Thursday, October 21, 2010

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

I make eggs a lot, as I'm sure I've mentioned. I've tried every variation of cooking eggs that you can think of. Some leave them undercooked, some end up overcooking them, but only one makes them perfect every time. Keep in mind this recipe was born and raised in CO, so it may not work for you low-landers.

Take some eggs. Put them in a pot. Cover with water. Cold or hot doesn't seem to matter but I tend to go with cold. If you want super amazing perfect eggs, you can prick the bottom of the shell with a sewing pin. That opens up the air pocket inside the shell, so the liquid can expand fully when the eggs cook. This gives them the full egg shape instead of the truncated shape your normally get with boiled eggs. it also releases the air so it doesn't have to expand inside the shell while it cooks, so you should theoretically get fewer broken eggs. I haven't done much experimenting with this, so I can't speak to it from personal experience.

Now, put your pot of eggs and water on the stove. turn to high until the water reaches a rolling boil. Turn down to medium high and set a timer for 15 minutes.

During this time, you can hang out, relax, read a book, etc. Often, I'll spend it getting my other ingredients ready (beets and pickling juice for pickled eggs, food processor and whatnot for deviled eggs, etc). You can also use this time to fill a bowl with ice water if you like. I used to do this until I stopped having ice, and now I don't. The eggs don't seem bothered.

When the timer goes off, pour off as much of the boiling water as you can. If you have a bowl of ice water, you can move the eggs over with a spoon or tongs or whatever. Otherwise, just start filling your pot up with cold water, letting it sit for a few seconds, and then pouring it off again. The water will pull the excess heat out of the eggs, which will stop them from cooking and will also shrink the albumen (so I'm told) which will make them easier to peel.

Once the water stays pretty cool after a few minutes of eggs sitting in it, you can just let them rest in there for a while. I'll often let them sit for another 10 minutes or more just to make sure they're cooled all the way through.

Now you peel. This should be significantly easier than you may be used to. Often the shells will come off in one or two large pieces. You'll still get a few stubborn ones now and again, but the majority should be nice and easy. To peel, if you haven't used the pin trick, the easiest way to to whack the egg lightly on the fat end. Since there's an air pocket there, it'll give you a good place to starting peeling. Whack on a flat surface, not the corner of anything. You don't want to drive shells into your eggs or anything. At this point, it's pretty basic. Just peel the eggs, rinse them off and put them in a bowl or whatever until you're ready to use them.

I used to cut open one or two at the beginning to make sure they were cooked because I was doing one of the other methods (the worst of which is to bring the water to a boil and then turn off the stove, letting the eggs cook for 10-20 minutes or whatever) and I often got undercooked eggs. I haven't had an issue with undercooked eggs since I started doing it this way, so I'm not in the habit of checking my yolks anymore.

So there you go. Finally, my full egg cooking method for all to see. Let me know if you have any questions or anything and I'll do my best to answer them. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Warrior Dash 2010

Hey guys! I know this blog is a little sparse, but I do have some worthwhile things to post on here. I recently (8/22) completed a race called the Warrior Dash that took place up at Copper Mountain. It was really fun and challenging and very much the sort of thing I would like to do more of. Road races are all well and good, and I'll certainly keep doing them, but interspersing the running with challenges or other tasks really appeals to the generalist in me. For reference, the generalist in me is about 95% of my mass. I really don't like to specialize. I would rather be able to run, bike, swim, climb, scramble, crawl, lift, pull, push, and jump pretty well than to do one of those things very well at the cost of doing the others poorly.

So, the race. It was a beautiful day. Right around 72º or so, and sunny for the most part. The resort is at 10,000 feet (roughly) and the race was 3.27 miles long. There were a number of challenges, but I'll go through those as we get to them. I was running with some friends, and we were planning on taking it pretty easy. The goal was to finish, not to go super fast or anything. Here we are at the beginning of the race:

Look how puffed up and manly we are.

So anyway, we moved up to the starting line and started seeing some really strange folks.

There was a costume contest and people were dressed up in all sorts of weird things. Maybe next year, right?

My wife was taking the pictures for us and only some of the course was visible from the main area, so she didn't get images of a lot of the challenges. I'm hoping to find some pictures that other racers took but so far no dice.

Now, for the race.

We started out on asphalt and continued a little ways down the road until we got to two pairs of cars pulled onto the track. This was the "Junker Jump" and you had to scramble over these cars to continue. I wish this had been a bit farther along in the race, to be honest. We had all just started so everyone was pretty bunched up. it made it so you couldn't really run and scramble over them, you just stopped, waited your turn, and then gingerly picked your way across. It was a little lame. Still cool because you don't get to climb all over junky cars very often, but not really what I was hoping for. i ended up jumping over the hood of the pickup truck which apparently caused the whole thing to shift and threw my friend Rob off balance when he was in the bed. Oops!

