Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Training Log: Circuit training with Ron Peck

Programme: 1 hour circuit. Push ups, lunges, squats, sit ups, wall sit, "hip blasters"/glut blasters.

How was it? OK. Used 8lb weight and a red colour band today. Pretty tough.

Post: Cold shower on legs (perhaps I will learn to love that) and chocolate bar


Monday, January 29, 2007

Training Log: Run - 7 miles - 8:24min/mile pace

Programme: 7 miles (perhaps more) outside at an average of 8:24min/mile pace

How was it? Muscles felt ok and rested. Weather nice, pretty warm. The pace was conversational and quite easy until the last mile, when I picked it up to 6:48.

Using my new Garmin software to analyse the performance

Pace & Heartrate:

Post: Lunch, chocolate milk, cold shower on legs (this is the only indication I need that I'm taking it seriously)



Skiing at Heavenly - just for a couple of hours

Conditions have not been great. There's quite a bit of ice and has not been much snow. Some rocks were poking through the snow in places where they shouldn't have been. Oddly I could see ok with my googles though i heard others complaining. The best thing about poor conditions though, were the absence of people!

I went up the big dipper ride today but came down Orion. It was GREAT. I had it to myself and could only just prevent myself WHOOPING. I'll head up there again! I tried the comet lift too and that was pretty entertaining as well. Heavenly seems to have a lot of decent blue runs. I will have to explore black runs next, perhaps when there is a bit more snow.

I havent even fallen over yet so am clearly not pushing it!

I shared a chair with a volunteer ski patroller. Quite interesting. He volunteers 14 days a year and gets ski passes for his family in exchange. It takes a year's training in EMT, Avalanches and how to ride snow mobiles and operate lifts and stuff. Not a bad deal.

The last run of the day was very special today. I always linger about a bit so I get the place to myself. Nice!

Kevin, from The Sporting Rage (TSR) asked me to test a product for them. You'll see these rubber grips on the bottom. These are pretty neat. I walk half a mile along the road to the chair lift and these things make it quite a bit nicer to walk than in just ski boots and they grip very well in the ice and snow.

On the last run I strained my right adductor a bit.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

All About Yoga - Open House & Power Yoga Session

Sienna also ran a power yoga session in the afternoon for All About Yoga. Though short it was a good workout and stretch for my legs. I could really feel that run!

We all went to Red's afterwards for some food. They had an amazing juggler in there - doing 7 balls and tricks with 7 too!


Bently Adventures Snow Shoe Trip

Sienna and Kelly led today's snow shoe trip from Carson Pass to Round Top. About 4 miles all told. Good fun. We saw signs of bears (scatt) so they are clearly awake, hawks, white rabbits and lots of interesting prints. We goofed around some too.


Training Log: Run - 8 miles - 7:55min/mile pace - HR 155-165 (mostly low end of this range)

Programme: 8 miles outside at 7:55min/mile pace

How was it? Muscles felt ok and rested. Weather nice, pretty warm, 42F+ I think. The pace was a good one. The first couple of miles were easy but then I flagged a bit. The new GPS kept me good though. With just a little mental effort, more than physical it felt, I could stick to the pace. When my mind wandered too much I slowed down. I was pleased to manage the distance at this pace but I worked at it, it wasn't easy.

Post: Lunch, pizza, milk, chocolate, banana


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Work in Syracuse - Niagra Mohawk

Went to visit Niagra Mohawk power company in Syracuse. Pretty cold up there but still uncharacteristically warm for the time of year I am told.

I had a bit of a problem with my trousers. I was ironing them before my first day at work with the customer and detected a big hole in the backside. Oh well, I had to be a little more informal than planned.

The NiMo building is very famous for it's art deco style and is very pretty from the outside. On the inside I was mostly surprised to turn a corner to be confronted by a robot delivering the mail!

Training Log: Run - 7 miles - 7:30min/mile pace - HR around 160

Training Log: Run - 7 miles - 7:30 min/mile pace - Heartrate around 160

Programme: 7 mile run on treadmill. Half a mile slow, 6 miles at 7:30 pace and then half a mile slow.

How was it? Muscles felt ok and rested. Felt a bit tired from jetlag and flying all night and then sleeping all day today and then running late! Generally it felt ok, though 7 miles seems a long way on a treadmill. I have got to pitty hamsters even more.

