My First Run in Years

It was recently explained to me that running is a great way to build up stamina, which would help my sparring.  Jumping rope was another option but I quickly determined that I lack the timing and coordination for that, so running is pretty much my only option.  My wife is a runner (although she still won’t admit it) and so is my roommate.  I guess it was only a matter of time before they got me out on the trail for a run.  The plan was simple: a Sunday afternoon four mile run along the Mt Vernon Trail, with a number of stops at strength training stations along the way.  I’m pretty sure nobody thought I would survive this – including myself, but I decided to give it a whirl anyways.

We started the run at one of the mile markers along the trail, but not 1/4 miles into the run we came upon our first strength training station.  This one was one-legged squats and once I knocked that out it was back to the trail.  Of course by the time I got my pace set it we arrived at the next station which was sit-ups.  Again, this was not a problem and I knocked these out quickly in order to resume the run.  Not 20 steps later came the next station!  I start thinking to myself, “Ok, this is getting stupid!  How can I get into this run if I have to keep stopping and doing some exercise.  This is a four-mile run and if I don’t get on with it I’ll be here all night!”

So I decided to skip the stations and just concentrate on the run.  Also, I wanted to try out my new running software “Zombies, Run!” and all this stopping wasn’t working out well.  So off I went to complete my four miles.

To make a long (and boring) story short:

  • Running 4 miles really wasn’t that hard
  • Running is EXTREMELY boring
  • Zombies, Run!” is not all that fun after all


In short: Running sucks.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of other options so I’m going to need to find a way to make it more interesting…

Interval training and my favorite exercise

In the dojo we do a fair amount of interval training, also known as Tabata. If you’ve never done this before, think of getting a full hour’s worth of workout in four excruciating minutes! It’s very intense and challenging but it REALLY helps to get you in shape (you can read more about it here). There seems to be many benefits of doing Tabata over traditional exercise routines, including big increases in aerobic and anaerobic capacity. This is huge for me!

Now lets consider for a moment my favorite exercise – the burpee. It’s not my favorite because it’s easy. This is the most feared and dreaded exercise in the dojo. When I first tried it I thought I was going to die! I decided to make it my favorite exercise because nothing can kick my butt quite like burpees. Now lets put the two together and we get Burpee Tabata – the nuclear option of workouts! If you are looking to have your hind quarters handed to you, this is the workout for you.

Of course to do this right you will need a timer, like a Gym Boss or some other device. If you have a smartphone, there’s also an app for that. I’ve been using Interval Timer for the iPhone and it seems pretty simple. Cruise on over to the app store and pull it down, then give it a try in the gym!

Diet is only half of it!

Its great to get on a diet, but like I mentioned before, it’s about calories in and calories OUT. Luckily for me, I found Potomac Kempo back in November 2010. This school teaches Shaolin Kempo and the workouts are awesome! I mean you really sweat! For the first two weeks I thought I was going to die trying to keep up with it! As the time went on I got better at the workouts and now I hate the days (Friday and Sunday) when I don’t have a class. The unfortunate part is that I wasn’t on a diet all that time until a month ago! Wow, I could be in awesome shape right now if I had thought of this whole diet thing sooner. Of well, now is as good a time as any.

Technology helps along the way!

After trying many different diets with little luck, my wife and I decided to start counting calories. You can do Atkins, Weight Watchers, or whatever but in the end it’s really all about calories in and calories out. For a normal person who is always on the run, counting calories can be a real drag. Luckily we found an awesome app to help us – MyFitnessPal! If you are trying to lose weight, and especially if you are doing it with friends, you have to download this app. It’s basically like Facebook for fitness. You can monitor your own progress as well as that of your friends! And unlike the other calorie counters we’ve tried, this one knows the calorie count of EVERYTHING! Simply go into the log entry and scan the barcode of the food you are about to eat. So far I haven’t scanned anything that this app didn’t know! Needless to say, I’m terribly impressed. Give MyFitnessPal a try!

It was only a matter of time…

I had been considering doing a dojo blog for a very long time, but just never go around to it. I used to keep up a diving blog called George’s Dive Locker on Apple’s MobileMe hosting, but with Apple closing down their web hosting service I was forced to move everything over to this WordPress site.  This just seemed like a natural time to add dojo and fitness related topics.  So here is where I’ll be discussing my journey from an obese 40+ smoker to a 40+ (nothing I can do about that) in-shape person. Stay tuned, this should be interesting…

TMI? Naw… (My Super-Awesome Log Pages!)

