A Race-Free 2014 is Fine by Me, One Year Blog-Aversary, and Other Thoughts

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OK, this is NOT a screenshot of yesterday’s ‘Decline’, because I didn’t grab the screen. So instead I went back to the last time I faced this choice with unfortunately the exact same thing swimming in my head – that I had to click decline.

The Can 50 Ultra is on October 11th, which is a huge competition day for my kids and their marching band … one that I refuse to miss. I had it in my head (and on my calendar) as the 12th for some reason. Oh well.

Will 2014 Be ‘Race Free’?

It is interesting – even as I am doing an average of close to 70 miles per week this summer and have done a half dozen runs longer than 20 miles, meaning my training for the ultra was well in hand … I really don’t have any issues letting it go. For the first race that would have been over our vacation I was sad – I had really gotten my hopes up and mentally psyched.

But something has changed this year – early in the year it was simply not convenient or possible to do any of the races I had thought about. Then I decided not to sign up for Wineglass Marathon because of how it falls with respect to Danny & Lisa’s birthdays (right on top of them, again) – and based on how the weekend looks, it was the right thing! Then with our busy summer the half marathon and 5k I wanted to do fell by the wayside,

And while this happened, my weekly running stayed great, my nutrition is excellent (but eating so much is HARD for me!), and overall my fitness and motivation is staying very high. I don’t NEED races right now – they add stress rather than joy. My priority is always ‘family first’, and while running is very important to me … racing is just ‘nice’.

I have one possible race left, and it is after marching band and birthday season … so it is possible. It is a half marathon, and the average temperature the last two years I have run is 25F. Welcome to winter! haha

Hey – You Guys Never Told Me Bloody Nipples Were ‘Hot’!!!

This Friday I posted this on Instagram:

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Yeah, I had a ‘band aid fail’ – I forgot to grab mine in my bathroom and ended up grabbing a couple of cheapies from the pantry … and one of them held. If you peek below you’ll see I did 10.25 miles on Friday … and I KNEW what I would see about halfway through. Ugh. That happens, no biggie (other than the shower ‘first contact’ fun).

BUT – the funny thing?

When I posted to Instagram, within the first half hour while we were eating breakfast I got a couple of ‘Likes’, so I tapped on ‘notifications’ and saw names I didn’t know …

Turns out both were young women who had ‘recently single’ in their descriptions, who started following me as well.

So … why didn’t all of you younger ladies tell me that bloody nipples made you irresistible to young single women? I have so many questions for you – to the recently engaged … did your engagement hinge on bloody nipples? If you are single, did a lack of bloody nipples factor into it? It all just made me realize how out of touch Lisa and I are with this whole thing – we just thought they looked awful and were sore.

Can’t believe you guys have been holding out this critical information on me … :)

One Year on this Blog

Yesterday (Sept 13th) something happened – the blog turned one year old. I had a ‘welcome’ post, and then a post the same day titled “Everything Clicked … Until it Didn’t, But That Was OK.

That first post was about feeling great after a run … then having real life come colliding in! That happens so often to many of us, and there is nothing we can do – except appreciate the way that our runs help us cope and deal with life, giving us strength and energy to push forward and the mental balance to work through them.

It would be more than two weeks until my next post, and then I slowly got into a routine from there. During the first month I got THREE comments – two from Megan and one from Sarah. Thanks for that critical early support!

Weekly Running Summary

This was a weird week – the weather ranged from cold and foggy to warm and humid and everywhere in between. It has that whole ‘transition to fall’ feel, but nothing in the 40s yet.

So how did I do? Let’s take a look:

Sunday: 7.5 miles on ‘Easy Run’ Day – after my 23.5 miles on Saturday, a casual run was in order!
Monday: 10.5 miles
Tuesday: 9.25
Wednesday: 10.5 miles
Thursday: 9.75 miles
Friday: 10.25 miles after work
Saturday 14.5 miles with hill repeats

Wow … I really didn’t think this was a huge week, but I did 72.25 miles this week . It will be interesting to see how things go while I am on my business trip this week.

