Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Good Weekend - Including Some Rest

Last time I wrote something here, I believe I complained that I was tired. I ended up taking both Thursday and Friday as rest days. We had no real plans for the weekend, so I was looking forward to some relaxed down-time - sleeping in, no computers, some exercise, and some time with my family.

As it turned out, the weather was fairly bad, which made it even easier to rest.

On Friday night, I don't think we did much of anything. My son had finished his high school senior project earlier that day, and he was tired from working on that. That project was his last major hurdle to graduation in the middle of next month.

On Friday, we got some take-out for dinner, watched some hockey, played a little cribbage and listened to music.

On Saturday, we woke up to grey skies. The farmer's market had been moved to a new location due to flooding, and we didn't make the trip, assuming many vendors were dealing with storm-related issues from earlier in the week. Instead, we did some grocery shopping, got some dog food, I bought some new music, etc. When we got home in mid-afternoon, my wife and I headed out for a run with the dogs. We could hear thunder in the distance as we started. The storm kept moving closer and my wife and the dogs went back home after 35 minutes or so. I went back out to do a couple hill repeats, but after one, the storm was close, it was pouring, and I called it a day.

Later on Saturday, we watched some movies (both versions of Cape Fear), listened to music, played some cribbage and mostly relaxed. I used a break in the storms to grill some chicken for dinner. Highly exciting!

Sunday morning, my wife and I headed out for a run again. The forecast wasn't promising, but I wanted to do a 3-hour run (really a run/walk). It was warm and humid and the mosquitoes were pesky. We did about 2.6 miles with the dogs. That was plenty for them in the heat. Then, my wife and I did another 3 miles together before she headed home to wrap up an 8.5 mile run. I continued on, with a goal of whatever distance I could cover in 3 hours. I was slow, but managed to stay on my feet and moving for the three hours.

After the run, I mowed the lawn, grilled some burgers and we watched a movie. See how exciting my life is.

On Monday, my wife and I walked the dogs for an hour. By 8:00 p.m., I was falling asleep and I still didn't feel like getting out of bed when the alarm went off at 5:15 this morning.

Today, I rode my bike to work, I'll ride to CrossFit after work, and then ride to my rented room after CrossFit. I don't even want to know what the temperature is outside right now. I'm sure it's hotter than I ever like to see.

Six weeks until my marathon.

Oh yeah, today is the end of the 30 day Paleo challenge at the gym. I'll be curious to see how my weight and strength have changed in 30 days. My eating wasn't as good this past weekend as it should have been, so I'm curious what my weight will be this evening.

Friday, May 27, 2011


I think this chart explains why I'm feeling tired right now. Note that the lines that represent the last two weeks and the last month have been pretty high for a few weeks. And, I'm sometimes combining cycling and CrossFit in the same day. I took a rest day yesterday. I'm going to take another rest day today. I'm still sore from CrossFit on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tomorrow, I'll do a run and Sunday I'll do a longer run.

For right now, my body is saying I should rest for another day. And, this chart shows I've been working (playing really) hard.

I've lost 12 pounds in the last 5 weeks, so the hard work and good attention to my diet is paying off. Regretfully, I still have at least 30 more pounds that I need to lose.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

If there's a muscle that doesn't already hurt, CrossFit will find it

After work yesterday, I rode my bike to CrossFit. It was one of our first sunny, warm days of the year, and the drivers seemed very focused on the weather and not on the road. A friend of mine posted a similar observation on Facebook. I ride to CrossFit on a very busy road and I was very observant last night after seeing how people seemed to be driving.

When I got to CrossFit, I had already decided in my head to scale the workout to an easy level. I was just so sore and tired from Tuesday and my bike riding that I felt like I needed an easier workout.

After our warm-up, the first part of the workout was 5x8 of dumbbell presses. I wanted to take it easy on my shoulder, so I used 25# dumbbells rather than the 40# or 45# I would normally use. I got through those sets without feeling any problems in my shoulder. Then, our MetCon was as follows:

As quickly as possible:
Single-leg deadlifts, in sets of 21-18-15-12-9-6-3, with each set followed by a 200 meter run.
The prescribed weight for men was 95#, which I knew I could do pretty easily. I got through this one pretty well, staying close to some people who are normally way faster than I am. This workout just suited my strengths pretty well. My total time was just under 11 minutes.

The purpose of the workout, including our warm-up, had been to focus on the hamstrings. The single-leg deadlifts stress the hamstrings a lot, and then running hard with tired hamstrings is another stress on that muscle group. Today, both hamstrings are very sore. Going into the workout, my hamstrings might have been my only muscle group that didn't hurt. Now, I hurt everywhere.

After the workout, I had another ART/Graston treatment done on my right shoulder. It was a painful treatment, but my range of motion was really improved afterward. Before the treatment, I couldn't move my arm backwards at all without pain, and it was easy after the treatment. The total range of motion without pain improved dramatically with this 15 minute treatment.

Today is a rest day, and I'll probably run or hike most of this coming weekend, rather than lifting. That will hopefully give my shoulder a break for a few days.

For the first time in years, I won't be attending the Vermont City Marathon on Sunday. In the past 8 years or so, I've either run the full race, run on a relay team, helped to pace a friend, or just been an observer. This year, it will be none of the above, and I'm going to try to enjoy a quiet weekend at home with my family. I looked at the regional race calendar, wondering if I might find a low key 5K or 10K somewhere, but I think the VCM has scared other races away from Memorial Day Weekend. It's the second biggest marathon in New England, and other races that tried to compete might have some attendance problems.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

100 Training Days So Far

With my bike ride to work this morning, I've now done some sort of exercise/training on 100 different days this year. Last year, it took me until the end of June to get to 100 days, and I only had 190 total training days last year - my lowest in a long time. Here is the breakdown of this year so far:

Skiing: 31
Bike Riding: 9
Running: 20
CrossFit: 39
Lifting on my own: 11

That adds up to 110, rather than 100, mostly because of bike riding to and from CrossFit. I think the other "double" day was a run and CrossFit.

