Saturday, January 23, 2016

A 5k, a 10K, and a 747 Badge

A long overdue post from the end of December...

I really did have good intentions - signed up for the Winter Blast virtual race series to do a 5K, 10K, 10 miler, and a half marathon in between December 19 and 31.  But with over 12 inches of rain, the 2nd wettest December on record in these parts, it simply was not meant to be.  It was just a crazy amount of rain.  I did feel lucky to get a 5K and a 10K in though.


Back in August I got a Fitbit to track daily mileage.  It works great.  One of the things that I noticed about it after signing up, from time to time you earn badges for various things like Daily Steps, Daily Climb, Lifetime Climb, and Lifetime Distance.  They are quite creative with some of their badges:

Daily Steps
  • 5,000 steps: Boat Shoe
  • 10,000 steps: Sneakers
  • 15,000 steps: Urban Boot
  • 20,000 steps: High Tops
  • 25,000 steps: Classics
  • 30,000 steps: Trail Shoe
  • 35,000 steps: Hiking Boot
  • 40,000 steps: Cleats
  • 45,000 steps: Snow Boots
  • 50,000 steps: Cowboy Boots
  • 55,000 steps: Platform Shoe
  • 60,000 steps: Blue Suede Shoes
  • 65,000 steps: Ruby Slippers
  • 70,000 steps: Spring Loaders
  • 75,000 steps: Genie Shoes
  • 80,000 steps: Futuristic Kicks
  • 90,000 steps: Rocket Boot
  • 100,000 steps: Olympian Sandals
Daily Climb
  • 10 Floors: Happy Hill
  • 25 Floors: Redwood Forest
  • 50 Floors: Lighthouse
  • 75 Floors: Ferris Wheel
  • 100 Floors: Skyscraper
  • 125 Floors: Rollercoaster
  • 150 Floors: Stadium
  • 175 Floors: Bridge
  • 200 Floors: Castle
  • 300 Floors: Waterfall
  • 400 Floors: Canyon
  • 500 Floors: Volcano
  • 600 Floors: Mountain
  • 700 Floors: Rainbow
Lifetime Climb
  • 500 Floors: Helicopter
  • 1,000 Floors: Skydiver
  • 2,000 Floors: Hot Air Balloon
  • 4,000 Floors: 747
  • 8,000 Floors: Cloud
  • 14,000 Floors: Spaceship
  • 20,000 Floors: Shooting Star
  • 28,000 Floors: Astronaut
  • 35,000 Floors: Satellite
Lifetime Distance
  • 26 mi (42 km): Marathon
  • 70 mi (112 km): Penguin March
  • 250 mi (402 km): London Underground
  • 350 mi (563 km): Hawaii
  • 500 mi (804 km): Serengeti
  • 736 mi (1,184 km): Italy
  • 990 mi (1,593 km): New Zealand
  • 1600 mi (2,574 km): Great Barrier Reef
  • 1869 mi (3,007 km): Japan
  • 1997 mi (3,213 km): India
  • 2500 mi (4,023 km): Monarch Migration
  • 2983 mi (4,802 km): Sahara
  • 4132 mi (6,650 km): Nile
  • 5000 mi (8,046 km): Africa
  • 5500 mi (8,851 km): Great Wall
  • 5772 mi (9,289 km): Russian Railway
  • 7900 mi (12,713 km): Earth
  • 12430 mi (20,004 km): Pole to Pole

I'm not sure that this type of thing actually motivates me, but I must admit, it's kind of fun getting the badges.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Number 59 - WOTT

WOTT - Walk Off The Turkey

12 mile walk on the west side of Manhattan from Battery Park to the George Washington Bridge the Saturday after Thanksgiving

It all started months ago with the idea of a huge family get together in northern New Jersey for Thanksgiving.  With the standard overload of holiday indulging calories, the WOTT seemed like a great way burn some of them off.  So on Saturday after Thanksgiving, Ted, Jen, Raney, and I headed into New York City.  We decided to drive into the city, park at Port Authority, and take the #1 train down to South Ferry.

A few minutes later we were at the Staten Island Ferry station ready to begin the WOTT.  We were a bit early, there were a few other WOTT-ers wondering were all of this started (exact location wise).  We really did not know and just decided to start our journey up the West Side at that point.

