shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
- Course was solid, over all. Challenging hills, and a good length.
- Australian back crawl was a great obstacle. The hill leading to it was an obstacle itself. Though I have good, strong legs, I had to work them hard to make it through this one. Challenging, and the risk factor was not too high for those who had to really struggle to do it.
- The long, uphill tubes were another challenge. I imagined I was Bishop in Alien as I crept/slid my way through them. Lots of upper body strength necessary to make it through this one. Definitely not for the claustrophobic or those with great big butts. I could see a large person getting good and wedged. I found it a tight squeeze.
- The long, twisting, uneven trail through the forest. This was my favourite part. The downside is the trail is narrow and it was a bottleneck point because there were few places where people could squeeze to the side to allow faster runners to pass. That being said, I found my way and sprinted through the woods, while the vast majority appeared to take it at a snail's pace.
- There was a fire pit close to the finish line where racers could get warmed up.

- We arrived in plenty of time for my 11 am heat, but the parking lot was full. We were told by the attendant to drive all the way back to Best Buy and park in that parking lot. Shuttles were leaving from there regularly. I thought this was weird. The parking lot at Best Buy is not huge, so overflow from Bad Ass Dash would surely take all their customer parking spaces. Still, we drove back and parked there. There were about ten of us waiting, in all. A couple of the guys had been there at least 15 minutes and had seen no shuttles. We waited at least a half hour and no shuttles came. Finally, one of the women drove us back to the site, because she didn't want her kids to miss their run or to see their Dad run. When we got back to the site, parking was available, but at $20. Emails told us parking was $10. Not cool. And no, shuttles were not being sent to Best Buy, but to a parking lot somewhere a few blocks behind Best Buy. We'd all been given incorrect information.
- The registration line was horrendously long, and being shunted into a building through a narrow doorway. We waited well over an hour to get my racing kit. They needed a LOT more people processing contestants.
- Several obstacles were removed by the time I ran. Some had no one there, and no explanation of what to do, so no one did them. One of the water stations had no water by the time I got there. Good thing it wasn't a hot day.
- I saw no places where people could shower or get hosed off.
- Post-race snacks included a giant tray of loose crackers. Uhh, everyone is COVERED in mud. No one wants to reach into crackers when covered in mud. This was a strange and bad choice for food.

I realize there's an element of danger in these races, but this is the first time I felt so paranoid of injury at an event. For this, I give this set of cons its own section.
- Pontoon bridge obstacle. This was problematic for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was the absolute worst bottleneck point in the entire race. I'm fairly sure I was stuck in line for this obstacle for a solid half hour. The reason there was such a bottleneck is because it was extremely unlikely anyone could do this obstacle quickly, and only two people could go at one time. Floating plastic cubes were tethered together in a very unstable bridge across a stream of unknown depth. I'm not sure even one person made it across on their feet. The chances of smashing your head off a pontoon while falling were high. The water appeared to be deep, and was so muddy that the bottom could not be seen. If anyone went under, no one would be able to see where they were. As I came up on my turn, I turned to a couple of the volunteers and asked, "How deep is the water?" They laughed and said, "Oh, 6 feet. No, thirty feet!" I said, "I ask because my asthma is bothering me, I cannot float, and water pressure on my chest often makes my asthma flare up suddenly."

That's when they realized I was asking for a damned good reason. But they still didn't know how deep it was.

I looked at it again, and figured I could probably belly creep my way across, and if I fell, I had to fall to the left where I could see a rope I could pull myself with if necessary. Even belly creeping was difficult. I made it. Just.