More running, then we had to climb an embankment on a wooden ramp with ropes hanging down. Still early enough in the race for the field to feel a bit crowded, but starting to thin out a little. This wasn't difficult enough to be considered an official challenge, I guess, but it's certainly not the sort of think you see at the Bolder Boulder.

A little bit more and we got to the "Hay Fever" challenge. It was a big pile of hay bales that we had to climb up and over. They'd been damaged by the people on Saturday (and probably plenty of people on Sunday, as we didn't start until 1:00 PM) so they weren't so much like blocks as they were like big piles of hay stacked on top of each other. It was pretty easy, though. A quick scramble up and down and I was back on the trail.

The next challenge was a series of tires known as "Knee High Hell." They were all laid out on the ground and you had to high step through them. I was really tempted to jump on top of the tires and just bounce my way across but I did it legit. It wasn't too tough and I didn't see anyone tripping or falling or anything.

The next part was the real killer. The official title is "Mountain Climb" and that's pretty much what it was. Just back and forth across the mountain. Here's the picture my wife got of the trail:

Yep, just back and forth at a slight incline pretty much forever. It wasn't so steep that your legs started burning or anything, it was just steep enough that it was much nicer to walk than to jog. I did jog, though. I would run as far as I could, passing people on the wider stretches when possible, and walking when I got tired. I think the vast majority of people walked the whole way, and I passed most of our wave right here. It was hard, but I'm glad I pushed myself. Remember when I said that our goal was just to finish, regardless of our time? Well this is where I just kinda ran without paying attention to where my group was. I felt a bit like a jerk for leaving them, but the spirit of the race just grabbed me. I wanted to push myself, at least a bit. I wasn't going to run until I puked or anything, but I was certainly going to run until I was gasping for air. At altitude, that isn't very hard to do, but there's just that feeling you get when you muscles are working and your heart's pumping and your blood is rushing in your ears. You know? It feels damn good.

The map of the course is a bit off, so I'm trying to remember how all of this happened. I believe the mud pit was next because I distinctly remember all of the other obstacles being covered in mud. So there's this big mud pit with barbed wire strung over it. It wasn't strung too low or anything, so some people managed to get through without getting too dirty. Here's a pic of it I found:

From here, it looks like this is down near the bottom of the mountain, which is totally not what I remember. I distinctly remember being covered in mud almost the entire time, but that may be my mind playing tricks on me. in any case, this was fun. I just dove in and crawled on my hands and knees for the first part, then really got down in the mud to get under the last few strands of barbed wire. Warrior Dash calls this "Muddy Mayhem" and it seems an apt name. The mud was pretty thick and sticky, and it made my clothes heavy so I had to start maintaining my waist band after this point.

I remember the tunnels next, so this is where I'm putting them. "Tunnels of Terror" they're called, though "Tunnels of Mud" would be pretty accurate, too. The tunnels were thick cardboard tubes and the mud from all the racers going through them made the bottoms really slick. I think this was the toughest challenge as far as actual difficulty goes. It wasn't the most cardiovascularly challenging, but it's the only one I was worried about not being able to finish. The tunnels were tilted slightly upward and you had to kind of press your hands to the sides to get any sort of grip. I must've held up a bunch of people because I was very slow getting through that one.

Next (or maybe just before, I'm bad at this) were the "Warrior Walls" which were three small walls that you had to vault over. They were almost low enough to hurdle over, but I was tired and heavy with mud, so I vaulted. The top of each wall was covered with a thick layer of drying mud, so that was a little weird to grab onto. There was a photographer there taking pictures of people leaping over the walls, but we were all so covered in mud that they couldn't identify us by our bib number. Oh well.

After that was the "Cargo Climb." It was a pretty straightforward cargo net climb up and down. Fatigue had certainly set in by this point, so everything was a little harder than it would otherwise have been. I've never understood why people have such a hard time with cargo nets, and this was pretty much the same thing. Granted, I wasn't trying to a land speed record or anything, but still. The cargo nets are so much harder when they're at a flatter angle then when they're mostly vertical.

"Walk the Plank" came next, and it was just some planks strung across a ravine. If I'd been going full speed it may have been a challenge, but "full speed" at this point was basically a plodding jog. At plodding pace, this wasn't very tough. Just more of putting one foot in front of the other, which was hard enough.

The second-to-last challenge was "Rocky Mountain Splash" was supposed to involve a "Dash down stream" according to the Warrior Dash website. It was more of a "dash across a stream" to be honest. I was a little disappointed. I was thinking that running down the stream would be sort of neat and not something you get to do too often. Running across the stream was just sort of meh. Oh well, they can't all be winners.

Last challenge! This isn't me, but the is the best picture of the "Warrior Roast" I've found.

A couple piles of duraflame logs maybe 2 feet high and 3 feet wide. Apparently some dude di a forward flip over one of them, so that's pretty badass. I just did a normal jump, which was about all I could manage at this point. It was pretty cool, though. Definitely a neat way to end the race!

