Here We Are Today

Lots of good offline conversations lately, at least out of the public eye, I guess. These conversations happen over email, DMs, and such, but they’re not out there in full display. A wonderful thing, really.

Been trying to be more present, and acknowledge than like 99.9999% of the time everything is fine. I have food, shelter, warmth. No one knocking at my door, no angry boss, no one is throwing shit at my windows.

Very simplistic, I know, but here I am. The CDC just said that if you’re vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask anymore, but for fucks sake, THE OPTICS.

If I walk into a store right now with no mask on I’m gonna get the side eye, big time.

As if the work of retail employees hasn’t been hard enough during “these trying times,” now they have to navigate the “oh, but I’m vaccinated” crowd, without ever really knowing if they’re telling the truth or not.

The fun never ends.

Some Miles on the Bike

This week I ran zero miles. I can’t remember the last time I ran zero miles in a week. I’ve never been this burnt out, where every run is just horrible. I’ve talked to other runners about burn out. Every run for the past few weeks has just felt labored. Like I took six months off, and I’m just trying to “get back into running.” Not a fun feeling.

In the last few weeks I set up a bike trainer and a Zwift account. I don’t have to think about the weather, the wind, nothing. And it feels good. Like, even hard efforts. They feel good.

I rode 104 miles this week. Six and a half hours.

I don’t think I rode that much back in my Bike Nerd days.

That’s more hours than I usually run each week.

Also started doing some dance workouts, too. They’re silly, sure, but they’re fun and quick, and feel good.

I’m pretty sure the running will come back. In the meantime I sure am glad I got this bike set up.

Stuck

My housemate read me a text they got, from someone saying “if you need a COVID vaccine shot, call this number, they have extra doses.” I called (I hate calling), and got myself an appointment. Just recently I got my second shot, so that’s good news.

Everyday is the same, except for weekends, when I stop getting emails from clients.

Random encounters are gone.
Bumping into an old friend, gone.
Trying something new on the menu. There is no menu. Stay home.

I go on solo runs in the woods, and hope no one is around.

Once a week I venture to the grocery store. I’ve taken to drive the extra distance to different stores, just to mix it up a little.

I got a bike trainer and a subscription to Zwift, so now I see people from all over the world as virtual cyclists. We give each other thumbs ups as we pass each other.

Just 41 days ago a shooting happened at a Boulder, CO grocery store. The fundraiser for Maggie Montoya and the pharmacy staff where she worked, it sits quiet and still, having not reached the halfway mark. The last donation was 15 days ago.

Everything keeps moving, business as usual. Yet everything is frozen in time.

Running the Tortoise and Hare 5K Again

I ran the Tortoise and Hare 5K in Wind Gap, PA back on Memorial Day in 2018. What a differern time that was! Two things stand out; the Memorial Day picnic food spread – best I ever had! And the military person there doing the National Anthem (meh), she was introduced with her partner; a woman. I loved that.

Back then I wrote this on Instagram, from May 30, 2018:

Hey pals – thanks for putting up with my running nerd stuff in addition to my metal nerd stuff. This is me from Monday smiling like a goof because we all raised $260 for Project Child in the Lehigh Valley, then I ran a sub 30 minute (barely) 5K and ate vanilla cream cookies.

So they’re doing it in-person again this year. I did a 10 mile trail race back in October, so let’s see how this goes. THey’re limiting it to just 200 people. I’m also raising money again this year (you can do that here), help out if you can.

My time from 2018: 29:09 (9:24 mile), 118th out of 329, 70th male out of 136, and 6th out of 12 for my age group. This year I’ll be in the 45-49 age group! Moving on up! My goal is to hit 25 minutes this year, around 8 minute miles (my best 5K was in 2019, at 25:25).

Saturday Brunch

Since I’m sleeping so well lately, I’m actually recovering well, too. Seriously, the past few months I’ve felt wrecked, and oh my god, I feel great now.

Could I really head out for 1400′ of elevation over 6.5 miles on dirt roads? Well, only one way to find out.

Took me about 30 minutes to get to the top of the first climb, which is a bit slow for me, but whatever. I walked most of it – it’s mostly all 10% grade, and upwards of 15% in places. Figured I’d save my energy since I never attempted this route before.

Made it to the top! That’s the Appalachian Trail, heading north. I think the next trail head there is Palmerton, PA.

Now it’s time to head down the northern side of the mountain, which I’ve never done before.

I mean, it was gorgeous. Windy – I wish I wore my jacket at this point, but I survived. Had my first GU Energy gel while descending, and wow – that got all over my fingers and felt sticky like maple syrup. And it was very sweet. Like, I felt like I needed to brush my teeth afterwards. I usually use Spring Energy for food on longer runs (for me that’s 1.5+ hours), and wow… I miss them already.

This road goes out to Route 309, just another half mile down the road (to the right in this picture, not in the direction I’m facing here). Didn’t feel like testing if I had the extra mile in the tank, so back up the mountain we go!

Yea, that’s a “Fuck Your Feelings” banner there. So welcoming!

