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Dance Dance Revolution and the Return to Fitness

January 27th, 2012 No comments

On New Year’s Day I awoke feeling a bit bloated, no doubt from all the rich food of the night before’s party.  I stepped on to the scale to see the largest number my tall and characteristically lanky frame has ever evoked: 203.

Wait–when did I pass 200?  I’m pretty sure I started December at around 195.

The situation inspired immediate action: I geared up to take the first jog in about 6 months, a half mile south to the Albertson’s grocery store.  The quest was to get replacement heads for the dish washing wand (ours had just fallen off and we had a slew of dishes to wash from the small dinner party we hosted the night before).  Continuing my fit of physical activity, I jogged back up Broadway, whereat I stopped inside the Goodwill located a block from our place.

It was there real inspiration hit: I resolved to find a cheap TV modern enough to hook up a PlayStation 2 to.  You see, I LOVE Dance Dance Revolution.  I rock 7-footer songs with ease, and 8-footers out of breath (when I say “footers” I’m referring to the difficulty of song steps, rated on a 1 to 10 foot scale).  I do so with flailing limbs and upper body flourishes that tend to make even people who generally respect and look up to me laugh with mixed feelings of awe and shame for what that grown man is doing.

Don’t care, love it.

But I haven’t owned a TV since getting rid of all my stuff before moving to Argentina back in October ’09.  Ergo, I’ve not enjoyed my zany passion in over two years.  Since moving to Denver I somehow always dismissed the idea of doing so because I didn’t care to integrate a proper TV into our living room and lifestyle.

Until this fine New Year’s Day.  Whether a matter of subconsciously denying myself the indulgence, or simply overlooking the fact that I could, it hadn’t ever occurred to me that I could just get a crappy TV sufficient to play DDR on.  And that’s just what I did.

Fifteen minutes and twenty eight bucks later I was proudly carrying out some dusty 21-inch gem from the 80s.  At home 5 minutes later I set it on my desk, dug out my neglected PS2, dance pads, and stack of six DDR games (Max, Max 2, Extreme, SuperNova, SuperNova 2, and X), and fired up my old friend for the first time in 26 months.

Joy.  Such joy.

The winter season creates a sort of cabin fever over time, and you bet my body noticed the gradual coming down in activity since all that biking in preparation for the century ride.  To return to vigorous, fun physical activity after a holiday season laden with my mother-in-law’s fab homemade cinnamon rolls (and other attendant rich foods) was just the ticket to feeling awesome again.

I’ve played DDR almost every day this month.  That, plus a bit more yoga, a little bit of running, and about two weeks doing the Slow Carb diet (out of the 4 Hour Body) has me weighing in today at 194.  DDR in the winter: such a good way to stay active through the cold months.

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The Buffalo Classic

September 14th, 2011 No comments

Last weekend Tracy and I did a Century Ride, the culmination of a summer of training on our new fancy road bikes.

I really don’t have much of a story to tell about the 100 mile-long ride that Tracy and I undertook.  To be honest, a blog post about this is mostly for posterity: a reminder to myself that I did it.

Also a reminder to myself how, at this moment, with the physical sensation of biking miles 60-100 still fresh in my memory, I’m quite content to mark this off the list of things to do in this lifetime and be done with it. :)

My heartfelt gratitude to the party of three who stopped to help when I was pulled over with a safety pin lodged firmly in my rear tire: to the dude who took over the tube swapping operation and volunteered up one of those groovy compressed air cartridges to get me back on track, I thank you for enabling me to finish and thus be able to cross such a long distance ride off my list!

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Viva the Runner’s Nod

April 18th, 2010 1 comment

Yesterday I went for a three mile run, the first in several months (on a related note, I’m delighted to finally be experiencing warmer temperatures here in my new hometown: it makes the idea of exploring neighborhoods so much more inviting).

While rounding the mile long loop about Cheesman park, I crossed paths with another runner going the opposite direction, and we exchanged the runner’s nod.  You know the one: that quick bout of eye contact and the nod that follows when you get about 4 feet away.  That mutual, oft simultaneous gesture that in an instant conveys a mutual respect for the other’s physical prowess and hardness of core.

It’s damn near an act of solidarity.  One that says in an instant “hey, I know we could be both be sitting at home watching Family Guy reruns on Hulu right now like so many in our fair city currently are, but we, we are up to something greater.  The whole thing would be smug if it were spoken, but remains in check as a shared, silent gesture.

