Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oct.30: Misplaced Smells

Do you ever find that somethings in life are only enjoyable if you, and only you, are the one enjoying/doing it? Take, for example, whistling. That is definately something that is only enjoyed by the whistler. And normally people start whistling because they are feeling happy and relaxed or they are just enthralled in whatever it is that they are doing. It is just too bad that while doing so that they annoy everyone else around them and distract them from whatever it is that they are doing.

Another good example is the smell of certain foods. For example, I love the smell of grilled salmon with hints of lemon and herbs on it if, of course, it is coming from the plate sitting directly infront of me. But if I am about to dig into, oh I do not know, desert and the guy next to me is just about to dig in to a nice filet-o-fish, I find that fishy smell downright revolting!

Then you have the foods where the smell is NEVER good but the taste is oh so heavenly. The only way you put up with the smell is because you know that there is a delicious reward in it for you...Blue Cheese is an example of this for me. When you are eating this stuff, you know you are eating cheese...durn, it is good. I love the stuff that is half mold and half cheese...yummy! But here is the deal with blue cheese, if I am smelling the stuff, I better darn well be eating it because the smell itself is just nasty.

This brings me to the point of my blog today...I am (literally) sick of going into the men's locker room at my gym and being greeted by the strong aroma of blue cheese. It is just ripe ol', "I have not washed my gym gear in a month, but I work out hard everyday," stench. Do not get me wrong, I am glad these guys are paying attention to their fitness. In fact, I applaud them. But how do they not get naseaus (sp?) when they put their own gear on? The guy sitting next to me during spinning today smelled like an after dinner cheese platter.

In other news, my little nephew had to go to the ER the other day because he had stuffed a popcorn kernel so far up his nose that they could not get it out!! Man, I wish Uncle David could have been there for that. I bet that uncle David would have been able to get him to see just how many he could get up there!!

ps: Vic, Jennie wants to thank you for making my blog X-rated and for making her day!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oct29: Running...Again?

Weird thing happened today - I ran again! That makes 2 times so far this week!! And just like the first time, it felt great! It was a nice relaxing 6 miles around a 7:45'ish pace. It was quite chilly - I was bundled in my pants, long sleeve shirt and light jacket. I, of course, was overdressed. It is amazing that 5 years of living in Houston NEVER prepared me for "cold" temperatures such as today.

And for those of you who are trannies! I am not suggesting that it is too cold for them to work, but perhaps their clients are to cold to...ahem...enjoy what they are paying for!

Je suis fatigue. Je vais dormer tout de suite.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oct.28: Spinning Encore

I just returned from another spinning class...good times! The biggest challenge I am having right now is calibrating my HR and intensity with each other for cycling. Now, I know that your HR is a function of many things, which is why it is a good thing to monitor it - let's you know how your body is responding to ALL stresses. I have a fairly good handle on calibrating HR to intensity while running, but cycling is a whole new learning curve for me. I guess I got to keep going so I figure it out! Empirical data to analyse and learn from can only be acheived by doing things!

Right now the TV is on in the background and "Les Simpsons" just came on. Do you remember back to when you used to read comics and you used to have a certain voice associated with each character in the comic? (Yes, I am referring to this little thing called "the imagination"). Then one fateful Saturday morning you stumble upon the TV cartoon of your favorite comic only to realize that the cartoon voices are nothing as you imagined?! I have to say that my biggest disappointed was definitely "Garfield". He was totally kick-ass in my mind but a total DUD on TV. Infact, I think I stopped reading Garfield shortly after I saw the cartoon. Anyhow, what is my point (other than being nostalgic about things that aggravated me as a 7 year old)? Well, after years of training my ears as to what each Simpson character should sound like, I may never watch another episode again after hearing how these Frenchies are butchering each character!! This show is definitely lost in translation!

I guess it is just as well...I have moved on to more mature shows such as Family Guy anyhow.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Oct 27: Dillema

So Jennie and I just finished running 4 miles together in the Parc Monceau (just a beautiful gem of a park just next to our apartment). Now I am sitting here with a bit of a moral dilemma...

After the run I had a quick shower while Jennie was putting the finishing touches on dinner. Now that she is in the shower it is my job to "keep an eye on dinner" (as it is still on the stove) and to "tend to things if need be". Now, I have been given this responsibility many times before and EACH time I find myself struggling with the same moral issue. If I let dinner burn, or go bad, or spill over, or something just this one time, then chances are that I will not be allowed back into the kitchen again for a very long time to "help out"! So, 1 bad dinner just might buy me several months of freedom!