I don't think there was a life guard posted at this obstacle where there was a serious risk of drowning if someone fell off and bumped their head.
- Scaling wall with a rope. This sort of obstacle is normally one of my favourites. A rope hangs from the top of a tall wall. You grab the rope and walk up the side of the wall. The other side can be descended in a similar fashion. So I thought, "I've got this," and I walked on up the wall, piece of cake. On the other side, I slid my body down a bit, got a firm grab on the rope, and ... THE ROPE WAS NOT ATTACHED TO THE TOP. There was a lot of slack on that rope. I went into a straight fall down the wall, scraping the shit out of my elbow and giving my first-ever scream of terror at an obstacle race. Fortunately, I'm tall and hit the ground before the rope caught up suddenly. I kept my knees soft and landed ok. However, I heard someone else dislocated their shoulder on this obstacle. I'm not surprised. Someone shorter than me would've been caught up suddenly on that rope. Jebus.
- Mixed grouping of adults with children. For some bizarre reason, the 7-13 year old contestants had a shared course with the competitive adults. This was terribly dangerous, in my opinion. On some of the obstacles, a 200-lb adult falling, losing their grip, or losing control could result in pretty devastating injuries to another adult, let alone a 50-lb kid. The absolute worst was at the...
- Slip and Slide. When I saw kids were going down the same high speed slip and slide obstacle event as adults, I stopped and said, "ARE YOU SHITTING ME?" Of course, people weren't exactly taking turns and making sure the area was clear before jumping on. I moved to the side furthest away from the most kids and sat on my ass. At first, I didn't slide too well, but then the speed came from nowhere. It was like I'd been shot from a cannon. When I realized I'd lost all control, I immediately laid down on my back, arched my back up, and raised my head in an attempt to slow my speed, increase stability, and minimize damage to myself. I shot past the end of the tarps and kept going full speed for a good 30' or so. This was the second time I've screamed at an obstacle. There were people whizzing past me at high velocity. It was like a firing range where the guns are shooting out bullets made of soft muscle and breakable bones. [ profile] knightky had been watching this obstacle. He saw numerous injuries, some from people wiping out, but even more terrifying, some from people hitting big rocks at the end of the tarp.

I don't know what the injury tally would be at this event, but it had to have been high.

I saw a few people in slings. But worst of all, at the end of the race, I saw a pallid, dead-looking man being rushed to an ambulance on a gurney while paramedics administered CPR on the run. Someone else saw someone being rushed away on a gurney with an oxygen mask. I don't know what happened to them. Maybe a heart attack, which could happen at any time, really. But maybe they were lost in the mud water? I don't know.

I won't be doing this race again. The clusterfuck of the beginning was bad enough, but the unnecessarily dangerous obstacles are the clincher.

I sure hope those men are ok.

[Bottom of slip and slide]

Blue Ra.

Jun. 15th, 2014 01:44 pm
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
Yesterday, I completed my first 10km race. It wasn't just any old race. It was Met Con Blue's 10km mountain obstacle race (Full Metal Jacket), although, for the most part, the obstacles were not difficult. The course itself was very difficult, though. I've raced on Blue Mountain before. It was my very first race two years ago, and it was a 5km race (although I suspect it was closer to 7km with the rerouting done due to trail conditions). The inclines are very steep, and it was every bit as difficult a climb as the nastier parts of the Inca Trail, except without the issues of altitude sickness. Read more... )
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
It seems silly for me to differentiate between my performance, dance, and athletic itineraries, so I'm consolidating them.

Here's what's coming up:

Regularly Scheduled
- teaching dance classes at the Downtown Community Centre, Breithaupt Community Centre, and Aradia Fitness Studio. As of January, I hope to be teaching four times per week.
- CrossFit training. I try to make it into the box three to five times per week, with a mix of WoDs (Workouts of the Day) and Open Gym times, where I play and work on rope skills and weight training.
- Rock climbing. I try to go in at least once a month.
- Pole dance. I take advanced/master classes at Aradia once a week

Once the weather is more amenable, I want to get back to regular running and parkour practice.

- March 9, 2014. Butoh/voice workshop with Denise Fujiwara and Gerry Trentham
- April 12, 2014. Goruck Light.
- June 14, 2014. Metcon Blue 10km mountain obstacle race
- July 19, 2014. Warrior Dash: mountain obstacle race
- September 13, 2014. Badass Dash: mountain obstacle race

More events will show up, of course. I intend on participating in the CrossFit Opens, whenever that should happen.


