Procrastination Nation

Things that Robert is thinking about that keep him from accomplishing anything.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005
Let's Get Ironic
So I'm at the rec center Saturday lying out on the deck while the Tennessee Summer Special Olympics was going on at the surrounding ball fields when I hear the cleaned up version of "Let's Get Retarded." It's odd that changing from "retarded" to "it started" is sufficient to make people happy with, or at least forget, the origins of the song.

Thursday, May 19, 2005
Adjustment Process
I think this weekend I will post my first week's worth of exercise routines. Sets, reps, distances for all the crazy stuff I'm doing.

In the meantime, I'm struggling with how to deal with my weight. For the past 14 months, I've been focused on losing weight, primarily by eating better and walking/running on the treadmill, which saw me drop from about 253 lbs. to a low of 187, but a comfortable range of 192-195.

Now that I'm doing the weight lifting, I have to start dealing with the "adding muscle adds weight" issue. I can't focus exclusively on weight loss anymore. However, I don't know how to figure out whether my increase in weight is truly muscle gain or eating more than usual because the demands of weight lifting are causing me to be crazy hungry. It's only been a week, and it's only been about 5 lbs. (194 up to 199 in a week), and I know I took a plate too many at the Chinese buffet last night and a scoop too much of squash casserole and piece too much of cake the day before at the campus picnic. Still, I would've thought all the extra work would leave my weight unchanged.

So, by publishing my routines I hope to gain your insights into my problem.

Special note: today was my first biking experience. I can't tell if my hamstrings are still sore from lifting earlier in the week or if it's the biking itself, but Christalmighty are they sore. I always thought of cycling as more quad-intensive. Perhaps having the pedal straps means you get extra work on the up beat.

I got my first trial issue of Sports Illustrated yesterday and flipped through an article by Albert Chen (registration required) about Kenny Rogers rediscovering his changeup. Cut to this morning when I'm flipping through, where I see a piece "special to" by Phil Rogers on Kenny Rogers. The latter article spends a little more time on the "pitching past 40" angle and has fewer quotes from Dick Egan, a former Tigers scout who had worked with Rogers in the minors over 20 years ago in the Rangers system.

My questions are: (1) does Kenny or MLB have such an effective publicist that he got simultaneous articles about his effectiveness this past month or so?; (2) was this story so "obvious" that two national baseball writers were bound to write on it because this is a highly competitive business?; or, (3) did ESPN poach yet another story idea from elsewhere and pass itself off as original content?

I doubt it's (1), and (2) might be plausible. However, I'm inclined to believe (3). Before I went cold turkey off of sports talk radio (the precipitating event was largely a switch from being a SportingNews radio affiliate to being an ESPN affiliate), the folks at SportingNews radio used to complain all the time about one of their gets (a radio interview, reporting by one of its analysts from the radio or magazine) being talked about on ESPN without attribution, often with almost no additional reporting at the initial phase then followed up with a, "Stephen A. Smith is now reporting" after he (or whatever other reporter) had finally gotten around to talking to an original source.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
On Track
I started back to exercising Saturday following the half-marathon pain. My foot no longer hurts, but that may be because every other body part hurts. In pursuit of my new triathlon goal I've added weight lifting and swimming into the routine. Running is still out until June, so I've substituted stairmaster. I'll start exercycle probably Thursday.

Let's just say I was happy to yesterday was my first rest day. The swimming hasn't been too bad, still a little choppy, especially as I get tired. Still, it's amazing what 50-60 fewer pounds does for your ability to move through the water. I think things are painful because instead of doing my usual "weightlifting for tone" mode I've shifted to "weightlifting for mass."

Don't worry, I'm not looking to join Arnold myself. However, I had noticed over the past couple of years that even though I gained weight in my torso my arms and legs stayed essentially the same size. I now describe my physique in this way: torso of a plumber, arms and legs of a female supermodel. So, I thought I'd try to make my limbs more masculine while my torso gets less so.

I'm still looking to pick a triathlon date/location, but I'm pretty firm now that I'll plan to do an Olympic length one. In the meantime, I'll be investing in Advil and Aleve.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Check 1, Check 2, Syballance, Syballance
I'm sitting just outside my office watching Little Richard go thorugh his sound check for tonight's concert for VU's graduates and their families. It's hard to believe 50 years ago Little Richard couldn't get arrested in Nashville--check that, all he could do in Nashville was get arrested--and now here he is performing at one of America's whitest universities. Fortunately, it's also one of the greenest, and I don't mean environmentally. Progress.

