Video of me crossing the finish line at the Cleveland Triathlon can be viewed, over and over again, on infinite repeat, here.
The gear, everything but my sunglasses and Pam, is packed up. I still don't know how I'm going to manage to remember to get all this stuff on in the swim-bike transition. It may involve another checklist. But if I'm biking down the shoreway and I'm still wearing the wetsuit, I'll probably remember.

I'm not expecting to tear it up out there: my bicycle, frankly, just isn't made for this type of event, and I'm not that much better constructed. I figure maybe 20 to 25 minutes for the swim, an hour and ten for the bike, and 25 to 30 minutes for the run. With unimaginably smooth transitions, that's about two hours and change. This puts me behind competitor John Gwin, who was born without the left hand he won't need to kick my ass.

Assuming all goes well, and my bike doesn't break down and I don't drown, if you watch this page tomorrow between 9:15 and 9:45 a.m., Eastern Daylight Time, you might catch a glimpse of me crossing the finish line.
And now I am an official registrant of the 2007 Cleveland Triathlon, Individual Sprint category (800 meter swim, 16 mile bike, 5 kilometer run). I must remember to try riding my bicycle sometime between now and the event. Just to see if I can do this without the training wheels.
I've just rented my wetsuit for the Cleveland Triathlon. We are approaching the Rubicon, and we're expecting it to be chilly.
The New York City Triathlon provides free pre-race psychological counseling; meanwhile, it's unclear that the Cleveland Triathlon will even provide water.
Look at me run! Look at me over-pronate!

me running

Taken at the Clear Mountain Ultimate 5K, run in 25:34 through the 80+ degree Memphis heat on June 23. The driver of the Clear Mountain truck had locked his keys in his cab, so there were no water stops, only one station offering wet paper towels. The smile on my face is there because I know that if I can make it just that last 100 feet, I can get something to drink, a couple of Krispy Kremes and maybe a smoked red sausage with yellow mustard. Carb replacement? More like a diabetic incident.

Poll!

Feb. 25th, 2007 10:28 am
My local JCC sponsors a photography contest every year; last year's honorees went on display around the same time that I started working out there, and I must admit that I was envious of all the exhibitors. I also like to think that I've taken a few decent pictures over the last two years (the period of eligibility for the competition) -- in fact, I may have taken too many. For each entrant is limited to seven submissions, and I have as many as nine good photographs in my portfolio. I've scanned in the prints of these nine candidates, and I'm hoping that you will help me Pick Seven )

Because I don't consider myself a skilled photographer -- my talent mostly lies in getting to the right place and then holding still instead of, say, understanding what an "f-stop" is -- I will be proud if I just have some of these accepted for display. Still I like to think that I might have some chance to do well in any category other than Jewish Life. Though I think the bear keeps kosher.
Today I ran in the 3 Mile Smile in Cleveland Heights. I managed to control my obsession with round numbers and cross the finish line in 24:59. A new personal best! So far I'm two-for-two in 5Ks in terms of both crossing the finish line and (more importantly) getting the t-shirt.

I got to do that thing where you grab the cup from the water station, take a couple sips, and then dump the remainder over your head. That's my favorite part of the racing. My least favorite part came when I had reached the top of the hill on Cedar between Fairmount and Coventry, my heart pounding, my breathing raspy, and I get passed by some guy pushing a baby stroller. The runner next to me turned to me and said, "Don't you just hate it when that happens?"

I didn't win any prizes, in either the race or the raffle, but I got the t-shirt and the satisfaction. After the race, one of the race sponsors had arranged with the bar hosting the award ceremony to open up the taps with complimentary draft beer. Now that's something I had never suspected I'd need as a runner: a designated driver.
I ran in my first 5K today. I expected, based on past treadmill performances, to finish in thirty to thirty-two minutes, so I surprised myself by finishing at 26:30 -- and it is a tribute to the strength of my slight tendency towards Asperger's that even as exhausted as I was, I sprinted the last fifteen or twenty feet before the finish line so I could end on a round number. They (no Google citation for "they") say to run the first third of a race with your brain, the second with your legs, and the last third with your heart; well, by the time I'd gotten two-thirds done, both my brain and my legs were spongy soft jelly spilling out across the course. They had volunteers manning stopwatches at each mile marker, and based on my times in each third, my heart is a lot further behind both my brain and my legs. It probably didn't help that the course went right by the local Ben & Jerry's.

