So now what?

I’m really not sure what to do with myself now. For the better part of the last three years my focus has been on losing weight, then at the end of last year I had my first marathon – which I absolutely crushed. My doctor and I are both happy with my weight, and my blood pressure/cholesterol numbers are all still good. Now I find myself feeling rather listless about… well, lots of things. I was so focused on those goals that I never gave any thought to what I’d do after I hit them. I think I was just sort of hoping that “the next thing” would present itself so I could take it on. Spoiler alert: That is – apparently – not how this works.

I don’t currently have any real goals beyond “don’t gain all that weight back”, which is a little vague and open-ended for my liking. And tracking a lack of change isn’t as much fun as tracking progress of any sort. While I am back up about 10 lbs from my lowest weight last December, I have to remember that was at the peak of my marathon training. That’s not really a sustainable weight for me – and my doctor agrees. I was burning a hell of a lot of calories and actually had to work at making sure I was taking in enough to sustain myself through all that training.

I need to find another long-term goal or two. Goal(s) for which I can quantifiably track my progress. I’m very strongly considering registering for the local marathon that I didn’t get to officially do last December because of The State Of Everything, but I’ll be right back here again once that date passes and the run is done. I’m not terribly interested in pushing my distance running any further than a marathon, so that’s not on my radar.

Maybe some sort of strength related goal, though that sort of thing will be pretty tough without access to more gear than the three pairs of dumbbells that I own.. (No, I’m not going back to the gym yet.) Not impossible, but it will take some creative thinking. And possibly purcha$ing some gear. I’m not terribly interested in bulking up like The Rock, though my arms are definitely not as toned as my legs, which is a thing I suppose I could focus on.

I don’t know. I’ll have to give it some thought.

Thanks for reading. Here’s a sweaty pic from after this morning’s run.

Three Years and Counting

Today I had my routine physical exam with my doctor. It’s been just over three years since the same exam which started me on the path of finding a healthier lifestyle for good. My bloodwork this time was great. There was one number which was a touch low, but he’s not concerned about it. As long as that number isn’t above normal, it’s fine.

He was rather impressed that I’ve managed to drop over 100 pounds and keep it off so far. We talked about my goals and where I’ve been lately weight-wise. I mentioned that for vanity reasons I’d like to get to (and stay at) around 175 lbs – I’ve been hovering anywhere between 179 ad 185 lately – but we ultimately decided that I’m good where I am. He pointed out that I’ve got probably six to seven pounds of loose skin around my mid-section so factoring that out, I really am right about where I should be. My bathroom scale has me around 18% body fat, which is in a good range.

Considering that even with the weight of that skin I weigh pretty much what I did at the end of high school but am in far smaller clothes than I was back then, I’m totally claiming that win. When I graduated high school, I was wearing either size 36 or 38 jeans depending on the brand and XL shirts. Now I’m pretty reliably wearing size M shirts and 30 jeans.

So yeah. Over all, I’m really happy with the state of things. I just need to work on retraining my brain from focusing on that lower number and instead work on maintaining and keeping up with my activity.

I have had some weird pain in my left shoulder for a while, but have been doing work with light weights for the last few weeks which has helped quite a bit. He gave me a couple of other exercises to add to my routines which will address some motions that I hadn’t thought about. So if I keep that up, the shoulder issue should clear up as well with time.

And now that I’ve finally been able to see my doctor – last year’s physical got cancelled because of COVID – I’m free to see my barber. You see, I’d decided that until I could get a routine exam with my doc, I had no business visiting a barber. Part of me wants to let my hair grow a bit more just for giggles, but the other part is tired of it and just wants my old haircut back. We’ll see how that plays out, I guess.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe out there!

COVID Vaccine Part 2: This Time It’s Personal

Ok it’s really not all that personal, I just went with the bad sequel joke. So here’s my experience with my second vaccine dose. I don’t remember if I mentioned this on the first post, but I got the Pfizer vaccine.