Post: Swam a bit. Breast stroke as usual was good for shaking out the legs.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Training Log: Run - 7:09 miles - 8:03min/mile pace - 1462 calories

Programme: 7 mile run on Mercer Island. Pretty. Short hills now and then. Splits 7:53 7:41 7:39 7:26 8:43 7:46 ???

How was it? Muscles felt ok and rested. Lungs working well due to low altitude and greater humidity I expect. Back had felt bad before the run but massage and then run sorted it out. Left Glut a bit tight. Run was a bit stop/start as I kept checking the map.

Tried new Garmin GPS. Distinctly average usability.

Post: 4x Bagels. Chai Tea (large). 2x Coffees(large).

Seattle from Mercer Island


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

circuit training "wall sit"

circuit training "wall sit"
Originally uploaded by CarlMyhill.
Here's the last part of our Circuit Traing class. We sit against the wall with our legs at 90 degrees (in theory) and throw a 10lb ball around.

Training Log: Circuit training with Ron Peck

Programme: 1 hour circuit. Push-ups, lunges, squats, Steve's leg killers, abs, wall sit, etc

How was it? Tough, especially after yoga at lunchtime

Post: Recoverite and Whey Powder


Training Log: Power Yoga with Sienna Sager

Programme: 1 hour of Power Yoga. Easier than normal session to start off the year. Lots of sun salutes and such.

How was it? Harder than expected. Feel a bit creeky after a month of not doing yoga. Used my new yoga mat and new yoga bag - thanks Mum and Erin!

Post: Lunch - Sandwich


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Training Log: Circuit training with Ron Sanchez

Programme: 1 hour circuit - 3 minutes of cardio on machines and 1 minute of weights followed by 20 minute abs

How was it? Tough. Worked Cardio hard. Ran one set of 3 minutes at 9mph and a couple, in another set, at 10mph and worked hard on other cardio too. Felt a bit dizzy from overdoing cardio in spurts. Abs workout hurt from being out of practice. Felt a bit knackered from run at lunch.

Post: Recoverite and Whey Powder


My car is quite modest, compare Hummer behind!

I couldn't see my car this morning since it was obscured by this Hummer. I think my car would almost fit inside it!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Running: 7 miles outside in snow

Sport: Running

Programme: 7 miles outside in the snow. Paced around 8:30, dipping to 7:45 at times but mostly plodding and chatting.

How was it?: Minus 4 degrees C outside but felt fine, slightly chilly hands. Felt strong and rested. Saw a Bald Eagle and a Golden Eagle! Wow. Really pleased Dennis, Zuli and Jim ran too, I didn't think they would. Ground quite hard but snow grippy enough. Brought along new Garmin 305 watch but mostly ignored it - though signal seemed good.

Post: Stretching and sandwich. No cold shower!


ok water is back on now - hot too!

Well these plumbers, a whole team of them in 3 vans, have been working really hard in extremely cold conditions but they've got somewhere. The water is not quite right yet but the shower is now hot, so that's perfect! I'm surprised they didn't just give up with the temperature at minus 8C. They were constantly fighting against re-freezing pipes but figured it all out.

My neighbours have not been so lucky. The pipe under their condo has burst 30ft from the ground (which is still under the level of our ground floor!). It seems odd that the plumbers working in the basement will need scaffolding to get the job done.

Apparently I now need to leave a tap running all the time (at least while I'm home - if I do it when i go to work and the drain freezes everything could flood).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Around 30 pipes broken under my condo

Just heard that there are around 30 broken pipes under the building. Apparently water will be restored in a couple of days. Oh dear.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Skiing (minus 6C)

I think it was about -6C yesterday when I ventured out for my first day's skiing of the season. I was pretty apprehensive about making the first turns on new skis. I didn't feel very confident walking past the 'no beginners' sign at the bottom of the stagecoach lift and chatted nervously to the snowboarder I shared the first chair with. I figured I should make his aquaintance in case I took him out on leaving the lift!

In the end, a couple of turns and I felt ok. The snow is pleasantly squeeky and the advice from Kevin and Dave from The Sporting Rage outdoor store in Carson City was excellent. The Olympic chair certainly quiet and the run is excellent and potentially extremely fast.

