Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 334 - Look up

I rode the bike into work yesterday. Cold morning (34F), but the afternoon promised to be better. Very likely the last dry day with temps reaching anywhere near 50, I couldn't pass it up.

Good thing, too, because the morning was gorgeous. The clouds looked as if Mother Nature, starting a new quilt, had dumped a huge-ass bag of batting on the glass-topped table above us.

If you were in a car, or on a treadmill, under a roof, you wouldn't have noticed them. But out on the bike, or on a run, you were out under them, you couldn't have missed them.

What I really love about these clouds, the way they stretch from one horizon to the other without obscuring the blue above, is that they give you a sense of scale. If you let them, they remind us how vast the sky is, how high and how far the dome goes, how small we are, and how lucky we are to be alive.

Get outside, look around, and don't forget to look up.*

Good running,

*And if you see something that reminds you you're alive, even if you have gloves on and your phone is tucked away in a pocket, and your running late already, and you don't see any easy places to pull over, just stop, make the moment, and snap some pictures. You'll thank yourself later.

Numbers: 1.4 miles, should have done more, but, it's done.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 333 - Gifts for the Runner

If there's a runner on your gift list this holiday season, consider yourself lucky.

Not only are you close to someone who is an above average person, and probably pretty hot lookin', but you also have easy-pickin's for presents. Let's take a look at what's out there, shall we?

Oh, wait... disclaimer.... I don't get anything from any of these products or manufacturers. Honest. I just dig what they sell. I use all f them, or variants of them, myself, except for RoadID. Ok, let's shop...

$$$$$ Huge Ticket:

The ultimate big ticket gift for a runner is a guilt free, all (or some) expense-paid trip to the race of their choice.* But, even popping for an airline ticket, or just the race fee, is a great way to support and encourage your favorite runner.

Low Budget Alternative: Give your runner a coupon good for guilt-free permission and unwavering support to train for the race of their choice. I know a lot of runners with families who don't think they can train for a race because of the demands for time and attention it requires. Let them know it's cool, in fact it's awesome that they want to kick some butt in an upcoming race. Tell them you've got things covered, and you'll be there with a hug and some water at the finish line. You can even throw in some personal massages after those long training runs, if you're into that sort of thing.

$$$ Big Ticket:

A Garmin GPS running watch. Simple, but so mind-blowing for runners and the data freaks hidden inside them. Being able to step out the door, no matter where you are, and just run, free from sticking to known measured routes, opens up a whole new world to the GPS-enabled runner. And then, after the run, the untapped world of data analysis... Oh boy!

Too late alternative: If your runner already has a GPS watch, consider SportTracks 3.0, which is the $35 upgraded version of the best GPS data archive/training log I've ever seen. It's so good that I gave up my personal spreadsheet that I'd been using for 14 years. 14 years! It's like Linus giving up his blanket. That's how good it is.

Low budget Alternative: MapMyRun.com bronze membership. For $30 a year your runner can map and measure his/her runs without the insanely annoying ads that those of us too cheap to bump up from the free membership have to deal with.

Another Low Budget Alternative: If your runner has an iPhone or other smart phone that has GPS built in, consider a $20 RunKeeper Elite membership.This upgrade to the free app let's your runner broadcast his/her position during runs and races so you can keep tabs on them, and maybe even have the shower warmed up for them when they return from that wintery long run,with snot-cicles dangling from their nose.

$$ Medium Ticket:

Hands-down best running top for cold weather is the Brooks HVAC long-sleeve with half-zipper. The things have silver woven into the fabric which not only regulates your temperature, but also acts as a natural anti-microbial... that means the shirt won't stink. I've worn mine 3, even 4 days in a row when I've been traveling, and it still smells like new. And I'm a sweaty, sweaty runner. $65 is a steal for this product. It comes in black and blue. Black looks better, but it can get too warm if the sun's out. Go for blue.**

Low budget alternative: Balega socks. Best running socks on the planet. It's that simple. Best. Socks. Ever. And, they have a great story and mission. Their website explains it better than I can. Check it out. Best socks... EVER.

Very Low Budget Alternative: 8-feet of non-stretching nylon rope (I got my cut to size in the bulk rope and chain aisle at Lowes) and a link to Active Isolated Stretching videos on YouTube. AIS has saved my running career.

$ Media:

$ Stocking Stuffers:

  • BodyGlide -  Nothing ruins the holidays like chafing. This is the gift that keeps on giving, through lubrication.
  • RoadID - Tell your runner you care by making sure first responders will be able to identify the body easily.
  • Gu - keep your runner running!

See? Tons of stuff for your runner. These are just the things off the top of my head. Oh, a hat would be good, too. And gloves. Just make sure they're not too think, and that they're made of moisture (sweat) wicking material.

Personally, I'd shy away from jackets and pants and tights, and definitely shoes. They're expensive, and highly subject to personal taste and comfort. If you want to go that route, go with a gift card and let your runner pick their own.

One more thing... use the links above for reference, but please visit and support your local running store.*** You can find most, if not all, of the tangible items above, and lots more, in good stores. You might pay a couple dollars more than the cheapest online source, but what you'll get for that pittance is a wealth of knowledge and support and camaraderie that you just don't find at a big athletic store (*cough* *cough* Dick's *cough*), or worse, a website.

If you have any other/better ideas, comment section below is open as always.

Good running,

*For those looking to gift this runner, I'd like to go back to New York for the marathon, so let's see... entry, air, hotel, meals, couple shows, NYCM jacket, post-race tequila shots ... $3,000 should cover it.

