work. The highlight of the week was probably a 60 minute run with my wife, my son, and both dogs on a beautiful spring evening. By the end of the run, I was sneezing uncontrollably from tree pollen, but it was still a great run. In a lifting workout last week, I got to within five pounds of my (pathetic) bench press PR, but stopped there.

Then, we went to PA for the weekend. We visited with family and friends, we saw Penn State's annual spring football scrimmage, we watched a lot of hockey on TV, and we drank plenty of beer. For three days (one e-mail excepted), I didn't work.

So, now I'm back at work, and I'm also trying hard to get back to working out. It seems that I might find myself entered in a trail 50K for August pretty soon. So, I need to get moving.

This morning, I lifted before work, and I got my PR on the bench press - two reps at 175#. I tried 185# and just missed, but I'm sure I'll get it next time.

Today, it's snowing like crazy outside and it's supposed to continue through tomorrow morning, and stay cold all day tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll run outside after work tomorrow rather than doing a treadmill workout. I certainly hope I'm done with the treadmill for the winter.

This Saturday or Sunday, it's looking like I might even be able to get outside on my road bike.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Too Soon

So, after running a bit on Tuesday, I decided to return to the gym last night. I decided to do a similar workout to the one where I hurt my back two weeks ago. But, instead of 5x5 of the powerlifts with heavy (for me) weight, I'd do 3x15 of each lift with lighter weights.

Squats went pretty well, although I felt one twinge in my back during a single rep.

Bench presses went pretty well except for the ridiculously low amount of weight I had to use to get in all the reps.

And, to be safe, I kept the weight really low on deadlifts, but they still ended up bothering my back a bit. Not too much, but some.

So, after running on Saturday, skiing Sunday, lifting Monday, running Tuesday and lifting Wednesday, today seems like a good day for a rest day.

Besides, like usual, I'm swamped at work.

I can't figure out which company is more difficult to deal with these days - SAP or Microsoft. I've purchased software from each of them recently, but just getting the media from the web was quite a task. I've got the media now, but both companies refuse to give me product keys for something I have paid for. I guess when you're a tiny little company, making tiny little purchases in the eyes of the big guys, it's not worth their effort to actually give you what you paid for.

Back to the trenches...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A short workout is better than none

Yesterday was another long day in the office. Then, I had my long drive home. I thought about stopping for a beer on the way home from work, but decided that I need to get in a workout instead. I need to start making better decisions - even if they are little - one at a time.

So, I got home at 6:45 last night. The sun was heading down. I changed clothes as quickly as I could and headed out for a run. It was a simple workout - a warm-up, one hard mile (hard is not the same as fast, regretfully), and then a cool-down. I was done in about 25 minutes.

But, more importantly, I ran instead of giving in to the desire to drink a couple beers and just sit on my butt for a while.

Tonight is a lifting night.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Good Night in the Gym

Last night was a quick but intense workout.

Bench presses and bent over barbell rows in a superset, with the following weights/reps:

6x135 of each
1x145 of each
6x135 of each
1x155 of each
12x115 of each
20x95 - BP only

Then some lat pulldowns and some barbell presses, and then some core work.

It was my first lifting workout in almost two weeks, so my weights were a bit low, but it was an intense workout.

Tonight, I'll run for an hour.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Saturday, I worked for most of the day, but after working, I went for a nice hour-long run with my wife. It was a nice day and it was nice to spend the hour alone with my wife - no phones, no computers, no fighting children.

Yesterday, I skied half the day with my family and some friends.

My back was not angry at either of those activities. Tonight, I'm going to try some upper body lifting, but I'm going to wait a bit before doing squats or deadlifts again.

After skiing yesterday, we hung out with ski school friends for a few hours. Even though Sugarbush is one of only three resorts still open in Vermont, there is no guarantee they'll make it to next weekend. There are only five trails left, and even that's a technicality. Truth be told, there are two ways down the mountain - an intermediate trail or a steep expert trail. So, yesterday's "hanging out" was likely our farewell to the season.

I had a lot of fun this season, but my friend Jay mentioned yesterday that we had the worst snow season he's seen in his 8 years at Sugarbush. This was my 12th season skiing at Sugarbush, and I think I've stopped comparing seasons. I just sort of take them as they come. Some storms or seasons are memorable (March of 2001 stands out in memory, as well as the Valentine's Day storm a few years ago that gave us about 5 feet of snow) and some are less great. But, it's always fun for me, even in a "bad" snow year.

So, we celebrated the end of another season last night. I mentioned more than once that it's only seven months until the snow guns are turned on again.

So, I have seven months of warmer weather to pull my fitness back together. Work is not going to get easier in that time frame, but I knew that when I took a high level job at a software start-up company. I've always been primarily a software developer kind of guy, but now I have to worry about not only the product, but also every detail of our computer systems, backups, databases, system administration, hardware procurement, etc. So, I just accept that work will take time. But, I don't have to let that stop me from getting back into shape.

