Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 59 - Two months in

Birthday party hangover kept my boys in low gear all day.

Their sister, on 2 days without swim practice and with 2 gift cards from Kohl's, was primed for shopping for her spring break trip to Orlando.

Ten minutes into the expedition, the boys were anxious, frustrated, and just plain ready to leave.

This was what we call a learning opportunity.

"Boys, you have many shopping trips with women in your future. Here are some tips:

  • Sit when you can. Chairs in women's sections are few and far between, but occasionally near the dressing rooms. You can always find a place to sit in the shoe department.
  • Practice this until you can say in reflexively and convincingly: 'Hey! That looks great!' A picosecond delay or the slightest hint of insincerity, and you have just turned a trip to the checkout into another 45 minutes of browsing, and probably more than a few glares.
  • Bring a snack.
  • Do NOT mention the pending start of a sporting event. This will only encourage them.
  • Don't waste your time making suggestions. At best, you will be dismissed as tasteless and/or clueless.
  • Be patient. Be attentive. Be supportive.
  • If you can't pull those three off, find a place to sit down and be out of the way."
Back to the running blog, diversion boy...

Two months into this... thing. It's starting to be less of a challenge or experiment and just something I do.

I'm feeling great. Running well. My pace is picking up as is my mileage.

My weight has leveled off, still a couple pounds higher than I'd prefer, but that'll come. Need to get back to working on my core, but otherwise I'm holding up.

When I wasn't running, I used to have a recurring dream. The circumstances varied, but the central focus was that I was supposed to be running, but my legs just wouldn't go. Each stride was laboring and infuriatingly slow. It was as if I were trying to run, hip deep, in molasses.

Haven't had that dream in over two months.

Not to jinx myself, but I caught myself thinking about day 366. Wonder if I'll run that day?

Good running,

Numbers: 3.0 miles in 40F on mostly dry streets.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 58 - Birthday Chaos

So little time to run, let alone blog.

Daughter had state sole and ensemble, youngest had pinewood derby (hardware pictured somewhere over there --->), and middle one's 13th birthday party is this evening. At my house.

Quick parenting tip: Best way to get siblings to stop bickering at each other is to unite them. In my case, against me.

All it took was the mere suggestion that maybe they might help me out cleaning up and getting the shack ready for the onslaught of 5 strange boys, and immediate truces were put in place for their internal battles. Their energy was re-focused on scheming ways to look as if they were helping.

Siblings teach us how to live in the real world.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles squeezed in.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 57 - Punishable by Death

Did you know that firing squads are still legal in Oklahoma?

I bet there aren't many 8am conference calls scheduled in Oklahoma.

I know that if firing squads were legal in Indiana, a certain project manager would be picking out his blindfold about now.

Who schedules a demo and review for 8am on a Friday? I'll tell you who... someone who's hiding something. They think they can sneak stuff past us while we aren't quite awake.*

My lunch was booked for shopping for my 13yr old's bday, so the run had to happen in the morning...before the call.

My legs felt great. I was hoping for at least a fast-ish 5K. But with a late sunrise, and jacked up traffic due to half of the north-south routes from my house to my office being under construction at the same time, that wasn't going to happen.

I spent more time getting dressed than running.

But I was on that call on time. Totally worth it.

"Yeah, this all looks great, go stand over by that stone wall."

Good running,

Numbers: 1.3 miles, just enough to get warmed up.

*Or they have a development team in India with an 11.5 hour time difference.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 56 - Treasure Chest

Ever come across a shoe box in your grandmother's attic as a kid?

Or maybe you found a lock box under a rock by the creek, or buried in the backyard.

Remember that rush you felt?

This gave me the same rush today...

A 4GB USB thumb drive.

I found it in the street white out on my run today. It took me a few steps to realize what I'd seen, and obviously I couldn't just leave it there. So, I had to backtrack, pick it up, and hurry back to the group so I didn't miss any of the debate about how good looking the Japanese women's curling team is, and how Americans should ALWAYS pull for Americans in the Olympics and those who don't just don't love America, and how Ellen isn't that great on American Idol, and how if Susan Boyle was remotely attractive her singing wouldn't seem as good as it does.

Truthfully though, my mind was on the USB drive in my pocket. What could be on it?

Confidential Apple design documents for the next iThing?

Explicit emails?

Oooo, blackmail photos?

(Gasp)...(in a hushed, reverent voice)...the screenplay for StarWars Episode VII?!?

I couldn't wait to get back to the office to plug it in and find out.

I cut the run short, skipped my cool down, walked briskly inside, and bolted off the elevator.

Just out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman waiting, patiently, alone, in reception. Being a Midwesterner, I asked if she'd been helped yet. "Yes, I'm waiting for Doug [MyLastName]."

Hey, that's me.

Apparently I'd been scheduled to interview this woman and wasn't ever actually told that I'd be interviewing her.

Still sweaty and in my running duds, I begged her for 5 minutes to change. (I spent 30 seconds of that 5 minutes double-checking my calendar (nothing scheduled for 12:30) and inbox (no emails from HR or my boss)).

Not only did I look like a doof, and the company looked like a doofy company, but it was going to be another 45 minutes before I could see what was on the drive!

The interview went fine. I shook her hand, passed her off, and went straight to my computer.

