Choice, More Treadmill and Figuring out H/R Scales

Last week I got an invitation to go to my last place of employment’s Holiday Party today and after a lot of reflection and thinking about it, I decided not to go last night. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see most of the people that were going to be there, because I really, really wanted to see them, especially since I stay in contact with many of them through Facebook.

I loved working there and the people were for the most part really great. While I would have enjoyed talking and gabbing with them, I would have felt out of place. I am no longer a part of the “team”, as much as I was a part of the “team” over 18 months, I am now an outsider.

So I didn’t go and feel comfortable with my choice. Although it would have been nice to see some of the people that I really enjoyed being around.

Like they say, you can’t live in the past and you are not who you were, you are who you are now.

Memories are great and sometimes it is better for them to remain good memories.

So instead of going to the party, I went and ran 5.0 miles on the treadmill and saw another alumni of where we worked who retired from there this summer. He evidently decided to not go as well, which sort of validated my choice just a bit. I was on the treadmill and he was headed out the door, so we didn’t get to talk, it would have been nice to have talked about it with him, but it was not to be.

Now my run was a steady state run where I got on the treadmill, ran the same speed (7.1 mph) until I finished. No big deal and I felt strong the entire run and could have easily run much faster.

Although the Garmin 35 was WAY off with the distance (6.1 miles), compared to what I actually did according to the treadmill 5.0 miles. Which in this case was definitely more accurate. I need to calibrate the runs and now I remember how to calibrate them, so at least I get the correct (according to the treadmill at least) mileage.

One of the reasons that I wanted a new watch with a heart rate monitor was to give me an independent measure that would tell me how hard my body was working that was based on more than how I felt.

The heart rate scale gives me that and while my average heart rate at 146 bpm was in the “red line” or “very intense” range according to many of the sources I have been reading, it didn’t feel all that difficult.

Actually I was in the 150s (all out intensity range), which doesn’t feel all out at all to me for most of the last part of the run. I haven’t got a clue what the spike up to 169 bpm was all about, but I have a feeling that might be one of the reasons that the Doc wanted me to get the heart rate monitor.

So I am either delusional or in better shape then I thought. I kind of hope that it is the latter. Hehehehe

As a part of all this I have updated my spreadsheet running log to include a lot of new fields that I want to keep track of.

It gives me a bit more data to crunch about my running and forces me to look at the data and take a look at the trends that will show up that I haven’t been tracking in the past.

The reality is that

I did miss not going to the Holiday party and seeing a lot of the people I still consider to be my friends, but it didn’t feel right for me at this point to go. So I didn’t.

Moving to more of the heart rate training versus training by feel is going to be an interesting and very long adjustment. More for the psychological side than the physical – it is an ego thing and something I have to figure out if it is for me or not.

However, I have a feeling that the changes I have made to my running log will help me identify things that I would not have noticed otherwise.

A good day and one where I get to learn more about running and how my body reacts to it.

This is Getting to be too Regular

You know something, I have a sneaking suspicion this might be the winter where I get to do way too much of my running on the treadmill. Based on how December has been so far and looking back at November, I have run more on the ‘mill this “winter” than I usually do.

Not really what I want to do.

My preference is to run outside as much as I can, but when the temps get below 20*F with or without the wind chill, running outside stops being enjoyable and becomes a chore.

I don’t want my running to be a chore at this point in my life, so I choose to run inside in my shorts and t-shirt when it is that cold outside.

So this morning when I was coming back from grocery shopping, the temp at the Bank on Western Ave said 12*F and the wind was starting to pick up, it made my mind up about where I would be running this morning. It turned out to be a moot point anyway, because I didn’t include my wind pants and in those temps I wasn’t going to run in shorts outside. 😉

I have had a couple of decent runs this week and decided that 4.0 miles would be as far as I would run today. That and the speed was going to be capped around 9:00 minute pace.

So I started the treadmill at 6.7 mph and kept it there until a quarter mile was left and picked it up for a good finishing kick. Something I purposely do for most of my runs. Just a part of who I am.