So there's the whole story. Now here are some pictures of us during and after the race:

Oh, wait! I almost forgot the best (worst) part! The showers after the race were seriously some of the coldest water I've ever been in. I say this, having been baptized in Lake Loveland in February with snowflakes falling and ice on the edges of the lake. These showers were cold like that. The water hit my chest and I couldn't breathe. It was honestly the hardest part of the day. i wasn't out of breath, I was simply unable to breathe anymore. It sucked.

Can you see how cold I am? I stayed in there for way too long trying to clean myself off with minimal success, and then we went and got some food. We came back later to clean off our legs, since most of us hadn't done a great job of it the first time around.


Okay, so that's really it now. Traffic was a pain on the way back down, but we managed to talk and have a great time. It was cool! I'm really glad I did the Dash and I'll be looking forward to it next year!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ren Faire!

Well, I have some pictures I thought I'd share and this is sort of my place to do it. We went to the Colorado Renaissance Festival on Saturday to celebrate my cousin's birthday, and had a really good time. I wasn't expecting to have much fun since I've sort of gotten over my Ren Fair stage in life, but it was very cool. I got to meet a friend I'd only known through Facebook and had a great time chatting with him. Also got to wear my kilt again, which is always a plus.

In any case, here are the only three pictures I took all day. Why only three? Because it started raining and three of us took shelter in the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program's store and didn't have much else to do.

First, my cousin looking rather dashing. This is the only day all year you will see him wearing not-black.

My lovely wife in her gypsy costume. The rose was a gift from Dave who insisted I recite some poetry to her when I gave it to her. The best I could come up with?

Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

I'm such a romantic.

Ugh, I'm a mess. The boots are my WWII boots which is completely wrong. Unfortunately, the only footwear I have from a time period earlier than that are my Roman sandals. Given that this is less than 1000 years off, it's the better choice. The rapier isn't really a great option either, and I should have a sporran (pouch in the front) not to mention some kind of hat. Still, it was fun and I inadvertently showed up in a kilt on Celtic weekend at the faire. Who knew? There were a ton of folks in kilts around but I have to say that mine (of the non-great kilts) was one of the nicer ones. I'm very pleased with the purchase still, and will have to keep working on finding new and interesting ways to wear it throughout the year.

That's about it on that front.

We also played some Shadowrun with our friends and that was a very good time. It's the first real chance I've had to play the system and we really enjoyed it. My character is a "Face" which means he's the talker of the group. Normally I play characters with very limited social skills, so this is a big departure for me. I have to tweak him a bit to make him a more focused and effective part of the group, but I really think we're going to enjoy the game.

Okay, that's all the exciting stuff that's been happening of late. Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Well, I just got back from a week off of work. My wife and I went up to Breckenridge for a few days to relax a bit and then went to a 1940s-themed dance with some friends. Overall, it was a really great week. I got to spend pretty much 24 hours a day with my wife for a full week, and that was awesome. I think that's really the thing that recharges my batteries, even more than getting away from work or the house.

So, I have some pictures for you all. Here's the place where we stayed in Breck:

It was really nice. We had a great room and the staff was really helpful. We were taking this week to be as relaxed as possible so we didn't actually do much. Mostly we slept and watched Battlestar Galactica in the room. It was the most vacationy vacation ever. We got up there when we felt like it, went home when we felt like it. We stayed up or slept in as we wanted, ate food when we got hungry and avoided any kind of schedule at all for the whole time we were up there. After about 3 days, we'd had as much as we could handle of such shenanigans and wanted to go home. Still, it was a great place to just hang out. Here's the room:

That couch is where we spent most of the week. We watched a lot of movies we'd been wanting to see, put together a puzzle, and finished BSG, which was a great show that we'd been wanting to finish up for a long time. The room also had a bit of a kitchen in it:

Not a big kitchen, but enough for us to make some toast, some coffee, and keep our leftovers in a mini-fridge. That's typically one of the worst things about going on vacation in a hotel. You go out to eat all the time, but you have nowhere to bring your leftovers and then to heat and eat them. This was perfect, and we made full use of it.

Look how cute we are. Mostly her.

 This is a view of the mountain from main street. It was really beautiful all week, with clear skies and warm weather. If we'd been in any mood to go hiking or something, it would've been a great time for it.

We also lucked out in that we were in Breck at the very end of their slow season. Apparently they're busy in winter for skiing and then get busy again in summer for rafting and mountain biking and whatnot. being there when we were, we got to take advantage of the 2 for 1 deals most of the restaurants were putting on. This was a really nice place called the Briar Rose. It was seriously fancy, way moreso than we thought it would be. The food was amazing, and they had the 2 for 1 entree deal going. It was still an expensive meal, but that's what vacation is about, right? It's one of the only places I've gone where their steak was better than what I make at home. Not to brag or anything, but I make a good steak and most restaurants can't really compete (especially if you take cost into account). This one was excellent, though. They also made really tasty whipped Yukon Gold potatoes that I tried to recreate upon our return, only to fail miserably. They had some of the best crème brulée that I've ever had. This was our only real fancy dinner out, and we were really pleased with it.