The business end of the USB drive was squished. It'd been run over more than once. A little bent tin wasn't going to keep me from my treasure hunt/spy mission.

Deftly wielding the file doogee from my fingernail clippers like a very small pry bar, I reformed the protective tin sheath's cross-section into a rough approximation of a rectangle. Close enough...

Usually a responsible person, I did pause to think for a second about the fact that I was putting unknown "Tab A" into "Slot B" and how virus-ridden "Tab A" could be. (Note: I'm typically on the "Tab A" side of this conversation.) I shrugged and decided to spin the wheel... there's always penicillin McAfee Anti-Virus.

It took a few tries, and ultimately a pretty good bit of force, to get it in. (TWSS)

Finally the rusty lock was broken and the lid to the treasure chest was creaking open... and...

it was empty.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.5 miles

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 55 - Winter (not so) Blues

Yesterday's run blurb spawned a couple comments that have been rattling around in my head all morning.

First, Robin, who has spawned many a rattling thought, asked if my spending time outside during the winter has made me less prone to the winter blues than most people.

Second, Chris acknowledged that, like me, he too has found himself running in snow, when perfectly sensible pavement is readily available, and wondered why that is.

I can't answer either of those questions. I don't know how depressed other people are, and I don't really know what motivates Chris.

Because I'm not getting paid millions of dollars to pretend like I do know these things (cough.. cough... Dr. Phil... cough), I'll just talk about my experience. Specifically my experiences today.

As I was standing by the door, dressed and ready to go, waiting for my GPS watch to synch (and watching it like a hawk), two co-workers walked by separately on their way to lunch. The first guy said "Good luck out there. You'll want some earmuffs." Second, a fellow runner this time, said "You're running today? You're so good."

I politely acknowledged both with a head nod and some self-deprecating, unremarkable remark.

Once out the door, already in a contemplative state of mind, those two comments joined the game of pinball inside my skull.

Actually, they helped to being a little clarity.

Thing is, I don't need ear muffs. (Does anyone who isn't a 20-something girl trying to make a fashion statement wear ear muffs? I assume he meant some sort of ear protection.) As I turned into the wind, which wasn't shy at all about trying to tear the skin from my face, I don't want anything on my ears. I wanted to feel the wind. I wanted to feel the cold. I wasn't punishing myself. I was simply experiencing the time and space and weather that I happened to be in.

And I wasn't being "good" by running outside today. Sure, it was snowing, and cold, and windy. That was inconsequential. The weather is what it is.

It then occurred to me... That's why I run in slush and snow, and today, on lumpy ice and across a seriously cold stream. The cold, the wind, the wet, the slip, aren't good or bad. They just are. They're part of the moment, one of the moments that strung together make up my short run, and which are part of the chain of moments that make up a day, and a life.

Running on pavement would have also consisted of moments. Those moments, however, would have been much more difficult to tell apart from each other. And it would have been easy for my mind to wander from the present. In the snow, it was easy to be present and to notice and appreciate each moment. Each foot fall was different. The feel of the wind changed with every change in direction and when in the cover of trees. And any one of those moments might have included a rapid introduction of my hands, or hip, or head to the snow. And the frozen ground.

In a sense, running outside today, on the snow and ice, was the easy path. The easy path to staying present.

That brought me back to Robin and Chris...

Speaking strictly for me, I take the snowy route because it immediately, and frequently reminds me that I'm alive, moving across the surface of the planet, as a small part of its life. It's only around for a few months of the year, and I don't want to let it go to waste.

I think I'm less depressed during the winter simply because winter isn't depressing to me. It just is. Maybe I'm ignoring the effect of less sunlight or changes in circadian rhythms. But I'm guessing that feeling a cold blast on your face when you turn a corner, and, thanks to some fortunate business park planning and wind currents,  watching snow fall up, and feeling a sheet of ice give under your weight without cracking, offset the lack of blue skies and sunshine.

If you accept that winter is a part of each of us, as easily as you embrace a spring flower, mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, or a summer fling, how can it depress you?

Good running,

PS - Trena's just-posted comment to yesterday's post tells me she's with me.

Numbers: 1.4 miles around the pond, again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 54 - I may have a problem

Admitting that you have a problem is the first step. Isn't it?

I moan and complain about the snow and the slush and the ice and the water that sure feels like it's way colder than 32F. (See pretty much any post from February.) I tell myself how great it will be when we're back in shorts and the sun is out and the asphalt is warm... and dry.

Thing is, I keep going out in it. I don't just mean I run outside. I mean I find myself repeatedly seeking out that same snow and slush. And I enjoy it.

Today, perfect example. I had miles of wet, but clear, road to hit. Even some of the sidewalks are passable.

Where did I run? The stupid pond loop. Pretty much the only place close that still has snow and slush and ice. I purposely chose to run on the cold, slippery, pace killing, bone snapping forms of solid water.

Either... I feel I need to be punished, or secretly I enjoy the challenge. Deep snow ramps up the heart rate. Slippery stuff improves your balance and keeps your attention laser focused. And ice, well ice is just plain evil and is only tolerated because it hangs out with its less evil cousins.

Even a short run can be made into a good workout, and an interesting run, and a chance to escape the world for a few minutes, when the footing is unsure and your toes are cold... or numb.

