062506_tennisball.jpgBecause we don’t have enough things to do (joke!), TG and I purchased tennis racquets this weekend. There are courts relatively close to our house and it seems like a sport that we can play together. TG had taken a racquet sports class in high-school and I’d played racquetball fairly seriously for a few years, so we figured it wouldn’t be as bad as starting from scratch.

As it turns out, I had a pretty rough adjustment the first day. Aaron and I met up on Saturday afternoon and batted the ball around and he took it pretty easy on me while I double-faulted around and generally played poorly. I did have a lot of fun, though, and was ready to head out and play again soon.

TG and I went out this afternoon and hit it around as thunderstorms threatened and I again had a good time. I made a mini-breakthrough on my serve and figured out my backhand a smidge more. I still tend to smack it into the net quite often, which I think comes from my years of ingrained racquetball baseline smashing. TG had a 3/4 angle serve that worked quite well for her and she dropped it in with some spin on an amazingly consistent basis. Had a good time, and I’m feeling a bit sore in a good way. Agassi is retiring soon, maybe I still have a chance…

This past week or so has been sort of a blur of business as usual around here. I’ve been writing and reading and working on some music and tending to the garden and the yard and attending a few family events and trying to keep my sleep patterns normal after the warmer weather threw me off. I’m about halfway through with a nearly 600 page book, I’ve felt the agony of defeat several times as the baseball team I follow (Nebraska Cornhuskers) limped into the conference tournament after a great season start, and I got my haircut shorter than it has been in years.

There have been other things, but that’s about the jist of it lately. TG is taking not only an online summer course, but an intensive 3-week course that basically has her doing homework every single night (including weekends), so I’ve found things to do by myself and have kept busy at them. This past week has been great (other than the every present wind) for rollerblading especially, and I’ve taken advantage of it. In the past 5 nights, I’ve managed about 30 miles, including a burnout in 85 degree heat yesterday that left me gasping in a good way.

This seems to be a bit of a quiet period for the most part. Plants are growing but not producing yet, several little projects are still floating on the hard drive in states of various completion, and the changing weather is making everything seem like a bit more of a chore than it should be.

At least the beer is cold.

In the past two weeks, TG and I have spent a lot of time out in the yard. The first couple times we were out, it was mainly spring cleanup efforts, picking up leaves that had blown into the yard and trimming back dead stuff. Lately, though, we’ve been on a planting spree, and with garden centers putting out their wares, we couldn’t resist this weekend.

After buying some lumber and dirt yesterday, I spent a lot of time putting in yet another raised bed in our backyard. Our main bed last year was slightly under a tree, and some of the things we planted didn’t do quite as well as we’d have liked them to, so we decided to just start another. After it was all put in the ground, we planted two tomato plants, four green pepper plants, one red pepper plant, two hot pepper plants, two basil plants, two rows of carrots, four lettuce plants and some more strawberries.

In addition to those, TG started some seeds about two weeks ago and we now have several sprouts growin, including pumpkins, cucumbers, more basil, and eggplants. Compost and egg shells have been mixed into the ground and basically we’re ready for stuff to take off. Pictures will be taken as things start to really grow.

With the nice weather, I’ve also moved away from exercising on the elliptical trainer and have again started strapping on my rollerblades and hitting the trail. I haven’t been quite as diligent as I’d like, but I’m already up to almost 200 miles rollerbladed for the year so far. Weight is still sitting at right around 194, and I’m feeling allright (despite getting a bit red from being out in the sun too long).

Over the course of the past nearly 2 months, I’ve managed to get myself back into serious fighting shape by exercising 4-5 times a week. I haven’t lost or gained any weight, but I can see a lot more definition and my cardiovascular limits have made huge strides.

So I’m at a work party on Thursday evening and for some reason the topic of being sick comes up. I mention to a friend that it’s been a long time since I’ve been sick, and how the last time I threw up was probably when I was in my teens.

Yeah, you probably know where this one is going.

Last night before bed, I wasn’t feeling too great, but figured a good night of sleep would help me shrug off whatever was bothering me. In the middle of the night, I woke up several times, sweating and having a hard time getting comfortable. At six, I realized there was no fighting it and went to the bathroom to get it all over with.

