Thursday, September 28, 2006

An Incredibly Thoughtful Gift
Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is very cool. One of the students from my AP Physics class last year, Paul, has really gotten into doing triathlons, and was talked into doing the Musselman Half Ironman Triathlon out in Geneva this past July. We talked about it a bit at the start of the school year (he loved it and apparently did quite well!) and I commented on a Frazz cartoon on some of his schwag. Turns out Jef Mallett (the cartoonist who does Frazz) was the guest speaker at Musselman this year (he's a triathlete) and the T-shirts featured a Frazz cartoon. I commented on how I thought that was pretty darn cool and left it at that.

Today Paul came up to me, said he'd learned that they had a bunch of extra shirts left over after the race, and gave me a long-sleeved T and a Frazz book that he'd gotten for me. I can't even begin to describe how much that touched me. All I could say at the time was "Wow" and "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" He was apologetic that Mallett hadn't autographed them, but that really doesn't matter to me. The fact that one of my students was willing to go to that kind of effort for me - well, "wow" and "thank you" barely begin to cover it.

Sometimes I shake my head at the things my kids do... teenagers are just so darn stupid sometimes! Thanks, Paul, for thinking of me and reminding me that there are some really great kids are there. Wow. Thank you!!!!!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

12 Mile Ride Along the Hudson
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A little chillier than I'd expected (long sleeves would have been nice!) but still a beautiful sunny fall day. Rode from the downtown end of the Corning Preserve out to Schuyler Flatts Park in Watervliet. Pushed hard on the Corning Preserve path, took it easy looping through Schuyler Flatts (and enjoyed the sunshine!)

What do I remember best about the ride? The crunch of fallen leaves under my tires. Ducks snoozing in the sun. A heron lurking on a small island near the start.

The Autumn Classic Du gets closer every day...!


Monday, September 25, 2006

5-6 Miles in the Albany Pine Bush
Monday, September 25, 2006

Definitely a good evening for a run - cool and sunny. As I made my way down the trails I was struck by how much I love running in the woods and how much I've missed it since the crash.

Tonight was better than Friday. I tried something a little different - since I was only doing 5 or 6 miles, I only walked when I hit a particularly steep or rugged bit, thinking that maybe part of the problem the other day was my injured muscles stiffening up when I walked. Whatever the reason, I managed to keep to a pretty consistent pace the whole time, I'm guessing about a 15 minute mile. Had the usual aches and pains at various points but nothing I couldn't manage.

Maybe there's hope for my completing the Autumn Classic long course on Sunday... but I will definitely need to resist the temptation to go too fast and run my own race, at the pace that will get me to the end. It's going to be a long morning on the trails and roads...


Saturday, September 23, 2006

20.5 Mile Bike Ride Out New Scotland Avenue
Saturday, September 23, 2006

After a long morning and early afternoon teaching karate and then working on getting the school ready for the colored belt testing next Wednesday, I came home and convinced myself to get out on my bike for a ride. (Especially since it's supposed to rain tomorrow.) Headed over the New Scotland Ave and out toward the Helderbergs. There's a fair amount of traffic along that road, but the shoulders are moderately wide, for the most part. Did the loop off on Fisher to Orchard and down past Five Rivers. As I was going past the ponds, I caught a glimpse of a heron right near the roadside dam - if not for the hill I was facing immediately after that, I'd have stopped to get a better look at him.

It got a bit dark toward the end, which was a bit nerve-wracking - at least I had on my reflective orange safety vest. I also noticed on the hazards of city riding as I returned to Albany - 8" curbs just inches away from my right pedal! With cars zipping by on the left, it took a lot of concentration to stay well away from those curbs and not crash!

But I made it home without mishap and I'm glad I went riding... it's a lot less stressful than running right now, and I've got 20 miles of hills to ride next Sunday at the Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon!


Friday, September 22, 2006

5 Mile Run in the Albany Pine Bush
Friday, September 22, 2006

With the various broken and battered bits of me feeling gradually better over the past week or two, I decided it was finally time to try running again. After all, the Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon is only a little over a week away...

Started out slow and stayed slow the whole time... probably about 15 minute miles on average. The first few miles weren't too bad... a bit uncomfortable, but the pain was manageable and MUCH improved over my Labor Day shuffle at Five Rivers.