  • March 2, 2021
    • 2:09 PM – got shot number two
    • 2:24 PM – no issues, left observation area
    • 11:20 PM – Woke up, arm was super sore. Took some Tylenol and went back to bed.
  • March 3, 2021
    • Morning – arm still quite sore, but am otherwise feeling alright
    • Noon – a bit headachey starting late morning. Unsure if allergies, slept weird, or vaccine-related.
    • 5:30 PM – Sudden onset of fatigue, rapidly increasing.
  • March 4, 2021
    • 5:30 AM – tried to go back to sleep after my alarm went off because I was stiff (likely from yesterday’s exercises, not the vaccine) and sluggish (likely from the vaccine) but couldn’t. Got up and did a slow, easy run. Fatigue seems to have abated for the time being.
    • 3:00 PM – Arm feels pretty much normal again. Energy level is normal for a Thursday afternoon.
  • March 5, 2021
    • Woke up feeling good.
    • Afternoon: Starting to feel a bit fatigued again. Not quite 72 hours post-shot.
  • March 8, 2021
    • Energy levels seem to have mostly stabilized over the weekend. Think I’m good.

So, the new CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people have been all over my internets this morning. It’s worth a click through to read the actual guidelines but in a nutshell, the “big news” is that they now consider it safe for fully vaccinated people to:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing

“For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen ).”

According to that, in just over a week I’ll be able to safely hang out with other vaccinated folks – and even low-risk unvaccinated folks, though that bit makes me squidgy – in small groups without masks or worrying about keeping distance. We could even shake hands. Or hug. (I’m not really a hugger but given the past year, I might make a few exceptions when the time comes.) I do intend to proceed with caution, though. The vaccine isn’t a free pass to do whatever we want whenever we want. It doesn’t guarantee we won’t come down with COVID or that we won’t be able to pass it to someone else, it just greatly reduces those chances. There are still a whole lot of folks out there who want to get vaccinated but haven’t been able to do so for any number of reasons. For that reason I intend to continue to maintain my preventive measures when in public spaces and limit my presence in public spaces for a bit longer.

Stay home when you can. Mask up when you can’t. Wash your filthy paws. Don’t be an asshat.

COVID Vaccine, Part 1

I don’t have much to update, so I figured I’d document my experience with getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

  • January 16, 2021
    • Registered for the opportunity to register for my first shot.
  • January 27, 2021
    • Received my invitation to create a MyChart account in order to sign up for a time to get my first shot, and I did so.
  • January 28-February 8, 2021
    • Every single Zoom meeting (and there are many) starts with coworker stories about their first shots and subsequent side effects ranging from “no worse than a flu shot” to feeling terrible for days. There’s no discernible pattern for who gets hit how. The “no worse than a flu shot” bit is particularly unhelpful. Most years I have a sore arm for a day or so but some years it has knocked me on my ass. There’s just no telling which it’ll be. I have no idea what to actually expect.
  • February 9, 2021
    • 2:10 PM – received Pfizer shot number 1. Doc advised me that I’d have a fairly sore arm tomorrow, said I could take Tylenol – NOT IBUPROFEN – if I needed to, and wished me luck. (That bit gave me pause… I mean… why?) Sat in the observation area for 15 minutes, felt fine, was allowed to leave. Walked back to my office to finish up some work before packing up and heading home.
    • 3:40 PM – arm starting to feel sore at injection site.
  • February 10, 2021
    • 12:45 AM – Rolled over and my arm was so sore it jerked me fully awake. Took some Tylenol and thankfully made it back to sleep. Thought I had some slight nausea, but it could’ve just been fatigue.
    • 5:30 AM – Woke up because alarm went off. Arm was still sore, but not as bad as earlier. Otherwise I feel fine. Was able to work out okay.
    • 2:20 PM – It’s been just over 24 hours since the shot. Arm is tender but haven’t needed more Tylenol. Brain is a little sluggish but the last week and a half at work have been super brain-intense, so it could just be that.
  • February 11, 2021
    • Arm feels pretty much back to normal. I’ll continue to get text message check-ins from the CDC’s V-Check system for several more days, but I think I’m good on this one.

Please remember that even if you’ve already got both of your shots, that doesn’t make you invincible. You could still get some strain of the virus. Or worse, you can still carry it and can still spread it to unvaccinated folks if you relax your precautionary measures.

Stay home when you can. Mask up when you can’t. Wash your filthy paws. Don’t be an asshat.

Race Report: Bootleg Tucson Marathon

First, I’d like to thank my friend Brooke for this disclaimer which I have shamelessly stolen from her google Doc about the bootleg race: Please note that this is NOT an official event in connection with any particular individual, club, or organization.  This event has no connection to or affiliation with the Tucson Marathon, it’s race directors, or the Holualoa Companies.  This is classified as a SELF SUPPORTED group of friends choosing to share the experience of running various distances together.  Any help, aid, or supplies are being offered by individuals in a Good Samaritan capacity and said help, aid, and supplies are not guaranteed.  It is additionally stated that no individual or party participating in connection with this event is being monetarily or otherwise compensated to do so.

