Radio silence?

There’s a reason for the radio silence on the blog here, basically that the blog itself is messed up and I don’t have the time or energy to fix it.  So I don’t want to add a bunch of entries that might end up not being able to port over when I fix it.

But I’ll try to get better about that, especially considering that yesterday I beat my personal best on my 5K time, which means that since the first time I timed a training walk about a year ago to today, I’ve actually gotten 20 minutes faster.  Now, the first was a walk and this was a mix of jogging and walking, but still.

I’m not expecting to get much faster than this. I’d like to make a steady 12 minute mile my regular pace overall.  But that’s going to take some medical help, hopefully an upcoming visit to a pulmonologist will do it.  Wish me luck!

Posted in 5ks, blog.

Starting something new…

I can’t go into too many details yet, but I’ve decided to start up a new project that will be about promoting fitness and exercise at any pace or ability level.  The 50K5K was the first step, and it went great, so I’m looking forward to talking about this new group!

I know for certain the first big thing on our plates is going to be a bigger, better 50K5K next year complete with real world race packs and medals.  So make sure you watch this space for more details!  I’m really excited about a chance to share and encourage other people when it comes to “racing.”

Posted in Uncategorized.

Our First 5K

So my best friend and I have really enjoyed the 5K’s we’ve done since we did The Color Run.  We did one other that was an actual in person event (through a corn maze, I’ll write about it later) but then we also have done several other virtual races together, including the Zombies Run Virtual 5K that I’ll also post a review of soon.

Because we’ve been having so much fun, we decided we kind of wanted to get in on this too, and start our own virtual event.  But since we’re new at it, we wanted to start small this year to build up for a bigger event next year.

Which is how the 50K5K Pledge was born.  The event this year is just being run through Facebook, so check out the link for the full information.  But the basics are it’s a virtual 5K run with virtual winner’s goodies, and we’re encouraging participants to donate to National Novel Writing Month, one of our favorite events that promotes writing and creativity.  Anybody that participates this year and submits a time will be automatically notified when we do the full event next year so they can get a jump start on sign-ups, and will get a 10% off code for the race too.

So if you’re into virtual 5Ks, do this race with us and support a great cause, have fun, and help us get started on some even bigger and better events in the future!

Posted in 5ks.

My First 5K – The Color Run

So for a while I’ve been watching a few of my friends showing off their post-race selfies with medals from different events and I got kind of into the idea of actually doing some kind of event.  But part of me was a bit sad because I can’t run (my knees are too far gone already) and the only things around are always races.

Then somebody told me that nobody cares if you walk the entire race, and that you just have to look to see if the race posts a max time for the course to see if you can beat it.  And I started looking at how much I was walking every day and my increasing mileage with Fitbit, and realized that I was walking nearly 5k on a pretty regular basis anyway.  So my best friend and I decided to sign up for our first 5k, The Color Run.

I had been keeping track of my pace for a while on Map My Fitness, and so I decided my goal was to finally crack an hour for a 5k distance, which would mean I needed to be slightly faster than my normal 22 min/mile pace.  We actually went to the race in Richmond instead of doing one closer to us, because it was on a better weekend.

We got together a team, mostly consisting of my best friend’s family, and showed up bright and early to get ready to race and have some fun.  One of the great things about a Color Run is that there are stations throughout the race route where they throw colored powders at you, and by the end you’re covered in bright, fun blotches.  This year was also the “Shine Tour” where they were throwing a fun silvery glitter at around the halfway mark too.

I pushed myself to go as fast as I could the entire time, only stopping a few times to take pictures.  I ended up outpacing the rest of my team, but I had fun chatting with a few random people I was walking with as we went.  But the best thing about the Color Run is that it’s a family event and really welcoming and open to people of all abilities and speeds, so I didn’t feel bad about the fact that I’m “slow.”  I saw plenty of little kids (plenty of them way faster than me) and people of all ages just having fun and enjoying themselves.

The color run is not officially timed, but I ran my own tracking and I crossed the finish line at 48:46, which is still currently my personal record.  And I got my first race medal!

All in all, I highly recommend The Color Run as a first 5k.  It’s the perfect environment to really get into the feel of how this kind of thing should be fun, and be around a lot of people that are also just having a good time and just trying to do something cool.

