# Eep!

I don’t want to alarm you, but according to RunKeeper my first marathon of the year is slightly more than 25 days away.

Eep.

Come close – I’m going to tell you a secret. I’m freaking out just a little bit1. Whew. Feels better to get that off my chest.

Part of this freak out is that I just don’t feel that I’m ready. A bunch of my longer runs have been – oh, what’s the word? – sucktastic. Mainly this is a function of not fuelling properly – which I will conquer come race day. But there’s also the tricky business of my IT band doing weird things. It doesn’t hurt, but my legs have been very tight, and my left knee feels like it’s tracking wrong.

And yes, before you ask, I stretch. A lot. It’s just really tight in the general area of my legs and glutes – a major problem given that this is the area that I’m going to count on to get me through 42.2 kilometres of running.

Beyond fuelling, and beyond the IT band, there’s also the stress2 associated with the other races that are happening prior to the marathon. The first of which is the Run for Retina Research half marathon this coming weekend3. Two weeks later I run the 10 Miler Chocolate Race. And then after that – 42.2 glorious kilometres through the streets of Toronto.

Did I mention eep?

Anyway, I’m sure this is all just pre-race jitters. I will run the marathon, and I will crush it. I will also crush both the half marathon and the 10 Miler as part of my continued training for the marathon. And then I will look back on this post and laugh at myself for being nervous about something that I know I can do.

Or, I’ll laugh because I will have done what the sign to the right suggests that I don’t do before I have even crossed the finish line – thus becoming that guy that everyone is talking about.

Either way, I’m going to come out the other end of this thing laughing. So really, what’s there to be worried about?

1 Where the phrase just a little bit means a lot.

2 Stress on the body – which makes me worry a bit whether or not I’m over-training4, or under-training5. Am I hurting or helping when I do this versus that? It’s a nasty string of thoughts that I really try to avoid, but sometimes they creep in.

3 Don’t forget I’m trying to raise money for Retinal Research. Just click the link to the right over there. And thanks to all those who’ve already donated. When I see you, I’ll give you a solid leg-hump-o-joy or a hug as thanks (your choice of course).

4 My mind says unlikely.

5 My mind says likely.

# Amazeballs And Awesomesauce

As you are likely all aware, today was the day that I ran my first ever 30K Around the Bay in Hamilton. Not my longest run ever, but still a significant distance.

The run was fantastic, despite the fact that I am apparently really stupid when it comes to fuel. How so? Let me explain by first telling you what I learned today – which is, of course, a lesson that is filed under obvious to probably everyone1.

I learned that one should probably eat more than a granola bar and a coffee before they attempt to run 30 kilometres.

Profound, no? Clearly I wasn’t thinking this morning because that is how I chose to fuel my body for the run. I’m what you’d call not so smart. I’d like to blame this on a mixture of nerves and excitement, but this wasn’t my first ever long run. Clearly I should know better.

Anyway, the lack of fuel didn’t catch up to me until later in the race. Probably around the 25 or 26 kilometer point. And it happened really quickly. It was as if all the energy and life in my body and legs was zapped. Perhaps it was a Dementor? The last several kilometres were quite a challenge. It was also around this point that I lost Carolyn. See – she’s actually smart and had consumed appropriate levels of fuel before the run. And she royally kicked ass. Her chip time was 2:47:50. Freaking amazing!

Based on how I felt though, I thought for sure I had blown my 3 hour dream. Fortunately, right when I needed it I got a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth,…) wind. And as if predestined, Edge of Glory by Lady GaGa came on. I realize that not everyone is a fan of Lady GaGa, but I have to tell you, for running – her music is freaking fantastic. Combine the second wind, Edge of Glory, and the screaming crowds, you can imagine the runner’s high that I was experiencing. And if you can’t, I’ll tell you this – it was AMAZING. I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear. At that moment, I think I could have done anything. And this was all I needed to propel myself to the finish line. As I rounded the last turn – turning into Copps Coliseum – I could hear the cheers of the people in the stadium. I knew they weren’t cheering specifically for me, but that didn’t change the way they made me feel. What an incredible experience.

And the icing on what could have been the crap-cake of an underfueled run?

The gun-time was still at 2:58. Despite everything I’d still managed to finish in under 3 hours. Holy crap I felt amazeballs and awesomesauce. Better than that even. Words can’t describe how great I felt. I had mentioned to Carolyn afterwards that I am not one to normally get emotional at the end of a race – but this was definitely an exception given how crappy I had felt. Don’t worry folks – I didn’t break down into some blubbering mess, but I did feel an intense wave of satisfaction, and euphoria, and gratitude, and I don’t even know what else. All I know is that the moment was perfect. Abso-freaking-lutely perfect.

And the cherry on top of the icing on what could have been the crap-cake of an underfueled run?

My splits were fantastic. I ended up running the first 10 kilometres in 1 hour 21 seconds2, the second 10 kilometres in 56 minutes 8 seconds, and the last 10 kilometres in 56 minutes and 43 seconds. That’s right – despite my craptacular loss of energy and despite the fact that the last 10 kilometres was quite hilly- my last split was only 35 seconds off the second, and still better than my first. Crazy freaking awesome.

