Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Boy Howdy I'm Weak

I may be able to run far and decently fast, but I am weak. I can't lift heavy things, hence where the strength goals came in to play.

About a month ago, I went into the gym to see where I was at with bench press and fairly easily hit the weight goal I was going for (hit 157# that day). I was hoping to do the same today with the dead lift. My dead lift goal is 250#. I did a couple solid reps at 198# (below) and 1 rep of sloppy 208#. So, I've easily got 40+ pounds to go.

You lift PUNY weight
To make matters worse, a couple guys next to me were warming up with around 200# and then were doing 5 sets of 5 reps at 240ish. A nice punch in the crotch to start the day.

After talking with the coach, he said I should easily be able to add 50# within a month if I just do a decent amount of strength training. So, time to figure out some creative ways to do dead lifts at home.

Floatation Tank

The purpose of a floatation tank (or sensory deprivation tank) is to get in some super relaxation time. It's a coffin looking thing filled with about 10 inches of saltwater which allows you to float very easily. It effectively shuts off all of your senses. The tank is completely dark, there's no sound (other than sloshing water), and you can't really feel anything since you're floating in water.

I had wanted to do this because it is such a unique sounding experience, where else are you completely shut off from almost all of your senses? With how bombarded we are in our day-to-day lives, some shutoff time sounded appealing. I had heard of people hallucinating, falling asleep, getting horribly bored, among other things. That's quite a variety of reactions to something that seems so simple.

One of the things I've discovered in trying to complete my list is that some of them are impossible to check off in Omaha. This was one of those items because there simply aren't any in Omaha. Once again, I had to do this while visiting family in Colorado.

This is one item that my wife also decided to try out as well. We went to A New Spirit Spa in Denver for a 60 min floatation and a 60 min massage afterwards. I was surprisingly apprehensive about it. I had no idea how I was going to react and mostly thought I was going to get horribly bored or itchy (don't ask). Being bored is almost a cardinal sin for me, there's so much to do, being bored simply isn't an option.

It was a pretty nice spa. I've never really been to a full spa before, I've really just been to places that pretty much only does massages. We were instructed to shower, put on robes, and then head back to the floatation room. One annoying thing was that they didn't really clearly state the rules/guidelines for nudity and what to do with my clothes. I'm sure it's all very simple to someone that has done it before, but it caused a little apprehension on my part.

The floatation room place has two different tanks.
Angie's is on the left, mine is on the right
Angie chose the one on the left because you could hear music inside it and you could also have a light inside (she turned it off after a few minutes). Additionally, the one on the right was larger so it's better for dudes.

The first 45 minutes were not very pleasant. One of the first sensations is a reminder of all of the little tiny cuts that one gets from day-to-day living. I had minor cuts from dry skin, rope burns from crossfit that morning, and other random scrapes that started to burn once the saltwater touched them. It took about 5 minutes or so for those to settle into the background. My next mistake was raising my hand in front of my eyes to see if I could see my hand. Well, my hand was wet with very salty water which dripped. So, I got saltwater in my eye. That was my first time reopening the hatch to try to wipe off the water.

Overall, I had a horrible time getting comfortable. The main reason was that it was too hot, so I was sweating and worrying about getting more salt water in my eyes. I kept opening the hatch throughout the session just to cool off. We found out later that Angie was too cool in her tank, so it would've been better had we switched.

To pass the time, I started to play with physics to just see what raising one arm out of the water would do in order to maintain a center of mass. I started to think that this was the closest I would get to feeling what floating in space is like. This feeling was further enhanced because of a small sliver of light that came in through the bottom of the hatch. At times, that light felt impossibly far away. In fact, at one point I went to open the hatch and was surprised that I got to it so quickly.

Eventually, I resigned myself to trying to relax again. I had tried some of the breathing techniques that I had learned in my Zen Buddhism class, but those didn't seem to work. I decided to try to count my heartbeats since this was exceedingly loud with my ears below the water line. I would count to 100 and then start over again. This finally got me in to some good solid relaxing. Unfortunately, it was too late in the game to get super relaxed since I figured it out too late.

All-in-all, I'm glad I did it, but I'm not going to be rushing off to go do it again.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

14er Deferred - "The Incline" Instead

View from the top of The Incline
We went to Colorado for Christmas and I had every intention of climbing Pikes Peak on Christmas Eve. Surprisingly, I got very little resistance from anyone. Maybe that means everyone's just used to me doing stupid things...