Does this dilemma make me a bad person? I don't think so ...I know that EVERY guy out there when placed in this same situation, has the same thought! And ladies, if he says differently, he is lying!

Ok, I hear something boiling over and the smoke detector is going looks like I am going to have some spare time in the nights ahead!!!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oct. 26: Random Thoughts

Autumn is absolutely my favorite time of year. Many people seem to like Spring better...I am not sure why that is. I think it has something to do with new beginnings and everything is basically ends a long winter's hibernation - it is time for mind and body to be active again. The flowers are blooming, the leaves are sprouting, and people tend to be giddy with all their pent-up energy from a long winter's grind. I like autumn because everything that was once new finally has a chance to reflect and to learn from a time past. Spring is too full of giddy energy, wondering what will be, how will things turn out, and what does the new season have in store? While autumn is briming with knowledgable hindsight - it is a time to reflect, to learn, to progress. Sure you do not get the fragant smell of new flowers blossoming in a meadow nearby (ok Houston, use your imaination) but seeing a rainbow of colors everytime you look at a patch of trees is hard to beat. Red bleeds into orange, which squeezes between vibrant yellow, while still showing hints of green, with the occasional purple hue sprinkled to keep the pallete full. Plus I was born in this season - perhaps I am biased? To add to this bias, October is by far the best month! I certainly enjoy living back in a place where I am reminded of the season for what it is, not for being something other than "hot" or "not hot".

Happy Belated Birthday Dad! No, I do not suck as a son - I actually called on the actual day! But should I ever get stuck with short-term memory loss or some other condition that makes me forget this period of my life and I am forced to use this blog as a historical document to recap the who, the what, the where, the why, and the how, I want to know that I was one of those people that remembered things...not just "things" but the "important things."

I have been watching too much House lately. That is quite clear by my last statement! Plus, truth be told I can only remember what I have in my Outlook calendar...and what Jennie reminds me about! Maybe I do have short-term memory loss? Did I already say that earlier??

Two days in a row now I have seen the Paris Firemen (or 'Pompiers') out on group runs. There are about 15-25 of them all running in formation along the street. It is clear that the entire Firehall is out together, spending time on their fitness together...and it seems to work - they all look really fit. So, what happens should a call come in? No problem, 2-3 guys are driving 2-3 firetrucks/EMS vehicles behind along the street to pick them up should an emergency arise. Perhaps I should join them on their runs? The firetruck/EMS vehicles are definitely the best SAG wagon anybody could ever ask for!

Steeeve - I think you and Andrew are right. My story is not yet complete with the marathon. Sometimes I wonder if I should be an epic story writer though - perhaps I am more adept to be writing short stories, or poems, or editorials for the weekly newspaper, or heck, even a blog? Hmmm...but those are things that you can read on the toilet...the epic novel is something you need to take with you everywhere you go and spend time focused on it if you ever want to complete it. But sometimes if you put the novel down for too long you have to go back and re-read the final chapter to get caught back up. I remember the last chapter being really, really good - time to go re-read it!

Why can I never think of a cool Halloween costume until I move to a place where nobody would appreciate it?! (It also does not help that I have no party to show it off too!). Next time that you know that I am back in town, and it is Halloween - please invite me to your party because I gaurantee you that I will have the BEST costume there. It is retro, it is reality based, it was (is?) a cultural phenom, and only I can pull it off. Want to know more...invite me to your party!

I have decided that one of my "to-do's" (or item to put on my "bucket list") is to own a Moped (or scooter) while living in Paris. It may not be this time I am here...but sometime. It is just way too cool not to do that while I am here. After consulting with my brother-in-law we have decided that it would be best done with a total retro looking bike. I am thinking an WWII looking scooter painted in army green with a side car. While driving I will wear goggles like parachuters wear. I guess we all have dreams...I am going to hold tight to this one! (But perhaps I should think of a few back-up plans incase this one does not work out as I hope!)

I do not have a "bucket list" or a "100 things to do before I die list". I will not make said list because I think I takes away sponteneity. But by saying that I am NOT going to do something one might argue that I WILL do something - it is just the opposite of what I said I was NOT going to do. So, in effect am I making a list of "100 things NOT to do before I die"? Is this any better than actually making a proper list?

