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Podcast RunRunLive
Podcast RunRunLive



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5 de 254
  • 11-19-2022
    Coming back... 
  • 11-05-2022
    10-28-2022 Intro: Hello and Welcome to the RunRunLive podcast. I have some incredible updates for you today. As for format, heck, who needs format?  But as a semi-pseudo-format I’m going to keep dropping these short pieces on self-improvement, and especially how to navigate out of a dark place. I’ll do an intro with a little commentary, Then In section one, I’ve got a piece about self-worth. Then I’ll give you my updates in the outro. … Remember last time we talked about navigating the highs and lows of life?  Why? Because I know that a lot of you get the seasonal blues this time of year when the days get cold and dark.  (For you folks in Australia or Brazil; just set this aside and don’t listen for 6 months) I get these low points too. And the way I have learned to work my way out of them is to practice daily self-attention.  I hesitate to call it self-affirmation, or self-love or even self-development.  It’s hard to find words that don’t carry baggage of some sort.  So let’s just say self-attention.  This self-attention is important.  When we find ourselves in these low or challenging spots in our lives we need to systematically focus on ourselves. It may very well be that one of the reasons we are in this low point is that we have neglected self-attention.  We thought we were safely sailing calm waters and we forgot our practice.  As I said in the first piece, these highs and lows come at us throughout our journey.  We tend to enjoy the highs and suffer through the lows.  If you have a good self-care practice you don’t have to suffer through those lows.  You can see those lows as a gift and an opportunity to reassess, reset and replan. Even when everything in your world, our world, seems topsy turvy and out of balance, you are still you and the one thing you have control over is yourself.  This is the gift of self-attention. The bonus of this self-attention is that it makes you better able to deal with the outside world. … Unfortunately, needing to do some self-work is commonly seen as weakness, especially in the western cultures.  At least for my generation.  I’m happy we seem to be evolving beyond that.  Because this stigma on intelligent self-care is a lie.  80% of successful people start their days with some form of self-care.  Those successful people see it for what it is, the daily sharpening of the saw. I think we can recognize that we have these cycles of emotion and energy throughout our lives that are natural.  Feeling guilty or bad about these natural rhythms just compounds the problem. When I get into these troughs I have learned to get back to basics.  To return to the basic truths of who I am and what my values are and what my purpose is.  Then I work with that every morning as part of my routine.  This allows me to show up with my best self for the people who need me.  You are not doing yourself or anyone else any good by showing up incomplete with bad energy. Being in these low spots can be overwhelming. That’s why it is so important to let everything else go for a moment and commit some specific time on your own needs and go back to the basics.  You build yourself up day by day and step by step. I have often heard people say “Life is a marathon, not a sprint” – To which I laugh because what the hell do they know about marathons?  I know about marathons.  We know about marathons.     Remember that first marathon when you got to mile 18 and thought you were going to die?  Hell. I bet more than half of the 70+ marathons I’ve run ended that way.  The first time you hit that wall it’s awful, but eventually, with training and practice you learn how to deal with and overcome the wall.  It’s still awful, but it is a familiar awful that you have the tools to manage. That’s how these cycles of highs and lows work.  That’s why self-care is important because you can develop the tools to work your way through it. To summarize, carve out some quality time to focus on yourself and go back to basics. For me, the quality time for this kind of work is in the morning.  And the basics start with daily meditation to quite my mind.  The other important thing to understand about climbing out of a hole and the disciplines and practices to do so is that it takes time. When you sit down to meditate that first day your mind will be full of rabid weasels.  You have to keep at it.  The cause and effect of self-attention is subtle.  You may not see it in the moment, but when you look back you’ll be able to connect the dots.  You’ll see the positive impact of your practice.  Like any other training, that self-attention requires ac consistency of effort.  Don’t be discouraged.  Give yourself the gift of a little bit of focus. … Anyhow, I’m going to keep coming at you with these little bits. And you can take them or leave them. Thanks for all the positive feedback on the Watership Down essay. Stay tuned for some running news in the outro. On with the show! … Outro So my friends, the big news is that I have started running again.  I went to see the doctor and we reviewed the MRI results on the knee.  The big reveal is that the bruise on the bone has, for the most part, healed.  There is still some soft tissue degradation in there, but the big bad bruise is better.  I have started running again.  My run was .8 miles with Ollie around the neighborhood on Monday.  Then I ran 2 miles in the trails with Ollie on Wednesday and Friday.  I capped off week 1 with a 3.5 mile outing with my running club.  How about that? How did it feel?  Beautiful fall weather here – great for running.  I was a bit sore after that first trail run! The knee still has pain in it episodically.  But, at this point I’ll take what I can get. It’s definitely a mood lifter! The trick is going to be keeping myself in check.  The universe was talking to me with this injury, and I have to listen. I’m going to be in a new age group one week from today and I need to find a way to run with joy that is sustainable.   
