May 27, 2007

I am steam powered

Warning: Long post.

Got out just a little too late for comfort for today's run. I brought along the ipod, determined to catch up on some of the Phedips I haven't listened to yet, some of the early ones. In one of the podcasts, Steve Runner covers the topic of bad drivers - a subject which he returns to on numerous occasions - and this really resonates with me. I really hate the permission-granting system the 50 states have set up by mutual agreement that permits dangerous drivers to be on the road. The system is too permissive initially, granting licenses to people who really didn't earn them, and overly forgiving. Licenses need to be suspended, keys taken away, vehicles impounded. Laws to encourage the use of mass transit need to be strengthened and current driving laws need to be enforced. Driving is a privilege, not a right, assholes. Further boosting my convictions in this forum is a recent study by the GMAC that shows where the nation's worst drivers are. The article (pops) has some rather alarming assertions which definitely check out against my past experience and internal bullshit-o-meter.

But enough of that topic.

Today's run was a complete 180 from Wednesday's run, in that my legs felt fine - rather good in fact - but my lungs turned traitor. I really wish these body parts would make up their minds! I knew it would be hard, though. The weather has gotten hot, edging into my 80 degree limit. Yesterday would have been worse; it was humid and while I ran errands I was having a very hard time with my lungs, coughing constantly, bringing up a lot of junk, and struggling against mild asthma. Running was out of the question - yeah, it was that bad.

I would have liked to have been out for my run a couple of hours earlier, but the need for some good sleep trumped all, so I got out about noon. It is mercifully much drier today, so my asthma didn't kick in, but I was coughing up a hell of a lot of phlegm. No blood spots, though, so that's OK. And, actually, it's thinner phlegm than normal, so that's a GOOD thing.

Five miles, lots of walking. This wasn't a training run so much as a chest clearance exercise. The second half of the run was better than the first - longer stretches of running, shorter periods of walking - but I still felt like crap and had a hard time keeping my wind up.

I realized partway through the run that not only do I need sunshine to run, but like a steam engine, I need fire and steam - fuel and water. If one of those is lacking, I'm going to lack oomph. Yeah, I know that goes for everybody, but it's interesting that as a complex machine, it's not just a simple equation. The fuel has to be fed in at the right time and in the right quantities, the water has to be steadily administered, the pressure in the boiler wants to be high, but not so high as to blow out other moving parts. There come questions of maintenance, lubrication, timing, and traction. I just learned that real steam engines, when dealing with grades they couldn't handle well, had a device that sprayed small quantities of sand onto the track just ahead of the driving wheels (the big ones). This gave them just enough traction that - if they had the steam up - they could handle the incline. What I need to do is figure out what my sand is - what will keep my big wheels from slipping on the tough days.

The run took about an hour, though it felt much longer. I had taken an Endurolyte before the run, anticipating the electrolyte loss, but only took plain water with me. That maybe was a mistake, though I didn't experience stomach issues or cramping at all. Still, felt like shit by the time I got home. After a shower and a quart of Crystal Light On the Go Hydration (pops) in Berry Splash flavor. It has added electrolytes, but isn't sweet like my HEED, which I think makes it a good post-run drink.

There's a 5-mile run benefitting CF in Sayville on June 29th. I'd love to go, but I'm supposed to be on the first day of a charity motorcycle ride (pops) that day. (If you'd like to donate to one of the two causes in my name, you'll find me under the same handle I use here.) It would easily be possible for me to skip that first day, go do the run, and join up with the group in Ottawa the next evening, or even meet them along their route mid-day. This would disappoint the organizers, however, as they like to have that "must have" group picture at the beginning of the ride.

WARNING: Cranky rant follows.

