Monday, December 28, 2009

2010 Race Calendar

Still practicing yoga, still running, and planning on doing even more of it in 2010 while bringing in a Project Management Class into the mix (8 of 9 Saturdays from January 23 to March 20). I'm going to cut down on the number of races, I think. I've run 20-30 each of the last two years. This year I'm going to concentrate on the ten mile, half marathon and marathon distances. I find them to be the most gratifying from a challenge, distance, endurance, you name it standpoint. I want to get under 4 hours in one of the three marathons I am planning next year. There will be lots of different training involved in 2010. More hill repeats and some track work are in the cards. More of that in future posts.

But this is really about the 2010 Race Calendar. Thinking about all the bad eating habits I picked up while in Dracut, MA for the holiday (everything else was great!) and how I can run them off, got me fired up about racing. Even though racing is at least 10 days off, I want to get motivated to become fitter than ever.

Here are my planned 2010 Races:

1. January through March: Races 3,4,6,7,8 in the Dc Roadrunners Snowball Series. These are free races for club members so the financial commitment is minimal (just annual dues). These fit my schedule too, as races 6,7,8 are on Sunday, which for a lot of the winter is my long run day due to class.

2. April 11, Cherry Pit run in Annapolis. A maybe, no more Cherry Blossom run for me.

3. April 18, Mountain Maryland Half Marathon in Cumberland, maybe. If travel $$ works out, I really liked this race last year.

4. April 25, GW Parkway Classic: classic ten miler, a yearly tradition. It helps that the running store I am most loyal to runs the event.

5. May 2, Frederick Half Marathon. The first half of the Maryland Double, this gets the nod over Pittsburgh and Flying Pig (Cincinnati) for ease of travel. A recent Running Times article recommended racing a half marathon four weeks out from a marathon, so there you have it. I really want to go back to Pittsburgh since I loved the race last year. But the travel costs thing. Flying Pig is ou because I don't have the leave to use on Monday.

6. May 30, Vermont Marathon. Boo yeah! Vermont! Hell Yeah! Green Mountains! Hell Yeah! Burlington! Hell YeaH! Family may be there! Hell Yeah! Marathon #2, I'm in training for it now, using a March 20 marathon training schedule until March 13, when I go on the May 30 schedule. They overlap nicely. Cannot wait for this one!

7. June 27, Boston 13.1. My hometown city! Yeah! I don't have to qualify! Yeah! The day after my 36th birthday, and since I can't party like I could in my 20s, so I'll run instead! Hell Yeah!

8. August 29, Annapolis Ten Miler Run. Should be mandatory for fall half marathoners and marathoners. Perfect race to gauge where you're at for: hills, bridges, unusually hot and humid temps (this race is run in an oven), and a competitive field. I've gotten faster, but I'm still surprised at the leader last year approaching mile 9 on his second run over the Navy Bridge while I has at mile 4.5 on my first run. GD! Dude finished in under 50 minutes, in that race. Unreal! Ordinary runners like me, use this as a gauge, peeps. Do not expect to approach your PR, this course would be harsh in perfect racing conditions.

9. September 12? Parks Half Marathon, if I do not go to Colorado for my annual trip.

10. October 2, Twin Cities Marathon. My first ever trip to Minnesota, and I'll be runnign a marathon. #3. Friends tried to talk me into going last year, but I wanted marathon #1 to be close to home and I didn't have $$$ in the travel budget. This year, I will have money, with help from a free flight possibility. Southwest, hook me up!

11. October 16, Baltimore Half, second part of the Maryland Double.

12. October 24, Army Ten Miler. I am kicking myself for selling my bib last year. This race is a lot of fun and draws good crowds.

13. November 14, Richmond Marathon. #4. Special meaning for me, they've had the half for two years, I ran both. One was my first half, the second was my 1:33:23 a few weeks ago. Next year, the whole marathon.

I'll also take part in the Crystal City 5K series on Fridays in April. Half my friends run in them, there's almost always post-race fun to be had, and I can use them as extra training. Tempo run or extended intervals, I'm thinking.

What races are you running? Any sort of hill repeats to recommend to me? Other kinds of training runs? Holler.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cross Country Skiing...near home...yeah!

On this, the shortest day of the year, I have decided to write a not really short blog entry. The last few weeks have seen me basically abandon any racing of a half marathon at mile 8, enter my 10th month of practicing yoga, have a Holiday party postponed for two weeks, and finally got to use my cross country skis, right here in Metro DC!!!!

The half marathon I recently ran was held on a dirt/rock path due to a forced last minute location change. It was cold and rainy at the start, snowy at the end. To make a long story short, I was feeling nothing from the get go so I took the race in as experience racing in crap conditions. Until about mile 8 when I abandoned any real effort to race and just wanted to get back to the finish line, and to my dry clothes, without breaking my ankle. 1:56:something, my slowest half marathon ever, or was it a sort of fast training run? I've moved on and said hey at least I've completed 8 of these 13.1 mile races now.

Last Saturday it was 9 months to the day that I went to my first yoga class. Although I am still far away from being a kick-ass yogi, I have already reaped many benefits from these 9 months. It has really helped my running, I feel a lot looser when I run, it doesn't take me 2-3 miles to really get going anymore. I feel more flexible and as relaxed as I'm going to get. Another benefit comes from knowing what I need to work on to keep myself in better shape. I know yoga is supposed to be towards whatever you can go on a given day, that's where you're at, relax, breathe. But when I leave class, while I almost always feel better than I did going in, I do say to myself "man, I really need work on upper body strength" if I struggled with extended downward dog or its variations. This is odd to me because I college and early post-college, I was too concerned with building my upper body and almost ignored the rest of my body or even cardio work. Now, it's the other way around. Time to hit the push up bars almost nightly and weights twice a week Jeff.

I am getting better, albeit slowly, at doing the best I can in yoga and seeing where it takes me. One good thing on the fitness note, I may not lose 15 pounds in the first three months of 2010. I may not have to this year. I'd like to think I avoided most of the holiday 10-15, although I gained 5 in the 10 days after Thanksgiving (3-4 went right back off the next week). I won't lie, one thing I'm really working forward to when I land back at BWI next Sunday is an easier path to maintaining diet and exercise.

This past weekend, incase you haven't heard, DC had a vicious, nasty snowstorm. Woooohoooo! The forecasts kept going up as Thursday night turned into Friday. I started going away from my cynical "yeah, we won't get crap" mannerisms to "we may actually get real snow for once". Yeah, we got about 18-20 inches of real snow. I couldn't believe it but it happened!

Not only did it happen, but my Fun Run group continued the streak of never cancelling a run due to weather! Even if only two of us showed up because the snow was coming down more seriously than before, and 90 percent of the group was scheduled to go to the Celtic Solstice run in Baltimore anyways......we didn't cancel! What a way to make a debut as guest run host, huh! I only ran 4 plus miles since I wanted to get my last errand done and get home before it got really windy and hard to see. Everything accomplished.

I even took the cross country skis out late Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday! I was beyond thrilled to ski around the Mount Vernon bike trail on what was relatively light, fluffy snow for the east coast. Felt like Colorado again, at least for 24 hours! Great memories, great exercise, and a once in a lifetime experience, or at least once every 4-5 years. Yeah, I blew off the Pats game to take advantage of this rare opportunity to play in the snow. I'm de-emphasizing sports anyway so it works for me. In many cases I'd rather be outside doing something, and given the rare heavy snowfall (7th worst storm ever in DC), I would have taken a playoff game to keep me inside. I hope we get another storm this winter, even if it took me 90 minutes to clear out a path to the "driveway" for my car should I need it.

In short, I wish I had another day to play in the snow with Metro open so I could ski in the parks in DC itself. But the memories of this weekend will linger for a very long time. On a final note, after tonight, each day gets a minute or two longer of daylight until June 21. Cheers!

Friday, December 04, 2009

My thoughts on the World Cup Draw

I admit I am no expert here, and there will be plenty of teams in the World Cup that I do not possess much knowledge about. Nor did I even watch the draw: I went to lunch with some co-workers just after it began, and besides, I watched the draw in 2005 only to see the USA get placed in what ended up being the Group of Death (toughest group to advance out of, the top two of four go onto to the knockout, or single game elimination, rounds). I often joke that my teams do better when I don't watch, so I used this to justify my not using my lunch hour to watch the draw.

Here's who the World Cup Draw worked, there were eight seeded teams, seven of which can be said to be the strongest teams in the world. The eighth, South Africa, is a seeded because they are the host nation. But they are said to be in bad form right now, so I really wanted the US to be drawn in their group instead of with the other powerhouse seeds. Borrowed from The Guardian, here are the details:

The 32 teams are split into eight groups of four, but - unsurprisingly - it won't be as simple as Ms Charlize Theron drawing a team from each pot. Some groups may need to be skipped in order to avoid confederation clashes within them. This will be achieved specifically by placing the first two African teams drawn from pot three into the groups containing Brazil and Argentina.

Pot 1: South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Holland, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England.
Pot 2: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, Honduras.
Pot 3: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay.
Pot 4: France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia.

I feared the worst, remembering my initial reaction after the '05 draw which was essentially "We're f****d, I hope no one has tickets past the first round." But, the reverse psychology by not watching worked because here are the Groups!

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
Group E: Holland, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Korea DPR, Ivory Coast, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

In my mind, the Group of Death is G. Brazil is my pick to win it all. Portugal is a very talented squad, but historically have been their own worst enemy, losing their form and discipline at the worst possible times. If the "good Portugal" shows up, they're very formidable, and reached the semi-finals in '06. Ivory Coast, or Cote d'Ivorie, is an inspiring story. A nation that has had more than its share of turmoil fields a very talented team that many feel can go deep into this tournament. A deep run would be truly moving and healing, as anyone who remembers the commercials with "City of Blinding Lights" playing in the background will attest. The fourth team, let's just say I hope Kim Jong Il is on meds tonight. I would love to see one of the three opponents drop double digits on North Korea in June.

