Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thomas St Revisionist

Tonight instead of the usual Dilworth run (no Bruce, the other run is technically not in the Dilworth neighborhood) or the "new" run I tried last week, I returned to very hallowed Sharksbite ground to participate in's Thursday Run.

While I understand it wasn't the absolutely first route, Sharksbite really began and became popular in 2004 with the Thursday Night Thomas Street Run. I first showed up on July 1, 2004 and ran the 4 mile course in 32:38. I vividly recall being too shy to stay for dinner. I then returned September 23rd to cut out a few minutes. It was that night I stayed for dinner at Thomas Street Tavern with the group, and it was also the night I meet Mona Baset and Mary Jo Arrington. My life would never be the same! The run then became an institution - I completed fifteen more iterations through February 10, 2005. My average time was 29:47.

Some of my most notable memories were the long hard climbs up McClintock "back in the day" when "the projects" were there. On more than one ocassion I would hear the heavy breathing of my great friend Tyler Leach as he would labor up and eventually pass me. Man, I miss that dude - he moved to St. Louis a few years ago. Funny thing, we had his going away party at Moosehead Grill (wonder if Chris, Ben, and Monica remember that event...), so when I went back there for the Ultimate group last week I couldn't help but think of him! I also remember one woman who ran with us (???) who thought she was lost so she asked for a ride from someone on that street! Wow, now that took guts. But now McClintock is gone! There is a huge development going in there.

The reincarnation of this particular run began when Tim briefly re-instituted the Thursday night run upon return of one of his many abortive attempts to be live elsewhere. Somehow it became a group led by Sharksbite veteran Bevin Jett, as if there was some hostile takeover! There were some notables (people I know) such as Sean, Audra, Fred, Carissa, Donna also present. But many more new faces. Bevin had a big "pre 4th of July" run event; most were decked out in costumes - she also gave out flags to all. It was also a handicapped start, with about five groups going out based on estimated pace. I was in the fourth wave. I started out with Sean and a cruise down Commonwealth around a 7:06 minute pace, which was too fast.

This course began in the same vein, going down Commonwealth and then up Morningside. The one thing I HATED about the original run and will continue to dislike on this run is the fact you have to cross Central TWICE! There is pressure with the timed run to do stupid things. It then began the reverse of the old run. From there it chartered new ground up Winter, Mecklenburg, and then the long Nassau back towards Commonwealth Market. I finished a different four miles in 30:32, or a 7:43 pace.

Afterwards there was a lot of refreshment, both inside and out. I had never been inside; it was quite a cool pace. Sean and I ended up grabbing dinner at the Penguin, so of course I had to get the fried pickles! I also ordered "the hemi" burger - three huge patties of meat. I ate it all, but won't get it again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stop Laughing at Me!

Those in the Wexford compound were afforded another nice night of cool air. And now Winston's flea problem seems to be on the mend. When it became an issue the house was obviously nuked (cleaned and sprayed) along with the dog himself. His scar under his eye also continues to heal nicely.

When I woke up this morning my left arch was in quite in tizzy. It was quite tender and swollen. However, the show did have to go on and I made plans, despite being totally exhausted after yesterday, to run into work. I prepared my usual egg breakfast - three eggs cooked sunny side up. I toast some English muffins and melt cheese, along with preparing two strips of crispy bacon for my little McScott sandwiches. And depending how I feel each alternating day it is prepared, Winston gets some of the scraps some of the time. (It's a Fact: I love consuming large numbers of eggs and my cholesterol is abnormally low!) Winston and I did get some playtime out front with his version of the Frisbee - a tough red Kong flyer that he likes to shake and kill almost every day!

It was very painful to start the run, especially with the little incline up to Seneca. And to worsen the situation, I was mocked in short order. Before turning on to South Boulevard, I was embarrassed to be spotted by fellow Madison Park resident Scott Woodbury, who mocked the fact that I was running about as fast as a Frenchman runs from a brothel (this is an obscure Blackadder reference). As if Trevor laughing at my fashion sense last night was injury enough, this was hard! I was thankful though that Scott apparently passed the Home Depot down the street safely and did not fall prey to the horrible scam that our resident Officer Friendly (Chris Page) alerted us all to the other day.

Thankfully I was able to fall into remotely respectful 8:30ish pace for the remainder of the journey. It wasn't my worse jaunt north to work, but I guess good given the circumstances.

In the Charlotte Observer this morning I read a report that made my stomach sick. The article detailed the excessive compensation of United Way of Central Carolinas President Gloria Pace King, which now tops 1.2 MILLION dollars due to a bump of $800,000 in benefits (versus ~$100,000 the previous year). The newspaper cited similar cities comparing salaries and money raised, clearing demonstrating the absurdity of her compensation package. As someone who has worked for several years in the non-profit work and gets a meager salary, this boils my blood, even more than reading about corporate pigs like Ken Lewis (who is on United Way's board of directors) who earned more than $100 million last year. I don't care how many dollars she raises, that's disgusting and she should be ashamed of herself. It's also clear she is grabbing as much money as possible to set her up for her retirement.

This is not the first time the paper has questioned her salary. And recently we at work became aware of United Way bullying another non-profit to which we're affiliated about their event because it interrupts their fundraising schedule. It's hard for me to say this as someone from a Scouting background who has benefited from the United Way, especially with all the other valid smaller meaningful charities out there, but I now refuse to give them a dime, ever again.

Before you give to any charity, I highly recommend you start at a service like Charity Navigator or Guidestar. Why not give directly to the charity in need instead of the behemoth company? All these organizations are required to put together certain documents for public consumption, the most important being the Form 990. The 990 requires charities to list a certain number of the highest paid employees (who make over $50,000). If you pull up some for the bigger charities, you will start to wonder why the $50 you give makes any difference, except for a one-way limo charge for the executive director to the airport.

Sometimes things just snowball on you - right? At a meeting this morning I could not help but be somewhat incensed that work I had done two weeks ago had gone completely unnoticed. And I did it within three hours; doing further analysis, producing 18 maps, and updating some spreadsheets. No doubt Wally is shaking his head at me.

I also was faced with the prospect of grading exams from the class I'm teaching (along with dealing with everyone's personal situations!) and just a HUGE slew of map requests. Ridiculously busy. When I left at 17:30 to run home, I was really burnt out. The 93 degree heat didn't help much with that! As I started down Morehead, I actually passed the same Officer Friendly I mentioned earlier in this post. I was burnt both physically and mentally, and I just started giving up on this run. The lack of running water at the Freedom Park parking lot fountain didn't help either... Where is Jim Garges when you need him? It was rather amazing how slow I ran along the flat section of Westfield. Naturally the climb up Montford just about wrung the life out of me. As I passed Angry Ale's I saw Ironman finisher Lat Purser out with some friends or co-workers obviously celebrating! Good for him!

