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?