Aug. 5th, 2013 09:32 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Despite my asthma making my training session this morning slooooow as McDonald's counter staff nursing a hangover, I feel rather bad ass.

Here's what I did today.

  • biked 5 km
  • climbed 20' rope three times
  • ran a mile
  • did 100 m of walking lunges with a 10-lb medicine ball overhead
  • did about 50 m of human wheelbarrowing
  • did 50 wall balls
  • did about 500 m of medicine ball relay tossing
  • biked 5 km
  • biked about 15 km
  • did about two hours of parkour training which included:

    • vaulting fences
    • forward rolls
    • crawling backwards up a flight of concrete stairs
    • Spiderman edge-walking window sills and around support beams the length of a building without falling off
    • pistol squats
    • clutch flags
    • V-ups
    • pull-ups
    • Some failed attempts at kip-ups (I'll get them yet!)
    • Other stuff I can't remember

  • Biked 5 km

Go me!

And just to mix shit up, tomorrow I do a floorwork/lap dance workshop. Haha!
shanmonster: (Default)
Here are my results for the Warrior Dash on the weekend: I ranked 262nd for my division (women 40-49) out of 792. I ranked 1331rd over all, out of 6689 participants. My time was 50:45.80.

I don't think that's too bad for a course that hard, steep, and brutally hot!

Here I am, looking remarkably unmuddy considering how filthy most people got. I guess I'm just dainty. )


Jul. 21st, 2012 05:54 pm
shanmonster: (Default)
Well, I did it. I ran the Warrior Dash. I'm currently relaxing in a resort suite, and typing this out on Marvin, my iPad. The race was hugely attended, with each heat composed of hundreds of participants. Amelia ran with me in the 1:00 heat. And heat is the operative word. It was awfully hot, and oppressive, at that. Bright, sunny day with no cloud cover means I think I got a bit of a burn and am feeling a bit cooked. But I ran almost the whole way, barring some stupidly hot bits and the steepest inclines.

I made good time on the steep declines, though. Most people looked like they were having issues with their footing, but I felt like a mountain goat bounding down steep ski slopes.

The obstacles weren't too hard for me: lots of clambering over high wooden structures, under barbed wire, or balancing along beams or ropes. The hardest obstacle for me was the very last one. It was a mud put, and exceedingly slippery. I tried to sprint and very nearly took a header. But I didn't, and made it through the finish line all muddied and grinning.

So that's two slippery, muddy adventure races down, and no falls.

Yeah, I want to do Tough Mudder next year....

I'll post pictures when I get home. HTML is too much of a pain in the ass with a touch-screen keyboard. I looked pretty fabulous, if I do say so, myself!
shanmonster: (Default)
Oh, hectic month, you sure are hectic: as hectic as longcat is long!

I've ramped up my training, as I said I would before, and am running a minimum of twice a week. Mondays, I run between 8-12 km of hills, and Wednesdays, I do a variety of running drills (sometimes sprints, sometimes intervals, sometimes hills, sometimes distance, sometimes cross-country, etc.). And then I run around the neighbourhood when I feel like it on other days, and run, when it's called for, at my CrossFit workouts. I still do not consider myself a good runner. But I am no longer a bad runner. I'm slow, but steadily getting faster, and my endurance is much better. I think I will be up to competing at Tough Mudder next year and half marathons, at this rate.

I've been training harder and more frequently than ever before, and my recovery time has improved dramatically. For example, Wednesday is possibly my hardest training day of the week. I do a minimum of 30 km of cycling, two hours of kung fu practice (which often includes about 400 squats as conditioning), and an hour of running drills. Oh yes, and the usual pushups are thrown into that mix. When I first started this training regimen, I was absolutely destroyed come Thursday. This week, I felt perfectly fine the day after, and am sure I could have done another full workout. However, I'm ramping down to save myself for tomorrow's race.

Tomorrow, I run the Warrior Dash. It's a 5km obstacle race, and looks like this.