Friday, May 06, 2005
Post-Half-Marathon Marathon
The time after the half-marathon has been perhaps more stressful and exhausting than the half-marathon itself. I would've written sooner, but shortly after the race on Saturday I went with my sister and new baby niece to see my grandmother in Alabama, followed by a return drive home, a dash to the airport, a dash to work to start my new temporary position at the university (until our grant starts in July), finish grading papers and collecting miscellaney from the kids and turing in final grades to the registrar, plotting for my trip to DC for a meeting, and doing some data checking for my dissertation. In between I agreed to help co-write the evaluation portion of a small grant, help a friend get connected to some folks before writing his own grant, and took on a new freelance opportunity with the paper. It's hardly shocking then that I had to push a freelance deadline back to the middle of the month. On the bright side, I'm going to see the O's Saturday, and I got a free radio subscription for baseball on the internet, through which I caught the Marlins-Braves, Jays-O's, and Nats-Dodgers yesterday.

So, with my kvetching out of the way, here are the pertinent race details:
  • I finished.
  • My final time was 2:01:43, well ahead of my seed time of 2:25, but just shy of my goal of 1:59:59.
  • I wish they had splits for each mile, but they calculated an average mile pace of 9:17.
  • My 10k time was about about 53 or 55 minutes.
  • I finished above the median for my age group (30-34), but only barely.
  • Complete results can be had at and looking up my number (11752) in the half-marathon results.
Now for some racing commentary:
  • The time waiting to start the race was not dissimilar to the time spent behind the starting blocks at a swim meet when you're in one of the first events. Lots of standing around, pacing, dissipating nervous energy. Only with more clothes on and no goggles.
  • The race used a wave start. This is a terrific idea, especially considering how crowded the race proved for the first 4 miles. I can only imagine what would've happened if they all started in one pack. The critical problem I think is that the course bottlenecked between markers 1 and 2 and stayed that way for, oh, the next 5 miles. Imagine letting out a U2 concert at Giants Stadium but forcing everyone through a turnstile.
  • The congestion, coupled with my naively chosen seed time and surprise that you could skip ahead to a different starting corracl, meant that I probably ran 14 miles just from weaving in and out of race traffic.
  • My sister and her baby camped out at my improv friend Ann's house, which is located on the race route on Music Row. She took some video footage, but looking through the camera while holding a baby doesn't make for effective identification (though it probably qualifies her to work security at an airport or perhaps the British consulate's office in NYc). So, she didn't notice I was going by, and only barely caught me on camera after I was about 3 steps past her. I hadn't bothered to yell out to her because it looked like she was shooting me already and, you know, I was running and afraid to waste oxygen.
  • I expected more cell phone usage on the course, but I didn't see my first mid-race cell phone usage until the sixth mile. Apparently people like to call each other to find out where they are on the course. I only saw one other instance (about mile 10), so it wasn't too bad.
  • I expected I'd start out fast, and I did, going roughly 7:30 to 8:00 for each of the first 2 miles before settling into the 9:30 neighborhood. I did a good job of picking people to pace off of, and for the first half of the race, I used pretty good judgment about abandoning folks to find somebody further ahead to pace off of who were closer to 9:00, which I would need to get under 2:00.
  • The problem came around mile 8: I got a little over-confident and stepped up my pace to about 8:30 or 8:45 for the next two miles. I hadn't run any beyond 8 miles before, but my previous good judgment for the first 8 miles and my first hit of water at mile 7 deluded me into thinking I would be able to cruise the last four miles.
  • Things were ok through 8, 9 and most of 10, but mile 10 turned out to be the longest damned mile of the race. As they readied us for the full/half course split, they ran us up a not too big hill but big enough in a short enough distance at that stage to cause me to take my first 20-30 second walk break.
  • I think I might've been ok after that except I let myself get a little dejected when I saw that we were going to have to double-back through part of the route: instead of turning left onto James Robertson Pkwy, we had to turn right for a piece then U-turn back. It just violated my sense that you should always feel like you're moving forward. So, I walked another little piece, about 60 seconds this time. I had one more 60 second walk up a slight downtown hill toward the beginning of mile 12.
  • The running experts say that unless you're one of the elite racers it's actually faster to plan to walk for some stretches because you end up running faster enough during the time that you run to offset the slow down that occurs by walking. It actually kind of makes sense based on my treadmilling: I can walk on the treadmill (if I hold onto the bars) at the pace that I practice at. Perhaps I should practice harder.
Well, that's all for now.