And the chocolate sauce on top of the cherry on top of the icing on what could have been the crap-cake of an underfueled run?

My chip time was 2:53:12. Holy freaking crapshark! Talk about a huge bonus!

Anyway, today was a lot of fun, a little bit of pain, and a lot of awesome. Thanks so much Carolyn for sharing this run with me. You are a huge slice of awesome pie and I’m looking forward to our next races. Also, thank you to everyone for your comments on the blog, on Facebook, on RunKeeper, on Twitter, on Instagram, and via text message. Your support helped me get past the ugliness of the last few kilometres. And an extra special thanks to Jamie & Nigel who came out to support all the runners. Seeing your faces gave me such a huge boost. You two rock!

Now it’s time to get back to work. Because the Run for Retina Research Half Marathon is just 3 weeks away. Eeep!

1 Well, everyone but me that is.

2 The first part of the race is usually crammed with so many people that the going is typically slow.

# I Wonder Where I Am Right Now

About 1.5 hours ago (9:30am) Carolyn and I started the 30k Around the Bay race in Hamilton. Eeep!

At this point, I figure we should be at least halfway through the course. If you look at the map below1 – we’re probably somewhere around the 15km point. Of course, I’m not really sure where we are. It will all depend on how we feel. Both of us have been a bit nervous about this race – which is weird because we’ve both been training for this, and because we’ve both run longer distances before. I mean, the marathon is an extra 12.2km, so what do we have to worry about?

We’ve got this.

Anyway, if we are halfway – w00t! If we’re more than halfway, even better. If we’re less than halfway – well who cares? We’re running 30km.

If I’m pacing as I did during my last long run – 5 minutes 20 seconds per kilometre – then I may actually be closer to 17km. And that would be awesome.

But that’s not good enough Dan. I want to know exactly where you are right now! You say.

Well fine. Just because I spoil you, and assuming that I know how to use the interwebs correctly, if you click here you should find yourself instantly transported via the intertubes to a map that should indicate exactly where I am right now2. Seriously. It’s all through the magic and wonder of RunKeeper. And, dear readers, if this actually works I’ll be able to check off items #75 and #250 from my Not-So-Bucket-List list.

Wherever I am, so long as I’m not in agony, twitching on the ground, being carried off the course because I collapsed into a quivering mass of suck-bag, or have lost all control over my bodily functions, I will be a happy man.

See you at 30k!

1 You know what makes me feel a little throw-uppy? Check out the elevation chart underneath the map. That’s right, after running a half marathon, we finish the race by running uphill. A lot.

2 Oh the interwebs. Is there nothing you can’t do?

# The Mile π Club

As my regular readers are likely already aware1, today – March 14th – is Pi-Day. If you are someone who has never heard of Pi-Day, know that it is only the most mathemagical days of the year. That is, today is the day when nerds and geeks from around the world unite to celebrate the much-loved and ubiquitous constant identified by the greek letter $\pi$. We celebrate on March 14 because the first three digits of $\pi$ are 3.14 – which looks like the date 3/14.

To celebrate, it is customary to enjoy pie in all of its glorious forms – apple pie, lemon pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, blueberry pie, or any other fruit filled pie, pot pie, or pizza pie you can think of.

And not being one to go against such a delicious custom, today I opted for not one but two slices of pie – because if one slice of pie is good, then two slices of pie would clearly be better2. The first, an apple cherry crumble topped pie, was enjoyed while meeting with Justin, my Undergraduate Research Student extraordinaire3. The second, a basic apple pie, was enjoyed with Mr. Jasper Tey4, pi and pie lover, and also a fellow member of the Nerd Caucus.

For those of you who might be curious, the verdict on slice number 1 – de-freaking-licious. Sadly, the second slice wasn’t nearly as good. Perhaps it was because I was suffering pie overload, or perhaps I’m just a pie snob. Also, I think it gave me $\pi$-abetes. Ha! I kill me. Seriously though, that second slice was mad sweet.

Now, I’m not one to normally eat pie on a regular basis, let alone eat two slices of pie. So, to offset this onslaught of extra and definitely empty Calories, I decided that a run was necessary. Given the awesome weather, a run was required.

The run was great. My legs felt good, the weather was fantastic, the sun was shining, birds were chirping, and I saw my first robin (a clear sign of spring).

Now because I’m really that much of a nerd, I decided that my run should reflect the Pi-y nature of the day. And what better distance to run on Pi-Day than Pi miles5. That’s right folks, Pi miles – approximately 5.05590329 kilometres (rounded to the nearest 100 millionth of a kilometre).

Put another way, my goal was to run 5 kilometres 55 metres 90 centimetres, and a little more than 3 millimeters. Of course, RunKeeper won’t give me that fine a measurement – only providing a resolution of 10s of metres. That meant I had to either run 5.05 or 5.06 kilometres. Clearly doing less than Pi miles would be unacceptable. As such, I had to run slightly more.

