We’re very, very, busy…

Doing most important things in most important ways.

Good things are afoot at the Jank house. Good things that hopefully will spread Jon’s way after his recent brushes with worry. Although, historically, things going as well as they have been usually is followed up by something on the magnitude of a comet crashing into the ocean. Though, Jon, they’re backing away from the Frenchman’s claim.

Because of a fiercely busy week, I haven’t run/biked/swam since last Friday. I managed to squeeze in 5.2 Thursday at lunch, in a pleasant 46 minutes, on a day that was made for runners – brilliant blue, gentle breeze, and about 60 degrees. Awesome. I should try it again sometime.

In other news, I’m coaching Jake’s t-ball team. Not that I volunteered to coach – on the form, I clearly checked the “I’ll help with the team” box, not the “I want to be a coach” box. Let’s be honest here – learning baseball from me is about as useful for the kids as learning, oh, say, FLYING by flapping one’s arms from me. I still close my eyes and cringe when catching pop flies.

On the plus side, it’s t-ball, so if I can manage to get a majority of the kids not playing in the dirt for the majority of the time, I’ll count it as a win. Truthfully, I think I’m looking forward to coaching. Nothing better than a chance to mold young minds. I think we’ll all run the bases for the first practice. Spend an hour learning running skillz…

The worst part, personally, has been calling the parents of the kids to let them know about practices, schedules, etc. Not that the other parents aren’t wonderful – they have all been swell, and last year there weren’t any of those parents at any of the T-ball games. Good folks in this town.

It’s just the whole cold-calling thing. I hate it. Absolutely hate getting on the phone with people I do not know, and who may not be expecting me to call. Irrational? Sure. Lazy? You bet. But it still bugs the crap out of me. The upside is that it’s done now. There’s just a couple of stragglers who haven’t returned calls – we’ll see if they show up on Saturday.

Which was the other part that I had irrational issues with. I called the league commissioner (which was somewhat easier – he goes to our church, and we gabbed on Sunday) this week to see about practices, etc. He says “Sure, you tell me when and where.” I say “Well, what’s available?” He says “Whatever!” So it was up to me to figure out when and where, which was tough, since I didn’t have any idea at that point what the other parents could support.

Until I remembered that I was the coach. Once that clicked, it was easy to make arbitrary decisions. Bringing to mind the great rules of leadership. Brogan posted it as four rules a while back. I can distill it down to two:

1. The best plan is the one that you begin executing
2. The information you have now is adequate to start executing, provided you’re willing to shift as information shifts

Once i realized I was at step one, the rest was easy. We’ll reassess schedules for the rest of the season on Saturday.

That’s pretty much it. I’m off to read about music theory until I fall asleep.

Rumors of Blogging’s Death

Have been greatly exaggerated.

My buddy Jeff, fresh into the DC blog scene, went off on a rant a couple of weeks ago.

Blogs used to be beautiful. Not all of them, of course; not even on average. But the specular highlights outshone the grey pall that covered the rest of it. Now writers of real thought and talent are morphing into partisan hacks — no offense meant to anybody — because they’ve been subsumed by the machine. They’ve been subsumed by the status quo.

While there’s some truth to what he’s saying about political blogs, it’s more an indictment of politics than of blogs, themselves. While it may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, there is beauty in the way the RBF, for instance, has given normal folks a means to focus on fitness.

This is going to have knock-on effects more profound than a new space for talking heads to listen to themselves.

And it’s not just the RBF. Blogs are letting companies connect with customers, letting musicians collaborate despite the tyrrany of distance. Blogs are beautiful.

Politics is ugly.

Half an hour for me, half an hour for my homies

Heart rate doesn’t lie, right? At least, that’s what they tell us.

A week ago, I swapped out my old, non-whiz bang heart rate monitor for a younger, snazzier, curvier model (this one here, in fact). It’s a bit on the chunky side, but it doesn’t spike high every 2 minutes like my 6 year old one, and it does laps. Swam with it on Wednesday, in fact. I’m pretty much satisfied. If it lasts a year or two, I’ll be happy, even.

