Fuji Nevada 3.0 
Well, I finally bought my new bike. I opted for the Fuji Nevada 3.0. I rode a few bikes and had narrowed my choices down to two: the Giant Rincon or the Fuji Nevada. Fuji is not as known for mountain bikes as Giant or Trek or Cannondale but I liked it a little more than the Giant when comparing how they felt when I rode them. I ordered the bike last Tuesday and picked it up on Friday. Friday was a rainy day and I didn't think I'd get a ride in but the rain broke by mid-afternoon so I was able to get it out for about six miles. I would have ridden it before I took it home but the rain prevented me from doing so. If so, I would have had the guy tighten up the front brakes. They are a little loose for my liking. I tried to tighten them myself but I ended up with a rub when I did. The bike has disc brakes and about six places you can stick an allan wrench into so I finally got the rub gone but I am back to square one. I will take it back soon to have that adjusted. My guess is that he left them loose on purpose. I haven't hit it enough to give a thorough evaluation yet but today is looking good - 60F and no wind like yesterday.

update (11pm 04/05) - I did 17 miles on the bike today. Mostly paved bike path but some gravel and some dirt and mud too. In gears 3-7 and 3-8 the chain rubs a little in the front. Getting into 3rd requires holding the shift lever a little longer but it's not anything major. Other than that, everything went fine. I didn't bottom out the fork but it looks like I maxed out around 1.25 inches or so judging by where the dust ring begins. I like it. My legs are sore. When I do a 30 or 40 miler this summer remind me not to do a 5K the day before.

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35:16.50 
That's what I ran the 5K in this morning. That's slightly better than a 12 minute mile and good for about a 5.2 mph average. I hit the first mile at 11:46. The race wasn't too hard but the weather was brutal - low 40's but WINDY; felt more like February than April. But, I did it.

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Ready for the 5K 
I am ready for my first official 5K this coming Saturday. I have run about four unofficial 5K's over the past month - two on the treadmill and at least two 3+ mile routes through the neighborhood. My plan this week is: did the gym yesterday (2.5 on the treadmill and some lifting), bike today (about 7 mi), rest Wed., gym Thursday (light - 1.5-2, then lift), rest Friday with a dinner of enriched pasta. Saturday, I plan on a banana and maybe a fiber bar for breakfast around 7:30-8 and the race is slated for around 9.

Weather looks favorable - low of 40 Friday night so that means probably high 40's to 50 or so at race time, no rain in the forecast either.

So, I am definitely ready. My goal is to complete it in under 37:00.

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New Bike - Soon 
I look to upgrade from my $125 Sears bike that I bought in 1996. It has served me well and I will keep it as a backup. I test-rode a Trek 3900 the other day and it was nice and I may buy one. Other models I am considering are the Cannondale F9, Gary Fisher Tarpon, and Giant Boulder (an odd-sounding name for a bike). I am also scouting for used bikes on Craigslist and Ebay but will likely buy something new. Some general research has unveiled that Trek and Gary Fisher (Trek owns Gary Fisher) bikes are likely made in China by Giant, a Taiwanese company, and Giant makes most of their bikes in Taiwan and China. So, I may end up just going with Giant. I would like to ride one or two before I commit but I haven't ruled out Gary Fisher or Trek entirely. I also want to test-ride the F9 too, a lower-priced Cannondale which means it's contracted out and probably made in the same plant as the Treks and Fishers. I will likely have my new bike in a few weeks, just in time for this early-spring-but-still-frigid weather to break. I look forward to prime biking season and can't wait to get my new toy and go out and play.

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First 5K 
I registered today for my first ever 5K. The race will be on the first Saturday of April.

I need to keep on with my current training schedule - running (weather permitting) or the treadmill at the gym; four days a week. All things considered, I find straight running much easier than a treadmill. Maybe it's the intimidation of the digital screen showing every tick of 1/100 of a mile or maybe it's just that's stationary and boring. Of course, I've been lifting at the gym and I will hit the bike when it's warm enough too.