And that, dear readers, is why I am now a full-fledged member of the Mile $\mathbf{\pi}$ Club6. Entrance to the club is easy – you just have to run Pi miles on Pi-Day. Add it to your lists. You know you want to.

Anyway, I hope your Pi-Days were filled with whatever it is that gets your nerd juices flowing. Because that is what Pi-Day is all about – embracing and celebrating your inner nerd.

Happy Pi-Day all y’all. Happy Pi-Day indeed!

1 Because perhaps I won’t shut up about it.

2 This also should placate those that would rather celebrate $\tau$ which is equal to $2\pi$. Check out here for more details regarding the $\pi$/$\tau$ controversy.

3 From With the Grain. Sooooo freaking good.

Jasper was also the mad mind behind the awesome PiDays website. Check it out and figure out how old you are in Pi Years. Seriously nerdy business.

I would have opted for Pi kilometres, but figured that distance was too short for such a beautiful day. Also, I need to get my butt in gear for the 30k Around the Bay race that happens in 11 days. Eep!

I may be the only member. I Googled “Mile Pi Club” and found nothing, except for the following joke:

What do really rich mathematicians all have in common?

They’re all part of the “Mile Pi Club”.

# 42 Bakers Dozens Of Avoided Goo

This evening I was reviewing my RunKeeper stats. In case you weren’t aware, RunKeeper is the iPhone app that I use to track my running progress/training. I also log any walking, hiking, or biking with the app. You probably shouldn’t find any of this surprising giving my love of all things number-y. And stat-y.

Anyway, to keep the story short I realized this evening that I’ve logged almost 6000km with the app. Crazy! In fact, I’m only about 236km shy of the 6 grand mark.

Of course this didn’t happen all at once. Most of the distance was covered between 2010 and now, despite the fact that I officially started using the app in December of 2008. I guess I wasn’t all that active in 2008 and 2009, apparently logging only 27 activities.

In addition to the almost 6000km, I’ve also logged 222601 Calories (not including all of the yoga). That number blows my mind.

Being the nerd that I am, I wanted to know what 222 thousand Calories would translate into. Sadly (?), 222 thousand Calories is equivalent to only about 556 Starbucks donuts (each approximately 400 Calories).

Five hundred fifty-six donuts – about 42 baker’s dozens.

That’s less than half a donut per day since I’ve started using the app. For some reason it seems like it should be worth so much more.

For what it’s worth, I’m celebrating this revelation with a piece of Lindt sea salt and dark chocolate. And I don’t feel bad about it at all.

Also, I kind of want a Starbucks donut :)

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# Happy 2011.5

As of noon today, half of the year has passed. That’s right folks – we’re on the downhill side of 2011. Anyway, I figured that this would be a good time to reflect on my goals. Specifically, I wanted to figure out how I was doing in terms of the athletic goals I had set for myself.

So far this year I’ve managed to check off a couple of things on my Not-So-Bucket-List list, although I think the one that made me the most happy/excited/proud was the marathon. I’m stoked to be doing my second marathon in October, assuming my body allows it.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my current results. The Goal column indicates what I aim to accomplish this year, the Total column indicates what I have accomplished so far, and the Expected column indicates where I should be by the end of the year (assuming I can simply double my current results).

Total Distance by Category & Goal (2011 to Date), and Expected Yearly Total
Item Goal Total Expected
Walking 1800 km 801.8 km 1603.6
Running 500 km 373.8 km 747.6
Biking 2000 km 373.9 km 747.8
Yoga 20,000 min 6275.0 min 13550.0 min

While I’m not doing so well on the Walking, Biking or Yoga goals, my running goal should easily be reached. Of course, I fully expect the Biking to skyrocket pretty quickly, as I’m confident that I can put in at least 100km on my bike each week for all of July, August, and September. That would give me another 1300 km. However, I’m hoping to do more than that – especially if I ever want to tackle the Century Bike. If I want to make my goal by the end of September, I need to bike 125 km per week. That seems reasonable.

My yoga numbers should also improve this summer, but I’ll explain that at a later date.

As for walking – well, once the colder weather arrives (ew), I will be adding more kilometres then. I’m not sure how close I’ll come to the goal, but hopefully it won’t be too far off.

Because I’m a nerd, I also present the total number of activities by month (comparing last year to this year). The nice thing is that I have managed to up the number of activities every month this year.

Number of Activities by Month and Year (Excluding Yoga), Plus % Change Year Over Year.
Month 2010 2011 % Change
January 0 19 $\infty$
February 0 23 $\infty$
March 15 30  100
April 12 32  167
May 21 43  105
June 38 46  21
July 35 na  na
August 48 na  na
September 39 na  na
October 38 na  na
November 17 na  na
December 6 na  na

And last but definitely not least, I’ve broken down my distances by month and year for each of the activities. The bonus – I’ve managed to up my total distance each and every month so far this year. w00t!

