Saturday, December 19, 2009

Losing myself

I managed 10.5 miles this morning.  Kept my pace about the same as it has been.  It was ridiculously cold (3 degrees F), but once I got going, it felt great.  I am beginning to think I just might be as crazy as people keep telling me I am.

Needless to say, over the course of the past few months I have been pretty regular with the exercise.  I have been doing some resistance training along with the running.  And I am finally starting to notice some results.  My pants are getting quite baggy.  Particularly through the legs.  This is unusual for me, as I have always had beefy legs.

So, I decided to break out the tape measure and see what was going on.  Here are some comparisons to this summer.

I have lost 20 lbs

I have lost 2.5 inches in my waist

I have lost 3 inches in my chest

I have lost 3 inches in my hips

I have lost 3 inches from EACH thigh

Slowly, but surely, I am losing myself.  I think I like this.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Meet Captain Ice Beard!

Another Saturday. This means time for another long run. After the success of last week's endeavor, I decided to push a bit more this week. It helps that I have a wonderful wife who is so supportive.
So the plan for the day was 9 miles. For the record, that would be the farthest I have ever run. At once, of course.
Last night, though, the temperature was in a bit of a downward spiral. The wind was blowing and what started out in the 30s was quickly approaching the bottom half of the 20s, with a threat for a continued downward trend. I have this awesome clock that projects onto the ceiling. It syncs the time automatically from the atomic clock in Colorado, so it is always correct. And it connects to a remote thermometer that I have placed outside in the back of the house.
Last night, as I was going to bed, the temperature was 22 F. Hmm. Chilly. But I was determined.
So the alarm goes off. I gaze at the ceiling. 12 F.
Are you freaking kidding me? That is like -10 C! That ain't right. Freaking New England. Freaking snow. Freaking winter. I could still be wearing shorts in North Carolina. Argh.
But I really wanted to go. So up and at 'em. I did wait until the sky started to lighten, so that at some point during the run the sun would actually rise. I layered. It worked. Mostly.
My face was incredibly cold for the first mile or so, but by then I was starting to warm up and I was beginning to sweat. A few more miles down and I was sweating in earnest. But it was too cold to evaporate. So what does it do? It freezes. On my face. In my beard.
9.3 miles later I had become Captain Ice Beard.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Changing color, changing seasons

Faithful reader(s), you may have noticed a change in the top of my blog. I just couldn't resist. The picture of the vibrant red leaves was just too beautiful. I had to add it. Fall in New England is truly breathtaking (even though it only lasts for a week or two). It is sort of like Mother Nature's last chance to apologize for what is to come. As such, the changing color of the leaves is always just a bit ominous.
I was thinking, though, about another change of color. One I find far more ominous and frightening.
My hair.
I have blond hair. It is true. I have white eyebrows and a red beard. It is sort of like my genotype just couldn't make up its mind about what sort of phenotype it wanted to produce. Yeah, even my genes are wishy-washy. However, because of the red beard (and the, ehm, "fair" complexion) people in the operating room just assume I have red hair as well (since they always see me with an OR cap on). And while the reports are that I had red hair when I was born, I have never seen photographic evidence of this. Mom, I'll just have to take your word for it.
Be that as it may, my hair is blond. Not almost-white-blond, but not really red or strawberry-blond either. It hides things well. Things like gray/white hairs. I consider this as something that works in my favor.
Something else that works in my favor is that, for about 8 years or so, I kept my hair mostly buzzed. Not Gillette smooth, but very short. You know, no attachment on the clippers short. Earlier this year I decided I would try the whole hair thing again. Interestingly, quite a few people told me I actually looked younger with hair. Bonus. Right?
I'm not so sure.
A few weeks ago, my dear wife was standing close by and looking at my head. Not sure why, but there you go. Suddenly she asked, innocently enough, "Is that a gray hair?"
I was taken aback. I was speechless. I was horrified. I was irrational. For reasons I still cannot explain, that simple question was so offensive to me. The very notion that I was starting to go gray was anathema. My wife looked at me as if I had lost my mind. She tried to assuage my grief, ensuring that it was "dignified". Hogwash. It isn't dignified. It is OLD.
In an effort to rally the troops to my side, I mentioned this experience to some fellow residents. To my horror, they agreed that I was overreacting! What is their problem? I am too freaking young to have white hairs!
To the bathroom. Tweazers in hand, I gazed into the mirror. I saw an errant sideburn hair. Grabbed, pulled, out. I looked closely. Crap. It was white. A few minutes later, a few more hairs, all white. But I think I got them all.
Fast forward to this week. Again, while looking at my sideburns, my wife sees another couple of white hairs. And POINTS THEM OUT TO ME!!! As if my reaction the first time wasn't enough, she tempted fate and went down that dark path again. My reaction was, well, irrational. Again.
Reflecting on my reaction, I just don't know why this is bothering me so much. My hair color hides the white hairs quite well. You only notice if you are looking closely. Nevertheless, I am really bothered by this. I mean, I am only 33. Going gray/white already? And yet, it has never phased me when I see those younger than me with much more gray adorning their crowns.
Some times it frightens me just how crazy I am.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A moment of revelation

In an effort to improve my over all health, I decided to plunge back in to the world of regular exercise. It is amazing how poorly us doctors do at taking care of ourselves. The medical field has created this culture of self-neglect. In some aspects, I think the pendulum is swinging a bit. However, life as a resident is built on a firm dictatorial foundation. As in you dictate next to nothing about your life. However, as this year is my "research" year, I felt it was the best time to establish some healthier habits, ones that hopefully I can carry through the next two years after this until I am done and (hopefully) have a little more control over my schedule. As such, I have rediscovered that perhaps running isn't just as insane as I used to think it was. Here is a little secret: I used to hate running. In fact, hate may just not be sufficiently strong to convey my feelings about it. I loathed it. I thought it was evil, a beast that should be chained in the deepest pit of Tartarus. Yeah, not a fan. But biking just wasn't doing it for me. It didn't feel like enough of a workout unless I really went for a while. Still fun, but just not what I was looking for. So I decided I would try running again. I have flirted with running in the past. I have even reached a point where I didn't despise the very thought of it. But I never honestly could say I liked it. Until this morning. Getting back in the swing of things after some sickness and some stress at work, Thanksgiving morning I went for a 5.5 mile run. The most I have done in at least 4 years or so. It hurt. But mentally I was pleased I had done it, even if it was not fun. I have done pretty well since then, running regularly (a well as some cross training with weights, jump rope, etc.) with one other >5 mile run.
I planned to do a 10k this morning.
10k isn't a lot for people who actually run. You know, people who are healthy and in shape. Those sorts of people. But for those like me, you know, us fatties, 10k is a long freaking distance. I mean seriously, moving my meaty frame at a constant jog for 6.2 miles is a pretty big deal. So it took some mental preparation. I knew how far to go, where to turn around and had a sound plan.
0630 this morning I set out. A tad later than I was initially planning, but still early enough. As usual, it felt a little rough for the first kilometer or so. But I kept going and eventually it stopped hurting, and if it didn't feel good, it wasn't at least feeling awful.
Then "it" happened. For the past week the Nike+ sensor in my shoe had been telling me the battery was low. But it had still been working, recording my mileage and telling me when to turn around. Alas, at 3.92k my iPod told me it had stopped recording activity. Yep, my sensor was dead.
I won't lie. There was a part of me that just about turned around then. It would have been 8k, not bad and still a good run.
But I still could listen to music, and I knew when to turn around to make it the full 10k. So I decided to press on. I hit the half-way point and a funny thing happened. I decided to go a little farther. I knew how far to go to add another half mile out, adding a full additional mile to the run. 7.2 miles was sounding pretty good. Still, sitting in the back of my mind was the fact that however far I went away from home, I had that far to go on the return trip.
But I made it. Then another funny thing happened. I decided to go a bit farther. Up, over the pasarela (overpass, but for some reason they will always be pasarelas to me) and up to the High School. There I decided to turn around. I was actually feeling pretty good. Granted, I wasn't setting any speed records, but I was still running my pace and in a groove.
Five miles into the run, with a way to go still the weirdest thing happened. Something I have never felt before. I felt great. Not just good, but great. I'm talking grinning from ear to ear, breathlessly singing along with my iPod, giving high-fives to the low hanging tree branches great. I felt giddy.
I have heard about a "runner's high". Lis talks about them and my dad has even made mention of it. I thought it was fiction. You know, something that runners talk about to fool us regular folk in to running, telling us eventually we will feel it just to keep us going. In short, I thought it was a lie.
Not any more.
I felt higher than a kite this morning. I don't regularly use mind or mood altering substances. I have, on very few occasions, used narcotics while in the throws of passing kidney stones. I hated those. No idea why people would pay good money to feel that way.
But this was different. If I could have bottled this feeling to sell, I would be a millionaire. I felt invincible. I loved it. I crave feeling it again.
Oh dear. Looks like I got my first hit today, and now I am hooked. I just may become something of a junkie. 7.8 miles done, and I was already planning next week's runs. And, yes, I bought a new sensor today.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Gareth laughs and fills us with joy

Three months have passed, and Gareth is turning into his own little person. It is amazing just what the simple things will do for little babies. As he smiles more and becomes more interactive, he fills our home with just that much more joy. Here is a bit of that joy to share with you all.