jamesq: (genius)
Did you know that, including today, there are 100 days from now until the new year? And so this gives me an interesting threshold date for a medium term goal that occurred to me recently. Grade myself on my ability to do all those things I ought to do. Adulting as it were.

So here's how it's going to play out: At the end of each day (or the next day, if I forget), I'm going to grade myself, from A to D based on the following four criteria, each one adding a letter grade:


  • Food journalling: I don't necessarily have to stay in my points, but I do need to keep track of everything I consume that day.
  • Fitness: I have to do something for exercise. Running will obviously fit the bill, but so will walking to or from work, or going for a hike or a bike ride.
  • Major Work: This means putting a productive day at work, or getting some major chore done if it's not a work day.
  • Minor Work: At least 15 minutes of minor chores, based on the philosophy that you can unfuck your habitat by consistently doing 15 minutes of work at it each day. There's lots of little things I want to get done, that I haven't, because I tend to get home and plop myself in front of a screen. Time to start forming those habits.
If I do none of those, that's an F. One of them, a D. Two of them, a C, three of them, a B, and all four, an A. I'll also tack on a plus, if I think I did something especially well, or a minus if I technically did one of those four, but I half-assed it.

Finally, if I'm sick or injured, I'll skip the letter grade, and just count a day as "completed", the alternative being something I'd rather not contemplate.

100 days begins... now!
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
You can negotiate with terrorists.

That's more than a little unfair - I've had physiotherapists before, for assorted injuries. They've never asked for more than I could give - their rep comes from you not realizing that. Besides, I've felt more beaten up from psychotherapy sessions.

I've had a fairly minor running injury that's been plaguing me for a few weeks. I took a break from my training for a week due to a cold and on my first run afterward I managed to sprain my calf.

Swell. So I waited a week to let it heal and then went out for a nice easy run. And it sprained again in the exact same spot.

Wonderful. Again, I wait a week and go for a nice easy run. And it sprains again in the exact same spot.

I may be a slow learner.

That was Sunday and today I went to see a physiotherapist. The verdict? I've got a micro-tearing where the medial Gastrocnemius muscle joins the Plantaris tendon. The Soleus muscle is likely inflamed too. This isn't so severe that it's affecting my life poorly aside from not running. I can walk long distances and it only really bothers me when I climb a lot of stairs. Compared to my 2nd degree hamstring injury a few years ago.

My left leg is simply weaker than my right leg - possibly just because that's the way things are and possibly due to that earlier injury. By laying off the running for a week, I'd lost some tone, then re-injured it whenever I started again, putting myself into a vicious circle. In short, the injured portion takes a lot of the impact when my left food lands, and provides a lot of the force when I push forward. It's one if the most heavily strained portions of my body when I run.

Thankfully my physiotherapist gave me a nice road-map to recovery:
  1. Three weeks no running.
  2. I won't be sitting on my ass those three weeks - I have a stretching/strengthening regime that will be my new religion for the next few weeks, and possibly beyond.
  3. Start running again, but do so conservatively. This will probably be a walk/run program like I often do in the spring.
      Of course, she also offered me a treatment of "non-traditional acupuncture". I declined, citing "woo" as a reason to not engage in a treatment. She then spent a few minutes trying to convince me. No, I think allowing the healing to occur while strengthening and stretching the affected area is quite sufficient.

      Now to actually, you know, do it. Always the biggest roadblock for me. Still, I'm still about .500 for doing my back stretches and I can simply treat these as an extension of the same thing.

      This is as good a place as any to mention it: I won't be doing the Victoria Half-Marathon this Sunday. Instead I've re-booked my Saturday flight to Victoria, and now I'll be spending all of my time in Vancouver.
jamesq: (Fools)
About ten days ago on a Saturday morning LA and I participated in City Chase. Our team name was, of course, Grätüïtöüs Ümläüt. Here's a quick recap with some hints for future City Chases:

We started at Eau Claire plaza and endured a lot of talk from the MC. A coworker and his race partner were honored for winning last year and also for raising about 3K for charity.