So instead of a giant workout, I did a leisurely one. Basically, I went to the gym to play. I climbed the cargo net upside down just to see if I could. I did handstands. I did pistol squats, weighted (10-lb) glute ham raises, and 10-lb one-legged squats off a 24" box. I played on the rings and ropes a bunch.

The other night, I dreamed I could finally do kipping pull-ups with ease. Previously, I've only ever managed one. So I tried, and though they're certainly not pretty, I can do them singly now. It's a start.

Over the next week, I'll be teaching six fitness and kickboxing classes, and keeping up with my training schedule which goes as follows:

Sunday: push-ups
Monday: push-ups, 1 hour CrossFit, 90 minutes of running
Tuesday: push-ups, 2 hours of aerial silks
Wednesday: 2 hours of kung fu, 1 hour of running
Thursday: push-ups, light training for 1-2 hours
Friday: push-ups, light training

Cycling gets strewn about daily, because it's how I get around. I generally do a bare minimum of 10km a day. I'd do heavier training on Friday except that I'm competing again on Saturday in the Masters division of the UG Series.

I have another Masters competition in mid-August (Masters Mettle), a Strongman training seminar the week after, and then I'm off to hike the Inca Trail in Peru!

I'll be doing my push-ups all the while, except possibly while on the Peruvian trip, because I just don't know how feasible that will be. I'll continue where I left off upon my return, though.

Holy crap.

And yes, there are more competitions upon my return. I'm thinking of at least volunteering at a local zombie race. I'll be a zombie. Braaaains....

I still want to take up rock-climbing, but am not sure how to slot that in. There's only so much of me to go around, after all, and I still do other things, like teach, dance, sing, paint, write, cook, sleep, etc.
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
The illness. It is OVER.

Thank goodness.

[Running Metcon Blue]I still have a niggling cough, but it is an annoyance only, and doesn't seem to be impacting me negatively for kicking my own ass. And I have been kicking my own ass. Literally. It's a warm-up drill for running. I've been doing a lot more running, too. And guess what? I think I officially no longer suck at running. I am mediocre, at worst. Woohoo! On Monday, I ran between 9-12 km, which is double my previous distance. On Wednesday, I ran 100m dash intervals, and most of them were under 20 seconds. No one's going to accuse me of blood-doping at these speeds, but I'm pretty darned proud of myself.

I continue with my 100-day push-up challenge, and with my wing chun and aerial silks training on top of my usual CrossFit regime. I feel stronger and fitter than ever. Even fitter than when I was doing kung fu regularly, and that was pretty darned fit.

I'm entered in not one, but two athletic events in July: Warrior Dash and the Underground Series Wasaga Beach Seal Camp. The first one is basically a big, active party on the go. The second one looks a lot harder. I'm competing in the masters division, and am pretty darned nervous about the whole thing. Aaaah! I hope I don't die.

July also marks my first experiment with the Whole 30 challenge.

What am I capable of? I don't know, but I want to find out. This morning's workout was vicious:
  1. 400m run
  2. 30 * 65lb deadlifts
  3. 400m run
  4. 30 * 65lb power clean
  5. 400m run
  6. 30 * 65lb split jerk
  7. 400m run

I didn't die, but it was close. I haven't sweat that hard in a while. I swear I was foaming like a workhorse. My clothes were soaked through. And although I came in dead last, I had a cheering squad keeping me going. Afterwards, I had a few people come up to me and tell me it was amazing. I'm not sure what made it so amazing to watch. Maybe they were taking bets I'd drop dead before finishing. Heheheh.... In any case, thanks, guys! You made me feel like a gold medalist or something. That bike ride home was MUCH harder than usual.

This weekend is allocated for some hardcore resting. I'm going to sit on my arse SO HARD it'll be like an Olympic event. Oh yes. I've earned it, and my muscles will thank me for it. In fact, I've gotten a head start and am already sitting on my arse.

3 2 1 GO!

