Monday, December 29, 2008

Food poisoning while trying to get home for Christmas - not cool

Not cool. At. All. To make a long story short, I ate lunch in the afternoon (I choose not to identify the restaurant as I won't go back there soon, if ever, although I would still eat at its other locations), and very nearly did not get on the airplane to Massachusetts for Christmas. In fact, as I told my mom, had I still lived in Colorado and had a 3 1/2 hour flight as opposed to 1 hour, I would have gone to the hospital instead. There was a period of about 6 hours where I was thinking I would spend Christmas Eve, if not Christmas Day, in a hospital being fed by IV. But luckily, I was able to survive the flight, and slowly got better with the help of crackers and ginger ale. By 9 pm on Christmas Eve, 30 hours after everything first hit, I felt like myself again. I never wish to re-visit those 30 hours again. So I'm going to be a total tightwad about keeping everything super, super clean.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Race Plans for next year

I've done some thinking and figured that some races, including the first Maryland Half Marathon next May 31, are too expensive for my budget right now. Plus, the Charlottesville Group is not going to be formed, which may not be a bad thing. It's pricey and hilly. On top of that, it requires a hotel stay the night before (so doesn't the March 1 race in Severna Park but I had great luck with Priceline last time). Besides, there are other half marathons to run closer to home.

So, here is my new plan, going hardcore in the spring before focusing on just training runs during the summer:

March 1 - Half Marathon north of Annapolis

March 21 - National Half Marathon in DC - unless I skip it because of the $70 Registration fee

April 5 - Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

April 19 - Maryland Mountain Marathon in Cumberland - under consideration

April 26 - GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler, I did the 5K this year and my chip time was never recorded

May 3 - Potomac River Run Half Marathon - I can walk to and from the start/finish line, always a good thing

May 17 - Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg

Then no racing until the Annapolis Ten Miler in late August. I get frustrated in racing in the summer heat so it will be longer training runs instead. And remind me if I ever see New Balance 725s on sale at a DSW blowout for $29, buy every single pair of my size in the store, then order some more online beyond that. I went for an hour long run in my 725s today and absolutely love them. Thanks.

Monday, December 15, 2008

60 degrees at 6 pm: Yeah, another running tour!

Well this was just a 100-105 minute run that I felt like going on since it was unseasonably warm out today. The Appalachian Mountains are near and dear to my heart for many reasons. Today it was because they were a buffer to a cold snap that seemed to be spread out across several thousand miles. Everywhere else in the US except for the far southern reaches was damn cold today. Not where I am, so it was running time!

Quick recap, I probably ran 10-11 miles all together, here's where I went:
- Outside my workplace, up the hill on Constitution near the Capitol
- Just west of where they're setting up the Inauguration Stage, and around the reflecting pool
- Down the mall to and past the Lincoln Memorial
- Across the bridge that takes you to Arlington Cemetery (I don't know the names of all of the bridges), just where they go
- Crossed a couple streets to get me to the Mt Vernon Bike Path
- West towards and past TR Island, runnin' on the boards
- Up the ramp and across the Key Bridge
- Through Georgetown, well at least next to the Canal path. Drivers here, to the surprise of no one, don't stop at stop signs until the last macromillisecond.
- Someone asked me where I got my headlamp, of course I told her (Pacers!)
- Down past the Kennedy Center on Rock Creek Blvd
- Back down the mall to 4th Street NW

That was pretty much that, not a superfast pace but not a casual job either. Enjoyable. Random, unrelated note, I got some Bialetti Cookware yesterday and can't wait to try to out.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Help me: Cure my addiction to baseball

Major League Baseball that is. I really don't want to hear about $20 million per year contracts with the economy in the state that it's in. I don't want to hear about franchises asking for public funds to help finish stadiums after dropping $243.5 million on two contracts. I don't even want to hear about my beloved Red Sox spending nearly $200 million to sign free agent Mark Texiera, since that's what it looks like it would take. I'm tired of it all.

But, you see, I've been a baseball fan my whole life, save for a season and a half after the 2001 Red Sox disgusted me to the point of near no return. I find myself checking the web sites ten times a day to see who signed or traded for who. I still check hotel rates and wonder why I even bother seeing as I'm in no mood to drop coin on hotels to see back to back games on two weekends in Baltimore. The Sox are coming to DC this coming June but I haven't even looked at when Nationals tickets go on sale. Yet I still check sites and follow the sport day to day, especially in the summer. Even though I'm tired of it.

I want you all to help me cure my addiction, because I am pretty much fed up with the whole baseball spectacle. I simply cannot stress over sporting events anymore, there are too many things that are too much more important than life. But I know come April, everytime I'm on line I'll check scores and GameTracker. While I'll still wear the Sox cap I'm getting for Christmas, I want to stop following everything more than very casually. I've reached the point where it's more stressful and aggravating than it is fun.

What should I do to wean myself off baseball? I already have my running on Tuesday / Saturday and sometimes Thursday, spin classes on Monday and sometimes Thursday, not to mention my hiking forays. And I need to start studying for my MCSA and then CISSP after the new year. All of this takes time, but I'm looking for some honest suggestions on what other things I can add to my activity list. I'd love to hit all of these museums but they're not open during the day. Maybe I should go to Politics and Prose and other haunts. But I'm trying to wean myself off of politics too. When it gets too hot to do too much outside, I'd like to think I'd spend my weeknight time studying, but I need as many ideas as possible.

I'm tired of millionaire contracts when most of America is worried about where their next check is coming from. But old habits are hard to break. So, throw some ideas out for me. In other news, I haven't used the Expresso Bike in two weeks, I'll use it tomorrow morning at the gym. Then it's go pickup my fleece for The Celtic Soltice 5 mile race on Saturday, then Trader Joe's to pick up stuff for a holiday party. The key is to keep my weekends that busy in 2009.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Trader Joe's: My New Beer Store!

Not only are their "formerly plastic bottle" shopping bags as cool as hell, but I never knew how much good beer could be found there! Yeah, at Trader Joe's. For my friends' holiday party, I contributed some high quality beer: Stockyard Oatmeal Stout, friends liked the Trinity Red Ale, and the latest Winterfest Double Bock. Now I know Gordon Biersch and other brewers have contracts with Trader Joe's to brew beer. But I got the beer at Trader Joe's, it was good beer, and for a good price or $5.99 per six pack. So it's now my beer store on the rare evenings I drink. I no longer have to be frightened by the $18.49 "sale price" for a case of Bud Light cans.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Convicted Felon and still not a Jew - and some football - and I am an icicle

O.J. Simpson
Still not a Jew
But he's headed to the Big House
And not a golf course near his house

Okay, so I am not a poet. Nor am I Adam Sandler. But O.J. can't scheme any more (although I would not have convicted him if I was on the jury in 1995 because the prosecution fudged things up so badly that there was a lot of doubt as to his guilt).

But I am a tired football run and runner. Florida and Alabama have just kicked off in the SEC Championship game that is basically a national semifinal. This will live up to the hype, I think.

Runner, yeah I ran 14 miles today on the Capital Crescent Trail, from Mile 10.5 to about Mile 4 and back; the rest was to and from Theodore Roosevelt Island. I was still cold over an hour later, even after changing into dry clothes and then showering at Gold's Gym in Rosslyn. But the run was very nice, a group of 5 of us from the Pacers Fun Run Group ran to the 10 mile turnaround, Kate and I kept on going, Kate wanted to run 14, I decided to as well. I am very tired and cold since it was really chilly this morning, and having lost all this weight makes me cold a lot more easily....

But I will make the trade-off of being more cold 24/365, and for life. 7-0, Florida! Forced a three and out, then save for a botched QB draw, moved the ball with ease against a very good Alabama defense. Okay, back to running, 14 miles is one of the longest ones I have ever done, but the only time I was struggling to finish was going up the steep mini-hill at the Georgetown waterfront/Key Bridge. So I was very happy with my run. 60 yard plus pass play for Alabama! Touchdown, Alabama, on the next play! It was cold and nasty this morning, but I out-ran my own expectations. I can't wait for Tuesday!

First things first, my friends' holiday party is tonight. I get to be an icicle again! This will be a good time. All in all a good Saturday that several years ago would have kept me inside and half-sheltered all day. That's for tomorrow. He he.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Over-ambitious race plans for 2009?

If I want to complete a marathon next November, I am going to have to push myself in training like never before. That involves longer runs, more intense runs, and more intense cross-training than this year, a time I pushed myself harder than I had in a very long time. Today was a 9 mile run, nothing real intense but a good run with friends. That's still a good thing, but I will be cranking up some workouts, with a very ambitious spring on tap.

If I actually go through with these plans for 2009, in an eight to eleven week period next spring, ranging from March 2 to May 17, I will be running five of the six of the following races pending being able to afford the entry fees:

March 1 - Half Marathon north of Annapolis

March 21 - National Half Marathon in DC

April 5 - Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

April 18 - Charlottesville Half Marathon

GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler, I did the 5K this year and my chip time was never recorded

May 18 - Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg

The National (cost) or Annapolis (lodging cost because I'd be going solo for this one) will be the race I drop. After these races, I plan to continue long training runs all summer and fall to get ready for Richmond in November. Can I do it? I'll find out next year.

I found a new way to cross train yesterday. At the Gold's Gym that I most frequent, I found the Expresso Bike. Basically, it's one of the new bikes were you ride along a simulated course, complete with grade, calorie, and mileage statistics, which are kept for 90 days on a free account. I rode the Challenging Stormy Hollow course. The next step is to ride a new course and figure out how to use the audio component. This will be a great compliment to my spin classes, or an option should I get out of work late and miss class.

Feel free to tell me I'm going overboard. The journey is to see how far I can go with this, I feel much better physically than I have in a long time. Can I get better? I hope so.


