Friday, September 30, 2011

Big Nut (Giant Acorn Triathlon)

Tomorrow morning is my last triathlon of the season. It's down in Bumpass, VA (you pass a lot of bums on the way). I've never been, but apparently it's an ideal venue to host triathlons because its situated by a nuclear plant. In fact, the water from the lake is man-made, created solely to cool down the plant. So as a race organizer you know you gotta think like..shit, bingo. This is the spot. I know that everything gives you cancer, but maybe you increase your risk a smidge when you swim near a nuclear power plant. Just saying. Gotta be tough for this sport, I tell ya.
In any case, tomorrow the weather is expected to drop from its consistent 70's all week to 50's. 20 degree difference between this week's temperatures and tomorrow. In other words...fucking cold. I also don't have a wetsuit, so unless I steal (I mean buy) one in the next 12 hours, I'm SOL. That's right, I'm changing my name to Sol. Hopefully someone is negligent race morning, and leaves theirs out unattended. That'd be awkward. To wear it and run into him in the water or post-race...heyyyyyy there....

I caught a bit of a cold while in Colorado, but am mostly recovered now. I had some great workouts this week, so if all goes well (no flats, falls, frostbite) I should be in for a good race. I'm trying to put more emphasis on the bike lately, so I don't expect my swim and run to be as strong as before. Strong is relative remember.

Anyway, easy night tonight, maybe a small pizza for dinner and a salad. Then off to bed early for the 3-hour drive tomorrow. Good thing it starts at 10 and not 7....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Missile-Any-Us

I didn't know how to spell the actual word (miscellaneous?), and spell check doesn't work on Blogger titles, so I just got creative. It's also the motto of Leon Panetta FYI...

Anyway, yesterday I had class and we participated in an exercise called Red/Blue. Has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans (or Shawshank). Basically the set-up is as follows: The class is split in half randomly and each team is separated from the other sans communication (one group leaves the room). There are 6 rounds of play. Each round, both teams are required to pick one color - Red or Blue. The color is usually determined by a vote of consensus (but the method doesn't necessarily have to be democratic). The object of the game we were told, was to accrue as many points/money as possible.

Here's how it works: If Team 1 selects Blue and Team 2 select Blue, each team receives +3 points. If team 1 selects Red and Team 2 selects Blue, Team 1 gets +5 and Team 2 gets -5. If Team 1 selects Blue and Team 2 selects Red then Team 1 gets -5 and Team 2 gets +5. If both teams select Red, then both lose 3 points.

Maybe you're having a hard time following the above format (for those morons at home playing along - I'm kidding I think it's confusing too - :)) so try this. BL/BL = Both Win minorly. BL/RD = One Team 'screws' the other - one team wins majorly and one team loses majorly. RD/RD = Both Lose Minorly.

Actually a pretty simple game (for us intellectual graduate students).

My team had 3 men and 6 women from a variety of backgrounds. The other team had 8 women and 1 man.

Here's a play-by-play of how it went down:

ROUND ONE: Everyone in our group recognizes that by cooperating with the other team, we can both earn many points. The dissent - me. I say we go Red right off the back. Strike blood first. If they pick Blue (and we pick Red), we get +5, they get -5, game over for them before it even got going. Then we go red the rest of the way and even though we lose points each round, we beat the other team. Also insulates us from major losses if they pick Red too. My argument didn't hold water, especially after I loudly conceded, "They're for sure going blue, it's a bunch of women down there." Points for first (vocal) sexist comment of day. Our Vote: 8-1 Blue. Their Vote: Blue Score: 3-3

ROUND TWO: Basically things stay the same. I make an impassioned speech about how we aren't maximizing our net worth unless we go Red (kinda like Gordon Gekko). They believe it's best to play along, after all, they haven't 'screwed us' yet. Vote: 8-1 Blue. Their Vote: Blue Score: 6-6

ROUND THREE: This round, one guy who had been watching my animated pleas joins my side and sees that we can gain more (+5) by going Red than by Blue (+3). Not sure why it took him three rounds to recognize this, but this isn't Princeton, you know. Our Vote: 7-2 Blue. Their vote: Blue. Score: 9-9

ROUND FOUR: This round the professor gave us the option to negotiate. One member from each group would be sent to a private location to 'hash things out'. It was obvious to me what was gonna happen. Both groups select their most honest looking person (first thing one girl says in my group is, "not the dude in the green shirt". That would be me :). To which I respond, "Oh, c'mon, they need a bullshitter and I can lie with the best of 'em!" Didn't make any new friends yesterday...

We (by we I mean everyone but me who nominated myself) selected the French dude in a 3-piece suit (monsieur) and the other team selected a 35 year old mother. As our representative left, I pleaded with my team to put up the facade of Blue, while surreptitiously going Red. That's what they were gonna do. This is the time to strike. I was certain the other team was doing the same thing. We. Have. To. Go. Red. Or we lose. It's that simple. At this point, my ebullience was wearing down a few of the women, some of them begrudgingly agreed.

