Thursday, October 30, 2008
Before I continue, I will confess that the whole point of this post was to show this video. But YouTube has disabled embedding by request. Which stinks, because it's a pretty good video that I had hoped to post here. (I'm pretty sure whoever threw that bottle will soon be getting a call from the Detroit Lions.)
That being said, I don't fully understand the point of rioting when your team wins. People celebrate by breaking windows and flipping over cop cars? (Not to mention climbing up street signs and throwing trash at people climbing up street signs.) I could see that if they got hosed by a bad call, people would be upset and take it out on society at large.
But how does "celebration" suddenly equal "criminal behavior." It happens all the time, especially in cities that don't get championships very often. Like when the Broncos won the Super Bowl - the city of Denver got trashed (in more ways than one). I've heard it said that the intelligence of an individual is inversely proportionate to the number of people surrounding them. In other words, the bigger the mob, the dumber it gets.
So before you decide to throw that liquor bottle at the guy hanging on the street sign, stop and think for a second, and remember, those people yelling at you to throw the bottle are probably three times dumber and four times drunker than you are.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I dreamt that I went to Utah to Elden's house (a.k.a. Fatty - I'll refer to him as Elden for the rest of this post). He was having some kind of big triathalon-type event (and no, I didn't spell that wrong - click the link, silly!) and I went with my friend Matt. Which is weird because Matt is not a cyclist. I think he was there for the bratwurst.
Anyhow, I did a lot of mountain-bike riding and meeting all kinds of cool people. (Judging from his blog, Elden seems to have some pretty cool friends.) So I'm there, having a good time, but I never meet Elden. (I've never met Elden in real life, either, but I do like his blog.) I saw Elden, but never got a chance to talk with him. He was busy taking care of his wife.
Elden's wife, Susan is suffering from terminal cancer. Which sucks, especially when you consider that they have four kids. But his blog has been sort of a therapy for him (as well as a mode of communication with friends and family) and now there are literally thousands of people who find themselves vested in the Nelson's struggle.
And now Susan has taken a turn for the worse and you can see reactions from every angle. Of course Elden talks about it on his blog, but his friend Dug has also mentioned it. And his sister, Jodi talks about it on her blog (sorry, I'm not taking the time to get that link). So the blogosphere has become this giant record of this family tragedy.
As someone who hasn't dealt with much tragedy in my life, it's a lesson in compassion and empathy. While I feel bad for Elden (who, by the way, I don't even really know), I know that words can't fix what's happening or make him or his four kids feel better. But I also know to say nothing gives an impression of apathy and nonchalance about it. So while I comment regularly when he's making fun of Michael Ball or talking about his adventures at Interbike (when there would be maybe 60 comments on a post) I find myself staying silent when 450 others choose that time to offer their sympathies on his blog.
So there's a lesson here, somewhere. Something about bringing people together and learning from their experiences and shouldering their burdens. But mostly, I think I'd like to go mountain biking with Fatty. Or maybe just a road ride, since I'm not so good on the knobbies.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
My last commute by bicycle was nearly two weeks ago, and it was cold. And frankly, it's not getting any warmer. Besides, the darkness doesn't make it very safe to be out on a bike during rush hour.
There are a lot of hard-core bike commuters out their who would call me a poseur and give me grief about cycling in any weather condition. I am just not that tough. Or maybe I am that tough, I'm just not that dedicated.
I could bundle up in the morning with extra layers and make it to work just fine, but I just don't want to. Every layer that I put on, I'd have to take off. And store somewhere. It's just not worth all the work. Or all the laundry. Besides, it's a lot harder to get up in the morning when it's still dark out.
No, I'm comfortable being a fair-weather commuter, and I've saved about $80 this year commuting by bike. And yes, I subtracted my expenses. So I'll just be riding for fun until at least late March, probably until April. However, by then however my situation will have changed, so instead of a 16.7 mile round-trip commute, it will only be five miles. And relatively flat. Maybe there's a single-speed in my future? Probably not.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Something (actually someone) that has been out-of-sight and out-of-mind lately is the homeless guy that I have frequently seen on Limekiln Road. It might just be that he's a little more invisible when I'm going by in my car than when I ride by on my bike.
