Wednesday, May 28, 2008
But today I had three fillings in anterior teeth (those are the teeth in the front for those of you that don't work at the largest dental insurance company in the nation). They weren't cavities, mind you, just what the dentist called "attrition" - wear and tear on the teeth. And apparantly I've been really wearing and tearing on my teeth lately, because in two weeks I'll be going in for three more fillings (on the left side).
Last year I had a filling placed due to attrition and it was so shallow, I didn't even need novacaine. So I was expecting the same this time. I was wrong. Four shots - that I could I feel, that is, I think he may have pumped in an extra dose part way through. So the right side of my face is extremely numb. I'm thirsty, but I can't drink because it will dribble all down the front of me. I'm hungry, but I'm afraid to eat because I'm liable to bite out a chunk of my lip, cheek or tongue. When I smile, I look like I've had a stroke.
So instead of taking that extra 45 minutes (I rode my bike to work today - so I'm accounting for that) and doing something like running or cycling or playing a pick-up game of rugby (if I knew how to play rugby, or knew others who knew how to play rugby, that is...) I'm here typing out a blog entry. Aren't you lucky!
Luckier than me. My dentist has been trying to get me to get fitted for a night guard for my grinding (causing the attrition) but I've resisted, mostly because I know that insurance won't cover the $250 cost that comes with it. And I have really good dental insurance. But if a night guard can keep me from having a really numb face every so often, it might be worth the $250.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I got up at 7:00 to go to Gifford Pinchot State Park to run the Lakeside Trail. The length of the trail is published as 8.5 miles, but my Garmin Forerunner 305 indicated that it was actually 9 miles. So I ran two laps around the lake, then did a 2-mile jog on a few of the multi-purpose trails that surrounded the Conewago Day Use Area.
The trails at Pinchot have two things that trail runners expect, and some even crave: rocks and mud. The latter much more so than the former. I tried out my "funky gaiters" (that's the brand name) to see how well they kept dirt and debris out of my shoes. Unfortunately the adhesive they use to attach the velcro piece at the back of shoe is worthless. So I found myself stopping every so often to adjust my gaiters so they covered my shoes. However, I quickly learned that gaiters are pretty worthless in wet conditions when you're not wearing gore-tex shoes. The dirt and debris found it's way in through the mesh on my shoes' uppers, so while the ankle-area of my sock was relatively clean, the toes were filthy.
On Sunday, Beth and I had done a hike on the Appalachian trail, in a very rocky area and had seen a black snake coiled beside the path. Rocky areas like that are notorious for rattlesnakes in this area, so the thought of poisonous snakes were constantly in the forefront of our thoughts. With that fresh in my mind yesterday I constantly scanned the trail for critters. But all I saw was a small toad, tons of squirrels and one peculiar raccoon. Yes, a raccoon. And I saw it late in my run, when it was about noon. It stood in the middle of the path and when I approached it moved to one side, but still stayed within a couple feet of the trail. After trying to shoo it further into the brush, I ran by it quickly hoping it wouldn't lunge at me with it's fangs displayed in it's foaming mouth. It left me alone, and after warning a few hikers coming the other direction, I called the park office upon arriving at my car.
One thing that many non-runners don't realize about distance running is the issue of chaffing. There are many places your skin can rub against your clothing or other parts of your body. Between your legs, in the armpit, or most notoriously your nipple rubbing against your shirt. As far as I know, this is not a problem for women, since sports bras provide adequate protection. However, for male runners this is a constant problem. In the past I have used band-aid's "tough-stick" water-proof bandages with moderate success. Now and then they'd slip off, but for the most part they've usually held fast and the only pain I'd experience is having hairs ripped out when removing the bandage.
Yesterday, however I began feeling pain in that area after about 7 miles. Uh-oh. When I arrived back at the car to re-load my hydration back with water I checked out the situation. The "tough-stick" band-aids had come loose - and I even reinforced them with some water-proof medical tape! And there was blood. Bad...bad, bad, bad...very bad.