**I'll take a medium.

***If you're anywhere near me, I recommend highly the world's best running store, The Runners Forum at 116th and Keystone in Carmel, IN.

Numbers: 2.0 miles around the business park

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 332 - Batteries

I've been carrying an obscure battery around in my pocket for 3 weeks.

It's for my car's remote key fob thingy.

My car is new fanglish in that I don't have "key" per se. I have a key fob that only needs to be near the car, like in my pocket, for me to get in and to start the car. It's insanely convenient. I never fumble for a key to get the door unlocked. I just touch the handle, the car beeps "you're cool", and I'm in.

That incredible convenience comes at a price. Your key fob needs to, like, work. For a couple months, my car has warned me, "Low Key Battery". My main key fob thingy was doornails dead. The spare was on life support.

I was a couple electrons away from having a perfectly perfect car that I couldn't use because my key thingy's battery was dead.

After several failed attempts to find a battery at Target, Meijer, and the like, I was determined to revive my fobs. So, I turned to, what else, my run.

I love the idea of using my daily run for something productive. Two birds, one stone, kinda deal. Today, I ran to Batteries Plus.

If you aren't hip to the Batteries Plus deal, they are a store that is all about batteries. If you need a battery, no matter how obscure, they have it. They probably have 12. And they don't bend you over with the price. They are so good that they can make money by selling nothing but batteries.

And, they let the dog come in with me. Can you ask for more? I think not.

Next time you have an errand to run, ask yourself if you can run it? It's a great use of time, and you'll impress the hell out of the battery guy.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.0 miles on sidewalks.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 331 - Right to Roam

Living in the United States is, indeed, a great pile of good fortune. There are many many many things that we have here that no one else has, and that we completely take for granted because it seems so obvious that everyone should have them.

But we aren't perfect. We still have some things to learn.

Case in point... Britain's Right to Roam.

During one of the 17 Thanksgiving feasts I've enjoyed the past couple days, I was talking with Helen, a wonderful person who also happens to be a runner, which makes her extra wonderful. She's also from England, living for a while near Chicago. She was talking about the pros and cons of the US lifestyle, which was mostly pros, but she did mention that to go for a run on a "proper trail" she had to drive to a forrest preserve. "It's not like in the UK where I can just pop out my door and jump on a trail."

Me: What? You have a trail right by your house?
Helen: No, I have dozens.

This did not compute. Unless you live in a state park, how can you have that many trails right by your house?

Cut to this morning's run with Marino, also an Englander.

Marino tells me he has literally hundreds of paths nearby to run on. For his long runs, he picks one, and when that path intersects another, he just turns, and keeps running, and turning, until he's lost. Then, he sees if he can find his way back.

Sounds like fun, but how can that be? He lives in a suburb of London.

Marino explained to me that in the UK, footpaths that have been around, and in use, for hundreds of years, are protected. By laws. Seriously.

Paths might go through fields or cross pastures, and anyone has the right to use them. The property owners still own the land, they just have to give people access to the paths.

This is so... un-American. We are so enamored with our own, individual rights, that we too often trample the public good. We put up fences and "No Trespassing" signs to stake out our claim to a patch of ground that, really, was here long before we were, and will be long after we're gone.

What's the harm in letting someone run, or walk, or hike, or cycle across the ground you "own"? Nothing, right? No harm, as long as they are respectful, don't take anything, and don't shoot anything.

Too bad nearly all of our footpaths are gone, or paved over. Maybe if everyone had a nice path or two that they didn't have to drive to, people would get outside more. Instead, we have sidewalks, which are nice, but they are always next to roads. Hard to get back to nature with SUVs flying by. We also have some public trails, or short trails in parks, which all require a drive just to run them.

Marino and I enjoyed a nice run on a trail in a state park
only to find that even that trail was restricted use.

We seem to like our lives compartmentalized. I live here. I work there. I shop over there. I go there for recreation. How nice would it be to have it all close by, just outside your door, or just down a footpath?

Good running,

Numbers: 3.3 miles on trails

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 330 - Ice, Ice, Baby

Winter's here. Bloody cold out there today.

But the sun was out, the sky was blue, there was hardly a wisp of wind, and I was properly dressed.

So the dog and I headed out for a short recovery run from yesterday's sprint through two Thanksgiving feasts. Oh, and the race. Needed to recover from that, too.

When it hasn't been well below freezing for a while, that first icy run has a bit of a novelty feel to it..

Ok, peeps, I'm going to be straight with you. At this point in the post, the GF pulled in and we left for yet another Thanksgiving dinner.  As I sit back down, we've had a wonderful meal, lots of great conversation, including meeting the drummer for a quite famous rock band that shall remain nameless, and a couple glasses of wine. And a couple beers. And a couple more beers with my bud Marty.

It's been several hours since I started this post and quite frankly, I don't have a clue as to where I was going with it. It's late. And I have a product from the fine New Belgium Brewers in front of me. So, with apologies, I'm emailing this one in.

Hey more ice. I'm sure earlier I had a really interesting and insightful observation that has since left me.

Thanksgiving with the GF's family is a celebration of family and music and good fortune for being together. I'm a very lucky guy to be a part of it.

Here's my pup, who I love, despite her desire to chase vermin outside of our property limits.

The idea for this picture came to me as I was running this glorious morning. I was thinking about how lucky I am to be running on a gorgeous morning with my best running buddy. The blue of a wintery morning sky is unmatched. Just like my life.

