The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

All kinds of PRs

Yesterday's walk had a number of consequences, including some discomfort that has persisted until today. But I also blew away my Fitbit personal records. Yesterday's results:

Which makes my top 5 now look like this:

2016 Jun 16 40,748
2016 Jun 8 32,315
2015 Apr 26 30,496
2016 Mar 8 29,775
2015 Jun 15 28,455

Yesterday's weather worked out, too. It was almost completely overcast, until I hit the heavily-wooded sections of the trail up in Glencoe and Highland Park. And it was cool; I don't think it got above 20°C. So I didn't sweat too much and I was able to keep a fairly brisk pace.

I will now limp to my lunch appointment. And I'll post Parker's birthday photo later this afternoon.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll walk there tomorrow

Yes, I'm a little obsessed with finding out how far I can walk in one day, but you won't have to read about it much longer. Tomorrow's forecast looks perfect: sunny skies, 24°C, and some good breezes to keep the air clear and me cool.

And even as I'm contemplating walking 30 km or so, I have to stop and just be awed by British marathoner Sara Hall's Fitbit data from her 2 hour 30 minute running of this year's London Marathon. Her average pace (3'35" per kilometer) is roughly three times faster than I'll go tomorrow. And given that she only took 28,914 steps to cover a marathon, her stride was a full 144 cm—just a few shorter than I am tall.

Also, don't worry about Parker. He's not coming on a five-hour walk with me. He'll be at doggy day camp.

The Ancestral Homeland

I'm traveling to the Land of Uk (aka The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) next week, which got me wondering if I've actually seen the country in every month of the year. So I worked it out, and yes, as of 1 September 2013, I've seen the UK in every month of the year:

January 2001, 2010, 2011
February 2001, 2010, 2015
March 2012, 2014
April 2011
May 2009, 2015
June 1992, 2014, 2015, 2016*
July 1992
August 2009, 2013
September 2013, 2015
October 2002, 2009, 2012, 2014
November 2001, 2009, 2010
December 2002, 2014, 2015

* Planned

In all, I've made 34 discrete trips to the UK since my first on 11 June 1992, with 31 arrivals at Heathrow, 2 at Gatwick, and 1 at Dover (by ferry from Belgium). Oddly, only half—17—have been on non-stop flights from O'Hare. And I've never flown non-stop from O'Hare to any UK airport other than Heathrow.

File this away under "personal trivia."

Long walk off a short weather report

The weather forecast for today doesn't look great, so I'm putting off my long walk until Thursday. Today we're expecting thunderstorms from 11am onward, and it's going to be a warm and sticky 26°C; Thursday's forecast is for partly sunny skies, dry 22°C air.

I've met people who do athletic things in all conditions, and I don't understand why. I want to enjoy the walk. So, it's no big deal to postpone it until there's a much higher likelihood of good weather.

Tomorrow: how far can I walk?

FOr a variety of reasons, I've set aside tomorrow to take a hike in Chicago, from home north along one of our Metra lines as far as I can go before saying "to hell with this." My guess is I'll get pretty far. Unfortunately, the weather forecast along the route looks iffy, so I might postpone it until Thursday.

My goal is to go on one walk that exceeds my personal record for distance/steps in one day, 27.08 km in 32,315 steps. I figure that will get me from my house to one of my childhood favorite restaurants, Walker Bros. Original Pancake House. In fact, it will take me past the one I grew up with (in Wilmette) on my way to one of the newer ones (in Highland Park).

Of course, it could rain. Or I could get tired. Or any number of things could happen. Which is why I'm going to walk along the Metra line that passes closest to my house, so I can bail.

We'll see. I think I'll make it all the way up there. But I'll be watching the weather carefully, and may go Thursday instead.

New personal record on Fitbit

After yesterday's epic walk (from which Parker recovered in just a couple of hours) I realized it wouldn't be that difficult to get another 10,000 steps. So I did:

That's a new PR. It was also 27.08 km—another PR.

So the top 5 (as I mentioned back in March) are now:

2016 Jun 8 32,315
2015 Apr 26 30,496
2016 Mar 8 29,775
2015 Jun 15 28,455
2015 May 2 26,054

I'm not moving as quickly today as I did yesterday, but I'm pretty happy about blowing past my previous PR.

Now I have plans for some day in the next week or so literally to walk as far as I can along the U.P. North line and then take the train home. Highland Park is about 28 km from my house, and it has a childhood favorite place to eat: Walker Bros. Pancake House (which, if you think about it, is a great place to end a 28-kilometer walk). And if I don't make it all the way there, I can simply take a train home.

Parker will not accompany me on that walk.

Bit of a hike

The weather today is the kind that we only get about 15 or 20 days of the year in Chicago. It's 19°C and totally sunny with a light breeze from the east. And I'm actually able to take advantage of it today.

That's why Parker and I just got back from a 2½ hour, 14.5 km walk.

Yes. We walked that far. He's now out cold, and I'm having a spot of lunch. And shortly a shower.

The total damage was 14.51 km in 2:24:57 (not including two stops at Starbucks along the way), for a pace of 9' 59" per kilometer—just a shade faster than 16 minutes per mile.

My Fitbit tells me I kept my heart rate between 115 and 125 the whole way, burned 1,289 calories, and took 17,429 steps. The last two kilometers were actually faster than the first two, because Parker always needs to get things out of his system in the first few minutes of a walk, and that takes time.

I don't think I'll make him walk any farther today, except to the front lawn.

We also got our first walk on The 606, Chicago's answer to the New York Highline:

It's the little things

There was a bit of Karmic balancing today, if you believe in those things. Even though I got some really good news after lunch, I also experienced something that broke a little piece off my heart before lunch.

I've been freelancing from my home office for a while, so Parker has had a lot of walks. And this morning, after my coffee, he got a good 40-minute, 4½ km walk around the neighborhood. No worries there; he loves his walks.

Except, just after lunch, I wanted to go outside again, and he didn't. This is unprecedented. I asked him if he wanted to GO OUTSIDE?! He sighed, got up, ambled over to me, sighed again, lay down, and—I'm not anthropromorphising here—shrugged as much as a dog can shrug.

Obviously we went for the walk. But it was slower than usual, and shorter. He really just wanted to have his nap. He did some perfunctory business early on and then pulled back for home before relenting and letting me take him another couple of blocks.

As much as he's able to communicate, he told me he just really wanted to nap, OK? And I communicated, as best I can to him, that he'd feel better after a walk. And he did; but less than a minute after getting home, he bumped me with his head and sidled off to the (incredibly inconvenient) spot in the hallway he likes to occupy where he took a two-hour nap.

Parker will be 10 next week. He's a good-sized dog, half German shepherd and half who-knows-what. Bigger dogs don't live as long as smaller dogs, though no one really knows why. So he's getting up there.

Don't get me wrong; he's in great health, and his vet says he presents as a 6- or 7-year old. But today, he didn't want to go for a walk, for the first time in our entire experience together. And it made me think about Matthew Inman's "Dog Paradox" cartoon.

I see patterns in small data sets, which is one of the reasons I'm really good at my job. Today Parker showed me a pretty big data point. So as excited as I am about the really great news I can't share publicly yet, it's balanced by a major indication that Parker's getting older.

He's going to refuse more walks. He's going to have trouble keeping up with me on hikes. He's going to hesitate and sigh more often before climbing stairs. He's not going to see much of Hillary's second term, if any of it.

This is the deal I made with him in September 2006: I'm his human. He knows it, too. But today I got a really painful reminder that I'm only his human for a short time.