‘Programming’ Notes

Oh – I didn’t mention that yet? OK, so this week I am attending a statistics conference – I know, I know, contain your excitement! I am really looking forward to it in several ways – it is just outside of Raleigh NC (in Cary, home of SAS) and the forecast looks pretty great, I have a colleague giving one of the talks, and two old friends neither of whom I have seen in more than 20 years attending and giving papers! Going to be amazing.

At the same time, I think it is clear that my relationship to the blog (and blog world) has changed this summer. I have narrowed my reading, and my writing has started to ‘take the weekends off’ and not always flow according to schedule. At this point I can only see this continuing, so here are two things I am doing:

- I have cut way back on my subscriptions, and my commenting even more. I realized that I had not commented on a few posts that I REALLY wanted to comment on … I was getting bogged down on other things. I will still read all of my faves with email subscriptions to my ‘must reads’, others mostly through Feedly or WordPress. As Judith noted, that makes it work well … unless blogs block it. Sadly, if you block reading without hitting the site, unless you are in my email blog list I will be gone. Sorry. :( I want to do it all … there just isn’t the time.

- I have no plans to blog this week at all.

- Starting next week I am going to try a 2 posts per week routine, and see how that goes. I had planned that when I came back from several days away, but suddenly blasted out a bunch of posts. That really isn’t working for me. I think a Sunday & Wednesday schedule might work … we will see.

Tell me something great from YOUR week?

World Suicide Prevention Week

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This week is World Suicide Prevention Week, and September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day. For good or bad, the recent death of Robin Williams has brought attention to depression and suicide … we can only hope that this attention turns to actual resouces and help – and results!

There are numerous sites that had great articles and info for World Suicide Prevention Day, you can see them here, here, here and the official site.

Over at MTV there was a great article that talked about ‘5 things to know’ … here is the list:

1. Suicide doesn’t have to happen. Often, people who die by suicide were dealing with depression, drug addiction a traumatic event in their lives or a combination of several of these problems. But these things don’t have to lead to suicide. There are so many stories of people who struggled with these issues or situations and felt like they didn’t want to live anymore, but reached out for help and were able to feel better and continue to live a fulfilling life.

2. There are usually warning signs, but they can be hard to spot. Sometimes if feels like a suicide came out of the blue and there was nothing anyone could do. Generally there are warning signs and it’s important to learn them and look out for them so you can help yourself or a friend.

3. No “one thing” causes suicide. Sometimes people get very depressed and have thoughts of suicide after a difficult event, like a break-up or being mistreated or bullied. But it isn’t the break-up, or any traumatic event, that causes the suicide. It’s generally a combination of many factors that can include depression, an anxiety disorder or emotional health conditions. Plenty of people who deal with tough times get sad or even hopeless, but are able to work through it with the help of friends, family or a professional. The important thing is that it is OK to reach out for help no matter what you are going through.

4. There are better ways to talk about suicide. It’s better not to use phrases like “he killed himself” or “she committed suicide” Suicide is generally the result of an illness and it’s more respectful to say that someone “died by suicide” than to make it sound like a crime by using words like “killed” and “committed.” At the same time, it’s important to remember that suicide is preventable and the conditions that contribute to suicide, like depression, are treatable. There’s always hope.

5. Help can help. Some people who feel suicidal are so hopeless that they can’t imagine that friends, family or a mental health professional, can really help them. But counseling and treatment have helped so many people who have felt suicidal or been hopeless. Suicide never has to be the end of the story.

Earlier this year Ann over at Ann’s Running Commentary she talked about ‘Running for a Reason’, and before that she and her daughter raised money for the 24 Hour Walk Out Of the Darkness.

Suicide is preventable, and depression is treatable … and yet often nothing happens because for many it remains a taboo subject. That is tragic, and results in way too many preventable deaths and people miserably suffering in silence. Break that cycle – depression is a disease, and should be treated. Suicide is preventable, and very often comes from untreated or unresolved depression. If you or someone you know is depressed or contemplating suicide, please get the help you need. There is no shame – only hope.

Did you see anything worth sharing for World Suicide Prevention Day? Let us know!

September 11th … Always a Good Day to Reflect

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For many people, September 11th is our ‘JFK in Dallas’ or ‘Pearl Harbor’ … it is the ‘where were you when’ of our generation. It is very easy to look around our country and world and divide things up as pre/post 9/11 … and some of those are good and others are very bad and others quite sad. But there is a clear impact – we are a country that has now been essentially at war for 13 years, which means kids growing up now have a very different view of the world than kids born in the 80s or 90s or before.

