Tag Archives: running

on 15,000 Steps

Fitbit Dashboard

Fitbit Dashboard

It was only three or four steps to get to the bathroom when I woke up, late, Sunday morning. The grey light trying to force its way in through the blinds, the cat looping acrobatically beneath my drowsy gait.

Since Christmas, I’ve been wearing a FitBit Force on my wrist, tracking every move I make with it’s fancy digital pedometer and accelerometer and altimeter and estimated calorie-burn computer and alarm clock and sleep timer. A trip to the bathroom in the morning becomes a matter of consequence, a record of competition. The conservation of my physique is now the ward of a few megabytes, transferred via low-energy Bluetooth.

The gadget comes programmed to push me towards 10,000 steps as a daily goal, so I’m following its request, making the effort to walk at least five miles as often as possible. I’ve hit the 10k mark twelve times in January. My highest count of 17 thousand came on the first of the year, as my girlfriend and I stumbled through a 5k ‘hair of the dog‘ race, early in the morning.

On a typical day, if I drive to work, take the stairs, pace around the hall, and then come home to cook dinner and couch loaf, five to six thousand steps is an average number. If I wake up on a Saturday and watch four episodes of Breaking Bad, I’m lucky to hit 3,500. Walking to please a robot is my new errand.

This past Sunday, I deposited myself in a reading position, after my morning ablutions, eggs, and trip to the balcony to gauge the temperature. Another day under twenty degrees Fahrenheit would keep me restless without recourse.

I made lunch around noon, and realized I could kind of dance around and walk in place while the water boiled. A minute or two of that was good for seventy five or eighty steps. I picked up another 200 mid-afternoon, when I decided it was high time to run the vacuum cleaner. By five p.m., I was still shy of 2,000 for the day.

Sunset approached and a pile of indoor things sat waiting to entertain me, so it didn’t look like ten thousand (much less fifteen) would happen.

Fed up with my sedation at six p.m., I rousted myself, determined to make my daily effort. I bundled up and set out for a treadmill.The first mile only took me to six thousand steps. I haven’t run five miles in several months, but the wristband gave me my orders, and I followed.

After hitting ten thousand on the treadmill, and rewarding myself with a drink, I looked at the couch, considered my options, and figured what the hell… A late evening trip to the supermarket for bananas wouldn’t hurt my cause.

I stepped out again, into the cold night, my tiny cyborg companion blinking lovingly beneath my sleeve.

Australia from Four Cameras – (1 of 4)

It’s the biggest question I face when I get ready to take a trip – which cameras are coming along? 

For my trip to Australia, I ended up packing four cameras, four lenses, and 38GB of memory cards. Each camera served its own unique purpose, and I gave all of them almost equal use.

  • Olympus FE-170

This camera was put to market in 2006, making it the oldest of my crew. I found it on eBay for under $100 back in 2007, so you could probably put 50 cents in a vending machine to get one today. It’s a small 6 megapixel point and shoot, with 38-114mm (equivalent) zoom. By today’s standards, it is very limited in image quality, but it has something none of my other cameras did – an element of “disposability.”

At 4.4 oz, and with only two buttons I needed to press, it is exactly what I needed to carry while running the Sydney Half Marathon. I didn’t care if sweat was seeping into the buttons, I wouldn’t have been heartbroken if I dropped it. I had already tested its durability – It also traveled with me to China several years ago, and ended up shooting some of my favorite images of a camping trip in the desert.

on the Boston Bombing

A week before the Boston Marathon bombing, I was volunteering at a ten mile race in Washington D.C. 

I spent the morning at the finish line of the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, giving medals to the elated finishers of the race. Thousands of people ran the circuit around the Tidal Basin, past the blooming trees, enjoying the Spring sun as it rose over the river. 

There was no notion of danger, no way I could conceive of the violence that would rattle a similar event just a week later in a city not too far away. There is no way to prepare for such madness, no avenue of avoidance to strictly follow. Ugliness exists, and it struck Boston. 

My deepest condolences go out to those affected by the violence, and my sincerest praise to those who finished the race, and those who helped apprehend the criminals. 

As details emerge about the case, the prevailing question seems to ask why young men raised for a decade in America, sharing our values and apparently excelling in matters of school and community, why would they suddenly, desperately pivot toward extremism? Why would they strike at the city that they lived in?

There are no easy answers. 

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on the Marine Corps Marathon

I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, and despite not having trained for it, I finished with a time of about 5:46, a 13:13 mile pace. It was quite difficult at times but I persevered.

The mistake I made in training was attempting to run a normal short-distance pace for longer runs – I burned myself out by trying to do 8 minute miles when I should have been doing 10 or 11 minutes. If I put in a long run every weekend of 10-13 miles, at a 10-11 pace, I think I could bring down my finishing time significantly for next year’s race.

My original plan for the marathon (if you could even call it a plan – I kind of just rolled out of bed and stumbled to the starting line) was to only run 10-13 miles. The night before the race my family was asking me whether I expected to finish, and I assured them that no, there was no way I could – but I didn’t want my registration to go to waste, so I was going to run part of the course.

When I got to mile ten it seemed silly to quit – so many others around me were continuing. At mile 13, I wasn’t ready to stop either. My mom was in the crowd at mile 16, so I wanted to at least get that far. Once I got there, I just kept going. It was as if I was so far past any distance I had run recently, I figured that I could just keep going – if I had already gone 18, anything was possible.

I had not run more than six miles in the last 7 months – the last long run I had was a half marathon, 13.1 miles, on St. Patricks’ Day. I totaled maybe 16 miles of training in the last two months, but I’ve been keeping up with stretching, kettlebells, and biking, and I think that helped me pull through.

The adrenaline from the crowd, people cheering, and the determination of the runners, were all great motivators.

There was a Marine standing in uniform around mile 23 with a bullhorn, saying to the runners “I’m inspired by each one of you.” – I felt like if I could inspire a soldier by going on a peaceful run, the pain was probably worth it.

On Running

Two years ago, I was not a runner.  I wasn’t even close.  A mile was a huffing and puffing punishment for me.  This week I registered for the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon, and I hope to complete it. 

Since I first hit a treadmill about 15 months ago, I’ve run in 3 races and racked up a score of training miles.  In a few days I’ll be finishing my second half marathon, and a 10 mile race the week after that. 

The satisfaction I get from running is having achieved something that previously seemed impossible.  The physical benefits are great, but the pride from kicking a goal in the ass is why I keep going.