I did my first bit of running in preparation for the Spartan Race this week. On the advise of my father, a retired cross country and track coach, I decided to run on gentle terrain as opposed to pavement.
I’m currently around 235 pounds, which is heavy for any runner on two legs.
The weight is going to have to come way down if I want to survive even just the training –and the sooner, the better, really.
I’m adjusting my diet as best I can –for me, this mostly means laying off the bread, veggie burgers and Fritos.
For my first day of training, I opted to run on the soccer field at the YMCA in Charleston. With it being winter and a Sunday, no one was using it. The sky was bright, but it was was a little cold. Even the clutch of surly teenagers I saw blowing off their afternoon by swearing at each other and making out with their girlfriends stayed close to the building rather than sneak off to the relative seclusion of the practice field.
This suited me fine. I didn’t really want a lot of company and I expected my first outing to be kind of sad. The last thing my ego needed was a group of 15-year-olds laughing at me.
I got enough of that when I was 15.
While dodging deer poop (the Y has the same problem I have at my house), I managed to put in 12 laps or around 30 minutes of exercise. I ran the first two laps then alternated between walking and running laps.
I’m not a hundred percent sure how long all of that was, but at a guess, probably somewhere between a mile and a mile and a half.
I wheezed like a two pack a day smoker and threw up at my car when I finished for the day, but it happened. I started.
I came back for a second run Monday morning, after my usual workout inside the Y. I did about eight laps on the practice field, but ran about 2/3. I’d have done more, but I was starting to feel weak.
Breakfast had been a vegan protein shake and some coffee a couple of hours before.
My plan is to just do this over and over for a while –run laps around the soccer field and then eventually work up to another course. Maybe in a few weeks, I’ll try running along the river.
Some friends have suggested I should find a trainer or join Crossfit, but there really isn’t a budget for that and it’s probably too soon.
What I can do now is get my running up to speed –shoot for steady gains. There’s no point really thinking about how I’m going to jump over fiery pits, dodge vampire bats or crawl under barbed wire if I can’t physically handle 12 to 14 miles of just running.
Besides, the hope is that the years of strength training will count for something. It’s a hope. I have a long way to go.
I don’t get tons of email from readers, but I do get some. This one felt like a full blown letter and I just wanted to share it.
Dear Mr. Lynch,
I was in Charleston this past weekend for a birthday party for my wife’s one year-old grandson. She is from Nitro, and my dad’s family is (was) mostly from the Huntington and Louisa, KY areas. While the festivities were going on I was able to find a quite spot and read your paper.
When I was a kid (about 4), we moved from Ceredo to Fall River, Massachusetts. My dad worked for General Foods Corp, and had married a Maine Yankee when he was a Navy pilot. After my two sisters were born in Huntington she had had enough of WV and wanted to get back up North. Over the years we would make the trip back to Louisa to visit grandparents,cousins, aunts and uncles in the summer. A very long and tedious trip. Coming off the Pennsylvania Turnpike we would head west and eventually connect with Route 2/7 in Moundsville, and follow the Ohio River on our way to Huntington. He would drive us by the prison to impress on us that it was where the bad guys go. I think there was a glass factory my mom also liked to visit. We would even see chain-gangs on the roads. Your fine story gave me some background on the prison. I was under the impression it had all been torn down.
I worked for The New York Times for 23 years before retiring down here in Prosperity, SC where most of my wife’s family migrated too from WV. It is pleasure to read your paper. Every time I am up your way I get a copy. It is great to see how well a “small” market paper can do with great writing and good design (still has the size of a newspaper). We have an awful paper here in Columbia. The State would be out of business if it didn’t have obits, cooking and USC football to cover. It is really sad, but it is not much better than the local weeklies.
Keep up your fine writing and picture taking. Tell the editor, next time you risk your life and sanity, that you want to be on the front page above the fold.
Continuing October’s Thrills and Chills theme, I’m writing about horror movies and beer on the blog. Today’s film is the 1972 flick “Asylum.”
Our beer is Founders Porter.
The Movie: “Asylum.”
