Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One for the Doggies

I honestly don't think I give the PRP enough blog time. He runs just as many miles as I do. Ok, sometimes he runs more if you count ball chasing. Since he doesn't wear the Garmin while fetching, I feel obligated not to count his wind sprints. Translation: Garmin didn't see it- it doesn't count.

Anyway, there's a valid reason why I like the dog so much. No, it has nothing to do with my jealousy over his dexterity and flexibility. It's just that we think many of the same thoughts. For example, any time that I am introduced to a new substance, my initial thought is "Can you eat it?" If the answer is no, my secondary thought is "Fine. Where's the stuff you can eat?"

Based on the PRP's behavior, he pretty much agrees. He likes to take things a little bit further by actually eating it before he decides if it's edible. Well, to each his own.

Moving away from the food genre, both me and the dog like to be petted. It really is a shame that the Wife only has 2 hands. We have 2 dogs and they seem to have a monopoly on her attention. I can't compete with that.

Plus, there really is no bad place to pet a dog. If you can pet it, he likes it. I admit, this is another area in which the dog and I agree.

In case you didn't know, my doggies are also working dogs. Yeah, even the non-running dog goes to work. They are highly qualified to do their jobs. They went to class, passed a test, and have been certified therapy dogs for a couple of years.

Recently, we were asked us to take them back to school. The other day, we hit one of the local college campuses to relieve the stress of those poor kids who have been locked up in their dorms for weeks. Basically, we hung out in the foyer of the athletic building and college kids came by and petted the doggies.

Here's what that looks like:

And, just for the record, I am not a cat lover. The main reason is that I'm highly allergic. In a close second place, I just don't appreciate them as a pet. They don't chase a ball. They don't do many tricks. They don't come when you call. And they don't know how to get pet.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Pantie Problem

[There's a lot of separate backstories to the main point of this posting. They come together at the end. Please be patient.]

Story 1- Online Shopping
The Wife does a significant amount of shopping online. We get all sorts of things delivered to the house, from food to toiletries to apparel. It's kinda like Christmas for me. A box appears on our doorstep courtesy of the local UPS guy and I'm all giddy with excitement about the surprise that's inside. Cha ching, it's the economy size pack of Puffs (the kind that you blow into, not the kind that you blow out of).

(Having just re-read that, I think I failed at clarifying my point. But I'm gonna keep it as I think it works anyway.)

Online businesses are confusingly sneaky in their marketing campaigns. We (meaning the Wife) did a product search. Then we (still meaning the Wife) purchase from a site that offers an appropriate brand at a fair price. We (meaning me) provide credit card information. They (meaning the company) ship the item to our (meaning our) house. We (meaning the Wife) open the box and reap the rewards.

You'd think that be the end of the purchasing story. However, they (meaning the company) require certain information to get the product to our (meaning our) home. Such as an email and street address. Then they (meaning the company) now feel that they (still meaning the company) and we (meaning the Wife) are best buds. They (I'm pretty sure you know who) will repeatedly send us (meaning me as it was my credit card) catalogs and advertisements to buy more of their products. They (you still know who) found a loop hole in the anti-spam/ junk mail laws.

That's how I (meaning me) receive repeated Victoria Secret catalogs.

Story 2- The Weather
I looked it up. For my area the coldest days of the year, based on average highs and lows, happen between January 10-25th. It seems that the jet stream, in conjunction with the Canadian Weather Authority, are aware of this phenomenon and have been working diligently to turn down the thermostat. Today is actually the 'warm' day of the week.

Despite what people think, January in upstate NY has an average high of right around the freezing point of water. This is the result of careful math over the past 100+ years of data. The average low is in the upper teens.

Not included in the chill- snow, ice, wind, and the penchant for plow vehicles to not care if you are running on the side of the road or not.

Story 3- The Training
I have dedicated myself to improving my run. I'm not much of a runner. I sport average speeds in the discipline but I recognize that I have room for vast levels of improvement.

The best way to improve your running is by... wait for it... because what I'm about to tell you lies opposite of what all of the Saturday morning infomercials tell you... it is contrary to everything that the masses want to hear (including myself)...

...The best way to improve your running is by running more. There really is no way around it. Running is a skill and, just like all skills, the more you (meaning me) practice the better you (meaning me) will get. If I want to be a better runner, I need to run.