We took a vote: 5-4...Blue. Dammit! I was pissed. Until we heard their vote...Blue. Score 12-12.

We were still in the clear. Neither team had struck. Both were kindly playing along (aren't liberal people just the sweetest?).

ROUND FIVE: Okay. This was my Rudy Speech. This was my Obama in Germany speech. This was my I have a Dream...that someday, we will vote to screw the other team speech.

I thought that the wise team at this point has to strike now (of course my credibility here wasn't that strong since the same thing verbatim had been said 20 minutes earlier). Nevertheless, now it has to happen. The logical thing to do would be to wait until the final (next) round (to pick Red) and then screw the other team. But, that's what they had to be thinking too, right? So we need to be one step ahead of them and get them before they get us. We had already accrued enough money to cover any losses anyway. Worse case both teams pick red and we tie and both end up ahead anyway. If we were smart we could not be beaten.

I made variations of this speech, while pausing intermittently to allow other people to speak (breathe). Surprisingly, practically everyone except "Frenchy" was on board. Well. Screw him. He tried his best to influence us to remain kind and acquiescent (grabbing my shoulders and saying - You're listening to THIS GUY!), but this time I prevailed. Our vote 8-1 Red. Their Vote......................................

Blue! Score: 17-7

We did it! We struck first. I was jubilant! We could not lose now. Impossible. Some in my group felt guilty. I tried to allay this with the thoughts of...well...victory!!!! C'mon people, we should be celebrating. Instead it was like going on the Price is Right and winning a hot dog cart. Ummmm....awesome Barker. Thanks.

ROUND SIX: We knew they would vote Red to enact revenge on us. In fact, their decision was made almost immediately as their rep waited impatiently to write it on the board. For some maniacal reason, "French Toast" implored us to vote Blue. Give back the points he proclaimed. Do the right thing he added. We both tie and we both win this way he declared.

Snore.

What was the point of striking at all then, I volunteered. No, we vote red, they vote red, we win, they lose, we both finish with positive points. Shockingly, this actually went back and forth for a few minutes before we took a vote.

Our vote: 6-3 Red. Their Vote: Blue!!! Score: 22-2

WHAT!!!! Are they kidding themselves?!! Basically we just whooped them, then they came back for seconds.

 The other team came back to the room, and my endorphins were high. I made a snide comment about how the basement must've affected their brainwaves (assuming they had some to begin with). I felt like I just won a basketball game without breaking a sweat. Others on my team were surprisingly contrite, apologizing for 'screwing them' and deflecting responsibility to, "Dude in green shirt." "He was persistent," they said. "He wore us down," they sighed. Fingers were pointed in my direction from everywhere.

Ohhhhhhh. Come on people. This is our moment of victory. Our moment to revel and bask in the humiliation of the moronic team two. This is our champagne shower!

Afterward, our professor and the class thoroughly discussed this game from all angles and vantage points. I was certainly a focal point due to my overbearing presence in the process (and I would say largely responsible for our win).

So why'd the other team go Blue the last round? That was the elephant in the room. Why not get back at us for 'screwing' them?

Righteousness. Morality. Ethics. Doing the right thing. Cooperation. These were all some of the explanations given by the women in the group. Oh how I love my program. These are the types of folks I go to school with.

During break, a girl on my team (who adamantly disagreed with me for most of the game) told me she heard I worked at DoD. Yep, I replied. She said, "Ohhh...makes sense then. I work at State (Department of)." And she walked away smiling. Ahhh, the smugness of it all!

Final Thoughts: To me, life can be rather bland and boring. I always look to find ways to spice it up. I have vices that I admittedly shouldn't (maybe explored in a memoir someday). Sometimes I don an alternate person, almost a split personality. I'm a pacifist, and I'm talking about striking first. I'm a nice guy and I'm a huge trash talker. I'm an active feminist and laugh at Family Guy and make crude comments. This isn't the DoD altering my perspectives. This is an intentional roleplay for entertainment. It gets my heart rate pumping and I get a rush from it. It's rather ironic of course, to anyone who knows how I really feel. Anyone who knows me as a peaceful, feminist, non-agressive laid back SW boy. That's all true and who I am. But I also have another element in the equation that I use in circumstances to confuse people and sometimes even myself. What's 'true' if you're always playing? It's a cognitive dissonance (like my job), one that I haven't fully reconciled and therefore I continue to work it out in my head by working it out as theater in real life.....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Job

You know you're getting old when phrases like, 'full benefits' mean something and elicit the same excitement that the word 'kegger' used to. Yep, that's me. Welcome to adulthood (ya, it took awhile). Yesterday I started my new job at the Mark Center, a massive building that's an annex of the Pentagon located in Alexandria, Virginia. It can host up to 6,500 people I believe, but it's actually rather desolate because most agencies haven't yet transitioned (more parking for me!). The building is brand-new and offers all the high tech gizmo accessories you can expect from the military (it's alternative function is a warhead that can detonate on command...so I hear). I would tell you what those things are, but of course then I'd have to kill you. Suffice to say, this building is secure as The Queen's job status. As secure as straight jacket, and the one they mandate you don when you enter the building really isn't as bad as everyone says it would be.  

