At the beginning of April, I embarked on two (2) virtual walks. The first is sponsored by my employer and is called “The Big 1” and described as “The Big 1 takes you on a coastal voyage from Laguna Beach in the south all the way up to San Francisco. It is going to be a beautiful trip and your goal is to complete the route along the Pacific Coast Highway in six weeks.” Continue reading “Double Timing It: Walk Across Kansas and Up the Coast of California Simultaneously”
So my dad calls me on my cell phone this morning, soon after I arrived at work. He called to wish me well on the last day of my 50th year.
(Can you hear the sarcasm dripping from my lips?)
In other news, welcome to October!
This past weekend wasn’t quite as rough as the previous one. Porthos has fully recovered from his upper respiratory infection and is now eating like the Rottweiler I knew he was (i.e., if there’s a bowl of dog food handy, he will snarf it or inhale it, whichever is faster). Terry is still recovering from his viral mishap, so we didn’t do much besides sleep and watch television.
I did manage to get Porthos and Lexy out for walks on Sunday afternoon. Saturday was too miserable (cold and damp and sometimes drizzly) to walk or even let them in the backyard. Sunday was still overcast but at least not wet.
I walked Lexy first so she wouldn’t feel slighted. She did her usual amble around the neighborhood. She really doesn’t like walking back among the houses, where I feel ‘safer’ or less worried about traffic. Lexy likes to walk along the main thoroughfare into our neighborhood, which involves a slight uphill climb to where the Community Library and City Hall are (about a block away). When we turned around and headed back north, I regretted not grabbing my ears muffs. My ears were stinging by the time we got back to the house.
This year for Mother’s Day my kids bought me a Fitbit Flex. I got it setup late last week and have gradually increased my walking, both at home during the evenings and at work over part of my lunch hour.
Monday I headed out of my building and eventually ended up along the banks of Brush Creek (sometimes referred to as Flush Creek), which flows east along the south side of the Country Club Plaza. As you can see from the photo above, I will most likely NOT be retracing my steps on this route in the near future.
For the first time in nearly a month, Apollo and I took a pleasant evening stroll around our neighborhood. I didn’t get much exercise, as I became easily distracted by all the beautiful blooming spring flowers and trees. The temperature stayed in the 70s and the sky remained cloudless as the sun dipped toward the western horizon.
The forecast for the next couple of days, however, predicts more rain, so Apollo and I may not get out and about until later this week.
Terry and I also visited our local Home Depot to purchase a replacement day lilly (for the one lost to the driveway re-construction a year or so ago) and a couple of new flowers to add to the bed around the mailbox. As soon as the day lillies bloom, I’ll snap some photos and share them here.
For over 2,500 years in our Western civilization, October has been known as the tenth month of the year and the iconic symbol of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Originally, though, the Romans had only ten months in their calendar; hence the “dece” in December (for ten). The eighth month in the old Roman calendar, October, retained its name (from the Latin “octo” meaning “eight“) after January and February were inserted into the calendar around 750 B.C. (October Wikipedia article).
October holds a special place in my heart, not only because it embodies the Fall season, but because I was born on the second day of the tenth month (frivolous sidebar: subtract two from ten you get eight). So to with octal, although I rarely think in terms of just eight digits these days.
Way, way back, before IBM introduced it’s PC (aka Personal Computer) to the world, during the mid to late 70s, my father built several home computers using various early operating systems, including CP/M and DR DOS. Just as I began to blossom mathematically through early exposure to algebra and geometry, I cut my intellectual eye-teeth on octal, hexadecimal, assembly language and machine code.
So it seemed fitting at the end of September, that I decided to increase my daily step goal from seven thousand to eight thousand. Are you scratching your head yet? Or just rolling your eyes?
I am happy to report I met my new goal of eight thousand steps eighty-four percent (84%) of the time. I had five days I did not reach my goal, one of which I would have met the goal had I not accidentally reset my pedometer a few minutes before retiring for bed.
In reviewing the data collected by my pedometer, I learned I’m walking, on average, about twenty-five (25) miles per week and getting roughly an hour’s worth of exercise time in the process. That means, since the beginning of September, I’ve put nearly two hundred (200*) miles wear on my walking shoes! I think it’s time for a new pair, or at least a new pair of inserts.
The latter half of November will be a challenge. Travel and holiday guests may put a crimp on my ability to meet my daily step goal. Only time will tell.
See you next month, same step channel, same step time.
* That’s thirty-one (31) in octal, by the way.
I decided to increase my daily step goal by one thousand steps starting October 1st. When I hooked up my pedometer to my laptop last Monday morning, I reconfigured my daily goal through the TrakNote software, which is much easier than trying to remember what buttons to press (or not press) on the pedometer. I worried a bit that I wouldn’t be able to meet the new goal of 8,000 steps per day, but looking back on the last week, I’m pleasantly pleased and proud to report I succeeded on six out of seven days. And the only day I didn’t reach my goal happened to be my birthday, so I gave myself a break.
The fall weather motivates me to get out of the house more with Apollo. I even took Lexy on one very short walk. She is still very skittish around vehicles and other people and dogs, so I have to be extra vigilant and patient when I walk her. Most week days I end up walking Apollo after dark, so I don’t get an opportunity to take any photos. With that in mind, I took a later afternoon walk with him on Saturday and snapped these pictures:
At the corner of Fawn Valley and First Terrace, Apollo almost always stops to smell the fire hydrant and the stop sign but he wisely ignores the base of the utility pole shown at right. When I took a look at the gaping hole forming around the base and the state of the rotting pole below ground, I took a few steps back. I should probably send the photographs to my city councilman or at least the public works director before someone is injured by a toppling pole. I don’t believe it’s an electric utility pole, because it supports a streetlight, and no other wires beyond the power for the light attach to it.