Over the course of several classes, folks have been asking where I got my log pages. See, these are a LOT better than the usual PADI or NAUI standard log pages you’ll find at your LDS. Some might think its too much information, but I believe you can never have too much info!

So where did these pages come from? Well, I sat down and made them. It was a time-consuming project but the end result was worth it. The original idea came from ReefMongoose on ScubaBoard. He had a pretty nice looking page he was designing, but I needed to make a number of modifications. So I ended up just redoing the whole thing using ZeusDraw on my Mac.

That being said, here it is! Its a PDF that you have to print on both sides, and then cut in the middle to fit in your typical logbook. Enjoy!

Click HERE to download

A Very Wet Weekend!

Gave my first class tonight

It was a busy weekend, thats for sure. Between SCUBA tune-up and discovery dive sessions, I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet.

I taught my first SCUBA tune-up class this weekend. It was only two people – thank God – but I was still pretty nervous. See, I’ve never taught anything really, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about this.

The class started on Saturday. Glancing at my cheat-sheet from time to time, I was able to get though the classroom portion of the course pretty well. We went over dive tables, which everyone just loves to work with. After that we talked some about the dangers of diving, and went into some of the physics. I’d say the classroom portion took about 45 minutes, and then we were headed to the pool. However, there was a power outage at the pool so we ended up postponing the pool session until today.

Looking back, I’d say there was some things I could have done better. I have a tendency to rush things, and that really doesn’t work well when you are working with others. I don’t know if my two students noticed it, but I definitely caught myself rushing several times. Also, I think I could have done a better job of making one of the more nervous divers more comfortable. I guess I need to work on my “people skills.”

Once we got into the water, things went smoother. I probably could have done a better job of explaining the basic skill drills that we were doing, but they seemed to pick it up really well. At the end of the day, all were happy and had a good time. It seemed like they possessed the confidence in themselves that they lacked before the class, so I’d call that a success.

Fear and Loathing at Ski Liberty

Its Friday evening when Trey has the crazy idea that we should drive directly to Ski Liberty. Being that I spent most of my life in Texas, I never learned how to ski, and although there is a fun bar on the premises, this deficiency tends to make Ski Liberty less than a 100% balls-out shred-fest for me.

This time will be different though. I’m informed that Trey’s sister Alexis will be joining us, and she also doesn’t ski well. Hey! That means I won’t have to be the only donkey falling on my butt all day! Sure, sign me up! So all 3 of us pack lightly and head on down the dusty trail.

Next stop: snow country!

Last time I tried this, it was snow-boarding and I can tell you with 100% certainty that I HATE that. I’ve always been a skate-boarder and I had kinda’ thought the skill would transfer over, but no it does not. Thats OK, I hear that skiing is easier so I’m willing to give the mountain another shot.

By the time we get there and settled in our room, its 10:30PM so we head on over to the bar on the premises. I think it’s called McKee’s Tavern or some contrived BS, but I don’t care if its called the Out House as long as the booze is flowing and the crowd isn’t boring. Imagine our horror when we reach for the front door only to find it locked, and all the lights turned off!

I’m going to take this moment to go on a bit of a tangent:
This is a phenomenon that I’ve only witnessed since moving to the east coast. See, where I’m from the bar is opened during the day and remains open until 2AM. It doesn’t matter if there is one guest, 50 guests, or no guests. The bar stays open during bar hours! Period! Out here it would be HOURS before closing time and the bar could still be closed. What’s up with that?? If you can’t count on a bar being open before 2AM, I ask you what CAN you count on?? The commies are taking over I tell ya, but I digress…

As I mentioned, we’ve been here before and we’d heard that the bar near the park entrance, the Four Seasons, was an OK place. Now I’ve been in many bars, and I consider myself a pretty good judge of a place. But the Four Seasons always gave off this unpleasant vibe to me. Having no other choices, I held my tongue and we entered the place.

I was pleasantly surprised – no records skipped, it looked like the patrons had most of their teeth and not too many extra chromosomes. We found a spot at the bar and proceeded to have a good old time occasionally speaking to the locals and passing around the shots. It wasn’t until the night was nearly over that we finally met the quintessential banjo-wielding mountain-yokel, who we will refer to here as “Cletus.”

Apparently Cletus had just gotten out of the state pen, probably for burning a cross in somebody’s lawn, and was feeling meaner with each glass of $1 beer he could quaff. If I were to guess, I’d say he had spent at least $20 by the time that he entered our lives. To make a long story short, we nearly ended up in a messy scrape with this man of the soil, but we somehow escaped back to our hotel. We then decided to pass out and get some sleep before the morning ski sessions.