My cubicle overlooks a swath of green trees and a few neighboring buildings where I'm convinced people are spying on me. It's actually a really pleasant view and I'll post some photos in the near future so you can see what I see. You'll never really see what I see, because that would entail looking at the world and seeing deranged vampires harassing pedestrians while doing cartwheels. That's the kind of routine stuff I imagine when I sit idly at my desk and look out the green abyss outside my safe haven of a building. Gotta be protected from those things, ya know. Hence all the generous security. Remember...see something...say something.

Nevertheless, things are going smoothly thus far. It's easy to see why the bureacratic life can silently and subtly distract you from grander pastures as the alluring benefit packages are envious and many. Somehow I already have a savings plan with a couple hundred bucks in it. Ca-ching. Too bad I can't access it, I have some more tri gear to buy :).

I'm increasing my activism in my feminism club this semester. We had a disappointing showing yesterday, so I sent an email out to our group threatening to dismember them if they keep skipping the meetings. Hopefully the message gets through. Remember, people respond obediently under fear. Oh the lessons you will learn in life....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Last Week's Workouts

Monday: Day off...traveling back to D.C.

Tuesday: 30 minute lift. 3-mile run @6:50 pace. Tuesday night hill ride w/ group. 23 miles. All out effort.

Wednesday:  30 minute lift. Yasso 800's. 10x800 meters at 3:00 pace.

Thursday: Swim. 1600m, 800m, 400m, 200m, 100m, 2x50m.

Friday: 6.2 mile run. 4 miles at 26:40. 2 miles at 13:10

Saturday: Brick workout. 30 minute stationary bike (24 mph average). 15 minute run. 20 minute stationary bike (22.5 mph average). 10 minute run. Plus rock climbing later in the afternoon.

Sunday: Swim. 400m warm up. 13x100m. 5x200m.

Colorado Trip Part 2

The football game, as I mentioned was loonngggg. I'm not super into football, I'd rather scope out the brunette cheerleaders and predict/instigate upcoming fights in the stands. CU ultimately prevailed and the drunken chants sung by the sea of yellow t-shirts could be heard for miles outside the stadium.  One funny scene is when Ralphie, the real buffalo mascot of CU was released and powered his way onto the field. He was then followed by CSU's mascot. A ram that looked like an emaciated goat. CU Wins big time in that department. We encountered some maddening traffic on the way back to town, which threw a wrench in our plans to go for a hike. Instead, we played some more tennis (a couple hours later), with Dylan trouncing me unapologetically. Pops and Mom were spectators and I was impressed with my brother's play. I was more impressed that we was able to do it with the pressure of them watching...well done DylDawg.

The next day was my b-day and the day of cycling. I had to get at least one ride in when in Boulder as most of the top cyclists and triathletes in the world live and train in the city. No secret why...it's where the best blood transfusions and doping go down. Na, I think it's the altitude combined with the scenery and bike-friendly roads that make for exceptional rides. Or maybe it's the marijuana? My brother, Pops and I spent the morning shuffling around the bike shop waiting for them to prep our bikes. Finally, around noon, we hopped on and departed for a 25 mile ride.

I crushed it.

I'm starting to focus on the bike (especially this winter break) so I knew I would be better than I was during the trip through Asia. Thankfully, I was unaffected by the altitude and rode a great bike that rode as smooth as fresh tar. Pops performed very well too for an old guy ;). Dylan...well...he struggled, but props to him for not complaining and for making it to the top. The ride out was a fairly steep ascent that didn't relent for miles. The way back was a nice gradual descent followed by some good flat pulling on the highway. Was really an excellent day for riding, high 60's with a breeze and bright as could be.

We met up with my Mom (who wasn't all too happy being left alone for 3.5 hours..sorry MOM!) who was starving and we all concurred. Dylan took us to the Mexican restaurant where he works. And. The. Food. Was. Awful. It's too bad, it's at a great location and the ambience is pleasant, but I expected better from the SW (especially when contrasted with D.C.) I was a gleeful recipient of a sopapilla however, so (as anything with sugar) that made me smile.

We played some more tennis later that night and I got some redemption over my sibling. He was likely fatigued from the ride and I had a strategy to move him around as much as possible to tire him out. Maybe he just let me win cuz it was my b-day. Whatever. I still WIN!!! And Mom and Pops came again and not only did they watch they fetched balls for us. Pampered we were!

The next day was....hell. I woke up early to get on the Super Shuttle to the airport and sat next to Dumb and Dumber on the way up argue about lip gloss efficacy. An hour and a half later I'm through security and doing sit-ups by my gate (ya....everyone else thinks it's weird too...but would you expect anything less from me?). Suddenly, 30 people get in line at the gate. Hmmm. That's too many for stand-by. Wonder what gives. I walk over and ask a fellow passenger and he shrugged. I meandered toward the front and was told the flight was cancelled.

CANCELLED! What! It's a gorgeous day outside! And I can see the plane!

