Friday, June 16, 2006

I know this is off topic but something different and fun to watch. We went to a Cubs game for Sandra's 40th and here is some video I shot of the Golden Knights US Army skydivers landing at Wrigley before the game. Sorry no sound because my camera doesn't do sound. But I will hopefully get a decent digital DVD camcorder some day soon.

Monday, June 12, 2006


I just downloaded flocker  to try out.  I'm posting this with flocker.  Lets see how good it works.

One thing I do not see is a way to put image files into a posting.  But it does let me save to the local disk and publish which is nice for being able to work offline.

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Having never realized I was running 11k on my long runs (1h30+) I figured today was the day to try and do a 15k. And I did it! 2h06 but I did it. See the Garmin data on the left which shows the route I took along Constitution Trail. The Google Earth map you can see the far north part of my run brought me within eyeshot of I55 which is the highway to Chicago or St. Louis. That was the point I turned around and headed back. I did little of a diversion near the end of Constitution Trail to make sure I got 15k in. I think next time I just need to push out a little further toward I55 so I don't have to do the diversion which isn't any more interesting than the trail. Now that I've done my first 15k I'm really motivated to try it again. Although next weekend it looks like I'll be busy putting in a new sink (currently in boxes in the living room) in the 1st floor bathroom so I may not have time to do such a long run for another fortnight.

About 40 mins after I got back home from the 15k I started to get REAL cold. I mean so cold I switched into my warm sweats. That has never happened before. I guess I'll have to do some reading on that phenomena.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Yesterday I got my new Forerunner 205! And I took it out this morning. As you can see I am running a lot further than I thought I was! I always thought I was doing about 5-6k and turns out I'm doing close to 8k! That is fantastic. I love the integration with and google earth. You can see two different views of my run.

So, now that I know how far I'm going I will use the virtual partner function in the Forerunner to start increasing my speed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Before doing any exercise program consult with your physician to make sure you can do it!

Okay, so you're now on your new asthma drugs (like Singulair) and need to get back into shape. Here is what I did. If you're anything like me you spent the better part of 40 years unable to really exercise because you basically couldn't breathe. Your muscles are not used to doing much except lugging your heavy weight around.

First off, you probably also take some steroidal nasal spray. I find it really causes my sinuses to run. Get a sinus rinse. I found one at my local Walgreens. The sinus rinse is basically a small plastic pot that you fill with saline solution and clear out the nostrils. Do this before exercising and you'll enjoy it so much more.

Next thing is to dedicate yourself to doing this. I found that trying to exercise in the evenings was impossible. I am generally spent after work and too tired to do anything. Plus, spending time with the wife is more interesting than exercise. I had to find a time that worked and I find that getting up earlier worked the best. Yup, 5am. That gives me time to wake up and get out of the house by 6am which leaves plenty of time to exercise. Conversely, that means going to bed earlier in order to get enough sleep. Melatonin is your friend here. Pop one around 7pm and you'll be ready to sleep by 9pm. Add a glass or two of wine and you could find 8:30pm very doable. One thing I noticed is that during the winter months I didn't have to worry about sunscreen since sunrise often occurred after I finished my run. But once spring/summer came along I found that I easily got caught out in the sun. Sunscreen is a must because you are going to be spending a lot of time outside and it is important to protect your skin.

For all of this excercise plan get a good pedometer. I found the Omtron at Walmart and it worked the best out of all the ones I tried. It is a little pricier but the $5 pedometers are a waste of money.

Here is the plan I followed once I got onto Singulair. Depending on your asthma level YMMV but hopefully you can use this as a base for your plan.

This plan is based not on speed or distance but time. The amount of time you spend on the exercise is more important than either the intensity or the speed at which you do this. So, don't worry about intensity until you're down to within 20-30 pounds of your ideal weight for your height. Focus on the amount of time you spend exercising.

In addition, ignore the scale. Weighing yourself can be depressing especially when you hit a plateau. I hit a plateau where for three months I was losing no weight yet I had lost 4 inches off my waist. Avoid weighing yourself if at all possible. When I am losing weight I won't weigh myself more than once a week (typically on Saturday). If I hit a plateau I switch to every other week or even once a month. Until I see that I'm losing weight again I do not go back to the weekly weighing schedule.