This was not good. I made a quick assessment of what I had on hand. There was a first-aid kit in the car, but there wouldn't be tough water-proof tape, and those flimsy band-aids would fall off before I even put my shirt back on. So there was only one solution, I took off my shirt. I didn't need to go anyplace where "shirts and shoes are required", so I ran the last 11 miles shirtless. There was a mild issue of my hydration belt chaffing against my back, but it was worth it to spare my bloody nipple any further damage.
So there are several things I learned on my run:
1. My Zombie-Runner hat will keep sweat out of my eyes.
2. When your feet get wet, you will have a blister problem on a long run, even if you've got dry-foot running figured out. So I need a wet-foot strategy (although my blister issues yesterday were mild).
3. Tough-Stick band-aids are inadequate for really sweaty runs.
4. Plain water can be absorbed much faster than energy drinks, I managed to stay on task with my hydration, although I still had a mild headache yesterday afternoon (it went away after a few hours) - this may be from a lack of electrolytes (I noticed my stomach felt better after eating some salty pita chips at home), or I possibly just need to break through a fitness barrier (this happened about two years ago when I was doing a lot of cycling - any ride over 30 miles would give me a headache).
5. Streams are very useful in temperature management. Never just pass clean-flowing stream on a hot day without dipping your hands in and getting some cold water on your face.
6. I have now come across far more (potentially) rabid raccons while trail running (one) than rattlesnakes (zero) so maybe my fears are misplaced.
But if you won't get freaked out by a rattlesnake story, read Sherpa John's Massanutten Mountain Trails race report.
Friday, May 23, 2008
If you go onto bikeforums.net, you'll find people incredibly passionate about bicycle culture, and some even more passionate about their anti-petroleum views. But I have to believe that most people are like me. They view bike commuting as a way to take time that they were previously using to do nothing (but driving) and turning that time into a workout. As a side benefit I save the cost of about a gallon of gas each day I do this.
So I've begun to realize that there's a big wide-world of commuting gear that can be bought. This is my current mental list (in order of priority):
Trunk Bag or Panniers
Head Light (high quality, that is)
Tail Light (new and brighter)
Trek Portland (Okay, this will probably never happen, but it is a nice looking bike.)
And you can add high-visibility activewear somewhere in that mix.
The problem is that it would be very easy for me to go nuts, blow a couple hundred dollars on a whole mess of gear and then be left having my daily commute become a chore to which to make up this debt at four dollars a day. So I have a solution.
As it stands I have commuted to work by bike four days. I have been crediting myself the price of gas on those days against the $38.50 I have already spent on commuting equipment (see "I am Not Going Green" for details on how I reached that amount). I am currently still $23.75 in the hole. But as I save gas I will continue to tally the value of that gas and apply it towards my "commuting account."
At the current price of gas I need to commute another 21 days to purchase fenders, a rear rack and trunk bag.
So basically I've picked up a hobby that pays for itself, allows you to buy cool gear (I can't wait until I've saved up enough for a road-crew orange rain jacket!), and thanks to Slate Hill Road, will give me HUGE quads by the end of the summer. Not a bad hobby at all...
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The rain (as well as the cold) has also prevented me from commuting to work by bicycle as much as I would like. In my post "I Am Not Going Green", I mentioned that I would like to commute by bike two or three times a week, and at that pace should have the $38.50 I spent on commuting supplies paid for in about a month.
Well, it has now been 28 days since that post and I have commuted by bicycle exactly two times. I know that drier weather awaits me in June and July, and there is additional commuting gear I'd like to buy (rear rack, trunk bag, fenders, rain jacket, head light, new (brighter) tail light), but I don't feel justified in buying them if I can't at least break even by commuting by bike first. The idea being that by fall I would have the full supplement of gear to keep me commuting into the winter (at least on non-icy days) - but I'd only feel justified if I could save that money by not driving first.
