Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 243 - Photo Safari - San Francisco

Hey kids, time for another photo safari! This time for the wonderful city of San Francisco.

First, let's catch up on last night...

The Macho Margarita at Colibri

JalapeƱos roasted in Cointreau, mulled, and mixed with some fine tequila and agave syrup, makes for a spicy, and pleasantly perfect margarita.

Glaze Azul

 Found out the fun way that if you order the last shot from this gorgeous hand-made bottle, it's yours to keep. Want do you think? A lamp?

Ok... we're caught up... on to today.

There are some situations that really test a relationship. For example, traveling. Also, if one of you is sick, that can be stressful. Traveling while one of you is sick is extra fun.

But let me tell you, those are child's play compared to a tandem bike ride across the Golden Gate bridge, especially when it's under a deadline, by which one of you needs to be at work on the trade show floor.

Let me put one myth to rest. Tandem bikes are not fun. They suck. And climbing steep hills on a tandem sucks extra.

Fortunately, early in the journey, before the thigh frying climbs, we came upon one of my favorite landmarks of SF...

The Palace of Fine Arts

... whose beauty soothed my nerves, and likely saving me from some serious jail time.

Here's a travel tip... if you're stupid adventurous enough to take a bike tour across the Golden Gate Bridge, you might want to sneak a peak at the bridge first to make sure it isn't shrouded in fog... fog so thick you can't see the water, or the top of the supports, or pedestrians wandering into your path. Pictures of fog... not great scrapbook material.

This day, we did manage to find some of the bridge fogless, the Marin side.

The good news is that from this point on, it's pretty much downhill. And at this point, the term "downhill" will bring tears to your eyes.

Foggy Golden Gate from high above Sausalito

View of Sausalito from high above Sausalito

Been a while since I added a fountain.

A beer and a seat at an outdoor cafe gave my legs a chance to recover. Then, it was time to board the ferry for the trip home.

Anyone else think it's a little weird that a decommissioned high security prison is such a poplar tourist destination?


SF from the bay
What I like about this view is how the streets, rising what appears to be almost vertically, show how steep the hills are and how high the middle sits.

We did manage to get back in time for me to get cleaned up enough for work, and to at work with 9 minutes to spare.

After work, I got yet another short run in. Legs were pooped. Dinner reservation was coming up soon. Short was what I had time for.

Blasted down Market street to Embarcadero, where I saw this...

 Nope, I didn't. I have a rule. If I can't see the bottom, I don't go in.Couldn't. Didn't.

Yet another shower and it was time for dinner, at my favorite sushi restaurant...

Ozumo is Japanese for "Super yummy"

My favorite way to dine on sushi is to turn myself, and my dinner, over to the chef. I tell them that I am in their hands, and for them to prepare for me whatever they would like me to have. It never fails to bring a smile to the face of the sushi chef. They take such pride in their work that they take this responsibility seriously, and they repay the honor with the freshest fish, and usually something special.

Our chef

Fantastically fresh, sweet, tender, melty snapper.

For dessert, we treated ourselves to live Jazz.

Les Joulines Jazz Bistro
... and some amazing garlic fries...


Every day/night I've ever spent in San Francisco has been a delight. Even a tandem bike tour couldn't spoil this one.

Good running,

Numbers: 2 miles on sidewalks with 1327 stops for traffic.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 242 - San Francisco Fog

Traveling west is hard on the body, especially when you take an early flight and have to work in the evening... Pacific time.

Barely had time to squeeze in a run between the flight and work.

Here's what I learned on my very short jaunt:

The hills in San Francisco are steep.

China Town is very close to my hotel.

The Chinese really don't like elephants.

No, seriously. They REALLY don't like elephants.

What did elephants ever do to the Chinese?

Good running,

Numbers: 1.2 miles on the streets of San Francisco.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 241 - MotoGP and other things

I really thought I'd be more tired.

Having made the late late run home from Chicago last night, I thought I'd be dragging. But bed at 2:30 and up at 9:30 seemed to be enough.

Had time to watch the F1 race from Spa, and get in a quick run, before riding down to the speedway.

The surprise of the day was running into my buddy Marty. Turned out he was meandering around Ducati Island, taking in the fashion show, and snagging a free shirt (which he generously gave to me).

We stood at the fence for the Moto2 race. Bikes were sliding all over the place. It might have been the sweat run-off from all of us along the fence. It was HOT.

For the second race, we climbed to base camp 3 at the top of the south stands. Why climb so high? Well, the view was marginally better, but the real reason was the sliver of shade.