Nonetheless, I will be ready.

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Taste of Spring 
Being a balmy 55F yesterday, I got the bicycle out and did a standard route of about 8.5 miles. I got a little wet due to the melting snow but it was worth it. The cold and well below normal temperatures locally (-4 for Jan and so far -2 for Feb; if they were 4F above, some people would use that biased sample as proof of global warming, like they do nowadays when a heatwave strikes a region in JULY) it's been harder to get out and run and no way am I biking in 22F weather. I do go to the gym two days and week and spend some time running on the treadmill and then do some weightlifting too. I am eyeing a 5K in March which is six weeks earlier than the 5K I wanted to run in the first weekend of May. However, I haven't done 5K yet in any of my runs and my best was 2.5m (4.17km) on the treadmill. If I keep on and can plan on March being warmer than Feb., I may be able to really tune myself up during the first two weeks of March. For now, I'll keep doing what I am doing and that might get me ready for that 5K around St. Paddy's Day.

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100 Books 
Five years ago, I set out on a challenge to read 100 books in five years. I topped that number by three. Here's the list.

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Big Loser 
...but I know that I am not the biggest loser. Even though I proudly watch no prime-time TV, I must admit am familiar with that television show and I must admit of all the reality TV out there, that show is probably the only one that encourages people to better themselves.

As I wrap up one year of a dedicated diet and exercise routine, one that has shed me 30 pounds, I will make a few observations.

1. Don't wait until you have a problem. Start a diet and exercise regimen today. Walking and cutting the salt and sugar are good ways to start.

2. Salt - cut salt from your diet. Whenever I tell people that I cut salt they usually reply "I never salt my food." Ha. Neither have I but I was taking in waaaay too much. If you do salt your food, that's nothing compared to the salt that's in processed, and all the frozen, foods out there. Let's not forget soup. A can of chicken noodle soup itself accounts for 80% of the recommended daily allowance. If you eat at restaurants more than once a week and never order off their 'healthy' (snicker) menu, fast food vs. sit-down makes little difference, you might as well as inject yourself with a salt IV. Salt is in everything that pre-packaged. Everything. Read the labels and cut the intake, now.

3. Sugar - cut that, too. Switch to wheat and whole grain bread. Start eating wheat pasta, too. Soda? Soda is instant weight-gain in a can. Diet? hahahaha yeah right; no sugar, maybe, but no sugar != instant weight gain. Trust me. I don't think I've had a glass or can of soda since August.

4. Stairs - if you have to go to the fourth floor lower, take the stairs. I have always adhered to this. It my not be much, but it does add up. I work in building that has four floors and I refuse to use the elevator and over four years, I'll admit that have used it a few times, but only if there is a reason, like a mild sprain or pain. The library is on the fourth floor and always hike it (and I always beat those to the top to who I see getting on when I enter the stairwell too).

5. Drink water. Drink a lot. Drink it with every meal. I do.

6. Beer/alcohol: my biggest weakness. Some people like candy, some like potato chips, I like my beer. I have noticed that light beer does make a difference but being kind of a beer snob I don't like light beer very much so I alternate - one case normal beer and then the next light beer.

7. Strive for the "five a day." Fruits and vegetables are good for you, to say the least. Potatoes and derived products don't count. Neither does ketchup.

8. Stay away from fast food. Not only is it a salt overdose risk, it's expensive. Regular restaurants, while usually better in taste and quality, aren't much better when it comes to salt and glop either.

9. Beef - I have significantly cut back the amount of beef I eat. While I love a good hamburger (we only buy 90/10), more often than not, hamburger night has turned into turkeyburger night. We use ground turkey or ground chicken for lasagne, sloppy joes, tacos, and so on. Ground turkey and ground chicken are more expensive than ground beef but it's worth the extra cost. Going vegan is an option, too, just not for me.

10. It's OK to treat yourself. Moderation is key.

11. I never thought that by the end of the year, I'd be running regularly and realistically looking and being able to run a 5K within six months. Your goals may be different but even if you start small, like I did, try it and build yourself up and see what difference a year can make.

