Wednesday, December 31, 2008

0/365 New Year's Dump-off

0/365 New Year's Dump-off
Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

[20090102.10:07] An explanation forthcoming; right now, gotta get to the office.

[yes, this has been backdated]

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Will be missed for a long while

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

We said goodbye to Stimpy a week ago today. We miss him. I keep noticing the moments when I expect something* and then realize that the something won't be there.

The Ex and I got him from the MSPCA in the fall of 1992. I think they said they found him in Downtown Crossing, back when I didn't know where Downtown Crossing was. We couldn't imagine why anybody would have abandoned such an awesome kitty cat, but he was so friendly and socialable that it seemed improbable for him to have been a feral stray. They didn't know how old he was, but he seemed about the same as our other cat, Pix, who was adopted from neighbors, whose birthday was supposedly March 17th, so we just pretended they had the same birthday. The Ex was a big fan of the Ren and Stimpy show by John Kricfalusi and thus bequeathed him with the name of the lead kitty character.

[Baloo arrived the following year, adopted from an intern at work. When the Ex and I split up, I kept "the kids." Pix passed away in 2003. We had to say goodbye to Baloo in January 2007.]

Stimpy was the first and only cat I've ever had who would get under the covers in bed with you. He would also suck on your shirt when he did the kneading paws thing, which was cute, but kind of gross what with the waking up in the morning with a bunch of wet cat-spit spots all over your shirt. He outgrew the kneading and sucking, but not the under-cover snuggling. And over-cover snuggling.

He also liked to climb up onto your shoulder, and in recent years, to lick your head. He came down to meet you when you got home from work or from a trip. ("Mreow!" = "Where WERE you guys?! I missed you, and hey, FEED ME!") The SOOTTAD would tell me that she knew when I was almost home because he'd perk up just before she'd hear the car pull up. He'd cry if you didn't let him into the bathroom when you were in the shower. He was kind of an affection slut, which we found endearing.

Early on, Stimpy was diagnosed with a heart condition which required daily medication which came in pill form: 1/4 pill, 3 times a day and a low dosage aspirin every other day. Annual echocardiograms. Several years later, the vet told me that the condition had stablized and I could stop pilling him, which was much appreciated by both the piller and pillee. He had told us he'd probably have a shortened lifespan, but he ended up out-living the other two kitties.

He didn't take the loss of his buddy well. It seemed like he'd wander around the house crying, trying to figure out where he was. Moving didn't help. He learned the new space alright, but sometimes he'd cry and it seemed like he couldn't remember where people were. And in the last year or so, he'd actually started to show his age. A big belly turned out to be a cystic liver (but still getting the job done), kidney function starting to deteriorate, lost agility, strength. But always affectionate, happy to see you, happy for attention. And for treats -- we kind of spoiled him after we moved.

The SOOTTAD and I said goodbye to our little buddy last Tuesday morning, December 23, 2008, two days before Christmas. He was almost 17, and he was a good kitty.

* the something isn't him, but something ... about him, associated with him. It's the parts that the subconscious mind hasn't adjusted to.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the little things

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

First real snowstorm last night, not counting the appetizer of light snow and freezing rain on Wednesday.

We had hunkered down in the attic watching movies on TV when our doorbell rang. We couldn't figure out who would be at the door at 10PM during a winter storm; turned out to be two kids offering to shovel our walkway for 10 bucks. First time that's happened. Anyway, happy to pay it, but you'd hardly know there'd been any such youthful entrepreneurs working the neighborhood as it hasn't stopped snowing since. I ended up spending about 2 hours myself this afternoon going over the walks again as well as hitting the driveway, cleaning off the cars, and digging out the side path.

Shoveling isn't so bad though. Good to get outside. Had some tunes. And was treated to near perfect snowflakes landing on my jacket and gloves when I took breaks to catch my breath and let my fingers thaw out a little.

Still, December has been a rough month. I've actually been meaning to write up a November update, but I've been busy with various projects (work and personal) and twitter and Facebook have provided sufficient outlet for me to dump what's been on my mind that I haven't found the need to carve out some time to write here.

Anyway, December. First weekend of the month: a new client... that I don't think I'll be seeing again. Not a good fit, and frankly, a little creepy.

Went to a frisbee tournament in Vegas and badly sprained my ankle only a few points into the first game. (reconstructing events, apparently another player stepped on my foot as I was going up for a D) Sidelined me for the whole weekend. (and then some -- got X-rays yesterday to confirm no broken bones, but it's actually more sore now that I'm wrapping it as advised by the nurse practitioner, and still a bit swollen and purpley.) Vegas is not a good place for a leg injury; everything is convoluted, as well as huge and far apart. I also lost more money than I care to admit to the internet, and I lost my voice. (which seems to be the manifestation of some kind of cold, although I don't have any other symptoms besides the voice and some throat/sinus congestion.)

Back home, the cat seemed to manifest more old and low energy. Plus, cat pee all over the basement. The SOOTTAD thought that he just missed me while I was away, and I'm sure forgetting to remind her about scooping the litterbox didn't help. All peeing aside, his condition has seemed to take a noticeable turn for the worse in recent weeks. And much worse after my weekend away. We had conveniently already scheduled a vet appointment Thursday for his annual checkup, but it only confirmed the worst: renal failure as well as anemia. the vet doesn't expect him to last past next week. Not sure what else to say about that. IV treatments are an option, but not expected to help much. Plus we don't want to add any more trauma to the kitty seeing as how badly he was doing after the vet visit.

We're spoiling him rotten at the moment. Carrying him to the litterbox. Treats when he's up. Lots of snuggles if we can do it without disturbing him too much. [I swear that's the only reason why we got out of bed at noon today.]

It actually seems like a good thing that we dropped the ball on getting tickets out to CA since it means we can spend more time with him and doesn't make us have to rush any ... decisions ... that we don't want to go rushing into. He actually seems to be doing a bit better than he was doing the day after the vet visit, but he's still clearly not doing well.

So anyway, it's been a rough December so far. Ups and downs, but mostly downs. It's the volatility that is the indicator of problems, or at least that's how I understand it. And there are things that will probably make it that much worse, but hopeful the little things will help us get through it. At least the SOOTTAD and I are together this time around. As much as it'll suck, we'll get through it together.

And for the record, it's still snowing. We'll just try to think about the snowflakes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Updates forthcoming... after I've gotten some more rest.


So, hey.

Been playing a bit of catch-up, less due to time for recovery after the race, and more the work that hasn't been getting done with all the getting sick and everything. Not to say that I didn't need to recover from the race, but things were actually feeling pretty good just 3 days later, although I did get a nice 90+ minute massage from a friend and have been getting some good rest despite working some long hours the last few days.

So the last time I had an update, it was Sunday night and I had put off my last long run for one more day, hoping that one more day of rest would finally let me turn the corner on the cold, and hoping that it would be a little warmer.

Turn the corner -- there was once a lot of talk about turning corners a few years ago, and I guess this wasn't much different. Anyway, it was warmer, but wasn't feeling much better. I ran anyway because I was running out of time. It felt terrible. I barely finished. I wanted to stop after 7. I wasn't sure I was even going to finish the 10 and was pretty sure I wasn't even going to make it halfway through the marathon happening less than a week later.

My original plan called for 20 mile, 13 mile and 10 mile long runs over the final 3 weekends leading up to the marathon as part of 9 runs, including interval and tempo runs, totalling about 68 miles all told. After getting sick at the beginning of the month, we dialed it back -- and then dialed it back again when I got sick again. In the end, I managed a little more than half of the planned distance, getting in only 2 runs (a junk 3-miler and that 10-miler) in the last 2 weeks.

I was reseting expectations. I didn't have to run the marathon on Sunday. I didn't have to finish the marathon if I started it. It was ok to fail this time and try again next year.

It's one of the lessons that I learned many years ago. We all know it: try, try again. But in truth, I'm fortunate that it doesn't often come to that. But it's good to remember. And I had resolved that it was ok to have to start over again if I wasn't up to the challenge this time around.

And when I gave myself permission to fail, my cold got better. Go figure. Wasn't 100 percent. Wasn't even 80%. But, better. And better was good. Still coughing, but by the time we got down to Falmouth Saturday afternoon, I was feeling pretty good about my chances of finishing. Interestingly, I felt worse Sunday morning before the start, but I was still feeling well enough to give it a go.

The weather was basically perfect. The forecast was all doom and gloom -- cold, rainy and windy. By the weekend it had warmed up, but there were still threats of rain and wind, which came during the night, but was gone by morning. At race time, it was 62 degrees and only overcast. It stayed that way for most of the race (with a brief drizzle early on) until the last 3-4 miles. Then blues skies. A beautiful day for a race.

