Friday, December 29, 2006
I hung around for a little bit and said hello to a couple of my favorites from last week (though Larry was out for a walk when I stopped by to see him) and checked to see if I could take a coulple out while I was there. Another volunteer said they had all the parks filled at the moment so I settled for my quick doggie condo greetings and then took off for the ride to the metro. Got to Columbia Heights pretty quickly for the short ride home and actually ran across Swan who was walking home from the gym on Columbia Ave.
Tonight Swan and I are going to check out another fixie down at Pentagon City that a guy is selling. I am getting to the point that I feel a little bad, like I am putting a lot of pressure on Swan to get a fixie. I keep finding her bikes on Craigslist and ebay and stuff and then contacting the sellers and things like that and though I don't mean to add pressure (I just really enjoy doing it) I feel like it is probably a little overwhelming for her). I guess I should try and back off at least a little bit...
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Got tossed off the back of the group on about the third or fourth lap and joined up with two others for another two relatively easy laps. Had one nice really strong pull on the straightaway coming back and the rest was basically the three of us riding abreast and chatting. Overall it was a pretty nice ride though I’m not sure how many Thursdays I’ll be out riding again after that; at least not until I can cling to the back of the group for the completely fanned out stuff.
Actually heard from Scott that soon to be mayor Fenty made it out for today’s ride and was flying up with the pack. It’s good to see that he really is an avid cyclist and doesn’t just claim it. Plus he was out there hanging with this pack that was riding consistently in the upper 30 mph range. Man is a beast of a cyclist for hanging out in there; someday I’ll get there. Hopefully if I ever end up riding and chatting with him I can come up with something more intelligent then my comments the last time I ran into him…
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Thankfully he convinced me to get out and we went for a nice 45 minute run up to the National Cathedral and then to Vann Ness and back; perfect route for today. Uphill the whole way up and an easier downhill fast run back down Connecticut. Feel great now and though we didn't really run hard, we kept a steady easy conversation going on the entire run, my legs feel great; good sign for for the 12 or so mile run I need to get in on Sunday to get back on track for my training.
After we got back I met my sister's fiance, B for some hookah and tea over a heated game of dominoes. So glad he is a good guy and we can hang out; the last one was a bit of a tool, and a useless one at that.Last year B and I went to LA for the Rose Bowl to root on the Trojans in their heartbreaking defeat where Vince Dung ran the winning TD into the end zone directly into the corner that we were sitting in. Now there is a tool; although he's at least a pretty damn useful one.
No it's time for some shut eye, got a big day ahead of me including a long lunch ride, another animal shelter related training before I can get started and lots of work on a rejuvinated project at work that I've been stuck on for a little while. Oh and on a side note; as I was walking home from the hookah place down the street a group of girls were heading into the Falafel place on 18th and one was saying how it was really cheap so I said oh and it's really good too! As I walked away I heard one of them say something along the lines of oh he's cute! Hey, maybe there is hope for me yet!
He was working the desk when I walked in and after a few second he recognized me. We started talking and catching up and he showed me around to where all the real sweet rides are in the store. He hooked me up with some deals on some new winter riding gloves and chain lube and then gave me his email address so we could arrange to go mountain biking in January. Definitely looking forward to that although I’m a bit nervous about it since I have not been for at least 1 ½ years. Hopefully he doesn’t leave me in the dust and I don’t make a complete fool of myself either.
It’s good to know people around the city; it’s a good feeling when you are recognized and it makes you feel like you actually live there and that it is an actual community. When I first moved here I didn’t know anyone and for a long time didn’t feel like I really belonged here. Now I can walk down the street and recognize people and all that; I’m not quite to the point where I’m friends with the clerks at the market and all yet it is getting closer to the case.
Actually that brings me to something that Adam and I spoke about today which is how unfriendly bike shop workers can be sometimes. That brought me back to a post I wrote a while ago about how unfriendly the guys at city bikes could seem when I first started going there. Lately after having been going there and finally beginning to at least sound like I know what I am talking about I feel much more comfortable when I go in. It seems like a bunch of the workers there recognize me and I feel much better about walking in there now.
Three good friends of mine were all recently buying/looking at bikes and all of them asked me to go along since they felt somewhat uneasy going alone. One of them expressed that they were uncomfortable because they think the workers at bike shops in general are not all that friendly, while the other two wanted me to go so I could help them find the right bike. The guys there that day were actually extremely helpful with all of us and the time was well spent there. I’m beginning to wonder now if the perceived “attitude” that I thought I was picking up was just my own lack of self assuredness in the situation. Either way, I now feel much more comfortable walking into most bike shops that I have visited in the past couple of months and of course find City Bikes to be the favorite spot I knew it would be.
I actually thought about getting some bonus point with the guys there (read: the mechanics) by stopping by on Christmas Eve with a case of beer but unfortunately they were closed. I guess maybe I’m just not cut out for the whole brown nosing thing…
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Had a great weekend this past weekend including a nice quite Christmas day and some quality time with friends and my parents. My family has always spent our Christmas' together and rarely ever even leave the house on Christmas day. This year my sister and her fiance were out in Ohio with his family so it was just my parents and I. Not that they drove me out or anything (kidding, I love my folks and enjoy almost every moment spent with them), but on Christmas day this year around noon I took off for a quick bike ride just to get out and get in some cycling.
I had used my fixie to get out to the Columbia Heights metro stop on Saturday on my way to college park so Sunday after I picked up my flexcar I grabbed the bike from the bike rack and headed up to my folks house. With presents and bike in tow. Didn't have time to get out on Sunday (and really was hoping for some sweet winter gear for Christmas and didn't bring enough anyway) so naturally despite the rain, Sunday was the day. When I left their place there was a light drizzle but I wasn't too worried about it since I was decked out in a new long sleeve base layer shirt, a new wool jersey, a thermal jersey on top of that and a new Louis Garneau water proof shell on top of that. I also wore an older pair of shorts underneath a new pair of tights with a chamois on top. Unfortunately for me, I am still figuring out how to properly dress under different weather conditions and temperatures.
