Running in Place

September 26, 2006

I’m writing this post from a hotel room; I’m traveling on business for a few days.

It only takes me a few minutes to pack for these trips. Suits for meetings during the day, a casual shirt and pair of pants, toiletries, and my running stuff. I always look forward to a stress-relieving run at the end of the day. So, I was less than pleased when I realized that I had forgotten my running shorts. While the front desk clerk is happy to address your forgotten toothpaste needs, they don’t offer emergency running shorts. Hence my aforementioned trip out to find an open Target, or Walmart, or Kmart, or something, to find a pair. Alas, nothing was open (it’s late at night – after discovering that I was sans shorts earlier this evening, I had opted to work for a few hours and go shorts-hunting later – where are my priorities?)

Fortunately whoever is in the room below me didn’t complain about the noise from me running in place for a half hour.


Ending the drought

September 25, 2006

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since my last post. The haitus hasn’t been intentional. Many evenings – most evenings – I sit down in front of the computer with the best of intentions. But, the fatigue of the day inevitably catches up with me, and I find that it’s much easier to zone out and click the “next blog” button and see what others have written than it is to craft something of my own. And, before I know it, I’m either struggling to keep my eyes open, or I’ve skipped that stage entirely and have fallen asleep in front of the computer.

So, the days go by, and with each passing day, the self-imposed pressure to post something substantial mounts. Will this be the day? To post something substantial, probably not. But, I will go ahead and hit the “Publish Post” button and end the drought, anyway. Then I’m going to go out and try to find a store open so I can buy some running shorts. More on that next post….

Swimming in the New River

September 4, 2006

I’m resigned to the fact that I will probably never get my wife on a river of any consequence, so I have no qualms about posting a link to this video taken by a rafter before, during, and after her raft flipped. None of the other videos that I have ever seen of rafting “carnage” do justice to what it’s really like – unless you are actually on the water, you can’t really understand how big the waves are, and how deep the holes are, and what it’s like to be pummelled under the water after you flip or get bounced out of the boat. This one, at least, shows a bit of what it’s like to take a swim.

This video was taken by a rafter who was “riding the bull” on the New River. “Riding the bull” is when you stand up on the front of the boat, holding the tow line in one hand, and try to keep your balance as the raft goes through the rapids. Obviously, you can’t do this in big water, but it’s still a lot of fun. In this particular instance, the raft wasn’t going through anything too big, but they hit a hole the wrong way and flipped.

Here’s the link.

One More Post on USNWC

September 4, 2006

The U.S. National Whitewater Center is finally open and here’s a good article about what it’s like.

I can’t wait to see it for myself!

Knowing One’s Limitations

September 4, 2006

I can do a lot of things. I can launch a product, try a case, give a presentation, change a diaper, cook a meal, build a treehouse, play a guitar, paddle a rapid, run a race, paint a house, and a few other things to boot.

I cannot, however, install a bathroom faucet. I couldn’t today, at least.

The faucet knob on our girls’ bathroom sink had been getting increasingly difficult to turn and the whole thing was in generally poor condition, so I decided that I would take advantage of the Labor Day holiday to replace it. After a quick trip to Lowes, I came home armed with a shiny new replacement faucet kit and got to work.

My biggest initial challenge was in cramming the upper half of my body into the cabinet underneath the sink so I could get at the blasted hardware. I was able to see it, and I was able to reach it – I just wasn’t able to see it and reach it at the same time. After a while I figured out a way to lay on my back, squeeze my head and shoulders inside, and then wedge an arm in and twist it up and around to reach the pipes. This would allow me about three turns of the wrench before my arm started to go numb because my awkward positioning was cutting off my blood supply. This, of course, was assuming that I had remembered to grab the wrench before I worked my way inside. More than once I crammed myself into position only to find that my tool hand was empty. I then had to extricate myself and start the process all over again.

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I was eventually able to get the old faucet removed, and the new one set into place. Install the stopper assembly, hook up the water lines, and I’d be done. The directions for the stopper were maddeningly simple – insert the stopper into the drainpipe, slide the horizontal rod into the pipe and through the hole on the bottom of the stopper, and you’re done. The problem was, the stopper seemed to be a half inch too short – I could never get the rod into the hole. Meanwhile, my girls’ cheery visits to the bathroom to check on my progress were becoming more frequent. “How’s it going, Daddy? Almost finished? Need any help?” My increasingly terse responses told me that I had better wrap this project up. I gave up. The sink was destined to be stopper-less.