Embrace the slush, or whatever else does it for you, even if most people would think you were crazy if they knew you enjoyed it.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles of slippery fun.
Note: Just when I thought I had a problem, check out this guy you is a joggler... he runs and juggles... at the same time. (Found via Chris' excellent blog).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53 - Running debate

Today's topic is the phenomenon of debates, regardless of topic, that occur on a run.

Specifically the manner in which these debates transpire.

First, you can never predict, nor purposely initiate, a running debate. They just sorta happen. Like a volcano eruption. Or a vurp.

Second, the makeup of the running group is crucial. To make fire you need, fuel, oxygen, and sufficient heat. For a running debate you need at least two people who are nimble of thought, and either stubborn or simply argumentative. If you're lucky, they are both.

Third, the running debate starts with what in any other context, would likely be a benign comment. For example "Google's downfall is inevitable."

Then the fun starts.

You might be saying to yourself, or maybe even out loud if you do that kind of thing, "All of this is equally applicable to any debate."

That's true. But wait, there's more...

The fourth aspect of running debates is the near total lack of structure or cogent argument. Points come and go. Logical basis is ignored. Eventually they turn into a tenuous string of barely related opinions, off-color or simply disgusting references, and made up facts. Yet the fervor and enthusiasm never waver, no matter how far off topic the discussion wanders.

Case in point, today's debate started with the Google comment above, then took a detour to the Yankees, US foreign policy in Afghanistan, Tiger Woods, and the anatomy of an elephant. All with the intent to make a point, the exact nature of which none of us could remember when we found ourselves back in the parking lot.

You just won't see that in a coffee shop. Perhaps it's related to oxygen deprivation.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.3 miles, that passed very quickly thanks to Eric and Mike.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 52 - Slop. Wet, cold slop.


My street is covered is slush.


If you were to stand in it, well, that would be pretty stupid. I mean, it's really cold and wet. But if you did, it would come close to covering your shoes.

It's as if someone left the spigot on the Slurpee machine open, for a year.

Rather than start my run with wet frozen feet, I drove a mile to my local rail-to-trail. (I think driving to a run that isn't a race, or a destination run, or a meet-up with other runners, is touching on sacrilege. But for the sake of dry warm-ish feet, I'm willing to take on a little sacrilegiousity.)

The run was slow. A recovery run from the race yesterday. At least that's my rationalization.

This was at noon. The trail is full of amateurs at noon. And every one of these amateurs was walking their dog. And some dogs.

Did I mention my dog is high energy? She's also very prey-driven. She's also extremely excited to see other dogs... some as playmates, some as lunch.

So my outing was a damp shuffle interspersed with emergency dog obedience exercises. Better than not running, but kinda dreary.

Then, a lone runner passed me going the other way. He gave me a pleasant head-nod and a "Hey buddy."

I've never seen the dude. He didn't know me. It was nice to have even a brief interaction with another runner who gets it. Not the usual iPod wearing, eyes cast downward, anti-social masochist. This guy was out in the same gross conditions as I was, and he was enjoying it, too.

After being let down by one idiotic member of my running community yesterday, it was refreshing to be reminded that one rotten apple shouldn't sour your opinion of the whole bunch. Bunch? Bushel? Yes, bushel. Bunches are bananas.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.1 miles, slowish.

For those interested in the social goings on, had a great time at the house concert last night featuring Greg Ziesemer & Kriss Luckett. My Chicken and Broccoli Mac & Cheese was a hit (Note to my future self: Next time I take this dish to a folk music house concert, I might want to label it so as not to rankle the vegans.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 51 - Polar Bear

Why must the universe test me so?

Things started out well enough...

(dissolve to crowded swanky dining/bar spot, interior, night)

Fantastic dinner of appetizers and a red wine flight at Northside Social. Long time heard-abouter, first time diner. Food and atmosphere, great. This is a real neighborhood place. Friendly regulars made us feel welcome immediately. Dude even got up and offered the lady his stool, a scarce commodity at 7:30pm, and not the least bit begrudgingly. When the food came, my new friend and NS regular Donna insisted I take her stool while I ate. Everyone around us was having a good time and quick to chat. We even got ourselves invited to a house party/concert for tonight.

Then we high-tailed it over to Birdy's for some live music (CD release party for Finest Grain). Super bonus, the appearance of my dear friend Nora. Good music, great company. Perfect Friday night.

Alarm erupted at 6:30am. Uhg.

This was a moment. A moment when I have to decide whether to do what I want to do (stay in the warm, soft, cozy-as-all-get-out bed, and go back to sleep, for maybe a week), or do what I should do (ignore the mild hangover headache, curse myself for not drinking more water, again, throw off the warm, soft, cozy covers, swing my legs over the side, and take that first step to the floor... into the morning, and head downtown for my race).

I hate those moments. Way too often, I opt for warm/soft/cozy. This morning, I fought it off.

My reward? The Polar Bear. A 5-mile run in downtown Indianapolis.

Doesn't that polar bear look pissed? Is it pissed at St. Franics Hospital and Health Centers? Nah. I'm guessing a "global warming is melting my habitat" thing.

Wouldn't you be pissed if someone was causing your neighborhood to, you know, melt? Neighborhood associations go ballistic if the utility company wants to install a booster station on their holy ground. Imagine if the utility company made your neighborhood melt! Good thing polar bears don't have lawyers.