We got Jenna a 6-pack of Vanilla Porter from the Breckenridge brewery and then went home. All in all, it was a good vacation. When we got home, we had some friends over and I made steak (it was very tasty) and potatoes (they were miserable) for them and we watched Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. The next day, we were headed to a Wings Over the Rockies museum dance thingy with Neil and Melissa. I had ordered my costume before we left and it arrived and was waiting for me. Here it is:

I really dig on this uniform. The kilt is extremely nice. I know because I looked at a lot of kilts when we were in Scotland, and many of them cost twice as much as this to get this weight and all. This one still wasn't cheap, but it was a much better deal than getting it over there. The boots are also a really great deal. They're hobnail WWII combat boots. I'm wearing them right now, actually. I'm trying to break them in a bit more, just in case I actually do need to wear them to go do some WWII reenacting. That's really why I got this. First off, I've wanted a kilt for a long time, second, I think reenacting may be a lot of fun, and third, it's just another really great costume to wear for stuff. People really notice a man in a kilt, I've found. I had a lot of people coming up to me and wanting to take pictures or just talk to me. It was pretty neat. One of them was a 90-year old lady from Scotland who wanted to know if I was actually Scottish. She was really sweet and we told her about our honeymoon over there and she told us how much she loves Colorado. Pretty cool, really. Here's where I got the uniform: What Price Glory? This is called the Briotish Highlander Walking Out Package and it came with just about everything you could need for the uniform. It came with a different jacket, actually, one that's made of wool and doesn't work well with the kilt. I got the Scottish cutaway jacket in KD (khaki drill) to match the kilt better and also for comfort. It's much lighter than the wool and also isn't scratchy.

Here's what my lovely wife wore for the dance:

She's adorable, and only slightly larger than a tire. She spent a lot of time on her hair, trying to do victory curls and such. I think it turned out really well, but she wasn't too pleased with it. She'll get better with practice, I'm sure. She has some pretty 40s-looking dresses already so she didn't get anything new. I know she wants something that's much more decisively 1940s style, so I think she'll be getting something before too long.

Here are Neil and Melissa in front of the B-17. They were the ones who told us about the dance and we had a great time hanging out with them. Neil has done WWII reenacting in the past so he's been sort of inspiring me to look into it. As those of you who know me will be aware, it isn't very hard to get me interested in a new hobby.

Here we are doing a little bit of Charleston. The hobnails on my boots make a cement floor a tricky proposition so we didn't attempt it for long. We relly need to get back to our dancing, for sure. I can't even believe how much of it we've forgotten. Thankfully, we have a pretty decent-sized space in the kitchen right now where we can practice to our hearts' content. I want to get back to feeling really comfy with the basic Lindy and then start adding back our various styles and moves that we learned in our classes. We knew enough to have a great time at a dance, we just didn't practice enough to really lock it in.

This is the B-17 that sort of inspired the whole night. It's a pretty amazing piece of equipment.

Here's the turret ball in the belly. It's incredibly tiny in there.

This is the tail gun. There are so many freaking guns sticking out of this thing, it sort of boggles the mind.

We also saw a few other cool planes:

This, I believe, is a P-51 Mustang. It's supposed to be one of the best warplanes ever designed. Here's another shot:

Very cool plane. Apparently they had these out and flying at some point during the week, but I'm not sure when it was.

There were also some cool land-based vehicles:

Woot! I guess a lot of the guys who have these vehicles also do reenactment, so they'll actually take these original planes and jeeps and trucks and whatnot out into the field to add to the realism for the reenactors. Very cool stuff, I think.

So that's about it, really. Not too much else worth noting. Really, just a nice week off with my wife. It feels good to be home, but significantly less good to have to be away from her again. Seems like we got married for a reason or something.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


It has certainly been a while since I posted here.I've been doing mostly house stuff, so it made sense to update the house blog and not this one. However, I have also been doing some cool stuff aside from the house recently, so I wanted to mention that as well.

The biggest thing is that I ran my first Bolder Boulder on Monday. The race is 10K (6.2 mi) and I finished in about an hour and twelve minutes. Not as fast as I'd like, but I finished and that was my main goal. The strange thing, something I really didn't anticipate, was that I would end up running so much more than the race distance. Doyle (my running buddy for the race) and I both had our iPod Nike+ things set up to see how far we actually ran. Mine isn't calibrated properly, I think, but his was pretty good. His said that we had run 7.38 miles by the time we crossed the finish line, mine said more like 7.9 miles. Trusting his, that means we managed to add another 1.18 miles to our total distance over the course of the race. It seems like a lot, but if you add in all the diagonal and horizontal running we had to do to get around slower people and to get to the water stations and all, it doesn't seem unreasonable.