Once home I immediately opened my last installment of the John Adams series. Before leaving to teach, I watched the penultimate episode. What could be more eye-opening than the scenes of the new "President's House" in 1800 - filth and muck everywhere, slaves working, utter disorganization inside. Wow. Tonight the bunnies must have been organized, because Winston didn't have much of a chase. Thankfully I had a quick commute back home and started the last episode shortly after 11PM. It was obviously sad, but got to the heart of what I knew best, delving on the multitude of letters sent between Jefferson and Adams before their eerily coincidental deaths. How bizarre is that that two of the last signers died fifty years later on the day, within hours of each other?!?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Summer Swim Stunner!

As I was rudely interrupted yesterday from my run to work and home, that evening I waited until twilight to head out for a route I dub the "Madison Park Long Run." Not really long, but following most of the bounds of South, Tyvola, Park, and Woodlawn that make up this neighborhood. My GPS had excellent reception and put me at 5.78 miles, which after looking at other data believe to be in the correct distance neighborhood.

Since I last ran clockwise, I opted for the more popular counterclockwise version. It would seem to be easier with the long drop along Tyvola before jumping into the woods, but if you look at the elevation profile from there it's basically a long climb before the Willow Oak steps and home. My PR for this run (and direction) was 44:39 in March of last year. It was pleasant running for the most part. I had neglected to turn of the 9:15 pace warning, but thankfully it beeped at me only a few times. I felt much stronger and huffed out a 46:31, which is about a 8:03 minute mile pace. This was my second best effort on this particular course - not too bad!

I mention the run because I came into today feeling like I had to hold off on today's swim, mainly because I was worn down from the run and that I would be playing Ultimate tonight. While I was in the "mini gym" Cliff asked me why I spent so little time there. Before leaving I weighed in at 181 pounds, which represents a slow drop since my high with the months following my Ironman Vineman.

There was a little hurry to jump in the water, but not much. I felt very comfortable with the strides and hoped I wasn't lulled into another monster session. That "fear" slowly began to rear it's "ugly" head at 700 meters when for the third time I broke 15 minutes, clocking in at 14:58. About five minutes later I became to think about the fact this could be the day I made it to 15 lap (1500 meters or 0.932 miles) territory! Of course I had not dared to take a real "halfway" mark at 750 meters! During that I was driven on by my wild fantasies. No my friends, not of beautiful women, but winning an Ironman with a world-record time. I can't see how the first fantasy would improve over my already questionable aerodynamic shape.

Sure enough I came thundering through at 29:22 for 14 laps; representing a monumental drop of 27 seconds! I finished the fifteenth lap for a total time of 31:26. If my estimate of 16:02 is correct for 750 meters, than means the second half improved to 15:24, or a 4% increase in speed. Each 50 meter leg averaged out to 1:03, obviously also a Publius best.

Not that I was too high on my horse. Most of the swim coaches hanging around probably think I'm some sort of flailing fool. No doubt my technique sucks, I've never really had any sort of teacher. But I tell you what. If I can consistently swim better at short distances than someone like Mona Baset who swims regularly and spends hundreds on classes and instructors, why shouldn't I feel good? Same thing for a naturally amazing athlete like Chris Cummins, who obviously works 8 hours a week and trains like crazy. I swam my 2.4 mile leg of my Ironman faster than him and probably put in 1/3 the effort. Damn I'm lazy. But the swimming is so relatively unimportant. Somewhere in the 75 minute range for 2.4 miles is solid. It'll never win you a race, but why spend all the extra effort and money? After yesterday it's clear I don't have any money, so that's a no-brainer.

I was thinking about all this as I drove out of the parking lot. As I went down McDowell I saw a man running that looked very familiar. Oh my &$% - was that DAVID HOGEBOOM?!?!? A later discreet inquiry to the my spy network revealed it was in fact the man who had vanished into the mists of Bank of America.

When it came time to change into my Ultimate gear, I realized I had forgotten my sandals. So I had to leave the office and come on the field in my ultra fancy brown suede shoes.

I had hoped nobody would notice but Trevor was right on me - "Hey Scott, nice fashion statement!" D'oh!

Anyway, temperatures were in the mid 80s with lots of direct sunshine. Definitely not as hot as last week. This past week our default captain had quit the team because of an injury. I am quite certain that given all the teams I've been on since 2001, not a single captain has ever "quit." Well, as far as I'm concerned, good riddance - she was very unfriendly to me and was not adding much. The replacement she promised never showed. Our other captain JB had an anti-cheer approach. For our first game we were pitted against Jeff's team. Jeff is VERY tall, at least six to eight inches on me! I used to be one of the few that could have any sort of chance against him. I have lots of memories from Pearl Street years ago of him beating me again and again in the endzone.

In the very first point I had to defend on him and he just beat me again and again. The difference of course was that Jeff has continued to play and continued to become quite good. I like the guy a lot, but it was humiliating, especially for one of the few that wasn't overly mismatched on height. It was a tough start, but then the weirdest thing began to happen - we were winning! I have a ton of respect for our woman Rebecca and Lisa. Rebecca seems to have to play savage for the first half hour until Lisa gets there. And then Lisa was not just a scoring machine, but handling extremely well. We ended up winning our first game 13 to 9!! Way to go Seven Minute Abs!!

We remained on our field and went white for our next game. This was the team with Nick Vincent, one of other few guys on the circuit taller than myself. The competition was much more stiff but we managed to hold 3-3 to half. During the evening I had several breakout plays. I took down one score on a short play thanks to some quick thinking to break my man. Then in the second game I broke long to chase down a long floater down the line. Unfortunately I didn't catch at the endzone, but I dumped back and then watched us score - yes! Later on I was running down the same corridor and had a chance for the score and a nice stretch move. I went up with my best Air Jordan using only one hand and ended up looking like Lisa Jacobellis at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Later on I had a few more frustrating plays. They made a series of questionable calls and the game slipped from our grasp. Thankfully I didn't leave the field in a bad mood. Our team continues to improve and I survived a tough swim today and an even tougher evening of Ultimate.

I'll leave you with some photos of my favorite league team so far.

TFDA Winter League 2002-2003 - the Kumquats (15-2!)

Here we are!

The Great Kwat Huddle - co-captain Mel/Momkwat/Melkwat looking back, I'm on the far left

Christoph going under to deny with co-captain JP watching

Herndon handling wih style!