The Second Story of this post has not helping much. This week alone, I have run in temps of 6º, 8º, and 13º. That's in Fahrenheit. For those of you who speak Celsius, allow me to translate: It's fricken cold!

Story 3- The Support Structure
Once you factor in the training with the weather, a new problem presents itself. Mostly in the world of sporting apparel. Layers upon layers of clothing are needed just to brave the elements. My wardrobe is wholly inadequate for the task.

In the summer time, what I'll refer to as the happy season, you can get away with minimalist attire. Shoes are used by most. Shorts are required by law. Shirts are optional. Ladies, this is even true for you in NY, so long as your not selling or lewding, so feel free to be free.

In the evil season, you still have the option of going free but exposure is not recommended. Hence the need for more coverage. The other day, I had on a base layer shirt, turtleneck, long-sleeved tee, and a jacket. For bottoms, I had jogging pants over running tights over running panties. I couldn't believe that I actually had to wear panties.

Most of my running apparel has built-in man supports. Panties are not recommended in running shorts due to the briefs or compressions sewn into the short. Coverage and comfort all built in to one garment. Without these marveling bits of technology, I (meaning me) would just become an extra in the cross county running scenes for the Movie Juno.

To be truthful, my boys don't need that much leverage. They were built strong and I have run many-a-times in boxers with no discomfort. I do own running panties for different reasons. Specifically I bought them because I coach, including leading stretching, and don't want any dude slippage in front of my athletes.

These panties are finally beneficial to me (meaning me) in the sport of running. Sometimes, despite their heartiness, the boys get cold. Cold on testicles doesn't actually do them much harm. Sperm can be deposited and frozen for many a year and maintain their virulence. It's just that the freezing environment scares the bejeezus out of them, as evidenced by their penchant to tuck and hide. The panties keep the nether regions warmer and less numb.

The Problem
I simply don't own enough running panties. I have been running from 7-9 times a week in an effort to increase my effort. Or is that decrease my effort? It doesn't matter. I simply don't have enough panties to keep up with the weather and my recent running habits.

This whole issue would be moot if the weather would change. Or if I moved. Or if I ran less. Since none of those things seem to be happening anytime soon, I have to figure out something else.

The Possible Solution
Here's the part where I promised you that all the individual stories would come together:

I've been looking a lot at the Victoria's Secret Catalog lately.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WW- SBR in the Snow

It's gotten cold. So cold. Like Canadian cold. How do you people up north live with this? I absolutely hate it.

There are a few people who actually enjoy the snow. I prefer to call the morons die-hards. They pretend to do "fun" things in the snow such as skiing and sledding. Basically, fun in the snow revolves around putting wood on your feet or butt and sliding down an incline. Wowee!  Also, apparently, there's sport done with a broom, a stick, and a disc. I'm pretty sure that sport is called "cleaning up the kitchen", although I've never done it before.

See, I'm a triathlete doofus (who seems to have problems with the strikeout function). This mainly means that I prefer summer activities. Running, biking and swimming are my picks. These are not normally things that are done when the temps drop and the white falls.

I suppose that there are a few individuals that prefer to run in the snow. Such as horses and Siberian Huskies.

Biking in the snow is exceptionally challenging in the snow. You need fat tires or chains. You might also need additional layers of clothing. Lots of clothing. Mobility will be compromised. For example:

Even Calvin and Hobbs finds biking in the snow ridiculous.

But, the big kicker is swimming. Most swimming is done in the pool. In the summertime, I get out to do some open water swimming. Other, more courageous people combine snow, swimming in the pool, and open water swimming all in the same workout.

Behold the Snow Swimming Championship!

Some notes on this video. According to the makers, the competitors are not drunk (believe that at your own risk). And, in their current state, their flip turns are better than the average triathlete's.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Problem with the iPhone

The Wife can to me all proud and giggly about this new iPhone app that she found. It was a workout app and, much to her credit, she's caught on that I enjoy working out. It's nice to know that she's paying attention after all these years. Anyway, the premise of the app based on her description and demonstration was that you activate the app, hold it out in front of you, and do your squat. The device magically records how many squats you have accomplished. If you ask it, it will also tell you how many more you have left in your set and keep the results in a log for you.

I checked it out and apparently there are a multitude of free apps that will do this, free of charge. These same developers made one for push-up, pull-up and sit-ups. I think they've cornered the market on the 'ups' exercises.