In the last 6 weeks, my weight has dropped about 10 pounds, as I've paid much better attention to my diet, made sure I trained very consistently, and I cut out alcohol.

Last night's CrossFit workout, especially as Rx'd, was brutal:

100 pull-ups
100 KB swings (53#)
100 Double Unders (rope jumping)
100 overhead squats (95#)

This was to be done for time, and unlike some workouts, where you can rotate between the lifts to get all of your reps done (Google "CrossFit Murph" for an example if you care), in this case, the workout was linear. Do all reps of one exercise before moving to the next.

Level 1 was 80 reps at slightly lower weights, so I chose that. I used bands for assistance in my pull-ups. My KB swings were done at 35#. I can't do double-unders consistently, so the alternative for that was tuck jumps, which are no fun at all. And, because of my shoulder, I can't do overhead squats safely, so I did front squats at 65#. It took me 24:31.

I felt guilty after I'd finished, because some really fit people were struggling mightily with the Rx'd workout. The last person finished in just under 40 minutes and he was really struggling on the overhead squats.

Today, I am sore all over. I will go to CrossFit tonight, mostly because I have an appointment there for another ART/Graston treatment on my shoulder. I will probably do a Level 2 workout tonight, unless our coach takes pity on us and gives us an easier day after yesterday.

Tomorrow is a rest day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just your average Monday

I rode the bus to the office yesterday morning. I worked all day and then left the office to catch another bus to the place where I'm renting a room. I changed clothes and rode my bike to CrossFit.

Our workout was pretty straightforward last night:


Chin-ups - 5, every minute on the minute for ten minutes.

Then, 5 rounds of the following, starting each round every four minutes:
30 push-ups (I did knee push-ups to protect my shoulder)
20 Box Jumps (18" for me)
10 Sumo Deadlift high pulls (65# for me - again, protecting the shoulder)

Your score for the 5 rounds was how many seconds of rest you earned. For example, I finished the first set in 2:30, so I got 90 seconds of rest. I ended up with 420 seconds of rest, probably the lowest number in the class. My biggest issue is box jumps. A requirement of a legal box jump is full extension either on the box or extending while jumping off the box. Many people simply cheat, and never do a full extension. This allows for pretty fast box jumps. The fastest legal people jump onto the box and then extend while jumping backward off the box. I'm very methodical and I extend on the box and then step down. I need to speed up this process.

Overall, it was a good workout with 13 minutes of hard work in 20 minutes. If my right shoulder was healthier, I would have done at least some of the push-ups as regular push-ups, but 150 might have been more than I could do even if 100%. I'm starting to feel some twinges in my left shoulder at times, probably compensating for my right. So, I need to be careful.

After the workout, I had another ART/Graston treatment done on the shoulder. He found another spot in the shoulder that needed work, the infraspinatus this time. So, he is now working on three different areas on my shoulder and neck. Immediately after the treatment, my range of motion was much better and pain-free. I'll have another treatment tomorrow.

I see the orthopedist again in early June, so I have time for a few more of these treatments before that. Hopefully, ultrasound will show some improvement and I will be able to defer any more injections for a while.

If the weather cooperates, I will ride my bike to CrossFit this evening. If we get the thunderstorms that are forecast, I might ride the bus back to my rented room and take it easy this evening, but I hope not.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Great Weekend - First "race" of the year

Friday, I worked from home, and after work, my wife and I went to the gym. My wife had decided that we were going to run a 5K on Saturday morning, so I didn't want to work out too hard. I did a fairly simple workout. After some warm-up reps, I did 3x3 of deadlifts at 315 pounds.

Then, I did 50 air squats and 50 kettlebell swings, but using a 40# dumbbell instead of a true kettlebell. After that, I did 50 burpees by doing 5 every minute on the minute for 10 minutes. And, I finished with 10 x 125m on the rower, with 30 seconds of rest. Surprisingly, my quads felt a little bit sore from this workout, and I'm not sure why. After the workout, we went home, had dinner, watched a hockey game and went to bed.

When we got up on Saturday morning, it was pouring. My wife drove us to the race site because she'd done the race before and knew how to get there. I was surprised where she drove us to, because everything in the area is hilly. And, it was still pouring. Forty minutes before the race, I was sitting in the car, telling my wife that she couldn't make me get out of the car to register and run. But, I did get out.

By the time the race started, it was barely raining at all. The last time I'd put on a race number, I had run my slowest 5K ever with a 30:11. My wife had run 28:37 that day, for a rare win against me in a race. Last September, after that race, I decided to take some time off running. A hamstring injury (partially torn tendon) from 2009 just wasn't healing well and running was no fun at all. From October of last year through March of this year (6 months), I ran a total of about 10 miles. I continued to train, but I wasn't running. In April of this year, I ran just over 30 miles. And, my May mileage is now up to 50 miles after the weekend. But, I had about 80 total training miles in almost 8 months for this race.

The course was rolling and had a few steep hills. Near the 1 mile marker, I walked for a while. It was a fast walk, but I was walking. I think I walked three times in the race when the course got steeper. My first mile was about 10 minutes. The second was just under 9 minutes. And the last 1.1 took me about 9 more minutes, for a total of 28:46. That's one of my slowest 5Ks every and almost 11 minutes slower than my best 5K ever. My wife stayed close to me for the first mile, but eventually lost contact and finished in 30:12. We practically reversed our times from last fall. Even at that slow pace, the race was a lot of work.