Josh leaping for the catch!

JP flicking clear of "his greatness" Chris Hinkle

JP going low to get the job done

Mel with the stellar D!

Fellow Dukie Jon Remucal denying Hinkle

Fellow Dukie Megan Wargo with "Spaz" watching the action

Fellow Dukie and Ultimate instigator Dan Olstein (with hat) talking up his competition

Monday, June 23, 2008

A (temporary) end to the nightmare

Today marked the end of a 24 day streak of no air conditioning in the Wexford Court base of operations. It was a horrible affair, one I hope is the first to go when I get dementia. The particular weather during this infamous tenure was notoriously hot and humid. For the record, I grew up without an air conditioner, and even the first 1.5 years that I lived in Durham, North Carolina we somehow survived without.

This was a power struggle, and one I lost. I bought my house in 2004, included with the purchase was a one year home warranty. The house was originally built in 1957 and had some very old components, including the package unit for both heating and cooling. During that first year I wasn't all that impressed with the warranty, so when it expired I dropped it.

For some bizarre reason I accepted an offer from my mortgage company in April to try another company for about $40 a month. No doubt they get a kickback from the sale. The company was American Home Shield, and boy I had no idea how bad they would screw me! Like most relationships, it started out well when I decided to get a burner fixed. So far, so good.

I already had a service contract with Acosta Heating and Air, so in early May they came out to do the usual maintenance of the unit. They added some freon and I thought I was good to go. But somewhere around the last day of May the unit stopped working. On the 4th they were back out and showed me a burnt through capacitor and some melted wires above it. They quoted me ~$450 to fix the unit. Like many others before him, he thought I should replace the unit - estimated cost $6,100. In a decision I mostly regret, I declined thinking I should take this up with AHS. I filed a claim that day.

It was at that point that the temperatures began to really screw the thumb down to the Charlotteans, especially those going without! It was a very hard week and first AHS vendor bailed on me Friday without evening calling as I instructed. I was nearly in tears. They did come back on Saturday. The vendor "1st Class Heating and Air," was one of the worse service technicians I had ever seen. The guy looked like he belonged in the Russian Mafia and didn't even bother to really look at the system. He said he wouldn't touch it, saying replacing the capacitor wouldn't fix a thing. He was even convinced the picture I had emailed his company came from AHS. He then screwed me over by claiming it was caused by poor maintenance.

Then began a string of repeated calls to AHS whereby they wouldn't even allow a second opinion. That company gave me so many excuses it was ridiculous. My favorite was the guy who claimed I didn't ask for a second opinion without 48 hours. Let's see, they informed me Saturday evening I was being denied, and I called Monday around noon to demand a second opinion. Let me count that on my fingers... It was then I did a little web research and found piles and piles of complaints about they treated so many other people.

I prepared all my maintenance records and had to mail them off to the legal department. It was over a week before I talked to the first sensible person, and they did grant the second opinion. But still they employed stall tactics to "smoke me out" of pursuing this course of action. There they were, sitting in their air-conditioned offices, and me just becoming more irritable by the day.

During this time I realized that the demand was so heavy on these vendors that I called Acosta to set up my own appointment should this all fail. The first available appointment, even for a "preferred customer" with a service contract, was on June 23rd, almost two weeks away!!! On June 18th a much more reputable vendor came out for a second opinion. He actually looked inside and agreed with Acosta's diagnosis. But just like the other guy, who claimed he'd "fight for me," he sided with his source of income, AHS.

American Home Shield is the worst company ever for not being a HMO that denies people life-saving medication or surgeries. It slowly dawned on me that I had no avenue for forcing this issue as I had bought into a package unit was very old. No amount of actual care by Acosta could pretty it up. I had paid the ultimate price for what was really normal wear and tear. I inherited this unit stupid enough to believe a company like AHS would "help me." I have become very cynical through this whole process. The only intention they had was to collect my money; their vague contract language, including the BS some of the reps made up as "company policy," makes sure they will never pay anything to people in my situation.

So I had to wait until today to do something that could have been accomplished on June 4th. I would have saved Winston and myself much hardship. Yet I can say I've learned a lot, especially those that helped me out. My neighbor who helped me with fans, my girlfriend who let Winston and I stay in her apartment while she was gone, co-workers and friends that really do care.

Sure enough the repair was done quickly and the air began to flow.

"The spice must flow"
-Spacing Guild Report

Most likely this package unit will have to be replaced in the near future. And it's going to be a pretty penny! On the bright side, it will be way more efficient than the old monster I have now and will of course make my home more attractive when it comes time to sell.

As if that was not enough damage - this weekend my car began to idle quite rough. The engine light started to blink and I knew I was headed for trouble. I took it in that morning and found out, while waiting for the repairman, that it would cost $600 to replace a wide array of spark plugs and distributor caps because the fourth cylinder was misfiring. The only good news was that it was ready after I was done at the house.

Of course there was another big purchase to be made today as well. At 3PM I signed up Ironman Coeur d'Alene for June 21, 2009. Here I come! These brand races are EXPENSIVE - $550! I probably will not do another.

Despite all my whining and complaining, today is a great day. Not because of anything described above, but because it's the birthday of someone very special. Perhaps the most important person I have met in Washington, someone who has been very close for a very long time. I assume if you read my blog or have gotten this far, you like my style of writing. If so, then you should know Courtney is the original reason I became impassioned to take up the proverbial pen. If she won't take any credit for helping me develop as a writer and person, then I'll spin it this way!

Only by you...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Props to the Ironmen!

Today was a very special day in the Ironman world. Eight of my colleagues from the Charlotte area, who I am honored to call my friends, finished Ironman Couer d'Alene in northern Idaho.

About the time they were jumping into the 59 degree lake to begin their odyssey, I was already on the bike, out for a specific purpose. I rose around 7AM to leave for a group ride that started at the Dowd Y. Instead of the usual Inside Out ride, that was meeting at the same time, I cast my lot with Mona's group, who were setting out to ride the Cramerton Mountain Loop. I chose this group so I could ride at a slower pace and a shorter distance. After the Latta Sprint, I knew I had to hammer my brick workouts for my Half in Providence to have any reasonable success. There were five of us that then began our ride out on the normally (and shady) Wilkinson Boulevard. My particular route, which included the trip north from home to the Dowd Y via South Boulevard, took us through the usual Belmont and then Cramerton streets. Using my Garmin, I then took a lap time for the climb up the mountain. Hopefully I can use the 3:40 time to gauge my strength in the future. The weather was mostly overcast, but very warm and extremely humid. Once at the top Mona had a flat, so then then there were four arm-chair bike mechanics as one worked! The detour work of Neal Wallace continues to persist, but I did notice some work in finishing the straight leg along the east side of I-485. I then took my leave of the group at Yorkmount, cruising home along Tyvola. I covered a little over 42 miles around 16.1 miles per average, which is exactly what I wanted.