So yeah. I finally did it. A full marathon. I decided back in the spring that this was going to be the year I finally ran a marathon. I chose not to talk it up much because with COVID and all… well, there was no telling what the future was going to hold.

A couple of months ago, my friend Don invited me to join a running/riding social group on FaceBook, so I decided to check it out. There was a thread about the 2020 Tucson Marathon – which was scheduled for December 5 – where I chimed in that I was planning to do it but was waiting to register because there was no telling what COVID was going to do to it. (Spoiler alert: it got COVID Cancelled.) My new friend Brooke from the group had wanted to meet up for a long run since she was also training for the 2020 Tucson Marathon as her first so we did a 20 miler together, which was fun.

The race cancellation notice came out just a day or two before that run, but we decided to run anyway. It was during that run when I mentioned I was planning to run the marathon on my own anyway because I’d come this far in my training and wasn’t about to give up on it. To which Brooke said, “Well… if you’re going to do it, then I’m going to do it too! I bet we can even wrangle up some volunteers for support.” A quick poll on the FB group showed further interest, and we were off and running. (HA!)

Brooke found, mapped, and chalked markings for an out-and back 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon, and 50k route, and organized volunteers. Another group member came up with a shirt design. I coordinated with a local business to put that design on shirts and medals which interested runners could then purchase at cost. Another member of the FB group volunteered to hang out at the start/finish with her camera to take photos for us. And the volunteers provided water (individually bottled, no big jugs) and snacks at a couple of drop-tables along the route, with my dear friend Don manning a goodie table at the start/finish line.

Tucson has an amazing community, and the way everyone worked together to accomplish this was just… stunning. Thank you all!

So, the race itself. We met at the park early for a planned 7am race start. (Yes, everyone masked up and maintained responsible distancing.) It was quite the cold morning – 32°F/0°C – and because the Catalina Mountains were between us and the (eventually) rising sun, it stayed rather chilly for some time. But by the time I made my way across the finish line it was a lovely 62°F-ish/16.7°C-ish. The out-and-back route was generally uphill on the way out, with the last 4-ish miles at a more pronounced grade, then (obviously, though it didn’t feel like it many times) mostly downhill on the way back.

So, how was my experience with the race itself? Well, here’s the gist of my inner monologue.

  • Mile 1
    • ZOMG I’m doing this! I’m running a marathon! (checks Garmin) 10:00/mile? I need to slow down or I’m going to burn out WAY too early!
  • Miles 2-8
    • This is quite lovely, if rather cold. I’m not sure why I was thinking this might just be a “one and done” thing. Maybe I’ll go ahead and make an exception for a second one at a “real” event when those are happening again. I mean, I got up to a 22 mile long run in training and didn’t die. This will just be another 4-ish miles on top of that.
  • Miles 9-13.1 aka “The Climb”
    • This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. Why are the tops of my feet so sore? That’s a new one. And I’m not even close to the mileage I was making on my training runs yet. Am I doing something weird with my form? I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
  • Miles 13.2-17
    • I know this is supposed to be pretty much all downhill now, but… where the hell are all these inclines coming from??? This still sucks. This still sucks. This still sucks. This still sucks.
  • Miles 18-19
    • These were probably the two most difficult miles, both physically and mentally. My internal monologue said “Eff you… I’m done” and went off to smoke behind the gym, so this was basically two miles of pain and fighting the urge to break into tears for no particular reason. Much walking was done.
  • Miles 20-25
    • Having realized it was in it for the long haul, my internal monologue came back. Mostly in the form of choosing a landmark some distance ahead which I could have a walk break after passing, and chanting the name of that landmark until I got there. “Trash can. Trash can. Trash can.” Or “To the bridge. To the bridge. To the bridge.” Or “Big shadow. Big shadow. Big shadow.” I may have chanted along out loud a nonzero number of times.
  • Miles 26-26.38 (I intentionally overshot my turnaround point by a touch just to be sure my GPS wasn’t playing games with me)
    • ZOMG I’M DOING IT. I’M GOING TO HAVE DONE IT. I’M ALMOST DONE!!! I’M NOT DEAD YET!!!
    • Also, resisting the urge to break into tears of joy at the thought of finally getting to stop.
    • Also, also, I was right the first time. I don’t want to do this again.

