Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Zen of Beard Trimming

I haven't blogged in forever, but when I was given the chance to receive an advance copy of The Zen of Beard Trimming: Stories of Punk Rock, Poverty, and the Search for Peace by C.J. Campbell so that I could review it, I  had to take the opportunity and dig out my login information. :)

In this brutally honest "five-year memoir," Campbell tells a story of struggle. Some of it I could not relate to, such as struggling with the realities of living with cerebral palsy, growing up without having a father around, and fighting anorexia. Much of it, however, is truly universal: fear of failure, the desire to be loved, and, simply, life as a struggle. However, if you're looking for a heart-warming tale, I'm not sure this is it. Much of Campbell's story is not overcoming. It's surviving. Coping. Failing. Accepting. Moving on. Understanding.

Where it falls short of heart-warming, it certainly leaves the reader with a renewed sense of gratitude and sensitivity to others. This story is about the struggle for things that we all desperately, desperately want--the things that most of us take for granted once we have them. And through three-quarters of the book I kept hoping Campbell would get them. But, as far as I can tell, he doesn't. If you totally lack in empathy, you might enjoy Campbell's story as a comedy of errors. The right movie director could pull it off. I am neither (completely) lacking in empathy, nor the right movie director.

I feel like Campbell has told me half the story--the middle half. He left out some of the beginning, which might just be good editing on his part. However, I really wanted the end, the part where Campbell doesn't have to struggle. Perhaps the end of struggle never happens for Campbell, and the fact that the reader has to accept that is what makes this book compelling and possibly devastating.

Buy it here.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I Love You

I love you like a fat man loves Red Robin.

Wait, what? You know what I mean. I mean, I love you like Michael Jordan loves destroying his competition.

Except that was like twenty years ago. My love for you doesn't end. I love you like Brian Williams loves a good story.

I don't mean that I'm going to be suspended for six months! My love for you won't stop, no matter what the executives at NBC say. What I'm trying to say is that I love you like Andy loves making ladies go first.

Don't take that wrong. I'm not trying to deny it. Honestly, I love you like Gordito loves adventure.

Except not fiction! My love for you is real! I love you like this girl loves having a microphone.

Hallmark hasn't offered me that job yet. I don't know why.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Swimming from Zero to a Mile

I don't know jack about swimming. Period.  I've been watching this video a lot:

I'm not sure it's helping, because I'm still just about the most embarrassing swimmer ever. Maybe it is, but it's not like I've got the narrator talking to me when I'm in the pool or some place useful like that. I was thinking about maybe lying on an ironing board and trying to emulate it while I watch the video. I searched YouTube for something that would look like what I imagine I look like when I am swimming, but the closest I came was a video of two guys pretending to swim in the mud, but even that looked quicker and more athletic than I feel in the water.

Anyway, not having a clue what I'm doing out there, I did what any sensible person would do: I "goggled" it. (Dexter reference. Link not suitable for work. Or children. Or anywhere else swearing isn't acceptable.) I came across this workout that claimed it would take me from zero to a mile in six weeks. The workout tells you how far to swim and how much you can breathe after each distance. There is one workout regimen per week that you are supposed to do three times per week.

Week 1:
4x100 (12 breaths)
4x50 (8 breaths)
4x25 (4 breaths)

Week 2:
200 (12 breaths)
4x100 (10 breaths)
4x50 (6 breaths)
4x25 (4 breaths)

Week 3:
400 (12 breaths)
200 (10 breaths)
4x100 (8 breaths)
4x50 (4 breaths)

Week 4:
600 (10 breaths)
300 (8 breaths)
4x100 (6 breaths)
4x50 (4 breaths)

Week 5:
1000 (8 breaths)
4x100 (4 breaths)
4x50 (4 breaths)

Week 6 (for two workouts):
1200 (6 breaths)
3x100 (4 breaths)
4x50 (4 breaths)
Week 6 (third workout):

There's two problems with this. First, 1650 yards is not a mile. A mile is 1760 yards. (I read somewhere that it's different for swimming, which makes exactly no sense.) Secondly, I can't really do the first week's workout (without doing some backstroke, doggy paddle, floating leisurely, etc.).

I am currently planning on taking three weeks to get to the point of being able to do week 1.

Oh, and then it says after you can swim a mile it's easy to work up to 2.4 miles. Right. Just like it was easy for me to get off the couch, waddle into the pool, and swim 700 yards. No problem.

Pray for me.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Running Schedule

When it comes to training for a marathon (whether that's part of a triathlon or not), there are probably a lot of philosophies out there. There are two that I have come across a lot.
My running shirt. Seriously.

