December 28, 2005

The Cost of Being Ripped Off

Morning Workout
BIKE (trainer)
3x (10 minutes Aerobic Conditioning (Zone 3) + 10 minutes Lactate Threshold (Zone 2))

Random Comments: Nothing like watching Blazing Saddles while doing a somewhat strenuous workout. It becomes a bit challenging when you're pedalling ferociously and the Gatorade-type substance you drink to keep hydrated comes squirting out your nose as you laugh so vigorously your stomach begins to pound in pain. Badges.... we don't need no steenkin' badges.


So it's 7:00AM and I'm pedaling maniacally on the bike, going nowhere. Granted, I'm inside my place with my bike attached to a trainer. Still, I'm going nowhere. Sweat is pouring off of me in buckets like the pore levee has been penetrated, and Class V sweat rapids are spouting from every inch of my skin. It feels great, this going nowhere stuff. I'd imagine it is fairly disgusting to anybody around, but it definitely feels great to me. I pedal on. Suddenly the phone rings. I know it's Catherine - who else would call me at this time of the morning. With only 20 minutes left in my workout, I don't want to stop to answer. She'll understand. In fact, why isn't she working out now? Peculiar... However, I know that if it were a crucial, life or death situation, she'd call back immediately. The immediate double callback (IDC), it's the internationally standard sign of distress.

I wait to hear if the phone rings again. And wait. Nothing but the sound of my pedal stroke drowning my anticipation of hearing that ring. I don't want it to ring again. Another ring means trouble. Another ring means bad news. I don't want bad news.

Sixty seconds pass. Nothing.
I sigh a waft of relief and continue focusing on my workout - or, rather, focusing on Blazing Saddles playing on the television ten inches in front of my nose as I workout.

Twenty minutes later I get off the bike, coated with sweat, and check the phone messages. As expected, it's Catherine. And, as expected, it's not distressing news. To the contrary, my friend, it's good news. The cops found her car!! Happy day! Happy, happy day!

Seeing how the Toyota is one of the easiest cars to break into, apparently some young whipper-snappers decided to take it out for a joy ride. Damn kids. Back when I was a lad, if we wanted to go out for a joy ride, we hopped on our banana seat Huffies and pedaled down the street, lifting our hands off the handlebars and whooping an overwhelming "yeehaa!" in defiant freedom halfway down the block. Today, they steal Toyotas. Life has gotten so much more complicated.

After I get dressed and pack up my car with the winter wear for our Tahoe/Mammoth trip, I pick up Catherine and we head off.

The cops had told Cat that her car was found parked somewhere in Culver City and that it was then towed to the Culver City tow yard. We stop by the police department to pick up the paperwork and head over to the tow yard to get the car. I won't go into extreme details about the tow yard because I'm guessing you can picture it in your head - the assortment of crashed, banged and mangled wrecks piled two high and sprinkled with a smattering of nicer Lexus', Hummers and other assorted repo's that has you making up cops & robbers stories in your head the moment you set eyes on them.

We go into the main office and hand over our paperwork. It'll be One Hundred and Seventy Dollars, he says. What?!?! The car was stolen and WE have to pay for it? Where is the justice? What happened to all the good in the world?! I toss out some annoyingly sarcastic comments which nobody - neither Cat nor the tow yard manager nor, frankly, me - find the least bit amusing. You should check out the car before you pay and see if it works, he retorts. Good thinkin', I think.

We walk back into the yard and look for the car. But we can't find it. Nothing. Nowhere. No car. After a fair bit of back and forth, we come to find that the car was towed to a different tow yard last night, and they're supposed to tow it to this one sometime today. We're told that we can go see the car in the other tow yard, but we'd have to come back and pay for it here, at Tow Yard #1.

So, we hop back in my car and drive the amusingly short 2 miles to Tow Yard #2. Cat is allowed to look at the car. The ignition is broken because they had to jam it in order to start the car, the trunk lock is broken because apparently they were too goddam stupid to find the Open Truck button next to the steering wheel and so they jammed that lock as well, and then random stuff was stolen from the car. There was a box of ski clothes, for instance... they took everything in the box except for one sweater and a set of goggles. They took the portable CD player, but none of the CDs. It was like they picked their way through a flea market. I can picture them standing there, trying on each of the clothes and only stealing the ones that complemented their eye color, or latest hair style. Perhaps their body type was "autumn" so they only wanted to take the items with browns and oranges and other flattering hues in order to look their finest for their next car-jacking. Just our luck, these car thiefs were the only two metrosexuals in the Crips street gang. (They left a pale blue bandana on the front seat - a sure sign they were Crips. And perhaps a sign that they were more Winter than Autumn.)

Seeing how there was no irreparable damage to the car we jumped back in my auto and high-tailed it back to Tow Yard #1 again, where we paid the money to release the car. Once paid, we drove yet again to Tow Yard #2 so we can get it moved. Here's where the fun got funnier. You see, Tow Yard #2 is a certified AAA tow yard. So when your car breaks down and you frantically dial the AAA number for help, the fine folks at Tow Yard #2 often come out to save your sorry ass.

What with the ignition broken, Cat's car was unable to be driven. It had to be towed to the dealer to be fixed. However, Tow Yard #2 would charge $85 to tow the car. The only place that they would tow it to for free is to Tow Yard #1. And the last thing we needed was to go to Tow Yard #1 for the third time this morning. On top of that, seeing how Cat already paid $170 to have this car stolen, she wasn't anxious to keep racking up the bill.

Being the smart one she is, Cat decided to call AAA to tow the car. That membership must be good for something. Realizing that Tow Yard #2 is an AAA agent, I sat there wondering whether they now would have to tow her car for free and eat the damn $85. Apparently they wouldn't. AAA sent a completely different tow truck to the AAA tow yard #2 to tow Cat's car. Now I'm no efficiency expert, but it seems fairly ridiculous that AAA would send a tow truck to their own tow yard. Having spent far too much time at tow yards that morning, I decided not to harp on the thought for too long.

The AAA tow truck lugged Cat's car from Tow Yard #2 to the Toyota dealer for a mere $8.

At the Toyota dealer, we jumped out of the pot and into the proverbial fire when they told us that the cost to fix the ignition is an additional $325. Crime is expensive.
There sure is a hefty cost of being ripped off.

December 27, 2005

The Wrong Side of Surreal

Morning Workout
1 1/2 hours
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1)

Random Comments: 16+ years of living in Los Angeles, and I still am amazed every day I ride or run along the beach. Just another beautiful day in paradise.

RUN (treadmill)
3 x (7 1/2 minutes in Aerobic Conditioning (Zone 3) + 2 1/2 minutes easy)

Random Comme
nts: It's always the first one of these three runs that hurts the most. That's probably the only part that is exercise anyway... the rest is just some sort of sick compulsion fueled by God knows what.

It started off as a great day. Cat and I woke up and had a wonderful, relaxing ride. That led us right into a strenuously exhilirating run. Then we both went off to run our errands and get some personal stuff done before we met up for the evening. Oh... but then we found out Cat's car got stolen.


It got stolen right out of her garage-like area. Right in the same place she's been parking it for 8 years. Right next to all of the other cars. Right under the windows of all of the neighbors. Right there.

On Christmas.

They stole her car on Christmas! Now I don't know who this proverbial "they" are, but I think I can pretty much say without fear of being wrong that they don't believe in Santa Claus. And they didn't get any good gifts for Christmas. And I could really give a shit about what they want and need at this point. I just want Cat to have her car back.

And now we leave for Tahoe and Mammoth tomorrow morning. And Cat needs to deal with the police, and the insurance broker, and the adjuster, as she tries to remember everything that was in the car. Though most of it can never ever be replaced as its sentimental value far outweighs any monetary value placed on it.

The odds of her actually seeing her car again is somewhere between slim and good fucking luck. She had a Toyota, the most popular car amongst the LA car-thief set. Toyota's get stolen quite frequently for their parts, which are so common that they've got great resale value and fuel the auto parts black market. So by the time Cat actually realized the car was missing, it was probably already somewhere in East LA, in the back of a warehouse garage, broken down into a million little pieces scattered about the floor, each one stacked side by side with similar parts from thousands and thousands of other never-to-be-seen-again Toyotas and Hondas that, too, once held stuff of great sentimental value which will never be seen again.

It's almost surreal.
But the sad type of surreal. The sad and aggravating type of surreal.
Not the type of surreal I like.
Not at all.

December 26, 2005

Morning Workout
50 minutes on le treadmille
Heart Rate: Aerobic (Zone Une)

Random Comments: The treadmill I was on had 89 channels of cable TV attached to it. I also had my iPod which was filled with 3,265 songs. No matter what you do or how you amuse yourself, it all boils down to the fact that 50 minutes of running on the treadmill is just plain boring.