May. 8th, 2012 02:46 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
On Saturday I did my first-ever timed 5 km run. I'm not going to win any races. I was the slowest person who did the run by far. BUT, I am pleased. I didn't have to stop even once. I didn't even need to slow down. And at the end, I was fresh enough to put on a block-long sprint and finish in 35:51. I know now I was overly cautious in my cadence, but since it was my first time, I didn't really know how to pace myself. Lance, the CrossFit running coach, was impressed by my time, and says I should be able to shear it down to 30 minutes by October.

Here's our running group about five minutes after I finished the course. I pretty much crawled into position.

I was afraid I might run something like this camel, but apparently my form looks pretty solid.

Behind this cut lie photos.... )
shanmonster: (Default)
Ah, more dance today. Gonna dance with my butt! Yes, I'm going to learn some Caribbean fusion belly dance stuff. I'm picturing booty popping reggaeton- and dancehall-style.

[ profile] valkryor suggested I wear a lined woolen Ghawazee coat (mine would cover more than the one in this picture) for my upcoming dance performance. I was hoping to avoid making myself another costume (I have so many other projects on the go, right now), but I think she's right. I'm gonna freeze my skin off if I don't wear something warm. I'll just try to make something that I can use for LARP, too. I just don't see a lot of use for cold weather dance costuming. I'm not sure I have any appropriate wool, so I think I'm going to need to go fabric shopping.

With the leftover wool, maybe I can make myself a beret.

I was pleased to discover my guesswork on the Viking coat was pretty accurate. With a couple of minor adjustments, the coat fits [ profile] knightky perfectly.

Link time!

Food For the Poor | Leadership: Check out the name of the CEO. I laughed. A lot.

Elven Forest Creations: A photostream of fun, imaginative costuming and clothing. It looks like they used to have an Etsy store, but it seems to be defunct. Still, I'm getting some good inspiration from the pictures.

'Marathon man' breaks world record by running 365: Three cheers for human potential! At 45 years of age, Stefaan Engels ran a marathon a day for a full year. He averages each race in 4 hours. The previous world record was held by a man in his 60s. This makes me feel like a spring chicken again.

Christopher McDougall: Are we born to run?: I haven't seen this yet, but want to check it out.

$25 buys you and a homeless person a coat? Yup.: I sprung for one for me, and one for a homeless person, too. I'm hoping I get something really awesome, and that the recipient of the other coat gets something equally dashing (thanks, [ profile] elanya).

And here's me, today:

[Just me]
shanmonster: (Sacrilicious)
I wanted to go for a run yesterday, but my stupid arthritis was making my feet feel absolutely dreadful. However, this morning, my feet feel perfectly fine, and so off I went on my first run since the late spring, I think. I was afraid I'd have lost all my endurance, since I haven't been doing any running at all, but it seems all those jumping jacks I've been doing have put me in good stead. I did have to walk twice on the way, but not for very long. And I was able to do two good sprints on top of the steady jog, so I'm pretty pleased with myself.

I saw lots of ducks and geese on the way, and also two cranes standing stock still in the pond. I ran through low piles of damp autumn leaves, and then took a detour through a wooded area and jumped a couple of small deadfalls, all while listening to Prodigy and Manowar. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Now, post-shower, I need to get dressed up into something presentable to go and talk to a fitness club owner about teaching dance at his studio (*hope hope*). And then I'm off to the gym to lift heavy things before teaching dance tonight.

Spaced out betwixt all that is the usual housework, job search, and some reading. I just finished reading Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles, Vol. 1) by Robin Hobb, and have just started Antony and Cleopatra: A Novel (Masters of Rome) by Colleen McCullough. I used to read a lot of her historical novels about ten years or so ago, and it looks like she's written a few new ones in the interim.

I only have a couple of links for you, this time:

Vengeance of the Honeybees: Not the bees, NOT THE BEES!

Dancers Are Genetically Different Than The Rest Of Us: I don't know that I fit into this particular mould. I am about as nonspiritual a person as they come.