Counting just the race itself, we had a pace of about 11:30 minutes per mile. That's pretty slow and we were actually keeping up a good pace. If you count the 7.38 mile distance, we were running at about 9:40 minutes per mile, which feels a lot closer. That's easily the longest I've ever run at a stretch, and certainly the best pace I've maintained over time. Running outside just feels easier to me for some reason. I ran a mile about a week or two ago in a little over seven minutes. Doing that on the treadmill pretty much wore me out immediately. I'm not sure what it is, but it just seems easier to run faster and for longer times without getting tired. It may be that I was using a very slight incline on the treadmill so I was pretty much always running uphill and in the real world I'm running up, down, and on flat surfaces. Whatever it is, I just feel like I can run forever out on a trail. It's pretty exciting, especially since we have so many trails near our new house. I'm working up some trails at different distances based on various loops I can map out on Running Ahead with their course-building tool.

That's about it, really. Just trying to get myself back in the habit of running regularly. I'm also going to try to start mixing up my workouts. I'd like to be doing some cardio every day, so I may jump rope on my off days, and then maybe row once we get a rowing machine. Lifting needs to get in there too, so I'll figure out how best to fit that. Gotta keep making progress, right?

Friday, April 9, 2010


We have our house! It's take two and a half years, 14 offers and I don't even want to think about how many visits to homes for sale, but we made it. I've started a new blog solely for the purpose of tracking our progress in cleaning up the new place. It's a fixer-upper in a nice neighborhood, which is exactly what we wanted. We need to do a bunch, but it's almost all just cosmetic work. A little spackle, some elbow grease and some paint will make it look like a whole new house.

Check it out at Mr. Homeowner, Tear Down This Wall!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


This has been a wild week. For one, Jenna and I are getting close to buying a house. We've got an offer accepted and are working on getting the close completed. Everything is a disaster in the house right now and we are attempting to improve it some simply by cleaning up and ensuring that all the major systems are working. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and I'm hoping we can get it all done. I will let everyone know how everything goes.

Also, my grandma passed on Sunday. It wasn't unexpected at all, but still hard, especially since we weren't able to make it out to her funeral. I'm just glad she's not hurting or feeling trapped in her body anymore. On our last visit I could tell how frustrated she was with being unable to speak to us all. I'm really glad she got to meet Jenna and Scott and I'm glad I got to see her and say goodbye.

That was obviously the down part of the week, but the up part is that Meghan (my older sister) had her baby! He's a tiny little guy and super cute. he's very relaxed and calm so far, it seems. We were there to support her while she was in labor, and got to see him shortly after the birth. He's the first baby born to our generation in the family, so it's a big deal. I'm an uncle!

As far as my own progress with projects goes, I'm still working out and seeing gains. I decided to start a paper fitness journal, but I'll be keeping the blog updated with my progress as well. A large part of what I'm doing will be weekly weight, body measurements, and body fat % checks.

Here is the calculator I found that shows the Grecian Ideal body proportions. They are based on wrist measurement, mine being 8" in circumference. Grecian Ideal Calculator

Here are the measurements suggested for me:
Chest: 52"
Waist: 36"
Hip: 44"
Bicep: 19"
Forearm: 15"
Thigh: 28"
Calf: 18"
Neck: 19"

And here's where I am currently:
Chest: 45" (+7)
Waist: 41" (-5)
Hip: 45" (-1)
Bicep: 15" (+4)
Forearm: 13" (+2)
Thigh: 26" (+2)
Calf: 17" (+1)
Neck: 17.5" (+1.5)

So I'm close on a lot of it. I really need to increase my chest size and decrease my waist size more than anything. After that, a general increase in everything will get me where I'm going. Getting an extra 4" in my arms will be tough for sure, but I can do it if I focus on it. I just have to maintain my lower body fat percentage while I'm doing it, which will be a challenge. I'll let you all know How I progress as I continue doing my runs and making my measurements.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gadgets and Gizmos

I've gotten a few new toys recently, all based around my new running regimen. Let me give you some background first.

I have a "slow" phone. It isn't quite a smart phone but it isn't quite stupid, either. It has room for music, a player, etc. The interface is fine if you want to have a few small playlists or just have music shuffling. For audiobooks, it's a hideous pain. The screen is too small to see the full title of the track more often than not, so you have to scroll down and touch a track, then wait for it to scroll to see where you are. Then, to reorganize, you have to move the track up or down by selecting it, then going to options and selecting "Move Up" or "Move Down." That moves it one spot. In order to move a track from the middle of the list to the top, you have to do that for each and every spot you want to move it. And it's nearly impossible to tell when you're done because you can't read the titles of the surrounding songs without selecting them and letting them scroll. Ugh.

