betterment personal


CW: Definitely going to be some food and weight talk here.

After I switched over to my new insurance plan (which in itself is just an update to last year’s plan), my insurance said, “Hey, if you go get a blood test, we’ll give you $50.” Didn’t have to tell me twice. The next day I was watching a new hire at Quest Diagnostics stab a needle into my arm. This is what older is: getting stabbed with needles all the time.

A couple years ago, while still living at my old apartment, I got a lipid test at the behest of my PCP at the time, a woman whose first name was Honey, which meant that I had to call her Dr. Marques because saying “Hi Honey” to a complete stranger felt bad. She isn’t even a doctor, really, she’s a physician’s assistant, but even knowing that I still called her Doctor, because what else do I call her? Ms. Marques?

Anyway, that first test, in May of 2021, was bad. Mainly in the triglycerides, but it was all pretty bad. A good triglycerides level is below 150 mg/dL.1Tangent: Is a blood test the only place where people use a deciliter as a unit of measurement? Mine was over 600. I remember shortly before my grandma, a stubborn-as-hell woman who continued to eat sweets and processed foods long after the diabetes had cost her both of her feet, died, had a reading of around 600, and I don’t remember if that was triglycerides or glucose. Both options are bad.

This was a year after covid hit and my second year into what I can only describe as Pandemic Panic, where I had exorbitant amounts of DoorDash delivered to my apartment on a regular basis. Here is a picture I took of my feet in June of 2021:

I took this photo because I thought, “Are my feet super swollen or what?”

They were. At this point in my life I betrayed myself by doing something I swore I would never do: weigh over 300lbs. See, the problem with being 6’5″ and someone who used to do a lot of weightlifting is that 300lbs kind of sneaks up on you, visually speaking. Nobody really mentions weight anymore, which is good!–a very few people in your life should be allowed to tell you you’re fat, and even then they should be nice about it–but it also meant that I didn’t really see the difference in myself at the time, except in my feet. Or maybe I did notice and just didn’t care. I’ve spoken at length about the constant battles between Lizard Brain and Rational Brain, and I think the pandemic lockdown really threw my entire consciousness off balance, to the point where Lizard Brain felt the need to declare martial law.

Doctor Honey was a stern woman, the type of PA you find at urgent care–quick with info, quick to get you out of the door. But she was also kind behind that need for speed, and she offered me a statin medication or lifestyle changes, and I opted for the latter. Three months, she said. Come back in three months.

I went home that day and got my ass in gear. But it was an uphill battle due to my apartment neighbor being a meth-addled psychopath who was maybe one terrible trip away from beating my head in with a crowbar. Gone were my daily walks because I feared running into him. I eventually moved; that was good. I ate better, I walked a bit more around my new apartment neighborhood, I took fish oil supplements.

In August I went in and got another lipid test. It was good, in the sense that my triglycerides went down by half. Still to high, but not so high that I should fear for my life. I don’t think I talked to Dr. Marques about these results, or maybe I did. I had moved at that point and so had she, from that clinic to who knows where.

Since then, my weight ballooned back up to over 300 and has gradually come down by then. As we all know because I won’t shut up about it, I run now and I’m getting more exercises these days than I’ve had since covid started.

So, of course: these results. These new lipid results are essentially the same as from August of 2021. They appear to be slightly better (my cholesterol-to-HDL ratio was 7.6 in May 2021, 6.6 in August 2021, and now 6.0), but it’s all still the same to me. It’s clear that I still have work to do. I may end up getting on a statin if these don’t drop over the summer. Statin or not, I need to watch what I eat and lay off the saturated fats. Most of which I consume as part of breakfast…

I don’t have a moral or anything to end this post on. My cholesterol is too high; welcome to the United States of America. I was hoping it would be lower because of my exercising but I should’ve remembered that it’s your diet which really influences these numbers. I’m going to give myself another three months of running and exercise and eating better to see where I end up. Hopefully with better results.

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    Tangent: Is a blood test the only place where people use a deciliter as a unit of measurement?
betterment food & cooking personal


18,000 cattle were killed in a dairy farm explosion and subsequent fire in Texas on Monday. That’s … mind boggling, but according to that article, that’s around 20% of the cattle who are slaughtered every day in America.