Still, despite running low on gas in that third mile, I'm very happy with my time. I was, however, still to be disappointed. The organizers of the race were awarding plaques to the top three finishers in each age group, and while there were no males in the 20-24 group, two in the 25-29 group, and just one between thirty-five and thirty-nine, there were, I can attest, at least four in my age group. Which is probably for the best. I figured, just after the second mile marker, that right now I must be in my peak physical condition, or at least one of the more desirable Nielsen demographics, and it's all downhill from there. And had the course in fact been all downhill from that mile marker, I might have finished in 26 minutes!
I think this was the first ATPo Gathering at which people called each other by their given names more often than by their posting names. One could argue that this signifies greater bonds of intimacy growing across what had been a rather anonymous medium, or one could mention that going from the Board to LJ means that we have trouble dealing with the plethora of polynyms -- I, for one, can never keep that [livejournal.com profile] c_mantix/Aquitaine/Lorraine stuff straight (especially since the dead useful "El" has been recently repossessed by its original referent). I certainly believe that there was this year an even greater closeness among us, and not just the eight of us sharing that one shower. (Not at the same time.) I surprised myself a few times opening up to people; I'd like to thank [livejournal.com profile] atpotch and [livejournal.com profile] ann1962 in particular for their patience and empathy, though I have to acknowledge that where it counted most I fell back into my own deathly taciturnity. I also surprised myself by stepping past my usual reservations and self-consciousness and singing lustily along to "Once More With Feeling," though it did not help my confidence at all when [livejournal.com profile] masqthephlsphr, sitting directly to my front, started complaining about her headache and muttering to [livejournal.com profile] cactuswatcher darkly something about flatness. Considering that I was pleased when I managed to end a line in the same key in which it began, I'm afraid flatness too optimistically suggests that my voice and the music were even in the same three-dimensional space. Now that I've ruined what pleasant memories people have of the musical, next year I'm sure there will be raised a hue and a cry for the audience-participation airing of "Hush," just to guarantee I keep my mouth shut for forty-two minutes.

But I get ahead of myself. I left Cleveland last Wednesday evening on a delayed night flight to San Francisco; by the time I'd rented the car and driven to the hotel it was 2:15 California time, or about six hours past my bedtime. I did take a perfunctory earful at the door TCH, Rob ([livejournal.com profile] buffyannotater) and [livejournal.com profile] scrollgirl were staying behind, trying to pick up any spawnful burbles, but luckily reached it during a rare lull and resignedly retreated to retire. Thursday morning, I reach the breakfast room in time to meet [livejournal.com profile] atpolittlebit, [livejournal.com profile] ladystarlightsj and Aqui, who has brazenly taken someone else's hash browns. We talk of much, and confirm that my Zachary's fetish will hold sway for our lunch plans. We then go wake the kids. I had worried about making the long drive to Tahoe without company, but TCH agreed to do his spawnial duty and ride with me. And once all got a gander of the red Dodge Charger muscle car I was driving, there was much envy and jealousy, which kept being expressed through the stuffing of spare luggage into what became known as its three-body trunk. Rob slid into the back and we roared north on 101 )
Speaking of spurious assumptions about sexual dichotomization, I find it interesting that at my gym, the windowless, ochre, musty free-weight room gets one of the local Classic Rock stations pumped into it, heavy '70s music. Generally everyone in there is male, and both younger and buffer than I am, which makes me embarrassed to go in there and have to set the pins on the floor so I can do my standing cable fly. The fitness center, which draws a more mixed crowd, is newly renovated, brighter, airier, and smells better. It contains all of the cardiovascular equipment and the stack machines. In the fitness center, we listen to CDs mostly of the peppy, poppy eighties. Just yesterday, they were playing, as they always seem to be, the greatest hits of Duran Duran. Which is fine, because I like "Hungry Like The Wolf." But then that CD finished and they put in a mix of what seemed to be Mtv's biggest songs: "Video Killed The Radio Star," "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)," "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and, wait for it, "Hungry Like The Wolf" again. So if anyone could send me an mp3 of "Hungry Like The Wolf" I'd appreciate it. If anyone ([livejournal.com profile] lynnmonster) could send me an mp3 of Carolyn Kelley singing "Hungry Like The Wolf," I'd be ecstatic. And, to indulge the heavy '70s side of my fitness regime, I'm also out here, hat in hand, asking for a copy of Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man." Thank you all very much.
Shaker Heights is noted for its diversity, but as far as its street names go, it's wall-to-wall whitey here. Every road bears a faux tweedy, upper-crust English moniker, with some lowlands Scots mixed in around the bad parts of town. This can get a little confusing, so if you're driving by Horseshoe Lake, and you see me out running, and if my body, forced to consume its own fatty deposits, has decided to ignore my belly and instead start eating into my gray matter, and you ask me how to get to Claythorne Road, it is entirely likely that I will give you authoritative, impeccably correct directions to Sherbrooke.