From there I jumped into my running shoes, lost the shirt, and began what I hoped would be a 8-9 mile run. My goal here was specific, to do better than a 9:15 minute mile pace. This is the magic threshold for me to run a half marathon portion of the Half Ironman in less than two hours. I doubt that will happen through the hilly area of Providence (I have run there!). I really began to suffer on this run. The route, which I mostly made up, took me up to the north end of the Park and then back via my usual set of streets, which included the Marsh climb. I did spy my coworker Jenni working on her front yard as I tore into my reserves. I was really hurting upon my return, but the great news was that I covered my 8.62 miles in 1:18, which put my pace at 9:06! Mission successful. Where is my aircraft carrier when I need it?!? Now if I can just run at a 9:00 minute mile pace instead of this descending madness I'd have more of a chance!

After sitting in my new rocking chair (thanks Sharon!), which I put on my small front porch, I got around to mowing the lawn. It certainly has been some time - my dad mowed it about twenty times while he was here, I don't think it's seen the sharp blades since. But truthfully it has grown very slow with what appears to be more general lack of rain in this area.

Later that afternoon Julie, Winston, and myself made our second trip to do some hiking at McDowell Nature Preserve. I tried to fashion a route that covered some new trails. It was certainly quite hot and humid, but underneath the forest canopy quite nice! While my GPS didn't kick right away, I would guestimate we hiked about 3.1 miles. While it seemed like a lot of work, it was so much easier than all the brush-crashing I did on Saturday at our Bragg South property. We picked up some Chinese take-out on the way home and Julie went through the mandatory viewing of The Princess Bride. Imagine the horror that she hadn't seen this absolutely fantastic film. Thankfully there were no in my weekend!

Really though, this day was for my friends. Congratulations to Steve Watkins (10:19:35), Lat Purser (10:22:36), Chris Cummins (10:41:47), Ryan Murphy (10:42:46), Colleen Angstadt (11:07:50), Ilan Paltrow (12:31:11), Julie Conway (12:50:46), and Amanda Watkins (13:13:55).

Special props to the bald one for his 5:11 time to complete 112 miles on the bike. Steve finished 85th overall and took one of the two coveted Kona (World Championship) slots earned by the North Carolina athletes!!

And what a swim by Ryan Murphy!!! He finished in 56:43, which was 39th overall (~2000 participants) and 3rd in his age group. That is absolutely stunning. (FYI my Vineman swim was 1:15:38). Lat had the best marathon of the bunch, finishing off his effort with a 3:24. And Colleen is just amazing, averaging over 20 miles per hour over the 112 miles! Virgin awards (that I know of) go out to Ryan, Chris, and Lat!

Ironman CDA Results

I am seriously considering doing this Ironman next year. It is the closest Ironman event (in the US) to Seattle and peaking in June makes all the sense in the world given the climate I live in.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Spring Swim Stunner!

For someone that does a fair amount of triathlons and endeavors to complete a full Ironman in September, I really don't swim that much. I usually get to the pool once a week and swim about a half hour, but once "training" starts to ramp up I might come twice and swim a longer distance one of those times.

Many events in our life come with little warning. When I jumped in the pool today I felt more happy with the utter sensation of being cool (day 20 without air conditioning) than I was concerned with swimming hard. In fact, I knew I was going to run tonight, so I thought I'd better take it easy.

Turns out I had one of my best swim sessions ever. I covered 1400 meters in 29:49, my best ever and second time I have gone under thirty minutes!

You might be interested in some historical perspective of my swimming at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. It would seem that given my work location near uptown, it would be logical for me to swim at the Dowd Y, which is two blocks away. There are two main reasons I am not a member of the Y - the first is that they have only a standard sized pool, and perhaps the biggest reason is cost. Membership would be about $60/month for me, and I would hardly use any of the other facilities. Even through 2004 I was a member at the MCAC, and that was only around $32/month. The MCAC is an Olympic-sized pool (50 meters long course) and has a small exercise room with anything I would ever need.

I first came to the MCAC on September 10, 2003. As mentioned above, I was a passholder through 2004. This was certainly nice as there were no time restrictions and I got a nice white clean towel to use (Douglas Adams would have been happy there!). Given my usage patterns though, it makes even more sense to go a la carte with a $50 twelve use pass. I don't get the towel (but always heed the advice of Douglas Adams) and I can't swim during peak lunch and after work sessions, but those are things I'm willing to go without!

The ladies at the front have been so nice to me over the years, and I'm embarrassed as hell that I don't know their names. Once in the locker room I like to use locker 40 because it's the closest number to 42, which has been broken the entire time I have used these facilities. Over the years I have used several swim trunks, most of which have faded with the chlorine use, even with my "light" use. Since December of 2006 I've been using the Speedo Endurance, which is supposedly made of materials/finish to resist chlorine decay, and I've been quite happy. For those that laugh at the guys with the skimpy little suits, you will never see me wear one of those. For the public record, I am missing a section of my upper left leg. I love my beautiful graft that now resides there, but I never will show it in public.

I have logged 305 trips to the pool since then, of which 230 of those were actual swim workouts in the facilities. My regimen is highly structured to protocol, as I normally swim during my "lunch hour." Long course is only available to me Tuesday and Thursday mornings. By default Tuesday is my swim day. 75% of my visits are that day, and 25% on Thursday. Before swimming, I go into the "gym" and use two pieces of equipment to strengthen my hamstrings, which have always been my particular Achilles heel. When I'm there, for at least the last year 90% of the time there is an older gentlemen by the name of Cliff that I talk with. I don't think he even knows my name, but he always gives me a hard time about not showing up enough. Unfortunately my time in the room is short. I always weigh myself before leaving. There is then that moment of extreme discomfort when I pass through the warm pool enclosure. About 95% of the time the window of my arrival allows for use of my own lane.

Once at my lane I take off my shirt (it's required in the gym room and I have been busted for this!), place my towel nearby (Douglas Adams would again be proud), and slip out of my flip-flops. I stretch my arms and time myself to be in the water and ready when the large clock hits an even minute (I almost never use my own watch, and the MCAC clock has only been broken one or two times). Naturally if I hit it right at 00:00 that's cool, but what's this fascination we all have with round numbers?