Cheers to you, my loyal readers. And of course,

Good running,

Numbers: 2.6 miles with the canine, enjoyed every step.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 329 - Thanksgiving Present

I've always wanted to do the Drumstick Dash. It's a Thanksgiving Day race that in 8 years has grown from a couple hundred runners to over 12,000. Lots of families, lots of costumes, lots of fun. Just hasn't worked out, until today.

This year's race was extra special... because it was raining... lots.

It's been raining pretty much non-stop since yesterday. So we got to deal with the rain and big, deep puddles. All in the spirit of pre-emptive calorie burn.

I tagged along with the GF's family and friends. We filled two SUVs, left late, and once we made it to the start, we were slotted right behind the strollers when the gun went off.

The next 4.5 miles were spent surfing through the endless sea of bodies. And it was a blast.

Despite the rain and the bone-deep post-race chill, it was the perfect way to start Thanksgiving.

And, in the spirit of the day... 10 things I'm thankful for, in no particular order:

  1. I am healthy enough to run a 4.5 mile race in the rain.
  2. My kids are healthy and brilliant and happy.
  3. I've found a wonderful girl who likes me just as I am.
  4. The dog's stopped using the upstairs landing for her personal restroom (knock on wood).
  5. I have an interesting, challenging, rewarding job that pays me well, and I get to do it with fun, smart, rational people.
  6. Izod, Honda, Firestone, Chevrolet, Lotus, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Randy Bernard who are reviving IndyCar.
  7. My car, which is flawless (knock on wood).
  8. I have a comfortable home in a quiet, safe neighborhood.
  9. All of the kind words, fun comments, emails, and support in this forum, and from people in my real life over the past almost 11 months.
  10. BodyGlide
Happy Thanksgiving, and of course...

Good running,

Numbers: 4.5 miles, not including the dash to get our late-comers registered.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 328 - Thanksgivings past

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. No pressure, no religious overtones, just good food with people you care about.

And football. Wait, if the Lions are playing, is it still football? Let's be generous and say it is. It's the holidays.

The last couple years, Thanksgiving was a chance for me to pitch in and help make someone else's really big family event easier, or better, or less stressful, or smoother, or some combination of those. I cleaned, I fetched, I shopped, I setup, I cooked (a little), I greeted, I entertained, I cleaned up, I did dishes. And I was thrilled to do it. I'm a people pleaser, and the more you mean to me, the more I delight in helping you.

I didn't know it at the time, but those two Thanksgivings turned out to be bookends. The first, the start of the end. The last, the end of the end. Hard to believe it took a year to fully unravel.

The first year saw the first chink when my short, wine-induced and misunderstood rant about another guy branded me as "not the guy I thought you were." No manner of apology or explanation could patch the hole. Looking back, things were never the same after that weekend.

Last year, as Thanksgiving approached, even as the slights piled up and the warmth disappeared, I was assured that things were fine, that it was just a phase. You'd think I'd have known. I'd been there before.

During the big Turkey Day event, I was in my groove. I made the mashed potatoes, got my (insanely yummy) turkey ready and cooked, saved her turkey, twice, carved and served. Later, a member of her family said to me, as I was wiping off a card table so he could play cards, "Doug, you're too nice." He didn't say it as a way of saying "Thank you", it was more like... advice. I think he knew more than I did.

One of my biggest regrets is that when that event wound down, I stuck around, blowing off my family's gathering, to finish cleaning up, to play with her kids, to spend quiet time with someone who, turns out, didn't want me there.

After another indescribably awkward 36 hours, it was officially, mercifully, over.

In hindsight, it was inevitable. The scorpion stings the frog, even though it dooms them both. It doesn't want to, but it can't help it, because it's a scorpion, that's its nature. Not her fault, I knew what I signing up for. I'd just convinced myself that we'd be different.

My nature is nice. I've tried being a jerk, and it just doesn't suit me. I don't believe you can be too nice to anyone, let alone those you care about. If being too nice does me in, I'm cool with that.

And as I was reminded today by a completely unrelated twitter post (@PCaporali), "...sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." Marilyn Monroe said that. Marilyn was not only smokin' hot, but dead right. Much better things have fallen together.

Denial is rust on the soul. Listen to your gut. If things are falling apart, don't pretend they aren't, try to fix them. If they can't be fixed, don't waste your time wishing they could. Move on. Find a happier place. I promise, there is a happier place. And it's closer than you think.

This Thanksgiving will be a happy one for me, with family and friends that I care about, and this time, they care about me, too.

Oh, and a turkey trot that will likely induce hypothermia.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.6 miles on trails in sleet. Word of caution... muddy, steep embankment + sleet = treachery.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 327 - Domestication

Holy, shnikies! I was freezing out there!

It's 34F, and dark, and I just got back from my micro-short, rest-mile, get-back-inside-before-my-nards-fall-off run.

I need to adhere to my ice bath for my feet ritual, but tonight, it seems redundant.

I couldn't believe how cold it felt, and how quickly I felt cold. My toes were numb even before the short run was over.

As soon as I got inside, I pulled my shoes off. Interestingly, a leaf stuck to my thumb. Sure, it was a little damp, but it was... sticky, too... in a weird way. I pulled off my tights before I scraped it off my thumb using the edge of the waste basket. As I pulled my hand back, I caught the faintest... odor.

I direct sniff confirmed it... that leaf was covered in poo. Stinky, sticky, poo.

There isn't enough hot water and anti-bacterial soap in this hemisphere to make me believe that my thumb is clean.

What a wuss I've become. We all have.

I came home to a warm house. Didn't have to build a fire, let alone chop wood. In fact, when I started this post, complaining about how cold I was, I was sitting in shorts, barefoot. And I'm not cold anymore.