I packed an obscene amount of clothes, read the most recent conditions report, and kept checking the weather at the summit on Monday trying to get a feel for how terrible this could be. Well, the temperature never got above 7 degrees at the summit, had average winds of 35ish mph and gusts well into the 50s. These conditions and my complete lack of experience made me realize that this would be a good way to ruin Christmas.

So, instead of climbing the peak, we decided to do The Incline. It's an old railroad track that still has all of the ties in the ground. It's about a mile long and has 2,000 feet of vertical rise (the Sears tower is a meager 1,451 feet tall). The record for doing it is 16:42. So, of course, I thought I could probably do around 20:00. After the first minute or so, I realized that wasn't going to happen and just transitioned into slog through it mode. In the end, it took me 36 minutes to reach the top. The important thing is that I did it faster than the 4 other guys I went with.

Once you get a few steps from the top, almost everyone runs those last few steps so you can feel like a badass and try to brush off that you were just destroyed right before that.
James doing his badass bound
So, while it wasn't a 14er, it was good fun and a unique experience. I'll be making a trip sometime next spring to hit up Pikes Peak. Anyone know when the best time before June 18th is for making this climb?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Progress Update - Won't Do

In reviewing the list after several months, there are a few things I'll likely not complete, either because I don't really have a strong desire to follow through or will simply be beyond my reach right now.

Items I'll likely not complete:
  • Volunteer 100 hours - I've managed to volunteer a grand total of 6 hours so far, which is 6 more hours than I normally do in a year, so that's something. To achieve this, it would mean volunteering 4 hours a week. While doable, I don't know if I'm willing to step outside my comfort zone that much yet.
  • 4-pack abs - Yeah, despite how well I do with nutrition in general, I think my occasional binges prevent me from getting this.
  • Build a simple orrery - don't really have the drive to do this right now.
  • Not available publicly (NAP) - Not sure if I still want to go for these next few.
  • NAP
  • NAP

Progress Update - No Progress

Some things I've thought about but haven't really made any discernible progress. I am pretty confident that I'll be able to do these though.

Items with no real progress made:
  • Milk a cow - my wife (the dairy buyer) informs me that this is actually going to be very difficult. I think I just need to reach out to some local organic dairy farms.
  • Hot air balloon ride 
  • Skydiving
  • Spend $75 per person on a meal for me and Angie - hahahaha, what the heck, this one is becoming one over the hardest on my list. I thought in our trip to Seattle I could get this done, but couldn't find a single restaurant in Seattle where I could do this. It turns out that if you don't drink alcohol and don't eat meat, food isn't that expensive. I'm planning on switching this to "spend as much as possible on a meal".
  • Visit a psychic
  • Learn to lucid dream
  • Artist's way for a month - Got the book as a gift but haven't even attempted to read it.
  • Lift Angie overhead - Here's a picture of my brother/sister in law doing this. I have no idea what the deal is, I feel that I'm at least as strong as my brother-in-law, and Angie is about the same size as her sister. I should be able to do this, but I can't. I think there's some dark magic going on here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Progress Update - In Progress

Items I've made progress on:
While I haven't completed many of my items, I have made good progress on quite a few.
  • 50 mile ultramarathon - identified the race. Need to sign up.
  • Visit top 10 things in Nebraska
1.   Chimney Rock
2.   Lake McConaughy
3.   Carhenge
4.   Pioneer Village - Done - We stopped here on the way to Colorado a few months ago, and it's pretty lame. It's about $15 per person and is rather boring.
5.   The Arch - Done - Stopped in the same trip as Pioneer Village. Again, this is fairly expensive ($20 per person or so), but it's actually pretty cool. They put on a good show and provide some interesting history.
6.   Sandhill cranes
7.   State Capital - Done
8.   Memorial Stadium - Done
9.   Joslyn Art museum - Done
10. Zoo - Done
  • GoRuck Challenge - I've signed up for the May 30th event in Omaha with John Wrobel. I'm sure this experience will be a future blog experience.
  • Catch up with 1 friend every month that I haven't talked to in 1+ years - Will make a separate blog post later 
  • Try out 12 new churches (where "church" is whatever the equivalent is for that religion) - future blog post on this.
  • Climb a 14er - Plans to climb Pikes Peak on Christmas Eve as long as my hiking partner doesn't back out because of a bum knee.
  • Sensory deprivation chamber - Have an appointment scheduled for the 23rd at A New Spirit Spa. This is one of those things that would have been easier to do had I lived in a bigger city. There will definitely be a post after this.
  • 200# squat - Been lifting a decent amount, not sure how close I am to this. Somewhat worried about this one.
  • 250# deadlift - Similar to 200# squat, doing weightlifting but not sure where I'm at. Did a workout the other day that was about 60% of max for others which would put my max at 244#. We'll see in a month or so when I make a go for this.
  • 60 push-ups - I could probably do about 30ish in a row. I do pushups before every TV show I watch and add 1 every week. I'm at 17 before each TV show. I actually don't watch a bunch of TV so I could make watching TV a part of the goal.
  • Take a survival course - Just signed up today for a winter survival course on January 25/26.
  • Hit 30 states visited (must have at least driven through them) and make map - Based on my definition, I only need to hit one more state. I'm planning on hitting that last one with my 50 mile ultra by doing one in Nevada.
  • Take a cooking class - Again, would be easier if I lived in a bigger city. Found a place in KC that offers some good classes that I'll head down there next year.