Unfortunately, about halfway through the run my right leg started stiffening up and aching a bit. I'm guessing that the place where my hip smashed into the ground (which initially had a pretty substantial dent in the muscle and later had a huge bruise) suffered a good deal of damage and now I'm working against the scar tissue in the muscles. The last parts were not a whole lot of fun... a slow, somewhat painful shuffle. But I did finish the 5 miles "running" rather than walking.

So this leaves me a bit concerned for the long course on the duathlon... guess I'll have to play it by ear and if necessary drop down to the short course after the 2nd run. I would really like to complete the long course - feels like that would be a major accomplishment, given that I've spent much of the last 5 weeks on the partially-disable list.

The longer trail races I was hoping to do (Monroe Dunbar Brook, Ridgewalk & Run, and After the Leaves Have Fallen) will probably be out of the question... maybe After the Leaves is a possibility, if I make a LOT of progress over the next month. But right now it looks like I'll focus on duathlons and maybe a shorter race or two.

Oh, well.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Year of the Crashed Turtle - Race#11
The Adirondack Marathon (DNS)
19 Miles Along the Mohawk-Hudson Bikepath
Sunday, September 17, 2006

Adirondack Marathon information

A few years back (2001, I think) I made plans to run the Adirondack Marathon and cancelled on the morning of the race for a variety of very good reasons.

As I began my Year of Long Distance, it was only natural to plan to make the Adirondack Marathon a part of the fun. As of mid-August I was on track with training and really looking forward to finally completing the race. Unfortunately, my bike crash on August 17 demolished those plans by leaving me unable to run or ride for almost 4 weeks after the crash and 0/2 for the marathon.

The Adirondack Marathon was today. I think it would have been a good run - a bit hot perhaps, but up in the Adirondacks the weather might have been just right. Kind of a bummer, all told.

I did manage to get out on my bike today for the longest and fastest ride yet. Rode along the Mohawk River west of Schenectady, from Schenectady County Community College to just past Rotterdam Junction. It was a great day for a ride, and the bike path wasn't too crowded, to boot. Riding the short section of path west of Rotterdam Junction, I saw turtles sunning on a log and some pretty big fish splashing in the shallows. The fallen leaves on the path were a reminder of the chilly weather we've had recently and an indication that autumn is close - a great season for running and riding (though, as the days get shorter, it gets tough to run and ride in the daylight!)

I should be in reasonable riding shape for the Autumn Classic Duathlon in Rochester in two weeks... it remains to be seen how well my pelvic injuries will handle the running.


2006 event totals
snowshoe - 3 miles, 59.5 min
running - 99.2 miles, 24 hr 48 min
riding - 32.4 miles, 2 hr 32 min

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

13 Mile Ride at Colonie Crossings
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Colonie Crossings trail map
Colonie Crossings information

Before heading to the school to teach karate classes, I took my bike over to the Crossings of Colonie - a fairly nice park located in Colonie near the airport. Having been there previously, I knew that it isn't the most exciting place to ride - but it met my criteria of paved trails with few hills. The only drawback is that there are only about 5 miles of trails, so riding 10 or 15 miles means going around and around like a hamster in a cage...

A pleasant sunny day meant there were a lot of folks walking, running, and riding at the park... but it was still good riding. One of the coolest sights was a heron wading in near the edge of the main pond, by the park lodge.

Had a few minor twinges from my ribs but nothing all that bad, which reinforces that I can continue riding, assuming I can avoid crashing (that would be a disaster at this point...)


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

So after 24 days, I got to ride one of my bikes again. Outside. In the fresh air and sunshine. Actually going someplace. What a concept...

The new bike (the one I crashed) is still on the trainer until I get a few parts for it and do some tune-up work. Besides, if all goes well, I'll be riding the Dawes in the Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon in 3 weeks, so I need to get some time in on it. So I packed it up and headed down to the Corning Preserve for a short ride.

Weather was a bit chilly, especially in the shade (and in the late afternoon there's lots of shade along that path.) I was glad I wore a long-sleeved jersey. Kept the pace pretty relaxed - between 10 and 11 mph much of the time - and felt only minor aches from the ribs, if I hit a particularly hefty bump in the pavement. Rode from the boat launch to the end of the path in Watervliet, and when I stopped there to stretch found out that there is another park just across I-787 from the Watervliet parking lot. So I took the tunnel under the highway and rode a short path down to the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park.

