Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Units Have Landed!

After all the negativity surrounding the previous week at work, I was very happy for Friday to roll around, mostly because my parents were coming into town for their annual visit! That morning I took my trusty "commuter" bike into work. I had to stop once to try and figure out where the rubbing was coming from. I realized at the time the skewer in the rear tire was not the proper one. I fought my way in, and on my return stopped on Euclid and finally concluded the skewer was not holding the tire straight enough. I managed to improve my lot enough to make it home.

And sure enough, there was my dad mowing the lawn. They were a little mystified to see the car there, and then my two other bikes! I guess the green monster, which got a very nice comment a few weeks ago, had all but been forgotten! Anyway, upon replacing the usual skewer the wheel was true, so my future commutes now look much rosier.

That evening we went to Las Ramblas, a "new" Spanish restaurant in Charlotte so my parents could meet Julie. The weather that evening was just tremendous, so we sat out on the patio. We tried some of their seafood paella, along with some tapas and the sangria. All were a little different than I was accustomed to, but nonetheless enjoyable!

I attempted to be to bed at a reasonable hour, as Saturday was my big 20 mile run day. I was up around 7:00 and out the door about fifteen minutes later. I had planned it to be a mixed run to get me through. The first solo run aspect of the route was up South Boulevard as I now aim for every Monday and Wednesday morning. However, the traffic was much lighter. Immediately upon turning out I found a crumpled dollar, so things were looking great! And unlike the normal run I continued straight all the way to Lexington, turning out to the Dowd. That took me around 35:10, or a 8.2 minute mile. There I met up with Kathy Abernathy's group, which was quite small today, maybe because it was post Boston or the CPCC Skyline 5K. Boston didn't stop the other runner, the strongman Joe Schlereth. For most of the time with our small group, Joe was actually in front. Kathy had to ask "where's the fire?" I obviously held a comfortable tempo (8.1 minute mile) with Kathy, along Joe was never far away. We eventually made it to Providence and continued up Morehead. I realized this was going to be short for my 10 mile sub-portion, so at Berkeley and Dilworth I struck out again on my own, firing up the iPod Shuffle (which I've started to run more with) and looping near the Freedom Park area. Once back at the Dowd I took a relatively long break. The last portion south towards home became quite hard. On Reynolds Drive I noticed what appeared to be a decent-looking CharBroil grill on the side of the road with a "free" sign. Wow. When I FINALLY came around the bend to Wexford I clocked in at 2:57:05. I didn't know the mileage at the time, but later figured it to be about 21.1 miles, which comes to a 8.4 minute mile pace. The good news is that is around my target for the upcoming marathon, to finish with a 3:40. That represents my longest run ever that wasn't an official marathon.

After gulping some water, my dad and I drove back up South Boulevard and found the grill waiting for us. We spent a little time looking it over closely, apparently the burner was bad. You should have seen us trying to fit this huge thing in the trunk of the Volvo! We drove back via the same sideroads I took versus attracting any attention on South Boulevard.

That afternoon was a very neat experience. Julie came and picked us up to head down to Union County. No, not for Steeplechase, which was on Saturday, but for the Spring Festival at Mitey Riders. Mitey Riders is a therapeutic riding center just south of Weddington at Misty Meadows. The event was more like graduation for the riders, since they ride through the school year then take the summer off. This was way better than Steeplechase. It was actually quite warm/hot out, but we did find enough shade. Julie led for the two classes she volunteers for, I can't say enough about what a great thing this. The only downside was that I happened to be barely functional after my run, and the direct sun and standing on my feet did NOT help.

On our way back I decide to navigate the scenic route, which meant not taking any interstates. We turned onto Rea Road. From there on entails my usual bike route to Waxhaw. This route also let us stop and explore the Trader Joe's in Piper Glen. It was my first visit to this store and we made sure to stock up on everything. Also before returning home I was able to show them the house where Charlotte's closest Larry David approximation resides.

Julie returned that evening for our salmon dinner, which was most excellent. We then watched the "International" version of the Twin Peaks pilot, which has an alternate ending that I had never seen. It really closes the whole premise of the future episodes; I think that is the main reason I didn't like it all that much.

As if Saturday was not enough punishment, I was up at 8:00 to prepare for my bike ride. The weather was looking a little iffy; thunderstorms were forecast but the decision was made to go for it! At first I was feeling really sore, but then it turned out all right! I do regret that inside of heading north towards the Inside Out Sunday ride, I ventured out on my own. It was a small variation on a route I coined back on March 9th, the main variation being the tough climb up Arrowood and my first ever journey down the backside of Sandy Porter (and our Whitehall property). I then made my way towards Fort Mill and climbed back up Sutton and eventually up to Shopton. Despite the dark clouds blowing over above, the weather was quite pleasant with no precipitation. I logged slightly over 50 miles and averaged 17.1 mph, which is solid for a solo ride, especially I when I was trying to "take it easy" and recover from the tough run yesterday.