But that was OK. The sink was already stopper-less; installing a stopper would have been an enhancement. That was a project for another day. So, all I needed to do was hook the water lines back up, and I’d be done. Predictably, the metal fittings on the faucet didn’t line up with the plastic ends of the water lines. I crammed myself back up under the sink, realized that my wrench hand had once again come up empty, twisted myself back out from under, and cracked my head on the bottom of the cabinet for the fifth time. Once the stars had faded from my vision and I had once again worked my way up into the cabinet and under the sink, I set to work bending the metal fittings to reach the end of the water lines. A few skinned knuckles and more than a few choice words later, I was finally ready to screw the fittings together and turn on the cold water line.

My face and left arm got soaked as water jetted out from the ill-fitting connection. I managed to get the water turned off, unscrewed the connection, bent the fittings some more, and screwed them together again. Holding my breath, I turned the water back on. No leak. Success! Giddy at the thought of the project being nearly complete, I turned on the hot water line. The water missed me this time, but instead gushed out onto the bottom of the cabinet. I turned the water back off. Fiddled with the fittings. Screwed it back together. Turned it back on. No gushing torrent this time, just a slight dribble.

A few seconds later, water began to dribble from the stopper rod cap as well, and then the dribble turned into a spray. Meanwhile the dribble from the hot water line became a full-fledged stream, and then the stopper rod cap and hot water line were spraying at me in stereo.

I gave up. Tomorrow I’m going to bite the bullet and call a plumber. I’m sure installing my faucet will be the easiest job he has all day. Glad to oblige.

You’ll be relieved to hear that I don’t do my own electrical work, either.

Mission Accomplished

September 2, 2006

My marathon training schedule said I was supposed to run 13 miles today. It took some doing, but I got it done.

Ridge Road is a favorite in the Charlottesville running community, a picturesque out-and-back run on a winding, crushed gravel road. While a bit anxious about the distance due to my less-than-rigid adherence to my training schedule to date, I was charged up by the beautiful day and 70 degree temperature. With Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood still ringing in my head from the drive to the starting point, I set off. The full length of the road is 4 miles, so for a 13-mile run my turnaround point would be the 3 1/4 mile mark.

The first leg went well. I savored the views of rolling fields and horse farms with the Blue Ridge in the distance, saw several deer, and felt great. I hit the 3 1/4 mark and turned around. It wasn’t long before I started to get a hot spot on the ball of my foot, and by the time I was around 5 miles in, it was on fire. My legs were starting to feel heavy (did I mention that I haven’t been training consistently?), and by the time I hit 6 miles, I was starting to have serious doubts. 7 miles left to go – maybe I was going to really mess my foot up if I kept on going? Maybe I could run 6 1/2 today and then repeat tomorrow? After all, if I cut this one short then I would be really really good about sticking with my training thereafter and I’d still be OK for the race. Hey, if I’m out here running for another hour-plus and then still have to drive home, I’m going to be late and will worry Jennifer – shouldn’t I go ahead and call it a day?

And so on, and so forth. My inner rationalizer/ procrastinator can be quite persuasive. However, as my car and the turnaround/end point came into view, I forced myself to admit that if I quit early and didn’t finish the run, I might as well just call it quits on the marathon training. I needed to gut it out. I reached the turnaround and headed back uphill for the third leg.

Around mile 8, I realized that the hot spot on my foot had subsided. Either that, or else I just didn’t notice it as much due to the pain in my knees. Sort of like the old comedy routine (3 Stooges?) where the guy goes to the doctor complaining of a headache, and the doctor stomps on his foot to make him forget about the pain in his head. I reached the turnaround point (mile 9 3/4) and turned around for the fourth and final leg. After a mile or so, I finally started to find the zone where I was a bit removed from my various aches and pains, and was able to just keep putting one foot in front of another. I came up behind a guy struggling up a hill, and passed him. Always a good feeling, except it brings with it the pressure of having to keep up a pace sufficient to prevent the guy you passed from returning the favor.

Finally, I crested the last hill and saw before me the long straightaway leading to the finish. I lengthened my stride and picked up the pace as I ran the last few hundred yards. I pulled up even with my car parked on the side of the road, and wobbled to a stop.

13 miles done. Miller Time….

Best of Intentions … We’ll See….

September 1, 2006

I need to run long tomorrow – 13 miles. My training hasn’t been what it should lately, so it’s going to hurt bigtime. My wife and 3 daughters are volunteering at a race in the morning (Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler), so even though the race is early in the morning (and it’s late at night as I write this), I think I’ll head out there as well to cheer the runners on and get some much-needed inspiration and motivation.

Sounds like a good plan right now, anyway….