Next year, we’re really hoping to do a Color Run: Night where you get pelted with UV reactive powders, so hopefully they’ll have one near D.C.

Posted in 5ks.

One year with FitBit

My FitBit Flex

My FitBit Flex

So, I’ve been feeling under the weather lately with a bit of chronic pain, and haven’t been updating.  But in the meantime, my first year anniversary with my FitBit went by last month!

As of right now, I’ve taken 3,220,528 steps since I started tracking last September.  That’s 1,324.11 miles!  My lifetime distance badge right now is “New Zealand” which just makes me want to travel there to celebrate.  Alas, not really something I can do.

I started out with my lovely red FitBit Flex, which lasted me a good long while.  It did start to break along the edges of the band (right under the little window where you see the display lights).  This is apparently a common problem with the design, I know of two other people that have had the exact same issue.  So my advice on that one, if you get a Flex (and I did really like it) then be very careful with how you remove the tracker from the band.  Maybe hold the sides so they don’t bow out too much.

My Charge HR in Black

My Charge HR in Black

I upgraded to a black Charge HR in May, because REI was having an amazing sale and I could rationalize the expense for a couple reasons that I outlined in my post.  At the time I commented on a few issues I was having.  To be honest, I still haven’t figured out where to wear it or how tight, but I just kind of wing it and it works okay for me.

The sleep tracking is still a bit off, though it syncs better than it did before, so that feature seems to be fixed.  But it has a tendency to assume I’m asleep when I’m watching TV or listening to podcasts, so sometimes I have to go in and fix it.  I am still very annoyed with the fact that the band really retains heat and that it’s easy for sweat to interfere with the functionality of the heart rate monitor.  When I go out walking on warm days I almost always lose the signal two or three times, and that’s still a pretty big issue.

But in general, I’ve really liked it.  I like the additional features and tracking that it provides (who knew how much elevation I was covering, way more than I expected since I avoid stairs because of my knee issues).  I would say that I agree with most reviews that if you’re looking for one of the higher end trackers, then don’t bother with the Charge and just pay the extra for the Charge HR.  Since I got mine they’ve come out with blue and tangerine bands, both of which are cool looking but unless they release a red band I don’t think I’ll be too tempted.

The best thing though about having the FitBit for the last year is that I can say I reached my step goal every single day for 365 days.  When I got it, I immediately lowered the step goal to 5,000 because I knew that for me the most important thing would be the accomplishment, not the number.  And that is the biggest piece of advice I have for everybody that talks about getting a FitBit: lower your goal immediately, before you even put it on.

You can always increase your goal after you’ve had it a few days, once you know what your standard average is.  Then every few months, if you’re consistently reaching your goal, take it up higher.  Because mentally, it is a thousand times more effective to be actually getting that goal accomplished every day, no matter what size it is, and wanting to keep your streak alive will keep you going even on the worst of days.  But if you leave it at 10,000 and that’s difficult for you to achieve on a regular basis, then you’ll get used to not getting to your goal and you won’t be as motivated, and it’s easy to say “eh, I’ll just skip it today.”

Even when I’m sick, I still reach my step goal, because I am not going to lose this streak.  It’s been over a year, how could I possibly give up now?

Posted in FitBit.

Getting back outside

When I first started this goal of training to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I thought I would make sure that I walked in all kinds of weather, to get used to it.  Then last winter I decided that anything below 32 and I wasn’t going to go out because of safety.  Not just because my face was getting really messed up from the wind and the dryness, but also because not all the sidewalks would be clear of ice and snow, and the roads could get slippery and I didn’t want any cars sliding on the ice into me or anything.

But then I hit the warmer weather and though okay, it’s outside every day until the winter again.  But once the weather started hitting 85-90 degrees and an average of 60-75% humidity, I realized that I was really not feeling well while I walked.  My heart rate was spiking far too high for the pace I was walking, I would feel nauseous and generally unwell, and so I made a new rule that 85 and above I don’t go outside.  Which means that I’ve been doing a fair bit more treadmill walking lately, and pacing around inside.  Then you add on top of that the fact that I live in an area that has frequent thunderstorms, and I basically didn’t walk outside for a few weeks.

