Thursday, April 30, 2009

Facebookitis


I am having a major blast over at Facebook, I tell ya. Joking with nearly 150 people from my past, is the serious bomb. What an ego trip!

It makes me realized how blessed I am to know such great people. I'm just trying to keep up!

Excerpts from just today alone:




Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Downtime.

I wish I could take credit for this, but the picture you see above, comes from the brilliant mind of Kerry Fischel. Fischel is a modern contemporary artist, who has been busting down walls with his imaginative approaches to art today. If you'd like to see more of his work, you may reach out to his private studio at kerry@kfgraphicarts.com

When I first started training back in '04, I used to find it difficult to motivate myself into running. Not long after, the opposite became true, and I have a tough time taking time off, unless I have an injury. So yesterday, I took a day off, and it was difficult because there was no injury, and the weather outside was nice.

I mulled around my home, cooked myself dinner and made enough leftovers for lunch for today.
I watched the Rangers buy it, when 147 year old Sergei Federov, who I didn't even realize he was still in the NHL, let alone let out of a adult community, put the series-winning puck behind Lundquist. Ugh.

I switched off to the Mets, and of course, whenever I watch a Mets game, it all goes to hell. They were winning 4-3, and within 10 minutes of watching, they were now losing 7-4. That makes the Mets 0-7 when I watch, and keep in mind that their overall record is 9-11. That means they are 9-2 when I don't watch. Is somebody telling me something over here?

I'm really looking to my elementary school reunion on June 27th. I went back up on Facebook (extremely addicting) and posted more never-before-seen pictures of me when I was young.

I heard this morning about our nation's first swine flu fatality. It happened to a baby in Texas. I spoke with one of our offices in Mexico, and they gave me an interesting hypothosis about this. They told me that this was a way to divert attention from the global financial situation. I don't know that I can accept that, but it is interesting to note, that many more people probably die of other flu types per year, even if it is not swine. Plus, I am hearing reports that drugs like Tamiflu are effective in treating swine flu if caught early enough, so who knows.

If there are any people out there in the medical profession that know a thing or two about influenza and would like to comment about it, please do.

So far, I think about 100 people have died to swine flu world wide.

Today,my fellow Prepsters are scheduled to go back to school, but I wonder how many parents are going to extend the return date for the remainder of the week. Especially after learning now, that nearby P.S.177 has cases as well. Scary stuff.

I planned the itinerary for this Sunday's gala bike tour. In short, I am going to have to leave my house by about 4:30am. I will be driving into Queens since I offered to give Nora "Ellie" & her bike a lift. From there it's Staten Island, the Ferry to Battery Park, and an 8am start. I can't wait!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm In!


It's funny how life can change on a dime. Even for the little things.
Today, I looking forward to an evening of rest. After the long and fun weekend, I figured I'd stay home, watch the Mets on TV, and just veg out.

It almost happened.

I was still a little panicky. Less than a week to go, and still nothing to show for getting into the show. Normally, I would be doing the Long Island Half Marathon, but this year I'm "switching gears" and trying a 42-mile bike ride. It's not about the race, because in essence it is a fun ride. But, I've never done more than 35 miles, and I was 39 when I did the 35 too.

Late last night I checked my work email. Much to my chagrin, I had received an email by someone named Bill Stone. Bill had a ticket waiting for me at face value (a shocker). I was not his first respondee, but I was next in line when the first responder flaked out.

I say "chagrin" because the email came into my inbox at about 10am, and it was now 1:30am the next day.

Unfortunately, my response was met with an unfavorable reply. Time to move on.

I contacted bike shops advising them of my need for entry. I went ahead and re-posted on Craigslist.

Someone called me and told me that they would offer me the ticket for $150. Later for them!
Then, I finally got the call from a woman who lived right across the street from the Dakotas on 72nd & Central Park West. She mentioned that something came up at the last minute and would not be able to go. It was a first come, first serve, and the price was HALF of what that capitalistic dude had offered it to me at, and plenty less than what it is garnering right now.

I went to Manhattan, and made the transaction with the doorman who had held the package for the seller, since she was already gone for the week.

Afterwards, I decided to go for a run. Just as a premonition, I had already changed into my running outfit. I entered the park and did a full 10K loop around the park.










Ocean Sunday.


(as always, please feel free to click on any of the photos for a larger view)

I was blessed with ignorance yesterday. I totally forgot about Game 6 between the Rangers and the Capitals, and I forgot to keep tabs on the Mets or the Yanks.

Since all the teams lost today, and the Knicks are still, well, the Knicks, my bliss as a red-blooded testosterone-laden New York lad, was rare indeed.