Given that I was still feeling a bit out of it, I figured I'd be conservative and try to keep my pace slightly slower than 9-minute miles. I walked the water stations.

When I was feeling really sick, most people were telling me to just run it -- that the adrenaline and the crowd would help carry me through it. (most people -- there were 2 or 3 people that kept reminding me how bad marathon running is for the human body and that I should just call it quits.) Anyway, the crowds and the cheering did pick me up. Which turned out to be a good thing. And a bad thing.

I was still feeling a bit unsure of myself at mile 3, but by mile 11 I was feeling pretty good. A little too good actually -- because every time I passed a bunch of cheering crowds, I found that I was running too fast. Way too fast. Which made a big difference on this course which is relatively flat and fast on the first half and really kind of brutally hilly on the back 9. Particularly on the guy who was too sick to train regularly over the last month before the race. I was actually well on pace to break 4 hours. But then the feet started complaining first, somewhere around the halfway point, and at mile 16 or so, the adductors were the first muscle groups to start cramping for real. Started running out of gas around 19/20 when I started walking the hills. Around 21, the calves started cramping.

Marathon training is funny. I always figured that to properly train for a given distance, you want to train at longer distances so that the race distance becomes easy. But I guess conventional wisdom is that after you hit 20 miles, any additional mileage is much, much harder on your body. That mile after 20 is a lot different from the mile after 13.1. So most training plans I've seen max out at 20 miles and then taper. Again, the conventional wisdom is that once you've run 20 miles, you know you can finish. You know you can run 6 miles. It's just 6 miles after all. Which is interesting, because in my mind, that's almost another hour of running after you've run 20 miles.

Nevertheless, when I hit 20, I did tell myself that I only had to go 6 more miles and that I could do 6 more miles because everybody says you can always do 6 more miles. Which is bullshit. Because running 6 miles after you've just run 20 miles SUCKS BALLS. Especially when you haven't been able to train enough. (actually, when I hit 16, I was already mentally shouting at myself 10! 10! 10! 10 miles to go! You can do 10 miles!) I did it at 20. (6 to go. 6 to go. 6 to go. 6 to go.) I did it at 21. (5 to go. 5 to go. 5. 5. 5.)

At 22 miles, I was mentally screaming "4 miles to go! 4 miles is easy!" and my body was screaming "BULLSHIT!"

I pretty much hit the wall at 22.

I started gasping just trying to maintain 10 minute miles. 11 minute miles. I walked. I ran. I gasped. I hobbled. I tried to change my stride and my calves cramped up. I stretched. I ran again. I remember wondering to myself whether it counts as "running a marathon" when you end up walking a big chunk of it. It felt a little weird, walking during a race. But at that point, running wasn't happening anymore, and walking was better than stopping.

The spectators, the other runners were great. Encouraging. I remember tripping up as my calves cramped up again and a guy coming from behind gave me a friendly pat on the arm as he told me I was almost there and that I could do it. Kind words from a guy running the relay.

I was really hoping I could run the last mile. When that didn't happen, I hoped I could run the last 1/4 mile. And when I finally could see and hear the crowds on the final 0.2 I went for it.

And every muscle started to cramp up.

And the finish was 50m further than I thought it was.

And I grunted.

And wheezed.

At the top of my lungs.





I'm kind of surprised I didn't fall down. Stopping didn't exactly feel great, but it was orders of magnitude better than trying to continue moving. Thank god there are people there to untie your shoes to remove the timing chip and then retie them for you.

So, so grateful to all the race volunteers, the spectators, the other runners -- so, so awesome.

It took me a minute to finally remember to stop my stopwatch.

Unofficial/official chip time: 4:08:30.
Gun time: 4:09:10.
My watch: 4:09:58.

I'm a little bummed that I didn't break 4 hours, but still really happy that I finished reasonably close. Especially after all the drama over the past few weeks with the sick/coughing/feeling-crappy business.

So now I have to decide whether or not I'm going to do another one. It was supposed to be "one-and-done" but when I chucked my expectations for this race, I told myself that it'd be ok to try to hit my goal pace (closer to 3:30-3:40) at another race in the future.

Dunno. Maybe I'll try to qualify for Boston in 5 years, when I get another 10 minutes off the qualifying time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The home stretch

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

It's exactly one week until the race. Hopefully by this time next week, I'll have completed my first (and possibly only) marathon.

I've been able to start looking ahead to what the weather's going to be like on the long-range forecasts -- in the last 2 days they've gone from cloudy to 40% chance of showers, with lows in the 40s to highs in the upper 50s.

On the health front, things are also still feeling a bit shaky. While I can still visualize having a good race, I've continued to be unable to shake the cough and congestion and I'm pushing out my last long run -- a 10-miler -- one more day in the hopes that it will allow my immune system to recover enough so that the run won't drop me back into full-on sick mode and that it might be a little warmer and be a little easier on my lungs.

Wishful thinking. Still trying to be positive, I swear.

But I gotta say, this turning 40 business really hasn't gone according to plan. Or maybe it's just like I planned it, just not the outcome that I was looking for. Like one of those cursed monkey-claw wishes where you wish for world peace and then we get invaded by aliens or something.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not like I planned it

Just like it always is. Or at least that's how it always feels -- poor framing or otherwise. I'd like to think that I've outgrown the penchant towards a negative outlook, and frankly, when it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and shits on your head like a duck, you might benefit from a little perspective, but you've still got shit on your head.

Today's whiny bitch is brought to you by the letter M, for marathon training. And maybe the letter T, for thwarted. It's less than two weeks until the marathon and I'm now sick for the second time in as many weeks. I missed my 20-miler two weeks ago, and had made some adjustments to my training plan to make the best of the remaining time I had, and after a tougher than expected 15 mile run on Sunday, I realized that it was tougher than expected because I was getting sick again.

So I'm back to lowering my expectations for this race. A practice that I feel I am far too familiar. In my original plans, I was gunning for a 3:20 marathon -- a Boston qualifying time for the 40-44 age bracket. It was a stretch goal, but it was a goal. I tempered my expectations, but that plan was pretty much toast when I got bronchitis/sinusitis and was out for 3 weeks in the middle of the summer. By the time I could actually run a decent distance without feeling like complete and total crap, it was the end of August.

So I readjusted my expectations. Dialed it back. And I was actually feeling pretty good a few weeks ago. I had a series of long runs (18-20 miles) that actually felt...GOOD. And then I got sick again. That was 2 weeks ago.

Readjust the expectations. Now shooting for sub-4, maybe even hit 3:40. Try to get the legs back at the end of last week and into the weekend. And here I am again, wondering whether I'll be well enough to even run the race at all.

And I wonder if I'm supposed to learn something from this. If this is some kind of messsage.


Accept your limits.

A lack of success doesn't equal failure.

It's the journey not the destination.

But I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on all of that. And I'm sick of it. I'm sick of lowering my expectations. I'm sick of being disappointed. I'm sick of being pragmatic, of trying to look at things with some perspective. I'm tired of giving up and telling myself it's okay.

I said I was going to run a marathon. And I'll probably be pissed if I finish slower than 3:50, but I'd probably be more pissed if I had to keep training for another 6 months so that I could run a marathon next Spring. So goddammit, I'm going to run a fucking marathon, even if I end up running 9s or 10s.

Quit? (Y/N)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kooks at it again

Election season, and I've just read through this year's ballot initiatives. And once again, there's a group of people who are trying to get the income tax repealed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Massachusetts Question 1, the State Income Tax Repeal Initiative.

Hey, who doesn't want to pay less taxes?

But, seriously, there are lots of things that I do think are important -- schools, public safety, environmental oversight, to name just a few -- that have to be paid for, and I look at it as part of the price I pay to live in a place that has given me the opportunity to have a good job that pays the bills, live in a nice house, maintains roads that allow me to get from one to another, keeps the streets safe at night, will come to my aid if there's a fire or other disaster, and so on, and so forth.

Frankly, I think the Commonwealth would benefit from a graded income tax to lower the tax burden on those with the lowest incomes in the state, especially given the increase in prices for the basic necessities, but I appreciate the value of having a slightly simpler tax code. (the in-state/out-of-state interest income has always been a little annoying, actually.)

Anyway, being curious, I read through the supposed benefits to approving the question that were provided as "arguments in favor" by the "committee for small government." I've listed them with heckling my comments added below:

  • Your “Yes” vote gives back $3,700 each to 3,400,000 Massachusetts workers and taxpayers – including you – on average when we end the state income tax. $3,700. Each worker. Every year.

    Well, duh. Cutting the income tax means you don't pay an income tax. Have I mentioned "duh?" (yes, I know they're just quantifying it for people.)