The Polar Bear used to be the first race of the season, and huge. Hadn't done it in years, but the new downtown course, start and end at the historic City Market, and the fact that Marty's store, the best damn running store on the planet, was a sponsor, I was ready to jump back in.

Marty set me up with a secret parking place and a number. I got there in plenty of time to stretch and socialize. Things were going along just grand...

Went to change into my race shoes and synch my GPS watch. For those unfamiliar, these watches use GPS to the course of a track a run, as well as report your pace, distance, and in my case even my heart rate. Awesome technology that fits on a wrist. And not cheap.

These watches need to find their position on the planet (don't we all). This requires a line-of-sight to the sky. While I was changing my shoes, I put my watch on a window sill to synch.

Anyway, after changing my shoes, my watch was still searching the sky. I walked about 30 feet to put my other shoes into a safe place near Marty's stuff. I was gone maybe 20 seconds.

When I returned... you all see this coming, right?... the watch was gone.

There was a pico-second of disbelief. Checked my wrist. Nope. Pocket. Nope. My shoes that I just took off. Nope. I'd left it on the sill, across the table from a mom, and as fast as you can say "people suck" it was gone.

The race was about to start. No time for a tantrum. I told Marty what happened. Shrugged. Went out to the starting line.

I have to admit, I was surprised how calm I was about the whole thing. I just let it go.

Didn't hurt that I had a fun 5-miler right in front of me to take the edge off.

I ran, I'll say it, great! Smooth, easy first mile. Slowly fell into a groove once I warmed up. Steadily got faster throughout the race. Finished with a long, sustained kick.

The downtown course took us around the iconic Soldiers and Sailors monument.

Wonder how long that kick was and how fast I was going there at the end? Hmmm. Let me check my GPS watch... stupid jerk.

51 days of running, of taking note of my own needs and making them top priority for just a few minutes a day, has definitely mellowed me out. I feel more in control of my life. When something out of my control happens, well, that's just an incident. It's not yet another log on the bonfire.

Republican version of the Polar Bear. Smiling. Much less pissed.
Probably massive injections of Xanax.

When I finished the race, cooled down, had some water and a banana and a cookie, I found Marty. He'd had the PA guy announce the lost watch, had looked around for it himself, and finally told me I could have his watch since he doesn't use it much anyway.

Not all people suck.

Numbers: 5 miles. Oh, and... ahem... Hey! Jag-Off McDouche who stole my watch! About the time you figure out how to work the buttons, which I'm guessing will tax the gerbil-on-a-wheel you pass off as a brain, the battery will be dead. Without the dock, you can't charge it. Idiot. Your "intellect" probably can't process this, but you've just committed a crime, and sucked in a cool metric ton of bad karma, for nothing.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 50 - Yoink!

Today was one of those days jam packed with the stuff that fills our life.

I'd planned to take the afternoon off because I had two big things scheduled and didn't need the stress or guilt of missing work. That meant that I had to cram most of a day's work into the few hours I'd be in the office... and with a meeting smack dab in the middle.

Meetings are where productivity and motivation go to die.

I managed to crank out the emails that couldn't wait and then Whoosh! bolted out to Target.

Who doesn't love Target? Walmart without the grit. Without the grime. Without the Walmartiness.

Zip! I had my prescription and my memory stick for my camcorder and was out in maybe 15 minutes.

Think about that... one stop... one store... life saving medicine AND 8GB of high speed memory. One manufactured in some factory in China, and one, well, probably manufactured in the same factory in China, but still, they probably came over on different cargo ships. Or at least in different containers.

Reeeoowwww! (BTW, that's an IndyCar, not a hair-lipped cat) I had time to stop by home, let the dog out, and make myself a quick sandwich for lunch.

Foooom! Off to the spelling bee. My youngest made the top 5 in his class, which earned him a trip to the finals... in front of all of the other 4th graders... and a microphone. He wasn't looking forward to it. He went out on his first word... dissect. Meh. He seemed to have fun, even more so when he was off the stage. And all of his glory is captured on video... on my new 8GB memory stick.

Doooweeep! Off to the tax guy. Oh, wait, the bee ended early. It's only 3:00. I have time to stop at 96th Street Steakburgers for a quick lunch. Yum!

Anybody catch that? I didn't, until I sat down with my lunch. I'd already had lunch! At home!

Didn't stop me. Didn't even slow me down.

Doing! (The tax guy was just across the street.) W2, 1099s, charitable this, deductible that. Done and done... except for the 6 things I have to dig up.   I always leave there with homework.

Aaaaaannnnnd scene! Day done, and it was only 4:00.

Driving home, feeling rather proud of myself, I was thinking where to stop for a nice quiet celebratory Friday pint. "There are 2 very nice places right on my way home. My tummy's all full from my lunches, I might even take a nap after my WAIT A MINUTE, I HAVEN'T RUN YET!!!"

Jeemani! (pronounced YEE-ma-nee, spanish for "Yike!") I was thisclose to moving right into the evening thinking I'd already run.

Truth is, that's my biggest fear... Yoinking myself off of the streak by just forgetting.

Skreeeeeee! (Not easy burning rubber in a hybrid) Straight home. Do not pass "Go", do not have a pint.

