Sunday, February 8, 2009

Gut Check Tine

Snowfall. For the kids, it means sledding, possible school cancellations, and snowball fights. For me, winter’s offering usually invokes a primal urge that takes every ounce of motivation to overcome. What is this primal urge I mention? C’mon dummies, everyone knows that we are mammals and one of our main goals is to stay warm and cozy. Come on, admit it, what is the first thing most of us want to do when the alarm clocks starts screaming and we know that there is fresh snow on the ground? You know, the kind of snow that needs to be shoveled or snowblowed. The kind of snow that if left alone, will form into a glacier and be there until mid June. If you are anything like me, you don’t want to disturb your nice cozy cocoon of warmth. Most of us want to stay in bed. I’m with ya brothers and sisters. For nine months out of the year, I’m usually out of bed and headed to the gym at the crack of 5:00am. I rarely miss a day. I live in Northeast, and the long spring and summer days make it hard not to attack the days ‘early and often’. By the way, the saying ‘early and often’ is local folklore and relates to a well known Boston politician who was encouraging his constituents to vote ‘early and often’. Ah, Boston politics, not quite Chicago politics, but close.

I just can’t wrap my head around it, why do I lose motivation to get out of bed once it snows? Tough Question. It isn’t the cold, I love the cold, I would rather run when it’s cold outside. Cold air can just aggravate you, heat and humidity can kill you. Cold crisp mornings and the vibrant autumn colors always seem to recharge my batteries. Virtually all of my memorable rides and runs have taken place in October and November. Although I start to scale back the intensity of my workouts once the race season is winding down in September, I usually cruise into October and November in peak shape. I look forward to and enjoy the ‘fun’ rides and runs with friends. And then BAM, the snow hits and I turn into a whiney little newbie afraid to get my feet wet. Have you seen the video of our Hash Run? I’m not afraid to get my feet wet, or have decaying leaves stuffed down my back, or drink whiskey, or wear a dress in public. But that is another story more appropriate for the leggy Dr. Melfey’s couch.

I can think of no better way to spend a nice Fall morning than heading out at first light for a run. The crisp air lets me know in a hurry that summer is over and I’m going to earn my workout that day, there are no freebies in the Fall. If I’m running in the right direction, the rising sun can provide enough facial warmth to make me wonder if I’m overdressed, but as soon as I turn to the north, I soon realize I could have used another layer. With each breath, my legs feel stronger, and soon there are drops of sweat flying off my body. The changing colors of the maple and oak leaves provide a perfect backdrop as the warm sun makes the roofs of the houses steam as if they were afire. “Enjoy the day” I repeat to myself over and over as I know the cold and snow will soon take over. The winter days eventually get so cold that I will actually drive my ‘coffin’ to run errands around town instead of riding my bike. A cyclist’s four wheeled vehicle that sits in the driveway is commonly referred to as a ‘coffin’.

I wonder what would happen if once winter arrives, I just gave up. It wouldn’t take much for me to become a sloth glued to the television. I have nice comfortable couches and a nice TV. I wonder if I took the winter off, no running, swimming, lifting, or cycling, how long it would take to permanently impart my ‘butt print’ on a couch? Don’t laugh; I have this conversation with myself every year.

Does anyone remember that scene from Animal House, when Clorette has passed out, and Larry’s evil conscience and good conscious have quite the discussion? Yes, good, that is the kind of conversation I have with myself every year. So far, good conscious has won the arm wrestling match.

Here is a sample of a typical internal conversation that takes place each December:

Good Conscious- Remember Spring comes early, you can’t miss any workouts.
Evil Conscious- Screw it, what will happen if you skip a few workouts
Good Conscious- That is how it starts, you miss one, then a few more, and so on and so on…….and eventually you’ll feel like crap.
Evil Conscious- You need a break, you work hard year round, take some time to yourself and relax
Good Conscious- Relax, that is what you do after a workout, there is plenty of time in the day to do both.
Evil Conscious- Why ruin a nice pizza, a few beers, and a plate of buffalo wings by getting up early and working out the next morning.
Good Conscious- You need to workout so all the chicks will think you are hot. (I know, do I have to say it?)
Evil Conscious- I can’t argue with that. Get going you slug.

So there you have it. Winter is in full swing. There is at least 2 feet of snow on the ground. Although I’m still not able to run, I have been banging out the miles on my mountain bike and in the pool. When the snow if right, I hit the trails for a 10 mile loop. My ten mile loop takes double to triple the energy and effort to complete when there is snow on the ground. Think riding your bike in beach sand. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh, then throw in some hills. Get it? Good. I am still hitting the gym nearly everyday, Am I in peak shape? Nah, far from it. Am I buff? Nah, far from it. Did I ‘give in’ to my Evil Conscious? Nah, no way. Does my couch have a permanent butt print dent? No way. Am I going to be ready for race season? You bet your a$$ I will.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009



“A dynamic state in which combined action is favored over the sum of individual component actions”

