Run 613: Warmer, slower and sort of crowded (eh)

Run 613
Average pace: 6:11/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 11:06 am
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 31:05
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 22-24ºC
Humidity: 49%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 162
Weight: 166.9 pounds
Total distance to date: 4645 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8

I only have myself to blame.

I was going to run Saturday morning but got up a bit later than intended and started doing chores. Eventually I decided to run on Sunday instead. Easy peasy.

But I had arranged to meet Nic at 1 p.m. Sunday so my schedule would be tight. And I slept in a little later than intended again. Whoopsie. I could do a shorter run at the river, but it seemed a waste on the weekend, so I further resolved to run today, which is the stat holiday known as Canada Day.

Stat holidays tend to be quite busy at the lake, as I’ve noted in the past. And I didn’t get out until a good hour later than I’d planned, putting me square into late morning.

It could have been worse. The initial part of the run was not bad in terms of crowds but by the time I got to the Cottonwood Trail at the 3K mark it became fairly bonkers, with lots of people in both directions, including a large walking group doing that thing all walking groups do–spread out over the entire trail, making it impassable. As I approached them, I simply chose openings where I could to duck through, then ran off the trail where it was safe. Their leader (?) shouted something to them as I approached (in Japanese, I think) but they didn’t seem to respond. For all I know, he may have been saying, “Who wants my leftover liver-flavored chips?”

After that the crowds pretty much cleared up, so it was an odd concentration.

Yesterday Nic and I traversed the seawall and I ended up with 33,553 steps on that day. This is a lot. I wondered if it might affect my run, along with the slightly-longer-than-average three days off. It did!

I started out slower, but remained fairly consistent. It’s like I just didn’t have enough gas to get up to full speed, finishing with a pace of 6:11/km. On the plus side, there were no issues and I literally did not think about my knees at all. Yay!

The splits show how consistent I was:

6:10
6:10
6:15
6:12
6:07

At least I had a semi-peppy finish. I suspect the hotter temperature also had an effect. I started sweating early on and kept on the whole way. This may also be why my BPM was up, though still quite comfortable at 162.

The BPM chart is interesting. The first half of the run I was around 168, then the second half it dropped down to produce the 162 average. I worked a lot harder the first half and appeared to gain some form on the back half.

Also, the dam is undergoing a three month construction project. For now it remains accessible, though they’ve closed off the north stairs and put in some temporary ones, which I used at the start of the run. They are wooden, which actually makes them nicer than the steel stairs I’d normally use.

While I would have preferred a better overall pace, I can’t be too bummed at this run, given the overall balance of positives vs. negatives. Due to the shorter work week, I’ll probably run next on Thursday to get back on schedule.

Songs that got stuck in my head today

In no order:

  • “Puppy Love” by Donny Osmond. This evolved from a conversation about Barry Manilow coming out in his 70s. The song is kind of creepy in retrospect, and could easily be captured in video as such just by framing the vocalist in specific ways, changing nothing else about the song.
  • “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I have no explanation for this.
  • “Echo Beach” by Martha and the Muffins. Probably because I walked by a lot of beaches today. I can remember about ten words from the song, but fully remember the tune.
  • “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys. After describing the stellar quality of the film stock used to record a documentary about making the song back in 1966. How I came to describe the footage to begin with evolved from the observation of how pictures from digital cameras from only ten years ago look pretty bad today. Also, I had seen clips from the documentary this morning on YouTube so it was fresh in my mind. Bonus observation: The music and vocals on this song are pretty incredible for what would seem to be a simple pop tune.

This concludes my random sampling of music running through my head, and also concludes my posts for the month of June.

See you tomorrow on The Blog Hardly Anyone Knows Even Exists.

I stared at myself while eating gelato today

At the conclusion of our afternoon of walking a whole lot, Nic became quietly obsessed with having some gelato for dessert. After fruitlessly searching along Davie Street, he turned to technology (Google) to save us and we made our way to a place near Robson and Bute. They have a row of seats along a counter and on the wall in front of the counter is a large mirror. This means you get to stare at yourself while eating your gelato. I found it mildly unnerving. Then I took a picture of myself in the mirror, with my eyebrows slightly raised, because this is apparently a thing I do nearly every time I take a picture of myself. I don’t know why.

It’s gelato, not poo, I swear.

The perspective is kind of weird in the shot, because my right hand looks to be about the same size as my head, which it is not.Also, I am not a goth despite all the black I’m wearing. Not to my knowledge, anyway (I do own three albums by The Cure.)