The premise is that I swim as far as I can in thirty minutes. I never stop unless there is goggle-malfunction. The rule allows for me to begin another 100 meter lap (back and forth) if I come in before thirty minutes rolls around. In the beginning, this would generally allow me to do 12 laps (1200 meters). I have done this 23 times, with an average time of 30:42. My best time was 29:08 and my worse 40:30. On August 10, 2004 I began to step up to 13 laps (1300 meters). I have done this distance 95 times, with an average time of 30:46. My best time (in this cohort) was 29:25 and my slowest 32:13. On June 2, 2005 I completed my first 14 lap circuit (1400 meters). This is now the general default, although I have my slow days where I have to step back to 1300 meters. So far I have done this distance 38 times. The average time for completion is 31:09. The slowest day came in at 31:57, but that is naturally much better than reverting to 13 or dare I say 12 laps.

My gentle readers might be interested to know that I also do not employ a flipturn. I have never learned as I focus on the long lake swims. I generally don't watch the clock on each lap. I do break it into four lap sections, and that is always based on how well I am doing versus a "standard" 9 minute time frame. I also will note my time at the half, as I calculate my (inevitable?) slowdown for the second half.

On this particular day, it was only the second time that I came in under 15 minutes half way through. But it was oh so close at 14:59! The other time this happened last fall it was even faster at 14:52. But the real key here today was a negative split. Unlike the other time where I slowed down to finish at 29:54, I swam the second half in 14:50 to finish at 29:49. That works out to about 1:04 per 50 meter stretch. Pretty spiffy!

Once down I just take a minute or two to rest. I then pull myself out, gather my items and make straight for the showers. It seems lately there's always something weird going on. A couple of weeks ago there was a photo shoot going on. I can't understand why they didn't see my buff physique and ask me to stand in! This week it was the guy in the stall talking on his mobile. How gross. On my way out I might grab a local fitness magazine, but otherwise it back on to McDowell and up Morehead back to work.

How odd then that this PR comes on a rare Thursday! I couldn't make it to the pool on Tuesday as I was obliged to be in the field that morning. This meant though that I would have to consider running tonight as well. This would be the first workday of the year where I swam and then ran the same day. How sad is that?

Since Chris Cummins and his "harden the &$*# up" band had became their sojourn towards Idaho for their Ironman experience, a venerated group of running friends decided to instead of the normal run from Dilworth Neighborhood Grille, we would go to the actual Sharksbite run, now out of Charlotte Running Company. It has grown in size, even with Tim's sudden departure yet again to try living out in Colorado.

This was definitely a nostalgic experience. The crowd was quite large, mostly people I do not know. Our "traitorous" band consisted of Bruce, Chris, and Jocelyn. Marie was the only other person I knew. The 4.44 mile course was basically the old Thursday night run from East Boulevard Bar and Grill with some small variations and reversed loop. This is one tough course, and naturally there was much complaining in the earlier version. I lost the shirt and started out with Jocelyn and Chris. As we began the tortuous climb up Cumberland I pulled back and began my own journey. I slowly began to "pick" runners off but wasn't doing so on purpose. I was feeling quite strong given my amazing effort this morning. It was also hotter than I had hoped/expected. Still I ascended Ridgewood with determined effort and then rounded up to Princeton preparing the mother of torture on Forest Park. After the descent it was all uphill to the finish. I came in at 33:40, about a 7:34 minute mile pace effort.

Later at the finish my old neighbor (from my McDonald Avenue years) came up and we chatted for some time. I was very excited to hear that he had finished Charlotte's marathon last winter! Good for him. He talked about how I wouldn't even recognize the street, etc. I hope we can run together some time soon. The whole experience reminded me of the very early Thomas Street Tavern years. It was mostly a good feeling.

Even though there would be no group dinner with this option, I was excited to get home. I had a new DVD in the John Adams series that recently was on HBO. As a history buff, I've really enjoyed watching this mini-series! And it wasn't too hot that night in the house, so both Winston and I could actually (almost!) enjoy it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Back to the Latta (Part III)

Today was my first triathlon of the 2008 season! I thought I would put my results/experience in perspective with the previous attempts (2004 and 2005) I had made on this race.


It would be safe to say my "triathlon" engine was running quite hot by the time Latta came around. I began the season in March with the Valdese Sprint Triathlon, which is in the mountains towards Asheville. This was a pool swim (I remember the wait was EXCRUCIATING, although I was amused by watching two (good looking?) twins in the transition area as they slowly put on all their biking gear). The bike ride was 9 miles, definitely the shortest yet, but probably the most punishing. I finished with a measly 15.5 mph average!

The very next week it was the MAP Triathlon. I'm talking old school here folks, back when it was in Charlotte! The previous year at MAP marked my first ever triathlon. This year I was back with a bike that weighed less than 30 pounds, and it showed!

About six weeks later I was then onto the flat coastal plain of NC for my first crack at White Lake. This was for the Sprint version on Sunday. I was there to cheer on my dear triathlon friend Alice, and of course I got suckered into wanting to do a Half! (I would accomplish that goal in September at the Duke Half). On the bike I circuited the lake twice (14 miles) and recorded my fastest ever average in a triathlon, 20.7 miles per hour.

I don't remember too much about Latta in 2004, except that as I mentioned the engine was nice and hot. It definitely showed, I took my Latta PR that day 1:36:05. The swim was quite near by 2008 effort, coming across the mat at 17:29 along with a course-best T1 of 2:31. I took the bike loop in 51:09, for an average of 19.9 mph. The T2 was (probably) a course-best as well with 1:40, but your random location in the area can make or break that. I finished the run with 23:18 (7:29 minute mile), also a best for the series. My overall place was 38.9% (225th out of 579 finishers). Not bad. That summer I would continue to do both the Over The Mountain and Bandits Challenge Olympic distance races before the Duke Half.


Leading up to the 2005 edition I was back at MAP in mid-March (the last year it would be held in downtown Charlotte), but then made the big leap early for the White Lake Half Ironman. Obviously a good deal of training went into that. I recall being very excited about narrowly finishing under six hours!

Latta in 2005 was a set of three "disasters." For starters, right when my wave got into the water my goggles broke, so I had to do my best, coming in at 18:23. Then on the bike I had rounded my way to Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road when I witnessed a bad accident. A car had passed a group of (we weren't drafting, I swear!) us and then darted back in the right lane. The car then hit its brakes and one of the cyclists went straight into the back bumper. I was compelled to stop, the only time I have ever for any sprint. I recall stabilizing him and then going down the road to find a trooper. Still, I think I finished with a 51:45 (assuming a T2 of 1:40, as Setup's mats failed for this split). I also recall hurting my foot (or it being in pain) for the run, but I didn't lose too much coming in with 23:49 (7:39 minute mile). My total time was 1:38:27, placing me at 42.1% (235th out of 558 finishers).