Main Set: 3 x 800 meters

Random Comments: Catherine sure is becoming a faster swimmer. She is so going to kick my butt at Ironman Lake Placid.


December 25, 2005

The Christmas Runs

Morning Workout
1 hour 49 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1) / Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

Random Comments: Tired can be used to describe a variety of things. There is physically tired, as in "my legs were so tired from yesterday's bike ride, it's a miracle I got them to move at all." There is emotionally tired, as in "I'm just not excited to run, my mind is too tired to focus on anything serious... like moving my body." And there is mentally tired, as in "Run? Are you f***ing kidding me?! I'm still sleeping. I'm tired. Go away."


I love the Christmas morning runs. Always have. They are second only to the New Years morning runs. It's just so goddam peaceful so early on Christmas morning. There are no cars on the road and nary a soul outside. I love the freedom of running down the middle of the street - straddling the double yellow line with not a care on my mind. It's a Runner's World moment if I ever had one.

When I run through each neighborhood early on Christmas morning, the houses are so calm and quiet, I can practically feel the people nestled all snug in their beds and taste the visions of sugar plums emitting from their fat little heads. I can sense the anticipation of Christmas morning. Everybody sleeping so soundly only to wake up to a bevy of gifts under the tree, overflowing the room in ribbons and bows and all sorts of other recyclable products that will most likely not be recycled. Every once in awhile you pass by a house with a child out front already playing with his new tractor or trying to ride his new bike, despite the inherent challenges of pedaling with pajama feet on.

There's nothing but happiness in the air on Christmas morning. And no matter how tired you are from the previous day's bike ride, and no matter how emotionally drained you are from month after stressful month of work, and no matter how tuckered out you feel from never catching up on all of the missing sleep you've been desperately searching for - the Christmas run brings peace, happiness and tranquility. In the same way so does Christmas. Regardless of your religion, your belief, your age, race or mindset, there's something about Christmas time - about the feeling of Christmas, the unaffected honesty and beauty of it all that just makes the entire day a magical moment.

Of all the deeply profound and meaningful things he's said in his life (and there have been many), I do believe Bryan Adams was at his most profound peak when he sang : There's something about Christmas time, something about Christmas, that makes you wish it was Christmas every day.

True dat, Bry. True dat.

Merry Christmas - today, tomorrow and forever on.


December 24, 2005

The Time is Down

Morning Workout
4 Hours
Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1) / Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

Random Comments: We did our first real hill ride of the training year on a 7 1/2 mile turning, looping, dipping, rolling joy of a climb. It's one of those climbs where when you get to the top, high above the clouds, you gaze down at the ocean peaking through the cascading green mountains and your eyes follow the curving of the road as it winds its way up the hill in a scene that is picture perfect for a Lexus car commercial. Maybe even BMW. I got a flat tire on the way up. Sure wish my bike had On*Star.


Merry Christmas eve, y'all! I've only got a few minutes here cause Cat's coming over now. We've got to bake some cookies and a cake, then head up to her parent's house for Christmas dinner. Her whole family will be there. I've met them all a few times - wonderful people. Well, I haven't met her brother Nick yet, but I'm going to guess he's wonderful people too. I'll get back to you on that once I have final confirmation.

Cat and I had a pretty good four hour ride today, despite my flat tire and tired legs. The last 20 miles of the ride went by incredibly fast - mostly because she and I were in a heated conversation about down time. Specifically, not enough of it. You see, she's under the impression that I'm always on the go. And, oftentimes I am. Cat is more of a laze around, go-with-the flow type person. I've always felt like I was an easy going, laid back, go-with-the-flow type person too. I know for a fact that I used to be. The problem is, I've changed over the years. And I realized that on the ride today. (Actually, I realized it about 4 seconds ago when I typed the last sentence, but the ride got me thinking about it.) I mean, I can still go-with-the-flow with the best of them, and when I lay back, man I go waaaaay back. But I also like structure and schedule. And the more I get older, the more things I cram onto my plate, and the more structure and schedule I impose on myself. It keeps me organized and focused. I even structure my downtime. Which raises the age-old question, (second to the bear shitting in the woods one) if there is structure to downtime, is it really downtime.

I wonder what happened to the structureless guy I used to be? Hmmm...I'll need to schedule some time to get in touch with that person again.

December 22, 2005

If It Weren't For The People

Morning Workout
RUN (treadmill)
Zone: 3x (7.5 minutes in Aerobic Conditioning (Zone 3) + 2.5 minutes recovery)

Random Comments: Yet another workout I love. A mere 7 1/2 minutes of really hard followed by a short recovery. I think I love these types of workouts because it is really more mental training than physical. It's about keeping the mind focused despite the pain. I focus best when there is "despite the pain" in the sentence. "Dig deeper" works too. Unless of course there is a shovel involved.

Main Set: 10 x 100 meters (10 seconds rest)

Random Comments: God-DAMN I was tired for this workout. It was tough to keep moving. Which is why when we finished the 10 hundred meter repeats, I had us dig deeper and do one more despite the pain.


It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas (feel free to sing that line). I mean, it's as close to Christmas as you can get in the 75 degree weather of Los Angeles. I've been living in Los Angeles for over 16 years and every year it was tough for me to swallow the concept of a warm Christmas. It just didn't work. Christmas requires snow. It's just the way it is. So every year I'd high-tail it back east, or up to Tahoe or really anywhere that had snow.

Then, two years ago, I was blind-sided by Christmas. It snuck up on me before I had anytime to plan a trip. With nothing to do, I reluctantly decided to stay in Los Angeles. And you know what happened? My entire perception of Los Angeles changed. That year made me realize that Christmas time is the absolute, hands down best time to be in this city. Just about everybody gets out of town during that holiday week. As a result the streets are empty, the stores are empty, the movie theatres are empty and, for once, life is easy in this town. Christmas at home made me realize the reality of California: Los Angeles is a truly great place, if it weren't for the damn people.

So now I treasure the holiday time out here. Especially since I travel so much throughout the year, I really look forward to sticking around LA during the holidays. This year Catherine and I got a X-mas tree that, I must say, is pretty darn beautiful. I'll be spending Christmas with her family. And then, for a brief time, we're going to zip up to Tahoe and Mammoth for the days surrounding New Years. Well... maybe a little snow doesn't hurt after all.

December 21, 2005

It Was A Good Day

Morning Workout
90 minutes

Zone: Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

Random Comments: It was pretty damn dark out when we started the ride. I used my lights for the first time. There was the blinking one on the back of the bike, and then the headlight on the front. For some reason the blinking one on the back of the bike kept turning off every five minutes. That's bad, what with the tired people driving the cars at me from behind. Then the battery on my headlight on the front of the bike died. That's bad, not being able to see where I was going. It's very peaceful ridin
g in the dark when you don't know if you're going to hit a pothole or get hit by a car. I survived, by the way. I'm a survivor.

I had a conference call with two clients at 7am this morning. Any normal person would wake up at 6:30 am, brew up a cuppa joe and have the call at 7am lazing around in their jammies. Well, I never claimed to be normal.

Catherine and I got up at 4:45am this morning for a 90 minute bike ride. The last time I remember looking at the clock it said 12:26 am. So from my calculations, if I know how to use this abacus correctly, I got a little over 4 hours of sleep last night. Here's a little tidbit of info for you: I'm an 8 hours of sleep type of guy. Anything less than 8 hours and my happijoy starts falling by the waygutter. Which means that four hours of sleep... not so good. However, I vowed to have this be a good day, four hours or not. And goddamit, a good day it was going to be.

We hit the road at 5:15am and, despite some problems seeing (as described above), it was a beautifully peaceful ride. The 7am conference call was extremely positive. And the rest of the day brought on two other pieces of business that are suddenly moving towards the elusive confirmation. See what I did there? I made it a good day. It's like magic, I tell you. Magic.

It's 8:30pm right now and I'm about to pass out. Which I suppose is good because clearly I have nothing interesting to say today. And I'm getting delirious. And we all know we don't want me in front of a computer when I'm delirious. Which, for some reason makes me think of the video for "Take On Me" by a-ha. Remember that video? The one where the guy gets sucked into the comic strip and the whole video is him being chased through the comics. Isn't that a great goddam video?

December 20, 2005

Surfing The JuJu

Morning Workout
50 minutes
Zone: Aerobic

Random Comments: You shoulda seen the sunrise this morning. Good Lordy. The sky was on fire. It was like God was huddled in the corner of the night and lit a match that lit up the sky. And all the buildings reflected the firey orange of the sky in their windows making it look like a network of oversized heating lamps lining the coast of Santa Monica. The mountains were purple as the fog rose above them. I never really bought into that line "the purple mountains majesty" until I actually saw them this morning (fruited plain sold separately ).