After the race, we went to the farmers market and then out for breakfast. After that, we went home and took a nap during a hockey game and I then woke up with the sun shining for the first time in quite a while. I took advantage of this to get the lawn mowed before dinner.

Sunday morning, we headed out for a "long" run, taking the dogs along. First, we did a hilly 5 mile loop. It was humid and a little bit warm and the older dog tired quickly. So, our time was pretty slow. After that first loop, my wife called it a day. I headed out for some more running, getting my total running time up to about 2:15. But, my total distance for that time was ridiculously low.

I have a marathon in mid-July. I'm still under 100 miles for the year, so it's going to be a slow run/walk in the race. My plan is to do a 3-hour training run/walk next weekend, another 3 hours two weeks later, and then a 4-hour run/walk the last weekend in June. That, along with some other runs and my other workouts will hopefully have me ready to at least complete the race in the 6.5 hour time limit.

Today, I'm planning to bike to and from CrossFit, plus do the CrossFit workout for my training.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rain - Lots of It

We have already had an extremely rainy spring after a snowy winter. Today has been outrageous outside at times, with rain falling extremely hard. Later today, we are supposed to have thunderstorms. My son and I had talked about doing some trout fishing this weekend, but the rivers are just too high and discolored.

My daughter's lacrosse game may get cancelled due to electricity. They are scheduled to play "rain or shine" on a turf field, but they won't play in a thunderstorm.

I did rest yesterday as planned, but I'm still feeling a bit tired today. My wife decided we should run a 5K tomorrow morning, and with the rain, I'll work out in the gym tonight. I'll probably just do light weights, bodyweight work (push-ups, air squats, pull-ups, dips, etc.) and maybe some rowing intervals.

After the workout, I have to finish the assembly of my turntable. It's done for the most part, but I still need to install and align the cartridge and then get the weight adjustment just right. I remember doing this for a turntable my dad bought about 30 years ago, and I really messed up the tonearm balance, so the stylus was destroying records at first. It also didn't sound good at all. After the assembly is done, I'll be torn between watching the Sharks game (it's hard to watch them right now when Vancouver looks like such a superior team) and listening to some of my new vinyl. Yesterday, a box set of the first 5 Grateful Dead albums arrived. Today, I'm getting Bob Dylan's first 10 albums from a custom vinyl company called Sundazed. I'll have lots of music to listen to, and lots of rain to keep me indoors and listening.

By Sunday, the rain should be gone, so I hope to run long, mow the lawn, and then get ready for my week in Burlington next week.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Time for a rest day

I was tired on the bike ride to the office yesterday.

I was tired last night at CrossFit. After our warm-up, we worked on overhead squats. I kept the weight fairly low, trying to not hurt my shoulder. My max was 95 pounds, even though I've done 135 in the past. My shoulder is still a bit sore from that part of the workout.

The MetCon last night was team rowing intervals - 20 x 250 meters. Our team time was 22:51, but this included 19 "transitions" of at least 10 seconds each, so our total rowing time was under 20 minutes. I did OK for the first half of the workout, but in the second half, I found myself falling apart in the last 50-100 meters. My stroke length would decrease, my arms would drop, and I would just get slower. I really need to spend more time rowing. It's a great workout and it's easy to do interval work or endurance work without beating up your body the way running can do. Last year, the gym had a 100KM rowing challenge - just row 100KM on your own whenever you have time over the course of a month. Maybe I should suggest that we do that one again.

Tonight, I'll ride the bus home after work, and I'll work at home tomorrow. This will give me a chance to go to one of my daughter's lacrosse games. Her season ends pretty soon and I haven't been to enough games this season. I've really been amazed by my daughter this year. She is in 7th grade and is playing junior high sports. She played soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter (while also skiing hard on the weekends) and lacrosse in the spring. She really seems to like all three of them and it's nice to see her playing sports and staying fit.

After a rest day today, I'll probably do some running intervals tomorrow, a short easy run on Saturday, and then run longer on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Audio Toys and Some Workouts

Over the last five or six years, I've been trying to slowly and affordably upgrade my audio system. I have an e-mail friend who is a speaker designer who has even helped me to build one pair of my own speakers. You can see some of his work here. The funny looking speakers made out of PVC on that page are what I built at home, and for $60 in parts, and they sound pretty good.

Anyway, my speaker friend, Ray, is one of those "enabler" types, always happy to help me spend money. When I was looking to buy some really nice speakers, I found that we both liked a lot of the same brands. When I decided that I truly wanted Bowers and Wilkins speakers, he had a great quote for me, that I'll paraphrase here. He basically said that if he was buying speakers for himself with someone else's money, B&W would be at the top of his list. He had me look at planar speakers from Magnepan as well, but they didn't really fit my listening space. So, I eventually got some B&W 703 speakers. They weren't my first choice from B&W, but I could afford them and I couldn't afford the higher level speakers.

Then, I needed to upgrade my CD player. I ended up with a very nice NAD player. My wife was skeptical about this purchase and my desire to add upgraded cables with the player. I told her that I'd play any disc of her choosing, and if she couldn't hear a clear difference, I'd send the player and cables back. When she listened, she was amazed at the difference. I think that having a 20 year old CD player with a very old digital to audio converter (DAC) was the reason for the huge difference.

