The Most Important Lessons We Forget…

My wife travelled to her home town for a family function, last weekend. And given the nature of the function and speed of the trip, we agreed that both boys would be left home with me. I was fine with this, obviously, as it would allow me some “guy time” with both my sons and allow my wife to fully experience and enjoy the function she was attending without worrying about our 2-year old youngest clinging to her and causing havoc.

It was a good weekend. We did the usual things that a father would do with his sons; ordered pizza, played outside and had a “camp-out” on the living room floor (although the 2-year old didn’t participate in that part). The weekend wasn’t without obstacles, as Nathan conveniently knocked over the lamp in his bedroom, causing a shower of shattered lightbulb glass to spray everywhere, including into some toys, which had to be cleaned and safetied afterwards. Kids, am I right?

Despite the perilous balance between fun and chaos, one outing that took place on Saturday evening stuck out and like most things in life, had me reflecting. I loaded the baby into his stroller, grabbed a clutch of water bottles and granola bars and walked the boys to a local park. Alexander hasn’t had much exposure to outside parks, what worth the pandemic having been in effect for almost as long as he’s been alive. This doesn’t stop him from taking full advantage of the opportunity, once he’s there.

As parents, we often complain about how children constantly need to be entertained. But at its core, that entertainment can be as simple as letting a child walk up some stairs and go down a slide. Over and over and over…. The insight I gained was when a handful of other children showed up to play. I recognized that the parents were much in the same state as I was. A sort of disconnected state of disinterest while closely watching the children.

What I immediately noticed is that all the children became entwined and started playing with each other. A soccer ball was involved, and everyone was laughing and playing and having a blast with each other. The lesson is that this happened organically, without any prompting from anyone. The children not only congregated together but learned each other’s names and accepted each other without any judgement, reservations or prejudices. It was a beautiful thing to see and I appreciated the fact that these children were able to see another person, not race, gender, political views or religion, and come together for the sheer pleasure of having fun.

As adults, we tend to lose this free perspective. Life, responsibility and adulthood, sprinkled with a generous dose of ideology and learned discriminatory lack of trust, makes it so that adults can’t connect without an in-depth back-and-forth of social protocol. And that’s a little sad. How much better of a place would the world be, if we all saw the world through the innocent lens of a group of children playing together? Food for thought…. ☯️

The Importance Of Small Steps

I found the above photo online and just couldn’t help but share it. It illustrates how trying to climb in grand leaps through life will put things out of your reach. More importantly, it should also be a clear message that should you need to take big steps in life, it shouldn’t be done alone and it’s okay to ask for help. If the subject on the right had a partner, they could help each other scale the ladder. Food for though… ☯️

Where Should You Be Sick?

Getting sick sucks, and I should know. I’ve spent most of my life, especially during my youth, being sick in one form or another. When Type-1 Diabetes is involved, illness proves to be something of a “chicken or the egg” scenario, where it can be difficult to tell if a particular illness has caused the chaos with your Diabetes or if your Diabetes caused you to become ill. In my youth, Diabetes was referred to as one’s pancreas not working, which we now know if not ENTIRELY accurate. But before I get completely off topic, the subject of today’s post is getting sick, not necessarily Diabetes.

I can’t tell you how many times I dealt with the important aspects of my life while sick. Whether it was school, work or karate, the prevailing attitude back then was “suck it up” and you were expected to carry on, unless you were in such a condition that you were hospitalized (which was often the case for me). These days and especially in the past two years, the concept of pushing through while sick is not only less encouraged, it’s frowned upon. Employers are pushing staff to stay home when they’re sick in an effort to prevent spreading illnesses.

Since I’ve had everything from severe dehydration, polyps, influenza, bronchitis and this little thing called Diabetes, I’ve had the opportunity to o deal with some pretty bad scenarios as it relates to all of these environments and I have stories relating to all of them. Of COURSE I have stories…. This is me. Here’s the top ones:

Being Sick During Karate
To say that I was mildly obsessed with my karate training in my youth would be an understatement. For the most part, I not only participated in all three weekly classes, I would also spend the remainder of the week cycling and practicing on my own time. This meant that whenever I wasn’t eating, sleeping or at school, I would be doing karate (and since I would often dream about karate, I’m not sure the sleep aspect can be included in that statement.