Over twelve hours later I’m gaining back a little of my strength, but still incredibly weak and generally not feeling so hot. After an accomplished day off on Friday and getting some stuff done on Saturday, I was thinking that I’d manage to get ahead on a few projects today by spending a large part of the day writing and reading. Alas, I spent large portions of the day sleeping and feeling completely beat down. In between naps, I still managed to get a few things accomplished, but as a whole my day was completely sidetracked.

It’ll be awhile before I start talking crap about not getting sick again.

I have this problem during the winter months in that certain places on my hands get small cracks in them and then bleed. For the most part, this only happens when we have a particulary dry winter (as we are this year), and so I end up going a couple months with the hands of an old man. It doesn’t seem to matter how much expensive Norwegian Formula Neutrogena cream I put on my hands, they just soak it up and then get dry and crack and bleed again. For this reason alone, I’m hoping that the cold will soon be over and we’ll have spring and rain and butterflies again. The bare-knuckle boxing excuse is getting old and unfunny.

My wife officially wins the award for “best idea of the year so far” with her suggestion to get a piece of exercise equipment just after the start of the year. As mentioned in a previous post, we ended up getting an elliptical trainer just over a month ago and instead of largely sitting around for the winter months (like I did last year), I’ve been using it 4 or 5 nights a week at forty minutes a pop.

We’ve had it almost exactly a month now and I haven’t lost any weight. I mainly just hover within 2 pounds of 195, never going over 200 and never under 190. I’ve also managed to gain quite a bit of definition in my arms, shoulders, and legs and through my torso in general. The cardiovascular workouts are really nice, but challenging. I’ve never been one to want to put on a lot of muscle weight, so it’s just about the right workout for me.

I’m a little curious about one thing, though, and I haven’t had much luck finding a straight answer on the any websites. I wonder if there’s any sort of general rules about how many calories it’s safe to burn in a certain time period, and if there’s any sort of limit as to what’s unhealthy. I know that it’s not exact, but in the past three nights of 40 minute workouts, I’ve burnt 920, 926, and 943 calories respectively (or so the machine says, based on difficulty settings and my entered weight). I’m basically just trying to figure out if that’s normal or not. Anyone know?

TG and I both had a goal to lose a bit of weight in the new year, and to that end we splurged and purchased an eliptical trainer just under 3 weeks ago. It’s always a bit difficult during the winter to keep in shape, and while I tried to make a good go of it last year with running when I could and mixing in some intermittent situps and pushups, I ultimately lost most of my motivation and went a bit soft.

This has been a strange winter, though, in terms of weather, and the last three weekends have been nice enough to where I’ve been able to get out and rollerblade either once or twice, already netting myself 50 total miles for the year in that department. During the week, it’s not as feasible for me to get out and rollerblade (as it’s already pretty much dark when I get home), so the eliptical trainer has actually worked out just about perfectly. At first, I was adamant about using it every single night (starting at 30 minutes), but I’ve missed a few nights since then and now average every other night.

A typical workout for me is now about 38 minutes with the step mode on (meaning the degree of tension changes about every 1.5 minutes, ranging from a difficulty of between 4 and 6 out of a maximum of 8), and in that time I’ve been managing to burn between 650 and 730 calories (per session). I’m a little leary of believing all the numbers on the machine, as it has a pulse rate counter that nearly always seems a bit high or low, but calories seems to be the best benchmark for me to use in terms of weighing one nights workout against the next. The other factor in this is that the calories burned actually depends on your weight that you enter before starting. If you enter a higher weight, you burn more calories, so I’ve stuck with 194.

Interestingly enough, the night before I started working out, I weighed myself at 189 without any clothes on, and lately my weight has fluctuated between 194 and 196. I’m hoping that this is due to gaining some muscle definition and leaning up a little bit, but I also know that I’ve been consuming more food (and calories) since I started working out since I’ve been burning more of them off.

That said, just over two weeks is far too little time to judge a workout program at all. I will say that I feel noticeably better in general, barely even raising my breathing level if I run up three flights of stairs at work or sprinting to the bus stop in the morning so I don’t miss my ride. I’ll have to see what happens after a month or two with the same routine, though, and I’m going to have to find a few more good workout albums, because I’ve started to repeat some of them already…