Although the forecast is calling for "PM showers" I'm planning on commuting on two wheels tomorrow. It will be chilly, but I'd really like to use that time I spend sitting in my car doing something else (like riding my bike). So if you see me trying to muscle my Schwinn up Slate Hill in a cold drizzle, please don't run me over.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
So I decided to go out to our back (screened - in) porch to see what all the raucous was about. And I saw this:
A crow had gotten through the screen and was trapped on our back porch. He either must have been flying along and dove right through the screen, or he had seen something on our porch he wanted and worked his way through the screen to get in. But regardless of how he got in, he could not find his way out.
I immediately went back to the bedroom to wake Beth up, because she would NOT want to miss this. I told her it was something cool, but also something sort of sad. It helps having her there to help assess the situation so my insane ideas (like catch him in a pillowcase and carry him through the house to let him out the front door) can be immediately shot down.
So I went to the basement and grabbed my safety glasses (I didn't want him to try to peck out my eyes) and a utility knife. I went out on the porch and cut the hole in the screen even bigger so he would fly out the larger gap.
But he still couldn't find even the larger hole in the screen. And he was pooping all over the porch.
So I grabbed my mechanic's gloves and went out to the porch. I managed to grab him and let him go through the screen. So now our deck (which we just power washed last weekend) is covered with bird poop (fortunately the rain today took care of some of that) and there is a really big hole in our screen held together by safety pins.
When I told the story at church, people (well, some junior high boys) had some suggestions:
Matt said I should have shot it and eaten it. I don't know how crow tastes, but I'm sure the phrase "eating crow" came from somewhere.
Mitch said I should have kept the crow in a cage as a pet, and then I would be forever known as the crazy weird crow man. If someone would deal with on a daily basis what I saw all over the deck, they would have to be crazy (and weird).
And now we have to figure out how to replace the screening on our back porch, and I don't think the condo association will be picking up the tab on this one.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Ryan from Corporate (the former temp from the Scranton Office) was arrested for cooking the books, Toby (in HR) is leaving and is being replaced by Holly, whom Michael immediately "fell in love" with. But while Michael was flirting with Holly, Kevin (Dwight told Holly Kevin was mentally challenged - hilarious!) ran into Michael's ex, Jan at the supermarket and Jan was pregnant. But not with Michael's baby...more on that in a minute.
And most importantly, Jim had planned to propose to Pam at Toby's good-bye party (which was HUGE thanks to Michael's disdain for Toby) but was thwarted by Andy proposing to Angela very publicly. Oh and Angela and Dwight are still into each other (I will not go into further detail on that).
So back to this weird Michael and Jan thing. While Michael and Jan were living together, Jan decided she wanted a baby. But not Michael's baby. She went to a sperm bank and used a donor and never told Michael. Weird. Am I making this show sound like a soap opera? Because really, It's not.
So anyhow, I think it's fair to make certain predictions for season 5:
1. Michael and Holly are essentially replacing Jim and Pam. The romance that isn't happening that everyone thinks should happen, but makes the show tough to write for once it does happen. The writers can only drag on the "when will Jim propose?" saga so long and Michael and Holly will fill that void. And it models the Jim and Pam story pretty closely, Michael is involved with Jan, while he should really be with Holly. This will create oh so much tension - especially since Michael always makes the wrong decision (just ask Stanley).
2. Jim will get Ryan's job. It fits into the storyline really well because Pam will be spending three months in New York City for design school. They will remain involved in the show - but less so. Jon Krasinski (the actor who plays Jim) is becoming more and more prominent on the silver screen, so his role on The Office may be diminished.
3. Holly will continue to think that Kevin is mentally challenged. It's just too funny to be contained in a single episode.
4. Ryan will somehow still be involved in the show (besides being a writer and supervising producer)...I haven't figured out how, but even from prison, he will have a presence.
5. Andy and Angela will not get married. I'm not sure how this will turn out. But it will be funny.
Friday, May 16, 2008
I'm finding that my passion bucket is empty when it comes to working out indoors; lifting weights, stretching, push-ups, pull-ups, swiss ball workouts, pilates, yoga...all of it feels like "blah" right about now. Okay, so I haven't actually tried yoga or pilates, but if I did, I probably wouldn't be all excited about them now.
