Hugs

I’ve largely stopped paying attention to news cycles, specifically local and regional news and opt to stay informed via social media, specifically Twitter. My disgust with television news began about ten years ago when my wife and I lived in our last apartment in Chicago and literally everything reported on was death. Non-stop death and pain and I just didn’t see the point in turning on the tv to that every morning. I couldn’t even watch the local news if I wanted to since I’ve been without an active television signal for about six years now. I’ll not turn this into a rant about how much cable services suck on pretty much all levels as this is largely a rant about sensational news reporting and my extreme distaste for it.

Life is hard, people get hurt, people die, bad people get away with things that they shouldn’t get away with, I get it. To wake up every morning and have someone smilingly read you those very same points over and over again day after day is very tiring. I dared not become desensitized to it and just turned off the tv. For good.

Entertainment delivered to me via a large glowing panel of liquid crystal are now mostly fictional tales about people who run fast or have some other sort of superpower. I like it this way since the death and dismemberment news cycle is still spinning, faster and more furious than ever before.

When I do occasionally catch a glimpse of the cold world outside that feeds the mass media all I want to do is go home and hug my family until they get sick of me, which is sometimes pretty soon if I haven’t shaved in awhile or someone’s in the middle of a video game. And my wife just thinks I’m trying to get fresh so I can’t really catch a break when there are hugs to give out.


Oh yeah, this happened.

Took the boys out for an official run. Jimmy made it a half mile and Charlie went 1.11 miles only slowing around .85 for a brief second. Always proud of my boys.


Over the weekend while visiting my parents, my dad asked me “why do you keep trying to kill yourself?” Now, out of context this might seem like a pretty horrible question and something I’d need to seek help about but it’s really the opposite and in reference to how I was sore from running a lot the previous week. I don’t intentionally hurt myself but by slowly pushing my limits I get sore from time to time. I’m running faster than I have in the past six years (by a lot: avg running pace down to 8:30 vs. 11:00), lifting considerably more than I have since I started weight lifting (recent 1RM deadlift PR of 345), and the injuries that have plagued me in the past are no more. I’m confident that the combination of weight training and aerobic exercise in equal balance has contributed to my progress.

This year’s running goals aren’t as aggressive as last year but the calendar is pretty full. Why am I killing myself? Well, this year I’d like to: run a sub-2 hour half, run a 21:00 min 5k (or at least very close) and try something different (tri, obstacle race, whatever). I’m learning what it is to diligently train for these events with hard goals in mind and it’s not easy nor is it quick and steady. There’s ups, downs, setbacks but best of all, little victories that give you hope it’ll all be worth it when the time on the clock is THE time.

I’ve also got the wife doing some strength training to help with her hip issues that have kept her from competing in years past. So far things look good and she’s anxious to keep going. Have the first few bits of our garage gym sitting in a box at my house, just delivered today. Mats next, weights and squat rack last. Then onto victory.

And probably some donuts.


Death of the pizza

I’ve been making pizza from scratch for a good long while now. I started when Ginger and I were living in the apartment in Chicago and I got a bread making recipe book that had a really good pizza crust recipe in it. I would up serving that pizza at parties and for guests to many favorable reviews and continued to make it when we moved out to the house in the burbs but eventually started using a pre-made dough that a local grocer offered. It made things much easier and didn’t taste all that different and I’d actually grown to like it even a little better than the recipe I started with.

Eventually it became a tradition to make it for the kids, one I very much enjoyed. It’s really nice to be able to make something for someone where that’s their favorite of that thing, I was always happy to do it. Well, just recently my oldest decided that my pizza is no longer his favorite, even so much as he didn’t eat any of it when it was served and opted eventually for something else that night for dinner. At first I was a little rattled, wondering the whole time if I’d somehow screwed up the recipe or maybe did something slightly different that would throw him off. He’s actually very sensitive to little changes in food and has been for a long time, it would not have surprised me if it was a small misstep that I was unaware of that threw him. At least I hope it was that, until it happened again.

With Charlie’s relatively recent expansion of his palette, I can’t take it too personally and really shouldn’t even if that wasn’t the case. My tastes have changed over the past few years to include things that I wouldn’t have ever considered eating previously so I understand how it all comes around eventually. I do hope I can find something that he enjoys me cooking for him but with as much as I cook lately it’ll probably be a bit before that happens.


Old

Other people make you feel old, sometimes just by existing. It seems like taking notice of all the things that can make someone feel old is the first step to actually noticing that you’re getting older. Yeah, that sounds pretty stupid as I read it but I haven’t really taken notice of things like that as they might apply to me only until the past year or so … after turning 40.