There is a cliché, or to a sociobiologist, a datum, that men are less willing to stop and ask for directions than are women. I cannot speak to the accuracy of such a suggestion, or to its possible cause, but I know that I'll almost never ask a stranger for assistance. I suspect though that this is not due to some innate feature of the Y chromosome, but instead is a behavioral tendency learned after a long history of being stopped and asked for directions. I am a very courteous person -- does a good deed daily -- and I have a phenomenal geographic sense -- taught the orienteering merit badge -- so I always try to help people out. But ten minutes later I realize that the directions which seemed so sensible at the time I gave them were in some way crap and I've just made things immensely worse. I suspect many people have had this experience, and been discouraged from asking for directions of their own by their own examples. Perhaps it is an experience shared by a larger proportion of men than of women, because at the same time that the patriarchy is spewing out misdirection and confuddlement, we're also serving up large amounts of propaganda extolling our putative superior spatial facilities.

So, really, ask women for directions, or just anyone but me, and try to live in a city with the streets laid out in a nice numbered grid.
Note to self: if you should be running around the lake, and you see a woman leaning on her unextended tripod and concentratedly pointing this into a tree, it does not constitute common courtesy to breathily exclaim, "Hey! My mom has that lens!"
I've mentioned before my recent forays into fitness. Part of these have been the development of a taste for salads at lunch. No longer do I wolf down microwave lasagna or run over to Wendy's; now I eat the nutritious way! And you can too -- just follow these simple steps:

Step 1:
salad02

Fill a bowl with a heaping helping of baby spinach, the world's healthiest food, unless you want to retain calcium or something.

Step 2: )
Thanks to all for their kind comments. I'm too exhausted for coherency; I got fewer than six hours of sleep last night, and I've had a very full day. I won't claim it was a bad day -- I tend to do very well with specific problems. I rode the stationary bike for an hour first thing in the morning, then went over to the optometrist, who prescribed some eyedrops and said to lay off the contacts until the redness is fully cleared up. I like my optometrist -- there was no charge for the drop-in, and I managed to get two sets of five dailies gratis. Of course the eyedrops would be much more dear. I was then going to proceed straight to the J, but climbing the steps in the mall tired me out enough I decided I would get some protein first. An unreasonably heavy, fatty and carby lunch later and I needed a catnap. I talked to my mother for a little while, and then went to drop off my prescription, buy a liter bottle of water and some naproxen sodium. Then I worked out at the J for a couple of hours -- this energized me long enough to get a half-caf Mint Condition from Caribou. The caffiene hit me the wrong way and by the time I met up with my father and we went down to the hospital, I was ready to drop.