The MotoGP race was fun. Not terribly dramatic. But fun. Lots of people to chat with and ooh and ahh with.

After the race, I humped it back to the bike and enjoyed a pleasant rode home.

Borrrrrinnnnng! Who cares about motorcycle racing? Or IndyCar racing for that matter?

Nice. Why do you hang out here? Seriously. Why don't you go read some IT blog, or something on FoxNews.com?

The point is, that we all have our own things... the things that we enjoy, just because. We don't care who else enjoys them. We do, and that's all that matters.

And, there are a few precious days when people who also enjoy one of your things, gather. And making the pilgrimage, going to where they are, is good for you. It's nourishing. It's reaffirming. And it's just plain fun to be around people who you can talk to about your thing, without having to explain it, or justify it, or defend it.

Embrace your thing. Enjoy your thing. And when you can, find other people who dig your thing and hang out with them and talk to them and let it sink in that you are part of a tribe that may be sparse, but it's out there.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles on trails and grass.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 240 - IndyCar at Chicagoland

Chicago seems a lot farther away when you're in a car with 4 other dudes. And even longer when you're in the back seat.

No matter, 'cause I was preparing for another day of emersion in one of my favorite pastimes. I was on my way to see the IndyCar race.

Chicago is well known in the IndyCar world for great races. Wheel to wheel, 3-wide, fast and furious and clamp-your-sphincter excitement

And likely the will be the last time the pointy cars will be here. At least for the near future.

So when Mike said that he and his buds were making the trek, I was in. We even recruited a NASCAR-loving coworker.

The drive up was, um, cozy. But mercifully quick and filled with IndyCar fanboy chatter, and lots of discussion about the wind farms. Lots and lots of discussion about those.

Once parked, we setup the tent, chairs, and cooler. Sweet Eddie Sachs we had it made.

Then "Indy Bob" sidled up. Indy Bob was wuh-eird. And that's in the context of a sea of IndyCar dorks.

He talked at us without bothering to determine if we were interested. Or listening. He's (purportedly) been to 50 Indy 500s and 24 different races this year. And that apparently gives him the right to stand over us and blabber on, and on, and on.

Lucky for me my sister butt-dialed me, giving me an out. I used that out to check out Bob's truck. Really creepy. I'm pretty sure Bob lives in his truck. He had bedding, clothes, food, and a trashcan.

Oh, and an extensive bread bag closure collection.


Burgered up, we headed in, picked a row as high up as we could climb without supplemental oxygen, and settled in for the race. And it was a hell of a show. Think bull fight at 220mph. Under the lights. Unreal.

On the way out, we saw this guy. Totally boozed out.  Only drunk person I saw the whole time we were there. We was drunk enough for several. The creepy thing was that his eyes were still open.

The trip back was even cozier. (Why did the two biggest guys sit in the back with me?) And there was even more chatter about the current state and future of IndyCar, and even more wind farm talk. (Did you know that at night the red airplane warning lights on top of the turbines all blink in unison? They do, and it is amazing to see. Seriously.)

Just got home at 2a. 14 hours with fellow IndyCar geeks. Totally worth it.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.1 miles on streets with dog.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 239 - MotoGP Appetizer

To start off finishing off the summer, I went total emersion... in MotoGP.

For those not in the know, MotoGP is the tippity-top level of motorcycle racing. It is also awesome.

These guys are blazing fast, and they go through turns with the bike on its side, their knee dragging the pavement, and the back wheel sliding out from underneath them.

[Apologies for the motorcycle heavy theme for the post. But it was a motorcycle heavy day.]

It started last night at my local Ducati dealership, hanging out with other... what's a nice word... enthusiasts.

Easily over a hundred Ducati's

Got to meet Ducati Moto GP rider and 2006 World Champion, Nicky Hayden.

Gotta dig the hair.

Today, I left the office early... really early... and went to watch practice.

I've been to the speedway a jillion times, and I've been just about everywhere there is to go. But before today, I'd never ridden on the actual race course.

I thought it was a mistake. I checked with 3 yellow shirts. They all pointed me toward the north chute. And they didn't seem mentally unstable.

Sure enough... before I knew it, I was going (the wrong way) into Indy's turn 3 and up the backstretch. I was stunned and thrilled and sure that I was either dreaming or about to be arrested.

Turns out, for MotoGP, the backstretch is one long-ass motorcycle parking lot.

But I wasn't parking here. Thanks to the good folks at Ducati, I had a spot waiting for me, and my bike, on Ducati Island.

I've owned several Toyotas since 1987. They've never invited me to anything like this.