I'm trying to remember how to ski but seem to have some of the basics down, like trying to make sure my body points down the slope and keeping my hands out in front and my knees deeply bent. It feels like quite an aggressive position at times, which is fun, though I'm sure lacks grace and competence. My legs felt good but I quickly realised, from the feeling in my right quad, that I am again favouring my right leg. Must work on that.

The unusually cold temperatures here have caused a little problem this weekend. The pipes to our 8 block condo have all frozen so I've had no water since friday night. Apparently if this sort of thing happens again we have to leave a tap (fawcett) running to ensure the pipes don't freeze. Fortunately the homeowners association has a hot tub and showers so I managed to plod over there last night for a shower - I wasn't feeling socialable enough for the hot tub and forgot my trunks and requiste stack of beer.

More skiing tomorrow. It's a huge mountain and I've only explored a tiny corner so far. I think I'll shoot for Skyline tomorrow after I get my legs warmed up. Who knows, perhaps a black run.

Minus 16C (2F)

It's a little brisk at the moment!

Got some skis from The Sporting Rage in Carson City tonight. Kevin cut me a great deal on season rental. Got me some skis, poles and even handed me a beer as I walked through the door and advised me where to ski at Heavenly.

What a store - those guys are great!

Friday, January 12, 2007

View from the condo

I was on the phone to cambridge and saw some prints outside which looked quite circular and large - maybe bear but perhaps just someone walking down there, though people rarely walk there.

We've been getting some interesting birds in recently too.

Training Log: Circuit training with Ron Peck

Nice indeed to be back at circuit training. A good session with lots of push-ups.

Felt ok apart from on the 40 push-up set where I was weakening. Generally feel that the holiday season break has added a couple of pounds but has been a good rest for the muscles - still feel recharged. Makes me think I should perhaps scale back the intensity of my training this year and choose races carefully.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

I’m in the clothing business!

I was showing Erin my online Cafepress clothing store last night - (see this previous blog entry too). I nearly fell right off my seat when I logged into my account and realized a couple of people had bought one of my t-shirt designs! WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW

My t-shirts are pretty basic but it’s very gratifying INDEED that someone liked them enough to buy them. AWESOME.

Right, more t-shirts coming! LOTS of ideas.

Before the Tax Authorities get over excited about this, they perhaps need to consider that my net profit to date is $6. However, I really don’t care about that, it’s such a thrill to design clothes and sell them! WOW.


Running: Treadmill Pyramid

This year I will try to record my training a bit more carefully. He goes.

Sport: Running

Programme: Pyramid on treadmill, 6 miles, 6 mph (0.5 miles), 7mph (1 mile), 8mph (1 mile), 9 mph (1 mile), 8 mph (1 mile) 7 mph (1 mile), 6 mph (0.5 miles)

How was it?: OK. Legs strong and rested. Not run for 5 days so a bit out of shape. 9mph and subsequent 8mph was pushing it.

Preparation: professional massage yesterday; toast for breakfast; bagel, cheese, brownie, coffee for lunch. Have not been at high altitude for around a month.

Post: Cold water on legs from shower for 1 minute; sushi & hammer Recoverite & Whey powder within 30 minutes.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Isaac's photo of Buzz Lightyear

Isaac borrowed my camera to take a photo of Buzz. Quite a good one I think - nice job Isaac!Isaac's Photo of Buzz Lightyear

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Just finished George Orwell's 1984 - Excellent and disturbing

I’m at San Francisco airport on 6th January 2007 and have just finished reading George Orwell’s 1984, the so called ‘negative utopia’ written in 1950. Ten minutes ago my hand luggage was pulled out for scrutiny. Two sealed jars of Marmite vegetable spread were the offending articles. I could apparently check these glass jars in the hold or put them into a zip lock plastic bag, which they could not issue me with nor could I acquire. All this because some terrorist tried to fashion a bomb with smuggled liquids. Now we are in a state of hysteria about carrying liquids on an aircraft. A security expert once told me that this situation was like a school game of soccer where the whole team runs after the ball at the same time rather than holding their position.

I explained that the Marmite was for a young child who has a lot of allergies and could benefit from something this healthy. The security officer smiled, embarrassed at the ridiculousness of the rules he had to follow but we were both under scrutiny from the closed-circuit TV. This was a disappointing exchange. The guard was clearly a human, a good person he seemed but had rules to follow. I walked through the airport to the bathroom. Over the load speaker I heard, “the national security threat level is currently Orange”. What effect is this having on our psyche? Are we being manipulated by fear in an Orwellian manner?