I washed my poo-bespekled thumb with clean, hot water, at the ready, piped to any of 4 sinks, or 3 bathtubs, or a sweet-ass two-head shower. No bucket. No well. No fetching. No trudging to the river. And I didn't have to make the soap.

I have food in my house, in a box that keeps it fresh. I didn't even have to kill it. And I don't have to eat it raw either. I have another box that will warm it up, and tenderize it, and not inconsequentially, kill any lingering germs. If I'm in a hurry, I have another box that will heat it up in seconds. Seconds!

I drive a heated car to the heated office where I work sitting down.

We've been domesticated. We've domesticated ourselves. Like declawed cats, 99% of us wouldn't last a week out in the wild. We like to think we could. Some of us go camping, with tents, and portable stoves, and food we brought with us, and cell phones. Today, a pretty cold day, I rode the motorcycle to work... wearing heated gloves.*

I enjoy the comforts of the domesticated life. I can't wait to wriggle into my bed at night. Electricity is way better than candles for practical lighting. And showers... well, if showering were an Olympic event, the IOC would have kindly asked me to retire because my unprecedented string of gold medals was demoralizing the other athletes and ruining the sport.

But it's good to remember that though we may be domesticated, we're still animals. Stay in touch with that inner wild nature. Get outside when it's cold. Don't resist it. Feel it on your skin. Breath it in, letting it chill your nostrils. Look up at the sky and let yourself feel small, tiny, a mere speck on the surface of a rock, only here for the blink of an eye.

Don't waste that blink insulated from the rest of the world. Get out, move around, get some poo on your thumb.

Good running,

*Heated gloves are actually quite awesome. They have extended my riding season greatly by keeping my fingers in working order while I cruise the streets.

Numbers: 1.4 miles, another rest-mile day, this one ridiculously slow, mostly because it was so dark I couldn't see where I was going in the woods.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 326 - Mental Tow Truck

We evolved into sentient creatures for a reason. Not sure why.

I heard one theory today that said it was so that we could invent new ways of thinking that nature couldn't produce, at least not efficiently. Nature created a self-programming computer because it was easier than creating all of those different-thinking creatures separately.

I know... trippy, right? Especially for a Monday.

This Monday was, for reasons unknown, especially Monday-ish. It was a struggle to do much more than breath and blink.

Luckily, I have a well functioning cerebral cortex and the ability to recognize a funk when I see one. Want to know the best way to shed a funk?

Running? Yes, excellent answer. 5 points for Gryffindor. But suppose that you can't run, at least not until after work? Then what do you do?

This is where that big blob of gray matter behind your forehead comes in handy. When you need a jump start, spend a few minutes, think about whatever you are passionate about. For me, I thought about when and where and how fast I was going to run today, and how I was going to prepare for the turkey trot coming up, and what my goals should be for next year, and how great it would be to run the New York City Marathon again. Stuff like that.

Like a tow truck to a stuck car, it got me out of my rut. It got my blood moving and my neurons firing and shook off that dreadful Monday funk. It was as if I ran myself out of the fog.

Passions are important. They make life fun, and interesting. They also give us something to look forward to, when we really need something to look forward to.

Embrace your passion and use it to put a fire under your life. If you don't have one, get busy, dig deep, and find it.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.0 miles on the streets in the dark. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 325 - Cowboys and Aliens

Saw Harry Potter 7.1 today. Excellent flick. Looking forward to 7.2.

Of course to see the movie, I had to endure the blockbuster movie trailer bonanza. When you see a huge movie, you are opting in for a good 20 minutes of really expensive commercials for movies that can afford it.

From today's crop, I can make the official declaration... all of the good ideas from Hollywood have been used up.

Trailers before HP 7.1:
  • Green Lantern - movie version of the comic book
  • Green Hornet - movie version of the comic book which was an adaptation of the radio series
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 - sequel
  • Yogi Bear - movie version of the cartoon that was never funny
  • And the coup de grace, Cowboys and Aliens. I am not making this up. I wish I were.
I thought that Nazi Zombies was the quintessential mindless non-sequitor mashup. But Cowboys and Aliens is proof that Hollywood producers have run themselves bone dry. Let's imagine the lunch that spawned this C- effort.

Phil: Steve, I'm desperate. Bunny's threatened to leave me if I don't raise her allowance into 5 figures a week. Look at me! I'm 47, bald, flabby. How am I going to meet another 24 year old blonde actress. 
Steve: You're a Hollywood producer.
Phil: Yeah, good point... but the dogs tolerate Bunny.
Steve: Ok... we need just need an idea.
Phil: Yeah, an idea... that's good... an idea... what's good.
Steve: You know what sells? Aliens!
Phil: Mexicans?
Steve: Stay with me, Phil. Aliens, big eyes, green skin...
Phil: I think the Alien franchise is about wrapped up.
Steve: No, aliens, not Aliens. Generic beings from another galaxy.
Phil: Yes! Generic, royalty-free aliens.
Steve: But we should put a spin on it.
Phil: How about Republican aliens?
Steve: Nah, too trendy.
Phil: Nazi Alien Zombies!
Steve: Don't be silly.
Phil: Dude, I'm trying, ok... What else works.
Steve: Cop/buddy movies.
Phil: Guns! Guns are awesome. And Republicans love guns!
Steve: Wait... this may be the cocaine talking, but I'm thinking Western. Six-shooters, horses, dusty dirty streets...
Phil: And f*cking aliens!!! This is GOLD!
Steve: Check please.
Phil: Dennis! Where the hell is Dennis?! Dennis, get Harrison Ford's people on the phone.*

Truth be told, the trailer sucked me in. Then I saw the title and laughed out loud. Loudly out loud.