So, yeah… that’s about how it went. I was hoping for a finish near 5:30:00 but expecting something closer to 6:00:00, and would have been thrilled with anything below six hours. And? My Garmin said 5:28:09, and Zombies, Run! said 5:37:44. The Garmin time is shorter because it auto-paused whenever I had to stop for traffic signals or to refill my water bottles. So that’s my actual moving time. Zombies, Run! is nice to have for the total time though.

When I crossed the finish line I felt terrible and proud at the same time, which I think is pretty standard for this sort of thing.

I’m glad to have this accomplishment under my belt, but these super long distances just aren’t for me. I think the half marathon will be my long run “happy place”. I can knock one of those out in about two and a half hours and be pleasantly tired but not so wasted that I can’t accomplish anything else for the rest of the day – much less being wiped out for the next couple of days.

IT FINALLY HAPPENED!!!

Y’all. Today I weighed in a half pound below my Ultimate Goal Weight!

30-day Happy Scale graph

As you can see from the graph above I’d stalled for a while, then had a bit of a “whoosh” over the last week. I was sure it’d level out and stall for a bit again just above that red goal line because my body is an asshole, but nope! I’m anticipating a bounce back above that line tomorrow but we’ll just have to wait and see.

The next steps will be getting that two-week rolling average (the blue line) down to the goal line and gradually increasing my caloric intake to maintenance levels. These last 25.5 months have been long and challenging, and I’m excited to move on to the next chapter.

I DID IT!!!

Same, same, but different

Yeah, so…. the world and stuff. Am I right?

Still working from home and really enjoying it. I find I’m so much more productive this way. Well, aside from the daily Zoom meetings which I feel are largely unnecessary. Many of my coworkers seem to socially benefit from them, so I suppose there is a benefit. It’s just not one I’m seeing.

I take some joy in being a touch subversive with my Zoom backgrounds.

Monday begins furlough time. I have to take at least one unpaid day off each pay period for the next year, or until I’ve taken all 26 furlough days – whichever happens first. So while not great, it could be so very much worse. (And I’ve no illusions that it could still get worse.)

The garden’s footprint has tripled in size, and I think that’s as far as I’m going to take it. It has expanded to include zucchini, yellow squash, Mexican grey squash, pumpkins, three varieties of tomato, three varieties of peppers, garlic, carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, bunching onions, basil, and chick peas. Yeah…. I think that’s everything.

Still managing to work out six days a week. Running three days, and doing my old Power Half Hour DVDs from Beach Body three days. I’d been training for the Yellowstone Double Bison (back-to-back 5k and half marathon in early June) but that was cancelled earlier this week. I opted to defer to the virtual race version, so I’ll still get some swag plus a $75 credit toward a future race.

While I do miss many of the exercises that I was able to do at the gym, I don’t really miss being at the gym. I’ve got the space in my laundry room. I think I’d like to invest in an adjustable bench (incline/flat/decline) and some weights. I’m hoping that a bit further down the road I’ll be able to score a gonga deal at a yard sale or something as people start trying to clear out the workout gear they panic-bought at the start of all this. But now is not the time for that. Not yet.

My annual physical which had been rescheduled to a phone call was eventually cancelled. (Makes sense, how do you do a physical exam over the phone anyway?) I checked in with my doctor about my blood lab results from March and his response was “Nothing of concern.” So that’s that until in-person appointments can happen safely again.

My weight progress is still maddeningly slow. I credit this largely to getting lazy at times about my calorie logging. Being in the house – where all my food also happens to live – has also made me a bit more likely to snack than when I’m at work and the only food I have is what I brought with me for the day. And there’s the part where I’m not burning quite as many calories as I was before the world stopped. I’m floating between two and five pounds away from Ultimate Goal Weight, depending on the day.

It’s frustrating to be so close and not see marked movement in that direction. Some days I just want to call it “good enough” but I’ve come so far, it would be a shame to give up when I’m so close. I’ll get there. “The body will do what the body will do.” “The less you have to lose, the harder it is to lose.” “Trust the system.” These are all the things I say to friends in my r/loseit challenge team when they’re struggling. I need to take my own advice.