Here’s a few flowers and fruits we stumbled upon on our afternoon walk:
I started wearing my new pedometer the day I received it, on the third of September. Almost a month has passed since then, and I’ve enjoyed and been encouraged by the ease and usefulness of it. I love that it’s rechargeable. I love that it lights up so when I’m walking Apollo during the evenings, in the dark, I can easily track how far we’ve gone. I really like the total step feature, which is in addition to the seven-day memory. But I didn’t pass through September completely unscathed.
About midway through the month I took the lanyard off my old pedometer and attached it to my new one. I wanted a clip to fasten to my pocket opening so I wouldn’t accidentally drop the pedometer. A day or two after doing that I realized the pedometer had somehow reset itself, losing not only the daily stats, but the memory and the total steps stats as well. I determined that because this is a pocket pedometer (with no available belt clip accessory), the new lanyard, with the transitional piece of plastic near the pedometer, can become wedge between my body and the reset button (upper left hand button in the photo above), especially if I bend over repeatedly. I am more careful now about removing the pedometer from my pocket when sitting, driving or doing heavy cleaning and housework. Jeans proved to be the worst about resetting the pedometer. My workout pants, looser fitting and with bigger and deeper pockets, were the best at preventing inadvertent resets of the pedometer’s memory.
I returned to the Pedometers USA website, hoping to find a belt clip for my model. I did not find that accessory but I did notice a price increase. When I purchased the PE-798 model earlier in September, I only spent $16.95. Now, with just three days left in the same month, the price shot up to $29.95. In reviewing other downloadable (but not rechargeable) models, the cute and compact CR-786 model goes for that nearly irresistible price of $16.95. It looks like a thumb drive (and sort of is) but acts like a pedometer.
But back to how well the new pedometer performed in September after nearly four weeks of continuous use (minus the time I spent sleeping). Even though the TrakNote software allowed me to export the data collected to a CSV file, I’m so terrible at using Excel 2010, that I gave up and copied/pasted the relevant information into my SparkPeople fitness web tracking account because I liked the charts better.
If I hadn’t accidentally reset my pedometer on the 13th and 14th, I might have actually reached my goal of 7,000 steps per day for most of the month. The spike you see on September 22nd resulted from cleaning out the garage and an evening of stargazing at Powell Observatory. I had to take it easy on Sunday the 23rd, when I woke up tired, sore and stiff.
I think it’s time to up my goal. On the first of October, I will change my target steps, increasing them by a thousand, for a total of 8,000 steps. I don’t know if I can reach the recommended goal of 10,000 steps by the end of the year (weather permitting of course), but we’ll see how well I do next month with the bar raised a bit higher. I’ve languished at the seven thousand step mark for far too long. Apollo wants me to walking him more often anyways.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention an interesting occurrence between my coworkers and I. Yesterday afternoon, my cube mates began discussing and guessing how many trips it would take around our floor to equal one mile. Since I know my stride length and I always wear my pedometer, I volunteered to walk the floor one time to determine the number of steps around the perimeter (the hallway that hugs the exterior windowed offices). Roughly, it came up to three hundred steps (I rounded up for ease of calculation). Once I got back to my desk, I fired up Excel (I can at least do simple formulas, if not complicated fancy pivot tables and charts) and did the following calculations:
- 1 mile = 5,282 feet
- 5,282 x 12 inches = 63,384 inches
- stride length (in inches) = 28
- distance around floor perimeter (in inches) =
300 * 28 or 8,400 inches
- trips necessary to walk one mile = 7.56
So depending on your stride length, six or eight trips around our floor would equal approximately one mile walked.
I backburnered my walking routine as the mercury topped triple digits the last week of June. I just can’t submit Apollo, who is mostly black in color, to early evening walks, with the sun still beating down, making the asphalt and sidewalks very hot for his paws. I managed to squeeze in four walks this last week of June, but only three the week before. My best most consistent week came during the second week, where I only missed two days out of seven. The first week became almost a complete wash, since I spent three days at an astronomy convention, one day observing a lunar eclipse and another day observing Venus transit across the Sun.
I didn’t take many photos this month with my cell phone while walking Apollo, probably because we walked very early or well after sunset most days, to avoid the heat and humidity as much as possible. I did capture a few flowers, sunsets, sunrises and quirky canine moments though and am sharing them below (click on the image to see the entire album):
I need to find a better way to get exercise for both of us during the summer. My experience tells me July and August will not be any cooler than the last day of June. I guess it’s back to doing Wii Fit Plus in the great room for the next couple of months.
I spent too much time standing around on a sidewalk, staring up at the sun, moon, Venus and stars last week, when I should have been striding along it. Apollo only got half the walks he usually gets in a week. I just couldn’t resist the allure of a solar eclipse, hunting for the tiniest sliver of a new moon and earthshine on a moon near Venus to be bothered with walking. My daughter stayed with us until Wednesday, returning to North Texas after visiting us for ten days after her college graduation.
My pedometer left me accusatory notes all week long, irritating me so much that I left it at home in “time out” one day. But stats don’t lie, and I only hit my goal of seven thousand steps per day one time last week:
Apollo finally got out of the house Wednesday evening, after Terry and I returned from dropping Rachelle off at the airport. We repeated our evening walks for the rest of the week. Not even the threat of thunderstorms could keep us cooped up in the house.
We welcomed the rain the thunderstorm brought. The grass desperately needed a drink. Thanks to the setting sun, a rainbow graced the sky east of our house.
I anticipate the final week of May to include more walking for both us. Next week, I’ll be distracted on Monday and Tuesday by the moon and Venus again, but I hope to squeeze in walks with Apollo at the other end of the day from the astronomical observation points.
I hope everyone is having a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend.