Monday, January 27, 2014

Frozen Ankles

Not quite the run I wanted to do but I did it. Having missed two runs over the weekend I was happy to go out and run but a half hour was just not how long I wanted to run. It did help my back feel a little better though so I guess that was good. And the temps were much nicer than before but still. Guess i should quit complaining.

So let me bitch about my back instead. For some unknown reason I wok up yesterday with a stiff back. It's usually caused by sleeping on it funny so I generally dismissed it. I had a massage yesterday which helped loosen things up but it still felt tight like I needed to crack it. Last night it hurt enough to wake me up because I couldn't get comfortable. But seeing as my bed is so damn soft, I'm not surprised by that either. So after tossing and turning for hours, I went out and laid down on the living room floor. I stretched, rolled, flexed, and generally tried not to make too much noise. Thankfully I missed the giant Lego mess and I eventually fell asleep. For a little bit. But the floor was cold so I went back to bed with an hour left before I needed to get up. After some more tossing and turning, I eventually got a few more winks of sleep before my alarm went off. Still hurts today but it's bearable. For now.

The run was, well, boring as all hell. I swapped the camera memory card, saw giant dog prints in the snow, and that was it. Pretty damn boring. But I didn't slip on the packed snow so I guess I should be happy.

Trail conditions were pretty nice this morning.


Temps were a balmy 40F. Winds were light. Sky was mostly cloudy but there was some sun. Ground was covered in what was left of our three inches of snow.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was coffee. During the run I had a bottle of water. Recovery was oatmeal, yogurt, and more coffee.

Aches and Pains:
My back. Aside from that, my lungs were still on fire from the cold air and from the flu last week.

No special gear but gaiters would have helped. My ankles got cold out there. Wore shorts, pants, thermal shirt, long sleeve shirt, vest, winter hat, balaclava, and gloves.

Heart Rate:
Left it at home so I don't know.

Mile 1 - 13:48
Mile 2 - 17:19
Finish - 31:07
RHR - 55

Friday, January 24, 2014

Class 6 Felony

What a run. Never knew it until this weekend but wearing a mask in the state of Virginia is a Class 6 Felony. Oops. Hope they decide fix that because I wore two today! Well, one balaclava and a Buff that worked pretty much like a second mask. It was cold as shit out and I'm thinking I'm finally on board with getting a treadmill. But damn are they expensive!

Anyway, I plodded through the fluffy snow with my hands, nose, and toes frozen. They eventually thawed but my face was still damn cold the entire run. Had some wind (and wind chill) to deal with but I survived. Saw a ton of tracks, animal and human, so it was nice to know I wasn't alone out there.

Oh, and this was my first run post-flu.

Swamp was pretty frozen.

I was pretty frozen.

Somebody wrote HARRY POTTER in the snow. Along with a few smiley faces.

Temps were 16F when I started and warmed to 17F by the end. Winds were light at the start but picked up on the way back to more moderate 15mph to 20mph. Sun was out in full.

Fluids and Fuel:
Pretty much nothing. Had a dentist appointment before my run so I didn't eat breakfast. And I forgot about my spare applesauce in the car so I had no fuel on the run. I did have a bottle of plain water which eventually froze with half a mile to go. Drank most of it before it got to that point but it did make it interesting. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite mixed with water and rice milk.

Aches and Pains:
Chest was on fire from breathing the cold air and from not being able to breathe as well as normal thanks to last week's flu fight. Aside from that and the being cold part, the run was fairly normal. Did have some serious fatigue at the end but that was likely because of the lack of running and lack of fuel.

Wore shorts, pants, shorts, thermal shirt, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, wind breaker shell, balaclava, winter hat, Buff, Altra Lone Peak shoes, and SmartWool socks. I also wore two pair of gloves. Thankfully the Buff, socks, and wind breaker saved my ass from freezing to death out there. I also took along my cell phone and knife.

Heart Rate:
Couldn't see it since I was wearing my snowboarding gloves which go way up my arm. But I'm pretty sure it was way too high.

Mile 0.8 - 12:23 (AVG HR 142)
Mile 1 - 14:29 (AVG HR 150)
Mile 2 - 21:02 (AVG HR 157) (includes camera work)
Mile 3 - 14:59 (AVG HR 161)
Mile 4 - 14:54 (AVG HR 159)
Mile 0.8 - 12:19 (AVG HR 150)
Finish - 1:30:22
MIN HR - 76
AVG HR - 154
MAX HR - 180
RHR - 58

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This Week Flu By

As I sit here recovering from my  bout with the flu, I thought I'd give a timeline of what happened and when.

