strumzilla

‚ÄčA blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Category: Fitness

BL Item 7

Actually, I don't have a specific bucket list, but there are things I want to do before the inevitable return to stardust. Although saying I ran a marathon is a bit generous, I did finish my first marathon yesterday, and I ran most of the way (about 22 of the 26 miles were at faster than a walking pace). Because of the way the course is mapped out and because I took a wrong turn at the detour for the half marathoners, I ended up running about 27.5 according to my phone. Either my phone is generous, the Cowtown Marathon mappers are a bit stingy, or it's a combination of both. I know I definitely ran further than 26.2, but I'm not sure it was 27.5.

As far as my pace and finish time, my primary goal of finishing was met, although I was way too optimistic in my prediction. I ran my first (and only) sponsored half marathon (I've run that distance multiple times, just not in official events) in 1:43, so I mistakenly thought I could run under 4 hours with no problem. Maybe I should have planned for 5 hours, although I ended up missing that with a total of 5:10. Even counting my temporary detour, I don't think it added 10 minutes. My biggest time suck were the walking miles, which numbered around 4 total. There's just a point where you run out of gas, and it's a struggle to just keep moving forward. I was so close in the 19-22 mile range of quitting and calling Aeyong to come pick me up. This is the point that's often referred to as "The Wall". Somehow I just kept telling myself to make it to the next mile marker and surprisingly at around the 23 mile mark I started jogging again and got a slight burst of energy and was able to "run" most of the way in.

I think I can improve that time and I'm tentatively looking towards the Dallas Marathon in December. I know during the race yesterday I was telling myself this was the only marathon I would ever run, but 20+ hours of rest and refueling is giving me some renewed optimism that I can do better. Since I didn't set the bar too high, that goal should be attainable.

2012

Before welcoming in the new year (albeit 2 days late), I wanted to give a nod to 2011. 2011 was a good year. Not necessarily a GREAT year, but essentially good on most days, which earns an overall good rating.

The year started with us in Killeen and no immediate or even medium term plans to move or change anything that substantial in our lives. I had just started working for MEB at Ft Hood and by the end of January I knew I couldn't last long term in that position. The highlights of the year were my subsequent decision to seek new employment, and I began looking primarily in the D/FW area with the intent to relocate. Ultimately this culminated in my finding, applying, and getting hired for a Comp & Pen position with the VA at their new FW outpatient clinic.

We put our house on the market and Aeyoung was very fortuitous in finding a home to rent that was not only convenient to work, but very suitable from a layout standpoint and pet friendly. Besides the upheaval of the move and a couple of months of not collecting a regular paycheck in the summer (and the resulting red on the bank ledger), the year otherwise proceeded as normal.

On the family front, Aeyoung and I celebrated our 21st anniversary in April and just continued to happily share each other's lives with our 3 furry children. Our most recent addition continues to attempt to exert her dominance as the favorite. It's funny how smaller dogs seem to have Napoleon complexes.  I incrementally improved at playing guitar and keyboards, continued to run, and near the end of the year I began studying Korean again, although a little more in earnest this time. Hey, better late than never, you know the old saying. 

Onward to 2012. Aeyoung asked me the other day what my new year's resolutions were going to be. I usually have a significant reassessing of my physical fitness at this time of year, so she's used to me swearing off alcohol and fast food and committing myself to exercise. The good news is that I have been a consistent runner for the past two years and this really hasn't changed. The only ironic event is that I did a number on my right calf in mid december when I was out for one of my pre-marathon long runs. This resulted in my not being able to run for the last two weeks of the year, and now I almost feel as if I am starting a new year's resolution by returning to running. I managed to run 1195 miles last year which is okay.

I had 3 significant down periods due to illness and injury, but this last one has been the longest. I'm hoping I can get my weekly average up to a consistent 30 miles or so, although this means I'll have to run 15 miles on the weekend unless I add an extra weekday. My long term goal is still to run a marathon, but this is the second train up in which I've suffered a significant injury setback that essentially has derailed my plan near the end. I think I will need to reassess my general approach to running/fitness and include some muscular strength and flexibility traning to supplement my running/cardio. I also think about 10-20% weight loss may do alot to minimize the injuries. 