My upper body was extremely warm and I was contemplating taking off a layer soon after leaving the neighborhood. My legs were a little bit chilly from the start but I figured on the fixie out there they would warm up quickly and my feet with just two layers of socks on under my shoes I knew would get cold but figured that would just be like normal. For a little while the rain stopped for me and I spun along with the only worry being how much more hilly the damn roads were then I ever realized while driving a car around. I immediately went down a large relatively steep (when on a fixie and coasting is not an option) hill, across a bridge and up an even steeper hill and then back down a similar one. Right about there I realized just how fun this ride was going to be.
I found an excellent 'flat' road which I rode down for a while before turning off down another nice 'flat' country road. At some point on this road I decided I could take a left on one of the residential streets there and come back out and manage to have looped around and start to head back home however after climbing to the top of another ridiculous hill I realized that I was entirely wrong about that and had to turn around and spin like an out of control locomotive down another hill. About this time the rain started to pick up on me as well.
My upper body was still perfect with the jacket keeping me completely dry and the warm layers still making me a little over heated. The lower half of my body however was not so comfortable. First of all my feet always get cold when I ride, just bad circulation which is made that much worse when the rest of my body gets cold. Now my feet and legs were basically soaked through and that mixed with the screaming cold air from flying down the hills despite the fact that I was always pedaling was causing frostbite like conditions (not really, but really). Ah well, I guess ofr my birthday I ask for some heavier duty thermal tights and some sort of water proof pants or something. I should have brought along my neoprene booties but of course rain is the last thing you think about for Christmas day; I mean c'mon, whatever happened to a white Christmas?
When I got home numb legs and all I jumped in the shower threw the clothes in the wash and learned how to prepare and cook a turkey. My folkshave started getting their turkeys from a local fresh turkey farm and they really have been coming out nice. I feel confident that if necessary I could prepare a full Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade gravey and whatever else is necessary for my family. We'll see how much I remember next year when they ask for my help with dinner again.
Friday, December 22, 2006
After arriving as I was standing in awe at the amazing facilities this shelter provides I was introduced to the volunteer who would be ‘teaching’ the dog walking ‘course’ and being the only ‘student’ for the day we set off into the shelter to see how things worked. The dog “kennel” area is absolutely amazing; the individual spaces for the dogs all include a good sized area for the animals to move around in, a bed that flips down or up for more space, a heated floor (half heated half not for if a dog has lots of fur or is a short hair dog that gets cold easily), double opening doors so it is easy to open the top half to say hello and socialize without letting them out, another door in the back to allow dogs to enter a center ‘runway’ area where the dog can socialize with a dog back behind them and finally the most extravagant part, flowing water over a glass top over all of the kennels which is meant to act as a calming device for the dogs. While some of this seems at first thought over the top I think over all it really makes a difference and if nothing else shows that this shelter strays from the norm and really honestly cares about the animals it brings in to care for.
I think the end result really is positive for both the animals and the people adopting since the love and affection the dogs receive while in this shelter will help them to be better pets then if they were in the typical kennel set up, both cold and unfriendly in my previous experiences. Anyway, we went through the shelter while she told me how everything works and what needed to be done when coming in to walk the dogs as I peered into the doggie ‘condos’ you might call them at the cute and hopeful eyes staring back out at us. I think this may be even harder then I ever imagined possible; the dogs in this shelter are some of the sweetest I have seen certainly ever in a shelter and I’m never going to want to leave without at least two or three of them in tow.
About half way thru the ‘class’ two other people showed up for the ‘training’ and they joined us for the real ‘hands-on training’. We took a couple of tremendously sweet dogs out named Stacey and Violet to the large dog park outside and played ball and just generally had a nice time with them. Stacey was great and would go and jump up on anything she could get onto. She especially liked on of the taller planters which had some dead grass like plant that she would walk around and sit down right on top of. When you would pet her she would kind of roll her body to the side and was just the sweetest little puppy; she’ll be long gone before too long here; I would scoop her up in a heartbeat if only I could.
We then walked a group of three small/medium sized dogs on of which was named Alfredo and was the fluffiest and softest dog I’ve ever seen. He would just kind of fall over on you while you petted him and was a blast as well; apparently he is also big into giving hugs. He however was next to impossible to get a leash on; it sort of seemed like he might be scared of it though I think he may have just been playing. Next we walked the biggest looking dog in the kennel, a 95 pound German Shepard that if you stood up straight would probably be about 6 feet tall. This guy was a sweet heart too; his name is Mars and he is the epitome of a gentle giant. He played with a couple kids for the whole time we were out there and never once even appeared in the slightest a threat to any of them. Plus he walked like a dream, never pulling even once on the leash.
The next dog I walked was probably the hyper dog I’ve ever seen but you could tell he just wanted to play with not a bad or mean bone in his goofy lab body. The volunteer that was training me told me that she refused to walk this dog just because he was so hyper and pulled so hard on the leash that she could not handle him; apparently she was testing me. When I went to put on the leash Larry (that’s the dog’s name) started jumping up and down probably about 4 feet off the ground and it took me a good couple of minutes to get the leash around his neck. Finally I got him lassoed up and off he went dragging me behind him. In Larry’s eyes my sole purpose in life was to throw his tennis ball. Too much fun, especially when he would stuff three of them into his mouth and still try to catch the next one you threw without dropping the others.
Walked a couple more dogs before it was time to go; two more sweet ones that reminded me of the first two we walked and it was time for us to leave. I haven’t had that good of a time for quite a while and really enjoyed the time I spent with each dog there. I think one of the other hardest things I’ll have to deal with is not spending too much time with each dog. The goal is to get as many outside as possible though I know I’m just going to want to keep playing with and getting to know them all so it’ll be tough not to be able to spend the extended QT with each one. That said it will probably be much better if I don’t; then the whole leaving thing. I’m sure watching them get adopted will be a little easier as well.
Next Thursday I go back for my official orientation training and then I’ll officially be a dog walker and can start going in and taking the dogs out. I can’t wait to start, last night was just so much fun and I think this will be one of the greatest stress busters of all time.