I suppose 20 years is a good amount of time to look back on and most of what I’m referring to are instances where people refer to songs that were popular “TWENTY DAMN YEARS AGO” like that’s basically some horrible span of time and that it all would have been forgotten about without some sort of shocking reminder. Really, songs that were popular during my senior year of high school still get air play so I’m not sure how much shock value one gets from all that.

Noticing that the other people around me are pretty much half my age isn’t all that bad, until the culture shock. Yesterday someone whim I work with didn’t know who Demi Moore was. Honestly, that’s not huge since she’s been out of the spotlight for awhile but not even knowing her existence was a little bit shocking to me. I haven’t even really processed it yet but it’s not the first time this has happened with some of the younger folks around me and when I take note of how one of them was born the year I started college leads me to believe that I might be aging just a bit, as time just keeps moving and there are gentle reminders all around but until you’ve got more time behind you than possibly ahead it doesn’t nag at you so much, or you don’t even notice it at all.

Honestly, I can’t say that I feel any older. I’ve been taking much better care of myself in the past couple years and my body isn’t all pissed off an achy like I might have imagined (if I thought of that sort of thing) when I was 20ish. Not exactly remembering if there were ANY aches and pains back then makes it easier to think not much has changed, so I’ll go with that.


Thank you, best family ever.

It’s nice to sit back and count your accomplishments for the year and realize that you got there with the help of a fantastic support system, specifically an amazing family that has achieved quite a bit on its own in the very same year and it still going strong, full speed into the next year without showing signs of slowing down.

My amazing wife is a published illustrator, again. She might take her previous efforts of getting published in fantasy work lightly but it was really an affirmation that showed she’s had it in her all along. Not small potatoes either; however, this is big time now. Every major book retailer sells her new book, and it’s something she’s really proud of and me and the boys are pretty damn proud of her for it. It’s a major accomplishment and totally freaking cool to go to Amazon.com, search for her name and have legitimate results come up. People try their entire lives for something like that and never make it, this was her first try at children’s book illustration. First. Proud hubby, very proud.

My boys continue to amaze me on a daily basis but sitting back and taking stock of a year to realize how well they are growing up and how wonderful they are gives a different perspective on their overall achievements and development as boys on their way to adulthood. I say that lightly since I’m sure that if I pause for at least one second to let them get ahead of me I’ll be staring at two full grown men before I know it so there’ll be no resting and plenty of reflection on their years as well as mine. Especially since they’re doing so well with that growing up thing they keep doing.

I thank my family for being the type that pushes you to be better, the type that supports you along the way and the type that makes it easier to do the hard stuff because they are totally worth every bit of blood, sweat and tears that goes into it. Love you, best family ever, and happy new year.


I suppose on some level I understand people who get inspiration from a constant barrage of inspirational sayings and posters. The effect of a positive outlook on things seems to have a positive effect on life, or at least my life at this point in time. No, I haven’t been shopping at Successories and gone all kumbaya or whatever but I have taken notice of people that I follow for fitness tips and their posting of daily affirmation type of stuff and managed to pay attention without it turning me into a cultist or one of those people who won’t brush their teeth because of fluoridated water.

So, I’ve officially gone through one year of CrossFit and don’t think I would have expected to be saying that a few years ago when I took fitness a little less seriously (read: not at all). Sure, I’ve been an active runner for about five years now and have had a bit of exercise in some form for about that long as well. I started when I noticed my general overall health starting to turn into a less than desirable state and stuck with it in a general sense up until this year when I decided to train for the Chicago marathon and recognized the need for a little more in the training arsenal.

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, a family that depends on me and a lot to look forward to, I needed to be in good shape and healthy and a lax approach to that wasn’t cutting it and didn’t want to get hurt or waste all that time training for something and have it up going to pot because I was too lazy to work hard. I’ve also made a conscious effort to eat better, paying better attention to what I’m eating and how often and have seen results. This year was good, but I can do better and realize now how my past efforts didn’t produce the results I was looking for. For as much as I tell myself I’m eating better, there are times when I don’t and simply just not paying attention to calorie intake, and that always winds up negating any previous efforts to right the wrongs so to speak.

There are a ton of programs and information out there on eating better an getting in shape and the CrossFit community is not shy about sharing what it thinks is the best for its athletes. A lot of the nutrition information centers around a paleo diet, which I can honestly say I’m not up for completely, it’s just not realistic. It does introduce a good amount of guidelines on how to eliminate sugars and carbs, which I’m trying to do more of but that’s where we come back to the realistic part. I do like cereals and oatmeal for breakfast (along with other things on the no-no list) and they don’t require a lot of prep time, so they get chosen over more paleo choices and I go on my merry way.