The hardest thing about this run, was just keeping going, the body didn’t have any issues running, it was the mental side and the boredom of yet another day on the treadmill. I think that is the hardest part of running on a treadmill is the idea that you have to keep going and you don’t get anywhere. Plus I didn’t put on my playlist or watch TV and just ran, which makes it a little tougher.

As a result of my physical Monday, I did order a GPS watch with a H/R monitor built in. I know at times it isn’t completely accurate, but it gives me an idea of where my heart rate is and how quickly I recover from a harder effort.

It came in tonight and since I had one last year, I was pretty familiar with how to setup my new Garmin Forerunner 35. There are somethings I love and somethings I dislike about it, but for the price and how close it is to Christmas, I was not going to go out and get an Apple Watch 4 or some other higher end Garmin, Suunto or Polar watch on such short notice. It just was not in the budget.

So I will see how this works for me and go from there.

The run was a run and since tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same, I have a feeling that 5.0 more miles will be accomplished on the treadmill tomorrow morning.

Another Treadmill Day But a Bit Longer

Yeah with that big Zero*F on the thermometer this morning for Bennie and my first walk of the day got our attention. It was and it felt damn cold outside.

Even so, when I drove the Transit in for a quick repair job this morning, I fully expected to Go For A Run up in Waterville.

Err No.

It was still only 4*F when I walked out of the Ford Dealership, so I just turned Clifford back towards the house and went home. Bennie and I did a short walk instead of a long one, it was just too cold and he decided when we got to the Upper Gate that it was time to go home.

At that point, I wasn’t going to run outside – even though it had warmed up to 11*F, it was still too cold for me.

So I packed up and headed to Augusta for an appointment with the treadmill.

I figured that I would get in a nice 4-5 miles at a comfortable pace. Yes, Tuesdays are normally a quality workout day or speed work, but after yesterday’s Physical Exam and talking with the Doc, I decided to take his advice and wait until I get my watch in to let me know when I am going too hard, instead of cranking it without realizing how hard I am going.

I got on and started out at 7.0 mph with a 1% incline. The 1% incline does make a difference in how hard running feels, so I did that through 3.0 miles then I got rid of the incline for the next 1.75 miles, but kept the speed at 7.0 mph. I only pushed the speed up a tick at that point and continued to the 5.0 mile mark.

However at about 4.5 miles, I got this crazy idea that I could probably complete 7.0 miles in a hour if I ticked the speed up to 7.2 mph at 5.0 miles. Yeah, I am a bit crazy, but since I wasn’t doing a speed workout, it wasn’t a bad idea to go a little longer.

The last 2.0 miles were at 7.2 mph and I finished the run in just under an hour.

I actually felt very strong during the entire run, although my legs were starting to get a bit tired towards the end.

Good Run.

A Good 10K and Annual Physical

The annual physical, something that I tend to dread, especially since I get to have a new doctor over at Togus again. Which always makes things that much more stressful.

All I know is that I stressed out pretty good because I hate having a new doc and going through the getting to know how he thinks versus how I think and how well we are going to work together. You get to worrying and stressing out about conversations that you never have…so I did a lot of that for nothing over the past couple of weeks.

Just me being me.

I can’t say that I hate change or am resistant to making changes when they are necessary, but I do dislike having to make choices that may or may not agree with what a new VA doc seems to think is best for me and how I plan to live my life going forward.

Enough blathering

I did get my run in before the appointment a nice 10K on the treadmill. I started out nice and easy and didn’t get all that much faster. So I was very happy with the run and how I felt during it.

Once I got done running and went into the locker room and saw this.

Not a good thing, going to a doctor’s appointment and not being able to take a shower, probably didn’t make things all that nice for others that were around me. Oh well, I apologized to the doc.

Getting back to the physical:

I like the staff over at Togus a lot. Every time I have been there over the years, all the ones that I have met have been super helpful and today was no exception. I wanted to get it so that I could use their website and see my records online. Everything went smoothly and I got to look at my labs before I went in to see the doc, which was nice. I didn’t get surprised, did a little research and got to ask some questions about the results that were not in the “normal” range.