On one hand, I am excited about any strategy that gets people up and moving. Motivation, for some, is in short supply. If a new app is going to coax you off the couch and into workout mode, have at it. The more you do, the better you are, and the happier that we'll all be (at least in theory).

On the other hand, I'm appalled. I can't imagine needing any sort of device that's greatest power is counting. How hard is it? One is followed by two. It's the same numbering system that you were taught when you were 3 years old and repeated when you were 4. Hey, remember that new technology called a piece of paper and a pencil? These are great devices that will aid in the recording of workouts. Plus, you don't need a separate sheet of paper to log sit-ups and pull-ups. They can be recorded on the same device.

Today's uber-reliance on electronics is getting out of hand. People now-a-days are living the slogan "there's an app for that". Whatever happened to just working out? It really is that simple. Want to do some push-ups? Lie on the floor, face down with your hands under your shoulders. Push. Up. Return to the starting position. Repeat as often as you like. Too hard? That's ok. There are variations (see left). Notice that in none of the cartoon drawings is there an iPhone. Those imaginary depictions of people get it.

Aside: Don't try doing an image search for 'push-ups' while you're at work. Sure, you'll get lots of hits. Mostly of hot chicks in bras. Oh, apparently there's also some new hiney-enhancing panties and, according to one source, a push-up thong. Advice- absolutely do that search, but save it for when you get home. End Aside.

It really would be nice if people ditched their iPhones for life once in a while. Just because there's an app for something doesn't mean that you need to use it. On the surface, people think that these tiny bits of technology are making their lives better. I disagree. I feel that they are perpetuating the laziness that keeps us on the couch in the first place. Ditch the iPhone. Down with the apps. They are like crack feeding an addiction which will never be quenched.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go for a run. I just need to check my Garmin and make sure the battery's charged and strap on my heart rate monitor. I'll upload the data to my database and analyze the workout from several different angles. When finished, I have plans to research about power meters that I hope to buy for my bike in the near future. 

But, I absolutely refuse to bring my iPhone during my run. That would just be silly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WW- Affects of Insomnia

People believe in a lot of crazy things. Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. Europe. Sure, you read about these things in books, but come on, there's no real evidence of their existence. You people can be quite gullible.

Me- I believe in none of the hokus, except for the Sandman. I've never actually met him but I'm quite confident he exists. The crustiness of my eyes after each snooze is proof enough for me. The Sandman might also visit my house near the end of his route. Just like the Department of Transportation over salting the roads at the end of winter, in need to dump their stores, so they don't have to justify the surplus at next season's budgetary meeting, leaving a coating of white dust on everything through June... What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, I get a lot of crusty in my eyes.

Except on Sundays. I'm pretty sure that the Sandman is a Christian and honors the Sabbath. I seem to have an extra difficult time sleeping on Sundays, adding extra insult to Mondays (who are just naturally insulting). You'll be happy to know that this most recent Sunday, I fell asleep on my own without the need of any mystical creep entering my room and drugging me. He was none too please with my independence and therefore skipped Monday night. I didn't sleep a wink.

I'm surprised both me and my students survived the Tuesday.

During that no sleepy-sleepy time, I was hunting for amusement. It was quite apparent that bad movie watching was out of the question. I couldn't follow any sort of a plot line, recognize characters from previous scenes, or the name of my dog. I was in deep.

It's clear that I become a bumbling idiot when I'm drunk overtired. It was then that I came across this guy. His material was just my speed and mentality.

Pay special attention to jokes number 8, 21, 37, 47, 50, and and 52.

To be honest, I can't remember why I asked you to pay attention to those jokes in particular. Sorry about that.

It's also at this time that I'd like to tell you that even though the Sandman did come to my house last night, I still don't feel like I've slept enough. Which would explain why I am finding these hysterical today...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'm Single Again

Our relationship started near the beginning of the 2000's. It is officially over. Done. Kaput. The end game has been building for quite some time. Lawyers were involved. The grand finale was finally announced via my attorney this past Friday. The bittersweet news has come as a relief.

The Wife and I agreed that it was time to move on. Problems in the relationship were quite apparent several years ago. We did our best to work through them. We tossed energy and money at the problems with various levels of success. But, when the situation is clearly littered with signs of discontent, illness, and unhappiness, no amount of therapy is going to solve the problem.