Here are a couple recommendations for some of my favorite movies that are not spawned from comic books:
  • Watching Run for Your Life right now on NetFlix streaming, a documentary about Fred Lebow, the father of the New York City Marathon. As we know, NYCM is the greatest foot race event in the world, and the story of its birth is a nice reminder of how running can bring people together, even people who don't run. And Fred Lebow is an inspiration to those of us who would like to do one amazing thing in our lives.
  • Saint Ralph, an adorable movie about a young boy's attempt to run the Boston Marathon as a way to heal his mother. 
  • Run, Fat Boy, Run, in which an overweight smoker decides to train for a marathon to prove to his estranged former fiance, his son, and himself, that he's not a lost cause.
See how I turned that movie rant into a running related post? Pretty smooth...

Good running,

Numbers: Very conservative 1.4 miles on a heel that was whacked friggin' hard during a heated Nerf gun battle in which I hid under the bed as was shot anyway.

* Further research shows that Cowboys and Aliens is an adaptation of a graphic novel, but I like my story better.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 324 - TiVo Larceny

Let me state for the record that I am a HUGE TiVo fan. HUGE.

How huge? Well, let me tell ya.

A few weeks ago, the wireless router that I got for free (Thanks Kuzma, as if you're reading) started to fail. It was an especially nefarious manner of failure, because it would work some of the time, and fail at the most inconvenient time.

Being a geek, I was sure I could figure out what was wrong with it. So, I suffered at it's evil hands, taunting me with wireless bandwidth, until I needed it, or until my kids were REALLY wanting to watch Netflix streaming.

After countless administrative logins, and log browsing, and trial, and the inevitable error, I gave up. I bought an Apple Airport Extreme. The Big Daddy Bitchslapper of wireless routers.

It worked great. For everything with an apple on it. iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac, golden. Tivo? Uh, no. Wii? Not so much.

With hours of configuration incantations I managed to wrestle the Wii into submission, but the TiVo remained outside the new, gloriously fast network.

The deal was that the TiVo needed a new wireless adaptor to talk to the new router. When it tried to connect, it told me that the wireless adaptor I had was cool, but to talk to the new router, I needed an upgraded adaptor. A $60 upgraded adaptor. Silly, really. But reality. A reality I was not ready to accept.

I fiddled and reconfigured and swore and rebooted and reset and configured some more and finally gave up. Gave up to the point that I brought back the possessed old router to service the TiVo. This, my friends, was a mistake. Sure, it worked for a few days, but then, when I wasn't looking, it bailed, leaving my beloved TiVo disconnected from its mothership.

Stymied, I went to BestBuy, hopeful, put pessimistic. With some research I was presented with my choices which were two-fold... buy yet another router, this one old-school enough to talk the ancient hieroglyphicesque language of my TiVo dongle, or buy a new adaptor.

New router, $40. New adaptor, $24. Oh wait, that adaptor won't work with TiVo. You need to buy the TiVo branded adaptor, which is essentially the same thing, but with special TiVo stuff that makes it work with TiVo. And it's $60.

That's how much I love my TiVo. Enough to bend over and take a 250% markup for an accessory.

This is what larceny looks like in the TiVo world.

We accept mistreatment all the time. Sometimes to keep the peace. Sometimes to avoid trouble. Sometimes because we're ignorant. Sometimes because it's easier. And sometimes for reasons we can't explain. Most of the time it's because of good marketing or poor self-esteem.

The cure? A good run.

Worked for me.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles on tender achilles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 323 - Cornhole

Anyone else play in a cornhole tournament at work today?

Today, I became a tiny bit more of a Hoosier. I played cornhole. Or maybe corn hole. Pretty sure it's not core whole. I'm going with one word... cornhole.

For the uninitiated, cornhole is what happens when horseshoes and toss-a-cross meet at a bar, late, on a Saturday night.

It consists of two slanted boards, each with a circle cut about 85% up from the bottom, 8 beanbags, 2 teams of 2 people, and usually, beer.

The slanted boards are placed a good beanbag-toss apart. One player from each team stands to the side of each board. Then they take turns tossing bags at the board.

You get 1 point for each beanbag that stays on the board, and 3 points for each one that goes in the hole. Hence the too often repeated "3 in a hole" phrase, among other vaguely suggestive, and even less humorous, zingers. When the game's called cornhole, you gotta expect that.

I'd seen the game before. Hard not to if you've been to any sporting event that includes tailgating, and beer. But I'd never played. Never occurred to me. Today's Fall Festival at work was my chance, if you wanna call it that.

I'm marginally proud to report that my boss/teammate and I won our first match. Dominated, really.

Second match, we got whacked. Semi-professional cornholers cleaned us out. We were out in the second round. We played a couple more unofficial games with other losers, finishing with a respectable 2-and-2 record.

As a freshly deflowered cornhole virgin (ahem...), I can't say I love the game, but I'd play again.

For me, it's like golf. I don't really care for golf. I know a lot of people who play. It's just not for me. I might be talked into playing, to hang out with the guys. But I'm not going to buy clubs. And I'm not going to be building a cornhole set.

Every time I've played golf, I've decided that my time would have been better spent on a run. I can run for free. I rarely lose a ball on a run. And at the end of a run, I feel better than when I started. Can't say that about any time I've been golfing.

