Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Exercising in spite of a tough year on the body

This year has been awful physically.

In February, I suffered the worst flu in I don't remember how long--with a fever over 102, I even canceled classes!

In March, I strained my ankle because my right foot supinates quite a bit and it became obvious after I started running outside more. I now wear orthotic inserts to counteract the supination but I did not run for about a month.

In June, I experienced a brief bout of plantar fasciitis when my left arch began to bother me, perhaps a reaction to adjusting for my right ankle, resting it for about 5 days.

I also found out in June I have cataracts and so had surgery in July and August. While the surgery did not stop me from exercising, I was told not to over-exert myself for a week, so it was more walking than running/jogging.

Then as I started to speed up my pace a bit under the beautiful autumnal weather, by December I had developed patellar tendonitis which forced me to stop running for two weeks. So as I slowly began running again after my birthday, I came to realize that the time off was going to prevent me from reaching my exercise goal for the year.

1200 miles. That's a goal of 100 mile a month.

In all honesty, I should disclose that my mileage is a made up number. I mean, my walking/jogging/running numbers are actual miles--or at least as real as I can calculate by using Google map--but a significant portion of my miles (40%?) are guesstimates based on metabolic equivalents (METS) associated with aerobic exercises. For example, a typical work out for me would be 10.5 minutes of medium impact aerobics to warm up, the 25.5 minutes of high impact, then 10 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT), then finishing with 12 minutes of core/abs work. This is 58 minutes of aerobics exercise that totals a METS of 6.2--each exercise has its own METS number depending on intensity and each number has an equivalent in miles. My high impact aerobics equals a METS of 7 which is the equivalent of jogging 4.7 mph, so the 25.5 minute exercise equals 2 miles of jogging--although I always think that high impact aerobics feels harder that jogging 4.7 mph.

Yes, this is not an exact science, but it seems to me to be a relatively fair estimate of actual miles run and I so include it into my calculations.

In any case, what I wanted to say was that I've been exercising intensely since I graded finals and found myself doing more than 23 miles since Christmas Eve and as a result, I just might hit my goal by New Years Eve!

1200 miles, here I come!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Memory

I haven't seen my daughter in a while--has it really been more than 10 years? I wrote about her a few years ago in an earlier post and am not inclined to write about our situation. To be honest, I'm not even sure there's a situation to write about anymore. But I do have memories and I thought I'd write about one that I recalled recently when talking to friends about Christmas.

Back in December of 1991, when I was in Japan for my dissertation research, my daughter, K, had serious doubts about Santa coming to visit our home. In the States, before we had gone to Japan, K spent her first three Christmases at my parents' house where there was a seven-foot Christmas tree set up in the living room near the fireplace. But in Japan, most houses--let alone condos--are small and do not have fireplaces. There is also little room for a ceiling high Douglas fir or Scotch pine, which they don't sell in Japan anyway. In our small, modest abode, we had a small artificial tree--the kind you'd see on a counter at a business office. This was the norm in most Japanese homes.

Well, you can imagine K's skepticism. She wanted a bicycle for Christmas and even wrote a letter to Santa asking for one, but was unsure about delivery of such a large present. It would be difficult enough for Santa to bring a bike down a real chimney. "How could he deliver a present to a house without a fireplace?" she'd ask.

All I could do was shrug my shoulders and admit, "Good question."

"He couldn't get through the mail slot in the door, right?" I had to agree. She even glanced at the vent over the stove. But then she looked back at me, and we shook are head in unison: "No way."

Of course, being the devious father that I was, I was simply setting up my daughter for the Christmas surprise.

I should note that K did not doubt the existence of Santa; she just couldn't figure out how Santa could get into our home. As for me, by sharing in K's skepticism, I had removed myself as a suspect in any phony Santa charade. If K did get the present she wanted, it could only have come from the real Santa, not the dad who seemed to doubt Santa could actually fit through a mail slot. So I bought a bicycle and kept it hidden in its box unassembled until...

Christmas eve: I told K to set out some milk and a cookie, "Just in case." K was still doubtful. "Do you really think he can come here?" she asked over and over. But she must have held out a sliver of hope because she set the treats with care on a table next to the mini-Christmas tree. By 9 PM, K was fast asleep, undoubtedly exhausted from all the hoping.

I assembled the shiny red bike, attached the training wheels and headlight, and placed it next to the table next to the mini-Christmas tree. I am no mechanical engineer so assembling it took me more effort than I want to admit, but I did an adequate job, accomplished after some trial and error over the course of a couple of hours. Exhausted bleary-eyed, I plopped down next to the table, reached over and took a small bite out of a cookie that had been sitting there unattended on the table for a few hours. I grimaced at its staleness and, still bleary-eyed, reached for the room-temperature glass of milk next to it. "Oh crap!" I muttered. A mouthful was enough to bring me to my senses. I'm lactose intolerant, you see, so I put down the cookie and milk, moved quickly to the kitchen sink, spit out what I could and rinsed my mouth with water. Without a thought of what I had left behind on the table, I trudged off to bed and fell asleep worrying that I'd get a stomach ache from the milk.
And sure enough I woke up with a sudden pain in my stomach. "Oh crap," I muttered again. But when I opened my eyes, I realized that the pain in my stomach was not from the milk. K was straddling my stomach, jumping up and down. With a fistful of my T-shirt in her hands, she shook me fiercely. "He came! He came!" she screamed. What are you talking about? I was so groggy, I don't remember if I said that or was just thinking it. But it didn't matter. K quickly jumped off and ran out of the bedroom still screaming. She returned in a flash.

"Dad! Dad! Come and see!" she commanded from the door.

"Who came?" I asked still trying to get my bearings.

"SANTA!" she screamed in that high-pitched voice that only a four-year-old girl can muster.
Ah, the bicycle, I smiled. When I entered the living room, she was sitting on the bike pretending to pedal it.

"Wow, did Santa really bring you this?"

"Yes!" she said beaming. "I know for sure he did."

"Oh? And how do you know that?"

"Look!" she said.

My eyes followed in the direction in which her finger was pointing and, sure enough, there was a half-filled glass of milk and a half-eaten cookie. K jumped off the bike and scooted over next to me. "Look at that," she said outlining with her fingertips a jagged semi-circle in the cookie. "You see that? Those are Santa's tooth marks."

My eyes widened as I slowly recalled the sequence of events that culminated in K's discovery. But I just smiled and nodded in acknowledgment. Who was I to question such irrefutable proof of Santa's visit?