Change your diet to a high fiber diet. I know, it goes against the low carb craze but low carb is not good for you and a high fiber diet is now thought to help with diseases like diverticulosis. Believe me, you don't want to get diverticulosis because it leads to diverticulitis which hurts a lot! So start eating granola, oatmeal and high fiber breads (those with 8 grams or more).

Phase One
Day zero (start) to about 3 months

Walking. Basically you want to walk as long as you can to start. Slowly, once a week, try to lengthen your walk by one or two blocks. When you get to 62 mins on your walk for a couple of weeks you've reached the goal for this phase and can move on to the next phase.

Walk every day of the week. You are only allowed to take a day off for really, really bad weather. Otherwise you are out there every morning.

Weight loss during this phase about 10-20 pounds. Walking is too low intensity to really lose any weight but the goal for phase one is not about losing weight but building up strength in those muscles you haven't used for decades.

Phase Two
3 months - 9 months

You need to start stretching before exercising from here on out.

Start running the last 3 blocks of the walk. Again, slowly once a week try to start running a block or two earlier than the previous week. Eventually get to the point where you run the same walk that took you 62 mins. Again, don't worry about the speed of your running/jogging. I had speed walkers passing me during this phase. I focused on spending the time. How often should you run? I tried to keep to at least 5 days a week during the early parts of this phase.

Eventually you'll find that you are improving on the time it takes for the run/jog. You'll eventually fall to the point where you're spending less than 40 mins. It is time to get your time back up. Just as before, increase the distance you run by a few blocks each week. Get the route up to the point where you're back at 62 mins. In this part of the phase I tried to keep close to 7 day a week schedule but with bad weather I more often had 5-6 days per week.

Sometime, once you reliably get to 62 mins on your regular daily run, during this phase perhaps once a week or once every other week you should try to do a 90+ minute run (I max out at 97 mins). Do this only on a weekend and when you first do this plan for nap time in the afternoon. It took me a a few months before I could do the 90 min run without needing a nap in the afternoon. Longer runs also mean more risk of jogger's nipple which seems to be well documented outside the USA. Although if you run into this see your doctor since it could also be breast cancer. A Band-Aid (plaster), I find the "flexible fabric" style works best for me, is the easiest way to prevent the problem with a couple of strips of waterproof tape to help hold it in place.

Weight loss during this phase is unpredictable. I hit plateaus yet I was losing inches around my waist. Don't weigh yourself too often during this phase. Much like phase one this phase is more about building up the strength in those muscles.

Once you've been able to go 3-4 weeks (not contiguous) of 7day/week running or you can do the 90 mins run without needing a nap you're ready for the next phase.

Phase Three
9 months to 15 months

This is the phase is where weight starts to peel off. Your running time should also be improving and you find that you periodically have to keep increasing your distance to keep the time at 62+ mins. I also make sure that I have several hills in the daily run to try and increase the level of exercise for the legs and butt.

The once a week 90 min run should also need adjustments to keep the time over the 93 min mark.

Weight loss seems to be steadier in this phase than the first two. Although plateaus do still happen they tend not to take more than a month to break through.

End of Current Plan

That is the end of my plan because I am at the 15 month mark after starting Singulair. I don't think I am a particularly fast runner. Though I think a speed walker would have a hard time passing me like they could when I was in month #8. You can see from my other blog posts on the changes I've made to my route to keep my time up.

I also found during the latter part of Phase 2 that an MP3 player and good music was helpful in holding a pace.

I did start using a heart rate monitor. When the weather got warmer I had to quit wearing it because I developed a rash where the chest strap was. Nothing I tried would stop the rash and finally not wearing the HRM was the only way to stop it. I guess I might start wearing it again when it cools off but right now I have my eye on the Garmin Forerunner 205 which looks really impressive. Maybe I'll get one in about a month.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I did 3 hills again this morning. There was a weak drizzle and I've run in much heavier rains so it didn't bother me too much. At least on my run I thought through some more points of the latest article I'm working on.

Sheba is staying home with me since I'm working from home. This dog does nothing but sleep all day long.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tomorrow is my 1 year anniversary of running! Okay, well, probably couldn't call what I did a year ago running. A lot more like a slow jog or a fast walk depending on your point of view. But it was the first time in a long, long time that I was able to go 3 blocks and not have my lungs feel like someone was putting a blowtorch to them. Thanks Singulair!