I remember this one time when I was doing bunkai with another student. For you non-practitioners, a bunkai is a pre-arranged, practical application of kata techniques. Moving on. It was one of those nights where we dissected and practiced every technique until it was burned into our brains. As such, I had been with the student I was partnered with for almost an hour. During that time, i noticed his voice had a nasal twinge and he kept sniffling, as though he couldn’t keep his snot in. Since this is karate class and one doesn’t carry a purse with them, at one point, he drags the sleeve of his uniform across his nose and face in an effort to dry up the flow of nasal discharge.

I was mildly disgusted, but who am I to judge? If my nose wouldn’t stop leaking, I likely would have done the same. During a particular exchange, I learned the hard way that some of his snot had gotten on his hand, which conveniently made it’s way across my forearm and hand as we executed a couple of techniques. Given the discipline requirements of the class, I continued on but my focus was mainly on the fact I had the contents of a Petri dish on my forearm. once the exercises were over, I bowed out and ran to the washroom where I thoroughly washed my arms and hands with soap and water as hot as I could stand.

Apparently the damage was done, because two days later, I got sick as a dying dog. Runny nose, head felt like it was stuffed with cotton. If I could prove beyond a doubt that he was the cause, I’d have cursed his name (or at least had at him in the sparring ring). But i guess it’s nowhere near as bad as having the runs during karate class. I’d say to say I’m assuming, but that’s happened on occasion, as well.

Being Sick At School
Classrooms are almost a perfect description of a Petri dish, with almost three dozen people crammed into a fitted space where everyone shares the same space, air and germs. Wow, I sound like such a germaphobe. But seriously, how often have you heard parents say that as soon as their children start school, they get sick? And that’s for good reason. Because it’s almost a statistical guarantee that if only one person in a classroom is sick, all of them will be, depending on what they have.

I had one of my many instances in high school where I was dehydrated. I hate to admit it, but this usually happened to me every few months, to the extent I had to spend a night in the hospital on an IV drip to properly rehydrate. Unlike most of my teenage counterparts, I didn’t rebel by drinking on weekends or being brought home by the cops. I displayed my stubbornness by neglecting to drink enough water. Such a rebel, eh? In an y event, this was one of those occasions where my insides were drying up.

By this point in my life, I had gotten used to the feelings and sensations associated with dehydration, so I kind of knew that this was what was happening. I was in biology class the one morning, after waking up feeling like absolute crap. I went to school anyway as most parents can agree, it tends to fuck the entire day when an unexpected illness keeps a kid at home. But once I was in class, my condition started to get the better of me. The teacher was in the middle of an impassioned lecture about one damn thing or another, and she was the type of teacher who not only despised being interrupted for any reason, she made that displeasure obvious by ruling her class with an iron fist.

I tried to relax my abdomen and keep myself calm for as long as I could, but I could feel the bile rising in my throat and I knew that if I continued to ignore the feeling I had, I would end up emptying what little contents I had in my stomach, all over my desk. As such, I started by taking the polite route and raised my hand to ask to be excused. I was answered by a firm, “Hold all your questions until the end, please!” The student seated next to me even asked if I was okay, as I could feel the clammy sweat on my face and could only imagine how pale I must have looked. This pre-dated my use of an insulin pump or even carrying a glucometre with me, so I had no idea if my blood sugars were wreaking havoc, as well.

I decided to take my life into my own hands by simply cutting in and asking to be excused. The teacher rolled her eyes and began giving me a lecture on the intricacies of paying attention and showing respect. My body chose that moment to cross the point of no return. I felt the heated sensation at the back of my throat that signalled the coming of the apocalypse. I rose from my seat and began staggering to the door. I hate to take pride in what happened next, but the teacher grabbed my arm in an effort to stop me from stepping out of her class, which resulted in my stomach emptying its contents right there on the classroom floor. Right next to her desk.