So I decided to get myself an MP3 player. I'd been thinking about it for a while, especially since I started running. So I put out a call for different MP3 players. Had a number of them recommended, but I eventually came back to the iPod. It has a lot of features I wanted, and a few things the others didn't, and the price wasn't significantly different (+/- $25). So I got an iPod Nano 5th Generation with 16 GB of space. It's really nice. has a ton of features, some of which I probably won't use, but plenty that I will. It has a small screen, but very clear so it's good for watching movies in a pinch. I got an iClear Sketch cover for it so the screen won't get messed up. I also got some nice earbuds to use with it. I'm spending plenty on accessories, but it's really nice when I'm running so I think it's worth it.

The main accessory I got is the Nike+iPod sensor thingy. It goes in your shoe (or in a tiny pouch on your shoe) and sends data on your running to the receiver attached to the iPod. That in turn will transmit to the Nike website when you get home and plug it in. It tracks distance, time, calories, and pace. Pretty much everything a treadmill does, but you can use it outside or on the treadmill equally easily. It also has some neat features like telling you how long you've been running, how far you've got and your current pace when you press a button. You can also set up specific goals for running, or run for time or whatever, and it will tell you when you're halfway done or within 5 minutes of finishing. It's very neat. The other thing that works nicely is that the receiver for the Nike+iPod thing fits onto the iPod with the iClear Sketch is in place so I never have to take the cover off. I still need to get an armband for it, but it works just fine in a pocket or cup holder on the treadmill right now.

So that's that. I'm still running consistently, and even ran outside with a buddy yesterday. We went about 4 miles (ran 3, walked the last one - but not because I got tired, which is a victory) over rough terrain and up and down hills. It was a good time for sure. I also ran 30 minutes at 6.6 mph this morning, which is good. I'm getting closer to hitting my "3.5 miles in 30 minutes" goal. I'm really enjoying myself while run and I'm still losing weight, inches off my waist, body fat, etc. My wife even came to the gym with me this morning, which was great.

So there you have it, folks. That's what I've been doing recently.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Really, there's nothing quite like results. I have been working out since January 11th and have been avoiding soda since January 1st. Here's what has happened:

I weighed about 250 pounds (as high as 253 some days) and am now down to around 243 pretty consistently.

I was wearing size 38 pants that were getting ab it tight and was getting closer to needing to wear 40-inch waist pants. I'm now very comfortable in my 38-inch waist pants and can nearly fit into my older 36-inch waist pants.

My body fat has gone from (measured by myself with a $7 set of calipers, so take it for what it's worth) about 20% body fat to 18 or 19% body fat.

I am really noticing that my stomach is getting smaller, I'm feeling leaner, healthier and more energetic. My wife is also really noticing improvements in my appearance and even some friends at work have mentioned that I'm looking better.

I started out running 15 minutes at 10:00 minutes per mile and increased my running time up to 30 minutes of running. I've also increased my pace to about 9:30 minutes per mile now. I'm increasing my pace steadily within the 30-minute time frame. I started out running 30 minutes at 6.0 mph, then increased to 20 minutes at 6.0 and 10 minutes at 6.2 mph. The next time, I did 10 minutes at 6.0 and 20 minutes at 6.2 mph. Then 30 minutes at 6.2 the next time. I'm increasing like that consistently until I get to the point where I'm running 3.5 miles in 30 minutes. That's a pace of 7.0 mph for the whole run, which is quite a bit faster than I have ever run before on any kind of long-term basis. Eventually, I'll want to get to 4.0 miles in 30 minutes, but that may take longer.

I've also started lifting my kettlebells again. I started out lifting on the machines at the gymn, then switched to pretty standard lifts with dumbbells, then to Olympic lifts with dumbbells and am now doing Olympic lifts with kettlebells. The main lift I'm using right now is called the clean and push press. You start with the kettlebell between and slightly ahead of your feet, bend your knees, and grab the handle. To clean, you bring the bell up to your shoulder and tuck your hand underneath the handle. Here's a link to a video: Kettlebell Clean and Push Press

This morning I did 25 reps each side with my 24kg (53lbs) kettlebell. It's definitely tough. My shoulders aren't nearly as strong as they need to be, so they are currently the weak link in the chain. I'll continue to train on this exercise, though, as it does a great job working pretty much every part of the body. When I get access to a pullup bar (or decide to drop some dough on one that I can put up in the apartment without doing much damage) I'm going to start training on those as well.

So there we have it. Increased strength, endurance, and energy and decreased waist size, sugar intake and body fat. I'm really enjoying this journey and I'll keep you all informed as I continue to make progress.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gotta keep running

I've been staying consistent with my running. Monday, Wednesday and Friday of last week, and Monday of this week (so far) I have run 3 miles in 30 minutes. I'm still indoors on a treadmill which means it may not translate well to the outdoors. We'll have to see when it gets a bit warmer. I need to figure out my routes again so I know where to run.

I also lifted today. I went with dumbbells instead of the machines and it was definitely tougher. I think I'll stick with that for a bit. If I do, I may need to get some gloves or something. My hands are getting pretty torn up and that's not cool. Eventually, I need to get back to my kettlebells. I'm going to have to see if I can find a good beginning kettlebell routine online somewhere. It's a little cold and wet to be lifting outdoors right now and it's really hard to find a patch of grass near my apartment that doesn't have dog poop on it. Gross. Still, I'd like to get on with the workout and the excuses will only hold for so long.