Cancelled I was told. And no further explanation was given. Argh. Got in line and called the airline to get rerouted. Waited for a half hour before I finally got through to a person who then put me on hold for another 25 minutes to process my new flight. It sucked. Bad. What seemed like hours later, I booked a different flight flying into Baltimore (yuck) that left at 6PM. It was noon. Thankfully, my folks were coming to the airport to catch their flight so I hung out with them for an hour or so.

Going back through security, I declined the 'voluntary' option of the invasive scanner, in favor of the regular metal detector. That was a mistake. They made me wait for nearly 5 minutes until someone groped me so obtrusively that they know my balls better than I do. They also confiscated my bug spray and sunblock (both of which made it through just hours earlier). To explain my frustration with TSA and DHS would be akin to the myth of Sisyphus.  Perhaps worse. Maybe for a later post. Oh, government and how pathetically inept you are.

In any case, I could go into ridiculous detail about just how shitty things got, but I won't. It's over with. My flight got in around midnight (after an hour delay) and the Super Shuttle put me at my door at 2:30AM. Nearly 24 hours traveling for a flight that should've taken 4 hours.

Initially I though it would tarnish my excellent trip visiting my fam, but if I had to relive that god-awful day and do it all over, I would. No question. And gotta say...I adore Boulder.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Column Link

Here is my latest column for the Eagle published yesterday...will continue to finish up yesterday's post either tonight or tomorrow...stay tuned.

http://www.theeagleonline.com/opinion/story/handling-lifes-hardships-with-the-help-of-friends/

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Colorado Trip

Yes, I am alive. I took a hiatus from posting and I must say I missed it dearly (almost as much as Bachelor Pad). Let me recap what went down the last few days to catch you up on my self-importance.

Thursday: I intentionally planned my flight for later in the day so I could get in a good workout before my flight to Denver. I was able to get in a great swim, so I felt refreshed and relaxed for the trip. I also had first class seats (first time ever) and was pretty stoked about that. The flight was glorious, I was pampered like a celebrity. They served delectable food, hot towels, unlimited drinks and snacks and I had enough space to lounge. I mostly read Chuck Palahniuk's book, "Rant." Definitely a good book for someone like me, but if you're not into nihilistic, dark humor with a morbid theme, I'd probably stay away from it. But I gotta tell ya, the guy is an incredible author and a genius.

Dylan picked up my folks who flew in earlier that night and we drove up to Boulder!!! We ate a small meal at a local Mediterranean food shop called Garbanzo's and then we went to bed, ready to take on the day, Friday.

Friday: I stayed in the same room as my Mom and Pops, and we had to wait for Dylan to finish his class. We decided to walk around the campus and exercise at the recreation center. For some reason, for many families this may seem like an odd choice, but for ours it's so natural it's practically mundane. Wake up, so....when we going to work out? That seems to be in the blood of all of my family (even on vacations), even my brother to a lesser extent. So we walked around the sprawled campus of Boulder and I was amazed and inspired by the number of bicycles. Hundreds and hundreds of bikes were locked near buildings and students were flying by us left and right jetting to class. The buildings are a consistent shade of orange-red brick and the campus is full of grass and trees. The campus is gorgeous and very well manicured. The walkways accomodate skateboards, bikes, rollerblades, etc. There'd no don't taze me bro cops either.

After much meandering and solicitation of students for directions, we stumbled upon the gym. Although the gym was fairly large, I was mostly disappointed with the antiquated equipment and lack of machinery. For a school of over 30,000 it needs to be remodeled, but then again, this is Boulder and a majority of these kids do their exercising outdoors. I ran a 10k pretty fast and biked for 20 minutes after with my Pops. Surprisingly, I had no trouble acclimating to the altitude. It's probably because I get high so much in D.C. High on life.

Dylan finished class and took us to Half Fast Subs, a local eatery bursting with college kids. The place has got a bajillion different sandwiches and us menfolk all ordered 14 inch subs. As big as our appetites were, none of us could finish, so we took the rest back to the hotel. We walked around Pearl Street (a popular area) for an hour and I noticed that Seth Myers from SNL was in town for a comedy show. Sweet. I asked my folks if we could get tickets if they were available and they said "Who the hell is Seth Myers." Followed by "Sure." We tried to procure the tickets at a local music shop but were discouraged by the hippyish vendor when he told us to wait until tonight and they'll be cheaper. I said we'd prefer to just get them now and not have to worry about them selling out but he was obstinate and practically refused to sell them. "Dude....just buy them at the door." Me: Dude, can't I just get them now. Dude: "Duuuuudddddeeeee, honestly, no. Just wait." Welcome to Boulder.

Dylan and I and Pops then hit some tennis balls near a dormitory and then showered to get ready for dinner. We went to an elegant French restaurant that served excellent food and we met up with Dylan's friend Scott. Scott works at the French place and hooked us up with a substantial discount. Scott is a lovable lug, a 6 foot 5 thin, amicable guy. He's one of the nicest kids I've ever met and a close friend of Dylan's. Food was excellent and I was anxious because I didn't want to miss the show. Sure enough, dinner took longer than expected and by the time we walked through Spruce Street to score tickets, they were sold out. Stupid stoner dude ruined it for us.