To be honest, I had no idea how difficult it would be to make the break. We started the proceedings in November, 2011 (yeah, it's been going on that long). Releasing yourself from your burdens is not an easy task. You cannot just walk away. There were times when I wanted to simply give up and just cope with the discomfort of the situation. That's not really in my character, or the Wife's, so we trudged on.

I was surprised as to the snail's pace of the process. There are just so many things that were out of my control. I had to depend on so many people to make sure all of the forms were filled out properly. That deadlines were met. That paperwork was filed in the right offices. Further, all of these things cost money. Precious money that I didn't really have.

In March 2012, we started our separation. The experts say this is the best way to go about things. I can't argue with them as I simply don't know enough about the process. I felt no larger than a trained monkey. They say- I do. That means things have been frustrating/ annoying/ over my head for the past 9 months.

Aside: The sense of abandonment is overwhelming. I have never felt this way before. If I had to describe it, my liberty would be similar to what the soldiers in the movie Braveheart felt. When I got the news, I was at work. I really wanted to moon the world and yell "FREEDOM"! However, I am a teacher and work is filled with minors. Showing my arse to a bunch of underage impressionables would probably cost me my job and my license. I celebrated internally initially and later-on with fermented grapes. I have released my shackles while keeping my job and career. End Aside.

Just to be clear, especially to you ladies, I am not on the market, or in the market, or whatever jargon they are using these days. I am 100% not available. I have no idea if I will ever be.

As expected, I don't expect that my life in the future will be the same as it was in the past. When you release yourself from a major commitment, not matter how big or important, life cannot go on as it once was. Does this mean a change in the blog? I don't know. Does this mean a change in my training? Clueless. Is my life heading in a new direction? Absolutely.

So, all that's needed to be done has been done. All that's needed to be said has been said. All that's needed to be signed has been signed. It is time for a new chapter in my life to inevitably commence.

From this day forward, I shall celebrate my single-ness. I am quite proud to tell you that we finally sold our old house!

We are no longer a two-household family. A nice young couple bought our old house. We have a single home. A single mortgage. A single set of utility bills. I wish the new owners of our old home the best of times. It really was a good house. I hope it serves them well. From my perspective, and from the Wife's, we couldn't be happier that this burden has finally been lifted.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WW- Not Dying

It's right around now that the smart people of sport start making plans for their 2013 season. When you start making plans for a season, there's a few assumptions that need to be made:
  • You know how to make goals
  • You know how to make plans
  • You know what needs to be done to achieve your goals
  • You actually have a 2013 season to plan
  • You are not an idiot
Exactly none of these bullets apply to me. How do I know? I reviewed my goals for 2012. You can read about them here. I achieved almost none of them. Almost.

See, there are a few goals that I set every year. And I think that you should set them too. My annual goals always start with:
1. Not die
2. Have fun
3. Not get injured
4. Finish the season with enough positive vibes to want to do it again next year
Starting from the bottom up, I definitely want to do triathlons again. Success. I didn't really get injured. Success. I most certainly had fun. Success. And, I'm pretty sure I didn't die. Success. After all of those successes, the rest of the performance goals really don't matter all that much.

Triathloning is an addictive hobby. I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't place any weight on fast times or beating my fellow competitors to the line. I want to be fast and I want to win. Such is the nature of sport. I'd also be lying if I told you that I got grumpy when I was slow or when I lost. If that were true, I'd be a perma-grump. Since, that's not the case, I'll go back to staying alive.

Staying alive these days is a challenge. It seems like the number of ways to meet your maker is increasing. The nominations for the 2012 Darwin Awards have not been made available. (Darwin was a triathlete, in case you didn't know.) But, you can read through the list of old recipients and see how fickle life really is.

As opposed to the Darwin winners, continuing to breathe is really just a matter of common sense. Be smart people. Why? Because there are lots of dumb ways to die.

All you need to do for a successful season is follow the advice from the funky little bubble figures and your 2013 will be fruitful. Good luck to you and me both.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ask the Banter- The Brown Out

Today's session of Ask the Banter is brought to you by a new character to the blog. She is one of my athletes and, in many ways, is more of a runner than me. Like most of the people featured in the blog, I tend to invent blog names, which are a bit like Native-American monikers. They are descriptive in relation to the characteristics of the individual. Today's post is brought to you by the Mare.

