Robots in disguise

Yesterday I saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
It hit every cliche. People outran explosions. Cameras orbited a couple making out. Battles went into slow motion. Things blew up. Lots of things blew up. World landmarks were destroyed.
It was awesome!
I think we can all agree that Transformers was the best movie ever made (If you disagree, you are dead to me), but I’m honestly wondering if it has lost that title. Giant robots beating each other up is the litmus test of a good movie. And as much as some people have deluded themselves into enjoying The English Patient, it is quite light on the fighting robots.
This new movie had more giant robots fighting. It still had some humans so you had somebody to relate to, but they didn’t overpower the film like the first one. They were elegantly swept aside every so often so we could get back to the basics.
I was lucky in the theatre. The entire row was filled with people who also enjoyed it and stayed until the credits were completely over. Dare I say, nerds? I got to conclude the movie with well thought out discussion.

I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m just reporting the facts

I ran this weekend. A lot.
It’s a technique I heard about once from a non-medical person. A way to train for ultras is to run for X amount of time on Friday evening, then again on Saturday morning and again on Sunday morning. The first time you do this, X is equal to 10km or one hour. (I forget which, they’re almost synonymous with me.) Then you increase X to a 20km run the next weekend, and then a 30km run. Supposedly X should equal a 40km next, but I’ve never gone that far. This time around, scheduling was a problem, so I skipped the 20km X and went directly to 30km.
Friday wasn’t bad. It was nice and cool, and I was fresh. Also a little ticked off at work gave me anger to work with. I also had good stories to listen to on my iPod.
Saturday morning wasn’t quite as easy; It was a lot hotter that day, and my legs still felt a bit stiff. It didn’t help that I realized I didn’t have any clean running socks and just reused the last ones. Apparently that is a recipe for blisters. Also, I hadn’t eaten enough after the last run and my iPod ran out of stories. The rest of the day on Saturday was spent doing almost nothing.
Trying to sleep that night was weird. I felt a bit restless, but not terribly so. I may not have eaten enough again (which surprised me) as my stomach felt like it was eating itself.
On Sunday morning, I popped my blisters and went to the Running Room where I planned to run the final 30km. The group I was usually with was in a weird state with the group leader away camping. So we made our own route. But the group had planned to do 40km. It was nice and cool, and I actually felt better today than yesterday. So I went with them all the way.
I also tried a salt pill for the first time. I waited until my right leg was feeling tight, which seems to be my sign that I’m low on salt. The weird part was that a minute after I swallowed I started sweating a lot. More than I can ever remember doing. I still had plenty of water, and I used it. The human body is a strange machine.
Unfortunately, the guy with the GPS unit ran out of batteries, so we guessed at the distance. By my calculations we did 38km.
98km in one weekend. I’m probably going to have restless legs tonight.

Rains, pours

I phoned MEC to ask about salt tablets, and while they still didn’t have any they recommended another place I had never been to before. I phoned and they did indeed have something quasi-salt tablet like. After work, I went and got a bottle for $28. I’ll try one out on my run tomorrow evening.
Then I immediately went to Fast Trax to pick up a missing part of my Blackfoot ultra race package. (I won’t get into the details of that. Just a new/weird piece of clothing.) While I was there, I discovered they had the same salt tablets as well. For $3 cheaper. Also available in a much smaller, more convenient bottle. (Thankfully I hadn’t missed them the last time I was there; They only got them in the past week.)
So now I have plenty of salt tablets. Contraband no more.
I hope they are actually useful to me.

Livejournal would be closer to email than telephone

I’ve figured out why I don’t like telephones. It is the worst of all possible worlds.
With face-to-face conversation, anything you say can, and will, be used immediately against you. It is very easy to say the wrong thing. Fortunately you also have visual clues and can convey more information and feeling.
With email, and instant messaging, there is no facial expressions to give an idea of the context of what is being communicated. But you have the chance to look at what you’ve written and can delete it if it looks inappropriate; Before it actually leaves the computer.
Telephones allow none of that. No facial expressions, and instant foot in mouth.

My right foot

The recovery from the Blackfoot wasn’t bad. It helped that I had a therapeutic massage two days after. The biggest recovery problem were the blisters on my feet and they went away after a week. However, on Sunday I went for my first run after the ultra. I thought it would be between ten to twenty km, but it ended up being 24km. Unfortunately, I wore the same shoes that I wore for the first loop of the ultra. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now they hurt a lot worse. I don’t know if it was my arch or not, but just standing up on my right foot was painful.
It has slowly been getting better. I can’t hold off on running for too long because I have the Death Race happening in two months. So tonight I went to the Running Room for the regular evening run. It did not feel bad. In fact I think my foot is feeling better. So I joined the orienteering club and went for another run.
I don’t know how I feel about orienteering. I like running. I like maps. It should be the perfect harmony. But I don’t care for the searching around for the control points. But I paid the extra money to join because I really like the maps that they make. I’m wondering if I can use them to help plan running routes.
On a completely different note, Catwoman is as bad as they say it is. I especially found Halle Berry unbelievable as a frumpy ditz. And I can’t support a film that glamorizes crazy cat ladies.