That being said, I noticed him today. Across the street from the McDonald's he looked to be constructing a home...sort of:
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Thursday: Bike 15.6 miles, 55 minutes I really should have worn another layer - it was pretty cold out.
Friday: Run 20.7 miles, 4:08 Two laps (somewhat modified to add a couple miles) around Gifford Pinchot State Park.
Sunday: Bike 13.0 miles, 45 minutes A really fast ride when you consider the hills I went through. Knee still aches a bit from Friday's run.
Total: Run 24 miles, bike 28 miles.
My 20 mile run on Friday left my knee feeling much like it felt after three mile runs a few weeks ago. So while I don't care for the fact that it aches, I'd have to say that's some serious progress. So I'm definitely going to do my 30 miler next weekend and then spend a few weeks resting and healing up for the JFK 50.
A lot of my thoughts this week as far as running has been concerned has been focused beyond the JFK 50. I plan to take a few weeks off of running to help my IT band heal and at the same time give up the NSAID (Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) I've been taking to help it heal. After that I'm going to try to slowly build mileage starting from a 20 miles-per-week base while at the same time be sure that I'm prepared for the 50K HAT run.
In the meantime, I'll be looking at a 35-40 mile week next week (probably the most this year) then will taper to 15-20 miles the two weeks following, headed into JFK. Hopefully that will help my IT heal and keep my legs fresh to run about 10 hours straight. Yikes!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
It's usually about this time of year, when the weather cools down and it gets dark a little earlier that I start really working on strengthening my core. During the summer months warm weather and long days lure me outside for my workouts and I'd rather ride my bike downhill at 40 miles per hour than swelter in my living room doing push-ups, planks and crunches.
But now that fall is here the lure of the outdoors has weakened and I find myself at least once a week in my living room doing core and upper-body exercises.
And as I spend more time doing push-ups, pull-ups, planks and bicep curls I feel the burn in those less-worked muscles and notice some tone in areas other than my legs I start thinking "I could totally get six-pack abs."
That is because I am deluded. I am not going to get six-pack abs. Why? Because I'm not going to be able to commit myself to eating 10 vegetables a day, skipping deserts and hold off from that fourth slice of pizza. I'm also not going to be able to do three different ab routines four times a week and maintain a regular strength training regimine.
Regimines are just not my style. I use an "intuitive" style of endurance training that keeps my heart, lungs and legs fit because what I enjoy doing involves my heart, lungs and legs. Oh sure, Runner's World might insist that core strengthening will help me run further and faster and Bicycling magazine says that strong abs will give me that extra three miles-per-hour I need to catch up with the pack, but let's face it: strength training is boring.
For me, three hours running through the woods is way more enjoyable than thirty minutes of strength work. So, given the option, that's what I choose. I'm not saying that I won't be working my core this winter, I just won't emerge this spring with a body ready for swimsuit season.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The first thing you must do is drive your vehicle until the fuel light is on. Wait as long as possible to fill up, because you never know when prices might drop a couple more cents.
Once you absolutely must buy gas, fill it up. Don't just get fifteen or twenty dollars worth, fill the tank. For this to work, it is critical that your tank is full.
The next day, once you no longer need gas, observe the stations in your area. You'll notice that the best prices are around 10 cents less than you paid the previous day. I can't explain it, I couldn't show you the math behind all this, but I do know it works. I have personally lowered gas prices myself several times this year.
Monday, October 20, 2008
That picture doesn't really do justice to the scrape next to my helmet strap between my ear and my eye. And I didn't discover the scrapes on my chest until I was about to get in to the shower (which I'll admit was a bit painful).
I'm still not sure of exactly what happened. Right now my theory is that my rear tire got hung up on the log and my body's momentum combined with the effort to "unweight" the rear tire caused me to endo. I'm just glad I didn't attempt the log with the rocks on either side. I probably would need an ambulance.