Sorry for the novel today, I just had such a great experience and had to share it; I suggest anyone who is an animal lover should go and check this shelter out and consider volunteering; not only can you help out tremendously but you also get so much back from these animals and the people who work and volunteer alongside you.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
This is more sad then interesting…:
Cycling declines in Asia, on rise in Europe - Good for Europe but I certainly wish Asia could learn from the rest of the worlds' mistakes; and I don't mean just about cycling.
Alright, I guess I should change this category to sad or depressing:
NY Times Article - Discusses the ways companies are 'dealing with' the pollution their overseas factories porduce... ie... Asia).
Here we go, this one is interesting in a more uplifting way:
NBC Green News - Talks about a 'green' specialty store downtown DC for holiday gifts this season.
Excellent: After reviewing my post, I've realized that cicle.org does not allow direct links to the full stories they post under their selected headlines sections so for the next three links and the very first link they are all listed under the Handpicked Headlines and Commentary section:
These should be everywhere:
New German Community Models Car-free Living - I think this community has been linked/discussed/praised/desired on almost every bike blog I read in some way.
Hmmm… maybe this means there is still hope for me yet:
Steam in the streets of Milwaukee - Hah, if only.
Now this would be a pretty ideal way to live. I may actually be in the market for a cycling trailer soon for touring rides…:
Ithaca family pedals for sustainability -This is a very promising article, especially when looking at the stats for the community as a whole. I know it is not a large city but its is a start.
A bunch of bloggers I read frequently highlighted by a blogger I read frequently:
Freewheeling Spirit - Excellent Blog by the way.
Two of my favorite things combined:
Charlie Brown Cristmas combined with Scrubs - One of the best comedies on tv mixed with one of the greatest christmas stories of all time.
A little more holiday humor:
Just a couple of Holiday cartoons to get you in the mood, or at least get a little smile.
Merry Holidays All!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Unfortunately the downtown area has never been a big draw like the neighboring areas of South Side and Oakland; the shops that were there would be closed on weekends and early on weeknights. There are no large condo or apartment buildings in the downtown area as most of the high rises there are reserved as office buildings. This leaves people no reason to make a trip downtown other then to visit the park at the point where the Allegheny and the Monongahela meet to form the Ohio River.
As Chris mentioned the development of the North Side shore, where there used to be old run down warehouses and other buildings there now stand beautiful urban condo and apartment complexes, either refurbished within the buildings or rebuilt from the ground up. Pittsburgh is working hard to redefine itself as a center for economic development and a city for young people. It appears to me that they are certainly on the path in the right direction in most of the aspects, though the economic position of the city is still ‘under construction’.
I think reading Chris’ post this morning really just touched off a nerve for me of missing Pittsburgh and the people there. I’m hoping to make it up there relatively soon to visit the many friends I still have there and hopefully this time I’ll get to bring my bike up with me. While I sort of detest hills, there is plenty of practice to be had one them in Pittsburgh.
On a much less-heartening note; China and India are definitely not learning from the problems of the rest of the world as their cities continue to sprawl across the land and the citizens quickly move away from their bicycles and towards cars. It’s so sad that while we’re here fighting for more bike lanes they are turning bike lanes into additional car lanes. China is going to get hit hard very quickly considering their population and they are going to need to do some serious rethinking of their transportation and development policies.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I must admit that I am a huge fan of bicycle shopping; there are always more bikes to look at and lust over and just because I’m out helping my friends shop for them doesn’t mean I can still lust myself. I have however been somewhat guilty of pushing my friends towards the bikes that I would get if I were getting a bike, ie… expensive, fast and specialized bikes that may not be what they are looking for. That said, I still found it hard not to suggest they both look at cyclo cross bikes since they both are looking for bikes that they can ride all over the city streets but can still hop on the C&O Canal from time to time for a pleasant cruise.
I know they would be fine with getting simple hybrids but c’mon, where’s the fun in that? Not to mention, I’m just not that big a fan of hybrids in the first place. So, I basically pointed out the WSD road bikes and when I saw the Surly Cross Check for only $850 I gawked. The size was about right and the bike itself seemed sturdy and clean. A perfect city bike if I ever saw one (if of course you are into having gears on your city bike).
So, Amanda got on the Surly and Swan got on the Specialized Allez WSD (mainly because they did not have the Surly in a small enough size I think) and we went out a tooled around the streets. Sweet, two more urban cyclists whom I would like to take at least a little tiny bit of credit for. It now looks like the Surly will not be purchases due to an ex-bf bike racer who has some other things in mind and may be able to offer bigger discounts on higher end bikes, but I think her mind is set on the cyclo cross variety.
Swan on the other hand is still up in the air but sent me a craigslist posting (http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/bik/250504598.html I can't get the picture to upload right now for whatever reason) the other day asking for my opinion. My response? “SWEET!” This bike is tight! It is; another perfect example of an urban stallion. My take on it: replace the seat, wheels and tires basically just because they will need to be, throw a single speed rear on there, swap out the front for a single and make it a tight new street bike. Maybe add a little personalization to it; make it fun. I see the new hotness in this bike; that eagle image is just too sweet. Hopefully she doesn’t feel too pressured into getting some ridiculously expensive specialized racing bike after our shopping experience though; now I think I’d rather apply the pressure to get the single speed/fixie variety. Go peer pressure!
On Friday evening we braved the rush hour weekend special of traffic and made it to the Falls Road Running store just after the 6pm cut off time which they informed us was the end all be all but were happy to see them still open and handing out race packets. We picked up our shirts and numbers and headed to Little Italy for dinner. Stayed the night at my folks’ house where my mother made fun of me and my friends were amused by the pictures on the walls. (Yes I had a beard in essentially all of them). Woke at the crack of dawn and headed to Baltimore to find the race and after walking a quarter of the course found the starting line where the race was just about to go off. Just managed to get my chip and hop back up near the front of the line for the starting gun.
The race started off uphill, and when I say uphill I MEAN UPHILL; about 1/3 to ¾ of a mile up a steep hill and then a rolling course the rest of the way other then about a mile loop around a lake. The finish did include going down the big hill and for the first time I seemed to figure out how to run quickly and controlled down a steep hill instead of flailing and practically falling down it. I ended the race with long hard strides and finished in about the same per mile time as my previous race, maybe even slightly lower.
