Monday, January 26, 2009

Robbie Burns Night and a Year of Memories

January 25, 2009 was the 250th Anniversary of Robbie Burns, Poet, Romantic, Bard and Soul of Scotland.

Jim Byrnes is signing a collection of Robbie Burns' poetry in the above photo, and I will forever be grateful to Jim for narrating the poetry that we used in my Father's Memorial service.

At this time last year, I had just returned from the Bahamas and my Father was in the hospital. The first anniversary of his death will be here shortly and seeing Jim brought many memories flooding back.

My Father never wanted a "Funeral", a "Wake", anything called a "Memorial Service", or anything even remotely resembling a "Celebration of Life".  What Errol C. Hemingson really wanted was a party, make that a great party, with as many of his friends in attendance as possible, and he wanted a party with a nautical theme, and he wanted good wine and good seafood.  One of his instructions to me was very clear.  He wanted as many pictures of his boat displayed as possible.

In the interests of time and space - and perhaps good taste - I chose to display a large portrait photo of my Dad and what I thought was one of the nicest photos I had taken of the Dream Chaser on what was my Father's last voyage on his beloved ship.

After much consideration, and after putting together the Memorial to my Father, of pictures and music and poetry, I thought I should honor his wishes.  If the Memorial was about my Father and his life and his family, the Dream Chaser is about one man's love affair with a ship.

My Father was only aboard the Dream Chaser for the briefest of time, a few short months.  His trip around the world lasted less than a week.  But he fulfilled a lifelong dream.

And there are pictures of the Dream Chaser from every angle that my Father loved.

For those who requested it, here are the the Links to the Memorial we showed at his "Nautically Themed Party".

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What A Week It Was

After a fabulous run last Sunday I was all geared up for  week of great training.

I'd also finished off some projects and was in the process of re-organizing my home space, just to make living and working a little easier and much, much, much more - well, I say this with a heart filled with childish hope, more efficient.

On Tuesday I packed up a bunch of books and CDs - all on mu iMac now - and carted them off to storage.  I dragged a huge air compressor OUT of storage to sell it.  Think well over a hundred pounds.

I have a weakness for collecting things from my travels.  I have this beautiful old carved stone Buddha from China.  It weighs AT LEAST two hundred and fifty pounds.  I moved it a couple of times, ever mindful of my hardwood floors.

All this moving and shifting took place over the morning and afternoon.  I moved the stone Buddha one last time at about three in the afternoon.

I am not unaware that of Buddha's Four Noble Truths, the first Noble Truth is that all life is suffering.

I knew I had done some thing.  I had the good sense to moan and lie down.  I passed on running the tempo run on Tuesday because I thought I might be pushing my luck and my physical limits.

The next day I was very sore and had trouble sitting.  But no referral pain down my legs or any sign of muscle weakness that might have indicated that I had messed up an old back surgery.  I called around to a few doctors and therapists who thought they might be able to see me in a week to ten days.  Might be...

On Wednesday I could hardly move.  Straight for the pain killers, muscle relaxants, and analgesics.  But the current treatment protocol is movement as the key to rehabilitation, so I moved fresh blood and oxygen and nutrients through stupidly strained muscles.

Thursday and Friday I could walk with a cane.  Slowly.  Lots of walking.  Gorging on green vegetables and fruit.

Walked five K very slowly Saturday morning.  Had to leave class after sitting for five hours.  Simply too much.

Rested and stretched all saturday night.

Sunday morning I ran 18K.

Felt great.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What Are My Goals?

So the last comment said it all.  Enough about the weather!  Enough sniveling and complaining! (okay, that last part was me) How are you training? What are you training?  How are you working out?  What are your goals? 

All good questions.  I am the Pace Group Leader for the 4:30 group in my sixteenth consecutive marathon clinic.  I like this particular time group because it is filled with first-time, would be marathoners who have no bad habits.  In fact, they know nothing.  That is a beautiful thing.  They are empty vessels to be filled with the proper knowledge. They all know that I on the other hand, have run enough marathons to have made ALL the mistakes, so that when I make suggestions to them, they actually listen.  I am also fat and out of shape and a 4:30 Sunday pace is a sensible way for me to get back into decent condition without injuring myself.

