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Lifting

Throwing the iron around is back in my life, again.  In my 20’s I was a gym rat and was really into lifting, buying all the bodybuilding magazines and what not, then it faded.  I got back into again maybe 13 years ago, joined a gym, started to have kids, and that faded out again.  Now at 46 years of age, I’m back.

I can thank Crossfit for starting the spark to lift again.  I caught the bug for Crossfit during the summer and started to attend classes and whenever a workout involved a barbell I got excited. I remember this one workout involved bench pressing.  It was decades since I bench pressed and for one I couldn’t believe how much strength I lost (though I never was strong with the bench press), and two I couldn’t believe how excited I was.  The soreness the next day put a smile on my face.   All the other stuff that went along with Crossfit is cool but it just didn’t do it for me. This is weird but what also turned me off was the social aspect of Crossfit.  My anxiety would raise if a workout involved pairing up with a partner, that’s the last thing I want to do when working out.   That’s why I like to run, it involves no one but yourself.  So Crossfit stopped and lifting weights began.

A basic gym membership won’t break the bank these days, but having your own gym to me seems the way to go, if you can do it. There are advantages of having your own gym. First, the thought process that you need more is not true, less is better.  There is no traveling involved, you have access to it whenever you want, you don’t have to wait for equipment or battle the New Year’s newbies.  I have a decent size garage where I can start building my own gym. I have some dumbbells, those can be expensive. I have a dip bar, pull up bar, EZ curl bar, a flat bench and just bought a squat rack. It’s the brand CAP, and bought if off Amazon for $99, it can hold up to 300lbs.  I bought an Olympic size bar, the brand CAP as well off Amazon for a great price. Plates are pretty cheap as well.  My next purchase will be an incline bench.

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CAP Squat Rack

Summertime I can throw the garage door open which is really cool, but I don’t have heat in the garage so in the dead of winter it’s going to be interesting.

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I started lifting in the beginning of August and currently using a push/pull routine.

Day 1 – Chest/Shoulder/Triceps

Day 2 – Legs

Day 3 – Back/Biceps

My running has significantly slowed down. I’m trying to gain weight/muscle.  I run 2-3 days a week and the mileage is very, very low.  Nowadays a 5 miler would be considered a long run for me, definitely the shell of a runner I used to be, but I’m enjoying the change of just not running all the time. I still love the half marathon and will continue to run them, but now I would have to REALLY train for them, as before I was always ready to run one.

All the best!

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Fairfield, CT Half Marathon – 2017

It must be summer, it must be June, which means it’s time for my yearly hometown’s half marathon race report.  To make it short and sweet, training was nothing magical, very low mileage hoovering around 15 – 18 miles per week.  All runs were slow.  I recently bought a new Garmin, the Fenix 5X, and started to play around with running by heart rate, since the watch has a built in optical HR monitor.   This was my 9th consecutive year running this race, 8th time barefoot. I came in with a time of 1:50:29 which I was very pleased with considering how light my training was.  I actually beat last year’s time by 2:24.  How that happened I don’t know.   I got about 4 hours of sleep the night before the race, for some reason I just can’t sleep before a race. The weather was beautiful and bit hot, it was close to 80 degrees at the 8AM start time.   Happy Summer!

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The home stretch, this is about 100 yards from the finish line.

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With my son and daughter. My 10 year old didn’t make it, he is at that stage of sleeping in late on the weekends.

Born with form.

I’m currently getting ready for a half marathon in June and had a nice 10 mile run on Sunday.  Coming home my 3 kids saw me running down the road and they all ran out, all barefoot as well, to greet me.  It was really cool, I wish I could have captured that picture.  So I said to my 3-year-old daughter if she wanted to run up the road with me, my middle son had my phone and snapped this picture of us. Amazing how natural kids run barefoot, but we all ran this way as kids.  I believe we are all born with a natural foot strike, but years of footwear diminishes that natural instinct, but can always be re-learned.

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Crossfit

Let me come clean.  I used to make fun of crossfit until I took a class and instantly become hooked.  But this is not shocking to me, I knew it would happen and I knew I would love it.  Crossfit is perfectly designed for my DNA makeup.  It’s a nice structured program that basically touches upon every movement of the body, it’s fast and intense, then you are done.  I went to 3 different crossfit gyms for a “free” workout and get a feel for the scene.  Was I intimated?  Yes!   There can be that superiority, holier than thou attitude with some crossfitters, it’s definitely out there. I could careless about the fashion as well. I’m also not sold on kipping or these butterfly pull-ups, to me that’s just not a pull-up. I’m all about keeping it strict.  But so far my overall experience, with 3 different gyms, is everyone is pretty damn cool and supportive.  It’s absolutely a community.