Then, I was looking into amplifiers. Before I could spend any money though, my brother upgraded his amplifier and gave me his old amp. My old Yamaha amp had served me well, but the new (used) Denon amplifier from my brother made a huge difference in sound. It's not a pure audio amplifier, but since I also use my amp for DVDs, it was nice to have an amplifier that could handle modern movie soundtrack formats as well as produce nice sound with music.

So, I'm done, right? Well, not really. I also own a lot of vinyl and I still listen to vinyl on a regular basis. I still buy vinyl - both new and used. My turntable is one of those "college dorm room" Technics direct drive models that I've had for 25 years. So, for the last year or so, I've been looking into turntable options. Because a lot of my vinyl is old, the vinyl itself is a limiting factor, even with a high end turntable. So, I decided to focus on an entry level audiophile turntable.

In this case, since Ray isn't a turntable guy, I needed another enabler. Luckily, my brother has a co-worker who is seriously into vinyl. I remember clearly in my first message to him saying that I only wanted a decent turntable and cartridge and didn't want a phono pre-amp. I was quickly educated on the "necessity" of a standalone pre-amp. And, I got some brand names of turntables to look at and listen to - Rega, Pro-Ject Audio, Music Hall, etc. It turned out that Rega was introducing a new entry-level turntable, the RP1, and I quickly settled on that. But, things don't always work out the way you plan.

Going back to my other enabler, Ray, I mentioned what I was thinking of getting. I had decided on a tube-based pre-amp from a company called Bellari (if you're going old school into vinyl, I figured tubes would be cool too). Suddenly, it seemed, a friend of Ray's had a Bellari tube pre-amp he wanted to sell used. I snapped it up at about half of the retail price, and he even included an upgraded tube in the deal. I was amazed at how much better it made my old turntable sound.

I suddenly realized that I'd forgotten the basics of how I'd assembled the rest of my system at an affordable price - I don't buy new gear. My speakers were purchased used from eBay. My CD player was a factory refurbished model. My receiver was a hand-me-down. OK, I paid retail for my cables, but I haven't gone crazy with cables like some people do.

So, I suddenly found myself on one of my favorite audio sites, Audiogon.com. Audiogon is a great place to buy used equipment, demo equipment, and sometimes, new equipment at decent prices. As I started to browse Audiogon, which I did for weeks, I suddenly realized that I had more options. Music Hall was suddenly a possibility. Within the Rega line, the RP1 was there, but the P3 was an option. Linn was still out of my range, but maybe someday.

One day, an ad for a brand I didn't know caught my eye. It was an open box sale, of an Edwards Audio turntable. This was a brand new model - the first turntable from the company. But, for the most part, it was the Rega P2 with some modifications. Many companies buy Rega parts, especially tone arms, to build their turntables. The price was 2/3 of the new price and the reviews promised good sound at a price point better than a new Rega RP1. So, I bought it. And then, just before shipping it, the dealer discovered a previously missed flaw in the table. So, he sent me a brand new table instead. How's that for honesty? His primary business is audio cables, and his honesty in this transaction means that I will buy any future cables I need from him.

The model is the Edwards Audio TT-1. I got a Music Hall "Tracker"cartridge with the table. The table arrived at my house yesterday, but I'm nowhere close to home - staying close to my office this week.

To celebrate the new table, I ordered some new vinyl as well - old school vinyl though. I got a box set of Bob Dylan's first ten studio albums, with the first 8 all recorded in Mono. And, I got a box set of the Grateful Dead's first 5 albums - the five they recorded for Warner Brothers.

So, when I get home for the weekend, I'm guessing I'm going to spend a lot of time listening to music. And, I'll probably wonder what I should upgrade next? The next thing might have to be my surround speakers for watching movies. My rear speakers, in particular, are giving me some problems. My love of audio equipment and electronics in general will probably be mentioned in divorce papers someday. (I'm kidding, I think)

Oh yeah, workouts. I biked 6.6 miles to the office yesterday. Biked to CrossFit after work. Here is the workout from yesterday:

6 minutes - as many reps as possible (AMRAP):
10 Slam Ball Slams - 30#
10 box jumps - 18"

That was level 2 and I did 98 total reps - two jumps short of five rounds.

Then, we did another AMRAP segment, for 8 minutes
5 push presses
10 deadlifts

We were supposed to use the same weight for these. For me, the push presses would be the limiting factor. The prescribed weight was 135#. I was afraid I'd injure my shoulder more at that weight, so I opted for level 1 and 95#. For me, the deadlifts were easy, but the push presses just kept getting harder and harder. I did the first set in 34 seconds - way too fast. But, that caught up with me, and I ended up doing 8 sets plus 5 extra push presses, for a total of 223 reps across the two workouts.

From CrossFit, I biked home, ate, talked to my wife for a while, slept, woke up, showered, and rode my bike back to the office very early today. The bicycle round trip is just over 14 miles, mostly at an easy pace.

I'm feeling a bit tired right now. I think I'd like to be sitting on my couch right now, listening to vinyl.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CrossFit and Some Bike Riding

Last night after work, I rode my bike in the rain to CrossFit. We have been having a really rainy spring so far (who hasn't, I suppose), but this was the first time I was riding the bike in a serious rain. I got to CrossFit in plenty of time for the workout despite going slowly.

After the warm-up, our workout started with 5x5 squat cleans. Because I'm not really strong on front squats, which are closely related to squat cleans, my lifts were a cross between squat cleans and power cleans. Also, because of my shoulder, I took it fairly easy, weight-wise.

Our main workout was as follows:
100 kettlebell swings @ 70#
100 Abmat sit-ups

Do this as quickly as possible.

