Monthly Archives: January 2012

Wow, free food!

You come home from Walmart and find that they didn’t charge you for one of your items. Do you go back and ask them to please put it on your credit card? Probably not, unless you’re that rare person who is just goodness to the core. But you probably also feel a little guilty about it.

What if it’s your favorite local bike shop? Or your favorite local grocery store?

I came home from my local Heinen’s grocery and found that another customer’s bag somehow got mixed in with mine. When I opened it there was that initial moment of disorientation: huh? when did I buy a pound-and-a-half of salmon filets and pound of ground turkey?

Then I realized what had happened. Wow, free food!

But I like Heinen’s. It’s well run, they have a good product selection, and it’s no more expensive than the big-chain alternative. Both my kids used to work there.

So I called them up and told them what happened. Since it was perishable food, they were not allowed to take it back. Even though it happened just 5 minutes ago. It was mine “to enjoy”.

Wow, free food!

Except. What am I going to do with a pound-and-a-half of salmon filet and a pound of ground turkey? I already have my own “perishable food” to cook and eat.

You’ve heard of “carb loading” before a big event? Well for the next couple days I am “protein loading”, whether I need it or not. Starting with grilling salmon filets out in the snow, along with the chicken and chorizo I had already bought. The leftovers are going to be turned into salmon-scrambled-eggs for breakfast, salmon-and-capers pizza, chorizo and goat cheese pizza, chicken and chorizo … something.

The cat may end up becoming a turkey connoisseur.

And I am going to need to ride extra-long today.

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I often run naked

That was a Twitter response to my “Today I rode naked” post.

Yeah, it’s like that with running too.

I’ve gone from just going out for an easy jog … to wearing a watch … to getting a GPS watch to track distance … to consciously trying to get faster … to doing tempo intervals …

And when my GPS watch stopped working a couple weeks ago, it was at first annoying to not know how fast and how far. Like the run “didn’t count” if I didn’t know how far, exactly. So I went and found another on eBay.

How do we become so neurotic about stuff like this?

One of the reasons I like running — trail running in particular — is that it’s quieter than being on the bike. You don’t have the wind noise, traffic noise, speed, cars buzzing you. But then we go complicate a nice trail run by wanting to monitor and record it.

It’s snowing today. I’ll try running in the snow without worrying about how far or fast, until I don’t feel like running anymore.

***
That “I often run naked” Twitter response came from one of my heroes, Zack Johnson. He somehow manages to find the energy to train for and compete in ultramarathons (including a 100 mile race), organize an ultra team, actually put on a 24 hour race. He put me on his team roster, and I have to say I feel so incredibly inadequate.

He’s also putting on a snowshoe race series — equipment rental available. First race was cancelled, but assuming we do get a real winter soon there are 2 more races scheduled:

http://ohioultratrailrunners.blogspot.com/p/events.html

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Today I rode naked

Naked, as in “no data”. I forgot my bike computer, so for the first time in a long time I rode with no data. No time, speed, power, distance. At first it’s a bit irritating — like the ride isn’t “official” if you’re not recording it. But after a while you’re just riding and not number-chasing.

I used to ride that way most of the off-season. Mainly it was because I was too lazy to mount the speed sensor on the crappy winter bike. I’d have an idea of how long I wanted to ride, picked an approximate route, then would occasionally check my phone for the time. The rest was on feel.

I came to like riding without the numbers staring at me. Having the data is nice for tracking your training, but at the same time it tends to become intrusive. I mean, part of the reason we spend so much time on the bike is because it’s enjoyable being outside.

A power meter makes it even worse. In the interest of making use of the expensive training gadget you have a tendency to make it be “all about the watts”.

It’s like we’re not allowed to admit that it’s just fun to go out and ride (naked).

I may have to start taping over the computer display. At least once in a while.

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Not all car drivers are jerks

This time of year (winter) I make mental notes on “must avoid” roads. They’re usually in crappy condition in the first place, then get even worst after a few freeze-thaw cycles.

One of those mental notes read “Riverview Rd, north of Rt 82 in Brecksville”.

Only I didn’t follow my own advice. In less than a mile I had a rear flat and a derailleur cable that somehow pulled loose. The flat was fixable but I was faced with riding home 30 miles stuck in the 11-cog. With a climb up the Gorge Parkway in Bedford (painful in the 11).

That was before a Good Samaritan stopped, asked if I needed any help, then drove home and came back with an allen wrench so I could reattach the der cable.

Thanks, man. I will pay that one forward.

(PS. really, stay off Riverview Rd. north of Rt 82 in B’ville.)

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I am the only person on earth without a smartphone

I thought it would be clever to write that. Then I googled and saw that it’s been done by at least a couple hundred other people.

Either they’re faux-whining about not being on the latest technology … or slamming people for being addicted to their smartphones … or talking about just how unnecessary it all is.

I could cover all of that.

What made me particularly aware of this was traveling last week. While sitting at the airport, on the plane, and at work functions I realized that I was in fact just about the only person who was not using a smartphone. And not constantly using a smartphone. I felt self-conscious using my dumbphone.

I don’t have anything against them. If someone gave me one, I’d use it. I like technology. I’d try not to be compulsive about it, but I’d use it.

But more than anything I’m cheap. They haven’t given me one for work, and I just can’t justify spending the money out of my own pocket.

Because for cost of the phone and plan I could buy something really useful. Like, oh, a couple cases of wine or new set of wheels. Or entry fees for a year, or …

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Traveling shoes

I used to end up cranky when I had to travel somewhere for work. Traveling usually meant no riding.

If I wanted to get some kind of a workout, it often meant sitting on a crappy exercise bike in a little hotel-basement “fitness center”.

But since I started running more (going on 5 years now) I’m able to easily get an exercise fix when traveling or time crunched. To me this is the prime beauty of running. You just need shoes and a minimal amount of running clothing, a couple of minutes of prep time, and you’re out the door and on the road. You can almost always find somewhere to run, even if it means doing loops around a shopping mall parking lot (had to do that once in Ann Arbor).

And sometimes you stumble on a truly sublime running experience.

This week I was in Chicago for a couple of days. As it turned out, the hotel was downtown, just a couple of blocks from the lakefront. I was able to run out the door and easily find the path that goes for miles along the lakefront.

Side comment: it is just criminal that you are not able to do this in downtown Cleveland.

The doorman at the hotel looked at me like I was crazy. It was only 13 degrees at 7am. “There is a workout center downstairs”, he said.

But you don’t think about 13 degrees when you are running along Lake Michigan and seeing the sun come up on a perfectly clear morning, running out to the end of Navy Pier and then seeing the city skyline on the way back. And passing a handful other people doing the same thing. Crazy? I don’t think so.

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