Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bike to work

First day of biking to work this year. Took a chance, as I had snapped off the top of the pin on the valve stem of my front tire, but the pressure held for the ride out (I bought a replacement tube at lunchtime). As always, an enjoyable eight miles plus one mile of hell through the construction of Tysons Corner. Got to work and changed in the tiny temporary locker room they have set up while the regular ones are under renovation. A little weird sharing this small space with another employee who was quite nonchalantly totally naked for the whole period I was in there. Maybe I should report this incident to one of our senior HR people. Oh wait, he was one of our senior HR people.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Should I be Dead or Something?

Yesterday I read yet another article about High Intensity Training. The idea of HIT is that rather than exercising for a long time at a steady pace, you do a series of short, explosive all out bursts with cooldowns in between - intervals to the max. Well, that seems good to me; less time exercising, and really only a few minutes of pounding on my oh-so-fragile lumbar disks. So today I decided to try it out on the trail. 

My target workout was five minutes of warmup, six intervals of 30 seconds all-out followed by a minute of recovery, then five minutes or so of cooldown - about 20 minutes total. My supposed max heart rate is somewhere in the 170's, depending on which formula you use. They say you shouldn't exceed 80% of that, or the upper 130's for me. However, my usual runs or erging sessions take me to about 145-150. Well, take a look at the accompanying chart. For the first three intervals not only was I above 80%, I was well above my supposed 100% heart rate (note the horizontal line) - the first interval was up over 200 BPM. You could tell I was more tired and not pushing as hard in intervals 4-6.

So, someone with a "max" HR of 174 getting his heart pumping over 200 BPM? Is that healthy, even for a minute or so? Is it normal to like doing this sort of thing? The funny thing is that I used to run this hard when I took the bootcamp class to try and keep up with Glenn and John, the two really fast runners in the class. I never thought anything of it. However, seeing the data on my HR gives me a different viewpoint. Damn quantitative information is gonna make me back off a little bit next time. Maybe.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Muddy Feet, Again

I spent Saturday building a retaining wall in my backyard so I could expand my vegetable bed. The previous day had been rainy, the yard was wet and so over the course of the day everything got muddy. I got muddy. My tools got muddy. David, helping me out, got muddy. I thought that Saturday was going to be my muddy day for the weekend.

Sunday I woke up early to do my first breakfast paddle of the season. Sunday mornings when there's nothing else going on I tend to start my days with a jaunt up the river, usually pausing at my turnaround point to have a thermos of coffee and a snack - hence the "breakfast paddle" name. As always, I felt a wave of happiness as soon as I pulled into the marina. This was also the first day this year that I took out the Shearwater - my beautiful wooden kayak, which only made it more special.

The water is still cold so I donned my drysuit. This suit is really meant for people who paddle with friends (actually not a bad idea when the water is cold). It zips across the back of the arms and shoulders, and so it takes some nearly arm-dislocating contortions to zip the thing solo. In fact, the only way I can do it is by clipping an extension string onto the zipper toggle so I can hold the zipper in place and get a little more leverage. I look like I'm having some sort of seizure when I'm wrestling myself into the thing. But I did it.

Each season on the river has its beauty. The winter brings silence and solitude. Both the river and its banks are pretty wells deserted in the cold weather, the water seems more viscous and the air thinner. Springtime, on the other hand, is all about activity. The marina was busy today as fishermen launched their boats. The paths along both banks of the river were buzzing with runners, cyclists and dog-walkers. Rowers were out in force - singles, fours and eights. And then there was that guy sitting incongruously on a log at the water's edge above Georgetown, reading the Sunday Post Business Section and drinking tea from a thermos, his kayak pulled up beside him, his feet ankle deep in mud. Wait, I know that guy - it was me. Yeah, it was low tide and so the shoreline was all exposed mud. I had to squish my way through it up to solid ground for my breakfast break. Yes, I was muddy-footed again, but it felt good.