Run 466: Bear with me

Run 466
Average pace: 5:05/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Distance: 5:04 km
Time: 25:44
Weather: Overcast
Temp: 15-17ºC
Wind: light
BPM: 172
Stride: n/a
Weight: 154.5 pounds
Total distance to date: 3715 km
Devices/apps: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

I woke up this morning feeling a little off–stuffed up sinuses, dry throat. I felt a bit better after having breakfast but didn’t get out for the run until nearly 11 a.m.

It was a bit cool and slightly drizzly along the river trail but the threat of rain seemed small. As I approached the Cariboo dam and my usual starting point at Burnaby Lake, the threat of bears grew significantly.

More precisely, a guy came up to me and said there was a mother bear with two cubs up ahead. I asked where and he said “around the corner,” said corner being right next to the damn–my starting point. I debated for a few moments on my options then decided the risk of being mauled by a protective mother bear, no matter how small, was not worth it. I turned around and did a 5K on the river trail instead.

At this point I had a tremendous pressure headache and that perhaps spurred me to run faster in order to finish the run sooner and get home. My first km turned out to be a speedy 4:55/km and my overall pace was a best-for-year 5:05/km. By the end the headache had diminished and I wasn’t being chased by bears, so that’s good enough for me.

My BPM was unusually high at 172, perhaps signalling a combination of accelerated pace and oncoming illness of some sort.

It is fantastically busy at work and we have a skeleton crew tomorrow, so I can’t really skip out but for now and for the moment I know the run went well and I shall think of this as I collapse face-down on the bed.

Oh, iTunes, why are you so easy to hate?

I recently and foolishly updated iTunes to the latest version. This new version allegedly makes the Apple Music streaming service part better. I wouldn’t know because I don’t listen to streaming music because I am a dinosaur (that still buys all of his music digitally now, so I’m evolving, slowly).

The one new feature I noticed, other than gigantic cover art that consumes much of the interface, is the new Random Shuffle mode. What is Random Shuffle mode, you ask. It’s where you listen to an album and iTunes–with shuffle turned off–will jump to a random song from another album. If you do something–switch songs, click the shuffle button a few times, stand up and twirl while invoking the spirit of Steve Jobs, it sometimes plays the songs in order again. But then it starts shuffling them in short order.

It is somewhat maddening. I think about possible fixes–re-installing, rolling back to the previous version, rebooting, drawing a pentagram underneath my computer, but in the end I just switched to Groove Music. Yes, the bare bones and sometimes awful music player included in Windows 10.

It seems a little better than before, even if it’s ludicrous that you have to restart it to switch between the light and dark themes. But it plays my music in order, so it’s good enough for now.

I’ll try iTunes again after the next version comes out. For the superstitious types, it’s going to get even better, because the next major release will be version 13.

Rain on me (2016)

The second day of fall was cool, wet and for good measure a strong wind would occasionally gust up.

One of the perks, such as it is, of global warming/climate change/more extreme weather is a trend away from our usual months of incessant rain and gray skies during the fall and winter. I like it, even as I secretly know we’ll eventually have penguins living in Vancouver as a result*.

This is my way of saying I miss summer even more than I did yesterday when it was still sunny and warm.

I also skipped my noon walk because of the rain and now feel slothful and lazy. I may run tomorrow as penance.

* I’m pretty sure the penguins will remain in the Antarctic, but you never know, maybe a rogue ice floe bearing a distraught penguin family will survive all the way up to the west coast

NaNoWriMo 2016 Pre-Update #2

Here’s my second pre-NaNoWriMo update. Exciting news ahead, depending on how very generously you define exciting.

Story idea progress: None

This is slightly disturbing because my goal was to have an idea picked out by the end of the month OR ELSE. There are eight days left in the month. Tick tock tick tock…

Tool selection: Tentatively done

I have come up with what is likely to be the final selection of writing tools for NaNoWriMo. In theory I could choose a tool that would work across all three major OSes I’ll be writing in (Windows, Mac and iOS) by using Word, for example, but I’ve opted to stick with using distraction-free programs and saving in txt format. The winners are:

Windows: WriteMonkey. I am still hoping version 3 gets a final release before November, but I’ve written over 50,000 words using version 2.7, so it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t.

macOS: FocusWriter. Mainly because WriteMonkey is not yet available on Macs yet (another reason to hope for version 3’s release).

iOS: iA Writer. I already have it, it’s simple and works. I am also testing out a couple of other apps, such as Werdsmith, but so far none has really won me over. I don’t expect to do a lot of writing on my iPad, anyway.

I will be using OneDrive again to save to the big fluffy cloud, with local backups on each platform. I may also send backups to Dropbox or Google Drive if I’m feeling zany.

Now I just need that pesky idea.

Fall on me (2016)

Today was the first day of fall and it was sunny and pleasantly mild, even almost warm. Good work fall, keep it up!

Note: tomorrow’s forecast calls for a chance of rain and a high of 14. I do not approve.

Also, the sun set today at 7:08 p.m. We’re probably only a couple of weeks away from it starting to get seriously dusky at the end of my runs and then too dark to run after work altogether. Plus cold and wet.