They say there are two types of mountain bikers. Those that have crashed and those that will. I have now officially moved from the later category to the former.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Tuesday: Run 5.4 miles, 1:04 Appalachian Trail from Trindle Road southwards (out and back). Unseasonably warm and I regretted not carrying a water bottle, but my IT band felt really good.
Wednesday: Bike 12.1 miles, 1:22 Mountain biking at Pinchot. Starting to feel a bit more comfortable on these rocky trails.
Thursday: Run 6.4 miles, 1:02 A totally pain-free jaunt around the neighborhood.
Friday: Bike 16.7 miles, 1:02 Commute. Probably my last commute of the year. It was a very chilly ride on the way in and for the first time all year I wore sleeves on the way home.
Saturday: Bike 9.6 miles, 1:04 Mountain biking at Pinchot. Let's just say I had a couple rough spots...more to follow...
Sunday: Run 13.6 miles, 2:43 Appalachian Trail North from Trindle Road (out and back). Tried out some new socks, but I should have worn the injinjis - I got a couple blisters between my toes. My IT band felt pretty good, it just hurt in a couple spots where the trail ran along the side of a hill. I should be able to get my planned 20-miler in next week.
Run 25 miles, Bike 55 miles.
For the first time this year I did some sort of endurance work every day of the week. It might actually be the first time ever that I've run or cycled for seven days in a row. I had planned to take it easy yesterday, but after the bowling tournament the weather was so nice I just had to go out. (And I paid the price - as you'll see in tomorrow's post.)
So obviously my IT band is feeling way better than it had been even a week ago and more and more I'm liking my prospects of doing the JFK 50. The big test will come in two weeks when I do a 30 mile training run. If I can finish that I'll consider myself prepared and will taper beginning November 2.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This morning it was clear that everyone else in my department had also forgotten, and we ended up sending out one person to pick up flowers, balloons and cards for our two bosses while they were sequestered in a meeting. My role was to donate three dollars and sign the cards. (Of course that was everyone's role, but they sure weren't going to trust the only male in the department with something important!)
So we went down to the conference room once we knew that their conference call was done and surprised them with our gifts. And yes, they forgot it was Bosses' Day as well.
Personally, I feel like there's way to many "Days" on our calendar to remember, and you can't help but exclude people. There's Bosses' Day and Administrative Professionals' Day. What about us professionals that are not administrative and have no staff. There's no Underwriter's Day, or Landscaping Professionals Appreciation Week.
Can't we just keep it to the basics? I have a hard enough time remembering Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Seriously? How do you get a bike over that without doing an endo and scraping up your face on the trail. There were plenty other fallen trees that I didn't dare go over, and one that I attempted and couldn't manage to pull my rear wheel over.
I also found a fairly technical trail that was fun. Even for poor mountain biking inept me. I learned a lot about rolling over roots and how going downhill over technical trail is actually easier than going uphill over the same trail. Now that I type that it seems obvious. If you don't have to pedal, you can use more brain power to navigate and get your butt off of your seat so you don't get jarred from all the rocks.
Maybe I'm more of a mountain biker than I think. But I'm definitely not enough of a mountain biker to get over that tree.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
On Friday I bought a variety pack of Chewy Granola Bars (with 25% less sugar). Needless to say they are long gone now. Inside the pack was four chocolate chip bars, four peanut butter chocolate chip bars and two cookies and cream bars. Even in direct competition with the doubly scarce cookies and cream bars, I considered the peanut butter chocolate chip bars far superior.
I've noticed that my energy bar tastes tend to lean in the peanut direction as well.
Clif Bars: Peanut Butter Crunch, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Peanut Toffee Buzz.
Cliff Mojo Bars: Peanut Butter Pretzel and Honey Roasted Peanut.
Twisted Bars: peanut butter, pretzel, caramel and chocolate.
Not to mention Kashi Chewy Peanut Butter Granola bars. Sure, when I'm running or cycling I still enjoy GU packets and Sharkie Chews with no peanut butter at all in them, and the only flavor of Pria Bar that I like is the chocolate mint...but when I consider all my dietary choices lately, there's just something about peanut butter.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Thursday: Bike 10.9 miles, 1:08 Mountain biking at Pinchot State Park. Pinchot is a great confidence booster - I definitely need to ride more often there.