I am running six days a week.  Notice I said running and not training six days a week. I can only really train 4 or 5 days a week without risking injury.  But I can easily do some easy miles whose soul purpose is to burn fat just about every day of the week. Because it is important to practice what I preach - and God knows, I do have a propensity to preach - Mondays are once again my rest day.  No running, no gym.

Last Sunday we did 14.4 K.  Tuesday I went out hard for the first time in months.  I thought I was going to die.  Shame and embarrassment are sufficient to keep me from revealing my time.  And I only did 6K because I thought an 8K tempo run might result in my death.

We did just under 16 K yesterday on Sunday.  Perfect weather, nice and slow.

I am working out in the Gym, 5 or 6 six days, for sixty to ninety minutes.  Very light weights, high repetitions, a maximum of three sets.   Bizarrely, I still think I have actually put some muscle back on.  The gym workouts are just to tone and tighten my carcass and to engage more of my muscles enough to fat burn.  I am alternating chest, back and abdominal work-outs.    My legs get enough, thank you very much.

Diet-wise, I am trying to eat far more fruits and vegetables.  I am trying to cut back on portion size.   I am trying to drink less alcohol.  More or less....

My primary goal is to be healthy.  My secondary goal is to continue to have a great looking ass in lycra-spandex.  It is after all what they make running tights out of, and I feel both a moral and aesthetic obligation to keep the world as beautiful a place as possible.  I'm just trying to do my bit.

My third goal is to get back into marathon shape.  And my ultimate goal is get back to a place where I have another shot at a Boston qualifying time.

There you have it in black & white.  In a couple of days there will be more hideous photos of my half-naked self...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Snow, Snow Go Away....

The great post-snow flood...

Glacial lake after glacial lake....

Snowload...  hard on trees, roofs and car-ports!

It's been a week devoted to indoor activity, although we've had enough rain and wind and sunshine to largely clear most major roads and sidewalks for this coming weekend.  Looking forward to more rain!

Is that hysterical laughing I hear across the rest of the Northern Hemisphere?  Hey, we live in Vancouver for a reason!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Great Meltdown

Another great article from the Health Section of the New York Times.

It's being raining for the past eight hours and Vancouver is a curious mixture of ice and snow, with growing little glacial lakes and pools of six inch deep water at every street corner.  The water has no where to go, as the streets are still lined with pushed up mounds of ice and snow.  This is information I found out the hard way - by having icy cold rigid water fill my boots as I walked for my morning coffee and stepped off the curb into what I must say was a rather innocent looking puddle at first glance,  and then had to spend the next half hour sloshing about until I could go home and change my socks and my footwear.  Brrrgh!!! Lovely!

The Spring Marathon Clinic starts this evening but I think I will be better served by an hour on the treadmill.

I may show my ugly mug in a show of support and to see just how many die hards and New Year Resolution-ers there are out there! 

Monday, January 05, 2009

The New Year

Side View - 216.5

Front View - 216.5

The numbers at the weigh-in, 216.5.

Running Conditions in Vancouver on January 4, 2009.

Much of Vancouver seems to be in danger of getting cabin-fever.  And I totally understand how they feel.  My dogs REALLY know how they feel.

It's tough to get around, and many people don't even own proper snow shoes, let alone snow tires.

Bit aside from the endless shrieking of tires spinning fruitlessly on ice, it is beautiful to behold.  But here on the West - also know as Wet - Coast, we prefer a myriad shades of emerald and green to the monotony that comes with a palette of white.  Lord knows that both sets of Winter conditions bring their share of gray clouds and bleak skies.

But I am oddly optimistic these days.  I think in good part to getting outside and to moving around.

And I weighed myself in after my Boxing Day shock to see myself at 227 pounds, and subsequent vow to try to right my sinking, er, bloating ship.

This morning, nine days later, and after much slipping and sliding, both real and metaphorical, I weighed in at 216.5.

Losing 10.5 pounds in nine days always sounds a little better than the actual reality of the feat.  Weight loss is always easiest in the early stages.  But I do feel better.  And someone actually asked me yesterday if I'd lost weight.  Although, that has happened even after I've just gained 10 pounds.  So, it made me feel great, but also made me suspect that I may have evolved into one of those people who, instead of saying hello when you greet them, you ask, have you lost some weight?, knowing full well that it will cheer them up enough to have a drink with you.