After finally getting my hair cut, the next to go was Winston! Actually, even with his flea and tick medication, he's been scratching a little too much so he got a bath! He sure doesn't like it, so I had to pick him up and put him in the tub. The reality though was he was a decent sport - he just stood there while he got showered and scrubbed.

That afternoon the four of us went to a nice little streets arts festival in South End. From there the Bodiens headed south to Costco, to rediscover those Kirkland roots! It's just like Starbucks, how can I be from Seattle and not drink the coffee. But give me a break, I couldn't justify buying the tubs of butter! We were going to celebrate the now functioning grill with some lamb steaks, but the rain did finally catch up! That evening I finally got to catch up with the two Battlestar Galactica episodes I had missed. For the record, I have only basic cable and there were two shows/events I would consider paying up for- one is Duke basketball and the other is Battlestar. But thanks to Hulu I am not being deprived!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Reliving the beautiful weirdness

For Julie's birthday I picked up a copy of the recently released "gold box" version of all the Twin Peaks episodes. This series was obviously a big deal to those like myself who lived in proximity to North Bend around 1990. Anyway, it's been a lot of fun to relive the greatness, and what a beautiful set- finally complete with the pilot episode that was missing in previous editions.

The big focus for the weekend was the Run For the Money 5K, held in neighboring Gastonia Saturday morning. While I have run in the race since 2004, this marked the second year that I have assembled a team to crack the $12,500 purse. Last year the runners raised $3,500 for Catawba Lands Conservancy. And like last year, I was hoping to use the race to pass the magical twenty minute mark. My previous best was at the race last year, 20:35.

The atmosphere at this event has always been quite positive. I really enjoy it, although some of the people weird me out. But then again, people do that all the time!

Some of the weird stuff you see when you come to Gaston County...

So I was really nervous about all my runners getting there and signed in, so I made the rounds to check through and thank them in advance for coming out to run for the Conservancy. With the race planting on the same weekend as the fabled Boston Marathon, and a large contingent prepping for their Ironman race with the Kinetic Half, there was a lot of turnover from last year!

At the start of the race I erased my mistake from last year where I went out way too fast. I paced behind Sean. As the runners started to stretch out over Long Avenue, my thoughts were not on my run but the position of our star runner, Paul Mainwaring. Last year's male winner was back, and his 16:40 was even too much for some star-studded 2007 team. Paul clearly had the legs and determination to break this slot. I was able to see Paul and two other runners start to distance themselves. For a complete perspective from the run, I recommend reading Paul's race report. Much more visible was my concern with my favorites to take the female overall. I carefully watched the position of Melissa "Ma" Bell and Rebecca Thomason with regard to previous second place finisher Allison Bumgardner. There was another woman Wendy hanging further back as well.

As for me, I just faded and didn't have the moxie to improve on my time from last year. It's really no surprise, I do absolutely no speed work - never show up at the track, and focus exclusively on endurance. You reap what you sow, period. Big deal. While it was mostly me fading, I was also happy to see teammate (and fellow Madison Park resident) Melinda Yelton pass me up. I was certain at the time there was no other F40-49 racer in front. This would turn out to be my biggest surprise.

I knew the gradual climb up Main to the line would finish me, but I pretended like it mattered and came across at 21:29. The good news is that still under a seven minute mile pace. And everyone knows this course is long at 3.18 miles! I was just dying, and thanks to Keith for cheering me in! I immediately sought out Paul, and the news was great! He had edged out his two competitors for the top slot with a 16:16 effort - $1,000 right there! And apparently Rebecca and Melissa came nearly together with Rebecca "the sandbagger" edging out Melissa. I was very proud of both of them!

Here are the official results from the race.

Before I list the totals, I wanted to give special thanks to Sean Welsh and Marie Winget for returning for a second year to help the Conservancy. Last year Marie was able to place but due to a stronger female contingent wasn't able to repeat. Sean had "graduated" to the M40-49 category but the competition there was way stronger than any of anticipated. I also enjoyed meeting Ron Zurinskas, who came out to run. And one of my team members from the 2007 Blue Ridge Relay, Ryan Yowell, came out a ran a strong sub 20 minute race. Ryan actually placed second in the age group, but was disqualified because his age wasn't listed on the form! What a load of crap!