Level 1 used 53# kettlebells. Level 2 was 35# kettlebells and only 75 reps. The goal was to do this with a kettlebell weight that would be challenging. But, I was pretty sure that 100 swings at 53# would be more than I could handle. So, I combined level 1 and level 2, choosing the 53# KB, but only 75 reps. This was a good choice, as I was hurting after the first 75 reps. And then, just as we were warned, it turned out that the sit-ups were the harder part of the workout. I think that both exercises really hit your abdominal muscles, so no matter which was first, the second was going to suck. My total time was 10:35, and I realize it's time for me to start working with the 53s rather than the 35s on KB days. I'm not strong on the 53s yet, but the 35s are too easy.

Right after the workout, a chiropractor who has been coming to the gym a few nights a week did some work on my shoulder. He used Active Release Technique and Graston Technique. He found that not only did I injure my supraspinatus tendon, but also the Levator Scapulae muscle. ART worked really well on that muscle and my neck feels better today. For weeks, I'd assumed the pain in my neck was just due to the supraspinatus injury, but that wasn't the case. It still came out of the same skiing fall, but I'd injured more than one location.

I can't say that either ART or Graston was painless, but my range of motion was much improved immediately after the treatment. Today, I'm pretty sore from the treatments though.

This morning, I rode my bike back to work - wet roads but no rain. Tonight, I'll ride to CrossFit again and then back to my rented room. The total biking distance is just over 14 miles per day at an easy pace, so it's not a lot of work.

Two weeks ago, I took my rest day for the week on Saturday. Last week, I rested on Thursday. This week, I already feel ready for a rest day, which leaves me wondering if I'll be able to train six days this week. That is my goal right now, even if some of the workouts are very easy.

But, if I got into a routine of 6-6-5 (17 of every 21) or even 6-5-6-5 (22 of every 28), I think I'd be happy with that, if I was doing quality training.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Weekend

My weekend was just about as much fun as it could have been, including some good workouts, some work done around the house, some fun cooking, and time with my family. Mostly, I didn't have too much to do, so it was quite relaxing and I got in some good workouts.

Friday night, my wife and I went to the gym. I didn't want to hit my legs too hard because I was planning to run twice this weekend, so I did a modified version of CrossFit's "Filthy Fifties" workout. I did 50 reps of the following exercises:

Air squats
Good mornings (45# barbell)
Push Press (same barbell)
Swiss Ball Crunch
Reverse Crunch
KB swing (35#)
18" Box jumps
Knee push-ups (protecting my shoulder)

and 25 band-assisted pull-ups, again trying to protect my shoulder.

On Saturday morning, my wife and I got out early to visit the Montpelier farmers' market. I got some unusual wild edibles and used them in dinner on Saturday night. After the market, we went home and I managed to get the lawn mowed before the rain started, and then as it started to rain, I headed out for an easy 50 minute run. After that, I didn't do much more on Saturday except cook dinner.

On Sunday, I also didn't have a lot to do. First, I slept in. Then, I got out for a 2-hour run in a steady rain. My wife went to the gym and the dogs didn't like the rain, so I ran alone. I used Vespa for this longer run and really liked it again, despite running over 16 hours after my last meal. I did discover a huge beaver dam not too far from my house. Much of the year, when I run this route, it's hidden by foliage, but not this time. It's far enough from my house that I don't have to worry about water damage if the dam breaks, but it was quite an impressive dam.

After my run, I started to get things ready to head to my mid-week "home" close to my office. My wife drove me up here yesterday so I could bring some groceries and other items with me - things that don't fit on the bus very well. So for now, I'm gone from home for the week, and planning to train hard after work every night. It's going to be an interesting week, with rain in the forecast nearly every day, and me commuting on a bike.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Missing Posts?

Not a big deal, but Blogspot seems to be having some major difficulties today. At least one recent post seems to be gone for now, and perhaps this one will disappear as well.

I took a rest day yesterday after a tough run on Wednesday. After work, I cooked dinner and just relaxed, including watching the Sharks finally wrap up their series against Detroit.

Tonight, my wife and I will go to the gym to lift. I want to hit my upper body hard, but in a way that doesn't hurt my shoulder any more. It's now been ten or so weeks since this injury and I have to honestly say that it isn't really any better at all. I haven't been willing to even consider bench presses for weeks.

Tomorrow, it looks like rain and we have some work to do around the house. We'll probably sneak in a short run sometime, maybe with the dogs if they don't panic about the rain. Then on Sunday, a longer run is my plan..

So far, in the weight loss contest with my brother, I'm down about 9 pounds, but my target is 190 and I regretfully still have 35 pounds to go.

I need to stick with eating well, training hard, and staying away from alcohol.

I also need to get my shoulder healthy somehow.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A couple of runs

It's been a strange week that has had me away from my office and the CrossFit gym for most of the week. I did CrossFit on Monday and then biked to my rented room. I then biked to the office on Tuesday morning. But, my wife and I were taking a vacation day on Wednesday, so I took the bus home on Tuesday evening. When I got off the bus, my wife and I went for an easy 3 mile run. But, we were both tired from our workouts on Monday, so we didn't go very far.

On Wednesday, we had a couple appointments, but I managed to sneak out for a longer run (almost 2.5 hours - don't ask how few miles I covered in that time). I used Vespa for the first time as a supplement for this run. Vespa is designed to optimize fat metabolism during exercise and it allegedly works very well for people who eat low carb diets. I was quite happy with how I felt during the run - my focus was good and my energy levels were consistent, even when my legs were complaining that they were tired. I'm going to keep training with Vespa and then most likely use it in my marathon in July.