My back was feeling a lot better this morning. So after cleaning up and having breakfast, I headed out over to another bike shop (Lindenhurst Bikes) which was closer to me. Artie was a very nice man. He fixed the seat height for me for free. That's two nice bike shops in two days, LOL. From there I pointed the car, with bike in tow, east on Montauk Highway. I was headed for Cedar Beach, right off Ocean Parkway. I made sure to apply plenty of SPF again (can't stress this shit enough) and did so as I was hearing about SFP (St. Francis Prep) and that whole incident involving swine flu today.
The weather was gorgeous. And yes, there was traffic, going over the Robert Moses Causeway, but I was feeling so good, that nothing mattered. Blue sky above me and shimmering ocean ripples below me, as I crossed to Captree and then to Ocean Parkway.
I got to the beach, and kicked into high gear. After making sure all systems were a go, I removed my Trek off the car bike rack, and headed immediately for Ocean Parkway going west.
With the knowledge that it was 90 inland (about 80 where I was), I figured to load up on liquids. Not only did I have 1 Gatorade bottle and 1 water bottle on my bike, but I even brought my Camelback with me. As it turned out, it was probably the best idea I had all day long. There's nothing easier than driking through a straw that is right next to you, without having to reach down and grab a bottle.

The ride should have been fairly boring. Ocean Parkway is one long, straight road that takes you all the way from the Robert Moses Causeway bridge, west to the famous "needle" at Jones Beach. However, it wasn't just the exhiliration of knowing that I was about to ride again, or that the weather was nice, or that my bike seat was at the right height.

It was also about all those damn cars passing me at about 80 miles per hour!

It was a little unsettling at first, but I got used to it. I kept thinking that if I was hit by a car from behind, that yes, I would be catapulted. And yes, there will be broken bones, like a collarbone, and maybe a couple of ribs (you know, like a side order), but at least I would land in the hay straw, or on the sand. Who knows? If I got hit hard enough, I might just get knocked all the way into the baywater. Nice way to take a cool bath on this scorcher of an April day.

Fortunately, none of that happened. Instead, miles of roads and beaches passed by me as the headwind continued to play games with me and my machine.

I actually headed east on Cedar beach for about a mile, going back towards the bridge. I did this to get to the U-turn, where i could then head back west. East and West roads were seperated by brush and a small embankment. I past Overlook Beach on my way to the U-turn too, so it was a little bit more of a hike than I thought it would be.

Well, I finally crossed over. I got of my bike and walked it along the U. When I looked at the oncoming traffic that was now heading westward, I felt like I was playing chicken with my life. Crossing to the right shoulder from a left lane U, is a daunting task. The cars seem far away, but at about 80 mph, they come really quickly. There is very little reaction time, and you can't drop anything in the road, or you are road pizza.

Once I got to the northside shoulder, I got back on my bike In earnest, I wanted to go as fast as I could, so I brought it up all the way to the 21st gear. I could feel the burn on my quads as I dug into my pedals. It felt good in a sick and twisted sort of way. At some points, I actually stood up to sprint with my bike.
I knew I had passed where I had parked, when I saw the turnaround signs for Cedar Beach, a mile afer that, I was in Nassau County. Wee!

There was a little cove on my right (the north side, the bay side) where a lot of speed boats and yachts were anchored. Crossing the parkway were some scantily clad women and gents. They were crossing to get to the cove and probably get into a boat (or something else.lol). I slowed down and got a look...At the boats that is! Nice speedboats!

Anywho, I kept on cycling. What a great feeling this is. After all the miles I did yesterday, I was unfazed by it!
Coming up was Gilgo Beach. Gilgo is a happening scene right now. This is the 2nd time I pass though here in as many weeks, and there are just hordes of teenagers, surfers, bikers, etc. all wanting to party. I felt really tempted to just ditch the bike somewhere, and go down to the watering hole for some brewskis, but I had a training mission to accomplish. Blech. LOL.

After Gilgo, comes West Gilgo. Not only does West Gilgo have a beach as well, but they also have a few blocks of residential housing (probably summer rentals). One house had a flagpole about 20 feet high. It was impossible not to see a POW-MIA flag at the top, with a NY Mets flag beneath it. How odd and funny!
After West Gilgo, you go for a decent stretch until you get to Tobay Beach. Tobay has a very large parking lot, and I'm sure there is a very good reason for it, except, I just don't know why. Singleton's Seafood Shack is there but it's not that big, and the baybeach is not all that large either. I had gone to Singleton's one time, a couple of years ago when I was living with Ileana.

There were a lot of cars going into Tobay Beach. They were all moving slowly on the shoulder. Hey! That's my shoulder not yours! I wanted to yell at the cars. I wound up having to ride my bike on grass. It was bumpy, but I managed for a bit. Then, when the grass turned to sand, I nearly wiped out, so I got off the bike and just walked it to the entrance.

There was a Nassau County Parks vehicle and a couple of State Trooper Cars handling crowd control. Was this beach open? Hmmmm.. I could use a hot dog and a cold beer right about now.

