Category Archives: Home & Family

Family & Home related items.

Running: Day 3

I had to skip Friday. It was raining and while I fully expect to not care later in this process, I didn’t want to run in the rain as a beginner. So I went Saturday instead. This was my first solo run as well as Jack had had a friend over and I decided to let them sleep in. The weather was glorious and everything felt great. Nothing was hurting (at first) and I had good energy. I worked hard to make sure I was landing mid-foot and not doing a heel-to-toe thing. It felt natural so I suspect that was what I was doing previously (a friend had suggested it may have been why I had pain with my hip flexors on Wednesday’s run).

After the half-way point, I began to get the burning in the back of my calves again but it was not anything I couldn’t handle. The final iteration of running was pretty hard work but I pulled it out and felt great. So far, so good.

I was supposed to run today (Monday) but since we went to Six Flags with Crew 66 yesterday and I had a nearly 14K step day (and a good chunk of it in wet shoes/socks thanks to a water ride) I decided to give myself a buy and will start week 2 on Tuesday morning instead. 

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Running: Day 1 & 2

Genesis of an Idea

I’ve been going to the gym solidly for a year now, alternating doing the weight machine circuit and 30+ minutes on the elliptical machine. I routinely do about 4 miles on the elliptical and have gone from barely being able to catch my breath to powering through some good interval training.

Last fall, my son took up Cross Country at school and I remembered how much I loved running in the woods as a kid and how fun it would be to do again. And I’ve gotten terribly bored with the elliptical. Aside from discovering new music (via the excellent-for-workouts Songza app) there’s little to do. I’ve tried reading but I bounce too much and audio books aren’t conducive to power sprints.

Then I read an excellent article in The Magazine, titled “Second Wind” by Chris Higgins, which introduced me to the Couch to 5K (C25K) Program. The very same day, The Oatmeal published “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons I Run Long Distance” and something clicked in my brain and I decided that I wanted to give running a try.

I have avoided it for a long time now because I am overweight. I’m much better than I was, but I still have a ways to go. And my knees hurt and make scary crackling noises when I go up stairs. I figured my body was in no shape for any kind of impact exercise. But I noticed that on the C25K program, the author indicated that he weighed the same thing I weigh when he started the program, was a few years older than me, and was a smoker (I’m not) and I figured that I had no real excuses. If my knees couldn’t handle it, I’d stop or at least see my doctor about alternatives rather than not trying at all. Maybe they hurt because I baby them too much.

So, on Friday, I went to Rhode Runner and they watched me walk and jog on their indoor track and picked out a few different running shoes to try on. The first ones I tried on, a pair of Brooks, felt wonderful. Nice and light, good cushioning for the impact, good arch support (I’m a flat foot), and a wide, flat base to compensate for my ankles turning inwards as I walk (so that’s why I always twist my ankles!) I also grabbed some good running socks and some neat water bottles that strap to your hand and planned to start Monday morning. I figured I’d make Jack go with me so he could train for his fall Cross Country season and because, quite honestly, I doubt I could do this without him with me.

 

Monday July 22, 2013: I Begin Running

It took us a long time to get out of the house but we finally made it out. The first day’s plan is a 5 minute brisk walk, then 60 seconds of jogging alternating with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes and then a final 5 minute walk. We live just off the Cranston Bike Path so that was the obvious place to do this. It’s nice and flat and pretty empty early in the morning.

I walk all the time (less than I used to as I have mostly replaced my long walks with the elliptical, but still) so that part was just fine. My new sneakers felt wonderful (I’d spent all weekend breaking them in). Then the jogging part began.

The first two or three 60 second sessions went just fine. And then it began to hurt. I figured it would be my knees first off but they were fine. Where it got me was the backs of my calves. Holy cats they burned! Clearly, I need to do more stretching before I go!

My the seventh of eight jogging interval was hell. I was tired, starting to get out of breath, and my calves were on fire. (My knees and feet felt great, go figure!) and I seriously questioned whether I could handle doing the eighth. But I pushed through and survived it.

The walk home was up hill but that was nothing after what I had accomplished and I felt amazing. Day 1 was a success.

 

Wednesday July 24, 2013: Oh. My. God.

Tuesday was a day of pain. My legs hurt. Especially the backs of my calves and the fronts of my thighs. My knees, amazingly enough, were just fine. I kept hoping that when I woke up Wednesday morning, they’d be fine.

They weren’t. They were better, but they still hurt. Going down to the basement bathroom to weigh in was an exercise in OUCH and my next stop after the scale was the medicine cabinet to down three Ibuprofen.

The initial walk was just fine, no surprises there. When I began the first jogging interval, I started right where I left off: pain, pain, and more pain. This time, it was less my calves and more the very tops of my thighs where they connect to my torso (hips maybe? I’m fuzzy on the anatomy). I have never experienced pain there before and it was a new and nasty experience.

I soldiered on despite the pain and kept on moving. Each interval was worse and by the fifth I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to finish today’s workout.

Then the gnats came and my walks became less about recovery and more about swatting them away. I must have looked like a mad man!

But I pushed on. And my son started looking at me like he was worried I was going to die or something but I pushed on. My iPhone helpfully provided some good motivation with Aerosmith’s Walk this Way and New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle and I did it. I got through the workout. I got home and stretched everything out and drank more water.