Woke up to 9 inches of the freshest, lightest powder the Northeast has ever seen. Shoveled the driveway as fast as I could. Mounted my new 29 x 2.5 tires on the singlespeed. Float is good. Wife took both children to visit their grandparents. Beautiful day, sunny, 28 degrees, slightly windy. Hit the road. Entered the woods, My Woods, to complete the loop, My Loop. Soft, fluffy, easy. Floated downhill the first ¼ mile. Giggling like a schoolgirl. Warm, too warm. Overdressed? We’ll see. Not a sound. Complete Silence. Snow covered trees buzzing by. Racing the shadows, the sun pacing me. Snow flying up from my front wheel. Who needs fenders. Effortless for now. Rolling over logs, sticks, rocks, suspension still locked out. Starting to warm up. Passed ‘My Spot’ where earlier last year I was glued to the ground checking out leaves. Glanced up, no leaves today, different view, no time. Crossed the small stream, stopped on the other side to listen to the rushing water. My hearing came back.. Back on my bike, dead silence again. No wind in the woods. Continued on, started climbing. Warmed up, started to sweat. Blood pumping. Bike and body in perfect harmony. Efficient, working, moving. Definitely over dressed. Opened the zipper to jacket. Heat rises, fogged glasses. Sweat dripping on toptube. Sun is still ahead of me. No animal tracks, no humans, a soft sea of white powder. Climbing, descending, floating, smiling, grunting. Falling, laughing. Wishing I had someone to share the moment with. Knowing I could never describe this experience. Attempting to jump blow downs from the ice storm. Having success, failing, sliding to the ground. White everywhere. Sensory deprivation. Playing a guessing game, when will I fall next? Stopped at the top of a hill. Savoring the views, the day. Feeling lucky. Alive. Warm. Looked up at the sky, the mix of cold air and warm sunlight was invigorating. Up the next hill, heart pumping, legs pumping, bursts of moist air being forced out of my lungs. Energy delivery in process, glycogen being used, electrolytes being burned, calories being spent, muscles heating up, everything working. Lactic acid being converted and buffered. Oxygen in, Carbon Dioxide out. Simple equation. Thinking about my 100 mile mountain bike race in Georgia this Fall. Are my competitors out on a day like today. Store this memory. I may need it someday when I need to go to my ‘Happy Place’ Sounds. What is that? Cross country skiers coming my way. I stop. We chat about the beautiful day and weather like we are residents sitting around the nursing home making small talk. The words aren’t spoken, but we know. We know we are lucky and privileged to be where we are. We are experiencing what it means to be alive. We smile, and before we part ways, we tell each other to enjoy the day, and mean it but it is overkill. We have, we are, and we will. We are part of the club. Our own club, the only members. We could have met in the summer in the same spot, it wouldn’t have been the same. Back on the bike, cold after stopping, have to heat up the engine again. Jump on Half Moon Trail, ride the familiar, now unfamiliar terrain. Crack a smile when I pass the site of the mud pit where my running club members threw mud at me during our Hash Run. Wonder where my red dress is. Warm again. Damn sun is still ahead of me. Still beating me. Laughing at me, dodging between trees, staying close enough, but far enough away. Arrive at the intersection of a main road. The noise!!!! Cars whizzing by. Trucks downshifting. Noise, too loud. Get away, cross the road. Race towards the Rail Trail. Quiet again. Enter neighborhood, enter a field and climb short hill. Big decent to the Rail Trail. Weight back, looking forward. Am I on the trail? Off the trail? Who cares. Warp speed downhill. Floating. Rooster tails from both tires. Giggling again. In control, totally out of control. Wide open, blazing a trail in an open field. Alive. Stop at bottom, look back up. A single 5 inch trench cut into the virgin powder. Sun glistening. No camera. Wouldn’t do it justice anyway. Laugh at the thought that most will have no idea what made that track. People don’t ride bikes in the snow. hahaha My secret. Rail Trail, 1 ½ miles to my house. Unplowed. Deep. Soft. Cross country ski tracks. Someone beat me to it. Deer tracks. Turkey tracks. Deer walk in straight lines, turkeys zig zag. Flat, pumping, quiet, speed, smiles, and sweat. Arrive home. Getting the look from the neighbors. I’m used to ‘The Look’. They don’t understand. Elated but sad. Epic day that will never be forgotten, but also never duplicated. That’s OK, the next one may be better. It may be horrible. No worries. Never know if you don’t get out there. Drive. Passion. Surprises. Life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Buckle

“Does it hurt when you cough?’ asked the Pediatrician to my 4 year old son. “It hurts, but Daddy gives me the buckle and then I go to sleep” responded my son.

The glare was directed right at me. “Oh $hit” was my first thought.

The day was supposed to be a glorious day. I had the day off from work, the weather was in the mid 50’s, and I was scheduled to test my ‘healed’ ankle on a nice flat 1 mile run. My alarm clock went off at 8:30am. Looking back, I think I was more excited at the prospect of sleeping until 8:30am than going out for my first run since early November. Granted, this run was totally against Doctor’s Orders, but I have rested my ankle, gone through aggressive treatments, and felt it was ready for a test. My Physician made me promise him that I wouldn’t run until the first week of February. I remember springing out of bed that morning, having my regular pre-exercise breakfast of a half a bagel, an egg white omelet, and two Hammer Gels.