  • Your “Yes” vote will create hundreds of thousands of new Massachusetts jobs.

    Um, exsqueeze me? I went to the sponsoring organization's website (which I won't support by providing a link), and apparently they think that all this extra money "in productive, private hands" will result in new jobs!

    Strangely, in the video of the 10 people they interviewed about what they'd do with the extra money, none of them mentioned starting a business or creating jobs. A few were savers (One guy was pretty specific about investing some semi-risky funds, maybe THAT was the job guy!), the rest, spender -- travel, buy a car, put towards a mortgage, pay off credit cards.

    Frankly, I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you. (although, credit to the gentleman who was going spend it all at local businesses -- way to do your part, dude.)

  • Your “Yes” vote will NOT raise your property taxes NOR any other taxes

    Also, everybody gets a pony.

    Just for the record, the committee for small government is based out of Wayland, which happens to have a median income almost $60k higher at $177,900 per household in 2006 than then median income for the Commonwealth, with almost double the median home value at $700k. So yeah, their taxes may not go up much.

    Should also mention that while Massachusetts does have the 5th highest median state property tax in the country, it's still behind nearby number 2, New Hampshire (which has no state income or sales tax), even though NH has the 5th lowest median property value in the country, well below number 25, Massachusetts.

    Just sayin'.

  • Your “Yes” vote will NOT cut, NOR require cuts, of any essential government services.

  • Your “Yes” vote rolls back state government spending 27% - $47.3 billion to $34.7 billion – more than state government spending in 1999.

    These last two are kind of related. First, it really depends on what you define as "essential." These guys are libertarians, after all. Also, any one got a read on what inflation has been like over the last 9 years?

    This site, which calculates inflation using the consumer price index, says 31.5% aggregated. So that's really like $26.4 billion in 1999 dollars... yeah, that's totally gonna fly.

I guess we'll see how well that Massachusetts educational system is working in November. To be honest, I'm not hopeful, even though I think a similar measure has failed in the past.

In other news, perhaps not unrelated, Question 2 is an effort to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stuck in NY

Hopefully only temporarily. Especially since I've gotten nothing but attitude since I've arrived. Maybe it's just that you get what you give, since I've been somewhat cranky since we touched down. I knew we'd be late, but the shuttle to a different terminal and pulling the dumbass move of leaving the security area because I was paying more attention to trying to move, move, move, and I'm picking up on every little thing to tick me off.

I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised, since I've grown to believe that the "NY attitude" rep is overrated. But I guess that's just my bad.

Anyway, my flight to JFK got rerouted through Salt Lake City for refueling because of thunderstorms in NY, so it arrived a good hour late. Well past my scheduling connection departure. "Fortunately," THAT flight has been delayed by 2-1/2 hours, so at least I should make it home tonight. Of course, that means that I miss the dance, and there's a real possibility that I'll have to catch a cab home rather than get picked up by the SOOTTAD and get a quick dinner in Chinatown. Still a possibility though, so fingers crossed.

Out West

It's 6AM local time and I'm kicking around at my parents' house until I have to head out to the airport to catch my flight back home. I've been in CA on business, and all told it's gone pretty well. My presentation seemed to go smoothly (there was no audible snoring), and I had some good interaction with the local peeps that will be implementing and verifying the design that I've been specifying for the last couple of months.

Given the problems I've had recovering from the time change the last couple of times I've travelled west, I've tried something new this trip: staying on east coast time. I actually went to bed "late" last night -- 10:30pm local and probably woke up late as a result. (5:45am) Other than that, I've been in bed around 9PM and up around 5AM all week -- a perfectly reasonable midnight/8am back home.

Anyway, a few thoughts from the week:

  • A few minutes ago, I could hear the newspapers getting delivered -- it's actually the third time this week I've beaten the delivery peeps.

  • I was pleased that I was able to run by the beach in the mornings before work. A 6 mile run on Tuesday and a 10 mile run on Wednesday.

    However, it should be noted that it's VERY dark at 5AM. The first night morning in combination with the fog, made the run on along the beach not much different from running through a foggy tunnel with an ocean soundtrack that you could barely make out if you tried to listen really hard. It wasn't light enough to see the surf until after I'd finished the run around 6:30. Worked out better the next day with the longer run when I could actually watch the surfers during the last few miles.

    Navigation is also challenging. It made driving and looking for parking more difficult than planned. I also stumbled a few times off street and driveway curbs and got poked in the eye by a tree branch because it was too dark to see.

  • I was entertained by the sight of the throng of surfer kids who showed up at the beach at 6:30AM the first morning. I wondered if they were just following the surf reports, but it turns out that the parking lot didn't open until 6:15.

  • Speaking of parking, it was strange to get turned away from a lot because it was too early. I wouldn't have wanted to pay $7 to park at that lot anyway (different from the surfer lot). Conveniently, the no parking zones generally didn't take effect until 8 or 9AM, well after I had left.

  • 63 degrees at the beach at 5:30AM. 78 near the airport where we were staying and working. 98 in the valley -- whoa.

  • Even though we were working near LAX, I flew into Burbank. A much easier airport to deal with, easier to get a rental car, and one of the two L.A. area options for JetBlue, which doesn't fly into LAX. And, the parental homestead is closer, so I was able to visit on the way in, and could stay here the night before my flight out. And I only had to navigate the traffic hell once.

  • The traffic from the airport to my parents' house was surprisingly light when I arrived around 5PM on Monday. And no problems at 8PM when I headed down to the hotel. The return drive at 4PM yesterday was a different story. It took about an hour and a half to travel the 21 miles from the LAX area to here. And the majority of that time, maybe 70 minutes was spent on the first 13 miles from LAX to Sunset. There were miles that I could have run faster than I was going. I can't imagine making that kind of commute daily. And the round trip would probably eat a quarter tank of gas.

Ok, gotta head to the airport, maybe a few more updates later.

Ok, followup from JFK:

  • coming through the Sepulveda pass into the valley, I couldn't help but think that it looked a lot more.... green, than I remember it. Hard to say whether it's because all the street side trees have just finally gotten visibly bigger over the years or it's the first time I've made the drive in daylight.

  • Saw some surfer couples at the beach, complete with his and her surfboards attached to the roof or stuffed in the backs of their cars.

  • Saw a prius with a HOV sticker. That really seems like a dumb idea. Sure, it's a motivation to get people to switch to hybrid cars, but taking up spots in the HOV lane? Isn't it possible for that to lead to an increase in the number of cars on the road, further increasing congestion, leading to longer commute times and more air pollution? I suppose I'm just being a whiner since the problem should be limited because they only issued a limited number of stickers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

3 things

18 mile run this morning. And for once, I kept to the plan, didn't start too fast, stayed off rough trails and hydrated on water and gatorade. It didn't hurt that it was a cool 60 degrees (make that 50 degrees -- brrrr... hoping it doesn't hurt the tomatoes) this morning and could see my breath at times -- a first in quite a few months. I've also been trying to keep the carb intake high, and didn't go all crazy and bike several miles the day before.

Anyway, all told, a good run. Even managed to have a good kick on the last 3 miles. The run felt good, and after the run felt pretty good, too, although I've got my nagging hamstring and achilles issues still going on. Tried to mitigate with some cold water cycles in the shower and a little ice massage on the achilles -- we'll see how that goes.

So, I think the quality of the run helped, but here are 3 things that made me smile (smile, as in, big toothy grin) on my run this morning:

  1. catching a lungful of the sweet, fragrant smell of ripe concord grapes
  2. passing a van parked on the side of the road by a field and catching the view of the woman in the driver's seat, pointing out the cows to (presumably) her daughter in the carseat behind her
  3. sharing the playfulness of the side-to-side dodging game (pass on right? / pass on left?) with a couple walking on the path from the other direction. (I think I had seen the couple on another road earlier in the run)

Bonus: passing Peartree Lane and thinking about delicious pears. Yum. (ate two with lunch. :)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yay, garden

We're getting the full array of tomatoes this week -- the orange banana tomatoes are finally ripening, for real this time. (although we have yet to cut one open, they at least feel meatier than the sad, hollow fruits we got last month.) And the "ugly" tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes are also doing well. I love that I grew these things from seeds. The "ugly" tomatoes in particular since I bought them from the grocery store, probably way back in 2005 or 2006.

Pricey at the time, it's definitely been a good ROI for the buck or so I spent on the original source tomato. I'm a little concerned that being commercially grown, they'd have a tougher skin that allows them to transport better, but we haven't really noticed a significant difference. I've always found the term "ugly" to be something of a misnomer, and doing a little research, I guess it's because the term (or at least "ugly ripe") is just the branding of a particular heirloom varietal by a commercial grower. The SOOTTAD and I actually find them to be quite pretty. And dericious.