Apparently the area in the park was the site of an Indian summer encampment, and later the homestead of the Schuyler family from 1692 until 1910, the Schuyler Flatts served as a staging area during the Revolutionary War. It became an archaelogical site in 1971 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 (more info can be found here, which is also where I got much of the precedding!) A portion of the original Erie Canal also passes through the park, which currently features a series of paved paths, multi-purpose fields, and a number of informative signs about the features and history of the area. (For pictures of the park, check this section of the Village of Menands website... there are three pages of photos.)

So I rode around the park, then headed back down to the river and along the path through the Corning Preserve back to the boat launch. Back and ribs took it all OK, but my bruised/strained/pulled groin was aching a bit by the time I was done. This ride left no doubt in my mind that it was my body that destroyed the bike seat during the crash (and the bike seat which did some damage to me!) - the spot that's injured is exactly where I come into contact with the edge of the seat.

All in all, while it was a very slow ride (an hour to go 10 miles) it was still great to get out on a bike again and be doing one of my favorite activities outdoors. Assuming I don't wake up in agony tomorrow, I definitely want to get out for some easy riding later this week.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Challenging Times
Saturday, September 9, 2006

After my painful shuffling on Monday I decided to continue to refrain from running in hopes that my groin pulls/tears would heal a little faster. The ribs still hurt but are definitely on the mend.

Today I hopped (OK... carefully climbed) up on the bike and pedalled on the resistance trainer for a little while. Not as long as I would have liked, because my laptop kept shutting itself down due to overheating, which left me without a DVD to watch. Unfortunately, I lack the self-discipline to sit on the trainer without distractions and just pedal away... besides that it went OK, so I may try taking a bike out on one of the bike paths sometime in the next week.

It's been very difficult, not being able to run or bike during the nice weather this week. Especially in light of the fact that my groin injury seems to be healing very slowly, which raises questions about what (if anything) I'll be able to do this fall. Add in the upcoming Adirondack Marathon next weekend and... well, let's just say this is a rough patch, mentally.

Guess I just need to keep reminding myself that it could have been much, much worse.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Running Again... Sort of...
Monday, September 4, 2006

Headed over to Five Rivers Environmental Education Center to try a short run... I picked Five Rivers because I knew I could run the service road loop, which is flat and a mix of dirt and grass. Also not too long - 2 miles at most.

It was very slow going... my stride was about the same as my walking stride, because the various pulled muscles in my hips and groin are still painful. So I plodded along doing a remarkable impression of a little old man trying to run, looping through the very short woodlot trail, then out to the service road, and then down to the beaver pond trail. The latter was the most challenging since I actually hit some hilly sections which were tough going. When I got back to the parking lot I did one more loop of the woodlot trail, for a total of about 3 miles and 45 minutes or so.

At one pond I watched a green heron scurry along the shore, stop to snatch something to eat from the water, and then scurry on. While on the bridge across the beaver pond I stopped to look at the fish and saw a good-sized snapping turtle swimming in the water... between 18 and 24 inches from nose to tail, I'd say. He must not have been hungry, because there were lots of fish around and he wasn't showing any interest. At one point a small red-eared slider swam past him. Pretty cool overall.

(My snapping turtle wasn't as dramatic as this one, but it was still pretty cool! Go here to see a larger version of this photo and some other nifty snapping turtle shots.)

So the running situation is definitely depressing... 3 weeks ago I ran a strong 18 miles and today I painfully shuffled through 3 miles. Hopefully that will improve as September moves forward.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sloooooooow Katas
Sunday, September 3, 2006

Went over to the karate school on a couple of errands and stayed to work on some katas... sort of. My smashed ribs forced me to modify a few techniques (side kicks are pretty much out of the questions, and even center kicks gave me some twinges in my lower back, which has been taking a beating from my accomodating my injuries) and I had to move very slowly, with no hops or jumps. Still, it was a good exercise in self-discipline - usually, if I start out slow, I'll end up speeding up in fairly short order - and it was good to be moving. Worked through the 3 basic katas, 8 Pal-gwes, 3 Chulgis, and then 6 black belt level korean katas. After that I worked on regaining Aoyagi (the kata Fumio Demura taught us last spring) since we're supposed to review that at the staff meeting in two weeks.