Total Distance by Month and Year (Walking, Running, Biking).
2010 2011
Month Walk Run Bike Total Walk Run Bike Total
January 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 164.2 14.8 0.0 179.0
February 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 133.6 39.8 0.0 173.4
March 35.6 7.4 0.0 43.0 131.1 78.7 0.0 209.8
April 3.8 25.3 103.0 132.1 138.8 87.7 0.0 226.5
May 73.0 38.2 86.8 198.0 123.6 130.1 70.9 324.6
June 13.5 53.3 249.2 316.0 110.5 17.7 241.7 369.9
July 170.0 45.3 291.7 507.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
August 54.0 105.0 289.4 448.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
September 76.3 70.7 160.5 307.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
October 73.7 58.0 272.7 404.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
November 11.3 0.0 128.3 139.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
December 0.0 15.9 34.5 50.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

# Because 42.3 Kilometers Would Be Crazy: One More Thing

I just posted a summary of my marathon (here), and almost forgot something of such importance, it would be criminal for me not to mention it.

What is so important that it requires another post? you ask.

Well, I’m not the only crazy person that decided to run an official race this weekend. And with that bit of information, it should be clear that I need to give huge congratulations to

• Matt & Monique – who both ran a 5km,
• Rick, Paul, & Shari – who all ran half marathons in Calgary,
• Sue – who ran a half marathon in Ottawa,
• Carolyn1 – who also ran a half marathon in Ottawa, and of course
• Mark – my running partner and fellow marathoner – the weekend wouldn’t have been the same without you my friend.

Awesome job folks. I’m so proud of all of you. While Matt, Monique, and Mark all got hugs at some point over the weekend, I’ll have to send a virtual hug to the rest of you. You can cash it in for the real thing when next I see you. :)

1 Cripes on a cracker – I must have hurt my brain during the run – I almost forgot to put Carolyn on this list. She’s far too awesome not to list here, and if I’m lucky, I will get to run the Toronto Marathon with her later this summer/fall. Super fail on my part. Sorry Carolyn. For this oversight, I clearly owe you a beer.

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# Because 42.3 Kilometers Would Be Crazy

The title of this post is courtesy of some random sign that I saw as I ran the Ottawa Marathon on Sunday (which, by now I’m sure you know is 42.2 km).

To be honest, I really wish I had the time to pull out my camera while I was running to take photos. I didn’t because I was worried that changing anything during the run might affect my pace. Plus, I was rather busy what with all the running and such.

But good gravy there were so many things to photograph. And I’m not talking the scenery (although that was quite beautiful too). I’m talking about the signs-of-encouragement along the way. For example, there were the signs that read

“All this heavy breathing is turning me on,”
“Marathoners have great stamina. Call me,” and
“Marathoners do it longer.”

There were so many signs along the route that made me smile; I wish I could remember them all. Sadly, my focus was mainly on the run so I didn’t burn all of them to memory. Regardless, let me offer a whole-hearted thank you to those who came out with awesomely crazy signs to support all of us crazy enough to run the marathon. We really appreciated it.

Speaking of all those that came out, I was amazed at the number of people who lined the streets of the route to cheer us on (both with and without signage). The roar of the crowd was at times deafening – in a good way. And I have to say that the opportunity to high-five all the kids on the sidelines as I ran by was especially awesome. The boost this provided was so welcome and so awesome. In fact, with the roar of the crowd, all the high fiving, and the finish line in sight, I ended up with the most incredible runner’s high for the last kilometer. It was epic.

But I get a bit ahead of myself. While the race started officially at 7am, the prep clearly goes back several months. I won’t bore you with those details, but I will try to give you a sense of the event starting Sunday morning.

Mark and I woke up at 5am to get prepped. Because it’s not nearly crazy enough to run 42.2km. We also like to throw in an earlier-than-should-be-legal alarm. Anyway, getting up at this hour had a purpose. Specifically, we spent our time munching on a light breakfast, going to the bathroom, drinking coffee, going to the bathroom, showering, going to the bathroom, stretching, going to the bathroom, dressing, going to the bathroom, walking to athlete’s village, going to the bathroom again, and then finally hitting our respective corrals. And yes, we may have been nervous enough to go to the bathroom that frequently :)

After making our way through athlete’s village, we wandered to our respective positions at the starting gate (I was in the yellow corral, Mark was in blue – I think). Standing in line for the race to begin, I quickly scanned the crowd. There were a mix of age groups, heights, weights, and shapes. Clearly, insanity wasn’t limited to men in my age group. The other thing that I took in, and this is something that I have felt at all races, is the sense of community. Chatting with neighbours, figuring out where people have come from, offering last-minute advice, calming nerves, etc. It’s quite amazing. Even more so, the electricity in the air as thousands of people anxiously await the gun to signal the start of 42.2km of long distance running. Yes, clearly we are insane. But I can’t deny that the running experience is like no other.

The run started off as all runs do; lots of bumping and positioning and moving about. Basically, I do my best just to get out-of-the-way of the people who are faster than me, and get by those that are slower. My strategy is always to find my way from open space to open space with as minimal interference to the runners around me. That, and I like to find the fittest (and usually taller) person in front of me – catch up to them, and then use them as a stepping stone to the next fittest person.