Evening Workout
Main Set: 6 x 400m

Random Comments: Wooohooo! Foot cramp. Stretch. Woohooo!


I had bad juju today. I could feel it sink in after my run finished. Perhaps it started when the cleaning lady walked in while I was taking a shower. Or maybe it was when I got the e-mail this morning saying that I didn't win the $30MM business I was pitching. Or perhaps the following e-mail learning that my boss just won new business that I was supposed to be on.

Sometimes you just have to roll with the juju. If it's a good juju day, embrace it, revel in it, enjoy it. And when the bad juju comes along, you just have to ride it out until it takes a turn for the better. I surfed the bad juju today.

I'd have to say the highlight of my day was standing in line at the bank. I'd been surfing the bad juju for the entire morning and had to step out of the office to recharge the batteries. So I was just standing there in the bank line minding my own business when all of the sudden some thoughts of Catherine popped into my mind. They weren't even funny thoughts - just nice thoughts. But for some reason these thoughts got me chuckling. And the chuckling just kinda rolled in on itself and got me laughing. Well the laughing steamrolled all over me and suddenly I'm standing there in the middle of the crowded bank in outright hysterics. And I couldn't stop. The more I tried to stop, the more it overcame me. I tried thinking of serious things, I read signs, I bit my tongue, held my breathe... I tried all the tricks in the book but it just got me laughing harder. And when I noticed the others in line gazing at me like I'd gone nutty-go-crazy, well, that got me laughing even louder.

Finally, it was my turn to step up to the teller and seeing the look of fear and apprehension in his eye got me to calm myself down a wee bit. But I felt different at that point.

You know, I think I laughed the bad juju right out of my system.
I'm feeling like tomorrow is going to be a good day.

December 19, 2005

Chicken Soup For The Psycho

Morning Workout
BIKE (on the trainer)
25 minutes in Lactate Threshold heartrate (Zone 2)
20 minutes in Aerobic Conditioning heartrate (Zone 3)
15 minutes in ST (I forget what ST stands for, but it sure hurts)(Zone 4)

Random Comments: I quite like this workout, mostly because it starts off nice and fine and then just plain hurts as you approach the hour mark. The other good thing about this workout is, with warm-up and cool down included, I was able to watch the entire movie "The Clearing" while spinning on my bike. How nice. Just a bucket of popcorn away from pure heaven.


Pyscho means "crazy or insane". Somatic means "of or relating to the body". I don't like this whole notion of psychosomatic and it's implication that my body has gone loopy. Yet I suppose I must come to terms with it because sometimes I do feel like my body has gone completely batty - like it has a mind of it's own. Separate from the mind I use, of course... which happens to be in my body...but..... um.... forget it.

There was that time earlier this year that I got really sick before St. Anthony's triathlon. Couldn't run for more than 10 feet without breaking into an incredibly painful, gut-exploding whooping cough that drove me to the point of nausea. Well, lo and behold, I get through the race with barely a hack. Once the race was done, that cough magically disappeared. Haven't seen it since.

Fast forward a few months and I'm carrying my bike down the stairs three days before Vineman, my key race of the year. I step down onto the third stair and - SNAP! - my back gives out in a big way. I can't stand up without a shooting pain screaming up my spine. I can't even sit without a permanent grimace. I can lie down, that's it. The day before the race I spend flat on my back in bed, unable to move. Come race day, you guessed it, I get through the entire race without more than a slight pinch. A day later I'm lifting heavy boxes without a care in the world.

You see what I'm saying? I really bring new meaning to the psycho part of pscyhosomatic.

I didn't go to the office today - decided to work from home. I'm feeling a bit sick. A little feverish, sore throat. You know, the early warnings of sickness - as if the flu were lurking around the corner just waiting to pounce. I'm downing so much chicken soup, orange juice and echinacea, I think I'm pissing away all of my internal organs. The truth is, though, I don't feel sick in a normal way. I mean, I've got the feverish feeling, but that is usually accompanied by sniffling, sneezing, rasping, hacking, whooping, hawking, spitting, queezing or some other similarly disgusting act of illness. Me? I got nothin'. Which immediately makes me wonder what the hell is going on. So I start to do an emotional inventory, if you will, and try to find out the true meaning of my supposed illness.

Well, you'll be sad to hear that I didn't come up with an answer. Sorry that I can't provide a final, sum-up-my-whole-life-in-a-sentence ending for you. The fact is, though, that I've finally realized that my body is so quick to react to my emotional strain. That realization, in and of itself, is a big step. Because if I start a-whoopin', or if my back suddenly gives out, right before Ironman, let me tell you there's gonna be one angry blogger in the house.

Now excuse me, I hear the matzoh balls calling my name...

December 18, 2005

What Happens In The Men's Locker Room

Morning Workout
Main Set: 3 x 400m

Random Comments: Because of some schedule juggling we did this week, we didn't really have a set work-out to do this morning. Which was nice in a 'no pressure' sort of way. We dilly-dallied around Cat's place until about 10am and then went to the gym for an easy, short swim. Which was then followed by eating, shopping and movie watching while eating. Now it's almost time for dinner - eating again. I love the off-days!


As you know, Catherine and I got a free two-week trial membership at the Sports Club LA - perhaps the most high-fallutin' gym in LA for the masses (My mom asked me if I saw any celebrities there, but the fact is that celebs are smart enough to go to the smaller, more intimate gyms or, better yet, get their own damn trainer and not have to deal with all us riff-raff.) This mornings workout was really a scam. We didn't go to the gym to workout as much as to people watch and soak up all the bewildering stories our little brains can handle. And bewildered we were...

I've talked in the past about the horrid joy I get as a member of the local YMCA. The Y members are pretty much old and decrepit, the main workout room resembles the early bird special on an old-timers "stay healthy" cruise, and the men's locker room is home to such vile sounds and activities that I've got to keep laughing in order to avoid the overwhelming disgust. The past week at Sports Club LA has showed me a different world - a much cleaner, prettier world that can be experienced at a gym. Or so I thought. The experiences I had this morning had me longing for my sickishly antiquated friends at the Y.

There's something about a sauna that brings out the crazy in people. I'm not saying the sauna will make you crazy - but if you're already crazy, it'll make you crazier. When I walked in the sauna this morning, there was only one other person in there, sitting in the corner reading something or other, I couldn't quite figure out what. Understanding saun-etiquette, I took a seat on the other side of the room, grabbed the section from the newspaper that was sitting there and began to read, waiting for the sweat to start a-drippin'. It wasn't but two or three minutes in when Cornerman abruptly bellows a "oh yeah, baby!!" This can't be happening, I think to myself. I look over, expecting an explanation - at the very least a raise of the eyebrows and shrug of the shoulder - but I got nary a gaze. So, marking this one down as a clearly uncontrollable burst of Tourettes, I put my head down and continued my reading. And that was when the moaning started. "Oooohhhh." "Aaaaaaaah" "Mmmmmm." And the grunts. "Unh." "Arh." "Uuf." It was like the soundtrack to a bad porno. And let me tell you, sharing a very hot sauna with a stranger, with nothing but a towel separating your manlihood from the stifling air, is not exactly the place you want to hear the mutterings of a bad porno. Or even a good one, for that matter. I glanced over at the gentleman once again to see what the hell was going on and, at the very least, throw out the "you're being very annoying, crazy man" look. And for good measure, I also threw in the "if you would please shut the fuck up, it would stop scaring the bejesus out of my sweating tired body" look. I wanted to make sure I got my point across. Once again, he didn't look up from whatever he was reading. Which made me really wonder what the hell he was reading.

It was just about that point that the door opened and two elderly gents walk in, both wrapped in towels. The elder of the fellows sits down next to me, while the other Kojak looking fellow reaches over me and grabs the section of the paper laying at my side. Interesting, I think. He probably wants to read that and just doesn't feel like asking whether I'm done. No problem. I'll let him read it and then I'll browse through it when he's finished. Imagine my surprise when he places the paper on the ground, turns around with his back facing me and stands right on the newspaper. Wait a minute here! He took my comic section as a sauna floor mat and is taunting me with it!! I was about to say something when suddenly he took off his towel and, standing buck naked as the day he was born, threw the towel on to the bench behind him. So here I am sitting in the sauna minding my own beeswax - I've got crazy guy moaning wildly in the corner amidst his sudden outbursts of "Oh yeah's" and "Yeah baby's" and fat, hairy naked guy in front of me, his butt just a foot or two away, standing on my comic section. That was when he started doing the side bends. You know, leaning to one side and then the other and back and forth, with all of his business just flappin' around like it just don't care. "You're still doing those?" the older gent inquires of naked fat flapping guy. "Never will stop," says naked man. I come to find that he spends one hour in the sauna every single day, where he does 2500 naked sidebends and a few pushups. Once I heard the word "pushups" that was my cue. Clearly I couldn't stick around for the naked pushups, and, truth be told, I was kinda nervous what else this sauna trip would bring, so I decided to get up and leave.