I do not always think that what is good for someone else, is always good for me. But that is a whole different story. Let’s just say some recommendations were great and I am going to add them into my lifestyle:

Start eating a lower carb diet to help get some of the blood work a little better. I pretty much expected these results (I am pretty honest with myself sometimes) and have been looking into some of the low carbhydrate/paleo types of diets before the appointment, so I understood what and why he was recommending this and was able to discuss it somewhat intelligently, instead of giving one of those WTFO are you talking about looks.

Get back to using a watch with the heart rate monitor built in. After listening to my chest and looking in my record, we talked about my working out routine. The doc thought it might be a good idea not to go super hard: up hills, during track work or racing. It seems that I need to be a little more cognizant of how “hard” I go and need something to warn me when I am overdoing things.

I have noticed that going uphill hard is something that I do not do as well and haven’t pushed hard up them. Also I don’t usually go much beyond 90% effort anymore, he seemed to think that 80% effort or less might be a bit better.

We will see.

So, I did order a Garmin with a wrist heart rate built in tonight, just to give me a little more control or at least an idea how hard I am working versus, just what I feel, which I tend to ignore sometimes 🙂 .

It seems that he was a bit concerned about some of my kidney profiles, but when he got looking back at some of my old results from 1989, they were about the same and the doc moved on. Not a big deal if it has been that way for that long – I guess. 🙂

Hydrate more often, especially during the winter.

Reduce the amount of Vitamin D I am taking, from the old amount to about half that. He felt that I was taking too much, so I will try the reduced amount and see how I feel. If things begin to go South, I can always increase it back to where I am now.

Overall, for a first visit with a new doc, it was a very good visit and while he is not a runner, he isn’t a doc that is one of those do what I say, not what I do guys. He also made it very clear that he was there to make recommendations and that any choices or decisions that were made would come from me – not him.

Which gave me a much more warm and fuzzy feeling than some docs I have had in the past who thought their word was the way it was going to be. I don’t do well with docs who think their word carries the same weight as a God.

A very good first visit with my new doc.

So I had a good run, but I do have some things that I need to do better when it comes to my diet (too much sugar – I already knew that) and being more careful about my effort levels with some other things that are going on and are going to be a part of my life going forward (well they have been a part of it since 2007, but I tended to ignore things a little more than I probably should have).

What else is new. 🙂

To Cold For Me – I Went Inside – Not Tough Enough

Well Bennie and I headed out the door this morning for our first walk and Mary let me know that the temp was 0*F, with just a slight 5 mph breeze. Nice and warm out there! Needless to say that Bennie didn’t want to walk all that far. Also for his long walk, it was still a pretty short one. He can be a pretty smart dog.

I do want to take a moment to congratulate everyone who ran in the Millinocket Half and Full Marathons this morning. It was damned cold for those distances. Julie and Steph, along with everyone else should be very proud of your accomplishment in those conditions. You are all a LOT tougher than I am :-).

Since the temps were well below my self-imposed safety limit of 20*F (including wind chills), I was not going to be brave like those up in Millinocket and headed to Planet Fitness for a treadmill workout.

In those conditions I prefer the short and t-shirt workout on the treadmill, over the bundled-up clothing required for being outside for more than an hour and half at least for most runners.

After yesterday’s longer run, I wasn’t planning on anything all that hard, more of a 4-5 mile comfortable run. I started out at 7.2 mph and kept it there for 3.5 miles. I was feeling really good and decided to pick-up the pace a little. By the time I got to the last quarter, I did pick it up to what I would love to be my race pace and felt good running at that speed to finish up a 5.0 mile run.

I was fairly surprised at how well the FitBit tracked my treadmill mileage. Through 4.0 miles it had me at 3.9 miles. Pretty close. However, that accuracy went away when I began to up the pace and it read 4.94 for the 5.0 miles that the treadmill showed. Which is a helluva lot closer than my Garmin gets for 1.0 mile, much less 5.0.

So that part of the FitBit is better than the Garmin. Unfortunately, it does not give a chart of the run, so you can compare the heart rate to the pace, which to be honest is something that I would like.