Group of Death Jr. is either D or E. Germany is a football machine, you know they are a contender. Ghana is strong, and Australia will look to prove that '06's run where they almost beat Italy before they could get rolling, was no fluke. See ya, Serbia. E is tough too, it wouldn't surprise me to see any combination of two teams advance, save for Holland not going through.

USA's Group, they got a gift from someone. Soccer Gods, whatever. England (June 12) will be very difficult but I like the idea of having the toughest (on paper) match first. Worked in '02, no time for nerves or "we'll warm up as things move forward." Slovenia (June 18) impressed by beating Russia in the two-leg playoff last month but are hardly contenders to get close to the Jules Rimet Trophy. Algeria (June 23) are a good candidate to pull a US '98 France and finish DFL should North Korea be able to bunk its way into 2 1-0 and 1 2-0 loss. (32nd after various tiebreakers for teams with zero points are figured in).

Bottom Line: The USA should advance to the knockout round, and I think they will, barring any more nasty injuries between now and then. How much further into the knockout rounds will they get? I project a second place finish in Group C, then ahard-fought second round defeat against Germany, the Group D first place team. An upset there could see the US play Argentina or Mexico (my projected first place team in Group B and second place team in A) in the quarterfinals. But first things first. Not advancing out of the group stages would be big-time FAIL. But I think Bradley's Boys are up to the challenge. Thoughts? Post 'em.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Letter to the Snow Lords in advance of Saturday's Half Marathon

Dear Snow Lords,

I want to share a concern with you, even if I am not very religious. You see this Saturday I am supposed to take part in a half marathon running race. The race is fine, I've been there, done that, and enjoy any race where I finish, do not get sick, or do not get injured. However, this long range weather forecast is troubling. I know that I live on the East Coast now and therefore cannot expect Senor Powderdump to visit me, but if it's going to be that damn cold and wet, please make it snow so I can enjoy my race instead of praying that it gets cancelled.

Thank you,

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Anyone else exercise in the morning?

I am really bad at trying to squeeze in every last second of sleep in the morning, and have never been great at waking up willingly to begin with. Therefore, I've never exercised very often in the morning, preferring to work out after the work day to work off the stress et al of the day. Seeing friends at my running group also keeps me running at night.

I bring this up because with the recent changing of the clocks, I thought about starting running a couple mornings a week. Get the run in before work, I know every time I see people running on the National Mall when I walk to work, I wish I was running with them. An additional problem besides waking up got in the way, the commute to work. Getting up, eating something (I NEVER run on an empty stomach), getting the five miles in, stretching, showering, eating an actual breakfast, and making sure I get on a 7:15 metro train to be at work by 8? Too many variables that would stress me out more than I already am in the morning, rendering the workout counter-productive. Nope.

In September I committed myself do waking up 20 minutes early and doing a 20 minute basic yoga workout each work day. I am getting very close to doing this every workday, and really enjoy it. I bought a few DVDs earlier this year when I started practicing yoga. I use two in particular, one by a guy name Rodney Yee that came with my beginner kit. The second is a yoga for weight loss DVD by Suzanne Deason, which is the longer of the two so I use it when I get up earlier than normal. I find that I feel a little looser and ready to get on with the day after a little basic yoga. If only I practiced on my own more often with the other videos that I have. :)

Do any of you have morning workout rituals that you follow? Does working out in the morning help you get ready for the day? Are you lucky enough to bike commute and get your workout in that way? If you have any suggestions for me, post away.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A not quite as late Richmond Half Marathon Report with another happy ending

Two weeks ago I ran the Half Marathon in Richmond. Different course than last year but leading up to the race I said it looks like a better one, we don't have to run through the Diamond parking lot. My knee had been bugging me, same thing as in May/June but on the right knee this time. It felt like someone was trying to pull apart the cartilige or whatever is around the top of the knee and side of the knee with a pair or pliers. I call it the Fredericksburg injury since that's where this injury first popped up. The Thursday night fun run felt great though so I was good to go, even if travel prevented me from getting in the 2-3 mile day-before jog to stay loose. I was determined to finish in 1:45:00 or less, at the time I thought my PR of 1:40:21 was probably unattainable but you never know. I'm a creature of habit in a lot of ways, so I went to the same Italian Restaurant, Piccola's, as I did last year because it worked last year.

Yeah, unattainable my ass. :) I was running late as usual and the portable facility lines were longer than I expected, even though I should know better. I got my pre-race warmup job in but almost missed the start!!! From there, everything fell into place. I was able to dart around the corrals and hopped the fence and get into the first corral just before the starting gun went off. The guy behind me joked that it was a steep fence I a better get a PR for going through the effort to hop it without hurting myself. I am very grateful for the room to hop in.

Being only 4-5 rows back from the front pack of any race with more than 100 runners was a new world to me. I'm not competing against anyone but myself, but do feel conscientious about not wanting to be someone in the way of a faster runner either. No problem! My legs felt tight for a couple miles, but I started out at a sub seven minute pace and came close to holding that throughout the race. I couldn't believe how fast (for me) I was going at the start. Crossed 10K at 43:48, would be a PR by 1:13 if it was a 10K race. 1:11:27 at 10 miles, PR by 5:08. By the time mile 9 and 10 hit, the only question was, barring injury, not if I would PR, but by how much. Kept going, picked it up a bit at the end, finished in 1:33:23, a PR by 6:58! 7:08 overall pace, it actually happened. 10th in my age group, which for me is ridiculously good. Tough act to follow in 3 weeks at a club half marathon, that's for sure.

I try not to stress too much about what time I get for races, as I am not a professional runner who has anything on the line on race day, I'm just a guy with improved health and a newly discovered running ability who wants to self-improve and have some fun at the same time. I guess all those miles I built up for the marathon helped me in the half; I had not run further than 5.5 miles on any day since the marathon. The recovery phase for the half came a lot of quickly than the marathon. Whereas the soreness and need to recover didn't completely kick in for over a week then, Sunday night I couldn't even squat down like a baseball catcher without putting my hands on the ground first. Even after I stretched post-race, it took 3-4 days for me to walk without my quads killing me, never mind run. Maybe it was the 7:08 pace that I never, ever, saw coming that did it. :)

BTW, Elephant Thai, over by VCU's Monroe Park Campus rocks! Stay tuned for posts about a Thai project!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Great Vacation in New Hampshire and Boston Must End

Boo. Boo. I do not want to fly back to BWI Ariport tomorrow afternoon, this was a great 8 1/2 day vacation (last Saturday doesn't really count as a day since it was a late afternoon flight and drive to Ossipee Lake, NH). But it must come to an end, I really needed to get away from DC / work / the daily grind of living in DC that can wear you down mentally and physically like no other city I've experienced. And I had a fantastic break. I spent Saturday - Friday morning in Ossipee and the remainder of the time in Dracut, MA and near Boston. I'll update it in rapid-fire, semi-coherent fashion, here's what I did:

Sunday - went swimming with my nephews and went to my nephew's eighth birthday party in Eliot, Maine. Luckilly there is no evidence of a failed Slip N Slide attempt.

Rest of time in NH: Kept up with my running, 8 miles or so on Monday, 14 on Thursday, presuming 9 minute mile pace since I don't have a Garmin or one of those tools that measures distances. Hey, I just got A 18 for my flight tomorrow! That makes leaving a bit more tolerable! I prefer to sit near the front of planes since staying on one and waiting for everyone to leave irritates me. I was happy with the mileage I ran both days, and got on plenty of hills on Thursday's run.

Wait, there's more! I hiked Green Mountain once on my own and once with two of my nephews. Hiked Mount Washington again too. My only regret was taking the Nelson Crag Trail down Washington since it was exposed a bit. It's not often that you want to stay out on exposed ridge areas up in the Presidential Range but it was a very rare 60 degree day (It has NEVER been above 72 on Washington's summit). But avoid the Nelson Crag Trail: it goes on forever and forever, doesn't want to end, and once you're low enough so you can't see much of fellow mountains Jefferson, Adams, and Madison you don't have much to look at. I'm grateful the trail exists but you'll never see me on it again. If I had to do it again, I would have roamed around on the ridge and stopped at Lake of the Clouds Hut, which is cooler than coolness, before heading down. I may never get the opportunity to roam up there for hours since you're almost always under the possibility of storms rolling in before you can get to safety but it was a great hike nonetheless.

More NH fun, bought some more khakis for work at Settlers Green / Haggar Outlet, and some more workout shorts at Ocean State Job Lot. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled at my weight loss over the last year and a half but it did require me to spend a bunch on new clothes, which is just about done. Had some great times swimming in the lake too. Great memories and lots of relaxation.

I found a great Thai restaurant, Thai Nakon Ping, in North Conway on the way home from Washington. Had an excellent chicken satay appetizer and an awesome noodles, vegetables, and shrimp dish. I'm going to start a Thai Restaurant Review Project in the next few months. Every time I eat at a Thai place, I blog about it. And I could put peanut sauce on just about anything.

Massachusetts was in on the fun too. Caught up with one of my best friends from high school at a 99 Restaurant. Trying to catch up with more of my closest friends from school before I leave. The 99 was excellent as usual. I spent most of Saturday and today running along the Charles River, hanging out with friends in Cambridge/Somerville, and catching up with as many people as possible. The rundown of memory lane (I've only gotten to Cambridge/Somerville 3-4 times since leaving in 2002):

Davis Square: A bit more corporate than it used to be but still seemed to have the cool, funky feel. I realized that I have no clue how to find the small trail that goes from Davis Square to Alewife Station unless I'm approaching it from the Davis terminus. Not knowing this added to my Saturday Charles River loop run, which was 14-18 miles depending on how accurate maps were, if I actually kept a 9 minute pace, et al.