Quite a few of these should be complete within the next 2 months which will be exciting.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Progress Update - Items completed

Well, Wednesday was my half birthday, so that means I should be halfway done with my list, right? Well, about that....

I'm breaking this into a series of posts broken down by: completed, progress, no progress, and likely won't complete.

Items completed:
Unfortunately I have completed significantly fewer than I would've liked.
  • 150# bench press - Woo! I went in on a rest day at the gym and just wanted to see where I was at. I pretty easily got up to 2 reps of 157# which is solidly above my body weight (which was what the target weight was based on).
  • Smile more - As simple as this sounds, I think this one deserves a separate blog post, stay tuned.
  • Grow a beard - Done as best I can. Pictures to come.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why the list?

You might ask, why make a list of things to try to do before a relatively arbitrary date? There are really a multitude of reasons and I can't think of any solid reasons not to. Overall, I saw this as a way to break out from my standard physical goals and put some effort towards relationships and other important aspects of life.

Reason 1 - Running on default

In life, it's way too easy to run on default (the two sweetest words in the English language). We're programmed to follow what everyone else does. At one point in our history this made sense when that could mean life and death. Today, most of the time it means leading a boring life full of keeping up with the Joneses. By putting this list together and choosing things that are outside of my comfort zone, it forces me to do something new.

Reason 2  - I'm a goal driven person

This is the easiest reason for me. I do very well with structured goals. Without them, I tend to flounder. By putting together a solid list of goals, I am encouraged to do something new and exciting all the time.

Reason 3 - Experience all the things!

I view life as a collection of experiences. While it's nice to have in-depth experiences, that takes a lot of time and dedication. I prefer to just experience all the things. As I experience new things, new paths unfold before me. With this list, I have no real plans of diving deeper into any of these things (well, except for the ultra marathon). But I'm open to becoming enamored with something on the list because of how it felt, and I'll go down that path to experience more.

Reason 4 - Why not?

Seriously, nothing bad will happen if I do, there's only upside.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

30 before 30

Several months ago, one of my buddies told me about his "25 before 25" list which gave me the idea of doing a "30 before 30" list for myself (I'll expand on why I latched onto this idea in a later post). Today, while out on a run with the same buddy, he suggested I blog about my experiences with the list. I figured at the very least, if no one reads it then I'll have a record for myself. So, here I am. Below is the list of things I'm trying to do before I'm 30.
  1. 50 mile ultramarathon
  2. Milk a cow
  3. Visit top 10 things in Nebraska
    1. Chimney Rock
    2. Lake McConaughy
    3. Carhenge
    4. Pioneer Village
    5. The Arch
    6. Sandhill cranes
    7. State Capital
    8. Memorial Stadium
    9. Joslyn Art museum
    10. Zoo
  4. Volunteer 100 hours
  5. GoRuck Challenge
  6. Catch up with 1 friend every month that I haven't talked to in 1+ years
  7. Try out 12 new churches (where "church" is whatever the equivalent is for that religion)
  8. Climb a 14er
  9. 4-pack abs
  10. Sensory deprivation chamber
  11. Lift Angie overhead
  12. 150# bench press
  13. 200# squat
  14. 250# deadlift
  15. Build a simple orrery
  16. 60 push-ups
  17. Take a survival course 
  18. Hot air balloon ride 
  19. Skydiving
  20. Hit 30 states visited (must have at least driven through them) and make map
  21. Smile more
  22. Spend $75 per person on a meal for me and Angie
  23. Grow a beard
  24. Visit a psychic
  25. Learn to lucid dream 
  26. Take a cooking class
  27. Artist's way for a month
  28. Not available publicly (NAP)
  29. NAP
  30. NAP