After a fitful night’s sleep, we arise in the morning to fresh snow on the mountain. This will be my first time skiing and Alexis hasn’t skied in years, so we both decided to take advantage of a one-hour lesson provided by the hotel. Wow. I’m sure glad we did it, but it was a LOT of hard work! I was surprised how after only a few tries, I was feeling confident and able to control my speed within reason. I even did some small hockey-stops! Of course all this was on the wussy-slope.

It wasn’t long before I was feeling like the jedi master of skiing, and I figured it was time to graduate to the next level of slope. This was my first mistake. Here is a picture taken of me just before I began my “run of a thousand crashes.”



Just after that picture was taken, I turned around and actually got a good look at the slope. Oh man, this was no wussy-slope at all! What am I going to do? Ride the lift back down? Did you see how many people are down there? If I did that, there is no way I could show myself in the bar later. So, I bolstered my confidence and pointed my rental skis down the mountain.

It was at this time that I realized 2 important things:

1.Making the wedge-shape with my skis no longer had the same slow-down effects here as it did on the wussy-slope.

2.The one-hour lesson didn’t cover the mystic art of “turning.”

My guess is that they just kinda’ figured us newbies would stick to the wussy-slope and not need these advanced techniques. That would probably have been a good idea, but it was too late to consider that now. I had the unpleasant task ahead of me of learning to stop, slow, and turn while not flying off the mountain, running into a tree, or breaking the sound barrier! I think I fell no less than 6 spectacular times on the top 1/3rd of that slope before it leveled out enough for me to barely make it the rest of the way down. Lesson learned, and back to the wussy-slope for me!

Trey and Alexis decided to go hit the bar, but I wasn’t satisfied yet. I couldn’t end the day on such a low point. I just knew I could ski better, and I still needed to get the whole “turning thing” down better. So, I told them I’d meet them in the bar, but I was going for one last run on the wussy-slope.

As I ride the lift to the top, I’m preparing myself mentally for the task at hand. I’m also noticing that the sun has been out all day and the snow on the ground looks a little more like ice. At the top of the lift, my suspicions were verified by a snow-boarding teacher warning his class – the mountain was all ice now.

Of course, this is just the wussy-slope, and I had been going down this one all day long. What could possibly go wrong? Well, its like this:

When snow becomes ice, that wedge shape that you make with your skis when you want to slow down does nearly nothing for you. Further, the ground is really slick and SOLID, so falling is really going to be painful.

About midway down the slope I realize that I’m completely out of control. What’s worse, there is a HUGE group of people at the bottom of the hill and I don’t see any clear place that I could steer towards, even if I COULD steer. I’m gripped by abject terror as I see the unsuspecting women and children that I am hurtling towards at incredible speeds.

At moments like this, time seems to slow down. One second feels like ten. I’m searching my mental database for the appropriate warning that I need to yell before I collide with this massive crowd at bone-shattering speed:

“Fore!” No, thats golf.

“Fire in the hole!” No, that’s not even close.

“Incoming!” Thats more like it, but still some might not understand.

I finally settled with screaming “OUT OF CONTROL SKIER!! LOOK OUT!!”

As I approached the crowd at blinding speed, I readied myself for the inevitable crash that would surely destroy me, and most likely the poor unsuspecting souls that were unfortunate enough to be in my path. My memory gets a little hazy at this point, and I can’t tell you exactly how it happened, but before I knew it I was miraculously through the crowd without a single hit!

My skis are in a wedge shape still and I’m bearing down for all I’m worth, trying to slow down before I run out of snow/ice. Somehow I ground to a stop and when I turned around to see the people I had just passed through, it was like they didn’t even notice me. Well, I had had enough, so I limped on over to the bar to mentally recover.

Would I do it again? Sure. In fact, I need to go back and get my “turning” down better! Skiing is fun!

(And scary).

No More Shark Fin Soup!

Well, it seems to have worked. The outcry of all the folks on ScubaBoard, along with everyone else who sent in an email, has prompted the Venetian to remove Shark Fin Soup from their menu. Here is their response to an email I sent:

Thank you for your email. We appreciate your feedback and want you to know we have removed shark fin soup from our menu.

Erin Robbins
Executive Secretary to Pete Boyd, Vice President of Food & Beverage
Phone: 702.414.0323 | Fax: 702.414.1301

So that’s good news. Looks like thats the email response that everyone has been getting. It would be nice if we could get some kind of verification of this…. Anyone?