The first philosophy is that you want to run a lot of miles. This philosophy says to run every day or almost every day. Sometimes with this philosophy comes the idea that it better prepares you for the longer distances when you start out a run with your body already sore and tired because it's like training for the middle and end of a race instead of the beginning. It sounds really awful.

The other philosophy, and the one that I have adopted, is kind of a mutated version of the "Run Less, Run Faster" philosophy. The plan here is to run three runs a week (typically two short and one long run) and then have other non-weight-bearing aerobic workouts (swimming and biking, anyone?) the rest of the week, minus the day after the long run, which is a recovery day. I think the idea is that running all those short runs gets you accustomed to running at a faster pace. Instead of always being tired and always running slowly, I'm training my body to run, relatively speaking.

I've adopted the second philosophy, largely because running sucks and also because I have swimming and biking that I need to do in addition to running. Also, I don't have time to run distance every stinking day. Below is my schedule. (I stole it off the internet years ago, and then modified it just a little bit to ease into it a little slower.) I will typically do my short runs on Sundays and Tuesdays, and my long runs on Thursdays. This works out perfectly since, you know, triathlons are typically held on Thursdays. Er, wait...

Week            Short Run    Short Run     Long Run
Week 11 mile1 mile2 miles
Week 21 mile2 miles2 miles
Week 32 miles2 miles2 miles
Week 42 miles2 miles3 miles
Week 52 miles2 miles3 miles
Week 62 miles3 miles4 miles
Week 73 miles3 miles5 miles
Week 83 miles3 miles6 miles
Week 93 miles3 miles7 miles
Week 102 miles2 miles5 miles
Week 113 miles3 miles8 miles
Week 123 miles3 miles9 miles
Week 133 miles3 miles6 miles
Week 143 miles3 miles10 miles
Week 153 miles4 miles11 miles
Week 163 miles3 miles8 miles
Week 173 miles4 miles12 miles
Week 183 miles4 miles14 miles
Week 192 miles3 miles6 miles
Week 204 miles4 miles16 miles
Week 214 miles5 miles10 miles
Week 224 miles4 miles18 miles
Week 235 miles5 miles8 miles
Week 245 miles5 miles10 miles
Week 255 miles4 miles20 miles
Week 265 miles5 miles10 miles
Week 275 miles4 miles8 miles
Week 284 miles3 miles6 miles
Week 293 miles2 miles"Race"

The last couple weeks, instead of running Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday both weeks, it would be better to go Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday on week 28 and then start week 29 on Saturday, then Monday, and Thursday. The idea is to keep loose but fully recover before your race.

When I trained on this schedule before, I ran up to 14 miles with less than ten-minute average miles before I quit, which isn't a great marathon pace, but not awful, either, especially if I can pull it off on this timetable. During my three-mile runs, I aimed for a final time of under twenty minutes (though I'm not really sure I ever quite made it).

Will this work? I have no idea. Feel free to cast your bets now.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Do Hard Things

Dr. Phil and I had a discussion...
A few years ago, I wrote this blog about doing hard things (as opposed to trying to live life on social media). Since then I have done a lot of things, some hard, some not so much, and some of them huge for me. One thing I haven't been doing lately, though, is exercising. It shows, too. Yesterday I weighed in at 242 pounds. That's at least fifty pounds overweight (and according to Wii Fit, it's 75 pounds over my ideal weight), not to mention really embarrassing. I'm definitely the fattest I've ever been, which is saying something.

If you've followed my blogs for years, you may remember that I previously trained with the goal of completing an iron-distance triathlon. I focused on the running part, because I assumed that would be the hardest part for me, and when I got to the point in my training schedule where I was supposed to run sixteen miles for my long run of the week, I couldn't finish. Then I didn't know what to do, since my schedule was messed up, so I ended up quitting altogether.

I have always assumed that the biking portion would be the least of my worries, since I have completed two full century rides without ever really training appropriately. It was something like, "I enjoy biking fifteen or twenty miles, I'm sure a hundred will be fine." It kind of was. It was hard, but I finished and I was happy, so it must have been okay. I still think that.

Unfortunately, I discovered during my previous training methods that my swimming abilities are, well, awful. I don't even know how to swim with decent form, and I could maybe swim across a pool a couple times before I was looking for a break. Embarrassing.

I started thinking (rarity!) the other day, and I realized that if I didn't change my life, I would never be able to complete my long-held dream of completing an iron-distance triathlon. If I keep getting fatter and fatter, I'll not only get even more out of shape than I am now, but I will destroy my body to where recovery would be more than "hard" work. I don't want to have to joint replacement surgeries or anything.

It's time to do hard things.

Here it is:
I am going to be ready to complete an iron-distance triathlon in 29 weeks. That's a darn hard thing to do.

Keep watching the blog and I will have a ton of information to share about my progress. We're also going to be posting videos, so stay tuned!