Prize-Winning Whole Wheat Bread: I think I'd like to try this out tomorrow. It's been too long since I last made bread, and if it works out, I want to start making all of my bread instead of buying it from the grocery store.
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
I've spent the past few days thinking about theology. Not real-world theology, mind you, but theology within a fictional world. It's quite interesting, to see how certain pre-existing points match up, and discovering where the mysteries lie. I'm going to keep working on it, and upon character development. I believe I'm coming up with something quite interesting. Well, it's interesting to me, at least. Whee!

Last night, I played paintball with Steph, Adam, Jordan, Kate, and Tom. Although I've decided indoor paintball is not my cuppa tea, it was still fun to run around with a gun, and to hang out with folks. The floor, with it's eleventy-billion ounces of paint bukkake, was pretty disgusting to walk on. It squelched underfoot, and if I leaned on anything or got shot, I looked like I'd been bled on by Bishop from Alien. Neck/throat shots are a real bitch, by the way, though I think my worst bruising is across my thighs. Adam decided to do one game the masochistic way, and went shirtless. Miraculously enough, he only got shot once, and that was in the arm.

Tom gave me a wicked headband with a picture of Buddy Christ and a "Killing For Jesus" motif. I'll wear it when I go for runs. I will not wear it tonight, when I go and teach my first dance class in ages.

I hope I remember how to dance. I hope I remember how to teach. Eee.

I am still wonderfully sore from pole dance class on Monday night. Although I can do chin-ups on my chin-up bar in the kitchen, I discovered I can no longer do chin-ups on the dance pole. I am ashamed. Ashamed and weak, like some girly man. I need to pump me up!

Where I have not been failing is in the walking department. I've been going on long walks to try to discover the somewhat natural parts of Kitchener. Alas, but even these pseudo-rural areas are tainted by stupid humans. A stream has a big, overstuffed chair in it. Ducks and geese swim amongst candy wrappers and worse. No matter where I walk, I seem to end up at a major intersection near a Beer Store. It must be a sign.

Time for a wish list of socks. I want all of these. )
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
My biceps are returning, and I can do nice, slow, controlled chin-ups now.

Time to do a few errands downtown, and then attempt going for my first run of the year. It seems pretty nice out. Here's hoping my lungs don't freeze.

But first, have some links.

Bananas Exploding on Face: This fetish is new to me (thanks, [ profile] balthcat).

Inside an Inflatable Whale: And this is ... almost romantic.

Butt Drugs: Umm (thanks, Jared).

He Who Casts the First Stone: Fundamentalist Christian army attacks people they disapprove of. Disgusting.

Coins of Ancient Rome: Oh, those naughty Romans. "Nude Figures and Erotic Images on Ancient Coins. These coins were made in Rome around the first century BC and they were paying for certain services, or they went as usual" (thanks, [ profile] f00dave)?

Vulva Couch: I think I want one.

DJ granny Ruth Flowers takes Paris nightclubs by storm: Awesome (thanks, [ profile] schwartzung)!
shanmonster: (Default)
I've been running again. Yesterday, I was so filled with energy, I wanted to run twice, but decided to go for a walk instead of a second run. I ended up buying a whole wack of glycerine soap for cheap cheap cheap, so now I'll smell all purty when I bathe. When I run, people beep at me and wave, and sometimes even flash me the thumbs-up. I guess I'm doing something right.

Links? Yeah. I have some.

But first, this is quite possibly the greatest story ever told (NWFW). I am in love with this man.

Shake Weight: Get those arms in shape the suggestive way.

Hippie Weirdo Yoga Farmers: Truly bizarre, and unsettling (thanks, [ profile] tailchaser).

And now I must be off to make armour. Toodle-oo!

Scientists reveal secret of girl with 'all seeing eye': "Scientists have discovered how a 10-year-old girl born with half a brain is able to see normally through one eye. The youngster, from Germany, has both fields of vision in one eye and is the only known case of its kind in the world."

Rock-climbing wall isn't so rocky: This is the coolest climbing wall I've ever seen. I want to try it out!