The image above is of a pottery item my older son had made back in 2008. Here is what I wrote about it at the time on an old blog:

A couple of days ago I picked up the pottery my kids made during their two-week drama camp at the end of summer. They made several items, which augmented the singing, dancing and acting work they also did in the class. We only heard about a couple of items, so it was great going through the ‘unveiling’ process and seeing how differently the two boys think. But one thing in particular was fitting – and striking – to see this week.

It is amazing to me the extent that September 11th has become ingrained in the reality for these kids. They were preschoolers when it happened, and we didn’t shield them from it the way many other parents did. This was life, history, happening right before us and to us. I know people who lost family on those planes, and have seen some of the many ways it has changed us as a people and a nation. Yet I was still surprised and touched to see my older son produce a memorial to the event while on summer vacation.

I remember that morning well.

My wife was at the park with Chris while Danny was at half-day preschool. Chris was 3, and Danny was about to turn 5. When she went to the preschool there were people crying and she learned there. We were in Massachusetts, so we were closely tied to events. At my work, the sister-in-law of a coworker was on one of the planes, and I walked through as she got the news … and it was awful.

Where was I? I was at work, and had a colleague visiting from California working on a joint project … and she then got stuck in Massachusetts for more than a week, while her husband and family were justifiably very upset having her stranded across the country. We were looking at data we’d collected and suddenly there was a news flash and we went to the CNN site and saw the second plane hit live … it was surreal.

It is always said that 9/11 is not the day to discuss any of the things that came after – the wars, deaths of hundreds of thousands from those wars, increases in invasive security and loss of many rights in exchange for more protection from threats, an upswing in militarism, decrease in tolerance and respectful discourse, and so on… but neither does any day ever seem to be the right day. But I agree that 9/11 should be kept for the memories of those lost and a time that is gone.

All I know is that day changed all of America … it is another step in the ‘loss of innocence’, and a painful reminder of how fleeting life can be when someone bent on destruction crosses our path. So take a moment today to be thankful for those you love who are around today, those who serve our country in any way, and those who use their time in non-military ways to spread the ways of peace and love and tolerance throughout the world.

The Facebook ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ Meme Post

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This week I got ‘tagged’ on a ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ post, and wanted to quickly

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great words of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

OK, before I start I admit to peeling four of the books from my ‘Ten Days You’ list of ‘Four Books’ … I mean, why not, it is only three months old, right? And then I found I had been tagged way back in the early days of the blog, and wrote about it here. Interesting that there are similarities and differences in the list.

So here we go!

1. ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut – this book I would call my all-time favorite. Like most Vonnegut works it is a fairy easy and quick read – deceptively so. I have read this book 20 or more times since around 1980, and I don’t think I have read it the same way twice: it is funny, bitter, sardonic, twisted, anti-government, anti-religion, pro-spirituality, pro-human, both pro- and anti-science, and so more. I cannot recommend it enough.

2. ‘Foundation Trilogy’ by Isaac Asimov – while like so many sci-fi series there is a ton that this trilogy gets wrong, so much that has been changed as technology advances … the human side of the stories and the thrilling chase and mystery aspects are all consistent with what could really happen. It is interesting to juxtapose some of the events of these books with some anti-science movements in our own country today.

3. ‘100 Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Getting through this book the first time early in high school is something I still remember (not assigned, just pleasure reading my sophomore English teacher thought I would like) – the sweeping story of a town as it rises and falls, told through the history of a single family, if funny and sad and touching and engaging throughout. It really is an epic piece of modern literature, and I always love stepping back into that world.

4. ‘Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy’ by Timothy Zahn – It was either this or the ‘Jedi Academy’ trilogy by Kevin Anderson, but this is better written, has a better villain and of course introduces Mara Jade. Starting a few years after ‘Return of the Jedi’, it pits an Imperial Grand Admiral against the fledgling New Republic. Even without the Star Wars mythos these are enjoyable books.

5. ‘Night Watch’ by Sergei Lukyanenko – these books by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko captures great character studies and tales of the human spirit in the context of magic and mystery, all set in post Cold War Moscow. The series has ups and downs, but having just re-read the first couple I was reminded of how well it mixes intriguing storytelling and quality writing.

6. ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus – Danny is reading ‘The Stranger’ right now, another of my faves, but I love this one more! It is an amazing tale of the human spirit in the face of crushing despair, and a very hopeful and positive take on the essence of existential philosophy.

7. ‘Harry Potter’ series by JK Rowling – I have been flipping back through these recently, re-reading the series for the fourth or fifth time overall. And aside from the epilogue of the final book (that I always hated that) the series has held up well. Sure the books starting with Goblet of Fire could have used tighter editing, but overall they are a great series.

8. ‘Guerrillas’ by V. S. Naipaul – Naipaul was recommended to me by my 11th grade English teacher, Mr. McLellan who called him ‘the best living writer’. This book is not a happy, fun or easy read – yet it is incredibly compelling.

9. ‘Winesburg, Ohio’ by Sherwood Anderson – Anderson (no relation) transports you to a small town just after the turn of the century. While there is a central character, the stories are told through the loneliness and despair that permeates the people of the town and the town itself.

10. ‘Fahrenheit 451′ by Ray Bradbury – although technically dated, the heart of this book is the character study of the interface of people and information and freedom. And it remains interesting because of that – I love looking at the stuff he got wrong about the future, and yet there are things that seemed wrong that are becoming more true with time (The Family, for example).

Tag, You’re It! Either post your list here, on Facebook, or your own blog!

Tunes Tuesday – Pop Music Snobbery

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I am going to admit something that will be of no surprise to anyone who has known me since high school or college – I am a musical snob. An elitist. Opinionated and condescending and with little time or patience for ‘generic pop trash’ that is foisted on the public by an industry obsessed with making money by manipulating purchases rather than providing quality product. Yikes … did I just say that out loud?

For me music is something I take seriously … think about drinking good coffee, then having a cup of instant coffee; or drinking really good wine then going back to screw-top Riunite or something like that. It isn’t that I inherently dislike pop music – it is that I find most pop music ‘harmonically unsatisfying’ … like comparing your favorite dinner to, well, something like cotton candy.

Here are what I see as my three main roadblocks to enjoying pop music:
– I consider music an entirely audio medium, so anything that is related to visuals (music videos, stage shows, dancing, or an artist’s appearance) is totally lost on me and I consider it inconsequential.
– I don’t care about lyrics. That doesn’t mean I don’t know the words to thousands of songs, just that I really don’t care. I won’t listen to music I don’t like because of lyrics, nor will I turn off music I do like due to the lyrics.
– I need some ‘meat’ to my music. Great pop songs – ‘I Will Always Love You’ popularized by Whitney Houston, ‘Time After Time’ by Cindy Lauper, ‘Borderline’ or ‘Vogue’ by Madonna, tons of Prince stuff, etc – all have more than just a ‘catchy tune’. They are well constructed songs that stand out across the decades. Most pop .. doesn’t – I remember first seeing the ‘California Gurls / Tik Tok’ mashup showing they were essentially the same song (same team wrote them, no surprise), and then more and more and more.

But the reality is that even within the pop music world there is some absolutely incredible music that is made … though honestly when it comes to songs that hit the ‘top of the pops these days’ there is precious little quality or creativity. Which is sad, really – because I know the talent is out there, it just isn’t getting heard.

Going back through the decades it is fairly easy to pluck out top selling songs that are incredibly artistic and inventive and original. I decided to only pick from the pre-sample and pre-auto-tune era, as a simple dividing point (meaning pre-1990). So I decided to do a ‘Top 20′ … but then realized I had 23 so I threaded the rest in with others. Oh well. Enjoy!

1. Bee Gees – How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

The Bee Gees are forever tied to the disco era and therefore dismissed … but they had a bunch of huge hits before Saturday Night Fever, and this song is just amazing. Deep and complex and with a tremendous sense of building urgency.

2. Joni Mitchell – Hejira

Joni Mitchell transitioned from writing songs for others to becoming a master folk singer to a pop star and then … this. She kept progressing musically with alternate tuning structures, using her voice as if it was a jazz saxophone. Yet it remains beautiful and haunting.

