Monday, May 19, 2008

All Wrapped Up

This past weekend I set to work on a book I started reading last summer. I bought it to take on my trip to Japan, and have been slowly pecking away at it until this past weekend, when I attacked it full force. Tonight I just put the damn thing to bed.

The Stand

Last summer a friend recommended Stephen King's The Stand as an easy read for a vacation. I rushed right out and bought it in all of it's unabridged, re-released splendor. That splendor spanned more than 1100 thinner than air pages, that seemed to have negative thickness as I slowly plodded through the story.

I would spend hours at a time reading, taking on the experiences of the characters as if I were right there with them. I would celebrate their victories and share in their defeats, and when the afternoon was over - SHIT, that's as far as I got?!? 1/32"? Four hours for 1/32 of an inch!?!

Well, this past weekend I put a 300 page hurting on that book. Tonight I sat down with it hoping to make another dent in the paltry 200-ish pages I had left. As the hours rolled by I found myself unable to set the book down until I finally turned the last page. I wanted to read the little blip about the author but fuck that shit, I had enough. Plus it's not like Stephen King is some obscure author that I can learn about and then tell others.

Now, I'm creeped the hell out. At 11:45PM I went out to get my clothes from the clothes line when an ant stepped on a leaf and I almost crapped my pants. A little on edge? Methinks so.

And now I shall try to sleep.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This Weekend in Review

The weather is getting nicer, the nature is getting greener (or otherwise more colorful) and the hours are still growing longer. What a time to be tapering for a race.

One Week Away

I gotta tell you I've never been this worked up for a race before, with the exception of The Josh, and I'm getting antsy. I had a nightmare the other night where we couldn't find the start of the race and when we did I had forgotten to wear a shirt. The first two miles of my dream-race were substantially slower than my goal pace, to the point that I'd never be able to make up the time. I woke up in a panic.

The hardest part about the couple of weeks leading up to this race is that I'm supposed to be tapering, meaning running fewer, easier miles. At this point there's nothing to gain by running hard so you're just maintaining and trying not to get hurt. After busting your hump for months it's awful to try and hold back. Just today when we finished 8 miles up and over a mountain, or at least some wicked steep trails, with a two to three mile ass-hauling at the end, I felt like I could have done it again. I had to use great restraint to get in the car and drive home. The last thing I want is to run my race a week early.

Out for a Spin

Yesterday I was scheduled for an easy 3-miler. The weather was perfect (despite the predictions) and I had just stopped to buy a new hat, some shorts and a shirt for the race when I got a call regarding a bike ride. Technically a bike ride is considered cross-training so I opted for that over the run. Plus my road bike was fresh back from surgery where she had a new crankset installed.

I made my purchases, passing up the race shorts with the 3/4" inseam (which I will be returning to buy after all) and was on my way. The ride went into the wind in both directions (figure that out) and we met a couple of interesting folks.

The first was a young woman out cruising the Berkshire countryside checking out roofs for her upcoming roofing project. We rode with her to a coffee shop slightly outside the range of our initial ride route, and headed back when she went to meet up with a friend.

On the way back, we ran into a guy who liked to ride fast. My counterpart doesn't have her summer biking legs on yet and we kept dropping her on the climbs. He didn't seem to care and just kept on pedaling. I should have let him go instead of leaving my friend behind, but I couldn't come up with a polite way to drop off. Don't worry, I felt plenty bad.

We stopped at another friend's house to admire his firewood pile (as instructed) which was not the 30' tower we were promised. I'd give it 15', but it was a letdown. I slithered through the post and rail fence to steal some logs while my partner in crime watched the horses (oh yeah, there were horses) to make sure they didn't come after me. For the record, animals larger than cats (and many the size of cats) scare me to death.

After leaving a note written in logs and placing a few on the lawn as a sign (and a close call with the big horse) we started to make our getaway when I noticed I had a flat. SHIT! We were going to get caught for sure. I had the tube replaced and tire almost back on the bike when the woman of the house showed up, busting us right there by the road. DAMN THAT FLAT! She was clueless to our intentions though, so I think we're fine.

Unbroke My Brakes

Remember how my folding bike showed up with a broken brake? Well yesterday the new set of brake calipers showed up. It's a good thing the guy on the phone asked me what color mine were, because he made sure to send me a different color. Either way, these are way better than the original ones, being made of metal and all.