I had a quick shower and walked towards the mirror to comb my hair. As I'm walking, I glance to my left and see a gentleman, about 60 years old, leaning against the wall. It wasn't tough to ascertain what was wrong with this picture: he had a hard-on. Not a full blown woodie, mind you, but his little buddy was definitely standing at attention. And the crazy thing? He had his towel over his shoulder! The guy's got an erection in the middle of a crowded gym, and rather than cover himself up, he stands there towel over shoulder, proud as a woodpecker with wood. Disgusted already, I didn't want to know why this was happening and had definitely no need to look further... I think I gave myself whiplash as I turned back to the mirror and forced the disturbing image out of my mind.

I may have stood there combing my hair a little longer than usual, but when I finally turned back towards the locker room he was gone. So I walked back through the locker room - time to get dressed. As I turn the corner to my locker, who do I see getting dressed but a mere three lockers from mine, but Erectionman. I kept my eyes focused on my locker as I walked by, though noticed that he had calmed down, if you know what I mean. So I started getting dressed, perhaps feeling a bit uncomfortable the entire time. No wait, not perhaps... definitely feeling uncomfortable. And the whole time I'm getting dressed, Erectionman keeps looking at me. And staring. I don't look up. I don't want to make eye contact. I don't want to know. I finished getting dressed and walked away.

As I was sitting by the smoothie bar waiting for Catherine, Erectionman walked by again. And a few minutes later, the fat naked guy walked in. And, lo and behold, crazy moaner guy. And the disturbing thing is that they all looked so normal when fully dressed.

Catherine finally came by. You're not going to believe what the women's locker room is like, she said animatedly with a hint of disgust. I swear half the boobs in there are silicon!

That's all you got - silicon boobs? Honey, let me tell you what happens in the men's locker room...

December 17, 2005

The First Brick Of The Season

Morning Workout
2 hours
Heart Rate Zone: Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

right into....

1 hour
Heart Rate Zone: Lactate Threshold, same as above

Random Comments: I love this workout. Not too long, not too short. Not overly taxing on the body, but not too easy. Perfect. I was smiling the whole way through (except, of course, when I had to stop 12 minutes into the run and stretch out my aching calf.)

December 16, 2005

The Weirdest Vegetable

Morning Workout
Nothing. Zippo. Zilch. Nada. It's a rest day, baby!! REST day!


Let's just be honest with myself, I've been angry lately. Well, I take that back. Maybe not so much angry as melancholy. No wait, I take that back too. I've definitely been a bit angry, but I've also absolutely been melancholy. I guess that leads me to angracholy, I s'pose. Hmmm... angracholy. Sounds like a vegetable that I push to the side of my plate to avoid. Steamed angracholy. Boiled angracholy. You know what, that's how I've been feeling lately - like my life is filled with boiled vegetables I just want to push to the side of my plate to avoid. Yeah, that definitely sums up my last few weeks.

This angracholy thing has really seeped into all parts of my life. With my training, I have been practically dragging myself through the workouts; the angracholy sucking up the enthusiasm that usually drives me to feed off that endorphin rush. At work, I've been walking in every morning and quickly focusing on the tasks at hand. Conference call to conference call. Proposal to proposal. I force myself to keep my head down, moving forward, avoiding the overly festive attitude I usually take with the my fellow co-workers. And with Catherine... well, I just haven't been the same. I have backed away and started to put up a wall of angracholy around me.

It's not good. There is nothing about it that is good.

Today I woke up and realized that we are only 10 days away from Christmas. I love this time of year. Between the festive, the joyous and the merry, there should be no space left for angracholy. Yet the festive, joyous and merry have been shunned away from me for the past weeks. So today, I've decided to change. I've opened up my arms and invited the festive, joyous and merry back in. Be gone, angracholy, I say. Be gone.

You see, I flew up to San Jose today for an important client lunch. One of my colleagues flew up for that meeting as well. One thing about this colleague is that he is always so incredibly insightful about me and the ways in which I work. I haven't even talked to him a lot about me personally, but he just gets it, if you know what I mean. He was born 12 hours before I was - I think that has something to do with it. He just understands. So we're coming back from San Jose and my colleague, who, by the way, is a posterboy for ADD, is going on and on about how I internalize stress and how, no matter what I do, I must find a way to manage that stress or it will end up tearing me apart and be my biggest obstacle in completing the Ironman. And as he's going on and on about me, rambling like a broken record about the way I am and the way I work (and he's pretty damn right on), I realiz that this was the same conversation that I had with Catherine just the night before.

Well, you see, it hit me all at once. I've had enough. Work has had me stressed for the past couple of weeks. It has had me wondering where I fit in in life - wondering what I'm supposed to be doing. And I'm not going to let that get me down anymore.

It's the holiday season for godsakes. It's time to be happy.
So suddenly I'm a new man. There is no more angracholy. I've not just pushed it off to the side of my plate, I've tossed the entire lump of angracholy into the disposal and I've flipped the damn switch. And I tell you what - I'm going to rump-a-bum-bum myself until I can't stand it anymore. Festive, merry and joyous. Tis the season.

December 15, 2005

The Fear Of Bowling

Morning Workout
Main Set: 2,000m time trial

Random Comments: The woman in the lane next to me was doing yoga in the pool. It kept me going, every lap wondering what pose she'd be in next. Honestly, though, I was scared she'd finally drown doing downward dog. What a sad way to go.


There's something intriguing about a bowling lane. Even more, it's that area between the "foul line" and the pins. It's like a no man's zone, an area that only a bowling ball is allowed to encroach. Beyond the foul line is like Area 51: you know it's there, you can see it's there, but there's a mystery that surrounds it. You feel so guilty stepping over the foul line. Even if its just one toe that crosses it after the ball so delicately leaves your fingers. It's wrong to step over that line - cheating, even. When I was a kid, there would be a buzzer that would go off if you crossed the line. They might as well have added electric shock to it as well - it was that daunting.

But it draws you in. The rebellious part of you, the one that drove you to steal the pack of gum from the corner store when you were younger, that's the part that pushes you to cross that foul line in the bowling alley. And once you do? Once you boldly step over the invisible boundary and find yourself standing all alone mid-lane, you've got a whole network of conflicting emotions stirring your synapses. The first phase is the feeling of guilt that overcomes you. Quickly you look around the bowling alley expecting everybody to be staring at you in disbelief; anticipating the burst of activity as a SWAT team bursts through the doors, red lasers beaming from their guns, all pointed at your body as the bullhorned commander tells you to step away from the bowling lane slowly and carefully and nobody will get hurt.

The guilt and fear is balanced by the second phase: the sense of freedom. Standing there mid-lane, you feel a sense of being in unchartered territory, standing where no man has stepped before.

It's a crazy thing, the bowling lane.
Which leads my to my swim this morning.

I went back to the Sports Club LA to swim because... well, how could I not? This gym is a practical petri dish of unbelievable stories. There should be a blog just about the Sports Club LA experience - it is that astonishing.

So I go to the pool alone today because Cat decided to run in the morning. Please remember a couple of things that I mentioned a few days ago about the pool. First of all, most of the lanes are lanes built for one. Meaning they're about 4 feet wide so there's no way two people can swim side by side. Secondly, there is a current in the pool, as if there were only one proper direction to swim. When you swim in a northerly direction, you feel like you're flying. When you turn around, it's like a salmon swimming up the waterfall. Without the bears eating you, of course.

So I decide, today, to swim in one of those lanes-for-one, which, as it turns out, are about as wide as a bowling lane. I jump in and begin swimming. Suddenly the current grabs me and I feel like I have an outboard motor coming out of my ass. I'm going that fast. The lane bouys are so close, I focus on staying straight down the middle, not wanting to fall off to the sides. There are dotted lines on the bottom of the pool, so I focus on those as they stream by me in a practical blur. I look up and see the wall approaching rather quickly. I can't slow down because the current has got me. Suddenly and so quickly, I feel just like a bowling ball careening down the lane. I completely understand what it is like to step beyond that foul line - to feel the fear and exhiliration as I scream towards the pins. And when my hands hit the side of the pool and braced my bodies impact, I swear I heard the sounds of the pins falling. The sweet sounds of bowling pins careening off of each other.

It was a strike. I turned around and swam the other way.