In 2004 I lost 30 pounds by dedicating myself to exercise. It started with a mountain bike I bought at Wal-Mart, then weights, and by that summer I had a Schwinn Fastback Sport road bike that I rode for over 50 miles one morning (because I got lost). But now I'm much more about the activity, or maybe it's the challenge, than my fitness itself.
Since it was raining this afternoon I decided to do a core/strength workout instead of the three mile run I had hoped to do. I got started, but I just couldn't finished. I was much more into the episode of King of the Hill that I had on than my workout. I got through the warm-up, did a few pull-ups, the three plank positions, then I just plain had enough. My passion bucket was empty.
So now I'll allude my last post about my interest in taking up rock climbing. As the week went on my interest has waned, probably due to sore muscles, an aching pinky finger (from playing soccer with the Youth on Wednesday) and a busy schedule. But when I tried to do core and strength work in my living room, it just wasn't taking. There's no real challenge to me in curling a dumbell 20 times or doing 30 or 40 push-ups. I mean, there can be a challenge, but I'm not really feeling it. But in rock climbing, even if it's just bouldering up a 10 foot rock, there's a certain technical challenge as well as the strength and balance needed to scale up a face...so maybe...I just need to find the time to get out to the rock gym or find someone to climb with out at Whiskey Springs or White Rocks.
In the meantime, I'll probably be hanging out at rockclimbing.com and investigating the possibilities of getting started. Maybe I can even convince Beth that this is something we could do together. Maybe...
Monday, May 12, 2008
That being said, the JFK 50 is still very much on my radar screen for this November. I'm on pace to get a 20-miler in before the end of May, so if I can reach the goal of doing 32 miles as my last long run before the Erie Marathon in September, I should be set.
So after lamenting about limits on my training time, how can I feel secure that I can pull off the training required for a 50-miler? There are two sources of solace I've found:
From The Ultra Runner's Resource page, I found this article.
Great, I can't find the article now. Well, for starters, The UltRunR page is a really good place to go when you realize that you only have so much time to give for your training, because there are so many things much more worthy of that time. The main thrust of the article was that there are a lot of things that are good Ultra training, even if you don't recognize it as such. Hiking through the woods with your wife, playing church softball (speed work) and playing ultimate frisbee with the youth group are all good training for distance running. Not that I'd recommending running 50 miles after just playing softball over the summer, but it definitely doesn't hurt to sprint from base to base (speed) or swing at pitch (core - although just one side).
I also found this 50-miler training schedule.
You'll notice that it emphasizes running long on the weekend, but focuses on cross-training during the week. So if you have a basketball game interfere with what you feel like should have been a 6 mile run, relax. As long as you're maintaining your fitness and putting in the miles on the weekend you can still pull it off.
So now I'm wondering where my fitness goals are headed. I haven't updated my "future races" page element yet, since I'm really not too sure where I'm headed next year. During my 200-mile week last month I realized how much I really enjoyed cycling (and the signifcantly lower pain volume involved than running) so I'm considering that for next year. Also, I've noticed a real lack of core conditioning in my training over the last month or so, so I've begun looking into rock climbing and bouldering as a cross-training activity-but that's tricky if you want to go solo. You're options are basically, boulder at the rock gym (www.climbnasium.com), buy a crash pad and some chalk and go bouldering on some local rocks (I don't think Beth would want me doing that solo, anyway) or risk your life by free-soloing up ridiculously high rock faces (ain't no way I'm doing that!). But it is something I've started looking into, in case someone wants to go half-sies on a bouldering crash pad.
Most tempting for me right now, when I think about 2009 goals is "century-a-month." I came across this idea on the bicycling.com message boards, and have been intrigued. Although I wonder if I could really handle riding my bike 100 miles in 20-degree weather in January. As a rule, I don't cycle outdoors in weather under 40 degrees. But it's on my radar, along with those "possible future races" you see to the right and a possible reprise of the Chambersburg Half Marathon, Charlotte Duathlon, and/or the Finger Lakes Fifties. I guess you'll have to stay tuned to find out what I'll be up to next...