Anyway, the run was awesome. The first 10km came and went in no time (53 minutes). I was confident, comfortable, and energized. My breathing was slow, my heart rate was calm, and I felt completely relaxed. I spent some time taking in the sights, smelling the smells; all while listening to my running mix on my iPhone. Every kilometer or so, RunKeeperwould update me with my race pace, and overall things were great. My race pace remained consistently between 5:16 and 5

:34 per kilometer up to the 34th kilometer. Then things went a bit south.

Around the half way mark, I realized that my IT bands were beginning to feel a bit odd. And by odd, I could tell that they were soon going to require some attention. I hoped beyond hope that I could just keep running and maybe run through the oddness I was feeling. But over time, it kept growing. And growing. And growing. Until it was a full on scream. Specifically, my knees and my hips were yelling at me. Not because I was tired. Not because I was winded. And not because I was out of energy. In fact, quite the opposite was true. Regardless, when the IT bands speak, you have to eventually listen.

So around the 34km mark, I reluctantly pulled off the course to stretch a bit. Amazingly, there was no wall, I never doubted that I could complete the run, and I still felt completely energized and pumped. But I had to stretch. The hope was that a few minutes of stretching would allow the bands to chill out enough that I could finish the race without too much time loss.

Anyway, after stretching I picked up my run again. Of course, starting up after having stopped for a few minutes is difficult. Not mentally – at least not in this instance – but physically. My body just didn’t want to move. It felt clunky; as if my joints weren’t moving the way they were supposed to. The ligaments or muscles seemed to ignore their typical pathways, and instead chose to snap from one position to the other. Nothing was smooth. And that was a terribly odd and uncomfortable feeling. There was a moment where I wondered if I had actually injured myself significantly. Of course, I dashed that thought away pretty quickly. I had a race to run and I wasn’t going to stop at 34km.

And so I carried on. Because I’m clearly insane. And when I was able to get my body moving, it eventually got back to the old pace. That is, despite the stop I returned to my 5:30′ish pace. Sadly, my IT bands were not satisfied and again, around 36km, I had to stop. The same scene repeated itself at 38km, and 40km (if I recall correctly). But each time required longer durations of stretching. And each time also required a longer ‘restart’ to get my body back to moving the way it should.

Thankfully, the last 2km of the course were lined with hundreds, probably thousands of supporters. The boost that they gave was amazing. At that point, the runner’s high was so intense that I felt no pain whatsoever. I simply realized that I was so close that I just had to keep going. And I did. I just ran, comfortably and with a purpose. The end was in sight. I had almost run a marathon.

About 500 metres or so before the finish line, I saw Matt and Monique cheering me on from the sideline. This was just the added boost that I needed to push myself the last little bit to cross the finish line.

And when I crossed that line, I’m pretty sure I let out the biggest cheer I could possibly give. A giant W00T for the entire world to hear. And I know I had a huge smile on my face. To be honest, the sense of accomplishment rivalled the sense of accomplishment that I had when I finished my PhD. Seriously. It was that epic.

I’m still on a bit of a high. Every now and then I remember that I just ran a marathon and I smile. I’m so pumped right now, I feel like I could do anything.

Now I have to start training for my next mission: a Century Bike ride, a 35 day challenge of hot yoga, and another marathon. W00t! Wish me luck :)

# RunKeeper Update

On February 2 I posted about RunKeeper.  Since then, just over 90 days have passed (approximately 1/4 of a year).  Given that, I felt obliged to update you on my progress, or lack thereof.

You may recall that I had set several goals for this year as described in the epic blog entry entitled Four Fifths The Man I Used To Be Means My Awesome Is 25% More Concentrated (okay, maybe not so epic, but it was a blog entry).  Specifically, my goals were to walk 1,800 km, bike 2,000 km, run 500 km, and spend 20,000 minutes practicing yoga over the course of the year.  Put another way, that means that I need to log 4.93 km of walking, 5.48 km of biking, 1.37 km of running, and 54.79 minutes of yoga each and every day.

Clearly I must be insane.  Looking at this now, I’m not really sure how feasible those numbers are.  It usually takes me about 50 minutes to walk about 5 km.  Biking 5 km takes about 15 minutes.  Running 1.5 km takes about 8 minutes.  Add that all up and include the yoga, and we are talking over 2 hours of activity every day.   Hmmm.   I may have to reconsider these values.  Or perhaps I’ll say screw it and try to reach my goals regardless.  Ya, that sounds more like it.  W00t!

Anyway, back in the old-time-y days of February 2, 2011, I had managed to hit 315 activities (running, walking, hiking, biking), had covered almost 3,000 km, and burned over 100,000 Calories.

In the 90 odd days that have passed, I have added

• 91 activities (not including yoga),
• approximately 650 km, and
• about 35,176 Calories.

