28 August 2009

Healthy (?) Eating at KFC

Cutting back on carbs and going high-fat and high-protein? Well, here's KFC to the rescue -- that is, if you live in Nebraska and Rhode Islad:

Whew! Not for me. Give me smart carbs (low glycemic), something low in saturated fat (maybe some good ole omega-3's), baked or broiled chicken, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and I'm a happy camper. Haven't had KFC in a very long time and the Double Down does NOT tempt me to change that.

Why, or why, is running so difficult these days? Since dealing with a hamstring strain in mid-April, my times have just gone to pot. Pre-hamstring trouble, 5-8 miles at a pace of 8:15 mpm was pretty easy. Now, 8:30 seems hard. This morning, for instance, I did 6.1 miles at 8:55 mpm and was just dragging. I don't know if it's just a plateau or what. Maybe it's the 10 pounds I could stand to lose? (Another great reason to stay away from the Double Down.)

Run well, y'all,

27 August 2009

TIART: Fuel for the Long Run

Runners Lounge is hosting its normal Take It and Run Thursday today. The topic is fuel for the long run. If I'm running 10+ miles, here's what I usually do:
* about 1 hour prior to running, I eat half of a whole grain bagel, toasted and either plain or a bit of peanut butter. I also eat a banana

* about 15 minutes before running, I eat a Gu (I love the Chocolate Outrage) and drink 10-15 ounces of water

* every couple of miles while running, I drink Gatoraid

* at about mile 6-6.5, I eat another Gu
Why? Because it helps me get to the end. Even so, in the heat and humidity of this summer, I still feel pretty wiped out at the end, but I don't tolerate heat well at all (my running group has put me in an elite category of one of the top 3 perspirers in the group).

Run well, y'all,

Wright Socks: Running II -- First Run

A few weeks ago, Wright Socks gave away 2 pair of socks to everyone who posted about running socks in the Runner's Lounge. I posted and my socks came in on Monday. I eagerly opened the package -- I have used Wright socks before and really like them. First thing, though, I was disappointed that they sent the size based on my running shoe size and NOT the size I specifically told them I wear. Wright Socks is the only brand that I've seen that recommends an XL for men's size 12 shoes -- I always buy L. Well, OK, I thought, I'll give them a try. Maybe I've been using the wrong size.

Tuesday morning, I pulled them on and they felt great except ... they were too big. If I pulled them snug, the heel portion was over my Achilles tendon. If I put the elasticized band over my arch, even at the back of the arch, there was too much sock under my foot. I decided to hit a happy medium between the two positions and give them a try, heading out for a 6 miler.

I like the feel of the socks. They have a bit of cushioning and they are 2-layer. However, it wasn't long before I realized that my feet were sliding around in the sock because of the XL size. By the end of the run, I had hot spots on my feet -- no blisters but not perfect comfort.

To be fair, I have always found that Wright Socks work best for me starting with the second run -- not the first. So, they are washed and waiting for me to use them again. I won't try them on my long run but for my next 5-6 miler, probably on Saturday.

Run well, y'all,

26 August 2009

It's Not All the Same

While I've never tried to hide my most deeply held convictions on this blog, neither have I tried to regularly use it as a forum for discussing those beliefs. But, I read a blog post by Dr. Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, that touched those convictions in a positive way and felt the need to post about it.

Up front, let me acknowledge that there are all kinds of examples of individuals, groups, and movements that claim to represent biblical Christianity that are an embarrassment to the name of Jesus because of what they propound. There are many, even within the group with which I'm intimately identified, who hold biblical beliefs but who express those in ways that are unChristlike. I am also sure that there have been times -- probably more than I care to acknowledge -- when I have fallen into one or the other of those camps. None of that is a surprise to me because there is no perfect person, not even the most saintly of Christians. While I would plead with people to judge Christianity based on Jesus alone, it is natural that Christianity is judged by the words, actions, and attitudes of (less-than-perfect) professed followers of Jesus.

One of the most foundational tenets of Christianity is Jesus' claim to exclusivity found in John 14:6 -- Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. In many ways, that single statement -- two short sentences -- sums up the entire message of the Bible. It is the motivator behind the desire of Christians to share the good news (gospel) of Jesus with their friends and neighbors and people around the world. We hold that statement as immutable, absolute truth. Or do we?

In his blog today, Dr. Mohler says that maybe there are many who are changing. The fact that many people are changing and perhaps moving away from that doesn't change the truthfulness of that foundational belief. Absolute truth is not dependent on the whims of a majority vote -- it just is, even if no one accepts it as truth.

Here's what Dr. Mohler had to say: Are We a Nation of Hindus?