Afterwards, I was feeling the effects both on my ribs and back and in my pulled groin muscles, but it was well worth doing. Later this week I'll try to get through the remaining katas I know and see if I can handle weapons safely...

Sunday, September 3, 2006

...not with a bang, but with a whimper (broken ribs do that to me...)


  • time spent with Ann - there's never enough, when you live 230 miles apart
  • running Summer Solstice at Minnewaska, Indian Ladder at Thacher, Forge the Gorgeous at Filmore Glen, and Race the Train at North Creek
  • running/hiking the Greylock Death March
  • hiking at Taughannock Falls and Watkins Glen - fantastic!
  • running at Thacher, Mendon, Five Rivers, the Pine Bush, the Genesee Valley Greenway, Genesee Valley Park, and the Schenectady-Rotterdam bike path
  • riding the Pine Bush trails, the Mohawk-Hudson bike path, the Erie Canal Path, and the Old Erie Canal path
  • teaching karate
  • read some good books (and some mediocre ones)


  • spent more time with Ann - there's never enough, when you live 230 miles part
  • talked with/written to my friends more
  • run at October Mountain, Beartown, Mount Washington, Keuka Outlet, and Peebles Island
  • run more
  • ridden more
  • ridden the trails at Minnewaska
  • run the Finger Lakes Fifties 25K
  • run the Savoy 20 Mile Trail Race
  • trained more (karate and iaido)
  • written more (those two books are never going to get written, at this rate)


  • well, duh - crashed my bike and broken various bits, demolishing my fall marathoning plans

I read recently that summers seem to go by faster and faster as we get older because they represent a decreasing fraction of our total life... for a 10 year old, one summer is 1/40 of his life, but for me its currently 1/164 of my life. I'm not sure about that, but this one sure seemed to fly. I definitely know that as long as I continue to have many things I want to do, there will never be enough time to do it all.

But I'm going to keep trying to do as much of it as I can... (especially once these blasted ribs heal up!)


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Beyond the Marathon & Hardrock Fever by Robert Boeder
One Mile at a Time by Dwight Smith
Saturday, September 2, 2006

I suppose one advantage of being semi-laid-up is more time to read (though, truth be told, I virtually always find time to read, as evidenced by the dozen plus bookcases scattered around my home.)

Just finished two moderately interesting books by Robert Boeder, an ultramarathoner. Beyond the Marathon: The Grand Slam of Trail Ultrarunning details his efforts in 1994 to complete the trail ultra Grand Slam (four 100 mile races - the Old Dominion 100 and Western States 100 in June, the Leadville Trail 100 in August, and the Wasatch Front 100 in September.) Hardrock Fever describes his attempts to run the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run, one of the toughest 100 mile trail races (he finally succeeded in 1999 on his 4th try.) Both were quick reads; Boeder's writing style is very matter-of-fact, and I'm impressed at the amount of detail he remembered from his races and from training. I guess what I enjoy the most about these sorts of books is two-fold: I feel a certain kinship with these crazy people out doing crazy trail runs, so it's fun to read about people who value some of the same experiences I do, and reading about their efforts helps me understand what to expect when I put myself in challenging races. It also gives me something to dream about, a bit - I think it would be pretty cool to someday run a 100 mile trail race. Both books were tough to find until one day I happened to stumble across them on the Barnes & Noble site, of all places, and a few days later they arrived at my door! (Of course, if I'd taken the trouble to send a check to the address on the publisher's site, I probably could have gotten signed copies...)

One of the books I'm reading at the moment (in addition to the latest Star Wars novel and a fantastic book on kata applications by Lawrence Kane and Chris Wilder) is One Mile at a Time: Cycling through Loss to Renewal by Dwight Smith. After losing 2 sons in auto accidents 9 years apart and his wife's death in the early 1980's, Smith set out to ride the perimeter on the US on a touring bicycle. He wore a portable cassette recorder with a throat mike to record his observations and took thousands of pictures, and the writing has a life which reflects this. As I'm reading about his experiences biking across the northern prairie, through the Greatl Lakes region and the Adirondacks and up into New England, I find myself both missing being able to ride my bike and considering the possibilities of someday doing a multi-day ride (perhaps a 3 or 4 day solo ride from Albany to Rochester some summer, or possibly the Cycling the Erie Canal tour which occurs every July.) Although I'm only about 1/3 of the way through this book, I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this sort of story (more info on the book can be found here.)