I had high hopes for this one. A lot of the cooler, quirkier horror films came out of the late 1960s and early 1970s –and I have always been a Peter Cushing fan (Most people remember him as the guy who was Darth Vader’s boss in “Star Wars” or as the guy who did those meh “Dr. Who” films).
The description on Amazon listed him as a star and sold the film as one of the best horror anthologies.
No. No, it isn’t.
“Creepshow,” off the top of my head, is much, much better.
At best, “Asylum” is a bland, uninspired mess with thinly drawn characters, a dull plot and special effects on par with the aforementioned “Dr. Who” television show of the time. The brightest moment in the whole thing concerned a batch of idiotic looking robot toys that sort of become grotesque by the end –but it really feels like the film missed out by just being cheap.
If the producers should have doubled the film’s budget to at least $20 they might have had something, but they must have sunk all their money in fabulous location shooting or a good booze for the writers or something.
Likewise, Peter Cushing is only barely in the movie. He shows up twice in one of the vignettes, but little depth is given to the motivation of his character.
Basically, Cushing is wasted on this, and I’d need to be wasted to watch this again.
It’s not even bad enough to be fun for the wrong reasons –just dull.
The Beer: Founders Porter.
I bought this one entirely for the witchy-like lady on the cover –and had hoped to spend this beer on something good, but alas, no…
I liked the beer. It had nice chocolatey/coffee notes and a light chewy mouth-feel. I like a good porter and this one was pretty decent –but not as good as my beloved Big Timber porter.
Got a movie? Got Beer? Think the two would go together. Let me know. Drop me a line at email@example.com –or just post here.
With the upcoming race, the subject of eating has come up.
While my race isn’t all that long compared to an Iron Man, it’s long enough. It’s been suggested that it wouldn’t hurt to have something between the bicycle portion and the running race (only a dork eats in the pool).
The problem is: I can’t eat and run.
I’ve tried, but even a piece of toast is too heavy for my stomach. It becomes something that restricts my breathing and makes running longer than 200 yards next to impossible.
So, I don’t eat, but with the swimming, biking and running, there’s a good chance I could “bonk,” become light-headed and groggy, which isn’t good either.
Probably, if I was a lighter American and not wildly overweight, I could handle a short sprint triathlon with nothing more than a mineral water and a stick of gum, but I’m an ox.
So, I began looking into things I could take along –and discovered GU.
GU is basically a flavored sugar gel that also contains amino acids and probably caffeine.
I hit up the Cycle Shop in Kanawha City and bought three different types to try out. The idea was that I could give them each a shot and then hopefully have one or two to choose from on race day.
First, the good news: They’re all vegan, including the maple bacon.
Second, the bad news: There’s a reason they come in opaque packages. You don’t want to look at this stuff.
On the charitable side, it looks a little like shampoo. On the uncharitable side, just don’t look at it.
Of the three, the peanut butter tasted the best. It tasted a little like some kind of peanut candy, but it contains no caffeine.
Also, I couldn’t tell if it improved or assisted my performance since I wasn’t actually training, but typing in the newsroom. I did like the flavor, however. It was yummy.
The maple bacon was a novelty. I haven’t actually tasted bacon since December, and Andrew at the bicycle shop sort of warned me about this one. He said, “If you can think of it as like wine tasting. It’s very up front with the maple and then the bacon is at the end.”
I didn’t taste a lot of bacon.
And after a short while, I felt vaguely angry. That could have been the 20 mg of caffeine talking, but that’s barely half a cup of coffee.
I wasn’t overly impressed.
The Tri-Berry was highly recommended. My triathlon mentors seemed to like it, but it tasted like candy with a vague chemical aftertaste –sort of like Runts, maybe.
Unlike the maple bacon, it didn’t fill me with hate.
That was a bonus.
So, I figure I’ll bring along the peanut butter and the Tri-Berry, in case I need a bigger pick me up than just some sugar and peanut goodness.
If I do something like this again, I’ll look into some of the other flavors –you know, after I get a better bike.
After about 11 days off, I finally got back to yoga.
I really hadn’t meant to be away for so long –and I started feeling it.