Old Rag Mountain scores a takedown over Jeff

While watching some college football, I decided I needed to post about my trip to Old Rag Mountain on Thursday. I was expecting somewhat of a challenge but this trip really kicked my butt. 8.8 miles round trip because I parked in the lower lot, even if at 10 am I was only the fourth car in said lot. The walk up Something Route 600 (I have no idea how VA designates county roads, there are three 622s on the way to Mount Marshall) was easy, so I begun the hike up the Ridge Trail.

First 1.9-2 miles, one hour at a fairly casual pace, no problems, an east, relaxing hike. Remaining .9 miles to the summit, okay I knew there would be some scrambling and rock-hopping, but not any scary rock hops, drop your pack into an eight foot crevase so you can pick it up after sliding down a rock, none of that. This was a lot tougher than I thought. A family reached a tough rock pattern I described at the same as me. A big thank you to the ten year old who took my pack after I tossed it over a rock and tossed it out of the way so everyone could climb the rock. I returned the favor for other members of the same family.

I ran into a half hour delay at the toughest of the rock climbs because my left foot could not grip the small foothold because it was too slick, even with a great pair of REI boots with Vibram soles helped me. There were very few hikers on this Thanksgiving morning so there was no hiker pileup at the rocks where hundreds of people are waiting for their turn at the rocks. This was a pile up because we were either too short to reach a spot where we could simply pull ourselves over the rock to safety, couldn't get the aforementioned foothold, or a bit apprehensive about wiping out. I admit I'm a strong hiker but not a rock climber so I was a bit worried too, not to mention more tired than I figured I would be after hiking less than three miles.

This turned into a dozen or more strangers helping each other through the narrow passage. I ended up using someone else's leg/knee as a anchor, someone of top of the passage pulled me the one foot I needed to get through and pull myself the rest of the way, someone just sprinted down the hall in my apartment complex (sorry about that), I returned the favor by helping people up the passageway and moving packs out of the way, the family who helped me the first time caught up to us. That was a very uplifting feeling knowing that people who didn't even know each other pulled together as one hiking team so everyone could get through the rocks and enjoy their trip to the summit.

I got to the summit just before 2 pm, considering I started hiking after 10 am, ate the second half of my lunch, and scrapped plans to add Robertson Mountain and Corbin Hollow Trails to the itinerary. I have the gear to hike after sunset if need be, but never deliberately plan a hike at that hour after hiking all day, so I'll have to wait for that and this loop. No big deal, I can always go back, especially since I plan on buying a Shenandoah National Park Pass next year, if not a full national park pass. For just Shenanadoah it's $30, $20 for Great Falls, which I have for this year, $80 for all passes. But those are the only two I plan on going to a lot, so getting the two separate passes may be the best deal for me. Damn, I didn't know Maryland QB Chris Turner's dad was the drummer for Ratt, that explains the 80s hair band do. Back to GA Tech - Georgia as they get back from commercial.

Passes will be ordered around January 1, or maybe in time for my first hike or trail run in the spring. I'll hike in winter but am a bit apprehensive about icy conditions so I may wait until March. The Old Rag hike kicked my butt, I was super tired when I was done, but if that's the last hike of the year, I ended the hiking season with a great one.

Today's adventure was a nine mile run around Burke Lake Park, two laps for the nine miles. Not a fast pace, but a solid cold weather run. Had it been closer to a long race, I would have taken a third lap, which one of my friends did anyway. But I'm not going to over do it right now, I do not have any long races until late March so it's all about maintaining fitness right now. After we waiting for everyone to finish to make sure everyone was okay, we went to the same Starbucks we went to this summer after trail running in Fountainhead Park! I didn't know the parks were so close to each other! We ended up there for at least an hour, closer to one and a half hours. I hadn't just hung out with friends with no real purpose other than a post-run chill out in ages! It was great! The only thing I'd do differently next time is wear trail running shoes to Burke Lake.

More college football time! There are tons of great endinngs to games today.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy MonFriday everyone!

It's not Black Friday, it's not I'm scared of Mall Traffic and getting trampled by three fourths of suburbia to get a sale price that isn't really all that much lower than you'll get next week this year Friday, it's not the college football games aren't gonna really get footbal fans fired up Friday, it's not everyone but us contractors and those who want to get stuff done on a quiet day Friday either.

Then what is it? Well since yesterday, the Thanksgiving Holiday, was a no-work day followed by a work day, it was Sunday in my twisted world of something. Since is a work day after a no work day, it's Monday. But it's also Friday because that's what the calendar says, hence the new name for the Friday after Thanksgiving that I present to the world....

Happy MonFriday! It's the one day of the year, well except for Christmas this year for those who take part in that, that is both Monday and Friday at the same time! Enjoy MonFriday! I know I enjoyed the EMPTY Metro, and look forward to hitting the gym after work.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Richmond Half Marathon - I'm pleased with the journey but it's only beginning

I ran in the first ever McDonalds Half Marathon over the weekend in Richmond. I must say that when I went to my first fun run outside of Pacers Running Stores in December 2006 that if you told me I would even run 13 miles at once, I never would have believed you. So to complete a half marathon, 13.1 miles, in under two hours, I still almost can't believe it. I tend to be self-deprecating, but I have always have a very bad habit of not believing what I am capable of doing, and not just athletically. Not believing in myself is something I may always struggle with. But, from a confidence standpoint, finishing this half marathon made me feel like, hey, I can actually do this stuff! And acheive great results if I stick with something through thick and thin! I'll never break any speed records, but get lots of internal pride when I think about how far I've come as a runner in just two years. And I'm close to 35 pounds lost this year.

Now that I've told you about the increased confidence, I'll tell you about the weekend. Drive down to Richmond Friday afternoon, uneventful. Like 950,000,950 drivers before me, I got stuck in traffic when the lanes switch between one side or the other depending on the day and time, around Dumfries, a town that I have no need to go back to. I get to Richmond, pick up my race packet, buy a couple lights that will make me more visible as a runner at the Expo, a souvenir running shirt, then go eat at Piccolo's in the Fan, a great Richmond neighboorhood. The Falfella Salmon gave me a great night before meal.

I went to bed around 9:30 to get a great night's sleep before the race. Well, the loudest boom of thunder I've heard in years, and perhaps ever, woke me up at 2:15 am. For a second I wasn't sure it was thunder to be honest. It was enough of a boom to set off my car alarm, I kid you not. Why couldn't it happen at 5:15 so I'd just stay up and get ready for my race.

I woke up, ate breakfast, found my parking spot, then walked up the steep hill near the State Capitol to get the race start at 7th Avenue and Broad Street. That served as my "warm up" since it didn't want to run a mile or more, as I like to before a race, since this a new distance for me. I wanted to save every bit of energy that I had. And I needed just about all of it, as it was in the 60s when the race started, and very humid. I joked that I thought it was July again, and removed my outer layer after one half of a mile. Yeah it was gonna be tougher than I thought. First mile, 9:23. That's good considering the crowd that everyone had to run through.

I settled into a nice, steady pace, with good form. Went down to the Boulevard from Broad Street, the opposite of my driving route to go eat the night before. I'm running at a good clip, taking advantage of all the water stops, checking my watch at each mile post. My pace soon went below 9:00 / mile and pushed 8:30 by mile 8. The mile between 8 and 9 was my best mile, I counted 7 something. I did stop looking at my watch between miles 4 and 7 and just enjoyed running through the residential neighboorhood.

I ran into my buddy Brian at Mile 10. I was running at 1:23 or 1:24 when I hit this milestone. Right then and there I knew I would be running this race in under two hours unless I suffered an injury. This fired me up beyond belief. My goal was under two hours and I was going to reach my goal! I started thinking about how many goals I have reached this year in my races, and how these races have made a positive collective contribution to my overall outlook on life, and it all made me smile inside.

The last few miles featured a run through the outside parts of the Virginia Union University Campus (Charles Oakley!), then the run back into the Center City. I thought about really pushing for a time of under 1:50:00, which would have been ciing on the cake, but blustery winds around mile 11.5 and again at 12.5 killed the chances of that happening. I wanted to finish strong and with good running form. I did that all the way down towards the final downhill on Cary Street. The cheering crowd picked me up quite a bit as I finished the race. Final Time - 1 hour 50 minutes 39 seconds. It placed me in the top 25 percent of male runners in my age group, which thrilled me. Half marathon: conquered!

My first half marathon went better than I ever could have expected. After re-hydrating and getting something to eat, I was able to see the marathon winner break the tape as he run down the hill to a wildly cheering crowd. I ended up congratulating him 20 minutes afterwards when people were randomly milling around. It's just something runners do. It was all in all a fantastic experience that I probably will not repeat.

You ask why wouldn't I want to repeat that great experience?

You get an answer.....

Because next November I plan to run the ENITRE MARATHON!!!! 26.2 or bust! I start training for it tomorrow night at Fun Run. I'm all jacked up for the newest challenge. My goal, one year out, at that distance, is to finish. I can't wait to take the journey to find out if I can do it.

Final note, on the way home Sunday afternoon I went to the National Museum Of The Marine Corps. This was another fantastic experience that topped off the weekend in grand fashion. I recommend that anyone and everyone pay a visit, it's worth it. I learned a ton about what the Marine Corps have contributed to our country that I may not have known before. I respect them more than ever now. The Korean War exhibit was particularly impressive to me, I learned a lot about history, not just the USMC.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Last run before Richmond

Okay, after running at a casual pace on Tuesday, I decided to run pretty hard tonight as a final tuneup before Saturday's Half Marathon. My best run yet! I somehow managed to keep up with the 7:15-7:30 a minute pace group, or at least that's what their watches said. But we didn't start until almost 7:10, I finished a 5.1 mile run that I swear is more than that before 7:49, and that includes getting stuck at some traffic lights. I'm fired up for Thursday, am feeling very confident now, and don't even care all that much that the Patriots are getting smoked by their arch rivals. I guess I care more about running, staying healthy, and getting to bed by 11 pm or earlier.

I'll post when I get back from Richmond.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Another weekend, another hike, another personal record, great!

