Monday, May 31, 2010


My huge work project of the past three months is essentially done. There are a few details to wrap up, but I believe that I've successfully moved the application to a new set of servers. This was one of the most demanding technical projects I've ever done, and I did it with very limited help. It was all up to me (almost).

Friday night, I left work a little bit early. I had turned off the old system and my plan was to let the system be idle for the weekend, which is a luxury that not many computer-based service providers have. I met some friends at the pre-race expo for the Vermont City Marathon. A good friend who ran a PR at Boston last month had decided that she didn't want to run the race. She was registered as part of a two-person relay team, and we transferred her running slot to me.

Then, we went out for a couple drinks. I think I must have been letting off some steam from the pressures at work recently. I had a completely free evening - my wife and daughter were out of town, my son was at a friend's house, and the dogs were all set. I ended up staying out later that I planned and I ended up getting a hotel room in Burlington for the night. With the marathoners in town, the room was expensive, but not driving was certainly the right thing to do.

Saturday morning, I came home and worked for most of the day. That way, I'd be free to run the 1/2 marathon and then hang out with friends yesterday. Plus, my wife and daughter were flying home from Tennessee, so they could meet me right after the race.

I hadn't run 13 miles since pacing duties at the Vermont 100 last July. My hamstring handled the run just fine, but my fitness isn't there. What is there is a bunch of extra pounds I've added since last fall, when I started working so many hours every week. So, let's just say that I finished. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't fast, but I finished. After the race, we spent some time with friends and then killed some time until a fairly new restaurant opened for dinner. We got there early enough to get a table and had a great meal, although it took a long time for the food to arrive. Then, my son drove us home and everyone got some much-needed sleep.

Today, I turned on my work application at its new location, and it seems to be fine at the moment. I think I can call it a day and maybe do some mowing or go for a swim. Or maybe, I'll just take a nap. Like my good friend Jim, I'm old and falling apart and maybe I just need some more sleep.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday Run

This the run course that my wife and I did yesterday afternoon. I was working downtown, and she wanted more miles than I did, so she ran 4+ miles to meet me where I was working.

We started off with a little loop in town so I could warm up and then headed for some steep trails for a while. We spent a couple miles on those trails and eventually came to a dirt road. My wife voted for a right turn, but I insisted that we needed to go left. She listened to me and within 5 minutes, we knew where we were. A quick look at the map later showed a dead end if we'd gone to the right.

After climbing so much on the trails, we had an easy downhill cruise on the dirt road back to civilization. After we hit pavement, we did almost 3 more miles to finish up the run. It was hot, but it was an enjoyable run with my wife.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday, I was freaking out about work stuff. And then, after some help from our hosting company, things started to fall together. I have 8 days until a huge deadline and I'll continue to work every day, but suddenly, it all looks good. Thirty hours ago, I was really getting scared.

After work yesterday, I did an 18 mile hilly ride on my road bike. It was pure fun - there's no other way to describe it. No pressure, no hurry, but I worked on the hills. That is what a workout should be - fun and hard.

Today, after I finished working, my wife and I ran a combo of new trails and familiar roads for 100 minutes. This was after she'd done a four mile warm-up. She has two weeks until a half marathon and she's in good shape. I need to download my Garmin data to get a good map of what we did today.

I might be running a half marathon in the Vermont City Marathon - Relay Division next Sunday. After today, I know I can finish it, but it won't be fun or pretty.

However, this has been a good week - five good workouts, work is moving along, the weather is beautiful, etc. Everything has been fine except for hockey. The Sharks just suck. There, I said it. I had season tickets in their early days, and I keep hoping they'll actually have some playoffs to match their regular season someday. This isn't the year.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Work deadlines

I'm starting to get really worried about now. I have nine days left to finish a huge project that I've been working on every single day for months. If I don't finish on time, my company will not be able to do the processing that we normally do on a daily basis to support doctors and patients.

My new database for the project has essentially been out of commission all week and my progress has been very limited. I don't mind working all of these hours if I'm making progress, but sitting at a terminal for hour after hour with no progress doesn't help anyone, especially my mental state.

Right now, I appear to be on an infinite hold with waiting for a support representative. I bet I can write this entire post before I talk to a human.

At 4:00 today, I will stop working, for a while at least, to go for a (I didn't finish the post before the phone got answered and very nice man just fixed my database - kudos to for excellent support the past few days) bike ride. I'll probably ride about 20 miles later.

Tomorrow, yes, I'll be working, but my wife and I are planning an afternoon run. Bit by bit, on the work and the exercise and the diet. In a few days, my wife and daughter will leave town for a week or so. My son is fairly self sufficient, so I should be able to work as many hours as I can tolerate next week. Hopefully, I'll get in some good workouts too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Busy but productive

I started work really early yesterday morning because I needed to leave a bit early for a visit to the chiropractor. The doc found my back and hips to be as bad as he's ever seen them. Normally, when things are going well, he'll do one or two adjustments. If things are falling apart, he'll do 3 different adjustments. Last night, for the first time ever, he did 4 different adjustments and suggested I come back every other week for a while right now.