Now, I’ve never been huge on the moral quandaries associated with eating meat. I understand that the meat industry is shady as hell. I understand that male babies are often killed because they’re not as useful as females. (I’ve seen the baby chicks being put in the grinder, thanks.) I’m not sure how you can decouple eating meat with knowing how animals are slaughtered. There was that whole thing a few years back about teaching kids where their chicken nuggets come from, but I think most teens and adults understand slaughter. In fact, more often than not, rural communities understand slaughter way more than urban ones, because they deal with it first or secondhand.

I’ve never lived rurally enough to experience slaughter firsthand, but my family did live relatively close to a now closed slaughterhouse and when I would drive to college every morning I would pass by it and the conveyor belt plopping steaming intestines and other internal parts into a big truck. Man that place stunk.

Truthfully, I think the consumption of animals is crucial for human development. Specifically, it’s theorized that the cooking of meat is what jump started human brain development, tens of thousands of years ago. Cooking breaks down tough fibers into more easily digestible ones, which meant that prehistoric humans suddenly were getting more nutrients from cooked meat than from raw. Plus it was easier to chew and probably tasted good as hell to homo erectus.

That said, at some point our brains got big enough that we became self-aware and empathic toward the thing that got us here in the first place. The moral and ethical issues involved with eating meat, to me, are more entwined with cruel-free practices of raising and slaughtering animals than they are with the eating of animal meat itself. Cows are an animal meant to be eaten. If not us, then wolves or other predators. We’re just very good at killing animals, and, more recently, much more interested in consuming as much meat as humanly possible, it seems.

So, when I see 18,000 cattle dead (and ranchers lamenting about how they’ve lost around $2,000 per cow) due to, arguably, poor living conditions for the animals, it makes me take stock in my own meat, dairy, and byproduct consumption and how possible it could be to make it more ethically and morally appealing in the future. There is no ethical consumption under capitalism, but perhaps I can lessen my impact.

I’m not here to make any promises, but here are some thoughts on forward progress:

  • Reducing meat consumption.

This one is a no-brainer, obviously, but is also worrying for me mostly because it was meat (I think) which helped get me out of a depressive slump. More specifically, I think I was lacking iron and/or B vitamins that we can only get from animal consumption, and then one day a coworker left and we went to a Brazilian grill for her last day and I ate all the meats and felt better than I had in months afterward. Another friend of mine was basically prescribed a weekly meat meal by her doctor to combat low iron.1I know you can get iron in plants (what up spinach) but heme iron is supposed to be much easier for us to absorb. For me, then, I would prefer to find locally sourced meat once or twice a week, and supplement the B vitamins (B12? Is there another one?) with the multivitamin I already take.

I expect this will be way more expensive than the meat I buy at Safeway, but if I reduce the amount I consume in the first place, it should even out.

  • Ethically sourcing dairy and animal byproducts.

Again, this is like the above point. I’m slightly less concerned with some byproducts, like honey, which I don’t think is as unethically collected as, say, eggs and milk. But I like eggs and I like milk and I’d like to get them both from local sources. Especially eggs–factory farmed eggs are so shit compared to fresh, free range farmed eggs. Gotta get that orange yolk. Milk is the same. Honestly I think I can fix this by taking trips to Market of Choice instead of Safeway; their commitment to animal welfare page makes me feel more comfortable with purchasing meat and dairy there.

  • Ethical consumption and/or vegan consumption outside the home.

This one will be tougher. Portland restaurants are pretty good about letting you know where their meat comes from, depending on the quality of the restaurant. But in the end you just never know. So I think outside of my home I’d like to try to consume less or no meat at all, and maybe go vegan entirely. I don’t know if this will stick; obviously I want my restaurant experience to be better than my home cooking, and for me that includes dairy and/or meat. YES there are excellent vegan foods out there and I will absolutely go that route if I see something I like. But I am not a vegan or vegetarian really so I don’t feel the need to limit myself as much there.

  • Giving back to the community?

If I’m going to eat another animal I feel like I should at least use that energy to better myself or the community. I don’t know if this will be financial or actual volunteerism (I am terrible at volunteering), but I want to try to put the energy I receive from another living being into bettering the world as a whole.

Again, I live in Portland so these things should be easy to implement. At the very least though, having a clear concept of the impact I am having on my environment and how I can adjust it to be more ethical and conscious is a good start.