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Since I'm fairly certain that most of my readers are not cyclists, I know it can be tough navigating past a group of cyclists or even a single cyclist on the road. I used to be one of you - non-cycling motorists, that is - but you (at least most of you) used to be one of me, a cyclist. Those days may have ended once you passed your drivers test, but there was a time when cycling was the way to get around.
1. Give us space. I suppose that goes without saying, but it's amazing how many drivers will pass a cyclist so close that they could grab their mirror and hitch a ride (if they weren't certain that they would careen into a curb or ditch). A good rule of thumb is arms length to the side and if there isn't that much room, don't pass. We're probably not going as slow as you think we are and it may be unsafe for you to pass. If a cyclist is in the middle of the lane (or road) it's usually for a good reason, they are either turning left or there is a car coming the opposite direction and don't want anyone passing them unsafely. If you see a cyclist in the middle of the road, (the left side of the lane, that is) signalling a left turn you can pass them on the right, as long as you can do so safely.
Also don't follow a cyclist too close. I know it's tempting because we're always getting a draft from cars, and while that's unsafe, if you're following a cyclist and he goes down, it won't be pretty.
2. Don't beep your horn. We hate that. Even if you're being nice and saying hello, we still hate it.
3. At intersections, just treat us like a car (which how a cyclist should be acting). If you would wave a car out in front of you, go ahead and wave us out. But don't hold up traffic so that we can get across an intersection that we've already stopped for, especially if there isn't much traffic. Usually it will be faster for both of us for you to drive on through and let us fend for ourselves.
Also, if you're behind us, don't pass us at the intersection. Let us go and then take your turn. I usually try to move to the center of the lane before a stop sign, but even if we're on the right shoulder, treat us like a car and no one will get hurt (especially the cyclist).
4. Sometimes we don't stop for stop signs. Sorry, but there is a good reason. Especially if the cyclist has toe clips or clip-in pedals. Basically, for us to make a complete stop at an intersection we would have to do the equivalent of turning off your ignition and starting back up to go again. It wastes time and energy. As a rule I slow way down, assess the situation and if it warrants a complete stop I'll unclip my foot from the pedal and stop. But if I can get through safely with a complete stop, I'll work my way through.
5. We're going faster than you think. Most people equate a cyclist with a pedestrian when they're driving, but this is so far from the truth. Think twice before pulling out in front of us - look to see if we're coming downhill and try to get a good gage of our speed. 20 mph would be a safe guess in most situations, but if we're going downhill we may be approaching 30, 40 or even 50 mph. I've had way too many close calls with minivans pulling out in front of me.
Cyclists don't want to be treated out there. Just think of us as small, slow cars. I know there are a lot of cyclists who will run red lights, ride on the sidewalk, or just act generally unpredictably. While I'd like to say these are the minority, I'm not entirely sure of that. But mostly they're just putting themselves in danger. In car vs. cyclist, car always wins, so I try to be predictable and act like a car, and I want to be treated as one.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
First of all we went down to South Carolina to see my parents and the rest of my family. On Sunday my brother had his Eagle Scout award ceremony. It was really neat to see. Tim is by far the most studious of the three Lorow children (I quit cub scouts in my second year of Webelos, and I don't remember Katie doing more than a year or two of Brownies). He's active in marching band, Boy Scouts and his church's youth group. In high school I didn't do nearly as much resume-building as Tim (who is going to Clemson for some Engineering workshop this summer) and, while I wouldn't say I regret it, it would have done me some good to do some resume-building in college.
We also got to see my nephew, Daniel who is going on nine months old. (You can probably see pictures by checking out Katie's blog in the links to the right.) For the most part he was all smiles (except when he was tired) and had a lot of fun playing with his Aunt Beth (and of course, Grandpa).
Monday morning we left Rock Hill to spend a few days at "A Bed of Roses" Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina. I know the name sounds cheesy, but it was a really nice place to stay with a whirlpool tub in the room and a delicious breakfast every morning. The mountains in North Carolina are really amazing and there are tons of hiking trails and waterfalls to see (not that we saw all that many...). We saw the Biltmore Estate on Monday, and while it was impressive, Beth and I weren't all that taken with it. If you've seen one gigantic room for entertaining, you've pretty much seen them all.