I do NOT want to go bungy-jumping. If I am going to pay to fall off of something, I would rather go skydiving. Plus, I think skydiving would be better for my

I think that in nature's attempt to be ironic that the day that I finally learn French will be the last day I ever live in France. I have no evidence of this, and trust me this day is a loooooooong ways away, but I just have that feeling that I will never be completely fluent!

Good luck to everyone running the Houston Half today! That was always a fun that I miss.

I went running today and it felt great! I ran 6.6 miles at an average pace of...who cares?! I ran and that is all that matters right now. I was able to think about everything and nothing all at the same time...can you tell?!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oct22: Update

So today I received an email from my main man JD asking me how things were coming along, if spinning was a new consistent form of post-marathon cross-training , or if, infact, my last post was just a one-hit-wonder (que "Achey Breaky Heart"). I figure I could reply directly or I could blow a little dust off this blog and write a little recap here. This blog has been a little quiet lately because there really has not been any action. Perhaps a little history is required...

Exactly 2 weeks and 3 days prior to the Berlin marathon I completed my final threshold run. It was nothing epic. It was a short workout I completed in heavy rain on the track. It was one of those workouts where you feel like a complete stud. I was in top fitness so a shortened threshold workout was easily achieved but to add icing to the cake I had a captive audience of about 12-15 other runners who were all sitting in the bleachers waiting for the rain to dissipate. "Wimps," I thought, "If you are scared of getting wet, perhaps you should have stayed on the treadmill." (DISCLAIMER: I have nothing against treadmills, but do not go running with black clouds overhead if getting wet is not your MO for the evening). My right foot was slipping a lot within my shoe, but I thought nothing of it at the time. Anyhow, I returned home, felt absolutely great about starting my taper and was confident that I made it to Berlin, injury-free.

Then I woke up...

... the next morning and the front of my shin was swollen, sore, and I could barely flex my foot to walk. I remember being amazed that a 160lb guy could actually have a cankle. I limbed around all day, and the following day, and with each passing day my dreams of breaking 3 at Berlin started to fade. But then I remembered some advice I received from Steeeve on runs taken from a not too distant past, "Once the taper starts you will not lose any fitness...the work has been done. Now is the time to make sure your body is 100% for your race." (Or something like that). And when I consulted the bible (aka Jack Daniel's Running Formula) I could even find a table the quantifies how much fitness I will lose with each day of non-running. So, I stopped worrying about it and did not run for the 2 weeks prior (except for a little Tranny Spotting tour with my boys when they arrived in Paris).

I should also add that I decided not to go to the doctor. Why? Because last time I paid 30 Euro to do squats while he checked out my form (from behind) with a typical french gaze that makes me feel as though I am being undressed by his eyes. This time I knew what the answer would be, "You cannot run a marathon this week." So, being cheap and knowing what was required I opted just to chillax.

That takes me to the marathon. I had no idea how I was going to do...all that I knew was that I wanted to run the first mile with JD and then see what happens from there. Chances are that when you let a 2:48 marathoner pace you the first mile that good things will happen to you too! Amazingly, my sore spot did not hurt during the marathon. Well, it did when I thought about it...but that is normal for the marathon.

Since the marathon I have only run 3 times because I still am having some problems (albeit very minor). I have been trying to hit the gym more often but do you know that thing that you sit on all day (rhymes with pass)? That is how I have been feeling this past week...I think I coughed up one of my lungs at the Eiffel Tower on the weekend. Perhaps it is all the second hand smoke I get here in Paris or perhaps my body is trying to tell me that it needs a little "me time" (Mani's and pedi's are scheduled for next week).

Either way, I am still enjoying the time off and am staying motivated to get running again by all the awesome results I hear coming from the Houston running community. I am glad that I am motivated to get out there soon because that thing that I have been feeling like is starting to get a little bigger!!! No more croissants for me until I start earning them again through sweat and tranny sightings!