Now we’ll have to wait and see how Friday goes… I’m understandably nervous. I have a very hard time believing that I will be capable of running a 5K in just 8 weeks…

Quasimodo for a Day

First Unitarian Universalist Steeple, Providence, RIWe arrived early, much earlier than we normally do. On a typical Sunday, I’ll drop Jack off and then drive a few blocks to find an open spot and get into a pew just as announcements are finishing up. Today we were early as we thought today was the field trip for Jack’s Sunday school class to a local Mosque. But today was the day the permission slips were due. So, we were a half hour early. And it was very lucky for us that we were!

Shortly after 10, a woman came through and asked if anyone wanted to go up and ring the bell. I beat the kids to saying, “Sure!” and after rounding up Jack, two other kids, me and Ann, we headed to the steeple.

The current building was built in 1816 and survived significant fire damage in 1966. Climbing up into the steeple was a trip in a time machine back to the nineteenth century. The higher we climbed, the more I felt I had to squeeze myself into tinier and tinier spaces. And the steps got smaller and steeper as well. But after 98 steps (yes, I counted, why do you ask?) we arrived at the top and had a glorious view of Providence on all sides.

First UU BellThe bell itself was one of the last, and largest, cast by Paul Revere and his son in the early 1800s. It weighs one or two thousand pounds (I forget what she said). When rung, it was a lovely tone but I am getting ahead of myself.

The kids had a blast looking out at the city and Ann and I played tourist taking lots of pictures. When 10:15 rolled around much too fast, we headed back downstairs to ring the bell.

Providence, RIA large rope went up through the ceiling above and to the pulley system attached to the bell. You give the rope a good heave down, as if you are trying to throw it through the floor) and on its way back up, the bell rings. When the rope stops moving up you grab it again (don’t hold on or you will either get rope burns or go for a ride in the air!) and repeat the process. The kids did most of the work, each taking turns to do a few pulls in succession, but I also got a good run of rings as well.

The Afflecks in the Bell TowerAfter five minutes we were done and it was time to complete the trip back down to the meeting house. I don’t know if or when I will get back up there but it was such a wonderful, fun experience. I highly recommend it!

A Leap

A Leap

Since we returned to New England in late 2005 I’ve been working as an IT Project Manager in Big Pharma. Three years at Pfizer, one at Merck, and then one more back at Pfizer again. I’ve learned a great deal and made many great connections and more than a few good friends in the process and I could happily continue on this path were it not for an old friend from college.

My current contract at Pfizer is a quick three month stint up in Cambridge, MA, my old stomping grounds from grad school. I don’t actually mind the commute, I’d recently become an Audible.com addict and I’ve “read” a great many books thanks to the drive. And I also got to see many old friends (and hopefully will see a few more before my last day next Friday). But because the contract is only 3 months, I started looking for my next contract almost immediately. I’ve learned in this line of work that you always keep looking for new work and that you make every effort to have the next gig lined up when the current one ends so you have no unpaid downtime. Last year it didn’t work out that well and I ended up having to leave Merck sooner than I’d wanted to start a high profile project at Pfizer.

Early into this process my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and was floored. It was Joe, a buddy of mine from college I hadn’t spoken to in something like 17 years (no, I am not counting that initial, “Dood! How you been?!” message that is mandatory for all Facebook reconnects). I answered and everything changed.

Long story short, I am joining Joe on a four month sprint to get a new service to market that is web-based as well as iPhone- and Android-based. I jokingly tell friends, “I’m going to write an app with a friend from college and get rich!” But the truth of the matter is that Joe has a killer idea and the months to follow are going to be intense and exciting.

So I am sad to be leaving Pfizer (again) and if this venture fails I may yet return a third time. But, I’m filled with optimism and I feel more alive now than I have in some time: I’m taking a risk with a large potential payoff and even though it is scary, it is also exhilarating and something I have desperately needed for some time now.

I never do New Year’s resolutions but I was inspired to do so this year. Ann and I have been pushing hard the last year or so to improve our lives. She’s started taking classes at RISD, I’ve returned to the theater, our son has crossed over from Cub Scouts to a Boy Scout troop, we’re renovating the house Ann grew up in, and other smaller projects as well. The one major area we had not touched was my career. I felt that I needed to push myself so I resolved to change things up, take some risks, and finally move forward instead of playing it safe as I had been. It only took a few weeks into the new year before the opportunity presented itself!

I don’t know what the future holds but I am excited to be taking an active part in it again for myself and for my family.

What’s really fun is figuring out what tools I need to manage a project working entirely on a Mac. At Pfizer and Merck everything was Windows and Sharepoint and Microsoft Project and Outlook. Those tools are all fine but now it’s MacOS X and Dropbox and OmniPlan and Mail.app and BusyCal. I’m playing with Basecamp, Campfire, and Backpack, I’m investigating Flow, and considering a number of other tools (especially ones that interop well with an iPad and iPhone). We’re experimenting with FaceTime, iChat video chat, Skype video chat, and even Xbox Kinect video chat (though that one is a non-starter for many reasons).

And, of course, my days are spent wrapping up my work at Pfizer and preparing the transition plans because, of course, once we were well down the road to making this a reality, they extended my contract. Between days working for Pfizer and nights planning the new venture and taking my son to Karate classes, Troop meetings and campouts, working crew for the latest Swamp Meadow Community Theatre show (Footloose), and helping back at the Pack as an Assistant Den Leader for the Bears I am pretty busy. But it’s a good busy and am having a great time.

So, that should explain why I’ve been so quiet on this site for a bit. And why I almost certainly will continue being quiet for the next while.

 

Playing “Small World”

House decorated for Halloween

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Bobbing for Apples

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Karate Boy Playing the Violin

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Now, that’s a cupcake. (Cranston Whole Foods)

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Jack and Phil Crabbing in Narragansett.

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