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    I know you can get iron in plants (what up spinach) but heme iron is supposed to be much easier for us to absorb.
betterment running

Running in March

My last 5k, the Heart to Start, was on February 18th. I finished with a 38:01 time, which, to this day, I still don’t believe. This is 18 seconds slower than my all time fastest 5k race, the 2016 Shamrock Run, where I finished at 37:43. A 12:08 pace then, but my best pace was in 2013, another Shamrock Run, this time an 8k where I had an 11:44 pace.

I know it’s not the best idea to compare myself to me ten years ago. After all, these aren’t stupendous times; they’re the times of a big tall guy who prioritized heavy weightlifting over running (and then fell off the wagon, so to speak). But it is very fascinating to see progress in action. I started running again in October 2022; my first 5k race was waaay out of my league and my time was 51:28. I almost don’t want to compare it to now, but that’s where I started. So my time difference between that race and my last race is 13 minutes and 27 seconds. In four months.

The reason for stating this, I suppose, is to formally state that it is possible to get better at the thing you’re doing.

So now it’s March, and it’s cold as hell in Portland. We just survived the Snowpocalypse, which was a blessing for me; I have gotten to the point where not going for a run nags at me, and I desperately needed the three days of rest.

I upgraded my 5k in July, the Foot Traffic Flat, to a 10k. A 10.55k specifically, because it’s a quarter marathon. That’s about 6.5 miles for you apple pie and hot dog eatin’ sons of bitches out there. It’s taking place on Sauvie Island outside Portland and should be a beautiful run. But it also means I need to train. Like, now. I need to up my mileage methodically but gradually, so that I can run past 6 miles, up to maybe 8 or 9, which will make running 6.5 miles feel a little easier.

I ended up grabbing this 8-week training program from the Runner’s World website, which incorporated training 3 runs 3/week. Originally, I had the 5/week running plan, but it seemed a little daunting, and literally as I was writing this blog decided to downgrade. Right now I’m trying for 4 runs per week, and with the 3/week program I can just add an extra day, which will probably be parkrun.

That program won’t start until May, which means I have March and April to use for increasing my mileage safely. Enter: March.

The plan is simple: increase mileage by 10% every week for 4 weeks, and then the 5th week is for deloading, or running a reduced mileage (basically back to week 1). I get two cycles of this before my 10k training begins. The first week is this week, with the goal being 10 miles.

There largely (as of now) is no real other goal with the particular runs, other than to run them. I’m focusing more on mileage now so that I can have a basis for the 8-week plan, and thus, the 10k race. Last week I ended up running 12 miles total, which is insane, but the week before that was only 9, and before that only 7, and I think about 5-7 miles/week each week before then. So my mileage was creeping up a little faster than 10%, so I want to step back and make sure I do this correctly so I don’t hurt myself.

I’ve got a few staples in mind though: Mondays are Hard Runs, Thursdays are Easy Runs, Saturdays are Whatever Parkrun Feels Like and/or Race Pace (for when I actually run races), and Sundays are Long (Easy) Runs.

Monday Hard Runs will be a mix of interval training and tempo/threshold runs. I suspect a lot of intervals on the track, to be honest. It’s kind of fun to run intervals on the track. (Yes, 7th grade me, you heard that right.) Currently my intervals include 1 mile of running at a steady warmup pace, and then half-lap run/walk sessions for the other mile. But instead I’m going to run that first mile and then run for more like 30 seconds, then rest for a bit, and run again, etc, until I just can’t hack it anymore. Then, when I get better at it, I can increase the run time until I’m pushing myself for a minute.

Thursdays I hope to be dominated by Zone 2 runs. Apparently these are very good for you, as they help keep your heart rate low for longer runs. (And other benefits, I think — look, I’m still a beginner runner, alright?) Zone 2 runs are weird because I’m running slow. Like, real slow. For me, that’s around 13:30-14/mi. Slow enough that even old ladies are passing me by, and babies, and turtles, etc. And since I’m still getting in shape, I’m religiously checking my smartwatch to make sure my heart rate is staying below Zone 3. It’s hard!

I also think Thursdays will be some hill training, which basically means just running east, away from the river. It’ll be nearly impossible to keep me in Z2 for those, though.

Saturdays are parkrun and a couple of races. I’m just going to play these by ear. No need to go all out for all of them, especially those in which I have a race the next day. I may use them as a way to keep a steady 5k pace, including keeping my pace lower at the start, because I, like most people, like to start faster than I should. If I can even out my pace over the whole 5k, that would be awesome.