So I split from the office this afternoon just slightly early (which was offset by working just slightly late a couple of other evenings last week), and swung by the North Kingston rail-trail, which I hadn’t seen in a while. I was thrilled to see a lot of folks out biking on the trail, and at least one mom running behind her son-on-training-wheels. Made me want to boogie on home.

Good podcasts to listen to and great weather – in the mood to run. So I did. Warmed up to the mile 0 mark, and hit the split button. HR about 130, just barely aerobic. Cranked it up. Tried to figure out the new graffiti – black paint on blacktop doesn’t work really well.

Mile 1 – right at 8 minutes. Hmm, not sure where that came from. But, I’m sure things’ll even out. Mile 2’s slightly uphill. Wow – under 8 minutes, HR right around 150. Mile 3; mile 4 – same story. Finished the 4.2 in just over 33 minutes, with less than 1 minute over 158, which is theoretically 85% of Max for me.

Then it was time to go fulfill civic duty – our church was hosting the Groton area ecumenical blood drive this time around. I stopped and did the frat boy shower (soap and washcloth in the sink, topped off with deodorant) at the CT Welcome station on IH-95, then rolled into St. Andrew’s right in time for my appointment.

As a side note, can I say a huge note of thanks to people who work flexed hours in services? The Red Cross had pushed the hours for the drive from like 2 to 6:30, giving folks like me a chance to fit it into my schedule. Ditto the good people at the Groton Public Library, who, most weeknights, remain open until 9 PM – I can get the kids in bed and actually have a little time to browse myself, so our weekend trips can focus on the kiddos. And I cannot thank the folks at the Y enough – if I can get up that early, I can swim at 0530, or as late as 2130.

After having pie, I stuck around a bit to help pick up chairs, etc, and shoot the breeze with the pastor, who’d just gotten back from a run. Wish that I had half the energy of that guy, and a fraction of his compassion and empathy.

So that’s pretty much it. Whoever ends up with my pint’s gonna get to enjoy a boost of endorphins, I hope. Glad to share. Good end to a great week.

BTW, can I just point out here how much inspiration y’all give to me? Even though I couldn’t make it to beantown, meeting Lower Case Jeff, riding with Warren, and hanging out with the CT RBF rocked. I think I’ve talked my wife into running Bluff Point in my stead (“Your marathon friends aren’t going to make fun of me if I just do the 3.6 mile race, are they?” she asked. The beauty is the number of cases in which we can look back and see that that’d never happen.) But the goodness isn’t just up here:

Angie set a PR and married off some running friends in a canyon
Jon managed not to eat himself into a coma after going back on the brown stuff following Lent
RunninTurnip has a great opportunity to get new wheels (but we’re thrilled she’s safe)
– Lance Armstrong is going to follow in my footsteps for a change and run NYC in November
– And Mark is trying to extort cash from us in exchange for compromising pictures.

Apologies to those I’ve left out. Great things are afoot at the Circle K, boys and girls.

Great Things

Hippo Birdie Two Eye

Runmystic – Run, run, run, run, run, cycle, cycle, too – turns two today. Way back then, I was over 185, and way overestimating mileage.

Two years later – 20 lbs lighter, two marathons under the belt, and a much better swimmer. But still not a good swimmer. I’m also a slightly better web jockey; but I still can’t code a page from scratch. Maybe in another two years.

I’ve gone through some of my archives. My favorites? May of last year.

Thanks to everyone in the RBF and elsewhere. I’d like to think I could have done this all on my own, but frankly – knowing that there’d be people scratching their heads if the blog went dark keeps me strapping on the shoes.

Did the 5.2 miles to the Gazebo yesterday. Will likely do it again today.

New Spring Classic: Mystic/Watch Hill/Mystic

So, it turns out that Salty War is a great guy, in fact, and not an axe murderer.

There is goodness in the world*, and a large chunk of it resides in Ottowa, apparently.