Training Plan - 1:20 run with surges
Training Completed - 1:07 with surges

After a normal day of work and school, we continued on with our normal routine at night. Dinner, showers, homework, and bedtime. We had one minor outlier with my son William who suddenly had a fever. I say suddenly because we (my wife and I) didn't notice anything out of the ordinary earlier in the day. It wasn't until getting him ready for bed that we knew something was up.

So we took his temp and sure enough, a fever. With that in mind, I planned on taking him to the doctor in the morning. It wouldn't be that big of a deal since I was working late for the week and had already gotten my run in and was feeling okay if I missed my upper body workout the next day.

Training Plan - Upper body workout
Training Completed - Nothing

With an even higher fever, it was a trip to the doctor for sure. After dosing him up with meds to bring the fever down some, my son and I headed to the local urgent care center in the morning. We stopped for some breakfast and coffee (for me) and then got checked out (for him). His strep and flu tests came back negative but we got an anti-biotic since one ear looked slightly inflamed. We came home and chilled out. I got some work done but nothing terribly major since I was constantly checking on him.

After having kids for a bit, you start to know them better than they know themselves. So when William didn't want to eat much, still had a fever through the day, and wanted to take naps instead of watching cartoons, I knew things weren't getting better. So it wasn't too much of a surprise that my wife took him to the pediatrician that night to get him checked out again. His flu test came back positive almost immediately so we stopped the anti-biotic and started the Tamiflu.

Training Plan - 2:15 run
Training Completed - Nothing

Friday was pretty much a repeat of Thursday but with fewer naps, a little more food, and a lower temperature. These were all good signs but he still wasn't fever free so that meant no school. Which meant I was again on nurse duty instead of getting a lot of work done. I was happy to see his fever come down and that he was eating a little more. I wasn't so happy to miss my workout but knew it the right thing to do. Not like I can just leave him home alone watching cartoons.

Another casualty of William getting sick was our planned couple's massage on Saturday. We knew he needed to be fever free for a day before being non-contagious so we knew that would likely come on Saturday. Which meant that my dad didn't really want to expose himself to the flu and we didn't blame him. So with us being out a sitter and still having a sick kid, we rescheduled the massage to a later date.

Training Plan - 3:00 run
Training Completed - Nothing

With Friday's run in the toilet, I knew Saturday's would be too. So I asked my coach if I could shift some of the missed running time to Sunday to make up for it. I don't like to "make up" for missed runs because things usually go wrong and it sets the wrong mentality that I can make up for it. Thankfully he's on board with that too but agreed that I could change my Sunday run to 5:00 hours. With that being the plan and with getting approval from my wife, I was good to go with that.

The rest of the day was spent doing our usual errands and chores like getting groceries. William was feeling better and I had no symptoms other than I woke up with a tiny tickle in the back of my throat. That tickle would turn out to be more but I just thought I slept funny and my sinuses drained awkwardly enough to make me cough a bit more than normal. I went to bed Saturday night feeling just fine. Things were going great until about 2200. I took a pill that has a side-effect of giving you a mild headache unless you hydrate a little more than normal. I didn't so I thought the headache was normal.

It wasn't. The headache went away but came back at 2200 ten times worse. I tossed and turned until about 0100 and took my temperature. Yep, I had a fever. So I tossed and turned the rest of the night worrying about missing my run in the morning but feeling pretty certain that I had the flu.

Training Plan - 1:30 run 5:00 run
Training Completed - Nothing

Sunday morning I woke up feeling much worse than the night before. I checked again and sure enough, I still had a fever. This along with a massive headache led me to believe I had the flu. I've learned to listen to my body and understand it enough to know when something is wrong and I'm generally right in diagnosing myself. So after suffering through a long morning trying to get my fever down I finally relented and let my wife take me to the same urgent care center I was at Thursday.

My flu test came back negative but I saw the same doctor and when he heard my son tested positive for the flu later in the day he decided I needed to be on Tamiflu too. So instead of aiming for 5 hours of running and about 20 miles on the trail, I ended up spending an extra 5 hours in bed and having somebody drive me 20+ miles to the doctor because I was too woozy to drive myself. I spent the rest of the day and night trying to rest and watch the playoff games.

