January 18, 2006

A Cuppa Joe

Evening Workout
45 minutes
Lactate Threshold testing
Heart Rate Zone: As high as possible until it cain't go no high no more.

Random Comments: I was afflicted by the long-standing calf problems on the treadmill today. I haven't told you the details about my calf problems. Suffice to say, they've caused many problems, on and off, for the last 15 years of running. The good news is that I made it through the entire test today and the results look pretty promising. My fitness level hasn't dropped too much since this past June, when I supposedly was at my peak fitness. I think I'll go celebrate with a very large pizza. Actually, make it a lot of Thai food. I'll have the pizza tomorrow.

So here's the catch: I'm not a coffee drinker. Yet I drink coffee once or twice a week. One might say, You are an imbecile, young man, apparently you are a coffee drinker and you just haven't accepted it. Well, if one said that, one would be drastically wrong. Because, you see, I'm not a coffee drinker. I thought we've already been over this.

I don't necessarily like the taste of coffee. I don't even feel joy at the smell of coffee. Even the texture....um.... actually, I've got no problems with the texture. The fact of the matter is, I just don't like coffee. That said, I really like coffee shops. There is something about a coffee shop that is very relaxing for me. I love getting a warm cup of something-or-other, and sitting outside in the just-short-of-brisk weather, sifting through the newspaper, doing a crossword puzzle or, even better, reading a good book.

The thing is, though, I feel guilty hanging out at coffee shops without buying something. So I've kanoodled around with water and tea. I even had a hot chocolate phase there for awhile. But then I decided enough is enough, this whole coffee-thing seems so popular, I might as well give it a shot. Lo and behold, I soon realized that I could almost get used to it. Not like it, mind you, but at least get used to it. I mean, what with all the new fangled concoctions they have these days, there's enough powder and syrup and sweetners and dairy pourings and other assorted products to swish around in the cup and make the whole coffee experience somewhat palatable.

You see, in my world, the coffee shop has replaced the warmth and comfort of the couch. I don't have a fireplace, so what's the point of laying on the couch. Besides, laying alone on the couch has no social factor whatsoever. At the coffee shop, at least there's people watching. I don't necessarily want to talk to anybody, but I sure can get in some great people watching. Especially here in the LA area - there are very few places in the world with better people watching than on the west side of Los Angeles. Between the stuck-up celebrities, the stuck-up non-celebrities, the doctored, lifted and tucked bodies, the overwhelming vanity and the people watching people watching people, it's a veritable alphabet soup of good times. I love people watching with a warm cup in my hand.

I used to go to the local Starbucks every Sunday morning and stay there reading the paper and doing the crossword puzzle for a couple of hours. By mid-morning my solitary reading phase would meld into the people watching phase. And there are some wonderful people to watch on Sunday mornings. Lately, though, my coffee shop habits have changed. I no longer have a regular schedule that I adhere to. Rather, I just take a stroll up to the Coffee Bean when the mood hits me - and usually the mood hits me when I don't have an extensive morning workout. Like today, for instance.

This morning was one of those in-the-mood-for-coffee-shop mornings. So at 7:30am I grabbed my book, my Wall Street Journal and my blackberry, and took a stroll up the block to the Coffee Bean. I ordered some powdered non-fat, decaf, latte type thing (I find that it keeps the cup warm for an exceptionally long period of time) and set my butt outside on one of the strategically placed sidewalk tables, whereby I stretched out my legs, let out a heaving satsified sigh, and opened up the paper to delve into the news of the day.

I didn't get but one section into the paper when I hear a couple of kids a few feet away talking to each other. And talking very loudly, may I add. Then they started jumping on their skateboards (which apparently every single kid has these days) and grinded their way up and down the sidewalk for no apparent reason whatsoever. I tried to ignore them, but then a few more of their friends showed up. And then their friends showed up. It was kind of like a scene from the Hitchcock movie "The Birds". But instead of birds, this one was "The Kids". They kept coming and flocking. And they kept getting louder and louder. And cell phones were ringing, and skateboards were grinding, and homework was being talked about, and pop songs were sung, and talking turned to yelling turned to screaming and....and.... it just kept getting louder and louder. I couldn't focus, I couldn't concentrate..

Hey wait a minute, I thought. Shouldn't these kids be in school? I looked at my watch - uh, I mean, blackberry. It suddenly hit me. Today is Wednesday. Classes at the local elementary school don't start until 10am on Wednesdays because the teachers can have all of their morning meetings on Wednesdays. With the extra couple of hours in the morning, parents drop off their kids on Coffee Shop row and let them kanoodle around with all their friends for the extra time. Wednesday mornings are mayhem at the coffee shops. Yet, for some reason, I tend to find myself here in front of the Coffee Bean on Wednesday mornings.

I think it's because I need the relaxation mid-week. Clearly that's not working out so well.

Thank God I don't like coffee.