Thursday, September 8, 2016

Running as a spiritual practice

My brother brought to my attention, he is an avid fan of Krista Tippett's "On Being" podcast. This episode titled "Running as a spiritual practice" (  ) brings together many thoughts on running that I've been having over the past couple months. First that running for me really is a form of meditation for me and I find it becoming a personal spiritual practice. I regularly sense a spiritual connection when I run and meditate, in the past when I regularly went to church it was rare to sense a spiritual connection. I've been going to a mindfulness mediation group for about a year and only recently have I begun to grasp / understand mindfulness and the benefits of meditation. It has really helped me understand myself and deal with layers of crap built up over decades. Which leads to the second point this podcast highlights for me - that running for me has helped me not just deal with stress in my life, but that it has been a huge help in dealing with pain and depression in my life. I've joked that on long runs sometimes the hardest part is turning around to come home (previously only confessed that to 2 people), but it isn't a joke. If I had a place to escape to, I may not have turned around. Yes I love my family, but it was tough on me. I found the stress relief I experienced while running was enough that I could return home and continue on ...

I didn't realize how much sadness I was carrying around.
Now I am happy and feel unburdened. I regularly dance out of joy. And cry tears of joy

I really started making the connection between meditation and running back in February (over 6 months) ago while talking to a friend about running. So thankful for that conversation and the friendship that has grown. Thru this past month (August 2016) I feel I have somehow dispensed with the crap altogether and started living again ... with my mind free of the burden of unworthiness, negative self thoughts and self flagellation. Responsibilities haven't changed, just my perspective. 

I can't believe how happy I am!!!! 

I struggle to describe why - a week at the beach at the beginning of August is a normal annual event, but this year is was so much more relaxing. I have been going to the meditation group for about a year and practicing mindfulness meditation. The biggest change is that I spend more time (while running and meditation) focusing being present - while running I try to focus on my body at the current moment - feet hitting the ground, engaging the arms and core, thinking about breathing. It doesn't happen instantly, takes time to settle in to that mindset, not so different from sitting meditation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

uBlock Origin

In the past I've recommend using a script blocker (and perhaps also ad blocker) in a web browser to block malicious scripts and ads. Just learned about a new evolution – an HTML firewall. The extension is named: uBlock Origin (origin as in “original”).  You no longer need to build white lists of allowed sites, rather it uses published lists of sites to block (default includes list used by Ad Block Plus). It works well right out of the box but you can customize it with additional lists lists to use, or customization like disable all 3rd party scripts, or scripts from specific sites. Works with Chrome, Firefox and Safari (just stop using IE if you do use it now) on all OSes. Just search for available extensions for your browser and search for uBlock Orign.

Heard about this from Steve Gibson in Security Now podcast. You can see the summary of it from (or audio at ), episode 523. Jump forward to 1:30 into the podcast to get a quick rundown. Back up a bit further to get the history of the product (about 1:20). Steve Gibson is author of many security products and creator of SpinRite, a disk recovery tool. Sales of SpinRite pay for this amazing podcast.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Whole grain, plant based diet

Started eating a whole grain, plant based diet in the beginning of July 2015. A variation of vegan diet, but emphasizing whole grains. The main motivators were "Forks over Knives" movie, "Engine 2 Diet" by Rip Esselstyn and "Eat & Run" by Scott Jurek. I highly recommend all three.

I have always seemed to eat more than my share of veg at a meal than others, but I have been known to enjoy steak or smoked pork. So I entered into this figuring I would not be following this 100%, but hopefully at least 90% and I think I've done a bit better than that. I had my taste of meat during the summer vacation week with extended family and that was enough. I occasionally miss the taste of meat, but it is not anything I can't move past. When I do have a bite of chicken or sausage now it just isn't anything special. I find myself craving zucchini and yellow squash or a large pile of spinach. Just had walnuts on whole grain pancakes this morning - yum!!!! It did help that my oldest daughter was vegan for a few years before moving out the house and the only reason I would not really enjoy everything she cooked was due to her love of spicy heat - I just don't enjoy the heat. It was great to learn all the tasty things that can be done with cashews and sweet potatoes.