Sundays are the proverbial Long Run days for most people. I think most of my races are on Sundays so we’ll see if I just keep running once the race is over, or what. I might have to split my runs on race days, and then commit to longer runs on non-race days. We’ll see. But yes, long runs.

So, two cycles of this and then an 8-week plan to get me ready for a 10k by July. I totally think I can do it. In fact I’m eager to do it. In fact fact, my brain is a little more eager than my body; it feels like Captain Kirk to my legs’ Scotty. But it’ll work. And in 4 months you’ll see me with a 10k medal around my neck, come hell or highwater.

betterment personal running

SFA (Stop Fucking Around)

For today’s run, I decided to Stop Fucking Around.

I ran hard today. Sprintervals, I call them, though I can’t have been the first person to do so. Walking to the track is when I decided that this week would not be a deload week, as I had previously intended. Instead, I ran a full mile with a 11:46 pace, and then the 2nd mile was split into the Sprintervals — half a lap walking, half a lap running as fast as I could.

This Strava pace chart is interesting to me. (And maybe only to me.) A relatively even pace for that first mile, dipping towards a 12:00/mi pace at the end there, but once I start doing sprints, my pace jumps to around 9:30/mi for the first sprint and then 8:00 and 8:30/mi for the second two. What’s fascinating to me is that people can run faster than that for much, much farther. But what else is fascinating is that the first sprint was hard, but on the second sprint I purposely ran even faster, trying to really bump my heart rate into the anaerobic zone. I’m very good at keeping my heart rate to a max of around 160, which is good, but I do feel like sometimes you gotta push yourself beyond that. So I did, and I felt like I was going to die. But the third sprint, where I purposely tried to get back to the speed I ran on my first sprint, was faster than the first sprint, even though it didn’t feel like it. That is interesting to me.

So, on the way to my run I decided to Stop Fucking Around. Originally I was going to run a mile at an easy pace because I was worried I overdid it at the last parkrun. But I didn’t overdo it. I was just slow, and being slow means that I’m spending more time running, which means I’m more prone to injury or soreness. I think, instead of pushing myself to get better, I’ve been settling back, out of fear of injury or collapsing or puking or looking like an idiot at parkrun or on the track, I don’t know what.

But an average 13:30/mi pace is abysmal. It’s slow for me, which is saying something. I think the Race for Warmth made me realize that I’m faster than I give myself credit for. Yes, I’m also out of shape and heavy. But I’ve still got the muscle from years of squatting, just sitting there, deflated, ready to work again. My pace seven years ago was a full minute and change faster than today, but at the Race for Warmth, my pace was 13:07. That means I am well on track to get back to my old pace, and even faster, as long as I keep pushing myself.

Is every days a SFA day? No, of course not. Next time I run it will be slow and easy, for endurance and to recover a bit before Saturday. Parkruns will always just be whatever I’m capable of. Races I will push myself. But Mondays … Mondays are to Stop Fucking Around and kick my ass into high gear.

betterment personal running

Race for Warmth

*sports announcer voice* “And oh what a race for warmth it is today, Todd!”

“That’s right, Jerry, it’s colder than a witch’s tit out here.”

“It’s colder than the balls on a brass monkey.”

“It’s cold as fuck Jerry!”

This morning I left my apartment at around 8:15 am. The Portland air was crisp and cold. I drove to Vancouver, Washington, which took about 15 minutes. I then parked at a high school parking lot. Upon exiting the vehicle, I discovered that Vancouver was WINDY AS HELL.

And that was my opening impression of the Race for Warmth, a 5/10k out in the Couv, put on by Clark (County) Public Utilities to benefit Operation Warm Heart which helps low-income families pay their heating bills during the cold months (or just in general, I guess). The race began and ended at the Clark Public Utilities building, which is right off the I-5 bridge, making for an easy trek. The packet pickup the day before was a drive through event, which reminded me a lot of when I got the covid vaccine, except this time I got the vaccine of … future exercise. How about that.

The “swag bag” (remember when swag was a thing the youths would say?) consisted of some free and discount coupons, two tickets to see a Ridgefield Raptors baseball game in June (hell yeah, why not), and one of those emergency blankets and a hand warmer, which I think people used during or before the race but seems to be more intended for an emergency kit for your car.

