Amazing Race!

So, one of the things my company does is that every year they have a National Employee Health and Fitness week. As the name implies, this is apparently some sort of national thing, though I’ve never seen it done at any other company and everyone that I tell it to thinks it’s just one of those wacky things my company does. I’ve written about this before, back in 2007 and 2008

Anyway, it was the same kinds of things this year. We had a kickball tournament, which we won one game and then lost the next. Then we lost in Ultimate Frisbee. Our team did win in croquet, though I was not there because I had taken the day off to go with my son to the zoo on a field trip.

So to end the day, it was an “Amazing Race” style game, similar to the TV show. I had won this last year, and was looking forward to winning again.

We all lined up and got the first clue, which read “It is opposite day at the field – you will find your next clue at the eastern column”.

Okay, so before I go further, take a second and think about where you would go after reading that clue.

Hurry up.

The clock is ticking.

The other teams are all going.

So anyway, we saw opposite, and eastern, and headed off to the western side of the field. Makes sense right? So we got there and there was a lady standing by a bridge at the far west side of the field. She gave us our task, which was to do 20 jump ropes. We did them and then waited for her to give her our clue. She said “Oh, do you have the orange clue? I can’t give you your clue until you have the orange clue” Apparently this was not the first station – we had somehow missed one. So we ran back across the field. We saw some of the other teams so we kind of ran towards them. As we ran, I realized that the “opposite” of column is row. Perhaps the race organizer lives in Amy-Opposite-World, where the opposite of concentration is 64, the opposite of focus is fackus, the opposite of rude is rosy, and the opposite of just about everything is “glottish”. So the opposite of eastern column is western row, which is the name of one of the roads that border where I work. We got that clue, which led us to the 2nd station, which we also got with no problem. At that 2nd station, we got an orange clue, which I reproduce below.

Amazing Race Orange Clue

The clue said something about a bridge, so now that we had the orange clue, where to go? Back to the first lady, who was looking for the orange clue and was standing near a bridge. So away we went. She made us do our jumping jacks (again), and then we gave her the orange clue, but she told us that was NOT the orange clue. As you have probably figured out by now, that’s the “red” clue. Okay, it does look kind of red, but it’s definitely an orangeish-red, and in the light of the sun, and sunglasses, it’s easy to confuse.

So eventually we found our way to the correct bridge, and then the next clue, and then back to the orange clue lady, where we did our jump ropes (again), and then back to the finish, where we finished about 5th or so (out of 15 teams).

Then as I was sitting on the patio stewing about the annoyingness of the clue confusion, one of the ladies from corporate communication was filming people. She came up to me and asked how I liked the race. I replied “Eh”. She kept the camera on me, perhaps waiting for me to crack up or something. I elaborated “It was all right”. After another pause, she stopped and said “Thanks for the great soundbite” Hahahahaahahahaha. I apologized to her later but in the moment I was just too annoyed.

Health Miles step challenge

So, I’ve been in this Health Miles program at work for almost a year now. Click the link where I explain it more but basically they pay you for being healthy and walking.

So for the month of April the company has been doing a step challenge. Basically whoever takes the most steps wins. Plus, there’s money involved. Top guy gets $100, then $75, then $50, then $25 for places 4-10, and $10 for places 11-20.

Now, I knew that I was not going to win because there are just far too many freaks out there. On April 1st (day 1), I uploaded so that I could see myself in 1st place with about 9,000 steps at about noon. I lasted there about all of 10 minutes before someone else uploaded their steps and wasted me with about 15,000. But then an hour or so later, someone else uploaded and had 25,000 steps by 2:00 on the first day.

I was calling shenanigans, but apparently this guy was seen running on the treadmill for about 90 minutes before work, and then for another hour or so at lunch. So like I said, there’s a lot of FREAKS out there.

As some comparison, it is commonly recommended that 10,000 steps a day is a healthy goal to have. In the 9 months or so that I’ve had this pedometer, I’ve been averaging about 10,500, so that’s nice.

So since this challenge started, I’ve been actively trying to get more steps than that. I’ve been working out extra in the mornings (also triathlon training), and for the month, have an average of just over 14,000 steps. So about a 40% increase.

And yet, THAT’S NOT EVEN HALF OF WHAT SOME PEOPLE ARE DOING!!! It’s worse than I can even figure because as part of the challenge setup, there’s a daily maximum of 30,000 steps. So any steps that you take more than that are not counted towards the challenge. But there are 3 people in the company that have maxed out (30,000+) EVERY DAY! Like I said, there are a lot of freaks out there.