The alpine strawberries are also doing unexpectedly well -- I don't think we've ever had the kind of harvest that we're getting this year. I've probably been pulling off a decent handful of berries almost every day for the past week, and I don't think they've ever been as consistently large as they've been this year. No idea whether it's just the plants or the crazy rain we had this summer, or the recent sunny warm days we've had in the past week.

Also not complaining about the first watermelon we ate last night.

Or the pears.

And the grapes will be coming along soon as well.

w00t! :)

Monday, September 01, 2008


So we've slowly started to clear out some of the crap that's been lying around the house unused for years. And part of that process has been putting things up on Craigslist. We don't do this a lot, so maybe somebody can explain this one for me:

WTF is up with these no-response Craigslist people?

I post an item.

I get an email asking if it's still available.

I say yes.

And then ... nothing.

I put an ad up for a dryer last week. I got 4 responses. The first person asked if it was available and could they pick it up tomorrow evening. (Friday) Asked for contact info. I responded, and... hello? Are you coming? When are you coming? Same for a bike rack I posted on Saturday. 4 replies so far, including one saying they could pick it up "tomorrow, anytime." Not a single follow-up.

Are these people flaky or just rude?

Or is this some new sophisticated email address harvesting scheme? Eff me, if that's the case.

Either way, people suck.


UPDATE: I had two people (TWO!) respond yesterday, 3 days after I replied to them, asking if the bike rack was still available, and maybe 2 hours after some guy took it away after responding to the post yesterday morning.

Again, WTF is up with these people?

all over the map

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.
Last day of the long weekend and I'm slipping into old habits again -- in bed after midnight and up after 8. Hopefully I'll get back on track tonight or I'm going to be getting into the office on the really late side given that these "shorter runs" that are part of the 3plus2 plan still take over an hour, not including stretching and clean-up. Fortunately, the SOOTTAD got back from dance camp today, and did the all-night dance thing last night, so she'll want to go to bed early.

Anyway, today's run was a track workout: 1mi(400m RI), 2mi(800m RI)/2x800m (400m RI). That is, a 1 mile interval with a 400m rest interval, a 2 mile interval with an 800m rest interval and then 2 800m intervals with a 400m rest interval between them. I could keep that in my head, mostly -- I ended up only giving myself a 200m rest between the 800s. What I couldn't keep in my head were the paces for each interval. The mile was supposed to be run in 7:18. I can mostly remember that. But I couldn't remember that the 400 split, to try and keep the laps relatively even, was supposed to be a little over 1:49. And the 800m intervals were supposed to be run in 3:31, equivalent to a 7:04mm or a 1:45 400m split. Thus the crude notes scrawly on my hand.

Not that it mattered -- I ended up mostly using the pace reading on my GPS.

Not that it really helped -- I found myself going all over the map as far as pace goes, although the average pace worked out to be faster than planned, at least. The fast, she is not so bad; the variation in pace, not so much. However, it's really difficult to modulate a few seconds off a minutes per mile pace, and it's exacerbated by the lag that exists as the GPS continually recalculates the pace. I was often finding myself running sub-7s and then overcompensating back and then running a few seconds per mile too slowly. The hysteresis, it's a killer.

More interestingly, it seemed like I was running the turns on the track much faster than the straights. I don't know if that has something to do with my form (knees more bent, leaning into the turn) or if there's some weird behavior of the GPS, like it's actually calculating velocity as opposed to speed, and taking into account direction. (This may not be the craziest thing, given that it is making guesses as to speed based on position.)

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I exchanged some email with a friend this week about my training conundrum, and she's reassured me that thing will be fine and that I'm doing the right things. Her main point: AVOID INJURY.

Got it.

Her other suggestions were to continue to include tempo/interval runs and to add "speedups" to the long runs as well. Also, hill workouts. And perhaps the most reassuring: to not go beyond 20-21 miles on the long runs.

Otherwise, the training runs had been going well the last few weeks (basically, since getting back from L.A. and readjusting to the time zone). I've been mostly running in the mornings, and I've generally felt pretty good both during and after the runs. It was mainly the length of long runs in the training plans I had seen that had made me nervous.

Yesterday, I proceeded with my new plan with the intention of ramping the miles of my long run, shooting for around 15 miles after only running a bit over 11 miles last week. (I had also snuck a hill run in on Thursday, but I did take Friday off as a recovery day.)

Route planning has gotten so much easier since the advent of GoogleMaps and the portable GPS.

In the old days, I would drive prospective routes, taking notes on street names and odometer readings. And then at home, I'd go as far as measure string on a driving atlas to guesstimate distances for trails or roads I hadn't driven.

I *heart* GoogleMaps and all your route dragging, mileage-calculating goodness. And with the GPS, After I map out a route on Google that's generally the right length, I just remember the one or two street names where I need to turn and then go. The GPS lets me know how far I've gone and how fast I'm going (for the most part... it does occasionally go off into the weeds where pace is concerned in hilly and/or wooded areas, but it's pretty obvious when it's off, and it's been pretty accurate for distance for the most part) so I don't sweat the details as much anymore.

Which may be less of a good thing sometimes. Take for example... yesterday's run. 15 miles, head out through Weston on 117, take a left on TOWER ROAD, and then follow the roads I'm familiar with once I pop out on Boston Post Road.

First off, I got held up by the train. Railroad crossing gates came down, so I turned around, retraced maybe 100-200 yards and then came back around. Still no train. On the second go-around, I see the train finally pull up. ...and stop, maybe 50 yards from the road. 2 minutes have already gone by at this point. After 3 minutes, I get impatient and just cross the tracks. I know I'm not supposed to. I was even good and waited when the gates first came down. But impatience, and fear of burning too much critical energy looping in the holding pattern got the better of me.

That threw me off. And I hadn't bothered to check where the train tracks were relative to the Tower Road turn off. And then I hit Route 126 and I was pretty sure at that point that I'd missed the turn.


I thought I might have missed it because I was distracted by the train or there was poor signage, but when I eventually found it, there were 3 signs, on both sides of the road. I either totally spaced or there was traffic on the road that was either distracting or obstructing the view.

So, instant 19+ mile run. I actually started walking after 15 miles, so I don't think I can say I ran 19 miles. I was actually feeling pretty good even on the 15th mile, but I guess my body took the 15 mile plan to heart because at 15.1 miles, my hamstrings and gluts suddenly got really unhappy. But I didn't stop -- just walked the next 3 miles or so and then ran the last mile and a half. (There was a false start maybe at the beginning of mile 17 where I tried to get it going again and the anterior tibs started complaining immediately, which led to some more walking.)

Anyway, really long run yesterday. Big ramp from last week. And... feeling pretty good. The quads are sore and the achilles has tightened up a bit, but pretty good, all things considered. I'm even thinking of running an easy 3 just to get the body loosened up a bit. Held off first thing this morning because I'm waiting for another stupid Craigslist person that I was hoping would call me back, like sometime during the day that she said she could pick the damn thing up "anytime." WTF is up with the flakey Craigslist people?

A few random notes:

  • After crossing the tracks, I ended up running almost a half a mile MUCH much faster than I had planned (driven by adrenaline and possibly guilt for doing a no-no). Definitely sub-8s for a 9:30+ intended pace.
  • Sheep! Moos! And only because I missed the turn. (but which unfortunately made me think of this comic.)
  • Also saw a cardinal and a flock(?) of wild turkeys. (Not to be confused with a case of Wild Turkey. [Yes, that was bad. Sorry.])
  • really good luck with the traffic lights on the last few runs -- thank you, Traffic Goddess.
  • 3 Obama yard signs, in Lincoln and Weston. I saw my first McCain sign on a run on Wednesday, in Auburndale/West Newton of all places, which always struck me as slightly more working class than the other villages.
  • Hit another "private road" that looks like a normal road on GoogleMaps. It cuts through a golf club. Only slightly nervous. Still better than some of the dead-end roads and non-roads that I used to hit from my driving atlas days.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The problem with the plan

So I've mentioned that I was planning on running a marathon this October. And I finally signed up for the Cape Cod Marathon on the 26th, just to make sure I actually had a race to run in. drive a stake in the ground. Training was actually going pretty well through early June, even though I had blown off a half-marathon in May that I was going to use as training. It was all cool.

And then I got sick. Probably the worst I've felt in years.

And so I've been carefully trying to get myself back into game shape, or race shape, I should say. This week felt like a major accomplishment -- morning runs 5 out of the last 6 days, a long run over 11 miles (the first long run in double digits since before I was sick) and over 33 miles total for the week. It actually felt like a real training week for the first time in ages. And I didn't feel like total crap after any of the runs.

So that's good -- I finally feel like I'm ready to get myself back onto a real training plan.