Training Plan - Recovery
Training Completed - Sort of recovered

I was happy to see Denver going to the SuperBowl but not so happy to see the 49ers lose. Since the Steelers didn't make I had to pick somebody, right? Anyway, I felt a little better but got almost no sleep. I stayed up late watching a movie and trying to read but ended up with only a few hours of sleep sitting up in the recliner in the living room. Better than nothing but not as good as I needed. The day was spent resting more and making a trip for coffee. I was well enough to drive but still wasn't feeling too wonderful. My fever was down a bit but not where it needed to be.

Training Plan - 1:30 run
Training Completed - Nothing

I slept fairly well last night but woke up feeling exhausted. So even though I have a ton of work to do at work, I knew I needed another day to recover well enough to actually work coherently. So I called in sick with the intent to go back to work Wednesday. The kids have a snow day so it'll be a loud and busy house but I'm sure I can at least squeeze in a nap at some point.

With my son feeling better and on his last day of Tamiflu and with me feeling a little better and halfway through my Tamiflu, I'm hoping, really really hoping, that nobody else in the house gets sick. It sucks. It always sucks but this is worse than my usual man-cold that I get once a year or so. What really sealed the deal for me was the larger than normal headache and the fever. Usually I get more of a sinus headache when I get sinus infections or some bronchitis. This headache was much worse. And I never get a fever. So yes doctor, I'm pretty sure your test was wrong and I do/did have the flu.

I missed nearly eight hours of training and I'm okay with that. Even though I was really looking forward to a long run on Sunday I knew I had a valid reason to miss it. And I must be making progress in my training because I don't even feel bad about it. Maybe it was because I knew I was really sick and maybe it was because I knew I shouldn't feel guilty about it. And even though I had a brief moment of panic that my next race is a short two weeks away and that I probably wouldn't meet my goal, I'm okay with that too. Okay, not entirely okay, but at least 80% to 90% okay with it. Much more okay with it than I would under different circumstances.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Podcast - Mile 77 - Book Review

After a holiday hiatus, I'm back to delivering one of the cheapest, shortest, ultramarathon podcasts out there. So sit back while I regale you with a book review. Or two.

First up, we have The Dakota Cipher by William Dietrich. This historical fiction is about a wanna-be James Bond that works for Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, and himself. The book was entertaining at times but not very well written. The main character, Ethan Gage, is written in such an over-the-top way that he's hard to see as a real person. Same goes for the name-dropping throughout the novel. Thankfully, one character, Pierre, saves the day.

Second, well, there is no second. I ran out of time to do a second review. But I did manage to screw up my own numbering system. This is actually Mile 77, not the Mile 76 I claim. It's not the first time I've done it but since I don't edit or do any post-production fancy-pants stuff, I just have to live with it. Which is actually harder than it sounds due to my OCD nature.

Anyway, that's it for now. If you're wondering what the surgery is that I'm alluding to in this episode, it's my vasectomy. You can read all about it here. Or you can read the book I reviewed in this episode. Just don't pay too much for it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My New Mustache

Kinda wimped out a bit on today's run. Felt even more sluggish than I did yesterday. Pretty sure it was because I ate breakfast right before I went to run instead of waiting until I was finished. I'll try to fix that tomorrow.

Anyway, the rest of the run was fairly quiet. Saw only two other people on the trail walking a dog. The rest of the trip was foggy, chilly, and kinda boring.

My new balaclava comes with a mustache.


Temps were about 40F. Sky was overcast. Fog was dense. No wind. Very light rain.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was one egg, three bacon, two toast, and coffee. During the run I had a bottle of plain water. Recovery was hammer Recoverite.

Aches and Pains:

Two pair of shorts, pants, thermal top, long sleeve top, balaclava, and gloves. Also carried my knife and my voice recorder.

Heart Rate:
Managed to keep it within the plan for the first two miles then fell apart on my second surge. Struggled to keep it in the planned zones after that but did manage to actually surge when I needed to.

Mile 1 - 12:40 (AVG HR 133)
Mile 2 - 12:39 (AVG HR 139)
Mile 3 - 13:17 (AVG HR 145)
Mile 4 - 13:53 (AVG HR 150)
Mile 5 - 14:56 (AVG HR 149)
Finish - 1:07:26
MIN HR - 80
AVG HR - 143
MAX HR - 171
RHR - 59

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

D-Mark Line

Despite eating rather poorly yesterday on my rest day and not sleeping very well last night, I somehow managed to have a nice training run. I really wanted to crawl back into bed but I knew if I did I likely wouldn't get out again until lunch time. So I poked along and eventually got ready to run and got my rear out the door.

