Sunday, February 26, 2006

Da Cleaner Can Still Learn

Having missed my run last week due to unscheduled events, I had visions of dirty pipes filling up with remnants of previous "bulking up" dinners that never got burned off. Gross! So I decided it was time for Da Cleaner to make an appearance, and this morning I set off to repeat my long run to the in-law's house.

I like to carry as little as possible when I run, so it was an exception for me to have 1 GU, 1 chapstick, and $2 in my pocket when I left. My plan was to run for an hour, buy some water for the GU, and then finish the rest of the run. I took a different route this time, mostly going south on Preston Road from Plano to Dallas, which will take me to about a mile from the in-law's house.

I had on long pants, a long sleeved tech shirt and gloves, and it felt just right. At 1:09, I reached Preston and Belt Line, and stopped at a gas station to buy some water. Turns out the smallest they have is a 20 oz bottle for $1.09. Argh! I didn't really didn't want to carry around that big of a bottle, and I certainly didn't want to jingle on with 0.81 cents in change! So I passed on the gas station and went into a Subway to ask for a cup of water. No problem, they said. So with GU and 1/2 cup of water down, I took off again.

Just a little farther down, I came to Preston and LBJ. Ya Bub, this is Texas. LBJ is actually I-635, 10 lanes across. I walked across the Preston overpass to the south side, and stopped to wait for traffic. It's then that I noticed a man standing in the median at the light. He had on blue overalls and a black t-shirt. His hair was gray, as was his full beard. He stood stooped over one crutch for support, with his wheelchair beside him. He must have been about 60+.

If I had been driving, I would've noticed him, but driven on. Standing here on the side of the road, there was no question. I took my gloves off, waited for the light to turn red, crossed over to the median, and put $2 in his hands. Up close, I could tell his eyesight wasn't too good, but his face lit up and he thanked me profusely. I didn't know what else to say, so I said "take care of yourself", patted him on the back, and crossed back over.

I started running again, and 20 steps later I glanced over my shoulder. He was looking at me and raised his hand to wave. I waved back, and kept on trucking. The rest of the run felt really good. This chance encounter and his little gesture to me gave me a better lift than any GU I've had. I owe him my 11.5 miles and 1:42:28.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I had a hearty dinner tonight in preparation for an early morning run tomorrow - and other useless plans

I had a hearty dinner tonight in preparation for an early morning run tomorrow. If I don't make the run, you can blame my unscheduled (de)tour sometime between the end of dinner and the arrival at my hotel ...

I knocked off work at 7:00p, and A. and I headed to Chinatown for dinner. Took the subway, R line uptown, same one I usually take back to the hotel, except that we got off after a few stops at Canal Street. Dinner was Malaysian food at Nyonya, spicy, pretty authentic - I think it's the best in Chinatown. So far so good.

After dinner, A. and I split up and I headed back to the subway station the catch the same R line uptown train. There are several lines that converge in Chinatown, and the last time I did this, I went in the wrong entrance and ended up wandering about for way too long trying to find the right platform. So this time I was determined to just go back down the same entrance I came out of earlier.

Bad move #1:

Well, I thought I was going down the same entrance from earlier. I was talking to S. to tell her all the shops in Chinatown were closed (so, sorry - the $785 LV bag will have to wait - hello? $785 ? can any bag be worth that much? like the chimney sweeps on the FedEx commercial, the right answer is "course not, don't be silly! a ha ha ha ha ha, a ha ha ha ha ha!", so anywho ... ), when the train comes, it has a big 'ol "R" on the side, and I get on. Bad move.

After a grand total of a week and 3 days back in this city, I'm thinking I'm ready to act cool like a native, not like a visitor, and definitely not like a tourist, which naturally leads to only one thing ...