It wasn’t that I felt my joints stiffening up or that I started feeling weaker. I felt anxious, agitated.
One of the things I got out of yoga in March was an hour several times a week where I was forced to get out of my head, forced to step away from the job.
I am not complaining about what I do. I like what I do, but sometimes there’s a lot to get done, a lot of different people trying to get my attention, and a lot of things to cover –and I have a real problem with editing my day. Sometimes, every story feels too good to pass up, and I will bite off more than I can chew.
The best part about the yoga was it’s really hard to think about community theater, handguns, distilleries, or “Mountain Stage” when you’re going through a series of sun salutations and just trying to keep up with the teachers instructions.
And afterwards, I felt great, I felt refreshed –though, occasionally, a little sore in weird places.
I missed that, too.
So, I took a Yin Express class, taught by Traci Levine, a gentler class than I thought I wanted, but it was the only class I could fit into my week.With the gun series moving forward, it’s been kind of a monster.
It was more restorative than challenging –restorative tends to indicate meditative or slower paced, but it turned out that it gave me exactly what I needed.
I felt awesome afterwards.
So, I’m back on the mat, interested to see where it takes me, and looking for different kinds of classes to try.
Send me invites, and I’ll try to fit it in.
Also, I’ll take some pictures. Even I’m getting tired of the gnome.
It’s taken a little while to get started with blogging about yoga month –actually, about as long as it took me to find my yoga mat, which was dumped in the back of a closet and needed to washed a bit.
It may be that my cat took offense with it at some point.
Also, it’s taken me some time to find a thread worth blogging about.
Things I’ve learned, so far, about going to yoga class.
1-If you have to change clothes between yoga and work, it’s better to do it at the studio. The choice is to stand in your sock feet in a little room that mostly sees nicely dressed yoga practitioners, but also happens to have a toilet, or stand in your sock feet inside a men’s room stall used by dozens of workers, some of whom aren’t all that concerned about aim.
Choose the yoga studio bathroom. It’s nicer and doesn’t smell like old sardines.
2- Show up early, not because class will start early, but because the older ladies like to talk and pretty much all of them remind you of your Aunt Joyce. Also, some of them are following my progress, and it’s cool to get a high five from a 74-year-old lady who is more flexible than you.
3-Do not try to compete with Chelsea. Just don’t. You’ll break your spine. And try not to stare. Chelsea could probably kill you. You be you. Let Chelsea be the yoga queen.
4-The music inside the yoga studio is one part Indian Ashram, one part New Age mood music, and two parts stuff leftover stuff from some unnamed Pink Floyd album.
Namaste, you crazy diamond. Namaste.
5-Sarah at Sarah’s Bakery will always encourage you with your yoga practice. Nothing in her store is vegan, except maybe the bottled water. The baked goods, however, are really pretty and smell amazing.
You should buy something anyway. I’m a vegan, and I buy stuff every week from Sarah, usually on Wednesdays. Whatever I buy, I give to my coworkers, who are happy to have the sweets, which I can really do nothing with.
6-Don’t eat before yoga class. Sure, you’re stomach will grumble, but it’s better than spending 45 minutes fighting the urge to throw up. Downward dog will make you want to throw up. Have a little juice before, if you want, but save the sandwich for after.
7-Yoga pants come in a wide variety of colors, hues, and designs. I will not be buying any. Sweat pants are fine with me, but it’s important not to wear a shirt that fits and isn’t too loose, because that sucker will slide right up to your neck when you’re doing downward facing dog (a troublesome position, truly).
Apologies for the show, folks –and no, that isn’t a scar, it’s a birthmark.
Here’s the weekly update on my vegan progress and whatnot.
People have been giving me chocolates lately. If you grouse about how chocolate is made with butter, bacon, and baby chicks, somebody will take the time to find you something you can eat.
I got three chocolate bars over the last week or so.
Two of the bars came from Healthy Life Market (where Bill buys his Big Timber Porter beer). They’re made with rice milk instead of the usual milk taken from a cow.