Once on the trail, I was happy to see that most of the rain was light and stayed away until later in the afternoon. I hoofed it down to my planned turnaround point but decided to push things an extra half mile so I'd have a total of one extra mile on the run. Not that much of a big deal but my real goal was to see what was moving around down the trail. Turns out it was probably just a squirrel.

Along the way, I saw pretty much nothing of interest. Nope, wait, I forgot about the loose dogs. They saw me and ran back into the woods so it was really a non-event for me.

This is the D-Mark line. Well, half of it. Kinda hard to see but it's a straight line that's cleared.

Temps were about 45F at the start and maybe 50F by the end. Sky was overcast and rain was light. No wind.

Fluids and Fuel:
Before the run I had a little coffee. During the run I had a bottle of plain water and an applesauce pouch around the second mile. Recovery was  bacon and cheese sandwich, oatmeal, and a latte.

Aches and Pains:
None really. Felt a little sluggish and winded even though my heart rate was low.

Wore two pair of shorts, thermal shirt, short sleeve shirt, gloves, and headband. Carried my knife and that was it.

Heart Rate:
Felt like I was running higher than I actually was. Didn't really get out of Zone 2 until I turned around. Tried to push it the last two miles with an extra focus on the last mile.

Mile 1 - 16:49 (AVG HR 127)
Mile 2 - 13:22 (AVG HR 133)
Mile 3 - 13:59 (AVG HR 139)
Mile 4 - 13:17 (AVG HR 143)
Mile 5 - 13:27 (AVG HR 142)
Mile 6 - 12:27 (AVG HR 146)
Mile 7 - 11:45 (AVG HR 152)
Finish - 1:35:08
MIN HR - 100
AVG HR - 140
MAX HR - 168
RHR - 60

Sunday, January 12, 2014

DRHT Long Run

It sounds weird but I feel much better after getting in my long run today. I was behind on my mileage and my time for the week and over the last three days I had a total of 6 hours on the plan but only managed to get in an hour and a half. Well short of what I wanted and what I needed. So today I planned on a 4 hour stretch. And I nailed it. So I may be a bit short overall, I feel much better about this week.

So, the run. It started last night with what I can only hope will be a new tradition. As a family, we played two board games. I've become a big fan of Wil Wheaton's Tabletop YouTube channel and the kids have watched a few and enjoyed them. So we got Settlers of Catan Jr. for Christmas this year. And the kids like it. So do I. And my wife even seems to like it. So we played a round of that last night and then broke out Star Wars Monopoly. The kids stayed up late and we all had a good time. So last night I was a bit amped up because of all the fun. Which meant I didn't sleep well. So when I woke up at 0500 instead of 0600 to pee, I decided to just change and start my run an hour early.

So after stashing the new trail cams on the trail, I headed out for my run in the dark. It was colder than expected but my Buffs once again saved my ass from freezing. I meandered down the trail and ran into the sunrise. I piddled with the cameras when I got to them and then headed back to the car. By now the sun was up, I had stashed my headlamp, and I was feeling great. On the way back I got my lights, dropped some trash, took a dump, and kept on going. Once I got back to my car I headed back out in the other direction to get more time and squeaked out two more miles.

Along the way I had the shit scared out of me by a beaver and a turkey. I also saw, well, nobody and nothing the entire time. It wasn't until I was in my last two miles of the run that I saw other people (four people and two dogs). Pretty lonely out there today.



Temps started at about 35F and eventually warmed to 40F or 45F by the end. It took an hour or so after sun up to really feel any difference though. And the ground was still semi-frozen even then. Sky was clear and the sun was out. No wind.

Fluids and Fuel:
Drank a GenUCAN before the run and nothing else. During the run I had plain water in my hydration pack. I had just under two liters and drank most of it. I also had a bottle of Hammer Fizz at the two hour mark. I ate three applesauce pouches; one at two hours, one at three hours, and one at three and a half hours. I was starving by the end. Recovery was a veggie sub, mozzarella sticks, and a latte.