On an earlier flight, as I started to read 1984, I was looking around at the aircraft’s 20 or so monitors, all on, unable to be switched off by us travelers, all showing the same programmes and adverts.. I smiled grimly as I read about Orwell’s main character, Winston, and his flat with the screen which was always on. The more I read of the first half of the book, the more parallels with our reality flooded in. I had to consciously stop trying to think of parallels with the book since there were too many but the shallow and easy ones were disturbing enough.

I recently heard Ted Koppel talking about Iran and the “Death to America” chants that the kids learn in the playground before their very first day at school at the age of 5 and which adults fervently proclaim whenever there is the sign of a TV camera. What interested me about Ted’s report was that, he said, the chanting was perfunctory and shallow. Iranians, it seems, very much like US computer games, movies and culture. There is some distinctive doublethink here. This is such a close parallel with Orwell’s daily “Two Minutes of Hate” to be almost too obvious. The afterward to the book points out that doublethink (which is sort of maintaining 2 mutually conflicting views at the same time and believing both to be true), is not something to just be attributed to extreme foreign parts. The expression, “the free world”, it suggests, is a good example. During the cold war this “free world” incorporated various dictatorships around the world and basically meant, all countries against Russia. We, in the US and the UK, seemed happy to hold this doublethink contradiction in our minds.

It seemed at first that Goldstein, the main focus of the hatred, was not unlike Osama Bin Laden. Perhaps the convenience of a single hated figure is what society needs. But Goldstein was both more and less than Bin Laden.

Orwell was clearly writing in a time following the arising of the regimes of Hitler and Stalin and that is evident in the story. Routine and mysterious disappearances are well associated with such regimes. Orwell was also writing following the atomic bomb detonations in Japan which appears to be another fundamental influence in his attitude to the nature of future war.

The re-writing of history books is continuous in this Orwellian vision. There are ample examples of this kind of thing in actual human history, some more obvious than others and some completely current.

I liked the love interest in 1984. It seemed to provide a ray of hope and some fight against the system. Following the ‘book within a book’ device that Orwell uses, which I didn’t like much, the end of the story quickly disintegrates into a deeply dark and hopeless vision.

I have found this a very compelling, thought provoking and disturbing read. I may reluctantly have to add this to my list of favourite books. It seems strange to me to reach the age of 38 and only now to take the time to read the source of concepts like ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Room 101’.

It is disappointing to reflect that Orwell would probably be unsurprised by any of the parallels between 1984 the novel, and 2007 the reality. It is odd indeed that I hesitate to even write the words ‘Osama Bin Laden’ on my computer for fear that modern day Big Brother will notice and garner me unwanted attention.

I have often wondered whether we are being manipulated in far more subtle ways than are described in 1984. The popular TV show Crime Scene Investigates (CSI) has always had me suspicious that it is a government funded message. The show is a typical crime drama but the main focus is on how the criminals are caught using modern scientific investigative techniques in the lab. Our heros in white coats usually end the show with a smug tone in their voice having traced the criminal from a single fibre left at the scene of the crime. The subtle message seems to be, ‘don’t commit crime because if you do, no matter how carefully you think you can clean up a crime scene, we will find that one fibre that will lead us to you’. Perhaps it would be nice if the message, if it is indeed such, actually worked but the extraordinary prison population in the US seems to suggest that it is probably lost on the people it might be aimed at.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

10k around cambridge

Ran 10k with Adam and Stani at about 8:30 pace around Cambridge, past the colleges and through parks. Awesome route. Adam disappeared near the end, well, he shot off like a cheetah and came back to work some 14 miles later!

A nice run. Felt great!


Thursday, January 04, 2007

10k around cambridge

Ran 10k around Cambridge with Adam and Tony. Awesome run at about 8.30 pace.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

10k? Cambridge parks

Ran over to Stourbridge common with Stani and Adam and then back around all the adjacent parks including midsummer common and jesus green. Probably around 10k at about 8.30 pace.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Ely 10k - 43:27 (Personal Best) - 89th of 539

I was really pleased that Stanni let me have his entry for the popular Ely New Years 10k. I'm not that fit at the moment and tried to do a quick 10k on thursday only to do it in about 48 minutes I think (GPS was playing up as usual).

