Friday, July 26, 2013

Motivated, belligerent or just stupid?

A year ago my doctor told me that I had very little cartilage left in my right knee and that I should stop running or I would be in pain and eventually require knee replacement surgery. I took him fairly seriously and started biking and rowing instead of running.  It sucks, because running is one of the few things that comes easy to me.

During the past year, I have gone out and jogged a couple of 3 milers with Julie and had no pain.  Then I ran in two 5K races and again, no pain.  My thought is that it isn't a single day that hurts my knee.  It's the accumulated inflammation from logging hundreds of miles, especially hilly ones, training for a race. These races were great because I didn't train at all. Zip.

So, apply a bit of logic.  If 5K with no training is easy and doesn't hurt, then the 13 miles of a half marathon can't be that much worse.  Right?

Julie talked me into going out and doing a 6 mile test.  I did, and while I can tell I haven't been running, my knee was fine.  I went ahead and signed up for the Park City Half Marathon in three weeks (Aug 17th).

The challenge is that using my logic, I shouldn't train at all.  I have always thought that every time you double the mileage, the effort and problems increase by a factor of four.  Doing the math, going from a simple, fast 5K to a half marathon should only be 16 times as hard.  I tried to remember the last time I did any form of exercise for two straight hours.  I think it was the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase two years ago.

If I blow up along the way and don't finish, at least I won't have wasted a lot of time training!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Losing some weight, with a different focus

First, let me say a big THANKS to my friend and business partner Tim Huntley.  A while back, he and I were trading notes about getting in shape.  For him, it was about sprinting 400 meters.  He said he needed to build muscles and lose weight, but of course he couldn't do the two of them at the same time.  Luckily we were doing this over the Internet or he would have seen me cock my head and look confused the same way a dog does when you make a squeaky noise.

I went out to the source of all known things (the Internet) and read up.  Turns out that to increase muscle mass, you need to eat bonus calories, especially lots of protein, to give the muscles the energy they need to get bigger.  In contrast, when you diet to lose weight, you not only burn fat, you also burn away muscle.  If you do it wrong, you actually burn away a lot of hard earned muscle. You weigh less, but you are weaker.  Not exactly my goal.

So, for the past six months or so, I have been lifting weights a lot more and consuming more protein.  The biggest bump comes from adding protein powder to some of my food and also drinking a protein shake most days.  I love this particular brand of powder.  I only get it in chocolate.  Of course I have been supplementing this diet with snacks, pounds of nuts, and lots of wine and tequila.

Now the trick is to start losing some winter weight, but without losing muscle, or at least much of it.  I am dropping my calories while increasing the percentage from protein.  I am also continuing my lifting so my body knows that I really don't want to lose the good stuff.  This is a very different approach than my traditional "run further and further and you simply can't eat enough".

I carry my fat around like a little fanny pack.  It wraps around from my belly to my back, right above where you would wear a belt. I am sure some high portion of it is the subcutaneous fat that is much worse for your health.

I am one week into this and hopefully can make progress in the next month.  Then it is back to trying to build muscle.  Yeah eating!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's official: House for Sale!

I'm not sure why, but Julie and I decided that 6600+ square feet of house is a bit much for the two of us, even with a dog and a cat.  Our house went on the market this weekend and we are having a realtors open house tomorrow.  By we, I mean our realtors.  Julie, Jasper, Cosette and I will be gone.
We will be staying in Park City, either in our old condo or perhaps somewhere else.  It will definitely be smaller and we are leaning heavily towards the low effort of a condo.

The realtors put together a micro web site for the house.  You can check it out here.  The pictures ended up looking really good.

Monday, July 22, 2013

More hummingbirds

With Julie in D.C., I found that it was easy to kill a late afternoon on the porch with a camera. Today I was using a huge lens (500mm with a 1.4 teleconverter).

It was nice to have one actually sit still for just a second.  They move so fast that even at 1/2500th of a second, you still get motion.  Worse is the very small depth of focus.  Here you can see that his head is nice and sharp but his tail is quite soft.  With this lens, distance, and f-stop I only have about 3 to 4 inches in focus.

I like this one because he had his tail fanned out and was back lit.  Not a great shot, but different.  I struggle to guess when they are about to fly off.
Probably my cleanest shot of the evening.
But this was my favorite.  He looks like he's getting some attitude.

Full moon tonight but quite a few clouds.  Perhaps moonset tomorrow?

