First half marathon diary, Week 16

Happy Monday, friends!

Something got into my legs this week. I was on the road 24 minutes and change less than last week, while my distance was only down 0.14 miles. And that's while missing a day off.

I did eat a lot more carbs this week than normal. I've started having a peanut butter and banana sandwich (or two!), and I'm eating more rice. I wonder if that had something to do with speed and stamina.

This was the first week that when I finished my long run, I had some muscle cramping. It was the first time I crossed the 11-mile mark, and the first time I crossed the 2-hour mark, and maybe I have to remember to cool down and stretch a little more than I usually do. Normally I just have a Gatorade and get on my way.

Anyway, 11 miles, and I feel like if you told me I had a week, I'd be able to push out another couple of miles. Onward!


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Miles logged last week: 28.41
Time logged last week: 5:03:05
Weeks until race: 7
Weight: 155

This post is brought to you by Shroom Tech Sport, my pre-workout of choice. No caffeine, no shakes, no weird warm feeling coming over you. Just some extra drive to get you through.

Sweaty Josh picture of the week


Working the tools: The gavel (cutting out the excess)

Via Leading Change in Freemasonry on Facebook.

While this post will ring a little louder with Masons, I think it's important for everyone. Masonry is, after all, designed to make us better people.

In the first degree, one of the working tools we're given is the common gavel. It is used to trim the excess from our lives. It really is one of the hardest things in our lives: recognizing the stuff that is keeping us from doing the important stuff.

Taking Facebook quizzes instead of turning off the lights and getting to bed early enough for eight hours' sleep before your alarm goes off; binge-watching "Modern Family" instead of opening that biography you've been saying would inspire you to greatness; shopping for shoes on Zappos instead of launching that new business you've been talking about — these are the excesses we face every day, the things that keep us from reaching our potential.

Not to say that those things are bad, nor that sometimes they're a welcome diversion. Sometimes you need to zone out in front of the TV, and sometimes you wear a hole in the sole of your sneakers. Sometimes Facebook is the best way to be in touch with friends and family.

I've been starting to use my gavel more and more. I'm saying no to projects that aren't either fulfilling or worthwhile from a financial standpoint. I'm making progress on some projects that have been on my plate for a long time. I'm making sure I connect with people it's important I stay connected to. I'm writing more.

I feel good. I'm sure there's more I could do, but baby steps are so much better than no steps. Or giant leaps that don't stick.

Bonus: The Masonic Roundtable discusses balance.

First half marathon diary, Week 15

No video this week. We'll get back to them next week, though!

Happy Monday, friends!

Great week. Now that I've acknowledged my 5-6 miles problem, I made some mental preparations to deal with it. And then I changed my route for my 10-miler at the end of the week and it went really well. I don't know when the last time I ran a sub-9-minute mile, but my recovery run was much faster than normal.

My schedule changes the next few weeks to accommodate work and the holidays, but I'm going to aim to keep a rest day before my long run. It means I lose a rest day this week but gain one back in two weeks.


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Miles logged last week: 28.55
Time logged last week: 5:27:16
Weeks until race: 8
Weight: 156

This post is brought to you by Shroom Tech Sport, my pre-workout of choice. No caffeine, no shakes, no weird warm feeling coming over you. Just some extra drive to get you through.

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

2015-09-12 13.13.58

4 lessons from Sherlock Holmes


I used to love mystery novels as a child. I tore through Hardy Boys books, through Agatha Christie novels, and basically whatever I could get my hands on.

I spent much of this year reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Complete, as in Arthur Conan Doyle's novels and serials about the detective over a course of 60 years — he wrote about Holmes, mostly from the point of view of the narrator, Watson, a young doctor back from military service in Afghanistan, from 1867 to 1927.

Here are a few lessons, good and bad.

1. Be observant. Holmes gets most of his information from just paying attention to little details — the scuff on a sleeve, the mud on a boot, the ash from a cigar, the shape of a toe on a footprint. We'd all do well to be that observant, though maybe without bragging about it.