I'm still working my way thru "Eat & Run" but I really enjoy it, particularly the parts where Jurek talks about how eating vegan helps him to recover quicker and helps him race faster.  Found some videos on YouTube showing him run - that was great!

Fall race season is approaching, so I'm eager to see how it goes. As the temperature drops into September (and I'm not constrained by heat and humidity) I am very happy to see that I am able to match my previous best times for some workouts.

Have not had my blood checked for cholesterol in many years, but have an appointment in November. Looking forward to the results.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shamrock marathon - PR and BQ

Marathon PR by over 20 minutes and a qualifying time for Boston!

2 major things I had to figure out - the first is a physical limitation (I sweat a lot) that caused terrible leg cramps due to dehydration. In all 3 of my previous marathons I had leg cramps, each worse than the last. After web searches and thinking about the symptoms (including not having to pee many hours after the race was over) I thought I would try the simplest solution -- hydrate more. After a bit of experimentation I found a liquid that seemed to be the most palatable - 1/2 Gatorade, 1/2 water. The 23 mile run 3 weeks before the marathon I got the idea to set my interval timer for every 12 minutes to remind me to drink. It worked - I had a great training run!

The second is physical conditioning that falls into 3 categories - stretching, core strength, and running. The stretching I have to give credit to my sister-in-law. The looser I get, the faster I go. For core strength - planks (front and side) and crunches. For running strength - intervals, race pace middle distance runs, and distance runs. Here are 4 runs from about 3 weeks before my race:

3 1/2 weeks before - 2 mile intervals on 18:00, last 2 under 14:00
3 weeks before marathon - 23 mile run, 3:04 (lots of liquids)
2 1/2 weeks before - 10 miles at faster than race pace, 7:24
2 weeks before - RPHD (race pace, half distance -- trademarked)- 14 miles, 1:50

Nothing earth shattering - you can find this advice in most marathon training material, but I tweeked it a bit. I've been preferring longer intervals (2 miles) instead of shorter (1/2 mile -- Yasso 800's) and after the race I'm convinced that helped in the 2nd half of the race.

There are a number of little things that helped too -
* cooler temperatures training in the winter
* a warmer winter with almost no snow (I think I had to postpone only 1 run by 1 day because of snow/ice/slush)
* a good sleep the night before the race
* a hotel room 4 blocks from the starting line (no stress finding a parking space) that helped me stay calm and warm waiting in the start coral.
* a pace group that exactly matched my goal finish time (3:25). For the first half of the race I just needed to stay close. I actually preferred to be a bit ahead because there was a pack running with the pace runners.
* water stations just about every mile-and-a-half so I could save the liquid I did carry for the parts when the stations seemed farther (not sure of exact location of all stations).
* I used my watch to take a split every mile so I knew my pace for each mile. Most of my training runs are on a paved trail with markers every 1/2 mile.
* taper for 3 weeks - every other marathon I only tapered 2 weeks

It all added up to a great race! Starting to think about VA beach in March 2013

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tripwire detects change in .... tripwire

This morning I discovered that tripwire detected a change in the tripwire binary! Yikes! So I made tarballs of /etc and /var, then shut it down and started the process of rebuilding. Not what I expected to be doing today ...

Friday, February 10, 2012

153 miles in January

Someone asked how many miles I ran last month, so I looked it up - 153!!! I think that was the most I've ever run in a month. I feel great! This weekend is my long run before taper starts - aiming for 23 miles, need to be on my feet longer than 3 hours. It will be a big mental challenge - staying on pace.

Oh - 10 miles swimming last month too! :-)

Enjoy the miles!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rocks cluster works!

Got Rocks cluster working - yeah! 4 computers (each with 2 CPU's [6 core] and 48GB RAM), Infiniband, 22TB storage (combined 2 x 11 TB RAIDs with GlusterFS). Running gene alignment program that works with make -- and qmake (part of Sun Grid Engine). Took a couple of months stumbling along to configure it and kick it into submission. So cool to see it loaded, running 70 processes.

Started reading up on make and trying to figure out how to get it to distribute jobs to nodes based on geographic coordinates or dates (instead of C code to compile).