3. Stevie Wonder – Overjoyed

Sure I could have plucked from Stevie’s ‘golden era’, songs like ‘I Wish’, ‘Higher Ground’ and so on, but this classic from a decade later reminds us WHY he is more than just a pop star, he is a pure musical genius.

Jazz saxophonist Richie Cole did a great cover version, but the CD is out of print and never was released digitally (I have way too many CDs from the mid-late 80s like that!)

4. Dionne Warwick – Say a Little Prayer

You would never guess that the verse is in 10/4 time and the chorus in 11/4 time, very complex meters for such an accessible song.

Blind Avant-garde multi-saxophonist Roland Kirk did a cover a year later that brought in the civil rights aspects … seriously, check this one out:

5. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Elton John and Stevie Wonder are two of the main reason pop and rock was incredible in the 70s. This isn’t just stuff to listen to and sing, it merits actual study:

And “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”.

6. Neil Diamond – I Am, I Said

Like Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond started off writing songs for others, including “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees. Soon enough he was singing and performing his own music, like this classic anthem.

8. The Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb

While most people think of Jagger & Richards as the keys to the Stones, every major melody that was a hit in the early years was composed by Brian Jones – including this jazzy syncopated tune with vibes added to the mix.

9. The Cars – Drive

I like the anthemic feel that was their sort of swan song, but it also embodies the modal harmonies from Miles Davis ‘Kind of Blue’.

10. The Police – Darkness

The Police were masters of expanded harmonies, advanced rhythms and other things you simply don’t get in pop music. This is my favorite song of theirs, as there are multiple rhythms playing against each other.

11. The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows

Picking a great Beatles song is easy, so I wanted to do something less well known but that shows off their musical creativity and also their studio wizardry.

12. The Yardbirds – Shapes of Things

The same year as the last song, The Yardbirds were advancing ‘hard rock’ in a way that was melodic yet in-your-face. Jeff Beck’s early solo albums would introduce heavy metal before Led Zepplin and others arrived.

13. Mary Ford & Les Paul – How High the Moon

Going back to the #1 song of 1951, this is a reminder of how pop songs were always pop – but at one time there was a genuine requirement to be able to sing and play instruments.

14. Simon & Garfunkel – Scarborough Fair / Canticle

Not an original melody, but shows an amazing example of taking an centuries-old classic and reworking it for the modern era!

15. Bridge over troubled Water

Paul Simon has an incredible library of deceptively complex songs that are memorable and instantly recognizable. With an over-the-top dense production and wearing its heart on its sleeve, this remains an iconic piece of pop art nearly 45 years after release.

16. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

Marvin Gaye was an incredible vocalist, and this song just rips at your heart and soul … and much of that has to do with the movement within the harmonic structure. A good song can ‘play you’ emotionally even without words, and that is what happens here – the vocals just add even more pull.

17. Blondie – Rapture

The first bit hit for rap, and the first one to get any play on MTV … and just an insanely catchy song that remains interesting and worth listening to while thousands of other rap songs fall to the wayside.

18. Michael Jackson – Thriller

The reason Thriller works so well (the album as well as the song) has to do with the full orchestration of Quincy Jones as much as the great songs themselves. These are essentially big band songs for the modern day, with pop instrumentation supplanting horn sections. And it completely works.

19. 10cc – I’m Not In Love

It is hard to hear this song and not feel like you are floating on air; like so many on this list, this song brings me back … this one to AM radio and getting ready for school in he 70s.

Also check out this Buzzfeed post about the making of the song.

20. Steely Dan – Peg

Aside from writing great songs, Steely Dan enlisted some of the greatest studio musicians and perfectly crafted their sound while having others playing the instruments. The results were always interesting.

There are many more I could have chosen – I didn’t touch Queen or the people I mentioned before like Madonna or Prince. There is an incredible library of popular music out there – I just got and am listening to an upcoming release by the jazz group ‘Thrasher Dream Trio’ of popular R&B songs such as ‘Where is the love’ and others.

So what are some of your favorite ‘not musically trivial’ pop songs? Or do you just hate me now?

But Dad … 5 Miles Kinda IS a Long Run …

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Perspective. We don’t have it.

I had included it in a ‘random thoughts’ post this past spring, but I was reminded again today that I completely lack perspective when it comes to running.