The race started when the MC announced that "security guards on Prince's Island have the clue sheets". This triggered a mad dash by all involved. LA and I second-guessed ourselves and went to one of the remoter parts of the island on the assumption that they'd be spread out. Nope, they were all smack dab in the center at the major crossroad of the park.

advice: During the opening announcements, you'll be in a large area that can fit everyone. It will likely be next to a big empty area where they'll hand out the clue sheets. Be at the border between the two if you can.

The clue sheet had puzzles describing each of the Chase Points that we had to go to. There were 37 ("Thirty-seven!") of them IIRC. There were some odd groupings you had to do, and also some "do this or that, but not both" situations where teh chase points were very close to each other (for example, two where a block away from each other on Kensington Road).

We hunkered down and started solving the puzzles, which required middling knowledge of the city and some google-fu. Make sure you have a smart phone. It took us a little over half an hour to have solved the majority of the clues (we only got one wrong, owing to neither of us having ever been to Flames Central) and have a semi-optimal route chosen.

advice: Take a snap-shot of the clue sheet and email it to a helper, then bolt to one of the mandatory check points!

Our route? Start at the University of Calgary and work our way back. So it was onto the train to go to the northwest.

Chase Point 1: At the UofC, near the library tower, we had to do each of the following:
  • skip rope simultaneously with your partner.
  • Run a soccer ball through pylons.
  • kick the soccer ball to each other through the pylons.
  • Leapfrog with your partner.
  • Solve a four-piece puzzle.
The difficult part for me and LA was the difference in our heights, she being wee and me looking like Herman Munster. We managed it though.

Chase Point 2: We ran down to the Volleydome (just south of the University in Athletic Park) and got to play another team in beach volleyball. We lost 5-2, but had fun.

On the way back to the train we stopped at DQ for ice cream treats. Any race where you can have ice cream in the middle is a good race. Sadly, I dropped my cone before I could finish it. Oh well, it was just going to get into my mouth anyway.

Chase Point 3: At the North Hill Fire Station there were two possible chase points. One was for anyone who had raised $50 for charity. We qualified, so we got that. The other point was for doing a bunch of fireman stuff - dragging hoses, carrying a body, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, they only had a few fireman on hand to supervise and one or two sets of equipment. This led to a long line that wasn't really moving. Someone said "40 minute wait", which I can believe, except I think that number was a guesstimate. We skipped that one, even though it looked like a lot of fun.

advice: We should have rushed to this one first and beat the lineup, solving other puzzles along the way (after all, we had to go there anyway to get our charity point). Failing that, raising $150 instead of $50 would have got us the point and allowed us to skip to the head of one lineup! This would have been a good choice for that.

Chase Point 4: We took the train down to Riley Park and found a fitness setup. You had to pick a snack from a list. They then told you how many calories was in that snack (it had things like a Mars bar, doughnut, muffin, bag of chips, etc.). Once you had a calorie value, you and your partner had to burn that many calories. They had a bunch of exercises there that you could do (examples: fifty sit-ups burned 40 calories, thirty 10-pound bicep curls burned 15 calories). This, more than anything else, contributed to my being stiff and sore the next day. I chose the Mars bar, since I know donuts and muffins have no standard sizes and can be as big as you like, but a Mars bar is constant. We had to burn about 350 calories.

Woof!

Chase Point 5: We headed south to Kensington road and had a choice of two chase points (we could only do one of them though). We went to Pages book store (the one beside the Plaza theatre) and were instructed to go to the upper level and find some "visual poetry that is neither part of a book or on a bookshelf" and identify the creator. A lot of second-guessing and we finally found artwork on one of the windows made up of a maelstrom of letters.

Chase Point 6: At the Kensington Running Room we had to find five differences between two mannequins, the mannequins being decked out in an assortment of merchandise. LA found four of the differences, despite my having the brilliant plan of taking pictures of one of the mannequins and using it to compare to the other (they weren't beside each other in the store).

We had now run through most of the convenient northwest chase points.
LA: Why don't we take the loser-cruiser to Inglewood?
Me: What's the loser-cruiser?
LA: The Bowness-to-Forest-Lawn bus.
Me: Of course!
Chase Point 7: Once in Inglewood we went to 4 Cats art store to do some finger-painting. We had to use three methods of getting paint onto a canvas and "recreate" some pollock-style art on the wall. One of the methods had to include popping a water balloon with paint in it (not much paint, thank Groo).