After the race we hang around for a while drinking our water, stretching and eating the boxes of grapes they were practically throwing at us at the food tents. The corner we found was so perfect that we never wanted to leave and actually ended up hearing part of the awards ceremony which I’ve never stayed around long enough to witness before. Afterwards a champions (at least of an eating contest) breakfast was had at a nice little dinner in Silver Spring and on home to recover; more from the eating then the running.
I will be running this race again; oh and the shirts kick ass!
Friday, December 15, 2006
I am really excited about this new trail that is currently being completed basically as an extension of the C & O Canal. I never really even knew about the whole project until recently but I think this is great that people are seeing the value in investing in this kind of infrastructure. For most people I would imagine this will mostly be viewed as a recreational trail and that kind of thing this spring I plan on taking a couple of days off and biking the entire way from DC to Pittsburgh and maybe back though I haven’t decided on that one yet.
A friend of mine did it I believe a year ago and said it was really nice (though they had to take a lot of detours for where the trail was still being built) and I think it could be a lot of fun with the right crew. Plus I have every reason to go to Pittsburgh to visit friends up there so this will just be a great (and inexpensive) vacation for me next year. All I need to do is invest in some panniers for the old hard tail (though it will be heavy) and camp out one night along the way. It should be an excellent time.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The second and most prevalent obstacle for the new rider is the gear; that crap is expensive! I mean a good jersey costs at least $60 bucks and you can't just survive on one jersey. Unless of course you feel like doing laundry every single night especially as a commuter. Then there are the shorts, where a good pair that actually help on long rides costs around the same as the jerseys. That's not even getting into things like socks, shoes, pedals water bottles, tires, tubes and of course the bike itself. (Oh and those guys have some sweet kit; my little ebay ordered trek team jersey stands out like a sore thumb).
Now to make this all worse it's friggin freezing out there now. This morning for my commute I wore a long sleeve base layer shirt, three short sleeve jersey's and a long sleeve jersey and was an absolute icicle when I got to work. That was almost every single piece of cycling gear I own too! I rode during lunch with just about the same get up on though I added some arm warmers to the mix and so when I went to get dressed for the commute home I realized my base layer long sleeve shirt was still sweaty from lunch; so much for that one. The ride home was cold to say the least, though the fleece lined arm warmers were quite helpfull.
On a slightly different note, this morning on my commute in to work I was riding down 9th St NW right next to the convention center when someone behind me starts honking. I turn around and there is a big Chrysler 300M driving down the center of the road half way in each of the two lanes going south down the road. At first I assumed he was honking for something else but then I realize he's honking at me because I am riding on the street. Now I am almost always very good about taking up only the amount of space I need to be clear of car doors and giving cars plenty of space to get around me and this morning was no different. I throw my arm up as if to ask what he wants and he honks again and speeds around me (I of course respond by giving him the finger and riding on).
The great thing is that he then pulled up behind about four or five other cars at a stop light that he was going to sit at whether I was there or not. I was tempted to stop next to his window and tell him off but thought better or if it and rode up to the light and on my way. He never got any where near me again after that as the traffic around 9th and Mass is always pretty heavy and I breezed through pretty quickly on my bike. That though was prime example of how it seems most people view bikes on the roads which is such a sad thing.
Besides the whole environmental impact aspects of cycing instead of driving cyclists should be considered a blessing by those people who feel they absolutely must take their cars to and from work in the city. That's one less car off the road and lets face it, in no way this morning did I slow a single person down on their way to work. Car traffic on the other hand, now that's another story. People driving cars should be happy to see another cyclist on the road; they don't cause the congestion of cars, they are easy to pass and while cause only the slightest delay when passing is neccessary and we don't take up any parking spaces (unless you count one car space removed for five to ten bikes being parked).
All in all its a win-win situation; unless of course some idiot drivers road rage causes him to hit a cyclist because he might have had to slow down for a couple of seconds before he could get around him.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Today, sniffling aside I came in and have spent a relatively productive, though extremely drowsy day catching up on what I missed yesterday. During lunch instead of attempting to keep up with heavy hitters down at Hains on my fixie I took a short and very slow run down to the national memorial and back. I was pretty surprised by the fact that I was just fine in sleeves, shorts, gloves and fleece hat though it was probably the hat that did the most good for me.
I’ve recently decided to begin another blog to document my progress in teaching myself to become a photographer as inspired by Swan. It will probably be a while (if ever) until I post anything worth looking at but feel free to check in regularly as I will hopefully be posting regularly there. This morning however as I was walking to the metro, I realized I am somewhat self-conscious when it comes to taking random pictures while wondering around this city. As I got to a point where I had wanted to take a picture, someone walked out of their apartment and I decided I didn’t want to take the picture right then. I’m not really sure why I felt this way, I certainly was not embarrassed or anything. It’s probably just because I don’t feel like a photographer and all with my little Casio exelim digital pocket sized camera. Oh well, I guess I’ll get over it soon enough.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Only notable thing so far this week is that a friend of mine here at work named Erik found this posting on Craigslist under the women seeking men section and sent it along and told me I had to respond. He said something about living vicariously through me. Anyway, if you look at those you probably noticed this one. A 23 year old athletic girl who recently moved from the west coast and I’m sure has already received over 1000 replies to her ad. I’ll keep you posted though I doubt I’ll hear anything. I’ve never responded to one of those things so I’m not really sure if I did well with my response or not. My email subject was “I hope you’re not a UCLA fan” and I sent a picture of me at the Rose bowl with my SC jersey on…
Monday, November 20, 2006
All in all Prom 2006 was an absolute blast; held by my friends Thoreau and Kristin at their amazing apartment and including everything from the balloon arch to the flying banner on the building outside,;oh yeah and the picture backdrop for couples pictures too. I made Prom Court but was cheated out of the win after only something like 4 people voted for me. You know it's kind of like the national election system; way too much power is left to the voting public sometimes...