Today, I'm doing some really tedious database work, so I opted to work at home to minimize distractions. I'm posting this while I eat my lunch. Since I'm nowhere near CrossFit or my office, I'm not sure what my workout will be tonight. I ran the past two days, my bike is in my office, CrossFit is far away, but I do have another gym nearby. Ideally, I'd do some upper body lifting today, but I'm still trying to take it easy on my injured shoulder.

Maybe I should take a rest day, but I'm on a roll with training recently, and I don't feel like I really need a rest day. I'm not going to run, but I don't want to do nothing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CrossFit Total

I last did the CrossFit total test in December of last year. I scored a total of 740 pounds, with a 300 pound squat, a 125 pound press and a 315 pound deadlift. That day, I was very disappointed in my deadlift. My PR had been set a year before at 355 pounds, and I failed at multiple attempts above 315. Yes, it was at the end of a tough workout, but I was simply disappointed by that final lift.

In the past week, I've been thinking a lot about my potential for getting close to 800 pounds this time around. I thought my best chance was to match my squat at 300, improve my press to 135 and then tie my new deadlift PR of 365. That last lift, coming at the end of the workout, would be a challenge. So, one of my goals for the first two lifts was to minimize my reps, saving as much as I could for a big deadlift to end the day.

For the squat, I did 5 reps with just the bar, then 2 at 135, 1 at 215, 1 at 275 as a fallback, and then jumped to 305. I did the rep at 305, but felt that my depth was not acceptable. So, I didn't count that rep. Next I tried 315 and made the lift, but again, the depth was not OK.

Outside of CrossFit, I do squats in a squat rack, and a failure simply means the bar catches the weight for you and you walk away. At CrossFit, you have to sit down to bail from a lift, and if you get forced forward at all, you can easily get hurt. So, I was clearly being tentative in my depth, somewhat afraid of getting hurt if I got stuck in the down position.

So, I rested for a few minutes, spent the time visualizing a solid, deep squat at 315. I walked to the bar and got under it. I set my grip and my elbows to give myself a solid shelf on my back to hold the bar. I picked it up and stepped back, keeping my head up the entire time. I set my stance by feel - looking down would not help. And, I went to my full depth for a squat. At first, I barely moved coming up, but I got a bit faster and it was clear I'd make it. PR in the squat and already 15 pounds above my projection.

Next was the press. I warmed up at 45, did one rep at 95, one at 115, and then jumped straight to 135 - my target for the day. I could tell that with just the tiniest dip and drive, I'd get it overhead, but that would not be a strict press. The bar started to go up, but it halted and I failed. I rested and did a 125 to match my best. That went easy. Another attempt at 135 went nowhere. So did another. By that point in time, I was tired, and even though I tried 130, it was too late. If I hadn't been greedy, I think I could have pulled off a 130, but I was too focused on the goal of 135.

So, after two lifts, I had 440. That meant I need a deadlift over 300 to get a new all-time best, and I needed a 360 to get to 800 pounds. I did two reps at 135, one at 225, and one at 315. All of them were easy. I now had a new PR, so I went straight to 365 next, which would give me an 805 for the workout. I nailed that one, much better overall than the same weight two weeks ago.

At that point, I had exceeded my primary goal for the workout. I had beaten my squat PR, and tied my PR in the other two lifts. I decided I'd try 375 for a deadlift, but it never came off the ground. I'm not sure if my effort was poor or I was simply beat.

All in all, it was a successful night. I increased my CFT total by 8.7% in five months. At age 49.

When the workout started yesterday, third place on our gym board for this workout was 880 pounds. Third place is now in the 900s. I've got a lot of work to do if I ever want to make the top 3, a category dominated by young, strong, skinny kids.

After the workout, I talked to a local chiropractor who has been at the gym twice a week. He is trying to help the CF crowd, by offering adjustments, Graston, ART, and info on Chi Running. I talked to him about my shoulder injury, and he feels that Graston is an appropriate treatment for my injury. I'm sure it will hurt a lot, but we are going to start a series of six Graston treatments on my rotator cuff injury next week.

When he found out that I've been a distance runner (I don't feel like I am one at this point in time) with a history of leg injuries (ACL, hamstring tendon tear), he tried to recruit me for a multi-session Chi Running class. I told him that I might be interested, but not quite yet. I don't want to be altering my running gait eight weeks out from a marathon.

Tonight's workout is short intervals on the track - 4x100, 4x200, 4x100. Plus I rode my bike home from work last night and into the office this morning.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Old Gray Mare

Oh, the old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be,
Ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be.
The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be,
Many long years ago.
Many long years ago, many long years ago.

OK, so I'm not a mare. I hesitate to call myself a stallion either, which is the male equivalent. The word stallion evokes images of strength that I don't necessarily feel these days. But, I'm not a gelding either.

Anyway, I was thinking about the Old Gray Mare song on Saturday, mostly thinking about the "ain't what she used to be" line. That's how I felt on Saturday after five straight days of CrossFit.

Friday night was a tough workout called Filthy Fifty:
For time:
50 Box jumps, 24 inch box
50 Jump­ing pull-ups
50 Ket­tle­bell swings, 1 pood
Walk­ing Lunge, 50 steps
50 Knees to elbows
50 Push press, 45 pounds
50 Good Mornings, 45 pounds
50 Wall ball shots, 20 pound ball
50 Burpees
50 Dou­ble unders

Scaling was supposed to be done by reps, not by weight, but I honestly did both. For the box jumps, I used an 18" box. For the KB swings, I used a 26 pound KB, not 1 pood, which is 40 Russian pounds, or about 36 US pounds. For the Wall Balls, I used a 14 pound ball rather than 20. For the Double Unders, I did the assigned as single unders and then half as many tuck jumps.

