Saturday, November 26, 2005

How the Other Half Rides

I'm cat-sitting for Stupid Dutch this week. He doesn't live too far from Beverly Hills so I thought I'd bring my bike along with me and go for a ride in a new area.

A funny thing happens when you cross the border from West Hollywood into Beverly Hills: all of a sudden, the road becomes much smoother. All the potholes disappear. A graceful canopy of trees covers you. I think it got 5 degreed warmer as well. There were still lots of cars, but instead of El Caminos and Escorts whizzing by, these were Mercedes and Ferraris which are less likely to run you over (for fear of scratching the paint.)

I'm not about to drive 30 minutes every time I want to go for a bike ride, but it was a nice change of pace.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Run From For the Hungry

I did a local 5k "Run for the Hungry" Turkey Trot this morning in La Canada. I was surprised how many runners they had (1200?) but it still had a very small, local feel to it. I gotta say it was nice going to an event for once which was only a 10 minute drive and where I could park 1 block from the starting line.

I did one bad thing however. The registration fee went towards feeding the homeless. I didn't realize La Canada-Flintridge had a problem (sarcasm). But in addition, runners were supposed to bring canned goods to the race. Well, I was gonna go out and get some cans of beef stew or whatever last night. But I had to do a 5 mile run in the late afternoon and frankly I was just too tired to go back out to the store afterwards. So some starving family won't be able to eat because I wanted to take a nap on the couch. Eh, I'll get over it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Being Bullied

This is the "off-season" for triathlons. All of the articles say that this is the time when you're supposed to be working on strength training. I.E. weight lifting. Now, if I'm intimidated trying on wetsuits you can imagine how insecure I am about weight lifting. It's the old line "I'm not in good enough shape to go to a gym". Fortunately, my building has one of those Universal gym contraptions. It is adjacent to a recreation room that people can use for parties but is essentially around a corner and is fairly private. So, I've been trying it.

The other night I'm in there minding my own business and a kid comes in who was maybe 6 or 7. He was overdressed for his age, wearing slacks and a plaid button-down shirt. I assumed he was "helping" his father set up for some event in the rec room. He asks me "What are YOU doing here?" It wasn't in a cute "whacha doin'?" kid voice, I swear this punk was accusing me. So help me, I was actually intimidated. I was thinking "He's right! What AM I doing? I don't belong here!" I just stuttered out "oh, I'm just using the exercise equipment". Then he became cute again and said "oh OK, just checking" and left.

I'm just glad he didn't challenge me to a benching contest. I'd hate to lose.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I finally figured out why people run. It's quite simple: because it feels so good when you stop. I'm not talking about the time immediately after a run, when your legs are sore, your lungs are on fire and you feel like you're about to puke. There's nothing good about that feeling. I mean stopping for a few days. I usually run Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Saturday, so my longest break is 2 days. But last week I did Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Sunday. Which meant I had three whole days of nothing. I felt like I was on vacation. It was wonderful.

Crap. Back to the grindstone.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Making Progress

I am following a modified Hal Higdon Marathon training program. Over the course of 18 weeks, I need to run 435 miles to prepare for the marathon. So far, I've done 32. It's gonna be a LONG trip. I'm tracking my progress with the growing meter at the top of the page.

Monday, November 07, 2005

What is this thing called 'morning'?

It gets dark too early these days and I can't run after work. So now I have to become *gulp* A Morning Person. I am not the first one to discover this, but man is it tough to get out of bed an hour early to go running.

I used to run in Griffith Park, which is only about a mile away as the crow flies, but the way the freeway exits work it can take me 10-15 minutes to get there with traffic. That's 30 minutes round-trip, time which is much better spent sleeping. Instead, I've started running around town. I do a lot of snaking around side streets, and there pretty much is only 1 major intersection I need to deal with and then I get into a nice area with tree-lined streets, pretty homes, and nice smooth sidewalks.

There is one section I dread every morning. I have to pass 2 schools, and I cross 3 streets with crossing guards. It seems they feel the need to cross the street with me with their little stop sign. Which is great and all, but I'm already halfway across the road by the time they step off the curb. I've tried slowing down as I approach, hoping that they'd see me coming and get a head start crossing the road, but that doesn't work. Am I defying the authority of the Crossing Guard by not waiting for them to stop traffic for me? Am I supposed to wait for them to give me the All Clear? It's just an awkward little social ritual that I go through every time.

Friday, November 04, 2005

TV Tri

The "Outdoor Life Network" covers many of the Ironman Triathlete events so rather than participating in triathlons, I've been watching them on TV. (Ironman is 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, 26.2 run.) They might as well call it the "Pain & Suffering" network because I've never before seen so many quivering, agonizing people at one time. Why do people do this? Everyody looks miserable the entire time.

The coverage is pretty interesting. They will do segments on the pros, discussing their previous 5 championships and training programs, etc. Then they also pick one or two "human interest" stories and interview the weekend warriors who are attempting their first Ironman. There was the school teacher who lost 100 lbs and now wants to make his class proud of him. There was the father of 4 who had to sacrifice every weekend with his family to train. Throughout the show, they track their progress in the race along with the pros.

Great inspirational stuff, right? Wrong. The school teacher crashed his bike: Did Not Finish. The father of 4 was too slow and didn't make a certain cut-off point: DNF. You watch these shows to be inspired by greatness; instead, you see nothing but defeat and sorrow. It's great TV.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What's Next?

Like so many other triathletes (tee-hee-hee... I'm a triathlete), the week after Malibu my head was filled with big plans. I was gonna do the Long Beach Pajama Run, the Stair Climb to the Top in downtown L.A., and the Catalina Tri. And that would just bring me to November. I knew I'd have to change my training routine a bit, but instead of swimming, biking and running I tried watching TV, eating and sleeping. Although I made great gains (5 pounds) it just wasn't working. Needless to say I haven't done any events.

Some people think exercise is its own reward, or do it for the health benefits, to look better, whatever. I don't buy it. I need a purpose. Without a specific event to train for, I'm completely lost and I'll just stay in bed. So I've decided I'm going to target the Los Angeles Marathon in March. To be honest, I'm not sure I'm going to make it. I know what you're thinking "You shouldn't be such a defeatest! You must think positive! Visualize yourself finishing!" Those Jedi-Hippie mind tricks don't work on me. I'm a realist. I've hurt myself running before, I may hurt myself again. It's winter, it will be cold and dark, and filled with delicious holiday chocolates. All of these are anti-marathon forces.

I'd like to do a half-marathon along the way, and there will be some other triathlons as well. The next triathlon level will be an "Olympic Distance" which is 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run. I'll hopefully find one of those to do as well.