The thing that has ultimately been the most difficult for me in all this is being unable to play music with my friends. Oh, I’ve got a couple of different remote projects going on with different folks, and I’ve been making music on my own to help myself stay grounded. But it’s not the same as that energy that happens when you’re in the same room as other people, playing live. Or even better, at a venue playing music with friends for a bunch of people, everyone’s energy feeding off each other… It’s something special. And I miss it so very much.

This is the playlist I’m keeping of my “Quarantine” music.

Two years…

Two years ago today I got the results of my Worst. Cholesterol test. Ever. My triglyceride level was so high that they couldn’t even calculate my LDL number. Here’s a clip of my numbers and how they’ve progressed since then. (The second column is the ideal range.)

Three years of cholesterol test results.

This was what triggered restarting my journey toward becoming a better, healthier me. While my triglyceride level is a touch higher this year than last year, all the other numbers would seem to indicate that this is okay.

I was supposed to have my annual physical exam last Monday, but it got pushed back a few weeks thanks to COVID-19. My doctor would have discussed these results with me then, so I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what he has to say.

A lot has happened in two years. I ran another half marathon and blew all my old PRs out of the water, including a sub-30:00 5k. I’ve signed up for a half marathon in West Yellowstone this summer (hasn’t been plague-cancelled… yet) and am seriously considering a full in December. I’ve lost over 100 pounds, and was actually within half a pound of my Ultimate Goal Weight one day last week. (It was dehydration loss, but I’m still counting it. As a friend said, if we get bummed about water weight false gains, we can celebrate water weight false losses.)

Oh also, I dug a small veggie patch in my back yard today. Just a little 4 x 6 foot deal with some produce that should fare pretty well here. Here’s a picture of it!

My new veggie patch.

So yeah. Still just plugging along, maintaining good habits and trying some new things as I can fit them in. Stay safe and healthy out there, and thanks for reading. And wash your grubby paws!

On working from home

Made it to the end of my first Work From Home day of this however-long-it’s-going-to-be span.

Still managed to get an Arm Day in without going to the gym thanks to my old workout DVDs which I thankfully did not get rid of once I quit using them. (I do also have them ripped to a flash drive… somewhere… but this was more efficient for now.) Super excited to run tomorrow since it’s one of my few spots of “normalcy” in all of this. Also super glad that I run so early that no one in their right mind would be out and about, so I’m still technically isolated out there.

As you may have seen from the photo I shared this morning, I got my home workspace set up. The cats are very confused about why I’m spending the whole day at home and none of it on the couch with them.

Without any of my usual on-campus errands, my step count is suffering quite a bit. Though I’ve also taken a couple of short walks in the neighborhood which was nice. Even still, I’m sitting at about 5400 steps as I write this, when I’d normally be pushing 10k steps by now. Maybe I just need to do some jumping jacks or something whenever I get up to use the bathroom.

Anyway, I could totally get used to this.

“Why are these things here, and why are you not on the couch?” – Arthur & Owen

I have a… nice ass?

Okay, it’s Wednesday. Which means it’s my weekly Beer Night, when I meet up with a bunch of other tech folks from the U at a local bar for pool and beers. Now that the sun is setting later, the sun can be a problem when playing at our preferred pool table. So I went out to the patio to pull down the sun shade which directly impacts said table.

Because the tool for pulling down this shade has gone missing, this means standing on a chair to turn a threaded mechanism by hand. So I do so as I’ve done many times before. Then I start sensing an… unusual… vibe from another table out on the patio. I look over to see a couple who now has caught me looking at them. The guy points at his lady friend and says, “She says you have a nice ass!” I smile politely thinking maybe they’re just drunk despite the early hour, then he says “She wants you to get up on you tippy toes!” I decided to play along and stood up on my toes – which resulted in giddy and (I think) slightly embarrassed laughter from both of them.

My friends were aware that something out of the norm had occurred but did not know what. I filled them in on the story, we had a good laugh, and I thought that was that. It was then my shot, so I went to deal with that but noticed one of my friends reacting to something out on the patio. After finishing my turn, I asked what I’d missed.

They said the waitress – who was filling in for our usual waitress – had come over to the couple’s table and commented that someone had figured out how to lower the shade. Apparently their response was something along the lines of “Yeah, that guy with the nice ass over there pulled it down!”

So, yeah. Thank you strange couple for the ego boost. That felt really good and was a lot of fun.

Apparently, this is a nice ass…