Harvard Square: Don't like it anymore. Keeps going downhill. Although I hope John Harvard Brew House still makes their Chicken Pot Pie. That would salvage it.

Porter Square: Has not changed a bit. This is a very good thing. Christopher's is as great of a place for food, beer, and relaxed vibe as you'll get near Boston. I liked it so much, I stopped by again on Sunday! Thank you to Audra and the staff for holding on to my debit card that I forgot to pick up before closing my tab on Saturday (it was just two beers, not like 10-12 years ago when I may have forgotten it after 7-9 beers and conversations). There needs to be Christopher's in VA/DC/MD.

There is Willard's BBQ in Chantilly. Not that I've been there, but I need to go because the founder of Blue Ribbon BBQ moved to VA and founded Willard's. Get me some of a pulled chicken platter, mashed potatoes, and cornbread please. As good as it ever was.

Not being able to start my car for 20 minutes in a parking lot in Arlington after my Saturday run, not so cool. But that got resolved.

The Rose Kennedy Greenway is absolutely amazing. It really makes Boston shine like never before. The parkland and sculptures are an absolute joy to see, I just wish I had a camera. Makes the North End and Seaport District look fabulous too, just by being adjacent to it. I sat down across from the Moakley Bridge had a quick lunch by the Seaport. Life was very grand today.

Boston, you did yourselves proud! Seeing a lot of the changes that have taken place recently You're still my home at heart. Now, and I wouldn't be a New Englander without this, a couple gripes. Get the Big Dig Honchos in jail for embezzlement. And to the guy on Boston Common who felt compelled to wear a Yankees Hat and Maple Leafs T Shirt: Double Fail!

Overall, a fantastic eight days. I do not want to go back to my current home, but take solace in that I leave for Colorado in 13 days. And I will get back on track with upper body exercises (i.e. lifting twice a week) and yoga (which I hope I remember how to do after 2 1/2 weeks away). Next time I return to Boston, in 2010, a trip to Boloco's is on the docket, as are trips to places I missed this time around.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Bialetti Experiment gone good and an odd storm

Ran 18 miles today through Rock Creek Park with a bunch of friends. Picked up order at REI and a new pair of hiking shorts. Crashed at the pool for a couple hours before giving up on seeing any more sun. Listening to The New Pornographers on the Rhapsody Player. 6 pm hits and the sky is a combination of light clouds, a nasty downpour, and a small speck of blue sky to the east. No thunder yet. I needed to cook dinner so I decided to use the Bialetti cookware that I bought last year. I was going to do an experiment. Half of a package of chicken drumsticks the conventional way, baked, some poultry seasoning spice sprinkled on them. The other half, sauted in a pan with cooking spray, extra light olive oil, Hickory Smoke BBQ sauce, sea salt, pepper, and Teriyaki Marinade.

So far, the results from the saute experiment are positive. While not a traditional saute, my experiment turned out okay. Still pouring at 6:05 although it looks like the sun will be out of the west side of the horizon in ten minutes. Gives me time to finish dinner before heading out to get some goodies from a friend's birthday cookout tomorrow. 6:07 pm - never mind the sun, just heard the thunder.

While tonight I am not planning on doing anything but crashing after a trip to the grocery store, my weekends have been very, very full over the last 3-4 months. This is a very good thing. Tomorrow is packed too. A yoga class at some point, TBD depending on other events. Aforementioned birthday cookout. Possible Thai dinner here. Things are pretty good for me. 6:11 pm: downpour more intense and is landing in my second floor balcony. 6:14 pm: sunshower is now as odd as I have even seen it. Truly bizarre.

I've got lots going on, meeting more and more people, and am doing a bit of traveling in the upcoming weekends. Next weekend is the last one that I'll be in town all the time until late September. From Aug 15-Sept 13, five weekends in a row out of dodge: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Annapolis for half the weekend and the legendary 10 Miler, Colorado, Colorado. 8 whole days in New England, parts of the 2 travel days, 7 whole days in Colorado, part of 1 travel day. My calendar's filling up here, but I need to get out too.

6:25, after a four color sky, storm seems to have passed by, nice and cool. For about 10 minutes anyway. I wish I had a digital camera or a camcorder for the last half hour. I hadn't seen the sky that odd since New Years Day 2006 in Colorado when the sky was purple. Take care.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cable - Cancelled: At least some of it

If I could have canceled my basic cable and kept a few select tiers and expanded basic, I would have preferred to do that. But basic must be kept to keep it at all. But I need to cut expenses and can't justify paying over $75 a month for something I really don't watch a heck of a lot. Cost outweighs benefit, out it goes. If I can survive without what's left, I'll can cable altogether. Especially if's GameCenter allows me to subscribe and watch games on the laptop (I am looking into this as one of my many side projects). Just get me 2 more GB and a 22-25 inch monitor when Tiger Direct has a a sale and I don't need much more than that. I'm busier than I have ever been so not much time to watch anyway. NHL games will be more than enough sports entertainment. Football season, I head to Murphys and don't watch as many neutral games as I used to. Not to mention I'm not home consistently enough to watch many other programs every week anyway.

Overall, I think this is the right call. I reallocated the funds I'll now save towards part of a $100 monthly contribution to my IRA. Not a lot I know, but I need to build up savings wherever I can and pay debt off whenever I can. Maybe even buy a condo in five years or so, wherever I may be then. Funny, the most recent stock market mini rally came to the plate just as my first $100 contribution went into the IRA. That always helps, even if my goals are to let things ride long term. I don't touch my accounts too much, I don't even look at my 401(K), mostly because the compulsive side of me would tinker with it three times a week and I'd get hurt as a result.

I'll spare my nonexistent audience more Finance by Jeff talk. Time to get ready for sleep and back on the running path tomorrow night.

Monday, July 20, 2009

18 Hours of pedaling, two near-trips to the DL, a fairly fast non-race, and too many chips at Austin Grill: my last Saturday

This past Saturday was 18 hours of a tipsy roller coaster adventure with a happy beginning and ending. All of what the title of this post implicated actually did happen on what otherwise would have been a regular, run of the mill, summer Saturday for a wannabe weekend athlete. Here goes.

8 am: Start waking up, fully aware of why I decided to postpone my long run until tomorrow, still very tired from getting home at midnight from the Nationals-Cubs game the night before. And from the work week.

8:30 am: Finally wake up, I better eat breakfast and get moving if I want to make my 10:05 am spin class and not be useless during it. Three small bowls of Kashi cereal and I'm good to go.

10:40 am: Class is going well, it felt good to be there especially since I don't get to go as often anymore. I'm doing a pull pedal exercise, where I'm pulling the pedals essentially. Using my hamstrings more than quads. Getting a solid workout in until....Well, you ever get a muscle knot in your leg? Where it feels like your leg is tied in a knot and you can't extend your leg to get rid of it? Instead of getting one when I'm sleeping that goes away in 15-20 seconds or less, I get one in the middle of spin class. Yup, after three years plus of classes, I get injured in one. Near-DL Trip Number One. I practically had to stop to try to get rid of the knot, couldn't do it. Pedaled very lightly to shake it off, which I just barely did. I could still "push" or what you usually do while riding fairly hard. Pulling, forget about it for the rest of this day. I did finish the class but could feel tightness in my leg when I tried to stretch it, or do anything for that matter. This didn't go away until I grabbed lunch. Of course I worked the upper body with some weights before leaving the gym since I felt I had to in order to balance my exercise.

12:15 pm: Moe's. Lunch. Good. Hey, it worked last time I gave blood, this pre-donation meal at Moe's. Fish Homewrecker Burrito. Works. For. Me.

1:31 pm: I arrive slightly late for my 1:30 pm appointment, go through the pricking of the fingertip, at least I think it's called that. It's what they do to draw just enough blood to see if yours can be used. Details are a bit fuzzy, keep readin', I remember the tech saying I had 15 or something points and only needed 12.5 to be able to donate. All right, finish the questionaire and off I go!

1:50 pm: I've donated blood in the past and never experienced anything but slight lightheadedness. I go through the prep, squeeze the handle every 5-10 seconds like the tech/nurse told me to. I'm under control. I've got the daily vitamin supplements back in the apartment to take to help get the recovery going.....

In the next minute, it became obvious that I, Jeffrey Patterson, am the dumbest mofo if Fairfax County, at least for one day. Take your supplements before donating blood, if not first thing in the morning, you ******g dumbass! I start feeling queasy, nauseous, and as light headed as I have left in a long long time. I issue a panic call for some water to try to stave this feeling off until I can get some food/sugar/juice back into my system. Didn't work very well, next was the damp towel on the forehead, another on the throat/neck area. I spend the rest of the time just trying to survive without throwing up or passing out. I hadn't felt this horribly since the infamous food poisoning almost keeping me from making the flight for last Christmas episode.

2 something: Done, I try to sit down while eating some pretzels and drinking either a Welch's grape juice or a water. I can barely do this, so I, feeling just as desparate as before, lay down on the floor. Yup, no shame here, I couldn't sit without feeling like I wanted to collapse and didn't need a concussion from smacking my head of the floor. 15 minutes later, after lots of water, pretzels, and grape juice, I move from the half bed, half chair to where I can stand up and move on my own. I felt better when the Red Cross folks mention that I wasn't the first one they've seen crash on the floor to avoid falling on it with no control whatsoever. Near-trip to DL Number Two avoided. The only real consequence was starting my laundry a lot later than I thought I would. Okay, that's not a consequence. After my supplements and a lot of orange juice, I was back to my normal self.