Aches and Pains:
No real pains to speak of other than a few sharp rocks that I stepped on. My left hamstring was getting tight towards the end but I think that was due to a lack of electrolytes and a lack of fluids.

Wore two pair of shorts, gaiters, thermal shirt, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, two Buffs, and winter gloves. I had my hydration pack and my knife along with my phone.

Heart Rate:
Best success to date with the first two hours barely getting into upper Zone 2. Didn't go into Zone 3 until about 2 and a half hours. Started pushing the pace towards the end and eventually maxed out. No idea what my RHR was this morning though.

Mile 1 - 12:50 (AVG HR 135)
Mile 2 - 13:27 (AVG HR 135)
Miles 3 and 4 - 33:52 (AVG HR 136) (includes gun range bypass and pee break)
Mile 5 - 13:50 (AVG HR 135)
Mile 6 - 13:45 (AVG HR 135)
Mile 7 - 16:30 (AVG HR 140) (includes aid station stop)
Mile 8 - 20:08 (AVG HR 127) (includes some dicking around with the trail cameras)
Mile 9 - 14:14 (AVG HR 144)
Mile 10 - 19:40 (AVG HR 137) (includes dropping a log)
Mile 11 - 14:33 (AVG HR 146)
Mile 12 - 16:23 (AVG HR 152) (includes gun range bypass)
Mile 13 - 13:34 (AVG HR 155)
Mile 14 - 15:41 (AVG HR 156)
Mile 15 - 13:31 (AVG HR 155)
Mile 16 - 12:31 (AVG HR 163)
Finish - 4:04:38
MIN HR - 86
AVG HR - 142
MAX HR - 180
RHR - Unknown

Friday, January 10, 2014

Does a Lumberjack Shit in the Woods?

Why of course he does. Where else is he going to take a dump? A real man doesn't need an outhouse.

Thankfully I didn't need to use leaves today because they were frozen. Just like the water drops on the leaves. And the rocks on the trail. And the mud on the trail. I've slipped in mud before but today was the first time I've slipped ON mud. Actually ran through the puddles because they were liquid and I knew I'd at least get some traction. Bizarre stuff this morning. Not including my doodie in the woods.

Let's see, found four shotgun shells this morning just off the trail. At a minimum it was littering, at most it was illegal hunting and trespassing. ::sigh:: Why are some people such idiots?

Anyway, the rest of the run was wet and cold. I shockingly was able to talk myself into running five more miles that I thought I would. I went out for what should have been a two plus hour run and quickly found myself fighting a gurgling belly and a cold rain. So, I ran a mile, turn around, and came back. I was totally planning on bailing out after just two miles but my belly needed some relief before that so I stopped to do my doodie duty. Once I started running again, I felt much better and somehow found myself warmed up enough to continue running. So I did. For another five miles. I was still short of my goal on time but I felt much better when I finished. Quitting after 7 miles is much easier on the soul than quitting after 2 miles. Plus, I was getting soaked and cold and didn't want to risk hypothermia. Today was one of those days where I was skirting the line between Bad Ass and Dumb Ass.

After my run.


Temps were 32F during the run. No sun and lots of rain. No wind.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was half a coffee. During the run I had water and an applesauce pouch. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite mixed with some coffee and two slices of toast.

Aches and Pains:
Blister on my right heel didn't hurt at all. Everything else felt fine, just a bit sluggish.

Wore shorts, pants, shorts, thermal top, long sleeve shirt, vest, winter hat, and gloves. Within the first half mile I had to put on both of my extra Buffs. Also wore my hydration pack and carried my knife.

Heart Rate:
Kinda gave up on keeping things in Zone 2 after the first few miles. Focused instead on keeping things fast enough to stay warm. Did try to push it a little harder over the last couple of miles.

Mile 1 - 11:29 (AVG HR 147)
Mile 2 - 15:36 (AVG HR 152) (includes taking a dump)
Mile 3 - 14:28 (AVG HR 151)
Mile 4 - 14:03 (AVG HR 151) (includes pee break)
Mile 5 - 13:59 (AVG HR 152)
Mile 6 - 12:48 (AVG HR 160)
Mile 7 - 12:18 (AVG HR 161)
Finish - 1:34:44
MIN HR - 87
AVG HR - 153
MAX HR - 180
RHR - 59

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Sad State of Politics in King George, Virginia