It’s  the eye-contact equivalent to giving another the respect knuckles, which you would, but doing so would necessarily mess up your stride.  It’s a celebration of human achievement.

At least that’s what I make it mean.

I love the runner’s nod.

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Panama in Review 4: Surf’s Up

March 16th, 2010 1 comment

It was our last day on the island.  At 4:45pm we would hop a plane back to Panama City, stay another night at the Hotel California, and wake early for our all day adventure back to Denver.

There was unfinished business.  Surfing.

But we weren’t sure if we’d fit it in.  Who knew when and if we could get a surfing excursion that included a beginner’s lesson in time, and besides, that morning we thought we’d do 9am yoga.  I like to think that fate kicked in when we arrived 2 minutes late to what was, in my experience, the first and only yoga venue not laid back enough to admit such barely-late stragglers.

So we wandered the main drag in search of surfing opportunities instead.  Ricardo, the rad proprietor of La Buga dive and surf shop, had a deal for us.  (Ricardo is rad for a number of reasons: wall full of PADI certifications, friendly manner of speaking English with his kickin’ Panamanian accent with which he can always convincingly tell you it’s a great day for diving, and Tracy and I were both pleased and unsurprised to see him doing well for himself romantically, apparently dating the smokin’ hottie who fixed Tracy’s smoothie that morning).  His deal: another person was going for an excursion at 10am and we could get in for $49 a piece, including a lesson, and back on land by 1pm.  Sold.  Pardon us while we run back to our room to change.

The lesson was a quick 20 minutes in a few forms, balance, and a fun test of whether you ride normal or goofy foot (i.e. with your left or right foot forward: the test is to push you from behind and seeing which foot instinctively leaps forward to prevent your imminent face plant).  Our lesson was held on the back porch/dock, and was punctuated once or twice by Ricardo stopping by to briefly and nonchalantly pump some serious iron at the weight station 6 feet away.  (Ricardo, you’re such a bad-ass.)

And then it was off to a nice patch of wavy water just off the beach we’d visited the day before.  We jumped into the water with our boards tethered to us by our ankle leash, and our instructor positioned himself with fins and snorkel in the middle of the bobbing water, ready to guide us to hang ten glory.

The premise of surfing, I now know, is simple: hang out in one spot, bob up and down as you wait for a good wave to come your way.  When it does, paddle like hell away from it so that you have speed enough to ride the wave once it does catch you.

How did I do?  I attained the goal I’d set for myself during our lesson: I managed to stand up and ride a wave for a good 8 or 10 seconds.  That was the last of maybe a dozen good waves I’d caught: on the path to said competence I’d had one good salty gulp of the sea, nearly ran over Tracy once, and appreciated the heck out of the aforementioned ankle leash about 4 times (when you fall off the board, the board keeps going: the ankle leash is pretty much the only thing that puts a cap on how far it goes).

In just two hours out I gained two unexpected things: a sudden and profound appreciation for the scattered bits of surfer talk I’ve heard all my life (ahhh… turns out that “catching some killer waves” is worth getting excited about!), and a wicked sun burn on the back of my legs (I neglected to mention the other side of the surfing equation: after riding a wave, you spend a lot of time lying face down on the board, peddling with your arms back up to where you started–it’s a fantastic shoulder workout).

The Delightful Sensation of Getting Hot

January 10th, 2010 No comments

It’s something that I experience every time I roll up my [by then] sweaty mat at the end of a yoga class at my new (and favoritest) studio, Core Power.

As good fortune would have it, the apartment that Tracy picked months ago (which I now graciously inhabit) is precisely a 6 minute stroll when you’ve got legs as long as I.  After a bumpin’ medley of strenuous poses like crow, side plank, and more chaturangas than you can count on your fingers and toes, the class is more or less a sweaty mass of mindful breathers.

I’ve just joined the ranks of the shirtless yogis during class, foremost as a matter of comfort (did I mention the rooms are kept at a pleasant-in-Denver-January 94 degrees?).  Add a full-wall mirror to the front of the room and it’s clear why I can’t help but notice the benefit of that rigorous steak and slow push-ups regiment I undertook in Argentina.

$119/month for all you can take registers (in my book) as kinda pricey at first brush, but since I was delighted to go 5 out of 7 days during my free week, I’m in.  At that rate of attendance, my per-class price is about $6.  I grew up knowing myself as scrawny and un-datable, so this constitutes a nice change of pace at a reasonable price!

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