So, I have a fall goal race in mind. I would like to run a Western States qualifier at a road 50 miler in Maine in October. Now that I've said that, I need some intermediate goals. My friend Laurel put a good one into the comments of my last post - pace at the Vermont 100. I think I can be ready for a slow 30 miler by then. I might try to find a late summer or early autumn road marathon. Maybe a half marathon in June. And, I have a couple long hikes that I've been meaning to do for the last couple years. Getting back to peakbagging in NH and NY this summer could be a lot of fun. And, right now, fun is what I need.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bad confluence of events

My back is hurting me. My hamstring has been injured for almost a year.

I've run fewer miles since last July than any similar period in the last 25 years.

I'm down a person at work and I am swamped with a lot of projects there - the perils of working for a start-up company.

My wife recently got a promotion and she's been working a lot of hours. We often keep each other honest by going to the gym together or running together, but neither of us wants to work out right now.

My weight has crept up for the last six months to about as high as it's ever been. I'm no longer comfortable at all in my own body.

My motivation seems to be completely gone, especially when workouts are impeded by injuries, and they are just no fun.

I've had to buy some new (larger) clothes - not a good sign.

Ski season is over, so I'm not required to ski on the weekends.

All of this seems to be giving me more time to work, which is not helping in any way.

It feels like I'm spiraling badly to somewhere I don't want to be.

I'm working on eating better, but it's not enough. I need to get my butt moving or I'm going to need even bigger clothes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I rested my back from Wednesday through Friday last week. When I got up on Saturday morning, I noticed that I could bend down easily for the first time in days. So, I decided to do what any ski-addicted idiot would do - go skiing!

The forecast on Saturday was a high temperature in the 80s with beautiful blue skies. Spring skiing is a lot of fun, it was my first Saturday in a while not teaching, so I was free to just ski with friends. I took my time getting my stuff together and getting to the mountain. I wasn't working, so why hurry? I eventually got to the mountain about 10:30. I got dressed, cleaned out my locker for the season, and then headed out for some skiing. I instantly met up with a friend, and we did an easy warm-up run together and then a really fun double-black bump run. My friend, who started skiing at 9:00, decided it was lunchtime, so I joined him. After lunch, I hooked up with some more friends for a few runs. But, when I decided to squeeze one final run out of my favorite trail on the mountain, the others opted not to go with me.

I quickly found out why. At places, you had to leave the trail and ski in the trees just to stay on snow rather than mud or rocks. After some early rough patches, I finally got to some good snow. And then, I relaxed a bit on the better quality snow, and I suddenly took a fall. My first concern as I was going down was my legs because I was skiing in shorts. Spring snow can cut up your skin pretty badly if you slide for a while. I had that happen to me at Hardrock in 2004, and my legs looked like a herd of cats had scratched me up. But, I came through the fall just fine as far as my legs were concerned. Regretfully, whatever I'd done to my back earlier in the week was exacerbated by the fall.

It didn't seem to bad at first, so I skied for a little bit more. But then, my back started to tighten up a bit, so I called it a day and headed to the outdoor pool for some adult beverages with friends. By now, it was into the low 80s and it was just beautiful. We sat and talked and drank and watched people still skiing.

On Sunday morning, my back was really tight and I had to cook a nice Easter dinner for my wife's family. Just being on my feet all day was uncomfortable. I woke up yesterday nice and sore. Today is perhaps a bit better, but I still need to rest some more.

Right now, my weight is the highest it's been in years, my running is pretty close to non-existent, my lifting is suffering, and I'm working way too many hours. I need to reverse these trends.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A momentary loss of muscular coordination

For those who don't recognize the line above, it's one of many classic lines uttered by Jack Nicholson as Jack in The Shining.

But, it also describes my weight workout on Tuesday night. I did my favorite powerlifting workout again - 5x5 squats, 5x5 bench presses (I might have done 6 - I lost count), and 5x5 deadlifts.

On the very last rep of the night, I got lazy as I put the bar back on the ground. I wasn't lifting heavy - 255 pounds - but rather than keep my back straight as I lowered the bar to the ground, I simply bent over and lowered the weight with a lot of stress on my back. My back complained a lot yesterday and I'm still a bit sore today.

I didn't run yesterday, but it was cool and rainy, so it wasn't a big deal. Today, it's sunny and warm, and I really want to run, but I'm not sure if my back will tolerate that activity. We'll see after work I guess. I hope this fades quickly, and even if I miss a run or two, I at least want to ski on Saturday.

Sunday, I'll be busy cooking Easter dinner for my wife's family, so if I'm going to ski at all this weekend, it needs to be Saturday.