2. Do what you love. Holmes rarely takes money, other than expenses, for handling a private case, and typically lets police take credit for crimes solved. He does the work for the love of a challenge.

3. Be better to your friends. Holmes abuses the hell out of Watson. He once let the doctor think he was dead for several years. Other times, he tricked him into playing a part in solving the crime, putting the work above his friend. I can only guess Watson sticks by Holmes because Doyle needs him, and this is fiction, after all.

4. Be better to your readers. One thing I remember loving about mysteries as a child is the whodunit aspect — I got to play along and see if I could solve it. But Holmes often has some crucial piece of information the reader only finds out at the reveal. We never really get to play along; we just get to wait and see how it ends.

This post is brought to you by Alpha Brain by Onnit, a nootropic that can help with recall, focus and more. Read a review here.

Archive: The Bearded Brain email newsletter

Below is the collection of weekly email newsletter versions of The Bearded Brain. They constitute about a year of links to interesting things and podcasts. This now publishes at a collection of links every Tuesday, available here.

Sept. 1, 2015
Aug. 25, 2015
Aug. 18, 2015
Aug. 11, 2015
Aug. 4, 2015
July 28, 2015
July 21, 2015
July 14, 2015
July 7, 2015
June 30, 2015
June 23, 2015
June 16, 2015
June 9, 2015
June 2, 2015
May 26, 2015
May 19, 2015
May 12, 2015
May 5, 2015
April 28, 2015
April 21, 2015
April 14, 2015
April 7, 2015
March 31, 2015
March 24, 2015
March 17, 2015
March 10, 2015
March 3, 2015
Feb. 24, 2015
Feb. 17, 2015
Feb. 10, 2015
Feb. 3, 2015
Jan. 27, 2015
Jan. 20, 2015
Jan. 13, 2015
Jan. 6, 2015
Dec. 30, 2014
Dec. 23, 2014
Dec. 16, 2014
Dec. 9, 2014
Dec. 2, 2014
Nov. 25, 2014
Nov. 18, 2014
Nov. 11, 2014
Nov. 4, 2014
Oct. 28, 2014
Oct. 21, 2014
Oct. 14, 2014
Oct. 7, 2014
Sept. 30, 2014

First half marathon diary, Week 14

Happy Monday, friends!

Well, two things have come to my attention this week. One is that I enjoy three-to-four miles and long runs and I really don't like those middle distances — in that 5- and 6-mile range. I think that's even where i started to have to get past it on my 10-miler this week.

The other is that I need to give myself a little more credit. Looking back over the week, I ran a full three miles farther this week than last, and only took five more minutes to do it in.

So, I guess the countdown's really on. Nine weeks until race day. Onward!


Me on Runkeeper
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Miles logged last week: 28.28
Time logged last week: 5:26:15
Weeks until race: 9
Weight: 158

Sweaty Josh picture of the week


Love, even their faults


This conversation first came to me in the context of Freemasonry, but I think it will translate well to lay terms.

The question posed to me was, at its essence: If people are doing something they believe is right but is diametrically opposed to my principles, how do I make them see the light?

My response was this: It's not your job to bring others to your view. It's your job to bring yourself to love people, even if you believe they are wrong in their thinking.

I think we'd all do well to attempt to uphold that ideal. It's not easy, and it never will be, but I think it's important.

First half marathon diary, Week 13

Happy Monday, friends!

Back running in Savannah, it's tough getting used to the humidity again, but it stayed somewhat cool out. I got back on schedule with my mileage, but I mixed the locations up so that we're not in danger of getting bored. Wednesday's six-miler was at the beach, which was nice, since I got to go for a swim afterward to cool off, but on the other hand, the sand (and possibly running in a combination of minimal sneakers and barefoot) changed my form so that my quads were sore for a couple of days. Actually, that's probably not a bad thing.