Another weekend of great weather, hiking, running, and a Patriots win. Life was grand this weekend. Saturday was a hike to Little Devils Stairs, Keyser Run, and Hogback Mountain. Little Devils Stairs is a challenging hike up a canyon at the Shenandoah National Park Boundary. Wet leaves and some bouldering, added to a steep climb? Yeah I was quite tired after that. The other half of the climb saw me go up to Hogback Mountain, which when leafless like it was isn't much to look at but I wanted more vertical so I went to the radio tower nonetheless. Looking down from the tower area where the phone line went, if only the area got frequent snow it would make for a killer ski trail. The climb down was uneventful except for when I thought I walked past Boles Cemetery on the Keyser Run Fire Road.

Today I set another personal record for a 10K Race at the Veterans Day 10K. The course is rather non-descript, the cause is definitely important. I was actually a bit late for the race because of the portable restroom line. My friend wanted to start the race so I said I'd meet up with her at the end of the race. I started about 2 1/2 minutes after the start gun, which actually helped me build a good pace. I did start passing a bunch of people, but with proper etiquette. Onward I went.

To make a long story short, I ran at a good pace, figuring I'd break 50 minutes but not threaten my record, but it was a great day to run and I'd also prove to myself that my 47:55 record was not a fluke. When I got to Mile 5, I felt stronger than I did at Mile 1. I guess I picked up my pace a bit, because I swear I pushed my 7:05 first mile from last week up until Mile 6 because my finish time kept getting lower and lower. With a slight pickup of pace but definitely not an all-out sprint, I ran through the finish line at 47:13, 42 seconds off of my previous record!

I'm competitive but mostly within myself, I know I'll never beat the top runners in a race. But I am pleasantly surprised to be doing as well as I am with these races. This is still a new process for me but I strive to get leaner, fitter, and become a better runner. I didn't really try for a personal record today until the end of the race, to be honest. All I was trying for is a good pace and verify my last 10K result.

The afternoon saw me venture to Murphy's Pub to watch the Pats beat the Bills 20-10. Good game with the biggest crowd of Pats fans of the season. And I got to improve my promotional skills by passing out the paper and pens for the patrons to write their names for the jersey giveaway. This weekend was good.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Do Over! 8K, Great Hike, and Northwest Yuppie Torture Chamber Run, and oh yeah a burger

Lots went down this weekend. A Do Over! Race? Yup, unexpected changes to a construction zone caused the lead runners in the INOVA StarKid 8K to take a wrong turn. The race was re-started after everyone returned behind the start line. It was pretty cool to take part in a Do Over! race. Remember when you played kickball was a kid, something unexpected happens, and someone yells Do Over for the 14th time? That's kind of what it felt like, but it was for a good reason, not someone who made an out and wanted a re-do.

I got off to maybe my best start in a race yet. I felt light on my feet, strong, and ready to run quite fast, at least for me. 7:05 first mile, which is my best known 1 mile split ever. After struggling a bit up one hill, rolling my ankle at the 4 mile mark, and stopping for a second to make sure I got water down and didn't cough (I have not mastered the art of chugging a cup on water in running stride yet), I beat my previous record in an 8K race by 3 minutes, 37 seconds. 54 out of 356 runners, 6th in my division, only 1:54 behind 2nd place in my age group! I was psyched, but the day got better.

I met up with fellow blogger Charlotte for a six mile or so jaunt near Sky Meadows State park, she described it better than I could. Good times, very nice meeting up with Charlotte, I made it home in plenty of time to go to a party at friends' house to celebrate those who ran the Marine Corps Marathon. Lots of conversation, good food, while I didn't drink there was good beer, and a Texas Tech-Texas football game that was totally surreal. Great Saturday.

Normally I'm very sad when daylight savings time ends, but not today. I needed the extra sleep. I got going quite late, but after taking a eight mile detour because I forgot you can't get to Roosevelt Island by car from Rossyln, I began my task: Complete what I call the Northwest Yuppie Torture Chamber.

This involves:
- Running across Key Bridge
- 12 "laps" up the Exorcist Steps, after running 2 by 2 by 2 blocks
- Running to Wisconsin Avenue
- Running all the way up Wisconsin Avenue to the MD border at Chevy Chase Pavillion

It was tough, especially since Wisconsin Avenue is a very long hill with the steepest part just after leaving M Street, but I got through it okay. A challenging run, but not quite a killer. I called it the torture chamber simply because I expected it to be a physically punishing, draining run. Oh I was quite tired by the time I got to Tenleytown, but next time I'm going to add more distance to the run. Not sure if I'm going further to Bethesda because I don't recall sidewalks being real prevalent past the shopping center, so maybe I'll go around Fort Reno Park or add more mileage elsewhere. I've got time to think about that. Now it's just time to relax and watch the Patriots play the Colts.

Oops, forgot the burger I got at Z Burger in Tenleytown after the run. Very acceptable, but it would have been better if I passed on the jalapeno topping. That didn't sit well with my stomach but the rest of the burger was pretty good. No picture though, just take my word that it was good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The best burrito is at ..... It's the December Election ..... Burrito Election!

Okay, let's have a December Election. Not the possible runoff for the Senate seat in Georgia, but a Burrito Election. Because I said so. And because most people seem to like burritos. And it's more fun to argue about burritos than politics, which guess what Batman?! We get to argue about again in year! Statewide races, Governor, Delegates. Yeah, election overload.....let's talk about food.

Where is it? Chipotle, with the biggest burritos of the bunch but a bit bland in some people's mind? I know I like the burritos but find the chips (a huge food weakness of mine) very over-salted and not in a Cape Cod chips cool way. California Tortilla, the new contender on the block? They have the most variety that's for sure. I really like their Havana Chicken burritos and salads. They've moved near the top of my list recently, especially with the burrito bucks program. Moe's? Very boisterous staff, go on Mondays for the best deals, the fish burritos are really good. Qdoba? Based out of Denver, there aren't a lot of locations around here, but it makes for a great post-Shenendoah NP dinner stop, just before braving I-66. I dock points from them for discontinuing the Mole burrito though. Carlos's cart of 16th and K? Outstanding but I don't work over there anymore, I hope he's still around. That was the best, freshest, quick lunch I ever found in DC. Or is it Illegal Pete's Chicken Pesto burrito in Denver? Hint hint it's this one.

Others I have liked in the last were the Picadillo Burrito at Picante Mexican Grill in Cambridge, Viva Burrito's fish burritos in Denver, which are smaller and more of the traditional Mexican style. In Colorado ski country, Frisco, Dillon, you name it, Fiseta Jalisco's are great too, and they serve tons of chips while your dinner is cooking. If you have any other favorites, please comment on them, early and often, Daley-style. I'm always up for finding new options, and truthfully I could use the help with the independent sit-down Mexican restaurants since I usually order tostadas when I am there.

Winter, come back in a few weeks please

I normally really enjoy winter. I don't know about a lot of you, but I like snow as long as I don't have to drive around DC in it. Skiing rocks, I want to go cross country skiing somewhere this year in the worst way, and one of the most enjoyable runs of last winter was down on the Southwest Waterfront in two inches of snow.

That does not mean I have enjoyed the last two days very much. I wasn't quite ready for the cold, dreary days with rain and high winds. Not yet anyway. It wouldn't surprise me if snow fell in the Poconos or even in WV. Only having a sweater for Monday's walk to get lunch was not a good thing. The temp thing by Verizon Center said 45. Bull. Tonight I ran my normal Tuesday run at a very good pace, but the conditions still sucked. For now, bring back the 60 degree days of fall. Saturday looks like just that. 8K run then hike out near Sky Meadows Park. Yeah!

Stay tuned for the December Election.......Chipotle vs California Tortilla vs Moe's vs Qdoba vs Carlos on 16th and K.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happiness is the 171 Bus

Or at least it was today. To make a long story short, I changed up my training routine because of the weather. I had been advised that the Potomac Heritage Trail is not a great place to run in wet weather. Yeah, I don't need to get hurt slipping on a wet tree root or a bunch of wet leaves. I couldn't make my fun run either since I was too tired when I woke up at 5:50 am, even if I went to bed at 10:30 the night before.

So I decided to just run down the Mount Vernon Trail a bit, and eventually end up at my gym to pick up my food from Diet to Go. There's a bus stop across the street from the gym so I figured I just needed to be at the bus stop around :35 past the hour and I'd be good to go. I ran through Belle Haven, down the trail, and then through Fort Hunt Park. Okay I got in nearly two hours of solid running in. But then I confused myself with the roads around Fort Hunt Road and ended up walking around in a circle for 45 minutes before finally figuring out that Fort Hunt Road is where I needed to go. I found my route back to the gym, but not before the skies opened up in a cold, hard, downpour.

Needless to say, I was very, very happy to find the 171 Bus to get me in a dry place for a bit. Even more so when I got off and was met with a 30 mph plus wind gust that accompanied the downpour. But it's a 5 minute walk from the bus stop to my building's front door, so I dried off, hopped in the shower, and headed to a pre-marathon pasta party. Good times, I am really looking forward to cheering on runners tomorrow.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Half Marathon Training

Okay, the half marathon is less than 4 weeks away, and I've run more than 13.1 miles in one day once in my life. But after the Army Ten Miler, I was tired but definitely had 3.1 more miles in me should the circumstances have required it. I'd like to get in a couple of 12-15 mile runs before November 15 just for comfort, but when can I fit this in? Weeknights? Not happening, I'm way too tired after the workday. The most I've run midweek is (I believe) 9. Weekends? Possible. Here's the training schedule I've set up for weekends:

Sat Oct 25: 3-4 mile group run, run as much of this as I can, hike the rest if I get tired.

Sun Oct 26: Off day, cheering on fellow runners at the Marine Corps Marathon, then Pats game at Murphy's Pub vs the suddenly dangerous St. Louis Rams.