I think Beth and I may have been more taken by the city of Asheville itself. The Carolinas are "The Buckle of the Bible Belt" so it seemed so strange to see a downtown so packed with "Green" stores and New-Age Shops. It was like an island of hippies in a sea of conservatism. Beth made the point that they are lost, spiritual people, who in trying so hard to be different are so much like one another.
This morning I got lost on what was supposed to be a 3-4 mile run (with speedwork). I did 7.3 miles. About when I was due for my second speed session I suddenly found myself out of downtown and in the town of Woodfin, which had a church on every corner - suggesting that Asheville is a bit of an anomaly in the Western Carolinas.
While we didn't do as much hiking as we would have liked - mostly due to poor planning on our part, we had a great time visiting "The Cradle of Forestry", Looking Glass Falls and the town of Brevard. It was once again one of those vacations that just plain wasn't long enough.
Friday, May 2, 2008
But really, I've been a Yankee fan since I was about 10 years old (I did have a short stint as a Mets bandwaggoner in 1988) and the shenanigans that the Steinbrenner boys, Hank and Hal (the Hilton sisters of Major League Baseball) have been up to have been really annoying.
Now, I know a lot of it stems from the shenanigans of "The Boss", George Steinbrenner (not Bruce Springsteen) who did not make a very good owner role-model for his two boys.
It all started with the Joe Torre situation. Torre's a hall-of-fame manager and the Steinbrenners all but fired him, forcing him to seek employment as far from New York as possible (Los Angeles). In every year that Torre has managed the Yankees they have made the post-season, but they haven't won a title since 2000, when they won their fourth in five years. Eight years without a title was unacceptable, although before Torre the team had gone 15 years without an AL pennant and 18 years without a World Series win. Think Torre's a little jealous of Bobby Cox in Atlanta?
Then there's this thing with the David Ortiz jersey that was buried under the new Yankee Stadium's home team dugout. I guess some chowderhead who was working on the construction of the new stadium thought he could curse the Yankees by burying a Red Sox player's jersey (David Ortiz) in the concrete beneath the Yankees' dugout.
If anything that should be a curse on the Sox. In most cultures when a symbol of someone or some organization is beneath one's feet, it is a sign of your superiority over that person. I guess not to Paris Hilton er...Hank Steinbrenner. He ordered that the jersey be exhumed from beneath the dugout. Five hours of drilling and digging later - that's five union hours, so they also had to pay overtime to a supervisor and three guys leaning on shovels as well as they guy drilling into the concrete - they pull a tattered David Ortiz jersey from beneath the dugout. Boy Hank, you sure showed them. I can tell they're not in your head or anything...
Finally, last night the Tigers swept the Yankees in New York for the first time since 1966. You know what, Steinbrenners? You get what you deserve. I'm hearing pundits now saying that the Bombers are .500 team and they should finish with between 78 and 84 wins this season. That's what happens when you fire a hall-of-fame manager and let the Red Sox in your head, like they have been since that horrible choke in the 2004 ALCS.
Maybe it's time to move on. There had always been these kinds of things going on, to some extent at least, before Paris and Nicole took over the team this past fall. But it was easy to overlook when they're winning championships with guys like Paul O'Neil, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and David Cone. But these days with Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, and Hideki Matsui the Yanks seem like a team full of cowardly chokers. Sure A-Rod put up some great stats last year, but the team as a whole hasn't played up to their potential. And that pretty much comes down to management.
So now I'm thinking, what does it take to change your baseball allegiances? Are there forms I need to sign? There's this rather new team down in the DC area that I've been flirting with a bit. They've got a good third baseman, but not much else. Obviously I can't leave for the Mets, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, Braves or Padres...but what about the Nationals? Would that be acceptable? I don't know much about them, but it makes sense since DC is just two hours away and Harrisburg is home to their AA minor league affiliate.
I definitely have a lot to think about...