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Archive for September 2nd, 2018

The Road To Sparta” (2016©) — book review
Today’s book review is for “The Road To Sparta” written by Dean Karnazes.  Karnazes may not be the “Dean” of ultramarathon runners, but he is certainly one of the sports most famous names and faces.  Karnazes lives in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I also was raised and currently live), and, from his writing, appears to have totally adopted the ethos of being from Northern California.  Clean air, physical fitness, sometimes single minded pursuit of one’s goals, etc.
The book is another semi-autobiographical book about Karnazes.  His other book (which is reviewed here) is titled: “Ultramarathon Man“, and deals more with his various runs – particularly the Western States One-Hundred.  This book is about his being descended from Greek immigrants and him getting back in touch with his roots in his native country via participation in an ultra-run called “The Spartathlon.”  This run recreates the run which Pheidippides made from Athens to Sparta to ask the Spartans to help the Athenians resist the Persian invasion of Greece at the beach of Marathon.  Not to spoil the story (as it is ancient history), Pheidippides ran about 150 miles to carry the message (request).  He then ran a similar distance to carry the reply (“Yeah, we’ll come, but not for a few days”).  And then, … wait for it… he ran from the battlefield (Marathon) to Athens (about 26 miles) to carry news of the victory.  And then he died.
The race isn’t so spectacular.  Karnazes “only” has to run the initial portion (Athens to Sparta).  Oh, yeah.  You have to run the race in a “similar” time span to that of Pheidippides – 36 hours.
If you are a serious distance runner, much of the book will seem self-affirming as you will probably relate to the action and feelings of a ultra-distance runner.  If you are not a “serious” runner (or athlete), you may still relate, but you’ll probably also find Karnazes’ descriptions of the Greek countryside a bit flowery.  Make that extremely flowery.  Almost (but not quite) off-puttingly so.  Almost…  On the other hand, if you are just an average reader, you may really like all the verbiage.  I was kind of in the middle.  Parts of the book made we want to strap on some shoes and go out for a jog.  Others left me feeling like he had been assigned a set number of words to get the book published and he was going to reach that number with the same determination it takes to run an ultra.
Final recommendation: strong.  I enjoyed the history.  I enjoyed most of the descriptions, particularly when he was talking about the people out in the Greek countryside.  And I enjoyed the re-telling of the actual Spartathlon he ran in.  Ultimately, a good running book should make you want to lace up and hit the pavement.  As mentioned above, this book did that for me.  I picked the book up at Half-Price Books off the $3 rack.  A steal at that price.  I’ve already used a couple of quotes on my blog and I’ve got about another dozen or so hi-lighted for use in the future.
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On This Day In:
2017 Today Is Not Lost
Day 8
2016 Paying Attention
2015 An Awful Ordeal
2014 What Are You Doing?
2013 Lives > 1
2012 Strange To All The World
2011 Unnecessary Stagefright

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The end of day thirty-seven and the start of day thirty-eight…
Morning weight:  324lbs.
I am now down “49/56”.  As in, 49lbs down from my fasting start weight: 373lbs, and 56lbs down from my highest weight ever (two days before I started the fast): 380lbs.  Today’s weight is a 13lbs increase, up from 311lbs yesterday.  And, the explanation follows…
I mentioned last week that on the day of my colonoscopy my weight was 330lbs at the hospital where I got the procedure.  I also stated my weight was 309lbs at the doctor’s office earlier in the same week.  Well, it turns out when I jumped on my scale this morning it said I’d gained 5lbs (316lbs) since yesterday (311lbs).  Given that I didn’t go for my swim, had only in the low 22K for steps and drank some “low-sodium” broth and then a 32oz bottle of ice water before going to sleep, I expected it to be a plateau or slight gain.  I did not expect a 5lbs gain…
I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to move my scales for a “reset”.  Instead of having them on a sports mat, I have put the scales back on a concrete surface in a corner of the mats.  I made sure to keep the lip of the scale from the edges of the mats.  I then weighed myself in the various positions (toes off the edges, toes at “8” and “4”, toes at “0”).  I did the positions both individually (by stepping off the scale in between) and together (transitioning from one to the next without stepping off).  What I found was toes off the edges: 340lbs.  Toes at “8” and “4”: 335lbs.  Toes at “0”: 324lbs.  I am assuming I haven’t gained any weight since the colonoscopy, and will, therefore, use the 324lbs going forward.  I will also leave the scale off the mats for the duration and continue to use the “0” toes position for the duration.
This is a “terrible” psychological setback.  Even though I KNOW I haven’t gained 13lbs, it “hurts” just looking at the scale.  LOL  (Aren’t I turning into a back-of-hand on forehead drama queen?)  The practical effect of this is there is (in my head) far less incentive to go another week, let alone two weeks to try to reach 50 days.  At 311lbs, two weeks would almost certainly have been enough time to get below 300lbs.  It is almost impossible to get to 300lbs from 324lbs in that amount of time.  And this is the problem of setting goals beyond “one more day, just one more day”.
A Blend Day:  Hil bought a bunch of bananas and then wasn’t able to eat them all, so three started to go black.  She didn’t want to waste them so she tossed them in a blender with some pinto beans and made me a “protein” smoothie.  Bananas don’t juice well because they have a low fluid to fiber ratio, so “blending” is the best you can really do with them.  Bananas are not considered a “juicy-fruit”.  This is why they are not recommended for folks breaking a strict juice (or water) fast.  They sit like a weight in your stomach and don’t “pass-through” easily.  The taste and texture wasn’t much to speak of, so I added some apple and green “V8” juices to the mix.  It slightly improved the taste, but it definitely made it drinkable (instead of frozen yogurt-like spoon-able).
Wrapping this up:  I have to make my veggie juice and my ginger / mint tea.  I’m then off to the pool for my swim.  And it’s back to “day by day”.
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On This Day In:
2017 Today Is Not Lost
Day 8
2016 Paying Attention
2015 An Awful Ordeal
2014 What Are You Doing?
2013 Lives > 1
2012 Strange To All The World
2011 Unnecessary Stagefright

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The world is not given to you by your parents.  It is loaned to you by your children.
  —  Kenyan proverb
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On This Day In:
2017 Today Is Not Lost
Day 8
2016 Paying Attention
2015 An Awful Ordeal
2014 What Are You Doing?
2013 Lives > 1
2012 Strange To All The World
2011 Unnecessary Stagefright

Read Full Post »

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