I got pretty nervous about the prospect of trying to run fast. Although I did a 50k race in December I was well aware that running a fast 10k is nothing to be sniffed at. Mum helped with my 'carb loading' the day before, and even some of the race organizers helped too (Adam and Natalle had me around for dinner on Friday night - really nice lasagne).

Come race day I was quite well rested, with no aches and pains and nicely carb loaded. I got up early for my breakfast and had a couple of cups of tea and was ready.

I normally like to start a race in the middle or at the back of the pack but then always kick myself for wasting so much time being held up. This time I jostled to the front. It looked a bit crowded but after the off things quickly thinned out sufficiently to run well. Adam led the way but this time in the pace(?) car.

As I came out of the village of Little Downham I saw Fred and Hector stationed to forewarn Mum of my location in the crowd so she could take some photos. I think I was the only one of the serious front runners waving like that! Oops, unprofessional of me.

I would like to say that I soon settled down but that didn't happen until much later (like 4 miles in). During the first mile it was amazing for me to be with the real runners. Almost everyone had shirts on from various clubs. I waved to Natalle at the 1k point and I could even see Adam in the pace car for the first couple of miles. I summised that I must be going faster than usual and my GPS told me I had 0.16 miles on the virtual partner (quite a lot). When the first mile clocked up it said 6.06 minutes. My first thought was a fantasy one, 'if I can do another 5 miles like that I'll break 40 minutes!' I quickly realized that wasn't going to happen but still tried to hang on. Of course, I'm not trained for stuff like this and the adrenalin filled first mile was rather unhelpful. I think it's the fastest I have ever run a mile. Not clever in a race.

The second mile was an effort in trying to hang on. Unusually, I found myself unable to latch on to another runner. I'm not quite sure why. Other people apparently had fewer problems. After a while I could hear breathing very close by and saw a young lady on my shoulder. As the wind changed direction so did she. I was a very convenient wind break. Eventually, perhaps after 3 miles she had sufficiently rested up to leave me for someone else ahead.

At about mile 4 the wind was directly in our faces. I saw a guy I'd noticed at the front who had a hair style as cool as mine and I managed to catch up to him. He seemed to have started too quickly too and was one of the few people ahead I was able to catch. For a while I drafted from him too - it worked well! Then I pulled up to take my turn in the wind and really noticed the difference. Pulling back in for another 'rest' did not seem on. I tried to pick up the pace to drop him and another 'passenger' but failed. Then some guy with a more sensible race strategy shot past us. I accelerated after him and managed to drop the others, though couldn't stay with the new guy.

After a little while though I noticed the girl who had orginally drafted off me (see photo), she was slowing up. After some effort I caught her at the bottom of the little hill, which had the sound of bagpipes playing(!). I tried to draft off her for a while but it didn't work so well. As we went up the hill I past her. I shouted "keep it strong", which normally motivates people but she didnt take it very well! So, I said she was looking good and legged it.

Somehow during the last 1k I picked up the pace. Got convincingly past one guy and went for the older guy in front. The first guy came back at me but I'd dusted him pretty well and he didn't seem to have it. The second guy was harder to crack. The last 100 yards was on grass. Some people hate running on uneven surfaces and as I got into my stride I remembered that I'm not one of those people. So I picked the pace up a whole lot. Unfortunately the guy in front heard me coming and did similar. He beat me by a second! Looking at the results it's clear that he wasn't actually that much older than me!

2007_0105Image0047 Fred and Hector greeting me!

So, final results are:
43:27 minutes
7.00 min/mile pace
8.58 miles an hour

I was 89th overall out of 539; 80th out of 314 men.

My age-graded result was apparently 63.24%. I'm not sure exactly what that means but it looks like it could be better!

My split times were awfully inconsistent. I'll pull them off my GPS a bit later.

This is my fastest 10k by 1 minute 27 ! Living at 7,200ft must be good for something.

These local races organized by the Ely Running Club are quite something. They always seem to get the local community involved and the atmosphere is great! You can even buy a cup of tea at the end to go with your bottle of beer that you get for participating.

Fred was quite funny after the race. He was very impressed at the speed of some of the older runners and could see himself taking up the sport, since he used to be a champion sprinter. A great idea! It's odd but running seems to attract people of all shapes and sizes, old and young. Great to be reminded of this at the friendly Ely event.

Labels: ,