Friday, March 26, 2010

2 POOF! Tonight's Article Has Disappeared....


I was really looking forward to posting tonight, but apparently Blogger had other plans in store for me. ;)

Imagine spending 2 1/2 hours writing an article & being very pleased with the end product, only to have it snatched away from you at the last minute. Now before you rail at me for not saving my work or not backing up my hard drive's files to another location, please understand that I was working online and Blogger autosaves every few seconds.

I'd finished the article was just about to click the "Publish" button when I got an error for "conflicting edits." However, I only had ONE window open and there was only ONE open copy of the draft post I was working on. The strange thing is that Blogger had auto-saved the final edits before I was going to post, & then all of a sudden the error appeared & then, "POOF!", the file was GONE. I quickly hit the back button from the error page, hoping that I could recapture some of the content. Believe it or not, this sometimes works, depending on one's blogging platform and other web-related constructs. When I saw an empty page come up, I quickly clicked on the "Edit" view because I knew I'd have to be really fast in order to prevent the document from auto-saving in its blank form.  I hoped (against all logical possibility signaling otherwise!) that the error meant that there was somehow a secondary copy with the content still intact, or at least a previous version of the content. Sometimes this happens when there's an issue with "conflicting edits." However, there was no such luck.  Not only was there no second copy but ALL of the article's pre-existing content had been wiped clean.

Having worked in IT for many years, I know all the usual tricks to retrieve data, and am well-acquainted with how data is handled by webservers and also by Blogger, in specific. However, there was nothing I could do.

I swear this has NEVER happened to me in Blogger before tonight.

My heart felt like it had been dropped into my stomach.  I stood there for a few minutes, completely stunned. It honestly felt like something had been stolen from me & then smashed to bits.

Don't know if any of you have had the above experience happen to you before, but it's certainly nerve-wracking and unsettling. Imagine pouring all your best efforts into your writing, spending a good deal of time carefully crafting your words, & then "POOF!" your article is gone, & there's nothing at all to show for it.

Anyhow, the title of this deleted article was "The Link Between Personal Growth, Character, & Sportsmanship."  It addressed the specific ways in which these qualities are connected to each other, and gave specific examples of how participating in athletics can positively shape our perspectives, and give us profound insights.  I talked about team sports and individual sports, and what each can teach us in terms of character development.  The article also discussed personal growth and change, and effective ways in which health and sports professionals (coaches, etc.) can have a lasting and positive impact on others.  I wrote passionately about the topic, and gave specific suggestions for how we can all support individuals in our lives who are trying to transform themselves and improve their fitness, nutrition, and health.

I'd love to share this information with you, but as it's now very late, I'm not going to attempt to recreate that article right now. Maybe in future. Right now, it's time for bed.

Have a good night!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1 Yet More Changes In Store.....


As many of you may've noticed, I've gone back to writing posts of a personal nature again. And by the word "personal," I don't mean "revealing everything" or "TMI," but rather, as in "a personal account" (of my experiences & life observations, etc.).

Hopefully, most of you will be pleased with this new direction, as some of you have expressed that you prefer the more intimate style of personal posts to the more cut-&-dried delivery method of solely factual, information-dispensing posts. In all honesty, I actually like to combine a bit of both styles, because, while each provides a different sort of reading experience, both are equally valid & insightful modes of expression.

So yes, I've decided to temporarily shift the current direction of this blog -- that is, a primarily article-based blog sharing facts & tips about fitness & nutrition -- back to its original conception & raison d'ĂȘtre -- a journal of observations, documenting my journey back to fitness -- since that's exactly what I'm doing at the moment. :) Of course, while I'm starting over again in terms of my fitness level & corresponding training program(s), I'm happy to say that I'm thankfully not starting from the exact same spot, in terms of my nutrition or weight management. :)

So, that's the plan, at least until I get back into the full swing of running again, & work my way back to my previous physical state of being. :) Once I return to marathon-training, I will continue to document the journey as time allows (marathon training is very time-intensive!), & then once the goal has been attained -- the completion of my first marathon -- I will then re-evaluate this blog, & see what I want to do with it.  Most likely, I will go back to article-writing at some point, but either way, I don't want to make any promises or set anything in stone, as this blog is basically a representation of me & my thoughts -- a living, breathing, work-in-progress that needs the freedom to be whatever it was meant to be. :)

I'm changing the focus of this blog for several different reasons, none of which I really feel like going into at the moment, or otherwise, this post would be really, really long. ;) I'll just say this: This time around, the documentation of my thoughts & observations on this blog are not so much being done for motivational reasons, but rather for the more finite & focused purpose of tracking & monitoring overall trends that aren't necessarily linked to a particular race or run, to make sure I'm moving in the right direction with my training program & overall training-related behaviors.