Shared via AddThis

Run (and live) well, y'all,
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

25 August 2009

magicJack -- It Really Seems to Work

(DISCLAIMER: At least as far as I know, I get no kickback or benefit from mentioning this.) As we're preparing to move back overseas, my wife and I have talked about how to best stay in touch with family and friends in the US. E-mail is our primary method and I don't really see that changing -- I can write at my convenience and they can read and respond at theirs. Blogging and Tweeting are fine but they are best for primarily one-way communication or very short updates. iChat/Skype instant messaging works but that can be tedious for anything in-depth.

Skype voice works but is cheapest for computer-to-computer calling. We've used Vonage VOIP as our primary phone for the last 4 years -- they advertise as being $24.99 per month but taxes and fees run that up to $30+ per month -- still better than most landline or cell phone services because all US/Canada calls and now calls to landlines in about 60 other countries are included, unlimited, in the plan.

But, the best option seems to be magicJack. You purchase the USB dongle for $20* and for $19.95 per year, you can make and receive unlimited calls to/from any phone in the US and Canada for no extra charge (yes, that's $19.95 per year). You do have to have a good internet connection. Since most of the people we would talk to are in the US, this works well for us (assuming that our internet connection in Kenya is good enough).

The one downside we thought we would have to deal with was having to have a phone attached to our computer. But, we only have to have the fairly small USB dongle and we can use a headset or even the built in microphone and speakers in our computers. And, one dongle (i.e., one account) can be used on multiple computers so whoever wants to talk, plugs the dongle into their computer at no extra charge.

If you're looking for an inexpensive way to make US/Canada long distance calls, you might give it a try.

Run (and talk) well, y'all,

*You purchase the dongle for $39.95 but that includes the cost of the dongle and the first year's service. magicJack is offering a free 30-day trial but it's cheaper to go to CVS pharmacy or Radio Shack or another supplier and purchase the magicJack and pay state sales tax than to pay the shipping that magicJack charges.

Hills **ARE** My Friends

I can't find the blog now but earlier this week, I read a running blog in which the writer talked about running a race and how her positive attitude about hills really helped her push through and to have a good race. She contrasted her attitude and results to that of a fellow runner who hit the last hill in the marathon and let the hill defeat her.

Yesterday, I needed to run a slightly shorter loop (@5 miles) and, since I hate running the same route 2 runs in a row, decided to run a route that included a couple of really nasty hills, back-to-back -- here's the elevation chart -- the nasty hills are between mile 3 and 4:

I had run these hills only once before and dreaded them from the moment I set out. I remembered the blog post and began to talk to myself about running them with a positive attitude. Then, just before I got to the first of those hills, I passed a guy who was walking. I greeted him and he commented about how good the slightly cooler weather felt. I said something like, Yes, it feels great but I'm not sure how I'll feel after these hills.

He said, It will be worth it after you finish. What a great statement! Between the blog inspiration and the wise words of a walking stranger, I conquered the hills and they weren't nearly as tough as I had mentally made them out to be.

Lesson learned (maybe): A positive attitude about challenges can make them easier.

Run well, y'all,

23 August 2009

An Eternal Perspective

The Ringmaster writes about life and running on her blog, Mile By Mile. Her blog is always a good read. On Friday, she talked about her frustrations with tapering before a race and with not being able to run as she recovered from a non-running injury. Then she talked about her husband's gracious acceptance of his inability to do something he dearly loves. Her reflection on that really resonated with me:
I’m reminded that God’s grace is not about me! When I’m benched, when I’m disciplined, when I’m taught something about character and grace and endurance–not in sport but in life and faith–it’s about something much bigger than me.

And in the end, I pray I always remember, while I want to be a great runner, I want to be a great Christ follower more than that.

While I want to get a medal at my next race, my true goal is to earn a crown that will never tarnish.

And while I would love to hear the crowds roaring as I come to the finish in–dare I hope it–1:48–more than that, I want to hear the quiet voice of my Lord saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

God, give me an eternal perspective–yes, even on my knees!
As much as I love to run, if there every comes a time, either temporarily or permanently, when I cannot do that, I want to remember that there is something much more important. I want to keep my eyes focused on the right one (Hebrews 12:2)

Thanks, Karina, for the reminder.

Run well -- and run the race of life well -- y'all,

18 August 2009

Canicular Weather

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day for today, 18 August, is quite appropriate for those of us who are trying to run and train in this canicular weather. Hydrate well, every day:
canicular \kuh-NIK-yuh-ler\ adjective: of or relating to the dog days (the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere)

Example sentence: During the canicular heat of August, many of the town's residents venture to the local swimming hole in search of a way to stay cool.