After 45 minutes I finished my swim and got out of the water. Earlier this week when I got out of the water, I passed by an elderly gentleman napping by the side of the pool. And when I mean napping, I mean laid out on his side, a towel draped over him, eyes closed, snoring. I found it odd, this man just sleeping by the pool, but decided not to ask questions. Today when I walked to the pool, I noticed a cushion sitting by the side of the pool - it looked like a cushion for a recliner, but without the recliner part. I didn't pay much attention and just walked by. Yet when I finished my swim and started walking away from the pool, I saw yet another man laying by the side napping - on his side, towel draped over him and yadda yadda yadda, same sleeping story. I suddenly remembered the cushion and realized that the Sports Club LA actually lays out cushions by the lap pool for people to sleep on. What kind of messed up nonesense is that?! I couldn't believe other people found this normal, so I looked around the pool to see if anybody else was in shock. As I gazed around, my eyes came upon the pool attendant polishing the metal railing that surrounds the pool. This, by the way, is the railing that nobody touches. I had seen this guy throughout my swim, but it didn't really sink in until now. This young chaps entire job, I realized, is to keep polishing the metal railing. Of course nobody would find the pool-side sleeper to be odd, for here I was in a culture that accepted a full-time rail-polisher as normal behavior.

In mild shock, I went back down to the locker room to shower and change. Funny thing about the shower room at this club, they don't have towels. In fact, you have to walk out the door of the shower area, through a hall, and in the door of the locker room area in order to get a towel. Does anyone find that odd? Is this just me? I mean, of all the places you know for a fact that somebody is going to need a towel, it'd be by the showers. And yet they don't have even a piece of tissue within 100 feet of the shower heads. Will the wonders never cease.

After a few laps back and forth between shower and locker room, I finally get clean, dried and dressed. I decide, before I leave, to grab a smoothie at the gym's breakfast bar so that I can sit and gawk as the hoity-toities come and go. Within the first two minutes in walks the lady in black tights, black tank top and knee-high ugs. Because, of course, knee-high ugs are the perfect gym accessory these days. And before I can catch my breathe, in walks the woman in red pants, red top and red shoes to match her red workout bag, because heaven forbid you don't color coordinate your ass before going to the gym.

Ten minutes of this and I couldn't take it anymore so I strolled into the parking structure - which for a second I mistook for a Mercedes and BMW dealership - hopped into my car and left. Of course, I payed the $2 parking fee. No matter who you are, everybody's got to pay the price.

December 14, 2005


Morning Workout
50 minutes
Zone: Aerobic

Random Comments: Legs tight. Ankles hurt. Achilles feels like its about to snap. Cranky. Grouchy. Grumpy. Other than that, it was a pretty good run


For the first time in something like three weeks, I'm home alone doing nothing with nothing to do. Well, let me define "nothing to do" for you. In my current state of being, "nothing to do" means that I don't have any evening plans, no pressing work issues that have me preparing presentations or repurposing budgets, and no evening workouts on the schedule. It appears the stars have aligned and left me lying here comfortably on my couch.

Of course, I have about a billion other things on the to-do list, what with the outstanding Christmas presents I have yet to buy, outstanding e-mails I have yet to respond to, outstanding bills I have yet to pay and record company accounting I really need to review. But I told myself that I'd relax tonight. I'll leave everything else for me to stress about on Saturday. And odds are pretty good that Saturday will be a stressful one. But I'm not going to think about it. Look at me not thinking about it. Watch me change the subject. You ready? I'm going to change the subject in three.... two...... one.....

I've been pretty excited for this night. Excited to do nothing. But here it is, eight o'clock and though I'm lying on my couch doing the nothing I've been yearning for, I'm so tired I think I might fall asleep. That's the problem with running around so much - by the time you actually find some time to stop and breathe, you're so damn tired you can't even enjoy the quietude.

Someone famous once said that laziness is resting before you're actually tired. But if the actual laziness makes me tired, then what? Riddle me that one, Batman.

OK, I'm going to shut up now and put us both out of my misery.

December 13, 2005

How The Other Half Swims

Morning Workout
Main Set: 3 x 400m time trial

Random Comments: I suppose if you're going to exercise early on the morning after the company Christmas party, it might as well be a dip in the pool. The time trial part wasn't the most optimal. In fact, the trial was really waking up at that time. (See how I played on those words? Time trial. The trial is the time. You liked that, didn't you? Maybe it's not ha-ha funny. But at least its witty - its definitely witty. I mean, at the very minimum, ya gotta give me 'witty' on that one.)


There are a lot of holidays in December, perhaps more than I can count. Between Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Thanksgiving, and everything else out there, it's a busy busy month. The fact is that the holidays are also a very sad time of year for many people. Did you know that the month of December has the highest suicide rate of any other month of the year? Sad, but true. In fact, one of the saddest times of December is also one of the most unrecognized holidays of the year - even Hallmark has let this one slip through the cracks. It's the National Close-The-Damn-Pool Week.

Yes, throughout the month of December, public pools around the country close down, drain out all of their water and make believe they're fixing leaks or repaving the bottoms or doing whatever they do to pools when there's no water in it. Only thing I know is that I'm not allowed to swim. The YMCA pool - where I usually swim - is now closed for the annual end of the year repairs. The Santa Monica College pool - where I often swim - is also closed for the annual end of the year "we don't feel like working" excuse. That leaves me (and Cat) with the need to find a new place to swim. We went to the Culver City pool this weekend, however not only is that too far away for a morning dip, but it's got all sorts of nasty little floatie things in it that I really don't want to swim through anymore. So what did we do? Well, like any other normal couple, we decided to capitalize on one of those "free two week membership" offers at the local hoity-toity club in town, the Sports Club LA.

Let's get a few things straight about this gym. First of all, it is called the Sports Club LA, and not, for instance, something pedestrian, like the LA Sports Club. No no... by calling it Sports Club LA it has a french, almost Perrier type feel. How fah-bulous.

Secondly, the Sports Club LA has valet parking. When I pulled up in front of the gym this morning, there were six cars there: a Porsche, three Mercedes, two BMWs and a Rolls Royce. Nice.

And the lobby? Well, it's pretty damn enormous in its own right. PLUS, it features a fully stocked juice/smoothy/breakfast bar alongside a wall of plasma TVs. I felt like I died and gone to St. Christopher's exercise facility.

The truth is, you can really tell a gym by its locker rooms. For instance, when I open the door to the locker room at the YMCA, I need to make sure it doesn't swing into some hundred year old middle eastern man muttering something in a language that has been lost for the better part of the millenium. The sounds emerging from the YMCA men's locker room are oftentimes so vile, it makes renders me sleepless for weeks.

Sports Club LA is the anti-Y. As soon as I stepped foot into the expansive, fully carpeted locker room, I was in awe. I think I even saw angels hovering around the lights as the harp music fluttered through my brain. I was immediately intercepted by one of many locker room attendants. This first gate keeper promptly asked me what section I wanted to be in. Umm...what section? I looked at him quizically. Uh... I want to be in the locker room.

He muttered something unintelligible and handed me a key to locker 537. Locker 537, I soon learned, is the worst locker in the crappiest location of the locker room. Locker 537 is where they put the new visitors who clearly will never join. When I walked up to the dark corner of locker 537, I knew right away that everybody could see I was only here for the two free weeks of membership. Regardless, I put my clothes away and got ready to swim.

As I walked to the pool I began to scout out the rest of this locker room that was about as big as the YMCA, in its entirety. There's a jacuzzi, sauna, separate shower areas - I felt like I was in the mothership that launched a network of spas. I began to look for a hidden corner where I could cuddle into after my swim and stay for weeks on end. I never wanted to leave.

Suddenly, amidst my search for a new home, I came upon a set of frosted glass doors. Wondering what was on the other side, I pulled only to find they were locked. Looking around for a way to get in, I noticed a sign that said "Private Platinum Locker Room". Huh?! I tried to look beyond the frosted glass, to find out what was so special about that part - what could possibly be better than the locker room I was standing in. As I was mid-gaze, I heard sudden throat clearing and a rather patronizing "excuse me" muttered to my right. I looked over to see one of these Private Platinum members waiting for me to get out of the way. As I took a step to the right, he punched in a number on the keypad, which unlocked the door and allowed him to walk into the private platinum locker room. As the door closed suddenly, I stood in awe. I had never seen - much less thought about - a locker room with a security keypad. What type of person do you need to be in order to have you locker covered by a security keypad. I mulled over these thoughts as I climbed the steps up to the pool.

The pool at the Sports Club LA is a special experience. First of all, their swimming lanes are built for one person. Individualized swimming lanes. As if these snotty Sports Club people couldn't possible share a lane with somebody else. Heaven forbid. Fortunately, there was enough room on the outside lane to squeeze in two people - that's where Cat and I went.

We started doing our warm up. I hadn't gone a half of a lap until I realized I was swimming faster than I ever had before - and it seemed so effortless. I touched the wall and swam back to where I started. Wow, I thought, I must've really learned to swim at some point during the booze cruise last night. I turned around to swim another lap. I was flying. Damn... suddenly I'm Michael Phelps! I saw visions of PR swims in my eyes.