Bummer.

Not to be totally let down, Dylan was throwing a house party that night and he and I played beer pong for a couple hours. We lost the first match to some scrawny, trash-talking sophomore and then demolished them the following game (take that punkass). I told the emaciated dude that we're gonna make shirts that say FEED LUKE. I'm serious. Shit is gonna catch on. By the next time I visit Boulder, everyone will be in on it. Kinda like VOTE FOR PEDRO. I flirted with a freshman (which is about as awkward as drinking beer with the Pope). She was 18. I did it mostly for humor's sake, but we had a fun time mingling about booze and Brooklyn and stupid boys. Then she got distracted and started fawning over some 21 year-old. Whatever, it was fun while it lasted :).

Saturday:

Went to bed and woke up the next morning early for the EPIC FOOTBALL GAME. Dylan and I went to the famous Moe's Broadway Bagel shop and then picked up Mom and Pops to drive to Denver. The game was Colorado State vs. UC-Boulder. People were  still partying from the night before. Literally at 8AM, people were already hammered and ready to board the party busses. Was gonna be a loonnnggggg game.

To be Continued...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Updates

Interesting morning tidbit: Was queuing to pay for parking this morning ($16 for a day-pass!!!!!) when a girl my age was visibly irritated, impatient at the Army boy in front of her who probably had a comparable IQ to the machine itself. He was on the telephone yapping, which makes everyone hate you that much more. She was vicariously stressing me as she paced from side to side so I decided to chat her up to distract her. She looked very fit, resembled an ex-girlfriend I dated named Kelly in undergrad.

 I asked if she was a runner because I noted her Garmin watch. This was kind of a let-down observation....couldn't I have said calves??? It'd be like recognizing Tom Brady because of Gisele...oh well. She smiled and began telling me how she was a soccer player first and she ran track for AU last year. Now she's finishing up her graduate degree and runs for a local group called Pacer's. Very cool. She said she prefers the 1500m, a brutal race. I asked for her best time. 4:20. Hot damn. That's fast.

Immediately my mind scanned to a few days earlier when I was on the treadmill and saw a young man who looked familiar. I couldn't place him, so I shrugged it off. Later that day, I thought, "Man, that dude really looked like that guy I saw on TV last week in the World Championships of track."

So since this girl spawned my memory, I asked her if she knew the dude. "Oh, ya. You mean Matt. Ya, he trains here sometimes. His Dad is actually the head coach." I told her I thought I saw him a few days ago. "Probably, he's here all the time."

Very cool. For those who don't know track and field from arts and crafts, this guy is a WORLD CLASS runner. In fact, he is THE BEST AMERICAN distance runner in the 1500m. He's only 21 years old and placed 3rd at the world championships just a couple weeks ago. Unbelievable feat and a great race if you ever want to youtube it, click here. His name is Matthew Centrowitz. I keep wondering if he can keep pace with me, but watch the race and you be the judge. He did spot me on the treadmill and quickly walked away, so it must be he was intimidated by my shaved shins.

Anyway, it pays to befriend strangers sometimes despite what our parents always told us. The lies we are fed! 

Couple updates: Thursday morning I depart for Colorado. Although I'm not going 'home'. I arrive in Denver and my parents are flying up from Durango. My brother is going to pick us up at the airport and take us to Boulder. It's my birthday weekend and I had a free ticket nearing its expiration date so I figured it'd be a fun trip. Also, appear to be flying first class for the first time in my life, so yay for me. May be drunk by the time I arrive at mile-high! Aren't drinks free in first class???

I've never been to Boulder, so I'm stoked to say the least. My brother is a junior at UC-Boulder and knows the ropes. I return to D.C. on Monday night and begin my new job Tuesday morning.

I'm continuing my employment with the Department of Defense. Yep, still hard to believe. I'm transitioning to a new division and so will be updating periodically about how killing people overseas is going (that was a joke...I think). Ideally, I'll be telecommuting, working from AU so I don't have to make the lengthy commute.

Other than that, my calves are still a bit tight from the half, but mostly it's dissipated. I had an excellent group bike ride, the Tuesday night hill ride last night. Stayed with the lead group the entire way and even did 2 extra loops because I felt so fresh. Fun, fun, and Pops and I and Dylan are going to rent bikes in Boulder for an afternoon. Time to show them who's boss in the Shapiro clan.

School is school. Class tonight and I gotta compose a column for next week now. Trying to stay active in clubs on campus and also increase my socialness this semester by meeting new people and going out (see getting wasted) more. We'll see how it all goes...until next time thanks for reading...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Parks Half Marathon Recap and Last Week's Workouts

So yesterday was the big day. 13.1 miles. I set an ambitious goal (for me) of finishing sub 1:30:00. Of course, if I was going to shatter my previous PR (1:39:45), I probably should have put in just as much if not more training in as before. I probably trained less. That's not the whole story, as I have trained much harder in the bike/swim than ever before, but I've been running only 3-4 days per week instead of 5-6.