6:30-8:00: I drive to Rockville with some friends for the Rockville Twilight 8K. This is more of a social thing for us Pacers Fun Runners, especially considering most had gone for their long training run earlier that day. For a few hours, I didn't think I was going to run at all. The paperwork I received at the donation room said no strenuous exercise for 5 hours after giving blood. The race started almost seven hours afterwards so I decided to run it, but not take it at race pace.

8:45-9:45: I run the race, can't keep up with my friend, who I told to go ahead, I'd be fine. Other than wanting a portable facility at each mile (I'll leave it as this: I needed it after less water than I normally would) I was running with no issues. Of course, I wasn't going as fast I would have if I tried to race, which I didn't for obvious reasons. My final chip time was 44:25, under 9 minutes a mile, which was a pleasant surprise. Taking it easy to avoid any complications from earlier, and I still ran a pace that I couldn't run at full speed two years ago! That is something I'm proud of, but am even more proud of being able to follow my instincts and judgment and go out for a fun run.

up until 2 am: Lots of chillin', socializin', and general fun until we decided to try to find somewhere to go for dinner. Austin Grill was still open and serving the late night menu! Woohooo! Guacamole tacos, yeah! Sweet potatoes, yeah! Chips after chips! Yeah, for a while! Tortilla chips, especially ones that good, are my worst food weakness. Something really hit home: I'm 50 pounds lighter than I was on 01/01/08. That total would be 55-60 if it wasn't for tortilla chips. Keep the chips away from me, I need to eat my real meal! After the meal we all headed home, I finally made it to sleep at 2 am, which for an old, tired dude like me, is pretty damn late, even on a weekend. Sunday I woke up at 11:10 am, the latest I had woken up in almost a decade not counting ridiculous hangovers. And my food poisoning from last year that extended into Christmas Eve.

That was 18 wild hours! This Saturday is just a mere long run and volunteering at the Crystal City Twilighter 5K. Not too much, not as much of a late night. Oh wait, there isn't an Austin Grill in Crystal City, is there?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

6 reasons why there will not be a Triathlon Project anytime soon - and I want to go see Yes next week

I figured that once I complete a marathon, I'd try triathlon, swim, bike, and run in the same race. Well, tonight I give you 6 reasons why the Triathlon Project may never get off the ground.

1. Lap One: This lap was actually okay, the pool at my apartment complex is (I think( 25 meters or half-Olympic size. But the thought of eventually getting into triathlons came to me....until I realized that I was much slower than the other riders in Prince William Park on July 3, largely because my bike is a hybrid and I can't afford a road bike right now.

2. Lap Two: My form already sucks. This isn't good.

3. Tried a different stroke. I started to get the sense that I can't swim well enough to enter a tri.

4. Backstroke? Lap Four? Hah!

5. Okay, one more lap out and one back. I am struggling with this. The $7.99 Speedo goggles I bought at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports in Charlottesville work really well though.

6. Lap Six, the final lap. I am simply not a good swimmer. Time to go continue the yoga project, which is going really well. I may be able to do a headstand in a couple months.

More good stuff, I want to go see this show on August 28. A Paul and Storm show would be a great way to kick off Annapolis 10 Miler weekend. This weekend's been booked for a little while. And I would really like to go to the Yes show at National Harbor next Thursday. Heck I might go solo to that one. I can get there on a bike in about 15 minutes now! Order that bike light, Jeff! Now!

Friday Night: Nationals vs Cubs with a bunch of friends. Expect a near sellout with 30K Cubs fans. There are only three major league teams I have never seen in person (3 1/2 if you count the NL Brewers, saw 'em a bunch of times in Fenway when they were in the AL). Incredibly, one of them is the Cubs. The Mets and Rays being the other two. It'll be a good time even if the final score is 15-1.

Saturday: If I get up in time, long run with running group. If not, which is increasingly likely given how long it will take to get home from the game the night before, I hit the gym for a spinning class and weight work. Taking part in a blood drive at my complex in the afternoon after lunch. Evening, Rockville! Social race and evening doing whatever.

Sunday: Likely my long run. If I was more persuasive / threatening, I would compel my running group peeps who also miss the Saturday long run to enter the Northwest Yuppie Torture Chamber. I'm too tired to look for an old post about it so I'll describe it again:

Each "lap" up the Exorcist Steps involves the following ruuning: Start from the top of the steps, 2 blocks east, 1 block south (downhill), right at Georgetown Running Company, 2 blocks west, into the Exxon Mobil, flip off the Exxon sign (I kid), then up the stairs.

12 laps, hitting the stairs directly from the Roosevelt Island Parking Lot. Head east on N or O St, you can jog this because more hell awaits.

Run up Wisconsin Avenue, not to the Z Burger in Glover Park, not to the Safeway and small playground, all the way past Chevy Chase Pavilion into Maryland. No, you are not Metroing it back from Friendship Heights unless you're injured. Then it's get to where you can elevate the messed up leg or whatever ASAP, this run is for conditioning, not foolish heroism. Or if you're sick, then come to that bridge now that you've crossed it.

You can cross over eastward onto Connecticut Avenue for the trip back, just remember to cut back on to cut back west at Macomb just after Cleveland Park. If you continue into Rock Creek Park, you'll get lost. I checked. You can pick up Massachusetts Avenue if you want, just by the Cathedral. Follow that to embassy row, then back on P or Q Streets, which you will follow to 34th or 35th to get back to the Key Bridge. You've suffered enough by now, you will be allowed to skip dodging all of the crowds on M Street.

Once back across the river, do you really want more suffering, go run up some hills in Rosslyn/Court House. I ain't responsible for you anymore, I've gone to stretch down and grab lunch. Later.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gatorade Effect - More Fireworks - and Kayaking (another thing I can attempt with great risk)

While listening to some Ted Leo and the Pharmacists on the Rhapsody player, I figured I'd kill some time before heading out to the Alexandria Fireworks for its birthday even though I always thought it was a late July 4 deal where they could get more peeps out to view them. Ah, it's a birthday deal but I'm looking forward to hanging out with friends nonetheless. No alcohol this time. I don't need get caught up in a 5000 bikers/walkers going from Gravelly Point to the Crystal City Unscheduled Stampede while heading back to the bus. So I want to have my full focusing abilities, whatever that means, so I can return to the 9A bus at the end of the evening.

Ah, it looks like it rained since I came in from a fail to get some sun at the pool but I chilled out in the hot tub nonetheless. So it's all good. I needed it after 18 miles of running this morning. For some reason, every single time I run on the Capital Crescent Trail, the time between Fletchers Boathouse and Roosevelt Island drags, my running starts to suck, and well everything sucks for a half hour. Until I get back to the cars and get some Gatorade. Rarely does Gatorade seem to help as much as it did today because miles 17 and 18, to and from the Arlington Memorial Bridge, were much stronger miles than 12-16 were. Odd. But this was actual Not G2, the actual Gatorade, with a good effect. So the Gatorade effect rocked today.

Kayaking. Yeah, first yoga, now Kayaking. I'm going Kayaking tomorrow for a couple hours. Never gone before, haven't even been canoeing in who knows how long. Going back to Fletchers Boathouse to kayak though. It should be a fun couple hours, at least until I fall in the Potomac. Yoga beckons afterwards. Note to Jeff, wear something with ironclad zipper pockets so you don't lose anything when the inevitable occurus.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Did Facebook eat my blog?

Remember the old "the dog ate my homework" excuse? Well, I'm asking if Facebook ate my blog. And other blogs. While it's a great tool to keep up with friends, post random thoughts about life, get in touch with people (heck, my 4th plans were made there!)...... I don't seem to ever update this blog anymore because it seems easier to post stuff on Facebook if I feel like talking about something I did.

Well, I am taking my blog back! Or at least until the next time I get preoccupied and do not update it for a bit! Since the last time I updated my blog, I have:

Hiked Mount Washington again. Summit trip #5. Nearly got blown off of the mountain about 20 times, but 60-70 mph sustained winds goes with the territory. This was on Memorial Day but I did not see a soul on the Boott Spur Trail until I got to the Davis Path on the ridge. Lions Head was a tougher decent than I remembered it being. Pictures of the Boott Spur Trail. I'm looking for a picture of Split Rock, where I ate the first half of my lunch. It's cool. I've found one, not of me.. Making at least one more trip up the best mountain ever in August.

Travelled to Nelson County, VA (No stoplights!) Hiked near Crabtree Falls, overshot the AT junction and added an hour to a hike, and didn't make it to The Priest Mountain. Wait till next time.

Ran a 10 mile race in Baltimore for some great bling bling, even if it was actually 10.2 miles. I received this email from the Race Director after the race:

"Thank you for participating in the 2009 University of Maryland Heart Center Baltimore 10-Miler. Although the weather was not what we wanted, it was overall a good day. (Some would say we jinxed ourselves by offering waterproof jackets as the premium; we like to say we had the foresight to predict the weather far in advance of race day...)

Interruption of quote, The Bling Bling rocks!

There is some question as to whether the course was long. Although the 2009 course was certified accurately, it does appear that the mat on the up and back portion of Red Road was placed at the 2008 location, making the course 2/10 mile longer than it should have been. We take full responsibility for this error. We have had numerous conversations with the timing company to see where the miscommunication occurred and what we can do to make sure it does not happen again. Please accept our apologies."

No wonder why the last two miles felt like they were longer than two miles, and I went from just barely off my PR pace to 2 1/2 minutes off at the end. Adjusted 10 mile pace was only 1 minute 1 second off my PR, excellent for a race with the involved hills! Apology accepted, those things happen.