The situation? I ran a ‘quick’ 7.5 miles in 88F heat Friday after work, then turned around the next day and ran 23.5 miles including hill repeats. And THEN, instead of resting on Sunday, I headed out for a quick ‘around the block’ which I planned at 5 miles but turned into 7.75 miles. And before I left my kids asked how long I was going, and after I said ‘not long, just a quick 5 miles’, Danny reminded me that just a quick 5 miles … really not a ‘quick little run’.

How does this loss of perspective happen? Well, some of it is just that we get accustomed to running more and more miles so what was once a big deal is now routine, some of it gets back to the great comment and post Harold made, and some of it is tied in with our natural tendency to seek out approval and common viewpoints.

How We Protect Ourselves from Gaining a Different Perspective

Here is the basic thing – in a world so over-flowing with data and information, it has been shown that more and more of us choose to surround ourselves only with like-minded people and ideas. As a result, things that are different are easily attacked or ignored. Which to me as someone who grew up before Cable TV, before cell phones, and before the internet … seems weird.

I think we all see this on Facebook with religion and politics – people who we otherwise like post inflammatory things that we don’t agree with, stated in a way that leaves no space for reasoned discourse … so we block them. Suddenly we are surrounded by people who almost uniformly agree with us … or who are polite enough to never say otherwise.

But I am thinking more about running … think about this community we all read blogs from – we tend to understand what each other are going through, and very often share common experiences at similar times (actually that is uncanny at times!). So here are some thoughts specific to running.

Here is Some Perspective on Running

Just a few thoughts about the non-normalcy we can fall into over time:
– Running more than 20 miles per week is A LOT.
– Running more than 5 days per week is A LOT.
– Running When you are too sick to go to work/school is NOT normal
– Running when school was cancelled for weather reasons … NOT normal.
– When you can’t remember your last rest day – NOT normal
– When all of the ‘rest days’ over the last 3 months include either driving more than 5 hours, walking at least 5 miles, or strenuous hiking or biking … NOT normal (yes, that DOES describe my summer!)
– When you miss important family / friend / child events because of a run it is NOT normal (unless you are a professional).
– Most people will not be able to relate to essentially losing contact with you for three months as you train for a race once or twice a year as a hobbyist runner.
– When you get to the finish line of a marathon (or a 20+ mile run) and you look and feel like you are in really rough shape … people will NOT understant WHY you did it in the first place … nor why you are enthusiastic to do it again.
– Running at least one ‘half marathon+’ every week ‘just because’ … NOT normal.

I always love Danielle’s articles either at her site or her new gig with Women’s Running. Here is a fun quote from a recent one:

Genuinely enjoying a 5 am wake up call: I know that a lot of people only have time to run in the morning. Personally I wake up early most mornings of the week to get a workout in. I totally understand needing to do it, but my goodness, enjoying it? Am I the only person who literally counts down the minutes left before I have to be up and out of bed with running shoes on and starts panicking when I realize how few there are left? I love you, morning people, but I don’t have to like you right now.

I have been a very early riser (before 5AM for more than 25 years, 4AM for the last decade or so), so that one isn’t one that I can relate to. But seriously – it is TRUE! Getting up 3 hours before you have to leave for work so you can get in a hour and a half of running … that is NOT normal!

Those are just a few things … and reading everyone’s marathon training plans reminds me of the ‘new normal’ people thread into their lives in preparation for a race (loving all those posts, by the way).

How do YOU lack perspective?

Sunday Tech Round-Up and Weekly Running Summary

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Happy Sunday! I hope everyone has had a great weekend so far! Just a couple of quick items today – new tech and my weekly running summary.

As for the picture above, that is my two-week old Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with a Perixx folding Bluetooth keyboard. It works really well, weighs next to nothing, is easy to carry, but some of the keys are a bit funky in size due to the folding split.

New Tech Roundup

This week at the IFA show in Berlin, the big focus was on wearable tech. Among all of the usual stuff there were a few fitness related items I wanted to share. If you want more on all of the wearables head here. But I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites that have a fitness angle:

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Yeah, the Galaxy Note 4 really doesn’t bring much new to the fitness front according to this first impressions piece, but the one thing it does do is allow you to track your heart-rate using your finger and a built-in sensor below the camera the same way as the Galaxy S5. Here is how that works:

Also related to Samsung, they already have the Gear Fit ($149.99 at Amazon.com), which is an activity tracker that pairs with your Samsung phone … it has met with mediocre reviews.