Overall, I was very happy with how I felt during the run and while I am not all that crazy about the FitBit Blaze, I am finding that I do like the heart rate monitor. It gives me a piece of data that I didn’t realize how much I like to have.

The next GPS device I get will have the heart rate monitor built in.

Good run.

Two for the Price of One

I wasn’t sure about what kind of a run I would end up doing this morning. It snowed just enough last night to leave a little white layer on the road around the house that I wasn’t too keen about running out heah.

When I can’t see what is under the surface of the roads out where I live, well it isn’t always nice and after walking Bennie on it there wasn’t any doubt in my mind I was heading to Augusta for either a Treadmill session or a run outside, if the roads were fairly clear.

The temps were supposedly in the 30’s and the wind was picking up from that cold front that is coming in. In other years would be called a Polar Clipper or some other nonsense, lately they have just called them cold fronts, which is exactly what it will bring. Single digits and colder with the wind chills overnight. I even dug out my LL Bean winter parka and faux fur hat – yeah January cold in December, just f-ing wonderful.

But getting back to today’s run, with the “breeze”, it certainly felt a LOT chillier than 30’s. However, the roads were clear and with the temps tomorrow going to be even colder, I figured that if I could I might as well run outside, since this cold spell is supposed to last through next Wednesday. Which probably means way too much time on the treadmill…something I am not really looking forward to, but will make it work.

So I headed out the gym’s door and ran straight into that wonderful breeze. Yeah, just wonderful, I contemplated turning around and getting on the treadmill. However, I was already geared up and outside, so I figured that I would survive just fine. Cold and chilly really isn’t all serious if you are dressed properly – I was.

The first mile was slow, which is what I wanted and then I just ran comfortably for the next couple of miles. I had planned on going to run over by the Commerce Center after finishing up off Leighton Road, unfortunately that wonderful feeling of gotta find a place reared it ugly feeling and I decided to turn back to Planet Fitness and spend a few minutes contemplating the errors of my way.

I finished with 4.62 miles and other than that wonderful feeling, felt really good. I did use Mary’s FitBit Blaze as an experiment and found out that I really am not that crazy about it. I hate that you cannot keep the screen on while running – it is a pain in the arse to frig, fart around to see it. I do like the heart rate sensor, it seemed to work better than my old Garmin 35, but I have no doubt that it is not something that I would run out and buy for myself.

Once I pondered the fate of my running, I decided that I wasn’t finished yet and decided to get on the treadmill for another 2-3 miles – well just because I felt like, not because I needed to. Also I just didn’t feel like getting back outside and playing with the breeze and temps again.

The treadmill pace was a little quicker and the last mile I did pick it up a little to finish up and I wanted to see what running faster would give me for a heart rate…166 – not too shabby and that wasn’t an all out effort, just a hard effort.

Even when I was running comfortably, I was still in the high range for my heart rate and would have to slow down a lot to get into the cardio range. However, I found it pretty interesting that I had 142 average bpm for both runs. Two completely different type of runs.

Oh well, at some point I will need to replace my Garmin 230 and I have a feeling that I will be looking for one with the wrist HR monitor, just to have the data if I want it. However, the FitBit Blaze would not be one that I would consider after using for a couple of days as an experiment. It just doesn’t seem as intuitive and I have to use work-arounds or do things differently than I would like. The Blaze is a few generations back so maybe their newer offerings are better. I do like their website and app a lot better than Garmin’s though.

Two very good runs.

A Bad Day and a Good Run

Some days are better than others and today was one of those days where the running was great, but some other thing were…well to be honest kinda shitty.

A couple of days ago I was out in the back of the garage and was over in the corner where I keep a lot of my “stuff”, when I saw my old Coast Guard garment bag hanging from the rafter and when I check on the bag last summer everything looked fine. It has hung out there since 2001, without any issues – we have a couple of those sonic devices in that area and they worked great for keeping the critters away.

I got to thinking that day that I would love to try it on just to see how it fit, but got busy and forgot about it.

Well I got around to getting the garment bag down this afternoon and when I brought it in the house, Mary told me it stunk – bad. When I opened it up I found out why. The mice had built a large nest in the garment bag.