Woke the dog, ran a short, slow one, and phwew... Got it in.

Despite all of the chaos, and distraction, a steakburger and fries firmly lodged in my stomach, I remembered.

I rescued 13 minutes for myself, to my thing.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles, slow. Racing tomorrow, if I remember.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 49 - Heroes

Watching Lindsey Vonn win the gold medal in the women's downhill last night was pretty cool. I don't know if you caught it in any of the coverage, but apparently she's had some injury problems.

Ok, that was sarcasm... doesn't always come out in type. How could you possibly watch any of the coverage of that event and not know that she's come back from injuries, including a nasty bruise on her shin.

Not to be cynical, but I'm thinkin' the bruise was a little blown out of proportion to create some drama. Would a bruise, on a shin, really keep a world class athlete out of her dream race? An athlete who typically goes down the side of a mountain in what is essentially a barely controlled fall? Could it really affect her performance? Maybe, I guess.

My point is, that we had her story of perseverance beaten into our heads. And it's a good story.

Same for J.R. Celaski. He's the 19 year old short track speed skater who damn near cut his own leg off in a crash last fall during the trials.Slight exaggeration, but his skate did cut deep into his thigh and he needed a tourniquet to stop the blood, which was pooling all around him on the ice.

A bajillion stitches later and his first competitive skate after all of that mess is his first Olympic heat for the 1500m. In that event he ended up getting a bronze medal (thanks in no small part to the Korean doof who took himself and his countryman out of 2nd and 3rd place on the last turn).

He's also the same kid who, last night, pulled one of the coolest moves I've ever seen in any sport in his first heat for the 1000m. He had the door slammed right in his face by this "veteran skater" with about 2 laps to go. Our little hero, with is rebuilt thigh, didn't let that stop him. A lap later he stunned that same skater with a juke-and-dive, or hook-and-ladder, or some incredible move that deserves a cool name, on the last turn that got him around the older dude and  into the next round. I can't do it justice, but rest assured that it was lightning fast, perfectly timed, and absolutely decisive. The "veteran skater" didn't have a chance against this plucky young product of good emergency medicine.

Again, we heard all about his comeback from a devastating injury, including numerous shots of his parents, who were also there when he sliced the bajeezus out of himself. Inspiring stuff.

Earlier today I attended my son's "Wax Museum" where the kids dress up as famous people (for this class they were all from Indiana) and tell passers-by interesting facts about their person. (My son was Tecumseh, and he rocked it!)

Another student was Wilma Rudolph. You wanna talk hero? The woman had polio and fought it off to become not only an Olympic track and field champion, but also an icon for the sport, and for america, and for women.

Kinda makes that bruised shin look a little wimpy, doesn't it.

I was thinking about these three stories on my run this afternoon. All three of these people overcame their injuries to do what they loved, and happened to be really good at.

Here's my theory... they are just like us. We breath the same air, eat food, sleep, get up in the morning and do our thing. NBC wants us to think that Celaski and Vonn are super-heroes because of what they have overcome. Wilma Rudolph, she may have been a super hero, but she was also human.

These three just didn't let anything keep them from being who they wanted to be.

The drive that took these three to their goals exists in each of us. The world tries to beat us down, tell us we can't accomplish our goals because of this or that. Too often, it's our own inner voice telling us not to even try.

My inner voice kept me (mostly) off the roads for over a year. It's a loud, strong voice, and it recruits rationalization and fear and self-loathing to help keep you down. I also had people in my life who, for their own reasons, told me it was time to give up running.

Don't listen to anyone else. Don't listen to the doubting inner-voice. Listen to the desire to feel better, to do better, to be better. Be your own hero.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.5 miles through a lot of slush and slop.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 48 - Buzz Kill

Nothing kills the buzz of a nice lunchtime run like work talk.Leave it on a whiteboard somewhere, or drop it into PowerPoint. I'm out here to escape. Yeesh...

So... I'm going to talk about the Winter Olympics. Specifically the television coverage.

NBC, I'd like an all alpine channel. And an all curling channel.

It's a crime that we are subjected to 713 rounds of figure skating short programs, and get not even a third of the downhill runs.

I understand that I have less-than-popular taste, but come on.... who wouldn't rather watch people risking their lives, rocketing over an iced-on-purpose, damn near vertical course... down a mountain!

And Snowboard-Cross... are you kidding me... this is made for TV. Clear winner, short races, intense shoulder-to-shoulder competition, people flying through the air, repeatedly. I'd watch Snowboard-Cross every weekend. If this doesn't appeal to you more than yet another triple salchow and frilly unitard, then you... well, I just don't know.

Curling? It's the most relaxing sport in the world. Canada's bowling. I bet half those dudes have beers stashed just behind the boards. Even shuffle board is more interesting than figure skating. This is extreme shuffle board...with heavy-ass stones... and brooms... on ice!

Uhg, I need another run, already...

Next time I run from work, I go it alone.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.3 rest-miles... felt like 40.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 47 - Lent

For full disclosure, I am not Catholic. I was raised in the Episcopal church, and that stuck like mercury on teflon.

Regardless, today is Fat Tuesday, which means that Lent is upon us. Catholics and non-Catholics alike are gearing up to give up, give up something in their lives for 40 days, give or take (St. Patrick's Day usually warrants a pass, and sometimes weekends, and days that are just crappy).

