Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Look back at 2015

Sure, everyone has a look back segment, and I might as well look back at my own year of fitness, 2015.

Let me start with running, the Miles part of this blog. It started on January 1st when I participated in the Resolution Run. I ended up running 10K, I got a very nice jacket out of it, which I still wear for running. I'm not doing it this year because of the fact it a 2.5K loop which I did 4 times. It was a cold morning for the race with a rather bitter wind, that I got to experience 4 times along the same part of the course. Let's remind ourselves of the phrase "Polar Vortex". Cold was the theme of running for the first couple of months; January and February were horrid, lots of snow and very cold temperatures. After the arrival of Spring, the weather did get better. In fact this year I ran 800 miles and got 122 runs in, both PB's for the year. It was a great time running.

During this year I ran in 5 different communities and three different countries. One of my favorite runs took place during the week in Cuba. I did three runs from my resort in Varadero and it was a great experience. To run in shorts and in warm weather was such a treat. Not so good the first run back after Cuba. In fact I remember it being a very painful run. Nothing hurt, it was just such a shock to the system. I also had a great time running in Southern Indiana for a week, it was very hot and muggy, but a great time for running. I wish I had been closer to the Pedestrian bridge, it would have been fun to run into Kentucky from Indiana, two states at the same time.

I did a number of races during the year, one of the best was the Rock Me Anaphylaxis in Windsor. The race took place along the riverfront, so I had decided I could possibly do a sub 27 for the 5K. My time was 26'34". Not only did I do a PB but I came 3rd in my age category. Got a very nice tee and a cool medal. Another fun run was the Cambridge Mill Race, a very cool Tuesday evening in May, it was a challenging course.

Of course the highlight has to be the Army Run 13.1, my first Half-Marathon. I like to tell people I had a great time for the first 20 Km and then my calves decided to cramp up for the final 1.1 km. I might have walked/hobbled over the finish line, there was no way I was getting a DNF. It was exciting to do, not only was the course and the race an amazing experience, but let me know that 13.1 miles can be done. It one of those races that I want to do again.

Speaking of races, I did 6 during the year, hopefully about that many this year. I would like to do some I missed this year, as well as favourites.

If there is one thing I missed, it was the lack of time on the bike. As I think I reported, I had to buy a new bike due to an accident with a car and the back of the garage. I wasn't driving, I was no where near the place of the calamity. It was so sad. I still shed a tear when I think about it. I plan to spend more time on the bike in 2016.

Time on the mat and gym: this year I managed to do 34,000 push ups and 25,000 crunches. That's a lot. I'm continuing my morning exercise program, and the best thing is my Skimble workout. It's a good combination of body weight and a few others. Working very well and I'm enjoying the morning program. When I start, I stream music off YouTube and it helps. During the warmer weather and while vacationing in Cuba, I take my workout mat outside and enjoy the conditions. It is a great way to start the day, with the pleasant breeze, the sun beginning to rise and the sounds of nature. Plus while in Cuba I had a great balcony to workout and it certainly started the day in the right way. I'm not a morning person, but this is helping me change my opinion about waking up to start the day.

I still get to World Gym about twice a week. The good news, they're opening a gym just down from work. Going to be good when that finally happens.

Also started attending Yoga classes at the gym. It's fun.

Hard to believe all I did over the past year. It was good, I feel good and I'm sure I'll have an even better 2016. I'll have more to say about it in the next blog.

Monday, December 28, 2015


When I started the year I had thought I could possibly run about 660-670 miles. I know I've written about this, so forgive the repeat of the situation; I was going through a couple of injuries and figured I shouldn't push it much. After all I had barely reached 1000 km, 622 miles and so a gradual increase would be in order. My main thought was to consider finally doing a half-marathon, which I did in September finishing the Army Run in under 2 hours 20 minutes.

At the beginning, I did a Resolution Run up in Kitchener. While I got a very nice jacket, I'm not sure I would do it again, unless they changed the course, after all it was a 2.5 km loop. To reach the 10 Km, I did it 4 times, not bad but that wind was horrible and I got to experience four different times. I think a nice 5Km loop would have been proper.

Enough of the grousing; shortly after the half-marathon, I reached 1000km and was feeling real good. In fact since about mid-summer the symptoms which had been gradually becoming less and less were about gone. I still wore a little compression around my left knee but it was almost more out of habit or to protect rather then dealing with any actual problem. Plus, I have to say this, I had gotten very serious with treatment, especially using ice on the sore areas. It is amazing how ice can help. I got myself a couple of Dr. Ice wraps and was using them religiously. All this was helping and with the exception of my calves totally cramping up, I did the run. Okay back to the distance, I reached 1000km and felt good. A few weeks later I reached my goal of 660 miles. I should apologize for the flipping between Imperial and Metric, but that how I measure. Then it was the thought of making it to 700 miles.