Did you know? The Latin word "canicula," meaning "small dog," is the diminutive form of "canis," source of the English word "canine." "Canicula" is also the Latin name for Sirius, the star that represents the hound of Orion in the constellation named for that hunter from Roman and Greek mythology. Because the first visible rising of Sirius occurs during the summer, the hot sultry days that occur from early July to early September came to be associated with the Dog Star. The Greeks called this time of year "hemerai kynades," which the Romans translated into Latin as "dies caniculares," or as we know them in English, "the dog days."
Run (and hydrate) well, y'all,

17 August 2009

Geriatric Chick Flick

Since returning to the US for a temporary assignment in 2005 (we're headed back overseas in about 3 weeks), my wife and I (and our daughter, when she's at our house) have enjoyed having digital cable TV. It gives us lots of choices and more flexibility than standard TV, though I'm not sure we actually took enough advantage of those benefits enough to justify the cost. Frankly, we ended up watching a rather narrow range of programming. Probably the most watched channel, though, is the Food Network. They have the best reality TV (The Next Food Network Star, Bobby Flay's Throwdown, Chopped -- is Chopped a FN show?) and there's usually nothing offensive. I like the dry humour and the great information of Alton Brown. So, food has become a prime interest in our house -- well, eating food has always been a prime interest.

So, when the movie Julie & Julia began to be promoted, my wife and daughter were certainly interested. OK, I must confess, so was I -- intrigued by the idea of the movie. Saturday, we went to see the movie. I've blogged about that being my first senior citizen discount.

Well, we walk into the theater and I immediately realize that I've paid to see a geriatric chick flick. First of all, I think there were 2 other men in the whole theater and they were slouched down in their seats like they were trying to avoid the possibility that another man would actually see them. (I think all 3 of us temporarily lost our mancards on Saturday. How long until we get them back? Maybe we have to do something ultra-manly like ... well, I'll let your imagination -- PG-rated, of course -- finish that thought.) So, obviously, this is a chick flick of major proportions.

Now remember, I got a Senior Citizen discount to get into the afternoon movie, so I'm not young anymore. But, I tell you, my wife, our daughter, and I were the youngest in the whole place. Hmmm. I'm now wondering if I'm going to like this movie -- I'm thinking I made a bad mistake.

It was weird. The audience actually laughed at the funny, quirky parts of the movie. And, there were parts of the movie that were really funny, but the laughter was unusual -- I think the humour really connected with the female audience. The profanity was totally unnecessary -- why do we (that's a collective we) think that it's so cool to use obscene, profane, vulgar language? It's so totally unnecessary -- and that bothered me. The smoking by Julia and her contemporaries was pretty shocking -- very realistic for the '50's and '60's but after finally being able to enjoy eating in a restaurant without having to inhale cigarette smoke (well, except in Virginia), it was surprising to see.

If you can't stand to watch the Food Network, then you probably won't like the movie, Julie & Julia. But if you like cooking and can ignore or tolerate the profanity, it is a pretty good movie and has some funny segments. Meryl Streep did a remarkable job portraying Julia Childs. She is good!

I've encouraged my wife to adapt the idea -- cook through all the recipes that have accumulated in her recipe card boxes and blog about them. We'll see. She's a great cook so it would be fun for me.

Oh, running -- I intensely dislike running in temperatures above 69°, especially when the humidity is above about 75%. My running has been hard for the past 2 months. I ran 6+ miles this morning and, if the scales at my mother-in-law's were correct, I lost 5.4 pounds during my run.

Run well, y'all,

15 August 2009

Senior Discounts -- Senior Running

It's been a while since I last posted -- I've been running, just not posting. Life has interfered.

A couple of weeks ago, I was running with a group training for a half marathon. We had a 14-miler scheduled (SIDE-NOTE: I don't think God designed me for summer running!) and I ended up by myself at about mile 11.5. One of our group was not running that day but was hitting various spots on the route encouraging folks. At mile 11.5, he was jogging the course in reverse and passed me. He asked how I felt -- my response, Like I'm 55 (which I am).

Actually, I've felt 55 on most of my runs over the last couple of months. I don't know what gives but almost every run is a struggle even though I'm running slower than ever. Some days it's like I'm starting all over again.

In some places, being 55 years old makes me eligible for Senior discounts. Now, that bothers some people, but not me. If someone wants to give me a discount for being 55 or for being mostly bald or for being left-handed or for having big feet, that's all right with me. I figure a discount is a discount.

That being said, in the 3 months since I turned 55, I've never actually been in a place to get a Senior Discount until today. My wife, our daughter, and I went to see Julie & Julia (maybe I'll blog about that some other time) and I saw that they offered a $1 Senior Discount for those over 55. Voila! So I asked for 2 adult and 1 senior ticket. Well, that didn't compute with the cashier (my wife understood why, I don't but that may be because I'm a Senior) and she gave me 2 Senior tickets. I was signing the credit card receipt and knew the price was less than I expected but I wasn't really paying attention (another senior moment) but my wife was (she's not a Senior). So, we pointed out that we wanted 3 tickets, not 2 and she sold us another one -- a Student Ticket rather than a full adult (the cashier was definitely NOT a Senior, so either Senior Momentitis is contagious or I was suffering from something else). By that time, there was a line behind us so we just took the tickets and went in to watch the movie.

My first time to use a Senior Discount and things get messed up! Go figure?!

Run well, y'all,