  • Update - 10.21.2022
    Update: Hello my friends, perhaps even my running friends. Welcome to another episode of the comically directionless RunRunLive Podcast.  I think we’re about 14 years into this podcast journey.  It’s funny how time flies… There really weren’t that many of us back in 2007.  It was a small family of runners talking about running with other runners.  It was me, Steve, Nigel, Nic and Dan, Kevin with the extra-milers and Chopper.  And a few others.  I bet, if you asked any of us we’d say we never expected to make money or become famous from it.  But secretly, we all probably did.  Steve probably came the closest.  I think runners were early adopters of the technology as a community because we all spent so much time alone out on the roads. This meant we not only thought too much, but also needed something to listen to.  The perfect storm for running creators.  When I recorded my first show in June of 2007, I had just run down Mount Washington, after running the race up Mount Washington.  I pulled out my little Sony audio recorder and talked about it.  That Episode One would go up over the July 4th weekend that year.  I interviewed my running buddy Frank, who I still hang out with.  I met Frank on a training run with a bunch of marathoners from Boston in the 90’s.  His story, like mine, and like so many others was coming to running later in life, discovering the marathon, then discovering Boston, then getting hooked. And here we are 20+ years later.  I started an interview show because some of the business podcasts that I was listening to at the time had that format.  From the start I diodn’t want the podcast to be about me.  I wanted it to be about the listener.  I wanted to add value.  I wanted to share everything I’d learned, at that point almost a decade into my journey.  I wanted to share the joy of the adventure.  It wasn’t about me, but ironically, I was the target audience.  I gave myself tips and tricks, I gave myself inspirational speeches, I practiced my writing and presentation skills on myself.  Some of you just happened to be along for the ride as well! I didn’t even know there were other running podcasts when I started.  Really, it wasn’t until later that I met everyone.  I remember going on the Runner’s Roundtable and being so nervous.  It was like standing up in front of a big audience.  It’s still a bit strange to me that I have talked into the ears of probably 2-3 million people at this point in time. By the way, all that content, 400+ shows, we could feed that into an AI now and have a very good representation of me.  You probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  It’s a tremendous training data set. Anyhow, enough reminiscing.  I’ve got an few things for you this episode.  First I’ll give you an update on what’s going on in my athletic life. Then I have a book review I wrote for my other podcast – After the Apocalyspe. Finally I’ll share an inspirational piece from a series of articles I’m working on for those of us who get stuck in low points and want to grow out of those. … First for the update.  I think last time I told you that I had thrown my back out lifting weights.  Well, that is still hurting me.  I think because I do a fair amount of chair sitting in my line of work.  I decided to not push it by trying to get back to the gym.  Let it heal.  Instead, I’m doing a daily lower back stretching routine – which seems to help.  I’m willing to share it with you if you like.  Very simple.  I believe I also mentioned that I went back for my follow up with the knee doctor.  I’m 18+ months into this knee injury.  It was first diagnosed as a bruise on the knobby part of my bone.  The knee itself was in reasonable shape, but there was this stress bruise on the bone that showed up on the MRI. I went back to the doctor a couple weeks ago and he did his poking around and sent me for another MRI.  He made sure I didn’t go to the cheap MRI place that my insurance company recommended, because it has a larger diameter machine designed to accommodate the more portly among us and because it is larger it doesn’t get as good a resolution on the images.   Another reason not to let your girth get away with you.  (By the way I just typed Girth incorrectly and discovered the “Grith” is an old English word for temporary security.) I went and got the ‘good’ MRI.   Then played phone tag with the assistant lady who is like a doctor, but not the doctor, but the doctor looked at the MRI and told her what to tell me?   The medical profession in the US sounds like a great Ponzi scheme based entirely around my sore knee.   I played phone-tag with the lady proxy doctor.  Because you have to call the office and leave a message then they call you back.  But, they have a special AI-based algorithm that guarantees them to call back while you’re on an important call with a customer.  Then they leave a message that says, ‘tag you’re it’ and the cycle starts anew.  This back and forth went on for a week until my messages started to get salty, like “Hey how about we set a time when I’m available? I’ll show up, you show up and we’ll call it…I don’t know an ‘Appointment’. Wouldn’t that me the adult and professional thing to do here?” She finally managed to get me and it turns out the news is good.  The bruise is smaller.  It is healing (despite me being an idiot and trying to run on it) There is some swelling or irritation of the meniscus around that bruise and this is what they think is causing the pain.  Which makes sense.  I’m going in next week to get a cortisone shot.  That should knock down the irritation.  They will probably want me to go to rehab, God help me.  Waste a few more thousands of dollars and a few more hours of my life doing clamshells with stretchy bands under the guidance of a Sports Sciences drop out.  Which is long way of saying, I think I’m about to start running again.  It’s about time!  I’m overweight and out of shape. Maybe the RunRunLive 5.0 podcast will be me struggling through the couch to 5K? I also found out that there is a new Non-Binary category at Boston that uses the women’s qualifying time, so all I have to do is become gender neutral and I’m in! Just kidding folks.  Don’t send hate mail.  Let’s get started shall we?  On with the Show! …
  • 10-7-2022 Ride Update 3