Last night I installed the new brakes, tweaked the rear ones that had been squeaking, swapped my mountain bike seat onto the folding bike, oiled the chain and called it a night.

If you haven't ridden a bike much, you should know that big fat wide cushy saddles (what cyclists call seats) are the worst. They're fine for a couple of miles, but after that they tear you up. Being used to a skinny, hard saddle I found the fat saddle rubbing me the wrong way. The mountain bike saddle is an improvement, and I hope it does the trick.

Well, I guess I had more to say than I thought. I could go on, but I'm sure I've already lost a lot of you. Peace out, y'alls.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lit Up from the Tit Up

Coot fans, I am sad to tell you that my trademark red hat is gone. I was riding to my Thursday Night Run last night and it blew off my bike rack. I should have known better than to not attach it better but it seemed so secure I didn't give it a second thought. When I arrived at the park it was no longer on the bike. I didn't just give up though...

The Quest for the Cap

The entire ride home from the park I kept my eyes peeled for my hat. The first few miles were on a quiet back road, so I was able to really give it a good look. But once I hit the main road it was a different story. Riding with traffic kept me on the other side of the road, so finding it was a bit of a stretch since it very easily could have blown off into the bushes on the side.

This afternoon I went back out and ran the section of my road where I felt it was most likely to have ended up, which was also the section where I couldn't give it a good look-see from the bike. I ran out and back along the same side and looked as best as I could, to no avail. I have to concede that the hat is gone forever.

Tomorrow I'm going to head over to the local Sporting Goods Chain Store to procure a new one and treat myself to some new shorts for next weekend's race.


What I didn't mention about today's run/quest for the hat, is that it was raining. I wore a vest that mostly shielded me from the rain, but it's not really waterproof so I still got wet.

With about 2 miles to go I started to get that familiar nagging in the breastal region. I probably covered one of those miles with my shirt held away from my chest, but it was futile and the damage had already been done.

If you couldn't tell from the photograph, my nipple chafed a little more than what I would consider to be trivial. I've never had it bleed through the shirt before, but I guess there's a first time for everything. The only remaining question: Why only one nipple?

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Bad with the Good

I started this post the other day, and I'm going to finish it up before starting in on today's post. All I did the other day was come up with headings, so I'll have to fill in all the text. Read on, bitches.

My New Bike Arrived...Broken

For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath, my new folding bike arrived the other day (Tuesday I believe). I rode home from work (on the mountain bike), opened the box, took out all of the parts and got to work assembling what wasn't already assembled, which wasn't much.

I took my time, made a few adjustments and was getting ready to ride when it felt like one of the brakes was dragging. I guess brakes wasn't on my list of adjustments, oops. I lifted the front wheel and the damn thing wouldn't spin at all.

That's when I noticed the part of the brake that holds the adjustment screw had broken clean off. I found the piece in the bottom of the box, but the screw was nowhere to be found. I got on the horn with the store right away, then waited all afternoon for them to call me back. When I eventually gave up and called them back, the guy had no idea I had called and offered to mail the replacement part out to me.

I don't know how you are, but when I get a new toy I want to play with the damn thing as soon as possible. I decided to yank the front brakes off my mountain bike and use those until the replacement showed up. Once the brake was disassembled I found a little trick to rig it up without needing the adjustment screw. It's safe, but unadjustable.

I rode it to work on Wednesday, and last night to the Thursday Night Run and so far it seems to go from point A to point B without too much trouble. I had some difficulties on some bigger hills, but nothing my powerful, sexy legs couldn't handle.

Work is Good...Except for One

Despite my Coot-like pseudonym, I am a very tolerant person and can usually find the good in most people. This person however, rubs me the wrong way in every aspect of his/her being.

Not unattractive? NO.
Good personality? NO.
Easy to talk to? NO.
Not bad smelling? NO.
Quiet? NO.
Not disgusting? NO.
Competent? NO.

Now, normally I wouldn't say those things about a fellow human being but in this case I think I can use one of my Get-Out-of-Hell-Free cards without any problem. GAH!

Beautiful Weather...While I'm at Work

All week we had the butterest weather. It was sunny, mid 70s, calm, and ice cream friendly. Then Thursday got here and the weather started to turn sour. Today (Friday) is cloudy, cool and rainy. Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be at least partly sunny but with temps in the 50s.