Sat Nov 1: 8K for INOVA Hospital, then a hike somewhere around Sky Meadows State Park, since I'm halfway there already.

Sun Nov 2: If I'm going to get in the 12-15 mile run, it's probably today.

Sat Nov 8: Long run or hike near Shenandoah NP, it's the last day of daylight savings time after all. Cry knowing daylight savings time is over. I'm kidding!

Sun Nov 9: Veterans Day 10K.

Week before race, taper off distances quite bit.

I know doing lots of hiking may not seem like ideal training for a half marathon, but it does keep me aerobically fit, and I ran a ton, partially because I couldn't hike much, to get ready for Pikes Peak and it worked just fine.

Back on the hiking trail!

I'll be exhausted at work tomorrow, especially if the Red Sox game takes too long, but I was very happy to hit the hiking trails again. I hiked a loop similar to the Tuscaora Trail / Overall Run loop today, although I went down the Weddlewoods Trail before hitting the Heiskel Hollow Trail. Great hike, probably 9-10 miles, with some steep climbs. The waterfalls were barely visible or audible but I saw some good views of the Massanutten Range to the west.

Some other random things I saw:

- A Sunoco station that would not take cards, the first I've experienced
- A Questar? food stop that looked like it had some okay pork sandwiches
- I-66 was actually in decent shape until Reston, when it morphed into its usual bleep a hundred times over self
- A deer on the trail heading down from Skyline Drive
- About 18 dry streambeds
- A VA State trooper with his lights off in the same place in the mixing bowl they always are
- A medical helicopter, ambulance, and Warren County Cop car on US 340 South for some reason. Unknown, since there was no car wreck, another hiker saw it and wondered if someone in the hillside houses had a heart attack. They waved us through in under a minute so I wonder if it was a drill.
- There's not a lot to Front Royal, even if I didn't drive US 340 north through the whole town.

I'm hoping to get out hiking a couple more times this fall. We'll see how the calendar works out.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Colds are as irratating as hell - more hiking plans

While the current cold isn't near thsi one, it's still a PITA nonetheless. I ended up missing a group run this morning since my head was congested and my throat was bugging me, so I slept in for 11 hours since I was totally wiped out. Now I don't really have much of a cough, but I hate having to take it really easy so I can make good use of tomorrow, especially since daylight savings time ends on November 8.

Hey, Maryland's about to kick off vs Wake Forest! Hopefully Bill doesn't get into Express' blog Log for the third time since he won't have to rant since the Terps played better but this will be tough. I can watch that for a bit.

This cold is like most I get, weakens me just enough so I can't do what I want to do, but never makes me sick enough to make me sleep off an entire day. The latter is probably better for longer term health. But oh well. I'll take another nap today since if I actually want to stay up for tonight's Red Sox game I'll need it. Even on weekends, unless I'm out I'm hardly ever up past midnight and the game won't get over until at least then.

Besides, more sleep means I can actually take advantage of what's supposed to be the better of the two weekend days and get a hike in. I haven't figured out where I'm going yet but it will come in due time. Rock for the Terps! 7-0 early lead, Darius Heyward-Bey is the best player on the field, and they're getting him the ball!

Add TR Island to Fort Marcy trail run/hike to my planned adventures, this is next Saturday's project. A dry week of weather is expected and everyone who's been on this trail has told me it's real slick in wet weather, so I put this off one more week so it's real dry when I run on it.

I hope this cold is gone by next Sunday, since I'm going to Crystal City to cheer on my friends that are running the Marine Corps Marathon. A lot of us who aren't running are going to cheer those who are. It's the least I can do for the running community. But I don't want to give anyone my cold.

I must go and finally decide where I'm hiking tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sometimes you need a three day weeekend to recover from a three day weekend

Since I'm tired and sleepy, I'll run through what I did this three day weekend.

Friday night: went to the gym, then to Momo's on U Street in DC. Night before party for people like me who are fans of the United States National Soccer Team. Good time, got to see some of the Sox game too.

Saturday: woke up at 8:15, ate three pieces of toast and chugged a Powerade, barely making it to my friend's house for a ten mile run at 9. Finished the run, ate dinner, watched some football, and went to the World Cup Qualifier. USA is on to the final qualifying round in the CONCACAF region after pounding Cuba 6-1. Awesome seeing friends, tailgating for a bit, and seeing the win most importantly. Not even the pizza place off Potomac Avenue trying to charge us extra to sit down and eat put a damper on the night.

Sunday: woke up, chilled, went for a 2 hour plus trail run at Great Falls Park and Riverbend Park, VA. It was one of those times where I wanted to leave by a certain time, but got into a groove running and kept on going until I got tired. Then I walked back to my car and went towards home. I had a good time at Murphys on Sunday even though the Pats got their asses handed to them by the Chargers.

Monday: slept in, did little before going to the gym, then the Caps game. A 5-1 demolition of Vancouver, they were outshooting the Canucks 25-3 after two periods! Michael Nylander scored on a penalty shot and assisted on at least two goals, Alexander Semin had two sweet goals, and the Caps did this without getting much from Ovechkin at all, save for a couple of crushing hits. He had an off night and the Caps still dominated. A good sign for them going forward.

More future events, I want to get some hiking in this fall in the worst way. Some of the trips I plan to take are:

- Part of Ashby Gap to Chester Gap
- Sky Meadows State Park
- Harpers Ferry / Maryland Heights again
- White Oak Canyon link, link
- Old Rag Mountain
- The Priest Mountain

If anyone has any other suggestions for me to hike in the area, please leave comments, I'm always open to new trails.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Jon Lester Rules The World Once Again

I cannot stay up to watch baseball games that start at 10 pm on a weeknight. Not when a busy job calls the next morning. I fell asleep last night just after the Red Sox fell behind 1-0. After Jed Lowrie's error, I said to myself, tough break, I wasn't expecting them to win this series, I just hope that he doesn't let it get to him. Well, he led off the two run ninth inning with a single, so it didn't phase him. And Jon Freaking Lester! Clutch. Seven innings of one run baseball for the win. This kid just gets better and better, and has been the Sox' number one pitcher this season. Awesome start!

Tomorrow night is a 9:30 start and a late night, seeing as Dice K is starting (He's had a great year but he throws tons of pitches per inning) and playoff games have longer Tv timeouts, and it'll be 1:30 or late before the game ends. It's either Southside or home for me. And lots of sleeping on Saturday, seeing as I'm taking part in the Army Ten Miler on Sunday.

Go Red Sox! And Jon Lester rules the world.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Does it really feel like this area has already seen a year's average precipitation?

I honestly forget where I read this, and can't find it now, but an article somewhere said that at National Airport, where the official totals for DC are measured, a year's average precipitation of 38 inches has already fallen since January 1. I'm sorry but it doesn't seemed like we've seen that much rain this season. It was tougher for me to think of the 2-3 memorable thunderstorms and/or downpours that I've seen than in previous years. I remember the yellow and black sky above my work one afternoon, and the torrential storm that caused a three hour delay in the third attempt to play the D.C. united - Houston Dynamo match. But that's it. Nothing like the storm that I though was going to prevent me from driving the last mile home from Telegraph and Huntington.

I don't even remember all that many heavy rainstorms, maybe a series of them in July? Snow? Are you freaking kidding me? DC area peeps, have we really gotten that much rain this year? Is it ever going to snow here in the winter again?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another Obliterated Personal Record, this time in a 10K!

Okay, this is my first year racing so it's almost a guarantee that Personal Records are going to fall. But I didn't expect my record in a 10K to fall by 3 minutes 39 seconds either. Heck that's a pitching change for some baseball teams (more on baseball later).

I had a goal today to break the 50 minute barrier for a 10K race. In the first annual Dash For Dad race for prostate cancer I broke the barrier with room to spare! Without having to crank it up with a near sprint at the end! Which was a good thing because I was very tired from
the race and crossing the Eisenhower Avenue bridge over Telegraph Road for the second time of the day. This bridge is nowhere near as long as the Navy Bridge was in Annapolis, but it's fairly steep for a benign-looking bridge on the east (start of race) side.

No drama with almost missing the race, needing a portable facility before the race, just a very fast (for me) pace throughout. I didn't really drop off pace-wise until maybe the very end, when I was really tired and knew I had run much faster than 50 minutes. Final chip time, 47:55, a 7:43 pace. I'm ecstatic with that! 3:39 off my previous best time at this distance! I finished 11th out of 33 male runners in my age group, 51st out of 195 male runners, and 57th out of 367 runners overall. Not bad for someone who only wins a race when everyone ahead of me gets disqualified! I rarely toot my own horn, but I'm proud of what I did today.

I'm not going to run as many races next year, I'm going to focus mostly on ones I really liked this year and races that raise funds for charity. The Dash for Dad stays on the list! I want to see if I can beat 47:55 next year!

Baseball note: Congratulations to the Milwaukee Brewers on making the playoffs for the first time since 1982! Ryan Braun's eighth inning home run gave the Brew Crew the lead, hitting it halfway to Green Bay in the process. Viva Brew Crew! Enjoy the ride.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Colorado Pictures are now up online!

COLORADO PICTURES! And yes, Charlotte Harris, they include a picture of the cheeseburger from My Brother's Bar! he he

NOTE: The pictures in their current form are smaller than they need to be. When I get home tonight I will edit them so they are bigger and more viewable. It's all part of a learning process.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Obliteration of a Personal Record (PR) - NOLA 5K

The New Orleans Rebirth 5K Run was this morning in Alexandria. I had also signed up for the ten mile training run beforehand but was legitimately too tired from the week to get up that early and run. Also, I am not a really fast runner, so if I had a couple bad miles at the start of the training run, I would be looking at cutting that short just to get to the race in time. As it turns out I had to hurry up just to get there, more on that later.