For sundry list of reasons Latta then fell out of my favor for two years. With the move of MAP up north, part of the course was then shared so I felt it wasn't worth the intense scrabble in January to sign up for the race. My training schedules also played in a role in the race falling out of favor.


Obviously there was no racing before Latta this year. I had even lost interest in the MAP, breaking a sizable streak, but nothing like Bob Nixon's Latta streak! I did not do a single brick in preparation for this race. How lazy is that? Sure, I ran a fair amount to prepare for the marathon in May, and wasn't exactly a slouch on the bike (taking in my first 100 mile ride quite early!). Definitely lazy on the swim, barely getting in once a week to swim for thirty minutes.

With the cooler spring season I thought there was a shot of this becoming a wetsuit legal race! But that was not to be, as the thunderous heat took its toll on Charlotte's drinking supply, raising the raceday temperature to 89 degrees. Yuck. Just about everyone swims better with a wetsuit, but a marginal (let's be honest here, folks) swimmer like myself has noticed exceptional gains.

I was most excited the previous week when I actually paid attention to the detail they had moved the start time to 6AM! Awesome! I'd get up at 2AM to beat the heat! Following my ankle injury from Ultimate, it was not until a week later that I attempted my first run. It was less than 4 miles on my normal Thursday night group run.

I certainly came into this event with a cavalier attitude. My main goal was to do a triathlon, and get myself into the mindset for the upcoming 70.3 in Providence. I took a quick warmup in the bathtub, then it wasn't long until my group (M30-34) went into the start area. We were the second group to leave after the elites, this occurred at 6:34. I had positioned myself near the front, which was a little ambitious. I got battered around a fair amount and soon could tell I was behind the average swimmer - in fact I finished 32nd out of the 62 guys in my wave. I was a little surprised in that I only saw 3-4 swimmers from the next wave to catch up with me.

When I got out I wasn't really expecting anyone to cheer me on (by name) but I was quite surprised. I sort of knew a few folks would be out there, but that was quite nice! Thanks! I was excited to glance at my watch over the mat and see 17:14, definitely a PR for the swim section. As I made the long journey up to the transition area Bob Nixon reminded me to smile for the camera! I was a fairly smooth transition, and when I saw it at 2:35 that made sense to me.

The haul out of Latta Plantation seemed to take an eternity, but my smartass bike compute said 7 minutes and 10 seconds. It was really only then that I began to hammer (just like everyone else), but I was having some serious issues staying down in my aero position (the 100 mile ride did take its toll). I then began to play my usual tortoise and hare game with 3-4 people. You pass me, I pass you, watch out for the referees! I definitely was set with some dread about my return on Mt. Holly-Huntersville. After coming out of the Business Park, I really was slowing down. And there it went. No accidents. My goal was take another minute or so on this leg, and for the most part that did happen, clocking in at 50:04. For the 17 miles that put me at 20.4 miles per hour! That average speed was one of my triathlon bests, coming in at second only to White Lake Sprint. It's hard to compare all that, given different terrains and distances. I certainly would not consider that White Lake my best performance - given the higher mileage and tougher terrain, this was better. But still I would not rank this as my best, the nod definitely goes to my Half performance last year in Georgia, where I averaged 19.2 miles per hour over 56 tough miles. Of course, I blew up on the run!

I knew I would lose time on T2 because I no longer cared about snap laces. I am just not into these sprints... 2:04 - not bad though. I dreaded the run, even though most of it was shaded and wasn't too hilly. I just wanted to go home. I was hoping to come in at 1:35:00, but I was just not into keeping up the pace. Sure, I was moving, included my patented spin turn before the end. And by then I knew I was in trouble. When I came out of the trees I could see Cummins and some other egging me on, and it was right before hitting them that I turned on my afterburners and came in with trademark 5:00 minute mile sprint. Just saving face from disaster, folks. Finish time 1:37:33. Yikes. That put me at 43.4% (261st out of 601 finishers).

I definitely had more fun going around and talking with my friends afterwards. I was very excited to wish those off participating in Ironman Coeur d'Alene next weekend!

I finished with a time around 1:37:33. I gained around a minute on the swim and bike (compared to 2005) but lost pretty much all of it on the run. I still finished slightly better than the previous attempt.

Official Setup Results

Sunday, June 8, 2008

100 mile ride for a 100 degree day? Sure!

Today in the Charlotte area the temperatures hit the 100 degree mark. I thought the perfect way to celebrate would be to conquer my first 100 mile bicycle ride of the season!

The story of the weekend's rides actually began on Saturday. Even before that, since I couldn't run on Thursday I took Holman (my bike) to the Booty Loop for seven laps. I averaged a reasonable 18.4 miles per hour, one of my best performances yet. Even though it was in the low 90s during the twilight hours I didn't find the temperature all that disturbing. And then on Friday I rode my other bike to and from the office.

Saturday I rose at 5:30 and left the house shortly after 6:10. I wove my way up to Providence and from there descended down towards Mineral Springs via Potter Road. Once at Waxhaw, I crossed up through Marvin and made my way towards 521. I was determined to finish this leg off - the last time I had two flat tires at the intersection of I-485 and had to be picked up. This time the ride was a success and I felt really good after the 58 miles, a far cry from the misery-fest last Sunday.

It was at that time I had aspirations to do the big ride on Sunday. That afternoon I planned my route accordingly. A group, led by KC and the Sunshine Group, was leaving Crowders Mountain State Park for the various loops. I really enjoy the "40" (37 miles) but I hate driving all the way out there. So why not hook up with the group? It had to be planned just ride - then later on I called Kevin to discuss my plans.

Once again I was up at 5:30 to prepare for the big assault. This time I brought my Camelbak loaded to the gill with water. I left via Tyvola and then made my way down to Tryon. The goal was to get somewhere close to 40 miles before meeting the group at 8:30. The direct route was 21 miles, so I vaulted up past CLC's Whitehall Preserve then swung down to Gold Hill. Once on Zoar I decided to explore Youngblood, which used to be a "dead end." It made me think of my early rides out here with my first housemate, Sean. This time there was a new Palisades parkway. Once I crossed 49 I tried something new going all the way up 274 and then down Meek. Folks, there is some beautiful farm scenery out this way. I then hit Ridge Road and my rendezvous at 8:18 with around 37 miles.