My plan was to do Level 1 - forty reps. But, just the box jumps, the first exercise, convinced me that this would be a bad idea, so I switched to 30 reps. Our fastest person did just over 19 minutes, and it took me 21:21 to do the workout with 30 reps.

After the workout, I headed home, cooked dinner, watched some hockey and went to bed. On Saturday, I woke up feeling physically exhausted. I did some things around the house that I needed to do, got some groceries, went to my daughter's lacrosse game, took my wife and son to breakfast, but I never really did any exercise. I walked around a lot, but no exercise.

On Sunday, my plan was to run 10 and I still felt extremely tired. Like an old gray mare. My wife and I opted to take the dogs on a long walk and we were out for about 1:45. But, it wasn't a run.

Today, to be honest, I still feel tired. I'll do CrossFit tonight, do running intervals tomorrow, and on Wednesday, I'm taking a vacation day. I should have time to get in a decent run that day. Then, CrossFit again on Thursday, and maybe a rest day on Friday.

I'd like to work out hard everyday and recover. I really would. But, the old gray mare just ain't what she used to be...

Friday, May 6, 2011

CrossFit Streaking

Yesterday was my fourth consecutive day of CF. Tonight will be my fifth. I know that the normal recommendations are to do no more than 3 days in a row and then take a rest day. So, maybe I'm not following the "rules". But, I'm not the only one at our gym who is there every day or nearly every day during the workweek. But, many of the others seem to be about half my age. And, unlike some of those other people, I won't be in the gym on the weekend as well.

I'm enjoying CrossFit, but I don't want to push too hard and get injured in the gym. We seem to have a few people nursing injuries right now. I do have a shoulder injury, but it didn't occur in the gym and I'm being pretty careful not to make things worse there.

Anyway, I've found myself feeling tired and sore this week, and wondering if I'm being smart in my approach to CrossFit. I am having fun and I want to be there, but I also want to avoid any sports-limiting injuries.

Last night's workout was focused on Olympic lifts, focusing on form. We did a complex of snatch movements a total of five times. I kept the weights pretty low (max of 85 pounds) to avoid over-stressing my rotator cuff.

The main workout was much easier than the day before:

6 rounds, as quickly as possible:
6 hang power cleans
6 knee-ups (hanging from a bar)
6 med ball slams

I chose level 2 last night and finished in 7:23, moving pretty quickly the entire workout. After I was done, I thought that I probably should have done level 1 instead. But, I am still sore and tired today, so I probably made the right choice.

I'll go to CrossFit tonight, but then take tomorrow as a rest day. I will probably go out for an easy walk with my wife and the dogs tomorrow, but that's about it. Sunday, my wife and I will do a 2 hour run.

I ordered some Vespa today, a supplement used by endurance athletes who follow low carb diets. The goal of the product is simply to help your body to mobilize fat for energy during endurance work. I'll try it in my longer training runs for the July marathon and see how things go. I am an e-mail "buddy" of the company's owner and he and I share a lot of opinions on diet and exercise. He thinks I'm the perfect type of athlete to benefit from the product.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tough Workout

My bike commuting hasn't been going so well this week, with lots of rain here in Vermont. For this first week of bike commuting, I kept my car here, just in case I'd forgotten to move essentials or had messed up some logistics. So far, the only thing I think I've forgotten was chamois cream, a minor problem. But, I've been driving the few miles to the office instead of riding. Starting next week, I'll have no car, so I have to be more diligent with my bike or using the bus. Otherwise, the whole goal of this experiment to save money and time, and hopefully get myself into better shape at the same time, won't pan out.

Last night at CrossFit, we did no strength work. After our warm-up, we went straight into a long MetCon that I could tell up front would be very difficult:

20 minutes, as many reps as possible:

5 thrusters
7 hang cleans
10 sumo deadlift high pulls

The RX'd weight was 95, and the Level 1 weight was 65. I opted for level 1 and it was plenty hard. I knew that with 20 minutes of work, I should not start out too fast, but instead, shoot for a steady pace that I could maintain. I think the first round took about 90 seconds, but things began to get slower after that. I hit five rounds in just under 10 minutes, but continued to get slower. I think I was at 17 minutes when I hit 8 rounds, so I knew I'd get to 9. And, I was glad that my 9th set of thrusters would be my last.

However, I finished the 9th round at 19:30, and knew I had time to do 5 thrusters. So, I banged those out and then spent about 5 minutes on the floor, trying to recover. I wasn't the only one in a prone position after this workout. A lot of people were beat.

Today, I'm sore and hoping I can make it through the workout tonight. I had a rest day last Friday, but that's been my only day off in the last 11 days. By the end of the weekend, I will take at least one rest day, if I'm smart.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rainy Day CrossFit

I didn't ride my bike to work yesterday because of rain. As I drove my bike commute routes in the morning and evening, the puddles on the road and the dark skies really brought home the potential danger of commuting some of these routes in bad weather. My new thought is that I might opt to ride the bus to work on really bad weather days (our spring has been all rain so far, it seems) and then maybe run back to my rented room after work. That would mean that I can do CrossFit only on nice days and I'd run only in the rain, which seems backwards, but it also seems safest. This whole bike commuting experiment will be a grand failure if I get hurt on my bike in any way - whether due to traffic, puddles, potholes, or anything else.

So, after work, I did go to CrossFit. After our warm-up, we did two different metabolic conditioning (MetCon, in the CF lingo) workouts, rather than one strength and one MetCon, like normal.