I was almost ready to get dressed for my run, when my 4 year old son came out of his room looking like zombie on Halloween. He was crying, his color was awful, he had bags under his eyes (he gets that from his mother, hahaha), and he was holding his left ear. Being a Firefighter and an EMT, the signs were obvious; he was sick and had an ear infection. You may ask how I knew he had an ear infection by just looking at him. I didn’t even have to look at him to know he had an ear infection. I didn’t need my years of ‘On The Job’ clinical experience to solve this mystery. I knew my son had an ear infection because he slept until 8:50am. There is not a 4 year old alive, who isn’t sick, who sleeps until 8:50am. I’m not a conspiracy theorist type of guy, but I’m positive that all those OB/GYN pregnancy ultrasound tests somehow program children to wake somewhere between 5:00-6:00am. Or maybe kids just know that there are cartoons on TV early in the morning. I dunno.

Anyway, I lost the Rock-Paper-Scissor game with my wife and I had to take my son to the Pediatrician. I should have thrown Paper, I always throw Paper. I wish I could say I was focused on my son’s health, but to be honest, all I could think about on the way to the doctor’s office was when I could squeeze my run in. Here is how it went in my head: “Ok, the appointment is at 10:30, the doctor can’t get too far behind that early in the morning can he, we will get in there on time, he will check out his ears, prescribe some antibiotics, and we will be on our way before 11:15am, I can pick up the meds on the way home and be I will be ready to run by 12:00pm”

Well, it didn’t go quite that smooth. We were seen at 10:30am, but I didn’t count on a 40 minute wait for a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, or the Department of Social Services investigation…………….Yes, the Department of Social Services is the Massachusetts equivalent of a Child Protection Services Department.

My son’s Pediatrician, Dr. J., who referred to by my wife as “McDreamy” is about 6’3 and 230 pounds. He is a young doctor probably in his late 30’s. I can tell when either of my boys have appointments, because my wife is always dressed very nicely, her hair done, and she has applied her makeup by 7:00am. It laugh to myself when I attend appointments with my wife and children, I look around the waiting room and it is so easy to identify the Moms who have appointments with Dr. J., they are dressed like they are headed out for a hot date on Saturday night.

Anyway, back to the story. While Dr. J. was cruising through his physical exam, my son started to cough. Dr. J. asked him to open his mouth, and say “Ahhhhh”, which my son did. He then asked my son if it hurt when he coughed, and my son responded, “It hurts, but Daddy gives me the buckle and then I go to sleep”. I thought to myself “Oh no, what do I do?” Dr. J. is the most unassuming person you could ever meet. He is father to small children himself, he is great with his patients, my kids (and wife) look forward to his appointments, he laughs, he interacts with the kids, and he is silly when he needs to be, but this was the first time I saw the look of shock on his face. He looked directly at me and in a stern voice, said two words, “Please explain”. All I could think of was that stupid Bill Cosby show ‘Kids Say The Darndest Things’.

The first words out of my mouth were, “Look, I’m not even wearing a belt”. Great, now he thinks I’m trying to hide the evidence. I then explained that when my son was very young, his favorite baby food was Gerber’s Blueberry Buckle. It actually tasted pretty good. Gerber somehow found a way to squeeze Blueberry Cobbler into a 3 ounce glass jar. I explained that my wife and I would refer to this Gerber Baby Food as 'The Buckle', such as, “Would you like some buckle”. My son absolutely loved Blueberry Buckle, and soon any food or liquid he saw was referred to as 'The Buckle’. Not that there are that many bluish/purple foods out there, but soon blueberry yogurt and blueberry pie became know as 'The Buckle’.

I attempted to explain that my son’s genius mother figured out that if she called grape flavored cough medicine, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen ‘The Buckle’, my son would drink it down. I tried to explain that it was all about selling the horribly tasting medicine as something he loved.

Did he buy it? If he didn’t buy my explanation, I started thinking about what my prison sentence would look like. I remember wondering if they let you run in prison. Dr. J. slowly looked toward my son and asked, “Is what Daddy said true?” I clearly remember thinking to myself that this is do or die time. I couldn’t believe the fate of my life was hinging upon the response of a 4 year old child. What was he going to say? I was praying that he wouldn’t tell Dr. J. that I shave my legs, remember kids say the darndest things. Was he going to tell Dr. J. that when my wife was working last Saturday, I let my two boys watch at least 7 hours of TV?

My son looked at Dr. J. and responded “I like to drink The Buckle from the medicine cup when I’m sick”. Ding Ding Ding, Correct Answer!!!!! The lights started flashing, ticker tape started falling from the ceiling. You my boy, are the winner of the $100,000 Pyramid Game. I was so relieved. Dr. J. looked at me with a sly smile and said, “I knew the story the entire time, your son said the same thing at his four year check-up last month with your wife. I wanted to play a little game with you.”