We're trying to train the cats now, too. It's been slow going but I think we're making progress. Essentially, I'm trying to train them not to cry the whole time I'm preparing their food. It's super annoying and it seems like a pretty easy thing to work on. All I'm doing is getting started preparing their food. If either of them cries, I stop moving. They have to both be quiet again for a few seconds before I start moving again. The first few times took me like 10 minutes to feed them, but it's getting faster. It's also cute to watch them try to figure out what's going on. Smitty seems to think it has more to do with his location than his vocalization, but he'll figure it out. I'm enjoying the process and when we've done actual clicking with Smitty he seems to enjoy the game aspect of it more than the treats. We'll have to keep working on it, but it will be good practice for when we have puppies and babies who need to be trained not to pee on the floor.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Are you down with the sickness?

I was. Thursday I got some nasty bug that gave me a fever and a tummy that decided water wasn't bland enough to hold onto for long. Ugh. I got better, of course, and it was surprisingly quick on both ends. The illness hit very hard and fast and then went away after about 24 hours. Strange.

I did go running again today. Another 3 miles in 30 minutes. It's still definitely a challenge, but it isn't as hard as it was last time. I'm going to stick to this time and pace for a while, I think. Maybe the rest of this week and into next week, even. I'm going to start lifting on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, so I don't want to push my running too hard and burn out. Getting consistent with a morning workout is one of the things I've had trouble doing for a long time. After missing Wednesday's run due to occupied treadmills and Friday's due to illness, I made this morning's run again. I'm really thinking I've gotten the habit pretty well established. I'm hoping that adding the weights and then keeping up with that program will work for me long-term.

The Wii told me today that I lost 4.4 pounds since last Wednesday. Weight is a fluctuating thing, but I don't think it can ever be lower than the real thing. I know I'm not super dehydrated or anything, as I keep drinking tons of water. So either I was slightly above my real weight last week and closer to accurate this time, or I really lost a bunch of weight this weekend. I'm still above the "Obese" rating on BMI, but by very little. I'm within a pound or two of only being overweight. Whee. Really, I know I have a fair bit of weight to lose. I could probably lose another 15-20 pounds of pure fat without getting ripped or anything. On an extremely positive note, both me and my wife have noticed that my stomach is getting a bit flatter. Not a violent change or anything, but a bit. I think with continued workouts and continuing to eschew soda, that trend will continue. I'm also going to try to do my bodyfat percentage checks at least once a week or so. I'd like to get to the 10-12% range eventually. That's pretty lean, but honestly I know I can do it. I've never been in that kind of shape in my life, and it's exciting to be working toward a goal like that. The toughest part is starting and building the habit. Once you just know that you wake up at 6:00 and hit the gym, it isn't even really hard anymore.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another Week, Another Post

So it's been a week since my last post and I have successfully continued my running plan. I don't know what it is this time that's making it work. Before, it always seemed so hard to wake up in the morning and get on the treadmill. Now, I'm naturally waking up at about 5:00 and staying in bed until my alarm goes off at 6:00. It's like my body wants to run. I have more energy now, I'm feeling better about myself and I need much less sleep than I did before. Also, I'm feeling more inclined to make other healthy choices now that I'm putting forth the effort to keep running. Not all of my choices are healthy, but I'm slowly getting there. I've been taking vitamins and eating healthy snacks. I'm still not drinking soda at all, and I know that's making a difference. I am noticing a little bit of a loss of tone in my chest and arms since I stopped doing my pushups, but I'm not going to worry as much about that. I'm going to finish this week and next week with running Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then the following week I'll add in lifting as well.

That's about all, really. We're still playing games, seeing friends, doing trivia, etc. Keeping ourselves busy, for sure. I'm still working on my projects, so that's a fun thing. Still working on getting into a house, too. That's been a long and frustrating journey, but I have a feeling we're near the end. You will all be kept informed, of course.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

100th post!

Hey, look at that! 100 posts and we're all still feelin' sassy. At least I feel sassy. Could just be me.

Anyway, the newest news is that I've been running again. I ran 1.5 miles at 6.0 MPH (1.5 miles)) on Monday and did 20 minutes at 5.0 MPH today (with cooldown, about 1.75 miles). This is more running than I've done in a week for probably a year or more. The new mid-foot running is making an enormous difference. I still haven't had any shin pain at all. I'm absolutely certain now that the pain was caused by striking with my heel with my leg fully extended. The joints are locked and the stress has nowhere to go but into the bones. With the mid-foot running, the joints are bent and the impact is cushioned. My heels don't hurt and I haven't had even a twinge of shin pain. Woo-hoo!