I also went out to the McQueen's Island trail for my long run of the week, but found half of it closed for repairs, so I ran 9 miles on a 3-mile trail. The last couple of miles there was actually the first time I had to run in the rain in all this training. I'm sure I'll get plenty of that this week with the remnants of storm Erika coming through. Also, this week, we start four weeks of peak distances – 28 miles per week.


Me on Runkeeper
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Miles logged last week: 25.77
Time logged last week: 5:21:27
Weeks until race: 10
Weight: 157

Sweaty Josh picture of the week


Performing life as an act of love

This guy right here is a mixed martial arts fighter named Justin Wren.

This is also him.

Filming with Beyond Creative in Missouri today for a national Anti-bullying campaign in schools 🙂

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

And if you need a size comparison, he's the dude in jeans here, picking up that other giant fighter.

He's 28 years old, and is now fighting professionally for the first time in five years. That time off? It wasn't an injury. It wasn't a suspension. It was a time of building a life of love.

Let's look at more pictures. Like one of him tickling pygmy children in the Congo.

It's pretty easy to be the tickle fight champion when it's 2-1 #FightForTheForgotten

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

Or showing the pygmy people photos of themselves for the first time.

Seeing pics of themselves for the FIRST time! #fightfortheforgotten

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

Or having his hair done.

That's fun. Let's see video of that.

Or as long as we're sharing videos, how about the first time the people he's helping saw a white guy?

Wren quit fighting through what probably could have been his strongest years — his mid-20s — to start a nonprofit to help the Mbuti Pygmy people get clean water. Fight for the Forgotten and its partner, Water4, dig wells to draw clean water for a people who are enslaved. Workers go to the fields for oppressors to earn two bananas a day to share among families of four — it's just enough food to keep them healthy enough to work, and it keeps them coming back to work because they need the food.

These are people who are still using army ants to stitch wounds — they have the ants bite the wound, then break off the body, leaving the fangs in to act as staples.

Wren has suffered malaria, parasites and other tropical diseases. His organization employs 17 people full time, but has dismissed more than that to find the right people — people who can survive dense jungle for a month or two at a time, return to the U.S. for a couple of weeks to recover, then go back.

He's back to fighting so that he can raise further awareness, and he's a partner in a documentary on his journeys.

He was on Joe Rogan's podcast this week (he's been on before), and around the one hour, 20 minute mark, he renders Rogan pretty much speechless. It's really amazing listening to Wren talk with such passion and humility, especially while Rogan explains to him that in a few generations, he's going to enter tribal mythology. As a giant, white, hairy myth.

From Wren's Kickstarter campaign.

If you're looking for more love, you should also listen to Kevin Rose's discussion with Scott Harrison of charity:water, which I've mentioned before here.

Now, the question I pose to you is: Could you love anything this much?

First half marathon diary, Weeks 11-12

Happy Monday, friends!

Well, Week 11 was kinda crappy to start. On Wednesday, I was scheduled for five miles and gave up after 4.3. On Thursday, I was scheduled for four, but ran three — though I did average under 10 minutes per mile for those three. After 16 hours in the car Friday, though, I did eight strong miles in Central New York.

Week 12, I was lucky enough to do five runs in four different cities, and I shuffled the days and mileage. I was scheduled for four miles Tuesday, six Wednesday, four Thursday, nine Saturday and a recovery run Sunday. Instead, I ran four Monday in Western Massachusetts, nine Wednesday in Central New York, six Friday in Charleston and four Saturday back in Savannah, with my recovery run also in Savannah.

Most impressive in all that, apart from running on vacation food and lots of travel, is that I ran nearly two full miles longer than I did in Week 10, adding only two minutes to my time. I'm sure the pace will slack this coming week, putting me on the road longer, since I'll be running in 80-plus degree weather with 90-plus percent humidity instead of the 65-degree temperatures and 30 percent humidity I ran in up north. But onward we go.


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Miles logged last week: 25.47
Time logged last week: 4:38:57
Weeks until race: 11
Weight: 158

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

2015-08-15 09.24.58