Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mysterious Gym

Working out at the gym yesterday on the cross-trainer. From behind me come a series of moans, like someone with a bad stomach ache. Looking around, I see a guy on a treadmill behind me making these odd sounds. His head lay down across the machine as if grieving. The sounds stopped, then started again. Short and long, grunt/moan combos. I considered asking him if he was Okay but didn't, just in case he wasn't.

Finishing up the cross-trainer, I moved to the treadmills to cool down. Everyone was giving the Moaner a wide birth. I found a machine in the second rank and started walking. Now I'm behind the Moaner. He finished up his workout, appearing quite refreshed. Fumbling around the floor, he grabbed a white and red, official blind man's cane and tapped his way down to another treadmill. Quietly, minus any interesting vocals, the Moaner began another workout.

Having once lived with a blind roommate, I know there is no correlation between exercise and blindness. Maybe that one treadmill brought back unpleasant memories? Maybe it was the machine, intolerant of the handicapped? This is but one of many stories in the mysterious gym.

Practice today saw the Phoenix marathoners running 16, and a solitary Honolulu walker going 18. I ran and walked about half of what I did last week with only minor knee pain. As a few of us waited for the walker, Liz and Inez made an In-and-Out run. What impressed me was how many people ordered by menu number. (Me: #3.)

Now I'm home and sore.

But not moaning.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nowhere for the Holidays

As far as running goes, at least. After zipping around close to 15 pain-free miles on Saturday, my knee is now sore after a 3.5 mile Monday run on dirt trails. Ice, ice, stinking ice.

Big fat downpour at the end of track practice last night.

Two of our walkers, Larry and Kim, are looking strong. Both have overcome injury, lost a lot of weight, and are pressing ahead to complete 26.2. I recall their shaky confidence back in August. Seeing them grow in strength and ability makes coaching a blast. Each season I'm privileged to observe the human spirit in action as TNTers face and overcome limitations.

Plus, I have a blog where I can publicly grumble about mine.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bailout Mentality

If a coach taught runners to train for a marathon by wearing iron boots and those runners were badly hurt, and no more runners went to the coach, and he was about to go out of business, but the government stepped in and gave him thousands of dollars to support him while he brought in new clients - would this be wise?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Running at Practice Again

Not more than a few miles at time, but steady. Running and walking with team members today, especially the Honolulu folks doing 20 miles, got me a 13.7 mile workout. Knees are a bit sore, but not too bad. I got to practice chi technique and felt a bit more comfortable with it.

Acres of alumni out today, including Kelly from my first season in fall 2005. Also saw David, recovering well from his cancer operation.

Speaking of the big C, I'm off to see Dale tomorrow and learn how this week's chemo went. If he wasn't doing well, he wouldn't have invited us over. A good sign, as these things go.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Chi Run Refresher

Met with local chi running instructor Kathy this morning for a refresher course. Since my Oct. workshop, I've been nursing my knees and gradually growing stronger. She was a big help in pointing out little areas where I hold tension. Like t'ai chi, this running style collapses when tightness is present - which blocks chi flow.

Lunch today with former TNT coach Katie. She's also looking for work. I'm hoping she gets a job soon and hires me. How's that for taking charge of my fate?

Still writing on a bunch of projects, though I've fallen off the last two weeks. Time to recommit, get these things finished so I can goof off in style.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Empire of the Old

Drove out to see my cousin yesterday in Sun City. Located in Riverside County near Perris, this is a community where you must be over 55 to live. (I would qualify.) My cousin has a psychotic cat, overamped on feline energy. Psycho Cat enjoys perching atop the TV where it has a better view of the front door. As I entered the apartment, the cat bit me on the wrist bone.