Now of course, the information that I have stored in RunKeeper is cumulative.  Unfortunately this means that obtaining statistics for a particular time period are not possible (at least, not that I am aware).  Thankfully, as a full-fledged nerd I record a spreadsheet of all my activities so that I can figure out other statistics and make pretty graphs.  Ya, I really am that much of a nerd.  Anyway, based on the crunching of numbers within my spreadsheet-o-activity I know that between January 1, 2011 and February 1, 2011 I logged 176 km walking, 0 km biking, 15 km running, and 955 minutes practicing yoga.  The spreadsheet also tells me that between January 1, 2011 and May 4th, 2011 I have walked approximately 602 km, biked 0 km, ran 237 km, and spent about 5345 minutes practicing yoga.

But how does this measure up?  That is, given the fact that about 34% of the year has passed, one might wonder if I am on track to reach my ever so lofty goals?  With a little number crunching, here are the results:

• Walking – based on my current pace, I expect to hit ~1770 km (off my goal by 30 km?  I can fix that.)
• Biking – clearly the weather hasn’t been biking friendly of late.  As soon as it is, I am going to have to do a lot of work to hit 2000 km.  Assuming that I can bike every day in the summer, and assuming the summer is only 90 days, that means I need to bike 22.22 km per day (or about an hour).  Crikey.
• Running – based on my current pace, I expect to hit ~697 km (exceeding my goal by almost 200 km – AWESOME).
• Yoga – based on my current pace, I expect to hit 15,721 minutes (off my goal by slightly more than 71 hours).  Of course, I have a few things planned in the summer that should help bring this up a notch.  Hopefully the goal is still attainable.
So there you have it.  Overall, I’m not doing nearly as bad as I thought I might be doing.  Walking and running are both on track.  Yoga is off a bit, but probably nothing I can’t fix.  And biking, well biking will have to wait until the weather gets better and my bike is tuned up.
W00t!

# The Sloth Is Dead And Other Bric-A-Brac

So yesterday I posted about my incredible bout of laziness this weekend, coupled with my slacking in all things yoga, massage, and Calorie counting.  I also indicated that turning into a sloth was not good because I have been getting increasingly unbendy, and because I have somehow lost more weight; something I’ve been desperately trying to avoid.

Today I made a triumphant return to form.  That is, I managed to get on the treadmill, go to yoga, and at least chat with my massage therapist (given that I went to yoga with him, this was way easier than expected).  I also recorded my food intake, and my exercise using LoseIt.  Clearly I deserve an A+ for effort today!  w00t!

So how did I do?

• Walked 5.88 km (~50 minutes).
• Ran 5.79 km (30 minutes).  This represents an average speed of 11.58 km per hour.  The first 1.61 km were slow (10 minutes), followed by a faster 4.18 km in 20 minutes (or an average speed of 12.54 km per hour).  And while this wasn’t the initial distance I had intended (hello 26 km), given that I didn’t get home until 6:30ish I am happy that I managed a run at all.
• 105 minutes spent doing Yin reduced heat yoga.

This translates to

• Total Calories burned ~ 710.
• Total Calories consumed ~ 2126.
• Net Calories ~ 1416.

Which means that I am still 837 Calories under my budget of 2253 Calories per day (as indicated by this screen capture of the LoseIt website)1.  And this, dear reader, is why I need to track my Calories.  I’m full.  Terribly full.  And yet I’m way off on my daily intake.  Is it any wonder why I’ve lost more weight? Gah!

Sadly, the variability of my food intake is pretty high.  For example, my Typical Breakfast normally involves a bran bar, and a bowl of oatmeal soup2.  Today it was just oatmeal soup.  Minus a bran bar means minus ~130 Calories.  Further, I question whether my dinner was actually 506 Calories.  It might have been.  I’m just not confident that it was.

Despite the variability, I still like recording the information.  At a glance I can at least get a general sense of the directionality of my intake.  Today was definitely an under day.  Something I clearly need to work on.

Now given this, just imagine how bad my Caloric deficit must be when I run for longer than 30 minutes.  My half marathon usually consumes about 1700 Calories.  Do that a few times a week and I might be looking at a serious Caloric deficit.  And this isn’t even considering longer than half marathon training runs, nor does it consider other exercise.  Obviously I must feed my neurotic desire to record more and more data about myself.  Otherwise I’m going to have a serious problem with the marathon training and run.

I may actually have to start eating buckets of lard.  Ew.

To further repent for my sloth-like behaviour over the weekend, I have also been inspired by my friend Carolyn, who posted about RunForJapan.  Check out her post here.  I’ve decided that one of my runs will also be dedicated to the cause.  I’ll keep you posted on which one – but my guess will be either Friday or Saturday’s long run.  w00t!

Alright, with that I leave you with a haiku, in honour of World Poetry Day (which was March 21, for those not in the know).  Clearly I love haiku.  If you want to read more – specifically haiku related to zombies, check out the comments for my post Follow Up III: Dissertation Haiku.  My friend Jorge of BarkingSpace.com and I have been having an epic haiku battle.  AWESOME!

My net calories:

food in minus exercise.

I can’t eat enough.