After a few laps of this it all started making sense to me. The Sports Club LA pool actually has a current. As if the hoity-toity folks had to feel a bit more special, so they added a current in the pool to help them swim faster. Of course, they would only swim one way. Perhaps their chauffer would shuttle them back to the other side of the pool after every lap.

I couldn't get over it. It was like swimming in a river - one way you feel like you're paddling upstream incessantly, but when you turn around watch out - is Class V rapids.

Needless to say, we had a pretty interesting swim, Cat and I. We finished with a few laughs then went down to enjoy some time in the locker rooms before we galavanted off to work. I can't wait to go back to the Sports Club LA and see what other snobby things they have in store for me. What a fun field trip!

December 12, 2005

A Quick Trip Downhill

Morning Workout
BIKE (not outside...the trainer)
45 minutes
Zone: Aerobic

Random Comments: Truth be told, I was supposed to bike for 90 minutes outside but I couldn't get any of my lights to work and it was too dark outside to go out without lights. Either that, or I was too tired and looking for excuses. Either way, I convinced myself that 45 minutes on the trainer is equal to 90 minutes on the road. And I believed it. I should join a debate team. Or at least a self-debate team.


It was the office Christmas party tonight. We had a booze cruise. There was definitely a lot of booze to be had. As far as the cruise part of the event, if you call a "cruise" a boat going up and down the canals of Marina del Rey for four hours, then yes, it was a cruise. As for me, it seems more like a jaunt. Our Christmas party was a booze jaunt. In fact, at one point the boat just stopped right in the middle of the canal for about 45 minutes and nobody else seemed to notice. I think the Captain just wanted to take a nap and realized that everybody else on the boat was so drunk they'd think they were moving anyway. Apparently it worked.

I'm the "grey hair" in the company. It's not that I'm physically just about the oldest person working there, which I am, but that mentally I feel pretty damn old. I mean, these kids are partying like it's 1999, and they probably never even heard of that song. As for me, all I can think about is the 6am wake-up call in order to meet Cat at the pool by 6:30 and go for a swim. Even if that weren't true - even if I didn't have a swim on the calendar - it's rare that I see the darker side of 10pm. My body tends to give out at about 9pm and takes a quick trip downhill right after that.

It's 11pm right now. I think I just turned into a pumpkin. Or at least a pomagranate.

December 11, 2005

Morning Workout
3 hours 35 minutes
Zone: Aerobic + Lactate Threshold

Random Comments: My legs were really really tired from yesterdays run and swim. I suppose I should get used to working out when my legs are tired. I imagine they're going to be tired at some point during the Ironman. I wonder if it's illegal to nap during transitions.

Kelly's 5k

Morning Workout
2 hours 15 minutes
Zone: Aerobic / Lactate Threshold
Random Comments: Beautifully hilly run overlooking the water in Redondo Beach, including a jaunt up the strand right on the beach. We ran past the bit-too-serious volleyball players. They take their volleyball very seriously down there in Redondo. Lot of yelling and grunting. Made my random running noises sound almost normal.

Main Set: 16 x 25m / 8 x 50m / 4 x 100m / 1 x 400m
Random C
omments: After the long hilly run, I was tired and didn't want to swim. But Cat made me go. Good motivator, Cat. Still, I was tired when I started, tired during the workout and tired when the pool lady stopped us 200m through the end of the main set because the pool was closing. Sometimes the best workouts are the ones you didn't want to do in the first place. Not sure this was one of them, but glad I went anyway.

Evening Workout
Are you fucking kidding me?! Did you see what I did in the morning?! Evening workout....jeeez. The nerve.


Catherine is a volunteer coach for Girls On The Run (GOTR), a non-profit organization that encourages young girls to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Once each week for the past few months, she'd slip out of work for a peculiarly long lunch break, and head over to the local elementary school to coach a handful of girls on running. After months of training (and considering these are 10 and 11 year olds, I use that term very loosely), all the GOTR participants in the LA area get together for a celebratory 5k run. That run was yesterday. About 50-odd girls showed up along with an assortment of coaches, volunteers and a motley crew of family members to cheer them on. Yours truly volunteered to be a volunteer.

I was assigned to run with Kelly, a seemingly quiet and shy 5th grader who decided to run the 5k in what seemed like her morning "hang out" clothes, if that's what the kids call them these days. Decked out in some pretty nice sweat pants, a fairly stylish t-shirt and a baseball cap, Kelly looked more like she was going to hang out with her friends at Jamba Juice than run a 5k. Meanwhile, here I am in my dry-fit shirt, Ironman visor, heart rate monitor, enough Nike logos to feign an endorsement and a variety of other accoutrement that I wear to make me look really fast. So when the starting shout was bellowed by the local director, after her quasi-motivational speech, I was all set to proudly lead Miss Kelly around the 13 laps of the rutted-out, dried dirt, sad excuse for a track.

Imagine my surprise when Kelly took off like a bat-outta-hell. Holy shit, I muttered nervously to myself as I wondered whether this four-foot-something munchkin could actually maintain this pace for a bit over three miles. After the first lap, she was still going strong. Second lap, not even a bead of sweat. Suddenly we're one mile into this and Kelly is not missing a stride. At this point, it started to get ugly for me. Both of my calfs were pretty tight and there was a knife sticking into my right achilles. I didn't know if I could get through the run. I could picture the headlines, "Ironman hopeful gets dusted by 11 year old in local 5k". Not that there would even be headlines anywhere know what I mean.

Halfway through our second mile I turn to Kelly and ask her how her legs are feeling. "Fine," she says. "How are yours?"

Kelly had been quiet the entire time so I couldn't really get a grasp on her personality, but if I were a bettin' man I'd say that suddenly she was being a bit of a wiseass. Being the kind volunteer, I really held back in my desire to reach my left hand out and thwap her right across the head. Instead, I took a deep breathe, analyzed my aching legs and confidently replied, "They're great! This is a lot of fun. Thanks for asking." Take that, ya little wisceacre such-and-such.

Well, fast forward a little bit and Kelly actually started to get tired. She finally wore herself down before she wore me down. And right about the time she had to slow down, we finally found a common subject to talk about. So, with but a mile left in the run, Kelly and I finally bonded. And as we rounded the last lap, she told me she wanted us to sprint the finish. And let me tell you Bob, Kelly can sprint. She hit the accelerator and took off like a rocket. And we crossed that finish line together in a proud blaze of glory.

There's a moral to this story. Unfortunately, I don't know what it is but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that giving and teaching is a two way street. Though you may feel like the teacher, some day you might wake up and suddenly realize you've been the student after all.

Then again, maybe there's no moral and I just wanted to tell you the story about my impressive running buddy, Kelly. Either way, it was a wonderful experience for me.

December 08, 2005

I'm A Crack Whore

Morning Workout
Main Set: 500m / 400m / 300m / 200m / 100m

Random Comments: I wake up no later than 6:30 am every morning of the week, including weekends, yet I'm usually pretty cranky in the morning. I'm not a morning person. I'm not an evening person either. I think I'm a late afternoon person. Around 3:47. I'm a 3:47 person. I need to find a race that begins, and ends, at 3:47.

Evening Workout
BIKE (well, the trainer)
4 x (7 1/2
minutes in Zone 3 plus 2 1/2 minutes at Lactate Threshold)

Random Comments: I love these hard workouts on the trainer. Makes me sweat a lot. I feel like I'm getting extra exercise when I sweat. I'm shallow like that.


It's been a week and a half of "serious" training for me and already I'm feeling overwhelmed. There's just so much to do and not enough hours to do it. My problem.. well, one of my many problems... is that I like to do everything, all the time. I don't want to miss a thing. So I strive to be everywhere, experiencing everything, all at once. Not being omnipresent, it creates a bit of a challenge. I really need to work on that omnipresent stuff.

(BTW, side note, I just had a sudden craving for mushroom pizza. Weird, huh. Anybody got an explanation? Maybe it's an omnipresent thing...)

So throw this 20-odd hours of weekly training in the mix, and it really cramps my ability to run around like an ADD poster child on a triple espresso. Instead, I wake up before the sun rises and exercise for an hour or so. I rush off to work and spend the day exerting about 15% more mental energy than I really ever have had. Fully drained, I come home after dark and workout yet again. By the time I've finished showering for the 2nd time of the day and swallowing some sort of food, it's 9:30pm, about fifteen minutes past the time I need to go to bed, rinse and repeat it all over again the next morning.

After only ten days of this schedule, I'm already backed up on e-mails, bill paying, errand running, food shopping and a variety of other activities pretty much required for basic survival. It's overwhelming. If it weren't for the exercise to calm me, I'd probably have a breakdown. How's that for a Catch-22, eh?