And so I've taken a look through one of my books, gone back to a few of the websites I was looking at before I started this whole business.

And it looks like I'm well and truly screwed.

I'm just under 9 weeks away from the race, and most training plans I've looked at had me running 20 mile runs by now, if not 3-4 weeks ago. I know I'm not qualifying for Boston, but I'd still like to actually *run* a marathon, not just finish it. So at the moment I'm struggling with whether I just stick with the gradual mileage ramp-up and peak at whatever I peak at 2-3 weeks before the race, or try to ramp more quickly to get the miles in but keep the tempos down and be more careful about giving myself enough rest between runs. I'm not convinced either approach is necessarily going to be a good idea.

It feels like things always seem to be more difficult than planned*. I figured that this marathon training thing should have been straightforward, if not easy. I knew it was going to be work, but it wasn't supposed to get so... complicated. It keeps making me wonder whether SOMEBODY out there is trying to tell me to just cut it out and sit my ass down.


* I know that at heart, I AM kind of idealistic, but I'm not supposed to be that positive, optimistic guy. I'm supposed to be pragmatic. Realistic. Pessimistic. Plan conservatively. Maybe I've changed. Or maybe it's just overconfidence when it comes to physical activities. Like when people heckle pro athletes or watch action movies and think that they could be all heroic and shit.

Why I hate Facebook

Facebook: Hey! A friend wants to share a book with you! Click here to see!
Me: Uh, thanks... what's the book?
FB: Hang on, just sign up for this application!
Me: Huh? Ok, fine. [clicking Add] So what's the book?
FB: Wait, look at all of your friends who aren't using this application yet! Why don't you let me infect I mean, invite them to use it too!
Me: Um, no... [clicking Skip] so, think you could tell me what book that was?
FB: Hey, do you like any of these books?
Me: C'mon, quit it. [clicking Skip] Ok, so what was that book?
FB: Thanks! Hey, here are all the great features for this application!
Me: Alright, already! What was the fucking book?!
FB: [crickets]
Me: um, hello?
FB: [more crickets]
Me: Ok, this says recommendations, maybe you put it under there? [clicking Recommendations]
FB: Sorry, we do not have any recommendations for you.

Fucking facebook.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

barriers to productivity

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

This is one of the few downsides to working from home. I can feel myself getting carpal tunnel trying not to disturb him too much when I try to type around him.

On the other hand, it's 3:30pm and I'll probably head out for a run in less than an hour. (seeing as I couldn't motivate when I woke up at 6 this morning, and then ended up over-sleeping*.)

* Prolly got up around 10. Yeah, jetlag...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Um.... what?

"Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime."
- Attorney General Michael Mukasey

I guess I'm going to need to look up the actual definition of "crime" now...

In other news, we're back from our trip to Kansas City (actually, Olathe) and Los Angeles, but posts will probably continue to be sparse given the whole work and training thing. Better to check up on twitter, flickr and facebook... (yes, facebook -- got sucked in, but still trying to lay low over there)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Glorious, glorious legroom

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

The travel gods were kind to us on our leg from K.C. to L.A.

Southwest has made some changes to their line-up policy and assigned actual line number positions. We were pretty deep into the first seating group, but I was still able to get the double row exit row seat, a much-welcomed improvement from the last trip to L.A. when I was stuck in a middle coach middle (on American with crappier seat pitch) in both directions.

It wasn't a full flight, so it probably would have been okay elsewhere on the plane, but I'm still grateful.

It's just kind of a bummer to have to fly into LAX. Unfortunately, the only flights that were available into Burbank at the right times had layovers and were almost $100 more expensive, and sometimes I'm just not willing to throw that much more money at a problem. (And the return leg on JetBlue -- thankfully out of Burbank -- cost us a lot more than I would have liked, so that figured into the equation as well.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I'm working from home right now.

This is generally a good thing -- easy commute, less distracting hallway chatter, comfortable surroundings (not over air-conditioned, or air-conditioned at all, really), no interrupts from coworkers or the boss.

Quite good, actually... if it weren't Saturday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

From seed

From seed
Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

A few photos from the garden. These are all from plants that were grown from seeds that I'd harvested out of fruits that we either grew, received from the CSA or bought at the supermarket. There are notes on the image in my Flickr stream.

Kind of exciting, but maybe that's just me.

We've been getting some crazy rain the last couple of days. So far, it seems like the bed is draining well, so the plants seem happy enough.

Our "new" rain barrel is almost full even though we haven't actually fitted the gutter downspout over to it. (I guess there are some advantages to having old clogged gutters -- there's plenty of water that's just been dripping/pouring over the corner of the roof rather than going down the downspout.) We're probably going to look into getting another rain barrel at this point, but for the time being, our party buckets have doubled as water basins, and even they're full up and overflowing.

That's more like it

3 miles this morning. Average pace a little below 8:30 minute miles. Max heart rate somewhere around 169*.

It's still not where I'd like to be, but it felt a lot better than a week and a half ago. And it's progress.

* Within the first 1/2 mile, I checked the monitor and it read 176. Then 179. Then 181. I definitely didn't feel like I was working that hard so I tried adjusting the strap of the sensor and the reading shortly dropped down to 156. *phew* For the record, I don't think this had anything to do with the high reading from the last 3 mile run, and I really did feel like crap at the time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

square zero


So, I've basically been sick for something like three out of the last four weeks. Sinusitis and bronchitis, according to the doctor. At a follow-up appointment last week, he now tells me that he thinks I have acid reflux (which is making my cough persist) and asthma. He's recommending that I start taking a daily dose of Prilosec and regular shots from a Albuterol inhaler.

Needless to say, this is news to me. Also needless to say, I'm not particularly happy with his diagnosis.

Since then, I've gone to the acupuncture clinic and have been trying to just rest and give my body a chance to recover. It's been a week, and I'm feeling like the cough is getting a little better, but I'm going to give the Prilosec a shot for a week, just to see whether it makes a difference or not. I'm not thrilled about being on a regular regimen of meds, but we'll see how it goes. My hope is that it will clear things up to allow my body to heal, and then I can go back to business as usual and let my body take care of itself.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that my marathon training got completely derailed. I'm still hopeful that I'll be able to get back on track and be ready to go by October, but things really aren't where I'd like them to be right now.

I figured it'd be a slow start, but my first run the Sunday before last wasn't promising. 3 miles. started at 8-1/2 minute miles, finished closer to 10 when my heart rate hit 176, which, for the record, is higher than when I was trying to test my max heart rate by doing 300m uphill sprints. Granted, it's been hot and humid, but I don't think it accounted for all of it. I've since played a little frisbee (and aggravated the hamstring) and had a disappointing "long and slow" 5.5 mile run, that was supposed to be more like 6.5 miles but was cut short because my knee started hurting after striding up a short uphill.


It's worse than square one. It's square zero. A friend thinks that it's just residue from the sick, and when I'm *really* back at 100%, the endurance and stamina will come back with it. I have a few other friends who also think I should be able to get back on track.

Hope so. There is at least one guy who thinks I'm screwed (and believe it or not, it's not me), but I am ignoring him at this time.

So I'm clearly not going to be running the marathon for time. Which makes me wonder whether I should put Marine Corps Marathon back on the table for consideration. It's supposed to be kind of a clusterfuck because there are so many people, but if I'm not worried about trying to finish in 3:20:59, maybe it'll be more interesting than running one of the quieter races. It also has the benefit of giving me an extra 2 weeks for training, which is not the worst thing ever.

Hopefully they won't close open registration before I make a decision. Too bad it's already sold out.

Have I mentioned, bah?

UPDATE: just signed up for the Cape Cod Marathon. Just in case. Poking around, Long Beach is looking somewhat appealing except that I'm not all that excited to travel (cost, and time, and well, the stress of travel these days), even if it is near home base.

Monday, June 23, 2008


RIP George Carlin.

[we'll see how long that video lasts on YouTube.]

Thanks, man.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"We're number one, so you can just suck it"

Sorry folks. I'm only back to rant about Verizon.

I was already annoyed that their voicemail system seems to have gotten flakey recently (have you received a message indicator for a voicemail a week after the original message was left?) but the events over the last few days have me pretty ticked at this point

Ironically, I just upgraded our home service mere hours before this, and even during that process, I was getting myself incremental frustrated and angry.

We have FiOS internet. We've been pretty happy with it. We have a 20/5 plan, or 20Meg download, 5Meg upload plan for about $50.