In other words, the bulk of my training observations now will go here, instead of DailyMile. :) While I like using DailyMile for logging runs & interacting with & motivating others, I don't necessarily want to turn the entries there into full-blown blog posts. I used to do that in the past, & while it felt good to describe the experience of a run in detail, it also, frankly, became rather involved & time-consuming. And right now, I need to be especially mindful of where I direct my time & focus, as I've got a book to write!

Some of you might already know that I'm currently in the process of writing a book, healthy gourmet cookbook, to be more precise. (Of course, I'm writing it especially with runners & other health-minded individuals in mind.) And then, after that, I intend to write a completely different book, i.e., a novel. As some of you might know from direct personal experience, this takes an awful lot of time, & so, in the interest of practicality, I've decided to curb certain writing activities in an attempt to get others done. :)

That doesn't mean I won't post much anymore, but rather that when I do, the posts will probably be shorter & more focused than they have been in the past. As for the regularity of posting, I cannot comment on that, since I have no idea what my book-writing schedule is going to look like three months or three years from now.

While I'm fairly disciplined in my writing, I'm not the kind of book-writer that can robotically turn out a page a day. I prefer to work organically. I sit down every day to write: Sometimes I write a page or two, & sometimes I write pages and pages. I'm not going to force the writing process in a way that threatens to cut off the source of creativity. :) All I can say is that I sit down every day to write & put in the effort; what comes out or how much comes out is not always something that can be fully controlled or directed by me. This might seem like an odd assertion to some, but those people who are creative souls will understand exactly what I'm talking about. Creativity is a mysterious force, & while I acknowledge that there are some aspects of the writing process that are fully within my control, I also realize that there are other parts of the process that are best left to percolate on their own schedule. :)

It's also the type of writing I'm doing: It's not like I'm writing a white paper, journalistic-style article, or technical manual. These types of writing (i.e., writing done with a fact-finding focus) have a different overall process than what is generally referred to as "creative writing," or at least that's the way it tends to work for me. Please note, I'm not making any sort of value judgments or saying that one process is easier than the other, because neither statement would be true.

Speaking of which, I need to take a break from article-writing anyhow, as I was frankly getting a bit burnt out on it.

On that note, I must say that I'm really glad that I never went to journalism school, because I always knew from the start that I wasn't cut out for it. While I do enjoy interviewing people, reporting on my findings, & writing journalistic-style articles from time to time, it's not in my nature to gravitate towards this style or method of writing.

Likewise, you'll note that most of the articles I do write here (& elsewhere -- i.e., in the form of magazine publications, etc.) usually take the form of either advice or personal observations. Even the race reports I write aren't strictly just a "report" in the traditional sense of the word. I would go batty if someone told me that this is all I was allowed to do from now on. :)

I don't like feeling hemmed in by these kinds of restrictions. If given the choice, I'd honestly prefer to write short stories, novels, poetry, or essays. I'm essentially a creative soul, who enjoys bringing new ideas into being, versus focusing upon existing ones. :) (That should also explain my love of emerging technology, new music, pioneering scientific research, & basically anything involving the discovery of new frontiers.)

In a way, this blog is going to follow the same path. I will share practical knowledge of the new discoveries I make as I train, & while some of these findings might not to new to others who have been there before, they will be new to me & to others who are either currently going through the process or have yet to go through it. In this way, I hope to create solidarity with fellow runners who are also in the process of striving to reach similar goals.

So, while this blog will continue to be written from a personal perspective, I will just be easing up on the research-intensive writing for now, as I don't really have the time for it at the moment. Speaking of which, I need to get back to the cookbook writing. Later!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

4 Time To Make The Most of A Sunny Day......


Please excuse the last post.  I am well aware that it was not very interesting to read, but still wanted to store the data for archival purposes. In future, I'll try to find a better storage solution.  I guess that info could go under the tabbed areas at the top of this blog, but since it's old & no longer applies, I didn't really want to store it there, as it doesn't need to be viewed with any regularity, just stored for posterity. Don't know about you, but I sometimes like to look at old goals. It's not just an exercise in reflection, but also can be useful (as a reference point) in the planning & creation of new ones.