The idea is to remind believers of the sacrifice made for them.

I'd like to offer an alternative to the traditional self-denial.

Instead of giving up something, how about adding something. Rather than focusing on sacrifice, take the time to celebrate your life and who you are.

Find something that makes you more connected to a part of you that you don't see enough of, something that makes you feel good about yourself and/or your life.

Do that everyday until Easter.

Run, if that's your thing (within reason, of course... consult your doctor, etc.). If not that, find something else. Maybe do some yoga, write in a journal, phone friends or relatives you don't talk to enough. Oooh, better yet, write letters. How much happiness could you spread by writing a different loved one every day. And you might even get some letters back.

Whatever your thing, just do it, once a day. Set aside just a few minutes for yourself, to touch base with yourself, and to remind yourself who you really are.

Ok, enough of the preachy monologue... running blog, remember?

Still basking in the glorious snowy 7-miler from yesterday, I took a rest-mile day, but did it through more deep snow. Took the work loop around the pond.

Saw a frozen fish at the "piddly run-off." Seriously, frozen... covered in a layer of ice. (Could prove handy for some of you traditional Lenters out there looking for a quick lunch.)

Me, almost up to my knees, in fresh drifted powder.

At several points, had to blaze my own trail through the drifts. It was exhilarating!

This is how I'll be spending Lent, and (pick your deity) willing, the rest of the year.

Numbers: 1.3 miles through drifts of fresh powder.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 46 - President's Day

I have today off. President's day, apparently. I don't know much about presidents.

Jimmy Carter was a runner, sort of. He had a PR nightmare when he collapsed in a 5K.

Bill Clinton ran, unattractively, on occasion.

Even "W" ran while in office. He had a sub-8:00 5K time. Not enough.

I like to think that Abe Lincoln ran a bit, between chopping logs and killing bears with his bare hands, but I have no evidence. I do intend to start a rumor, though.

I was president of my fraternity for a year. The economy of the house was sound and it wasn't once attacked by another fraternity. Also, the place didn't burn down. (Almost did the next semester. Not my fault.)

Those modest accomplishments would put me into the top 40% of US Presidents. Hence, I dutifully accept the honor of this holiday.

As a means of celebration, I took the dog for a run in the snow.

This isn't the same old boring snow from yesterday. Oh, no. We have brand new snow. About 4 inches of it. Hooray!

We stood at the end of the driveway. I asked the dog, "Well, what shall we do?" She was no help.

By the end of the street I'd decided to roll through 5 miles, even with the new snow. It was a holiday... for me.

We (I) decided to retrace the 5 mile course that we last did when it was 52 degrees. That was a great run.

It wasn't until about 2 miles into it that I remembered that the course was actually 7, not 5. Meh. What's 2 more miles.

The dog was beside herself. She plowed through the powder. She'd have been smiling ear to ear if dogs could smile.

The snow was falling continuously, but it didn't seem like that much. It wasn't the huge flakes, or clumps of flakes. It was just a steady fall, as if the gods were nervously tapping their powdered doughnuts.

We trudged on, at a surprisingly good clip. We saw other runners out too. And a stray cat, which made for even more excitement.

One of Mandee's distinguishing features is the fine hair on her undercarriage.
After this run, it was bedecked with ice. She's hard core!

The home stretch was as fresh as when we'd started, our foot prints long ago filled in.

The dog and I congratulated each other for a run well run.

The rest of my holiday I will celebrate as all good retired president should... with leftover pizza, a Fat Tire, and a nap.

Good running,

Numbers: 7.1 miles.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 45 - Deep Snow Makes it all OK.

There are some people out there that just don't seem happy, and are determined to spread their misery.

Deep breath...

The budding Buddhist in me is concerned that I let these people get to me. But I can't deny that feeling of disbelief at how some people treat others, and how clueless they are as to how it affects them and those they touch.

My run was short. I was feeling frustrated and cranky, and was anxious to get back to my kids and the tray of Valentine's Day cupcakes.

(Who invented cupcakes and please tell me in what years she won the Nobel Prizes for Chemistry, Peace, and an extra couple for general brilliance just because she put together the idea of a cake you can eat in one bite, which I did today, twice.)

My street is treacherous. Still looks like a back alley on Hoth.

Other streets are clear, except for the sidewalks and shoudlers. There you have sure footing, which comes in handy when dodging the oncoming SUVs, ditching into the piles of snow that used to cover the road.

After a half mile of playing this losing game of chicken, I decided to go full-monty Eskimo.

Straight down an unplowed and barely trodden sidewalk we went. Snow halfway up my calf and who knows what the topology was of the frozen slush underneath.

The dog was thriled, leaping, bounding, actively hunting for the deepest drifts within a leash-length.

My heart rate skyrocketed as my pace plummeted. Without trail shoes, or socks for that matter, the snow and ice lashed at my ankles.

We came to a driveway that had been plowed and the two of us sailed over the snowplow-piled slough, took a few strides on pavement, and then hurdled the pile's twin, back to the cold, deep, icy, downright inhospitable snow that we were enjoying so much.

It was hard running. It was slow running. Man, did I feel alive.