Male Overall (Paul Mainwaring) $1000
Female Overall (Rebecca Thomason) $1000
Female 20-29 First Place (Melissa Bell) $500
Male 30-39 First Place (Keith Mrochek) $500
Female 40-49 Second Place (Melinda Yelton) $250
Male 50-59 First Place (Mike Murphy) $500

2008 Catawba Lands Conservancy Team at the Run For the Money 5K
(back, L-R) Scott Bodien, Sean Welsh, Mike Murphy, Keith Mrochek, Ryan Yowell, Paul Mainwaring
Melissa Bell, Marie Winget, Rebecca Thomason
Not pictured: Melinda Yelton, Ron Zurinskas

So in addition to money raised through the foundation, the Conservancy will be awarded an extra $3,750!! That's a slight improvement from last year. Like last year, my initial analysis is that no other non-profit took more than a thousand dollars. We rock!

For those that have not run a 5K before, it's basically everything you got, somewhere around 16-21 minutes of wanting to throw up. Most people just assume it's easy because it's short, but when you race to win like all my team members did, it's really a tough ordeal!

Later that afternoon Julie and I went to a bowling party in Huntersville to celebrate two of her co-worker's birthdays. It started off badly, in that we were caught red-handed trying to bring in "outside food" (the birthday cake). And then on my first attempt I stepped over the line and slipped, causing me to go on my back like a turtle. How embarrassing! Thankfully, I recovered and bowled a 131, which was the highest score! For the record, whenever I bowl over a 100 I am happy! I think the last time I went bowling was in January of 2006 for Lisa Palermo's birthday party. I bowled a 89 and then a 111, just to give you an idea. Usually though, I start well and slide off, which is what happened for the second game in Huntersville. I ended up just shy with a 98.

Afterwards Julie took me to the Midtown Sundries on the lake, which was quite nice! And of course, there had to be more Twin Peaks!!!

Unfortunately I missed the group ride on Sunday morning, so around noon I went out on my own. The cloud cover was constantly changing, with some very ominous-looking clouds passing over my way. The headwind was quite strong. Disaster struck shortly after mile 14 when I was crossing the Catawba River on Highway 74 (Wilkinson Blvd). By disaster I mean flat tire. I was really slow and meticulous, but it was changed and unlike last time the spare didn't blow up in my face. I did have to ride on a soft tire for the remainder of the ride. The route then took me up Cramerton Mountain. It wasn't as labored as in the past, but perhaps I was just taking it slow. For a new twist I used Beaty to connect to 274. Once I was on Patrick I was able to do some serious hammering, which felt REALLY GREAT! From there I was back on 49 and crossed up my usual return on Shopton Road.

Well, tomorrow is the Boston Marathon - I am extremely excited for my friends competing in the greatest marathon in the world.

Finally, big congratulations to Pineville's Megan Hepp, who finished TWELFTH with a 2:37 in today's 2008 USA Women's Olympic Trials Marathon in Boston. Outstanding.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bunnies and Winston do NOT mix

It's true. I've let my lawn grow out of control. Yes, I'm the lawn pariah of Madison Park. But thankfully today I did something about it. And with a brand new lawnmower. First off, big thanks to my old neighbor Dave for giving me a working lawnmower when I moved down South Boulevard! It lasted three years. Maybe it still works with just the right kick.

Anyway, my lawn was so high I must have attracted the attraction of the local bunny population. For the first time ever, I have noticed two adult bunnies. Winston has noticed them too, chasing one all the way around the cul-de-sac about a week ago. But a couple of days ago, one morning when Winston and I were playing out on the lawn, I noticed a very small/young bunny just sitting totally still in the tall grass.

So when it came time to mow the front lawn, Winston came out with me and I immediately found the small bunny. You do have to understand it's hard-wired in Winston to hunt small game. He went totally crazy grabbing the smaller bunny. I managed to get there before any major damage was caused. Later I think I found another. Winston got to the point where he would not listen, so in he went while I finished cutting down the jungle!

Afterwards, I got a shoe box and scooped up one (of the two?) small bunnies.

I hopped over my back fence and let the scared little guy run free in the large grass lot. I couldn't help feel like I was turning into my neighbor from where I grew up. You see, Greg got quite a reputation for trapping squirrels and taking them to Lake City (where many moons ago they had another floral shop). Am I going to start loving NASCAR and goats next?