Saturday: Run 4.4 miles, 53 min. Ran the first two miles with Beth (at Beth's pace) and then did another 2.4 miles on my own. IT bothered me some during the run, but afterwards felt much better compared to previous runs.
Total: Run 8 miles, Bike 10 miles.
So this week looks a little lame by the numbers, but my recovery from my IT band issues made a huge step forward. I feel so much better after yesterday's run that I had following previous runs when I dealt with pain in my IT band often over 24 hours after a run. Even after a 4-mile hike up the side of Peters Mountain today it is totally pain free.
I did notice for the first time this week that I can feel the tightness of my left IT band compared to my right leg. On the left you can feel the band protruding some from the side of the knee and it is quite tense, on the right it doesn't protrude nearly as much and is softer to the touch.
Even with this week's positive developments, I can't say that the JFK 50 is a definite "go". Next week I plan to do a 5-6 miler on Tuesday then 6-8 miles on Thursday. If both runs go well, I'll do 10-15 miles after the Lawrence Chevrolet 205 & Under Bowling Tournament on Saturday.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The McDonalds Monopoly game is especially dear to my heart. I remember collecting pieces when I worked at Jubilee Foods in high school. We used to get those game boards that you saved your pieces on. It was right up there with the Disney game that came around every Halloween that had you collecting wrappers from snack-sized candy to spell "M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E" (or maybe it was "D-I-S-N-E-Y" - I don't remember. Regardless, someone is sure to correct me).
So this week, even though I rarely get lunch from McDonalds, I have had lunch at McDonalds twice. On Monday, I pretty much had to, because I won a free "large beef sandwich (excluding angus burger)" with the game piece I got with my McGriddle breakfast sandwich that morning. Then today, feeling the lure of the Monopoly game I got a southern style chicken sandwich, fries and a coke (not of the diet variety).
And this is all at a very bad time, since I'm not running much at all and the lack of daylight prevents me from doing much in the way of cycling. On the other hand I only need Tennessee Avenue to win $5000. What? You mean everybody just needs Tennessee Avenue? Well, at least I won a free "large beef sandwich (excluding angus burger)."
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I grabbed our old digital camera with the intention of taking pictures of random things that I found interesting on the trail. Also to get "before" and "after" pictures of my bike, which was certain to be covered with mud and grime spattering up from the trail.
As I started my ride I decided that the one thing that will make me a better mountain biker (you may remember my previous post declaring that I am NOT a mountain biker) is to crash. My thinking was that by crashing I would realize that it's not so bad and I would be willing to take more risks on the trail.
After only about a mile I realized that the camera I was carrying in my shorts pocket was simply too uncomfortable to be taking on the trail in this manner. Also, my concern for its welfare might spoil my plan to crash. So I circled back to the car and put it away.
Once the camera was safely stowed in the glove compartment I headed back to the trail, and then it happened. My rear tire lost traction on some loose dirt and I started to tip over, I suddenly righted my self, wobbled a few times and then came to complete stop (still upright) just off the path and near what would sure to be some nasty undergrowth if I tried to go on.
I then changed my strategy and decided NOT to crash. Which worked out well for me, although there are definitely some trails at Pinchot that a more experienced rider would find enjoyable that I passed on due to my concern that I might impale myself on one of the many sharp rocks jutting from the trail. (Okay, they're probably not sharp enough to "impale" me, but they would leave a wicked bruise.
During the ride I saw a lot of things that were photo-worthy and I kicked myself for not thinking before hand of a way to easily transport the digital camera. There were many piles of stones in the woods that were likely the foundations of old Pennsylvania homesteads. I also saw a mysterious manhole cover that looked to be the gateway of some kind of sewer system in the middle of the forest. Wierd.
Feeling that the picture situation on my blog was a bit desperate I was sure to take some once I got back to the car:
I know, the "after" picture looks suspiciously like the "before" picture with my front tire turned and a little less water in the water bottle. Yeah, there wasn't all that much mud and grime out on the trail after all. I did however, ride for a while with a big leaf stuck to my shin. I kept thinking it was a huge bug...because it felt like a bug. But it wasn't.