I can’t say I even really gave paleo enough of a shot to see if it would be worth the trouble but I’m not sure I even care. It’s just too much of a pain in the ass, even without kids and a 9-5 schedule. I think diet is one of those things that evolves as you get older and your body changes so just roll with it, be smart about what you eat and pay attention to how your body acts to certain foods. Maybe try different diets to get an idea of what works for you but if you can’t commit entirely just figure out what that diet was trying to teach you from the beginning and take away the good parts. Eating while training is a little different but I’m not on a level where it matters enough to become ridiculous about the whole ordeal.

I’ve got some loose fitness goals set for the upcoming year but I’ve come far enough at this point to know that I’m better off focusing on things one or two at a time and not trying to cram all the things together since I may or may not be able to do them down the road or however I’ve motivated myself in the past to push through training and meet deadlines. Barring any unfortunate setbacks, 2016 should be my best year yet.


Winding up the year

So this year’s racing season is winding down and it’s been a bunch of fun. I’m happy that I’ve come through it relatively unscathed and with some good lessons and things to keep in mind for the coming years. Having finally run a full marathon, I’m happy to say that it was way more of a positive experience than a negative one. I didn’t come at all close to my goal time due to IT band issues around the 30k mark but my first half marathon had the same issue on the opposite side and I’ve never had an issue with it since. Hopefully with a bit more strength training and a stricter training schedule I’ll be able to do another and meet my goal. I’m hopeful that I can do it and will continue to work hard training through winter to carry on a little bit of the momentum I’ve built up to this point. Although my running schedule has gone down considerably since the marathon. I took about two weeks off from running after and a full week of doing pretty much nothing right after and once I finally got back to doing things again it felt great.

One thing’s for sure, the combination of strength training along with a running schedule produces much better results for me than just different types of running. I can see a lot of what I did helped but probably needed a more regular schedule of lifting along with running since my core is still very weak and always pretty much has been. It’ll be interesting to see what a strong core feels like and how it helps with everything else as much as it’s supposed to.

I’ve got one last race this year, maybe two if I do the Roselle turkey trot again, but after that it’s off season until next year. I’ve got two halfs booked for next year, at which one or both I hope to get a PR under 2 hours. With the experience gained from previous racing seasons I think I know what to work on and how to go about it. Should be fun.


Soon

Jimmy will be starting preschool soon. Very soon. Honestly, it’s three-year-old preschool so I can’t feel like he’s completely grown up but it does mark a milestone and I can already picture myself at his first day of kindergarten, which will be hard. After that, I’m sure the time will start to fly by like it has been doing with Charlie.

Jimmy hasn’t been growing up as fast as Charlie did though, he’s still very much a little kid with an adorable little kid voice and adorable little kid feet. Even though he’s very capable for a three-year-old, he’s still kind of a baby still. I like that it’s not going by so fast since sometimes it seems like we missed out on Charlie being little Charlie since he’s always been in such a hurry to grow up.

With that, Charlie is still very much a little boy and reminds us of that every now and then with his little kid fits and all the fun things that emotional six-year-olds come with. Plus the influences of all the older children he’s always playing with. It’s certainly difficult to battle the insane amount of nonsense that comes from having a bunch of other children around all the time, especially when they don’t act the way you’d like your child to act and ultimately influence behavior.


Goal progress

If you scroll down a couple clicks (or maybe just a half of one), you’ll see a short list of goals I set for myself this year. I’m pleased to say that I’ve actually made progress on some of them.

First, I’m registered and fully on my way to being ready to run the Chicago marathon. It’s a huge step for me as far as setting a fitness goal and I’m anxious, nervous and excited about the day, which will be here sooner than I think for sure.

The marathon was certainly my biggest goal for the year but the others on the list have gotten some attention as well. Running a sub 2 hour half is probably not gonna happen this year but I do have one half left to run this season so I might surprise myself.

I’ve come somewhat close to running a 6:30 mile (7:13) but I have yet to actually set out specifically to run a PR mile time. I only tracked the new time at the first mile of my last 5k. I’ll keep on this one until I get under seven minutes, or get to 6:30.

I haven’t ridden much at all this year or even thought about registering for a half century so that’s pretty much out for the year. I’m also not gonna even come close to 1,000 miles as a total for the year. I’m sure I won’t even break 500 so maybe another year for that one too.

The last goal (that was totally optional, mind you) surprised me. I wound up going to a CrossFit class in late December last year and I got hooked. It was totally the thing I needed in order to get in better shape overall and I saw results really quickly. I’m now wearing the same pant size I was in high school and feel much stronger. It’s helped me attain most of what I’ve achieved this year and I’m sure why I’ve remained injury free the whole year while racking up the training miles. It feels great and will remain a significant part of my fitness routine for a while to come. Plus everyone there is really great.