Basically what I’m saying is I already miss summer.

Book review: Slade House

Slade HouseSlade House by David Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Note: Slade House features references to characters and settings from Mitchell’s other stories, but is completely standalone even if you’ve never read anything else of Mitchell’s.)

Answering the question, “Should you ever try entering a strange black iron gate embedded in the imposingly tall brick wall of a long, twisting alley to see what’s on the other side?” (the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t), Slade House begins in the 70s and moves to the present in nine year jumps, recounting the visits of various people invited/lured to the titular house, one that turns out to be both real and unreal.

Starting with a young boy addled on his mother’s Valium and ending with someone a wee bit more together, Mitchell lays out what is essentially a collection of short stories recounting the people drawn to the house and their typically horrifying experiences there, each story further revealing the mystery of what Slade House is. The stories are told from the first person POV and Mitchell grandly cheats on this, so much so that you’re likely to just accept it or, if you’re feeling cranky, perhaps put the book down.

Trading more on the bizarre and funny and less on outright horror, I found the main strength of the book comes in the variety of the assorted protagonists, ranging from hapless kids to hapless would-be paranormal investigators. Mitchell’s glee at tormenting them is almost palpable.

To say much more would spoil the story. While the revelations are likely to be worked out by those steeped in the genre, I still enjoyed the ride. Or visit, if you will.

View all my reviews

Run 465: Tired? Faster!

Run 465
Average pace: 5:07/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Distance: 5:04 km
Time: 25:52
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 17ºC
Wind: moderate
BPM: 156
Stride: n/a
Weight: 155.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 3710 km
Devices/apps: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

Tonight I felt a bit droopy heading out. In fact, I didn’t really want to run at all. But I did and a strange thing happened.

I felt pretty good. I felt rather zippy.

Without any issues nagging me, I maintained a solid pace and finished by tying my best 5K pace this year, 5:07/km. Oddly, the time of the run, 25:52 minutes, is not only a numerical palindrome, it exactly matches the time of my 5K on September 13, exactly one week ago. That is some spooky consistency.

I changed up the route once more tonight, wanting to again avoid having to double back. I ran past the river trail, turned north up Cariboo Road to the train crossing, then turned and came back (in large part due to the fact that there was an actual train crossing), headed to the start of the trail, then continued on across North Road and into Lower Hume Park. I hit the 5K mark just shy of the stairs leading into Hume Park (the upper part). This is cutting it close because stairs means no more trail and the running part gets a lot trickier.

The wind was a bit stronger than usual tonight, which was kind of nice, and the sun is now low enough that it only pokes through some of the lower tree branches. This is also nice because running while the sun is shining directly into your eyes is sub-optimal.

Overall this was a surprisingly good effort. The only down note was noticing how many trees have leaves that are starting to turn. We are on the cusp of fall (two days away), increasingly shorter days and the end of being able to run after work without developing some kind of amazing night vision (the sun set at 7:12 tonight, about fifteen minutes after I finished the run). I haven’t figured out how I will deal with this because my usual solution has been injury so I don’t run at all in the winter, but if I stay healthy I may just need a plan.

Birthday #1,000 or so (2016)

Today was my birthday. Birthdays are odd, because you’re essentially celebrating moving one year closer to death. Mind you, that’s better than actually being dead, so there’s that. Unless being dead is secretly cool and all the dead people are keeping it to themselves.

Anyway, a co-worker of mine brought a donut cake of sorts to me while I worked on the service desk today. It was massive and about 5,000 calories and I could not eat all of it. But here’s a picture of it sitting on the corner of my desk:

a cake of donuts
[joke about fire hazard if full number of candles were used]
I consumed the top donut, as Boston Cream is my favorite, but could only make a small dent in the apple fritter below (my second favorite–how did they know?)

It was delicious and unexpected and nice. I also got treated to dinner, received a gift card for more books, and got a back scratch and tummy rub. Everything but the donuts was from my partner, not my co-worker. A belly rub from my co-worker would either be terribly awkward or proof that I had slipped into a parallel dimension where such displays are considered normal, possibly even expected.

In all, it was a good ending to what was otherwise a grossbuckets day at work due to ongoing staff shortages/absences/alien abductions. Tomorrow it will just be grossbuckets again.

Fly, my pretty

Last night (technically early this morning) I had a type of dream that I haven’t had for many years. No, not getting chased by vampires, mummies, robots or driver-less vehicles (the staples of my childhood and I still have no idea what was up with that), but rather, I dreamed that I was flying.

I would normally associate flying dreams (at least ones where I don’t plummet to the ground) as something positive my subconscious is surfacing and while things have not been going badly for me of late, work has been very busy, I don’t have an idea for NaNoWriMo yet and I have other assorted smaller worries and concerns. There’s a lot on my mind, in other words.

And yet last night I dreamed I was flying over a park (a park was the location of one of my previous flying dreams, too). Sure, the people in the park didn’t seem to notice or care but it was still spiffy. The flying seemed to rely on momentum and inertia, so running and jumping into the air definitely helped. Once airborne, I remained upright and could swoop back and forth, sort of a fast hovering motion rather than using a Superman-style pose.