If you've ever been to New York City and walked around Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Greenwich Village, Soho, or any area towards the center of the city you might be thinking that we had a lot of waiting time to cross busy city streets.  That was not the case at all.  There were only a few times where we had to stop for cars in the 12 miles.  They really did a great job designing and connecting walkways.  Navigating up the West Side of Manhattan was easy.  There are many parks, areas with artwork on display, benches, walkers, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists,...  And since the Hudson River is on your left, you just basically follow the river north.

The first six miles or so were similar to the picture above - city buildings and traffic fairly close by.  But as we approached the Upper Westside, the views started to change.

The one illusion that we could not avoid was the George Washington Bridge, at least the illusion of it appearing closer than it actually was.  In the picture below, it is about six miles away.  So if you ever do this walk, do not be fooled think that you are almost there :)

GW Bridge still miles away!

As we got closer to the bridge, we were farther from traffic and saw things that would make you think you were not in a city at all.

Hawk on the Hudson

So about four hours after we started we finally made it to the little red lighthouse under the great gray bridge.

Thanks Jen, Raney, & Ted!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Number 58 - Ashenfelter 8K

Great day for an 8K!

While in northern New Jersey for the Thanksgiving holiday, my brother-in-law treated my daughter-in-law and me to the Ashenfelter 8K Classic in Glen Ridge.

The weather could not have been any better than it was for the 3000+ people who were there for the 8K.

And what a great way to get ahead of the Thanksgiving day calories!

This was a fun race.  The 8K (4.97 miles) is a unique distance, not sure if I've ever come across an 8K race before but glad Ted signed us up for this one!

Ted Wins!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Number 57 - 2015 Purplestride 5K

Pancreatic Cancer: Know It. Fight It. End It.

It is estimated that more than 48,900 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and more than 40,000 will die from the disease. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death, with a five-year relative survival rate of just 7%. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year relative survival rate of any major cancer.

Historically, pancreatic cancer research has been underfunded. Only approximately 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) budget is allocated to this leading killer. We know from the relatively high survival rates associated with breast cancer and HIV/AIDS that federal research funding levels matter in the fight to find new cures and directly relate to improved survival rates.

Your donations will help to change these dismal statistics by funding research grants, advocacy efforts, patient support, and awareness activities coordinated by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Click here (PDF) to download a pancreatic cancer fact sheet with more information.


My son, once again in remembrance and honor of his grandfather, my father, put together a team to help raise awareness and support for pancreatic cancer.  So last Saturday morning Mary, Raney, Daniel, Doug, and I met down at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta for the annual PurpleStride 5K.

It was a great day, a bit cool early but a bright sun on a cloudless sky made for a great outing.  There were options on the 5K - you could run it, you could walk it, you could do it timed, or you could do it untimed.  It really was not about the 5K race, it was about coming together with people who have all been impacted in one way or another, by pancreatic cancer.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Number 56 - Jarrard Gap AT Loop

For number 56 I hiked the Jarrard Gap AT (Appalachian Trail) Loop in the north Georgia mountains with the group 'Suwanee Take-a-Hikers'. I really like one of the mantras I came across regarding - using the internet to get people off the internet! Well, this meetup group accomplished that.

We met up at the Lowe's parking lot in Suwanee and car pooled the hour and a half drive up to the mountains.

It was a cool September morning at about 50 degrees which felt fantastic after what seemed like months of 90+ weather!

The hike was a loop that took us on the Appalachian Trail, Jarrard Trail, and the Slaughter Creek Trail all in the Blood Mountain Wilderness area. Although 19 people signed up for the hike only nine showed up for it.

One of the interesting side notes on two members of the group, they were on their first date! That took some chutzpah. They chose not to carpool with the rest of us as they wanted to get to know each other on the drive up. Interesting first date!

We parked next to Lake Winfield Scott, geared up, and hit the trail head.

We were pretty much under a constant canopy of green the entire hike. Thoughts of what this might look like in about six weeks when the leaves would be all sorts of colors went through our minds as we trekked along.

The reason why this hike was categorized as moderate to difficult was the elevation gain. We started at just over 2800 feet and would make a steady climb to just over 3800 feet in the first three miles. So the first part was part were we burned the most calories but it was worth it. There were no points on this hike that had great vista of the surrounding mountains, again, mostly covered in a green canopy of leaves.

I enjoyed this hike and it was a pretty good workout, especially the elevation gain. One of the things my fitbit does is count stairs. It considers a 10 foot elevation gain as a set of stairs. The final count of stairs registered at 125! I thought that might be off as it was roughly a 1000 foot elevation gain. But a closer look at elevation profile made me realize that there were plenty of up and downs along the way.

