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!   : )

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Caution - Flying Discs

A couple months ago I came across this sign while doing a long Saturday morning walk on the Suwanee Greenway.

It was an odd thing to see while on a trail, in the woods!  I had noticed that they were clearing some areas off of the trails I normally walked, just figured they were making more trails.  Wrong.  They were making a disc golf course.

 I really did not give much thought to disc golf until about a week ago when my grandson was visiting.  We were looking for things to do and he expressed an interest in playing disc golf.  Great, I knew just the place!  But first we needed to get some discs (frisbees I thought).  Wrong.  Buying disc golf discs for the first time would be akin to buying a tube of toothpaste in a grocery store for the first time - way too many choices/products.  And it was the same with disc gold discs.  Basically I was told at a minimum we would each need a driver and a putter!  A what???

After a bunch of googling we ended up at Sports Authority looking for disc golf discs.  They had drivers, mid-range drivers, and putters ranging price from $10 to $20 each!  Plus each disc has four numbers on it rating each of the following: Speed, Glide, Turn, and Fade.  Hmmm...

We ended up buying a beginners set that contained a driver, a mid-range driver, and a putter.

Driver: Leopard  6,5,-2,1
Mid-range Driver:   Shark  4,4,0,2
Putter:  Aviar  2,3,0,1

There is so much more to this than I thought.

Anyway, we played 18 holes, took about an hour and a half.  A lot of walking, a lot of up & down hills.  It was actually a pretty good walking workout.  I think I may have found a new dimension/alternative to getting some extra miles in!

Hole 2

You throw from the concrete pad, but on a lot of the holes, you cannot even see where the hole is.

Hole 9

Although you can see the hole on this one (that little yellow thing just to the right of the center of the picture), the trees really do make it challenging - I hit a bunch of them!

One of these days I'll have to get an accurate measure of miles walked on the entire course, I'm guessing it's somewhere between one and two miles.

I do think this will be a fun addition to getting the miles in!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Number 53 - 2015 Georgia Half Marathon

This past Sunday for race number 53 I did the Georgia Half Marathon.  For me, except for getting soaking wet from the rain during the race, it was pretty much uneventful.  This was the fourth or fifth time doing this race, so there was really nothing new about the course.  I'm glad I did the race, glad I took advantage of the discount price of ~$47 (paid a very long time ago) compared to what they were charging during normal signup for the half $85/$105/$120.  But to me, there is just really nothing significant about completing number 53.

However, I do know of two people out of the 7000+ people who did either the full or half marathon on this rainy, soggy Sunday morning, whose race was very significant - Antonio and Marsha.  You see for Antonio, this was his first marathon and for Marsha, it was her 200th marathon.  For them, this race was very significant.

Antonio's First

It's a small world.  In my previous post I wrote about getting a special pizza in celebration of our 39th wedding anniversary from Gordo's Pizza.  Well it was Antonio who made it!  When I was there getting the pizza I found out Antonio was doing the Georgia Marathon for his first full marathon.   Marathons are hard and when I hear of someone doing one for the first time, it gets my attention.

So in between Antonio making pizzas, we talked about the race and his prep for it.  I could tell he was ready and he was psyched for it!

Although it was still dark and raining our paths crossed in Centennial Olympic Park before the race started and I wished him good luck.

Congratulation Marathon Man Antonio!

Marsha's 200th

I first met Marsha when I did my first marathon - 2011 Soldier Marathon.  She is also a walker and as it typically goes with walkers, we're back of the pack type folks.   That was her 99th marathon.  Well get ready to do the math, this race, the 2015 Georgia Marathon, was her 200th marathon!   Incredible!

I had no idea that Marsha was doing the Georgia Marathon for her 200th.  But having a similar pace, I thought I saw her just ahead of me around mile 7 where the half marathon splits off from the full.  I actually had to speed up to see if it was her - it was.  I shouted out her name and wished her luck.

The picture above is actually from a different race where we crossed paths.  Marsha blogs about her races on bookladywalker.  I also saw a comment she made on FB regarding this mile marker "At least number 200 is in the record book - now on to that 300 mark"!