All my old Coast Guard uniforms had holes chewed in them, or pissed and shit on. Even my shoulder boards were trashed! Everything will need to be thrown out and is not salvageable – other than the jacket buttons and the Eagle on my Hat, which will have to be disinfected.

Needless to say I was more than a little upset!

It isn’t so much that the mice did that, it is what they do. It is more that those uniform items were one of the last physical links to a part of my life that was very important to me. They contained memories of a life and career that not too many people today realize or know about me.

I even have a feeling that the uniform might have been a little too large for me now. When I left the service I was a 36-38 waist and over 170 pounds (just a little pudgy), now I am a 32″ waist and hovering right around 160 and probably in better shape now than I was in 1996 when I retired, just 22 years older ;-).

What really bothers me is that Mary never got to see me wear this uniform, because I hadn’t put it on, since I retired all those years ago. It is a part of my past that she was not a part of and even though I talk about it more than I should, she never has seen me in uniform, other than photos.

This made me really realize that sometimes we need to just do and not put something off or procrastinate doing, because often when you wait, something happens to make it so that you never do get the chance.

It was something that I always thought about doing, but never got around to doing. Now it is too late, unless I go ahead and start over with a new CWO3 Coast Guard Dress Uniform, getting it piped, all the ribbons, boards, etc. I don’t know if I will get another one or not. I am still in denial about it and will need a bit of time to figure out if it is worth the expense to do it or not.

Although one of the little beasties that trashed my uniform didn’t survive the visit to the garment bag. I found him in the bottom already dead, so no I did not kill him. Although if he had been wandering around in there, I have a feeling he would not have gotten to far the mood I was in when I saw what they had done.

I usually don’t go out of my way to kill critters, but this afternoon was the straw that broke the camel’s back and mice became part of the problem and I went to the store to find permanent solutions to them being a problem. It is their time to either move on or die. No sympathy here – not anymore.

Oh yeah, I did have a pretty decent 5.0 miler on the treadmill at Planet Fitness and actually had a pretty good day going, until I looked in that garment bag.

Well life goes on and in the overall big picture of my life this is a pretty minor thing, but it is just another piece of a part of my life that all I have left are a few photos and some memories, which as I age seem to go away as well.

I will have to figure out something else to wear when I cross the bar in 20-30 years, before they get to spread my ashes. Unless I do decide to get a new uniform.

It will be bittersweet tomorrow when I put that bag of my old uniforms in the transfer station to be disposed of like a lot of old memories – to be forgotten and left behind.

Kind of sad in a way.

Cheater Treadmill 5K Equals Hanging On

Today, I did a Cheater 5K and am still proud of how well I ran.

The breeze was coming out of the Northwest, well I guess it was a bit more than a breeze since the weather app said it was pretty steady at 20 mph and gusting higher. When you add that to temps in the mid 20’s, that is well below my personal safety threshold for running outside.

Which meant another treadmill session.

Last night I had a sneaking suspicion looking at the forecast that I would be indoors today and had thought about what I wanted to do for my “faster” session today. In the end I figured that if I had to do a treadmill today that I was going to see how long I could last at race pace (well at least what I would love my race pace to be).

At this point I would love to be able to maintain a sub 7:00 minute pace for a 5K, something I have not done for a while.

However, I am not in that kind of shape physically or mentally at this point in my training. So I will be honest that going in, I didn’t have a lot of confidence that I could do the whole run at that pace, which meant that I wouldn’t do it even if I could do it.

As Henry Ford once said and something that I had posted in my classrooms when I was a teacher.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.

Guess what – he was right.

I did a mile warm-up at 7.0 mph, stopped, reset my playlist – for speedwork on the treadmill I like to listen to Heilung (a German group that I don’t understand anything they say, but the beat is perfect for me and running faster), composed myself and set the speed to 8.7 mph and ran.

The first mile wasn’t bad, actually I felt quite strong and thought that I would be able to get at least 2.0 miles in at that pace.