It'd be great if the Blogger platform would allow users to create another landing page that wasn't part of the posts or pages categories, which'd make the perfect place to store archival information.  Of course, since the Blogger platform has an essentially "flat" file structure, & that makes a construct like this much more difficult to bring into being, I'm not gonna hold my breath.  Just one more reason why it's important for technical people to consider the beauties of a UNIX-like file structure. :)

I realize I've probably lost half of my audience talking about UNIX. ;) Or maybe not.  There are a lot of geeks who run, and yes, I'm certainly one of them. :-D

There was supposed to be a point to this post. Now what was it again? ;) Oh yes, I was going to talk about the first step I'm taking today. Today is officially the start of me getting back into shape, after a long hiatus of battling with illness & injury. :) Just thought I'd officially announce it, since it's kind of a big deal. To me, anyhow.

OK, time to get out there & enjoy the sunshine. Later!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

2 Goal Revision (2009-2010)


For posterity's sake, I'm archiving a snapshot of the previous list of goals & PRs (from 2009) here:
--FIRST marathon training program, 3x/wk.
--Strength: HPC + 300 crunches, 3x/wk.
--Drink 8 8-oz. glasses water/day.
--Eat 3 meals & 3 snacks (Eat 6x/day).
--Take multivitamins & Osteo Bi-Flex daily. 
SHORT-TERM GOALS (1/01/09-11/15/09):
--Train & run races (on calendar).
--Lose 5% BF by 4/5/09.
LONG-TERM GOALS (10/02/08-3/31/10):
--Reduce BF% to 14-18% by 11/22/
09. --Run 5K in 27:54 & 10K in 55:00 (9 min/mi).
And now for 2010's training goals (which have also been updated on the "GOALS" tab of this blog):
--C25K program, 3x/wk.
--Drink 4 (16.9 fl. oz.) bottles of water/day.
--Eat 3 meals & 3 snacks (Eat 6x/day).
--Take multivitamins & Osteo Bi-Flex daily.
SHORT-TERM GOALS (3/20/10-12/31/10):
--Complete C25K program by 6/5/10.
--Run 5K after completion of C25K program.
--Run BOHR program next, followed by modified SDP, & then FIRST.
--Add strength regimenHPC + 300 crunches, 3x/wk.
--Lose 5% BF by 8/5/10.
LONG-TERM GOALS (2010-2011):
--Reduce BF% to 14-18% by 12/31/11.
--Complete marathon training & race full marathon distance by December 2011.
--Break a 7:30 min/mi. (1997 PR).
--Run a 5K in 27:54 & 10K in 55:00 (9 min/mi).

0 Celebrating Where We Are + Reckoning With The Past In Order To Move Forward


I recently saw a quote that went something like this, "I want to continue to celebrate where I am and not be apologetic."

There's something about that statement that really resonates & hits upon a deeper truth, both as it applies to running & life in general. When we continually focusing on what's ahead of us -- the next road race, the next training plan, etc. --  we can become caught up in our plans for the future, and forget to celebrate where we are.  I'm not just talking about the importance of celebrating our recent accomplishments & milestones, but also the value of acknowledging our current state. Sure, we might not be where we ultimately want to be, but the way I see it, we are all "works in progress" (hopefully throughout the entire course of our lives!), so why not stop to sniff the roses along the way & celebrate what we are & how far we've come?!

Please note that I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for change, but rather that it's important to acknowledge & celebrate who & how we are in the moment. Instead of beating ourselves up for what we are not or haven't yet achieved, let's focus on what we are, have accomplished, & are striving to become in all our imperfect glory.


I'm reminded of these lessons as I reflect upon the accomplishments of the previous year and the place where I am now. There's a great divide between those points, as I'm back to square one now. Most of the time I took off from running in the past several months was not of my own choosing, but all the same, I'm happy for the time to reflect.