My cuz assured me "Tabby" never bites anyone. Basking in the warmth of this unique status, I cleaned the wound and put on a Band Aid. Outside the bathroom, Tabby waited. She hissed and swiped at my ankle. I kicked and missed. She swiped and missed. I kicked again and connected as if booting a 40-yard field goal. Tabby sailed into the bedroom, thumped to the floor and scrambled under the bed. I slammed the bedroom door.

"But she never does that."

"Let's go eat."

Every restaurant and mall abounds with the elderly. At the coffee shop where we ate, the muzak featured songs from the 50s and 60s ala Jay and the Americans. We each had the over-55 soup and half sandwich special that included a dessert of cake and heart medicine. Afterwards, we sat outside her apartment and talked family and politics until it was time for me to drive 90 minutes back to L.A.

"She never bites anyone."

"Except me."

"Except you."

"Trade the cat in for gold fish. They're safer and if they die suddenly, who cares?

She thought it over. "I might."

Next time I visit, I'll be wearing steel gloves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fire Cancels Track Practice

TNT coaches want to let the air clear up more, hence no track practice tonight. Nevertheless, I ran yesterday using the newer chi running method and the older walk breaks. I finished a 3.1 mile lap around the Rose Bowl without knee pain. Very slow, but still my longest run since September.

With Pasadena cancelled, runners scramble to find new marathons. In general, a runner likes to finish the last 20-mile training run three weeks before an event. This allows the body to recover in time for maximum effort on race day. But without a clear event to work backwards from, "peaking" becomes hit and miss. Plus training adaptations must be woven into last-minute travel arrangements should the new marathon be some distance off. (Las Vegas and California International Marathons are the first week of December. I'm not sure if there's anything local closer than that.)

Good hunting to my fellow runners.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marathon Scratched and Other Thoughts

Ash and smoke ended the inaugural Pasadena Marathon. Winds are dying down, but the air still smells like a fireplace. We've got the windows shut, but the burning scent seeps in.

Off to visit my pal Dale tonight. Dale was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007. Near death, he successfully battled back, returned to work, and readjusted his priorities, realizing family and friends were more important than the many business deals that previously occupied his life. Now cancer has not only returned, but spread to liver and bones. Doctors are giving him three months. Maybe so. Dale's going through the grief process, but still determined to fight. Several of us visit on Sundays just to call him names and let him know he's remembered and loved as Dale enters the ring for what may be his last round.

For a man to struggle back, learn priceless lessons, then be terminally decked seems most unfair. There's a blog I read occasionally called The Anchoress. Its author lost a brother to illness and wrote on the painful troika of death, suffering, and dignity. Her conclusions allude to a subtle spiritual weaving between dying and comforters, an exchange of graces, a transfer of blessings, including humility, charity, and the self-awareness that our actions count because we're all on borrowed time.

I tend to miss the subtle. I usually want someone to be responsible for my loss so I have an object to focus pain, anger and bitterness upon.

Lost marathons, burned homes, and death rank differently on the hierarchy of hurt, irretrievable in degree. Loss would seem to be the norm in life. Our response allows us opportunities to deepen and grow. And if loss is inevitable, then what we have is all the more precious. If nothing else, I hope to remember that today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hill Fire and TNT

A hot Santa Ana blew this morning at 6:00 AM as Santa Barbara and Sylmar were charred by wild fires. At practice, Honolulu participants ran 18, while Phoenix marathoners did 9 to 16 miles depending on their injury. Temperatures rose throughout the morning and by noon, when the last walkers strode in, it was in the high 80s. However, with the Pasadena Marathon tomorrow, TNT had the trails pretty much to ourselves. Just like the old days.

The air stinks like ash.

Put in eight miles as I walked around with team members. I should be Okay for the half marathon tomorrow. Though it'll be hot, bad fire air is the big concern for many runners. Send prayers and good thoughts to all the people who have lost their homes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Year 3!

Today marks my third year of blogging.

12,252 visits.

22,481 page views.