    Bike Report… Here is a slightly more scripted version of my 2 day ride across Massachusetts.   I scheduled it as a 4-day adventure.  This is one of those things that you learn from doing long or hard or ultra-type events.  Give yourself some buffer time. I have always violated this rule.  Partly because my life has always been busy, or I have convinced myself that it was, and I had to rush to get to events and then rush back.  I have always tried to not be that guy who talks too much about this stuff at work.  I realized early on that this is my obsession, and the rest of the world may or may not give a shit.  I’ve been more than willing to talk about it in depth when asked, or in this purpose-built forum for that outlet, but I have always taken pains not to be THAT GUY in the office.  As a result, most of the people I’ve worked with know vaguely that I train all the time, but seldom have the gift of knowing exactly what or when I’m doing an event.  That vagueness allows work activity to crowd around the events and I find myself running a marathon in the morning and jumping on a plane in the afternoon.  I think it also fits that egoistic self-image I have had of being the indestructible man that can pop in and out of events that other people can’t even fathom.  Even my acts of humility are ego-centric! There are advantages to not buffering time around an event.  If you show up just in time for the event it doesn’t give you time to think too much about it.  You can get much more adventure in the day by not being prepared and not knowing the course, etc.  Just show up doesn’t fit many peoples’ brains but I enjoy the adventure of it.  If you jet off after the event you don’t have time to wallow in your misery. But the disadvantages of this cramming in events, especially big events, are manifold.  You can make mistakes that you could have avoided by being just a bit more prepared.  Like, for instance, not thinking about how the temperature drops below freezing in the mountains at night.  And, most regretfully, you don’t really get a chance to let it sink in.  Many of those races I’ve run are just blurry memories of a fast weekend spent somewhere doing something hard.  I’ve found that no matter how good shape you’re in, a multi-day event will mess with your thinking ability.  It’s best to take a day off after because you’re going to be useless anyhow. For this ride, I took 4 days off to ride around 250 miles in 2 days.  I enlisted my wife to crew for me.  I suppose this is one of the advantages of having a long-term relationship.  You can just casually drop something like this… “Hey, take Friday and Monday off we’re going out to Western Mass and you’re going to follow me while I ride across the state for 2 days.” And that doesn’t end the relationship.  … Day one was Friday.  We got up and I took Ollie down to the local kennel when it opened at 9AM.  This was Ollie’s first time being kenneled – so it was a bit like first day of school for your kids.  I had a pang of sadness driving back to the house in my truck with the passenger seat empty.  I had done my best to make sure all my stuff was organized.  We drove out a pretty section of Rte 2 west into the Berkshires and the Mohawk Trail.  Western Mass is a pretty place.  All hills and farms and little; towns. Those same little towns that you’ll find in Vermont or New Hampshire.  A bit of a tourist trap but really pretty without being entirely off the map. We took the new truck with my bike in the back. I prepped my bike earlier in the week.  I washed it and cleaned the chain and derailleurs as best I could.  It’s a messy and dirty job.  It requires using a degreaser and a toothbrush.  Kids, this degreaser chemical is very dangerous.  Remember to wear rubber gloves and safety glasses when you’re cleaning your bike chain.  Once you get it all sparkly clean then you can rub a little bike grease back into the chain and sprocket.  This really helps the efficiency of the drivetrain and keeps the shifting action clean.  You can ride on a dirty chain, but it will slow you down and eventually something will break. I wore my old Northface water backpack.  I think it holds more than a liter.  It has enough room to carry my tools and food and whatever else I need comfortably.  That old pack is like a second skin for me.  I’ve worn it in many, many ultras.  For tools I carry a small pump and a multitool.  In my underseat pack I carry an extra tube, levers and a patch kit.  I had one bike bottle in the cage on the bike for just water.  I actually found this bike bottle by the side of the road after the local triathlon.  It was perfectly new from one of the local bike shops.  You may think I’m crazy, and you’d be correct, but I washed it out and it’s fine.  I prepped up enough 24 oz water bottles with Ucan for the ride and put those in a cooler with ice.  I made some protein smoothies too, for emergency meals, extra fuel if needed and recovery.  Smoothies are a good source of clean calories.  The 24 oz bottles of Ucan mix I stuck in the back of my bike shirt on both sides for the ride.  This provides clean fuel with some electrolytes. This sounds like a lot of stuff, but it was all the result of what I had learned in my training over the summer.  I knew I could get 4+ hours of hard work in the heat with that set up.  A liter or so of clean water in the pack.  A full bottle of water in the cage and 2 X 24oz bottles of fuel mix in my shirt.  That may sound uncomfortable to carry, but it really isn’t bad on a bike.  You’ve got the mechanical advantage and can carry a lot of stuff comfortably.  I stopped at a grocery on the way out and bought a handful of Cliff bars and other packaged edibles.  I also had my favorite pitted dates in a baggy.  All this fuel went into the back pack.  Then there was the electronics. I decided to use Google Maps with the bike route option selected.  This meant I would have to have my phone with me, and it would have to stay charged.  This is a challenge because having the maps open for navigation all day long drains your phone battery very fast.  Especially when you’re riding through the mountains in the middle of nowhere.  Yes, it also uses a ton of data.  If you don’t have an unlimited plan, don’t do this at home kids.  Where to put the phone?  While I was training, I started out putting the phone in a plastic bag in my backpack. But that is a pain in the ass because you have to stop and get it out of the pack to use it.  So I bought a fairly inexpensive handlebar mount for it.  It’s basically a stretchy rubber cage that I attached right in the center of the handlebar.  In this set up the phone is inches from my face and easy to access. If it rains you can put the phone in a plastic bag before you put it into the holder.  That plastic bag makes it harder to use the touch screen, but for my ride both day were sunny, so I mounted it au naturel. Next question was how to keep power in the battery.  This worked out way better than I expected.  I bought a pair of those charging bricks from the internet.  I didn’t know how long they would last.  I had a plan to swap the charge brick out for a fresh one if needed in the middle of the ride.  I put one in the under-seat pack with the cable running along the frame tube up to the phone.  At first, I thought I’d have to zip tie the phone cable in place, but I was able to snake the cable around the top tube in such a way that it was attached to the phone and the battery pack with no slack.  That worked great.  I didn’t know if this pack would give me 30 minutes of juice or 30 hours of juice.  That’s why I got two.  I figured I could hot swap them out when I met Yvonne during the ride.  But as it turns out I had nothing to fear.  Even burning all that data with the GPS and radio on the whole time the charge pack kept the phone at 100%.  To cap this all off I had my Mifo ear pods.  These are little, wireless ear pods, that I trained all summer in.  They fit snuggly in the ear and had both the stereo headphones and a microphone for talking. It was a great set up. I listened to podcasts and audio books all day.  I had my phone right in front of me so I could even skip commercials!  I could also make and receive phone calls without even slowing down.  