Another couple of weeks later, after another race I reached 700 miles and it was then and only then I wondered if I could reach 800 miles. My furthest for the year had been 728 miles, which had amazed me then and it still amazes me. let's face it a couple of years ago I wasn't much of a runner, a very seasonal and sporadic runner at best. But the thought had creeped into my brain and I asked myself if it was possible to reach this next plateau.

After looking at my calendar, checking the weather and doing the math I came to the conclusion that it was possible. More then possible, it was my next goal for the year. And so the last 6 weeks began. I was fortunate that this part of Ontario had a very seasonal late fall and early winter; the temperatures were for the most part above freezing and there was limited moisture falling. The moisture was rain and at most I would have to wait an extra 24 hours before the next run. I also concluded that by combining longer runs with the occasional short run it was an attainable goal.

December was the month that could have been challenging but I was able to run all the times I wanted to run. Plus another fun run inspired me to keep going with a springboard to the last 50 miles, or 80 km. My pace was steady, my running was on schedule. Then finally Boxing Day arrived, all I needed was a nice 10Km run. I had taken it easy that week, due to the demands of work but the day arrived. This is just an observation, but I think I should have one the run on Christmas Day before the very delicious, very large and very filling Turkey dinner. I ran but I will say, I was still full from the day before. Filled with energy, desire and turkey I set out. It was not a pretty one but my watched binged the 10th kilometer I managed another 100 meters and stopped. The final goal for the year was reached. 800 miles. For me that was a personal best. I had thought that anything above 728 would have been good enough but still to reach 800 miles. Yes it consumed my thinking and now I look back with a great deal of satisfaction. I had done it. The photo above is me gesturing the "8" for those 800 miles. 800 great miles.

I felt so happy at that moment. It is my milestone. I did it.

I supposed I should consider what my next year's goal will be. One thought I'm having is that perhaps not as much, I don't want another injury like I had last year. Plus I have been neglecting my bike this past year. I think I need to incorporate more riding into my exercise routine. Plus I have a new bike, it's about time I put some miles on it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Cats on Mats doing Yoga

I came across the advertisement for "Cats on Your Mats" and had to consider this a bit more. From what I gathered, this is sponsored by the Humane Society of Edmonton and it gives people who love cats an opportunity to spend some time doing yoga with cats. The great thing is, the Humane Society provides the cats, with the idea that you will so love the little fur ball that you will being the process of adopting a cat. After all what could be better then having a cat so you can perform Yoga with? After all, you can buy calendars that feature monthly photographs of cats doing various yoga poses.

Other then plenty that is.

As you know from a previous post, I had two cats, one Theo was my training coach. He would always check my poses and make sure my planks were straight enough and the hold was doing good. He would walk right underneath me a number of times to ensure the proper form. He would expect nothing more then perfection, and a good head rub. After he was satisfied, he would go to his little cat bed and relax. That was his routine. Now that he is gone, Eowyn has taken over the duties of spending time with me on my mat as I workout. She has a different style, she tends to sit at one end of the mat while I workout. There are some consequences to this and most have to do with her tail.

Cats are very friendly, very intelligent animals. Their abilities are amazing. They are also as dumb as a sack of hammers when they want to be, especially with their tails. They often leave their tails stretched out all over the place. A couple of examples that demonstrated the sack of hammer ability of a cat. So I'm working out with a couple of kettlebells. I still like working out with them. Now kettlebells can have a good bit of momentum to them, especially when doing some swings. Well, this evening, with my leg spreads and swing the kettlebell, Eowyn decides this is the best time to rub between my legs. Forget that I could clobber her quite easily if I don't pay close attention. This is what cats do, they simply do what they want and you have to make the adjustments that will protect them and so that's the way it is with cats.

Then while doing some other working out, I backed up and yes, found Eowyn's tail. Cats sound so bad when you tread on their tails. They also look so pathetic as they sit there looking back at you. They make you feel horrible and you have done something terrible.

Throw all those stretches that is part and parcel with yoga and have cats around the feet. Oh yes a recipe for disaster if ever there was one.

I read this interesting paragraph:

This course is not only healthy and fun, it also helps to socialize and enrich the lives of the shelter cats, as well as, encourages adoption by showing off the cats awesome personalities by interacting with them.
Of course you will want to adopt a cat.

Now that I've expressed the potential dangers, all those cats staring at you after treading of tails. Plus an even greater danger is that you will end up with more then one extra cat. After all, after a few sessions at the Humane Society, how can you ever go back home and not have a cat around the place.

This is truly dangerous.

So go out and do some yoga around your cat, and buy yourself a calendar.