So this weekend I had to force myself to go out again, because it’s amazing how much I fall into old habits.  I dislike pacing inside, I don’t even like the treadmill that much, but both of those are things I can do in my own increments.  If I get tired of pacing I can stop for a while.  But if I’m out on a walking trail, no matter what I have to at least walk until I get home.  Case in point, last week when I decided to go walking on a different route than usual.  I got to a fork in the path, and I couldn’t remember which way I was supposed to go.  I was tired, and wanted the shortest route home because I wasn’t feeling great, so I picked a direction, and walked until I recognized where I was.  I ended up really far afield of where I meant to go, and the route I had to take back was all up hill and there was very little shade along that way.  It was exhausting, and I had gone out super early when I hadn’t slept so I could beat the heat of the day.  That makes me hesitate to go out because if I don’t feel well part of the way through my walk, I haven no recourse.

I need to get over that mental hump, but I’m not entirely sure how to do it.  I suppose just making myself go out over and over?

Posted in Uncategorized.

Gym newb

So at my day job, we’ve been offered the ability to use the fitness center in our building.  So now I’m trying to figure out how exactly does going to the gym work?  What should I do? What machines are good? How many reps/how long should I use them?

Things I’ve learned:

-I have no idea what the knob on the top of the weight machines is.  Resistance?  How does that relate to weight? What should I do with it?

-The “arc trainer” is not for me because it’s designed for people with a longer stride than I have.

-The treadmill isn’t as bad as I expected, but I have to pause for a minute after it stops because walking on the ground is disorienting after being on something moving.

-The regular “spinning” bikes are awful to sit on, but there are recumbent type bikes that aren’t bad.

-The elliptical is boring.  But doable, so I try to mix that in there.

-As much as I understand why it’s necessary, it’s annoying to wipe off everything every time when you’re only doing a few reps on each machine because you’re a newb.

In general, I’m liking the fitness center, and it’s a good way for me to start getting some variety in my movement.  Now I just need to really settle on a pattern and figure out what I’m doing so I can be more strategic about it all.

As for my last post, I am still feeling generally discouraged.  I’m just pushing through anyway, because why not.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Feeling discouraged

I didn’t update on time this week because I’m feeling a bit down and discouraged about a lot of things.  I did the Fitness Blender workouts for three weeks, but then life got too busy for a few days and I didn’t pick it back up.  One of the reasons was that I wasn’t seeing anything positive in return for the work, and that got frustrating.  My weight has plateaued, and I only marginally care about weight loss anyway.  But what was worse was my energy level wasn’t improving, it was getting worse.  My strength wasn’t getting better, my flexibility wasn’t improving, I wasn’t able to do more reps or make it through workouts easier.  All I got was soreness and exhaustion.

I know, three weeks probably isn’t enough time to really see all that much improvement but I just got tired.  I need to start it back up again, I can do the program as many times as I want so I can just schedule it to start again soon, but life is so hectic right now I know I’d start missing days again.

My chronic insomnia is acting up, I’m only barely meeting my step goals, and generally it’s just a bit of a downer right now.  So not much to say that isn’t rather negative, sadly.

Posted in Uncategorized.

First camping trip

So, my best friend and I attempted camping for the first time last weekend.  We went to Lake Fairfax Park, because it’s within easy driving distance of both of our houses so we didn’t have to worry about being stranded if something went wrong.

Which was good because almost immediately the lighter we brought didn’t work and I had forgotten to bring a back up lighter or matches.  So I ran home for those so we could have dinner the first night.

The first night was mostly uneventful.  We set up our tent and fixed a yummy dinner of chili with mac and cheese.  My camp stove was pretty easy to use, and the freeze-dried chili pouch we bought at REI turned out to be pretty yummy.  I could have used some crackers or cheese, but overall not a bad choice.

TentCamping CampFood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hung out in a pair of cushy chairs for a while, then went to curl up in the tent and read for a bit before we tried to go to bed.  Now, I did learn one important thing: I don’t care how many years mankind survived with just sleeping bags, the invention of the sleeping pad is nothing to turn up your nose at.