I did get about 9-10 miles of running in between the race and running to and from the race location. But, even with a bit of extra sleep, I was running really late to drive to Belle Haven Marina, where I was going to park because it would force me to run to and from the race. I went out of my house, started to drive there, then realized I had to turn around because I forgot my timing chip! Oops #1. Construction forcing me to go around and take another road. Oops #2. it's 8:21, I'm 3 miles or so from the race location, I better haul ass to get there. So here I am, eating a Clif bar while I'm running like mad to make sure I get there. Made it with 15 minutes to spare, stretched a bit, saw a lot of my friends from the running group, and decided to run this race hard.

Hard, as in I'm going to really push to get a great time, instead of running it for fun. I got into the competitive mood after running pretty hard to get to the race: fear of missing the start time, especially for a 5K, is a great motivator!!! So the race starts on a flat stretch of road that I had run south to north plenty of time, this was the other way around. I know I was passing a lot of people, but when I got to mile marker 1, I was under 7:30 in "crossed sensor mat, started watch" time, which is really fast for me. After cruising up the short hill just aftwerwards, I decided to go for broke and try for a personal record.

Did I get it? I got some water at mile 2, a friend from the Fun Run group was handing some out (I will be returning the favor in many events in a couple months). I'm hauling still, with no letup at all pace-wise. That was really encouraging since I have sagged in that aspect in some races, hello W&OD Trail 10K! I looked at my watch as mile marker 3 approached and realized that unless I tore a hamstring, which was slightly tight to tell you the truth, the personal record was mine! It was just a matter of how much I would break it by.

I didn't go into quite a sprint at the end, but I did pick up my pace. I crossed the finish line in just over 24:00, which would be a PR. My estimated sensor to sensor time was 23:12, 1:23 better than my previous record! I was estatic, especially to set it in a race to benefit New Orleans. I finished the day by running back to my car at Belle Haven, joining many of the people from Fun Run group who were getting in extra training miles.

I'm happy with my day. But it's gorgeous out, it's 4:10 pm, so I'm going to head back outside and walk around somewhere, if not run again.

Sometimes you gain by not winning the game

I babbled about whether or not winning is beneficial in certain circumstances three years ago. While Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart are still somewhat unproven in the NFL, there are two franchises in a different sport that IMHO gain by losing this weekend. Two of the worst teams in Major League Baseball, the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals, are playing this weekend. Last night, the Padres won to move one game ahead of the Nationals in the standings. Why should anyone care? Heck, Bill commented in another online forum:

"If 500 people are left in attendance they ought to be given something for having nothing better to do than to sit through this." The Padres had just taken the lead in the 14th inning when he wrote that.

Why? Because Stephen Strasburg, a college pitcher with a 100 mph fastball and a better curveball (his best pitch!) is available to be drafted by the team who ends up with the worst record in baseball. The Seattle Mariners have the inside track right now, they are one half game "behind" the Nationals, and have the play a series against the Angels next week. Yeah, I think both the Padres and Nationals would gain more by losing their remaining games, a lot more. We'll worry about the fact that Scott Boras will be Strasburg's agent when the time comes. That won't be an issue if Seattle has the top pick.

Why do I keep losing stuff?

If someone asks me what one of my weaknesses is, it's a simple answer if I'm not in an interview situation: I keep losing things for no apparent reason. I think I need two hands to count how many Smartrip cards I've lost in the past two years. Not only that, but I've lost them in every way conceivable: Fell out of my pocket while I was riding my bike, sitting down in the Rosslyn CVS re-organizing stuff in my wallet/Camelback (I was returning from running the Georgetown steps). There's more, one fell out of my bag when I was on the shuttle bus to Metro, I realized it was gone after the shuttle was already gone, and by the time I called the complex it was already gone, not to be returned. I lost another one by some method that I forget. I've lost one fob since my complex introduced them in March. And after my first race in March, I lost my car keys.

If anyone sees this, do you lose stuff all the time too?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Prayers for Galveston

I'm not religious at all, but I think I need to say a prayer for Galveston, Texas tonight and tomorrow. CNN just reported that residents in one and two story homes are facing "certain death" if they do not evacuate. Sounds like this could really be 1900 all over again. Please, whatever lord you worship, let's hope not.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

If you're a Patriots fan, you may want to read this

I know the blog title is a bit cumbersome, but calling it jeffinalexandria wouldn't really differentiate it from other Jeffs and blogs now would it? is my little blog about the New England Patriots, who I will never abandon. I was on the bandwagon for the 2-14 and 1-15 seasons of 20-25 years ago and aren't jumping off just because Brady's out for the season.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Colorado Trip - Report 5 - My Best Pikes Peak Challenge Yet

Okay so I'm back in VA, back at a computer. Here's Part 5 of my trip. Friday involved driving down to Colorado Springs for the hike. After my struggles to find a bank or just an ATM near the US Olympic Center, where the pre-hike rally was, I was finally able to get my pledges for the hike in and was ready to go. There was a really inspiring presentation by one of the people helped by the BIAC. She suffered a tremendous brain injury during the Salt Lake City tornado of 1999, and still suffers from disabilities from it to this day. She is not deterred from rehab though, and has downhill skied and participated in yesterday's hike.

Before going to the rally, I checked into my hotel in Manitou Springs and got to walk around a little bit. With all the hills and inclines in the town, if I lived there I would be twenty pounds down beyond what I've already lost this year!!!! A great, funky little town, with lots of cool shops, t shirt shops that aren't tacky, a great pizza place called Marylin's (named after Monroe) with an old school cassette deck boombox for the music. And an old school arcade to boot. Dig Dug and Donkey Kong are great ways to kill a half hour on a cloudy day while waiting for check in time. Pictures of Manitou to come.

The hike: All that running I've done in the blast furnace of VA/DC/MD? Even if the hills are small, but often one after another? Paid off. Big Time! Made it to Barr Camp, 7 miles out of 13, in exactly 3 hours hiking time. The next 6 miles are steeper for the most part and at higher altitude. in previous years, it would take me 5 hours or more for this stretch? This year? 3 hours 35 minutes not counting eating/discussion with other hikers breaks. 6 hours 35 minutes total hiking time, nearly, if not more than 2 hours faster than two years ago! The last mile only took me 40 minutes, from mile 12-13 35 minutes! I'm no super fast hiker by any means, but in previous editions of this hike I would take ten steps and have to stop once I got to the last few miles. Not this year. In fact, the one stretch where I was feeling tired came from mile 9 or so to the A Frame treeline shelter. To top it all off, my legs didn't feel heavy at all when I got to the summit. I was tired of course, but a lot more tired after my near 15 mile run at sea level 10 days or so ago.

The cause: Benefiting brain injury research and prevention is something that is very important to me. I've been fortunate not to have suffered one, but know others who have had these injuries. I also work at an agency that works with a lot of returning service personnel with brain injuries and helps them transition into civilian life should they leave the service and/or are getting ready to leave. Hearing about how Pikes Peak Challenge hike participants take part in the grueling hike and other physical challenges inspire me to no end. After hearing about how brave they are to take part after dealing with injuries far beyond what I have ever suffered: yeah, I ain't gonna bitch if my foot hurts or I twist my ankle, or even have a stomachache. Anything I have had to come back from has been extremely relatively minor. I am very happy that the money I raised went to help those who have suffered brain injuries.

The return trip home: locals, please don't get upset with me for what I'm about to say. I did not want to get on the plane to DFW and then to DC today. I realized how much I missed being out west. But I will move forward, back to work tomorrow, spin class on Monday, running on Tuesday, Thursday, and whenver else I fit running in. Back to humidity I guess.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Colorado Trip - Report 4 - glaciers and good times

A bit less total hiking yesterday, most of it near St. Mary's Glacier, near Idaho Springs. I climbed up most of the way to the top of the ice field (it's not really a glacier since it's stationery) off the rocks to the side, but did not go to the top since I really didn't want to twist an ankle going down two days before the big hike.

After a brief visit to the town of Alice, no restaurant there, I ate lunch in Idaho Springs. Then I decided to go to Central City for a bit. Since my rental company gave me a Suzuki SUV (which I normally would NEVER drive but it was my best option), I figured I'd try Virginia Canyon Road, County Road 279, Prospectors Highway, but the unofficial name is Oh My God Road. Well, it's called that for a reason. That used to be the only way to get from the two cities. I chickened out after the first two miles and turned around and went back down another road. It's even scarier going from Central City to Idaho Springs from what I gather.

The link above described the Central City casinos as decrepit. I respectfully disagree. Black Hawk, just down the road, is a lot more spiffy, with facy looking parking garage, newer brick buildings, but notice the new brick buildings. Central City is an old mining city with a lot of cool victorian houses and has a feel of an old town trying to revitalize itself. They even have an opera house. Black Hawk's too new for me.

I rarely gamble but decided to stop in Doc Holliday's Casino to play a couple slots for fun. I only lost $1 gambling in very low stakes slots, and even that was more of a goodwill gesture loss at a slot machine that I had no clue how to play since they found my apartment key that I dropped while reaching for my money. Great staff, they even offered me a drink even though I played slots for less than 5 minutes. I respectfully declined since I had to drive home.

I met up with some more friends at the British Bulldog Pub in Denver. Enjoyed a couple stout beers, some food, and we watched a soccer match, the Colorado Rapids beat FC Dallas 1-0 on a perfectly executed corner kick. Good times all around, I head down to Colorado Springs in about an hour for the grand finale of the trip. I DO NOT WANT to go back to VA right now.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Colorado Trip - Report 3 - DNS = Did Not Summit

Two hours into my hike I started asking myself did I really want to push forward 45-60 more minutes, when I was meeting friends later that afternoon? When I started asking myself that, I answered my own question. I turned around after 2 hours, still happy with the climb and with the very limited if any effects of being at 11,500 to 13,700 or so feet above sea level. Guanella Pass is as mind-numbingly beautiful as ever (more pictures), I got down to the parking lot before the weather got dicey, and the Burgers at My Brother's Bar are as great as ever. I took part in the new DC rage of taking pictures of burgers before eating them, and I will add that to the picture library.