To be perfectly honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about the ride - not about the causes we raise money for, those are great and worthy and close to my heart - but just the endless posturing by some of the riders. Yeah, you ride a motorcycle, that's great, but your personality...maybe not so much. The nonstop posing drives me nuts - meaning its all, "we're bad, we're bikers, look at our big replacement penises with their big engines and big shiny paint." It would be one thing if they could back that up with, oh, a consideration for safety, driving ability, stamina, rules of the road, experience, or even just an honest admission that they may not, in fact, be "the shit", but these guys... Black leather and a bike don't make you a biker. $20,000 dollars and 2,000 miles doesn't make you a biker. Talking loud, drinking hard, and ogling the waitress doesn't make you a biker. I am not going to define myself as a biker, but ... well, come talk to me when you have a long trip under your belt that didn't include 90% interstates. I will respect you when your toolkit is not the one that came with your bike, but the one you built up over time because you've learned how to fix your machine yourself on the road (within reasonable expectations). I'll call you to see if you want to ride with me on any given weekend if I've seen that you ride well, confidently, safely, and don't need to use your mount as an anchor for your manhood. I stay out of discussions debating the superiority of one brand over another; it is useless comparing apples and oranges. I don't like Harley riders who constantly wear the Harley badge, but I won't hold that against you, if you meet the other expectations. (In fact, there's a lot to be said for the boldness of a rider who takes any Harley on a long, off-interstate trip, when clearly other brands are more purpose-built.) In short, there are a lot of guys on these group trips that need to learn what a big ol' steaming cup of STFU tastes like.

I will say, though, that one of the organizers is one of the most experienced riders I've ever met, is fully a Harley guy, but backs it up with knowledge, calm demeanor, good attitude, moderation in all things, and has a keen grip on where his skills can take him and where they can't. THAT particular rider, as well as his SO and his son, I have come to respect and admire deeply. There's one other rider who I didn't get along with at first, but who is growing on me. Yeah, I'm worried about this trip. We have a lot of new riders and more riders than ever, on a trip that, while not involving a lot of mileage, will involve a lot of backroads and twisties. What this group does not have is a formal road captain setup, and they need it. One or two people - not the ride organizers - are designated as the road captains and when everyone's on the bikes, those guys are in charge. When everyone's off the bikes, the organizers are in charge. This means we have dedicated kitten-herders, for lack of a better phrase.

The trip I'm talking about is NOT the first trip I'll be taking this summer, the one to Alaska. No, the Alaska trip is a small group of dedicated bikers, all of whom have learned the lessons in the past - sometimes the hard way - and for a couple of the riders, this will be their last epic trip. This is the trip I'm actually preparing for - the second trip will be an epilogue to my summer fun. I am afraid that after 25 days on the road with the Alaska group - going all the way to Denali at the Artic Circle and back - that I will be too impatient with the squeemishness I will undoubtedly encounter in the charity riders. Don't want to ride in the rain, don't want to ride on dirt, don't want to camp, don't want to go more than 50 miles without a break, blah blah blah. Well, we'll see if I change my tune. I certainly HOPE I change my tune; I'm currently in the process of alienating myself from the group and that has got to be reversed. It is important to keep this little charity thing going and keep participating; it's good for the industry I work in.

Let me wrap this up by returning it to running. When I did the charity ride in the past, I was the only rider who got any exercise on a regular basis and most certainly the only one who got up early to put in some miles by foot before packing up and putting in miles on the bike. By contrast, in the small Alaska group, there's an awareness that one must be IN SHAPE to really ride distance and a few have been working on that. There's also another runner! I look foward to a few runs with him. Undoubtedly, he is faster than I, so we may do most running separately, but just having anothe runner keeps me from being the odd man out.


Lora said...

I personally think you're entitled to be cranky (once in awhile--ok, now you've used your allotted crank time!) ;)

Glad you're back out there--can you believe how hot it's been so early in the season?? It may be a HOT summer coming!

I order my running drink from No stomach issues for me now, and I use the salt tabs when it's really hot out.

Hang in there with the charity drive--they need you!!

runliarun said...

All the logistics with fueling and lubrication and timing stump me. I feel as if the whole issue inteferes with my running.

I think you are taking those bikers much too seriously.