Keepin' it real in Paris!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oct.14: Spinning Class

Before I "officially" called myself a runner, I used to do everything else but. I had very strict rules - I would never do the same exercise two days in a row and I would always make sure that I did something everyday. This meant that I spent hours at the gym doing different classes or playing squash, riding my bike, playing ultimate frisbee, and actually enjoying a happy hour or two! So, when did this all change (i.e. when did I actually start calling myself a "runner")? It is hard to say is sort of like the first couple weeks where you are dating someone. When was the day that you actually starting "going-out"(Unless, of course, you still roll grade-school style and ask someone to be your boy/girl friend inbetween drama and english class...or better yet, get your best friend to ask her best friend if she is interested in maybe going out)). What criteria do you use to say, "Yes, we started dating on this exact date." Everyone has different criteria (which can be problematic for the dating example I just gave if the guy and girl involved have two different criteria - how on earth will you ever figure out when to celebrate each month anniversary (oops, grade school example again))!!!

Anyhow, back to my point - I think I "became a runner" when I started to buy all of my running shoes 1 size bigger to avoid getting black toe nails on long runs. There was, obviously, a large grey zone in there somewhere but I think I was just rounding second base with running when I finally made this decision (again, I am carrying my grade school example throughout this post!).

One of my favorite classes I used to do approx. 3 days a week was spinning. Today I returned...tour de france style! I am always a little aprehensive when trying new things in Paris because the language is still a big barrier for me and I often find myself in those awkward situations where you are like, "what the hell?" However, usually after you do something several times you learn to anticipate what will be said next and you are able to develop sort of a practised routine. Take going to a restaurant for example. The first time I went it was quite awkward. But over time you learn that they will ask "interior ou exterior?" (inside or out), "combien..." (how many people), "est-que vous choissisez?" (What do you want to eat), learn the routine and you fill in what you do not understand with what you think they are most likely saying and you answer accordingly. Learning a new language is more about statistical probability of what you think will happen next in any social situation, reading all non-verbal clues to support or deny your analysis, and then acting in a way consistent with the most probable outcome....well, so far it is!

Today in the spinning class they had the music pumping (awesome music too - tribal Rhianna type beats...very cool) and a colored disco ball hanging from the ceiling glowing. It was only 45 minutes but I was completely knackered at the end. I spent most of my time just watching all the other participants for clues as to what to do. But that can be problematic because if you latch on to the over-achiever in the class you will be tired a little too quickly whereas if you follow the slacker you will wonder why you bothered even coming. What was also interesting was that a lot of people loved to do cat-calls along with the was definitely an interactive group!

This week I am going to try to get back to the gym a little. The Wii Fit and I are having an argument...yesterday my Wii fit age was 41 so I am giving it the silent treatment this week.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oct. 11: It has been 2 weeks...

...since the Berlin marathon (ok fine, 13 days) and I am now outside the window of where I will not allow myself to make any future running plans. You see, I find that immediately after any big race in which you just commited 5 months of nearly every spare minute of your spare time to training for that there are a lot of emotions involved. So, I will not let myself make any rash decisions until after a 2 week cool-down, or buffer, period as to "What should I do next?"

Also looming on the horizon is an impending move to Lagos, Nigeria. My colleagues there tell me that it is a losing battle to try and outrun the mosquitoes while running in a zig-zag pattern to avoid sniper bullets and hostage taking vans. So, I am thinking that I may be finding a new fitness hobby other than running once I move (perhaps swimming - because I want to maintain my Michael Phelp's style diet!). But I cannot be living my life waiting around for my company to tell me when this move will occur. So, until I am actually boarding a plane with Malaria pills in my carry-on I will continue to look forward and make plans for my next adventure because it sure would suck to let opportunities pass you by when you could be bagging them!

So, today I have signed up for 2 new marathons:

1. GOAL MARATHON: Prague International Marathon - May 10, 2009
2. Training Marathon: Paris Marathon - April 6, 2009

With what long-term goal do I have in mind? Other than just giving me something to do in my downtime, and the fact that I loooooove doing intervals on the track by myself, I sure would like to get gauranteed entry into the New York Marathon using a marathon time. I believe this to be 2:55:00, but I am sure Steeeeeeve will correct me if I am wrong.

Phase I of Jack Daniels starts November 23.

If I anybody is interested in joining the fun, just holla!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Oct. 7: Help!

Since last Wednesday I have been living the bachelor lifestyle. Myself, JD, and The Koz returned from Germany and left Jennie and her parents as they continued on to Italy because, let's face it, why settle for a 2 week Eurpean vacation when you can make it 3?! They are scheduled to return late this Thursday night, which means that I am starting to panic a little because this apartment is starting to look a little messy. (Actually, it 'started' looking messy on Saturday but it is only now beginning to concern me).