Tomorrow's a light hike before meeting up with people in the city. Should be fun.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Colorado Trip - Report 2 - some old favorites

None of the people I was going to meet up with this week are free tonight so I'm going to pass out in a few minutes. Before that, I hiked two old favorite local to Denver mountains today. Mount Morrison is just above quite possibly the greatest place on earth, Red Rocks. The first link is the best description of the trail I can find online, although the barbed wire fence isn't there anymore. This was a tough one hour climb, with more scrambling on rocks than I am comfortable with. But oh well, it was easier for me physically than it was on Thanksgiving Day 2005 when I climbed it last. Yeah, running a lot in the Old Dominioven helps with conditioning.

The way down, let's say I continued my tradition of losing the path, and having to slide down half the mountain on my butt to avoid stumbling, or worse, kicking over rocks that will fall a lot. Fortunately this is the only trail where I was always lose the path. I snapped a few photos that will come soon to a Flickr site near you. Including one of me snapped by a young lady who moved to Colorado from New Jersey and never wants to go back. Heck, can I move back to Colorado?

The second hike of the day was a five minute drive south of Red Rocks at Mount Falcon Open Space Park. I went up and down the Castle Trail with a side trip to the Walker ruins, which was intended to be a Summer White House. Good, quick hike that took just over two hours if you take away the lunch time, 5.6 miles in all.

I must go pass out now at 8:30 after a short swim in the hotel pool if I want to get up early enough to attempt a 14er, Mount Bierstadt. If I don't get up early enough, there are oh about 150,000 other trails I can hike. As long as I keep with the plan to go higher in altitude with each day, and I'm back in town by 4 pm to meet up with friends. It all depends on when I wake up, I'm doing my best to go with the flow and not over-plan and force myself to adhere to an exact schedule like living in DC forces you to over half the time.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Colorado Trip - Report 1 - real back roads

SuperShuttle got me there just after 7:30 am, tons of time to spare, flight to Colorado Springs via DFW uneventful. As was getting the rental car. I start driving up into the mountains on US 24, since I decided to take the slow, scenic route to Denver, and I'm already tempted to get out the boots and start hiking. But I decided after 9 hours in/on terminals/plane/rental car lines I'm not going to do that. I did walk around a small town called Green Mountain Falls for a bit, but I did miss the Kermit the Frog Mountain on 24 west. Walked a short road and pedestrian only road to get a limited view of the falls themselves, but had neither time nor hiking shoes to start hiking up the mountain. So on to Woodland Park I went, where I found a City Market to get some bread to make sandwiches for this week's hikes, and some disposable cameras. I took several pictures of an awesome shot of Pikes Peak that I will share when I get back to VA and have them developed.

After leaving Woodland Park, I took Colorado Route 67 north to the tiny town of Deckers. And I mean tiny, a couple houses, one bar, and ice cream shop. Before I got there, I drove through a good part of the site of the Hayman Fire, which was so large and vicious it turned the sky in Aurora, CO, at least miles away, near black at 4 pm the first day it really spread. Six years later, you can still see how the reforestation process is just beginning.

At Deckers, I took a right towards Sedalia then stayed on the road towards US 285. South Platte River Road became North Platte River Road (unpaved) then South Platte River Road (unpaved). This was a real, real, unpaved, narrow back road that followed the South Platte River but went on forever. I passed about 20 camping spots and portable bathrooms. This would be a great road to go 4 wheeling and/or mountain biking on, driving, not so much. But it feels great to be out in Colorado again, and was awesome to be in the mountains, even if I don't start hiking until tomorrow. I even got a shot of the old South Platte Hotel where the north and south forks of the South Platte River meet. Read more about this wonderful river. The hotel was an old railroad hostel, and I have a picture where it's not flooded. When I get back to VA, right now I'm tired and need sleep.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thinking of the Gulf Coast

We're all thinking of you as Gustav approaches. Stay safe and sound.

The Human Race in Arlington

A couple of people from the Fun Runs out of Pacers Running Stores in Alexandria showed up to run the same run as I did. There were 20-25 people total, Pacers did a fantastic job putting this together. Running through the small but numerous hills of Arlington was a challenge but I'm glad I did it. Not a great time should the race had been timed, but considering I walked a little of the course because of cramps, it's all good. Yup, the Custis bike/running trail is one small hill after another.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Trail run in Great Falls - good but tiring

I went on a trail run of about 75-80 minutes through Great Falls Park, as well as not only the Difficult Run Trail outside the park but a private horse trail that I didn't know was private until I reached the end. The "owner" really needs to put the Private sign on the Old Dominion Road side of the trail if he/she doesn't want people doing what I did (unintentionally of course). Hiked the mile or two back to my car since I was tired, happy with what I ran especially after yesterday's run.

All and all a good day. One of the reasons why I pay $59.99 a month for an all clubs (35 in the area) membership at Gold's Gym is, well I can use tons of them. There was one on my way to do some shopping, in South Arlington. So I decided to ride the bike for a bit to get the lactic acid out of my legs, and do some abdominal work. South Arlington Gold's, you have big TVs in the cardio area, big plus. You are lacking in abdominal equipment though. However, I was very pleased to find out I'm even lighter than I thought. I had drank a bunch of water after my run to re-hydrate, but weighed in at 25-28 pounds less than I was on January 1. The lightest I've weighed in at in a long time, maybe since college! Of course I probably added a pound or two after dinner at Don Pablo's but I could have done worse food wise and a slight weight gain happens after dinner.

Tonight it's pack for Colorado and watch a little college football. Every year I tell myself I'm going to jettison my cable television. Then football season starts.

I may be officially insane - almost 15 miles last night

I used some comp time to leave work early yesterday since I will be too busy to use it when I return from Colorado. Not that work isn't always busy but there's more going on than ever. I decided to go on a nice long run, probably longer than I had ever run before. With the half marathon coming up, I decided it was time to push myself. I decided to run from Belle Haven to Mount Vernon on the Mount Vernon Trail. That's right, close to 15 miles, it's about .3 miles or so, maybe a bit longer to the mile 7 marker. I went all the way up to mile zero and back. And up it is. No real steep hills, but the descriptions that describe the trail as flat aren't being totally accurate. Lots of small climbs involved. It took me longer to run the we'll say 14.5 miles than I thought it would, seeing as it wasn't hot but quite humid, and I wasn't in a hurry.

I finished the run between 14.5 and 15 miles, could have run a bit more to make it 15 but I said screw it, I've run enough and my legs got heavy 4 miles ago. Longest run of my life, so I was glad it was over. I know I can push myself more and more without being insane. Or did I say I was insane already? I'm going to go for a nice little trail run in Great Falls Park, on the VA side and use my pass, still not willing to deal with the crowds on the MD side. Parking shouldn't be an issue as I imaging a lot of people got out of town even with gas prices being so high. Sunday is the Nike Human Race 10K in Arlington, we'll that's a fun run and a chance to meet some new folks. I may have to pass on a Sunday night party since I have to leave for the Metro at 7 am to go to the airport Monday.

9:50 am - this time next week, at 7:50 am, I will be somewhere around Barr Camp, halfway up Pikes Peak, as part of the Pikes Peak Challenge. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Annapolis 10 Miler - Completed and HIGHLY recommended

Before I talk about the race itself, I'll talk about what could have been. I was running later than I thought I would in terms of getting up to Annapolis, and to boot I thought I was ready to go but forgot my sunglasses. A five minute delay caused by me going back to get them could have saved me a lot of headaches as it turned out. I was delayed a bit on the Beltway by a nasty car wreck that required multiple ambulances and police cars. Had I not had that last delay I would have been right in that area where the wreck happened. Whew!

They had a running expo where I picked up my registration packet, picked up some running tights for cooler temps for 1/3 of what they normally cost. Also picked up a couple of Under Armour tops for cheap and a pair of Adidas running shoes for $30, continuing my mantra of if you get them for ridiculously cheap get them and save them for later. Hotel was okay but breakfast started at 7, race starts at 7:45. Damn. Had to drive out to Giant to get some bananas, gotta have the potassium.

Race morning, other than the traffic to Navy Marine Corps Stadium (which is smaller than I figured it would be but I think they took out seats in one of the end zones - the seats look like they're on top of the action though) everything went well. I decided to take it as more of an experimental race since a ten miler is a new distance for me, there were lots of hills, and I was trying out a new running belt that holds small water bottles.

Well, I lost about 3 minutes or so because I had to fix stuff with the belt and shorts (just like Rockville) but that was cool. The hills weren't ridiculously steep save for a small one after crossing the Navy Bridge into Severn, but there were a lot of them. Not to mention crossing the same bridge twice, followed by an uphill stretch at mile 9 that we didn't run down on the way there. The final rough count: 1 hour 37 minutes 10 seconds. Not a great pace for me by any means, but it was the longest race for me yet, and as I said earlier, it was an experiment just as much as it was a race. Keeping in mind the time I lost, the hills, and the fairly high humidity, and I was pleased with the day. My legs didn't start to feel heavy until mile 8 or so, good sign. I was able to run harder than I had been towards the finish line to finish strong, another good sign.

I definitely recommend this race to people. There are reasons why the 5,500 participant limit fills up in barely over a week, if that. It's a very professional operation with tons of water stops. And there were plenty of neighbors who squirted us with hoses (and the runoff water all seemed to go downslope somewhere for re-use!). I love the running jacket I got as a premium for finishing too! The city's also pleasant, reminded me of a smaller Old Town Alexandria with Boston-style, not straight, cobblestone streets. Tons of people there, no shortage of places to eat. A worthwhile weekend for sure.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tough Hills Right Across From Belle Haven Country Club

Ticked off that you can't afford to, or have no desire to go become a member of Belle Haven Country Club? Have no fear, come run the hills across Fort Hunt Road with me! Come on, all six of them so you can suffer with me! Here is a map of the area, which is just east of Richmond Highway (Route 1). I cross Richmond Highway, which requires care, caution, and waiting for the walk light. You can park at the parking area off the GW Parkway and run up Belle Haven Road to Fort Run. In fact Belle Haven is one of the hills.

