If I’m Gonna Be Cold and Wet…

Today’s training schedule called for cross-training, so I rode my bike for one cold, wet hour. I want a bumper sticker for my bike that says, I’d rather be kayaking.

Rest

Today is Day 5 of the half marathon training schedule, which calls for rest. I’m choosing to interpret “rest” as a leisurely 3-1/2-mile walk.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

I exercise every day because I lack the discipline to take a day off.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’d love to hear your comments.

How to Start a Half Marathon Training Program

Just follow these 43 easy steps!

  1. Before you begin. Find a training schedule, courtesy of Hal Higdon. (Thanks, David B., for the link.)
  2. Think about how long it will take to work through the training schedule. Allow a couple of extra weeks to sort out the dodgy hamstring.
  3. Identify a target date for the race, then look for a half marathon in a beautiful place that you’ve always wanted to visit. Don’t register for it just yet. Are you sure you can do this?
  4. Start the training schedule on a cold, windy day, and don’t stretch or warm up enough. Be joined by a friend who runs a little too fast for you, then try to keep up with him. Quit running after a couple of miles when that hamstring seizes up.
  5. Decide it might be prudent to spend the two spare weeks walking, stretching, and rehabbing that troublesome muscle.
  6. Take advantage of the extra two weeks to read the training schedule more carefully. Learn some new stretches.
  7. Start the training schedule again, determined to do it right.
  8. Week 1, Day 1. Head in the general direction of the park …[MORE]

My Lunch with Melanie

We met for lunch at Café Red Onion. She ordered the spinach and goat cheese enchiladas. I ate the usual pupusas revueltas—fat cornmeal pancakes stuffed with shredded pork and other good things.

We talked about writing. Since that topic encompasses everything else that we both live and breathe, the conversation covered a lot of ground.

MelanieShe talked about inspiration and the nocturnal activities of her particular muse. There was a voice that came to her one night to dictate notes for years’ worth of writing projects. I speculated about the creative unconscious, the unknown workings of the mute machinery of our brains that collects, organizes, catalogs, and stores images, sounds, smells, emotions, and abstract ideas and then assembles them into dreams, long-term memories, and all the wonders of fantasy. I wondered why she was so eager to give the credit for her brilliance to something outside herself …[MORE]

Hunting and Gathering in the Information Age

The July Project: Number 30

Yeah, I know it’s not July any more. The month ended in a flurry of activity during which I was too busy to complete any posts, so my first job for August is to wrap up July. Bear with me!


Great Rift Valley

A few years ago, I started thinking of my daily walk as a crude analog to the wandering of our African savannah ancestors in pursuit of game and other food stuffs. They probably spent several hours every day chasing after or rooting around for their next meal, and the one after that, and the one after that. There are three grocery stores within a half a mile of where I pitch my tent, so I don’t have to wander in search of food. But evolution optimized my body and my mind for this movement …[MORE]

The Slow and Steady Pace of Progress

The July Project: Day 29

Bouquet of roses

About a year ago, a business development client and good friend said to me, “I love my job, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, my whole life is perfectly on track except for this one thing: I’m fat, and it makes me miserable.’

My answer was, “Well, I guess we know what to work on next.’

She picked a bad time to get me fired up about a new project—the second week of August. She’s not a big fan of Houston summer heat. But she somehow pushed through her reluctance …[MORE]

Birds of a Feather, Part II: Frozen Fanatics

The July Project: Day 28

At the end of last November, in an effort to jump-start a weight-loss regimen that had stalled, I made up my mind to walk twice around the loop at Memorial Park every day for the month of December. November 30 was a Monday, so I started one day early for good measure. The next day, just in time for my “official” December Project kickoff, the weather turned nasty for two solid weeks. December 1, it was raining and 45 degrees by evening. Then a cooling trend set in. By Thursday, there was talk of snow. I woke up Friday morning to moderate flurries …[MORE]

Forget About Months…What Can You Do in Five Days?

The July Project: Day 27

Five, count 'em, five

We’re down to the last five days of the month. I woke up this morning thinking how easy it is to run out of steam right at the end of a project like this, and wondering what extra effort I might need to put forth to get the rest of the way to the goal, which was to give time and attention to this blog every day in July.

I was also thinking about how I’ve struggled for the last couple of months to get rid of the weight I gained …[MORE]

Learning to Row: A Morning on Oyster Creek

The July Project: Day 25

Oars on water

Today was my first full, on‑the‑water rowing class. As I mentioned a few days ago, a friend (Mark) and I are taking a Learn to Row class offered by a club in Sugar Land, Texas. I was feeling apprehensive in the last few days because my first attempt at taking a few strokes tethered to the dock on Thursday night felt clumsy and awkward. We’d spent some time on machines and listening to the instructor in the classroom, but there was a part of the mechanics that I couldn’t make any sense of …[MORE]

Moments of Pure Joy

The July Project: Day 24

Once in a while, everything comes together to create the perfect walk. There was an afternoon in Los Angeles in January of last year. I’d spent the day in a conference listening to brilliant people talk about their hopes for the future of human progress. I was high on contagious optimism and altruism. One of my new friends offered to show me the way to Griffith Park. I followed her through rush-hour traffic up into the hills, then she showed me where to park and where the running trail started. As I walked and jogged, the sun went down over the hills on one side and the San Gabriel Mountains faded to deep purple on the other. James Taylor sang “That’s Why I’m Here” on my iPod. I break into a grin from ear to ear / and suddenly it’s perfectly clear. It was an ecstatic moment. I’m sure that my feet never touched the ground.

Dappled sunlight through lacy spring leaves

And I recall an early spring day at Memorial Park in some recent year. Dappled sunlight was coming through the deciduous trees, just beginning to fill in with tender yellow-green leaves. The breeze was warm, and I knew it would only be a few weeks until it was too hot to walk at midday. But on this day, the sun felt great on my pasty-white skin. The soundtrack: Indigo Girls, “The Wood Song.” No one gets to miss the storm of what will be …[MORE]