Category Archives: Health – Fitness

Non-Athletic Exercise

I am not an athlete! Never have been. Never will be. Of course at age 66 the transformation is highly unlikely anyway.

I don’t want to get whiny, but to set some background: in grade school when teams were being chosen, I was always chosen last. That’s not very encouraging. From fifth grade to tenth grade, PE was a required subject. I hated PE. All the while, though, I did like my bike and rode it for miles. I did like to swim and hike in the woods. I wasn’t totally unfit. I was just under-developed.

Duane at age 10. Not unfit. Just under-developed!

Something changed when I was sixteen, and I didn’t see the change coming. In those late high school years, I had the good fortune of working for The Dennis Company, where I loaded and unloaded trucks, I delivered truckloads of bricks and concrete blocks which were unloaded by hand. I unloaded rail cars full of animal feed in 100 pound bags. Sometimes with a partner. Sometimes without. I liked the work, and had no idea that I was building muscle.

Then, in the Fall following high school graduation, I found myself enrolled as a Freshman at Grays Harbor Community College, where a “basic skills” PE class was required! What!? I thought I was done with that. But there I was again in tennis shoes and gym shorts dreading the embarrassment. Wouldn’t you know it? Early in the course I found myself in a line of boys with the instruction to climb the rope! Yeah,  the 20 feet of rope from the floor of the gym to the ceiling. Just like that stupid rope at Raymond High School, where I never cleared five feet. I naturally placed myself at the end of the line, to meditate on my pending doom.     I still had no idea that my experiences at Dennis Company had changed my physique.  But when I placed my hands on that rope, one hand went over the other until I was at the ceiling!  I looked around at the gym and the boys beneath me in utter amazement, until the coach said, “OK.  That’s good.  Come on down.”

In the intervening years I’ve spent about 80,000 hours sitting behind a desk, and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t climb that rope today.   I’m not unfit.  Just under-developed.   To my credit, I have probably bicycled more than 10,000  miles in the past 15 years.  So the legs are in pretty good shape.   The core and the upper body, on the other hand, have lost a lot of strength.   Ironically,  at age 66, that’s changing.

In February, I joined the VASA Fitness gym, because they sent me a pretty picture of their lap pool.   Once again, I found that sweating in the gym just doesn’t appeal to me, but the pool, well that’s different.  The more I swim, the more I like it!   And as it turns out I don’t need to take a teenager’s job to get the upper body working well again.

After summer travel I began swimming regularly, until it became a daily habit.   Then I found a swim coach at The Swim Academy, and my body started changing!  I have found muscles I had forgotten.   I’m swimming faster, stronger, and longer.  When I started I could swim 2 lengths freestyle before needing a breather with a more comfortable stroke. Then it was 4, then 10, then 16, and then 35 for a full half-mile. I went for my swim at VASA again this morning without a new goal in mind. I swam my 35 lengths in 26 minutes, and noted that was a new record for speed. But I also noticed that I wasn’t spent! So I just restarted the lap counter and went for another 23 lengths. I was astounded. Again, I’ve reached new heights without even realizing it. I swam 0.82 miles in 46 minutes, and for an old non-athlete like me, that’s astounding!

It’s kind of a sweetheart deal:  getting stronger while not realizing it.   It’s pretty much like my good work at The Dennis Company, except I don’t get the $2 per hour.

Swimming Lessons, Then and Now

Swim Lessons Then!

Sometime around 1958, I was introduced to swimming lessons. I’m sure some kids complained about it. I wasn’t one of them! That’s a good thing, because swimming lessons were not optional.  In Raymond Washington, the Dr. O.R. Nevitt Memorial Pool was built as a huge volunteer effort between 1952 and 1955. I don’t know what role my parents may have had in its construction. But I know about their enthusiasm for the pool. It was great that the town had a pool, and their kids were going to learn to swim!

I am grateful for the enthusiasm of my parents and the program the small city of Raymond offered during my youth. Every June I was enrolled in the first (chilly) session of swim lessons. I loved the water, and learned more than anything that I was made to be pretty much drown-proof. I know that was the objective of Mom and Dad. Mission accomplished. I progressed through all the levels until the Junior Life Saving class. That was my first failure and my last class. It was a failure in that I didn’t pass the class; I just didn’t have the athletic strength to save Chris Halpin and get him to the other end of the pool, unless he kicked too! It was a success in that I still know   I have all the skills to save a drowning swimmer in calm waters.