Have a happy and HEALTHY new year.

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The Runs 
I am now down to about 21:00 for 1.7 mile route I have mapped out for running. It's a simple run through my neighborhood with some downhill and uphill segments. I have no estimate yet as to when I think I can do it twice; twice being slightly more than a 5K. Initially, I was hoping to try a 5K in late spring and that is still be a viable goal.

I also want to extend that route to make it an even two miles. I would like to be able to get a two-miler done in under 20 minutes as well.

Overall, so far so good with the running. It's hard, yes, but it's good for you, physically and mentally.

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A Full Day 
Woke 3:35 am
Left house at 4:20 am
Arrive at Philadelphia Int'l Airport about 5:55
Park, get shuttle to terminal, get to gate at 6:20
Board plane for Pittsburgh at 7:05
Plane leaves 7:29
Arrive Pittsburgh 8:30
Meet my ride, grab a coffee at McD's
Arrive Heinz Field about 9:35
Meet friends for tailgating 10-11:40
Walk to stadium, enter, go to my seat 11:40-12:00 (kickoff was about 12:10)
Watch Pitt beat WVU, 19-15
Meet friend outside stadium for ride back to Airport
Arrive at gate at 4:45 pm
Board plane at 5:10
Take off for Philadelphia ~5:25
Land, exit plane in Philly about 6:20
Get shuttle to car, get on Schuylkill about 7:00
Drive towards home, stop one township over for another friend's surprise birthday party 8:45 (someone I haven't seen in about 15 years)
Home by 10:30 pm

Long day.

Pitt played well for the first 3 minutes and the last 8 with 49 minutes of futility in between; moved the ball ok but couldn't score - scored on opening drive and then twice in the last 8 minutes. Game was capped with an exciting finish: Pitt scores with less than a minute left to take a 19-15 lead but WVU got the ball back and got to about the Pitt 20 for a 4th and 1 pass play, as time ran out, that ended with an incomplete and an offensive pass interference call. Game over. (And worth the trip).

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Run 
I decided to try upping my usual brisk walking pace and turned it into a light jog. I literally hit the road running and I ended up running one mile without stopping. I clocked it, loosely, at 12:00 which isn't bad at all since I don't think I have ever run a mile before without stopping. I continued on for another 1/4 mile or so before slowing down to a walk. Now that I cleared this major hurdle, I think that with a little work I can beat 20:00 in two miles; of course, I need to show that I can run two first. But, I think I can do two with no problem and I am even thinking long-term about a 5k by next summer.

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Fitness 
Since I haven't been biking as much, I've started lifting weights and doing sit-ups and push-ups to continue my pursuit to get in shape. Actually, let me amend that - to stay in shape. I also fit in a 1.5 to 2 mile walk a few days a week.

Bench press - usually do 5, 3, and 3 on the bench. Five sets of 10 reps followed by 3 of 10 and another 3 of ten; 80 lbs. I hope to up this to 100 by early January. All sets are 10 reps below, too.

Curls - 5, 3, 5; 10 lbs each arm

Legs - 5, 3, 3 of 40-50 lbs. I can do more but walking and biking make up for it.

[Thanks to my neighbor Steve for letting me use his weights]

I also measured myself against US Army fitness standards for someone my age. In my first timings, I did 38 sit-ups in 2 minutes and 50 push-ups in 2 minutes. The former just met the goal and the latter exceeded it. For my age, the standard for a 6.2 mile bike ride is 26:00 which I am sure I can do. The standard for a 2-mile run is 18:18 which I don't think I can do. I was never a runner; I get winded too easily and even as a teenager I never did well in running when we did it in p/e; even the smokers beat me and I was in fine shape then. I could probably walk 2 miles in less than 30 minutes so maybe a real brisk walk with some light running interspersed - maybe I could do 2 miles in reasonable amount of time but under 19 or 20 would be a stretch. But biking? Heck, 10 miles is no sweat. Maybe it's my feet because it's not my legs.

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