With years of anecdotal evidence I can say with certainty that my mood is directly tied to the weather. Being home all day in dreary weather bums me the hell out. Maybe I'll find my hat today (story to follow) and that'll cheer me up.

Commuting to Work is the Best

On the plus side of life, commuting to work on a bike is one of the best things I've started doing. I can almost hear your eyeballs out there rolling in their sockets, but it's true.

Some of you are probably thinking "Old Coot, you're an exercise nut and that's why you like riding your bike to work". That may be partially true, but what I really enjoy about it is the mini-workout (12 minutes is doable by anyone) in the fresh air, the ride through the little neighborhoods and the park instead of busy, trafficky roads, and the few minutes of peace and calm between rushing out the door and being at my desk.

The only thing I like about the commute better than riding my bike to work is riding it home from work.

Last week was National Ride Your Bike To Work Week, and I'm sure some of you might have missed your invitation. That doesn't mean you can't start this coming week. If anything, you're just a little late jumping on the bike bandwagon.

Lastly, if you consider the price of gas in your decision (which I didn't), a 5 mile ride to work (30 minutes vs probably 20 minutes driving) will save 10 miles a day. Using the official US mileage reimbursement rate of 50.5¢ per mile, that's about $5 a day, $25 a week, $100 a month and $500 for the summer! That bike doesn't look so expensive anymore, does it?

Even if you only ride in half the time you're still saving a bundle, helping the environment, improving your health and maybe finding an activity you truly enjoy.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

This Heading Intentionally Left Blank

I was on a tear, then off said tear, now I'm trying to climb back on. As any regular blogger knows, this shit is time consuming and from time to time we just fall away from it as life becomes more boring/interesting. However, the tear I was on for that brief period felt good so I'm going to try and keep posting.

iCan't iChat

A friend of mine tried to get a video chat going last night to help Christen the new iMac. We tried several times, then tried just audio chatting which could also be achieved using a phone or face-to-face, but that didn't work anyway. We were forced to chat by typing, the way our ancestors did before video chatting.

I did some research and it looks like the problem is that our routers may or may not be configured in such a way that they're willing to do business together. Simple stuff like text, no problem.

I think my iMac knows that if it can't transmit a streaming video of me in all of my handsome splendor then it's not going to even try. But damn, I had the lighting all figured out, my eyebrows straightened, the residual salt deposits (from running) wiped away and my shirt put back on with the correct side facing out. I was looking good, but apparently not good enough to send live video to another human being.

Nature's Monkey Wrench

As you don't know, I was planning on taking tomorrow off to test drive some bikes. I made that decision first thing Monday morning and have been looking forward to my day off all week. Then Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench in the works and sends rain our way. There's no sense in driving out to look at bikes I can't test ride, so now I have to work on Friday. Since in my mind Friday was a day off, it now feels like I have to work an extra day this week. She-att!

So Close

I have a policy that if three really bad things happen before I get to work, I'm turning around and going back home. Today, many, many things went wrong but the weather is shitty and there's no way I was going to blow a perfectly good mental health day (AKA vacation day) on cloudy, rainy, bullshit ass weather.

Then, as I unbuckled my seatbelt I noticed I forgot to wear a belt. Shirt and Tie Day becomes Look Like an Weenie Day when you don't wear a belt. Son-of-a-bitch!!!! That was yet another strike which almost got me to put the key back in the ignition and head for home, but again the weather sucks so I didn't.

Now I've been wearing my business fleece all day trying to cover up my lack of belt. My office is normally wicked cold so I wear my business fleece most days anyway, but now I don't have the option to take it off. God I hate the look of a shirt tucked in sans belt.


In case you're like me and didn't know that Sunday is Mother's Day, now you know. I stopped on my way to work and picked up a card. I've been killing myself trying to come up with the perfect gift for a mother who's in the process of getting rid of everything she owns so she can move to Florida, to no avail. I believe that perfect gift is simply the love of her son/favorite child.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cinco de Mayo, Son!

Alright, I have a problem and I thought I had it under control, but I don't. It's not one of my regular problems, it's one that is fortunately secret to me, but today I'm going to fess up in the hopes that taking that first step will be enough to help me through it.

I Want to Be Dave Chappelle

I was watching some YouTube videos last night of some of Chappelle's skits and standup performances. Whenever I watch even one skit, I can't help but to start using his delivery with my own internal monologue. The hardest part is that my whiteness prevents me from saying half the stuff I think. Not that what I'm thinking is derogatory, but Dave often uses what I'll call the N-word, which is not Kosher for a white boy like me.

