Monday, July 30, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Today marks 13 years of marriage to Carla!

I have been changed through marriage. I have come to know my Lord better through his gracious work in sustaining my marriage relationship

I am totally, 100% committed for another 13...times 3, Lord willing. I love you!

Exercise and Therapy

Exercise-induced happiness fights anger, sadness, and anxiety. Who needs a shrink?

Numerous studies have shown that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and beta-endorphin, all of which elevate mood and reduce depression and anxiety. Research is showing what runners have known all along: In this state of mind, they are more likely to disclose thoughts and feelings—whether it's to a training partner or licensed therapist—when they are logging miles.

"The therapeutic benefits of exercise increase with intensity," says Madhukar Trivedi, M.D., professor of psychiatry and director of the mood disorders program at the University of Texas Southwestern. Dr. Trivedi's research shows that a particular dose (30 to 35 minutes, three or four times a week) and intensity (moderate to high) of exercise is most effective for relieving feelings of sadness and irritability.

"Being outside, we realize life is a lot bigger than our problems," he says. "All the visual, aural, and olfactory experiences of the outdoors help you remember that you are experiencing life. It brings you into the present—you are part of nature, not just a passive observer."

(HT: Tom T)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What's Three More?

My self-made training schedule said I should have done 12 miles today. I did 15. Fantastic skate! I hope I feel as good on both race days. I just want to skate!

Really I had three great skates in a row this week. I've been setting aside more time for rest and I've been eating more. Over the last three weeks my energy level and mood had deteriorated significantly so I started looking for explanations and solutions. For some reason I got into the habit of eating no complex carbs in the afternoon until dinner time. I continued with protein shakes and lots of veggies but dropped my mid-afternoon snake of oatmeal and raisins. That was a mistake. I just simply forgot and ended up eliminating about 400 calories from my daily intake. This week I brought the energy-filled snack back into my menu and what a difference it has made. The physical energy came back immediately and now I am feeling more emotional stable and focused on life. I am telling you, diet (what you eat and how much) is a major contributor to well-being.

P.S. I still haven't shaved my legs. I am procrastinating not out of pride but because I have to set aside time to actually do it. Anyone want to do it for me? HA! Perhaps I'll just skipped it. But, I'll regret that decision if I do crash and have to nurse my wound. Hairless legs last year would have saved me a week or two in recovery time and a lot less pain.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

David Powlison Discusses Depression

The Albert Mohler Radio Program recently featured a discussion with David Powlison about the darkness of depression. The discussion is insightful, biblically accurate, and filled with humility. I highly recommend setting aside some time to listen and grow in your understanding of depression.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mental Prep Is Important But Everything Has Limits

Training for the inline marathons is a process. I love the process. I am excited to skate the marathons but truth be told I like the training better. In training there is anticipation. My body is tired and so I have cut back a bit and my main goal is rest, but my mind is looking ahead in anticipation - I look forward to the race experience and accomplishing my goal. (Incidentally, if you are a devoted follower of Christ, what you just read should sound familiar - the joys of life today are a small foretaste of finishing the real race and there will be a glorious payoff to persevering by faith through the battles of daily life.)

These days anything related to inline skating gets my attention. Sometimes I go looking for videos on YouTube for inspiration. I found an oldie last night. Inspiration, not! Gag reflex, hork! Oh man!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The following photo and caption is from an Inline Planet story on the Napa Valley Marathon:

Skater From Another Planet? - More traditionally garbed racers eye the irridescent one-piece skinsuit of Knut Skarpaas at the starting line of Sunday's Napa Valley Inline Marathon. The 41-year-old racer from Woodside, CA, who finished seventh in the pro-elite division, designed the skinsuit himself, using high-tech fabrics and all the colors of the rainbow. It wasn't only Skarpaas' skinsuit that was one piece. He raced in a pair of monocoque skates, which feature boots and frames molded together from carbon fiber.

What do you think is better, the skin-skit, the name of the guy wearing the suit, or the face of the skater trying figure out what he is seeing next to him?

Monday, July 23, 2007

All In

I registered for Hayward this last weekend.

I signed up for St. Paul a few months back.

I am all in!

Skated 15 miles on 1 hour on Saturday. I am ready and all I want to do is skate. The main focus though these last few weeks is rest and staying loose.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Stung Twice

Just the other day I was mindin my own bidness...doing my interval training/inline skating deal, and BAM in an instant I am rippin my helmet off trying to stay upright on my wheels and not skate off the path. I was stung by something on my forehead right under the ridge of my helmet, above my left eyebrow. Dang!

The last three days have been miserable. Obviously I've had some kind of reaction. The following symptoms have presented: headache, extreme fatigue, very upset stomach, swollen lump on forehead, nasal congestion, drooping sensation of left side of face, noticeably enlarged lymph nodes, and just last night a blister on the rough of my mouth developed. I am feeling better today.

Yesterday afternoon while examining my forehead I determined I was stung twice as I have what appears to be two entry points.