Nevitt Memorial Pool, Raymond Washington 1962

Click on the photo for a high-res version

The picture above is Mom’s photo from 1962 at the Nevitt Pool in Raymond.   The action shot shows my sister Nadine jumping into the deep end for the first time.  It was a momentous occasion for her.  Standing in the background, in the red trunks is the 10 year old me!  As the big brother, I really should have appeared to be more supportive.  Also in the background in the blue trunks is my friend Randy Briggs, striking the Atlas pose.  Caught in the foreground would have to be his mom,  Marie Briggs.

So that’s where it  all started.   The place was vital, kid centered, and committed to making the youth of Raymond drown-proof.  But reflecting on my early training,  I never developed a classic, refined free-style crawl.  I preferred backstroke, sidestroke, and breaststroke for getting around the pool and lakes.

Fifty-six years later, I’m swimming again, and I’m grateful for all those lessons which which gave me confidence in the water.   But today, swimming is for well-rounded exercise, and I want to develop that classic, refined free-style crawl.

I’m making progress in the lanes at VASA fitness.  I was excited when they opened nearby,  and even more enthused today,  as my swimming improves each day.

Swim Lessons Now!

On my own, despite watching hours of Youtube videos, I have not developed that classic, refined freestyle crawl. Fancy that! A couple weeks ago I called The Swim Academy asking about swim lessons.  I asked my instructor, Keith Hubbard,  for help in developing a more relaxed freestyle stroke, and in week one he coached some better form out of me!   Before meeting with Keith, I’d been working up to a half mile swim in the mornings.   After my first session, that half mile became easier, and I’m happy that I’m  reporting 3.5 miles in 7 days!  I can feel the results in the upper body, and I’m just about addicted to it (hopefully).  In this case a habit forming addiction would be a good thing.

Keith has been the best for me.   Of course, he was easy for me to listen to because he complimented me after the first lap, telling me I already had good form!  Kudos to those guys and gals at the Nevitt Pool in the 50s and 60s.    But after the fine compliments, we got to work on the refinements, and they are a blessing.

Today was the second lesson, and another leap forward.   I’m thrilled to have good instruction and also to see that my 66 year old body will adapt to that good instruction.   I can’t wait to get in the pool tomorrow morning where I can get to work on it.   In the pool I’ll  be thanking a few people:  Mom, Dad, the people of Raymond who built the pool in 1955, and my new instructor, who fearlessly took on a 66-year old student.

 

 

Willapa Hills Trail

Willapa Hills Trail is the former Northern Pacific spur line from Chehalis Washington to South Bend Washington.   The right-of-way has been acquired by Washington State Parks, and now serves as a biking and hiking trail.

Chehalis River along the Willapa Hills Trail east of Pe Ell

I’m happy to say that the photo above is not a stock photo, but my picture of yesterday morning!  We are enjoying a Washington trip to see friends, family, and to enjoy the Willapa Hills Trail for the first time.  It was my intent to ride the trail from Chehalis to Raymond (my hometown).  A bit of 65-year-old realism caught up with me.  That realism has been expressed in “pre-arthritic” knees!    So it has become a ride from Chehalis to Pe Ell along the trail.

My daughter Erin came up from Portland to join me on the first leg of the ride.   We rode from Logan Street in Centralia to Rainbow Falls State Park.   I chose to ride from Centralia rather than starting in Chehalis at the trailhead, because Logan Street was the home place of my Grandpa and Grandma Henkel.   Erin and I rode the paved streets of Centralia and Chehalis about 6 miles to the trailhead.  Then we rode the trail from Chehalis to Rainbow Falls.  The trail was a joy.   To see this area, away from the traffic (modest though it may be on highway 6), and at a slow pace, is an experience I’ll always remember, and I’m so grateful that Erin chose to accompany me!

The required selfie as we started out on the trail

The trail from Chehalis to Rainbow Falls is about 15 miles, a distance I often cover at home on morning rides.  But those rides are on paved trails and start at mile zero, not at mile six.   The first five miles of the trail are paved, and the rest of the trail to Rainbow Falls is gravel.   My sixty-five year old knees learned that its not the miles but the total pedal rotations that count to determine endurance.   But we had a marvelous time!

Erin kickin’ it up on a railroad bridge east of Adna

After Erin returned to Portland, the next day I returned to the trail and rode to Pe Ell, where my wife, Terri, met me.  The knees told me I’d rode enough.  My mind tells me I had a wonderful time, despite riding half as far as I had intended.   Perhaps next spring there will be another adventure.