Once I was in the entry lane for Tobay, I hopped back on my bike and rode it straight to the restaurant. There were a lot of people around there, but to my chagrin, Singleton's was still closed. I must have heard at least a few people discussing how it probably won't be opening until Memorial Day. At least I wasn't the only person who guessed wrong about this.

When I left Tobay, and got back on the shoulder, the nightmare began. The shoulder ended. Do I turn back and opt for half the mileage? Or do I continue, and pray that the motorists of New York will not only see me, but not fulfill my dreaded doomsday destiny of being cannoned into the brush.

I did it.

It was very scary, but very exhilirating. In a way, it's a good thing I have children. If I didn't, I would probably be dead by now with the added risks I would be taking above those that I take right now.

There were a few cars that honked, and some even took their time to roll down their windows, stick their heads out and yell, "ASSHOLE!" With all these warm and humane New York-styled offerings and gestures, I felt right at home.

I rode my bike all the way to the needle, just turning on the U right in front of it, and headed back. When I did go back the shoulder situation was even worse. Not only was it missing, but it was even missing past Tobay Beach. So what did I do? I played chicken again. I didn't even wait to get to a turnaround this time. I simply got off my bike, backed it up into the sand (because now I was on the south bound, beach side) and waited for a good gap between cars and their freshmouthed owners to pass me by. And I did it so fast, that I could hear the extra life bell ring in my head when I crossed over to the other shoulder (the north side again), all in one swoop!

I am the human version of Frogger.

So now, I had my shoulder again, but it meant I had to ride against traffic. This means that impact of a car going 80 and my bike going 20 would be 100 MPH. In other words, drop the spatula, and pick up the vacuum, because there would be no solid pieces of Alex left to pick up in the event of a head-on.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I NOW APPEAL TO YOUR COMMON SENSE OF LIVING. DO NOT, REPEAT, DO NOT RIDE A BIKE WEST OF TOBAY BEACH, NY!!!!!

Thank you for that brief, but important Public Service Announcement. Now. To Continue...
Well, there really isn't much to continue is there? At least the cycling part anyway. Sure, I finished what I started. I rode back the same way back for the rest of the way that I came. I played chicken again to cross back to the south side of Ocean Parkway so that I can enter Cedar Beach. I rode around the parking lot a little (sort of like a simulated victory lap, hah!), and made my way back to homebase, aka. my black Honda Civic)

After learning how to use the U lock and cable, I locked my bike right onto one of the big wooden posts that was right in front of my car. I then took my fabric chair, and bag, and headed for the beach.

Cedar Beach is endless. I must Google Map measure this, but I felt like I walked a mile just to get to the water. I finally found some real estate, that I would claim on behalf of the Sovereignty of Gonzalez, and plunked myself down to rest. I started reading, Running From The Devil again.
It didn't take long to realize that I was getting cold, and that the wind was whipping up. At about 5pm, I decided to leave. I took the beaches of Long Island head on with my Trek and can say that I have declared victory!

Now...Most people would have gone home and relaxed. Normal people, that is. When I get into a groove, it is frightening how hard and long I can go. This is one of the reasons why I will be doing my 8th marathon this November. This is one of the reasons why people look at me and say "You are deranged!" right to my arranged face.

When I got home, I did rest. For about 20 minutes or so...
Then I went for an 8+ mile run. White and hairy legs. Oh, how appealing....

Hey! I did not sweat off enough, and I was feeling good! So...Don't bust my chops!!! I decided to run to beautiful Argyle Lake. On the way, I passed across the train tracks.





It's about 3.5 miles to get to Argyle Lake, and once I got there, I ran two loops around the lake. It is was absolutely beautiful today.There were swans and ducks just relaxing in the lake.

There are some beautiful houses along the west side of the lake too.

The waterfall facing Montauk Highway was very pretty.Someone had gotten married, and they were even taking pictures, right by the lake too.








Unlike the last (and first) time that I did this course, where I really injured myself, I was in full control this time around. I think the cycling has strengthed my quads (in just 2 short days too) to the point that it might have given my calves a little break by not having to depend on them as much to carry me forward.

Here's a fun game. See if you can determine the path I used to get back!

Once again don't be shy to click on the photos for a larger view.


In then end, and when I got home, I noticed that I did my run in an 8:34 pace, so I definitely had a lot left in the tank. Enough that it enabled me to break 30 miles running this week, to go along with 50 miles cycling. After this, I called my kids to see how they were. Matt's team won 19-5. Nice! I also congratulated him and Steffie for their great marks in school this semester. Steffie had straight A's and A+s. Sick! After I told them how much I loved them, I finally took a real nap. Only to wake up and start writing this and finishing off my "Pig At Prep" blog [otherwise entitled -> "Corona with a Twist of Swine"]

God bless my endurance. This is a gift that I will savor for as long as I can. Good times indeed.