My wait was quite long, long enough to attract the interest of the local law enforcement. Really though, the lady was quite pleasant. I was about to abandon on my own around 9:00AM when I saw the group. In addition to Kevin, there was Mona, Greg, Franco, and my Vineman comrade John Hoover. From there we continued on pushing our way to Filbert, SC. The peach was just opening, but for some reason no one wanted to go in. By the time we started the "hammer" section on 161 it had gotten quite exposed and hot. I led the charge but was taking it quite easy. At the junction everyone but Mona left for the 60 mile option, which I rate as extremely difficult. Mona and I then pulled up 161 but I left her to continue the usual route, I wanted to try and bridge the rides by riding north to where the 60 mile route continues on 161. This meant including "The Pinnacle" climb, a nasty nasty pitch. While I was absolutely dying up this pitch I was surprised to see Mona coming down the other side. She definitely wanted to get her "ouch" on. I waited for her at the bottom then we continued to the park. Through some amazing coincidence, at the entrance a woman stopped to pick up a turtle attempting to cross the road - it turned out to be our friend Sandy Chavez, who I haven't seen in quite some time!

At the visitor center I filled up my pack and bottles. I was at 67 miles. This last stretch was unbelievably furnace hot. I did time myself around 33 minutes to reach Ridge/Glenn, so the group must have been really slow or more likely just got a bad start. I logged a little less than 40 miles for the loop, which seems like very little to add from the normal 37 miles. Not worth it, except to have your ass kicked on the Pinnacle. Descending down Ridge was like descending into hell, the furnace just got hotter and hotter. I stopped in at the first convenience store to down a 32 ounce soft drink. Once back in North Carolina the climb up to Shopton was just killing me. I had to stop later on Shopton to just rest and regroup for the final assault. Thankfully my mileage was enough to come out my direct route to Tyvola and home. I was wildly excited as I coasted down Milford to rescue my dog from the house. I had logged 101.8 miles and done it in a little less than six hours. I had been out of the road for almost eight hours! The best part was that I averaged 17.2 miles an hour, which was definitely something to be happy about.

I need that.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Vying for Worst Week Ever?

Folks, it has been one crummy week for Publius.

One of the big stories in Charlotte this week has been the abnormally hot temperatures, which are set to puncture triple digits this weekend. Leading up, temperatures and the associated humidity have been rather cruel to me. Usually it seems like the summer screwdown starts earlier in May, but within the last few weeks my body has not adjusted well.

Shortly after my parent's departure in mid May, I had some pre-summer maintenance done on my Smithsonian-bound A/C unit. But about ten days ago I noticed that with the climbing temperatures the system was just not kicking on. It was the previous weekend that I came to the total realization that the unit had failed right after the scheduled maintenance!

The previous weekend featured a tough Saturday long run with some of the worst humidity! That afternoon I was on work duty, helping out at the Conservancy's Land Conservation Celebration out at Redlair. Giving my vast intellect, I was reduced to watching children in the inflatable bounce machine. I was a bounce bouncer, and boy did I crack down on checking IDs. The day was mercilessly hot in the middle of Haywood's field, easily approaching ninety. That was probably harder on my body than the nearly ten miles I suffered through that morning!

Then on Sunday four of us ventured out for the Inside Out Sports ride. It started off slowly, having to wait forever on a train, but then we took a new route for me out towards Stanley. About mile 18 of the official ride disaster nearly struck for Bob Nixon and myself. We were riding two abreast, with Bob and myself on the the outside. The group was descending Stanley-Lucia to cross Dutchman's Creek when all the sudden a grey Nissan (?) sped by us at 60+ mph with about one inch to spare! I first felt the close wind then saw how close the car came to Bob! It then slowly sank it that the car passed that close to me as well! The rest of the ride was a big suffer-fest for me, climbing Spencer Mountain was just crazy - I was the only one who opted out of the HC version. Inside of climbing Cramerton Mountain we instead beat for home, taking the long agonizing Wilkinson Boulevard back. Once back on Marsh I bade farewell to Bob and Melissa, who were very focused on hitting the pool and forgetting this particular ride!

That afternoon was quite agonizing as well; it was time to say farewell to Sonia Perillo. Her husband had taken a transfer to Phoenix. Sonia was my original Charlotte friend and most importantly responsible for me coming to the Queen City. She was then the Associate Director at the Conservancy and running operations while the original Executive Director was on leave. Sonia was the one who interviewed me, saw something special, and offered the position. When she left the Conservancy several years ago to raise Sophia, it was hard enough. But this was pure torture.

Things did not improve Monday. I took up the opportunity to tutor that evening. I've been taking Winston for a long time now, and during the twilight hours there are up to eight bunnies in the field when we arrive. I usually have to get him started, but he just tears after them with utter delight. That night something dreadfully wrong happened and he came back with a huge gash under my left eye (see previous post for his perspective on the event).

Then Tuesday was the big Ultimate start to Summer League. I posted previously on the event. It was very hard on my body. I didn't remember any particular misstep on my feet, but afterwards my left ankle/foot felt strange. That evening it had swelled quite a bit and I knew I was in trouble. Later on I would become very sore having used muscles hardly stressed!

On Wednesday morning the A/C technician finally came. It drives me nuts not going to work on time, but this was important - it was just becoming unbearable, especially for my recovering dog! The bad news was that a small part called a capacitor failed, which melted the wires above it - shutting down the unit. It would cost $450 to replace. I declined the repair as my home warranty (which would require another visit) would repair it for $55. Before leaving they cheerfully quoted me $6,100 to replace the unit. Sure dude. I then ran into work, which was a total mistake as I could really feel the swelling (there was no other associated pain) and the temperatures were sky-high.

That evening we had a party to celebrate the contributions of Jean Woods, the Conservancy's stewardship committee chair who has been around the Conservancy just as long as Sonia. This was another HUGE loss, both for the Conservancy and me personally. As a compromise, Jenni drove me part of the way home and then I ran from Marsh. I realized I could not run anymore.

Thursday had to suck too - each night of sleeping was worse than the next. I had decided to swim instead. When I got there it was closed for the UltraSwim event. I really rely on the MCAC events page (I complained several years ago to get it started) and for some reason (laziness) it wasn't updated for June, so I assumed it was okay. So not only would I not swim, I was going to miss out on running tonight. ARGH! That afternoon I also send a scathing message to a close Charlotte friend, who has a strong tendency to ignore my inquires and go AWOL for long periods of time. I naturally regretted my message, but it's so frustrating to be able to depend on her for anything.