Which I am still doing, but at least still in moderation.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Treadmill is My Friend

Back in the day, mid-September, 2005 - 181 pounds

End of September, 2005 - 177 pounds.  The lightest I'd been since I was 18.

I slipped on the ice yesterday and rang my bell.  Going down a steep hill, my feet shot out from underneath me and I felt myself flying through space and and purely by instinct I thrust out my arms to break the fall.  But I think my poor left wrist took one for the team and absorbed the brunt of the force.   My right wrist was already bothering me, and now I have a match with my left wrist.  They both hurt equally this morning!

Still, my melon bounced off the ice and snow, I saw the proverbial stars and within a few minutes I had a doozy of a headache.  I have a sore spot on the back of my skull but no contusion.  Still, you have to wonder whether it's appropriate with such terrible road condition to be wearing a helmet of some kind!   The force of the fall was also enough to aggravate an old whiplash injury.  

I bought myself a Gym Membership as my Christmas Present to myself, and much as I hate to say it, right now I prefer running on a treadmill.  Part of the reason I love running, aside from the camaraderie of fellow runners, is the ability to get lost in thought along the trail.  I love the introspection of the road and the meditation of the deep breath.  On an icy path, all I can think of is, don't fall!

And I dragged out a couple of pictures of myself in Boston form...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Fat and Happy

I am never going to be described as "lean" or "svelte" or even remotely built like your average and/or  typical endurance athlete.  

I am perfectly happy with that.  I'm even kind of, sort of, fat and happy.

From a big picture point of view - lifestyle-wise - I'd like to healthy as I can be while being as happy as I can be living the lifestyle.

From a personality stand-point this can be a challenge for me, because I rarely do anything in moderation.  I have large appetites and I like to be sated.  Therein lays the path to overindulgence.

The flip side of this is that I like to set the bar for myself fairly high when it comes to goal setting.  I like an objective I have to stretch to reach and I don't mind the risk of falling off the ladder in the attempt.  As long as no one gets maimed or killed I always say, especially me.

In my previous Post I was referring to Oprah, and while the thrust of the article was about struggling with keeping resolutions and maintaining weight-loss, an equally important part of the article - maybe the most important part - was Oprah's desire to find a healthy weight she could maintain and for her reach a new level of acceptance about her physical appearance.

Liking yourself and accepting who you are are goals every bit as important as being fit and healthy.

I accept that...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Oprah and Me

Over the years, I found Oprah Winfrey popping up in my life in the strangest ways.

I've never been a big fan of her show, but was contacted on a couple of occasions by one of her producers about information regarding the place of tattoos within popular culture and on another occasion about the influence of celebrity tattoos on regular folks like me and you getting body art.

Not watching the show, I have no real idea how that information was used.  

When I ran my first marathon, my goal was to break four hours because I'd read some where that Oprah had run a "four hour" marathon, and if Oprah Winfrey could run a "four hour" marathon, surely I could!

I was actually rather gutted when I ran my first marathon in 4:06 and change.  How was it possible? Oprah Winfrey had kicked my ass!

Later when a friend told me that Oprah had run a 4:32 I felt a little better and over time, developed an ever greater respect for her effort.  She ran a great race.

And like any other human on the face of the planet it was impossible for me not to notice her rather omnipresent-like personality in the zeitgeist.  Oprah is everywhere. Seriously, everywhere!

And as such, like a billion other people (or more), I had no choice but to learn of Oprah's many successes and her enduring - which makes her all that more endearing - struggles with her weight.

Even with a billion dollars and no shortage of personal chefs and personal trainers, and every conceivable and imaginable way at her fingertips to control her weight, at the end of the day, Oprah is no different than the rest of us.

One can only the image the amount of stress that she deals with on a regular basis, and despite her entourage and retinue of advisors, counselors, et al, in the end, she bears the brunt of being at the head of a corporate entity that employs thousands and one that effects million of people.  Like us, Oprah must have good days and bad days.  

And like us, I imagine that when Oprah has a bad day, she finds a little solace and a little comfort in the places where she has always found it - food.

So, as 2009 unfolds, I wish Oprah all the best of luck and much success in all of her goals, ambitions and resolutions.  Especially if they include fitting into a smaller dress size for President-elect, Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration Ball and feeling just a little better about herself, but most of all for a healthier lifestyle.

We need someone like Oprah, who encourages people to read books and be positive agents for change, like never before.

You go, girl!