The Difference Between a Violin and Viola


Many years ago I had the privilege of seeing comedian and piano virtuoso Victor Borge perform at the Fox theatre in St Louis, MO.  It must have been a very good show because, like my first marathon, it left many indelible marks on my memory.  One thing I recalled reading about Victor was that if he didn’t practice for a day then he could tell a difference.  If he didn’t practice for a week then his wife could tell a difference and if he didn’t practice for a month then his audience could tell a difference.


The recent four day vacation I had with my family over this past 4th of July weekend and subsequent lack of karate practice over those four days reminded me of Victor’s thoughts on practicing and who could notice.  Last Thursday was a fantastic day for karate, my practice before Karate class was sharp and crisp.  So many people started their holiday weekend early last week that there was only me and one other black belt that showed up for Karate so my sensei was able to get a good look at me during our initial katas and before he left said that he wanted to test me again in a couple months which, is a very good thing 🙂

The next testing will put me at the rank of Ni-Kyu or 2nd degree brown.  When a belt rank is under black then the numbers go backwards on their way to black belt so I’ll only have Ichi-Kyu or 1st degree brown left before I test for my black belt.

For Ni-Kyu testing I’ll need to perform 9 of the 10 basic katas we have in our style, for Ich-Kyu I’ll be doing all 10 and for black belt, we do more katas then are required for any other rank in the style, all 10 basic katas and two black belt or fighting katas known as Ananku and Wankan.  Last Thursday sensei left early after watching three different katas then I got to stay and work one on one with the remaining black belt and worked through all 12 katas I’ll need for black belt.

Thursday my punches were fast, clean, crisp and focused – kind of like being hit with a bullet.  During my post vacation workout on Tuesday my punches would have been more like getting hit with a sledgehammer and lacked some of the explosive pop from my previous workout.

Still, getting tagged for my next rank was a great thing and formally adding in my karate practice came at a perfect time to help make this next promotion possible.  Karate workouts are a bit different when people are slated for testing and tend to be more geared towards perfecting our katas which I like a lot.

I had a pretty good run last Thursday which was my Week 13, Day 3 run in which I knocked out a very smooth 5k.  After starting my Sports Tracker app, I turned on my music and put my phone in my pocket until the end of the run and found that my pace for all three miles were within 8 seconds of each other and my last two miles were within 2 seconds of each other.  (14:22 and 14:24)

I found a nice running calculator at and when I entered my best 5k time of 38:31 and a goal marathon time of 4:21:00 it gave me back training times for various types of runs and said my easy runs should be at a pace of 13:47-14:27 and my long runs should be at a pace of 13:52-14:49

I had a weekend long run of 7 miles while in the Ozarks of Missouri and that is a very, very hilly part of the country.  One road was so steep it was even named “Up Hill Drive”  I pretty much got fried during that workout and it took about 2 hours & 4 minutes to complete.  The stairs pictured below were encountered many times during my 2 hour adventure run.

 zIMG_20140705_114755 - Copy zIMG_20140705_110317 - Copy

I wanted to avoid doing my Week 14, Day 1 run at the Ozarks because of those hills but, my brother suggested just staying on the complex and running back and forth along the waterfront to avoid as many hills as possible.


Running along the edge of the lake reminded me of a Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon I did in Virginia Beach were the last mile or two of the race was along the boardwalk with the atlantic ocean to our left.  I sort of forgot about all the sunlight that gets reflected from the water and could feel my face burning towards the end of the run.  Fortunately, it was only a 3 mile run.

My Day 2 Week 14 run later on today will be a 5-miler followed by a 3 mile run tomorrow.

This Saturday’s Day 4 run of Week 14 is an 8 mile run which will be replaced by a 9 a.m. Tour de Donut 34 mile bike ride out in Staunton, Illinois.  I was reading in one of the running websites about cross training and it recommended riding a bike for about 1.5 times as long as your projected run if you are going to replace one for the other.  So, I figured the 8 miles would take about 2 hours and I was looking at about 3+ hours for the bike ride so it should be a good replacement.

Friday night will be a short 5 mile bike ride in a local Tour de Belleville.  There’s also a 15 mile option in this 9th annual ride but I don’t want to do too much before my 34 mile bike ride just 12 hours later.  A few years back I found that 30 miles was about my limit on the bike which … I found a little disturbing.  The personal bias in my head was such that I liked to think I could go out and ride 112 miles on my bike because that is the distance a person needs to ride their bike in a full triathlon.

But …the humbling reality was that 30 miles was about my limit before my legs turned to noodles.  So, this weekends 34 mile ride should be a good challenge.  I’m hoping all the training I’ve done up to this point will enable me to eek out those extra 4 miles and maybe even finish strong.

This will be my first Tour de Donut and my 4th or 5th Tour de Belleville.  I like the idea of having annual traditions.


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