It was a good hike.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Number 54 & 55 Suwanee Fest 5K/10K

It's not often when the chance comes along to do two races in one day but the opportunity did present itself on Saturday. I really did like the cause of the Suwanee Fest Superhero 5K & 10K Classic, it was a benefit for Cure Childhood Cancer. The 5K started at 7:30 and the 10K at 8:30 and since I've really slacked off doing races this year, it just made sense to do both.

As usual I arrived early to the race only this race was different. When I picked my race bib & packet, they also gave me a cape. So I donned my cape, walked around a bit only to find Batman & Robin and the Batmobile!

Very fitting with the Superhero theme of the event. Back in the day that was one of my favorite TV shows.

For both races the Batmobile lead the way.

About 350 people did the 5K and close to 150 people did the 10K. The way I found out about the race was through the meetup ( walking group I typically walk with on Saturday mornings. Michelle, our meetup group organizer posted about this race instead of meeting up at our usual location. I'm glad she made us aware of this great cause. Although I think other meetup-ers did the 5K, with 350 racers and hundreds of more spectator/supporters I just did not see them.

The 5K started at exactly 7:30 and we were lead through the timing chute by the Batmobile. I walked the 5K in 41 minutes and 19 seconds, a pace of 13:20 minutes/mile.

After grabbing a water after the 5K I did run into Maria and Rick, from the meetup group. The three of us lined up near the back of the 10K-ers. And just a few minutes later, we were off.

Once again the Batmobile started us on our way.  As we progressed through the race I discovered that this was Rick and Maria's first 10K and not only that, it was Maria's first race ever!

It was a great workout for all!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

It All Counts

I remember asking my doc if there was a "best" time of the day to get some exercise in and if doing multiple shorter duration periods vs. one really long duration was better - he just looked at me and said "it all counts".

Being a walker with a desk job, I carve out different times of the day to go take a walk or do the steps in the parking garage.  And my lunch typically includes a 30 minute walk.  My very unscientific method to figuring out mileage was basically calculating mileage at an average walking pace of 15 minutes per mile when I "went" for a walk.  I was pretty confident with that formula even knowing sometimes my pace would be faster and sometimes slower.  I've put in enough miles to feel confident in the 15 minute mile average.  However, I really only measured when I "went" for walk.  What about all the walking when I did not "go" for a walk?  Doesn't it all count?

It appears that I have been short changing myself on daily mileage.

Last week I bought a fitbit Charge HR.  This little wrist band is amazing!

Besides keeping track of every step I take, it also displays heart rate, distance, calories burned, and # of stars climbed.  Oh yeah, it also shows the time.  And since it's sync'd with my PC and iPad, it uploads the data for tracking daily amounts.

Now if I was training for the Olympics, this would not be the device I would use.  But for someone who just wants to get out there and be active and ballpark track it, this seems to be a pretty good device.

So now instead of keeping track of the walking miles just when I go for a walk, I'm tracking it all.  It all counts.

The technology used in this device is pretty interesting.  Being on your wrist it somehow has to "know" when you have taken a step.  It is impressive that it does, for the most part, know when you have taken a step.  Granted, it is not as accurate as a GPS device or even a footpod, but for the convenience of just having to strap it on, just like you would strap on a watch, I like it!

Another thing that I am intrigued with is  the counting of stairs, more specifically, how does it do it?  Well, it has a altimeter in it!  It measures atmospheric pressure.  Atmospheric pressure decreases with increasing elevation so it calculates elevation gain based on the reduction in atmospheric pressure.  It registers a floor when it detects continuous motion combined with an elevation gain of about 10 feet (average floor height in most residential structures).  I did test this by riding up five floors in an elevator - it did not register it.

My average distance walked when just counting "when I went for a walk" was typically in the 25-30 miles per week, has been for quite awhile.  However, this week, with the fitbit Charge HR, it's at just about 75 miles (disclaimer: I did do more walking this week as a by-product of having this new "toy" and also from joining the online fitbit community, I was invited to a weekly challenge against nine other fitbit-ers to a friendly competition to see who can walk the most steps during the work week).  However, it was a lot of walking that I have not been counting.  But since it all counts, I will start counting it towards my 10,000 mile goal.  Maybe this means I can retire sooner!   : )