Sort of scary to a city biker; now I know to be weary of not only all BMW's but also Cabs while I ride.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
I haven't cooked for people in a long time and it was a lot of fun doing it even though I get a bit flustered sometimes with it. All of the food turned out extremely well and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. My alfredo sauce seemed to be extra popular (maybe bacause those folks were vegetarians) but what was really great about it was that while it was a good creamy sauce it still only had a few grams of fat per serving. I've started my marathon training diet so I'm trying to pay close attention to what I'm eating for that. Some people might find that excessive I find that going for the entire training program including diet helps me stay focused and keeps me
Sunday after the run (and the half hour thawing shower) my friend Mandie who also ran had a few of us over for Brunch for which she got her hands on a Belgain waffle maker... Boy am I jealous. Then Sunday night another friend Krista had a prethanksgiving day feast at her place with a packed house and tons of great food. Love that!
Oh yeah, and as inspired by my good friend Swan and her great photographing abilities I've been keeping my eyes open for interesting and cool shots which I will share from time to time. While I am no photographer by any means I will do what I can. Below is a shot I took walking home from Mandie's in the rain in Dupont circle. Unfortunately the light was not great and so the picture was not quite as nice as these from the day before but oh well.
The race itself was a ton of fun and being the first road race I have run in since I was in elementary school I ran nice and easy and enjoyed the company of the other runners. When we first got to the starting area however it was only about 7:30 and it was raining and about 40 degrees so it wasn’t the most pleasant waiting experience. To make this worse there were only about three or four tents set up which were essentially taken up by the announcer and equipment, organizers and registration tables and the food and drink so there was not a lot of room to huddle outside of the rain. The worst thing however was that the bag check area was simply a long line of tables and the open grass behind them for the bag storage with absolutely no cover whatsoever. I’m just glad my big old Timbuk2 bag is waterproof (though water still managed to come in along the sides…)
Once the race got going everything was back to good as we quickly warmed up running along with the wind and actually beginning to enjoy splashing through the puddles along the road. There were a couple of brave supporters out to cheer on the runners and some even more wonderful volunteers along the route to do the same and direct us the right way. The course was nice although a bit boring for me since I cycle at Hains Point once or twice a week and while I was worried before hand about the wind it actually seemed to help me out during the race. I knew when it was at my back of course and tried to take full advantage of when I could but then when I was running into it I was able to really use it as a strong motivator to get me moving faster. The entire race I was basically moving up on and running through people, especially since I began the race at a much slower pace for the first 1 ½ miles then I ended up running the rest of it at. Then when I got into the strong headwinds I was able to motivate myself to run harder through them while I could see other people letting up a bit, passing those people and setting my sights on the next people.
While I am typically not one to be terribly competitive, or at least I attempt not to be I could feel the competitive drive taking over throughout the race. Like when I was actively picking people in front of me off as I ran both headwind and tailwind, and especially for about a mile or so towards the end of the race. Through the final stretch beginning a little after the 4 mile mark as I ran around a group on their left I noticed a smaller women speed up along the right of the group as I began to pass and then she ended up sticking with me through the next few groups I passed. After a little bit I decided I’d start using this as a little bit of fuel and try to loose her and so I started to pick it up a little only to see her pull up a tiny bit ahead of me. We got to a bridge with about as much of an incline as we’d get in the race and I made my move and accelerated up and over the bridge. Then I kept my pace up under the next two over passes and began to pick it up for the final half mile or so. I think I lost her on the bridge but I never thought to look back at the finish to see if she finished near me or anything.
As for my time, eh not terribly great but I got a great feeling for a 10K and the type of pace I can expect to run them at. For the Jingle all the Way 10K my goal will be below 45 minutes; oh and my strategy? Making sure my shoes are well tied before the race and starting out at a better pace and then gradually increasing from there on. I’m entirely addicted to road racing now and while I never win a race, I will always enjoy running them.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
That said I was not planning on voting on Tuesday; even as I got to work Tuesday morning I had no intentions of dragging myself to a polling booth. I’m sorry for that; I guarantee I will never try that again. After getting in to work I decided I couldn’t let myself get away with this so after confirming that my mother (yes I know… “mommy can you come pick me up?”) could not come get me at a metro station I rented a Flexcar for the afternoon/evening and drove up to Columbia, Md to enter my vote. I then spent the rest of the morning researching the local candidates I would be choosing between since I already knew my major choices.
I’ve got to say, after only voting one time before in my life in 2004 for the loosing candidate it felt good to really have a vote that counted as I watched CNN predict Cardin as the winner for the Senate. This was quite a fulfilling election.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Not quite yet though; today for my official marathon training I needed to do a four mile run. Simple, four miles I can break out like that and it there I would be on schedule. However, since I ran 5 1/2 or so on Monday (only supposed to do 2, 19 week training program here) I needed to go above and beyond again for the "long" run for the week. So today I went out with the mindset I would run till I felt like I should turn back and then run back. Went well except for that little thing called my own head. When I do this kind of run I like to think I could just go out and run forever so I never know when to really call it quits for the way out. Today I ran out to Connecticut Ave. and up to the Zoo and thru it and then took off going up Beach drive till I got about a mile and a half past Military Road which is something along the lines of 5 1/2 to 6 miles, one way of course. By the time I got back to the zoo my legs were kind of tired and I ended up stopping around there and walking up Adams Mill Road to get back home.
Not a terrible thing although I did bite off a little bit more then I could chew and it was way to cold to be trying to walk a mile or two in a soaking wet under armor shirt (which was perfect by the way for the long run with the blood pumping). Thought I was going to have pneumonia by the time I got back home.
The really bad thing however is that my sore ass legs are going to still have to get up tomorrow morning for the 25 to 30 mile bike ride I promised to my friend who is in the final stages of her century ride training. Sweet, oh yeah and since I stayed in last night I'm itching to go out tonight and am probably heading out to Chloe for a friends birthday party folloed by a clus for some dancing. Oh how my legs will love me after this one. I think I may be making myself take monday off from at least the lunch time ride down at hains point... well, that is if the weather is really bad.
Friday, November 03, 2006
The crew including many of the originals (greatly missing the lost soul Jeff to the Southland)
Our presents from the greatest bartender ever...
Isn't it great to be a regular?
