Bunchgrasser’s World

My unique filter on life

Archive for April, 2008

Bunchgrasser’s quote of the day

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 30, 2008

“Don’t spend your time on things you can’t control. Instead, spend your time thinking about what you can.”

-Benjamin Selekman

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Why do I blog? (part 1)

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 28, 2008

My wife recently asked me why I decided to start a blog. As I took a deep breath and prepared to list off all of the cool reasons – something strange happened – I couldn’t think of any. At least none with enough substance to convince her that blogging is a worthwhile endeavor. So, while pondering this seemingly complex question, I decided to see why other people blog. What I found was an amazingly diverse collection of reasons. One blog site in particular has taken this a step further and conducted an informal survey with the top 35 respondents listed.

As for me, I’m going to put some thought to this question and I’ll post the results in part 2.

Cheers

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Bunchgrasser’s quote of the day

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 28, 2008

“We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.”

Vince Lombardi

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A nod to inversion therapy for back pain

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 27, 2008

Ok, so let’s talk about back pain for minute. I’m a 41 year old desk jockey who has been coping with chronic back problems for years. I do try to keep a positive attitude about it, but at times the pain rules my life and takes the fun out of certain activities.

Over the years I’ve found limited relief through diligent stretching, back strengthening exercises, chiropractic adjustment, electro-stimulation (TENS), accupuncture, massage, etc. These treatments tend to provide temporary results for me, but haven’t solved the root problem that is causing my back pain. I’m not really open to a surgical or chemical treatment.  

I recently replaced my desk chair in the office with a fitness ball, which is definitely helping to strengthen weak muscles in my back. For any who doubt that sitting in an office chair for a couple of decades leads to atrophied back muscles – try sitting on a fitness ball at the office for one week. I can assure you of two things: One, it will test your resolve. Two, it will reintroduce you to several muscles in your back that haven’t seen action for awhile.

Ok, let’s move on to the reason I’m writing this post. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a website advertising inversion tables. Claims were made that inversion therapy can be an effective treatment for chronic back pain. In a nutshell the claim is this: over the years gravity compresses the spine, which puts pressure on spinal nerves, which causes pain. Further, the only way to reverse this is to undo the effects of gravity by flipping your world upside down, thereby decompressing your spine. This logic made sense to me, and since it was one of the few options I hadn’t tried – I decided to get one.

I shopped around and found a used inversion table on Craigslist. I ended up buying the Teeter Hangups F5000 partly based on positive reviews, but also because others described it as “very well built” and “very sturdy”. I decided that if I was going to invert myself, I wanted to do so on a safe, stable piece of equipment. The F5000 is definitely stable.

 I setup the table in my living room, adjusted it for my height and secured my feet in the padded ankle clamps. Slowly lifting my arms over my head shifted the balance point and I began to invert. I started feeling the “traction-like” effect on my spine long before reaching full inversion. In fact, it is recommended that you not fully invert right away, opting to gradually work up to that point if necessary.

The first time I inverted, the pressure on my spine was uncomfortable enough that I only lasted for a couple of minutes before returning to an upright position. I took a break and came back for another try about 30 minutes later, and this is when the “magic” happened for me. As I inverted, I felt a lengthening pressure on my spine, and without any warning I heard (and felt) a small pop in my middle back. A very strange sensation to say the least – but ultimately I realized that a specific pain in my middle back that had been plaguing me for months – simply vanished. Needless to say I’m very pleased with the results.

Since that day I’ve been using my table once or twice daily for 5-10 minutes. I am able to fully invert and actually find it very relaxing and peaceful to just hang there, especially if I put on my Ipod and listen to some relaxing music. I do find the padded ankle clamps to be uncomfortable at times and I always wear shoes when inverting. The manufacturer does sell a gravity boot conversion kit as an add-on, but I’m usually okay if I limit my time to 10 minutes or less. I would recommend this for people with back pain. After all, you won’t know if it works until you try. With that said, I’m not a physician and can’t give medical advice, so check with your doctor before doing this.

 Cheers

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Footwear to bring out your inner gecko

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 25, 2008

BarefootingI recently discovered this “minimalist” footwear product from Vibram USA called FiveFingers. Aesthetics aside, these do seem like they would be ultra comfortable to wear around the house, backyard, campground, etc. However, I can’t quite see myself “barefoot” running, trekking or doing anything that physically punishes my feet. I’ll stick with my cushioned running shoes for those types of activities. In all fairness, I haven’t tried these yet – so I’ll reserve final judgment until I’ve tested a pair.