One other thing, yes she does have much more time to do these races now that she is retired, but did I tell you - she didn't start doing marathon walking until the age of 59!

Congratulations Marsha and good luck with the next 100!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

39 Years

It was 39 years ago yesterday that Mary and said "I do".  Holy cow!  Where did the time go?  Honestly it seems like maybe 10-12 years ago.

Anniversaries are different at this stage.  The celebratory aspect is nothing like it was on the first, fifth, tenth anniversary.   I wanted to do something, something different but struggled with what.  And then it hit me - one of the things we use to do back in our dating days to celebrate something was to simply get a garbage pie from Umberto's (amazing! they are still in business) and a couple of root beers.  So although we did go out last Sunday for a joint birthday/anniversary dinner, last night we celebrated with a garbage pie and some root beers!

Unfortunately Umberto's is about 500 miles away so instead we got our garbage pie from a local pizzeria - Gordos Pizza.   It was really good!

Really, it couldn't be more than 10-12 years ago!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Re-Purpose That Old Cabinet Door

About two years ago I did a home improvement DIY project - a butcher block kitchen island.  Well, like with most projects there are always parts and pieces leftover.  The pack rat in me could not throw them away.

Glad I did not throw this stuff away, came up with an idea for what to do with the leftover cabinet door and drawer.

A coat rack with re-purposed railroad spikes and a little artwork.

About 99% of the materials used for this were re-purposed.  As always my projects seem to take much more effort & time than first anticipated and this one was no different.  If you're curious, here are the steps:

Step 1:   Sanding the old door and drawer front.  Since I wanted to paint it the surface had to be sanded.  Luckily I had a belt sander and a hand sander - what a difference they made.

Step 2:  Cut all the pieces of wood needed to glue to backside square of the door.  The was by far the hardest part of the project.  I did not purchase any new wood for this, all wood was in my garage leftover from previous projects.  The idea was to have different lengths and heights and to paint them various colors.  A total of 41 pieces of wood were used.  It was a lot of cutting.

Step 3:  Paint the cabinet door and drawer black.  I had to remove all of the pieces of wood for this step.  I did number the back of each piece as it was getting to be like a jigsaw puzzle and it would have been really hard to put everything back together exactly as it was.

Step 4:  Paint the 41 pieces of wood.  I had a hard time determining what colors to use - how many, bright, gloss, matte,...  I don't have much experience with this.  Ended up buying 19 different colors at Michael's and basically gave up on deciding and used all of them.  This part took a bit longer than anticipated also as each piece had to be painted twice and a few of them three times.

Step 5:  The railroad spikes.  I had some old railroad spikes in the garage, don't even remember how or when they got there but they seemed like a good re-purpose thing.  So I decided to use them for coat hangers.  After getting all the rust off of them, there was another challenge - cutting & securing to the wood - how would I do this?  Ended up cutting them with a hack saw, drilling a hole in it, tapping it to make threads, and get screws to match the threads.  Luckily this all worked.

Step 6:  Putting everything together and gluing the 41 pieces of wood.

Already decided - we're not keeping this (in the mode of getting rid of stuff in the house, not adding to it : )  Who knows, maybe I'll open an Etsy shop as I have more ideas for the rest of the kitchen island leftovers.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Frustration with 100 Race Goal

Back in 2011 I made the goal of walking 10,000 miles and completing 100 races.  Until recently things more or less kept on track with 52 races completed and 5403 miles walked.  The majority of those races, 33, were half marathons.  That is my favorite distance race.  But I've noticed a sharp, steady decline of half marathons on my calendar.  The reason - price.

The price for half marathons, and I'm sure this applies to full marathons, has skyrocketed over the last year or so.

Here's my theory on all of this, it's just a theory.  Races, such as these, have become commodities that are bought and sold as products by for-profit companies.  And with any product in a business, pricing strategies are developed to increase the bottom line - profit.  Somebody, somewhere is making decisions regarding how much they think people will pay for their product.

Granted, there are expenses to put on a race.  But with these prices they are not just concerned with covering those expenses, they are concerned with profit.

There are still some half marathons that are reasonably priced and I will search those out.  Maybe I'll switch to doing more 5K races as they tend to be not for profit and in many cases, support a charitable cause.