My retching couldn’t of lasted more than about ten to twenty seconds, but it felt like ten to twenty minutes of my body seizing every muscle it could while a sound much like humpback whales and alligators mating with each other came out of my throat, all while a hot, yellowish fluid splashed all over the classroom floor. Did I make that descriptive enough? There was a brief moment of complete silence and a look of utter shock and aww on the teacher’s face. then everyone in the classroom started screaming “Eeww…” like some sort of morbid choir and everyone started trying to vacate the classroom to escape the smell.

I felt briefly better upon emptying the contents of my stomach, so I managed to stand up straight and started walking out of the class with the intention of making my way to the classroom. The teacher once again tried to stop me, this time to order me to get something to clean up the mess I had made. Since I was a cheeky, sarcastic teenager at the time, my response included a verbal plethora of inappropriate language, somewhat suggesting to the teacher what she could do to herself and where, all while questioning her parents’ use of heavy narcotics while conceiving her. I don’t know what had pissed me off more; the fact she was ignoring a sick student who was trying to alert her to a problem or the fact that she was trying to get the same student to clean up a mess that was a result of her ignorance. I walked out and went home.

Obviously, I got into “some” trouble over this. I went to school back in those days where the students COULD still get in trouble as opposed to parents giving the teachers all the crap. They have an unbelievably difficult job, and I wasn’t an easy student. But even I have my limits, and that limit usually involves my health. Moving on…

Being Sick At Work
I’m not certain how many stories I have about this specific aspect, but there are a lot. The unfortunate phenomenon that seems to take place, especially in non-unionized environments, is that management will frequently expect you to work despite being under the weather. When I started to claw my way up into management, I started being made to administer those same expectations. Imagine this scenario, if you will. You’re working a job for minimum wage. You wake up feeling like absolute shit and you already know that any efforts to go to work will leave you feeling worse. Maybe it’s simply a cold. But either way, you make the conscious decision to phone in to your boss and tell them you won’t be in due to illness.

You’re already dealing with the fact that you’re likely losing a day’s wages, unless you’re lucky enough to have paid sick days. But then they hit you with the bombshell. They tell you that if you’re calling in sick, they’ll require a doctor’s note. You calmly try to explain to them that you’re not going to the hospital, you’re simply feeling under the weather and need some rest. they tell you that if you aren’t sick enough to see a doctor, you aren’t sick enough to miss work and they expect to see you on shift. You begrudgingly get dressed and go to work, sick.

I’d like to say I just made that scenario up. But I’ve actually had that exact conversation at a previous job. I think we can agree that most employees would just suck it up and go in, not wanting to risk the trouble they may get into with their respective bosses. The result is a lot of people going into work sick, which can be disastrous for all parties involved, regardless of what industry you work in. I had just such a disastrous situation that happened some years ago, while running someone else’s business…

I had been having pretty bad stomach pains for a couple of weeks. It was one of those things where the pain was bad, but it wasn’t so severe as to be debilitating, so I kept going in to work. During a particularly busy peak hour of work, I started to get dizzy and swayed on my feet a bit. I leaned on the table that was in front of me, but I suddenly fell sideways sand crashed to the floor. Next thing I know, I wake up in a hospital bed with an IV coming out of my arm. After some tests and description of what I had been feeling, that’s how I discovered I had polyps. Wonderful, eh?

The point behind these stories, besides being insanely entertaining to write (the classroom one is a favourite), is the fact that self-care is not only important; it starts with you. Is training hard in karate important? Absolutely. Is it worth it to try and make it through a class when you’re sick? Definitely not. Is education important? That’s a big 10-4! But how much actual knowledge are you absorbing when you’re sick? Likely not much. And even though money is needed for the basic necessities of life, money will never be worth your overall health.

The important thing to note here, as well, is that is only takes one person whose sick to pass it on to everyone in their environment, whether it’s at home, work or during leisure activities. This is especially important in today’s context, as it relates to the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. Tried coughing in public, recently? It’s highly not recommended. But no matter what environment one is referring to, take care of your health. Nothing is worth sacrificing your health. ☯️

Put Some Effort Into Reading This Post…

Nature has this tendency, one shared by the majority of humans, which is to always take the path of least resistance. Take a look at water; it will usually always flow to the lowest point until stopped by a barrier, since gravity does all the work FOR the water. In this respect, one could easily say that water will always follow the path of least resistance. Humans are typically hard-wired to make their way through the day in very much the same way and it can often be difficult to circumvent that path.