Since I'm on a politics rant for today regarding the shunning of Ruby Brabo, why not add another one.Communication. Specifically, the lack of. A neighboring school lost a building in a fire and I had an idea I wanted to share. A possible solution to their problem that our County might be able to help with. So I shared that idea with my local leaders. Since I wasn't sure who was in charge of what, I shared with both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board. That's a total of ten people. Here they are along with their email addresses:

School Board

Dahlgren District - Ken Novell -
James Madison District - Kristin Tolliver -
James Monroe District - T. C. Collins -
Shiloh District - Mike Rose -
At-Large District - John Davis -

Board of Supervisors
Dahlgren District -Ruby Brabo -
James Madison District -Joe Grzeika -
James Monroe District -Jim Howard -

Shiloh District -Cedell Brooks -

At-Large District -Dale Sisson -

So like I said, I sent them an email with my idea. All of those that responded were polite and professional about it. But not everyone responded. I got responses from:
  • John Davis
  • Dale Sisson
  • Mike Rose
  • Ruby Brabo
  • Joe Grzeika
That's five people out of ten. Half of the people I sent a message to responded. To me, this is the primary source of the problem we have within our local government; nobody wants to communicate. I mean, come on people, let's move into the present where the Pony Express is a footrace and not the main communication line with the west coast. Let's move into the present where we hear about news before it's even on the news. Let's move into the present where people have cameras, video recorders, computers, telephones, and navigation systems in their pocket. Let's move into the present where communication is mandatory to move forward.

I fell the lack of communication coming from our leadership is the source of our problem. These old farts sitting on the board never had to talk about what they did in the past. Nobody came to the meetings so they never needed to worry about explaining why they did something. Well guess what, now everyone knows and they know as soon as you do it. So when one individual decides to openly communicate with the very citizens that voted them in, the rest of the group gets nervous and decides to ostracize them. Ever hear of the five monkeys and the banana on a ladder? Welcome to the paradigm of bad politics. Let's stop spraying cold water and work together to get the banana.

How Coke Can Destroy My Mood

When I was younger, my Dad and I would go to a local restaurant for dinner on a fairly regular basis. He would order wing dings and an iced tea and I would order a gyro. When the waitress would ask what I wanted to drink, the conversation would go something like this:

Waitress: What would you like to drink?
Me: A Coke.
Waitress: What kind of Coke?
Me: Mr. Pibb.

In this specific area, we called all soda "Coke" for some reason. Probably the same reason my wife called it "pop" when she grew up in Pittsburgh. So when I talk about Coke here, sometimes I'm referencing "soda" and sometimes the actual product "Coke."

Growing up, Coke wasn't a regular drink at home. That honor went to milk and Kool-Aid. But whenever I went out to eat, I drank a Coke. It was part of what made eating out so special. As I got older and spent more time with my Mom and step-father, I realized I didn't like Pepsi. I liked Pepsi products, but not Pepsi. I don't know why. It was just too sweet I think and Coke had just enough of a nice kick and acidity to make it more appealing. Plus that's what I usually had available to me when I went out to eat in my geographic area.

When I went to college in north-western Pennsylvania, I had to adjust. It was Pepsi territory which meant I had to switch to Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew to survive eating out. But it wasn't until I went home during a break in classes and saw the dentist that I realized what I was doing. I ended up getting a bit of Mountain Dew Mouth and had my first cavity. As a student with no parents to monitor me, I treated every meal as if it were a meal at a restaurant. So even though my meal plan covered milk, water, juice, or any number of other drinks, I almost always chose soda. After my freshman year, things got worse when there was a small dining hall in my dorm that was essentially a generic McDonalds. This would turn out to be the main source of my addiction for the coming years. It set a precedent that nearly every meal could be, and sometimes should be, accompanied by a soda.

After getting in the habit of drinking 30 to 60 ounces of Mountain Dew a day for years, I graduated college and moved on to adulthood. This meant that my habits changed little over time and were mostly governed by what I could afford. I wasn't on a meal plan that my parents paid for so water was cheaper to drink than Coke. But I still drank Coke. Fast forward a few years and I land a steady job. Coke becomes a part of my diet yet again for nearly every meal. I'd drink one for breakfast to wake up, one at lunch to wash it down, and another in the afternoon to keep going. The pattern of drinking was there, it was just modulating as time passed.

Fast forward another few years and I land an even steadier job with my current employer. Like many tech companies at the time, sodas were 25 cents per can. It was like being back in college again where I could almost, almost drink for free. I'd easily drink two to six cans of Coke a day for years. I was yet again reinforcing my bad habits without knowing it.