After getting adjusted, I headed to the gym for an upper body workout. It was nothing special, and I continue to be a bit frustrated at how slowly progress is coming on the bench press. But, my lifting is better than my running or riding recently, so I'll take what I've got.

After the gym, I spent 90 minutes fighting my overgrown lawn with a push mower and it was way harder than my gym workout. After that, I finally had time to cook some dinner and try to watch some hockey.

For dinner last night, I made a Thai-style chicken soup with red curry paste, chicken stock, chicken, veggies (including lemon grass) and coconut milk. At the table, we added cilantro, bean sprouts and for the brave, Sriracha sauce. It was a very tasty and fully "primal" dish.

Regretfully, after dinner, I had a little bit of work to do, but I was able to do that and watch hockey at the same time. But, long before the Sharks game ended (I had seen enough - actually too much already), I was asleep to start it all over again today.

Right now, I need a nap.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two good days

Sunday was a beautiful day and I quit working about 1:00. I just had to get out for a bike ride. It was my first ride of the season and it was really windy, so I took it fairly easy, covering 16 miles in just under 70 minutes.

Yesterday, I could feel some residual effects from the ride, but I wasn't really sore. At 5:00 yesterday, I had a long-running database import going on at work. Watching its progress was a waste of time, so I headed out for a run. I explored a trail system called Centennial Woods in Burlington, VT. I only ran on a few of the trails, but they were fairly nice. I'm definitely going back there to run some more. After about 40 minutes of easy effort on the trails, I returned to where my car was parked - right beside a football field. I did six goalpost-to-goalpost sprints, resting for about a minute between each.

After that, I returned to work and found that my database work had finished. It was still late when I got home, but not as bad as some recent nights. And, I'd gotten in a good workout.

Today, I'm going to see my chiropractor. Ever since I tweaked my back lifting about 6 weeks ago, everything has been messed up when lifting and running. Yesterday, my back hurt, my left hip hurt, my right foot hurt, and things just weren't easy. On sprints, I actually feel better than when I'm on hills of any sort. I wanted to see the chiropractor a few weeks ago, but he was booked full. So, today is the day, and I guess I'm going to be seeing him regularly for a while.

After I see the doc, I'm going to to an upper body lifting workout, giving the legs a rest today.

Also, my focus on Primal eating continues to go well. Last night, I had a shrimp curry with lots of vegetables and a salad. No rice. Lunch was a salad. Of course, the two beers after dinner weren't primal, so I'm not completely there.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Let's try this again

I sound like a broken record. All you young kids, google "record" or "LP" or "broken record".

I don't want any of this to sound whiny. It's just the way life is right now, and while I wish I was working out more right now, without a big race on the horizon, this is a good time for me to focus on my job and providing for my family.

I worked until 4:00 yesterday. My wife was mowing the lawn when I got home, and she wanted to mow for a little bit more before we ran. I laid down on my bed and fell asleep instantly. After my wife finished mowing, she decided not to run, so she let me sleep for a while. My wife has been fighting a foot issue near the ball of her foot and just mowing aggravated it yesterday.

So, by the time I woke up, it was well after 6:00, and I skipped running. I made dinner, watched Food, Inc. with my wife, and then went to bed.

I got up at 8:30 this morning and I'm working again. My wife is out running right now, trying to run on a flat paved road, where her foot seems to feel better. I'm going to quit working earlier today than I did yesterday, and then I'm going to go out on my road bike for a while. Today, I'm getting out for a workout unless an absolute disaster happens. I refuse to not work out today.

I'm happy that we have a DVR, so I can ride and then watch the Sharks-Hawks game after my bike ride.

While the hockey game is going on, I'm going to be smoking a huge beef brisket on the grill. We'll probably eat a lot of beef in between the two hockey games tonight.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Consistently inconsistent

I was on a roll there for a bit. And then life interfered again. I ended up working until 10:00 on Thursday night. No workout. I was back at it very early yesterday (Friday) and I was just exhausted all day. When I went home, rather than do a workout, I took a nap. And just like that, I'd missed two workouts.

I'm working again today, and the weather sucks right now anyway, but it's supposed to get nicer this afternoon. So, I'm hoping to go for a run with my wife before dinner tonight. And then, if tomorrow's forecast is correct, I might finally get my road bike out on the roads tomorrow. But, I have to finish mowing the lawn too. Yuck.

I'm sort of stuck right now with the household chores. I'm working too many hours to get some of the things done that I'd like to do. But, I'm not quite into that income bracket where I can pay others to do them for me. Obviously, I either need to work less or make more money - neither of which seems likely in the current economy.