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
At one point when I came back into the store a couple of young boys had come in and were obviously well known by the staff. I sat down and tried on another pair of shoes and when I stood up and turned around Mr. Fenty was standing in the doorway of the store. Apparently his mother is the owner and those were his little kids running around on their Halloween sugar highs. Now I’m not one to gush over people with “celebrity status” or anything, I would usually just try to act like they are just some regular person but I guess I was a bit shocked to see him there last night. At one point while I watched him attempting to control his kids he looked up with a bit of an exasperated look on his face and I said, “pretty soon you’ll be running a city and trying to control them too”. He gave me a funny look and laughed.
I’m a dork.
My shoes are great though so far. I got up this morning (extremely hung over of course from the Halloween festivities from the night before) and ran in to work since I’d left my bike there the night before. It was a pretty reasonable run despite the hang over factor. A nice 3.5 mile run in the morning is just about right for where I should be in my marathon training program so I’ll probably start doing that more often. The only bad thing was that my soap kept bouncing around in its soap box in my backpack. That was a little annoying.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Went for my first training run today, hah I'm obviously overly pumped up for this. I ran about 6 miles up Conn Ave and down through the Zoo then along Beach Dr and back up through the Zoo and back home and felt great. Its nice to see that the other training I do certainly effects the shape I'm in (sometimes I wonder when cycling doesn't really kill the love handles like cutting weight for lightweight rowing used to). Now I just need to figure out how to keep myself excited about this and keep up the training until race time. Pat has offered to at least run with me though he says he is not going to do the marathon. We'll see about that. I think the goal here will be to complete at least one marathon a year and maybe do more if the firt one goes well. It seems like a ton of fun and watching some of the people cross the finish line on Sunday I just wanted to do it so badly.
The bad parts of the marathon: We went to Madison Ave. in front of the National Gallery of Art to watch the racers and cheer Cole on at about the half way point but after watching almost the entire marathon go by (I literally watched the first place runner go by with the police escort and then saw some of the people who looked like they would walk at least half of the marathon) and still no site of Cole or either of the other two people I knew that were in the race we decided to go to the finish to try and salvage our watching experience. We did get to watch Cole across the finish but it really sucked that we missed him running by. We decided that when we run the shaqmrock one we'll be wearing something that makes us stand out; one guy yesterday wore a big foam cowboy hat throughout the enitre race. We'll see about that, we may just go for bright pink shirts since everyone else will be in green. Plenty of time to figure it out.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Next thing we knew we're around the corner and the line loops all the way down almost to the stadium and then back nearly to the metro and then back down half way to the stadium and then finally into the complex. Wow, that's like theme park long. Luckily the weather was reasonable though a bit windy and the time went by quickly. We got inside and there were people every where and vendors galore. Got some free stuff and was handed more marathon flyers then I even knew exhisted and was pitched a totally new type of running shoe where instead of heal shock absorbing shoes you role over on your toe... Sounds fun, but the guy seriously needed to chill; he was trying a bit too hard.
Came home after that and started drinking and playing (or rather getting my ass kicked) in boggle and now getting ready to get all dolled up for halloween and do it up. Hopefully I'll be alright to get out of bed tomorrow and see Cole run, and of course hopefully the 16 miles of prep he's completed in training will be enough to get him thru the 26.2 miles of the marathon tomorrow... fingers are crossed that I don't have to go meet him at the hospital tomorrow...
Someday I'll run a marathon... yuengling sponsers one on St Patty's day, of course with a huge party afterwards... :)
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
What bothered me most in what I found was that people who are my age; generation y or whatever you will call us still seem to be unable to grasp that the world is changing and so much of what the Bush administration stands for is what is wrong with this world. I always thought that my generation would be the most open minded and understanding generation from all the exposure that we have had to the world and the war and everything else that is going on.
Instead what we find is that the American people are so fat on their own lives and things that as long as it doesn't hit our pocket books too hard then we'll just keep our voices and our actions to ourselves (though after $336 Billion and counting for the war, I'm not sure what other then the price of a gallon of gas could possibly effect our pocket books that much).
That statement goes for the corruption and overall bullshit that goes on in congress everyday as well. I'm not claiming to be louder or more active or anything here and quite frankly I wouldn't know where to start, especially with a president in office who apparently can get away with anything he'd like no matter what the people who elected him say. If only they could plant a 16 year old boy scandal...
This is what leaves me feeling hopeless; Barack Obama on the other hand shines as one of the few tiny glimmers of hope our entire political system has.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Today since last week was so crazy I decided to take a half day and spent the afternoon down at hains point (freezing) with the normal lunch time cyclists eating Brats and chicken provided by Scott and the Racing Union. It was a really nice thing they did and people really seemed to appreciate it; most of these guys have never seen each other without a helmet and oakleys on so that was also a bit different. One of the members of the racing union named Josh recently began chemo therapy and has just finished his second round and managed to make it out for the event. What an amazing guy; a few weeks ago, right before he started he came out on a Thursday evening and we spun around at Hains Point for a while just chatting and enjoying the day and then two Fridays ago, after his first chemo session he made it out and we rode up to Bethesda for a bagel run (Bethesda Bagel shop baby). Absolutely amazing. It looks like we'll hopefully make it out for another run later this week and he is eager and raring to go again.
The emotional stregth this guy has is incredible and more then a little bit inspiring; I know he will slow down as the chemo progresses but the fact that he is coming out right now and with spirits as high as his are it's just incredible to see. I wish him the vary best and can only hope that I can someday be half the person that he is.
Today I took the second half of the day off after a long and busy week of work last week. After reading an article in TIME magazine about Barrack Obama possibly running for president (yes I know it is more of a pr stunt to help promote his book and probably means nothing at this point) it got my mind working a little bit. When I got home from work I logged into good old Facebook to see what kind of groups there might be in the younger social networking scene in support of this truely up and coming congressman. I found one group titled "Barrack Obama for President 2008... If Only" with less then 100 members in it... If only??? Come on; and this is the only group I could find with even this kind of idea and this is supposed to be the "rock star" of the Democratic party according to the TIME article, yet college kids don't even give him the time of day on one of the most popular social networking sites which includes groups such as one with several hundred members claiming that President Bush should have his face added to Mt Rushmore... WTF!!! (I'll get back to that...)