I’m not fully a member at a gym yet. I try to do at least one drop-in at this particular gym that I like, and will probably start a membership there when I can afford it.  To be honest crossfit is not cheap! I basically live from paycheck to paycheck and I don’t have an extra $140 floating around, which would cost for 2 classes a week for a month.  So the knowledge I gain from classes and online stuff, I do my own WOD at home.  I have a decent size garage that I can actually turn into a small crossfit gym, which is something I’m interested in doing.  You just need some basic things to get going.  I already have a pull-up bar, something for dips, two Kettlebells, some dumbbells, a jump robe, and an old school barbell with weights. My next purchase would be an Olympic bar and bumper weights, that’s a must have.

This was my work out this morning in the garage:

Warm-up
5 minute double unders

2 rounds
10 hanging knee raises
10 pistol squats (5 per leg)
10 hollow Rocks
“DT”
5 rounds for time
12 dead lifts
9 hanging power cleans
6 push jerks
You are supposed to use 155lbs for this workout. I stared with 80lbs. since it’s the first time doing this. It’s not easy.

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Spring has sprung – 7 mile run.

It was so nice to finally head out the door for a run in just a t-shirt and shorts.  I had a nice 7 mile run on Sunday morning, slowly starting to train for a half marathon in June.

7.1 mile barefoot run. Time: 1:03. Pace: 8.57

Blizzard of 2017

The winter of 2017 has been somewhat mild.  It was unusually warm at the end of February and in the beginning of March, I was in shorts at times and observing the crocuses and daffodils prematurely sprouting.  March can be a funny month, such as the saying goes, March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb, or vice versa.

So we got our good first snow of the winter. It’s crazy because I’m not a fan of winter and really could careless about the snow as I get older, but I always find great excitement running in the snow. Anyways 6:30am the alarm goes off, I change and out the door I go wearing my Vibram Komodsports.  It’s snowing pretty good, wind is at 20 mph, with a temperature of 25 degrees F, and not a soul is out.  As I am heading home up ahead in the middle of the street I see someone with a tripod and camera. I stop and he introduces himself and asks if I want to talk about the weather. He worked for HAN Network. So random but a fun experience.

Here is the video.

Here is another video I did at the tail end of my run.

Wabi-Sabi: The Art Of Imperfection

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This image may well be my next tattoo.  But what is Wabi-Sabi?

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Mark Baumer.

Not sure how I started following Mark Baumer’s journey to walk barefoot across American to support awareness of climate change and water shortages, maybe through some Facebook link, but I happened to start following his journey from the beginning.  He started in October and fast forward to September I’m in my car with my oldest son going home from a soccer game, when I see this guy in a poncho, bright green shorts walking barefoot. I knew instantly it was him just from watching his videos which he posted which were awesome and entertaining.  I had to pull over and introduce myself.  We chatted just for a few seconds and off we went on our own ways. He certainly had a unique personality and I was inspired with his outlook on life.

When I heard he had been killed it really shocked and saddened me. I only met him for a few seconds but it seemed I actually knew him more than that.  Just a tragic accident and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.  RIP Mark, what you were doing was amazing and I enjoyed following your journey.

The Tragic Death of Mark Baumer, a Prolific Poet and Environmental Activist for the Social-Media Age

 

The Humidity Factor.

7 years of running barefoot under my belt, a few weeks ago I had a slight epiphany when it comes to running barefoot in the winter, humidity determines a lot with the comfort level. You have the obvious common factors of what will make your barefoot run enjoyable, challenging, or miserable during the colder months which are, temperature, dry or wet conditions, ice, snow, wind, but one thing I never took into consideration was the humidity.  Living in New England we experience periods of high humidity in the spring/summer months, at least with me I never gave humidity a thought during winter. See how strange my mind thinks as someone who runs barefoot in all seasons.

I get mixed reviews from my feet running barefoot in the winter, it can be 20 degrees F and that run can feel great, the next run it can be in the 30’s and the feet feel over-sensitive.  Again, common sense will tell you that wet conditions in winter is always a challenge as opposed to dry conditions.  The point is why do some colder runs feel more comfortable than warmer runs?   That’s where the humidity factor comes into play, something I never thought about until a few weeks ago.

Every morning before a run I check my trusty “Weather Channel” app on my phone to see what I’m dealing with and off I go. Last week before a run I checked the temperature before my 5:00AM run and it was 35 degrees F, not bad at all, scroll down a bit more and I notice the humidity was 60%, wow I thought, that is high even though when you go outside you don’t initial feel that humidity.  I got 4 miles in, dry conditions, but the feet were super sensitive on this run, and it actually felt like it was in the 20’s. That’s when my very small light bulb in my head went off, humidity!  I put that thought in my memory bank for the next run.

A few days later, the same process wake up at 5AM, check my phone first before I head out.  Temperature reads 28F, wind at 15 mph, and humidity at 20%.  Given the fact I had that wind going, this run was much more comfortable, the sensitivity was minimal compared to the previous run at 35 degrees. What I learned with this observation is the comfort of running barefoot in lower temperatures all depends on the humidity index. High humidity expect some discomfort, low humidity is your friend.