Photo of the day, June 30, 2019

Another photo from the walk around the Stanley Park seawall today, this is a shot of trees and ex-trees along the cliffs above the seawall.

I walked 33,164 steps today

That’s 26.44 km. The number will actually go higher before I got to bed, unless I magically teleport around the condo for the rest of the evening.

Nic and I went for a walk around the Stanley Park seawall. As it was a beautiful, sunny day it was packed with people the way a Snickers is allegedly packed with peanuts. We delighted in the scenery, even as we had to avert our eyes from the men who had taken their shirts off to expose their extremely white flesh. It’s definitely early summer.

In a rare turn of events, I did not get sunburned, but Nic did get some red on the back of his neck. [Nelson laugh here]

I’ll slap together some of the better photos, but for now here’s one I like of the underside of the Lions Gate bridge.

Weight loss report, June 2019: No weight loss

The seemingly bad news of not losing any weight is a bit deceptive. While it’s true that my weight was exactly the same on both June 1 and June 30, suggesting no progress in weight loss, there was, in fact, progress!

First, the year to date figure has me down 0.6 pounds. A trivial amount, sure, but still in the right direction.

The telling stat, however, is body fat. Over the course of the month it went from 19.8% to 18.5%, a dip of 2.2 pounds. This is a very good sign, and it reflects how I began to curb my snacking and exercise more in the latter half of the month.

Just in the past week I did my first set of three weekly runs in a long time and, despite eyeing it covetously, I passed on a free Boston Cream donut.

So while more actual weight loss would have been nice, I’m pleased with how things went for the month. Here’s to continuing the trend in July, but with more actual weight loss mixed in.

The stats:

June 1: 166.9 pounds
June 30: 166.9 pounds (no change)

Year to date: From 167.5 to 166.9 pounds (down 0.6 pounds)

And the body fat:

June 1: 19.8% (33.1 pounds of fat)
June 30:
18.5% (30.9 pounds of fat) (down 2.2 pounds)

Run 612: What goes up…

Run 612
Average pace: 6:01/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 6:15 pm
Distance: 5:04 km
Time: 30:21
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 20ºC
Humidity: 57%
Wind: light
BPM: 157
Weight: 166.6 pounds
Total distance to date: 4640 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8

Today’s run was both a disappointment and perfectly fine, even quite good in some respects.

It was just a few degrees cooler than Tuesday and cloudy. Showers earlier in the day meant it was more humid, which meant I sweated more, but that’s all.

A cramp threatened near my right shoulder for a bit, but I focused on staying loose and after a few minutes it went away without fully materializing. I had no other issues otherwise.

Because this was my third run in a week, something I haven’t done in about two hundred years, I deliberately set a slower pace. This led to the one real disappointment, though hardly unexpected: I was, in fact, slower. But I was a full nine seconds off Tuesday’s pace, which surprised me.

Another surprise, albeit a pleasant one, was my heart rate. It was down again, to 157, which is very nice. The surprise was in the heart rate chart. Usually I see a spike near the beginning and end of a run, then a jagged series of small ups and downs through the run. Today’s run was close to a straight line. While my pace per km fluctuated, my BPM remained very steady. Kind of weird.

Other than that, the run was fine. I’d have been happier to have stayed under a pace of 6:00/km, but I still felt good, so I’ll call this a victory, especially since it is the first time in quite awhile that I’ve done three runs within the same week. Onward to the weekend!

Important Michael Jackson update: Still dead

It’s been 10 years since Michael Jackson died (June 25, 2009, to be precise). His estate still rakes in loads of cash. An HBO documentary with two alleged abuse victims of his released this year and is HBO’s third most-watched documentary of all time.

Some radio stations in Canada will not play his music, but Cirque du Soleil still does a Jackson-themed show in Vegas. The Simpsons no longer airs the episode where he voices a character, but his music still generates income in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Real dollars, too–the U.S. kind.

So his post-life is seeing great commercial success, though the creepy days of yore–with fresh new lurid stories–present the classic dilemma of separating the art from the artist. Can you enjoy “Beat It” knowing he almost certainly abused young children? Also, “Beat It”, is that a totally coded message or what? (It’s probably a coincidence.) For myself, I can appreciate his musical legacy, but no longer seek out or listen to his music. There’s just no way to separate it from the creepy kinda guy he was. People can probably do this in a hundred years when they are listening to his songs with their $500/month Apple Music subscription, but for now and for me, Michael Jackson is simply still dead.