Cured my recurring knee problems with a magic $16 remedy ... Spenco insoles! Placed them in the 1223s, no more knee issues! Woohooo!

Completed a headstand in yoga class, albeit with some assistance. I am still making more progress than I ever thought I would, although I dropped out of the headstand prematurely in a "oh crap, I'm actually doing this, what do I do?" manner. Believe in yourself.

Celebrated a birthday with some friends in Old Town Alexandria. I'm old but can still have fun from time to time.

Had a great 4th of July weekend that encompassed a 35 mile bike ride through Prince William Forest Park, my first ever trip to Wegmans, now known as the Greatest Grocery Store on Planet Earth, losing my prescription sunglasses (the one thing that sucked), a trip to Gravelly Point to watch fireworks with friends, some Sam Adams Beer, and a great yoga class to end the weekend in style.

I've probably posted snippets of three quarters of this on Facebook already. Heck, that's why I asked if Facebook ate my blog? Has anyone else blogged less since they joined the hordes at Facebook?

Friday, May 29, 2009

There were two more half marathons, and nearly a trip to the DL

May 10, another Sunday, another half marathon. This time it was the Pacers Running Festival in Arlington. It was a challenging race on a lot of concrete, highlighted by a friend who brought a half dozen donuts and ate them during the race. I don't think I've ever eaten six donuts in my life but I'm not tough like my friend is. In a nutshell, the downhill at the start rocked, running up an incline towards Crystal City twice would have been okay if not for the crosswinds....and the hill to the Air Force Memorial around Mile 8 was a bitch. All things considered, a 1:43:38 time made me quite happy.

The following Sunday I paid my first ever visit to Fredericksburg for the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon. Nice little Old Town District, Basil's Bistro is a great little restaurant on Caroline Street with wonderful service. The race is great too. But, note to Jeff, don't pull onto I-95 for the drive in at 6:15, leave earlier so you don't get stuck in traffic and give yourself not enough time for a proper warmup.

The limited warmup and not having enough time to scope out the expected time corrals contributed to me starting in the 2:30-2:45 corral when I expected to finish around 1:45 or so. I get internally competitive so I spent the first mile or two bobbing in and out of lines to break free of the pack and into a solid, (at least at the beginning sub-8 minute miles) pace. I got under 8s around mile 4 for a bit, which made me happy even though I knew my final pace would be more than 8 per mile.

What I didn't anticipate was jamming my left knee and hip just around the time a good sized rain shower hit while I was near mile 8. That turned evern running on flat ground a challenge. The hill on the backside of the Mary Washington Hospital Grounds later on? For a bit I didn't think I was going to make it. That hill left like a lot more than 250 feet or so that the course measured it as. By the time I reached the top, an 8 minute final pace of 1:44:48 was a pipe dream.

I did suck it up and finish strong, arriving in 1:46:03. Considering my leg was messed up for 5 plus miles, and I started in the wrong corral, this was my second most pleasing half marathon out of the six I've finished so far. It was great to see all the Marines and other military members on the course and handing out the finishing medals. A big thank you goes out to them for sure.

The jammed leg almost sent me to the DL, but luckily three nights in a row of icing it kept me off of it. Even after stretching enough and a session in the hot tub at Gold's Gym, I could barely walk when I got to the Alexandria Gold's to pick up my Diet to Go food after an hour drive. I felt like there was a 40 pound set of pliers pinching and pulling the side of my knee. The desk attendant asked me if I was okay. I was able to get home and do very little the rest of the day. Ice at night, DL trip averted. For at least 8 days until Mount Washington. That's my next entry.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Half Marathon was a great experience

Sunday night, more to come later this week.

Okay, as I sit here with my left knee elevated, I am grateful to have a laptop as my home PC. Portability, baby! I can update my blog while elevating and icing my knee! My stretch of 6 races in 7 Sundays, with the last 4 of 5 and 3 of 3 being half marathons, is finally over. I love running but am glad to be taking a break, more on my sore leg later.

Now that I finally learned how to use the laptop keyboard (I use an USB Logitech keyboard most of the time) I can write about my latest three half marathons. On May 3, I went to a new city, or at least new to me. The long name of the race was the Philips Respironics Half Marathon (part of the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend). I call it one of the best races I’ve ever been a part of in a great city. A good-sized, great contingent of people from the Pacers Alexandria Fun Run group headed out to Pittsburgh the morning before the race. Good conversation, good coffee at Dunkin Donuts even after a unique customer service line management situation, and no issues on the PA Turnpike, we were on our way to Steel City.

Once we drove through the Squirrel Hill Tunnel after getting through the backup on the way, we were in Pittsburgh! I was immediately impressed with all the hills and bridges. While an older industrial city for sure, there’s lots of impressive architecture and engineering to be seen. And did I mention lots of hills? No shortage of courses for hill repeats that’s for sure.

The Saturday night highlight was a trip to Buca di Beppo in the revitalized Station Square area. $8 / person for tons of family-style Italian food? Yeah! I didn’t go on the tram up the Monongahela Incline since I wanted to get back to the hotel and rest, but that’s something to do next time I go out there. I highly recommend staying downtown and splitting the cost like we did, especially when you are in an unfamiliar city and/or want to be able to walk to the starting line the next morning. If I had to drive into the downtown area and find parking that morning I would have had an ulcer. One drawback to the city of Pittsburgh is that it’s very tricky to navigate with all the two or three lane freeways and bridges. Nothing that can’t be overcome by folks who live in the clusterf__k of DC / VA / MD but a challenge nonetheless.

Race morning, same as always, ate breakfast, hydrated, drank just enough coffee to wake me up, jogged a bit to warm up, got into my corral and off I go. I was on my own since I was the only half marathoner in the group, and I think I ended up in a “faster” estimated pace corral only because with the shorter distance I could run more aggressively.

As we crossed the 16th Street Bridge and proceeded into the North Shore Section of town, I saw three runners from the group. One of them mentioned to me he was expecting to see me at any point before we saw each other. I ran with a couple of friends for a bit before I broke ahead. I normally wouldn't be able to "out-run" them but since I was running the half I could run more aggressively, having less distance to save my strength for.

Next came a couple of inclines and, yeah, bridges, we approached theLiberty Tunnel (middle picture on the right)". Here, at mile 8 or so, is when I first realized that I was on my way to a very special race, one which would see me beat my PR by quite a bit. Perfect day for it, mid 50s, cloudy, I decided to focus on maintaining a consistent pace.

Station Square was next, where we saw a ton of cheering fans. I enjoyed every minute of it and waved to as many people as I could. And made sure to thank the volunteers for handing out water and Powerade. The National Marathon in DC was an eye-opener for me. While not as hard as running the race, volunteering is hard work. I'm going to volunteer at at least one race this summer.

Just as the half marathon split from the full marathon, Joe caught up to me, which was really cool. The half marathon turned back west towards the bridge near Smithfield Street at the end of Station Square, and over the bridge that we took to get to dinner the night before. During the last mile I did my best to pick up the pace and make a final push for......1:40:00! I couldn't believe that I was close to doing this! Only 29 months after my first 5 mile organized Fun Run that I was just glad to finish, I'm doing half marathons in sub 8 mile paces? Yeah!

I pushed hard and finished strong, heard my name called as I approached the finish line, and while I didn't beat 1:40:00, my chip time was 1:40:21!!!! PR by SEVEN MINUTES!!!!!!! This was the best race for me since I started taking part in them. Not just because of my amazing time, but the whole experience spent with many friends. I was able to get towards the mile 24.5-26 areas and cheer on and run besides my friends as they finished running through the Strip District.

Pittsburgh: Very Well Done! I was interviewed by the Race Director in the food/hospitality area after the race, and I told her how great of an experience I had with everything. Course, water stops, you name it! I can't wait to go back next year! If Marine Corps goes well, I do the full marathon. If not, I try to beat my 1:40:21. Either way, I am looking forward to great things on May 2, 2010. Date's already booked. Hotel will be soon. Heck, I may be back there before then. More half marathon descriptions to come as I have time.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

5Kin, Muddin, 90 Degree Heat, 10 Mile Race, and other random musings

I had my worst time in the 5K series this past Friday, but that's relative. 21:46 is damn good compared to what I could run in previous weeks. There's one more race to go in the series. While I don't like to run 5Ks all that often, preferring 10 milers and half marathons, I'm going to miss the Crystal City Friday 5Ks. Good camaraderie with fellow runners, an opportunity to get in a great workout, on a night that I don't do very much on anyway because Saturday mornings are usually taking up by long runs? It's a plan! And Old Scratch Amber Lager by Flying Dog is as good as ever. Just thought I'd mention it.

On Friday evening, I was asked to fill in on Saturday as the fourth team member for a costume run at the Run Amuck Festival at Lake Needwood Park in Maryland. Our team was cops and robbers. Lake Needwood has some deceptively steep and gnarly hills, I now know whay the hold cross country championship races there. For Run Amuck, we had to run through an obstacle course and two mud pits. Given that people were falling over the place in the mud, the "race" turned into a walk sort of fast on the trails trip. It was very fun though, I'd love to do more mud runs. They even had a place where you could wash off your shoes and donate them for a cause. I did that. The clothes? Thrown out, I purposely wore stuff that was in such bad shape I'd have to toss out anyway.

Which leads me to Sunday, the GW Parkway Classic. In a nutshell it's a 10 mile race from the Mount Vernon Estate to Old Town Alexandria. After meeting up with many Pacers Fun Runners and various other cool runners, off to the starting line we went. There was talk about getting near the front and getting off to a very fast start because it's a crowded race, and there is a downhill drop at the first. Guess what, I did just that! A 6:20 first mile! Close to the fastest one mile ever for me.