This side was much easier to climb. Still walked a bunch, but the grade was a little more forgiving.

In all, a good run. Took 1:25 to go 6.5 miles, with a total of 1,416ft of elevation.

Whoop and Sleep

I was on the fence a bit about with Whoop, as most of the people I talked mostly mentioned “it’s just about recovery mostly.”

One of my favorite mantras, going back to my Bike Nerd days, is “you can’t fake sleep.”

You can grit out that last half mile to the finish line. You can will yourself up over that big hill. But you ain’t faking your way to nine hours of sleep.

Sure, seeing my “Strain” score for a long run was nice and all, but I kept seeing that my recovery scores were in the 30-40% range. Even dipping down to 29% – that’s red, oh no!

So Whoop has made me think about sleep a bit more.

Okay, get to bed a little earlier. Okay, sure, less screen time before bed.

I kept seeing this sleep mask on my Instagram feed, I think because someone I follow showed it off. So I followed them. It looked neat enough, I guess.

But, before I drop $30+ on a sleep mask, I remember my housemate had a spare sleep mask on hand, from a hotel swag bag. Let me try that first, right?

Well, it looks like a sleep mask sure helped, huh?

So right now, Whoop is worth it, because it got me thinking about sleep, about recovery. I kept seeing my hard runs, all that strain, but I was also forced to see that I’m not recovering enough.

If I’m not recovering, it won’t matter how hard I run, or how many miles I ride.

Sure, $30/mo is a chunk of change, but Whoop is helping me see how rested I am, which helps determine how big of an adventure I should take on each day.

Get a free WHOOP strap and your first month free when you join with my link: https://join.whoop.com/#/B37605

Healthy Gadgets

Whoop: I’ve had this on for about a week, and I love the recovery numbers, in that they show me for real, with lots of numbers and reasons, why I might be tired, or why a run might feel like junk – because I’m not rested. It’s also fun seeing there strain score for each activity, and reminding me, “oh yeah, that’s why I’m tired today.”

Yes, it’s $30/mo, but hey, I’ve owned a FitBit, Apple Watch, and currently use a Garmin. All of them were a few bucks up front, right? And all of them just sort of give you numbers of what you did, but never give you any guidance beyond that. Sure, my Garmin watch tells me “rest for 20 hours” after a good run, but ummm… okay. That’s not giving me much. Whoop offers insights, and information, and I really like that. (Get a free WHOOP strap and your first month free when you join with my link: https://join.whoop.com/#/B37605)

Saris M2 Smart Indoor Electromagnetic Resistance Bike Trainer (link): Setting this up with horrible – shit just didn’t go together like it was supposed to, I didn’t know I needed a different (extra) axle for it to work with my bike, the yellow turn dial thing doesn’t click at all like it says it should… but… once I got everything up and going, and connected to the following health gadget, yeah… it’s pretty damn good.

Zwift: Being immersed in a virtual world is just part of it. Seeing other riders is what gets me going, mostly passing other riders. I mean, I’m no super-fit biking athlete, but since I haven’t passed any human on a bike in the past YEAR, biking with Zwift is very satisfying. And, so far I have not been able to do “just a nice easy ride.” Every time I get going something clicks and before I know it I’m hitting 180 watts (which is something new to me), and my glasses are covered in sweat. Oops.

In all, three fun new health gadgets to help keep me healthy and fit. I turn 45 this year, and I wanna make sure when running races come back this fall (or whenever) I can get some top 10 finishes in my age category.

There’s Always More

More of more I think about “content,” and the notion that more of it is always the answer.

Around 2008 / 2009, a directive we got at AOL Music was “fill the search engines.” Nothing was too small to cover, the idea went, since someone out there could search for it.

Since you have all those stories, then you can post them to socials. I remember thinking back then that since we posted 20 times a day (TWENTY), then we could post all of those things to social media, too. So 20 times a day we got to throw a pebble at anyone would listen.

And that’s just one outlet.

When you got 25 music outlets posting 20 times a day, and posting 20 things to social media per day, that’s 500 “pieces of content” per day. In a week that’s 2,500 posts, Tweets, Facebook updates.

And that’s just music outlets.

It’s 2021 (some 12 years later), and now instead of just posts and Tweets, we have videos to watch, (more) newsletter to read, podcasts to listen to, Instagram Stories, and live streams to add to our calendars.

There’s more stuff, but the numbers of hours in the day is still the same.

Go With the Flow

It was about here, on this long straight that heads down to another road, when I saw it. There’s a church off in the distance. I know about the church. I passed it several times on my bike. But I never ran to it.

“Run to the church,” a little voice said in my head.

Trying my best lately to listen to that little voice in my head.

No voice from god came down, no revelation. I didn’t come across an old grave stone with a long lost family member name on it. No vultures swung by, or eagles. It was just still and quiet.

But then I think… maybe this “detour” kept me from a distracted driver, or a loose dog. Maybe it all worked out for some magical reason that I’ll never know of. I certainly haven’t found any other meaning in it thus far.