Bad move #2:

Acting like I'm cool and don't have to look-out-the-window-at-every-stop-to-see-where-the-hell-I-am, I'm reading my USA Today instead. The trip is at least 15 mins anyway. Bad move. One sports section and one business section later, I look up and the next station doesn't look familiar. We should be approaching the numbered streets by now, but instead I see a named street, then another, and now I'm starting to think I'm on the wrong train. The next station is another named street, DeKalb, so I get off intending to catch another train going back the other direction. But on the platform, I look back at the same train, and it does have a big "R" on it, so I'm thinking maybe I did catch the right train after all, which naturally leads to ...

Bad move #3:

I get back on the same damn train. Yup, bad move. Forget cool, I'm looking at every station we come to now, hoping for a glimpse of something familiar. In hindsight, I suppose I could've looked at the big subway map on the inside side of the train, but people, the thought never crossed my mind because that would've been a new low in the world of un-cool and violated every male sense-of-direction bone in my body, amen brother! After a few minutes, my patience was rewarded and we started hitting the numbered streets. In a few more stops, we'd be at my 49th St. exit, and I'd be home free! Yes!

Er, no:

Well, 45th St. comes, and 49th doesn't, and then we pull into 53rd, so I get the hell off. I walk up to the street level, and immediately notice a few things:

1. It's quiet

2. It's dark

3. There nothing over 2 storeys tall.

I'm at 53rd and 4th ave, but this sure doesn't look anywhere close to my hotel at 49th and 8th ave. You would think a monstrosity like Times Square could not stay hidden behind all these 2-storey buildings, but my highly developed logical and analytical mind would not let me believe it without seeing it, which for good measure, leads to:

Bad move #4:

I start walking. Hey, I'm a runner, if s*it hits the fan I can always start running right? So I first go to 49th and 4th ave. Then to 49th and 7th ave. Ok, this ain't it. Brownstones everywhere. Duh. I head back to the station, making a big rectangular route. There's not a single sign to tell me where I am, until I'm almost back at the station, and one tiny restaurant sign says ... Brooklyn. I'd taken the R train going the wrong way.

I get back to the station, go downstairs, and am pretty sure I'm on the right platform headed back to Manhattan, when these thoughts go through my mind:

  • So I have to run here for the NY marathon? This isn't exactly how I envisioned triumphantly entering Brooklyn for the first time.
  • Man, those are some BIG-ASS rats! I wonder how something that big can squeeze under a door in such small a space.
  • I could've been blogging by now!
  • Dude - you're in a s*it load more trouble than you think you are - no, not me! this is to the guy who comes up to me and says "excuse me, is this the train for Manhattan?" - can you imagine that - I'm probably the only lost person for miles around and this dude picks me!


I finally get the R train going the right way this time, and head back towards Manhattan. Lost Dude is on the train as well, subway map unfolded in his hands, actively scanning every tile, every sign, every wall space at each stop we come to. Pfphhhhpt! Looks like a bloody lost tourist! After 3 stops, Lost Dude panics and gets off the train, map still in hand and still unfolded! We're still in Brooklyn. Sucks to be him.

I get off in midtown at my stop, and man was it nice to be back in "civilization". People, cars, lights everywhere. I grab a Starbucks on the walk to the hotel, and run into the crowd just coming out from Sweeney Todd on Broadway. I've never heard of it before, but I'm not much of a theatre person. Across the street is where Chicago is playing, which if Catherine Zeta-Jones were to pay a visit, I'd be there ... if I don't get lost walking the half block over.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Guarded By The Black Night

Having the Black Knight officially and graciously extend his protection to me, I defied the odds and ran Central Park this evening, in darkness no less. His power is indeed strong, I encountered no wayward characters, and only one rather large racoon. 44:07, I'll round it down to 5 miles.

I'm back for another week in this city, and still in the honeymoon stage with my new found running route. NYC marathon looks more appealing every day. Registration begins March 1!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

NY Winter Morning

YES! I made it. Stepped out of my hotel and onto 8th Ave this morning at 5:45 am. Why I can't start out this early back in Dallas is a mystery. OK, I did it once, when I had my longest marathon training run, but that was more so to beat the summer heat than anything else.