I paid for that at the end of the race. At around mile 5 I started to slow down a lot, zigzaging to find shade, drinking as much water as possible, but generally rueing starting out too fast. On a hot day that saw temps get into the 90s later on, (forecasted "Feels Like" Index was 67 at 8 am, 78 at 10 am - I use that more than the temperature to gauge weather conditions) I had to slow down my pace if I wanted to have a bagel and water at the finish and not IV fluids. I managed to suck it up, keep my focus, and cranked it up a bit on the last mile to finish in 1:16:35, my best 10 mile race ever.

I was very happy to have finished with a PR in this heat. The clock thermometer above a animal hospital a few miles down the street from me read 101 at 3 pm this afternoon, 96 at 4:30. While it wasn't that hot, it was a sudden change from a cool spring, that's for sure. And it's still very hot at 9 pm on Sunday Night. But I fought the heat, occasional shoulder trouble (Ali you're not the only one dealing with shoulder stuff) and earned another PR.

After that I had a great omlet at Caboose Cafe in Del Ray, saw the 100 degree thermometer reading, saw some new lanes on Route 1 near my apartment, and had a good yoga class. I must have been in a good zone during the final pose because I was so relaxed that I had to open my eyes twice to make sure the whole class hadn't taken off after class was over! That might been my favorite moment ever in the 7 1/2 weeks I've been practicing yoga.

Great times. Work week beckons. And the car wash. And more running Tuesday night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No Cumberland Blues last weekend - a great half marathon!

Last weekend I headed up to Western Maryland for the Mountain Maryland Marathon. This was a first year event in Cumberland, I ran the half marathon. Since the race organizers did not get permission to use all of The National Road (US 40 - original marathon route was from Cumberland to Frostburg and back), the course was changed a month before the race. That worked out just fine, the half marathon course went up the Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail. I turned around after 20 or so half marathoners did before me at the Brush Tunnel.

I was encouraged to not see the lead half marathoner until I got quite a bit past the mile 5 marker. I generally only complete within myself to see how well I can do but it was a good feeling to know I wasn't getting totally smoked either. Headed toward the Brush Tunnel I felt like I had climbed quite a bit, albeit gradually save for the short, steep hill to get onto the bike path from Maryland Route 36. At the turnaround, I touched the orange traffic cone for good luck or whatever, then looked at the watch. 55 or 56 minutes, somewhere in between.

Cool! I'm going at a faster pace than I figured I would in this race, my first half marathon with continuous vertical gain. The downhill in theory goes a bit more quickly, but you have to consider the effort already given to get halfway through the race when guesstimating your final time. I decided to concentrate on just running a solid, steady pace. Chatted a bit with a couple of locals who were running the half, made sure I thanked the volunteers and the locals who came out to watch, and made my way back down into Cumberland. Passed the Fruit Bowl and knew I was getting close.

It really hit me that I may actually set a PR at that distance when I saw Kevin, the Race Director, directing people on one of the last turns before the train station (the finish). I didn't realize I was that close when I looked at my watch and it read 1:45:something and I had one of those, oh yeah I actually did this s*t! Crossed the finish line after waving in appreciation to the spectators at....1:47:20 from my watch time (started when I passed the same spot that the front line runners started at), 1:47:25 gun time. That's a PR by over 3 minutes. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the end result, and the whole weekend in general. I went on a nice little 7-8 mile hike in Rocky Gap State Park on Saturday, and kicked a*s in the race. I can't wait to go back next year!

I'm the guy in the white hat headed back down the path. I know that guy!. This week is the GW Parkway 10 miler on Sunday, and the 4th of 5 5Ks in Crystal City. I have canceled my experiment where I'd run from work to the race to see how running 6-7 miles beforehand would affect my 5K time. Too much going on to do that but that's cool. Till next time, peace. And I want to go back to Cumberland this summer or fall and take my bike up the bike path I just ran on.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

18 mile run in the rain, and unbelieveable NCAA Hockey final, and Bring It On Habs!

Okay, yesterday was quite a filled up day for me. After setting another PR in the 5K Fridays series in Crystal City I barely made it out of bed and to my Saturday morning long run. I had decided the night before that I was going to run the 17.75 mile option, which was farther than all but the Pittsburgh Marathon runners were going. Turned out I ran 18 when you count the extra running to/from facility breaks. 18 miles, close to as far as I've ever run in my life, in a not downpour but still driving rain. I was one hurting dude after that. Stretched a bit but waited until I could get home via a warm car to do most of that since I was a cold as I've been in a while after I stopped running. I've made great progress as a runner in the past year, but I know my limitations. Yesterday showed me that I am not ready for a marathon just yet. I've got 6 plus months to get ready, but it's a good thing that I'm only running the half in Pittsburgh. It'll give me time to cheer on my friends who are running the full marathon while I'm out there.

Last night I went to the NCAA Hockey Championship game at Verizon Center. Bill wrapped it up better than I ever could, and got some great shots to boot. Let me say this, I am not a Boston University fan by any means. But what they accomplished all season and especially last night was nothing short of unreal. Two goals in the last minute to tie it up, the game winner was a bit of a fluky bounce but that's very unfortunate for Miami. I'm not sure I can really describe how great this game was and do it justice. A great game from the get go, not one of those games that doesn't get good until the third period.

Finally, before I go take the bike out for a spin, Bring it on Habs! The Black and Gold are waiting for payback from last year, 02, and 04. And as a DC area resident, please Caps, smoke the Rangers right out of the playoffs.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Jeff 1:17:06, Cherry Blossom 0

I went into Cherry Blossom thinking I'd run it as a "social race" with some friends and check out the Cherry Blossom Trees down by Potomac Park. However, not only were my friends in other waves at the start (or I didn't know they were running it), but something happens to me once I cross the timing mat in any race I run. I become quite competitive and possibly unable to run at a more relaxed, social pace. I'm not one of those people who has to beat as many people as possible, I won't complain about not getting an ideal starting spot, but I always want to see if I can improve as a runner.

Yeah, at least today, I improved by a lot. I knew I was a stronger runner than during my last 10 miler 6 months ago, so I had that in my favor. The temps were around 50, perfect for running a fast race. Somehow I managed to be placed in the second of five or six waves even though I felt the same way a female runner near me did when she said "I don't count myself in that group." (the announcer called our wave to the start line then called us the "still pretty fast" runners).

I was concerned all week about the course being very crowded, friends of mine have been knocked down and cut during this race on a rather narrow course. But that concern didn't materialize, as I was able to break to the outside and settle in at a solid race pace very quickly. Mile One, 8:20 or so. Mile Two, 16:05 or so. Each other mile, under 8 minute overall pace. Thank you trusty Armitron watch for helping with that, you didn't break after six weeks like my other one did!

The course itself is a bit uneventful but I was running at a fantastic pace so I didn't slow down for the trees, only for water and Gatorade, which I spilled over myself on more than one occasion as usual. So what, it isn't fine dining! I got to mile nine at just over 1 hour 10 minutes, so I decided to end with a flourish and pick it up for the last mile. Not a sprint mind you, but I stepped out of my groove nonetheless and hauled towards the finish. Someday I may be able to keep my just under seven minute a mile pace for 10 milers and half marathons, but for now I'm big time stoked about 1:17:06! A new PR by 11:31 officially, 9:31 after removing facility break from the net time. Okay, my limited racing career helps with this obliteration (smaller sample size than many runners). But I set the bar very high for the GW Parkway Classic in 3 weeks.

After finishing with a few miles of running to the gym to cool down and work some abs and bike a bit to flush out the legs, no Open to All Yoga for me. Didn't want to do too much.

My Cannondale bike rules!

Last month I bought a new Cannondale bike and love it! I just wish I got to ride it more often but last Sunday I got to take nice long circuit loop. I started at my apartment and rode the little more than mile and a half to the Mount Vernon Trail, which I picked up around mile 7.5. Just before mile 13, you will see a marking for Four Mile Run. That creek is nothing to write home about, but there is a nice little trail aside it called, well, the Four Mile Run Trail. I'm not sure how long it is, but while wind-prone along Glebe Road in Arlington, is a pleasant trail.

A really cool thing, the trail goes right under I-395 now and bypasses most of the condos and restaurants in Shirlington! I know because I beat the ribbon cutting too!. Now I'd love to be a condo owner, and restaurants are good, but the new path is more direct to the W&OD Trail (click for access points). Not to mention that you don't have to ride on a bunch of side streets and up and down a Z shaped ramp to cross the I-395 overpass. No more!!! I rode the W&OD, which parallels the Four Mile Run, until the Falls Church / Arlington Border at Mile 5.5 or so.

The Custis Trail was next, I picked that up at Mile 4.0. This trail is quite challenging for an "urban/suburban" trail, lots of short, rolling hills but hills nevertheless. It's really challenging to run on in the summer humidity. But I survived and was doing okay. Then the wind picked up after I left the Custis Trail. I ended up stopping my ride at the airport since I was tired but satisfied with my ride. Had I not made a dumb turn on to the Roosevelt Bridge thinking I was going to ride to L'Enfant and call it a day, it would have been about a, let's see, 8.5 miles or so until the W&OD plus 7 miles on W&OD plus 4 miles on Custis plus 4 on Mount Vernon = 23.5 mile loop. But my collection of wrong turns added 3-5 miles to that plus a crossing on the Memorial Bridge.

As I continue with my fitness travels, I may become brave enough to try the W&OD Trail all the way to Purcellville and back, 89 miles. There's a ways to go before I get there, but I finally have a bike to take on a ride that long.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, and Committed......

To the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25! I've taken the plunge and registered for a marathon. I didn't think this would be possible just a few years ago, but after lots of running, better eating, and my new Yoga Project, I'm confident that I will be ready to at least finish the race. That's the only real goal for this, to finish, no time goals, none of that, as this is completely uncharted waters I'm sailing in.