Picture this scenario: you have the day off. The sun is shining, you have no errands to run and no work that requires you or attention. What do you feel would be the easiest alternative for you? Sitting on the couch with your favourite snack and binge-watch a favourite show? Or jump on the bicycle and see how much mileage you can rack up in two hours? I can tell you what the smart answer would be, depending on where you’re at and what you’re trying to accomplish. But I think we all know what would be easier and feel better.

Obviously, it would be easier to enjoy the day by flopping down on the couch and doing nothing. THAT’s the path of least resistance. And honestly, there may be days when that’s actually the better option for you. Especially if you had a brutal week and need a chance to recharge and replenish your mental batteries. That being said, there’s an insidious effect that takes place if you always follow the path of least resistance…

It’s true what they say that nothing in life is free. There’s a cost to everything, even when we don’t recognize what that cost might be. For someone with Type-1 Diabetes, fitness and self-care are critically important. I’ve spent most of my life committing myself to fitness, martial arts and bettering myself. It’s never an easy battle and there are always obstacles in the way. But I recognize that life doesn’t care about my plan, and won’t do anything to help me on my journey.

The insidious effect I refer to, in regards to taking the path of least resistance, is that when you start “taking it easy” or skipping a workout, you begin setting yourself up for that trend. Again, I’m not referring to the times when you just flat out need a break. I’m referring to the trend where maybe you meant o take a break and then all of a sudden it’s been awhile couple of weeks without exercise and you’ve gotten all lazy and lethargic and maybe gained five pounds from all the salt ‘n pepper wings you’ve been eating…. I swear, I’m not speaking from experience. Moving on…

The point is, and what sets humans apart from most aspects of nature is that we have the awareness to recognize when we’re slipping or letting go. Making a difference in your own life takes effort. But that effort will never happen on its own. I find myself at an age where getting out of bed in the morning is an effort. Remember how I’ve written about the way you start your day sets you up for the remainder? If not, go back and read my posts, damn it! But seriously, most mornings my body is fighting hard to convince my mind that it wold be much easier and simpler to just lay my head back on the pillow and forget about getting up. It would be easier. That doesn’t make it better.

As you move through life, many if not most things will get in your way. Health, work, familial obligations, social obligations and one’s own excuses will often slow or hinder progress, as it relates to one’s commitment to fitness and health. If I look nasty myself as an example, I’ve had ample excuses to stop training. When the pandemic hit, my karate dojo closed. Okay, I no longer have a practical place to train. I set myself up with a training space in my basement. Then my basement flooded and I had to have the basement demolished.

I moved my training space to the garage. It was actually a pretty sweet set-up, too. But i had to move everything that was located in the basement to the garage, so I lost that space as well. I promised myself the purchase of some free weights and light equipment, but opted to wait until the basement was fully renovated. And on, and on, and on…. There will never be a lack of excuses available, if one chooses to find them.

I find that as life moves forward, the excuses become more prominent and convincing and it becomes harder to commit oneself to a consistency. But as age begins to climb, it becomes all the more important to not only continues, but to push harder in order to help maintain that fitness and physical health (and mental health) into the years to come. After all, Diabetes won’t take a break. Why should I? And that’s what’s important to remember. Stop for too long and the opportunity to o better yourself may pass you by.

The human body is like a dynamo. It’s always getting it going that’s the hardest part. But once you get your momentum, continuing is much easier than stopping and starting up again. So give yourself the effort. You need it. You deserve it. You’re worth it. Good health & fitness is a never ending battle. Just be sure that as you work through it, you guarantee that you’ll come out the clear winner. ☯️

Weighing In On Proper Form…

Ironically, I’m not referring to “form” as it relates to karate, which is a switch. I was having some interesting discussions with a few people about the importance of proper form while lifting weights and some key points were brought to my attention. As such, I thought it would be a good idea to share them here. These are all subjective opinions I gathered from a couple of friends (whom I won’t name), so take it for grain of salt.