Some background: the Mare is a Middle-Aged Runner Extraordinaire (get it?). As a coach and a gentleman, I have not dared ask her age. I estimate that she's older than a teenager and is not eligible to apply for her AARP card yet. Hence, middle aged. Also, she really likes running. She identifies with the sport and I'd be hard pressed to get her into a pool and then on a bike before she runs. I guess everybody's got their flaws.

The Mare has a major goal of completing her first full marathon in September, 2013. We have been training and working towards that goal. Recently, she sent me a problem.

Not to blame

my long run today was cut short emergency bathroom run....

i am guessing due to dietary intake on the previous days

from this day forward i will heed the no fruit or veg the day before a long run.... another reason could be the additional holiday treats that have been everywhere... crap it was a good run.... granted the last couple of miles i need to push myself to complete but today incident was not part of the plan

other suggestions....

I promise that the "crap" and "push myself" innuendos are hers and not mine. Anyway, here was my response:

Ah, the good ol' GI-cut-the-run-short routine. That is a staple in every runner's bag of training. Now, before you go making any big decisions, hear me out. It's not your fault. It's not my fault (at least I don't think so). It's not the fault of the fruits. Or the vegetables. Or the... you get the point. 

The harsh reality of running is that, sometimes, shit happens. Figuratively and, during today's run, literally. In your case, count your blessings that you were in a position to make it back home before the, you know, hit the fan. The infamous brown out is much worse in winter time as all of the emergency leaves, AKA, nature's toilet paper, are covered in snow. Trust me on this, snow does not make for good TP on multiple levels.

What to do? Honestly, keep on trucking. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first incident in our relationship. Therefore, you've clearly not got a problem. If this were happening chronically, I'd be forcing you to keep an accurate log of everything that went into your gullet and out the other end (ew, right?). So, recover from today's run both mentally and physically. Look at the schedule ahead (and be aware of the extreme cold moving in for Wed and Thurs, plan accordingly). Keep me updated as to how things are flowing.

As a follow-up to the Mare's progress- First, the forecasted 'extreme cold' never happened. She told me that she was ready for it anyway. Second, she's done 4 runs without any crappy complaints, with another one on the schedule for today. See, the system works.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WW- How NOT To Get in Shape

Welcome to my 3rd year of blogging. I am super excited to continue this thrilling endeavor in which I create fascinating, high quality, first class entertainment! At least for me. My guess is that it's semi-amusing for you, which is still pretty good in my opinion.

We have reached the time of year when a vast majority of people have started on a new adventure of their own that will conclude roughly 2-3 weeks from yesterday. You know what I'm talking about- New Year's Resolutions.

If you hit the reputable sports blogs or the nationally credited experts, they are chalked full of ideas on how to get started, how to keep it up, and new/ improved fitness ideas that are guaranteed to keep you motivated as you guide yourself towards the best you ever- all in about 6 minutes a day. I couldn't possibly compete with that, could I?

According to statistics that I have refused to research, most people have set exercise goals. They want to lose weight, fit into their favorite jeans, or smoke the Banter in a race. Roughly 95% of all the fitness goals that I didn't look up require swimming, biking, running, or lifting weights. Again, most people fall of the workout wagon before they have actually arrived to the barn. I think I know why...

The biggest reason that people don't achieve their goals is that they are afraid that they won't fit in with the regulars. See, contrary to popular habits, there are those who stay in shape year-round. We have names/ titles for these dedicated individuals: Hard-Cores. Regulars. Meat-heads. Die Hards. Bloggers. A bunch of people that I didn't talk to cited that they weren't sure how to behave amongst the natives.

I happen to agree with them. I don't know how to behave either. However, I do find that I am relatively comfortable in exercise laden environments. That's because I know how NOT to behave. And, it's just your luck that I am going to share some of them with you.

Here's how not to behave as a runner:

Here's how not to behave at the pool:

Here's how not to behave in the weight room:

Oddly, there are no "not to's" for cycling. Anything goes in that sport. It's all good. For the other areas, all you have to do is not to be that guy. If you hold true to that, you'll fit in nicely with the goobers who have been willfully paying full price on their gym memberships, including the joiners' fee, for many years in a row, without regret. And, isn't that the guy you really want to become anyway? (Especially true for my lady readers out there).