There appear to be many who believe going barefoot is the best thing for your feet. For anyone interested in joining this movement, Fivefingers are available in several different models, suited for a range of dry and wet activities. They go for around $70-$80 online.

Cheers

Posted in Cool Products, Running | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Is United Sodium headed for a repeat?

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 24, 2008

My daughter plays for Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club on the girls U12 “Sodium” team.

Last year they won the State championship for U11 girls, so expectations have been lofty for this talented team to go far this year. Last weekend, the girls won their game against Lake Oswego and tied with FC Platinum which gave them enough points to win the bracket and advance.

This weekend, Sodium will battle the Keizer Hotshots team. The Hotshots look to be a big, physically strong team so this weekend should prove to be an exciting time. I know the Sodium girls are ultra-psyched for this game, especially since the winner of this game automatically qualifies for Regionals and a 10 day trip to Hawaii.

As a parent, this is truly exciting stuff to be part of. Club soccer is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of sports for many young athletes. I am constantly amazed at the level of talent, committment and leadership I see in these girls. One might think that the extra pressure could be detrimental for girls of this age, but I haven’t seen evidence of that. These girls tend to take it in stride and truly enjoy the game. Lest you think they do this only for fun, be advised that some of the mantras being chanted on the field include:

“Let the bodies hit the turf!”
“In It To Win It!”
“Trample the weak, hurdle the dead!”

Track United Sodium’s progress on their blog site.

Cheers!

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Bunchgrasser’s quote of the day

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 22, 2008

“I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”

-Benjamin Disraeli

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Deschutes flows in the Pearl

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 21, 2008

For a beer lover, having some of the best craft breweries in the world at your doorstep is, well…dangerous. But it’s also one of the many things that make Portland such a sweet place to reside. In just a few short days, Portlanders can welcome yet another world-class brewery to the area. Deschutes brewery and restaurant is scheduled to open their $5 million pub on May 2nd. Check out John Foyston’s full story here. I’ll see you there for a pint of Armory XPA.

 

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One mile closer to the Portland Marathon

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 21, 2008

 

As I mentioned in my bio, I’m training to run the Portland Marathon this October. You should know that I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to run a marathon. For anyone that is interested, I’ve shortened my story that began several years ago to a (mercifully) brief summary below. 

I, not unlike others before me, woke up one day and realized that calories had overtaken my metabolism in the daily struggle for supremacy in my body. I wasn’t really overweight – but I was very out of shape. Sitting at a desk daily for almost two decades didn’t exactly help as it turns out. And, in retrospect, working for a very, very large software company located in the state of Washington for almost 6 years wasn’t a great fitness move for me personally either. In all fairness, some of my peers stayed active and fit. Me, I gleefully lapped up all of the company sponsored team lunches, customer lunches, partner buffets & trade show spreads that I could. And there were many, many I tell you – but I digress.

So, back to my story. I did what most all inexperienced runners do – I bought a cheap pair of (Saucony) running shoes and hit the pavement. In the short span of a couple of weeks I had broken just about every rule pertaining to running (and ramping up in moderation). Needless to say, I endured some pain in a few places. Well, actually a lot of pain in a lot of places as I recall. Anyhoo – fast forward a few years, and I’ve managed to educate myself on the finer points of running (building a base, limiting mileage increases, stretching, crosstraining, listening to your body, etc).

To date, I’ve enjoyed running a couple of 5k’s, an 8k, a sprint triathlon and a half marathon. I’m planning to run the Helvetia Half Marathon this June, and then the Portland Marathon in October. Assuming I remain injury-free, the half marathon should be a breeze. However, I’m not so confident about the full marathon. I’ve joined Portland Fit, which is a 27 week training program for the Portland marathon. We are in week 4 and it has been a great experience so far. We have an information seminar and then do a training run every Saturday morning. They also provide a free 5 minute massage after the run also.

I’m currently logging around 12-15 miles mid-week and a 6-7 miler on the weekend. I’ll continue to post updates on this blog periodically as well.

 

 

Posted in Running | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Bunchgrasser’s quote of the day

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 21, 2008

“I’ve worked too hard and too long to let anything stand in the way of my goals. I will not let my teammates down and I will not let myself down.”
-Mia Hamm  

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