While it is probably a long shot and while I also can't claim to know where he stands on many of the issues (his track record in this do nothing congress doesn't help with this) I think Barrack could just be the fresh breath this country needs after what I think could be the most disasterous and dangerous 8 years of foreign policy this country has ever seen. Maybe we need someone young and "less experienced", especially if less experienced means less corrupt and ruined by our current political environment (this is a nonpartisan bashing at this point). A "young man" who is not yet bought out by the major corporations of our society and steal believes he can change the world (or at least our stumbling country). He's certainly got a far better start then the Cheney administration with Bush and his hands in the oil industry and Cheney and his with Haliburton...
At this point in time I am ready to beg Mr. Obama to run for president in 2008; while the democratic party has a number of very strong candidates possible I think the strongest of those would still remain a long shot. Hillary I believe is seen as too extreme and I am afraid many people would still be unwilling to embrace the isea of a woman president which in this upcoming presidential election would be a tremendous risk considering the possible alternative. Barrack appears to appeal to such a wide range of people and he seems to have proved he has the ability to bring the sides together through his work in congress. I think that a fresh new face for America could work wonders for our world wide image and a new foreign policy with a little less emphasis on whats best for us and a little more emphasis on the world in need could be just what the future of this country needs if it is going to survive to see my generations grand-children. At the rate we are currently going though there is too much ever growing hate for America to have any faith in the safety of our children in this country.
Ok, I'm stopping on this here because I can't even get to the issue I wanted to discuss without getting so frustrated that I fail to make sense and fluster from topic to topic... Maybe some day I'll manage to make it all the way through and maybe I'll even make a point.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I rode my bike down to Gallery Place to meet some people though and when I left after the movie I passed another cyclist going up 7th and then met up with her at a light. She asked a question about what was going on down there to make it so busy and we ended up getting into a little bit of a conversation and then when it turned out she was going to Columbia Heights, just up the road from me we ended up riding to Adams Morgan together where we went our seperate ways. I thought that was pretty nice; not your typical everyday situation that you would come across during a bike commute, at least not in my experience at least.
There is where I would like to steal an approach which I really like from Grateful Dating...
Tonight I am Grateful for: Friendly People and Cycling
Friday, October 20, 2006
I guess I can now understand a little bit about what it must be like to be a lawyer. Longest and busiest week of my career that's for sure. 10 + hour days are tough man!
Wanted to post all week but by the time I got home from work all week I had no desire to sit and actually do it so here I am a week later. Last weekend was pretty sweet. Friday and Saturday were fun, the highlight being a wine tasting fundraiser for my friend Lauren who is in training with a group (benefiting the lymphoma and leukemia foundation) to do a century (100 mile) bike ride in Arizona. It's a pretty sweet thing and I definitely think I'm going to get into it some day soon.
On Sunday I went out with some guys from the Racing Union for a great ride out in Loudon County VA. The weather was great even though it was a chilly 34 degrees when I left my house at 7:30am for the ride. I ended up meeting one of the guys out at the corner of Columbia and 18th street to ride out to Vienna, VA where we would meet Scott and would get a ride out to the house where the ride was leaving from, but I was late and then had to stop to flip my wheel over from fixed to free wheel and Scott picked us up a little bit before Vienna. The ride itself was great and I found the Custis Trail is a great ride and goes out quite a ways. Will keep that in mind for future rides (though I can see where it'll get pretty over crowded on weekends and what not).
The Loudon ride was great as well; miles on miles of rolling hills; chasing geared racers on my little sinle speed... I kept up pretty well and really think I could almost hang with these guys on a bike with gears. I'm all about getting on one and getting out there with one. Scott proposed I join the Racing Union and so now I am considering joining; the guys are all really cool and really nice and seem to be more then happy to welcome me to the group and basically just support the bicycle cause which is great. I think I've got a ways to go on the rhetoric and "language" of of the Union but I think I could learn... If nothing else I'll definitely continue to ride with these guys and learn the basics, not to mention the Friday Bagel rides...
Friday, October 13, 2006
Now it turns out I'll be joining a bunch f the same guys for a longer ride on Sunday out in Loudon County which should be pretty sweet. It does mean I'll have to get in relatively early on Saturday night and forget the debauchery which I was planning after my shitty week but, all in all this is probably a good thing. Besides, tonight I'm already nearly a bottle deep tonight and plan on heading out with the roomie for a wild night tonight.
One of the coolest things though was the email I was CC'd to by my coworker Scott who said to his team he'd like to propose I join his bike club; pretty sweet and somewhat unexpected, though I was thinking of asking about it sometime soon. The fact that he'd give me that kind of recognition was pretty sweet and I have no doubt I'll probably join. I've thought about that for the last year wondering if I would be able to join his team but never thought it was something he thought about so that was a pretty sweet feeling for me. At least a slight ego boost for me here after my second dumping in a row is a good thing...
Now to continue with my boozing...
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
It hurts no matter how long I've known it was coming; even though I've been saying since Alabama that it was coming. It would have been so much easier if I just could have known sooner, then I wouldn't have had to wait for two weeks expecting it but every once in a while getting that little bit of hope inside and a flutter in my stomach thinking that just maybe it's cool. I said maybe she's just really comfortable with me and is not worried about it all... what is she not worried about because she is so comfortable, not caring to see me? Yeah that makes since, oh well the achey heart will take any side possible other then the one where it breaks.
The worst thing about this one is that it really does hurt; I was straight up nervous when I was waiting, I guess just because I knew but I think also because there was still some hope in there too. But now she's releived and I'm just here not really able to do anything to feel better; I became a woman and ate a half a thing of sherbet but apparently that doesn't work. TV helps cause you don't think about it but tv sucks tonight, so I'm going to bed hopefully to sleep. I think it's time for that hiatus I told someone else about recently.