And the Google maps lady was instructing me with turn-by-turn voice commands the whole time, so I wouldn’t get lost.  It was awesome! Besides that, I wore normal bike Chamois shorts with underarmour sport undergarments.  I lathered up all the risky bits and my under carriage with Squirrel’s Nut Butter.  I had this left over from my last ultra.  It works great as an under-carriage lube.  I also wore a knee sleeve on my left knee, which is the one that was giving me trouble.  I wore my Garmin 235 watch but did not use the chest strap.  I don’t really need to know my heart rate with that much precision when I’m riding.  It never gets anywhere near max.  That was my set up.  Was I nervous?  No, not at all.  I was confident I could do it.  It wasn’t that much of a stretch.  I was happy to be off on an adventure.  To be spending some time out of my home office with my wife.  Friday we got out to North Adams in the afternoon after a casual drive on a nice day.  We had a nice lunch.  We drove around North Adams, Williamstown and Williams college.  We had an early dinner and I set the alarm for 5:00 AM. … Saturday morning I got up with the alarm and made a cup of coffee.  The sun wasn’t going to come up until closer to 6:00.  Making room-coffee in the dark I mistakenly had a cup of decaf before I realized my mistake.  I loaded up all my stuff and woke my wife up to drive me to the starting point.  … I’ll cover the ride itself in a subsequent episode.  … Continuing with my bike report.  Let’s pick it up at Day 1 of the ride. This is the one part of the ride that I had done some actual research on.  My original plan had been to find the marker for where Massachusetts, New York and Vermont touch in the western corner of Massachusetts.  But, on Googling the map I saw that the point was actually back in the woods a good distance with no real road access.  And it looked like the access trail was on the Vermont side which added significant miles to the trip. Given that I was riding my mountain bike I could probably find a way to make that work; but consulting the map again it would make the trip very long.   It would add some unknown trail miles right out of the gate and I didn’t really think I’d have the time to go up and plot the route. To avoid that little bit of drama and the extra miles, I looked around the map to see what the closest town was to that point.  I discovered that Williamstown was right there in the upper corner and had a hotel I could use points at.  So, I booked that.  This was probably about a month out.  Then I started looking at potential bike routes.  I did this by using the bicycle option on Google maps.  It’s a swell tool, Google maps.  If you choose the bicycle option it will keep you off the highways and find any available rail trails.  The first pass route, starting from the hotel was 256 miles, which seemed doable in 2 days.  Unfortunately Gooogle Maps also provides the elevation profile.  You have to understand that Massachusetts is relatively flat state.  We’ve got rolling hills.  Lots of rolling hills.  But we don’t have any mountains.  Any real mountains.  As it turns out our tallest mountain is mount Greylock.  Mount Greylock is only 3489 feet tall.  As it also turns out Mount Greylock is in Adams Massachusetts.  Adams, as it turns out is just to the east of Williamstown.  I had, in my hubris created a route that had me climbing the highest point in the state first thing in the morning on the first day.  I have not doubt I could do it, but it caused some consideration.  I decided that it might be a good idea to start on the top of the mountain ridge.  Which, in fact would shave about 20 miles off the ride.  That seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  My race, my rules – as McGillvray always says. I really wanted to get out and drive some of the route, but did not really have the bandwidth.  An opportunity arose, like they sometimes do, when my running Buddy Frank suggested we go for a motorcycle ride one Friday afternoon a couple weeks before my scheduled ride.  I took him up on it.  On a brilliant August afternoon we rode the length of Route 2 out to North Adams and Williamstown.  I checked out the hotel.  We did a bit of poking around the towns.  My plan was to ride as much of the bike route as possible on the way back home.  Frank had to bail but I was able to trace the route up out of Adams on an old 2-lane highway, 8A. I knew that where 8A met 116 would be about the peak elevation and I rode to that point on my motore cycle. Let me tell you it was not an encouraging route.  It was a few thousand feet of steady climb, some of it quite steep, on roads with no shoulder.  Bad roads too,  beat to crap roads.  And in places the Google route actually routed me through some old hilltop farms on a dirt road, which was quite scenic and everything but not good for making time on a bicycle.  That reconnoiter of the climb up and out of Adams over the steepest, highest ridge in the state sealed the deal for me.  I made a mental note to have my wife drop me off at the high point. I mean it wasn’t that I thought I couldn’t do it, it just seemed unnecessary to the project.  If that climb had been in the middle of the ride, or even at the end, I would have been more optimistic about it. But given I was planning on a century a day, I didn’t want to burn all my matches in the first hour.  … Going into the ride I had trained over the summer.  Basically 3-4 rides week with one of those being along ride on the Saturday.  I managed to get my long ride up to somewhere around 70-something miles.  I also got some good data on nutrition and fluid consumption, especially in the heat of the summer.  A couple of those long rides were really hot days  This is how I figured out that I could carry enough to get through 4-5 hours on a hot day before I needed a pit stop.  On a cool day I could ride all day on the same water and fuel.  Back to the route.  Since I was shanghaiing my wife into this adventure I thought I should at least consider making things palatable.  Looking at the possible routes and where we would end up at the end of the first day I realized that it was close to Foxboro, which of course is the home of the New England Patriots, who my wife loves.  And the Hotel at Patriot’s Place, it turned out, was another I could use points at.  Now it was coming together.  Looking at the revised route, with the new start point and the planned end point, that gave me about 120ish miles for Day 1.  That seemed reasonable.  Next I had to figure out how long that would take me.  Since I was riding my mountain bike I wouldn’t be able to go as fast.  I knew form my training I was averaging around 15 miles an hour.   Doing the math on that would give me a 8 hour day.  But, in training, I knew the routes and was pushing pretty hard.  I didn’t want to push that hard on the ride, because I had a long way to go and didn’t want to burn out.  If 15 was the top end guesstimate, what was the worst case?  I figured if I really got in trouble and slowed way down, I’d still be able to manage 10 miles an hour.  That would give me a 12 ish hour day.  Which was still within the daylight hours.  I definitely didn’t want to be out on the roads exhausted in the dark.  I wasn’t as concerned about the second day.  