To close the loop on this story, I made it home by 1:00pm after picking up the prescribed medications at the pharmacy. My son was diagnosed with pneumonia and an ear infection. I was able to get out for my run later that afternoon. I felt great for the first 200 yards and was laughing at my Orthopedic Physician’s advice to not start running again until February. I guess I only had enough endorphins to carry me 200 yards because my ankle really started to hurt before I reached the end of my street. I slowly limped home feeling defeated. I opened the door to my house and immediately went to the medicine cabinet for a shot of ‘The Buckle’.

See you out there in February.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My New Position

Usually I hate to talk about religion or politics; it seems to take time away from talking about running or riding. I readily admit that I have no idea how to ‘fix’ our Nation’s financial crisis, that is if we believe the hype the media is selling us about this financial crisis. I have zero knowledge about how compound interest works or what the overnight lending rate is. I don’t know what will solve the The Big Three’s issues. Should I buy a Ford LTD Country Squire Station wagon or should Congress give them 35 billion dollars? Does Ford still make an LTD? There were great backseat in the old LTD’s; you baby boomers know what I’m talking about, wink, wink.

What I do know about is cycling. I am the proud owner of 7 bicycles. I have a road bike, a tri bike, full suspension and a front suspension 26” mountain bikes, a single speed 29’er, my old circa 1982 Hutch Pro BMX bike, and a sweet fixed gear commuter. My bikes are cool. They are a reflection of my personality. On a day I want to go fast, I pull out my tri bike and go for an ego ride. On a day I want to kick it old school and enjoy a single gear, I’ll opt for the single speed. If my kids want to cruise the local rail trail, I’ll pull out one of the mountain bikes in case I need to bunny hop some road kill and show my son how cool dad is. I have personalized my bikes with little ‘trail finds’ that I have gathered along my travels. One day I was out in the middle of nowhere (in Groton), at least 6 miles from the nearest dirt or tar road, and I looked down and saw something shiny. It was an old “Custom Cab” name plate from a 1960 Ford Custom Cab Pick-Up Truck. Of course I now have it zip-tied to my handlebars of my 29’er. I treat my bikes with care and they generally take care of me in return. Nothing makes me happier than going on Mud Run and nothing makes my wife more upset than me walking into my kitchen with muddy cycling shoes. When cleaning my bikes after a ride, I always make sure to leave one little piece of dirt or road grime somewhere on the frame to remind me that bikes are made to be ridden, not made to shine in showrooms.

The great thing about cycling is that there is a bike dedicated for virtually every type of riding. I am sure the day will come when my old bones won’t be able to take the abuse of downhill assaults, or being in the aero position of a tri bike for hours on end. When that time comes, I may have to buy a bike that looks like this:

What the hell is going on here? Is this the President-Elect? Somebody get Obama a Velcro strap for those jeans. What is up with that fender? Do you think Obama rides in the rain often? All that is missing from this picture is pink handlebar tassels blowing in the breeze and a big basket. Obama needs to ‘Man Up’. A man of his stature can’t be seen riding a bike like this. Dukakis looked better riding in the tank. You can’t tell me that people didn’t laugh at him on that bike. He could have at least clipped a baseball card in the spokes.

With all the Cabinet appointments being announced, I am anxiously sitting by the phone awaiting his call. I emailed the President-Elect and offered my services. I offered to become his ‘Secretary of Manly Toys’. I am perfect for this position. I have virtually every grown up toy and gadget that has ever been made for swimming, cycling, lifting, and running. Instead of submitting a resume, I just forwarded pictures of all my cool stuff.

Here is a list of pictures I emailed the President-Elect:
My GPS devices, my running GPS and my hiking GPS
My Headlamps
My Heart rate Monitor
My Yaktrax
My Snowshoes
My Snowboard
My Bikes
My 30 pairs of sneakers
My three Ipods
My technical running and cycling gear
My Smoker- Yum Yum , smoked meats
My wetsuit and tri-suit
My titanium bottle opener made from recycled bike parts

I better stop now or my wife will kill me

What pictures I didn’t send the President-Elect (hey everybody has some skeletons)
My home waxing kit
My red dress
My high school yearbook photo showing me with an afro and horrible moustache

My first duty as ‘Secretary of Manly Toys’ would be to advise the President-Elect to give that damn bike to Hillary. I would also recommend he put a bigger seat on first (sorry, I know I’m an idiot, but it was just way too easy to throw that in there). I would recommend that if he ever decided to go riding where somebody may snap a picture, then he should get a bike that looks like this:

That’s what I’m talking about!!!!!!! What you are looking at here is a $4500 full suspension carbon fiber custom made machine. Not only will this bike make you the coolest person on Pennsylvania Avenue, but it will keep people like me from making fun of you. There is only one thing wrong with this picture. What is it you ask? Any guesses? OK, I’ll give it to you. How the hell does Georgie get away for 3+ hour rides? How do I know that by just looking at the picture? Well, Georgie not only has a Presidential water bottle in the cage holder, he is holding a camelback. In my book, a bottle and a camelback means only one thing, an epic 3+ hour ride. How does Georgie find the time to get out for such long rides when the country is in the shape that it is? I have a hard time getting out for two hour rides and I am only the Commander In Chief of my wife and two kids. OK, definitely not the Commander In Chief of my wife and my oldest son, but I still have a pretty strong rule over my three year old. I would also recommend that the President-Elect run tubeless and clipless like Georgie in the picture above.

Do you think I have a chance? If he calls, I must serve my country, it will be my duty. Oh yea, getting to ride every day, that mid six figure salary, and getting to play with every ‘Manly Toy’ to hit the market wouldn’t affect my decision. It was nice knowing all of you. Look for me Inauguration Day; I’ll be the guy on the full suspension Trek, you know the one with the Presidential Seal on the top tube.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Where does it come from and where does it go? Holy $hit, my last post was on November 4, 2008. What happened? I’ve had such a busy month that I totally lost track of time. In less than a month, I was a Co-Lunatic who planned a Hash Run for my running club, I ripped a tendon off my ankle during said Hash Run, I was bit by a dog, and I was the Race Director for the 4th Annual Ayer Fire Department Thanksgiving Day 5K Road Race. Whooo!!!!!

Where to start? Let me start by telling you I am still married. My wife is the best. I still don’t know how I was able to pull off the whole staying married thing while involved in all these activities. My youngest son yelled out to my wife one day when I arrived home from work "Mommy, you have a delivery". Should I be nervous that my wife is seeing the FedEx triathlete? I hope not, but it would make for an interesting blog entry. I was either at work, on the phone, or at my computer for the entire month. She is going to kill me when she finds out Mr. RunRunLive himself signed me up for more 2009 road race planning.

I’m not going to talk at length about the Hash Run other to say that yes, I did wear my red dress, yes I did drink way too much, and yes I did break my ankle no more than ¼ mile into the run………………..not necessarily in that order, well kind of in the order. Instead of boring you with the narrative version, here are two links to view the video. The Bastages at YouTube made me limit the video to under 10 minutes, so YouTube has the shorter version. RuncastTV has an awesome version.

Quick story about the broken ankle. I was no more than ¼ mile into the Hash Run when I rolled my ankle on a leaf covered jagged rock. I live in New England and run year round, I have navigated scarier trails at night with a dim headlamp and dimmer friends (sorry guys). I have rolled my ankle hundreds of times running off road, but this time I wasn’t able to ‘catch’ the ankle and unweight it, before I heard a pop. Decision time. Do I stop, turn back, immediately ice my ankle like a responsible adult and wait for the gang to get back or do I continue on, knowing that there are 5 bottles of The Knot Irish Whiskey on the course? I figured I got all dressed up for the occasion, why not continue on, soak my ankle in a few mud pits, and self medicate with Irish Whiskey. I know I’m an idiot. The pain really wasn’t that bad after the 3rd shot, and after the 6th shot, I felt like a Kenyon sprinting onto Boylston Street during the Boston Marathon. Ok, maybe I felt like a short, drunk, smiling, white Kenyon, wearing a red dress while running through mud pits, having flour thrown at him while eating endangered ants. When all was said and done, my all too familiar Orthopedic Physician, who is also a runner and cyclist, DEMANDED that I not run until at least February and not ride a bike until January. Which I translated to mean, you can start riding your bike in early December and you can start running as soon as you feel you are able to. Who is with me?

Although I don’t have a dog, I love dogs, and most dogs like me. I’ve certainly had my share of run-ins with dogs while running and riding, but until November 25, 2008, I’ve never been bitten. I was on a mission to deliver apples to a friend’s house. My friend’s daughter was going to make a few trays apple crisp for our Thanksgiving Day race. While standing on the front porch handing over the goods, I saw her dog running towards us. My first thought when I saw the dog was to bend down and attempt to pat the fur ball, but this dog was running a little too fast. This story would be a lot better if I said the dog was one of Michael Vick’s pit bulls or a big Rotweiller, but unfortunately, this dog was a little Australian cattle herding dog, kind of like a dingo, but smaller. Before the dog reached me, it jumped through the air and latched on to my hand. I pulled my hand away and the dog was still hanging from my fingers. What was a dog lover to do? I’m not proud of this, but I did drop an F-bomb in front of my friend’s daughter while the dog was tearing flesh from my fingers, and then I gave the dog a perfectly executed drop-kick off my hand. I never knew dogs could fly. The dog landed on the walkway, gave me a look like, “OK, we’re even, but you’re bleeding” and ran back in the home. A quick visit to the local emergency room brought more pain than the dog bite. The nurse made me scrub the wounds with an SOS pad, just kidding; it was more like a soft bristle sponge brush. This really hurt. I asked if I could get a numbing agent for the pain, and I was greeted with “You didn’t get the numbing agent yet?” I guess someone was supposed to numb my fingers before the scrubbing began. Oh well, must have been my penance for something I got away with during the Hash Run. When nurse Forgot The Meds returned she informed me they now needed to flush the wounds. Ouch. This hurt worse than the scrubbing. I asked one more time, “Hey can I get something for the pain?” The nurse didn’t say a word and immediately ran out of the room. I have a way with the ladies. She returned a few minutes later with another nurse who proceeded to stick me 5 times with a numbing agent. She apologized for not numbing my hand for the second time. With my hand finally numb, scrubbed, and flushed, I was told that it is not recommended to stitch dog bite wounds. The risk of infection is too high. They explained that if there was an infection, they want the ‘puss’ to drain. They said that after 10 days when I completed two rounds of antibiotics, I could come back to the Emergency Room and they could cut out whatever was starting to scab, scrub and flush the wound, and then stitch three spots. My response was, “Yea right, that was quite the sales pitch, but I’m never going to be a George Costanza Hand Model, I think I’ll live with the scars, thank you.” Almost two weeks later, my fingers are still numb from the pain, obviously not the medications.

OK, on to some safe activities, the 4th Annual Ayer Fire Department Thanksgiving Day 5K Road Race. I love being a Race Director, although I don’t like the amount of time it takes me away from running, cycling, or the gym (or if my wife Leann is reading this, I don’t like the time it keeps me away from my family). As any race Director should tell you, planning a race is a labor of love. I am very lucky to have three amazing people who help out tremendously and make the process very enjoyable. This year we had over 430 runners share their morning with us. Things seemed to go smoothly. We had plenty of volunteers, plenty of refreshments, we started on time, and nobody died. I can say that as a team, we are finally figuring out this whole Race Directing Thingy. We had a strong SQRR Club presence at the race. One of our newest members broke the female course record!!!!!! It is nice to get new young, fast runners to join our club; it takes the pressure off us old coots. Although we had plenty of our old coots turn in some great times. The Squannacook River Runners placed 15 of our runners in the Top 50 overall. Not too shabby for a tawdry little running club. Tons of familiar faces, tons of kids, tons of families, and tons of smiles, just what a Race Director wants to see on race day.

What next? The 2009 Groton Road Race planning is in full swing. No rest for the wicked, or injured. I’ve stepped up and accepted an Assistant Race Director potion. What is an Assistant Race Director position you ask? Well there are two definitions, the first being that the ARD is an ‘internship’ that grooms the individual into a future Race Director. This is usually the definition the Race Director subscribes to. The second definition is that the ARD handles everything the Race Director either doesn’t want, or doesn’t have time, to do. Most Race Directors somehow merge the two definitions. Hahahaha I will keep you posted on which definition Chris subscribes to.

Goals for the winter months:
Get healthy
Add 10 pounds of muscle
Avoid the injury bug
Get in as much snowshoeing as possible
Somehow cram 6 months of training into four months so I am race ready in the spring
Oh yea, let my back, leg, and chest hair grow in, Northeast winters can be brutal
Spend some time with my family (I just redeemed myself)

I’m back!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Shopping List

I have a big day coming up. A day that required a visit to my local running store, the local package store, my neighborhood supermarket, the town hardware store, and a women’s clothing store. Oh yea, for those of you that live outside of Massachusetts, a package store is an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, also known in some parts of the Greater Boston Area as the ‘Packie’. A few of you may be scratching your heads trying to figure out what I am up to and how many laws I intend on breaking.

I got myself into this mess. Since I’ve been married I’ve never once made a shopping list. I always felt confident I could easily remember 8-12 items, who needs a list? I mean, how hard can it be to remember a few items, the supermarket is only 1 mile from my house and I have a great memory. I could easily recite my training log from June of 2008. But inevitably, whenever I enter my local supermarket the smell of cookies being baked somehow magically erases at least 5 items I vowed not to forget. And once I make my way to the bakery and sneak a few bites of these warm cookies, I then forgot a few more of my items, leaving me to wander aimlessly around the store filling my cart with organic carrots and chocolate soy milk when I should be buying eggs and bread. But I digress. When I said it was my fault, it was my fault; I mean I did leave my shopping list on the kitchen counter.

My wife is great; she doesn’t care if I leave my underwear on the floor next to the hamper. She knows I have horrible aim. I always leave my sweaty socks on the floor in front of the washing machine and somehow these smelly socks always end up being washed and somehow placed in my dresser draw. I could leave any of my bikes in the porch for a few days and not hear a peep from my wife. But leave something on the kitchen counter, and bang, I will hear about it. Well this day is so important to me that I didn’t want to forget an item so I crafted a list. Here is what was on my list: Wool Socks, 40lbs of Flour, Chalk Paint, 2 bottles of The Knot Irish Whiskey, and a Red Dress. It took my wife less than five seconds to give me ‘The Look’ after reading my list. She then came out with the gem, “What the hell are you doing and do I want to know?” OK. for all you Harriers out there…………What am I doing?.....................Yes, you guessed it, I am participating in my first Hash Run.

In a nutshell, Hash Runs usually occur in the woods or out of sight from the general public, by a group of friends looking to have some fun. It generally involves drinking and eating before, during, and after the run. There is running, singing, exchanging of clothes, and tons of surprises. Here is a brief history from the Hash House Harriers website: 'Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, when a casual group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British paper chase, to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend. After meeting for some months, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a 'group,' they would require a Constitution and an official name. A.S. Gispert suggested the name 'Hash House Harriers' in homage to the Selangor Club Annex, where the men were billeted, so named the 'Hash House' for its notoriously monotonous food. The final word, 'Harriers,' refers to the role of those in the chase, where the 'hare' was given a head start to blaze a trail and mark his path with shreds of paper, and then pursued by a shouting pack of 'harriers.' Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and finding the 'true' path, harriers reaching the end of the trail would be rewarded with beer.'

For those of you who met me, you must have figured out that I am VERY good for the economy. I have virtually every gadget, and every piece of specialized gear and clothing needed for running, swimming, cycling, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and weightlifting. I have my own dresser that specifically houses my athletic gear and wear. It is the biggest dresser in my bedroom and it is stuffed to the gills. I have my own running sock drawer (running socks only, my dress socks and daily socks are in my other dresser), a running shorts drawer, a running tops drawer, a running pants drawer, a performance underwear draw (don’t ask), a gear draw (GPS, Ipod, FuelBelt, Yaktrax, reflective vests, etc..), a swim-wear drawer, a weightlifting gear drawer, a running winter hat and gloves drawer, and a Tri-wear drawer. I know I have issues.

It has been years since I found an activity or sport that I didn’t already have all the needed gear and equipment for. I was very excited to go shopping for the following needed items. Ok, here is a breakdown of my shopping list:
Gore Tex Socks- I am sure there will be some running through rivers and streams
Flour- To mark the course
Chalk Paint- To mark the course after we run out of flour
The Knot- To drink during the ‘water stops’
The Red Dress- Ok, here is where I may loose a few of you, I am wearing the Red Dress

Please keep reading, I am not a cross dresser, not that there is anything wrong with that. ‘Newbie’s’ or first time Hash Run participants are encouraged to wear a red dress to their first run, and I am not going to be the ‘Newbie’ to piss off the Hash Run Gods on this matter. I checked my wife’s closet; I didn’t see any red dresses. We have been married for over ten years, and the ‘Lady in Red’, somehow turned into the ‘Lady in Jeans and a Sweater’.

I had a plan, I would hit the package store first and pick up The Knot, I would then go to the supermarket and get the flour (and cookies), then off to the hardware store for the chalk paint, then off to the running store for a pair of Gore tex socks, and finally to the Mall for a Red Dress. The first four stops were executed flawlessly, but I had a few issues at the fifth stop.

I entered the first women’s clothing store I came across at the local Mall. My plan was to look like the cool husband strolling into a store to buy his wife a sexy red dress for their anniversary. I figured I could pick out a dress by myself, hold it up and gauge if it would fit me, bring it to the register and then ask for a gift receipt. Like the Guinness guys say, Brilliant!!!!!!

Wrong, I wasn’t more than 20 feet inside the store when a hot, blonde, I’m guessing 21-24 year old, salesperson came up to me to ask if she could help me. The only words I could muster were “Yes please” I played it cool, because I am cool. After at least 10 uncomfortable seconds of staring at her, I finally informed her I needed a red dress for my wife. I fully expected her to take mercy on my and point me to the red dress section of the store. Instead, she said “Follow Me” and like Pavlov’s dog, I did. Kind of like when runners find 5k’s too short, well this walk to the red dress section was too short as well, if you know what I mean. Would it have been inappropriate to ask her to slow down so I could enjoy the view for a few more seconds? I said thank you and informed her I would check out the dresses. She told me she would stay with me and help me pick out a dress. She also mentioned she could answer any questions I had. Believe me, I had some questions. Now normally, I wouldn’t mind a hot blond salesperson staying with me to answer questions, but I didn’t need ‘Commission Woman’ near me while I picked out my Hash Run dress. She asked me what size dress my wife wore and I froze. With quivering lips, I responded “I think a 30 waist”. Damn, wrong answer. I couldn’t keep this going; I was buckling already, there was no way I was going to pull off this caper, so I came clean. I said, “I’m sorry I lied to you, the dress isn’t for my wife, it is for me”. I fully expected the hot young salesperson to start laughing at me, but no “Commission Woman” must have sensed easy cash.

I explained to her that I was a runner and I had this thing called a Hash Run coming up where the men wear red dresses while running in the woods. You guessed it; she had a very puzzled look on her face. I needed a new approach. I decided I needed to prove to her that I was a runner so I pulled up my pant legs, showed her my legs and said “See look at my legs, they are shaved, I’m really a runner.” Damn, what the hell am I doing, I must be an idiot, oh yea, I am and idiot. I am not as smooth as I was in college, man, times have changed. The shaved legs demonstration definitely didn’t work and she started to look at me weird. I then blurted out, “I’m married, look at my wedding ring”. As I was holding my hand up, I then realized I wasn’t wearing my ring because I just got off an overtime shift at the Fire Station and I never wear my ring at work, way too dangerous. Great, things are really working out just as I had planned I finally said, “I need a dress that I can run in and preferably a dress that wicks moisture”. She started to laugh and surely figured out that one, I had no game, and two, I was too stupid to be a cross dresser.

Yes, Mercedes (not her real name, but I figured if I threw in a stripper name a few of you knuckleheads would get a kick out of it) did help me pick out the perfect red dress. I bought a sweet mid calf length, poly synthetic fabric (wicking), red dress. No, I didn’t try the dress on in the dressing room, but yes, I do need a drawer for my new Hash Run gear.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Presidential Fitness

Thinking back, The Presidential Physical Fitness patch may have been the first award I ever earned. From what little I remember about the first few years of elementary school, I remember not being too interested in the three R’s but being very interested in Gym, Lunch, and Recess. I remember my gym teacher, Mr. Maxwell, informing the class we had a test, and if we passed this test then President Gerald Ford would send us a letter and a patch for our book bag. Yes, back then we had book bags, not backpacks. I had an awesome Bobby Orr book bag, I was cool back then too. I thought Mr. Maxwell was the coolest teacher ever because he liked to play games with kids, he wore sweatpants every day and he had a mustache. Gee, thinking back, Mr. Maxwell’s picture in my elementary school yearbook looks eerily familiar to the current mugshots of most Level II & III Sexual Offenders. Just kidding, it was the early 1970’s and gym teachers wore sweatpants, had big hair, and sported mustaches………..and those were the male gym teachers.

I don’t remember all of the events involved in the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge, but I do remember running around the school track, doing push-ups, sit-ups and hanging from a bar for some ungodly amount of time, I think it was called the flex arm hang. I can’t remember my scores or times, but I do remember eventually getting a letter and patch from President Ford. I may have been getting a C- in math, but I was ‘The Man’ in gym class. I still have the patch, and my mother probably has the letter in scrapbook somewhere in her attic. I’m not sure where the Bobby Orr book bag ended up, I bet someone (maybe my mother) is selling it on Ebay.

I was so excited early last week when my son informed me that he had a “President Test” coming up. Being a first grader, I fooled with him and asked why the President was coming to his school to take a test. He responded, “No Dad, the President doesn’t take a test, it is a gym test that I take”. Oh, Ok, now I was with him. I joked with my wife that George W. Bush was probably relieved as well, because I’d bet he’d have a hard time passing a first grade test. As with most busy little guys, I didn’t have too much time for follow-up questions, he was out the door putting on his bike helmet and begging to go for a ride. We went for a ride around the neighborhood, purposely jumping off every curb, skidding on every sand patch, and generally showing off for the ladies. I know, we are both idiots, he can’t help it, it’s genetics.

My son arrived home on Friday and announced to me that he didn’t pass the “President Test”. He didn’t seem depressed, he ran in the house like he usually does, threw off his backpack and wanted to play. Wait a minute, no playing, I need more information. I had tons of questions. I immediately morphed into Psycho Sports Dad and bombarded him with insightful questions such as “Why didn’t you pass the test?” and “What happened?”. He looked at me and calmly said what a father never wants to hear from a future runner, he said “I walked”. I returned with the gem, “You walked, what do you mean you walked”. My six year old son looked directly at me and calmly said, “I didn’t feel like running Dad” and ran off to build Lego structures. Ouch, an arrow to the heart. My wife tried to console me by mentioning that he is only 6 years old and maybe he didn’t want to run. My wife is the best. She always ‘gets it’. Again, that genetic thing

Well there it is. There goes his scholarship to Oregon. He will never run at Hayward Field, and he will never break a 4 minute mile. Psycho Sports Dad eventually calmed down. It actually took a kiss, a hug, and a “I love you Dad” for me to realized that in the grand scheme of things, a Presidential Fitness patch isn’t important. Having a son who is happy doing the things he does is important. If he was happy running (and walking) around the track, then so be it. Not everybody has a six year old Prefontaine in the making. I’m fine, I’m good, I’m content.

It is now Sunday evening, and my wife threw out her the usual Sunday night question, “What does your week look like?” I’m sure she was ready for my usual response, which typically goes, “Not sure, I haven’t looked at my schedule”. I know this drives her crazy and I have a great chuckle every Sunday night after I answer her. For some reason she never laughs. But tonight, I had a real answer for her, an answer she has been waiting over 10 years for, my response was “I am heading to the track Monday afternoon for some repeats”. Knowing that I haven’t run too much in the last month due to a lingering foot injury, she mentioned, “Do you think you maybe stay away from the track and speed workouts until you get a few more runs under your belt?” My response was, “I’m not running, your son is, he has another Presidential Physical Fitness Test next year“ You guessed it, I got “The Look”

P.S- I also told my son that if he could break a ten minute mile, I would buy him a Bobby Orr book bag.