We sat with my grandmother for an hour. Her pulse rate, pulsox, blood pressure are all still good. She seems less responsive tonight than last; last night she was opening her eyes seemingly in response to touch. Tonight her eyes were clamped shut the entire time we were there. It's tough for me to tell how much consciousness is behind her movements: only her left hand, which will grab a hold of yours if you put them together, seems to work volitionally. She keeps raising and lowering her left knee; my dad and I started timing it and it moved with a regular cycle of forty to fifty seconds. Her right side must be entirely paralyzed now -- she had been twitching her right leg last night, but not tonight, and her right arm's been motionless since the stroke. Yesterday, it seemed like she'd respond or try to respond to being touched or spoken to. Tonight, though, other than the hand there were not as many such signs on which to hang hopes of consciousness.

I keep slipping into euphemism. I was going to say "I hope she can achieve peace soon." But I'm a materialist; I mean that I hope she can achieve nothingness soon. My father and I are on the same page as to our belief that she'd prefer death to this. (Though, I don't know. No neurologist's been able to show me on the CAT scan that the stroke destroyed the center in the brain which prevents me from a callous disregard for her autonomy.) We think there's a living will somewhere. I've had some terrible thoughts such as the realization that Ohio's Attorney General is a Republican running for Governor, locked in a primary battle with our Secretary of State; they're competing to show which of them can be the most muscularly right-wing Fundamentalist Christian, so I'm hoping my uncle won't come in and countermand our no-heroic-measures stance or else I'm going to be the new Michael Schiavo.

I really need some sleep now.
Bullet points:
  • My Grandmother had a severe stroke sometime yesterday or the night before; she's now stable and (we assume) cognizant, but she's got a lot of paralysis and she hasn't been able to communicate. The doctors haven't said anything yet about what the situation is, what sort of meaningful recovery she might make, what sort of awareness she has now. I can kind of sympathize with the more distant family in the Schiavo controversy now; I had a tendency to read intentionality into every tic and spasm last night. Of course, even when my Grandmother had all her faculties, she was ready to die. She's a believer in reincarnation and she's ready to shed her infirmities and start anew. So, not to be too ghoulish about it, I won't be arguing for heroic measures; however, since she's stable, there's no plug to pull. I appreciate your sympathy, and I'm already feeling guilty about how much of my reaction to this is tied up in my own selfishness, so I'd rather not get a lot of comments or e-mails about this. I'll appreciate your expressions thereof, for after all, I'm still an attention whore. Which doesn't mean that I'll know how to I probably won't treat them either graciously or gracefully.

  • After not wearing contacts on Sunday and then wearing daily disposibles on Monday, I put the current pair of fortnightlies back in yesterday, the pair I was wearing that caused Saturday's reaction. By midnight, my right eye was again bloodshot (though the redness started dissipating immediately upon removal of the contact. So I will be less blase about this and go see my optometrist today.

  • I feel that if I don't get into the gym today, I will forget everything I learned in the personal trainer sessions, so I'll be trying to fit that in too.
I think I'll certainly have to peel the banana from both ends today.
A quick glance through my LJ calendar reveals that I have a tendency to go months on end without saying much of anything, and post frenetically for about two weeks. This seems to be the end of one of those manic periods, so we'll have to see tomorrow whether or not I can break the cycle. I think I put too much pressure on myself to write, and I think this paralyzes me. Especially as I usually prefer to shy away from diary-style recountings of my day -- as I don't do much of interest on a daily basis.

Today I blew off any idea of going to the optometrist -- between various appointments, I couldn't really free an hour or more to sit around her office -- and in fact decided that my eye infection was neither fusarium keratitis nor [livejournal.com profile] rahael syndrome. The eyeball is still a light shade of mauve or puce or one of those colors straight men can't recognize, but the swelling and gooping have completely subsided. After planning to wear glasses all day, I dared instead to attempt some of the daily disposibles my doctor gave me for SCUBA diving. They stayed in for the duration without irritation.