I knew that part of the ride was pretty flat and when I got onto Cape Cod I would know where I was.  I would be in familiar territory.  … On the morning I got all my stuff packed up and ready and loaded into the truck.  She wasn’t super happy about being woken up at the crack of dawn from her comfy hotel bed to drive me to the drop off.  She got exceedingly less happy as we wound through the old farm roads and up the mountain.  Finally as she dropped me off I was bubbling with excitement.  I was nervous and happy and ready to roll. She was in a foul mood.  From her point of view, I had just driven her into the middle of nowhere and abandoned her.  I had to stop her and give her a speech.  Something like “Listen, your role here is to support me, not to bitch at me.”  Which seemed to bring her around. And I was off… It was cool, in the 60’s and after 6:00 AM when I finally launched.  The first sections flew by.  Literally.  Because I had started on the top of the ridge there were these long downhills where I was probably holding 30 miles per hour for miles at a time without touching the pedals.  Of course what goes up must eventually come down and there were some good size climbs as well.  For those climbs I took it easy, stayed in the seat and used my gears to conserve energy.  My strategy on this first day was to not do anything stupid.  I had looked at the maps and tried to find some really obvious places for my wife to meet me.  I settled on a grocery store in North Hampton that was about 25 miles in and then another grocery store in Worcester about 77 miles in.  That would give me 3-4 hours of riding before each pit stop.  I wrote all the stop addresses and approximate distances and times out for her – which if you know me, is probably the most organized I’ve ever been for an event.  I usually just wing it. That first 25 miles was wonderful.  Lots of downhill, some interesting back roads.  The traffic was light.  I took it easy and enjoyed myself.  Pulling over when I needed to, pull over and staying hydrated.  The ear buds and the phone worked like a champ.  The phone stayed fully charged and the nice lady from Google was reading turn by turn directions into my ears.  I had my phone right in front of me on the handlebars and could sort through podcasts and fast forward when I needed to skip commercials.  This is where my first logistical mistake got me.  With my wife needing to go back to the hotel to check out, she couldn’t catch me for the first stop.  I had just assumed that with me being out on the road for 8-12 hours she would be able to leisurely follow along and take side trips as she wanted and still have plenty of time to catch me.  But this first morning with here having to go back to the hotel and me flying down the hills there was no way she was going to make that 25 mile stop.  It was ok.  I had her on the phone through the earbuds, so we weren’t lost or panicking, I was just going to need to push through.  I had my wallet and my phone with me, so I probably wasn’t going to die. At the same time as this stop got aborted another wonderful thing happened.  I found the Norwottuck Rail trail that runs 11 miles from North Hampton through Amherst on a beautifully maintained trail.  Amherst is where the University of Massachusetts is.  The trail has a nice bridge over the Connecticut River.  It was a joy to be spinning along on a rail trail.  They even had porta-potties.  I stopped and ate some food and enjoyed myself immensely in this section.  It was now mid-morning.  And it was starting to heat up.  The next section through the hills towards Worcester was challenging.  Lots of construction.  Lots of hills.  More traffic and bigger roads without much tree cover.  The day peaked out around 95 degrees and sunny.  It was hot.  As I was grinding the hills in the heat I realized I wasn’t going to have enough fluids to make it to the next stop.  I was losing too much sweat in the baking heat.  My energy was good but I was getting dehydrated.  With another 40-50 miles to ride and another long day coming I uncharacteristically pulled over to a gas-station convenience store.  I bought a liter of water and a Gatorade.  They were ice cold.  I drank all the Gatorade right there and it was mana from heaven.  My feet were falling asleep from all the climbing.  I was soaked with sweat.  My butt was sore.  Back on the bike feeling hot and tired and a little bit nauseous I cranked through the city hills to where my wife was waiting in the parking lot of a big grocery store.  I drank some more water, filled up my fluids and swapped out two more bottles of UCann.  I was beat.  I took my shoes off and let my feet air out a bit.  It was a welcome respite.  Knowing the evils of spending too much time in the aid station I bid her adieu and mounted back up for the final push of the day.  But, I did feel a bit refreshed.  The last chunk was a bit of a grind.  I had another 40-something miles to push.  At least the sun was starting to go down, but I was worn out.  Two things happened that made the day longer.  The first one was I lost one of my earbuds.  I was screaming down a hill and felt it coming loose.  I tried to grab it with one hand.  I thought I had caught it and trapped it in my shirt.  But I couldn’t brake with one hand .  By the time I was able to slow down and stop it was gone.  I dis a desultory search along the length of the shoulder of the road on the hill, but it was gone.  It wasn’t a total loss.  I still had the left one and could still here the navigation and everything else.  It actually was kind of nice because with only one I could hear the noises around me better.  The second thing was a detour.  I was watching the map click down.  I knew I was under 20 miles form my destination.  All of a sudden the road was blocked!  There was a detour.  And as I followed the detour, of course the map was screaming at me.  So I had to stop and zoom in and out and see how to backtrack around the detour to get back on route.  It ended up adding 6+ miles to the day.  Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it happened right towards the end for maximum emotional impact! Finally, as I was turning into the back parking lot of Patriot’s Place in Foxboro, I heard a noise.  That noise was the loud leaking of a punctured rear tire.  That’s right.  Less than a mile away from the hotel I picked up something in the back tire.  I road it until it went flat and called my wife.  And I called it a day. I was tired, sore and hot.  There was no way I was going to change a flat tire by the side of the road for the priviledge of riding ½ mile to the hotel.  I stopped the Garmin at 127.78 miles, 10:03 total time for an average speed of 12.7 Miles per hour. Yvonne came and rescued me.  We took some pictures.  I cleaned up.  We went out for dinner in Patriots place – Pizza and beer.  I slept well, wondering what it would be like to get back on the bikein the morning for another full day of riding. Outro…  So that’s where I’ll leave it.  I’ll pick up on Day 2 in the next episode.  To take you out I’ll give you an update on where I’m at.  Right now I’m freezing. It got cold today.  It’s the first day of autumn here in New England.  I’m a cold weather guy, but it takes a few weeks for your body to adapt.  And it’s dark when I get up in the morning.  