Life at Steed Pond

My morning walk often passes by Steed Pond. It’s a small bit of nature amidst my suburban neighborhood. This spring, I’ve taken to more walks, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see what’s living there, or at least passing by for the catch of the day.
2016-05-11 06.11.01
This morning four American White Pelicans were fishing there, along with a couple of Double Crested Cormorants and the usual ducks. The pelicans migrate to areas near Salt Lake each spring, and depart for southern destinations in the fall. In years past, I had been amazed to see them on the water at a golf course, but this week was the first sighting within a half mile of home.

I was pleased to see the pelicans, but had to wonder what they were finding to eat. A bit of Google research reveals that the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources annually stocks the pond with rainbow trout. It turns out they are a tasty treat for pelicans. And I don’t think they are respecting the limit of 2 per day!

DWR reports that this year they’ve planted 2807 rainbow trout in Steed Pond. These trout have had an average length of 11 inches. Examining the bill of the pelicans, I’d say the trout are a right-sized snack. It’s fun to watch them fishing.

Drivemode – A lifesaving app!

Hello.  I’m Duane, and I am a smartphone user who drives a car.

So far as I know, there is not a 12-step program for folks like us, but there is a great app!

feature1

I’ve been using Drivemode for Android, and it enforces good habits for me.   It is feature rich, and here’s how I use it:

1) My cars activate Drivemode via bluetooth when  I start the car.
2) I am appointment driven, and as soon as I start up,  a single tap will initiate navigation to my next appointment!  Marvelous!   Just what I’ve needed for a long time.
3) I’ve set incoming calls to go to voicemail immediately and the caller gets a text saying I’m driving.  Wonderful.   They know I’m operating safely, and I implicitly encourage them to do the same.
4) I’m never tempted to look at an incoming message from SMS or Messenger.   Drivemode just reads me the message.  Cool.

There are many more features.   Check it out:  Drivemode.com.  Be safe!

To the good motorists of Roy, UT

I would like to thank the good motorists of Roy, for a pleasant morning.   I rode the Denver and Rio Grand rail trail from Clinton to West Haven through Roy at the morning rush.  At each of the half-dozen road crossings in Roy, motorists readily stopped to allow me to cross safely!  I appreciate your good driving manners and safety attitude.

Perhaps you could train the drivers on 300 N in Clearfield at the Burton Street crossing.  They could use some of your good nature.

100@60 week 1

I declared I’ll ride 100 miles on my 60th birthday. I’ve got just 217 days to prepare!

Yesterday I rode 30 miles – a bit much – on the Denver & Rio Grande Rail Trail. The ride was from Clinton to Farmington and back. I rode more than I should have, because I was curious whether the trail had finally been extend to connect with the Legacy Parkway Trail. Indeed it has! I’m very fortunate to have such a trail just a half mile from the house. That makes about 30 miles of connected trail (and 60 miles round trip). I should get to the sixty mile ride before the snow flies!

Here’s yesterday’s 30 mile ride:

Route on Google Maps

Here’s today’s 17 mile ride:
Route on Google Maps


59.4

Whereas:
1) I’ve come to the certain knowledge that in just a few weeks I’ll reach the age of 59.5! No big deal except that it is an age canonized in IRS regs — somehow related to IRA and 401k distributions. I don’t need to get into that because my accounts amounted to little a few months ago and even less today!

2) Perhaps more auspicious is the signal event of 60.0 in a few short months.

3) A number of years ago, I read a health article which suggested that the decade of the 50’s was the last chance for people to “get in shape!” At least statistically, folks who are not in shape on their 60th birthday, are more prone to health declines in their 60’s and 70’s. I took that to heart. I took off 60 pounds. I rode the bike. Even rode 100 miles in the Salt Lake Century. That year, I rode the bike more than 3000 miles. But I haven’t been so kind to my body these past 3 years. 30 pounds are back and I’ve ridden less than 300 miles all year.

Therefore:
I proclaim that on April 1, 2012 — the 60th anniversary of my birth — I will ride the bicycle 100 miles.

Who wants to join me?

PS
I’d better get to training!

Salt Lake Century Redux

Just kidding! The weather’s been poor, and I’m out of shape.  But today was the Salt Lake Century ride. I chose to honor the event by getting on the bike and riding.  32 miles was plenty for the out-of-shape old guy.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3728191