At one point in the dream a guy started following me. I didn’t know who he was or if he was dangerous but he definitely appeared to be trailing me. I should point out that I was suddenly not flying any more. I was instead scrambling up a steep hill covered in crumbly dirt and rock, the sort of thing that I find difficult to climb in real life. The dream mirrored this aspect accurately. The guy was going to catch up to me but I had to be careful, lest I fall right into his possibly evil clutches. When I made it to the top it seemed I remembered I could fly and so I started flying around again.

I don’t remember anything else after that, but still, it was neat to have a flying dream again.

Run 464: Late, tired and crowded (but sunny!)

Run 464
Average pace: 5:33/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Distance: 10:03 km
Time: 55:50
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 17-19ºC
Wind: light
BPM: 153
Stride: n/a
Weight: 154.6 pounds
Total distance to date: 3705 km
Devices/apps: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

This morning I simply could not rouse myself. I was having weird and wonderful dreams, including one where I was flying in a park. That’s flying without any sort of aircraft or balloon. It was neat, especially since I never crashed.

I finally got up around 10 a.m. then puttered about, washed my running clothes, weighed the pros and cons of going out for a run today, found the list of cons was somewhat trivial, so finally at 12:35 p.m. I set off, under pleasantly sunny skies and a comfy temperature of 17ºC.

Ominously, my left foot was already hurting as I got to the lake. My right leg was also a bit stiff.

I opted to run clockwise, thinking most of the walkers would be heading toward me, making our interactions less awkward. This was met with partial success.

The left foot bugged me for a bit, then got better, then bugged me for a bit again and finally settled down. I’d say it was a factor but a minor one. The right leg was about the same. I felt tired, though. The last few km I had no gas left to push at all, so I just keep on trucking, finishing with a pace of 5:33/km, a few seconds off my best but in line with my recent runs (and faster than last Sunday, actually).

Despite the rain yesterday the trail was in good shape so no puddle-dodging was needed. People-dodging was, as the trail was quite crowed. Most people stepped out of the way but one particular group was a bit oblivious and I just had enough room to stay on the trail as I squeezed by, despite repeatedly calling out to warn of my approach.

Overall the results were decent, despite how I felt, so I’m pleased enough. I also passed the 3,700 km threshold, so yay me.

I noticed a new warning sign at the entrance to the park after my report of a bobcat/lynx in the area:

not the cats you feed Tender vittles to
No parking, no bikes. Wild cats OK.

Perhaps it means the area is now rated Restricted. Which it is if you have a bike. And I saw a pair of cyclists heading over as I left. If they did go ahead into the park I can only hope a bobcat punctured all of their tires. That would be a nice kitty.

Run 463: Omega Man-style in the rain

Run 463
Average pace: 5:18/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Distance: 5:04 km
Time: 26:46
Weather: Rain showers
Temp: 14ºC
Wind: light to nil
BPM: 164
Stride: n/a
Weight: 155.7 pounds
Total distance to date: 3695 km
Devices/apps: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

Concerned (obsessed?) that I wouldn’t hit my step/activity goals on this soggy day (I am leaving soon to see a movie with a friend, which involves a lot of sitting, as you might imagine) I pondered what to do? Go for a walk? In a downpour? Not likely.

Go for a run? In a downpour?

I waited till noon and the torrential rain eased up to light showers, I donned my running clothes and headed out for a wacky, unplanned 5K. The temperature was a full ten degrees cooler than Thursday evening–14ºC–but would be fine for a run.

Literally as I moved out from under cover of the building entrance the light rain mist turned back into a downpour. I thought about going back in and waiting more but in the span of a few moments I was already soaked, so I just kept heading out.

The start of the run was a comedy of errors as my wet fingertip formed a perfect barrier against the face of my Apple watch, causing erratic or non-responsive behavior. I used Siri where I could, then dried my finger as best as I was able (it’s trickier than it sounds when you’re in the rain and already drenched) and finally began my run.

Apparently my body reacted to the rain with some form of shock because the first two km were very slow, both coming in at 5:35/km. The last three were much faster (coincidentally it stopped raining by the end) and my overall pace ended at 5:18/km, only slightly slower than Thursday.

I can’t blame others for impeding my progress in the first few km. As the title of the post alludes to, I did not see a single person on the run, the first time that has happened in quite a long time. People really don’t want to spend an early weekend afternoon slopping about in the rain by the river.

Speaking of slopping, my newer Hoka Speedgoats produced this effect on my socks:

Can you guess what color my running shoes are?
Can you guess what color my running shoes are?

As for the run, I felt fine, though the first few km did feel like I was putting in more effort, perhaps because I just wasn’t mentally prepared for doing something as zany as a spontaneous run in the rain. The run ended in another comedy of errors, with the watch only tracking the first 36 seconds of my walk back before abruptly shutting off tracking without warning. My only thought is somehow the sleeve of my shirt somehow triggered it or it’s not as water-resistant as Apple claims. Not terribly impressed, either way.

The Series 2 Apple Watch, which came out yesterday, happens to be fully waterproof. Hmm.