Err no. I got to 1.10 and I lost my focus. My fault and I know exactly what happened. One of my neighbors got on the treadmill next to me and while I didn’t acknowledge him or anything, I lost it. I got to thinking about a few other things unrelated to running fast on that damn treadmill.

Where is that mental toughness Harold…something as minor as someone you know getting on a treadmill beside you shouldn’t cause you to loose focus that easily. Well it did. I made it to 1.30 and had a choice to make.

  1. Either slow down and change the workout or
  2. Reach out with my right hand and hang on to the treadmill and not change the speed.

I chose number 2.

Yeah, I know that this treadmill cheating, screws with your form, is not exactly running the same speed and all that other nonsense. However, at the same time it forces my legs to keep turning over at a faster than usual speed and while it might be a quick rest mentally, it is a faster recovery period than I would do otherwise.

The rest of the 5K was still done at 8.7 mph, but every 0.1, I would alternate holding on to the treadmill with my right hand and then running hands-free. With that idea in my head I completed the next 1.8 miles.

That is why I call this run a Cheater 5K, since I didn’t do it without holding onto the treadmill, but at the same time judging by how wet my t-shirt was, it was still a quality workout.

I even got a compliment from my neighbor once I got done. I walked for a quarter mile to get the body back to normal.

Then I did a mile cool-down at 7.0 mph.

The Reebok RunFasts did a great job. No issues with the shoes, so I can’t blame them at all for anything – they did exactly what they were supposed to do.

The reality is that

While I did hang-on to the treadmill way too much for the last 1.8, my legs held up quite nicely at race pace for the 5K distance. Which was a huge confidence builder!!! It means that my body CAN DO IT, now I just have to get the brain to figure out that I will not die if I attempt to run a sub 21:20 (it would be a new post-55 PR).

Now I “know” it is possible for me to run that fast, I almost did it today. Every so often I will repeat this workout to see where I am in regards to my readiness to chase after that fast 5K.

The other thing is that I am following another Shaw on Strava and his running has motivated me to believe that I can take my running up a notch or two, even though I am past that 60 age group marker. While I am not in John Shaw’s class by any stretch of the imagination, since I started following him on Strava, his runs do give me permission to believe that I can run faster than I thought that I could. He is older than I am and running much faster times. I have to live up to that Shaw surname and the example he has given me.

Now to loose that 15 pounds, train smahter (control the things I can) and not be stoopid about things that I can’t control. I want to do it, now to actually get out there and do it, without injuring or breaking the old fart’s body. 😉

I will get there, but now to do the process to get there and yes, it is a process.

7.0 Miles on the Treadmill

I had to take the truck in for an oil change and State Inspection sticker from ACAR in Augusta and had planned on running from there down to the Rail Trail for a 7-8 mile easy run. However, when I went by Prehti/Fleherty on the Circle the temps said 27*F. Just cold enough to freeze up any water on roads or the Rail Trail.

At that point, I decided to wait for the truck in the waiting room and head to the gym for a run on the treadmill.

Running for an hour on the treadmill is not my idea of lots of fun, but it is the safer way to get my miles in. I got on and started out slow and then played lots of mental games to get through the 7.0 miles.

I made it and even had a pretty good last mile.

That hour was tough, but it is necessary to be mentally tougher and if I can run on the treadmill for that long, it makes running outside much – not easier, but more manageable.

Again, no issues with the adidas Tempo 9s, although I did slightly change the last lace hole from underneath to over the top and back under. It did seem to ease the top of my foot slight discomfort that I had if I didn’t tie them just right. Just a little tweak, but one that is a good one.

Good run.

Bennie has a touch of doggie flu and that means that when he starts to shake it is time to take him outside. He is a VERY prideful dog and does not want to mess in the house (a very good thing). Which means that it seemed like every couple of hours last night I was walking outside to let him maintain that pride.

It got a bit chilly towards the early morning hours and by the time it was actually time to get up, it was below freezing. Which after all the rain we got yesterday, meant that the roads had a film of slickness on them. So that meant I wasn’t all that thrilled about walking on them.

Bennie seems to be feeling a little better than he was earlier. A very good thing.