After I took the "after" picture I saw my reflection in the rear window of the Element and thought it might make a neat self-portrait. ...or maybe not.
There were a LOT of geese on and around Pinchot Lake today as there is everywhere around here this time of year. There all either headed down to the Chesapeake for the winter or still lingering around from their posh summer feasting on handouts from park visitors.
Pinchot is a pretty nice place to learn mountain biking skills, since there is quite a variety of trails available in a fairly small area. If you're into leaping over downed trees, there are plenty of those (I'm not so into that), I even saw one whose top was a good two feet off the ground that I could see chainring marks on top of. Those cyclists have my respect. I couldn't imagine getting over an obstacle nearly that high, and I have a hard time picturing how they did it with out doing an endo as the front tire dropped to the ground. ( Another reason I wish I had the camera with me.)
So now I'm willing to say that I'm almost a mountain biker. I'll just need to make many more trips to Pinchot.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Dr. Kutz also prescribed me an anti-inflammatory and while I was at CVS to fill the prescription I picked up a strap to wear above my knee that could reduce pain and further damage to the IT band.
So after work today I gave it a test run. I had my first dose of the anti-inflammatories with breakfast and applied the new strap above my knee. I did 3.6 miles with virtually no pain. It's a bit sore now, but I think the IT strap, the anti-inflammatories and stability shoes combined are going to give me a better than 50% chance of doing JFK.
Right now, my best-case scenario is slowly building up mileage until I can do a 15 miler on October 18, a 20-miler on October 24 and a 30-miler on November 1. It's probably not the best training for a 50 mile race, but it should be enough to get me to the finish line.
In other injury news, I burned my wrist yesterday on a waffle iron while trying to unplug it. And no, I did not wrap it bubble wrap and then take the handicapped space when I got to work this morning.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Thursday: Run 3.2 miles, 36 min. Ran with Beth (yes, Beth is running now that I've slowed down some!) for 1.6 miles, then did another 1.6 miles. Didn't feel too bad, but didn't feel like my knee could take much more.
Saturday: Bike 29.1 miles, 1:41. Flat ride down to Boiling Springs then up through the Target parking lot in Carlisle and Trindle Road all the way home. Legs felt really good, although it was a bit chilly. If it had been warmer I may have stretched this one to 30 or even 40 miles, but by the time I reached Target I was ready to head straight home.
Sunday: Run 3.3 miles, 38 min. Legs didn't feel quite as well as Thursday. I can definitely feel that the problem is on the outside of the knee, making me more confident that it is the IT band. I'll keep stretching and icing it and hopefully I'll be able to do a long run by October 25. If I can't get a long run (28-30 miles) in by the first weekend in November, I think the JFK 50 is doomed for me.
Total: Run 6 miles, bike 45 miles.
Right now my best-case scenario is getting a 27-30 mile run in on October 18, then a long bike ride on October 24 and a second long run (30-33 miles) on November 1st. I'm hoping that Dr. Kutz can give me a corisone shot or something else that might speed the healing of my leg, because if I don't see improvement then even a November 1 long run that would be necessary to do JFK could be doubtful. I'll hopefully do two or three short runs this week and I expect to see some improvement.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I regularly browse news sites and I have to say I've noticed an alarming trend lately. Bat scares. And not just simple office invasions (like what happened at Dunder-Mifflin's Scranton branch) and night-time swooping.
On Monday I discovered a story about a woman whose home was invaded by a bat. Rather than panic and not rest until the little felon was either exiled from her home or exterminated, she simply set up her coffee maker for the next morning and went to bed. The next morning, her coffee maker turned on as scheduled and she enjoyed a piping hot cup of coffee. But when she went to throw out the coffee filter she discovered the boiled body of the bat inside. Since the bat's brains were to cooked to determine if it was infected with rabies, the woman had to undergo rabies treatment just in case.