But wait, there's more. You see, despite the anxiety of being overwhelmed, the dread of never catching up and the fear of my life crumbling to pieces, I feel like I'm finally getting in the flow. And I'm loving it. Ah, the irony. ...Ain't life a bitch sometimes?

There's a rhythm you get with exercise at this regularity; a life rhythm. The consistency of the double workouts, the bodies ability to acclimate - I become starved for the exercise. It not only calms me, but it keeps my life in balance. Or at least it feels like it keeps my life in balance. Though I feel like I'm going up and down in that soothing, undulating rhythm, maybe there's actually nobody else on the other side of the seesaw. I may just be hanging on by a piece of thread. A very old, very frayed piece of thread.

That said, I know that the more I exercise, the more I will feel better about myself as that rhythm begins to control my life. It's an addiction. Maybe even an obsession. Wait, that's it. It is an obsession. Working out is like a drug - it gives me an emotional high every morning. And after I bottom out during the day, I starve for that fix again at night. Even though it may slowly tear apart certain aspects of my life, I take to it like a crack whore to the pipe.

My God, I'm a crack whore.

What happened? I used to be such a good kid. So innocent and fun loving. Triathlon has taken over my life. It has overcome me. But I don't want to let go. I can't let it go. It defines me. It soothes and balances me. I crave it. I need it. I want more. Give me more. Make it harder. Longer. Faster. Stronger. Bring it on, baby.

Bring it on.

I'll pay those bills tomorrow.

December 07, 2005

Magical Workouts

Morning Workout
1 1/2 hours
Zone: Aerobic

Random Comments: There's that wonderful Nike ad that says something like, "Somewhere out there is a sunny place, with tall palm trees, and a cool breeze... where all the second place guys train." Well I live in a sunny place. And there are millions of tall palm trees. And when the Santa Ana's come out, there's definitely a cool breeze. After being out here for a decade or so, your blood just gets used to living in paradise. Imagine my surprise at the 40-something degree weather on the bike this morning. When I lived in the 30 below of upstate New York, my fingers didn't feel like they were getting frostbitten and my toes didn't feel like they were about to fall off. Somehow, though, the 40 degree weather did them in this morning. My appendages have apparently become quite wussy over the years.

Evening Workout
55 minutes
Zone: Lactate Threshold

Random Comments: I love running. It's magical. It was an emotionally draining day at work. I didn't feel great when I started. I didn't feel great while I was running. But I sure felt great when I finished. Suddenly, the challenges of the day don't mean as much anymore. Poof - they're gone. See? Magic.

The Blimp

Evening Workout
55 minutes
Aerobic heart rate
Random Comments: Nope. Not tonight. Too tired.

I haven't been on a plane in over a week, so apparently my butt was suffering from airline seat withdrawal. Not wanting to deprive my derriere from experiencing its misguided form of happiness, I figured I oughta fly somewhere. So off I went to San Francisco for the day. Actually, I flew to San Jose for a new business meeting, but it's all just mere technicalities.

The San Jose airport is easy to fly in and out of because most people opt to deal with the aggravation of SFO. As opposed to it's massive neighbor, the San Jose airport is not much bigger than the previously mentioned Kalamazoo masterpiece. In fact, the flight I took to San Jose was on something just short of a model plane. I think it was hanging from a string in somebody's office right before they took it down for this flight. The aisle was built for anorexics. The seats were built for midgets. Even the stewardess was miniature. Hell, the interior of the plane is not much higher than 5 feet. It was like a flying version of "Being John Malkovich," and I was in seat 7 1/2.

But the flight from LAX to San Jose is so short and easy, I really don't mind it at all. As a result, when I walked on to the
plane and noticed somebody sitting in my seat, I happily opted to sit in their assigned seat - the window one row behind - rather than cause a fuss. Didn't make no never mind to me.

Little did I know, it would start to make a never mind pretty quickly. Right after I sit down, in walks the largest, heftiest woman I've ever seen in my life. I mean, this woman was bi-ig. Goodyear blimp big. She was so big they almost had the plane ride in her. She was so big... well, you get the idea.

And where does Lady Butterball sit? You guessed it, right next to me. Actually, Fatty McMuffin didn't sit next to me as much as she sat right on top of me. There aren't airline seats big enough to fit this woman's butt. We're talking a woman so big that she couldn't even keep the armrest separator down for fear it would get stuck up her ass. She was so big she needed one of those seatbelt extensions just to stay wrapped in. As for me? Well, I was crunched up onto the side of the plane like a squashed fly. My lips were kissing the window and my nose was all crunched to the side from the pressure of the push. All I could do to survive was grasp onto one of the folds
of her leg and hold on for dear life.

Somehow, though, I survived the flight.

My meeting went well and I headed back to the San Jose airport for my flight back to LAX. Well, unfortunately, I was 2 hours
early. Now, there's not much to do at the San Jose airport for 2 hours, so with visions of free cheese cubes and peanuts swirling through my head, I went into the American Airlines Admirals Club and paid the ridiculous fee to be a member for a year. As I said, there's not much to do at the San Jose airport for 2 hours. In the Admirals Club, there's still not much to do but at least you're not doing it in a much more comfortable chair. And as far as those cheese cubes and bowls of peanuts? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. The crappy trail mix doesn't count.

Two hours flew by like a snail marathon, and it was time to board my plane. This time, no Fatty's sitting next to me. Fortunately. No random people stealing my seat. Thankfully. In front of me, though, was this woman who was yappin' on and on about herself. I mean, she wouldn't shut up. And clearly she was famous. She was talking about how she's on Leno tomorrow night, how she's being recognized all over the place and blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda. Shut the fuck up, wouldya? Frankly, I couldn't give a shit. I had no clue who she was and really didn't much care to know. Yet her lips were flapping something fierce the entire flight. And when we landed in LAX and took the shuttle bus to the terminal, she was still goin' on. This time she was right next to me, falling into me at every sudden stop. And yappin and flappin' and... Apparently everybody on the plane knew who she was but me. People were given' her the eye, and saying how much they loved her and all this nonesense. Me? I just wanted to get away from her mouth. I actually started having fond memories of my famously fat friend from that morning. At least she was friendly and somewhat quiet.

I checked online when I got home. It was Rachael Ray from the Food Network. I don't know her - never seen her show. But I've seen enough to know it's amazing she can find time to chew what with her lips flapping in the wind so much.

Traveling is always so much fun.

December 06, 2005

The Thing Is, I Really Want To Swim

Morning Workout
3 x 800m (what it was supposed to be)
1 x 800m, 1 x 250m (what it actually was)

Evening Workout
55 minutes
Aerobic heart rate
Random Comments: Nope. Not tonight. Too tired.


Some days it seems the world is trying to whisper a secret to you. This morning it was shouting in my ear so loudly I think it gave me tinnitus. For some reason or other, the Gods definitely did not want me to swim today. I still have yet to figure out why.

I got home late last night (see next story about San Fran trip) and set the alarm for a leisurely 6am wake-up call this morning. The cleaning ladies are coming today so I had to spend some time organizing my place a little bit. You see, they have a habit of moving my belongings into random locations. And the randomness varies with each visit. I think they even take my books off the shelves and put them on different shelves, or in closets. I think I once found a book in my freezer. It took me the better part of a week to find my colander earlier this month and I still have yet to locate my favorite water bottle, which has been MIA since sometime around winter 2004. Needless to say, I like to do a fair bit of organizing before they even show up, including laying down "Do Not Move" notes on bills and other assorted documents of great importance. You can't be too careful these days.

Realizing that I had to change at the gym in order to get to work for my 9am meeting, I packed up my clothing and, forty-five minutes after waking up, headed to the YMCA for my morning workout. I walked in the Y only to realize that I forgot to bring a towel - and the 50 cents to get one from them. Fortunately, they comped me the half-dollar this time and gave me a piece of over-sized tissue paper that they pretend to call a towel. I walked to the locker room, eager and ready for my swim.

As I passed by the pool I saw that the lights were out and, more importantly, there was no water in the pool. Tough to swim without the water. Suddenly I remembered that the YMCA had closed the pool until December 18 for year-end repairs. Ugh. I returned my fifty-cent towel and got back in my car, silently wondering why I pay $45 a month to not be able to swim.

I decided to drive over to the Santa Monica College pool to pay an additional $2.50 in order to swim. It's a great pool, but it's outdoors. It'd be tough walking over to the pool, across the cold concrete and the biting wind, in the 54 degree weather, but I knew I'd be able to dig down deep enough to manage. I'd probably even be a better man because of it. I got to the pool only to realize, once again, that I didn't have a towel. You'd think I would've remembered. You'd be wrong. I drove all the way back home, got a towel and headed back to the pool.