So today is the last day of the challenge, so I was trying to do some calculations as to where I stood. For the first week or two, I was holding on to some illusions of earning $25 by finishing in the top 10, but it has become increasingly clear that I’ll be lucky to hit the top 20.

So this afternoon, I looked at my calculations. I was at about 344K steps. But I also had 61K in the bank (I haven’t uploaded since Friday in a sort of sandbagging maneuver so that others don’t know how many steps I have – the pedometer has an internal memory that keeps track even if you don’t upload). I was also banking on a 15K day today, which would put me at 421K.

So looking at the leaderboard, there were 17 people that already had more than 421K, so I knew they’d be ahead of me. But then I realized something – because of the 30,000 / day maximum, anyone that had uploaded today (Wed) with less than 391K steps could not catch me, since the max they could do on Wed (the last day) was 30K. The leaderboard only tells you total steps and the last day uploaded – nothing about how they’ve done on particular days or what time they uploaded. Similarly, anyone with a last upload date of Tuesday and less than 361 could not catch me, and so on.

There was one lady who was at 413K with a last upload date of today. I figured she had likely uploaded in the morning and was probably going to work out later and pass me. Then there was one at 361K and a Saturday date who also looked likely to pass.

That would put me at 20th, and then there were only 2 others who had a chance (everyone else was eliminated due to the 30,000 daily max logic above). There was one guy at 363K and Monday, and one lady at 331K and Sunday. Both of those folks could theoretically catch me but it would be difficult.

I had worked out on the elliptical this morning. I tweaked my back bowling on Friday and it still kind of hurts. So I didn’t want to run on the treadmill for that reason. I tried a few elliptical machines this morning before finding one I liked. They were all various elliptical / stair stepping type things. The first one still felt like it was impactful. Then the second one only was counting every other step of mine (similar to how it works when I bike), but then the 3rd one hit the sweet spot. 45 minutes at about 150 steps per minute, so about 6500.

But in looking at my chances, I figured I’d better seal the deal and so I went after work too. Even used the same smelly clothes (and they were pretty rank). Did another 40 minutes and currently sit at 26,177 steps for the day. So I’m feeling good – even the 413K / Wed lady will have to do another 21K today to catch me.

I’ll keep you posted!

I gave her the ol’ blood pressure arm switcheroo!

So two things to mention today. First of all early this morning I had a health examination by a nurse? for a life insurance policy. We are getting life insurance policies so we can both bump each other off and roll in the proceeds.

So, she’s asking me lots of health-related questions as well as taking samples and weight and blood pressure and such. So on that note, let me switch gears over to HealthMiles.

At work, they started a new program called HealthMiles. I’ve written about this before but basically they pay you to be healthy. Part of this is that every month you get “points” for going down to a kiosk and having your weight, BMI, and blood pressure at certain levels.

So for blood pressure you have to have it under 120/80 to get the points. This is often very challenging for me as this machine consistently measures my blood pressure at right around there. So I’ll measure it, and it will be 122/75. Then again and it’s 117/81, etc. I have tried all sorts of tricks and such to try and get it to measure under the mark, until finally I noticed that the blood pressure on my right arm was lower than my left one. Apparently this is not unheard of and not a huge deal unless the differences are very large. I also saw that depending on the position of your arm and such it can make a difference on your reading.

So this morning when it came time to do my blood pressure I was seated in such a way that would have made my left arm more convenient for her to test. But while she got out the old sphygmomanometer I rotated 90 degrees to present the right arm. 108/60 baby! Want to be in the best health possible to get the lowest premiums possible.


So, a few weeks ago, I commented to someone, “you know, we really have been incredibly healthy this winter!!” I was pretty surprised since with the freakshow in full effect, and the number of cesspools of infection that members of my family frequent (YMCA, school, church, etc), it is not surprising to go pretty much the entire winter with at least one person sick at all times.

I TAKE IT ALL BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!

We’ve spent the past 2-3 weeks in bad-times-ville. I have probably been the healthiest – just a few days of vomiting and it feels like I’m starting to come down with the next wave. Various kids have been in various stages of sickness. A. went to one day of school last week (though that was actually only one “official” sick day due to 2 snow days and a fake holiday.

Aaaaaaand it’s currently snowing again