Back to work...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another good day

I got out of work pretty early yesterday, at least compared to my recent workdays. I headed straight to the gym for a 2x20 workout. Recently, most of my lifting has been heavier weights, done in 5x5 type of sets. For a few lifts that I had "abandoned" for a while, I've been doing 2x10 until I get used to them again.

But last night, I wanted to change things around, and a 2x20 workout is not only fast, but it's hard and leaves me soaked with sweat. I take a one minute break between sets and for every lift, I was doing less than half of my 1-rep max. I checked an online calculator, and the appropriate weight to use for 20 reps was listed as 47% of 1-rep max, and I was pretty close to that.

These were the lifts I did:

Bench press, barbell row superset
DB Bicep curl, bench dip superset

I was wiped out after this one. But, I still had some tough work to do. I've been lazy about mowing my lawn this year so far. Meaning, it hasn't been mowed yet. It snowed a couple days ago, so I haven't seen the hurry. But now, the grass is tall and mowing was overdue. So, after getting home from the gym, I pulled out the mower. Regretfully, my tractor died late last summer, so I only have an "old school" mower right now. It's gasoline powered, but it's way underpowered for how high the grass is at the moment. The mower kept stalling on me when the exit chute would get clogged with grass. I must have cleaned the exit chute and re-started the mower 50 times in about 90 minutes. Finally, I couldn't take it any more and I headed inside to cook dinner. I still have a lot of mowing to do though.

For dinner, I grilled Alaskan sockeye salmon (I still have a couple packages left from a big purchase last June) and baby bok choy. I seasoned both of them with a soy-sauce based glaze that I threw together. And I made a very simple salad of mizuna tossed with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The whole thing was very simple and fast and pretty tasty.

Tonight, I'm planning to do some sprints when I get home, if I ever get out of the office.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another busy but productive day

I didn't get home from work until almost 8:30 last night. I worked a little bit late, headed out for a 70 minute run at an easy level of effort, and then had a few errands to do before I drove home. By the time I got home, I was starving and in desperate need of a shower. I took care of the shower first and then sat down at the table for some dinner. My wife and kids had already finished eating because I was so late, but my wife sat with me and talked for a while. After both of us having a long day, a little time together was nice. My poor wife had such a tough day that she never even made it to the gym, although after a 10 mile run on Monday night, I think a rest day was probably good for her.

Dinner was burgers. But, in keeping with my focus on "primal" eating, these weren't average burgers. The beef was local and grass fed. My "bun" was romaine lettuce leaves. No cheese. Lettuce, tomato, and some slices of grilled pork belly were my toppings of choice.

I think the next time I buy a pork belly, I'm going to use my smoker to make some homemade bacon.

After dinner, we sat down on the couch to watch a little bit of hockey. My wife fell asleep immediately, so we didn't stay up too late.

Today, I'll lift after work. But first, I've got a lot of work to get done today.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A more "Primal" focus

Right now, my main focus is to get myself back into decent shape and lose the 20+ pounds I've gained since late summer. To do that, I'm going to easing back into my running miles, lifting as usual, doing some sprints, and when the weather cooperates, doing some road riding.

But, more important than the exercise is what I eat each day. Last summer, I had one great month where I truly lived "The Primal Blueprint" for a whole month. And then, in September, I got lazy. I started eating more carbohydrates, especially grains. My beer consumption increased. My exercise wasn't very consistent. And, I started gaining weight and losing fitness. Right now, I'm perhaps the least fit and most fat I've been in 20 years. That has to change.

So, for a while, I'm going to talk more about the food I'm cooking and eating than I'm going to talk about my workouts.

Last nights dinner was chicken (cut into 10 pieces - the full breast cut into 4 pieces to keep the pieces evenly sized. I trimmed and quartered some small artichokes. I slice up two fennel bulbs into moderately sized pieces. I cut two carrots into large chunks. I added salt, olive oil, and the juice of a Meyer lemon. I roasted the ingredients together in a 400F oven for about an hour. While they were roasting, I made a homemade saffron aioli.

Even the kids, who are normally afraid of things like artichokes and fennel, liked the dinner.

My wife did a 10 mile run after work last night (she has a half-marathon early next month), and she enjoyed the meal when she got home from her run.

Before dinner, I had lifted - squats, bench presses, bent over barbell rows, deadlifts, biceps curls, tricep extensions. Tonight, I'll do an easy run.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday Night Dinner

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time with a new cookbook: Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc at Home". Keller is the owner and chef of two of the top restaurants in the country - The French Laundry in California wine country and Per Se in NYC. I almost ate at The French Laundry once, but the person on the phone made it painfully clear that my younger child wasn't welcome in the restaurant, so we cancelled.