I’d mentioned to Warren in a chat a month or so back that he was welcome to crash at our place on the weekend before Boston, and we’d head up to see Jeff run. This was, of course, before either of us had realized it was Easter Weekend. But, after wrangling our respective better halves, it was decided that Warren’d head down Sunday morning, and head back up after the race.

So, a bit after 2, a sensible vehicle drives up, a tall, thin, runner-lookin’ guy steps out, and I drop the rake and say “Warren?” Sure enough.

We talked for a bit, let him take care of what ailed him following his wee jaunt in the car, and I talked him into a quick ride – a mere 20 or 30 miles before supper. He was game – eager, in fact, and broke out his snazzy yellow bike, pulled on the “Around the Bay” shirt (Which I was surprised to see that Jon hadn’t autographed), and we were off.

For the first leg of the ride, we were accompanied by Jake, who raced us down the street to “Dog Barking Road” (’cause there are like dogs that like bark on it) and back.

Then, the plunge down the woefully rutted road that leads from the neighborhood to Old Mystic. “Watch out for the bumps” I say, as I turn down the hill. “I wondered at first why you took the really wide line” says Warren at the bottom of the hill, pulling his seatpost out of his nether-bits.

M/WH/M’s first and largest climb, the Category 2 Pequot Trail, comes at about 1.5 miles into the classic, just after the trip through the industrial heart of town. As we started up the climb, Warren kept holding my wheel. As I looked back, his face was impassive, legs churning, as we danced up the hill. At the top, I pointed out the sweet stone shell of a house, the one I’m buying when I hit the lottery, and then tucked in for the screaming descent.

At the first stop sign, I turn around and ask Warren how the pace is. “Fine” he says, impassively, leading me to confess that there’s not a whole lot more I could put into it. “OK,” he says.

The rollers on Rt 234 into Pauckatuck are amazing, as always – a series of half to three quarters of a mile climbs, followed by matching descents. We turn onto Route 1, briefly, to start going to Watch Hill.

I confess that I’ve never actually ridden all the way out to Watch Hill – usually, given the time for a long ride, I head up north into the hills. For shorter rides, I usually just head to Stonington and back – not a lot of climbing (sometimes I throw in Pequot Trail Hill). Warren’s cool with that – we’ll just go ’till we’re about 15 miles from the house, then turn around. We chat a bit on some side roads off of Rt 1A, along the river separating Connecticut from Rhode Island. Mention Susan and David’s family summer places just up the coast from where we are.

In the end, we hit about mile 16 as we crest a hill and look through someone’s yard at the Atlantic. I’m not quite sure how far we are to the parking lot for Watch Hill, so we take a break, talk triathlon, and suck down some water. Warren acts a little worn out to make me feel better.

On the way back, we take Route 1 south out of Pauckatuck, towards Stonington. And, I realize that what’s usually a decent offshore/westerly breeze, the breeze that should be pushing us back to Mystic, is an onshore, easterly breeze, straight in our faces. Again, we manage.

We take the turn into Stonington Borough, ’cause I’m pretty sure there’s some cobblestones still on the street, and a classic’s not a classic without cobblestones. We ride out to the point, past the pair of cannon that held off a British Frigate during the War of 1812, and chat for a bit at the point. I’ve got a great picture of Warren, but haven’t pulled it off the camera yet. He’s got one of me, too, that cracked him up somewhat fierce. I’ll let him tell that bit.

Finally saw some other bikers at the point – there was the rude guy on the Giant road bike, playing the Ugly American, convinced that Ottowa was somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. There was the smokin’ chick on the vintage Trek mountain bike, asking for an allen wrench (and actually calling it that – is there anything hotter than a woman who knows tools?) and looking for singletrack.

And then we were headed back towards home.

On the climb out of Stonington on RT 1, Warren pretended to drop his chain so he could climb at his screamin’ pace and not have to wait for me. I didn’t notice until I was over the hill, but by the time I turned around, he came screaming over the top, looking like Salvodelli coming over the Finestre, ready to scream down into Mystic.