Monday, October 09, 2006
I haven't had a trip to Pittsburgh that was that much fun for over a year, especially since last year my car broke down half way there and then I proceeded to get trashed after the race and not remember the majority of the night. In a couple of weeks three of the guys from the boat will be in town to run in the marathon here in DC so two will be staying here at my place and so I'll be looking forward to hanging out with them again. I really wish I could be closer with these guys though; they really were by far my closest friends in college and I just enjoy their company so much. I'm jealous of the guys that live there in Pittsburgh but know I couldn't stand moving back there. There probably wouldn't be any jobs for me there plus the weather is so hard to deal with. It is always cloudy and rains so much, that said however I could get a place just like mine in a similarly amazing location for about half the price I pay... Ah well, I guess I'll just have to convince some people to move to DC/VA/MD or something.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
So, a couple of recent things... Last Friday I was hit on my bike (new fixie : ( ...) while riding to work (hung over of course after two of the large beer steins at Gordon Birsch and then multiple pints at the Reef after that). It was entirely my fault and in all honesty I should probably be dead but luckily an attentive driver was behind the wheel of the U-Haul sized truck that hit me. As I rode down 18th street before getting hit I was thinking about how dazed and out of it I was and that I needed to be extra careful but I mean c'mon, it was a beautiful morning and I couldn't pass up the ride into work.
When I was about 2 minutes from work I decided to drive through a lane of grid-locked stopped traffic to ride down on the far side of them when suddenly there is another lane and this truck bearing down on me, or actually more correctly hitting me since that was the first time I noticed it. When he hit me I somehow managed not to fall off the bike or anything but just kept riding where I wanted to go then looked back at him like he was crazy and rode away... Obviously still dazed and not realizing what really happened till a minute or two later. Later on Tuesday morning after being out of town for the weekend I realized that I had bent the crap out of my back wheel in the process of being hit... Damn, here comes a new wheel set. The bike is ok right now but when I got the wheel straightened the mechanic told me that my hub was completely ruined anyway (which I sort of have been suspecting) and I needed to get a new wheel and hub at this point.
Over the weekend a group of friends and I drove 13 hours to Alabama to visit our good friend Jeff who moved down to the south a few months ago and spent a nice relaxing country weekend there. Perfect weather, amazing sunsets and of course, "Bull Dog Smackin' Good BBQ". (Sorry I can't find the restaurant anywhere online but it was damn good...)
This weekend it's off to Pittsburgh (for my third weekend off traveling in a row, another reason posts have been lacking so much) to race in an alumni 8 at the Head of the Ohio on Saturday. I'm a bit nervous about this considering I have only rowed twice since I graduated in May of '05 though both of those times things went well. I guess I'll just hope I can make it the 2.6 miles without croaking. Alright that's it for now, hopefully I'll manage this blog a bit better for a while and maybe I'll just start using this to post about all the other things I'd like to go off on... We'll see.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
My father had warned us about our grandmother's shape but I don't think we really knew what to expect in reality; I definitely did not expect what we saw. When we walked in the building she was sitting in the otherwise deserted lobby asleep in an arm chair with her mouth hanging open. Pretty cute actually. We went over and woke her up to say hello and she had a big coloring book in her lap with crayons lined up on the table next to her. My father started talking to her but we quickly saw that that was hardly possible since she couldn't seem to really hear or comprehend what he was saying. We all watched while he slowly repeated extremely simplified questions at least five or six times with the result being him just giving up and her starring blankly at him. He turned to us and said the majority of this visit would probably involve staring and smiling.
She didn't remember us at all; not surprising to me since I've seen her maybe once every 4 or 5 years for most of my life and nothing more. My cousin Gwen showed up as well to visit and when she didn't recognize her you could see that she was upset. Gwen spent all of her childhood and most of her college years around her and she still did not remember her at all. She did seem to remember my father, or at least that he had come by which must have been nice for him to know.
After the visit we went to my aunt's house for a family BBQ with a handful of cousins and their kids, the majority of whom I have not seen since I was in middle school. Wow, apparently time changes things. My cousin J who used to be huge (tall) was only 6' 2" (I'm 6') while my cousin Gwen has two kids and a husband. Oh and my Aunt got remarried after her husband (our favorite uncle) passed away; sort of sucks to see this new guy, plus he's certainly no Uncle John. Anyway, dealt with kids for the first time in like 5 years which was fun; I was a little scared I wouldn't know how to deal with them but I think I did alright.
Saturday night we got the somewhat expected news that my sister's fiance's grandfather had passed away so we changed our flight plans to leave Sunday evening so that he could drive out for the funeral and I got home late Sunday night. It was really good to see the family finally and see how everyone is doing. It's been such a long time so it was good to catch up and see the kids and find out what everyone is up to now. I was surprised to know that J and Gwen both live on farms and have horses and chickens and goats and all kinds of fun stuff. They look at me funny since I'm a city kid and my cousin J pointed out the fact that we "live with all them liberals down their in Maryland and DC."
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Last night after frisbee I met up with a friend who was playing kickball a little down the mall and although I was entirely planning on heading home and going bed early I was convinced to go to Irish Times to witness the post kickball debauchery that takes place at the basement bar. Wow! I thought the softball team we played and drink with afterwards at Madhatters was crazy, these guys were a whole other league of crazy.
I've always kind of shunned the kickball leagues here since everyone knows that everyone just plays for the drinking afterwards (maybe I should have been less suprised by the events at the bar). Tonight though they seemed like fun people and really twisted my arm (mostly with the flip cup that would be going on). I always preferred to actually play a sport that involves true physical exertion and maybe even a hint of athleticism as well; hence my love for frisbee. My opinion has officially changed as of last night.
When I got down to the basement there was already a game of flip cup going on which I watched with amazement as the bushwackers wrecked their opponents without a hint of effort and then spent more time celebrating by cheering, dancing, screaming and hoisting fellow teammates after each round then they probably did running the bases in the game. The flip cup continued on through with night with about 4 or 6 different teams maning the tables. At one point there was what was at least a 20 on 20 game going on that was impressively competitive. As the night wore on and the beer continued to flow there was a migration of people to the dance floor while the 80's music blared overhead. Just imagine a bunch of 20 to 30 somethings wearing gym shorts and sweaty t-shirts shouting out the lyrics to songs like baby got back and don't stop believing. Yeah, now THAT's a party!