Rather than burn minutes on her work cell to call clients, the SOOTTAD has been using our home phone which has an unlimited minutes plan with Vonage. (Whoo VONAGE! We <3 Vonage.) This was a reasonable solution until the clients started calling the house because they had the number from their caller ID. Clients calling the home number is unacceptable so we've started looking into picking up a second phone line. Enter Verizon FiOS that has been aggressively pushing their service bundles. (generally with somebody calling or stopping by the house at least once a week for as long as we've been living in this house.)

Anyway, Verizon suffers from the same problems as all the other providers (read Comcast and RCN) in that it is virtually impossible to find out how much the services cost short of signing up for the service or dealing with a customer service rep on the phone. So I ended up digging around online looking for prices through our Verizon account, only to discover that they had raised the price of our internet connection to $57.99.

Um, hey. That's not cool.

I eventually found an email (sent to an account I never wanted, and that I never check because it's been full of spam since day 1) that notified me of the change of price.


Seeing as I still hadn't found the fee structure for the bundled services, I called them up, so I could then ask them how SOL I was about the new price. Only to discover that I was actually going to be $65.99 because I hadn't signed a new contract.

Proof that we're a captive audience is reflected in the fact that 2 days later, I've actually signed up for a 1-year contract for Internet, Phone and Cable. Yes Cable. We're getting Cable TV, god help us, complete with HD DVR. We are so screwed. And not just by Verizon. It works out to a decent deal as a bundle, especially since we're getting an extra $5/month discount, effectively $50 for internet, $25 for phone and $50 for cable. We'll see how the year goes, and decided whether or not we want to ditch it. (especially if they decide to raise rates again.)

So fine, done is done.

Except that I just looked through my most recent Verizon Wireless bill, and was struck by the $14 charge for text messaging, which seemed like I lot since I only pay $0.10 a message.

Except that I don't. Apparently I missed it when they raised it to $0.20.

Except that I really missed the boat, because apparently they raised it to $0.15 over a year ago. I guess we were a little busy.

I can't help but feel like there's something illegal about raising your rates when you're under contract, but I'm not sure what I can do about it.

I'm going to have to figure something out. Hopefully things won't be too busy that it'll drop under the radar again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Well, it's clearly summer, even if it isn't official for another week or two. And I'm not talking about the mini heat wave we had last weekend, I'm talking about the density of our calendars.

The SOOTTAD and I are off to All-Bal weekend this afternoon. We've been talking about going ever since she went a couple of years ago, but we haven't had the chance because, well, it's summer and y'know, there always seems to be too much stuff going on.

This morning was actually the first time I'd gone for a run in over a week -- a little over 6 miles, decent pace for most of it.

I've pretty much fallen off the wagon since a had to go on a business trip in California almost a month ago. Hopefully, I'll finally get back into the swing of things, seeing as we've hit the 16-week mark before that marathon I'm supposed to be running in October, even though I still haven't actually figured out which one it's going to be*. I've even packed my running gear and a map of the area around the hotel in the hopes that I'll be able to run while we're in Ohio.

So yeah, off the wagon. We played this game a few weeks ago, returning from a wedding in NYC where we'd had WAAAAAYYYYYYY too much to drink and had painfully paid the price for it that morning and on the drive back home. It went something like this:

TALLASIANDUDE: The problem was, I didn't get any sleep the night before. If I'd actually gotten some sleep last night, I would have been fine.
SOOTTAD: No, the problem was, you kept drinking the bourbon out of my glass.
T: No, I think the problem was, when you stopped letting me drink out of your glass, I went and got another glass of my own...
T: And actually, maybe the problem was every time I ordered a bourbon and a glass of water, I kept getting the bourbon and not noticing that they weren't giving me the water. If I'd just had that water...
T: Well no. The problem was I shouldn't have had that cigar. That thing was totally giving me a false second wind so I didn't notice I was out of gas...
Stupid open bar**. The problem was that I drank too damn much and I totally didn't get enough rest, so my body basically shut down. Except that it couldn't because I'd been spending the evening poisoning it until 3 in the morning.


The game, as applied to my running (and by extension, blogging).

Precede each with "I would have run if I hadn't been (at/on/with) [a/the]..."

5/17-18 - Wedding in New Hampshire (got a run in before the ceremony)
5/19-21 - 3-day business trip in California, stuck at the airport hotel with no car and no time because of the meeting schedule.
5/22 - return flight to Boston, just in time for a frisbee game (ADDED BONUS: body clock reset to Pacific time)
5/23-26 - Boston Independence Exchange -- full dance weekend with friends visiting and late-night dancing running until 4AM. (I did get a run in on Memorial Day...)
5/23-26 - 4 clients (3 new). This is good (Yay, clients! Yay, covering rent!) but still time consuming.
(5/26 - Run 4.5mi)
5/27 - frisbee game
(5/29 - Run 6.3mi)
5/30 - client
5/30 - All-nighter finishing document for work. (1-1/2 hours of horizontal time) before...
5/31 - client, before...
5/31 - drive down to NYC for (previously described) wedding
6/1 - return to Boston hungover
(6/2 - Run 5.25mi) (OMG!)
6/3 - frisbee game
6/4 - 2 clients
6/6-8 - fly to Buffalo, drive to Fergus, Ontario for frisbee tournament, drive back to Buffalo, fly back to Boston
6/8 - install of the A/C unit in SOOTTAD's office
6/9 - install of the A/C unit in bedroom
6/10 - frisbee game
6/11 - client (2 clients canceled)

So yeah, a little busy. Gonna try to resync to the morning run schedule, especially after sweating out the tail end of the heat this past weekend. Which means I'll need to be careful this weekend and not stay up too late at the evening dances. Which is tricky, since that's where I'll probably get the most practice for the material I'll be learning in the workshops.

Oy, it never ends.

* I feel a bit like Goldilocks right now. Marine Corp is too big (described as a "clusterf*ck" by more than one friend. Cape Cod is too small. That probably rules out Mohawk-Hudson. So maybe Breakers in Rhode Island? Or maybe Steamtown, although both may be too much on the small side. *sigh*

** Awesome wedding/reception, though. Even if I was semi-zombified and had to nap under a table for part of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008


Feeling Old & Crusty
Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

So, I'm bagging the half-marathon tomorrow.

I've spent the last two weeks going back and forth over it.

Should I run?
I should run.
No, I shouldn't run.
Well, maybe I should run.
Should I run?
I should run.
No, I shouldn't run.

Ah, the circles. I grow dizzy. (Probably shouldn't run.)

At this point, it may be more my brain than my body, but either way, it's probably the right thing to do. Or rather, the decision to run it would probably be for all the wrong reasons.

Two weeks ago, I did the last scheduled long run before the race. The longest I've run since the last time I trained for this race 3 years ago. 15 miles. It wasn't too bad through the first 10*, but I got clobbered by a particularly nasty patch of annoyingly steep paths in Weston (alongside a more tamely graded road). I managed to recover a bit during some flatter sections, but I was pretty spent, and the last 2 miles were a real struggle. I probably should have stopped at that point and walked the rest of the way, but I was working on my "mental toughness." (This is also know as "being stupid.")

End of run. Spent. Crusty. (the photo doesn't do it justice -- there were lines of salts all down my face, around my eyes and in my hair.) Feeling old.

...and feeling broken.

My lower back on the left side, which actually turned out to be my upper butt once palpated (gluteus maximus attachment into the iliac crest) didn't feel so awesome after that. I skipped Sunday (although we did some work in the garden), and when it still bothered me during my frisbee game Monday night, I got a little concerned. The right hamstring thing that's been bothering me all year wasn't feeling so great either, so I put myself on the DL, hoping some time off would take care of things.

Things felt a bit better that Thursday -- I ran 3 miles and then went to practice. But the weekend "long run" (8 miles, which turned out to be only 7.5) didn't show much sign of improvement. The soreness persisted (started to notice it as early as mile 2), even with a new hydration pack.

Anyway, all this week, it was evaluation. How's it feeling today? Better? Worse? Hamstring? Ok. Gluts -- better... no, still the same. And on and on and on.

And then I looked into the start time of the race: 9am, registration at 7. No problem. And a quick check of the directions... and somehow I had forgotten that it was a 2 hour drive to the race.

Um, whoops?

I forgot that we stayed with a friend in Portsmouth, so we only had to drive half the distance. So now I had to get up even more wicked early, drive 2 hours, pick up my registration stuff, then run the race that I wasn't sure I was ready to run. That, or get a hotel room and deal with registrations, and check-ins and check-outs...

And then there was the threat of rain. It actually looks like it'll be pretty good racing conditions tomorrow, but looking at it earlier this week, it looked like a pretty good chance of rain along with the wind in the mid-40s at race time. And I remember being so cold from the rain and wind the last time I ran this race, that at the finish I couldn't untie my shoelace to get the timing chip off my shoe.

Yes, I'm psyching myself out.