But I did predict a finishing time of 4 Hours 15 minutes since you had to pick something while registering, so they can get you into a starting group on race day. FWIW, my Personal Records (PRs) are 23:12 for a 5K, 45:39 for a 10K, 1:28:30 something for a 10 miler, and 1:50:39 for a half marathon. Part of me knows that come race day I'll start thinking about how well I'll do, who am I kidding.

Either way, I am looking forward to this journey as much if not more than nearly anything else I have done for a long time. This will be a journey, as the furthest I have ever run at once in my life is 18 miles, and that was a best guestimate of 2 hours 50 minutes of running time on Super Bowl Sunday this year. There will be a lot more involved than arbitrarily picking a distance for Saturday long runs as I'm travelling to the meeting spot. I'll have to follow a program so I'm peaking on Marine Corps Morning. There will be some pain involved, both physical and mental. Some frustration, indeed. But it will all be worth it should I stay healthy through October 25 and cross that finish line near the Iwo Jima Memorial.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Yoga: a stronger addiction than 5 Hour Energy

At one time I was addicted to 5 Hour Energy but I've kicked that habit, especially since it's now $3 at my work instead of two. Yoga is my new addiction that I don't want to kick. Ever. I've been to three fundamentals classes here and one at Gold's Gym and am totally hooked. I can already feel a difference when I stretch after runs. I have a bit more flexibility and can hold stretches for a bit longer. My hamstrings don't feel quite as tight as they used to either. "Yoga Homework" is working! Just a simple get the breathing right, go into a pose with your open hands touching the ground, straight legs with a very slight bent, for two minutes at night. Well, in the morning too but I'm not so good at doing homework then.

More seriously, once I get a bit better controlling breathing, practice poses on my own, and keep going to fundamentals class, I'll improve quite a bit. I can already do a passable shoulder stand pose after only being able to hold it for 1/2 second last Thursday. Now my pose isn't anywhere near as complete as this one, heck my toes will probably never touch the ground behind my head but it's acceptable to me. I'm a lot further along than I'd ever thought I would be. Maybe now I will even start trusting my own abilities. I'm starting to with my running, and with yoga.

Now to break out the kit and DVDs I ordered.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Yoga Project launched!!!! and Volunteering is a good thing

I've got a lot to cover since I haven't blogged in a while. The Yoga Project has officially been launched! I am two weeks into yoga at Pure Prana in Alexandria. I have really enjoyed the fundamentals class so far. I've already learned a ton about breathing, stretching, and relaxing. I'm sure I'll get better as I go each week, if I can remember what the instructor has taught me about pushing myself to just before it gets uncomfortable instead of pushing to the max. So far, so good. Even in a beginner class, I was very nervous on my first night that I would be overmatched. That didn't happen, the only time I felt lost was on shoulder stand pose. That will take a bit, the instructor helped me a bit this past Thursday but my back is still too tight to pull that off. It will come with practice, as a friend of mine said there's years of damage to be undone, which is very true. I'm going at least once a week now, and this week is week one of a new rotation, so now that I know I like going, I'll start somewhat anew.

Not only am I a limited talent but dedicated yoga student, I am also a great volunteer. Not a Tennessee Volunteer mind you, but I decided I needed to give back to the running community. So I signed up to volunteer at the National Marathon this past weekend. Friday night I was working a t shirt table, handing out shirts to participants. Other than running out of small shirts (oh how I sometimes wish I could fit into one!) it went well. The people and nearly all the participants were fantastic, handing out shirts once in a while is the least I can do for a community that has given so much to me.

That's not to say I wasn't tired when I left and a little apprehensive about waking up at 4:15 am for a volunteer shift that started at 6 am. But I made the 5:27 am Metro train in plenty of time, got to my shift location at 6. Let me tell you, I'm not sure if Team in Training could not have done more to make me feel welcome and valued (I signed up online on my own a couple months ago and was matched with them). Just a fantastic experience, even if I almost crashed into fellow volunteers twice while handing out Powerade at Mile 3! Mile 3 was very hectic as we had both marathoners and half marathoners passing by. As was the hour before the race started; mixing Powerade, pouring tons of water, moving tables around twice. But everyone was so welcoming and hard working that the time flew by.

I have an entirely new appreciation for event volunteers and the work that they do while we are running all over the place. The effort that goes into putting up something as seen as simple as putting up a few tables and placing cups of water on them, it's a lot, lot more than you realize. Breaking down tables, helping street sweepers, it's a lot of work. I am very very glad I did this, and will do it some more this year. I also pledge to be even more gracious to volunteers that I already was in the future. Giving back gives rewards in more ways than one.

I know I didn't save the planet, or even anyone. But everyone can give back to his or her community in many ways. I'm sure I was able to help someone's run a bit because they were a bit more hydrated after taking a cup of Powerade from me. Running is a great fitness and health tool. It felt really good to know I helped people works towards a great physical challenge. And had fun and met some fantastic people as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

George Mason mini-mounment, yes it exists!

Lots to talk about here, two Mondays ago I went on another personal running tour. The blah, Hains Point is not really a good place for some interval sprints, not the wide open, flat stretch I was looking for, forgot about the side parking. The good, I rediscovered the George Mason Memorial. If you're driving home on 395 south over the Potomac, just as you drive under the signs telling you about Exit 10, on the ground beneath the bridge and accessible from the footbridge via stairs is the monument. George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights. And was involved in drafting The Constitution. Read more from people who write better than I can. I was happy to find this memorial to an often overlooked Founding Father. I will need to visit Gunston Hall sometime this year. Maybe combine it with a run in Mason Neck State Park.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Yoga Project on hold, but I joined a new team

The yoga project is on hold for at least a week. Why? Because I'm disorganized and did not register for the Yoga For Runners class until it was too late. I was so upset with myself for being that disorganized that I became depressed for a bit. That combined with a crappy run last night, running pants issue last night, and two rough days at work made me a mess for 36 hours.

But that doesn't matter anymore. Because I joined a new team tonight. Team Cannondale! I bought this amazing bike - titanium grey color! I can't wait to pick it up tomorrow and ride it Sunday morning before the Capitals game. And tomorrow afternoon. And tons of times after that. I'm in a very good mood now.

While I'll have to wait until Thursday for a fundamentals yoga class, owning a new bike makes me want to jump up and down like a nine year old at Christmastime. It amazes me how quickly my overall mood changed. It shouldn't change like that but it does. But it's going to be 70 tomorrow and Sunday. And close to it on Monday. Lots of biking and running. I am jacked up! Daylight savings time: I'm a big, big fan so I will definitely take advantage of the warm temps and extra daylight.

BTW, that guy should have never been thrown out of the window for suggesting they no longer buy Bud Light at the meetings. That was a very good idea, if you're gonna blow money like that, at least buy Yuengling or better beer. Just sayin'.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

First long race of the year, a smashing success!

After my still can't believe it time in the Chocolate Mile three weeks ago, I started to get really fired up about long race season. Until I heard the weather forecast for possible snow showers, or much worse, cold rain. Then I wasn't so fired up about it. I made the drive to the hotel nonetheless; I was not leaving at 5-5:30 to drive nearly 50 miles that morning knowing that I still needed to pickup my race packet and the Beltway is always questionable. No drama there, hotel had a microwave, I found a Wawa with bananas for the morning, I was good to go.

After a great (especially for hotel) night's sleep, I was off to Severna Park (MD) High School for the first half marathon of the season. I was all jacked up, although very cold once I got out of the car at the school. So I went into pre-race routine mode, the race number and chip were all set, a brief run and stretch, followed by fixing my watch so I could track my chip time. I was good to go at the starting gun.

I didn't really know what to expect from this race as it was my first long race in winter conditions, or my second race of longer than one mile in winter conditions; the 4 miler on New Years Eve was fun but not really a race. I had a goal of finishing under 2 hours, with 1:55 the "get under that and I'll be thrilled" line. 1:50:39 I ran in Richmond? Not happening, too big of a difference in conditions and on top of that, while I have gone on several long runs on the weekends, I had a lot more races under my "recently run belt" when I ran Richmond.

The course was just about all on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, which does not go all the way to Baltimore but I digress. After running through a middle school parking lot, the course proceeded to the paved trail. The trail was open to cyclists or other runners during the race, but I only saw three other runners and no cyclists since it was 7:30-8 AM on a crappy Sunday morning. Nice running surface, not chopped gravel, a couple slick footbridges but heck it snowed a bit the night before so it goes with the territory.

I'm running, staying hydrated, settling in when I came to the one hill at the turnaround, up and down, all under US 50. That was a bit tough but after that my pace per mile kept on getting slightly faster. I didn't look at my watch all that often during this race, pretty much just at the mile markers. I started to notice I was getting close to the 8:30 mile pace. Cool! I knew that 1:51:21 was 8:30 for a half marathon but didn't think I was running that fast. But I kept on keeping on, taking advantage of the water stops, using my own water belt (4 tiny bottles attached to a belt) to help with hydration...and....started to hurt a bit around mile 12.

But I dug in and finished with a chip time of 1:51:09, exactly 30 seconds slower than the Richmond race. I am VERY HAPPY with this, especially given the conditions. I'm so glad I went now, a new experience, chatted with a few people, and verified that my time last year wasn't a fluke. I recommend races put on the Annapolis Striders. The race premium was a light zip jacket that helps with wind prevention, that's a great bonus but both races I've run with them were very well organized (the most important thing by far). I can't wait for the 10 Miler in August!!!