That said, I'm also approximately 20-25 pounds lighter than when I PR'd. Now my weight fluctuates daily between 173-179. Before it was between 195-202. There's a theory in running that for every pound of weight you lose, you're automatically 2 seconds faster per mile. There's another theory that says running is fu@#ing hard no matter which way you cut it. Anyway, that's pretty substantial when you're talking 20 pounds of lost weight. Fat or muscle (in my case, both).

The week prior was an awful week for me. I had a bout of food poisoning and my chronic back injury came roaring back into the picture. While my back slowly improved throughout the week, my bowels didn't. I ate a large bowl of pasta at lunch the day before the race. Then ate a couple slices of pizza before bed. Neither of which um...departed after I consumed a banana and some peanut butter on race morning. So I was running on a bloated tummy.

I went into the Port-a-John twice (cursing my stomach out loudly - peeps probably thought I was insane...probably accurate) without success and figured, oh well, what can I do? Not gonna puke. So just run with the belly.

My pace group was in the very front of the race (rare for me in running races). When the gun went off, about 150 or so of us began in the sub 7:00 group. The first couple miles I knew would be easy. You start off on a generous decline, so it's easy to get lured into going out too fast. The pace setter held himself back considerably to make sure we hit our pace (6:51) on time. I knew this because he said: "I'm holding myself back considerably here..." This was frustrating for me, and had I had a Garmin, I would've built myself a bit of a cushion and let my momentum take me down 10-15 seconds faster per mile for the first 3 miles. I would do this because I'm tall and as a bigger dude I can use my stride to my advantage and I get my ass kicked on the uphills anyway later on. But I restrained myself because the last thing I wanted to do was look like a showboat, and stride out and then tank at the 10-km mark.

Between miles 3.5-4.5 is the toughest part of the course. And surprisingly, where I got dropped. I intended to hang with the pace group as long as possible, but letting them pass on the hills was strategic for me. I didn't want to expend too much energy and pay for it later on in the course. So I let them take off, and figured I'd catch up on the descents coming later....well...didn't exactly go as planned.

The lead they amassed was too significant that by the 6 mile marker, I had lost sight of them altogether and they were about a minute ahead. Hmmm. Time to recalibrate. So at this point I wasn't feeling too well and I knew my pace had dropped off precipitously. Now, it was all about finishing and making sure I at least get a PR.

Around mile 8.5, an extremely fit woman and her pal passed me. That's at least what I think of any woman who passes me (it's a way to make myself feel good, WOW! look how fit that chick is!!) I hit a second wind here and stuck with them until mile 10. Here I read my split (1:10:30) and knew that unless I ran a sub 20 minute 5-k, my chances of breaking 1:30 were nonexistent. Yay for Middle School Math!  Perhaps had the course finished on a nice descent (like, say an escalator)  I had a shot. Instead, while the Parks Half Marathon is a sublime, beautiful, net downhill course, the last two miles are brutal. A steady ascent until you reach the finish line. My pace slowed further.

Sometime later on September 11th I strolled to the finish.

Final Time: 1:34:20. I was pretty pissed. I sat down dejected and exhausted at the end and my shoulder began aching excruciatingly. No idea why. It was a sharp, sharp pain in the back of my left shoulder and I couldn't raise my arm whatsoever. It wouldn't relent so I couldn't take my race chip off my shoelaces. I looked helpless and almost sobbed, until I realized the cute women next to me (who look shockingly at ease) were in bright spirits and I wanted to show I wasn't fatigued too. Literally 5 minutes later I finally popped my shoulder (something I do often) and the pain temporarily ceased. Whew. It still hurt an hour after the race and have no idea why (it may have to do with the obscene amount of push-ups I've been doing in place of weight training). Really don't know why, but today it's improved considerably.

My training log for last week:

Monday: 20 minute weight lift. 3-mile slow run. Swim - 11x200 yard @2:40 w/ :20 rest after each, 5x100 @1:15 w/:15 rest after each. 300 yard cool down.

Tuesday: 25 minute stationary bike (all out). 2000 yard swim.

Wednesday: Off. Injured

Thursday: 5-mile run @ 6:50 pace. Master's Swim workout.

Friday: 3-mile run and 50 minute stationary bike.

Saturday: Off (rest day)

Sunday: Half marathon

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hopey-Changey Speechy

Gotta be honest, I didn't watch the President's speech last night. I've lost faith in him like I lost faith in the Tooth Fairy when I turned 15. Ya whatever...it took me awhile. Anyway, I was much more content yakking up all my food from a bout of food poisoning I sustained yesterday and feeling nauseous during my group swim. Definitely advise people who aren't feeling well to skip their scheduled swim. Otherwise you end up making a dash for the locker room in your Speedo and barreling over small children in the process and making a fool of yourself in front of the soccer team. Hopefully it's passed through my system today.