We chatted through town. Then I asked – “OK, 5 miles and not so much up and down, or 4 miles and a killer hill back to the house?” Warren opts to tackle Cow Hill, and take the shorter route.

One final crushing climb under our belts, and we roll back into Casa Jank, just in time for Easter Ham.


Can’t ask for much more than that – perfect weather, great riding companion, and good eats to top it off. It’s going to be tough to beat the ride for 2006.

*I mention this, not because it’s a great surprise, but because it bears out something that a friend of mine linked to today:

But I also reject my neighbor’s representation that what neighborhoods are about is not bothering anyone. I fear that this definition is what has resulted in the culture of deep alienation we live within.

So what can we do? Nothing but spread a little bit of goodness ourselves.

Rest of the weekend wrapup

Friday – great run to the Gazebo on the Navy Base and back – 5.2 miles.
Saturday – Another 6.4 miles over the hill, heading home from the Y.
Monday – Despite thinking better of it, I headed to the Gazebo during lunch – 5.2 miles. Felt every mile of the 35+ on the bike on Sunday.
Tuesday – blew off running.
Today – Swam 1500 meters. Used new watch/HRM with lap timer. Realized what I knew – that I’m a pretty consistent 55 second lap swimmer. Felt awful. Going to bed early.

Huge shout out to TRCWTOH!

And best wishes to Jeff in Boston on Monday. UPDATE: Susan(Susie) has pictures.
Dianna, AKA “the running chick with the orange hat” threw a pre-Boston shindig for Jeff, AKA “The Amazing Hip” and the rest of his fan club up here in the quickly thawing northeast. It was, as you would expect, absolutely perfect. Somehow, I slipped onto the guest list.

Got to catch up with Susan, who continues to be one of the most intriguing people I’ve met. I’m amazed at how she continues to add to a life well lived, and inspired at her ability to follow her heart.

Saw Michelle again, and was momentarily embarrassed that I’d forgotten we’d met at the New Haven 20K. Was regaled with the ins and outs of watching the Boston Marathon, including how to get from the bar at mile 7 (“no, that’s mile 7.4”) to the one at mile 14, and to the one near the finish. Met her husband, recently returned from mobilization with the National Guard and now teaching high school again.

April Anne was there – hope and the future rolled into one smiling package. Next fall some lucky school is going to have a new teacher (Hey, there’s a thread here – what is it with running and education that makes folks pour there hearts out on the Web?)

Had the pleasure of meeting Annalisa for the first time, who had drug in from Boston, and she’s as witty in real life as she is online. Moreso, in fact. She wowed with the story of her secret crush on the 90 year old guy in her neighborhood. The guy grew up as a bobbin boy in one of the famous Lowell, Mass, textile mills, and, until recently, spent his days in a driving cap and bowtie, hustling college kids out of their money playing pool.

Dianna was running around eight ways to Sunday, and had laid out the spread for us. Her man, Jason, seemed to be having a great time, too – feigning interest in our running stories, and laughing at the jokes.

And Jeff and SMSMH completely failed to disappoint – the beautiful people really do live out in California. How cool to meet folks who suddenly feel like old friends.

What a great time! We stayed until TRCWTOH kicked us out.

Wish I could make Boston on Monday.

And a huge thanks to the New England RBF – it’s a relief to know that there are wonderful people out there doing great things. Hopefully, some of that rubs off…

Keeps going, and going, and ..

Swam tonight.

My head’s been bouncing around all day – wrapping up a bunch of loose ends at work, getting ready to be social this weekend, convincing myself that I’m actually complying with the tax code and am not going to end up in “Federal (Graphic term from “Office Space” deleted) Prison.” (Actually, we called it that in the Navy before the movie came out).

Plus, Warren’s entry about his swimming teammate hit home – luckily, I haven’t lost that many folks that I can name, or at least not when I actively was keeping track of them. But I think that’s mainly a factor of luck. I’ve seen more near misses than I care to count. Makes you think.