Weightlifting and resistance training can be an important tool for getting into shape and can also have some practical uses as it relates to the martial arts. In karate, the strength behind one’s strikes comes from a combination of speed, accuracy and physical force. So, “strength training” in the form of weight lifting was never much encouraged in my Sensei’s dojo. Of course, Okinawan karate is filled with strength-building tools, such as the chishi or hojo undo. But strength training to make yourself bigger usually isn’t a thing in karate.

Depending on who you talk to, getting pumped up can actually have detrimental effects on your martial arts training. When you weight lift for size and gains, you eventually start sacrificing speed and mobility for the size you build. And the strength aspect isn’t all that better than if you simply condition yourself through other means. But let’s say that you’ve been watching one-too-many 80’s action flicks and you’ve decided to try and get some “Arnold-esque” biceps…. Here are some tips that my cohorts and I came to agree on:

1. Start Small: I get it; one’s pride will often make you want to walk into the gym and grab a pair of 50-pound weights and grunt like an animal while making yourself look tough. But it’s safer to start with lighter weights and work your way up as your strength increases. This will help prevent injury and help you maintain proper form. There’s that word again: form. Speaking of which;
2. Get Some Help With Form and Technique: If you’re walking into a gym or purchased some weights and are doing it for the first time, don’t be scared to ask for some help. Whether that means hiring a trainer for a single session to get the basics or learn proper technique, or leaning on a friend who’s been using the gym for some time. This will help prevent improper form while performing certain key exercises, which can lead to injury.
3. Don’t Overdo It: Is it a good idea to push yourself? Yes. Is it a good idea to continuously grow in your fitness efforts? Absolutely. Should you feel the burn after a good workout? Who doesn’t? But if you find yourself basically unable to move the following day and have to recover for the next week, you haven’t done yourself any favours. Taper it back a touch and work out safely and consistently, instead.

In order to prevent injuring yourself and causing damage, remember to learn proper form for the exercises you’re doing, build yourself up from the bottom and don’t overdo it. Damaged muscles not only take a while to heal (especially if you’re Diabetic) but they hurt the whole time they’re healing. And from a martial arts perspective, bigger isn’t better. If you’re doing strength training for something like karate, you want to prevent ballooning your muscles and making yourself huge. think swimmer’s build as opposed to body builder. ☯️

Hungry For Some Information?

I think that one of the worst “non-injury” related feelings in the world, next to being sleepy, is hunger. Unless it’s the evening and you’re binging a show and decide you’re hungry and need a snack, feelings of hunger can be uncomfortable, distracting and have an actual and measurable impact on your health, blood sugars and even you’re overall fitness.

So, what is hunger? At the most basic level, hunger is felt when your stomach is empty of content and your body releases certain hormones into the body that gives you that “hunger feeling.” Please don’t quote me, I’m not a doctor. But this is what was explained to me BY a doctor. So, there. But hunger is usually triggered when the stuff you need to properly keep your body up and running is running low. So it isn’t just that your stomach is empty, it also has a lot to do with your glucose and nutrients being low in your blood stream.

Now that I’m done telling you all that I’m not a doctor WHILE continuing to talk like one, let’s discuss what hunger does to you. When your body starts to run low on its necessities, it can start a number of processes. If you’re Diabetic, some of those processes won’t work well and if they do, will affect your overall blood sugars (like just about EVERYTHING does). If you’re performing exercise, the type of exercise you’re doing can have some detrimental effects, if you’re hungry.

I recently wrote about how working out on an empty stomach can actually CAUSE muscle loss, since the body will usually start by breaking down muscle tissue to compensate for the lack of energy needed for exercise. This doesn’t apply to ALL fitness situations. After all, working through a karate class on a full stomach can have some pretty detrimental effects, as well. On you AND the others in the dojo. But consistent and sustained cardio can often be better done on an empty stomach.

According to an article posted by WebMD, “the real trick to managing weight is to eat less, but not to feel hungry or deprived.” This is key, because it’s often been proven throughout the years that depriving yourself can lead to binging later, which is a definite slide backwards in your weight loss or fitness efforts. Kind of like me, when I hit a really bad low and I nearly empty out the fridge. But I digress…

The article goes on to suggest that if you’ve eaten less than 2 to 3 hours prior, your hunger likely isn’t genuine and suggests drinking a glass of water or eating a small, high-fibre snack in an effort to stave off real hunger until your next meal. I often try this tactic on my 6-year old, as he’ll claim hunger within an hour after eating until he’s full. Mild dehydration will cause similar symptoms to hunger, so sipping water is usually a big one for me.