When I got home, I made myself some Mac N' Cheese, and luckily caught the last two sets of the Federer match. Here's a guy who I also have lost the faith in at one time or another, but always seems to be in the thick of things. Can't count him out, especially before the semifinals. His performance was dominant and I actually noted a flegling receding hairline he never used to have. Dude is aging, but his game is still splendid. Then I puked some more, but overall it was a good night. Took 3 Advil PM's and slept soundly.

I also wrecked my back doing something or another the other day and was limping pretty intensely Wednesday. I begrudgingly took off exercising because I have my half-marathon on Sunday and want to be healed in time to compete. Thankfully, yesterday it loosened up a bit and I engaged my abs through all my stomach tribulations. Maybe that's just what the doctor ordered to cure my ailment!

Back to President Hope-Change. As awful as this guy has been as President, and I mean utterly deplorable, he's still refreshing a night after listening to Rick Perry. Of all the warranted outrage directed at Obama, you'd think we can come up with better alternatives than Texas Idiot, Massachusettes phony, and Minnesota botox. I suppose if you count Ron Paul, yet he's got the charisma of a napping Sloth (just went to the zoo last weekend).

What's remarkable about all this, is that Hope-Change doesn't seem to understand the obvious. The Republicans see anything he does as blasphemous. If he appointed Rush Limbaugh to the Supreme Court, he'd face a backlash (with the GOP!!!). Apparently he talked about, "simple math" in his speech. Well, here is as simple as it gets Mr. President. The only way they win is if you lose. That's it. They can and must reject every single proposal you promulgate. Enabling your success does NOTHING for them. They want to beat you and will pull out all the steps to make your existence a living hell. Kind of like a conversation with a Scientologist (they're all over D.C....all citizens will suffer through one some time or another).

Of course this says more about the two-party system than it does about the current batch of morons controlling the U.S. House. This is why registering as a Republican or Democrat is problematic and continues this cyclical partisan split that gridlocks D.C. Only until people stop voting, or vote third-party, and stop registering as blue or red, will we actually witness legitimate cooperation.

It's all much to dwell about nothing. I've lost interest in politics lately. Whether we elect Hope-Change or Batshit-Looney Tunes, the results will be more of the same. As my Pops and I spoke about yesterday, it's not that we need to elect the RIGHT PEOPLE to office. It's the INSTITUTION of power that corrupts. No person is safe and it's the institution that must be fought. Power structures are inherently dangerous. Don't give them credibility by playing into it/donating/voting. It's your patriotic duty.

Oh, and speaking of patriotism, let's cheer for PSYCHO ANDY at the U.S. Open and lest we forget about John Isner today...and keep the 'hope' alive for King Roger.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Creepy Crawlers

I hate bugs. Can't stand em. I would like to say I'm compassionate and don't squash them when they're scurrying about, but...that's bullshit. I'd also like to say that I am the savior, the male hero that comes to the rescue of dames when they shriek in fear of a bug. But that would also be untrue. Instead, I usually join in the shrieking and stand on the bed irrationally as well.

I think I know why I fear these little things. It starts by growing up in the desert. Kind of like black people (first racist joke in awhile...gimme a break), we just don't see many of them, and when we do, we call the police (okay, fine, no more racist jokes today). The desert is home to much fewer bugs than muggier areas, so it's the fear of the unknown that gets ya. Also, I was traumatized as a kid as I explained to my roommate yesterday, when one night before I went to bed I flipped my pillow over (for the cool side obviously) and saw a giant cockroach napping underneath. I immediately screamed and did one of those instinctual rain dances where you fling your arms and legs rabidly about. Kind of like when someone tells me I can't have seconds of ice cream. That sucked. And now, each night before bed, I check under my pillow out of habit.

Since I live in the urban swamp that is Washington, my measly income relegates me to live in subterranean places - also known as basements. I've lived in different basements for the past 3 years and have grown accustomed to many of the critters that join me. Crickets are a given. A spider or two is also mundane. But what irks me the most is house centipedes. These bastards are scary looking and carry the same horsepower as a Ford Mustang. These things know when they've been spotted, and when they are, they scatter at warp speed to the nearest crevice to avoid the wrath of my flying sandal.

My new place, far and away the cleanest and least dank basement I've lived in, is home to a few of these suckers. At a recent family reunion, I spotted a couple of the drunker ones and got to them before they could hail a cab (their reaction times were admittedly slower than usual).

Recently, at nights, I'm as perspicacious as a food critic as I study the floors and walls meticulously, searching to find any stragglers. It's kind of like hide and seek, but with much highers stakes. If I spot one, the game switches to tag. Sometimes I win, sometimes they do. If I win, I take a victory lap with my sandal as the trophy. If they win, they eat my eyelashes as I sleep (kidding...I hope).

I've also read my share of Kafka, and sometimes dream of a giant bug attacking me. Thankfully, I never personify the bug, instead it's like my sister or someone else who would like to puncture my skull and vacuum out my brains like that scene in Starship Troopers. Probably, my sister doesn't need to be a bug, she could just get by with voodoo (apologies, Shannon, you're only thrown under the bus temporarily).