Some statistics. In the last year and a half I have lost a total of 80 pounds. 60 of those pounds in the past year that I have been running. I am still a long way from my goal but I am solidly on my way there. One year ago it took about 5 mins to slow jog the 3 blocks. Today I ran for 62 mins for roughly 6k (I have no accurate way to gauge my distance right now) and managed to work 3 hills into my route. I did hit a major weight plateau at the end of last year. For 3 months I made no progress on my weight loss which was major frustrating. I finally broke through that plateau only by upping my distance, time spent running each day and running as many days a week as possible. I even had several weeks where I have managed to run every day of the week. Weather and my day job do not always give me the chance to run all 7 days. I think I'm sitting on another plateau right now. Since I know the solution is only MORE running then I need to get with it! Size wise, I am officially thinner than when I joined IBM 5+ years ago as I'm wearing jeans 2 inches smaller than I did then and there is plenty of room in them.

Speaking of progress... I tried to do my 4 hill run last week on consecutive days. That did not work out too well. I think 4 hills is too hard for me to do right now consecutively. Therefore, this week I changed up my routine and found a 3 hill route. This new route seems to be working out better. I do not feel as tired after the 4 hill and I have done it 3 days in a row now. I have high hopes that I can sustain 3 hill for the whole week. This brings my time now back up over 60 mins again.

Have I mentioned in another post that I also clean out my sinuses with a sinus rinse I got from my local Walgreens? That alone has REALLY helped me out during the run although I still need to take tissues with me I don't use nearly as many and I don't gag as much as I used to.

I quit wearing my Polaris F11 heart monitor this week. While I really like the data I get from the F11 the warm weather and the strap around my chest resulted in a rash that is obviously coming from all the extra sweat, heat and rubbing. For example, today not only was my t-shirt completely soaked through front and back but my shorts were soaked too. That is some major sweat going on! So I've lost my data/log keeper for now. Although I've heard from some other runners they really like the Garmin GPS unit. I'll keep my eye on those and see. What I'd like to see is a monitor that can take the pulse off the wrist. I mean, really, the watch straps around the wrist, why doesn't it just use that instead of a chest strap to measure heart rate? I don't know, you'd think that was obvious. I guess it isn't.

Diet wise I am still on my high fiber diet. Although years of bad habits and low fiber are slowly taking their toll on me I am hoping that my current efforts will help improve things. Only time will tell I guess.

I also got my 10th invention plateau award from IBM. The certificate arrived yesterday and today is payday and the award is in it! See more detail at

Well, that is about all for now. I need to get to work. I'm trying to get my Application Segmentation article in a state that is ready for publishing and to also provide some of the detail my European customers were looking for.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Today I did my 4 hill run. It takes me about 62 mins and takes me through 4 fairly long hills (as much as we can have a hill here in central Illinois). It was the 2nd time I've done this run. Although I got a bit of a later start than normally as I had to cook up spanakopita for Sandra's work lunch dish to bring in. So the sun was out and it started to get warm on the latter half of the run.

I've started to wear bandaids too. Turns out that either my longer running times or more sweat from the warmer weather or what I don't know. I find that a bandaid alone doesn't always stay on. Bandaid with one strip of waterproof tape also doesn't work well. But a bandaid with 2 strips of waterproof tape in the form of an X over the bandaid seems to work the best. I have yet to have a bandaid fall off with the X pattern.

I also bought a new pair of Asics gel 2110 shoes. I went to the running store here in town (Always Running or something like that). Best thing I could ever have done. Turns out I haven't been buying big enough running shoes. The ones the girl recommended are 10.5 wide and my runs have never been better. Apparently the foot swells quite a bit from running so having larger shoes gives them room to expand. I also like these shoes because they seem to breathe better. I can actually feel the air move between my toes while I'm running and my feet don't get as hot as they used too.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Since my time on my runs fell to below 53 mins consistently for a couple of weeks I've bumped up my distance to get back to around 68 mins again. I found two variations to my route that keep me above 60 mins. One is a hill work out that really works my glutes. The other is more level but lets me go further distance wise. I'm not sure where I am at with my distances now but I'm fairly certain I'm going further than 5k at this point. But I am more concerned with the total time I'm running rather than distance. One of the guys at work said to get the Garmin watch for mapping where I go. I think that is interesting and will look into it. Right now I'm using a Polar HRM watch which has been how I've been making sure I'm doing the right level of exercise. Last week we ordered a pair of GAP jeans that were a size smaller than what I was wearing. They came and I put them on and lo and behold they fit and are loose! Way cool! So, since I started Singulair I have lost 8 inches off my waist and over 70 pounds. It'll be interesting to see some of my colleagues at the Las Vegas conference next week. I haven't seen some of them in over a year so they will be very surprised at how much smaller I am. Or at least I hope so. People have a tendency to not notice me much anyway lately...