Shit, can I use the word "Kosher" if I'm not Jewish? To be safe I'll call that the K-word from here on out.

Sunday Long Run

Yesterday was a pivotal day for yours truly. I had my usual Sunday long run, but it was unusually long. Sure it was only a mile longer than the next longest run (excluding the one where I got lost as hell and did 5.5 extra miles), but what was beauteous about it is that I felt great and kicked the shit out of it.

I was tired of coming up with routes that nobody else would want to run, so this time I took my favorite 7.5 mile run and decided to just run it twice. That way if anyone only wanted to do half they could run one of them with me and I'd do the other by my own big self.

As luck would have it, four people showed up which made my day. The weather was less than ideal, but since the route could be summed up with a a single solitary word: My Happy Place, it didn't matter what Mother Nature served up I loved it.

We ran the first lap at slightly above what I would consider a "conversational pace", meaning I could have gone faster and still held my half of a conversation. After that lap a few people headed for home while three of us headed back out again. The other two were only going to do a few more miles then head back, leaving me to finish the route on my own. No biggie. What I wasn't planning on was that the other two would be picking up the pace. We were cruising along when they turned off to head back. Amazed that I had been able to maintain that pace I kept up the same effort level (which would have been the same pace if the road would not have been so hilly) for the next few miles.

As my watch beeped signaling the end of mile 15 I was still about half a mile from the car and just an eentsy bit above it, elevation-wise. I used my powerful imagination to put another runner on the road ahead of me, giving me someone to pick off in the final stretch to the imaginary finish line. Well, that person got more than a mouthful of my dust, the poor bastard.

Monday's Rest Day

After the longer Long Runs, my training plan gives me a rest day. They do point out that "rest" can mean "cross-train", so I took advantage of the warmer weather and went for what would be an ass-kicking 35 mile bike ride. For the most part it was very casual, at a very conversational pace. However, the route would take us across three town lines (and back) meaning there were 6 Town Line Sprints, which I swept.

Back at the meeting spot we shot the shit for a few minutes then I decided it was time to hightail it back home. The sun had already set and it was getting D-A-R-K. I still had a bit of a ride to get home, so I cranked out an ass-whooping of a 7 mile all-out effort. I wasn't wearing my heart rate monitor (HRM), but I'm sure the display would have read "One at a time, please" or "Lance, give Old Coot his HRM back".

Happy Birthday, Kittens

In a coincidence that I won't explain, my cats' birthdays are both today, Cinco de Mayo. Okay, I'll explain...

Who the hell ever knows their pets real birthdays? I never do. So I figured they were probably born at some time in the spring, and what spring day do people usually celebrate without exception but 5/5? When I picked that date I couldn't imagine a time when there wouldn't be a party for the cats to enjoy. As we all know, I don't party down like I used to so it's really just business as usual for my buds. I give them extra attention in the form of slaps, wall smashes and the kind of petting they can feel, where their eyelids end up higher than their eyeballs. In reality that's probably better for them than a bunch of drunks hooting, hollering, and running the blender until all hours.

Happy Birthday, boys.

P.S. K-word Dill Pickles. That shit is funny, son. Uhn!

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

It's In!!

Just wanted you folks to know that my new iMac has arrived, and it set up and ready to go. If you include the time I spent wrestling with the box and the tape on the keyboard connector it took 12:27 (that's 12 minutes and 27 seconds) to go from sealed box on the floor to fully functional. Killer!

Don't worry, I took pictures and I'll get them uploaded as soon as I figure all of that out. For now, I'm up and running and now I have to get up and go running. I'll holler at y'all later.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Closing In

I've got a few things on my schedule that have been slowing coming to a close. My training plan for the half marathon culminates in the race in 3 weeks. My long-lasting wait for my iMac ends today (fingers crossed). I've got another item on my mind that might give me something else to look forward to, but I'm still molling over it for a while.

The Training Plizan

This week my training was dealt a tough blow by my #2 priority, work. I had a deadline I was working to meet, which meant working long days all week. I know, I know, some people work long days all the time and don't bitch about it, but I don't so I'm going to bitch.