Winter is coming! Fitness-wise I still tread the crooked path.  I started a body-building campaign 3 weeks ago, on the first of September.  It was going great.  Really was.  I felt strong.  My balance felt good.  My legs had some bounce in them.  I would recommend this beginner body building program. A question you might ask is what’s the difference between weightlifting and body building.  That’s a good question.  Both involve lifting weights.  Body building is lifting weight to shape the muscles.  Which I didn’t really get until I started doing this program.  Think about it like shading in a picture that makes a feature stand out.  Body building is weightlifting for muscle growth in specific places.  Which, on my old body, doesn’t’ make a hill ‘o beans of difference, but it’s kinda fun to see the muscles changing shape in a very short period of time due to this focus.  Kinda fun. But that fun came to an abrupt end last Friday when I was pulling a dumbbell off the rack at an odd angle and threw out my back.  I know you’re getting that schadenfreude felling, aren’t you?  You thinking, “I know that idiot was going to over-do it and hurt himself.” Yup.  I’m that idiot.  But in my defense I wasn’t actually doing a weightlifting exercise at the time, I was pulling the weights off the rack.  So at least a week off.  Couldn’t straighten up for a couple days.  Lots of pain.  A trip to the chiropractor, who by the way is on a first name basis with me.  What does it say about us that our doctors are always excited and happy to see us? Speaking of which my physical bloodwork didn’t turn up anything awful but…  But… They did add a note to tell me that my cholesterol doubled in the last year.  Not running + shitty diet = bad cholesterol.  I immediately went on a plant-based diet.  I needed to anyhow.  I was just too have and it’s not healthy. My plan is to restart my body building next week.  To take it back to day 1, because I was only 2 weeks in, and lower the weight, focus on the form.  At the same time the Dr. wants me back in 90 days to check that cholesterol.  I will eat plant-based until then and most-likely lose 15-20 pounds in the process. And next week, drum roll please, I meet with the knee Doctor.  Maybe he’ll have some new ideas.  I tell you what, this cool weather makes me want to head out into the woods on a run.  If all those things come together just right … I might end up being a mediocre old guy. I’ll take it.  As we say it’s all frosting on the cake at this point. The warranty has expired and there’s no expectations except opening your eyes and smiling in the morning.  Smile baby, And I’ll see you out there. … Day 3… Hello again friends.  Let’s wrap this race report up.  If you haven’t been following along, this is the third in a series of recaps for the 250 bike ride I did this summer across Massachusetts.  I budgeted 4 days for the trip with 2 days of riding bracketed by a day of buffer on both ends. This is Day 3 of the trip and Day 2 of the ride. As I recapped last time Day 1 of the ride from Savoy Mass to Patriots Place in Foxboro ended up being 127.7 miles based on my Garmin.  It was a challenging hot day through the back roads and hill towns of western Mass that took me just over 10 hours.  I did not stop my Garmin at any point, so that 10:15 includes all the breaks.  I have learned that whenever I stop my watch at a break I inevitably forget to turn it back on.  I hit a detour and had a flat at the end that slowed me down a bit as well.  After dinner on Saturday night I changed the tire and tube of the flat.  I had 2 extra brand new tires with me.  As I have recounted earlier, I was riding my Mountain Bike.  I bought some small block tires with a less aggressive tread.  These were not road tires, per se, but they were closer to road tires.  But by the time I got to this ride they had worn significantly from all the road training.  Especially the rear tire, where I picked up the flat.  I decided to swap out the whole tire and tube for new.  Partly because it was easier than monkeying around with the old stuff, partly because it was time.  I left the front old front tire on.  It was in better shape and I didn’t see a need to do the work in my tired state or to introduce more variables at that point. I cleaned up the bike a bit.  Put some more lube on the chain, got all my gear ready to go for the next morning, set the alarm and slept like a rock.  Both of the hotels we got for this trip were newer properties and really nice.  No problems at all.  Nobody gave me a hard time dragging my dirty, smelly self and my big bike through the hotel.  As a matter of fact, there was a wedding going on at the Patriots Place hotel and my wife saw Rick Hoyt. I did not go in and say ‘hi’ but apparently one of the Hoyt clan was having a wedding reception in the hotel. Day two I had about 120 miles on the plan.  My first pit-stop planned was at a Starbucks 40 miles in to meet Yvonne.  I had scheduled 3 stops into this day thinking that I might need them.  I’d need to get across southeastern Mass from Foxboro to the Cape Cod Canal.  I’d need to get over the Canal.  From there I would find my way over to the start of the Cape Cod Rail Trail that runs from Yarmouth all the way up to Wellfleet, where I’d meet my wife again and have just a short push up top Provincetown to the end.  When I got up in the morning it was cool and foggy.  I felt good.  Part of the unknown about this trip was how it would feel to get back on the bike on that second day.  Turns out it felt fine.  On this day Yvonne didn’t have to get up to drive me anywhere, I departed from the hotel and made my way out through the parking areas of Gillette Stadium to get back on route.  I had the same set up with my phone mounted on the center of the handlebars and wired into a battery pack under the seat.  I had my one remaining left ear pod in with the nice Google Maps lady giving me the turn by turns.  I had purchased an audio book for the ride called “Team of Rivals’ about Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and cabinet.  There I was peddling easy in the cool morning mist through the back roads of southeastern Mass learning all about Salmon Chase and Edward Stanton.  Fascinating stuff. The geography of southeastern Mass is different from the northern and western parts of the state.  It’s mostly flat and near the coast.  There are cranberry bogs and small cites.  I rode through Bridgewater in the early part of the day which is a, how shall we say, ‘working class’ part of the state.  I got yelled at for jumping a 4-way-stop.  And he was right.  We Massholes are very particular about some things, 4-way-stop rules being one of them.  There was a fair amount of road construction in this section where I had to deal with the sticky new road and the prepped, grated gravel.  Some of the back roads were a bit beat up.  My legs felt fine.  I was able to keep my nutrition going fine.  My butt and feet were okay.  All systems go.  Answering that question of ‘how would that second day feel?’  I felt fine.  I was also able to spend more time in the aero position which helped me relax. I met up with Yvonne at a Starbucks in Wareham.  She managed to get there ahead of me!  I fueled up and had her order me an iced coffee.  