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Sony Smartband Talk

Loads of info here, but here are some of my favorite details:
– Fitness centric design, counting steps, also has an altimeter for height
– Completely waterproof
– Curved e-ink desplay
– Microphone and speaker to use as a speakerphone.

At the estimated price of over $200, it isn’t clear this will be much of a hit, but it looks intriguing – especially the waterproof design.

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Wellograph

What I love about the Wellograph (official site) is that it is a great looking device, but it also has a three-LED heart-rate monitor that should be effective at tracking real-time activity. I am very excited and am hoping to get to check this one out for a review (at least that is the current plan).

Here are some more details:

Idle Time:
•Wellograph reminds users to sit less, move more and get active.

Activity:
•Wellograph expresses how much of a user’s day is idle vs. active, in hours and minutes. The device offers a today view to show how many calories users have burned each hour and their total for the day. Additionally, the week view feature displays frequency, intensity and time of their week’s activities.

Heart:
•Wellograph measures the quality and quantity of a user’s activity vs. simply the quantity, as the harder the heart works, the more calories burned. Wellograph encourages users to get their heart rates up via high-intensity physical activity and displays a user’s current pulse in beats per minute, including their high, average and resting heart rate each day. They are also provided with an exercise score based on how much aerobic activity they completed each day. After extended use, Wellograph will rank a user’s cardiovascular fitness and estimate their true fitness age, a feature unique to Wellograph.

Walk/Run:
•Users’ steps information is shown automatically as soon as they start moving and totaled to compare how much they ran or walked today vs. yesterday vs. their set goal. The device also offers users the ability to set a stopwatch, see their current pace and distance covered. After a run, Wellograph offers users summary stats about their run, including top pace, average pace, total calories burned and more.

Unfortunately all of those good looks and functionality don’t come cheap – the Wellograph is pre-ordering for $349 through the main site and also through Amazon.com.

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Garmin Vivosmart

I have already talked about how much I love the Garmin VivoFit I got for Lisa – it is a great activity tracker that is accurate, reliable, and has excellent battery life. Now Garmin has done one better by introducing the Vivosmart, which takes the Vivofit and turns it into a partner for your phone.

Personally I know I have been out running and my phone in my belt chimes and I wonder about stopping to check (only phone calls and texts will stop me usually unless I am expecting something from work). With this, I could look at my wrist and I would get a preview of what just arrived.

You can get a great ‘first hands-on’ from DC Rainmaker (whose reviews you should ALWAYS read on fitness devices), but a few things he noted included:
– Smartphone notifications
– Music control from the watch to your phone
– Vibration alerts

Garmin Touts These Key Features:

- Displays steps, calories, distance and time of day
– Vibration alerts for calls, texts and emails from your smartphone
– Easy operation using touch and swipe
– Inactivity alert reminds you to move
– Auto goal keeps you challenged

You can get more info or pre-order at Garmin or at Best Buy. The MSRP is $169.99.

Weekly Running Summary

This was definitely a weird week as I have noted, but I eventually got it together and ended up pretty strong over all. Here is how I did each day:

After coming back from our crazy tour of Providence and Boston, we were all exhausted and all of us felt a bit under the weather during the week, with Chris getting sick for real for most of the week. I took Tuesday off because I was feeling run-down, and then felt pretty good the rest of the week. But for whatever reason, I was still full-on motivated to get out and kill my runs and felt better every day for doing them – but paid in exhaustion at the end of each day! How did I do? Let’s take a look:

Sunday: ‘Rest’ Day – just 10 miles walking and shopping!
Monday: 16.5 miles
Tuesday: 5.25 miles … ugh, awful run!
Wednesday: 10.5 miles
Thursday: 10.5 miles
Friday: 7.5 miles after work
Saturday 23.5 miles with hill repeats

Um … yeah, so much for that ‘lost mojo’ I was worried about! I ended logging 73.75 miles this week. One thing that is clear – I am very much feeling the effects of burning the candle at both ends lately!

What new technology do YOU find compelling? How was YOUR week?