If I do get roped into a round of golf, or a game of cornhole, I'm going to make sure I get my run in first. That way I can have a beer or two while I play. It won't improve my game, but I might enjoy it more.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.1 miles on streets, after work, slow.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 322 - Man Down

Today, was the end of an era. A short era, as eras go, two or three years, but an era nonetheless.

Work/Racing/Running buddy Mike's last group run before jumping to another job was today. I was supposed to go. Got sucked into the evil vortex. Yep, lunch meeting.

They hit the trails, took it slow, chatting the usual nonsense and vulgarities. Me? I was sitting in the wobbly chair at the end of the conference table, staring at a PowerPoint. A PowerPoint depicting a software architecture.

Not my first choice.

So the run went on without me.

Mike used to be strictly a treadmill runner. He'd pound out slow miles, alone, in the poorly ventilated closet labeled "fitness center", watching SportsCenter. Once coaxed outdoors, and assured we wouldn't hurt him, or leave him, or make fun of him, he soon became a core member of the lunchtime runners, and a damn good runner, at that.

Since then, he's done some half-marathons and some triathlons. More importantly, he's been good company on many otherwise dreadful runs, passing the time with inane stories, horrible jokes, and IndyCar bench racing.

I'm sure he'll find some people to run with at his new company. They won't be as cool as us. And they won't think he's funny. At least not "ha ha" funny.

Bob dropped us. Now Mike.

Losing a running buddy is like when a friend moves away. Sure, you're still friends, but it's not the same. Mike will surely stay in touch, and we'll certainly meet up for some runs now and then, but, it won't be the same.

Still, my longest friendships have been with running buddies. Even when distance, or age, or heart attacks (I'm not kidding) keep us from running together, we still have a bond that's forged over hundreds of miles. It's the kind of bond that might change, but it'll never go away.

See ya Mike, and from the bottom of my heart, F*ck Off! I mean that, buddy.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.8 miles.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 321 - Morning Runs Suck

I used to like early morning runs. I was stupid. And my parts were still under warranty.

Ok, sure, it's great to get the run in, to have the rest of the day to feel superior, but damn... at a steep price.

When I wake up in the morning, my body feels like General Grievous has spent the night working me over with 4 baseball bats.

With each step my joints pop like popcorn and broken twigs. When I manage to get upright enough to stretch, my back snaps like breaking bamboo.

Today, I had to. Only way it was going to happen was in the morning. The run was mercifully short, and it turned out ok in the end, but going from decrepit to running in 20 minutes isn't easy.

Here's a step-by-step for surviving an early morning run...

Step 1: Move(1) - Sounds obvious, but lots of people put on their running duds as soon as they roll out of bed and hit the roads, still picking the crusties from the corners of their eyes. Give yourself a few minutes to shake off the cobwebs, walk around the house, let the dog out, but keep an eye on her because she'll jump the fen... DAMMIT, DIDN'T I SAY KEEP AN EYE ON HER! Geez, now she's... [exasperated sigh...] I'll be back in a few minutes... try not to lose any more members of the household until I get back...

Ok, found her in the back cul de sac snacking on a diaper... where was I?

Step 2: Water - You've spent the last 8 hours or so dehydrating. Drink some water... a big-ass glass. It will also help you with Step 4. As will a little coffee, if you are into that kinda thing.

Step 3: Warm - Spend a few minutes doing some light stretching. You need to get some blood flowing through those muscles that have been binding up all night. You don't want the first time they stretch out and flex to be the first step of your run. They don't like that and they might rebel... by rupturing.

Step 4: Move(2) - I don't want to talk about this anymore than you want to hear about it. Still, fact of life... you don't want Mother Nature to come a-knocking at the back door when you're on the road. Trust me. Newton's first law of motion works against you, and your sphincter muscles, if you take last night's lasagna with you on the run. Take care of business and you'll have a more pleasant run. And you'll be just that much lighter, too, which will help your pace.

Step 5: Dress - This time of year, early means dark. Make sure you can be seen. Wear something reflective. I can't afford to lose any readers. And your family might miss you. Also, you should dress to be a little chilly the first 5-10 minutes. That way, when you warm up, you aren't peeling layers. Or filling them with sweat.

Step 6: Easy - Start really slow. No, reeeealy slow. Slower... slower... there. All that stretching and warm-up stuff from Step 3 just got you to the runway. You aren't ready for cruising speed yet. You'll get there, and sooner than you think. You'll think that you're going to die before you make it from stumble up to a respectable speed, but you won't. You might wish you could, but you won't. Unless you have a heart condition, or get hit by a car because you didn't read Step 5.

Step 7: Enjoy - The early morning means virtually no traffic. You'll see neighbors you've never seen before, fetching the paper, walking their dog, taking out the trash, or just getting home, still wearing the same clothes as last night, if you know what I mean. While you're out, the world will start to come to life. Lights will flick on and the sky will start to lighten. And you were there to see it, instead of surfing the snooze button, again.

Hopefully these will make your morning run suck less. Even if they don't, you'll still feel better after the run than you did before, and you can sport your post-run after-glow all day long.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.6 miles, a warm-up for my supreme punishment stretching appointment. Hi Kathy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 320 - Fog, Rain, General Gloom

The first half of November in Central Indiana was a runner's dream.

Today, the real Indiana November returned.

It's like having a pleasant, refreshing, warm conversation with [pick your own celebrity beauty/hunk] interrupted by the gray, cold, wet, dismal aunt that you try to forget about but she always turns up.