And for those few minutes before the sidewalk ran out, I'd forgotten all about the clueless people that live to spread their own misery.

Back on pavent and heading home, frustration and anger were replaced with pity. What a horrible way to live out one's time on earth.

Find something that brings you joy, and spread some of that.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.7 hard, slow, most excellent miles, burning approximately 0.37 cupcakes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 44 - Zamboni

We all know what a Zamboni is, right? It's a big truck/machine used at ice rinks. What it does is shave the top layer of crappy ice and snow that has accumulated, then it spreads a thin coat of warm water on top, filling all the cracks so that when that water freezes, the ice is smooth as glass for skaters.

Yesterday the temp stuck it's nose above 32F, melting just the top layer of ice that still covers all of the side streets. You know, the streets that are less traveled, the ones we run on. Last night it got good and cold again.

Zamboni effect.

This morning, anywhere there was ice, it was perfect for skating. Diabolical for running.

If there ever was a day not to run, this was it. Cold. Slippery. Packed with stuff to do (including state swim meet... Go Maggo!).

Of course, I went anyway. I stole just a few minutes for myself.

As I was out there, in between thoughts of how great it was to be out in the world, and how easy it would be to snap a wrist on the next patch of ice, I thought about all of the days I didn't run last year. The day in Michigan at the indian casino when the snow was falling fast and deep. That would have been a great experience. The half-marathon I got talked out of on race morning. What was I thinking?

This happened day after day. There were uncountable reasons. Some reasonable reasons. Mostly weak excuses.

How could I have rationalized not doing something that I knew was so good for me? Why did I deny myself something I enjoy so much? How did I manage to get through the day? How did I let that happen?

My daily run clears my head from the crap that's piled up. It calms me, smooths out my mood, puts things into perspective, and sets me up for a great day.

Zamboni effect.

My ice must have been a mess last year. No wonder the skating was so bad.

Tend your ice, folks.

Good running,

Numbers: 3 miles.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 43 - Hitting the Reset Button

Travel, in general, can be tough on the system. Jumping a couple time zones adds the whole time shift problem to the mix.

You're far from home, eating food you probably shouldn't at times that make no sense to your body.

Same goes for sleep. Your body needs sleep, but everything around it, every damn subtle cue from the environment, is telling it that it just isn't time yet.

Traveling to Las Vegas is essentially a double-down on all of this.

And sometimes it's a Split-your-8s and then Double-Down on the 8 that got a 3, especially since the dealer is showing a 6 and cool you got a 7 for 18, and stay put on the other 8 that was joined by a Queen, now you're sitting pretty because the dealer turned up a 9 for 15 and then drew a fudgin' 6 ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

Notice all of these players smiling? They haven't split their 8s against a 6 yet.

And then, add in the red-eye.

It seemed like such a great idea when you were booking the flight. It's a direct flight, which to/from Indy is almost unheard of. Booth duty and teardown ended about the time things wind down back home, which meant a mostly free afternoon and evening to case the strip, lose some money on a split/double-down, and perhaps step into a fountain (Venetian). With a late check-out, there was time for a quick nap and a nice dinner.

"Seems like" and "Reality", turns out, not always the same thing.

We hit the wall, hard, at the airport.

The plane was packed and muggy. So muggy that I had the little air jet blowing on my face or the back of my neck the entire 3 hours, 2 minutes. And someone please explain to me why the pilot kept the seatbelt light on the entire, turbulence free, flight.

Bags were slow to come out. (Wasn't my idea to check bags, so don't start.) Dark and 6 degrees F at the car.

Try this for fun, kids: wake up 90 minutes after a half-day of work, a full day of play in Vegas, and a red-eye flight in a sauna for a 9am conference call.

The fun continued clear through the next two conference calls which were thoughtfully spaced just close enough together to make a nap unrealistic, but far enough apart that I couldn't stay awake between them, allowing me the pleasure of waking twice to an alarm after a blissful 15 minutes of sleep.

Needless to say, the mind and body were on tilt. In fact, they weren't speaking to each other.

Luckily, I have a reset button. Returning to feeling normal was just outside my front door.

After the last call, I bypassed the bed, geared up, saddled up the dog, and hit the street/snow. It wasn't 30 seconds before I felt back in my skin again, mind and body were back on good terms, both present and accounted for.

Something that makes you feel normal again, no matter what you've put yourself through, is something you should keep doing. If you haven't found that something for you, give running a try.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.1 miles with one sorely-missed dog.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 42 - The Backside of Vegas

Seth and I headed out again early this morning.

Saw this car at the valet stand. Driver was 6'4'', 270.

Seth gave me the scoop on the party I missed last night. (We opted to lay low last night with a fabulous dinner at Belagio... Seabass (ill-tempered), and early to bed given the looming red-eye trip home) Summary: Party sucked. Music was awesome.

Again the weather was perfect... 40s and dazzling sunshine.

We stayed off the beaten path and headed away from the strip, going up and over the highway and then up the back side of the hotels.

It's incredible that such valuable real estate can sit unused. But there are a lot of these lots just waiting for yet another hotel/casino. The lots are huge expanses of loose dirt and gravel... perfect for hiding bodies... I'm just sayin'...

Going rogue like this usually involves some hunt-and-pecking to find your way through. Sidewalks end abruptly, roads turn into freeways, big ol' backhoes block your path, and sometimes, your path just ends.