I couldn’t decide what kind I wanted to get before the trip, and the expense was just so high after all the other stuff we’d bought that I decided to pass on it for now.  That was a MISTAKE. It was really quite uncomfortable, and I don’t want to do that again.  I’m contemplating getting a cot for next time and just going all out, because a good night’s sleep is so vital, plus I actually felt bruised on my hips from the ground when I got home.

The other fun part of the trip was that around 2 a.m. on Friday night, the rain started.

And then it didn’t stop.  It rained for hours, and the good news was the rain fly on the tent was working beautifully.  At about 8 a.m. I went for a walk around the park because I wanted to get my steps in for my Fitbit.  We had cold foods for breakfast, and about 10 a.m. we retreated to Cyn’s house for a while because she had to feed her cats and I wanted to check more detailed weather reports than I could get on my phone.

We came back for lunch, which was a huge challenge because my camp stove wouldn’t stay lit in the wind, even though we were using an umbrella to keep the rain off of it.  So, windscreen goes on the list of things to buy.

Then it just kept raining, I think it stopped around two in the afternoon for about an hour, and we took another walk around the park.  Then we went back to the tent for an hour or so because there was another storm on the weather radar.

That one was a doozy, when it ended at about 5 p.m., we came out to stretch our legs and the camp host let us know that the road out of the campground was underwater.  Of course, we had to see that, so we took another walk.

FairfaxFlooding FairfaxFlooding2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the dam at Lake Fairfax, and then the road that leads up to the campground.  Normally that spillway has barely a trickle of water on it, and the road doesn’t look too bad until you realize that water next to it isn’t supposed to be there at all.  All of that in the picture should be a grassy area, with a little stream running through at the bottom, and the water was flowing fast, pouring over the road and onto the other side, so it was a lot of dangerous conditions all together, especially since at that point they were predicting several more hours of raining that evening.

Thankfully that didn’t end up happening.  We went back to camp and made dinner (a pasta dish that had far too much zucchini and thus was rendered mostly tasteless and gross, but delicious mashed potatoes) then grabbed our stuff and went to bed for the night.  There was a thunderstorm at 1 a.m. where we decided to get into the car for a little bit just in case (the lightening was striking very close, within a mile) but overall the rest of the storm system didn’t materialize so the next morning everything was really back to normal.  We had some oatmeal for breakfast, packed up our camp, and went back to our normal lives and I slept for three hours in my cushy normal bed.

Things I learned:

-sleeping pads, for real.

-a good wind screen is really valuable even with a nice camp stove instead of trying to light twigs on fire or anything.

-A camp stove is great, but when the guy next to us built a fire I realized that a good camp fire is something really awesome too, so next time we’ll learn to build a fire.  In a fire pit, of course.

-The waterproofing on the tent can only take so much.  At one point there was so much moisture gathered in the grass under the tent that it was seeping through anywhere that we put weight.

-Finding good freeze dried foods is going to be such a trial and error job.

-We need some better method for stirring the food in the pouches, or to remove it to cook it because there’s too much powdered stuff left at the bottom that doesn’t get properly done.

-Next time the forecast calls for a lot of rain, maybe we’ll cancel our plans and stay home.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Camping fees

So, my best friend and I are planning on going on our first overnight car camping trip sometime soon.  As soon as we can find a weekend we’re both free anyway.  But I was wholly unprepared for the fact that reserving a campsite anywhere near us is going to be quite pricey.  Well, pricey in my limited experience.

We figured our first couple trips we’d go to a campsite on a lake very close to my house.  It’s close enough to home that if something went wrong, it’d be easy to get help.  We could pack food that doesn’t need cooking in case I don’t get the hang of my stove, and if all else failed we’d be in walking distance of my house (and not that far from hers either).

But even just a site to pitch a tent costs $28 a night.  This might be about average but I’ve stayed in cheaper hotels.  I started looking at other places, but there’s nowhere that’s also very close by, so that’s it for our beginning challenge.  There’s a few places a little further away (but still easy driving distance) that are a little cheaper, but rarely by much.

I guess I just didn’t think much about the cost of a campsite since well, I imagined them only being a patch of ground.  But they’ve all got a ton of amenities now too, which I’m sure I’ll appreciate later.

But for now we’ve just got to find a weekend to go and reserve our spot.

Posted in Uncategorized.