Also today I went to the second of my two free personal trainer sessions at the JCC. I'm not sure how many of the exercises I'll retain; my brain had turned to meringue by the end. There's one thing I do know, though: I'm going to need a bigger water bottle.
Weighed 152.5 pounds this morning -- and, surprisingly, during an idle moment in the afternoon as well -- which means I think that I'm officially below my weight when I quit smoking. I had my penultimate workout on the coolrunning.com plan -- 30 minutes -- so after I finish Sunday's thirty minute run I have nothing to look forward to but a lifetime of . . . thirty minute runs, every other day. Well, there are places I could go, were I ambitious, but I think I'm going to plateau at thirty minutes for a while until I get my distance up to the promised five kilometers. I followed the route of Monday's twenty-eight minute jaunt, and I think I managed to go so slowly tonight that I covered less ground tonight than then. Evening running is an interesting change in my routine; as a road runner, I usually measure my fitness during a run by noting the time when I stop saying to the cars which approach me "Please don't hit me," and start saying, "Hit me. Hit me, please." And tonight, leaving the house at 6:45 pm, with the sun lowering itself beyond the overcast, and thunderstorms on the western horizon, I started to wonder whether or not the black t-shirt and charcoal shorts had been the best choice. Of course, had I needed a large, glowing, reflectively pasty beacon, I could have just taken off the shirt. Thanks though to our insanely extenuated time zone, I was able to make it back with plenty of light and without offending neighborhood standards of decency.

I delayed running until this evening because this morning I had my first session with a personal trainer down at the JCC. Having heard horror stories, I had worried that I might find myself being pushed too strenuously, but I have to say that it went really well. I think I checked the right bit on the questionaire: "Are you self-motivated? Y/N." There was a bit at the end where I felt a little trembly -- I hadn't had any water during the introductory half-hour and I think I was paying for that.

And now all that effort will be undone: it's calzone time!

ETA: I'd like to note for future reference that slowly writing a disjointed, incoherent LJ post and searching through 2 years of a friend's archive for a post that ultimately turned out to be locked, while in the process of icing one's knees, results in joints too cold to be immediately ready for use in such strenuous activities as, say, standing up.
Today, I ran ) for 28 minutes, being in the middle of the eighth week of the Couch-To-5K nine-week plan. Of course, as I've been following the designated times rather than the designated distances, and as I've been "pacing myself," I'm not quite on track for five kilometers next week, as, according to the Gmap Pedometer, I ran only 2.38 miles. All of it, I might add, was uphill. It amazes me, but until I started running I had no idea that I could leave my house and travel a complete circuit through the neighborhood without ever descending. Apparently I live on a moebius strip. Today's more linear route was my attempt to limit the amount of climbing I would have to do: I spent much of it following the watershed of one of the ancient creeks. And yet still my body sends the message: "THIS IS UPHILL" while my brain divides the route into treacherous hills, steep climbs, steady uphill grades, and the occasional short stretch of almost, but not quite, sheer cliff face.

One thing that running has taught me is that my brain, much as I have trusted it over the years, doesn't always have my best interests at heart. Given half an hour of leisure time while my body and I are off jogging, it does nothing but concoct reasons why we should just go back to bed. For example, on Thursday, after about nine minutes of running and the hill out of the creekbed that I'm now sure is, if not K2, then at least K-twenty or twenty-five, my right Achilles' tendon issued a sensation. Not pain, not even discomfort, just a sensation. My body relays this to me as, "Uh, your Achilles' tendon would like you to know that it's here, and, on the whole, it would rather be sitting in a jacuzzi." Well, my brain overhears this, and it starts screaming, "It's going to SNAP and you'll be CRIPPLED and in a WHEELCHAIR and they better find a DOUBLE-WIDE WHEELCHAIR 'cause you'll be FAT ANYWAY so you should GO HOME and read the internet but DON'T POST or COMMENT because NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOU . . . " Meanwhile, my Achilles' tendon has long ago messaged "kthxbye!" and my body is wrapped up in trying to get over what we had previously believed to be a nice rolling lane but which evidence now suggests is a seriously disoriented Himalaya.

So my interest was piqued . . .  )

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April 2009

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