Oh, and the fog... the fog makes things just that little bit more miserable. It's the wet that can ride the air straight through your clothes, and camp right up against your skin, chilling you to the bone.

November in Indiana isn't for the weak. It's cold. It's windy. It's wet. You'll go days without seeing the sun. It's depression wrapped in a damp towel. And it's here until April, maybe May. It's the price we pay for a lower cost of living.

For runners, it means we're cold at the start of every run. We're still in denial about how cold it is and the wet weather gear is still packed away. So we're under-dressed and ill-prepared. Essentially, we're miserable. And our feet are wet.

But a day with a run, especially a dreary day, is better than one without a run. So buck up, gear up, and hit those damp streets. You'll feel better.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.6 miles on trails.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 319 - Direction

I have no sense of direction. None.

I get around by memory. I remember landmarks, and from which direction I last saw them.

It's an interesting way to explore the world.

I'm just one misplaced memory away from being completely lost. All the time.

I'm continuously amazed when people know which way is west when they're inside a building. Taking an elevator, or stairs, completely disconnects me from the outside world. If I use either, I'm totally disoriented, and I don't even know it.

People with a sense of direction look at me with pity, as if I'd lost my sense of smell at an early age.

But really, not knowing what direction you're pointing is marvelous. Every day is an adventure, or at least a surprise.

Take today, for instance... I was running the trails by my office... ok, let's stop for one second so that I can acknowledge how lucky I am to have a 1.5mile trail loop just steps from my office, which itself is in the middle of the busiest commercial area of a moderately large city... I am very fortunate... ok, so I was running the trails and I took a turn that I would have sworn was leading me to the lake side.

Disappointed that I was cutting the run short, I trudged on, only to find myself facing 180 degrees from where I thought I was facing, toward the river. I trotted on, surprised, bewildered, and more than a little bemused, and amused.

Being momentarily disoriented is like a system reset on your reality. You are sure of something, and in an instant, that reality is shattered.

It's a good exercise for life, I think. Too often we are so sure of ourselves, of what we think is right, what we think of as the truth, what we think is just. But that's within our own conjecture of reality, isn't it. It's supported only by our understanding, knowledge, scope, experience.

We are baffled by what some people think or do, the choices they make. But we don't know what's going on in their life, or in their head. We think we do, but we don't.

Our ego wants to act as our compass. But it rarely points due north.

Ignore your compass, and look around, without bias or assumptions, and you might find that you aren't standing where you thought you were.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.6 miles on trails

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 318 - Hills

Running hills is one of the most efficient ways to train.

No need to hit a track, or drive to the gym. Running hills will make you stronger and faster, all while you are out on your run.

So this begs the question... why don't I do hills more often.

That's easy...

I've spent almost my entire running career in Central Indiana, a land shaved pool table flat by glaciers during the last ice age.

Most Hoosiers get winded walking up the 2-degree climb up their driveway. Tenderloins the size of manhole covers might contribute to that a bit. But still...

We Indiana folk are acclimated to withstand extremes in flatness. We can go hundreds of miles without seeing a mountain. And, when we get there, we can turn around, stand on our tiptoes, and usually see our house.

So climbing hills, even the pathetic humps that we call "hills", is just not in our nature.

Regardless, I threw in some hills today to mix up the run. And to wind the dog. It was a success on both counts.

It was a little depressing to trot up a hill I used to blaze up, not that long ago. But all tasks, even gargantuan ones, start with step 1. And my step 1 was up hill.

Good running,

Numbers: 5.3 miles on streets, some of which were slanted, up.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 317- Story Indiana Photo Safari

Story Indiana is a town, kinda. The entire town is actually an insanely charming bed & breakfast.

The GF and I took a spur-o'-the-moment get-away to Story to squeeze the very last bit of unfathomably perfect weather. In November. In Indiana. We were so determined to squeeze that last bit that we took the bike down.

First stop was Nashville, IN.

Following the recommendation of our parking lot attendant (who knows better than a parking lot attendant?) we lunched at Trolly's.

Trolly's - the best damn pork BBQ in... Nashville, IN!

This place is, apparently, crazy popular, occasionally stopping traffic with its line for grub.

Aforementioned pork BBQ, best in Nashville, perhaps all of Brown County.

The owner, and her daughter, in town to help out, were ridiculously charming.

After BBQ, one needs a fine beer. Luckily, Nashville is sporting a new micro-brewery...

Big Woods Brewery

The brewery is located inconveniently at the intersection of two alleys. I am not kidding. This gorgeous timber deck looks out onto an alley. Two, actually.


The beer is delish! Service? I don't want to bash a place on one visit, but, it was almost bashable. I'm sure it is better than they showed. Regardless, the beer was good enough to turn us into T-shirt wearing Big Woods fans.

Time to saddle up and hit the road to Story Inn.

I am also not making this up. This general store looking place is the home of Story Inn. And it rocks like granite!

The food is first class. The service is relaxed-impeccable. And the inn could not be more calming.

These unusually friendly horses were literally just outside our door. 

And they are biker friendly!

This morning I ran around Story a bit. My first stop was the corral to say howdy to the horsies.

This big boy wanted to hang out, when his wife wasn't bossing him around.

It might not be as famous as The French Laundry, but Story Inn does grown their own..

Mmmm, Nappa Cabbage...

Ok, the next photo was NOT on Story Inn property. Just outside, and perhaps an statement to those who stay there, but NOT sanctioned by the inn, as far as I know...

Some art is just crap.

 Story may be a micro-small town, but they can throw a party. The breakfast waitresses were all abuzz about the bash in the basement bar last night. All I know is that when I peeked in, a guy was opening a bottle of Dom Perignon. 