Anyway, the new cookbook comes from a newer restaurant that Keller and his team created. Ad Hoc sort of came about as an idea to create a temporary restaurant to keep some employees busy and use a space that Keller owned. But, the temporary restaurant became so popular for its home-style cooking that they haven't gotten around to closing it.

The first few chapters focus on entrees and all of them are extremely "primal" friendly. That is, the recipes mostly contain meat, quality fats, and vegetables. This weekend, I borrowed some ideas from the cookbook and made an amazing dinner that was very low in carbs. And, it was very tasty.

On Saturday, I sauteed a whole pork belly and when it was well browned, I covered it with beer and braised it in the oven for a couple hours. Then, I chilled it overnight. Last night, I pan-sauteed some scallops in butter. I cut some pork belly into cubes and roasted them in the oven until they were very crisply. I cooked some haricot verts and made a salad. Very simple. The only seasoning on the scallops and pork belly was a bit of kosher salt. And, the two proteins complemented each other perfectly. The kids enjoyed the pork belly and scallops so much that no one complained that I hadn't made potatoes or rice or couscous or some other starch with dinner.

I did have a great run with my wife on Saturday during a brief lull in the rain. Then, we made dinner for the kids, took a shower, and actually went out for an evening. It's so nice that the kids are old enough that we can do this on occasion.

Then, we got home in time to see the Sharks wrap up their second round playoff series.

I did take a rest day and do some work on Sunday. I also slept in, given that I hadn't gotten nearly enough sleep all week.

Tonight, I'll go to the gym and lift.

And for dinner, I'm making a chicken stew with fennel and fresh artichokes, and maybe a few chunks of pork belly.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Lifting on Tuesday.

Running on Wednesday.

Lifting on Thursday.

Sprints tonight and then lawn mowing.

Longer run tomorrow.

Sunday is "go as I feel".

But, the diet is getting better and the workouts are more consistent. I've really been careful with grains, sugars, and legumes recently, although I've had a few potatoes.

Yesterday, I had just coffee for breakfast, a salad with some tuna for lunch, a protein shake in the afternoon, and the broiled haddock, creamed broccoli and a salad for dinner.

Today was eggs with herbs and ricotta for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and dinner will be chicken sausage with fresh artichokes.

I'm starting to feel the effects of eating limited carbs all week, which hopefully means that my body will get around to burning some fat. There is definitely some lethargy for a brief period of time when carbs are suddenly removed from the diet.

I know this technique doesn't work for everyone, but if I stay away from alcohol, and eat a "Primal" or "Paleo" diet while doing some running, some lifting, and some high intensity interval work, I lose fat. So, that's what I'm trying to do right now. Beer is the biggest risk I face these days.

This weekend, I'm going to cook a whole pork belly, the cut of meat normally turned into bacon. I'm going to braise it on Saturday and then press it overnight. Then Sunday, I'm going to cut it into cubes and broil it with scallops - a recipe out of Thomas Keller's amazing new cookbook "Ad Hoc At Home" Every recipe is within the grasp of a decent home cook and there are many things to make a carb-a-phobe happy.

Snow on Sunday morning? Say it ain't so. It might not matter much. I'll be working most of the weekend, except for when I'm working out or cooking or catching a hockey game.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nice easy run

Last night, when I got home from work, my son and I headed out for an easy 45 minute run with the dogs. It was nice to just hang out with my son for that time. We took it very easy and had fun.

Tonight is a gym night, with rain in the forecast. After lifting, I'm looking forward to watching some hockey playoffs on TV, although once again, the Penguins get prime time and the Sharks get relegated to "we'll show the third period, maybe, if the Pens don't go into OT." I'm glad there's a hockey network out there, but they pretty much suck at times in terms of what they show. There's no reason that home games at Pittsburgh and Detroit could not have their start times separated so both sets of fans could see full games.

Anyway, tomorrow night, I'm planning a relatively short sprinting workout, something like 10 x 100.

Then, Saturday morning, in a cold rain, I'll probably run 5 or so. We are supposed to have some fresh snow on the ground by Sunday morning, so it's doubtful that Sunday will be the first day of the year for a road bike ride. But, soon.

On a sad note, today I take the kids' rented ski equipment back to the rental shop. The season is indeed over and we won't ski for 6+ months right now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Still at it

I worked most of the weekend, but got in some workouts during that time. Friday night, I did an upper body lifting session.

Saturday morning was kind of rough, because I had to bail on a planned run with my wife. Since I hurt my knee a bit while skiing in March and my back a few weeks ago while lifting, my stride has really been off, and running has been painful. I have an appointment to see the chiropractor in just under two weeks, which should help a lot.

After the aborted run, I ended up working the rest of the day on Saturday and most of Sunday.

I got in a great lifting session last night, and I'm going to try an easy run again tonight.

If I can just make some progress - any progress at all - in May, when work eases off in June, I'll hopefully be able to start putting in some more training time.