While I felt like my achievements & the many races I did last year were a badge of accomplishment, there were also times when I admittedly became wrapped up in "the chase," looking for the next rush of satisfaction from running & racing that I hoped to find just around the bend. As I got more & more serious about my training, something in me began to change on a fundamental level. And while many of these changes were improvements, others might've looked like improvements on the surface but ended up working towards my detriment in long-run. The scales began to tip, & the balance I'd worked so hard to maintain suddenly began to elude me.  However, it happened in a non-obvious way. Here I was, trying to maintain a healthy life -- focusing on eating healthy & nutritious foods, carefully spacing my fueling & hydration around my runs, & gradually building my level of fitness in a moderate fashion, etc. -- but what I didn't factor in nearly enough was how my laser-focus on health & fitness was affecting the rest of my life, i.e., the part that didn't involve running & sports nutrition. :)

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when this change began, but I know it began sometime in early 2009. In all honesty, it probably began sometime after I signed up for my running club's speed clinic. While the program was for great for improving my running, I became so hardcore about my training that I began to lose perspective on the larger picture. Running, running, running. It was all I thought about. Constantly. The other things & interests in my life began to take a backseat. I built my social activity with family & friends around running & racing events -- no joke, even vacations & trips home were focused around running & racing, & most of the people I hung out with were runners. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with leading a running-focused life. However, what I am saying is that I didn't set enough limits on where those boundary lines were.

And so, not surprisingly, looking back on 2009, I'm not sure I relished the moments & the achievements enough.

There were times when it felt like I was racing every weekend or every other weekend. While this wasn't always the case, it often felt like it. What I mean is that it just got to be too much. For some people the number of races I ran last year might be fine for them, but for me, it was going overboard for where I was in my training. Part of it was that the racing was built into my speed clinic schedule & I felt compelled to run these races as part of my training. However, in all honesty, only some of the races were actually "required races." The rest I pushed myself to do because I just found it hard to turn down the challenges, especially the racing tournaments & running club team races. Of course, a good part of it was that I loved the feeling of camaraderie & social connection that came from those experiences.

And then there were the times when I added in even more road races as "training runs." Or so, I told myself. :) In these cases, I think I just felt the need to know whether or not I would be up for the challenge on any given day.  It was a constant battery of tests and as a conscientious "student" of running, I wanted to pass them all with flying colors. :)

After a while, somewhere along the line, I stopped enjoying racing. Maybe even "dreaded it" towards the end. August 2009 was officially the last month I raced in 2009. It wasn't really all that surprising, all things considered.

Sure, I ran after that -- I was still in marathon training mode -- but things began to head off course after that. I had one bad experience that ended up being the beginning of the end for me, at least for the remainder of 2009. And that was back on September 23, 2009.

If you haven't already heard me tell the tale, here's what happened: I was running to catch up with a few of my running buddies as it was getting dark, & feared that I would be left behind on the trails in the forest -- and so I ran a bit too fast. I didn't feel comfortable at all with my pace, & furthermore wasn't at the same point in my marathon-training as they were -- I was only 4 months in, & they'd already been training for 6 months or more.

It wasn't like me to run a half-minute faster per mile (than my normal training pace) for 9 miles. That was just sheer stupidity, even if was done out of necessity, in order to not be left alone in the dark. Of course, after we were half-way in on an out-&-back, it was already too late & they weren't going to slow down. I fell behind in the last two miles, & it was getting pretty dark. There's nothing worse than being in a dark forest alone. Talk about creepy.  Even with a headlamp, it's still creepy.

Anyhow, I was really mad at myself for doing this, as I ended up having knee/leg problems & other issues (upper-back/shoulder/arm pain, etc.) as a result. When it comes to my pace, I'm usually really good at knowing where I should be, & what I should be doing. It's just not my style to court folly like this. I know how to train safely & effectively. All through my run & for several days afterwards, I was having difficulty processing & accepting what had happened. I kept telling myself, "What the heck was I thinking?! Hey, I'm smarter than that!"  It was like an unsettling recording playing it over & over in mind.

After that, my running trailed off considerably -- by that point I was alternating running & walking intervals in an attempt to stay active/fit -- & was worried that I'd done some really serious damage -- I couldn't run without feeling pain & the prognosis didn't look good. Sure enough, injury had set in, & then shortly thereafter, extended bouts of illness. Of course, I took a few recovery breaks, but by that point had taken off too much time from my marathon-training & already knew that it was going to be way too late to even consider running the Philly Marathon.

Philly came & went, as I heard my friends talk excitedly about their plans. I was happy for them but it was also a painful reminder to me of a race I'd signed up for but had missed due to various obstacles -- admittedly, almost all of them being of my own making, with the exception of one particular, purposely-unspecified "roadblock" that's still presenting challenges to me as I write this.