I almost didn’t head to the pool tonight. Yesterday’s 8 miles was, in hindsight, too much – for the first time in a while, I woke up sore this morning. So, I almost convinced myself to declare a rest day. But the wife convinced me to head out.

She was right.

Slipped into the pool as pretty much everyone else was leaving. Did 5 breast to warm up. Then I started swimming.

I initially intended to do a set of 20 laps, then two sets of 10 laps each. But, the same little voice that told me to go 8 miles yesterday said “Hey, bet you can do 30 laps straight. Then, you’ve only got to do one set of ten at the end!”

So, I started swimming. And it clicked. Long strokes, quick and deep breaths. Nice. Kept losing count, so I think I’ve actually underestimated distance instead of the other way around. Got to 20 laps, and convinced myself to do the whole mile nonstop.

At about lap 30, I entertained thoughts of going straight to 60 laps without stopping. But that was just silly.

But it was nice – 40 minutes of focusing on stroke, stroke, breathe, hey look at the bubbles, stroke, oops – forgot to kick for a while, hmmm, how many tiles are there in the lane… For a while there, I’d worked out all the world’s ills in my mind.

Then, I realized it was time to go. The lifeguard told me “Nice set” as I walked out.

Made my day.

Unexpected Long Run

So, my client calls me up about 9:30 today – “Hey, can we go over your project today?”

“Sure,” I say, for once completely up to date.

“Great” he says. “Didja bring your stuff to run? I’m heading out at 11:15.”

“Yep. Want to run out to the gazebo on the Navy Base?”


That run did not happen. The next 6 hours were a mix of “Hey, can you wait just a second” and “So, are the changes done?” A very productive period, but kinda frustrating nontheless. Especially watching a brilliant blue noon drift to a grey and breezy afternoon.

In any case, I split the office with enough time to sneak in a run on the way home. I’d thought about just doing the run to the Gazebo myself, but thought better of it and headed to the north end of Jamestown Island. And started running.

You ever have one of those days when the sneaks finally hit the ground and suddenly everything’s all right? This was one of those. From the first couple of steps my plan for 20 minutes out and 20 minutes back was erased. Not sure why, but 8 miles popped into my head.

So, I set out to do eight miles. The forerunner hadn’t been used in a while, so he wasn’t particularly happy, but I started anyway and decided to guestimate the missed bit. To add to the challenge, I rearranged the normal loop I do to include the hill on North Main Street twice.

Yeah, I ate my Wheaties (OK, Kashi) this morning. Oooh, speaking of which – I really need to get back on the Eat Diary.

The run was exceptional, and somewhere around mile 5 I looked up and noticed that the clouds had pretty much evaporated, and what had been a grey afternoon was now bright and blue. The birds sang, the breeze blew, and the sun beat down on my ears.

As I came back to the soccer lot, the little voice in the back of my head started saying – “Hey, why not do another two to bring it up to an even 10?” I decided not to press my luck, mostly ’cause I knew that Missy and the boys were waiting. Taxes stress her out, even when I’m doing them, and even when the year is a net wash (refunds from Uncle and RI, need to pay CT through the teeth).

She headed out for a couple of mental health hours after supper, and the boys and I went for a bike ride instead of taking a bath (sssh, don’t tell, OK?) – me on the wife’s bike (the one with the “step-through” frame, ’cause I don’t ride no girls’ bikes…) Nate in the jump seat, and Jake on his two-wheeler, which he can get started by himself now. Still hasn’t figured out the brake thing from high speed – his reflex is to drag his sneaks to stop, and he ended up in the bushes on Sunday. Nothin’ big – just 10 minutes or so of fooling around, but man, is it good. Trash instead of hoops tonight, though – cannot be completely irresponsible.

Hope everyone else is as enamored of spring as I am. Jake pointed out the first dandelions in the yard. I think we’re makin’ salad this weekend!