The atmosphere of the event was great. It wasn’t too crowded, everyone was fucking freezing, and there were a couple of tents with free stuff. Relevant Coffee provided the morning bean juice, which was very good. They also gave away a $5 gift card in the swag bag, which I fully intend to use in the future. Meanwhile, a tent for Why Racing Events gave away some stuff, including my favorite free thing, some old PDX carpet sunglasses. They had some other stuff too that I totally forgot to grab.

“I make this look good.” Remember Men in Black?

They seem to do a lot of triathlon races but also noticed I was wearing my Shamrock Run hoodie and suggested I run sign up for their version, the Couve Clover Run, which happens a week after the Shamrock Run. Maybe I will, Why Racing Events … maybe I will.

(Side note: I always thought it was “Couv,” not “Couve.” Both are colloqualisms, so who cares, but maybe I ought to trust the Washingtonians.)

The tent next to theirs was for NW Personal Training, also based in Vancouver. They gave out INCREDIBLY HELPFUL drawstring bags so I could carry all of my free shit. This was very good. Also, some sunglasses and the Weirdest Free Thing, a license plate frame.

Lastly, there were Franz cookies, which of course were delicious.

As for the race itself: I did good! I managed to run the entire first mile without stopping, which was one of my two goals for the race. According to Strava, my first mile was 11:44 and I was a 25:33 for two miles, both of which are current PRs. I knew running the first mile like I did would cause me to lose energy toward the end. My pace dropped pretty significantly during miles two and three, which is not really what I want, but I wanted to go faster overall and I guess I made that sacrifice.

My other goal was a sub 40 min 5k, which I didn’t hit, but I think I was only about a minute over. My Strava time was 40:54, but that was for 3.07 miles because Strava does that sometimes. I thought I started the app with ample time to hit 3.1 but I guess not! Regardless, I think that’ll be about my chip time. If there was a gun time, it will be about a minute or so slower, because the start was a goddamn choke point, and also because there were a surprising amount of people walking. It was a walk/run event but it seemed like most people around my area were walkers. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, except it was like running through a minefield trying to dodge walkers left and right.

UPDATE: My chip time was 40:44, 10 sec faster than Strava, which is weird. Gun time was as expected, 42:24.

There were some slight uphills along the way, which I tried to run every time. You won’t get better at running inclines unless you actually run them. My grandaddy told me that once. (This is untrue.) Also a nice stretch along the Columbia River and this Vancouver Waterfront section that I think is fairly new. I don’t remember the drive into Vancouver being so nice. Is Vancouver nicer than Portland now? That would be wild.

So, for next time, I think the goal is to actually slow down my first mile pace so that my second and third miles are steadier. Like, if they’re all 13 minutes, that would be great, plus I’d get under 40 minutes. I think the adrenaline of running a race with people made me start out a lot faster. But who knows? Maybe in a month or two from now, 11:44 will be my 5k pace. Here’s hoping.

After the race there was an after party with a live band (god bless you musicians for playing in the cold), some turkey stew which was alright, cans of Michael Bubly, and more cookies. I had a sit and ate my stew and then promptly left. One of these days I’ll make some runner friends, but today is not that day!

Overall, a nice race that I would absolutely run again next year.

See you in a couple weeks for the Providence Heart to Start!

betterment personal running

parkrun #3

Last week, at the end of the last parkrun, I, after running for three miles in a steady downpour, said to one of the volunteers, “Well, at least it’s not snowing.”

“Don’t say that!” she replied. “You’ll curse us for next week.”

Well … this morning it snowed. In fact, this morning was the only day we’ve had real precipitation in about three or four days, and it is sunny now and will be mostly rain-free until Friday.

So yes. I did curse this week’s parkrun. My penance, I think, will be to keep running.

It was cold this morning, too. Does not bode well for the rest of the winter. A couple of degrees above freezing (I’ll let you decide what that means in Celsius or Fahrenheit). The snow was really more like a small, light hail. These were not snowflakes, they were a recon mission for future bombardment.

I Came, I Ran, I … Did Alright. Shaved a couple seconds off my pace. Today’s interval training was three minutes running, two minutes walking, nine times. I thought that would be grueling, but it actually wasn’t too bad at all. Even the uphill runs were better than I expected.

Hell, I even made the Local Legend of the Rock Creek Trail parkrun on Strava. What does that mean? Well, it means I’ve logged the run the most in the last 90 days, I think. I’ve logged it three times, which means … the other people must’ve stopped using Strava.