I think I burned 300 calories today on the treadmill. I also looked at a can of Sprite yesterday and found out that it contains 140 calories per 12 oz. That's 11.6 calories per ounce. A large soda from a fast food chain (without ice, of course) is 32 oz. That's 373 calories. Which means that one drink, something I'd easily finish with lunch, requires more than 20 minutes of running to burn off. What the crap? That doesn't include the soda I'd drink for dinner or while we were just hanging out watching TV or playing games or whatever. At our Saturday games, I'd often drink 5-6 cans of Dr. Pepper. So I don't think it's unreasonable for me to suggest that I may have been consuming an average of 500-1,000 calories per day just in soda. Some days it was probably closer to 1,500. I'm a big guy and I probably need closer to 3,000 calories per day than the standard 2,000 but still. I eat a lot of food as well. Drinking 1,500 calories on top of whatever I ate is just no recipe for maintaining or losing body fat. I also watched a really interesting video where I learned that fructose is the devil. The guy doesn't say that, but he gets about as close as he can. Here's the link: Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Between learning all that about fructose and also realizing that I should probably reduce my daily caloric intake, dropping soda became obvious. Just doing that should lead to weight loss over time, I'm thinking. Running as well will accelerate it and also help get my cardiovascular system into better shape. I have been mostly sedentary for far too long. I'm having a hard time making it to jiu-jitsu in the evenings with all the other stuff we have going on. I'm trying to make it at least once a week now, down from making it three times a week a few months ago. The holidays made it tough, and getting out of the habit means I'm not trying to keep going, I'm trying to start going and that's always way harder.

So anyway, I'm making a few small changes for better health. I'm not doing everything I should be doing, but I'm taking steps. As I get used to these steps, I'll continue making more changes. The next step, I think, is to cut out candy. That doesn't mean all sweets, just actual candy. I've done it before and it's hard, but I can do it. Once I have that done, then I can move to no sweets at all if I want to. Really, the ideal would be eating lots of whole grains, lean protein and plenty of fresh produce. We'll see how long it takes to get there, but I know I'd be happier that way. I feel better when I exercise. I feel more energetic and more productive. After a run, I'm generally more energized than when I started. When I eat fatty, sugary, gross foods, it tastes good while it's in my mouth, but that's as long as the enjoyment lasts. Then I have to look at myself in the mirror, feel gross the rest of the day, and whatever else goes with it. Not cool. So here's the experiment. I'll be doing this for a good long while and keep you all informed about how I'm doing.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Not much new going on right now, just a few minor updates.

My projects are proceeding according to plan. I'm just doing test runs for both of them to make sure my techniques are solid, and then I'll be doing real, finished versions afterward. I'm just about done with both, so I'm pretty excited.

Also, my wife and I have decided not to drink soda anymore. We've been going for a few weeks without any issues. This doesn't mean no more of anything but water, but I'm trying to stay pretty close to that. I've been having cocoa once a week or something in the morning, but other than that have been drinking only water. The thing that I've noticed is that we are saving a lot of money. Two value meals at a fast food place used to cost $12 or more. Now we're spending like $8. Why? Because we aren't compelled to get value meals, we're also not both getting fries. That works because we'd rarely finish all of them, so it was just a big waste of money. We were also spending probably $10-$15 per month on soda in the house, too.So that's money saved as well. The big thing is the calories. I was drinking a lot of soda. I wouldn't be surprised if it were 1000+ calories per day. Jenna was drinking a lot less, obviously. Still, that's a bunch of calories every day that we didn't need are now not consuming anymore. We're both just drinking water with meals now, and not suffering at all for it. We even still have soda in the house and just aren't drinking it. I'm very proud of us.

That's about it, really. Just keeping everyone up to date.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year

Hey, look at this. A whole new year and I'm writing a blog entry. The first one of the year and certainly not the last. Many things are happening, and most of them are good.

First off, two of my friends have gotten engaged. Becky and Doyle, two people who are as perfect for each other as any other couple I know, are engaged to be married and I'm totally jazzed for them. Very exciting stuff.

Second, I've started reading a series of nautical adventure novels by Dewey Lambdin. They are awesome. My friend Neil suggested them and lent me the first one and I absolutely loved it. I can't wait to get to the rest of them. I wouldn't have thought I'd be into that sort of thing, but I'm finding it all very entertaining and fascinating. I'll be reading many more of these books, I can tell. I've got 17 more books in this series and then another dozen or more each in the Master and Commander series and the Horatio Hornblower series, but I'm actually excited to read all of them. It is also making me want to make myself an appropriate costume, and maybe learn how to navigate with a sextant. Yes, I'm a geek.

I've been playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 a lot. By a lot I mean a LOT. Very much. More then just an average amount. Potentially more than the daily recommended dosage. It's incredibly fun, I am doing fairly well at it and all my friends play too. It's a recipe for a lot of wasted hours in from of the XBOX, for sure.

I'm working on a few smaller projects, mostly based around mold-making. Check the craft blog for details.