Ducati Island is shock-and-awe marketing. Bikes, gear, accessories, banners, scantily-clad girls, stage, DJ/MC, all with the backdrop of racers flying by. Literally. At the fence I was 25 feet from where the riders enter the track. And they enter the track at SCREAMING-FLAMING-BOTH-BALLS-OUT! miles per hour. And they wave as they go by.

[Video captured and edited on iPhone 4. Too. Cool.]

When the action cooled, I got to hang out in the Ducati Cafe, which is essentially a lounge with espresso on tap and lots of water.

And aforementioned scantily-clad girls.

And foosball.

Half the fun of a gathering of motorcycles is walking around and checking out the bikes. I especially like the old bikes.

Ducati Indiana 650

Old-school Desmo

No idea, except that it's an old Ducati

On my way out, after having bought new shades and a t-shirt, I went passed the Ducati USA tent. In the corner, I spotted a really cooling looking bike. Turned out to be the same model as mine with an optional fuel tank that would make an excellent Christmas present. I'm just sayin'...

The first day of the end of my summer was, for this newly baptized motorcycle rider and longtime MotoGP fan, a total blast. The bikes were fast. The weather was perfect. And I got to ride my bike home.

I think tomorrow will be even better.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles on trails right before a much-needed stretch/torture session.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 238 - Summer Blowout

The summer's been good. Certainly not spectacular. Not quite great. But good.

Tomorrow, though, starts a week-and-a-half crammed full to the point that stuff's starting to leak out in places.

The summer is going out with a bang. No, more like a Ka-F'in-BOOM!

It all kick's off with... wait. I think I'll just let it all unfold as it happens. That's more fun, right?

I better get some sleep. I'm gonna need it.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.4 miles on trails.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 237 - Thanks to the Streak

Man, it's been a rough 6 weeks.

First, I had my kids for 2 weeks. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the time and we had a blast. But there wasn't a lot of "me time" in there.

I rolled from kid time to acquisition turmoil. The company I work for was acquired. Not a bad thing. But new company means new bosses, which means a fresh pass on everything strategic, which means rethinking and re-justifying every decision I've made, or suggested, over the last 2 years. Again, not a bad thing. But a lot of work.

And just as that cooled down a bit, I got whacked in the nards with a virus that threatened to melt my brain, and then liquefy my lungs.

On the run today, I replayed this back to back to back tale to my cohort, lamenting how slow and weak I felt after just 4 days of "normal" runs, and how I despise that feeling... the feeling of struggling.

Later, flat on my back, stretched and mostly done sweating, I thought more about it.

Without my streak, that commitment to myself, I'd have very likely run something between 0 and 5 days during that 42 day stretch.

Instead, I ran 42 days. Many of those runs were short, and slow. But they were runs, outside.

How much worse would I feel if not for the streak? How much further behind would I be? How much weaker and slower would I be?

And more importantly, how would I have fared mentally and emotionally and cognitively if not for that daily break from the world, that daily connection with the person I was always meant to be.

Thanks streak, you abstract concept, you.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.4 miles on roads

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 236 - Meet the Teacher

It's that time of the year, again, Meet the Teacher Night..

Time for parents to schlep themselves to the school, balance themselves on kid-sized chairs, and listen to the same speech, year after year.

Huge props to the teachers who deliver that same speech, year after year, as if it's their first time. And kudos to them for making us really believe that they love their job, and that there really aren't any politics or back-biting or hair-pulling or tequila slamming in the teacher's lounge.

We need that illusion, that our kids are in the one and only perfect school where the principal poops rainbows, the teachers don't make fun of the dorky kids in their class, and they're all satisfied with the pittance they are paid for teaching, disciplining, and babysitting our precious little angels, while we bitch about how high our taxes are.

This year, Meet the Teacher Night was blissfully short. Informative. Succinct. And thanks to the teachers' ability to control the room, no parents asking inane questions that are really thinly veiled pats on their own back... "How will you be sure to keep the extremely gifted students challenged?"... "Are auditions for commercials considered excused absences?" ... and the dad's favorite "Is there an Advanced Placement PE program?"

The best part of the evening is reading the letter that my kid left for me. I know they're forced to write them, but they still manage to put a bit of themselves in there, and something that makes me laugh.

The second best part of the evening is writing a letter back to my kid. I try to tell them how excited I am for them, how great the year is going to be for them, and how proud I am of them, without it reading like a letter from Dad.

I'd like to say that I'll be glad when I'm done with Meet the Teacher Nights. But to be honest, I'll miss those letters. And I'll miss sitting at my kid's desk, snooping through his things, finding his drawings on the wall, and imagining what it's like for him, to be sitting there, learning, and trying to stay out of trouble.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.6 miles on trails.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 235 - Timeless

A runner without a watch is like a baseball player without sunflower seeds, or an NFL player without a handgun, or an NBA player without a handful of baby-mamas.