Along those lines I'm going to have to commit to less junk food and alcohol (this is really only a weekend phenomena), and start to really manage how I fuel my body for general health and for running. I think my plan for now will be only social drinking (in our case that means concerts), and limit the junk food to only one or two meals a week. Aeyoung will cook this kind of food more often just from a convenience standpoint, so that means I will probably have to step in a help with some of the food preparation. 

Our financial goals for 2012 are fairly simple. Keep doing what we're doing, but do it better. Get the red off the ledger book that was necessitated by the relocation (and is harder to overcome currently because we're paying rent and a mortgage at the same time). The most important objective for the year would be to sell our house in Killeen, although it's hard to gauge how reasonable a goal that is. We will pay a tax penalty of 8K if we sell before August, so right now we're not being aggressive in our pricing.

That will most likely change if we haven't sold by then. Once we can sell that house, our financial goals will be centered on our eventual home purchase in the D/FW area. That's a 2013 and beyond goal. The eventual home purchase will hopefully be our last. We're hoping to get at least a one acre homesite in a planned development that will protect us from urban sprawl in the long term and allow us to stay in that one home indefinitely. We're looking to settle in the Mansfield/Arlington/Grand Prairie area. This will get us a little closer to the middle of D/FW while keeping my work commute to a manageable timeframe. 

My other 2012 goals center on continued learning and development. I want to continue studying Korean, at least every weekday like I have been striving to do. I'll probably start trying to either read some comic books or watch the occasional television program with Aeyoung. I haven't developed my comprehension and vocabulary enough yet for those to be possible. 

In music, I'm going to commit to two initial goals. Learn at least one complete song by ear per month, and compose at least one complete song per month. To learn a complete song by ear, I'm going to start with something a little more simple and approachable like Led Zeppelin or equivalent. I know bits and pieces of many tunes, but I've been dependent on tablature for the bulk of all songs I've ever learned. I've figured out countless riffs and chunks of tunes, but I haven't forced myself to sit down and learn a complete song from start to finish. It's definitely an easier task now than it was when I first learned guitar. The software tools available make it about as easy as possible. I just need to do the work. I'll build up to harder material once I have several complete songs under my belt. 

On the compositional front, my goal is to have a completed song with all instruments, arrangement, orchestration, production, etc. completed every month. I haven't decided yet if I'll make completely new songs from scratch, although that is the way I'm leaning. I have ordered a small two octave keyboard controller to keep at my main desk to help with the songwriting. As a guitarist I find it easy enough to write riffs while I'm playing my guitar, but I think the keyboard will handle the bulk of the overall compositional duties since I can not only write/play melody and chords, but it's also my only interface for drums, bass and synths. 

 

'Tis been awhile

It's nearly November and I've been firmly ensconced in my new job for the past few months. Life has settled into a fairly predictable pattern. We're still trying to sell the Killeen house, fortunately we have a new realtor that actually has been trying to justify their 3% although the house probably isn't much more likely to sell in the near future. The Killeen market, while being healthier for sellers than DFW is still very much a buyer's market and very much down.

On the homefront the most significant developments (in my narrow minded view of the world) have been a substantial upgrade to the home theater and this year's most significant musical gear upgrade, the Axe FX II. On the home theater front, we now have a system that truly discourages going to the movie theater anymore. The only reason to go to the theater now is for those movies we're really dying to see or just an excuse to do something. The specific equipment upgrades include a new Epson 9700UB HD LCD projector, Golden Ear Triton 5.1 surround system, a Yamaha Aventage RX-A3000 receiver/amp, apple tv 2.0, and a Carada 117in viewable screen. We now have a home theater experience that I can be happy with indefinitely. I don't foresee making any changes unless something breaks beyond repair or until 4K becomes the new standard. Watching movies on that size screen with the new speakers is actually better than most theater experiences we have and I'm not talking about the ability to pause, go to the bathroom, lack of screaming kids, etc.