My wife has been supportive, giving me a little extra grace and care. Thank you Babe. She has been asking how it felt to be stung - I've been stung by bees many times in my life but she had never been stung. Last night sitting outside by our pool she proudly stated "In 41 years I've never been stung by a bee." What do you think happened within five minutes of that statement. I am very sorry babe - I will take care of you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Resource for the Depressed and Those Who Love Them

I am pleased to have recently discovered a few audio resources on depression. I do a lot of reading on the topic and had become somewhat disinterested (i.e. brain burnout) so I went on the hunt for human voices.

Back in early 2006 FamilyLife Today radio ran a few broadcasts with Ed Welch. Welch is one of my favorite authorities on depression because he is like no other in the way he speaks biblical truth (and he is educated in Clinical Psychology ). He also is the author of a fantastic book, Depression: A Stubborn darkness - A Light for the Path.

These broadcasts assist both the depressed and those who love them:

What is Depression?
Suffering Well
Help for the Depressed
Strategies for Dealing with Depression

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How The Internet Helps Me Be A Better Husband

Where else do I learn how to talk to my wife when she calls me on my cell?

A Low 20

Lowest 20 Ever
Skated 20 miles this morning in 1:30. I am not talking about a low time when I say low in the title of this post. I mean low to the ground. Thanks to a tip I tried out today called "Tucking the Tail" I was able to skate lower than I have over longer distances and I felt great when I finished. Seriously, I think this is the most significant tip I've implemented in my stride and I am very pleased. I felt the benefits immediately - better power transfer from hips to skates and increased speed.

A Familiar Feeling
I realized that on those days I feel really good skating I am tucking my tail naturally. The days that are stiff and difficult I am actually flattening my back out and sticking my butt out to far thus my pelvic area rolls out to the back. Why? I think to start if I have stretched better before skating it is easier to naturally tuck the tail. Also, I think tucking the tail is harder when I have a full stomach from the night before. This is really interesting.

Today I improved my form and I am extremely happy about it!

Friday, July 13, 2007

One Month Out

**UPDATED** See specific training schedule below.

Hayward is four weeks away and yes that would mean St. Paul is five weeks away. Am I ready? To skate the distance? Oh yeah! To put my best foot forward? I need to make some adjustments. I need rest.

I've not been as disciplined with my training and eating over the last two weeks. I am tired too, just plain tired. My motivation for discipline is at the lowest point since I started training. I am still very excited to skate but I can't slough off from now until race day.

I am really distracted by other mini-crisis going on in my life. Frankly, I've got financial stress, relationship stress, work stress, spiritual stress. Who doesn't have these stresses in life? I'm just saying the level of stress is particularly high in all these areas all right now. Of course it is effecting me. I question my level of intensity sometimes. I don't need to train so hard to skate 26.2. But I want to reach my goal of under 1:40. Training like I do also helps me manage stress and at the same time it can work against me. How can I put in so much mental and physical time into training my body for something that has pretty low value compared to these other areas? (See 1 Timothy 4:8) Yes I love to skate, but have I crossed a line?

Last week I skated 24 miles and that was my planned training peak anyways so from here on my plan is productive rest and eating. I am skating 13

20 miles tomorrow.

Specific Long Skate Training Schedule
I keep forgetting that I am only doing three days per week and so I have to do more than 13 tomorrow (I would being doing 13 if I were on a four day plan.)

Week 1 (Tomorrow) - 20 miles
Week 2 - 15 miles
Week 3 - 12 miles
Week 4 - 10 miles
Week 5 - Hayward 26.2 miles
Week 6 - St. Paul 26.2 miles

During these weeks I will also skate intervals on Tuesday's and Thursday's with distances between 5 and 8 miles per session.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

24.3 Miles

I crawled into bed last night at 10:48 and rolled around for another half hour - ya'know how you are so tired and can't get to sleep? The reason for staying up so late is that I took my three oldest to visit some other families at a group camping event. Even though I slept in until 6:45 a.m. I was in my skates rolling out my driveway at 7:15. As I skated the first blocked I settled in my mind that I would take it easy and only do 20 today.

My sweet spot is between 9 miles and 15. My whole attitude changes, my whole body loosens up and I feel like a million. At 14 miles I made a deal with myself that I was in for another 10.

I finished 24.2 miles in 1 hour and 44 minutes. Here is the route.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Relate

I don't know if I've ever heard a sermon from the book of Lamentations. There is only one preacher I know who probably has done it before because he understands what it means to lament and he fears God more than man, but I digress. Lately, today specifically, the words of Lamentations 3 press on my heart.

Lamentations 3 (ESV)

1I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of his wrath;
2he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
3surely against me he turns his hand
again and again the whole day long.

4He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
he has broken my bones;
5he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
6he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead of long ago.

7He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
he has made my chains heavy;
8though I call and cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer;
9he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;
he has made my paths crooked.

10He is a bear lying in wait for me,
a lion in hiding;
11he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;
he has made me desolate;
12he bent his bow and set me
as a target for his arrow.

13He drove into my kidneys
the arrows of his quiver;
14I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,
the object of their taunts all day long.
15He has filled me with bitterness;
he has sated me with wormwood.