Now we had a dilemma, we could go to the nearby chase point at Fair's Fair Books, but that would mean missing the bus back into downtown. Or we could catch the bus and hit a chase point in downtown on the way down to 17th avenue. The bus was coming in two minutes, so we opted to skip Fair's Fair.

rant: Why does the city only run the #1 bus (the "loser-cruiser" referenced above) every 30 minutes on Saturday? Every time we were on it it was standing-room only - hell it was "move to the back of the bus so others can get on" crowded. That's not even including the handful of race participants. This bus is clearly being used and used well - crank up the frequency Calgary Transit!

We got downtown and discovered that what we thought was a chase point wasn't. We had got the clue wrong (which hurts more for this pair of geeks). We headed down to Melrose Cafe with less than an hour left in the race. Maybe we could finish if the chase point was a quick one. It wasn't.

Chase Point 8: At Melrose Cafe, the lower level was taken up by a martial arts school. What school you might ask? Ninjas! However, before we got to the ninjas, we had to cool our heels for a half hour in line. A line that went right by Melrose's bar. Any race where you can have a pint of ale in the middle is a good race.

We had to go through a bunch of ninja exercises to qualify for the point. Having read comics and watched movies throughout the 80's I had a bad opinion of ninjas (specifically the Westerners who learned it) as pretentious goofballs. Our guide did a lot to lift that bad opinion though. It seems like a fairly egalitarian martial art, and that pleases the socialist in me. We had to run through some obstacles, demonstrate our ability to skulk, sneak, dodge sword thrusts and missiles and finally we got to throw some shurikens! This was probably my favorite of the chase points that I completed.

This does suggest that the local SCA could get involved - volunteer to do a checkpoint where people put on armour and tabards and did quick one-off combat with Nerf weapons. Maybe not though - the ninja stuff was decidedly non-contact. Oh well.

We now had ten minutes left to get back downtown and check in before the 4pm deadline. We weren't going to be getting those last two chase points. We were a few minutes late, but were told before the race that they would have the finish line open until 4:15. This turns out to be incorrect, they finished at 4 on the nose and we missed check in, so there is no record of our team finishing.

All the race participants got treated to a free drink at Flames Central. Sadly that venue isn't quite large enough for everyone; neither LA or I were able to get seats as we were amongst the last people to get there.

City Chase was a blast and I recommend it to everyone. Vancouver peep: It's in your neighborhood on August 25th!
jamesq: (Gratitude)
Somehow summertime just sort of appeared. It would have been nice to have a springtime, but we jumped from "still winter" to "construction" pretty much instantly. Because of that I've been pretty lax about my fitness - I'd normally have run a couple of 10k races by now, but I find I'm still stalled out for my running, what with the snow, the rain, and general apathy. I've also more-or-less fallen off the Weight Watchers wagon (again).

Starting today I'm going to engage in 101 days of fitness. This has the advantage of being a medium term goal that's difficult but not impossible. So what does it mean?

Well my typical beginner's running program is 91 days (13*7) so finishing it is a priority; I'm currently on week 6.

Eating right is also on the list. I'm not going to cut out treats - I know better - but I think I'll just stick to chocolate I don't buy in Calgary. I'll be taking take-out containers to restaurants so that I can enjoy the variety of a restaurant meal, without having to deal with the giant portion sizes (that I feel psychologically compelled to finish). I'll try to keep treats out of the house - the temptation to binge is clearly too high.

On days that I don't run, I plan on walking to and from work. That's not a lot of exercise (it's only 3.5k) but it's more than I'll get on the bus. I'll start cycling to work too - that means fixing the bike this weekend.

Anyway, I'll be doing something everyday to improve my fitness and I'll announce it either here (if it's big and noteworthy) or Facebook (if it's just an announcement that I ran, or similar).

So, day 1/101: I did a 60% run for 1 hour, which is a hair over 8k.

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