One of two outdoor party decks.

It's not a party deck without gas-pump art.

Or a concrete tree trunk.

The run around Story, was delightful, but short. It's a small down. Good thing, though, because it was time to saddle back up and get back to reality.

Sure it was a little chilly. It's not like there was frost on the seat, right?...

Heated motorcycle gloves... best idea, ever...
after the wheel, and maybe penicillin, and indoor plumbing. 

Good running,

Numbers: 1.3 miles, it's a very small town.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 316 - Gone Fishing

Off of work for the day, I have the opportunity to meditate on life's mysteries.

First observation:

I'm pretty sure my dog is solar-powered.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles, a rest-mile day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 315 - The Mysteries of the Human Body

Yesterday, I was hobbling. Seriously.

For the first time this year I was seriously worried that I wouldn't make it to 365.

My left heal was limp-around-the-office sore. People, I took a trashcan full of ice water into my 1:00p meeting, slid it under the conference table, and put my foot in it. This was serious.

Trail running is a gloriously animalistic, natural act, but it's not for the weak. I'm pretty sure my gimphood sprung from one misstep. One that I remember. Because it hurt like hell.

I'd deftly cleared a rock that was embedded in the trail. Deftly, but insufficiently. My toes made it over, but my heel came down right on that mother. "Whack!" doesn't quite convey the sudden, shuddering shockwave that went from heel to teeth.

I've had booboos before. Lots of them. 99% of the time, they disappear by the time I get home in the evening. This one, though, was setting up camp.

This morning, I woke up to piercing, stabbing, shivving pain in that same heel. "Hokey smokes!", I said. Seriously... I really said "Hokey smokes!" Then, I doddered to the fridge and returned with an icepack.

Turns out, it may have been the IcePack of Turin.

After 20 minutes, I felt... good. Normal. Like... I could walk, and everything. How the hell did that happen? I didn't want to know... I was just goin' with it.

It lasted all day. It lasted to the point that this evening, while out on my planned minimal, tiny, just barely a mile recovery run, I looked at my Garmin and it said 0.51 miles. I just couldn't get myself to turn around. It felt too good.

I wasn't laying tracks of fire or anything, but I was moving along and loving every step.

I've spent a good portion of my life being uber-cautious, holding back, just in case. It's a safe way to live. Safe, and boring, and ... well, dull, which is the same as boring, but that's the point. How many starry evenings in November in Indiana with temperatures in the mid-fifties does a guy get? Not many. And I wasn't going to waste this one with a measly one-mile run.

Don't be foolish. But don't be timid either. Seize the opportunities that life presents you, even if your inner critic begs for reason. A life lived without a little fear and risk and excitement and daring, is a life regretted.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.0 miles under a gorgeous starry sky.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 314 - Face Time

In a previous life - maybe even a couple lives ago - I was a... ahem... "Member of Technical Staff" at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Excuse me? Bell Labs. What do you mean you've never heard of... it's Bell F-in Labs! The premiere research and development laboratory on the planet. Bell Labs cranked out more patents than any other collection of humans ever. They invented the transistor, cellular phones, and the friggin' laser. Oh, and they also discovered cosmic background radiation that were echoes of the big bang... in their spare time.

It used to be a big deal. Now it's owned by Alcatel-Lucent. A hyphenated company. That's all I know about them.

Aaaaaanyway... I got to work on some fascinating stuff, and one of the perks was that I had access to lots of products. At one time I had one of these on my desk...

That's right... a video phone. Not just any video phone. A Videophone 2500. I know!

In its day it was going to change the way people communicated. Everyone was going to have one.

Did you have one? No? I did. But just the one. Having just one of these meant that I really just had an insanely expensive phone, but still, it was pretty cool.

Ok, so they didn't catch on. But like so many ideas to come out of Bell Labs, it was ahead of its time.

Enter FaceTime.

This is an Apple feature that, quite frankly, I didn't think much of.

Until I tried it.

After failing to completely repair my boy's iPod Touch, I popped for a new one... one that included FaceTime. We fiddled with FaceTime the first day, sitting next to each other on the couch, and it seemed... ok.

Fast forward a month or so. On a whim I texted him and ask if he wanted to FaceTime. It was most excellent.
Extreme Close-up!

What I'd thought would be an awkward self-conscious conversation was fun, funny, entertaining, and connecting, in a personal way. Now, it's our preferred telecommunication mode.

The Duke's Feet

If you have FaceTime capable devices (iPhone4, 4thGen iPod Touch, a OS X v10 Mac), text or call another similarly equipped friend and/or loved one, and give it a shot.

However, do NOT confuse the fun of FaceTime with the abomination that is video conferencing.


Video conferencing takes all of the awkwardness of a conference call and adds in the discomfort of a meeting. It's like doubling-up a colonoscopy and a root canal.

You can't mute your end and share insight, or the occasional "That's what she said" with those in your room, because the other people CAN SEE YOU! You can't even roll your eyes when someone on the other side says something olympic stupid. And you really want to. And sometimes you forget that they can see you and you do it anyway, and they say "What was that, Doug?" and you're totally thinking it was some kind of Jedi trick until you remember that they CAN SEE YOU!!!

In one case, adding visual to audio erases distance and let's you see and hear a loved one laugh. In the other, it takes the only fun out of an otherwise dreary situation, and maybe gets you fired.

Yin and Yang.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.5 miles on trails that tore me up pretty good. Smell that? Smell a rest-mile day coming? I do.