16He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
17my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
18so I say, "My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the LORD."

19Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

22The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24"The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

25The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
27It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.

28Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
29let him put his mouth in the dust--
there may yet be hope;
30let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.

31For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
32but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve the children of men.

34To crush underfoot
all the prisoners of the earth,
35to deny a man justice
in the presence of the Most High,
36to subvert a man in his lawsuit,
the Lord does not approve.

37Who has spoken and it came to pass,
unless the Lord has commanded it?
38Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
39Why should a living man complain,
a man, about the punishment of his sins?
40Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the LORD!
41Let us lift up our hearts and hands
to God in heaven:
42"We have transgressed and rebelled,
and you have not forgiven.

43"You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
killing without pity;
44you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can pass through.
45You have made us scum and garbage
among the peoples.

46"All our enemies
open their mouths against us;
47panic and pitfall have come upon us,
devastation and destruction;
48my eyes flow with rivers of tears
because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.

49"My eyes will flow without ceasing,
without respite,
50until the LORD from heaven
looks down and sees;
51my eyes cause me grief
at the fate of all the daughters of my city.

52"I have been hunted like a bird
by those who were my enemies without cause;
53they flung me alive into the pit
and cast stones on me;
54water closed over my head;
I said, 'I am lost.'

55"I called on your name, O LORD,
from the depths of the pit;
56you heard my plea, 'Do not close
your ear to my cry for help!'
57You came near when I called on you;
you said, 'Do not fear!'

58"You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
you have redeemed my life.
59You have seen the wrong done to me, O LORD;
judge my cause.
60You have seen all their vengeance,
all their plots against me.

61"You have heard their taunts, O LORD,
all their plots against me.
62The lips and thoughts of my assailants
are against me all the day long.
63Behold their sitting and their rising;
I am the object of their taunts.

64"You will repay them, O LORD,
according to the work of their hands.
65You will give them dullness of heart;
your curse will be on them.
66You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under your heavens, O LORD."

The Message paraphrase is good too.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Christmas in July

Happy Indepence Day in America!

And...Merry Christmas in July!

The Sweeney Sisters Christmas is my favorite SNL skit - all time. The over-acting in the following skit is classic. I dare you to watch this skit and control yourself all day to not sing one of the songs:

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Personal Best and Grateful I Didn't Crash

Personal Best
An effective training maxim I learned a while back helped me to skate my best mile time today - 3 minutes and 20 seconds. The maxim is to always try for your personal best on some part of your exercise training session. If you're lifting weights, go for your best on at least one set. If you are speed walking, kick it up a notch and go for your best for a block or a mile. While skating intervals I like to attempt my personal best on my last mile of the session. Today it was mile ten and like I said I did it in 3 mins and 20 seconds. I felt great!

Speed Trap - Take 2
Raced by the digital speed limit sign again this morning. I wanted to hit 40 mph after reaching 34 last week. At 31 mph both my skates left the ground for a hellish moment after my right leg tried to skate over a larger than usual pebble. That rock did not move! My upper body got out ahead of my skates and I prepared for a major face plant. Not sure how I did it but I reacted fast enough to get my left leg in front of me while my right leg stretched out behind me. I balanced out and kept moving. I was saved from a major biff - thank God!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

22 miles

I closed out this last week of training with 22 miles in 1 hour and 40 minutes. I am ok with that time but I felt terrible the entire trip. I battled with the sensation of dragging through each step in my stride meaning I felt like I was working far harder than I needed. Did someone attach a bungee cord to my back and the other end to the tree in my front yard? The entire skate I wrestled with the back-pull of that bungee cord. Based on last week's excellent pain free trip of 20 miles, perhaps my expectations were too high this week.

Still 22 in 1:40 is acceptable since if you factor in a 10% reduction in time from drafting and pure adrenaline I am doing fine.

Skate Slippage
I tired something different this week in order to fend off a growing problem. My feet are starting to slip around in my skates. Specifically my heels are loosening up and slipping up the back of my boots. I do wear really thin socks and so I tried wearing a thicker race sock underneath the thin socks. This definitely created a tighter fit. Frankly though I think the tightness contributed to the drag troubles I explained in the previous paragraph. I like the looser fit.

Stress Injury
I believe I have a stress related injury on the outside of my left ankle. The entire outside of my ankle just below the ankle bone is swollen and very sore to the touch. I remember experiencing this as a child playing hockey and baseball. For now I will keep an eye on it and I just need to stretch more before skating. Also, related to wearing double socks, I've learned tightening my skates too much aggravates this condition.

Hayward is only 6 weeks away
I will attempt 24 miles next Saturday and work hard during intervals on Tuesday and Thursday this week. After that, I begin to tapper down the longer miles so that the week before Hayward I only skate eleven on the long skate. I'll take the whole week off between Hayward and St. Paul, which is on August 19th. St. Paul is the race I want to finish with a time between 1:40 and 1:30.

Inspiring Photo from the recent Badger State Inline Marathon