Case in point on this morning 3.5 mile barefoot run, 15 degrees F. Coldest run of the season so far, humidity was 30% which made it very tolerable and was still more comfortable than my run last week at 35 degrees F.  Once it hits the teens I become more cautious, it’s not about distance but exposure to time. Reflecting back to a few snow runs throughout the years, I remember that nice, fresh, crisp fluffy snow where surprisingly it feels great to run barefoot in, compared to that thick dense snow where the coldness just cuts you to the bone, I’m sure it had to do with the humidity. Absolutely useless information, but to a barefoot runner maybe it can hold some value.

Peace!

BG

Hip Hop/Soul.

I love music, all genres and variety, except country, sorry it just does nothing for me.  Growing up there was always a variety of music playing from my parents, it went from Crosby, Stills & Nash, rock, classic rock, all the way to the classic years of Motown. I gravitated to the black artists mostly when younger, I remember the first time I discovered James Brown and was completely blown away. Then discovering Michael Jackson, that was the cream of the crop for me, I became obsessed with MJ, still my favorite artist to this day.

Soul, Rhythm & Blues, the Motown culture, the rise of Hip Hop out of New York was fascinating to me.  One of my favorite shows to watch as a kid was Soul Train on Saturday mornings. My favorite part of the show was the dance off. I was soaking it all in like sponge.

My earliest memories of hip hop was probably around 1982 or so, I was around 12 years old. I remember on a Friday night listening to DJ Red Alert on the radio, 98.7 to be exact, on my boom box and making my own mixed cassette tapes.  I would pop a blank cassette in and when a song came on I liked I would press record, then hit pause when it was over, then just repeat again.  I would pause out all the commercials and talking so I just had a continuous flow of songs. Then I discovered break dancing, I would practice for hours. Just dancing in general was something huge to me at this point. I self taught my self to break dance, and dancing just by watching Soul Train, Micheal Jackson, etc.  I was completely enthralled with the culture of the streets, you want to learn how to dance with soul, or break dance you certainly won’t find that in the white suburban neighborhood where I lived.  So the TV and VHS tapes were my tutorial system.  A major movie influence was Beat Street, once that came out it was over!

My sister was into ballet and at this one place she took classes there was a sign for break dance lessons, so of course I had to check it out. I remember after my first class one of the instructors came up to me and asked if I wanted to teach.  I was like 13 at the time, for one that was a huge compliment, but refused the offer, had no interest to teach. I went to a few more classes and since I was at the same level as the instructor  I just stopped with the lessons.  In all honesty, I wanted to take ballet as well, a little secret I kept to myself. It was a little dream of mine to be a dancer and somehow make a living with it, oh well that ship has sailed.

Here is a picture of me at 14, maybe around 1984,  at one of my middle school dances. It was a very “white” school but there I was going to school in track suites, toe shell Adidas with the fat laces, suede puma’s, drawing graffiti on my notepads and submerged into 80’s rap. Not only was I knee-deep into the music, but the culture as well.

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Fast forward the to the 90’s and basically I was at the mall buying at least 3 hip hop tapes a month, maybe more.  I have a huge Tupperware bin to this day with all the tapes I accumulated during that time period. 90’s hip hop is no doubt my favorite era. I’m not going list my favorites but if I have to pick one album that really blew me away it was Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back”

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It was hardcore, raw, aggressive and controversial. The production was on another level, sampling at it’s finest, extremely creative and unique.  This album taught me more about black history leaders than any school or book. It was more than music, it was an education as well. I was definitely a soul child, I had to question if it was my Dad or the mailman, kidding!

Peace and Merry Christmas!

BG

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First snow of the season. My son and I at the finish of the 5 mile Turkey Trot Rusty as a bag of nails, but it’s a good outlet. 5 mile Turkey Trot tradition. 20+ years running this race with my sister. My son made his debut today, fantastic job! Deadlifts. This was my last set of 225lbs, a new PR.
135 x 10 warm up
185 x 6
195 x 7
205 x 6
225 x 5

Had my son Andrew @parkor_boy23 filming and working out with me as well. Finally Optimal Nutrition comes out with a plant based protein.  Most protein powder has a lot of garbage in it, artificial flavors, gluten, dextrin, soy etc. which I try to avoid. I’m not a Vegan/Vegetarian but like a clean supplement. The taste is spot on. Not grainy or “earthy” tasting.  Very happy with this.
#optimumnutrition First cold barefoot run of the season. 25F and the sun was shining, felt good.
#barefootrunning 5am Workout.
I don’t have heat In my garage it was a crisp 32 degrees, but don’t mind.  Some benefits of having a home gym is no travel time, no people, and you can wear your comfies.
This was my last set of benching at 170lbs Fall fun.
#leavejumping My new drinking buddy, a man of few words.
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