1 This budget is set so that I maintain a weight of 145 lbs.

2 I call it oatmeal soup because my oatmeal is very thin. To the point of being hot water with floating oats in it. The regular thickened oatmeal is too hard on my stupid stomach right now. The soup typically contains 1/4 cup of oatmeal, 1.5 cups of water or more (basically I fill the bowl with water), 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter (no salt or sugar added), 1 tbsp of honey, and 2 tbsp of home-made trail mix (which consists of almonds, pecans, raisins, dates, cashews, figs, and unsweetened shredded coconut). I might also add some raspberries if I have them on hand.  A recipe for deliciousness.

# The Fancy-Pants’ing Of Number-Stuffs

Speaking of nerdery, have you tried out Daytum1 yet?  It’s another iPhone app that I use on a daily basis (website here).  The app allows one to collect data.  Any data.  Clearly this was an app built for me.  I stumbled on this late last year and decided that it would be perfect for tracking the time (in minutes) I spend this year

• walking,
• running,
• biking,
• yoga’ing (non-studio), and
• yoga’ing (studio).

I also decided to use it to track the total distance (in kilometers) I travel for each of the activities above (excluding yoga), and my total sleep time.

Now, you might be wondering “Why would you do this, considering that you already use RunKeeper, and SleepCycle to track such things?”  Well, the answer to that oh vigilant reader, is threefold; 1) I have a huge nerd-on for data.  I can’t stress that enough.  Numbers have, are, and always will be my friend, 2) Neither RunKeeper, nor SleepCycle summarize the data like Daytum does, and 3) Daytum allows me to visualize the information differently.  And by differently, I mean awesomely.  With a simple button-click, I can produce summaries that have an awesomely awesome aesthetic appeal.  And if you know anything about me (other than the fact that I am nerdy and love numbers), you will know that I love aesthetically pleasing things.  But really, who doesn’t?  I’m pretty sure we are hardwired that way.

Why do I enjoy this app so much?  Partially, it is my belief that to understand data, they should be analyzed properly, and presented in a manner that conveys findings even to those who might not understand the methods used to analyze them.  In my humble opinion, findings are only useful if they can be effectively communicated.  This is where Daytum succeeds as an app, and makes me all warm and fuzzy in my nerd-zone.  While the analytical methods used by Daytum are not complex, the data are presented such that non-statisticians are tempted to explore further, to ask questions about the patterns that might appear, and perhaps offer up hypotheses to explain what they see.  Or maybe that’s just something I would do.

I also enjoy Daytum because it allows the user to visualize, inspect, explore, and hypothesize about data that are personal in nature, within an app that is easy to use, and visually appealing.  Of course, when I write personal in nature, I do not mean personal in the sense of deep, dark, private things2, but personal in the sense of ownership.  I record data that are about me, and relevant to me.  You could record whatever it is you want to record about you.  Daytum easily allows you to record, visualize, and interpret a collection of your personal data, which may allow you to discover things about yourself that you weren’t ever expecting to discover.  And I think that is exceptionally cool.

To give you a sense of what the app offers, I provide the following fancy-pants summaries, live versions3 of which are available on my Daytum summary page, here.

By tracking this type of information, I have been able to establish some goals.   While my 2011 distance goals are outlined in a previous post, today I focus on duration.  Specifically, my goal for 2011 is to spend at least

• 18, 000 minutes walking,
• 2, 500 minutes running,
• 6, 000 minutes biking, and
• 20, 000 minutes practicing yoga (studio and non-studio, combined).

To set these goals, I simply multiplied my average kilometrage4 (thank you RunKeeper and Excel spreadsheet) by my distance goals.  The result; I plan to spend 46, 500 minutes in 2011 exercising.  Put another way, this is slightly more than 32 days, or 1 solid month plus a day, of pure, exercise gold.  Hmm, perhaps I should consider feasibility, as I have logged only ~7.64% of my total time goal at this point.  Extrapolating to the year would suggest that I might only hit ~68%.  Perhaps I’m biting off too much?  I’ll know more at the end of the year, when I can review my Daytum summaries and learn what I have accomplished.

At this point, I have not set any sleep goals.  I simply want to track my sleep to see what the patterns might be.  Perhaps there is a particular day of the week where sleep tends to elude me.  Who knows?  At the moment, my average daily sleep is about 298 minutes.  This is just slightly less than 5 hours of sleep a night.  Strange, I was convinced I was averaging 5.5 hours a night.  Now I know, and knowing is half the battle (thank you G.I. Joe)5.

Finally, I provide you with some fancy-pants graphs.  Aren’t they pretty?

Not sure what to track?  Consider these nifty examples by other Daytum users:

Hmm, perhaps I’m weird to track exercise and sleep? Nah, that can’t be right.

1 You can download the free app here.

2 Although, I guess one could record data about deep, dark, private things if one were so inclined.

3 Where live=up to date.

4 Average kilometrage values were rounded off to: 10min/km walking, 5min/km running, and 3min/km biking.

5 What is the other half?

# Four Fifths The Man I Used To Be Means My Awesome Is 25% More Concentrated

I started using RunKeeper in December of 2008. Since that time I have used it to track my runs, walks, hikes, bikes, and such.  Being a big spreadsheet nerd, I also started tracking my yoga1 in January of 2010.  Of course, I’m not always religious with tracking, in the sense that I don’t use RunKeeper to monitor all activities. And in some cases, such as when I’m on vacation, I have to ballpark my distances as best I can. I try to be reasonable about these types of activities so as not to make myself look better than I am. That is to say, I purposely underestimate a lot of my exercise when I can’t actually track it.