Friday was the crowning turd. My whole week was centered around the arrival of the new A/C folks to bring some beloved cold air into a house when temperatures were now close to triple digits. I had specifically told them to call me on my cell, and of course they said they'd be there any time from 3 to 5PM. As usual, I was delayed at work until 3:45, but there was no call. So I changed into my bike gear and made some all along the way home to make sure they had not called. When I arrived around 4:30 there was a note in the door saying they waited from 4:00 to 4:15. AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I was SO MAD! Sure enough I got a voicemail and boy did I go off! (I later realized this was not a sound strategy for getting my problem fixed) I then called the warranty company. By that time I was at Home Depot ready to buy some expensive portable A/C unit. The guy said he talked with the vendor and said they would come by after the current job. So I waited.

They never came or called.

This of course meant suffering through the intolerable heat set to peak through the weekend.

Saturday had some serious stink to it as well. As if losing two very important people who were leaving town, I suffered through a third. Earlier in the week I was contacted by my old Sharksbite friend Jill who had shocked us all by moving to Atlanta. She asked me to help her move a big couch into a U-Haul. Unfortunately the timing was a bit off - I got the call just when I arrived at work (yes, apparently I live here now) to escape the inferno that is my house. Okay, no big deal. But then I spilled orange cola on my favorite (and oh-so-white) Grand Columbia hat to get there! I almost wanted to stay around in the stifling heat and move some more stuff to avoid the goodbye, but my better sense did take hold. I was there for the big stuff. I had to retreat back. The route was I-74/Independence, which easily ranks as my least favorite road to travel in all of Charlotte. As anyone here and they will tell you why.

And worse yet, I had waited all week for two big events - 1) the fixing of my A/C and the posting of the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica. Those Hulu/NBC bastards said it would be posted today. Okay, I'm addicted. This show is unrealistically good!

After hanging out at work on Saturday afternoon, I got a call from the second A/C company, they'd be there in 25 minutes! This was potentially great news. I packed up Winston and came home, and sure enough they came. The guy took a look inside and without a hint of doubt told me the unit was completely shot! Do note the cost from above...

Julie has also been out of town for over a week and still has more time left for her visit to Florida. I've really missed having her smile around, but I totally understand why she needed the vacation.

I need one too. Especially with some nice A/C.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hello, My Name is Winston

Hello, my name is Winston. I just turned 7, but I act like I'm one. Even though I am almost 50 in your years, I LOVE to chase bunnies and don't care about the repercussions. Last Monday, I went with my dad to his tutoring session. Of the main reasons I go is to chase all the bunnies that are sitting around in the yard we go to! There is no thrill like chasing these bunnies. I don't even care if I have to go through a barbwire fence to chase them!

I'm Back In The Game?!?

On Tuesday I came out of a two year Ultimate Frisbee hiatus and began league play in the 2008 CAUA Summer League. Really though, it's been longer than that. I last played in the 2006 summer league, but if you look at my pickup stats I really trailed off in 2005 as I began my focus towards marathons and longer triathlons.

I was really anxious about my "return." When I first came to Charlotte, Ultimate (as it is more frequently referred to), was my main social exercise outlet. We'd play Tuesday/Thursday nights at Pearl Street and then on Sunday at Dilworth Elementary (before the remodel). I first became interested in the sport due to my housemate Dan-O when I lived in Durham. The league in the Triangle (TFDA) is absolutely amazing!

I had never played a team sport before and it's always been a struggle. The game is invariably complex to me; reading teammates and opponents can really be tough. And it took probably three years before I could throw a decent flick. My handling skills are quite poor, but I am capable of being dangerous on the field due to the facts that 1) I am tall, 2) I can run fast, and 3) I will do whatever it takes (lay out, foul) to grab the disc.

The real question was how much I had lost during my Ultimate vacation. I was also curious how new the faces would be, how many people I would remember, and if anyone would remember me. I was also scared to death (one of the main reasons I stopped) of an injury hampering my triathlon goals. This especially applies to my tender hamstrings and various ankle/foot injuries. My worst Ultimate injury was back in 2001 (?). I laid out for the disc and really hurt my ribs.

So it was like both 1) showing up for the first day of school, afraid all the kids would laugh at me and 2) a high school reunion. The games are scheduled to be held every Tuesday for the next couple of months, two games a night at 6:30 and 7:30. The weather this week in Charlotte was on the upswing towards miserable, thankfully with some winds and twilight hours it was actually enjoyable out there!

It was mostly new faces to me - never heard of our captain. Only one face on my team that I really remember. He's been around for quite some time. I have a lot of respect for his playing abilities, but he is a real jackass. I remember back in 2004 to one Sunday where this unnamed individual parked his truck in some guy's driveway. His truck was SO precious he couldn't park it on the street like the rest of us. Sure enough later on the owner of the house came out to ask about the truck. This individual was in the middle of the play and kept him waiting. The owner got all angry and it escalated quickly. I was just stunned my Ultimate colleague was talking like the driveway was his to park in. It was really an amazing thing to witness.

Okay, so back to "the return." I put on my cleats, ran around the fields, then found some folks to toss with me. I was delighted to see that my forehand skills were still very precise. In addition, the flicks weren't too bad. Apparently they had not horribly degraded with their appropriate shelf lives. The two games that night were scrimmages (they didn't count) so everyone could start to work together as a team and get back into the picture. Our team, for now aptly named Team 7, seemed pretty coherent out of the gate. Our opponent was Nick's team. I was out for the first point, heart beating hard before I ran at all! Overall it was a positive experience! We trailed behind a couple of points the whole way and ending up losing, but I did pull down one disc for the score. I then used the opportunity to get in a pull. It went the distance but was definitely out of bounds. I did have a few dropped passes, and could only last 2-3 points at a time. I was given another opportunity to pull, so I intentionally chose going short versus out of bounds!

We then moved our camp to the adjoining field for our next game. I wasn't as active in the second game. I pulled down a nice pass right at the goal line and tried a forehand to our captain Bean but that went down in flames. Actually, anytime I am handling and at least have the opportunity to score IS a big deal, and of course even bigger if I connect. There was one defensive play in the end zone where I hit the ground and rolled up. I did have a few dropped passes, but otherwise at heavy twilight the games ended and I left happy.

I was worried about my left ankle and foot. They seemed to be some swelling, and I don't remember a particular crash or incident that would have caused it. I did opt out of the Moosehead party afterwards, this was enough of a social leap for me, perhaps I will branch out more in the future!