So, does anybody know what I am supposed to do with this stuff (picture below)? I know that the machine on the bottom left works because I have seen Jennie put dirty dishes in and, magically, pull the same dishes out (but clean) several hours later. Is there a pull-cord to get it started on the back or something? Any suggestions or advice will be useful!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Oct6: Vive la France!

So today I was sitting in a meeting and I found myself rubbing my chin between my thumb and my pointer finger trying to look pensive, scholarly, or if I were lucky both. Usually when I try this I just end up looking confused and perplexed...However, I figure that with constant practise that one day I will master the pensive stare along with all of the appropriate gestures to suggest that I truely do care and that I am not, indeed, thinking about a beach somewhere in Maui. You would think that after 7 years of college, 6 years of work and 5 years of marriage that I would be a master by now...but no, I think I need a Sensai (think Karate Kid) to show me the way!

Anyhow, before I got distracted in that last paragraph I noticed that I had a little beard stubble. Stubble, at work...and it is not even noon yet to have my noon-o'clock shadow?! Oops, I did not shave this morning. "No biggie," I thought...but then I thought again and wondered when the last time I actually shaved for two days in a row? Hmmm...either my memory is slipping or I am sub-consciously trying to be like Brett Favre or Tom Brady (except I do not have a rocket arm with lazer precision). "Yeah, that must be it," I thought.

To distract myself I combed my fingers through my hair in another attempt to look like I was rigorously pondering a key point that was just made. Then I noticed, "Durn, my hair is long...when was my last haircut?" I only heard crickets. "Well, of course, long hair is the trendy thing these shows that I am still young 'n hip," I convinced myself. To be honest with you I was starting to get a little worried...when did I stop caring?!

The first break of the meeting did not come a moment too soon because I desperately needed to confirm that, despite just turning 30, I was still hip 'n trendy and not just sloppy and forgetful. So I went and looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and realized that somewhere in my travels today that the top 2 buttons of my shirt came undone as well. My chesthair was flowing gracefully in the breeze, my hair was sticking straight up and out (like a chia-pet), and my beard stubble seemed to have caught some tissue from blowing my nose earlier. Today I think that I can finally call myself an honorary French man!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Oct. 5: Test 1, Test 2...Test, test...

It has been one week since the Berlin marathon. During that week I have doing zero exercise, eating rich Bavarian food in the German countryside, and hitting Oktoberfest in Munich for the mind-warping 1 litre + beersteins. So, today I decided to stretch out the legs a little just for a little test run to assess how things truely are.

I ran 3 miles at an average pace of 7:53 min/mile. (I am glad that this is my first run after the marathon or I might be a little concerned!). Both of my little-cows (calves) were burning from the beginning, which was not a surprise since these babies were the first to go in the marathon! I did not have any pain in my right leg shin, which prevented me from running for the entire 2 weeks prior to Berlin (talk about a taper!).

It was good to feel the fresh wind on my face, light rain, and the fact that I was back in Paris! Believe it or not, I did not even look at my Garmin during my run!! I know, hard to believe, but I was running today because I WANTED to, not because I felt compelled to. I found that about 3-4 weeks before Berlin running was starting to become a bit of a chore...I find that I feel this way near the end of all intese training seasons. So, I will be taking the next couple months to give my body and, more importantly, my mind a break before the next goal (I think I already know what this will be, but I am going to try and enjoy Berlin just a little while longer before I move on! I will wait until I have to dust the finisher's medal before I look to the next horizon!)

Sadly I find myself alone today. Jennie is in Italy with her parents and my 2 virtual training partners have already returned to Houston. I already miss them and wish I could rewind a week so that we could hang out together all over again! They are 2 of the best drukens I know!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Berlin Marathon: Sept. 28, 2008

Finish Time: 2:57:45

Mission Accomplished (sub 3)!

Full updates to follow once I kick JD (aka Mr. Keller) out of my apartment and I have some more time! I think he might be ready to start writing his own training books after posting an AMAZING 2:48:21!! (Also, Mission Accomplished!!!)

Also, my man, The Koza, deserves a big shoutout for finishing his first marathon in an impressive 4:00:52! Stay tuned to see him smash that at Houston!


ps - Sorry for the lack of, vacation, and work have made it busy.