More t/k.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Running and Silent Library

Another fall, another Tuesday night track practice. After the coaches sent the team to do timed 800 meter runs, I loped around, putting in two miles. That's the longest sustained run since early Sept. No knee pain, but I stopped early, not wanting to press the matter.

I'm excited about Sunday. Even though I'll be walking the Pasadena Half Marathon, it'll be my first race since San Diego back in June. Not that I'll be racing. It'll be more like walking in a parade. But a fun parade without equestrian units.

Some website had a link to a Japanese game show called Silent Library. Six guys sit around a table in a library. They must be quiet as they turn over cards. Anyone turning over a skull card is punished in really odd, painful ways. I'm not sure how you win or even if it is possible to win. But I'm hooked.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day Thanks!

A shout-out to the men and women of our armed forces. Stay as safe as you can doing the work you do. God bless.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Happy 233!

Captain Sam Nicholas founded the USMC at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Nov. 10, 1775. On we go into our third century. Semper Fi!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Team in Traction

Unexpected warm weather and long distances combined to make today an injury-riddled practice. One mild case of heat exhaustion and three knee injuries had the coaches earning their pay. (Or in the case of assistant coaches Alfredo and I, our symbolic, volunteer pay.) Honolulu runners and walkers put in 18 miles, while Phoenix marathoners logged 16. I walked briskly here and there for a total of 9.7 miles. No knee pain. I think I'll try walking the Pasadena Half-Marathon next Sunday. Won't that be fun? I think so.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

At the Mountains of Demographic Madness

Overlooked in the election post-mortem lay an interesting demographic. In addition to winning most categories and income levels, president-elect Obama sewed up votes from all the Great Old Ones.

This race of telepathic, star-born beings almost sat out the election behind their dimensional portals. However a federal judge in Arkham, Massachusetts, who had just ruled that a homeless man could list a park bench as his residence, declared that any dimension opening over U.S. soil clearly could be considered "home" for voting purposes. Obama campaign lawyers, armed with copies of the eerie Necronomicon, immediately spread out across New England.

In cities such as Innsmouth and Dunwich, the attornies bellowed out a series of brain-bending spells that ended with them slaying kidnapped women and shrieking, "Ia, Ia, Barack fhtagn!!" The spells successfully released colossol monstrosities Yog-Sothoth, Dagon, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, and Cthulhu. The lawyers issued them provisional ballots and a Democratic party voting guide before they were devoured, screaming in madness.

Later, two brave professors from Arkham University shut the dimensional doors, returning the Great Old Ones to various eldritch lairs. But not before they had voted and been questioned by pollsters as to why they broke for Barack.

Dagon felt that Obama's environmental plans would better protect his watery city, deep beneath the reef off Innsmouth.

Yog-Sothoth could not point to any one thing, but hoped Obama's radical change meant that he intended to topple cities and wash himself in the blood of the terrified inhabitants.

Cthulhu liked that Matt Damon was voting for Barack.

Afterwards, the pollsters were devoured, screaming in madness.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dark Horse via The Onion

Voting Machines Elect One Of Their Own As President

Arcane News

Congratulations to president-elect Obama.

Conspiracy theorists point out that "Obama" spelled backwards is "Amabo."

They go on to reveal that Amabo is the name of:

A. A swank eatery mentioned in the Kabbalah.

B. An old Star Trek villain.

C. A nickname for a guy called Amab.

D. A Zulu word for warthog pellets.

E. Too cryptic for you to understand; too intricate to explain; but I get it!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Of rain and TNT runners yesterday. Most of the Team ran or cheered up at the Santa Barbara Half Marathon while a few kept a practice going at the Rose Bowl. Despite lightning, swirling winds, and a brief but heavy rain, a handful of runners and walkers finished 12 miles. I walked the last 3.1 with Larry. It was the longest I've been on my feet since early September. A stiff back and a few knee twinges, but otherwise Okay.

Next week I'll try walking a few days and see what consistent use brings to Recovery Fest '08.

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