I'm not going to lie or paint a rosy-colored picture; the above situation was a disappointment, as I'd been looking forward to accomplishing the milestone I'd been working towards for several months. I'd unwaveringly set my sights on that goal since I'd first restarted my running regimen (back in 2007), & had been running fairly consistently from July 2007 to the end of September 2009. So, with that kind of laser focus, it wasn't so easy to give up on that prospect. I still haven't given up on that dream; I've just extended the timeline for making it become a reality.  That means restarting the quest from where I currently am (i.e., zero fitness!), & establishing new (but often familiar-sounding!) short-term goals, along with a new set-point & frame of reference.

I've since come to terms with the aforementioned setbacks of the last several months -- months of illness & zero running & lots of things beyond my control -- & while they don't keep me from my present or future plans, they are important to acknowledge for what they are & of course, present valuable lessons that can be applied to present & future situations. And I'm not just talking about training scenarios. I'm talking about the larger realities of life & the unexpected curve balls it can throw at you, even if you think you're going to be ready for them.

Anyhow, flash forward to the present. I'm OK with where I am, & am not looking for external validation. I can see what happened, & it's only going to make me the better for it in future training sessions.

So here I go, celebrating where I am. Right here, right now. It might seem like I am nowhere at present, but even so, I will celebrate it, because it signifies both the hard-won knowledge acquired in those several months of quiet reflection & also the start of me taking that first step back towards a running life. And that is something I'm truly excited about. I just cannot wait to feel how I felt when I was running several months ago. When I was running, the rest of my life & the way I moved through it almost seemed... effortless. The running wasn't effortless :) , but everything just seemed to flow with ease. Run, & the whole world seems to run with you. :)

So, in a strange way, I'm grateful for this ebb in my (running) life, because it has allowed for the flow. Just like writing, sometimes you need to give the silent empty spaces a place to exist, so that the motion & renewed spark (of creative energy) can be let back in again.

So, in that way, the downtime has actually been quite productive.

I know that starting all over again is not really going to be so bad. I've done it before & know how to do it. The good thing about it is that as I go through the motions once again, I know that, along the way, I'll be reminded of some really good recent running memories & accomplishments. :)

And furthermore, I know that this time around, I'll make a point of savoring the moments & the milestones, & not get caught up in the "rat road race" :) & the crazy noise of the world at large. I will instead go back to the formula that's consistently worked for me in the past -- following my own path & listening to my instincts. And of course, I fully intend to cut back on my racing schedule so that there's room for other activities. As many of you surely know, the tricky thing about marathon training is that it takes up so much time that achieving balance with other aspects of one's life can be very challenging indeed. Well, since the marathon training probably won't start until much later in the year, that should allow for plenty of time for other activities until then. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2 Thanks, Jake, For Including This Blog in Your "Best Running Blogs 2010" List!


Jake Rosen (@JakeRosen) recently listed this blog, along with several others, as one of the "Best Running Blogs 2010." Wow, that is such a cool honor! Thanks so much, Jake!

Coincidentally, several of the honored blogs happen to be written by longtime blogger-buddies of mine -- i.e., Steve Speirs' Run Bulldog Run (@britishbulldog), Tim Wilson's 26.2 Quest, (@virtual4now), Kara's Between the Miles (@runnerkara), Stuart's Quadrathon (@quadrathon), & Jim's Kiltrunner (@kiltrunner) -- and also some newer social media pals as well -- i.e., Jill's JillWillRun (@jillwillrun) & Denise's Run DMT (@denisermt) -- to name but a few.

I'd like to congratulate all of the honorees & again thank Jake for taking the time to mention all of us in his latest post. Also, I'm looking forward to checking out the other blogs on his list, as well as further exploring Jake's blog. It's always great to discover interesting, new blogs via people's personal recommendations! So thanks for that as well. :-D

Monday, March 15, 2010

0 A Firecracker Of An Article....


You might be interested to read an article I wrote called "My Definition of Healthy Food," which appeared on my recipe blog two days ago.  It's obviously about nutrition, but it's also about the need for change in the food industry. As we runners tend to be healthy eaters, I figured there'd probably be a few readers of this blog who'd be interested in reading the article.

Due to the number of passionate responses this article has received (mostly in other electronic & social media formats), I've decided to run a follow-up article, which will hopefully be posted there later today.

As many of you know, I write about nutrition there as well.  The running blog tends to focus on sports nutrition in specific as well as general nutrition & wellness issues, whereas the recipe blog tends to focus on general nutrition.

Anyhow, I just wanted to give you a heads-up regarding this article, in case you weren't already following my recipe/nutrition blog.  That blog has a lot of healthy recipes that are made with runners & other athletes in mind. :-D

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