Having that in mind, I was blown away when I actually took a peak at my numbers today. Being a numbers person it’s amazing I haven’t really paid too much attention to this previously. Not only was I amazed at the Calories burned over time, but also with the change in activity level in just a few short years.

According to RunKeeper, as of February 1, 2011, I have

• burned at least 102, 439 Calories,
• performed 315 activities, and
• covered at least 2, 916 km.

What exactly would 102, 439 Calories look like?  I wondered that too.  So I googled it.  The verdict: 102, 439 Calories is equivalent to consuming approximately

• 640 tall vanilla soy lattes from Starbucks2 (mmm, soy latte),
• 190 Big Macs3,
• 11.382 kg of fat (equivalent to about 25 pounds), or
• 27.317 kg of white sugar.

Of the 315 activities, 19 have occurred so far in 2011, 269 were recorded in 2010, 22 were recorded in 2009, and 5 were recorded in 2008.  Of course, 2008 wasn’t a full year, and I don’t recall how much I actually recorded any exercise I might have done during 2009.  However, I have no memory of being overly active then given that I was in the depths of my Ph.D., so these numbers might be representative.

Ultimately it has paid off.  At the end of 2008, I was weighed by my doctor during a routine physical.  Apparently, during the course of my Ph.D. I had ballooned to 185 lbs.  Yikes!

It was shortly after this time that I developed a sliding hiatal hernia (the same type of hernia that recently sent Charlie Sheen to hospital), which affected my appetite (in the sense that eating hurt, and I was throwing up a lot).  Clearly this had an effect on my weight.  That is to say, it dropped pretty quickly, as evidenced by the following picture.  Give that man a sandwich.  Ew.

To compensate for this unhealthy weight loss, I decided to start exercising more.  The rationale was that any further weight loss could be attributed to ‘healthy living’.  It made sense at the time.   The hernia still remains; to be fixed via surgery sometime in June/July.  Anyway, throughout the past year and a bit, I’ve had to learn how to eat enough, so as to maintain the level of exercise I want to perform, but also to prevent myself from further losing weight, and in such a manner as to prevent an episode of intense pain brought on by acid reflux; a major side effect of the hernia.  It hasn’t been easy.  This is not the norm for me; I typically can gain weight just by looking at a delicious slice of cake-y goodness.  Or thinking about one.  True story.  In October of 2010, I was down to 137 lbs (attributed to the hernia, a 30 day challenge at the yoga studio, a lot of biking, about 5 km of daily walking, and training for a half marathon).  Crazy stuff.  Since then, I’ve actually managed to gain some weight.  I’m up to 145′ish, which is a weight that I’m happy to be.  Now I just have to maintain it :)

Anyway, getting back to the data,  in 2010 I:

• walked approximately 1, 491 km,
• biked approximately 1, 557 km, and
• ran approximately 347 km.

“But how can that be, since 1, 491 + 1, 557 + 347 > 2, 916?” you ask. “Good eye” I reply. But to really answer your question, we need to note that for several months in 2010, I didn’t actually use RunKeeper to record my daily walk to and from the school. And I’m too lazy to back input the information. The missing walks would have totalled approximately 540 km of the 1, 491 listed above.

My most active months were June through October, where I covered on average 13.52, 17.78, 15.23, 11.60, and 13.15 km per day.  During these months I also spent anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes daily on average practicing yoga. Crazy stuff.

Speaking of yoga, in 2010 I managed to log 14, 840 total minutes practicing.  That’s 247.33 hours, or 10.31 solid days of bendy goodness.  Clearly I love bendy goodness.  Even if sometimes it means I smash my face into the ground.

Of course, being a numbers nerd, I can’t help myself but to set up new goals for this year.  And yes, I know it’s already February so I’m a little late to the setting of goals for 2011, but I’m not one to follow rules unless they are mathematical in nature.

So here is my plan/goal for 2011:

• Walk 1, 800 km,
• Bike 2, 000 km,
• Run 500 km, and
• Spend 20, 000 minutes practicing yoga.

So far this year, I have:

• Walked 176 km,
• Biked 0 km,
• Ran 15 km, and
• Spent 955 minutes practicing yoga.

Clearly I need to step it up a notch if I want to reach my goals.  I’ll have to try to remember this next February 1, to see how many Calories I have managed to burn between now and then.  Wish me luck.

1 I practice yoga both at home (typically 30-60 minutes now per day in the morning), and at Moksha Yoga Guelph; check it out if you want to do something AWESOME for yourself. You won’t regret it.

2 Based on a 160 Calorie tall vanilla soy latte made in Canada (the US version has 180 Calories for some reason). Full nutritional information here.

3 Based on a 540 Calorie Big Mac made in Canada. Full nutritional information here.