Finally, it looks like I will be making my yoga debut on Saturday at Pure Prana. I'm sure my super duper sized audience is greatly awaiting news of that.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Long run race season begins in 18 hours

In a couple hours I leave for Annapolis for the first long race of 2009. Crappy weather tomorrow = no real time goals, just have fun and a strong race where I feel decent all the way through. Okay, never mind, I want to finish in under 2 hours, under 1:55 will make me be thrilled. I don't expect to beat my 1:50:39 in Richmond because of conditions et al.

This is the start of a very aggressive running schedule this spring, I look forward to pushing myself to which for me will be far limits. And that yoga project, it looks like I will make my yoga debut next Saturday. Wooohooo!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stay tuned for Jeff's Yoga Project

I know I have a such a huge readership, but I'm going to start blogging about my newfound experiences with yoga. Well, whenever I actually start attempting to take classes. But I'm researching what might be best for me. Probably Pure Prana in Alexandria, or possibly Dahn yoga. Unless you think I can handle hot yoga.

Step one in the Jeff's Yoga Project: Make sure that the workout clothes I have will suffice for yoga, in other words I need to wear stuff that will at least make it look like I am more than a clueless jackass. I'm working on this but post suggestions, trust me they are appreciated.

I'm looking forward to this, as I think it will help me with my fitness and health goals. And it will be fun once I actually know what I'm doing. And it will be a new activity for me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Long Weekend with Family - fun but tiring

Okay, so this weekend I'm in Dracut, MA with the family. It is fun but I am very tired. Let's see what I've done:

- Went to a birthday party, as my just turned 15 and soon to be 13 year old nephew have their party on the same day since their birthdays are close together.

- Played Family Feud with my nephews and Mom and Dad, my team lost very badly in the third game.

- My 7 year old nephew stayed overnight on Saturday night, so we had three nephews over. The "let's go hide and scare somewhere" trick actually worked this time. Good times.

- Went for a two hour run through Dracut and Tyngsboro, MA, including passing by a lake that I didn't even know was there, and I lived nearby for the first 25 years of my life.

- Went for a second run, oh wait that's tomorrow. My flight doesn't leave until 4 pm so I'll have some time. Probably not the side street hills that I ran on Sunday, many of which were short but very steep, but it will likely be a 2 hour run nevertheless. If I was into running and hiking as a kid, I would have taken greater advantage of the local state forest than I did, but that's water under the bridge.

- Ate a burger at Fuddruckers. I do not believe I had ever been to one before today. Sorry, no pictures but take my word for it, the burger was pretty good, and the free toppings were plentiful. I put some lettuce and diced tomatoes on the burger to balance the meal out a bit.

- Bought 5 pair of running shorts, 4 pair of yoga/running tights, 2 pair of running shoes, and 1 pair of cross trainers at the New Balance Factory Outlet in Lawrence, MA as part of a fitness sale. That means discount on top of discount. I need new running shorts because of my weight loss (~ 40 pounds since 1/1/08 with 10-15 more to go). And I am becoming serious about starting yoga soon, so getting the tights that can be used for running, yoga, et al are very useful. The only thing they didn't have were "fitness pants" which I can order online.

- Staved off the temptation to buy a couple pair of NB 8508 running shoes for $24.99. I was spending enough as it is, and while I like the 8508s, I like the 725, 1223, and 825 (trainers) more so I held off. Between the shoes I got today and others that I have but have not used yet, I have enough shoes to last me through most of 2009.

- Wanted to catch up with friends in the area but they all had to work today. I'm glad I was able to go to the outlet after a brief period of indecision.

Great times, but it will be easier to get back into the daily routine when I get back home tomorrow night. And yeah I'm tired because my nephews have way more energy than I have. I'm looking forward to my brief trip on March 14-16 for some skiing and chilling and maybe a trip to the covered bridges of Jackson, New Hampshire which believe it or not I have never been to. Back to the gym on Wednesday, back to fun run on Thursday. That work thing on Wednesday too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hey! Guess Who I saw today?

I went for a late afternoon walk up Capitol Hill during my lunch break. I saw Senator Al Franken (Yes he is a Senator)! Really! Walked right by him on Constitution Avenue just east of the Senate Buildings. Who have you seen today? Or any day while just wandering in your daily travels? Do you get all geeked up when you see famous people? "Hey I saw so and so today!" "So and so visited my work building!" Or not care at all? Or like me and think it's all cool for about five minutes before moving on to different thoughts? I probably saw a bunch of other people in the political class too while walking to and from Nebo's but was only clear that I saw Franken. I thought I saw former senator Chuck Hagel too but it wasn't him. Don't worry, I won't make this a habit, when it's nice out I walk at lunch and just chose the Hill today.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A random letter to American Airlines - by me

Dear American Airlines,

I wish to share with my minscule readership what you sent to me today:

"Now is a great time to vacation in the U.S. and Canada! With our Get Up And Go Sale, you'll find flights to destinations from coast to coast starting as low as $37* each way, based on round-trip purchase. So much awaits you, from sunny beaches to lively cities and the great outdoors. Get up and go! Book your trip on today.

Purchase your flight by February 13, 2009, and travel by May 13, 2009, to enjoy these great fares."

Do not get me wrong, I appreciate that you are offering lower fares to your customers regardless of the reasons for doing so. In these tough times, a lot of people could use the few bucks they will save by flying on the dates where the sale applies: "Sale fares shown are valid for travel Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; other days are subject to higher fares."

That's cool, those used to be the cheaper fare days for whatever reason; this is a random blog, not an analysis of airline industry pricing trends, so I don't know or care about the reasons for that. What do I care about is that the "embargo" dates, or dates that the sale doesn't really apply, are: "Travel is not valid March 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, 2009, or April 3-5, 10-11, 13, 2009." Pretty much all of the dates most people will be traveling during the "sale" periods. I have to put sale in quotes because it ain't really much of sale when most sale days are blocked, now is it?

Occasional Flyer on American, or at least when they actually give me the best deal when I need to travel

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Another reason why I am not a big fan of ear buds

I'm sure I've received funny looks for wearing the old school headphones with my MP3 player instead of the modern ear buds. Well, the ear buds bug my ears from time to time. I genrally only wear them when I'm running and have a ski cap on; it's more comfortable that way. All other times, I usually use go old school. Maybe moreso now because with the ear buds on last night on Metro....................I totally missed the announcement before Pentagon Station that my yellow line train was suddenly a blue line train because they were behind. Or something.

Now Why I Hate DC would just blame Metro. I share the blame. Why Metro did this I don't really know. But........I should have heard the announcement, and the old headphones allow just enough outside noise that I would have heard it. I had no idea what was up until the train sped past Eisenhower Ave instead of stopping. This cost me a spin class since I didn't get back from Van Dorn to King to Huntington in time, then the shuttle bus to my apartment was full. Damn.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Frustrated and need more hobbies

A few weeks ago I asked for help curing my addiction to baseball. Now, me, a too much of a sports junkie for his own good, need more help. Wean me off of pretty much everything besides NHL hockey and soccer, since I am more "meh" about pro sports with each passing day. Even more ideas of ways to occupy my leisure time are appreciated, especially on weeknights when I'm here in a suburban environment. I just get frustrated with a lot that goes on. NHL Hockey I can still enjoy regardless who is playing. Same for soccer, most of the time. But I want more of a life, help me get it. More interests, more hobbies. I do okay with running and going to the gym. I think I need to start researching yoga a little more.

I've finally decompressed from my visit to the Social Security Office

To make a long story short, my social security card was in such bad, tattered shape that I finally decided to go get a new one should I ever need it again. Application: no problem. Metro Trip last Monday to Dupont? That was okay. Sitting in the waiting room for two hours just to hand over an application and get a printed for saying I have a social security number and mine was in the mail? Not so cool. That was two of the most aggravating hours I had experienced in years. I totally realize that a lot of people are going through hard times and I have been relatively lucky. That does not mean I ever want to visit that office ever again and seeing that disorganized, messy clusterf***. Messy, sloppy, I'll stop there. At least I got to eat a nice lunch at Port of Pireaus and when I asked the person who took my application if the card was the most beat up she ever saw, she replied yes.

Friday, January 30, 2009

No March ski trip for me

United Airlines sent me an email about a promtion where the flights to certain ski cities would be really, really cheap depending on what day you left and returned. This would allow me to spend 3 nights and 2 ski days in Jackson Hole, WY for as little as $565 for flight, lodging, and lift tickets. Gunnison/Crested Butte, CO for $154.50 airfare, $180 or so for lodging, $164 for lift tickets, $500 until you add the rental car, which was surpsingly high. No rental car needed in Jackson Hole.

I'm so tempted to do this, especially Jackson Hole, taking off on Sunday, returning on Wednesday as the deal is only for certain to and from dates. But when you factor in food costs, I have enough travel (Annapolis race, Cumberland race, Colorado in September) as it is, and really can't afford to spend that kind of money right now. Schucks. But oh well.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Latest Race Updates

I'll keep it short, still racing a lot in spring time.

March 1 - Half Marathon north of Annapolis: Signing up this weekend

March 15 - Reston 10 Miler, unless my family is visiting

March 21 - National Half Marathon in DC: Volunteering

April 5 - Cherry Blossom Ten Miler: Registered

April 19 - Maryland Mountain Marathon in Cumberland: Registered

April 26 - GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler: Still need to sign up

May 9 - Riverfront Revolution 10K: Under consideration, but will likely skip unless it becomes a half marathon like it was supposed to be at fist

May 17 - Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg

Any other suggestions are appreicated. 3 Half Marathons and 3 10 Milers in 11 weeks is a lot, but I'm ready. I'm skipping the May 3 Potomac Half Marathon because, sorry if I mentioned it before, but I don't want to / can't afford to pay $50 to race on the Mount Vernon bike path. That could be a volunteer opportunity since I'm not going to Pittsburgh for the marathon / half.