After long work days, I found myself squeezing my runs in late at night. I think Tuesday night speedwork ended around 11PM, and my tempo run on Wednesday may have been in the 10:30 timeframe. By the time Thursday came around I was just about finished with my hours for the week, including making up some of the time from last week, and once I was done with my work I left work with most of the day to spare.

What was most convenient about that was that my Thursday Night Run filled only half of my mileage requirements for the day per the plan, so I was able to get there early, run a few extra miles, then head out with the group.

By the time I hit the sack on Thursday night I was whipped. I slept, get this, until 11AM Friday morning. And it didn't end there. I spent the day Friday lounging, eating, feeding the fire (ahh, fireplaces) and reading. There was also a nap squeezed in there when reading got to be too strenuous. I did some late-night yoga to feel like I accomplished something, researched some stocks, and turned in for the night.

A very unproductive yet much needed recovery day.

Where the Hell is My iMac?

Yesterday morning(ish) I awoke ready to clear a spot for my new computer. I headed downstairs, fired up my laptop just to see the words "On FedEx truck for delivery" and stoke my excitement. What I found instead was that it was delayed another day. DAMN!

My hope which had been up, were down. I resigned to the couch for the day knowing there was no reason to get up. Today however, it's on the truck and en route to my house as I type. At any minute I might have to spring up, sign the electronic clipboard and set up the new machine. If I can remember, I'll time how long it takes to go from sitting on the floor in the box to up and running. Hmm, maybe I should start clearing off the desk.

Is Society Losing Me?

I have begun riding my bike to work on any day that doesn't call for rain. 'Round here, that may not include many days even once we get into the dog days of summer. Thursday when I got home from work (on my bike), I sat out on the porch reading Bicycling magazine and watching the traffic go by.

The articles in this month's issue seem to center around bike commuting and talked about which U.S. cities are the most bike-friendly, where in the world people bike the most, etc. I found myself drawn more and more into my dream place of being able to ride my bike in place of driving.

Since the Puritans who originally "built" the roads around here didn't consider traffic, bike-friendliness, pollution or the rising costs of gasoline 400 years into the future, our roads are far from ideal for bike commuting. However, with a little creativity one can find alternative, scenic routes to most places. As you know, I found a route to work that sidesteps the old GE Plastics warehouse and instead passes through a city park on a dirt road.

Then, between paragraphs I started watching the traffic, looking for a pattern. Mind you this is far from scientific, but here are my observations:

95% of vehicles contained only a driver.
Of the remaining 5%, three quarters contained a driver and one passenger while the remaining quarter contained a driver and 3 passengers (there were no driver + 2 passenger vehicles).
That means for every 100 vehicles there were about 107 people moving from Point A to Point B. I bet it's also safe to assume that Point A and Point B were less than 10 miles apart.

I didn't go so far as to categorize the types of vehicles and cross-correlate that data with the number of passengers, this was really just an observational exercise. What I did notice was that there were very few small vehicles and none of the largest contained more than a driver. The sole 4-person vehicle was an oldmanmobile with what I can assume was his wife and another elderly couple. They broke the mold, but were also survivors of The Great Depression.

So where the hell am I going with all of this? With a slight change to my commuting bicycle I could be prepared for longer distances (which still are not very long) and more inclement weather. Most of the days that I don't ride to work the weather is clear at the beginning and end of the day, but it rains during the day. I don't want that road spray to ruin my pants.

Enter my solution, stage left...

The New Dahon Vitesse D7HG

Besides the cool looks and foldability (which I'll explain why I like it in another post), this puppy has an internal hub. For those of you who don't know what that means, it's a rear hub (the very center of the wheel) with the gears inside, so instead of having the gears and derailleur exposed to the elements (and your pants), it's all packed neatly inside. Once folded, you have...

I'm not 100% sold on this idea yet, but it's foldability means I can throw it in the car on a moment's notice, pack it in a suitcase to bring on trips, and bring it into the office when the weather is especially blustery. If I can eliminate trips up to 10 miles I think this bad boy would pay for itself in less than a year. Plus I'd be able to ride my bike more, so it's a win-win.

And while I'm waiting for the FedEx guy to show up, I thought I might put my house numbers back up. The ones that came factory installed, or at least by a previous owner, came down during the winter. Apparently Scotch tape was never meant to be a permanent outdoor fastener. Anyway, now I've got my numbers prominently displayed beneath the porch light.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...
"Something inside of me just said 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him.' and I just took off." -Pre