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I have a tool called CamRanger.  It is a little box that attaches to my DSLR cameras through their USB ports and then talks to an iPad over wireless Ethernet.  It allows me to set up the camera and then control every aspect of it other than zoom from the iPad.  It's great for things like star photography but today I decided to practice with it on hummingbirds.
It allows me to set the camera up pretty close to my feeders but then sit back 20 feet and take the pictures.  I don't scare the birds but I keep the flexibility of changing shutter speeds, ISO, f-stop, and focus points.
It's easy to set up and easy to use because all of the controls have the ease of a well designed iPad app.
I may give it another try tomorrow.  I need to work on setting everything up for better subject lighting.

Bark in the Park 5K9

Every year Jasper and I run in the Friends of Animals 5K9.  This is the only 5K race in Park City where dogs are welcome.  The day was going to be hot, but we started early so it was quite nice.

Notice the hot air balloons off in the distance. There were five up in the air at once and one landed very close to the finish line. Not something you see everywhere.
This is my neighbor Hannah running with Rachel.  They had just done the halfway turn around the building on the left, so I had about 300 yards to catch up.
This dog isn't fast, but I take his picture every year.  Damn he's tall!
This was Hannah, Jasper and I before the race.  How can you tell?
Because after the race, Jasper's tongue was dragging the ground.  He reeled it back in about an hour after we got home.  He did great though. Together we ran right around 24 minutes.
Hannah won the Girls Under 11 first prize. I looked and she also would have won the Girls Under 20.  She's only 8.
Jasper and I got our award for finishing first in the Men 51-60.  Not bad for training a half dozen times a year.
A big thanks to Sally (Hannah's mom) who took a lot of these photos.  I just wasn't in the mood.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Joan comes to visit

This past week we have had a visit from Julie's mom Joan and her close friend Mary-Ellen.  It was a very relaxing time, keeping busy but never rushed.  Lots of evenings were spent out on the deck for Happy Hour and dinner.
We ate out at a variety of places.  One of my favorites was lunch at Royal Street.  We normally have to hike before earning a burger but we made an exception in this case.  We owe Deer Valley one hike.  My God that bison burger is delicious!  A bison patty with maple bacon, Habanero cheese, guacamole, caramelized onions and barbecue sauce.  Yummmmm!
We went to watch the Flying Aces at the Utah Olympic Park.  Julie and I end up there about once a summer, normally with visitors.  You get to watch the Olympic athletes do demonstrations of their ski jumping, but into a pool instead of on snow.
iPhones aren't great for taking photos like this but you can see how high the jumper is above the pool.  They are astounding.
We had a great time together and Joan and Mary-Ellen are back in Michigan.  No sooner than they left, Julie headed out this morning for Washington DC to hang with our niece Kelly.  This weekend it will just be me and the pets....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guns and Whiskey

About two weeks ago, I joined the Park City Rotary Club.  I've never had experience with any of the groups like Rotary, Elks, Masons, or Kiwanis so I can't offer a comparison of one versus another.  I have heard from people about other Rotary groups and it appears that Park City's club is a bit of a fun-loving, irreverent exception to the norm.

As an example, last night I attended one of the social outings, Guns and Whiskey.  We went to the new and elaborate Park City Gun Club for some shooting, and then headed over to High West for a bit of social drinking.  We ended up having dinner over at Butchers.  We were reminded over and over that it was crucial to shoot the guns and THEN drink the whiskey.

At the gun range, they have an incredible number of weapons you can fire.  You pick the gun, buy some ammo and a target, and blast away.  Here we have my friend Melissa and her son Noah.  They picked the Osombie target, which was a zombie version of Osama bin Laden.
Melissa used a smaller handgun while Noah pounded away with a collection of handguns and rifles.
We learned that if we encounter the Zombie Apocalypse, the trick is to refill weapons and hand them to Noah.  He was quite the excellent shot.
I shot with a few .40 caliber pistols, an AK47 and some form of fully automatic machine gun.  This is my AK47 right before I shot.  No, I did not leave the target that close in front of me.
My first attempts were with the .40 caliber pistols.  I had a decent group going at 30 feet.  Then I tried a Glock I didn't like at 40 feet and started spraying them a bit.
My favorite gun was the AK47.  It felt good when you fired and at 50 feet, I could keep everything fairly tight and fire quickly.
My final attempt was with a fully automatic machine gun.  I couldn't manage more than two or three shots before the gun started to move on me.  The bummer was that I kept shooting low.  Then one of the employees pointed out that the mechanical sight was about 2-3 inches above the gun barrel.  Aim at the center and they should all go low.  I was excited to discover this but then found out I was out of ammo.
As I mentioned, you could fire almost anything.  This is Christina, last year's Rotary club president.  She is about to fire a .50 caliber rifle.  It is a closely related version of what the Army snipers use to kill people over a mile away.  Each shell was about 6 inches long.
Her husband Trevor is firing a chain-fed machine gun.
Thanks to Cathy King for setting this up.  I have no intention of running out to buy a gun nor do I plan to be a regular at the gun range, but it was fun to see how it felt to shoot things that you never get to see.