She came out with a hot coffee, which was fine, but I just got off the bike from riding 40 miles and really wanted an ice coffee.  After much waiting on the Starbucks brain-trust, I finally got my iced coffee, but I wanted to get going so I put it into one of my bike bottles which was an awesome treat as a rode the next few miles. As I got closer to the canal I was on some busy roads through Wareham and had to pay attention to not get run over by tourists.  The next big unknown for me was how I was going to navigate the canal.  Google maps seemed to think it was possible.  I would find out.  The Cape Cod Canal is a waterway that cuts straight across the base of the arm of Cape Cod from south to north.  It was created 100 years ago so that ships wouldn’t have to go all the way around Cape Cod the long way.  It is about 17 miles long running from Buzzards Bay in the south up to Cape Cod Bay in the north.  For the purpose of our narrative the canal cuts right across our route.  We have to get over it.  There are two big Army Corps of Engineer bridges over the canal.  The Bourne and the Sagamore.  These are old-style high bridges to allow ship traffic to go under them.  They are two narrow, highspeed lanes in each direction with a high sidewalk on one side.  They were not designed for bicycle traffic. Back to the story.  Again the Google Maps did a great job of finding rail trails for me to follow.  It popped me out on the southern end of the canal and onto the canal trail.  This was another one of those cool discoveries for me.  It turns out there is a beautifully maintained bike trail that runs the length of the canal on both sides.  This was about 50 miles into the second day, and it was late morning by the time I hit the canal trail.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day.  Lots of people and families were out on the trail.  It routed me up the west side of the canal under the Bourne Bridge and all the way up to the Sagamore, where, apparently I’d be making that crossing. I had to get across one busy road to circle around the back and up onto the raised sidewalk of the bridge.  This sidewalk is raised up above the road surface by a tall granite curb.  There is no railing. So you are a couple short feet away from the screaming metal hellscape of 4 narrow lanes of highspeed traffic.  The signs said to walk your bike.  I did not.  But I did stop at the apex of the bridge arch to take a video with the boats way down below in the peaceful canal.  One funny thing was that the sidewalk was covered with pennies and other coins.  As far as I could determine people were throwing coins out the window of their cars over the sidewalk and railing into the canal.  Like a big wishing well, I guess.  I think this custom goes back to the Romans paying tribute to the water gods.  The pennies that didn’t make it over the railing gathered up on the raised sidewalk.  I wonder if there’s a notice for boats in the canal to be wary of high-velocity coinfall? Once I got over the bridge it was a quick button-hook back down to the canal trail on the other side.  It was starting to get hot again, but the trial was beautiful, paved, wide, and of course porta-potties! Yay.   The next bit of road was the dicey-est part of this day’s ride.  After I got off the rail trail I had to navigate Rte. 6A which is an old, windy, narrow highway with no shoulder and a lot of disappearing shoulder that dropped off into sandy nothingness. I met Yvonne again at another coffee shop around 70 miles in and was in very good spirits.  The ride was going well.  I felt fine.  And I now knew everything there was to know about 19th century American politics. AND I was about to get on the Cape Cod Rail Trail which was home territory for me.  This 25 mile stretch of paved rail trail was where I had been training all summer.  Or at least on those weekends when I was down at my house in Harwich.  But, I had to get over to the rail trail in Yarmouth from the coffee shop on 6A where I met Yvonne.  This ended up being harder than I thought.  First I had to deal with 6A again and then I had to cut across the ‘Arm’ of the Cape from north-ish to south-ish to pick up the trail.  One thing most people don’t know about Cape Cod is that it is quite hilly in the interior.  Not hilly like Colorado or even like where I live but lots of pesky little rolling hills.  And finally it turns out Google Maps is confused about where the western trailhead for the trail is.  The maps routed me to the middle of nowhere with no trails in sight.  Luckily I knew generally where I was and was able to route to a landmark next to where I knew there was a trailhead in Dennis.  But, it wasted a lot of time and energy.  Once on the trail I was on easy street for a couple hours.  It was still a hot day but the trail has great cover and it’s easy going.  Which was good because I was into the 90’s mile-wise and was starting to feel the cumulative tiredness of riding for two days straight.  The next and last stop was at the Wellfleet trailhead at the north end of the trail.  This would put me about 100 miles in and just a short push up to P-town.  What happens here is that the rail trail ends and you have to get back on the roads to get the final bit up.  This was probably the low point of my ride, if there was a low ride.  I was pretty tired and looking forward to the end.  As I pulled in and met Yvonne she somehow was under the impression that this was were I was going to stop.  She got mad when I told her, no, I’m going up to P-town.  Not a great point in the journey to get in a fight with your crew.  She went off in a huff.  I climbed back on and cranked my tired legs up 6A again towards the end.  You can use back roads to kind-of zigzag around rte. 6A at this point but I was too tired to mess with it and mostly stuck to the big road.  Which sucked.  It was hilly and trafficky with no cover and my legs were trashed.  In this section I was battling a bit. Finally I got onto the access road that runs along the bay up into the town.  This was a pretty, flat section with the ocean on your left.   It’s funny how the big miles at the beginning of the ride seem to fly by but those last few seem to take forever.  It was here that I walked a hill.  What happened was, I was coming down a slight hill into an intersection with the intention of using my momentum to get up the other side, but a car cut me off and I had to come to a complete stop.  I couldn’t convince my trashed legs to grind up the other side, so I took a break and pushed the bike for a little bit.  Before long I was getting into Provincetown proper.  Now, one thing I had not thought about was how difficult it would be to get through the center of P-Town on a Sunday afternoon.  P-Town in August is a bit like Carnival.  It’s a 200 year old fishing village that has thousands of party-ers dumped into it.  Tiny roads filled with stop and go cars, tourists, scooters, it was Bedlam.  And here I am, fairly wobbly on my big mountain bike trying to navigate it all without crashing.  And then I was turning out onto Macmillan Pier.  I rode all the way out to the end and hit stop on the watch at 123.73 miles and 10:15 for an average pace of 12.1 MPH including all the stops.  