What about you guys? Are you afraid of bugs? Do they scare the bejeezus out of you? Do you peaceably coexist? Or do you become a cruel dictator smashing all in sight?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Last Week's Workouts

A day late, but as promised, below is a list of my exercise from Monday-Sunday. The next will post Sunday night. This is a great way for me to track my progress, improve, and fine-tune my fitness. Please comment and question if you'd like.

Monday: Swim 1x1600 1x800 1x400 1x200 1x100 2x50. (meters)

Tuesday: Group Bike Ride 12 miles on my own before, 20 miles with group. Speed work, Tuesday night ride in Arlington.

Wednesday: Yasso 800's (10 x 800m). @ 2:55 with 2:00 walk after each. 30 minute weight lifting.

Thursday: 7 mile easy run (recovery)

Friday: 20 minute weight training and swim. 25x100yards. Each at 1:15 with :15 rest after each. 500 yard warm up and 500 yard cool down.

Saturday: Bike ride with Andy. 30 miles. Damn he's fast. 15 miles completely flat, the rest mix of rolling and hills. Drafted for 6-8 miles of it. Hard bike. 15 minute weight lift and 2 mile run @ 6:30 pace.

Sunday: 11 mile run @ 6:50 pace. Very hard. Probably was fatigued from previous day's workout, but things are not looking good for race day in a week...

Friday, September 2, 2011

TGIF

I was going to write a funny piece on Murphy's law, but decided against it because I don't want to jinx myself. Who was Murphy btw? Kind of sucks to have your name associated with such disdain. Was this some prehistoric-man ritual where everytime 'Murphy' came around a drought would immediately commence and women became sterile?

Dammit Murphy! Things were already looking drab and then you came along! Our 401 (k) stock of Wooly Mammoths is now plummeting. How am I to retire in peace, Murphy? Maybe I'll have to start feeding my tribe twigs and berries Murph, is that what you want? Poor Murphy.

Maybe that's where they got 401 (k) from too (the amount of  livestock supply required for retirement).Or is Murphy just your typical Irish moniker that aptly describes life in...well..Ireland. I suppose that could be equally applied to America these days too.

Kind of reminds me of Plato. You know, that philosopher dude who worked under Socrates. Guy is one of the most brilliant minds on Earth, and instead he's invoked in modern culture as a major buzzkill.

Ohh ya, dude she likes you. She TOTALLY, totally likes you. Just, ya know, platonically. Drat!

Maybe Plato was one ugly son-of-a-gun. Couldn't score a date for the life of him. So instead, he became this prodigy of knowledge, a student of philosophy, a one-man wrecking crew at Jeapordy. And how do we best commemorate this man - "She thinks I'm ugly." Looks matter, what can I say. This would be like remembering Michael Jordan for his Hitler mustache and not his dunking.

Anyway, couple of updates.

Fortunately for me, Andy Sovonick - colloquially known as Chicken Tender Runner - has graciously been mentoring me for my triathlon training. It's nice to learn from someone a lot faster and he's allowed me to do some training with him too. He's ranked #1 by the USA Traithlon Association for Maryland triathletes for our age group and is Honorable Mention All-American. He notified me that I'm #4 in D.C. triathletes in the same rankings. It would be pretty badass if I become tops in D.C. We'll see if that can improve after my final race of the season (October 1st). I shall keep you apprised with these things.

And what better way to do so than to begin a new Sunday night blog ritual. This Sunday, I will post my previous week's training schedule. Everything that I did that week will be posted (aside from my daily push-ups, sit-ups and fu@#ing). This will enable me to monitor my progress and keep you guys following along. Ideally, you'll find some good workouts you can incorporate into your own fitness regimen. Or just say you do to make me feel important ;).

As per the job, it's a ludicrously long story. One that STILL lacks resolution, however the powers that be are assuredly working on it. Let's read that sentence again. The powers that be are working on it. Makes you feel warm and cuddly don't it (kinda like hunting with Dick Cheney)? I've reduced my course load dramatically so I can work full-time and go to class part-time. Along with training, writing for The Eagle, my three on-campus clubs, and my other hobbies like blogging and poking fun at those weaker than me, it's safe to say itt'l be a busy year.

In other news - I have a new roommate. It's a she!! I haven't lived with anyone in years, so this has been a learning curve for both of us. Especially when I wander aimlessly naked at nights, searching for a swig of milk.

Ohhhhhh - heeyyyy! Didn't see ya there.

She's a pretty cool chick, a senior at AU. She's social and easy-going. She's also Asian and no, she will not do my homework for me (not like I've asked obviously). Of course she has to live with me so ohhhhhhh how I pity her. She's from Jersey and her boyfriend is a boxer so hopefully the next time I come out into the living room naked he's not around. My nose has been broken enough as it is.

Other than that, I must be entering an advanced stage of puberty these days as my emotions are all outta whack. I've been retro-Conor lately, storming around town angry. Why am I angry? I'm not entirely sure. I figured by training harder I wouldn't have the energy to be angry, but instead it's like a hiatus of anger and then back to raging. Must be some sort of quarter-life crisis...at least I haven't started growing back hair.