SATURDAY UPDATE: After a 17.5 mile run, which involved running some short spurts with those doing the Charlotte RaceFest Half Marathon, I was out working on my car (attempting to install a CD receiver). I had let Winston roam the yard assuming I was wrong about the second bunny on the grassy knoll. Much to my surprise I knew that was wrong the instant I heard what sounded like a squeaking toy. My neighbor Monty was much closer, washing his car, and actually thought the same thing. I jumped out of the car and cruised over to grab Winston. I told Monty about the rabbits. It was another young bunny, perhaps a little more roughed up than the first, but not really injured. Monty got a empty cardboard box for me and this one was a lot more difficult to locate and capture. We actually let Winston go for a moment to sniff out his exact location. I eventually got enough of a hold to put him in the box. Monty then let the bunny out in the woods in back after his daughter got a look.

Scott and Eating Contests

Last night several of my running "colleagues" were goading a certain other rail-thin colleague to eat two chicken pot pies at the Roasting Company in exchange for $500. Having eaten one of those pies before (mine was cold!) I could have picked up some easy money and still had room left for dessert.

Those that have been forced to hang around me over the years know I can consume extraordinary amounts of food. Maybe I need to lose about 60 pounds before I get challenges like this that can help pay for my expensive triathlon habit.

A quick history of the most memorable challenges. The first was at Camp Parsons, it must have been about 1990. I was challenged to eat a full plate (30?) sausage links. No problem.

The best food I ate in a challenge was also at Parsons, most likely in 1998 when I was Business Manager. It was a Saturday, and we had just harvested ice chests full of Dungeness Crab. It wasn't really a challenge, I just ate like twenty full-sized beasts. Even better, we were in the "embassy" (the Enzlers were living there at the time) and there were bottles and bottles of Alaska Amber. Yum. I remember McNellis was there and made fun of me. What else is new?

Fast forward to 2001 - working in Charleston. A few of us went out for lunch at this cheese steak place and I was goaded into eating their mammoth Philly Cheesesteak. My memory tells me it was about 17 inches, and I had to eat it in an hour without ralfing. My coworkers said they would pay for the sandwich, but even with a success I seem to recall they never did.

The last public "performance" was on Wednesday, October 18, 2006 - just days before the Chicago Marathon, which ironically enough I ran a hell of a race, chalking up my still-standing 3:30 PR time. We were working near Lincolnton and when done went to lunch downtown at the Courthouse Cafe. I was looking at the calzones and decided to order the large one. It turned out their large calzone covered the distance of a huge pizza plate. The waitresses told me I couldn't eat the whole thing, and well, that was enough. My co-worker Sharon knew the calzone had no chance, everyone else thought differently. It was a true tour de force, and while I didn't throw up I did feel bad the rest of the afternoon.

And most recently Julie unknowingly challenged me to down an absolutely huge plate of Chinese food, but she didn't realize at the that I have this "problem." I explained to her I would rather enjoy my food and things have been great since!

Take-home messages from this inane post
  • I eat large quantities of food
  • I burn calories like a furnace so I can train
  • Don't challenge me to eat a lot of food
  • The Roasting Company is an excellent restaurant
  • Never listen to Chris Cummins
  • The 20th Dungeness Crab tastes as good as the first; anything else doesn't

Let me know if I've forgotten a good one.

A Tribute to Aurelius

Hola amigos - it's been a long time since I rapped at ya! I've been pretty depressed over the "retirement" of my Volvo Aurelius. In early March I noticed the brakes going soft so I bought some brake fluid but it went away after 3-5 days. So I brought it into the shop and sure enough their was a leak in the ABS control unit. They told me they had to buy a whole component from Volvo, and that was going to be $2,000!! To top it off, I had a list of near-term projects to really bring the car up to snuff, perhaps the most "fluffy" was an impending break in the A/C. Around here in the summer, that is tilted a little more towards the "requirement" side of things. My list came to another $2,000 - so after looking at Craig's List it was determined I could get a newer replacement.

It was a very hard decision for me. So I went about my due diligence. And while the mechanic told me it was extremely dangerous to drive the car away, I walked over late one night while no one was watching (or driving) and coasted back to the Wexford compound.

My search led me north to Mooresville. I fought a basic 1996 850 Sedan with almost 114,000 miles. For those of you that are divisionally challenged, that's less than 10,000 miles per year which for the price was an amazing deal. So on April 1st the transaction went through and now I feel like a widower who buried his spouse a week ago but is now in bed with another car. Not that I had too much choice.

Maybe I'm feeling the buyer's remorse because I should have bought a more fuel efficient car...

Anyway, while I will post the picture here you can read about the final stats of my old car and details of the new on my Volvo page.

If you have any ideas for a new car name, please get in touch!