Yet here I sit, watchless. Have been for weeks. Maybe months.

I used to be a watch hound. Loved watches. Loved buying watches. Not the expensive designer watches, or the elegant/artistic real movement watches with actual gears inside. These were running watches. Black. Digital. Plastic. Functional gadgets, not stylish jewelry.

I had alarms set, and timers running. And I always knew the date. And time.

Now, not so much.

As I sit here and try to understand why, I know that I have my phone on me to fill some of the void. But it's not the same.

I guess I just don't really care what time it is anymore. Not enough to have it at the ready, a wrist-turn away.

That feels like a good thing.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.4 miles on roads

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 234 - I need a Massage

There are days when running is effortless.

There are days when running is fun.

There are days when running is an amazing workout.

And there are days like today.

Today was an exercise in patience and understanding. Being patient with my body as it goes from sick to well, and understanding that it takes its sweet time with this process.

In my twenties, I could do anything.

In my thirties, I could do anything, but I'd be sore the next morning.

In my forties, I think I can do anything. And when I try, I pay the price for a couple days.

I don't know if I'll ever get used to how long it takes me to heal. I hope that I don't start using that as an excuse to hold back.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.1 miles, mostly a struggle as my legs outpaced my lungs.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 233 - Ren and Stimpy, and the Zoo

Going to the zoo at 4pm in August is essentially paying to walk in a park. Sure, I did see some animals, but none of them were moving. Not a step. It could have been an extremely extravagant taxidermy shop for all I knew.

They look almost lifelike.

These cheetahs sure are fast... asleep.
That was the afternoon.

The evening? Well for those of you fortunate enough to have Netflix streaming, click on over and watch a few episodes of Ren and Stimpy and tell me that your life isn't just a little bit better.

Or at least... different.

And watch them with your kids and then try to explain 1) why they're funny, and 2) why you watched them in the early 90s.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles. Lungs are better, but not clear.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 232 - Birdsong

So, I was running the trail today at lunch. About halfway, I heard the faintest little bird sound. Not really a chirp, or a warble. Just the faintest little whistle.

I'm not an expert, but I'd never heard this bird before. And as faint as it was, it seemed to always be close, as if the bird were following me.

Also odd, the bird seemed to call out at an unusually regular rate, about every two seconds.

To get a better listen, and maybe a bead on the bird's direction, I held my breath for a few strides. As my luck would have it, the bird went quiet.

I figured I'd gone out of range, or the bird had lost interest in me. So I went back to the run.

Just then, there it was, back again.

I listened hard, like you can look hard at something by staring at it, leaning in, opening your eyes a little more, and lowering your eyebrows.

It seemed so close, but so faint, and short. Always right with me. Always the same call. Always staccato short. So regular. Too regular. Always... on... my... exhale.

[sigh...[faint whistle]]

Wasn't a bird. It was my own lungs, airway to be more precise, wheezing. Wheezing to the point of whistling.

Perfect. Just perfect.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.5 miles on trails.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 231 - YATS!

One of my quirks, of which there are several, is that I go downtown, a trip of about 15 miles, every 4 weeks, to get my hair cut.

I imagine there are a couple hundred places in a 15 mile radius that could cut my hair, and maybe 2 or 3 would do an adequate job.

But my place has the guy, THE guy who can cut my hair without making me look like a dork. A bigger dork. Not a small feat. Many have tried. All but one have failed.

So, it's worth the trip.

And today, I rode the Ducati to work. And to the hair place. And I don't ride the bike on the interstates, so I took the scenic route. And it was pretty cool. I was on roads I hadn't been on in years. And there were trees, and shade from trees.

I took a different route home... up College. Midway I realized I was hungry. And what was just a few blocks up the road? YATS!

YATS is a local cajun/creole restaurant in Broadripple. The food is insanely good, and the place has that unmistakable and impossible to fake feel of a neighborhood joint.

Every time I eat here, or hear of someone's own visit, I torture myself for having not gone more often.

If I'd taken the car, I wouldn't have been quite as sweaty. But I also would have taken the anonymous interstate home. There's nothing stopping me from taking the same route home in my car, I just don't. I takes longer, has more lights. And being in a car is usually something I'm not looking to draw out.

Motorcycles are a local form of travel. Like running, they can connect you to neighborhoods, if you let them. And they're easy to park.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 difficult miles

Meal: Gumbo!