I actually felt alright yesterday. People were asking about the race. I got some encouragement. I felt pretty good after my run and during the subsequent frisbee game last night.

I was still on the fence.

Until around 1:30am, when I still hadn't fallen asleep.

So no race tomorrow.

I'm still going to run tomorrow morning. But I'll do it around here, after a good night's sleep. Or after more sleep, at least. And we'll have some time to do some more work in the garden. I'll get a massage. Watch the Celtics game. Get ready for the Tri on Sunday. (I'm volunteering, giving post-race massages.)

And I'll heal up, and hopefully still be on track to run one of those marathons in October.

* part of that distance is sketchy, since there seems to be some sort of Lincoln Mystery Spot where the GPS gets all wonky. The GPS tells me one thing, but GoogleMaps and, more importantly, my feets tell me different. I'm not a great judge of pace, but I'm pretty confident that I can tell when I'm running sub 6-minute-miles and over 15-minute-miles, and I didn't hit either of those paces, irregardless of what that little piece of technology strapped to my wrist was telling me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Time to figure out Plan B

Apparently, they've closed open registrations for the Chicago Marathon this fall.


Wasn't expecting that. Somehow, I thought I'd have a little more time to decide what I was going to do this fall, but I guess at least that decision has been made for me.

Just another indication that Chicago has it out for me. Maybe Chicago just thinks it's just being all friendly-like and playfully fucking with me.

Frankly, Mr. Ha-Ha Chicago, I don't need friends like that.

So maybe Cape Cod?


Marine Corp?

Long Beach?

Definitely passing on Bay State, but any other thoughts or suggestions? an MTI classmate I saw at a workshop last weekend mentioned a small marathon in upstate New York somewhere but I haven't been able to track down any details -- anyone out there have any leads or info?

UPDATE: The mystery marathon is the Steamtown Marathon near Scranton, PA.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yay, Spring!

Yay, Spring
Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

It seems like it's finally that time of year.

The seedlings were grown from seeds I collected from some of the tasty tomatoes we got from the CSA last summer. I think they were orange banana tomatoes, which actually sounds like I'm naming 3 fruits. We've had pretty good luck with stuff in the garden seeding in in the past, so hopefully these guys will do alright and will actually bear fruit.

Unfortunately, we didn't get our act together to sign up for the CSA in time this year, but we'll probably have our hands (and tummies) full with our own garden, not to mention overflow production from the SOOTTAD's parental homestead gardens. Kinda nice to actually have some time to plan for this stuff this year.

And as another comment on the weather, I've actually gone on my last 3 runs in shorts. (all afternoon runs, but still...)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Learning Experience

Today's lesson brought to you by Key Run Workout #2: a 5 mile tempo run at mid-tempo pace.

The lesson: apparently, I can't run 5 miles at a 7:30 pace. (a goal pace based on my half-marathon pace 3 years ago.)

It probably didn't help that I ran the first fast mile, well, too fast. After a 1 mile warm-up, the first tempo mile clocked in at 7:16. Whoops. I kept it in the ballpark (below 7:40) until about halfway through mile 4 when I hit another uphill section and just couldn't keep it up.

I could blame it on the fast start, the hills, the headwind, even fatigue from my "recovery workout." But really, I know I'm still being a little optimistic about what kind of condition I'm in. I'm testing the boundaries right now, basically just to make sure. This might also be considered "setting myself up for disappointment."

Another observation: my pace varies quite a bit moment-to-moment. The logs routinely present an uneven sine wave representing my speed -- a line littered with peaks and valleys. I suspect that it's in large part due to the lag of the GPS giving me a pace measurement and the ensuing hysteresis as I try to hit a specific pace. I'll have to try and not look at the watch so much and see how it goes.

Clearly, still a work in progress and always something new to try and figure out.

Book meme

I got tagged by Matt for the book meme. It's kind of silly, but I so seldom participate in these kinds of things, and out of respect for my friendship with Matt, I'll play along.

Here are the rules:

  1. Find the book closest to you with at least 123 pages.
  2. Turn to page 123
  3. Find the fifth sentence
  4. Post the next three sentences
  5. Pass it on.
I'm warning you in advance that I'm breaking rule 5, but if people want to play along, feel free to be my guest.

The nearest book: Tcl and the Tk Toolkit by John K. Ousterhout

If any other completion code occurs, do simply reflects that exception back to its caller.

When do reflects an error upward, it uses the -errorinfo option to return to make sure that a proper stack trace is available after the error. If that option were omitted, a fresh stack trace would be generated starting with do's error return; the stack trace would not indicate where in body the error occurred.

That was, uh, interesting? Revealing, perhaps. That's what you get when you compute in your home office full of tech books. Unfortunately, the massage therapy books were on the other side of the bookshelf.

Perhaps, what this exercise was shooting for was the book I'm currently reading/referencing right now: Run Less, Run Faster, which I mentioned in my previous post. (and will likely mention in my next post.) In THAT book, we get:

This cycle must be carefully structured so that the overload does not exhaust or injure. The recovery must be sufficient to permit the next overload workout.

Finding the appropriate balance of overload and recovery is essential for improvement.

Why don't you just tell me the last junk reading you did? And maybe the last movie you watched? You know -- brain candy.

Reading: Flight 4 a collection of short comics by different artists. Beautiful, interesting, thoughtful, often funny and great for today's short attention span.
Watching: The Frighteners Actually, pretty darned good, if you asked me. Although I guess you didn't.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

You do the best you can

Nu Shooz

In the last week, I've only gotten up once before 8AM, and that was yesterday (6:30, blargh) to take my car in for an oil change. You could almost count this morning because I did wake up for the alarm that was set for 4AM so the SOOTTAD could catch her rescheduled flight to Chicago after the one she was supposed to be on yesterday was canceled. But I didn't actually get up and I went back to sleep, mostly... took a while, and there was a little too much almost-awake-almost-asleep time.

On the plus side, I've still been getting my runs in, and have managed to either run or play disc (or both) every day since Friday. I just haven't been doing them at 7AM. In fact, the last AM run was Sunday. That may just be the way it's going to be. At least for now, before we start hitting the hot and humid summer days.

I'm on to the next training book, Run Less, Run Faster, which came highly recommended by a Tri friend of ours. The program is centered around what they call the "3plus2" plan which focuses on 3 key training runs with 2 days of cross-training. I like that the runs are focused and have specific goals (which they explain), and I thought the cross-training thing would be great, until I read the relevant chapter and discovered that ultimate pretty much didn't count because it continues to work (and stress) the same muscles I'm training for running. Worse, their suggested activities -- swimming and cycling (and deep water running?) -- really aren't part of my repertoire.

Nevertheless, I like their approach to the running workouts which stress quality over quantity (although yesterday's interval workout ended up being over 7 miles and took over an hour), so I'm trying to integrate their ideas into my training plan. I'll probably just take actual rest days or do easy recovery runs ("junk miles") which they do allow for (but do not recommend) in lieu of the proposed recovery activities.

Of course, it is spring, so I'm playing ultimate, hopefully within hamstring tolerances. I actually played yesterday after the track workout and it felt surprisingly, well, not bad. We'll see how it goes. I may end up adjusting the key training runs depending on how things are feeling.

So I'm going to try to crank up the intensity, focusing on the pace at specific distances. (Yesterday was 800m repeats around a 6:35 mile pace.) And today, after trying my best to sleep in a bit and catch a few extra Z's after the early wake-up call (I think I got up around 8:30), I did, in fact, suck it up and go to the gym after work and sat on a recumbent bike for 45 minutes.

For the record, it sucked. A little knee stress, my calves feel overworked, and my ass -- ow (geez, I gotta at least try a normal bike if I do it again) -- but I'm not sure how inclined I'm going to be to repeat that experience.

But, well, you know...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Listening to your body

I was exhausted last night.

Miraculously woke at 7AM yesterday morning, even after a late night (wine pairing dinner at Ten Tables -- dericious!) Went for a 7+ mile run (marginal -- right ankle has been feeling a bit wonky and it flared up around mile 4, and legs were feeling pretty heavy on the last mile), then to work. Client in the evening. A little work at the computer after dinner. And then I just hit the wall. Didn't even want to go downstairs for a snack.

That was at at a quarter of ten.

I guess I should have just gone to bed, but I ended up reading until 10:30 before killing the lights.

At midnight, I finally gave up and got up, had a drink, had a snack, did a little more reading and looked at some pictures (in an actual photo album, looking at my phases of long hair) and then finally back in bed around a quarter of one.

I really thought I was past this not falling asleep business. Oh well. It continues to be rough since getting back from Chicago.

Anyway, no surprise when I woke up "late" around 7:40am, still tired.