Today on Foxnews.com I came across yet another bat-related article. A Montana woman thought her children's kindergarten and fifth-grade classmates might like to get a look at a dead bat that she found. Now, we could go on and on about this mother's poor judgment of bringing a dead animal to her children's elementary school. And we could go on and on about how the teachers or principal should probably not have allowed a dead bat to be brought into a school classroom. Or let the children touch the dead bat. But clearly the only one here with malicious intent is the bat that died where he knew he could potential infect dozens of children with rabies.
Clearly what we are seeing here is an attempt by the bat community to replace human beings as the Earth's dominant species. What had started as a mere terror campaign of vampire stories, occasional home invasions and food infestation has now been escalated to regular biological attacks on people around the globe. Their message is clear "beware the bats" and our response must be equally clarion.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
But during my run last Thursday (my last run before all this knee trouble) for some reason I got to thinking about one of my church's former pastors. He was a runner - of sorts. He used to get up every morning at 5:00 to show up at the gym as soon as the door opens. He then ran on a treadmill for 60 minutes at 6 miles per hour. After that he would do weight training or some kind of cross-training machine for 60 minutes. He did this five days a week.
When thinking about this on Thursday all I could think is "what a terribly boring way to acheive fitness!" Granted, Pastor Tom was a fit guy. He did after all run 30 miles a week (on a treadmill). But to spend your workout time looking at a TV screen or blank wall or watching whatever else was happening in a gym is no way to run.
Give me some trees. Give me a mountain. Running isn't only about fitness, it's also about where it takes you. It's about testing yourself at a 5K , a marathon, or a grueling 100-miler (Pastor Tom never raced). An hour on a treadmill may be easier on your knees, but it's tougher on your mind. I'd rather do 20 miles on a muddy trail that gives me blisters and a wicked scrape from a thorny branch I didn't see coming than spend 20 minutes on a treadmill.
Running is about speeding down the side of South Mountain at breakneck speed not knowing whether the next bend is hiding a fallen tree, a black bear or a rattlesnake. It's about having to walk the last six miles of your marathon because if you keep running you're sure to collapse from heat stroke. It's about icing and stretching your knee every night hoping it will heal soon enough for you to be ready for a 50 miler in two months. It's about life and not just accepting your circumstances but overcoming them.
Running gives me a reason to skip dessert or pass on a sixth piece of pizza. It's also a reason to have seconds on desert and polish off your Neato Burrito. It's a big puzzle that has risks and rewards and once you think you've got it figured out there's a pain in your heel, your knee or your head.
Running is about developing a system that works, until you try it for 5 more miles and you get sick. Then you develop a new system and realize that maybe it's a little overkill and start running with a little less water.
Maybe it's just what Eric Liddell said: "I believe God made me for a purpose.... And when I run I feel His pleasure."
(I left out "but he also made me fast" because I'm not so fast.)
That's why when I run tonight I hope my knee doesn't hurt anymore.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The great thing about the Pizza Hut in New Cumberland is that they have a lunchtime pizza buffet. For $6.29 you get all the salad, pizza and breadsticks you can eat. The problem is that I view this as a challenge.
There's something inside me that goes nuts when it comes to all-you-can-eat offers. I have to get my money's worth. A little piece of me would like to be able to put an all-you-can-eat place out of business because I managed to eat so much more value than I paid for. This is the same piece of me that would love to get a speeding ticket on my bike. (Strange how that piece naturally defeats itself.)
Naturally, I passed on the salad. You don't go to Pizza Hut for salad (or pasta for that matter). And then I got two pieces of pizza and about three breadstick. Then I got two more pieces of pizza and two breadsticks. Then I got just one more piece of pizza and about four breadsticks. Then I groaned about how much I ate and how little I would probably get done that afternoon.
Of course, I did all of this while two people next to me ate salad. One salad. So I really felt like a pig.
So the lesson of the story is, if you're going to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet, don't go someplace with food you love, like Pizza Hut. Go someplace weak like Fire Mountain or Ponderosa. That will at least slow you down. And for pete's sake, have a salad!
Note: I did not drink soda with my pizza, only water. I cling to that one small victory.