The article caps off by providing a short list of tips, such as exercising portion control, eat high-fibre foods or foods bulky with water and air to feel more full, include lean proteins and avoid buffets as having more options will often lead to eating more than you need to. Portion control is important as people always tend to dish up more than they need. And taking the time to appreciate your meal is important, as well. If you watch television or read while you eat, you may want to consider putting a stop to that.

I’m really bad for doing the second one. In the past year, I always seem to spend my mealtime at home with a book in front of my face. Habits can be hard to break. The takeaway here is that your body is a machine and like all machines, requires fuelling, maintenance and care. Hunger can impact ALL of those aspects and as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, can be distracting when it’s important not to be, as well as reduce performance in key areas, such as fitness. Food for thought… (pun intended). ☯️

When It’s So Lacking…

Where does inspiration come from? I mean, in all seriousness, I could go on a long-winded rant about how one becomes inspired and where thoughts, ideas and shit comes from. But the reality is that even the most inspired of people eventually tap the bottom of their proverbial inspiration keg. My keg’s dry, at the moment. Usually, I can’t find enough lines to write out everything floating about in my brain. But today…. I don’t know, maybe it’s the rainy weather.

But that doesn’t apply to kids. You ever notice that? Kids have the darnedest way of finding inspiration in the weirdest stuff. My son Nathan is a prime example of this. We recently had our air conditioner replaced and the contractors had a cardboard spool they were using for the piping. They left it behind for Nathan to play with. Once he removed the wooden plates on either end, this is what he ended up with: two Captain America shields and a tunnel. I shit you not.

Nathan and I, enjoying an ice cream.

I can’t say that I ever find myself being jealous of Nathan since, as an adult, I can do some pretty cool shit like drive a car, buy stuff and have sex and he can only do two of those things. But if there’s one aspect that I definitely wish I could get back from when I was his age, or even emulate now, is his imagination. Sometimes he’ll come to me with the oddest combination of LEGO pieces but will have an intricate and expansive explanation of what he’s built, what it does and how he came to build it.

I think that as we get older and we lose our sense of child-like wonder and as a result, our creativity and inspiration is affected. Imagine if we could maintain our creativity to the same extreme as adults as we did as children? The responsibilities of life and constantly having our parents harp on us to “grow up” and be responsible affects those parts of us that let our minds freely explore. of course I say that, but when one considers shit like SpongeBob Squarepants, there are at least SOME adults who are still functioning with the mind of a child. No judgement.

Inspiration can be fleeting, so it’s important to strike when the iron’s hot. I’ve learned the hard way that consistent good ideas don’t always flow freely. And when you’re trying to post a daily blog, dry spells can suck, big time. Of course, I’m always open to guest writers or blog post ideas. I have a comments section… cough, cough! ☯️

The Conqueror Challenges: A Subjective And Objective Review

Alright, so as I’ve often written, I usually don’t make a potion to endorsing specific products or brands. My blog isn’t the place for that sort of thing but on occasion, I’ll get into something or use something that I just can’t help writing about and spreading the news, as it were. One of these cases is The Conqueror Challenges.

I had been seeing these marathon medals advertised on Facebook for months, and it looked pretty solid, so I decided to check it out. I even had people on my pretty limited friends’ list who liked the pages and supported the Conqueror Challenges, so I thought, “Why not try it?” It’s basically the way of the new world, right? Almost ANYTHING can be done virtually, now.

I’m always the first one to be a bit leery about the prospect of trying anything online. The internet is a sketchy place at the best of times, with peoples’ identities and the authenticity of whatever one might be dealing with while taking advantage of things online. With my usual amount of caution and doubt, I dipped my toes in and I have to say that I’m reasonably pleased with the results. Here’s what I found…

First, you start by installing The Conqueror Challenges app. The app is free to download and honestly doesn’t ask for much of anything in terms of information. Then, you pick your challenge. This is where it gets interesting, because you can choose from challenges as short as 30-some kilometres, all the way up to 4,000 kilometres. You can do anything that calculates distance, cycling, running, walking and even swimming.