I’m getting better, and I feel better, and yet … that near 14 minute mile pace is driving me nuts. I had my mouse hovering over the Half-Marathon registration for the July 4th Foot Traffic Flat on Sauvie Island. I was gonna do it. I was very close to doing it. But I did some sort of pace extrapolation thing on another site which told me that at my current pace, it would be a 3 hour half (a 3 hour half) — an over 3 hour half, technically, I just wanted to get that joke in. That’s just too fucking long to be running a half marathon.

So I signed up for the 5k instead and my 2023 is now hellbent on reducing my pace to under 12 minutes. Twelve was the bane of my existence back in the day, too. My fasted pace was 11:44, on an 8k in 2013, which is weird as it’s the only 8k I’ve ever run. Everything else has been over 12 minutes. I don’t like it. I’m okay with being a slow runner, but, like, a 10 minute mile slow.

Thus, the training continues…

Next week I will likely be walking my parkrun as the Race for Warmth is the next day. I’m also hellbent on going to parkrun every week, even if I have races. Sometimes the habit is more important than the impact.

See you next week, parkrun.

betterment personal running

January Running Update

Or, A Running Update on January.

The problem with running is that it’s hard.

I’m doing fine. My pace is getting lower with almost each run. I’ve got two parkruns under my belt and about a week and a half from this post will be my first 5k race for 2023, the Run for Warmth in Vancouver, WA (The Couv). Judging by a recent email I received from them, their goodies bag will be very good. You know I’m sucker for a goodies bag. Medals are nice and all, but a bag with goodies in it? Get out of the city!

But still, running is hard. The motivation is hard. Especially as I hit that part in January where it’s cold and the realization that it’s another year doing all this sinks in. This is going to by my 40th year on this Earth, which doesn’t help. (It sort of helps.)

Like I said, I have two parkruns left in January. Tomorrow will be normal but the one after I will have to walk, because I am running the Run for Warmth the next day. I’ve been thinking about volunteering that week, but it also feels weird to jump into volunteering so soon. We’ll see.

I was also feeling a little unsatisfied with my laissez faire run schedule so I grabbed a training … kit? Training schedule? Whatever. I got it from the Runner’s World website.

This is meant to help boost me up to running 5k without walking. I just started–tomorrow will be the Week 1 Saturday–and it seems like it’s working. I’ve realized that I was cheating myself out of the longer runs, because I had no timer to keep me on track. I would run, think I had run for, what, five minutes?, but really it was like one minute. Timing keeps me honest, which I appreciate. The training will get harder going forward, but I’ve been paying attention to my food intake and making sure I eat enough to fuel me, which is important. I had this problem when I was weightlifting too; I want to lose weight but you actually kind of have to increase your food intake in order to have the energy to exercise in the first place. So my weight loss will be slower than I’d like, but that’s alright.

I’ll be back here tomorrow with my parkrun #3 update!

betterment personal running

parkrun #2

My second week of parkrun was as you might expect for the Portland Metro area in January: cold and rainy. Again was I virtually at the end of the pack, a cross of running and walking, and despite running out of gas early on, and despite thinking that I was slower this week than last week, I was actually faster, by 27 seconds (on Strava at least). That seems like nothing but it’s actually a pretty good jump in time.

I was concerned that my last night, late night workout would impede my ability to run this morning, slowed down by sore muscles and whatnot. But I woke up this morning virtually sore-free (Soreless? Sans sore?). The opening mile of the run felt like my legs might give out a bit, and for some reason I was sucking in air early on, which is what happened last week too; my 2 mi run on the track on Thursday saw me running two whole laps (around 8 min), so having to stop at around 4 min this morning was a little discouraging. But it’s not about the walk, or the run, really. It’s just about moving. So I kept moving. I walked when I needed too, I ran when I wanted to. I’m glad to have a Pixel Watch because I can check my heart rate, allowing me to pick up into a run when my heart fell to around 140 bpm.

My goal for the year is twofold, but is essentially the same: one, to get my time down to 10 min/mile, and two, to run the entire 5k without walking. It’s going to be an uphill battle against age and the past few years of sedentary lifestyle, but I think I can do it, and honestly, I think I can do it a lot earlier than I realize. Every time I run I get a little faster. It’s only a matter of time.

betterment personal running

And it’s not about you joggers, who go round and round and round (parkrun #1)

The title of this post refers to a Blur song called Parklife, which is now stuck in my head.