Anyway, it was still quiet outside, with a fair number of cars, but scarely anyone walking. I warmed up on the 10 blocks running up 8th Ave from 49th to 59th, which took me to the SW corner of Central Park. It was still dark, and I didn't see anyone running inside or outside the park at all. For a few seconds, I recalled what the concierge told me yesterday evening, when I asked what she thought of my idea to make a quick run to the park right then - with a look of shock and horror on her face, she said "you really don't want to run in there at night, I mean, like, really, you really don't want to run in there at night"! So now I'm thinking, maybe she wasn't being dramatic, maybe no one else is dumb enough to be here now but me (non-local).

But what the hey, I'm already here, so I started running on the outskirts of the park, and after about 1/2 mile I took one of the roads leading into the park. It's then that I started to see a few shadows running about, and the closer in I got, there were actually quite a few people running and a lesser number of people biking. I got on the loop and started to pick up a steady pace.

The road was clear, with ice piled up on the side, and snow still covering the grass. The air was almost a perfect temp for me, not painful to breathe, but cold enough that you felt it. It smelled refreshingly clean for New York, except for a couple of spots where you'd get a distinct whiff of eau de horse. It was great running inside in the stillness of the park, seeing the tops of buildings in the distance over the trees. I kept thinking too about how I really would like to do the NY Marathon one day. Some day.

I took the inside loop and felt good after one, so I went around again. It was light by the time I left the park near where I first entered, and I ran back down Broadway to 49th, and cut across to my hotel. I was out for 55 minutes, with a few short stops for traffic on the way up and back - I'm rounding it up to 6 miles. Good 'nuff for me! Quick shower, catch the subway downtown, pick up a Starbucks on the way to work, and I'm all set for the day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

10 Blocks from Central Park

That's all I have to cover to get there. I'm at 49th and 8th Ave. I woke up at 6:15 am this morning and decided it was too late to get a run in and still get to work on time. I should've calculated better last night, but I got up at 4:20 am to fly to NYC and was up till 12:30 am, so it was a pretty long day. I'm going to try again tomorrow, earlier. It's warmed up since the weekend, I haven't run since Sunday, and I'm really itching to hit the road!

Friday, February 10, 2006

This Dog Don't Hunt Below 32

I'm headed to NYC next week and was really looking forward to a change in running scenary. That is until I read Rae's weather report of a nice storm headed her way, and then further on up my way this weekend. Still, it's supposed to stop snowing and warm up by mid-week. That's a good thing because as much as I wish I am, I'm just not a suck-it-up-and get-out-there-in-the-freezing-cold runner. Hell, I don't even have any cold weather running gear! When it gets "cold" here in Texas, I wear two shirts and a pair of thin gloves to run - and if that's not warm enough, well, maybe I'll just head over to Fourbucks and have a nice 'ol cup of coffee instead!

Anywho, if it does warm up, any suggestions for a good running route starting in Midtown?

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Heartbeat of a Lifetime

Die-hard readers of this blog ;) may remember my Christmas-to-New-Year's runs last year for my daughter's 4th grade science project. It was due this week, and I had promised an update, so here it is. First, the project hypothesis:

Sparing you the gory details, here's skipping to the results ...

So it's a little low-tech, but that just adds to the authenticity and originality of the work! The bar chart shows clock time for the 1/2 mile run (3:47, 4:20, 4:12, 4:15, 3:52, 4:15, 4:12). The line graph shows ending heart rate (144, 120, 108, 102, 102, 102, 102). Q.E.D.!

I'm proud of the effort Stephanie put into this. It was fun running with her. She was and still is in reasonably good shape because she's into gymnastics, and I was almost afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up with her since I was, after all, on my running vacation. When she gets a little older, we may have to try this running thing again for real. Way to go Steph!