Monday, July 11, 2011

Heart Monitors (Echo in Disguise)

Echo in Disguise

So I've recently started training with a heart monitor.

And I have to say: it's been a revelation.

I wish I would have embraced it sooner in the saga that's been the last 6 seasons of endurance training.

The basic idea is that you calculate your maximum heart rate and then conduct your workouts according to certain percentages of this maximum.

For instance: during a run you might keep your heart rate at 70% of your maximum, during a bike 80% and so on.

The idea is that by training at specific levels relative to your maximum you 1) moderate and track the impact of your workout, and 2) bring your fitness level up at lower heart rates, i.e., increase your capacity to exercise at sustainable levels of effort.

And it's pretty fascinating to watch how my performance has varied at identical heart rates depending on, for instance, the weather. I've seen my pace swing by as much as 2 minutes per mile for identical heart rates depending on the temperature.

Today, a mid-run rainstorm cooled me down enough that I ran the second half of an 11 mile session nearly 30 seconds per mile faster than the first half.

Having done more racing in extreme heat than I'd care to remember ('07 and '08 Chicago Marathons, '10 Chicago Triathlon in particular), I know from direct experience the impact heat can have, but to quantify it and literally see a digital representation of how my heart was working? Crazy.

Which brings me to the song Echo in Disguise.


Stay with me. This might make sense.

While I now have this device to give me objective data on how I'm functioning during a workout, there is no similar tool to analyze how your heart is working with respect to a relationship.

It's all subjective.

Sure, there are markers here and there, but they are mostly emblems that we hope match up with what's going on inside.

Hints. Tendencies.


One of the things that struck me about getting into a new and serious relationship after getting divorced was how the first steps and interactions between two people (especially two people who have been hurt in prior relationships) take on this kind of incremental game of reverse chicken, which I wasn't really aware of until much later on.

You wait for the other person to be vulnerable and then you give back an equal amount of vulnerability. You give a little more. The other person responds.

One person says "I love you" for the first time. The other person replies.

It's not a calculated game per se. It's just each person doing his or her best to give without opening the door to being hurt. Making sure both people are on the same page. Protecting his or herself.

So sometimes you feel like you're just echoing what the other person says, hoping that's really how you feel, hoping that you are being true to your heart... because you don't have any sort of heart monitor to help you out.

See? I knew I could get there. Sort of.

So that's what I was after with Echo in Disguise.

The recording of the song was pretty much what I expected it would be. We did a kind of Wilco-ish/60's thing with it, the band took out my stupid key change for the last chorus and Drew had the genius idea to reinsert it for the guitar solo (a move we dubbed "The Lenny Kravitz Trick" (which sounds like Lenny's turned into a prostitute... oh wait)).

We got a good live take, added very little to it save for some handclaps, a guitar solo, and vocals... and we had it. I like the energetic vibe we got. It doesn't sound like anything else on the record and it's nice to have variety.

The lyrics I enjoy because I packed them with (I think) pretty neat imagery which also happens to correspond to real things. It's meaningful without being ponderous and actually (gasp) sort of fun.

What a concept...


You're never alone if you've got me
So let's fly to the coast and sleep on the sea
I opened my eyes and saw you were there
Reading the news and breathing the air

But I am paralyzed
An echo in disguise
But that's alright

What you say, I say
You say, I say
Word by word by day by day by day

Did you know a push is the same as a win?
And fighting the dark is just letting light in
And the bigger the heart the harder it breaks
And you can't beat the game if you don't know the stakes

But I am paralyzed
An echo in disguise
But that's alright

What you say, I say
You say, I say
Word by word by day by day by day