It's a Six Hill Course that I call the Suffering Six. You run up and down each one. Run them in any order, but considering I'm coming from the west, I usually go:

1. Woodmont - the small circle where it meets Hunting Cove and Vernon is the end of the hill, probably the longest of the six.

2. Hunting Cove - a steep but short one.

3. Edgehill - see #2.

4. Glen / Summit - run up one side of the Y shaped confluence of roads, turn on the straight road then run down the other side.

5. Belle Haven - probably the steepest, run it up to Radcliff where the hill ends.

6. Windsor - the grand finale, run to the intersection with Olmi Landrith Drive. Instead of running down Windsor, you can substitute continuing on Windsor, take a right on Tally Ho, then run up Foxcroft.

You've earned that beer and dinner after running these hills. Don't believe me? Run them with me. It won't be a fast run, but it will be a tough, demanding, hills workout that you'll be glad you did when you're done.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Latest Personal Running Tour: Shaw, Howard University, and Georgia Avenue

After zig zagging through the National Mall and Chinatown, I decided to run up 6th Street instead of past the Convention Center on 7th. I got to run through parts of the historic Shaw Neighborhood (great old school row houses), the east side of the U Street Corridor (lots of newly redone row houses), Howard University (attractive campus I must say and a great school), the Children's Medical Center Complex, and then up Georgia Avenue, where I went into the Petworth Metro Station and promptly fell asleep on the train back to the gym. Yay being over-tired!

Future races on the docket:

Annapolis Ten Miler
Army Ten Miler
Richmond Half Marathon

Pikes Peak Hike in 3 Weeks

Looking forward to my first visit to Annapolis and my second to Richmond. There are some other races I will be running in, I'll post about them as I sign up. I'm also thinking of making this pretty much a running blog with some forays into hiking. I've been running steadily since December of 2006 and am now hooked like I was on skiing in Colorado. Some days I feel like I'm getting better, some days I don't. But I'm down close to 20 pounds since January 1, and will run my ass off in the late calendar year to prevent the late year weight gain.

However, after the half marathon, I'm going to stop racing for 3-4 months and volunteer at some races instead. The running community has given a ton to me in my brief time in it, so I want to give something back.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vacation's over, back in Alexandria

Vacation with friends and family was a wonderful experience. Friday night I met up with my two closet friends from high school. Awesome to get together with them at the 99 Restaurant in Lowell, MA. Cool to find out that they are into NY State, PA, and NJ now since the food's always good, the popcorn is always plentiful, and whenever I've had beer there (I did not on Friday) it's kicked butt. Just beware the Charlestown location has had some shady activities happen on the premises. :D (not by staff). The important thing was catching up with my buddies, both of them are new fathers. WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!

From Saturday through today I spent my time in Ossipee Lake, NH and Eliot, ME. I have three nephews, aged 14, 12, and 7. The youngest had his birthday party on Sunday in Maine. Good times all around, got to see all three of them kneeboard, water ski, and/or tube, questionable weather or not. I got my running in too, including at least a 9 mile run that included a run into the Ossipee Mountains. I found a road that would take me halfway up the mountain to a place I'd never been even if I had spent a lot of 15 plus summers at Ossipee Lake. Steep climb, check. 90 minutes plus run, check. Great view of a mountainside over a pond, all enclosed in fog, I wish I had a camera since I never get to places like that anymore. Check.

Cool times with family, who were thrilled to see me. Double check. The only drawback was I left my blue Asics hat in New Hampshire. Ah, I'll get it mailed to me. I got to go to the ice cream place we always went to too, one scoop there = three everywhere else. Great times. Now back to work.

Friday, August 08, 2008

First trip up hills of neighboorhood of youth in at least ten years

It's probably been closer to fifteen years since I went up to some of the hills up the street from where I grew up. These hills were on streets in Dracut, MA (see the roads just north of Thompson Lane and close to Whortle-Berry Hill. I'm a better runner and more fit than I was for most of my childhood so I was interested to find out if the hills I used to think were tough to pedal a bike up were still daunting. Nope, like speed bumps, most of the streets hadn't changed at all.

When I went into the State Forest I came up to a trail junction right after I got off one of the paved residential roads. I thought to myself, uum I know they've built houses since I left Dracut but this is awfully close for the trails to meet up. Oh crap, the old pond I used to get in trouble for skating on in the winter is right in front of me! I used to remember hiking in a short bit to get there. The trail and unpaved road I ran on in the forest was quite steep so I got my hills workout in.

Not looking forward to seeing the pond I described above should I go for another run tomorrow before heading up to Ossipee Lake, New Hampshire for a couple days with my family. It was a lot smaller than I remember and much, much dirtier. Nothing more than a tan-brown breeding ground for mosquitoes now. I remember the water and ground being a very dark color.

Looking forward to meeting up with my two closest friends from high school in a couple hours. It's been fun so far, now I'm just chilling out a bit.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dear Brett Favre,

I wanted to take a moment in my busy schedule to welcome you to your new surroundings. Heck, I wanted to do this so much I am going on four hours of sleep instead of six when I have a 7 am flight to catch......because I really want to do this. See, you need to be welcomed into your new world a.k.a. as AFC East. This is a far different world than you are used to in near-tropical Mississippi of the Frozen Tundera of Lambeau Field. So I wanted to welcome you.

Out of the kindness of my heart, I will present you with a brief overview of the occupants of your new hood. That or I want to punish you and the media for creating a 40 day opera out of your garbage way to get out of Sconnie, I forget which. We'll start with Miami. Don Johnson is no longer the King Johnson, Dwayne is. Mercury Morris is still a cokehead who needs to get his ass whooped but he doesn't play defensive back so you don't need to worry about him. Jason Taylor's dancin' in Washington, so you will have pulled this I quit / not I don't quit crap three more times before the Dolphins are even back to mediocre.

Buffalo, a city on a nice big lake. Maybe a bit like your old friends Detroit. But you see Brett, we don't play nice in the northeast like they do in the midwest. You won't get greeted by Viking Mascots, Cheesheads, or other polite midwesterners. If you're fortunate, they'll stick to snowballs. 20 degrees and 40 miles per hour winds are not as pleasant when the home crowd doesn't worship you, so I thought i would let you know because you're in a good mood.

Your new home fans will call you Broadway Brett, Brett. Until you throw five intereceptions in a game. Then they will give you a more traditional New York / New Jersey salute, you know the one where you think they've lost four fingers. You like to improvise on the football field. But guess what Brett, your c-list actor doughboy coach does not. He is systematic. And he knows defense, I'll give him that. But offense isn't his thing, and he's the boss. And you're under a far less forgiving microscope know, but we've discussed that.

Finally the last team and neighboor in your new hood. New England Patriots. No team plays less nice than ours. I'm tired of writing this welcome letter, so let's get right to the point. September 14 and November 13, your sorry ass is ours. And no we're not helping you find the southern fried Wisconsin Cheese sticks. Welcome to hell.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Best weather day of the summer so I took a running tour of DC

Sometimes I like to take my own running tours of DC. Seeing as I need the exercise, the mileage to train for fall races, and there's lots of parts of DC I haven't been to yet, there you go. First Stop: Exorcist Steps. I start at the top of the steps, head east two blocks to 34th St, down the hill and past Georgetown Running Company, west on M Street past Dixie Liquors, then a sprint up the steps. That's a lap. I made that lap 12 TIMES today!!!! That's 3 more than I ever had done before. That fired me up to get 12 done. I probably could have had a couple more but I knew I was running a bit later on and didn't want my legs to turn into collapseable rubber.

Second Stop: C&O towpath up to Fletchers Boathouse. Walked a bit up towards the boathouse, made some phone calls, ran the last mile and a half. Now, I promise I'm not a yuppie scumbag who screams into his cell phone at all times to let the world know where I am. I needed to contact my two closest friends from my hometown to get in touch with them for plans for this weekend. I'll be home in New England for the weekend, and both have children under one. So these were actually important calls. I walked on the less populated, dirt and rock, path, and was very quiet on the phone. No one uses the dirt there anyway since the asphalt path is just below it. Yeah that's an easy decision for bicyclists. And for runners without trail shoes for that matter. The boathouse had people renting canoes, buying ice cream, one two year old girl run after a car down the hill (kudos to her mom for grabbing her and making it clear she can't do that but not grabbing her forcefully and not screaming her head off), and me buying a Gatorade G2 since I was running out of water. I know now exactly where the Capital Crescent Trail ends so I can expand my running / occasionally biking exploits.

Third Stop: Rich parts of NW. Reservoir Road, Georgetown Hospital, Wisconsin Ave and S Street Safeway, and California Avenue were on the docket. Random thoughts: The German Embassy looks like an apartment complex from the 1970s but where the builders forgot to take down the support pillars. The French Embassy looks like a Metro or other train station. There were three dudes sitting outside the Myanmar Embassy for whatever reason, I wasn't about to ask. The Venezuelan Embassy is a humble brick colonial house. Yeah I had to go to the Safeway to get some more Gatorade to stay hydrated.

Fourth Stop: Dumbarton Park. A nice little oasis in an area that I will never live in, nor could I afford to. Tiny little trail run interrupted by a very big tree. Stepped over the tree and kept running.

Fifth Stop: Adams Morgan. I was going to get some chicken at El Rincon but decided against it at the last minute. Went by the Jumbo slice pizza place. Sorry, not paying $5.50. Saw some cute women in one of the cafes.