My wife called me, which was good because I thought she may have abandoned the project and gone home.  In fairness to her it was a pretty big ask, and probably not the best use of her weekend. She wasn’t able to get into the downtown and was idling at a parking lot a few blocks away.  I got some bonus miles riding over to her.  We threw the bike in the back and took off back down the Cape to Harwich where our house is.  All-in-all I was pretty pleased with myself and the ride.  In terms of difficulty, it really wasn’t that hard, but it was the right adventure for me at this point in my journey.  We stopped at our house just long enough to shower and change and got back on the road.  Yvonne was sick of travel and wanted to get home.  I wouldn’t need that 4th buffer day after all. Turns out we got turned around trying to short cut across the suburbs back home, but we got there eventually.  And we slept in our own bed that night. The next day I felt fine.  No hangover at all from the riding.  I could have easily gotten back on the bike for another day.  I did have some saddle burn that took a week or so to heal up.  Overall, I find bike riding to be easy in the endurance sense.  My heart rate stays low, even in these long, hot, back-to-back rides.  It’s a good workout, but it’s never hard.  I never felt like I was at the edge.  Maybe that’s what I need at this point in my life?  Who knows.  So that’s it.  Two days, 250 miles.  127.7 in 10:03 on the first day and a slower 124.73 in 10:14 on the second day.  Found some new trails.  Had an adventure. … So what’s going with me?  Well, it’s taken much longer to get over throwing my back out than I would have liked.  I tried to restart the weightlifting last week but it was too soon, so I’m taking this week off as well. I’m feeling quite sad and broken around this latest setback.  Not being able to do something, anything to stay fit, makes me squirmy.  I suppose it’s another good lesson in resilience, but who among us takes their foul-tasting medicine well?  My company shut down travel for the rest of the year which means I’ve been trapped in my home office looking at the walls far too much.  I feel a bit like a recluse.  Without the daily run or the daily workout it makes the walls close in.  I guess it’s time for me to take up some new hobbies, like competitive lawn bowling or pickleball.  It’s all very confusing and transitional for me to be sliding into my 60th birthday on this dust ball not knowing what the future holds.  I had my follow up appointment with the knee Dr. and he was not very encouraging.  I’ve got an MRI tomorrow and then a follow up.  I really miss running on these cool fall days.  Ollie-Wollie the killer collie is doing fine.  We get out for our walk everyday.  He’s 3.5 now and getting much less crazy everyday.  I’ve got no races or projects on the calendar except the Mill Cities Relay in December.  I am planning on restarting the body building campaign as soon as my back lets me.  And, depending on what the MRI reveals maybe I can work some light running in over the winter.  … At this point I guess I have to tell a story.  My company requires us to use two volunteer days a year.  On the surface this is a great thing.  In reality it’s hard for me to find and plan something important to volunteer for during the work week.  I have friends that work at homeless shelters or habitat for humanity and all sorts of other charities, but for some reason I find it hard to coordinate with official charities.  Last year I used my two volunteer days doing trail maintenance in the local trails that I run.  Basically I hiked the trails, picked up trash and cut/moved deadfall.  I always discover that I have to use these days about this time of year when time is running out.  This year I decided to take a Friday off and pick up trash on the roads around my house.  I figured I could clean up those roads that I used to run every day.  It always bothers me to see the trash along our beautiful New England roads.  I don’t understand why people can’t just keep it in their cars until they get where they are going?   So, last Friday I took a volunteer day.  It was a bit harder than it should have been because my back was still really sore and I couldn’t bend over or lift very well, but a deals a deal.  I went to a section of road near my house which is part of a 5-mile route I’ve run 1,000 times.  It’s an old road.  In this section I targeted, it runs flat through a swampy area and there are no houses. With the dry weather this summer the water table is low, and thus more of the swampy parts are accessible.  I drove my truck over there and parked about midway in the section.  I took out a couple big black plastic trash-can liner bags and got to work. It felt a bit strange being by myself out walking and picking up trash on a Friday during the day.  I didn’t know if maybe someone would report my ‘strange behavior’ to the local authorities who would come and chase me off for not having the proper permits or something.  I began filling my bag with cans and bottles and bags and wrappers that I could get to.  It was maybe a ¼ mile stretch.  I stayed off the shoulder as much as I could to stay out of the road and away from cars.  There isn’t that much traffic here, but it’s an old road with narrow shoulders and I didn’t want to cause anyone to swerve.  When I got to the end of the road I crossed over and turned around to walk the other side.  A strange thing happened when I was midway down the other side.  A passing car slowed down and pulled over.  The driver rolled down his passenger window to talk to me.  “Here we go!” I thought to myself.  I’ve offended someone or something.  The guy leans over from his driver side and shouts out the window at me, very earnestly, “Thank you!  Thank you for what your doing!”  He was incredibly earnest.  Apparently somehow moved by me dragging a trash bag of beer cans down the road. He may have said some other praiseworthy things before driving off.  Frankly I had my (one) headphone in and was listening to a compelling science fiction story.  I really didn’t know how to respond.  I guess I probably smiled and nodded my head in acknowledgement.  I finished up that side of the road and completed the circuit back up the other side to my truck.  Collecting two bags of miscellaneous cast-off refuse.  When I sorted it out the next day, I found that the majority was recyclable.  I even got some money for returning the cans and bottles.   The lesson here is that you think that what you are doing is a small and, maybe, even a meaningless act in the grand scheme of things.  I wasn’t feeding the hungry or helping the homeless or solving world peace.  But, what I did on that day, that small action, apparently had a large impact on a fellow traveler.  I always use the metaphor of ripples in a pond.  Every act we take, no matter how small, crates ripples that spread out in ways unknown to us.  Make that act an act of kindness and it will spread kindness.  Make that act an act of helpfulness and it will propagate helpfulness.  Even small actions change the world. Thanks for staying with me on this bike narrative thing and I hope you enjoyed the narrative. With any luck I’ll see you out there. Chris,    
  • Misc - 9-23-2022
    An update

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