The only thing I don’t like, is picking out a challenge brings you to The Conqueror Challenges website for sign-up. Then you purchase an entry fee (which is typical for any marathon one participates in, I’ll point out) and they email you a “sign up code.” Once you get the code and enter it into the app, you’re good to go. You can set your own timeframe and arrange for reminders and alarms to keep you on track. I started a 42-kilometre one and set it for 8 weeks because I had no clue how long it would tale me, or how available I would be to work on it. I finished it in two days.

Next, I signed up for one called the “English Channel,” and finished it in one day. Then I slowed my roll and decided to wait and see if they’d actually ship me the medals I earned. It took a while, and good ol’ COVID-19 got its sticky fingers in the pot and caused delays, but I got the medal from my second challenge first, of all things. It’s solid metal, got a nice heft to it and they look pretty sharp. See the photo below…

I used the reverse function on my camera. The medal doesn’t ACTUALLY read like that…

I got my “Marathon to Athens” medal the following week and my “Mount Everest” medal is currently on route. These marathons were 42, 34 and 62 kilometres, respectively. I’ve been motivated enough that I signed up for a 500-kilometre challenge called “St. Francis Way.” I only have 10% of this challenge completed, which is why I cycled like a douche and burned myself out, yesterday by punching out 51 kilometres in one sitting. But i wanted something challenging that would take more than one outing or two, and that would push the envelope a bit. That, and my wife and I agree that the medal is pretty.

There you have it, slime subjective and objective thoughts on The Conqueror Challenges. Some highlights I neglected to mention is that the organization that runs the challenges will allegedly plant a tree for every 20% of a challenge you complete, so it helps in a positive way. AND you can sync your fitness apps with the Conqueror Challenges app, which means I can measure my distance using Runkeeper and it’ll add the mileage automatically to my marathon challenge. All in all, I highly recommend this app, if you want the challenge of a marathon without the stress of running alongside others. Plus, you get to set your own timeline and get some trees planted. I believe that’s what’s referred to as a win-win… ☯️

The Conqueror Challenges: A Subjective And Objective Review

Alright, so as I’ve often written, I usually don’t make a potion to endorsing specific products or brands. My blog isn’t the place for that sort of thing but on occasion, I’ll get into something or use something that I just can’t help writing about and spreading the news, as it were. One of these cases is The Conqueror Challenges.

I had been seeing these marathon medals advertised on Facebook for months, and it looked pretty solid, so I decided to check it out. I even had people on my pretty limited friends’ list who liked the pages and supported the Conqueror Challenges, so I thought, “Why not try it?” It’s basically the way of the new world, right? Almost ANYTHING can be done virtually, now.

I’m always the first one to be a bit leery about the prospect of trying anything online. The internet is a sketchy place at the best of times, with peoples’ identities and the authenticity of whatever one might be dealing with while taking advantage of things online. With my usual amount of caution and doubt, I dipped my toes in and I have to say that I’m reasonably pleased with the results. Here’s what I found…

First, you start by installing The Conqueror Challenges app. The app is free to download and honestly doesn’t ask for much of anything in terms of information. Then, you pick your challenge. This is where it gets interesting, because you can choose from challenges as short as 30-some kilometres, all the way up to 4,000 kilometres. You can do anything that calculates distance, cycling, running, walking and even swimming.

The only thing I don’t like, is picking out a challenge brings you to The Conqueror Challenges website for sign-up. Then you purchase an entry fee (which is typical for any marathon one participates in, I’ll point out) and they email you a “sign up code.” Once you get the code and enter it into the app, you’re good to go. You can set your own timeframe and arrange for reminders and alarms to keep you on track. I started a 42-kilometre one and set it for 8 weeks because I had no clue how long it would tale me, or how available I would be to work on it. I finished it in two days.