OK, actually with Utah's open carry laws, you might see any of these weapons at the local shopping mall.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Evening Storm

The front was coming in last night so I grabbed the camera and took photos for about 3 minutes before the blowing rain drenched the porch.  I did get one interesting shot though.
It isn't one of the huge, impressive lightning bolts, but we get those very, very rarely up here in the mountains.

July 4th Events

It's time again to celebrate the birth of the U.S. and the quirkiness of Park City.  The Fourth of July!

After six weeks without so much as a drop of rain, the morning starts with heavy rain and dense clouds. While we desperately needed the rain, the timing wasn't appreciated. It did manage to stop about 30 minutes before the 5K run.
Since my knee doc told me to stop running, I have mostly obeyed.  The only runs I have done since September of last year are a couple of 3-milers with Julie.  Not exactly a robust training plan. Somehow I managed to run it in 24:17, which is right around 7:50 miles.  I was happily surprised.

Julie ran the course with Sally and Hannah ran it with Monty.  Hannah had some stomach issues that slowed her down, but she still finished under 25 minutes.

Every year the parade is a mix of interesting, well thought out floats and some cars and vans that have 10 minutes worth of decorations heaved on.  The parade invariably starts late goes on for about an hour and a half.
In a town full of Olympians, it is easy to find one to be the grand marshal of the parade.  This year it was Ted Ligety, who had a tremendous ski racing year.
If you could give an award to a single person, instead of a float or a group, it would have to go to this woman who was dancing along with a New Orleans style band.  She was pretty, dressed well, and danced with an energy that made me wonder what she was like way back at the beginning of the parade.
If you have a house along the parade route, all it takes is an email invite and you become party central.  These folks were right across the street from us.
I couldn't even get all of our group in one shot.  I think I took down about 15 chairs in the morning and more arrived later.
We had Benson's, Covaleski's, Herr's, Luaghton's, Jester's, Pierce's, Lutzker's, and probably some I am forgetting.
Allison and Stephen Pierce had a 5 gallon bucket full of water and were using it to reload a super-soaker water gun.  Apparently the bitter, angry, spoilsport Park City Police decided that they must be terrorists and emptied the bucket.
After dumping their water, Stephen got a lengthy lecture.
I love the little dog out in front dressed as a micro reindeer.  Tough sled to pull.
Many of you may have shopped online from  They are a huge outdoor retailer. Kind of like REI, but all online.  Their headquarters is here in Park City.  I give them credit for pulling a skier on the pavement.  I wonder if one pair of skis made it the whole way.  Notice their goat logo on the door of the car.
Well, they brought quite a few goats to match the logo. This was one of the larger ones.  I wonder if they keep their own logoed herd.
I almost captured a serious "fail".  The karate school was demonstrating nunchucks, spinning them rapidly.  One guy wanted to sneak through and nearly caught a stick to the head from both sides. Stupid is as stupid does.
I spend some time taking photos thinking about perspective.  Things in the distance appear smaller.
However this was a trick.  The girls in the distance actually were quite a bit smaller.
Nice push-me, pull-you van.
Sally and Monty, with Hannah standing behind. Notice her 2nd place ribbon from the 5K run.  No, I didn't get a ribbon.  All I got was a crappy t-shirt that instantly went in the donation box.
The group I have been rowing with is called the Park City Rowing Academy.  They are focused on teaching teenagers to row and they never mix the skilled youngsters with us struggling adults.  For their float, they were sweeping an 8 in the air.
Sally, Julie and Hannah, all looking happy and a lot more refreshed than they did when they crossed the line for the 5K a few hours earlier.
My gorgeous wife and I.  Thanks for the photo Sally!
I didn't take any more pictures during the day.  We went to the Benson's  great barbecue and although I had my camera all set up, I blew off the fireworks, preferring more eating and drinking to hiking in the dark.