At some point in time I got sick with a sinus infection or the flu or bronchitis or something like that. I lost my appetite for a few days and, somehow, stopped drinking Coke for three days straight. I had a small streak started and I had quit cold turkey and best of all, my detox side affects were masked by my illness. So I took the opportunity and ran with it. For the next few years, I quit drinking Coke. Period.

Then ultra marathons entered my life and Coke was a staple at many aid stations. To make sure I wouldn't have a bad stomach during a race, I started drinking again. Not anywhere near the levels I had before but the pleasure of drinking had increased. So the one drink I'd have a month would feel like a week's worth of drinks all at once. Over time I would loosen my own personal restrictions on Coke consumption and a few times I would even train specifically with Coke as part of my drop bags or fluid consumption during training runs and races.

That's quite a lot of backstory on how Coke makes me depressed but I think it's important to put out there. I honestly feel, now, that Coke is addictive and can be detrimental to your life like alcohol or some other drug. However, I also feel that, like everything else out there, a little bit of something is okay. Too much of something isn't. So I try to put Coke and beer in the same category. You can have one, but remember that there will be some consequences if you drink it. With Coke, I'll get depressed. With beer, I can't drive.

That brings us to the depression piece of this post. The whole reason I'm writing this is to talk about the odd mental aspect of drinking Coke. A few years ago I realized that every time I drank a Coke, I felt great for a few hours. I felt refreshed, light on my feet, and maybe a little hyper. But for the next day, or two, or sometimes three, I'd feel down. Depressed. Blue. Sad. Whatever you want to call it, I just wasn't feeling good about anything. I'd be more irritable and grumpy with my family and co-workers. Any little thing would set me off. I wasn't depressed enough to be suicidal but I was depressed enough to struggle getting out of bed in the morning. It felt very much like a hangover but was more mental and less physical.

I have experimented with various types of Coke and nearly every one has the same result. The only exception I've found is Cheerwine. I never drank it when I lived in North Carolina, but tend to pick up a bottle when I feel like drinking soda. And even though I don't drink that much Coke, I can still taste the difference between a glass bottle, plastic bottle, a can, and from the fountain. But none of these various serving styles make a difference. I thought it could have been the corn syrup but the Mexican Coke with plain sugar still impacts me the same way. Even Diet Coke makes me wonky. And I don't think it's the caffeine because I drink coffee and tea and they don't do anything like this.

I know I don't eat as healthy as I could. But I am glad I stopped drinking so much Coke. I may once again wean myself off completely but I still have a six pack in the fridge calling my name. Begging me to get high all over again.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Day at the Beach

Yup, I ran outside today in the "polar vortex" everyone is talking about. Personally, I don't think it was quite that bad but, I will admit, I did get cold. Apparently I ran with the wind for the first half which meant a strong headwind on the way back. Right when I was getting tired and sweaty and cold. So yeah, I got cold but not dangerously so. Best part of the run was getting a wave from the old lady walking her dog outside. And the funny look on her face as I kept trudging along. And the toys I found next to a Dora book titled "A Day at the Beach." I laughed and laughed.

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful. Although my eyes did freeze together once. And I did spill a little bit of water on my glove and it froze in seconds. Outside of that, it was a pretty typical day on the street.

Me and Dora chilled outside for a bit.

Temps were 10F to 15F. Winds were moderate making wind chills about -10F. The sun was out and I could feel it in a few spots but not many.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was two eggs, two vegan sausage patties, two waffles, yogurt, and coffee. During the run I had a bottle of plain water and a bottle of Hammer Fizz. I finished the Fizz and most of the water. Recovery was leftover pork chops and rice.

Aches and Pains:
Had some rubbing on my right heel from my pants zipper but not enough to worry about. Face was cold but again, not enough to worry about. Everything else was fine.

Wore shorts, pants, another pair of pants, and another pair of shorts. Wore a thermal top, long sleeve top, and a wind breaker. Wore a winter hat, two pairs of gloves, a neck gaiter, and a balaclava. Didn't take my phone because I was worried it would freeze.

Heart Rate:
Didn't wear my monitor but I'm pretty sure my first two miles were in Zone 2 and the rest were Zone 3.

Outbound - 36:43
Inbound - 36:10
Finish - 1:12:53
RHR - 61