Next, I signed up for one called the “English Channel,” and finished it in one day. Then I slowed my roll and decided to wait and see if they’d actually ship me the medals I earned. It took a while, and good ol’ COVID-19 got its sticky fingers in the pot and caused delays, but I got the medal from my second challenge first, of all things. It’s solid metal, got a nice heft to it and they look pretty sharp. See the photo below…

I used the reverse function on my camera. The medal doesn’t ACTUALLY read like that…

I got my “Marathon to Athens” medal the following week and my “Mount Everest” medal is currently on route. These marathons were 42, 34 and 62 kilometres, respectively. I’ve been motivated enough that I signed up for a 500-kilometre challenge called “St. Francis Way.” I only have 10% of this challenge completed, which is why I cycled like a douche and burned myself out, yesterday by punching out 51 kilometres in one sitting. But i wanted something challenging that would take more than one outing or two, and that would push the envelope a bit. That, and my wife and I agree that the medal is pretty.

There you have it, slime subjective and objective thoughts on The Conqueror Challenges. Some highlights I neglected to mention is that the organization that runs the challenges will allegedly plant a tree for every 20% of a challenge you complete, so it helps in a positive way. AND you can sync your fitness apps with the Conqueror Challenges app, which means I can measure my distance using Runkeeper and it’ll add the mileage automatically to my marathon challenge. All in all, I highly recommend this app, if you want the challenge of a marathon without the stress of running alongside others. Plus, you get to set your own timeline and get some trees planted. I believe that’s what’s referred to as a win-win… ☯️

No Pain, No Blog Post…

I’m way later than usual on posting my daily blog. Since my wife was off today, I decided to be as smart-ass and see how far I could get on the bike before my legs gave out. I recently wrote a post about how you shouldn’t work out hungry, although there can be some exceptions. Since my blood sugars were normal and I wasn’t hungry, I though it would be a good idea to get some fluids in and head out, since it would be a sustained bout of cardio.

I’s like to say it was a smart decision. I recently signed up for the Conqueror Challenges, an app that allows you to sign up for virtual marathons for a small fee and complete them on your own timeline. I was a little sceptical of it at the beginning, but I’ve recently earned two completion medals with a third one on the way. I was so motivated, I signed up for a fourth, which requires a total of 502 kilometres, I gave myself a timeline of 8 weeks, and the past week was squandered, thanks to rain and inclement weather (and renovating Nathan’s room).

I was all smiles, when I started out…

Since I had to make up some Lowry time, I set out with the goal of reaching 60 kilometres, This would be the first time this summer that I go beyond 20 kilometres, and the first time using my new iPhone 12 to track it through Runkeeper. I made my way over to Winnipeg Street then cut south on Arcola, all the way to the Regina Bypass. The Bypass was built in recent years and circumvents the main portion of the city. It makes for a significant route.

I managed to enjoy some of the walking trails on my way south

I was pretty lucky, There was essentially no wind except for a light breeze, so I enjoyed the benefit of an unhindered ride. About halfway at the 30 kilometre mark, I checked my pump and noted that I was at 4.8 mmol/L and dropping, so I took ten minutes to scarf a granola bar and a half dozen jellybeans. Another 10 kilometres and I had to pause my pump, which I should have done to start with. Or at the very least, I should have used a temporary basal.

So flat and straight…. And I’m so tired…

By the time I made my way around the Bypass and was able to rejoin civilization, I got my first battery warning on the phone. This was a bit of a problem, since I had at least another 15 kilometres to go before I’d reach home. I was listening to music on an iPod and locked my phone screen, to ensure I could save as much battery power as possible. My muscles were lactic as fuck, and it started to feel like my whole body was dragging. It’s warm but not overly hot today, but I was exposed to the open sun.

My time sucks!

I managed to make it home without the phone dying, so I got the total mileage tracked. If you look at the photo above, the total time is pretty damn disappointing, when compared to last year. With only 15 minutes left to the hour, I should have been getting close to the 60-kilometres mark. But by the time I pulled into my driveway, my legs had little feeling left in them and I was only at 5.0 mmol/L despite wearing a suspended pump for over an hour.

I managed to hit 10% of my current marathon’s goal. Theoretically, another 9 days of doing what I did today and I could be done. But I have several weeks left, so I may be able to spread it out a little, especially if karate is expected to start back up. As I type this, I’m sitting in the shade of my garage, drinking electrolytes and relaxing. Not the worst way to spend a Sunday morning…☯️