So I did a thing today: a friend and old high school classmate of mine, Annie, DMed me a couple days ago to refer me to parkrun, a casual, timed, 5k run started in the UK (Annie lives in London now) but has spread all over the country. There is one near Portland, at Rock Creek Trail which is either in Hillsboro or some unincorporated area called Somerset West; I don’t know how cities work anymore. It’s free and they time you and you get a barcode and everything. Sounded neat, so I went!

I only got one photo and there is a trash can and TWO poles in it. Great.

This event occurred about five days after I finally tested negative for covid, after being riddled with it since December 20th. So, you know, I wasn’t expecting much. In fact I assumed I would be walking the vast majority of it due to my lungs still healing from the badness.

Instead, I ran a PR. Granted, this is a 2022/23 PR, not a ten years ago PR, but still, the fact that I ran very well for this after having covid is amazing to me. I’m extremely proud of myself. What’s even better is that I had eaten cold pizza for breakfast just before leaving. This seals it — cold pizza is the best pre-run meal.

The drive there was fine. The drive home went through West of Ross Island Bridge territory, aka a Clusterfuck of Streets, which was annoying but not terrible. I will always write about my drive to and from races.

The event itself was excellent. A handful of very friendly volunteers (including a leader who was definitely from England herself) and a lovely little trail between some nice looking suburbs. Rock Creek Trail itself is a wetlands area (Rock Creek is a tributary of the Tualatin River) and I can’t wait to run through here in the spring and summertime. Everyone was friendly and encouraging; this was the first time running in my life where someone said “Good job, keep going” while they passed me on the course. That is worth 1,000 medals, believe me.

I plan to go to this every Saturday. In fact, I am replacing one of my New Years resolutions with this, because my “eat X amount of carbs in January” resolution flew out the window. This is a much more interesting resolution.

betterment personal

2023 New Year Resolutions

Hello, welcome to 2023. So far it feels a lot like 2022, which, to be honest, is unsurprising. A blanket of fog rolled through Portland as I awoke at 6am, like I always do, despite a terrible night of sleep due to going to be late and also because I ate a whole frozen pizza and a bag and a half of Doritos, along with too much sparkling cider. My body was upset with the sheer amount of carbohydrates.

As always, I’ve decided to do some resolutions this year. I’m bad at following through on resolutions, so this year I’ve tried really hard to make actionable resolutions, things that I can check off a list, rather than esoteric, abstract concepts that I want to follow. Without further ado…

  1. Run a half-marathon (and/or run a 5k every month).
    • This I think will be the easiest to manage, as once I get back into the habit of running 5k, I can bump it up incrementally until I hit 21k. I’m aiming for a September or later half.
  2. Bench 225lbs for reps.
    • This one requires me to get a gym membership, and is something I’ve done in the past, so I think I can do it again no problem.
  3. For January, eat 100-150g of carbs and no artificial or added sugars.
    • This one will be tough but I’ve done similar things before. I’m aiming for more of the “no sugar” part if I can’t do both.
  4. Workout for 30 minutes every day I am healthy except Sunday.
    • A mix of weight training and walking/running. I can do this.
  5. No social media except for Instagram, BeReal, Strava, and D&D Reddit.
    • This sounds like I’m capitulating but Strava is barely social media (plus it’s focused on positive exercise) and now that I’ve scrubbed all my subreddits to only D&D ones, I have not clicked on a single thing to read the comments. It’s really just Insta and BeReal. And Discord I guess but that’s more for friend communication than social media. Anyway.
  6. Meditate every day I am healthy.
    • This should be a breeze so long as I have ten free minutes and my phone.
  7. Complete a project.
    • Leaving this vague because I don’t know what project, but it would be nice to complete something. I’ve been tinkering with the idea of a “I’m 40” type of music album. We’ll see.
  8. Find a new hobby.
    • I’ve been itching to learn how to do something different. There’s lots of time to figure it out. Obvious ones are film editing and coding, but those sound boring. I’d like a fun hobby.
  9. Make a new friend.
    • Out of all of these, this one makes me the most nervous. I am terrible at this. Make a new friend? Out of the fucking blue? We’ll see. We’ll see. (I am not including “romantic relationship” in this. I want to make a new friend that I don’t also sleep with.)
  10. Take a trip out of state and/or to a place I’ve never been before.
    • I just honestly want to do this. Canada maybe? Let’s go to Vancouver BC!

I’ll keep you updated on how I do. Happy New Year!