I just got the AxeFX II last week and haven't really had time to reveal how significant an upgrade it represents. I love everything I have discovered so far, and one nice new feature is the ease of achieving quality tones with minimal effort. Great tones were in the Ultra, but it took a little more work and tweaking. It seems with the Axe II that great tones are just a few clicks away. There definitely is a higher level of clarity and responsiveness. It's somewhat equivalent to the difference in sound between my old home theater system (klipsch center and bookshelf front l/r with unmatched kenwood surrounds and sub) and the new matched Golden Ear 5.1 system. You just hear so much more detail and the quality of the different timbres is so much higher. I don't think I'll ever be an audiophile or tone chaser to the level of an Eric Johnson, but I have a new appreciation for what higher quality equipment can do to the listening/playing experience. With the guitar, it still holds true that the most important aspect of sound comes from the player's hands/brain, but having powerful sound processing that is so user friendly and streamlined really helps the process. I'm going to start alternating my electric playing with my acoustic so I can continue to progress on both fronts. I've been in a fairly strictly acoustic phase for several months and while I've made some decent progress, it's been to the detriment of my electric playing. Part of the appeal of the acoustic is analogous to piano in that it's easier to play fully formed songs as a solo artist, where with the electric I'm mostly working on guitar parts that are part of an ensemble/band.

The amount of divergent interests and goals I have in my life makes it difficult to pursue them all with any regularity. I'm trying to get back into studying Korean while I'm also trying to write, compose new music, continue improving on three different instrument disciplines, working on my ear and theory, fitness, etc. Not to mention I have a full time job and like to chill out with a good movie or book on a regular basis as well. I guess it's still a good thing when you so many different interests that there isn't enough time in the day to pursue them all.

The official get your shit together campaign starts today

Despite a regular running schedule for the last few years, I have been incrementally adding the lbs to the point where I've gained back about 15 lbs since I got back from Afghanistan nearly two years ago. I plan to reverse that direction, hopefully over the next few months so I can be back to my post deployment weight by the end of the Summer. I need to lose 1-2 lbs a week, so I'm just mainly going to need to watch what I eat more and continue my current 25-30 mpw running schedule.

100 miles in 4 weeks

I managed to cram 30 miles into the last 4 days. I'll try and stay on schedule for the next month so I won't fall so far behind my pace this time. I haven't calculated my marathon training plan cumulative totals for the next month, but with ever increasing long run day distances, I might meet the goal a bit earlier than 4 weeks.

Tropes...

I'm not talking about the overused TV themes kind of tropes. No, this is merely a salutation using my best commanding officer pronunciation of "Troops".  I think they send field grade officers to a special class on how to speak majestically when addressing your Tropes. Words like Godspeed and Fourscore are also highly encouraged.

Anywho,  it's been awhile.  Life has been tumultous, but overall predictable since last I posted. Back in August I was preparing for retirement and was going to start working as a contractor at a Ft Hood clinic. Since that time I declined that job and ended up taking a federal job for a new off post clinic that the Army was building in Killeen.  Now it's going on mid-November and things are probably going to come full circle. I'm currently in the process of taking a different contracting job on Ft Hood, maily because it's about a 35% pay hike. Without going into detail, I'm thinking about going back to school in a few years and short term earning potential is paramount since I won't be able to work much after starting school.

On the fitness front I have been training to run the Austin 2011 Marathon next February.  This will be my first marathon so I started training several months in advance. I just completed a half marathon last weekend, which was actually a few weeks ahead of my training schedule but it was a memorial run for the November 5th shooting victims and it seemed like a good coincidence and a worthy reason to run.  I ran in 1:44 which I was pretty happy with since my marathon goal is to break 4 hours. I had a short term goal of running 100 miles in 30 days (at the insistence of the Nike+app, actually) and I need to run 8.5 miles today to meet that goal. I have been keeping a pretty steady running schedule, but the occasional Saturday over-indulgence in sudsy beverages has caused me to skip an occasional long run which is usually scheduled for Sunday.

On the musical front not much is different. I had been in an acoustic phase for the last several months but began playing electric a few weeks back.  I'm getting gradually closer to "Endless Road" which has lived up to its name.  I started playing electric again out of natural jonesin and also looking forward to getting my Suhr Modern a la Frankenstrat here in the near future.  On the piano front, I had actually signed up for piano lessons at a little studio here in Harker Heights and took four lessons over the course of a month. The teacher was nice enough but it was very regimented and strictly by this beginner's lesson book.  It would have been good for me to learn sight reading, but I'm more interested in learning songs and don't really see that it's worth the effort to get fast at sight reading.  So, I quit taking lessons and I'm back to just playing my selection of songs. I've added "Linus & Lucy" which is challenging but alot of fun.