Sixth Stop: Columbia Heights Target. This was a good place to end the run / walk tour. Yellow Line stop to get back home. Check. My headphones busted on the run today so I needed new ones. Check. Finally headed home. All in all a great day topped off by a ribeye steak at home. Best weather day of the summer too. Rock on.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Old 97's at 9:30 Club

I went to 9:30 Club last night for the Old 97s. Other than my buddy got caught up at a job site and couldn't make it, it was a good show. Shit happens, I wish he could have made it though, was a good show. First opening bad, the Spring Standard, was decent. Rhett Miller produced their CD FWIW. The second band was okay too, I didn't catch their name but they were from El Paso.

I enjoyed the $3 happy hour Guinness at Duke's House on U and 12th at lot more than the $8 ones at the Club. Keep in mind that if I had known my buddy was gonna have issues getting there I probably wouldn't have drank beyond the $3 beer, that was my only regret. Old 97s didn't take the stage until 9:40 or so, too late for this old 34 year old who is in bed by 11 unless he has plans to be out. They put on a good show though. Very fast paced, not a lot of in between songs banter, sounded like seasoned pros.

I hadn't been to 9:30 in a while but now I have a better idea of what to expect when I go there next. The club didn't really get packed until 9 or so, between 8 and 9 no one really came through the doors. IF I so see Squeeze, I now know not to get there until 8:30 at the absolute earliest. Doors open at 7:30, I really don't need to see Spring Standard again (nothing against them but I can use that hour sleeping or doing other stuff). I stand wherever the crew does but try to stay away from the immediate front for many reasons.

Sargeant Stadanko, Sister Mary Elephant, and Dave are back - Far Out Man!

Cheech and Chong are reuniting for a tour. Just another thing for me to spend precious money on should they visit DC. Far Out Man! This would be worth going to though. I need to find an old vinyl record player so I can play Black Sabbath at 78 Speed! Maybe Dave will have one. Dave! Who? Dave's not here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trail run was a ton of fun, even if my hamstrings didn't cooperate

The run went for about 5 miles or so, maybe slightly more. Great trail, some small climbs and drops but nothing daunting, it's tough for me to describe the feeling out being out there other than it rocks. Mostly shaded trail, which in this morning's hazy, hot, humid sun was very much appreciated. The one and only drawback, I did stop and walk for a bit because my legs felt very heavy and tired, especially the hamstrings. It's usually the quads that feel heavy first but the hamstrings felt like 20 pound weights so I took it really easy at the end. I even stopped for a few minutes to take the view of the woods all in, seeing as I needed a couple minutes to rest and I don't get out on the trails much anymore.

All and all an excellent day. I did have the same issue as last weekend in Rockville with shorts falling down as I lose a couple pounds of water weight during the run, even with the Camelback for drinking water this happens on hazy/hot/humid days. That's a good reason to have shorts falling a bit though, the temporary and hopefully permanent weight drop I've experienced this year. If it means I can't wear these shorts running anymore, that's fine I can donate them somewhere.

Now it's time for rest, dinner, a little bit of further stretching (especially the hamstrings), and trying not to stress over the latest Red Sox garbage. The rest is needed because from last Sunday to today, here is my workout schedule:

Last Sun / Mon / Tue: Spinning class, with weights work on Sun and think Tue. 8 miles plus run on Thursday with a nasty hill, tough run on Friday, spin class and race last night, trail run today. BTW, I was happy with the first half of my race last night, not the second half as I really started to sag a bit. over time of about 55:05, which is fine in that heat and humidity. No challenging the 50 minute barrier until it's a lot cooler.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Losing my Smartrip Card, and Running Update

Okay, jackass who took my Metro card from the shuttle bus: you only got a free ride because I didn't get to the office in time to call and get my card cancelled. I admit to being careless in losing it on a five minute shuttle ride, so I'm not blameless. But stealing someone else's card from your own apartment complex, that's so teenage wannabe gangsta. I just wish I could see the look on your face when you tried using the card in the afternoon to find it cancelled! Sort of busted.

Running update: A coworker and I went for a post-work run. Coworker has 20 years in the USMC, so an easy jog it ain't. It's a struggle, but one I'm glad I went through when it was done. I think running at platoon pace or faster will help me become a better, stronger runner. I do know I should add more sprints to my training. That would definitely help me push through the end of races.

Tonight is a 10K race in Vienna to benefit Friends of the W&OD Trail. I had committed to this before Pacers' Twilight 5K was put together so I'm forgoing post-race beer and a quick Metro jaunt to and from the race for my original commitment. It's hot today but not really close to as humid as last Saturday, that's a plus. Humidity is supposed to increase later in the day as the race approaches, a minus. I thought I'd try to make a run at finishing under 50 minutes (my PR is 51:36) but that isn't realistic, so I'm going to make a best effort and see where it takes me.

Another wrinkle into the race is I went to a spinning class this morning. Spin plus race, haven't done that in that order since I started running somewhat seriously. I did spin after running a 5K once, but this is a new level of challenge. I'm up to it. Tomorrow I'm also up for a Trail Run here. I'm maybe even more excited for that than I am for tonight's race. I get to hang out and run on trails. YEAH!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

My soon-to-be trip to the "Mall" - What should I get? is still doing very well for itself, I guess. I don't think I've been to that site more than a half dozen times in its existance. But I got a $40 gift certificate for my birthday so I will need to shop there soon. So help me out, what I should I get from Amazon? I'll really find out if is is really a "Mall" but without the foot traffic, parking lots, and yuppie mall rats that I can live without (I'm very proud to say that in four years of living in Denver, I only set foot in the yuppieish Cherry Creek Mall once, and that was only because I needed to get to a store for my cell phone provider and there was an event downtown that prevented me from going to that one).

What should I get at Amazon? The only thing I can say I really need is a new wallet. I needed a new coffee maker but I got that at an in-person store, I do not have the time to make an extra trip anywhere because a carafe busted in transit from a shipper. I have plenty of running shoes, don't know if they even sell clothes (I can always use new business causal pants), and definitely don't need anymore gadgets. Maybe I'll get the Led Zeppelin re-issued with new songs "The Song Remains The Same" double CD that I wanted to get at Circuit City. Back in the old days, that was my favorite double tape to play while driving through the New Hampshire mountains. Maybe I'll find the litte battery powered radio I've been looking for, Walgreens doesn't sell the $5 ones anymore. Or maybe I'll hold onto it until I actually need something. That sounds like a good deal to me.

Unless someone has a suggestion for me. Hey, Seattle's 90 miles from the Canadian Borders. Maybe they have an alcohol license and can ship me some Alexander Keith. Or am I getting away from efforts to drink even less than I do now, which ain't much, to save money?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Run went pretty well, considering the heat

Well, the race was delayed 10 minutes because of something called code black, i.e. it's quite dangerous to run with the humidity levels. So it started when the sun was completely down. The first mile was my best mile out of the almost five in this 8K. I tend to start out very quickly (for me) with the adrenaline and/or desire to get a bit ahead of the large pack of people. A lot of them will pass me but oh well. My first mile was 7:45, which for me is very good. This race had a couple small rolling hills, and we ran through the Montgomery College campus too. It was VERY humid so I slowed down a bit to make sure I wouldn't overheat.

All in all a good effort, 42:22, about 2 minutes behind my personal record, but very good considering the conditions. Yeah, even after 9 pm it was still like running in an oven with more moisture. But that's cool, and I kept my shorts up too! Well, I had to pull them up a bit twice to avoid a potential embarrassment. But that's a blessing in disguise because I need to tighten the same shorts that I would have had more issues fitting into them comfortably six months ago. I'm down 15-20 pounds since January 1, and hope to drop a couple more before my big hike in September, while doing some weight training as well.

For today, no running, taking the workout inside as it's miserably hot. 30 minutes on the stair climber, then a spin class. But beforehand, I need to get a new coffee maker. Mine's over two years old, and it seems to take 15-20 minutes just to brew coffee for me. So I'm going to Wal-Mart (which I VERY RARELY DO) to use a birthday card that was given to me in...........2006. I'll be so stressed out from fighting the crowds there that I'll work off the stress at the gym. he he

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My first ever night road race

Well, it's tonight. I'm running in Rockville, should be a good time. The one drawback, Metro's doing track maintainence again so there are 36 minute delays until 7 pm. Yeah, I gotta take the 9A to Metro to Red Line at Gallery Place. I think the trains are supposed to run as normal after 7. Looking forward to another step in my racing "career".

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Got $1.56 million? Wanna buy a small city?

White's City, New Mexico was basically put up for sale recently. If you had $1.56 million and wanted a small city at the exit to Carlsbad Caverns, you would have had the winning bid and hence would own your own city. Now if I had $156 million and the small city was near Taos, I'd bid.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thunderstorms always get in the way of stuff

In my attempts to get ready for two 10 mile runs (Annapolis on August 24) and Army Ten Miler (October 5) then a half marathon (Richmond on November 15), I figured I'd go for a nice long run. And I did for quite a bit, mostly down Eisenhower Avenue, Pickett Street, and Taney Avenue, before it got too hot and I got too tired (gee Jeff could it be those beers you drank at the soccer game last night). So I walked a lot but that's cool too. Wanted to crash by the pool but by the time I got home, the sky got really dark with a ring of brighter sky around it. Nope I know it's only a short walk to the pool but I ain't gonna go outside in a thunderstorm. After two very close calls, one in Deer Creek Canyon Park, Colorado, on my 31st brithday, and a second in 2006 on Mount Washington, I go nowhere outside where there's even a half percent change of me getting hit by lightning.

So no pool, decent run, a lot of walking around Alexandria City, some exercise, a dinner at Baja Fresh, I feel okay. Now if it would only drop rain like it's threatened to for the last hour. If you're gonna keep me inside, at least warrant it. It could be a dry thunderstorm, which is one of the few things I didn't like about living in Colorado, so it could be worse.

For a more pleasant topic, I found another beer that I can drink without any side effects the next morning other than just being tired. Negra Modelo is the new addition to the all too short list, which includes:

Flying Dog Scottish Porter
Negra Modelo

I'm all about the darker beers. If anyone actually sees this, recommend some beers that won't give me hangovers.