Answers to questions, but not secret identities

I read a book review in the Economist awhile ago about “The Lost Art of Walking”. The review seemed favorable enough, and since walking isn’t that far from running, I decided to pick up a copy.
I’ve started reading it, and I haven’t been that thrilled so far. I’m only two chapters in. The first chapter seemed to be a lot of dry facts that I found rather boring. The second was about walking in Los Angeles, which I found more interesting since I’ve been there. I could relate to his descriptions of places.
There was one passage though that caught my eye:

If there’s a journey’s end for the Hollywood Boulevard walk, it’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where people congregate and pay a couple of dollars to have their picture taken with a lookalike: a Marilyn, an Elvis, a Charlie Chaplin, a man in a Spider-Man suit, a woman dressed as Wonder Woman. Since changing facilities are limited on Hollywood Boulevard, most of the characters arrive already in costume, and in order to avoid commuting, many of them live in the area within walking distance of work. One of the best sights I know in Hollywood is to see Wonder Woman emerging from her apartment block on Las Palmas and striding up to Hollywood Boulevard, getting into character as she goes.

This answered a question I’ve had since last February. If I look at the location it took place (just south of the theatre,) I can say I had my Wonder Woman moment.

The sooner, the better

Back in May, among other things, I commented about a pain in my neck, both figurative and literal. But for now, I’m referring to the literal.
I had changed how I did pushups, but I eventually stopped when I noticed, while reaching for a carton of milk, that my arm felt weak. This is the same arm that has a recurring torn rotator cuff issue. I wasn’t in any pain, just weak.
Totally out of character for myself, I decided to be proactive and made an appointment to see my physical therapist. (Who I really need to put on speed dial.) I felt embarrassed about it because I wasn’t hurting, and I was feeling even better after a visit for a therapeutic massage on Monday. I felt I was going to be wasting her time.
The entire session I was apologizing for being a big baby. But she was actually quite happy I came in. I did have the signs of it getting to be an actual problem, and it is better to catch it early. Although I think it is harder to diagnose the problem when the patient doesn’t scream in agony when you poke in a sensitive spot. (As opposed to only being able to say that that spot might be tender.) That said, healing will be much swifter since I’m not starting from zero.
I have new exercises to do.

Blackfoot, but my feet didn’t turn black

Well, I did it. I ran 100km.
The day started at 5:00 AM, so I got to see the sun rise as I was careering through the woods of Blackfoot park. My two friends who had peer-pressured me into this were there as well. We had 14 hours to finish the four laps of 25km each, but there was an additional cut off; If you didn’t finish three laps in 10 hours, you were pulled off. So the plan I had was to do the first two laps in three hours each, and accept three and a half hours for the third. That would give the last lap enough time that I could walk it if I needed to.
On the first lap, Robert was off like a rocket. He is the fastest among us, and I realized that I should not try to keep up with him; I would just crash and burn. Instead I spent the first few minutes pacing and talking to a cute girl, who eventually made a point of pointing out her boyfriend. (I don’t think I was being obnoxious.) I eventually dropped behind her, and didn’t see her again. At least until I saw the final results and saw she never made the third lap cutoff. I then kept pace with Mike for the most part. He is very good at maintaining a steady pace and keeping people in line. My biggest problem seemed to be that my shoes started hurting my feet. Maybe I hadn’t broken them in enough? I loosened them, but it didn’t seem to be enough. Fortunately I had an extra pair back at the starting point.
At the 21km refueling station I tried some flat Coke. Oh my god, it was good! I had heard caffeine was good for runners, and this was an intensive sugar drink filled with empty calories. I’ve found a new energy source.
The first lap took 2:50:08, and I only took 1:40 to change my shoes and gather more supplies for the next leg.
On the second leg, I started leaving Mike behind. My new shoes felt a lot better. I also started paying more attention to the timing. I found out how long it took to reach certain landmarks so I could gauge how much slower I was going. The chief landmark was the highest point in the park, about 20 kilometers in. I found I had reached it four minutes slower than in the last lap. So, it isn’t a surprise that I finished this loop in 2:55:17. I had a 1:23 turnover.
The third lap was getting tougher mentally. I knew I could be slower, but I didn’t want to be too slow. I was still very surprised I passed Robert at 16km in. He had lost energy and couldn’t maintain speed. By this time, the 21km refueling station had run out of Coke and was trying to pass off Pepsi. It was not nearly as satisfying.
My eventual time was 3:06:26 with a turnover of 2:09. I was under nine hours! The winner of the race finished in nine and a half hours, so at least I was never lapped.
I left before the others had gotten in, passing them coming in.
The fourth lap was the worst. It became a total mental battle to keep going. The one thing that helped was the fear that my two friends were right behind me. If Robert had still been ahead of me I could have relaxed more, content that I was not in the lead. But I wasn’t, and I wanted to keep my friends behind me. (I’m very competitive, and Mike had never let me live it down that he was technically faster than me on the Death Race.)
The first few legs had had fairly good weather, with the partly cloudy conditions making it tolerable. But on this leg, the sun was out completely, and it was blazing hot. We passed the expected daytime high. To top it off, at the start of the leg I could feel blisters forming on my right foot. I should have changed socks, but I was paranoid that if I took off my shoes, I wouldn’t be able to get them on again without them being too tight. The highest point in the park became a nemesis. Not because of height, but because I couldn’t tell where it was. I kept climbing up hills I thought must be it, only to have to go down the other side. I think this happened five times.
By now the 21km refueling station had only 7-Up, and it wasn’t even flat. Surprisingly I caught up to someone else I knew who was faster than me and my friends. However, when he saw me, he sped up and I never got close to seeing him again.
I finished the last leg in 3:21:26. My friends never passed me. In fact, it was 25 minutes before Robert came in. Mike was five minutes later.
My official total time was 12:18:32, I placed 13th out of 38 people who started. Only 30 crossed the finish line.
I wasn’t feeling that bad afterwards. I didn’t collapse, and had energy to stretch. I tried to eat, but my stomach wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment. My feet hurt the worst, and they were covered in dirt and blisters.