Well, by the time I changed into my swimsuit, tackled the watch fiasco (which I won't get into) and got into the pool, it was 7:40. No problem, I thought, I'll do my 3 x 800m swim and head straight to work. After the first 800m, I was in the flow. A bit tired, but feeling good that my workout was finally underway. 200m into the second set I get halfway down the lane and - BAM! - swam head-on into a guy treading water in front of me. What the fuck?! I stop and look up, trying to figure out what his problem is.

"What's going on?" I say, clearly a bit perturbed.

"We're closed," he said. "Swims over."

Huh? Closed?! I looked around and realized that I was the only one left in the pool. Apparently, the Santa Monica pool closes at 8am.

I got out of the pool, back on the cold concrete and trampled through the biting wind into the locker room where I changed into the work clothes I'd been lugging around with me for the past hour. Clearly I wasn't meant to swim today. Fortunately, it only being 8am, I had enough time to get to work in time for my 9am meeting.

Of course, that got cancelled too.

December 05, 2005

That Claus Character

Morning Workout
1 hour on trainer
Zone: 3 x (10 min Lactate Threshold + 10 min Aerobic)
Random comments: Love the 1 hour workouts on the trainer - enables me to watch a TV show in it's entirety. I watched West Wing during the workout this morning. Unfortunately, it was a crappy episode of West Wing, and there I was, stuck on the trainer, unable to change the channel. I decided then and there that I'll start watching movies while on the trainer. See how my mind changes so qu
ickly? It's not easy being me.

What a great weekend I had. And it wasn't the type of great weekend where I found my way muddling through the days only to wake up on Monday morning and think "wow, that was a great weekend. Where the heck did it disappear to." No siree. It was one of those weekends that seemd to last for months, where I fully enjoyed each moment as it was happening. Where I savored each moment. Be here now, and all that crap.

Here's the irony of it all. Remember that big client opportunity that I lost last Thursday? The one that had me taking a Louisville Slugger to a poor defenseless office chair? Well, the whole platform I pitched on that business was based on "Savor The Moment." The concept being that your life is not happening tomorrow or yesterday but, in the immortal words of Van Halen, right here right now. So when I lost the business, I immediately started thinking about what I could've done differently in the past and what I'm going to do in the future, until I ran smack dab into the present. And that's where the weekend started.

I'm not going to bore you with the details of the weekend, but all I'm gonna tell you is that I'm not a big fan of Santa Claus anymore. You see, one night every year the shopping district in Santa Monica keeps its doors open late and has, essentially, a holiday street fair. There is caroling, wine and cheese, homemade cookies, popcorn and the local optomotrist's kick-ass chili that is so hot it burns every organ in your body from the point where it enters to the orifice from which it exits. It's some goo-ood chili.

So Catherine and I are walking around the Santa Monica Fest, going in and out of stores, having a cookie here, some cider there. When all of the sudden we see Santa Claus in the Coldwell Banker Realtor offices, just a-settin' there getting his picture taken with the chil'en. Well, we couldn't resist. We went in and stood in line for our Santa photo.

A few snotty kids jumped in line ahead of us but, being in the festive mood, I decided not to snarl at them directly, opting for the simple behind-the-back eyeroll instead. Finally it was our turn for the Santa photo-op. Cat sat on one of Santa's knees and I sat on the other. It was clear from the moment we walked up that Santa had a little thing for my woman. He immediately pulled her to his leg and put his arm around her with a jolly warmth and a bit too much ho-ho-ho for my liking. I think he may have even tried to straighten out his other leg and push me into the christmas tree when I started sitting down. Needless to say, we didn't get off to a great start, Santa and me. Truth be told, this Claus character was pissing me off from the get-go. I didn't like the look in his eye and I didn't appreciate the thoughts he was having about my girlfriend. Regardless, I smiled at the camera and - flash! - our photo was taken.

We started standing up but apparently Santa wasn't done with Catherine yet. "Wait a minute, young lady," he said, pulling her back on his leg. Not wanting to leave this crochety old man alone with Cat, I sat back down on his other leg, ready to quickly kick him in the nether-region if he started acting up. "Have you been good this year?" the bearded wackjob asked Catherine. "Yes, I have" she replied. Wanting to get in on the conversation, and stake my proverbial claim, I decided to speak up. "No, she hasn't," I said laughingly.

Well, apparently that really riled up ole' St. Nick. He turned to me with a look in his eye that pretty much confirmed I wouldn't be getting any presents this year. And when he spat out the words "I wasn't talking to you" it sounded oddly as if he were begging me to take a swing at him so he can go all Blitzen on my sorry ass. So what's a guy to do? I mean, I couldn't exactly start arguing with Santa Claus. Yeah, I'm a jew but... it's Santa Claus for godsakes!!

I sat there in shock as Catherine and Claus finished their lovely conversation. Finally we got up, got our photo and I walked out in shock. I stood on the sidwalk in shock. I remember only uttering two words.

"Fuck Santa"

I've never come so close as in that moment to wanting to hit a mythical character, but I guess the holiday season brings out the best in all of us.

We continued our walk up the street, past the carolers, the homemade cookies and the old school popcorn maker. And it wasn't long until the fa-la-la-la-la's and rump-a-bum-bum's started seeping through my skin and injecting that festive spirit back in my soul.

I soon began to realize that life, in all its peculiarness and oddity, is truly beautiful. And I began to savor the moment. Right here. Right now.

December 04, 2005

Morning Workout
1 hour 20 minute
Zone: Aerobic / Lactate Threshold
Random Comments: My achilles hurt. And my calf. And my other calf. And my quads were tired. So, all in all, it was a pretty good run. Especially the really steep hills. Seriously, it was a pretty good run.

Main Set: 24 x 50m, 12 of them sprints
Random Comments: Had absolutely no desire to go swimming. And we went to the outdoor pool, so the 50-something degree air temperature made it really tough to go swimming. But once we started, it just got better and better. This is one of my favorite swim workouts. It's really painful, which is why I like it. Short bursts of pain. And, oh, by the way... Cat is getting to be a much faster swimmer. She's at my speed now. Which means she'll be kicking my ass within the month.

December 03, 2005

Morning Workout
3 hours
Zone: Aerobic / Lactate Threshold
Random comments: Oh, what a beautiful day it was. The dolphin were out en force. The mountains were vibrant green. The ocean, a come-hither blue. It was so clear you could see all the way to Hawaii. I mean, if there were no curvature of the earth, and I had really good eyesight, then I'd be able to see all the way to Hawaii. But... well.... never mind.

December 02, 2005

The Flashing Red Lights

Remember that new account I was after? The one that I desperately needed to get for both my job and sales self-confidence? Well, they announced the winning agency yesterday. I was heading over to Catherine’s house to cook us dinner and saw the flashing red light on my blackberry. I had never noticed the light before, but quickly realized that it was a new message indicator. And, oh, how very apropos it was, that flashing red light. It was the siren warning, the ambulance on the corner, the fire truck ready to douse the flames. Or perhaps it was the padded truck coming to take me away to my special new home. The one with the mattresses on the walls. Where they give me that nice new one-sleeved jacket. I hear it’s all the rage these days.

Well the last thing I wanted to do was to risk getting bad news and ruining my wonderful evening with my woman. But, of course, I couldn’t resist peeking at the e-mail. It was taunting me like a car crash on the highway. I mean, what’s wrong with one quick peek? So like the proverbial car crash, I decided to take the assessment approach. You know, just glance really quickly to determine the damage before actually fully committing to soak-in the destruction. I know that anything too destructive will leave me with unnecessary nightmares and perhaps another few years of therapy. I just want good news. So I opened the e-mail and glanced. Just a little peek. Such a wee bitty peek it barely even counted as looking. I mean, it’s not like I’m reading the thing. So, I figured I’d take a peak and if the e-mail looks good, perhaps I’ll take it in word by word. But if I see a bit of destruction, I’ll shut it down and wait to look in the morning – maybe by then it will magically go away and become good.

Well apparently this car crash strategy doesn’t translate that well to e-mails. In fact, it doesn’t work so well with car crashes either. My so-called little peek had me scanning the e-mail so quickly, I had no clue what it said. So I went back to the top and read it again. But when I got to the end of the e-mail I didn’t believe it. So I did another run through.

The bottom line is that we lost the business. Or, rather, I lost the business. And that was a great way to ruin my evening. Needless to say, I was pretty sad. So this morning when I arrived at work you can imagine the aggravation in my stomach upon hearing a voicemail from the client forcing me to relive the experience. They called to personally let me know, once again, that we didn’t win. Thanks. As if the e-mail didn’t drive the point in enough. It turns out we came in a close second which, as we all know, means something just short of bupkiss right about now.

So I grabbed my bat and did a number on one of the chairs in my office. I don’t know if it made me feel better, but I didn’t much like that chair anyway.

Maybe I’ll call that truck driving school. Do you have that number for the truck driving school? Acme driving, I think it was…