Aurora - Second Skin by Lighting by Kyeok Kim: Very interesting jewellery incorporating gobos.

Explosions and Boobs: Possibly the greatest website on the entire internet. Keep reloading.

Bobcat and Fawn Find Friendship after Fire: Oh my dear god in heaven I am struck down by the cute (thanks, [ profile] elanya). This made me scream like this: EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeEEEEE!!!

Turtle Has an Awesome Orgasm: That is one seriously happy turtle.

Very Noisy Hedgehog: I didn't realize they made that much racket.

Unusual Paintings of Obama Naked with Unicorns: Truly bizarre.

Man's Best Friend Gets Sex Doll: I think the ratio of dogs to humans who've tried this thing out is about 1:1.
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Just back from a run through the woods. The scenery was less than spectacular. Used condoms were tied to tree branches all along the path. Ick. Shower time.

[That felt good]
shanmonster: (Don't just sing it--bring it!)
A pleasant side effect of my early-morning running is that I often get to hang out with critters. Today, as I rested on one of the walking bridges, I noticed the swans, their cygnets, and a whole whack of ducks swimming in an excited fashion close to the island. Curious, I walked over to see what they were doing. They were swimming about, jostling one another for something. I looked around, but didn't see anyone feeding them. But they were eating something. I looked in the water, and didn't notice anything in particular. Then I looked up.

All of us were beneath a mulberry tree. The branches were laden with ripe berries. Is this what they were eating?

I picked one and tossed it into the water, and it was immediately gobbled up. So I grabbed ahold of a big branch and started shaking it, knocking scores of berries into the water. The result was a feeding frenzy of shark-like proportions. The swans, always aggressive, dominated the scene. The meek ducks kept their distance, devouring whatever berries floated their way. Even the cygnets were lunging at the ducks from time to time, necks extended and snakelike.

I hung around with the birds for quite a while, picking berries and tossing them to the birds. Most of them I fed to the cygnets, but I'd throw an occasional handful to the ducks so they would get some, too. If I threw too much to the ducks, the swans would just ram the hapless birds, so I rationed it out.

And then I finished my run. My shinsplints are going away, I'm glad to say. I've started doing calf raises off a step, and that seems to have helped. However, a perennial problem has emerged. Any time I do exercises which work the calves, whether it's calf raises or toe pushes on a leg press, my calves get filled with knots. And then they get charley horses at random. It's not that my calves aren't strong. I am able to do calf raises while piggybacking a 200-lb man. But they always fill full of lumps and knots. So, do I suffer through the shinsplints or do I suffer through the charley horses? It's six of one and half a dozen of the other, I think.

And yes, I drink lots of water, get plenty of potassium (I like bananas in my smoothies), and stretch my leg muscles regularly. I just have an apparently unavoidable propensity for cramping there. Argh.

Link time.

Autism symptoms reversed in lab: "Symptoms of mental retardation and autism have been reversed for the first time in laboratory mice." I can't have been the only person to immediately think of Flowers for Algernon.

Kiss Book: When a strategically-altered sketch book is taken to a comics convention, wacky hijinks ensue (thanks, [ profile] warren_ellis).

Rare "Smiling" Bird Photographed for First Time: "The rare recurve-billed bushbird, recently rediscovered by scientists in Colombia after a 40-year absence, sports a curving beak that gives the illusion of an enigmatic smile."

Welcome to Fatworld! Experience Refreshing Moral Discomfort!: "Players navigate a consumer paradise (A), rule their own empire of restaurants and convenience stores (B), and enjoy food allergies, diabetes, heart disease, and death (C)."

German Scientists Develop New Approach to Treating AIDS: Cross your fingers. "German scientists have succeeded in snipping the virus that causes AIDS out of human cells, leaving them healthy again. The procedure is a breakthrough in bio-technology and fuels hope of a cure for AIDS."

Asch's Conformity Experiment: "A classical social psychology experiment carried out by S. Asch. The power of conformity."

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