I have time to do this post because I'm upgrading my Lotus Notes client on my laptop. I hope this doesn't fail on me. I did do an xcopy backup of my hard drive just in case. What I don't get is why the people who write these installers insist on having so many popups and inputs. This has been going on for over an hour now and the fact that I have had to click on buttons so many times is ridiculous. Who wants to sit here and stare at a screen? I certainly don't. I'm using my home computer anyhow so I shouldn't have to keep the laptop next to me while it is installing.

Some bad stuff happened in the office this week. Some of the folks I work with were mocking me. That made me feel pretty, pretty bad. So I turned in my badge to my client team and told them I wasn't going back. I'm not going to be treated like someones kicking post. My managers have not reacted well to this news. But I have been telling them since last December that things have been steadily going down hill and they did nothing. The handwriting was on the wall on this one. I was no longer in a leadership position and just like anyone else who is demoted people just did not see me as an authority figure but instead somone they can buck up against.

My virtual wall is looking pretty good. Check it out at

We had a friend of ours visit on Tuesday night. I went out and got some lobsters and steak and cooked out on the grill. Sandra set up her raclette though I did most of the prep work on the veg. It was a fun evening. Eddie certainly has a lot of great stories to tell from his days as a police man in England.

So it looks like I must have finished downloading the new notes client installer. Now I've typed my password in 2 times. What on earth for!? Great, "the installation of the Notes 7 mail template failed." ARGH I hope this doesn't leave me in email limbo now. Well, gotta go and take care of this.

Check out which I put on my machines here at home. It is great and creates really complex passwords like for your online banking site. Easy to use too!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A friend of mine emailed me yesterday. She has a MySQL database and is looking to provide a web front end to it. She asked which engine would be the best to use. Tomcat, of course! It is free, open source, Java based and one of the best and easiest ways to webify an application.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Continuing my thought process from my Nov 2 posting... What if the probes we send into space and leave our solar system have some effect on the universe? The probe could be a good thing like a white blood cell off to repair some damage or it could be a virus that is then battled by other organisms in the universe. Where we are pushing probes out of our solar system there must be other civilizations pushing out their own probes that are looking for our probes. Maybe what we need to focus on are probes that have more intelligence and can do some scouting for other probes on their own.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Tomorrow will be our 1st year anniversary in the house. A few days later is the anniversary of me trying to run 3 blocks and having my lungs burn up before I could get 2 blocks in. It was my test "run" to see how badly off my lungs were from asthma as I was just starting on Singulair. I needed to have a test run to see what progress I would make.

Now, a year later, I'm running 5k distances 5 times a week for 25k a week! I will finish my 3rd 25k week tomorrow (it rained today). And 4 weeks ago I did a 20k week. Does anyone realize how significant this is for me? It is the first time in my life I've been able to sustain exercise long enough to make a difference in my life. Steroids haven't done much to control my asthma in a useful way. Sure I had good days but then I also had bad days/weeks where I could not exercise.

Now, after a year on Singulair I've been able to run EVERY week since June 1 of last year. Granted when I first started running I wasn't going very far because the body needed to recover. But now I'm well in shape. I still have a lot of weight to lose, 100 pounds in fact before I feel I will be at a good weight. However, with the advent of doing 25k weekly runs I'm losing weight like never before. I bought a new belt 4 weeks ago that was too small on purpose and did not fit. Today I am on the 2nd notch of the belt. That is easily an inch or two lost around the belly in 4 weeks.

One additional drug I started a couple of months ago is Spiriva. While I don't think it has made much difference in my life I do think I am snoring less. At least Sandra says she doesn't notice it as much as she used to.

What I really like is the two drugs that have helped me a lot are non-steroidal. That is really nice and I hope as I get closer to my weight goal that I'll be able to drop the steroids and just stay on Singulair and Spiriva.