Using my smartphone for good, not evil

Actually it would be more fair to say I’ve been using my smartphone (currently an iPhone 8) for harmless nonsense, which is still better than using it for evil.

I’ve made a few recent posts to the blog during my morning commute, using the Ulysses app to slowly tap out a post and then upload it directly to my blog. I marvel at the technology, even as I lament how few will see my carefully-considered nonsense. I even just recently had a two-day stretch of zero visits on June 21 and 22. This is bad even by my own sad standards. I clearly need to work on the SEO and other acronyms to boost hits. More clickbait! More gossip! More whatever it is people want. Maybe just a redirect to Facebook.

It feels like the writing muscles are finally starting to halt their atrophy, as I am using more little blocks of time to write errant thoughts down, moving ever-so-slightly closer to perhaps engaging in some fiction writing again.

Mainly, though, I am not using my phone for social media, except for using Slack at work, which is not really in any way fun, so doesn’t count. There’s hardly any clickbait.

What do I use my phone for? Here’s a list. I like lists.

What I use my smartphone for, in order of most to least

  1. Listening to music
  2. Sending and receiving text messages with my partner. A lot of this includes Bitmoji nonsense, which I love and adore.
  3. Logging food/water in the MyFitnessPal app
  4. Adding or removing stuff in the Reminders app
  5. Checking stats in the Activity app
  6. Occasionally checking email, either personal (Gmail) or work (Outlook)
  7. Checking calendar appointments (almost exclusively work-related)
  8. Adding errant thoughts using the Drafts 4 app
  9. Adding errant and less-errant thoughts using the OneNote app
  10. Sometimes checking the weather or news
  11. Using the flashlight function
  12. Making or receiving an actual phone call
  13. Playing a game
  14. Writing a blog post (this one may move up the list over time)

What I never use my smartphone for

  1. Making the world a worse place (to my knowledge)
  2. To smash open walnuts
  3. As a level
  4. To play music without earbuds or earphones. Seriously, why do people do this? Do you do this? Don’t do this.
  5. To plug in a nice set of headphones (zing!)

Book review: Keep Going

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a delight. Austin Kleon not only has an awesome name, his art is a fun and quirky mix of collage, cartoons and wordplay. This is someone who sees art all around him, then dives in to make even more.

The focus on the book is primarily aimed at creative types, specifically writers and visual artists, but most people can glean useful stuff from the sensible, thoughtful ideas he shares. Many may seem common sense, like finding a “bliss station”–a space where you can focus on your creativity, whether it’s a physical spot or just time you carve out of the day–but Kleon presents them as a piece with his own thoughts, creating a unified, accessible whole.

Kleon emphasizes experimentation, not getting hung up on the pursuit of perfection, and focusing on making art that makes others–and yourself–happy. He is big on gifts, less so on selling your stuff on Etsy, or somehow trying to make money from your creativity (he is not opposed, as he does it himself, obviously, but warns of the danger in trying to commercialize something you love and are passionate about).

He urges the reader to take social media in small doses, to turn your day to day life over to a virtual “airplane mode” from time to time, to not focus on doing things just to generate likes or clicks.

Keep Going is a short book, all the better to get through it and start applying what Kleon advocates. I read this on an iPad Pro and definitely advocate reading it in a format large enough to appreciate the numerous sketches, cartoons and notes, whether it be through tablet or even quaint old paper. The illustrations are all black and white, so a larger e-reader should work, too.

A solid thumbs up for creative types seeking easily-acted on inspiration and tips, and still recommended to others for the positive approach to life.

View all my reviews

Touch a tree

When was the last time you touched a tree? I know, it seems weird. Why would you touch a tree? What if you put your finger smack in the middle of some sap? You can’t just wipe that stuff off on your pants. You’ll need to find somewhere to wash your hands. A bother.

But you should touch a tree anyway. Why? Because if you are touching a tree, you are in a tiny way communing with nature and more importantly, unlikely to be staring into the screen of your smartphone, because staring at that risks finger-in-sap.

Plus, touching a tree means you are outside, where most trees are, and enjoying the outdoors and maybe on the way to or from the tree you will see and experience other outdoor things that are pleasant or inspiring.

There are worse things you could do.

Touch a cactus, for example. If you are touching a cactus, you are likely in the desert and it’s hot and dry and cacti are very prickly, so why are you touching one, anyway?

Trees, though—find one, touch it. You won’t be sorry.