No worries. We humped across the vacant lot, careful not to tread on any broken glass or unmarked graves, and were soon back on solid ground.

Another half mile and we were back to civilization, if fake New York City counts as civilization.

We picked the pace up for the obligatory dash along a short section of the strip, ran under the big phallus obelisk outside Luxor, and returned safely to our home away from home.

It's been a real treat running here in LV this week. And thanks to Seth, my mileage the last couple days has been pretty decent. Good thing, too. Home is under snow. Deep. There's a good chance I'll need snowshoes before I get to run in shorts again.

Good Running,

Numbers: 3.5 miles, again, perfect weather.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 41 - Early AM run with Seth

In 20 minutes, we went from being nose-to-nose with sharks to sipping cocktails from glasses made of ice, on a couch made of ice, in a room made of ice.

That would be plenty for one night anywhere else in the world. But we're in Vegas, baby.

Back for another night in the casino lounge. The Lemons were back on stage and rocking just as hard as last night.

And this time, we ran into people we knew. Plus we made some new friends. And it was all good.

Until the Jägerbombs.

I'm a Tequila guy. Simple. Unadorned. 100% agave. Keeps bad things from happening.

I also don't drink caffeine. Haven't for over 4 years.

Mixing Jäger and RedBull is a double-dose of bad news for me.

Specifically, last night the Jägerbomb induced a serious case of drunknesia. I really don't remember anything past those gulps. There was dancing in a club, in the casino outside the club, and in the room. Apparently I had a great time. Bothers me that I don't remember any of it. Bad Doug. That's why I stick to tequila.

But the Jägercoma faded in time for me to keep my 8:30 run with Seth. It was really rough the first couple miles, but the gorgeous view of the mountains and the bright sunshine in the crisp morning brought me back to life. By the last mile we were hauling the mail.

I think it was the sweating that did it...purged the last of the Jäger out of my system.

Good running,

Numbers: 5.4 miles in perfect conditions.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 40 - Pushing it in Vegas

Last night was a blast! For a night that was supposed to be a quick hit of some music and drink turned out to be an all-nighter.

At House of Blues we saw the last set of Ronnie Rose. Ronnie was wailin'. He was on his 6th night straight and his voice was failing him a bit, but the singing he held back from us he more than made up for with his harmonica (Sorry you missed it, Robin.)

Here are the kind of things that I notice... the guitar player looked just like Joe Mantegna, the bass player just like Derek Daly, and the guy sitting up from, from the back, was a dead ringer for Larry David, from the back.

Ronnie felt bad that he couldn't sing, so he gave out free CDs and autographed each one, as he apologized unnecessarily.

It was 10:00pm, pretty late, especially having traveled 3 time zones west, so we were about ready to... "Hey, what's going on over there?"

What was over there was the most fun I've had in Vegas, maybe ever. The band (I think they were called Lemon, never did make it out. First time I thought he said Women.) plays only requests. It's like a live jukebox. They played everything. They played great. They rocked.

Anyway, too many great moments in the 3 sets we were there for to call any out... ok, just one. Someone requested Spirit of Radio, which apparently these guys had never played before, at least not together. It wasn't perfect, but damn if it didn't rock hard.

Ok, this is a running blog... get to the point...

Was out past 4:00. Woke up just in time to jump onto a conference call. Midway through that call I realized I hadn't eaten in 24 hours. Lunch had to happen quickly.

It didn't.

I'd reached that point where you're so hungry that nothing sounds good. We picked an asian noodle place, pretty much by default because it was at its entrance where we decided we couldn't take another step without fuel.

The service was sooooo slooooooooow. I was eating drops of the lava-like sauces left on the table next to the soy sauce. I threatened to eat the place mat, which was made of natural fibers... I'm thinking a grass.

Eventually the food did arrive and we inhaled it. And it was fudging tasty. Better than the place mat would have been.

Somehow it had drifted past 2:00p. I had to work at 3:00p. Crap.

Booked it to the room and started to throw on my running gear in what was just short of a panic.

Then I realized there was just no way.

I dressed for work, and headed to the show floor for my 3.5 hour shift. Standing. 3.5 hours. Concrete covered by cheap carpet and no padding. This is pure evil on feet and legs and mood.

The good news, the floor was dead at 6:00. We bolted.

Another mad dash to the room, geared up, out the door to elevator gridlock. I guess everyone bailed at 6:00.

Coming off the elevator, I saw Seth, co-worker, fellow booth slave, and running bud. He was still wearing his blue blazer and a dejected look. He had yet another meeting to go to. He looked like the kid whose mom wouldn't let him play ball with the other kids, sitting in the front window, watching all the fun he wasn't having.

Forgot the GPS watch in the room, which was on the other side of that elevator mess, so repeated yesterday's tour of backstage Mandalay Bay. This time, it was dark. And chilly. And wet, having just stopped raining.

Las Vegas has the best sidewalks in the world. Smooth, wide, uniform.  Not a crack or toe-stubbing bump. This evening, I was the only one using them. It was like being at an amusement park before it opens. Not a soul on foot but me.

Got it in, though. And now, I'm typing as fast as I can so we can hit the "partner events" and then start the night.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.2 miles, again. Tomorrow, Seth.