I don’t know how rice milk is made. I don’t know if Snap, Crackle and Pop are somehow involved in a side business, but it was pretty good stuff. The flavor was similar to some of the Cadbury chocolates I’ve had (very sweet), but the bar had a crisp, almost hard candy snap to it.
The third bar was something called Pascha.
This one came from the clearance table at a TJ Maxx and with the bold announcement that it contained no peanuts, nuts, eggs, soy, or illegally harvested human organs, it didn’t seem like a lot of fun. This thing was USDA Organic, Non-GMO verified and Certified Vegan. It’s also free of eight major allergens, has full ingredient traceability, and sort of makes you shudder to think why that might be important to anyone.
The box even goes to the trouble of explaining what Maca is. According to the packaging, “Maca is a nutrient dense root vegetable from the Andes. It adds a slightly creamy texture and is blended with 60% dark chocolate.”
They also helpfully point out that alpaca manure is used to fertilize the maca. Why they needed to mention this is something of a mystery.
Anyway, this one was pretty great and tasted like a luxury chocolate bar. It had a great flavor, and I didn’t really detect any alpaca. I shared this bar with the rest of the newsroom, and no one else complained that it had even a mild alpaca flavor. People seemed to like it.
I’m still losing weight. I appear to be down around 25 pounds, according to my scale. The scale at Spring Hill Primary Care would probably only say 18 pounds, but it’s a hard-hearted and stingy scale.
I still feel great. My mood seems a lot more even, and one of the librarians at KCPL said I “seem more smiley.”
As a way to keep track of what I’m eating, but not to really rein in my meals, I downloaded an app for my phone called Spark People, which figures that if I keep up at my current pace I could be 200 pounds by July 11. Who knows? A little farther down the road and I could have abs. If I get abs, I promise to post pictures of them on the blog, as well as Facebook, and probably Twitter.
A more immediate issue will be getting a new belt. I think I’ll need a new one before Easter.
Ben & Jerry’s new vegan-friendly “ice cream” is supposed to be in stores next week. I’m looking forward to giving that a shot, though I imagine it will cost as much as a car payment.
When I did my visit with Mission Savvy and spoke with Jennifer Miller, she was kind enough (nay, incredibly generous enough) to load me down with a bunch of vegan meals.
The thing about that story is that our visit happened relatively early in the month, but didn’t run until late –kind of the nature of things. So, by the time we got to releasing the story, I’d had some time to get some experience preparing vegan meals.
For instance, today’s lunch was a couple of fairly decent hummus and veggie wraps (with way too much onion), but back then, I had no idea what was even possible, really. I’d only put together a couple of new recipes.
Anyway, the meals Jennifer gave me were worth some sort of mention.
The first was a tuna-less tuna fish sandwich.
Made with nuts, spices, fresh vegetables, this was supposed to be the equivalent to a tuna sandwich, but really wasn’t, which was fine by me. I’ve never cared much for tuna. It used to be I’d crave a tuna sandwich about once a year, but that’s been ten years now.
I haven’t had a tuna sandwich in ages, but this was pretty good. It was slightly salty with an earthy sort of flavor, but had a meaty texture to it. This was not tofu or textured protein, but something made from nuts.
I liked it, actually, even if it wasn’t a tuna copy. I would prefer it over tuna, but that’s a pretty low bar to stumble over.
Next came the Bento box.
This was a mix of different salads (one of them was a kale salad) and a cashew cheese pate that was pretty wonderful. I liked it enough to share it with a couple of co-workers. Doug liked it. Dawn did not.
When I ran out of veggie sticks to eat it with, I got a spoon.
Finally, there was the veggie tacos.
This was the plate I thought was the most dubious –a cold taco made of veggies and walnut taco meat –but once I got past the idea of it not being the usual hot, greasy tacos I get at Taco Bell, it worked for me.
It had a good southwestern kind of flavor. The veggies were crisp and yes, it tasted an awful lot like your garden variety taco.
I ate this after I finished the bento box. I don’t apologize. I’m a big guy, and even if I’m eating vegan stuff these days, it still takes a bit to fill me up.
Anyway, Mission Savvy had some good stuff. I’ll probably head back at some point. You can only eat veggie subs from Subway for so long.