The first MetCon was as follows:

5 Rounds, starting every three minutes:
10/side jumping lunges
10 dumbbell squats

Each work set took me about a minute, giving me two minutes to rest. As the jumping lunges accumulated, my legs were just plain tired, but my last set was the best.

MetCon #2, 8 minutes, as many rounds as possible:
4 Burpees
4 Jumping pull-ups
8 kettlebell swings, 35#

That wasn't the prescribed workout, but it was Level 2. The prescribed workout had 4 burpee pull-ups, which I can't do yet, and heavier KB swings. Level 2 matched my fitness better last night.

I did 6 rounds and 3 extra burpees. Two more seconds and I would have finished one more burpee. After we were done, I just rolled onto my back on the floor to catch my breath. When I finally got up, the sweat on the floor looked like one of those murder scene outlines, only it was sweat marking the corpse, rather than yellow tape.

I'm feeling tired today, but not too bad. My shoulder is still a bit sore, but last night's workout didn't hit the shoulders too much.

Today will be CrossFit after work.

I'm following the Paleo diet plan fairly well right now. It's been almost two weeks since I last had bread, and that's the hardest thing for me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

CrossFit Paleo Challenge - This Time For Sure

At CrossFit, we started a 45 day Paleo challenge back in mid-January. Somehow, I made it about 11 days, until the second weekend, and pretty much gave up. My diet turned to crap, I was skiing more than I was working in the gym, and then I took a week off work and didn't run or get to the gym once during that week.

My final results were pathetic. In these challenges, we have four scoring categories: weight loss, physique change judged by photos, diet compliance, and fitness improvement defined by a benchmark workout. At the end, my weight was unchanged, my physique was unchanged, my compliance was terrible (I quit tracking), and I never even repeated the benchmark workout.

In the past two months, I've slowly cleaned up my diet and stopped drinking alcohol. I'm making decent progress. I'm locked in a weight loss battle with my brother. So, this time, I'm expecting better things.

Last night was our benchmark workout, and it was different than last time:

1 rep max on thrusters (basically a front squat followed by a push-press like movement so the bar finishes overhead): 145 pounds, previous best was 135. That's the most weight I've ever had overhead, I think.

Pull-up max: I did 10 band-assisted pull-ups. We had to use a technique that let us do at least 5-6. Otherwise, if someone goes from 2 to 6, they get a 300% score at the end.

Then, do this as fast as possible:

10 muscle snatches
20 med ball slams
30 push-ups
40 air squats
50 double-unders
40 air squats
30 push-ups
20 med ball slams
10 muscle snatches

It took me 10:47 - one of the slower times and I used lighter weights than some faster people. I did the snatches (basically a deadlift to a high pull to an overhead position) at 65 pounds rather than the prescribed 95, 30 pounds for med balls rather than 40, and I can't do double unders (rope jumping where the rope goes underfoot twice per jump) so I had to do 50 regular jumps and then 25 tuck jumps.

I also added in 14 miles of easy bicycling during the day, commuting to and from the office by bike. There is a lot of traffic on the routes that I used, and I can't seem to find many good alternatives, although I'm still looking.

So, for right now, it's just about the next 30 days - train hard, eat well, and see how things go. With just under ten weeks to a marathon, losing some weight is something I really need to do.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Busy Weekend

The only thing relaxing about my weekend was a rest day on Friday - no workout after work that evening. Instead, I cooked dinner and we watched some hockey on TV.

On Saturday morning, my wife and I did some work around the house. A local organic farm delivered a side of grass-fed beef that we'd ordered a few months ago. The local butcher has been so busy that he couldn't get to this steer until recently. After our morning "chores" were done, we headed to Sugarbush. We skied for about 2.5 hours, all of it on tough terrain, but given the spring conditions, the steep trails skied much easier than normal. By 2:30, I'd had enough and wanted some lunch. My wife had some lunch as well, but went back out for one more run while I just relaxed with friends. By 4:00, the outdoor deck was filled with friends, most of them enjoying a local craft beer or two. I was my wife's DD, so I enjoyed ice water.

After we got home, I grilled some T-Bone steaks from the newly arrived beef and they were great. We had a nice family dinner, knowing that I would be gone from the house a lot over the next few months.

Later that night, just before the price went up, I registered for the Mad Marathon on 7/10. My longest run since last Labor Day is about 5 miles and my total mileage is less than 100 miles. So, in ten weeks, I need to be ready for a marathon. Amazingly, I'm not too concerned right now. I think I can do it. My plan is to just have fun and finish the run.

Sunday morning, my wife and I got up early and went out for a hilly 8 mile run. We were slow, but we got through it. That was my longest run since last August. I guess I'm almost ready for the race now!

Later that day, my family and I moved me into the bedroom where I'll be staying midweek for the next few months. The lady renting the room to me is very nice, a friend of a friend, and I think it will work out well. The biggest downside is not seeing my family as much for a while, but we will save money, I will get to train more, and I'll be able to work more hours, something I need to be able to do right now.

This morning, I did my first bike commute to work. I started later than I wanted, so I got to ride in rush hour traffic, which was unnerving at times. The total distance was only 6.6 miles, but there was a lot of traffic, there were many traffic lights, and a few good hills. I didn't push the pace at all.

Tonight, I'll ride to CrossFit, do the workout there, and then ride back to where I'm staying. I'm likely to get about 15 bonus biking miles every day I commute to my work on the bike. Although, I'd be glad to do more miles if I could find a route with less traffic.

At CrossFit tonight, we start another Paleo Challenge, this one only 30 days long vs. 45 last time. With my increased workout time, and the fact that I'm not drinking any alcohol, I'm hoping to do much better than last time.