  1. run the same 7+ mile route as the previous day for comparison purposes. Was I just having an off day? Was I running too fast? Would my foot start hurting at the same point? Would it hurt at all?
  2. run something around 5 miles, maybe at a tempo pace. Y'know, try and work on that VO2max thing by training at my lactate threshold. And stuff.
  3. run less than 4 miles (distance of onset of foot pain) as a recovery run, or simply training at a level where I was fairly confident I wouldn't exacerbate any existing injuries.
  4. Skip the workout. Turn it into a rest day and get to the office relatively early.

The earliest I could probably start a run would be a bit after 8am. Then cooldown, stretching, a shower, and then the drive up to the office.

I still didn't get into the office much before 9. I'm not sure how that happens.

Still pretty beat today. I'm rationalizing that I only got about 6 hours of sleep last night, after probably getting less than 6 hours the night before. I know there are plenty of folks out there who are completely functional with that much sleep, but I've always needed closer to 9 hours for peak operating conditions.

And there's the stuff that I had gleaned from what little I'd already read in the book. Basically, train "opportunistically" and to your own body. It makes it ok for me to adjust for other activities and commitments. And most importantly, to adjust the training based on how my body is feeling. So I took the hint about the ankle not feeling so good, and probably not getting enough sleep and I ran (or rather, didn't run) with it.

And I think it was the right decision. More rest for the hamstring. (which I tweaked again playing pickup on Sunday.) The ankle is feeling a little better, or rather, I'm not feeling my ankle so much today. I think you're not supposed to notice the bones in you leg and foot when you're doing your everyday stuff, right?

So the plan is now to just do a short run tomorrow, maybe 3-4 miles and then do a long run Saturday, more than the 8.6 I ran last week, but almost certainly less than the 12 that's currently in the plan. I'm thinking 10, but we'll see how it feels.

On the down side, it was in the 30s this morning, although above freezing and sunny. Whereas tomorrow it's supposed to rain, possibly snow (?!) in the morning so it looks like I'll be hitting the gym tomorrow. (And as much as I hate the gym, it's probably good for me to do some hamstring strengthening exercises anyway.) Saturday, light rain all morning, and I just hope they're wrong. Or at least if it rains, it really is light rain.


I just got an email from AirTran advertising their "Foolishly low prices" if you purchase tickets by April 1.

Is that supposed to be funny?

I can almost rationalize it making sense in some sort of post-ironic reverse-polish-notation kind of way. To be honest, when I saw an email from AirTran, I kind of assumed that they were notifying me that they'd gone out of business or something.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Visit to Consumerland

I was never fond of listening to music while running. My early attempts to do so in college aptly demonstrated my tendency to follow the rhythms and tempos of what I was listening to -- helpful in dancing, not so much when you're trying to maintain an even pace or a regular cadence on a run. And it wasn't just a problem of making me run too slow or too fast, it could actually mess up the rhythm of my breathing and give me cramps.

No, not helpful at all.

And while I like being able to tune out of my brain, I also enjoy tuning in to the world around me -- the birds, the crunching of gravel or leaves on a trail, wind, water. Not to mention the advantage of hearing the traffic barreling up behind you.

But when I decided to train for a half-marathon a few years ago, and facing the prospect of regular runs of more than an hour (not to mention finally sucking it up and running at the gym), I thought it might be time to reconsider. Thankfully, I found that with the slower tempos of the long runs, I was able to just cruise along without significant trouble, mostly. A few songs would get me going, but overall it didn't mess with my head too much.

At the time, I was using a moderately crappy Rio sport mp3 player with a 512MB card in it. It got the job done, mostly, but on particularly cold days it would decide to hard fail in a fairly unpleasant manner. More recently, I've been borrowing the SOOTTAD's iPod, but it's hers, and it has her tunes and playlists on it (which are excellent, btw) and it's a bit bulkier than I'd prefer to carry or stick in a pocket and, well, it'd rather not keeping sweating all over it, or worse, possibly break it.

All that to say, I finally sucked it up and decided to buy an iPod for myself.

Price and features finally hit the right spot for me. The new iPod shuffles have 2GB of storage and are comfortably under $100. I originally tried to get one on Amazon, which afforded me an additional $5 in saving. (not to mention the *cough*absence of sales tax*cough*) The listing said the average shipping time was 1-3 weeks, but I wasn't in any particular hurry, and I was trying to maximize my value with that WHOLE FIVE DOLLARS OFF.

Just under 3 weeks later, and I notice while checking the status that the current shipping time has now been updated to 1-2 months. I think to myself suckers! good thing I ordered mine 3 weeks ago... until I get the email saying that my deliver date has been pushed back to end of April/mid-May.

Ok... Fine. I'll go to the Apple store.

I'm planning on being in the Natick area over the weekend, so I check online to see if there's a store there, since the only one I'd personally stumbled on in my own travels was the one in the Burlington Mall. For those unfamiliar with Natick, I have numerous acquaintances who tell me that there isn't a national retail chain that *isn't* in Natick. And, lo and behold, I find a listing for a store in Natick that, according to Apple's website, is near some place called the "Natick Connection."

Basically, it's a giant mall. (Actually, it's the old Natick Mall, but I guess having the word "mall" in the name of your mall is just so...Mall-ish.) I'll just say it was kind of overwhelming. I found the parking lot (with "premium" section, several multileveled structures, secondary roads with rotaries, backed up with traffic, a large proportion made up of SUVs) to be kind of a clusterfuck. The mall itself is quite upscale, and clearly benefits from having some thought put into its design -- nice open space with seating, the contours of a walking path through fake, abstracted birch trees, handicap access, "family" bathrooms. But oy. Nice aesthetics, but all I could see was BUY! BUY! BUY! And crowds... the crowds on a random Saturday afternoon. I guess I just don't get out much.

Anyway, I wandered through the mall, getting my bearings. Got to the Apple store, poked around a bit -- probably the first time I've actually spent any real time in one. (Ironically, wearing an Apple hat that the SOOTTAD got me when she was doing work for Apple.) Checked out the new Air (managed to only disconnect the power (connected magnetically) when I picked it up, as opposed to the guy across from me who set off the alarm when he accidentally pulled out the USB connection they use for security) then got to the back of the store to get the iPod. They keep them in a drawer behind the Genius Bar.

I skipped the $40 extended warranty, figuring that the incremental cost of buying a new one would be comparable in price. (there's that disposable world thinking again.) $72.45. I pay by credit card. I hand him the card, he swipes it, he hands it back, asks if I want a receipt (to which I say "yes," though it can be emailed to me -- cool) and then hands it to me.

I feel like I missed a step: there was no signature needed.

This can become more and more common these days. I've been to a number of places that have minimums of either $20 or $50 before you need a signature. Conveniently, I think that's commonly been the deductable if you discover fraudulent charges on your credit card statement. But I was surprised that it wasn't necessary for something over 50 bucks. Are they just taking into account the devaluation of the dollar or something?

I was thinking about it on the drive home -- I guess it's not that crazy given the frequency we pay at the pump with just a swipe, or buy stuff online with just an expiration date and occasionally the extra magic number thing on the back of the card these days. There's a certain level of security and trust that's built into the system now. I'm sure they could track you if you tried to buy a bunch of stuff and then claim it wasn't you -- shipping records, IP addresses, calls monitored for quality assurance, what have you.

But, how do you prove that you *didn't* buy something? Both the SOOTTAD and another friend of ours had that problem when their credit card numbers were stolen. And while they both got the charges reversed, there was still a lot of bullshit with shipping charges for returns or lost stock. (we still have two packages of vitamins that we never ordered.)

And reason that this kind of thing is on my mind? (other than that this stuff is always on my mind to a certain extent.) Well, there's this:

Yarp, my credit card information has been compromised AGAIN. That's twice in 6 months. And of course, now I get to change all my auto-billpays. AGAIN. I kind of want to call Citibank to see if they can tell me who keeps losing their credit card data, so I can STOP USING THEM.

So that's one. The other has to do with our phone service. We switched to Vonage over a year ago. Love it. Emails when there's a voicemail. No extra long distance charges. We moved and all we did was plug the phone adapter into the new network and we were good to go. Awesome.

When we switched over, I cancelled the service with Verizon and that was the last I ever thought about it.

Until last month.

Last month, when I got a statement from my old long distance carrier.

Did I mention that I liked Vonage because there were no long distance charges?

So somehow a call, made through Vonage, someone found it's way to the billing system for a third party company. No problems -- I called the long distance carrier and they reversed the charges. When it happened again this month, they reversed the charges and deleted all the records of my closed account. I also called Vonage this time around, just so they'd have a record of it. Verizon, maybe? Dunno.

But it sure gives me warm fuzzies inside. How 'bout you?